GHCN V4 warming

Reblogged from Clive Best:

In this post I investigate what has changed in global temperatures moving from GHCN-V3 to GHCN-V4, and in particular why V4 gives higher temperatures than V3  after 2000.

1 V4-V3-anomalies-768x452

Whenever a new temperature series is released it inevitably shows an increase in recent warming, forever edging closer to  CMIP5 models.   The Hiatus in warming as reported in AR5,  has now completely vanished following regular “updates” to the HadCRUT4 temperatures since 2012.  Simultaneously model predictions have been edging downwards through a process of “blending” them to better fit the data. Ocean surface temperature data are now joining in to play their part in this warming process. The new HADSST4 corrections produces ~0.1C more warming than HADSST3, and the main reason for this is simply a change in the definition of the measurement depth of floating buoys. No doubt a new HadCRUT5 is now in the pipeline to complete the job. Of course nature itself doesn’t care less about how we measure the global temperature,  and the climate remains what it is. It is just the ‘interpretation’ of measurement data that is changing with time and this process seems to always increase recent temperatures. The world is warming by 10ths of a degree overnight as each new iteration is published. Now I have discovered that the latest GHCN V4  station data is continuing this trend as identified in the previous post. I have looked more deeply into why.

GHCNV4 has far more stations (27410) than V3 (7280) but turns out to be a completely new independent dataset. It is not an evolution of V3 even though it is called V4. GHCNV4 is 85% based on GHCN-Daily which is an NCDC archive of daily weather station records from around the world. V4 has no direct ancestry to V3 at all. Even the station ID numbering has been radically changed from that used in V3, making it almost impossible to track down any changes in station measurement data between V3 and V4. Despite that, I decided  to dig down a bit further.

About a year ago I actually studied GHCN-Daily using a 3D icosahedral grid to integrate the daily anomalies into annual anomalies.  In the end I got almost exactly the same result as CRUTEM4 for recent years after 1950, which  also agreed with the then GCHN V3. That implies that the data were then aligned with the results of both CRU and V3C. So something else has changed when moving data from GHCN-Daily to GHCN-V4.

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So how is it possible that now V4 shows significantly more warming than V3 after 2002, when a year ago GHCN-Daily did not? Have the underlying station data been “corrected” yet again since V3C? To investigate this I used a convoluted method to identify only the V3 stations buried inside the V4 inventory by using their WMO IDs mapped through the GHCN-Daily directory. This procedure identified about half of  the 7280 versions of V3 stations, bearing in mind that V4 contains 24710 stations! The other half are not primary WMO stations. I then used my standard Spherical Triangulation algorithm to calculate annual global temperatures based only on these 3500 V4 versions of  V3 stations. If the underlying station temperatures were  the same as those in V3C then they should produce the same results as those from V3C.  Do they?

The results  are shown below.

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Perhaps even more striking is the monthly agreement between the full V4C result and the V4 result restricted to 3500 V3 stations. The agreement is remarkably good. It should be compared to the V4 versus V3 comparison in the previous post.

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So the answer to the question is no they do not agree with V3.  This must mean that the V4 versions of V3 station data are indeed different to those in the original V3 station data. So it is these changes that have caused the apparent increase in warming since 2004. The graphs above  show  that they are almost identical to the full  station results from V4C. It is also not true that somehow V4  has greater coverage in the Arctic and this can explain the increased warming over V3. The reason is simply that the underlying data have somehow been changed.

You get a different result from V4 and V3 using the same station data.

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Half of 21st Century Warming Due to El Nino

Reblogged from Dr.RoySpencer.com  [HiFast bold]

May 13th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

A major uncertainty in figuring out how much of recent warming has been human-caused is knowing how much nature has caused. The IPCC is quite sure that nature is responsible for less than half of the warming since the mid-1900s, but politicians, activists, and various green energy pundits go even further, behaving as if warming is 100% human-caused.

The fact is we really don’t understand the causes of natural climate change on the time scale of an individual lifetime, although theories abound. For example, there is plenty of evidence that the Little Ice Age was real, and so some of the warming over the last 150 years (especially prior to 1940) was natural — but how much?

The answer makes as huge difference to energy policy. If global warming is only 50% as large as is predicted by the IPCC (which would make it only 20% of the problem portrayed by the media and politicians), then the immense cost of renewable energy can be avoided until we have new cost-competitive energy technologies.

The recently published paper Recent Global Warming as Confirmed by AIRS used 15 years of infrared satellite data to obtain a rather strong global surface warming trend of +0.24 C/decade. Objections have been made to that study by me (e.g. here) and others, not the least of which is the fact that the 2003-2017 period addressed had a record warm El Nino near the end (2015-16), which means the computed warming trend over that period is not entirely human-caused warming.

If we look at the warming over the 19-year period 2000-2018, we see the record El Nino event during 2015-16 (all monthly anomalies are relative to the 2001-2017 average seasonal cycle):

21st-century-warming-2000-2018-550x733
Fig. 1. 21st Century global-average temperature trends (top) averaged across all CMIP5 climate models (gray), HadCRUT4 observations (green), and UAH tropospheric temperature (purple). The Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI, bottom) shows the upward trend in El Nino activity over the same period, which causes a natural enhancement of the observed warming trend.

We also see that the average of all of the CMIP5 models’ surface temperature trend projections (in which natural variability in the many models is averaged out) has a warmer trend than the observations, despite the trend-enhancing effect of the 2015-16 El Nino event.

So, how much of an influence did that warm event have on the computed trends? The simplest way to address that is to use only the data before that event. To be somewhat objective about it, we can take the period over which there is no trend in El Nino (and La Nina) activity, which happens to be 2000 through June, 2015 (15.5 years):

21st-century-warming-2000-2015.5-550x733
Fig. 2. As in Fig. 1, but for the 15.5 year period 2000 to June 2015, which is the period over which there was no trend in El Nino and La Nina activity.

Note that the observed trend in HadCRUT4 surface temperatures is nearly cut in half compared to the CMIP5 model average warming over the same period, and the UAH tropospheric temperature trend is almost zero.

One might wonder why the UAH LT trend is so low for this period, even though in Fig. 1 it is not that far below the surface temperature observations (+0.12 C/decade versus +0.16 C/decade for the full period through 2018). So, I examined the RSS version of LT for 2000 through June 2015, which had a +0.10 C/decade trend. For a more apples-to-apples comparison, the CMIP5 surface-to-500 hPa layer average temperature averaged across all models is +0.20 C/decade, so even RSS LT (which usually has a warmer trend than UAH LT) has only one-half the warming trend as the average CMIP5 model during this period.

So, once again, we see that the observed rate of warming — when we ignore the natural fluctuations in the climate system (which, along with severe weather events dominate “climate change” news) — is only about one-half of that projected by climate models at this point in the 21st Century. This fraction is consistent with the global energy budget study of Lewis & Curry (2018) which analyzed 100 years of global temperatures and ocean heat content changes, and also found that the climate system is only about 1/2 as sensitive to increasing CO2 as climate models assume.

It will be interesting to see if the new climate model assessment (CMIP6) produces warming more in line with the observations. From what I have heard so far, this appears unlikely. If history is any guide, this means the observations will continue to need adjustments to fit the models, rather than the other way around.

