Our Urban “Climate Crisis”

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Jim Steele

Published in Pacifica Tribune May 14, 2019

What’s Natural

Our Urban “Climate Crisis”


Based on a globally averaged statistic, some scientists and several politicians claim we are facing a climate crisis. Although it’s wise to think globally, organisms are never affected by global averages. Never! Organisms only respond to local conditions. Always! Given that weather stations around the globe only record local conditions, it is important to understand over one third of the earth’s weather stations report a cooling trend (i.e. Fig 4 below ) Cooling trends have various local and regional causes, but clearly, areas with cooling trends are not facing a “warming climate crisis”. Unfortunately, by averaging cooling and warming trends, the local factors affecting varied trends have been obscured.

It is well known as human populations grow, landscapes lose increasing amounts of natural vegetation, experience a loss of soil moisture and are increasingly covered by heat absorbing pavement and structures. All those factors raise temperatures so that a city’s downtown area can be 10°F higher than nearby rural areas. Despite urban areas representing less than 3% of the USA’s land surface, 82% of our weather stations are located in urbanized areas. This prompts critical thinkers to ask, “have warmer urbanized landscapes biased the globally averaged temperature?” (Arctic warming also biases the global average, but that dynamic must await a future article.)


Satellite data reveal that in forested areas the maximum surface temperatures are 36°F cooler than in grassy areas, and grassy areas’ maximum surface temperatures can be 36°F cooler than the unvegetated surfaces of deserts and cities. To appreciate the warming effects of altered landscapes, walk barefoot across a cool grassy lawn on a warm sunny day and then step onto a burning asphalt roadway.

In natural areas like Yosemite National Park, maximum air temperatures are cooler now than during the 1930s. In less densely populated and more heavily forested California, maximum air temperatures across the northern two thirds of the state have not exceeded temperatures of the 1930s. In contrast, recently urbanized communities in China report rapid warming of 3°F to 9°F in just 10 years, associated with the loss of vegetation.


Although altered urban landscapes undeniably raise local temperatures, some climate researchers suggest warmer urban temperatures do not bias the globally averaged warming trend. They argue warming trends in rural areas are similar to urbanized areas. So, they theorize a warmer global temperature is simply the result of a stronger greenhouse effect. However, such studies failed to analyze how changes in vegetation and wetness can similarly raise temperatures in both rural and urban areas. For example, researchers reported overgrazing had raised grassland temperatures 7°F higher compared to grassland that had not been grazed. Heat from asphalt will increase temperatures at rural weather stations just as readily as urban stations.

To truly determine the effects of climate change on natural habitats requires observing trends from tree ring data obtained from mostly pristine landscapes. Instrumental data are overwhelmingly measured in disturbed urbanized areas. Thus, the difference between instrumental and tree ring temperature trends can illustrate to what degree landscapes changes have biased natural temperature trends. And those trends are strikingly different!

The latest reconstructions of summer temperature trends from the best tree ring data suggest the warmest 30-year period happened between 1927 and 1956. After 1956, tree rings recorded a period of cooling that lowered global temperatures by over 1°F. In contrast, although tree rings and instrumental temperatures agreed up to 1950, the instrumental temperature trend, as presented in NASA graphs, suggests a temperature plateau from 1950 to 1970 and little or no cooling. So, are these contrasting trends the result of an increased urban warming effect offsetting natural cooling?


After decades of cooling, tree ring data recorded a global warming trend but with temperatures just now reaching a warmth that approaches the 1930s and 40s. In contrast, instrumental data suggests global temperatures have risen by more than 1°F above the 1940s. Some suggest tree rings have suddenly become insensitive to recent warmth? But the different warming trends are again better explained by a growing loss of vegetation and increasing areas covered by asphalt affecting temperatures measured by thermometers compared with temperatures determined from tree ring data in natural habitats.

Humans are increasingly inhabiting urban environments with 66% of humans projected to inhabit urban areas by 2030. High population densities typically reduce cooling vegetation, reduce wetlands and soil moisture, and increase landscape areas covered by heat retaining pavements. Thus, we should expect trends biased from urbanized landscapes to continue to rise. But there is a real solution to this “urban climate crisis.” It requires increasing vegetation, creating more parks and greenbelts, restoring wetlands and streams, and reducing heat absorbing pavements and roofs. Reducing CO2 concentrations will not reduce stifling urban temperatures.

