Sunday, 13 July 2014

I'm Moving!

You can find all new blog posts by me at

Meanwhile, as this blog is still getting traffic, I shall leave it intact until visits here start to tail off and the new blog takes off. I will transfer all posts on here to an archive on the new blog eventually.

New post imminent on the above link.

Thanks for visiting 'Notes on a Scandal' over the last year or so. I hope you will find my new blog just as worthy of a visit.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

El Nino killed off by Global Warming

A warming world was supposed to be a world in which El Nino events dominated, powerful events, like the super Nino of 1998 and the slightly less powerful event in 1982/3. Warmist doctrine requires that this is the mechanism par excellence whereby excess heat trapped by CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which makes its way into the world's oceans, is suddenly unleashed upon the globe in one big hit. Hence AGW theorists were eagerly anticipating the development of a super Nino this year and on into the next, buoyed by record SST anomalies in the pacific in March. Alas, it was not to be and that early promise faded rapidly.

Now we are in the situation where it is looking increasingly like El Nino 2014/15, if it even develops, is going to be something of a damp squib and any rise in global temperatures as a result very very modest, perhaps insignificant. The World Meteorological Organisation has come up with a novel explanation for this: the failure of El Nino 2014/15 to live up to expectations is down to . . . . wait for it . . . . . global warming! Specifically, they point the finger at the 'record' warm May 2014 recently reported by NOAA (and duly disseminated across the leftist media as 'evidence' for continued global warming). In other words, one superhot month created by the accumulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has effectively killed off El Nino 2014/15!

So, what does the WMO propose as the mechanism whereby global warming is able to kill off budding super Ninos?

“One explanation for the lack of atmospheric response so far may be that the sea surface temperatures are above average across virtually the entire tropical Pacific, not just in the eastern and central portions. This may be maintaining west-to-east temperature differences more typical of neutral conditions,”

There you have it, above average SSTs caused by generalised global warming interfering with the 'temperature difference' across the entire Pacific. I'm sure there are holes in this theory you could drive an aircraft carrier through. It just sounds so brainless and desperate. Reporting Climatescience, in response to WMO's suggestion above, cautions its readers:

"However, it is worth noting that this WMO suggestion apparently runs counter to the conclusions of peer reviewed research published in Nature last year that warned higher temperatures associated with climate change would actually result in twice the number of more powerful El Ninos in the future (see our report here)."

I should say so! Having cake and eating it springs to mind. Had El Nino 2014/15 turned into a super Nino, doubtless we would all be regaled by stories in the press about climate scientists being vindicated in their theories that the 'pause' was really not a pause after all. The proof of the pudding, they would say, is the global warming now being unleashed upon the world courtesy of an El Nino spawned by the extraordinary amounts of heat which disappeared into the oceans during the 'fake' hiatus in global temperatures which all those doubting sceptics took to be proof that man-made global warming was nonsense. But as it's not going to happen, the WMO comes up with a whizzo explanation which neatly lets warmists off the hook - there'll be no El Nino warming because it's too warm!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

2014/15 - Most Hyped El Nino in History?

It would be hard to have missed all the hype surrounding the predicted El Nino this summer, the odds of which happening have recently been increased to 65% according to NOAA. The buzz surrounding it has been going on for 18 months or so now but has recently hotted up - in tandem with the waters of the equatorial Pacific - with speculation now reaching fever pitch in some quarters.

The boys and girls over at SkS were at the forefront of such speculation in April, suggesting that, though it was early days, 2014/15 might rival 1997/98 in intensity:

"Every now and then a very large event occurs, such as the one in 1997-1998 which broke surface temperature records at the time and caused worldwide disruption and damage. . . .

A powerful El Niño is by no means guaranteed, but should one develop mid-2014 to mid-2015 would likely be the hottest 12 months ever recorded. . . . .