Continuous observations in the North Atlantic challenges current view about ocean circulation variability

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Kevin Kilty

May 10, 2019

[HiFast Note:  Figures A and B added:

osnap_array_schematic_v2_13Nov14

Figure A. OSNAP Array Schematic, source:  https://www.o-snap.org/]

20160329_OSNAP_planeview-1Figure B. OSNAP Array, source:  https://www.o-snap.org/observations/configuration/]

clip_image002Figure 1: Transect of the North Atlantic basins showing color coded salinity, and gray vertical lines showing mooring locations of OSNAP sensor arrays. (Figure from OSNAP Configuration page)

Figure 1: Transect of the North Atlantic basins showing color coded salinity, and gray vertical lines showing mooring locations of OSNAP sensor arrays. (Figure from OSNAP Configuration page)

From Physics Today (April 2019 Issue, p. 19)1:

The overturning of water in the North Atlantic depends on meridional overturning circulation (MOC) wherein warm surface waters in the tropical Atlantic move to higher latitudes losing heat and moisture to the atmosphere along the way. In the North Atlantic and Arctic this water, now saline and cold, sinks to produce north Atlantic Deep water (NADW). It completes its circulation by flowing back toward the tropics or into other ocean basins at depth, and then subsequently upwelling through a variety of mechanisms. The time scale of this overturning is 600 years or so2.

The MOC transports large amounts of heat from the tropics toward the poles, and is thought to be responsible for the relatively mild climate of northern Europe. The heat being transferred from the ocean surface back into the atmosphere at high latitudes is as large as 50W/m2, which is roughly equivalent to solar radiation reaching the surface at high latitudes during winter months2.

In order to evaluate models of ocean overturning oceanographers have relied upon hydrographic research cruises. But the time increment between successive cruises is often long, and infrequent sampling cannot measure long term trends reliably nor gauge current ocean dynamics.

To get a better handle on MOC behavior an array of sensors to continuously monitor temperature, salinity, and velocity measurements known as the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) was recently deployed across the region at multiple depths. Figure 1 shows sensor moorings in relation to the various ocean basins of the North Atlantic. Figure 2 shows data from the first 21 months of operation, and displays a rather large variability of overturning in the eastern North Atlantic between Greenland and Scotland that reaches +/-10 Sverdrup (Sv=one million cubic meters per second) monthly, and amounts to one-half the MOC’s total annual transport. Researchers had thought that such variability was only possible on time scales of decades or longer.

Figure 2: Twenty-one months of observational data showing large month to month variation in MOC flows.

Figure 2: Twenty-one months of observational data showing large month to month variation in MOC flows.

The original experimental design for sensor placement in OSNAP was predicated on much smaller variability of a few Sv per month3. The report does not address what impact this surprising level of transport variability has on validity of the experiment design; but the surprisingly large variations in flow challenge expectations derived from climate models regarding the relative amount of overturning between the Labrador Sea and the gateway to the Arctic between Greenland and Scotland.

As one oceanographer put it, the process of deep water formation and sinking of the MOC is more complex than people believed, and these results should prepare people to modify their ideas about how the oceans work. This improved data should not only help test and improve climate models, but also produce more realistic estimates of CO2 uptake and storage.

References:

1. Alex Lopatka, Altantic water carried northward sinks farther east of previous estimates, Physics Today, 72, 4, 19(2019).

2. J. Robert Toggweiler, The Ocean’s Overturning Circulation, Physics Today, 47, 11, 45(1994).

3. Susan Lozier, Bill Johns, Fiamma Straneo, and Amy Bower, Workshop for the Design of a Subpolar North Atlantic Observing System, URL= https://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=163724&pt=2&p=175489, accessed 05/10/2019.

Comparison of global climatologies confirms warming of the global ocean

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

200635_web

IMAGE: Deployment of an APEX float from a German research ship.

Credit: Argo

The global ocean represents the most important component of the Earth climate system. The oceans accumulate heat energy and transport heat from the tropics to higher latitudes, responding very slowly to changes in the atmosphere. Digital gridded climatologies of the global ocean provide helpful background information for many oceanographic, geochemical and biological applications. Because both the global ocean and the observational basis are changing, periodic updates of ocean climatologies are needed, which is in line with the World Meteorological Organization’s recommendations to provide decadal updates of atmospheric climatologies.

“Constructing ocean climatologies consists of several steps, including data quality control, adjustments for instrumental biases, and filling the data gaps by means of a suitable interpolation method”, says Professor Viktor Gouretski of the University of Hamburg and a scholarship holder of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the author of a report recently published in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters.

“Sea water is essentially a two-component system, with a nonlinear dependency of density on temperature and salinity, with the mixing in the ocean interior taking place predominantly along isopycnal surfaces. Therefore, interpolation of oceanic parameters should be performed on isopycnals rather than on isobaric levels, to minimize production of artificial water masses. The differences between these two methods of data interpolation are most pronounced in the high-gradient regions like the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, and Antarctic Circumpolar Current,” continues Professor Gouretski.

In his recent report, Professor Gouretski presents a new World Ocean Circulation Experiment/ARGO Global Hydrographic Climatology (WAGHC), with temperature and salinity averaged on local isopycnal surfaces. Based on high-quality ship-board data and temperature and salinity profiles from ARGO floats, the new climatology has a monthly resolution and is available on a 1/4° latitude-longitude grid.

“We have compared the WAGHC climatology with NOAA’s WOA13 gridded climatology. These climatologies represent alternative digital products, but the WAGHC has benefited from the addition of new ARGO float data and hydrographic data from the North Polar regions”, says Professor Gourteski. “The two climatologies characterize mean ocean states that are 25 years apart, and the zonally averaged section of the WAGHC-minus-WOA13 temperature difference clearly shows the ocean warming signal, with a mean temperature increase of 0.05°C for the upper 1500-m layer since 1984”.

Basic Science: 4 Keys to Melt Fears About Ice Sheets Melting

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

William Ward, April 18, 2019


[HiFast BLUF:  Here’s the author’s summary/bottom line up front.] Despite the overwhelming number of popular news reports to the contrary, studies of ice sheets melting over the past century show remarkable ice stability. Using the proper scientific perspective, analysis of ice-melt rates and ice-mass losses show the ice sheets will take hundreds of thousands of years to melt, assuming the next glacial period doesn’t start first. An application of basic physics shows that for every 1 °C of atmospheric heat exchanged with the ice sheets we get a maximum 0.4 inches of SLR and a correspondingly cooler atmosphere. Over the 20th century, we observed a worst-case 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained atmospheric heat. It is proposed that this ratio can be used to assess potential ice-melt related SLR for a hypothetical atmospheric temperature increase scenario over the current century. Using a reasonable range for all of the variables we can estimate an SLR of between 1.4 – 6.4 inches, but our current observations support the rise being toward the lower end of that range.

The atmosphere and oceans do not show the increase in energy necessary to cause catastrophic SLR from rapidly melting ice. Humankind does not possess the technology to melt a significant amount of ice because the energy required is enormous and only nature can meter out this energy over very long periods. With the proper scientific perspective about the amount of energy required to melt ice, it should be much more difficult for Climate Alarmists to scare the public with scenarios not supported by basic science.


 

The world is drowning in articles about catastrophic sea level rise (SLR), reminding us that if the ice sheets melt, 260 feet of water will flood our coastal cities. We know that sea level today is 20-30 feet lower than it was at the end of the last interglacial period 120,000 years ago. We also know that sea level has risen 430 feet since the end of the last glacial maximum 22,000 years ago. Research shows this rise was not monotonic but oscillatory, and during periods over the past 10,000 years, sea level has been several meters higher than today. So, evidence supports the possibility of higher sea levels, but does the evidence support the possibility of catastrophic sea level rise from rapidly melting ice?

In this paper, basic science is used to show that catastrophic SLR from melting ice cannot happen naturally over a short period. Additionally, humankind does not possess the capability to melt a large amount of ice quickly even through our most advanced technology. This news should relieve the public, which is routinely deceived by reporting that misrepresents the facts. The public is susceptible to unnecessary alarmism when melt rates and ice-melt masses are presented without perspective and juxtaposed against claims that scientists are worried. This paper uses the same facts but places them in perspective to show that catastrophic risks do not exist.