Jim Steele is the retired director of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.

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):

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):

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.

Chinese UHI study finds 0.34C/century inflation effect on average temperature estimate.

Tallbloke's Talkshop

New study published by Springer today makes interesting reading. Phil Jones’ ears will be burning brightly.

Historical temperature records are often partially biased by the urban heat island (UHI) effect. However, the exact magnitude of these biases is an ongoing, controversial scientific question, especially in regions like China where urbanization has greatly increased in recent decades. Previous studies have mainly used statistical information and selected static population targets, or urban areas in a particular year, to classify urban-rural stations and estimate the influence of urbanization on observed warming trends. However, there is a lack of consideration for the dynamic processes of urbanization. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH), Yangtze River Delta (YRD), and Pearl River Delta (PRD) are three major urban agglomerations in China which were selected to investigate the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of urban expansion effects on observed warming trends in this study. Based on remote sensing (RS) data, urban area expansion…

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Mighty Greenland glacier slams on brakes

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Jakobshavn glacier, West Greenland [image credit: Wikipedia]
Even the climate alarm oriented BBC has finally had to admit the inconvenient truth about Greenland’s largest glacier. Instead of dropping in height by 20m. a year, it’s now thickening by 20m. a year. This isn’t supposed to happen when one of the stock phrases of the fearmongering media is ‘the rapidly melting Arctic’. Of course logic says that since glaciers can grow naturally they can also retreat naturally, despite attempts to blame humans.

European satellites have detailed the abrupt change in behaviour of one of Greenland’s most important glaciers, says BBC News.

In the 2000s, Jakobshavn Isbrae was the fastest flowing ice stream on the island, travelling at 17km a year.

As it sped to the ocean, its front end also retreated and thinned, dropping in height by as much as 20m year.

But now it’s all change. Jakobshavn is travelling…

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Polar bear habitat update for early spring shows no influence of a CO2 control knob


The primary feeding period for polar bears is rapidly drawing to a close in much of the Arctic, although it may continue for another few weeks in the farthest north. Mating is pretty much over as well, which means the polar bears’ need for abundant sea ice is declining even more rapidly than the ice does itself at this time of year.

Walking bear shutterstock_329214941_web size

Despite the fact that CO2 levels have now reached 415 ppm (see tweet below), sea ice is still pretty much as it was in 2006 when CO2 was about 385 ppm. In other words, the state of sea ice at this time of year – just over 12 million kilometres squared in 2006 and in 2019 – shows no correlation with rising CO2 levels. There is also not a hint of imminent catastrophe for polar bears anywhere within their range, despite the hand-wringing messages from conservation fear-mongers

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What’s Wrong With The Surface Temperature Record? Guest: Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. joins [Anthony Watts] on a podcast to discuss the surface temperature record, the upcoming IPCC report, and climate science moving forward.

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. explains how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is incorrectly explaining climate change to the media and public. Pielke highlights how the IPCC ignores numerous drivers of climate aside from CO2, leading to numerous factual inaccuracies in the IPCC reports.

Climate monitoring station in a parking lot at University of Arizona, Tucson

We also cover what is wrong with the surface temperature record – specifically why many temperature readings are higher than the actual temperature.

Available on Amazon at a special low price – click image

Pielke is currently a Senior Research Scientist in CIRES and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder (November 2005 -present). He is also an Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.

BIG NEWS – Verified by NOAA – Poor Weather Station Siting Leads To Artificial Long Term Warming

Sierra Foothill Commentary

Based on the data collected for the Surface Station Project and analysis papers describing the results, my friend Anthony Watts has been saying for years that “surface temperature measurements (and long term trends) have been affected by encroachment of urbanization on the placement of weather stations used to measure surface air temperature, and track long term climate.”

When Ellen and I traveled across the country in the RV we visited weather stations in the historical weather network and took photos of the temperature measurement stations and the surrounding environments.