As stated earlier, we only have just over two decades worth of reasonably detailed observations, so it is by no means guaranteed that a powerful El Niño will develop. But, based on what we have observed and our current physical understanding of the phenomenon, the evolution of an intense El Niño event is possible. It's true the models are not yet predicting a large event, but they did fail to predict the magnitude of the 1997-1998 event, so are not necessarily a reliable indicator of scale this far in advance. . . ."

Though they are at pains to stress that the arrival of a powerful El Nino later this year "would entail widespread weather-related disruption and suffering around the world" and so is not to be welcomed, it is not difficult to read between the lines to see that the authors would indeed in many ways welcome such an event because, besides being a Pause Buster par excellence, it would lend credibility to the idea mooted for years now by warmists that the 'missing heat' from anthropogenic global warming (not) these past 17 years 9 months has been lurking in the deep ocean.

"The hottest 12 months ever recorded" might coincide with such a Super El Nino if it were to form, says SkS. Goodness me, no wonder warmists are getting feverish with anticipation. Imagine the CAGW propaganda coup! Imagine the funding! So, when world temperatures suddenly accelerate as a direct result of the anticipated powerful El Nino, they can sit back smugly and say, 'We told you so':
'Be afraid, be very afraid'
'Climate change is happening', they will say.
'Gaze upon it in awe all ye non-believers and pesky anti-science, pseudo-sceptic deniers. Look and weep - 4 Hiroshimas per second, every second for nearly 18 years, suddenly unleashed upon the globe in just a few months courtesy of the Pacific belching out a big menacing cloud of AGW  Awesome! Trenberth et al were right, so stick that in your Faux Pause and smoke it! Only Big Green can save us now'.

So much for the hyperbole. Let's look at the facts as we understand them. A more sober and informative look at the prospects for a 2014/15 El Nino can be found at this Wattsupwiththat post by Bob Tisdale which compares the evolution of the powerful 1982/83 and 1997/98 El Ninos with the current one. Bob Tisdale points out that the Nino3.4 regional anomalies for 2014 are within "spitting distance" of the +0.5C threshhold to declare an official El Nino. Comparing water temperatures across the entire equatorial Pacific, Tisdale notes that:

 ". . . . warm water volume is lower and depth-averaged temperatures are less in 2014 than they were in 1997. Then again, they’re higher than they were in 1982".

So, in theory at least, 2014/15 could be slightly more powerful than 1982/83, but probably not quite as intense as 1997/98. Tisdale ends the post on a cautionary note:

"That feedback will eventually kick in to allow the 2014/15 El Niño to strengthen, if it hasn’t started already. The only questions now are how strong the El Niño will become and how long El Niño conditions will last. Everything depends on the weather in the tropical Pacific, which is why no two El Niño events are the same."

Joe Bastardi, in his excellent Saturday Summary gives his own personal take on the evidence (or not, as the case is) for 2014/15 being a Super El Nino here. He is in no doubt whatsoever that 2014/15 is being hyped like crazy at the moment by those who have an 'agenda'. It's hard not to agree with him.

On the subject of El Ninos in general and their effect upon the global climate, Judith Curry recently ran an excellent and very interesting guest post on Climate etc. authored by Donald Rapp. Rapp begins by questioning whether there is a link between rising levels of CO2 in the 20th Century and the prevalence of El Ninos:

"Why after 400 years of La Niña precedence, did periods of El Niños dominance start in the 20th century? And why did the two periods of strong El Niño dominance in the 20th century occur during a period when the CO2concentration was rising? Is there a link between rising CO2 and the El Niño – La Niña balance? But if there is such a link, why did El Niños become less prevalent than La Niñas from 1941 to 1976 and be in balance after 1998?"