Ice Sheets Melting: Deceptive Reporting

The growing alarm over melting ice sheets is directly attributable to deceptive reporting. The sheer number of reports inundates the public with an incessant message of angst. A single scientific study can be the source for headlines in hundreds of news articles. With social media repeating the news and the subsequent chorus of lectures from celebrities and politicians, we find ourselves in the deafening echo chamber of Climate Alarmism. However, it is a mistake to assume the real risks are proportional to the frequency or intensity of the message.

The primary problem is that the news writers do not have the scientific background to report on the subject responsibly, and therefore they routinely corrupt and distort the facts. Take for example an article in Smithsonian dated September 1, 2016, entitled “Melting Glaciers Are Wreaking Havoc on Earth’s Crust.” The first two sentences of the article read:

“You’ve no doubt by now been inundated with the threat of global sea level rise. At the current estimated rate of one-tenth of an inch each year, sea level rise could cause large swaths of cities like New York, Galveston and Norfolk to disappear underwater in the next 20 years.”

A sea level rise rate of one-tenth of an inch per year yields 2 inches of SLR in 20 years. Topographical maps show the lowest elevations of these cities are more than ten feet above sea level. No portion of these cities will disappear underwater from 2 inches of SLR.

The news writers seem obligated to pepper the facts with their own opinions such as “… climate change is real, undeniable and caused by humans.” It is often difficult for the reader to discern the facts from the opinions. However, even the facts become troubling because they consist of numbers without the perspective to understand their significance and are wrapped in existential angst. Consider the following excerpt from a June 13, 2018 article in the Washington Post, entitled “Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues, we are in serious trouble.”

“Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half-millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists reported… The melt rate in Antarctica has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.”

As reported, the reader assumes a melt rate that has tripled must be dire, and billions of tons of melting ice must be extreme. However, this perception changes if the facts are analyzed to provide perspective. An analysis shows that the original annual melt rate of 1.3 parts-per-million (ppm) has increased to nearly 4 ppm over 26 years. The news writer failed to inform us of these facts which provide perspective. The new melt rate is analogous to losing 4 dollars out of 1 million dollars. Losing slightly less than 4 parts in 1 million each year means that it will take over 250,000 years to melt entirely. No natural process is static, so we should expect variation over time. Most change is cyclical. Sometimes the ice is increasing and sometimes it is decreasing. The average person’s body mass fluctuates by 20,000 to 40,000 ppm each day. By comparison, Antarctica varying by 1-4 ppm over a year should be considered rock-solid stability in the natural world.

Ice Sheets Melting: What Happened Over the Past Century

Antarctica holds 91% of the world’s land ice, Greenland 8%, and the remaining 1% is spread over the rest of the world. Therefore, by understanding what is happening to the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, we understand what is happening to 99% of the world’s land ice.

NASA is a good source for research about what is happening in Antarctica. However, two NASA agencies have recently published studies with conflicting conclusions. The Goddard Space Flight Center recently published research concluding Antarctica is not contributing to SLR. According to the study, snow accumulation exceeded ice melting, resulting in a 0.5-inch sea level reduction since 1900. Contrarily, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reports that the rate of Ice loss from Antarctica has tripled since 2012 and contributed 0.3 inches to SLR between 1992 and 2017. To cover the worst-case scenario, we can analyze the JPL study and provide the perspective to understand their results.

Over 26 years, Antarctica’s average annual mass loss was less than 0.00040% of its total. If Antarctica were a 220 lb man, his mass loss each year would be 0.4 grams or about eight tears. (Eight human tears weigh about 0.4 g.) At this alarming rate that makes our most elite climate scientists worried, it would take 250,185 years to melt all of the ice. It would take over 1,000 years of melting to yield 12 inches of SLR from Antarctica if we ignore natural variability and the cyclical nature of ice volume and assume the melt rate continues uninterrupted.

The best information we have about Greenland comes from a study in the journal Nature, estimating Greenland’s ice losses between 1900 – 2010. Using current ice volume estimates from USGS, we calculate the ice mass in 2010 was between 99.5% – 99.8% of what it was in 1900. Ice melt from Greenland in the 111 years contributed 0.6 – 1.3 inches to SLR. It would take over 1,300 years of melting to yield 12 inches of SLR from Greenland if we ignore natural variability and the cyclical nature of ice volume and assume the melt rate continues uninterrupted.

The average annual inland temperature in Antarctica is -57 °C and most coastal stations average -5 °C to -15 °C. The much talked about Western Antarctica averages several degrees below 0 °C. Southern Greenland does experience summer temperatures above 0 °C and seasonal melting. Northern Greenland stays below 0 °C even in the summer months, and the average annual inland temperatures are -20 °C to -30 °C. The temperatures in Greenland and Antarctica are not warm enough to support significant rapid ice melt. In the past century, we have 1 °C of retained atmospheric heat, and enough heat exchanged with ice in Greenland and Antarctica to raise sea level by 0.9 – 1.6 inches. Despite all of the reports in the media to the contrary, we have no real observations of any ice melt crisis. The past 111 years have been remarkable because of ice stability – not because of ice melting. We are 19 years into the 21st century with no evidence supporting an outcome much different from the 20th century.

Ice Sheets Melting: The Process

The lifecycle of an ice sheet begins as snow. Snow falls in the higher elevations and over time it compacts and becomes ice. The ice thickness in Antarctica is over 12,000 feet in the center of the continent and over 9,000 feet over most of East Antarctica. The force of gravity initiates a thousand-year journey where the ice flows from its heights back to the sea. At the end of this journey, when its weight can no longer be supported by the sea, it “calves” and becomes an iceberg. Some icebergs can float around Antarctica for over 30 years before fully melting. So, young ice is born inland from snow, and old ice dies near the coast from seasonal melting or after drifting for years as an iceberg. This process is the natural cycle of ice and not one which should create panic. During some periods we have more snow accumulating than ice melting, such as the period between 1300 CE and 1850 CE, known as the “Little Ice Age.” During other periods we have more ice melting than snow accumulating, such as the Medieval Warm Period and our present time.

In our present time, sunlight alone is insufficient to cause significant changes to ice sheet mass. Sunlight must act in concert with other effects such as cloud cover, water vapor and other “greenhouse” gasses such as CO2. Regardless of the mechanisms, the Earth system must do two things to melt more ice: 1) retain more heat energy and 2) via the atmosphere, transport this heat to the poles and transfer it to the ice. Additional heat energy in the system cannot melt ice unless this transport and transfer happen.

Ice Sheets Melting: Conservation of Energy

A 2007 study by Shepherd and Wingham published in Science shows the current melt rate from Greenland and Antarctica contribute 0.014 inches to SLR each year. For perspective, the thickness of 3 human hairs is greater than 0.014 inches. The results align reasonably well with the other studies mentioned. Despite the minuscule amount of actual SLR from melting ice, NOAA and the IPCC provide 21st century SLR projections that range from a few inches to several meters. The wide range of uncertainty leads to angst about catastrophe; however, the use of basic science allows us to provide reasonable bounds to the possibilities.

Before the start of the American Revolution, Scottish scientist Joseph Black (and others) solved the mysteries of specific heat and latent heat, which gives us the relationship between heat energy, changing states of matter (solid/liquid) and change of temperature. Equations 1 and 2 give us the mathematical relationships for specific heat and latent heat respectively:

(1) E = mc∆T

(2) E = mL

Where E is thermal energy (Joules), m is the mass (kg), c is the “specific heat” constant (J/kg/°C), ∆T is the change in temperature (°C), and L is the latent heat constant (J/kg). Specific heat is the amount of heat energy that we must add (or remove) from a specified mass to increase (or decrease) the temperature of that mass by 1 °C. Latent heat is the thermal energy released or absorbed during a constant temperature phase change. If we know the mass of the ice, water or atmosphere, it is easy to calculate the amount of energy it takes to change its temperature, melt it or freeze it.

Understanding that energy is conserved when melting ice, the equations above can be used to calculate the temperature effects that must be observed in the oceans or atmosphere to support an ice melt scenario. We can provide reasonable bounds and reduce the uncertainty.