Now, NOAA has validated Anthony’s findings — weather station siting can influence the surface station long temperature record. Here some samples that were taken by other volunteers :


Impacts of Small-Scale Urban Encroachment on Air Temperature Observations

Ronald D. Leeper, John Kochendorfer, Timothy Henderson, and Michael A. Palecki


A field experiment was performed in Oak Ridge, TN, with four…

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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:


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.


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.

Curious Correlations

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I got to thinking about the relationship between the Equatorial Pacific, where we find the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon, and the rest of the world. I’ve seen various claims about what happens to the temperature in various places at various lag-times after the Nino/Nina changes. So I decided to take a look.

To do that, I’ve gotten the temperature of the NINO34 region of the Equatorial Pacific. The NINO34 region stretches from 90°W, near South America, out to 170° West in the mid-Pacific, and from 5° North to 5° South of the Equator. I’ve calculated how well correlated that temperature is with the temperatures in the whole world, at various time lags.

To start with, here’s the correlation of what the temperature of the NINO34 region is doing with what the rest of the world is doing, with no time lag. Figure 1 shows which areas of the planet move in step with or in opposition to the NINO34 region with no lag.

Figure 1. Correlation of the temperature of the NINO34 region (90°-170°W, 5°N/S) with gridcell temperatures of the rest of the globe. Correlation values greater than 0.6 are all shown in red.

Now, perfect correlation is where two variables move in total lockstep. It has a value of 1.0. And if there is perfect anti-correlation, meaning whenever one variable moves up the other moves down, that has a value of minus 1.0.

There are a couple of interesting points about that first look, showing correlations with no lag. The Indian Ocean moves very strongly in harmony with the NINO34 region (red). Hmmm. However, the Atlantic doesn’t do that. Again hmmm. Also, on average northern hemisphere land is positively correlated with the NINO34 region (orange), and southern hemisphere land is the opposite, negatively correlated (blue).

Next, with a one-month lag to give the Nino/Nina effects time to start spreading around the planet, we see the following:

Figure 2. As in Figure 1, but with a one month lag between the NINO34 temperature and the rest of the world. In other words, we’re comparing each month’s temperature with the previous month’s NINO34 temperature.

Here, after a month, the North Pacific and the North Atlantic both start to feel the effects. Their correlation switches from negative (blues and greens) to positive (red-orange). Next, here’s the situation after a two-month lag.

Figure 3. As in previous figures, but with a two month lag.

I found this result most surprising. Two months after a Nino/Nina change, the entire Northern Hemisphere strongly tends to move in the same direction as the NINO34 region moved two months earlier … and at the same time, the entire Southern Hemisphere moves in opposition to what the NINO34 region did two months earlier.

Hmmm …

And here’s the three-month lag:

Figure 4. As in previous figures, but with a three month lag.

An interesting feature of the above figure is that the good correlation of the north-eastern Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America does not extend over the continent itself.

Finally, after four months, the hemispherical pattern begins to fall apart.

Figure 5. As in previous figures, but with a four & five month lag.

Even at five months, curious patterns remain. In the northern hemisphere, the land is all negatively correlated with NINO34, and the ocean is positively correlated. But in the southern hemisphere, the land is all positively correlated and the ocean negative.

Note that this hemispheric land-ocean difference with a five-month lag is the exact opposite of the land-ocean difference with no lag shown in Figure 1.

Now … what do I make of all this?

The first thing that it brings up for me is the astounding complexity of the climate system. I mean, who would have guessed that the two hemispheres would have totally opposite strong responses to the Nino/Nina phenomenon? And who would have predicted that the land and the ocean would react in opposite directions to the Nino/Nina changes right up to the very coastlines?

Second, it would seem to offer some ability to improve long-range forecasting for certain specific areas. Positive correlation with Hawaii, North Australia, Southern Africa, and Brazil is good up to four-five months out.

Finally, it strikes me that I can run this in reverse. By that, I mean I can find all areas of the planet that are able to predict the future temperature at some pre-selected location. Like, say, what areas of the globe correlate well with whatever the UK will be doing two months from now?

Hmmm indeed …

Warmest regards to all, the mysteries of this wondrous world are endless.


Comparison of global climatologies confirms warming of the global ocean

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences


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”.