Sunday, February 3, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: New Observations Call AMOC-Climate Disaster Predictions Into Question

Ocean Circulation Observations Could Have Major Consequences For Climate Science

In this newsletter:

1) New Observations Call AMOC-Climate Disaster Predictions Into Question
Science News, 31 January 2019

2) New Ocean Circulation Observations Could Have Major Consequences For Climate Science
The Washington Post, 1 February 2019

3) NOAA’s Failed Winter Outlook
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 1 February 2019

4) If The Polar Vortex Is Due To Global Warming, Why Are U.S. Cold Waves Decreasing?
Roy Spencer, 31 January 2019

5) John Christy Appointed To EPA Science Advisory Board
The Hill, 1 February 2019

6) Why “Green” Energy Is Futile, In One Lesson 
Powerline, 31 January 2019

7) German Parties Fears They May Lose Votes For Costly Coal Exit
Clean Energy Wire, 1 February 2019
 8) And Finally: Apocalypse Creep & Liberal Eschatology
Commentary, 25 January 2019

Full details:

1) New Observations Call AMOC-Climate Disaster Predictions Into Question
Science News, 31 January 2019

New findings from an international ocean observing network are calling into question the longstanding idea that global warming might slow down a big chunk of the ocean’s “conveyor belt.”

The first 21 months of data from sensors moored across much of the North Atlantic are giving new insight into what controls the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a system of currents that redistributes heat around much of the Western Hemisphere.

Researchers had thought the strength of that circulation, known by the acronym AMOC, was largely influenced by the sinking of cold, fresh water in the Labrador Sea, between Greenland and Canada. And climate simulations suggest that the sea’s deepwater formation might slow as the world continues to warm — which also could slow down the entire Atlantic current system and possibly make temperatures on land in the northeastern United States and the United Kingdom plunge. That concept inspired the (otherwise unrealistic) 2004 climate apocalypse film The Day After Tomorrow.

But, the data collected over those 21 months show that the Labrador Sea’s influence on the AMOC paled in comparison with that of another North Atlantic ocean region, just east of Greenland. How the intensity of deepwater formation in that area changed with time accounted for 88 percent of the observed variability in the entire AMOC, physical oceanographer Susan Lozier of Duke University and colleagues report in the Feb. 1 Science.

The results provide “an unprecedented insight into how the modern North Atlantic operates,” says paleoceaonographer David Thornalley of University College London, who was not involved in the study.

Atlantic Ocean circulation is driven by differences in water density related to freshness and temperature: Warm, salty water (including the Gulf Stream) flows north at the ocean surface, delivering heat to the northeastern United States and the British Isles. Near Greenland, the current splits, with one arm heading for the Labrador Sea west of Greenland and the other toward the Nordic Sea to the east. There, the waters become both colder and fresher, thanks to meltwater from land. The colder water then sinks and travels south again along the ocean floor.

Many studies have suggested that the Labrador Sea regulates AMOC’s strength, but those are largely based on climate simulations, Lozier says. “We need to ground-truth the simulations,” she says. “This is where we really need observations.”

Full story

see also GWPF coverage of AMOC-Climate scare running amok
2) New Ocean Circulation Observations Could Have Major Consequences For Climate Science
The Washington Post, 1 February 2019

Chris Mooney

It may be the biggest wild card in the climate system. Scientists have long feared that the so-called “overturning” circulation in the Atlantic Ocean could slow down or even halt due to climate change – which would have enormous planetary consequences.

But at the same time, researchers have a limited understanding of how the circulation actually works, since taking measurements of its vast and remote currents is exceedingly difficult. And now, a major new research endeavor aimed at doing just that has suggested a dramatic revision of our understanding of the circulation itself.

A new 21-month series of observations in the frigid waters off Greenland has led to the discovery that most of the overturning – in which water not only sinks but returns southward again in the ocean depths – occurs to the east, rather than to the west, of the enormous ice island. If that’s correct, then climate models that suggest the circulation will slow as the climate warms may have to be revised to take this into account.

The magnitude of the scientific surprise, on a scale of 1 to 10, is pretty large, said Susan Lozier, an oceanographer at Duke University who was lead author of the research published Thursday in Science.

“For me personally, maybe a 7,” she said. “But I think, for the community, it might have been more like a 9.”