See the reference section at the end of the paper for all sources and calculations.

Key #1: Importance of the Latent Heat of Fusion

It is essential to understand the latent heat of fusion because of the enormous amount of heat energy that is required to change the state of H2O from solid to liquid. Figure 1 shows the specific heat and phase change diagram for water. The blue line shows the temperature of water in °C (y-axis) plotted against the change in thermal energy in kJ/kg (x-axis). It shows how temperature and energy are related as we go from cold solid ice to boiling liquid water. The average annual inland temperature of Greenland is -25 °C and this is the reason for Point 1 on the line. If we start at Point 1 and progress to Point 2, this shows how much heat energy must be added to change the temperature of 1kg of ice from -25 °C to 0 °C. It is important to note that at Point 2, the ice is still 100% solid at 0 °C.

Figure 1: Water Phase/Specific Heat Diagram

The diagram reveals something interesting about the behavior of water. As we progress from Point 2 to Point 3, the water undergoes a phase change from solid to liquid. There is no temperature change as the ice becomes liquid water; however, a large amount of heat energy must be added. The energy that must be added to change the phase of water from solid to liquid is the latent heat of fusion. For melting ice, temperature alone does not inform us about what is happening to the system. To assess ice melting, we must understand the net change of energy. Whether we melt 1kg of ice or the entire ice sheet in Greenland, using Equations 1 and 2, we can easily calculate the energy required to do so. Going from Point 1 to Point 3 requires 3.86×105 Joules of energy for each kg of ice mass warmed and melted. For simplicity, we call this quantity of energy “E.”

Figure 1 also shows what happens as we move from Point 3 (0 °C liquid seawater) to Point 4 (seawater starting to boil at 100 °C). It takes a measure of energy “E” to move between Points 3 and 4, just as it does to move between Points 1 and 3. Therefore, as shown in Table 1, the energy required to melt the ice is equivalent to the energy required to heat the meltwater to a boil at 100 °C. (Note: the fresh water from the ice is assumed to flow to the oceans.)

Energy to melt 1kg of polar ice from -25 °C to 0 °C water <– Is Equal To –> Energy to raise the temperature of 1kg of seawater from 0 °C to 100 °C

Table 1: Relating Energy Between Polar Ice Melt and Boiling Water

Key #2: Total Energy Required to Melt the Ice Sheets

Using Equations 1 and 2, we calculate that the total heat energy required to melt the ice sheets entirely is 1.32×1025 J. This value can be given perspective by calculating the increase in ocean water temperature that would result from adding 1.32×1025 J of heat. We know that deep ocean water below the thermocline is very stable in temperature between 0-3 °C. 90% of the ocean water mass is below the thermocline. The thermocline and surface layer above contains the ocean water that responds to changes in atmospheric heat, whether that be from seasonal changes or climate changes. Therefore, if we constrain the 1.32×1025 J of heat energy to the upper 10% of the ocean mass, we calculate the temperature increase would be 25.6 °C, assuming equal heat distribution for simplicity of analysis. This increase would make the surface temperature of equatorial ocean water close to 55 °C, similar to a cup of hot coffee. Polar seas would be perfect for swimming at nearly 25 °C. According to NOAA, over the past 50 years, the average ocean surface temperature has increased approximately 0.25 °C.

Another way to give perspective is to calculate the increase in atmospheric temperature that would result from adding 1.32×1025 J of heat to the atmosphere. First, we must understand some related facts about the atmosphere. Heat energy must be transported by the atmosphere to the polar regions, or no ice can melt. However, the atmosphere’s capacity to store heat energy is extremely low compared to the energy required to melt all of the ice. The ice sheets contain more than 900 times the thermal energy below 0 °C as the atmosphere contains above 0 °C, and therefore the atmospheric heat energy must be replenished continuously to sustain ice melting. Melting polar ice with heat from the atmosphere is analogous to filling a bathtub with a thimble. The low specific heat of air is one reason the atmosphere lacks heat carrying capacity. The other reason is its low mass.

Figure 2 shows the vertical profile of the Earth’s atmosphere. The red line in Figure 2 shows the temperature of the atmosphere in °C (x-axis) plotted against the altitude in km (y-axis). 75% of the mass of the atmosphere is contained in the Troposphere, where all life (outside of the oceans) exists on Earth. Figure 2 reveals that most of the atmosphere is far too cold to melt ice. We can ignore the Upper Thermosphere as the mass of atmosphere contained in that layer is negligibly small. Only the Lower Troposphere below 2.5 km altitude contains air at a warm enough temperature to melt ice. (See the region of the graph enclosed in the yellow oval.) 35% of the atmospheric mass exists below 2.5 km, and the average temperature is ~ 8 °C.

Figure 2: Vertical Profile of Earth’s Atmosphere

Using Equation 1 with E = 1.32×1025 J, the mass of the atmosphere below 2.5 km and solving for ∆T, we can calculate what the temperature of the air below 2.5 km would be if it contained the energy required to melt all of the ice. The atmospheric temperature would have to be 7,300 °C, which is 1,522 °C hotter than the surface of the sun. Life on Earth would be in jeopardy from the increased atmospheric heat long before all of the ice melted. While there are no plausible thermodynamic pathways to heat the Earth’s atmosphere to such temperatures, the calculations of energy required are accurate. According to NASA, the global average temperature over the past 50 years has increased approximately 0.6 °C.

Key #3: SLR From Incremental Atmospheric Heat Exchange with Ice Sheets

It is said, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Similarly, you can’t have atmospheric heat and melt with it too. If the ice consumes heat, then the atmosphere cools. If the atmosphere retains its heat, then no ice melts. So, let’s examine some scenarios where we trade energy from the atmosphere with ice to see how much corresponding SLR we can get.

Using Equation 1, we can determine the change in energy for a 1 °C temperature decrease in the atmosphere below 2.5km. We can then apply this energy to the ice, assume maximum melting volume and translate that to SLR. For every 1 °C of atmospheric energy transferred to the ice, we get 0.4 inches of SLR. Some IPCC scenarios project a 4 °C rise in “global average temperature” in the 21st century, due to increased atmospheric CO2. An increase in temperature does not melt any additional ice unless the heat is transferred to the ice. If 4 °C of energy from the atmosphere is transferred to the ice, we get a corresponding 1.7 inches of SLR and an atmosphere that is 4 °C cooler. If we transfer all of the energy in the atmosphere above 0 °C to the ice, then we get 3.4 inches of SLR and a world where the entire atmosphere is at or below 0 °C. The global average temperature would be 6 °C less than the coldest experienced during the depth of a glacial period.

To raise sea level by 12 inches would require the atmosphere to heat up by 28 °C before exchanging that energy with the ice. As we would experience it, the atmosphere would have to heat up by some incremental value, then exchange that incremental value of energy with the ice, thus cooling the atmosphere, and then repeat this process until the 28 °C of atmospheric heat is consumed.

Key #4: Maximum Ice Melt Potential from Technology

Keys #1-3 don’t offer much to support the possibility of large quantities of ice being melted rapidly by natural causes. The next obvious question is, can humankind generate enough heat with our most advanced technology to melt a significant amount of ice rapidly?

The power of the atom is one of the most awesome powers humankind has harnessed. There are 8,400 operational nuclear warheads in the world’s nuclear arsenal, with a total yield of 2,425 Megatons of TNT. It is interesting to note that the energy contained in this nuclear arsenal is over 800 times the equivalent explosive power used in World War II. It is said that there are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world a hundred times over. So, perhaps this is enough energy to melt the ice sheets entirely. For this exercise, we assume the nuclear weapons release their energy slowly – only fast enough to melt ice and no faster. For maximum melting, we evenly distribute all of the weapons in the ice. However, when we convert 2,425 MT to Joules, we get a number that is far below the energy required to melt all of the ice. The SLR we could get by using all of the world’s nuclear weapons for melting ice would be 0.002 inches. For reference, the diameter of a human hair is 2.5 times thicker than this. If we want all of the ice to melt, we need to duplicate each weapon more than 1,300,000 times. So, it looks like our current arsenal of nuclear weapons is no match for the ice.