Bob Tisdale thinks there is probably not a link between CO2 and ENSO. With reference to Tisdale's views on El Nino/La Nina Rapp says:

"The Pacific periodically goes through transitions from El Niño to neutral to La Niña, and vice versa. In an El Niño, warm waters cover a sizable portion of the Pacific, which heats the atmosphere. Tisdale has shown that at least in the 20th century, one can correlate durations of increase in global temperature with periods of El Niño dominance. Actually, the global warming of the 20th century correlates better with Niño indices than it does with CO2 concentration. He has therefore argued that a substantial part (if not all) of the global warming of the past ~120 years can be attributed periods of imbalance in favor of El Niños, rather than the effect of rising CO2concentration."

So we have two opposing theories. Firstly, global warming via increasing concentrations of CO2 causes there to be a predominance of El Ninos, which release excess heat stored in the Pacific resulting in rapid global warming, superimposed upon a more general warming trend, we might suppose. Very little or none of it natural. Secondly, we have the natural climate change hypothesis which says that warming per se is due to the prevalence of El Nino type conditions in the Pacific and cooling happens when La Ninas predominate. The most obvious question here of course is what, if anything, drives the pendulum swing from La Nina dominance to El Nino and vice versa? It's probably been happening for many thousands of years, so we can eliminate CO2 emissions, at least prior to the industrial era. Again, the most obvious candidate is solar activity.

But getting back to Rapp on Climate etc., he says:

"Starting in year 1900, and continuing to about 1941, El Niños were more prevalent and stronger than La Niñas. Also during this period, the earth warmed significantly. From about 1941 to about 1976, El Niños and La Niñas were fairly balanced, although there was a slight excess of La Niñas. The earth cooled slightly during this period but the prevalence of La Niñas was weak. From 1976 to 1998, El Niños strongly dominated over La Niñas. This 23-year period included the very strong El Niño of 1982-3 and culminated in the very strong El Niño of 1997-8. The earth warmed rapidly during this period from 1976 to 1998. In fact, about half the warming of the 20th century occurred during those 23 years. With the termination of the great El Niño of 1997-8, we entered a period of balance between El Niños and La Niñas and the earth’s temperature remained essentially unchanged from 1998 to 2014."

The implication is that the much talked about 'Pause' is caused by a neutral La Nina/El Nino balance. If 2014/15 produces a very powerful El Nino, this might kick start global warming again and end the current phase of ENSO neutrality with a return to a more general warming trend overlying a predominance of El Ninos. Personally, I think this scenario is unlikely, but we shall see.

Trenberth's view is that CO2-based global warming is mediated via heat stored in the oceans and periodically released via the incidence of El Ninos. Rapp questions this hypothesis:

"Trenberth’s view is that the earth is out of balance (acquiring more heat from the Sun than it can reject to space) and this excess heat finds its way into the oceans. When enough heat is stored in the surface waters, it eventually comes out as in the form of an El Niño. But, we have had El Niños on and off for hundreds of years without rising greenhouse gases, and there was very significant El Niño activity between 1900 and 1942 when CO2 concentrations were much lower. The regime shift at year 1900 was just as dramatic as the regime shift of 1977, and the persistence of El Niños from 1900 to 1942 was just as pervasive as that from 1977 to 1998. Any proposed explanation would have to deal with this widely ignored early phase of high El Niño activity."

So the 'small' issue of past natural La Nina/El Nino activity is actually a major stumbling block for those who argue that there are grubby black carbonaceous anthropogenic fingerprints all over the 20th Century warming period and the observed dominance of El Ninos throughout much of that time. But I am sure that this will not stop Trenberth and others loudly trumpeting that they have been vindicated if El Nino 2014/15 does indeed turn out to be the powerful "pause buster" which they are all hoping for. Certainly, it will provide added impetus for Obama's mad rush to green energy generation in the States and lend wholly artificial credence to loony Ed Davey's plan to push all of us here in the UK into energy poverty by reliance upon wind energy, whilst at the same time gobbling up large tracts of virgin US forest to feed Drax during periods of calm weather when each 350 foot turbine barely produces enough juice to boil a kettle.