The new results come from the $32 million OSNAP, or Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic, program, the first attempt to comprehensively measure the circulation in the exceedingly remote regions in question. These icy seas, it is believed, are where cold, salty waters – which are extremely dense – sink below the sea surface into the depths, and then travel back southward again all the way to the Southern Hemisphere.

This “overturning” process is crucial because the sinking in the North Atlantic effectively pulls more warm, salty water northward via a system of currents that includes the Gulf Stream. This heat delivery, in turn, shapes climate throughout much of the region, and especially in Europe.

Better understanding of how the circulation works is key, since some scientists have already proposed that it is slowing down, with major consequences, including ocean warming and sea level rise off the U.S. East Coast.

Global temperature maps in recent years have shown a strange area of anomalously cold temperatures in the ocean to the southeast of Greenland, along with very warm temperatures off the coast of New England.

The cold region – which has been dubbed the “cold blob” and “warming hole” – is strikingly anomalous at a time when Earth and its oceans are otherwise warming. And the suggestion has been that this represents a decline in the volume of heat being transported northward by the circulation.

The warm waters off New England, in this interpretation, would represent a key corollary – additional ocean heat hanging around in more southern waters, rather than making the trip northward.
Into this debate comes the OSNAP project, whose leaders say that they are not taking a side on the climate question – they’re merely trying to measure the circulation itself.

The OSNAP array is sort of a scientific line running across the northern Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Scotland, touching the southern tip of Greenland along the way. In these waters, researchers have deployed 53 ocean moorings, each of which contains multiple instruments.

The moorings take an array of measurements – ocean temperature, salinity and other readings – at different depths across the entirety of the Atlantic. And that’s how they can get the pulse, so to speak, of the overturning circulation.

A similar cross-Atlantic measuring system already exists much farther south, around the latitude of Florida – but scientists theorize that measuring the circulation in the far less hospitable waters of the north, where sinking actually occurs, is essential to understand how it works….

“I think that’s one big take-home message from our study, is that these previous papers that have discussed that are almost like barking up the wrong tree,” said Bob Pickart, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and one of the study’s authors.

Duke’s Lozier said she doesn’t want to criticize older modeling studies – these are in a constant state of improvement, and the new work will augment that process. Still, she noted, the empirical findings from OSNAP look different from some models.

“Some of these models are producing five times the amount of Labrador Sea water they should be producing, based on observations,” said Lozier.

Full story

3) NOAA’s Failed Winter Outlook
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 1 February 2019

Paul Homewood

While much of  the US continues in the grip of a brutally cold winter, we can take a look back at what NOAA predicted three months ago:

And Ryan Maue reminds us that the cold is not localised
Perhaps NOAA have been taking lessons for our dear old Met Office!

4) If The Polar Vortex Is Due To Global Warming, Why Are U.S. Cold Waves Decreasing?
Roy Spencer, 31 January 2019

It’s much easier to devise and promote a climate change theory than it is to falsify it. Falsification requires a lot of data over a long period of time, something we don’t usually have in climate research.

The “polar vortex” is the deep cyclonic flow around a cold air mass generally covering the Arctic, Canada, and Northern Asia during winter. It is irregularly shaped, following the far-northern land masses, unlike it’s stratospheric cousin, which is often quite symmetric and centered on the North and South Poles.

For as long as we have had weather records (extending back into the 1800s), lobes of cold air rotating generally from west to east around the polar vortex sometimes extend down into the U.S. causing wild winter weather and general unpleasantness.

We used to call this process “weather”. Now it’s called “climate change”.

When these cold air outbreaks continued to menace the United States even as global warming has caused global average temperatures to creep upward, an explanation had to be found. After all, snow was supposed to be a thing of the past by now.

Enter the theory that decreasing wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic (down about 15% over the last 40 years) has tended to displace the polar vortex in the general direction of southern Canuckistan and Yankeeland.

In other words, as the theory goes, global warming sometimes causes colder winters. This is what makes global warming theory so marvelously adaptable — it can explain anything.

In the wake of the current cold wave, John Christy skated into my office this morning with a plot of U.S. winter cold waves since the late 1800s. He grouped the results by region, and examined cold waves lasting a minimum of 2 days at a station, and 5 days at a station. The results were basically the same.