What other sources of power does humankind have that could be used to melt a significant amount of ice? The annual global energy production of electric power is 25 petawatt-hours (25×1015 Whr) or 9×1019 Joules. If we could, through some advanced technology, transfer all electric energy generated over one year to heaters buried in the ice, and do this with no transmission or distribution losses, then how much ice could we melt? The answer is 0.02 inches of SLR (equivalent to 4 human hair diameters). This scenario would require that humans not use any electric power for that entire year, for anything other than melting ice. Humanity would have to forego the benefits of electric power for over 146,000 years to melt all of the ice, assuming static conditions in the ice.

Ice Sheets Melting: Analysis

Since 1900 we have 1 °C of retained atmospheric heat, and enough heat consumed by the ice sheets to produce 0.9 – 1.6 inches of SLR. From Key #3 we learned 1.7 inches of SLR results from trading 4 °C of atmospheric heat for ice melting. Therefore, as a worst-case approximation, if there had been no net ice melt since 1900, the atmosphere would have heated by approximately 5 °C. We can conclude that ice melting consumed 4 °C of heat, leaving the atmosphere with 1 °C of retained heat. We observed a 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained heat in the 20th century, worst case. For the best-case approximation, we use the lower estimate of 0.9 inches of SLR, which yields a 2:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained heat over the same period. In one of the more extreme scenarios, the IPCC climate model projects 4 °C of atmospheric temperature rise in the 21st century. For a 4 °C rise scenario, using the worst-case ratio of consumed to retained heat, we can estimate a 6.4 inch SLR over that period. In a more moderate scenario, the IPCC projects a 1.5 °C temperature rise. For a 1.5 °C rise, using the best-case ratio of consumed to retained heat, we can estimate an SLR of 1.4 inches. Unfortunately, none of the climate models have been able to predict the climate accurately, and none of them backtest successfully. We are one-fifth of the way through the 21st century and do not appear to be on course for the IPCC’s worst-case temperature projections. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the results for the 21st century will likely be very similar to the 20th century, with 1-2 inches of SLR.

Detailed analysis of the claimed Earth energy imbalance is beyond the scope of this paper. The analysis presented here exposes the effects that must occur from an imbalance that leads to catastrophic melting. The ice must absorb large quantities of heat energy for sustained periods. Therefore, inland temperatures over Antarctica and Greenland would need to be maintained well above 0 °C for significant portions of the year. Atmospheric heat lost to the ice would need to be continually replenished to perpetuate the process. The oceans store heat energy, but the large mass of the oceans with the high specific heat of seawater blunts the possible effects from that energy. The energy that would raise the first 2.5 km of atmospheric air by 1 °C would raise the first 1,000 feet of seawater by only 0.0035 °C. The 2nd law of thermodynamics requires a temperature difference to transfer heat energy. Small increases in ocean temperature cannot lead to large movements of heat energy to an already warmer atmosphere. Finally, the system must transport more heat energy to the polar regions. In reality, the Earth maintains a very large temperature gradient between the equator and the poles. Our observations do not show gradient changes that would support significant additional heat transport. Without the increased energy storage and transport, and sustained polar temperatures well above freezing, catastrophic ice melt scenarios are not possible.

Ice Sheets Melting: Summary

Despite the overwhelming number of popular news reports to the contrary, studies of ice sheets melting over the past century show remarkable ice stability. Using the proper scientific perspective, analysis of ice-melt rates and ice-mass losses show the ice sheets will take hundreds of thousands of years to melt, assuming the next glacial period doesn’t start first. An application of basic physics shows that for every 1 °C of atmospheric heat exchanged with the ice sheets we get a maximum 0.4 inches of SLR and a correspondingly cooler atmosphere. Over the 20th century, we observed a worst-case 4:1 ratio of consumed heat to retained atmospheric heat. It is proposed that this ratio can be used to assess potential ice-melt related SLR for a hypothetical atmospheric temperature increase scenario over the current century. Using a reasonable range for all of the variables we can estimate an SLR of between 1.4 – 6.4 inches, but our current observations support the rise being toward the lower end of that range.

The atmosphere and oceans do not show the increase in energy necessary to cause catastrophic SLR from rapidly melting ice. Humankind does not possess the technology to melt a significant amount of ice because the energy required is enormous and only nature can meter out this energy over very long periods. With the proper scientific perspective about the amount of energy required to melt ice, it should be much more difficult for Climate Alarmists to scare the public with scenarios not supported by basic science.

References

NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses

Ramp-up in Antarctic ice loss speeds sea level rise: https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2749/ramp-up-in-antarctic-ice-loss-speeds-sea-level-rise/?fbclid=IwAR2Vnkbxxa-NTU_v0lRUUGGDffMs4Q6BGvHX-KHzcHM7-q2B7IO59wCEiQc

Sea Level and Climate (Fact Sheet 002-00): https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/

Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16183

Recent Sea-Level Contributions of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/315/5818/1529

All of the constants and calculations are provided in the associated Excel file located here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ice-Atmosphere-Ocean-Energy-20190407-1-1.xlsx

Satellite Evidence Affirms Solar Activity Drove ‘A Significant Percentage’ Of Recent Warming

Reblogged from the NoTricksZone:

In a new paper, two astrophysicists shred the IPCC-preferred and model-based PMOD solar data set and affirm the ACRIM, which is rooted in observation and shows an increase in total solar irradiance (TSI) during the 1980-2000 period. They suggest a “significant percentage” of recent climate change has been solar-driven.

Scafetta and Willson, 2019

I. The PMOD is based on proxy modeled predictions, “questionable” modifications, and degraded, “misinterpreted” and “erroneously corrected” results 

• “The PMOD rationale for using models to alter the Nimbus7/ERB data was to compensate for the sparsity of the ERBS/ERBE data and conform their gap results more closely to the proxy predictions of solar emission line models of TSI behavior.”
• “PMOD’s modifications of the published ACRIM and ERB TSI records are questionable because they are based on conforming satellite observational data to proxy model predictions.”
• “The PMOD trend during 1986 to 1996 is biased downward by scaling ERB results to the rapidly degrading ERBE results during the ACRIM-Gap using the questionable justification of agreement with some TSI proxy predictions first proposed by Lee III et al.(1995).”
• PMOD misinterpreted and erroneously corrected ERB results for an instrument power down event.”
• “PMOD used overlapping comparisons of ACRIM1 and ACRIM2 with ERBE observations and proxy models to construct their first composite. Other PMOD composites [17, 18] used different models of the ERBE-ACRIM-Gap degradation. The result of these various modifications during the ACRIM-Gap was that PMOD introduced a downward trend in the Nimbus7/ERB TSI data that decreased results by 0.8 to 0.9 W/m2 (cf. [18, 20]).”