Though the odds have shortened considerably on the incidence this summer of an El Nino, it is still by no means a certainty and there is no real way of predicting with any degree of accuracy the intensity or duration of any event. What strikes me though is the pattern of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) throughout the 20th Century, which mirrors closely the shorter period ENSO oscillations throughout.

One can clearly see the intrinsic periodic oscillatory nature of PDO. One can clearly discern the various 'regime shifts' in the Pacific Ocean from positive (warm, El Ninos dominating) to negative (cool, El Ninas more prevalent). Though it is argued that the PDO is distinct from ENSO in that ENSO is a feature of the tropical pacific whereas PDO represents a spatial pattern of temperature anomalies across the North Pacific and occurs over decadal time-scales rather than months, there is reasonable evidence to suggest strongly that the oscillatory PDO modulates to some extent the behaviour of ENSO. To see that this is the case, one has only to look at the graph of smoothed Nino3.4 SST anomalies and compare it with the graph of PDO to immediately notice that the two are correlated, with positive Nino3.4 anomalies occurring largely within the envelope of the positive phase of the PDO.

Here is another plot of the PDO taken from climate4you:

Note the clearly defined regime shift in 1977 and the decline post 2000. The PDO has gone into negative phase. For this reason particularly, I suspect that, if we do see an El Nino this year and on into next, it probably will not be very intense. I personally would be most surprised if it got anywhere near the strength of the1997/98 El Nino or even the lesser 1982/83 event. The next few months will tell. Whatever the case, besides being probably the most hyped El Nino in human history, 2014/15 will no doubt also be the most intensively studied.

Correction 5th July 2014:

Latest data on PDO indicates that it moved into positive territory at the beginning of the year and has been increasing ever since. 

As can be seen from the above graph, it is in fact quite normal for PDO to go positive or negative in contrast to the predominant 'regime', but the magnitude of the positive shift looks to be quite unusual. So maybe there is indeed a chance that a moderate strength El Nino will form later this summer/autumn, though it still looks very doubtful that it will ascend 'super Nino' status. 

There is still the fact that subsurface warm anomalies in the Eastern Pacific have tailed off and unusually warm surface waters across the entire basin are tending to neutralise conditions favourable to the formation of El Nino. Latest assessment from NOAA:

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Alice in Denier Land - Pseudoscepticism in Focus

I don't normally go in for social/psychological comment on the 'human' face of the 'climate change' (TM) debate, but with recent online 'interactions' on various blogs, a number of thoughts have occurred to me which I thought I would try and coalesce into a blog post.

In particular, the retraction of Recursive Fury by publisher Frontiers has sparked an enormous amount of debate on the validity (or otherwise) of labelling many sceptics of CAGW as 'ideational conspiracists' - conspiracy nutjobs/whackos in common parlance. As one person seemingly convinced of the unassailable credibility of consensus global warming climate science put it, in his considerable experience most sceptics, even the very intelligent ones, are fatally prone to making unfounded assertions based upon ideological imperatives and are, therefore, "batshit crazy".

Recursive Fury and its precursor LOG12 seem to have sunk deep into the psyches of online defendants of the global warming dogma who seemingly take every opportunity possible to use them as a stick with which to beat their opponents. Leaving aside the merit (or not) of the actual papers themselves for a moment, the ideational conspiracist theory is an extraordinarily useful and all encompassing tool with which to engage in debate with opponents. In order to see why this is so, I quote from Recursive Fury the following:

". . . . the presumed intentions behind any conspiracy are invariably nefarious (Keeley, 1999): Conspiracist ideation never involves groups of people whose intent is to do good, as for example when planning a surprise birthday party. Instead, conspiracist ideation relies on the presumed deceptive intentions of the people or institutions responsible for the `official' account that is being questioned. . . . . There is evidence that climate denial is infused with this assumption of nefarious intent . . . . . "

In other words, climate change deniers labour under the misapprehension (ludicrous, one may imagine) that the establishment line on CAGW is propelled by nefarious intent and therefore the reason for their resistance is not primarily driven by a sober rebuttal of the science, but a reaction against this 'evil plot'. Such a viewpoint is confirmed later in the text:

"The theorist typically considers herself, at least tacitly, to be the brave antagonist of the nefarious intentions of the conspiracy; that is, the victim is also a potential hero." 