As can be seen in the plot below, there is no evidence in the data supporting the claim that decreasing Arctic sea ice in recent decades is causing more frequent displacement of cold winter air masses into the eastern U.S., at least through the winter of 2017-18:

Now, I suppose that Arctic sea ice decline could have some influence. But weather is immensely complex. Cause and effect is often difficult to ascertain.
At a minimum we should demand good observational support for any specific claim. In this case I would say that the connection between Eastern U.S. cold waves and Arctic sea ice is speculative, at best.

Just like most theories of climate change.

5) John Christy Appointed To EPA Science Advisory Board
The Hill, 1 February 2019

Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler has put eight new members on the agency’s main board of external science advisers…

The Science Advisory Board is the main body that advises the EPA on scientific matters, like scrutinizing regulations and directing the agency’s actions.

The new members announced Thursday continue former EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s controversial policy of banning members who received EPA grants, a move that critics assailed as an attempt to make the committee more industry-friendly.

“In a fair, open, and transparent fashion, EPA reviewed hundreds of qualified applicants nominated for this committee,” Wheeler said in a statement.

“Members who will be appointed or reappointed include experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who reflect the geographic diversity needed to represent all ten EPA regions.”

The EPA noted Wheeler kept on the board everyone who was eligible to remain, including many named by the Obama administration.

The new members include John Christy, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Alabama - Huntsville who is an outspoken climate skeptic and often cited by pundits and politicians opposing climate policies.

Christy’s work includes arguing that the climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions than the scientific consensus has found, including the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He argues, therefore, that human activity has a very small impact on the climate.

He told the House Science Committee in 2017 that the climate models that international bodies rely upon have failed in the past and shouldn’t be used to set policy.

Full story

Save the date: Prof John Christy will give a presentation in the House of Lords in London/UK on 8 May. If you are interested in attending the event, please email 
6) Why “Green” Energy Is Futile, In One Lesson 
Powerline, 31 January 2019

John Hinderaker

Here in Minnesota, we are enduring a brutal stretch of weather. The temperature hasn’t gotten above zero in the last three days, with lows approaching -30. And that is in the Twin Cities, in the southern part of the state. Yesterday central Minnesota experienced a natural gas “brownout,” as Xcel Energy advised customers to turn thermostats down to 60 degrees and avoid using hot water. Xcel put up some customers in hotels. Why?

Because the wind wasn’t blowing. Utilities pair natural gas plants with wind farms, in order to burn gas, which can be ramped up and down more quickly than coal, when the wind isn’t blowing.

Which raises the question: since natural gas is reliable, why do we need the wind farms? The answer is, we don’t. When the wind isn’t blowing–as it wasn’t yesterday–natural gas supplies the electricity. It also heats homes, and with bitter cold temperatures and no wind, there wasn’t enough natural gas to go around. The resulting “brownout” has been a political shock in Minnesota.

Isaac Orr, a leading energy expert who is my colleague at Center of the American Experiment, explains this phenomenon in detail:

[W]ind is producing only four percent of electricity in the MISO region, of which Minnesota is a part.

While that’s not good, what’s worse is wind is only utilizing 24 percent of its installed capacity, and who knows how this will fluctuate throughout the course of the day.

Coal, on the other hand, is churning out 45 percent of our power, nuclear is providing 13 percent, and natural gas is providing 26 percent of our electricity.
This is exactly why the renewable energy lobby’s dream of shutting down coal, natural gas, and nuclear plants and “replacing” them with wind and solar is a fairy tale. It simply cannot happen, because we never know if and when the wind will blow or the sun will shine when we need it most.

“But the wind is always blowing somewhere” ~ a renewable energy lobbyist

Renewable energy apologists often argue that although the wind may not be blowing in your neighborhood, it’s blowing, somewhere. All we have to do, they argue, is build wind turbines and transmission lines all over the country so we can have renewable energy everywhere. It turns out this old chestnut is also completely wrong.

For example, the wind isn’t blowing in North Dakota or South Dakota, where more than 1,800 MW (a massive amount) of wind projects are operating or planned, at massive cost, by Minnesota electric companies.

In fact, the wind isn’t blowing anywhere.