II. The PMOD TSI composite “flawed” results were an “unwarranted manipulation” of data intended to support AGW, but are  “contraindicated”

• “The dangers of utilizing ex-post-facto corrections by those who did not participate in the original science teams of satellite experiments are that erroneous interpretations of the data can occur because of a lack of detailed knowledge of the experiment and unwarranted manipulation of the data can be made based on a desire to support a particular solar model or some other nonempirical bias. We contend that the PMOD TSI composite construction is compromised in both these ways.”
 “[O]ur scientific knowledge could be improved by excluding the more flawed record from the composite. This was the logic applied by the ACRIM team. In point of fact PMOD failed to do this, instead selecting the ERBE results that were known to be degraded and sparse, because that made the solar cycle 21–22 trend agrees with TSI proxy models and the CAGW explanation of CO2 as the driver of the global warming trend of the late 20th century.”
• “The use of unverified modified data has fundamentally flawed the PMOD TSI satellite composite construction.”
• “The consistent downward trending of the PMOD TSI composite is negatively correlated with the global mean temperature anomaly during 1980–2000. This has been viewed with favor by those supporting the COanthropogenic global warming (CAGW) hypothesis since it would minimize TSI variation as a competitive climate change driver to CO2, the featured driver of the hypothesis during the period (cf.: [IPCC, 2013, Lockwood and Fröhlich, 2008]).”
• “Our summary conclusion is that the objective evidence produced by all of the independent TSI composites [3,5, 6, 9] agrees better with the cycle-by-cycle trending of the original ACRIM science team’s composite TSI that shows an increasing trend from 1980 to 2000 and a decreasing trend thereafter. The continuously downward trending of the PMOD composite and TSI proxy models is contraindicated.”

III. The ACRIM TSI supports the conclusion that “a significant percentage” of climate change in recent decades was driven by TSI variation

Graph Source: Soon et al., 2015
• ACRIM shows a 0.46 W/m2 increase between 1986 and 1996 followed by a decrease of 0.30 W/m2 between 1996 and 2009. PMOD shows a continuous, increasing downward trend with a 1986 to 1996 decrease of 0.05 W/m2 followed by a decrease of 0.14 W/m2 between 1996 and 2009. The RMIB composite agrees qualitatively with the ACRIM trend by increasing between the 1986 and 1996 minima and decreasing slightly between 1996 and 2009.”
• “ACRIM composite trending is well correlated with the record of global mean temperature anomaly over the entire range of satellite observations (1980–2018) [Scafetta. 2009]. The climate warming hiatus observed since 2000 is inconsistent with CO2 anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) climate models [Scafetta, 2013, Scafetta, 2017]. This points to a significant percentage of the observed 1980–2000 warming being driven by TSI variation [Scafetta, 2009, Willson, 2014, Scafetta. 2009]. A number of other studies have pointed out that climate change and TSI variability are strongly correlated throughout the Holocene including the recent decades (e.g., Scafetta, 2009,  Scafetta and Willson, 2014, Scafetta, 2013Kerr, 2001, Bond et al., 2001, Kirkby, 2007, Shaviv, 2008, Shapiro et al., 2011, Soon and Legates, 2013, Steinhilber et al., 2012, Soon et al., 2014).”
• “The global surface temperature of the Earth increased from 1970 to 2000 and remained nearly stable from 2000 and 2018. This pattern is not reproduced by CO2 AGW climate models but correlates with a TSI evolution with the trending characteristics of the ACRIM TSI composite as explained in Scafetta [6,12, 27] and Willson [7].”

IV. The Correlation:

Graph Source: Soon et al., 2015
Image Source: Smith, 2017

V. The Mechanism: Higher solar activity on decadal-scales limits the seeding of clouds, which means more solar radiation is absorbed by the surface, warming the Earth 

Image Source: Fleming, 2018

Image Source: Sciencedaily.com

VI. The radiative forcing from the increase in surface solar radiation: +4.25 Wm-2/decade between 1984-2000

Image Source: Goode and Palle, 2007

Image Source(s): Hofer et al., 2017 and Kay et al., 2008

Not Threatened By Climate Change: Galápagos Islands

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

featured_image_galapagosRightfully famous for its strangely different flora and fauna, the products of ages of isolation from the mainland of South America and the  maybe the seed of inspiration to Charles Darwin’s ideas regarding the evolution of Earth’s plants and animals, the Galápagos Islands are almost exactly on the equator some 600 miles west of Ecuador.

The Galápagos Islands  are home to many species, some unique to the Galápagos:

vol_frig

seal_tortoise

blue_frig

And, not the least if last, the uniquely cute, Equator-spanning, Galápagos Penguins:

galapagos_penguins

The fabled living treasures of this group of islands are threatened, besieged and at risk of disappearing forever long before we have had time to discover all of their secrets.

A beautifully illustrated article in the New York Times,  featuring the strikingly evocative photography of  Josh Haner, warns us how  the Galápagos Islands’ ecological niches  and their living legends are endangered.

“As climate change warms the world’s oceans, these islands are a crucible. And scientists are worried. Not only do the Galápagos sit at the intersection of three ocean currents, they are in the cross hairs of one of the world’s most destructive weather patterns, El Niño, which causes rapid, extreme ocean heating across the Eastern Pacific tropics.”

“To see the future of the Galápagos, look to their recent past, when one such event bore down on these islands. Warm El Niño waters blocked the rise of nutrients to the surface of the ocean, which caused widespread starvation.

Large marine iguanas died, while others shrank their skeletons to survive. Seabirds stopped laying eggs. Forests of a giant daisy tree were flattened by storms and thorny invasive bushes took over their territory. Eight of every 10 penguins died and nearly all sea lion pups perished. A fish the length of a pencil, the Galápagos damsel, was never seen again.”

Somehow, this destruction and death may have taken place without it coming to your attention.   Certainly, with the Galápagos Islands being rated #5 in the 8 Best Ecotourism Destinations In The World,  one wonders how the Galápagos maintain their popularity with all those awful things going on.

This is a very typical example what passes for science journalism today, as the Times continues with:

“That was in 1982. The world’s oceans have warmed at least half a degree Celsius since then.”

Let me try to untangle the web of this mixture of fact and fallacy.

Claim 1:  “The world’s oceans have warmed at least half a degree Celsius since then. [1982].”   The link is to the Times’ very own really scary story (based on the IPCC’s SR1.5 ) which stated “But as global average temperatures have risen half a degree in that span, these bleaching events [referring to coral bleaching] have become a regular phenomenon.”  Let me correct this:  ocean temperatures worldwide have not warmed by 0.5°C. 

Ocean_temperature

Not 0.5°C but 0.175-0.20°C (errorless degrees of course, NODC/NOAA produce tiny numbers like these with no uncertainty whatever.)

Maybe the author,  Nicholas Casey, meant to write sea surface temperature (SST) has risen half a degree?  Let’s see what SST looks like at the Galápagos:

Daily_SST_3_2019

On this particular day, 9 March 2019, we see right along the equator  off the shore of Ecuador, dark blue (in the little green circle) which represents sea surface temperature between 2 and 3°C (about 5°F) below the 1971-2000 base period.

Caveat:  These sea surface temperatures change daily.  By sea surface is meant:  “Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is defined as the skin temperature (top 2 mm) of the ocean. …. Instruments on satellites now remotely measure SST for the whole world every day.”

Here’s the last year, with images picked out near the beginning of each month.

sst

The SST of the sea surrounding the Galápagos swings over a range of 4 degrees or so during the year.  And how about the long term changes?

SST_1955-2010Annual temperature climatology at the surface ( 1.00 degree grid)

Again, the small circle off the coast of Ecuador shows the location of the Galápagos Islands, sitting just inside the 24°C contour.  Comparing the decadal averages we find that there has been no change at the Galápagos since 1955.

The fact of the matter is that sea surface temperatures along the equator between South America and Southeast Asia are driven by the phenomena called ENSO — El Niño–Southern Oscillation.  Those readers not familiar with the ENSO can watch this short 2 minute video (opens in a new tab or window).

The event referred to in the Times is the 1982 major El Niño event which temporarily shut down the upwelling of cooler nutrient rich waters that feed the diverse aquatic life in the Galápagos which resulted in population drops of marine iguanas, seals, and penguins.     A similar situation recurred in the 1997-1998 major El Niño event and can reasonably be assumed that this was also repeated every time there was a Major (or Super) El Niño in the past.

The Galápagos Islands lie some 600 miles west of the shore of Ecuador and sit straddling the Equator.