The beauty of Recursive Fury is that, by aligning itself with establishment global warming science, it offers up the opportunity for CAGW proponents to recursively re-analyse their detractors as anti-science deniers in the grip of paranoia. If they mutter misgivings about being labelled as ideational conspiracists, this in itself must be evidence that they are indeed prone to imagining conspiracies because they see nefarious intent on the part of their opponents to label them as nutcases, ad nauseum! Great for shutting down debate on the real issues.

Indeed any protestations by sceptics which even hint at foul play on the part of the Untouchable opposition can be conveniently reassigned as psychotic behaviour. Take for instance the unhappy circumstance whereby the innocent phrase climate change has now come to mean almost exclusively man made 'climate change' (TM). Very convenient for warmists that the preferred term of reference for their theory now technically encompasses warming and cooling; indeed, wetter, drier, hotter, colder, more extreme, erratic, etc. etc., anything which may be reasonably deemed as 'climatic variability', expressed as changes in average temperature or average weather conditions. So climate change (man-made) technically doesn't just imply global warming, which is rather fortunate because we haven't had any for 17.5 years. But dare to mention that this might be a little too convenient and you will immediately be guilty of imagining nefarious intent. Even if you accept that the misappropriation of climate change was originally an entirely innocent result of random circumstance, that there was no 'conspiracy' to replace global warming with the term, alleging that the continued use of the term by the global warming fraternity is taking full advantage of the ambiguity which it implies and is 'stealing' from the plate of the natural climate change brigade (perish the very thought!), you will still be conveniently labelled a crank. 

Which brings me onto the attempted misappropriation of the term 'sceptic' and the seeming 'plot' to hijack that term such that it exclusively implies 'genuine sceptic' and excludes all or most anti-science denialist 'non-genuine' sceptics, where the preferred terms are now 'pseudosceptics', 'faux sceptics' or 'fake sceptics'. Thus by safely consigning 'climate change'(TM) 'scepticism' to an intellectual backwater labelled pseudoscepticism, the sting can be taken out of the backlash against global warming dogma. If one can be 'proven' to be a pseudosceptic, then this must necessarily bring into question all of one's arguments - scientific, ethical, practical - against global warming theory and the damaging measures being put into place to counteract the perceived threat of 'thermageddon'. If one can label the entire sceptic blogosphere as 'fake' then virtually all online dissent becomes not that lofty form of 'genuine' scientific scepticism (often taking the form of lone mavericks questioning the prevailing scientific dogma) which has historically driven quantum leaps in scientific understanding, but a lowly, shambling 'pretend' form of scepticism which needs to be consigned to the gutter.

But of course, many sceptic bloggers take their cue from peer-reviewed scientific papers which do bring into question the idea that CO2 emissions are predominantly responsible for the changes we have seen in global temperatures. So reasoned scientific rebuttal of the prevailing narrative is also tarred with the same brush, especially if such scientists involved actively engage in trying to communicate their counter-theories to a wider audience, especially if they run a blog frequented by 'fake sceptics'.

Is this viewpoint justified? Let's look at some actual dictionary definitions of scepticism:

1. (Philosophy) a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs
2. a person who mistrusts people, ideas, etc, in general
3. (Philosophy) a person who doubts the truth of religion, esp Christianity”

A person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

Given these definitions, how can anyone possibly be a ‘fake’ sceptic? You either are or you are not. There is no grade scale of scepticism which goes from ‘genuine’ to ‘fake’. Lewandowsky et al would also most likely label all sceptics in that case as mentally abnormal in that they show a 'habitual inclination' to question the consensus establishment viewpoint.