Just look at California, the state that is consistently the most self-congratulating about how “green” they are. Wind is operating a 3 percent of installed capacity, solar is operating at 12 percent, natural gas is running wide open, and California is importing a whopping 27 percent of its electricity from Nevada and Arizona. ***

Days like today perfectly illustrate why intermittent, unreliable sources of energy like wind and solar would have no place in our energy system if they were not mandated by politicians, showered with federal subsidies, and lining the pockets of regulated utilities that are guaranteed to profit off wind and solar farms whether they are generating electricity, or not.

Isaac’s real-world message is starting to break through, at least here in Minnesota. Tomorrow morning the Star Tribune is running Isaac’s op-ed headlined “Bitter cold shows reliable energy sources are critical.”

Full post 

7) German Parties Fears They May Lose Votes For Costly Coal Exit
Clean Energy Wire, 1 February 2019

The initial relief in Germany over a coal exit deal has given way to fresh discussions over how to implement the hard-won compromise. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel and politicians from her grand coalition government praised the agreement by the coal exit commission, made up from many different groups of society. The question of how to finance the switch away from coal remains a major sticking point, as finance minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) said the majority of mining regions support will come from existing budgets. In a first Bundestag debate on the proposal, parliamentarians made clear they will have the last word on all coal exit law-making, and differences on details even within the government majority were laid bare.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has signalled her government is ready to move on the deal agreed by the coal exit commission last week. “The fact that a commission made up from such different societal groups has found an agreement and created a framework is an important message for us. We will handle this very carefully,” she said after a meeting with German state premiers. The deal showed “a responsibility for society as a whole and we want to live up to it,” said Merkel.

In the days following the coal commission’s agreement to exit coal-fired power generation by 2038 at the latest, politicians from Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and government coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD) have showed support to swiftly implement the compromise.

However, a first parliamentary debate on the deal made clear that tough debates on the details can be expected throughout the legislative process over the coming months.

Both Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance as well as her coalition partner, the Social Democrats, have slumped in polls and last year’s regional votes.

Elections in autumn in eastern German states – including lignite mining states – loom large. Concerns that voters may perceive the deal from the coal commission as a burden had made both parties nervous as the right-wing populists are polling strongly in East Germany. European Parliament elections at the end of May present a first litmus test.

Full story

8) And Finally: Apocalypse Creep & Liberal Eschatology
Commentary, 25 January 2019

Nothing says “end of the world” like a big fake clock.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists gave its annual Doomsday Clock presentation on Thursday and announced that it’s still two minutes to midnight. Last year, the group of 15 scholars and scientists moved the phony minute hand of fate 30 seconds closer to Armageddon, from two-and-a-half minutes to midnight to its present setting, 11:58 pm sharp. By the Bulletin’s logic, we’re as close to the end as we’ve ever been. The whole thing is adorably retro.

The Doomsday Clock debuted in 1947 and was set at seven minutes to midnight. You could say that one Doomsday Minute is roughly equal to ten years, except the Doomsdayers move the Clock forward and backward depending on what’s going on in the world. So the whole time-running-out thing is symbolically incoherent. And it’s not been the best predictor of emergencies either: In 1960, a year after the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, the clock added five minutes to the survival time of the human race. Two years later, we had the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The last time the clock was two minutes to midnight was in 1953, at the peak of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. What’s so scary this time around? “Humanity faces two dire and simultaneous existential threats: nuclear weapons and climate change,” said former California Governor Jerry Brown, executive chair of the Bulletin.

The Doomsday Clock has been suffering from mission creep for years now. Since the end of the Cold War, the people behind the Bulletin have been put in the position of alarmists looking for a fire. And climate change has been working its way to the fore of the Bulletin’s concerns.

The Doomsday folks are upset that the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement. As we already know, policies that liberals don’t like are certain to cause mass death. The Clock is just reminding us. And for the scaremongers on the left, climate change is the new nuclear war. At least, that’s how it’s talked about. In reality, most Americans are unwilling to spend even $10 dollars a month to ward off the supposed equivalent of nuclear holocaust.

In fairness, if the Doomsday Clock can’t boost its brand in this day and age, then it’s doing it wrong. Then again, with public fear and anxiety already pitched so high, how do elite catastrophists stand out?

The Bulletin should really pace itself. It needs some room to play with here. It’s unlikely that there will be many opportunities to set the clock back while Donald Trump is in office. And the one-minute-to-midnight rollout is going to have to be carefully timed. I’m thinking 2020. But if Trump wins reelection after that, the people behind the Bulletin will really be in trouble.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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