Maps_Galapagos

galapagos_currents

Five important Pacific Ocean currents meet there:  The Panama Current, the nutrient rich Humboldt flows north up the coast of South America and then turns west heading to the Galápagos, where it joins in the westward flowing South Equatorial Current.  Slipping along the equator, flowing west to east, is the North Equatorial Countercurrent.  “Lastly, and possibly most importantly, is the Cromwell Current, aka the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent. Until now, we’ve been talking about surface ocean currents, but the Cromwell flows about 300 feet down, from west to east along the equator. When it hits the Galápagos from the west, it’s deflected toward the surface, bringing yet more cool, nutrient-rich water. “ [ source ]  Nutrient rich waters increase the plankton growth and that attracts the sardines and other fishes which eat the plankton.

El Niño conditions do not “cause rapid, extreme ocean heating across the Eastern Pacific tropics.” (as stated in the NYT)  Rather, according to NOAA, an El Niño event is when “huge masses of warm water …  slosh east across the Pacific Ocean towards South America.”  (well, sort of…) The El Niño is not something that causes heating of the ocean surface, it is an effect of warmer waters moving from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific, in part by a weakening of the easterly trade winds, which blow east to west.  El Niño can be identified by a certain pattern of changed wind and ocean currents — and in fact, there are many sub-classes of El Niños, which each have differing effects on the world’s weather.

But for the Galápagos, this is the important effect in regards to the ocean:

El Niño’s mass of warm water puts a lid on the normal currents of cold, deep water that typically rise to the surface along the equator and off the coast of Chile and Peru, said Stephanie Uz, ocean scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. In a process called upwelling, those cold waters normally bring up the nutrients that feed the tiny organisms, which form the base of the food chain.

“An El Niño basically stops the normal upwelling,” Uz said. “There’s a lot of starvation that happens to the marine food web.” These tiny plants, called phytoplankton, are fish food – without them, fish populations drop, and the fishing industries that many coastal regions depend on can collapse.  [ source ]

el_Nino_windsAs for the small pelagic fish that depend on those upwellings and the plankton that feed off their nutrient rich waters, they move with the food supply — similar in patterns occur off the west coast of North America.

Further complicating the situation for Galápagos seals, flightless cormorants and penguins  is that the world’s fisheries experts know that sardine and anchovy populations experience multi-decadal-scale cycles of boom and bust population numbers — which may be somewhat related to ocean temperatures, with sardines preferring warmer waters than anchovies — maybe. Some of the fluctuation may be due to or contributed to by overfishing.  The scientific jury is still out on the issue.  Anchovies boom while sardines bust, and vice-versa.   The patterns seen are similar on the western coasts of North America, South America and Africa, and on the east coast of Japan.

anchovy_sardine_rollercoastIt is UNESCO that makes the claim most commonly repeated:

“Already under pressure from tourism development, population growth and the impacts of introduced species, the native wildlife and ecosystems of the Galápagos will be significantly affected by changes in the climate. The key factor looks likely to be how changes in El Niño and other cyclical events are manifest under global warming and how ocean currents and productivity respond.

 CLAIMED THREATS:  El Niño is blamed for shrinking marine iguanas (oddly true), damage to Daisy Tree Forests (happened twice in the last 100 years), starving penquins, cormorants and seals,  invasive blackberrys, invasive fire ants, damage from rising sea levels.

Taking the last of the claims first:  Sea Level.

Sea level hasn’t been  changing much in the Galápagos:

Baltra_SLR_monthly

Baltra_SLR_annual

Monthly and annual tide gauge records at the PSMSL station located on Isla Baltra show relative sea levels rising and falling and mostly staying within a 100mm/4inch band since 1985.  El Niños are known to have a positive effect (raising) on sea levels in the eastern Pacific and we see these noted on the annual graph above.

Just to be thorough we have to look at Vertical Land Movement in order to know if it is the sea surface or the land that is moving — up or down.  The good news is that there are CGPS (continuously operating GPS stations — CGPS@TG) in the Galápagos:

GLPS_VLM_800

Nothing in particular going on with Vertical Land Movement, other than something that seems to be a seasonal cycle, but constrained mostly in a range of about 1 inch (0.025 meters).  Even with this short ten year record, we  can see that there is no upward VLM disguising rising sea level.

 

Combining Tide Gauge and CGPS data it does not appear that there has been any SLR at the Galápagos over the last 30 years.

Bottom Line –  Sea Level Rise :   Not a current threat to the Galápagos Islands or their flora and fauna.

This leaves us with the concerns that El Niño episodes or events will seriously damage the delicate ecological balance of the Galápagos.

NOAA says:  “El Niño is a natural, ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator. Typical El Niño patterns during winter and early spring include below-average precipitation and warmer-than-average temperatures along the northern tier of the U.S., and above-normal precipitation and cooler conditions across the South. While impacts vary during each El Niño event, NOAA regularly provides temperature and precipitation outlooks for the seasons ahead.”

El Niño events are thought to have been occurring for thousands of years.[ ref. ] For example, it is thought that El Niño affected the ancient Moche people, in what is in modern-day Peru, who may have sacrificed humans in order to try to prevent heavy El Nino rains.

There have been at least 30 El Niño events since 1900, with the 1982–83, 1997–98 and 2014–16 events among the strongest on record. Since 2000, El Niño events have been observed in 2002–03, 2004–05, 2006–07, 2009–10 and 2014–16.

Major ENSO events were recorded in the years 1790–93, 1828, 1876–78, 1891, 1925–26, 1972–73, 1982–83, 1997–98, and 2014–16.

Typically, this anomaly happens at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and lasts nine months to two years.  The average period length is five years. When this warming occurs for seven to nine months, it is classified as El Niño “conditions”; when its duration is longer, it is classified as an El Niño “episode”.

There is no consensus on whether climate change will have any influence on the occurrence, strength or duration of El Niño events, as research supports El Niño events becoming stronger, longer, shorter and weaker.” [ some data from  Wiki ]

Analysis of past weather records shows that El Niños occurred about 30 times since 1900:

El_Nino_Occurences

As with all analysis of the past, earlier records are likely to have missed weak or short El Niños.  For instance, there was a strong El Niño 1931-1932 (which is not shown in the illustration above).   Today El Niños are mostly determined by satellite images and measurements.  It is impossible, of course, to counter any claim that concerns the future, so we must depend on the past for an idea of how frequent Major, or Super El Niños do occur.

Almost all of the Climate Change concern for the Galápagos rests on model predictions of double the number of El Niños and stronger El Niños through the 21st century.

“In short, if you are someone who wants more or stronger ENSO events in the future, I have great news for you – research supports that. If you are someone who wants fewer or weaker ENSO events in the future, don’t worry – research supports that too.” [ Climate.gov ]

“Year-to-year ENSO variability is controlled by a delicate balance of amplifying and damping feedbacks, and one or more of the physical processes that are responsible for determining the characteristics of ENSO will probably be modified by climate change. Therefore, despite considerable progress in our understanding of the impact of climate change on many of the processes that contribute to El Niño variability, it is not yet possible to say whether ENSO activity will be enhanced or damped, or if the frequency of events will change.”     [ CCSD ]

Here is how these worries related to reality:

There is no substantive evidence that strong or super- El Niño’s will occur more often or that they will be stronger or of longer duration.  Climate Science presently does not know what causes El Niños, though we can recognize the physical signs of ENSO changes.  Models cannot reliably predict/project El Niños in the future.  Thus:

1)  When there are future major El Niños, which is almost certain,  then there will be starving wildlife (seals, cormorants, penguins and marine iguanas) if and when upwelling slows, waters warm and  sardines move to better feeding spots.  This is the natural order of things.