There is only one circumstance whereby I can imagine someone being deemed to be a pseudosceptic, that is if they are engaged in the pretence of being a sceptic, but are not really, therefore they have an agenda to promote which has little to do with any natural impulse to question establishment views. In which case, they are dishonest and manipulative by expressing a sceptical viewpoint which they do not really have; it only serves to promote an agenda, for instance, the interests of the fossil fuel industry. So labelling sceptics as pseudosceptics, CAGW advocates might reasonably be accused themselves of indulging in conspiracist ideation in that they are imagining nefarious intent on the part of those people voicing dissent.

More likely, such people are just seeking to diminish the genuinely held sceptical views of those who question the global warming narrative by assigning to them a linguistically absurd descriptor. But then by the recursive, iterative theory of conspiracist ideation, such a statement would simply be evidence of paranoia on my behalf, therefore very easy to dismiss out of hand.

I would maintain that it is a legitimate strategy to question the technical basis of scepticism, but it is not an intellectually honest strategy to attempt to downgrade that scepticism by re-labelling it. That smacks of channelling dissent into manageable areas which may be safely ignored or even ridiculed - that is deliberately sending Alice down the rabbit hole into Denier Land. Yet more presumptions of nefarious intent! Oh dear.

Calling sceptics deniers is nefarious. Calling them conspiracy theorists on the basis of the academically dodgy and ethically questionable LOG12 and its now retracted sister paper Recursive Fury is definitely nefarious. Further labelling 'deniers' as pseudosceptics is both brainless and nefarious. Denier Land thus becomes the entire sceptic blogosphere inhabited by psychologically aberrant individuals who have no place in 'normal' polite society and certainly no place in academic circles where 'real' scepticism is supposedly alive and well; just not evident at all with regard to climate science, presumably because the science is 'settled' and there really is no valid reason to question it. Only cranks would do that, wouldn't they?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Climate Wars - CO2 vs. Solar in the Battle to Lay Claim to Jet Stream Anomalies

Mat Collins of Exeter University clarified to the world a week ago that the direct cause of the UK's wet and windy winter was/is the North Atlantic Jet Stream. It has been directly responsible for the 'conveyor belt' of powerful storms which have hit the UK, one after another, in seemingly endless succession, since December 2013 all the way into February of this year. The rain precipitated by those storms has resulted in widespread river flooding.

In addition, a particularly deep depression which coincided with a very high tide on the 5th/6th December also resulted in fairly severe coastal flooding along eastern coastal areas. Nothing as bad as the devastating tidal surge of 1953 but that was more down to massively improved flood defences in the last 50 years. The Dec 2013 tidal surge was probably only a shade less menacing in terms of actual sea level rise than was the 1953 event. Severe gales and storm force winds have also driven huge waves over sea defences in Wales and the West Country, resulting in yet more localised flooding.

All this chaos due to the Jet Stream, due to the run of extreme weather caused by that Jet Stream. But, given the exhaustive news coverage and the opportunity for a propaganda coup, it was inevitable that the proponents of CO2 induced global warming would figure out some way to link in the storms with 'climate change' and, right on cue, up stepped Julia Slingo to claim that 'all the evidence' pointed to a link between the UK floods and 'climate change'.

It turns out that what she really meant was that there was moderate confidence in climatological circles that a warmer world would result in a more humid atmosphere and hence increased frequency and intensity of downpours. Not at all comparable to increased storminess, especially in winter, but the effect was immediate and very favourable - the warmist press and politicians leapt on the bandwagon to claim that this winter was due to global warming. Scientific proof not needed, only the word of the Met Office chief scientist.