2)  El Niños in the future will bring more rain to the dry Galápagos, as they have always done, which is good for most of the flora but has some downsides for the some of the fauna like giant tortoises (which prefer dry soil for egg laying).  Long rainy seasons can lead to waterlogging of the thin soils which can cause shallow-rooted plants, like the Giant Daisy Tree, to be blown down in storm conditions.

3)  El Niños will mean warmer sea surface temperatures by definition, which if high enough, can cause coral bleaching of the reefs around the islands.

These real threats from El Niños are no different today than they have been during the known past and we can confidently assume that these threats existed in the more distant past.  The ecological niche that is the Galápagos may actually have been created by and depend upon, in part,  the cyclical nature of the ENSO, with its El Niños and La Ninas.

Bottom Line – El Niños:  El Niño is not currently an increased risk for the Galápagos.  No evidence exists, other than unreliable model projections, that there will be more or stronger El Niño episodes or events in the future.

# # # # #

I did say, at the beginning:  “The fabled living treasures of this group of islands are threatened, besieged and at risk of disappearing forever long before we have had time to discover all of their secrets.”  If the risks are not Sea Level Rise, and not future El Niños, what is threatening the Galápagos? In one word:

SUCCESS

 UNESCO World Heritage gave us a hint: “Already under pressure from tourism development, population growth and the impacts of introduced species…”

The Galápagos Islands were at one time a sleepy little place, visited sometimes by curious scientists and photographers. Today:

“….the sheer growth in tourism, which has been fueled, in part, by the growing popularity of both shorter cruises and land-based tourism, has had an undeniable impact on the islands in recent decades. From 1990 to 2013, tourism arrivals increased from around 40,000 to just over 200,000. During that time, the population of the Galápagos increased from around 10,000 to just over 30,000 [currently believed to be 35-40,000], as Ecuadorians from the mainland migrated here in search of jobs and opportunities created, directly and indirectly, by the tourism industry.

Population growth in inhabited areas has created demand for new infrastructure, housing, automobiles, fresh water, sewage treatment and waste disposal. It has also lead to an increase in the number of new, small businesses in operation, which has further fueled immigration from the mainland.  [ source ]

Too many people — a quarter of a million people per year visit the Galápagos, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, are taken by excursion boats to visit uninhabited islands, swim with the seals and sea turtles and drop their trash and cigarette butts everywhere.  All the natives (nearly 100 percent immigrants — both from mainland Ecuador and the world at large) and the tourists live on 3% of the land in the Galápagos — by decree from the government.  That’s a lot of people crammed into a little space.

All those tourists means lots of built infrastructure — water treatment plants, electrical generation (diesel fueled), fresh water wells, trash disposal, roads, marinas, hotels — all those tourists need local people to see to their needs and desires.  But luckily, this also means lots of tourist dollars, at least some of which remain in Ecuadorian hands.

And some of that money goes to fund conservation efforts.  Add to the local money grants from the UN and other NGOs, and there is a lot conservation work being done.

The islands need it — tagging along with the people came goats, dogs, cats, pigs, donkeys, cattle, chickens and rats — plus a veritable Noah’s Ark  of insects and some troublesome plants.

The worst of the invasive plants might be a blackberry — which establishes itself in distressed soil, such as storm damaged areas of Giant Daisy Trees forests.  The blackberries grow so quickly and so dense that the Giant Daisys cannot reestablish themselves.

Of course, feral pigs, goats, donkeys and cattle can nearly denude a whole small island in just a few short years.  Tourist dollars have financed elimination schemes (hunting, both from the ground and from helicopters) which have finally been successful on several islands.

“A goat eradication program, however, cleared the goats from Pinta and Santiago and most of the goat population from Isabela. In fact, by 2006 all feral pigs, donkeys and non-sterile goats had been eliminated from Santiago and Isabela, the largest islands with the worst problems due to non-native mammals.”

“…in 1996 a US$5 million, five-year eradication plan commenced in an attempt to rid the islands of introduced species such as goats, rats, deer, and donkeys. Except for the rats, the project was essentially completed in 2006.  Rats have only been eliminated from the smaller Galápagos Islands of Rábida and Pinzón.” [ Wiki ]

The government of Ecuador is making bold efforts to get the situation under control:    “In 1959, the centenary year of Charles Darwin‘s publication of The Origin of Species, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago’s land area a national park, excepting areas already colonised.”  Emigration to the Galápagos has been restricted and tourist visits to many sites are being monitored to keep fragile areas from being overrun.

Take Home Messages:

1)  The Galápagos Islands have weathered the storms of the Pacific for centuries, probably millennia,  and its plants and animals have survived and been shaped by their experiences.  They are not threatened in any unusual way in the present or the near future by Climate Change, Sea Level Rise or future El Niños.

2)  The real present threats to the treasures of the Galápagos Islands are too many people (both residents and tourists) and the arrival of invasive species over the last 500 years.

3)  The Galápagos Islands are home to some magnificent sights and interesting flora and fauna — if you are a Nature enthusiast, it is a great place to get to know.   It is better that you visit by proxy and let nature videos and photography inform you. — the Galápagos Islands already have too many visitors.

4)  If you must go, find a way to volunteer with one of the conservation groups so that your visit can be part of the solution.  (also here, here, and here. Some of these are commercial enterprises, buyer beware.)

5)   Various NGOs have programs to which you can donate:   The Galápagos Conservancy, The Charles Darwin Foundation, and the  The Galápagos Conservation Trust.

# # # # #

 Author’s Comment Policy:

So many of the world’s wonderful places suffer from too much fame and the resulting rush of tourists.  Much of the tourism is powered by the desire of the local people to gain financially.  Usually the next  cycle  brings in international travel and hotel conglomerates which insist in building giant hotels and providing all sorts of intrusive services such as guided walking tours, kayaking trips, scuba and snorkeling outings, motor-cat rides — all of which result in degraded environments.

Although the government of Ecuador changes every few years, it has made important strides in improving the situation in the Galápagos.   The Ecuadorian National Budget includes support for ongoing work in the Galápagos. UNESCO’s declaration of the Galápagos as a World Heritage site in 2007 has brought aid money from the UN and other international environmental organizations.

If you have been there recently, let us know in comments what you found.

If addressing me, begin your comment with “Kip…” so I’ll be sure to see it.

Hurricanes & climate change: 21st century projections

Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

Final installment in my series on hurricanes and climate change.

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What Warming 1978 to 1997?

Science Matters

Flawed thermometers can lead to false results.

Those public opinion surveys on global warming/climate change often ask if you believe the world has gotten warmer in the last century. Most all of us answer “Yes,” because that is the data we have been shown by the record keepers.  Fred Singer, a distinguished climate scientist, asks a disturbing question: “What if trends in surface average temperatures (SAT) were produced by biases of the instruments themselves, rather than being a natural fact?.  He makes his case in an article at The Independent The 1978-1997 Warming Trend Is an Artifact of Instrumentation  Excerpts below in italics with my bolds.(H/T John Ray)

Now we tackle, using newly available data, what may have caused the fictitious temperature trend in the latter decades of the 20th century.

We first look at ocean data. There was a great shift, after 1980, in the way Sea Surface…

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February Land and Sea Mixed Cooling

Science Matters

banner-blog

With apologies to Paul Revere, this post is on the lookout for cooler weather with an eye on both the Land and the Sea.  UAH has updated their tlt (temperatures in lower troposphere) dataset for January.   Previously I have done posts on their reading of ocean air temps as a prelude to updated records from HADSST3. This month I will add a separate graph of land air temps because the comparisons and contrasts are interesting as we contemplate possible cooling in coming months and years.

Presently sea surface temperatures (SST) are the best available indicator of heat content gained or lost from earth’s climate system.  Enthalpy is the thermodynamic term for total heat content in a system, and humidity differences in air parcels affect enthalpy.  Measuring water temperature directly avoids distorted impressions from air measurements.  In addition, ocean covers 71% of the planet surface and thus dominates surface temperature estimates.  Eventually…

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