It has become increasingly apparent that the Jet Streams are implicated in the patterns of extreme weather which we seem to be increasingly seeing across the globe. There are four altogether, two in each hemisphere, the stronger polar jet streams and the weaker subtropical jet streams, each marking the boundaries between major air masses.

For example, it was a deep 'meander' in the Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream which created the 'blocking' conditions responsible for the Alaskan heatwave last year. Similarly, the 'washout summer' of 2012 here in the UK was caused by an abnormally southerly trending jet stream, again driving Atlantic storms over the British Isles, but this time during summer. The meandering jet stream over the USA this winter has allowed polar air to push far into the continent, giving Americans an exceptionally cold winter. Last winter (2012/13), the UK experienced a very cold late winter/early spring due to the jet stream moving way down south, missing the UK altogether and allowing the ingress of cold polar air and that memorable run of savage east/north-easterlies. A 'normal' UK winter would have the jet stream sitting generally a little further north, across Scotland. This winter it has been 'stuck' over southern Britain and has been abnormally strong.

With global mean temperatures static for 17 years but extreme weather seemingly on the rise linked to a changing jet stream, it is hardly a surprise that the man-made climate change advocates are looking to associate these changes with global warming. Hence Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University now postulates that a warming Arctic has 'slowed' the polar jet stream and made it meander more, much like a river meanders when it loses kinetic energy on the gently sloping flood plains way downstream of its upland source.

The speed of the jet stream is driven primarily by the temperature difference between the polar and subtropical air masses. If Arctic air is warmer due to accelerated warming in the polar regions because of global warming, the theory is that the difference in temperature between polar and subtropical air will be less. Thus the jet stream will slow and start to meander more, producing the 'loops' which have been responsible for weather getting 'stuck' in various locations, producing localised droughts or deluges, heatwaves or extreme cold spells.

The theory is tentative and Francis admits that there are uncertainties, but it does illustrate that alarmists are starting to line up in order to link jet stream changes (and hence patterns of extreme weather) with AGW.
 Trying to explain this year's flooding in the UK using such a theory runs into a big problem however - the jet stream may be meandering, but it has actually increased in speed over the North Atlantic, hence the ferocity and persistence of the storms which it has spawned and driven to our shores.
This belies the somewhat simplistic theory which equates a slower moving jet stream with a more meandering one and a faster jet stream with a much straighter course. Also, in a warmer world, climate models predict the jet streams will move polewards, just as they do during summer each year due to increased solar insolation, sinking southwards again during the winter months. This appears not to be happening.

Which rather neatly brings us to explanations for jet stream changes based upon solar activity, not seasonal changes in insolation but longer term changes over the 11 year solar cycle and beyond, plus - and this winter being a particular case in point - very brief changes marked by sudden bursts of increasing sunspot activity (solar flares and coronal mass ejections - CMEs). For it may be no coincidence that this winter has seen the Sun burst into life in what has otherwise been a remarkably subdued solar cycle, so remarkably subdued in fact that scientists are predicting a Grand Solar Minimum, at least as severe as the Dalton minimum, possibly even as pronounced as the Maunder minimum, which coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age.

What we need to investigate, especially as far as this winter is concerned, is a link between solar activity and the character of the jet stream which might lead to increased extreme weather/storminess. Stephen Wilde, in his New Climate Model, equates a more active sun with a 'tighter', faster, more northerly tracking jet stream; conversely, a less active sun with a slower, more meandering, southerly trending stream. We seem to be at the stage of the latter now, where the general decrease in solar activity has rendered the jet stream more 'sluggish'.

But bursts of solar activity within the envelope of a generally less active period of solar activity seem to have energised this 'sluggish', meandering jet stream, not enough to push it northwards and straighten it out, but enough to make it move faster, at least along certain sections. Hence we have the storms which have slammed into the British Isles this winter.

The mechanism whereby increased/decreased solar activity affects the jet stream is not totally clear. Total solar irradiance (TSI) varies little but there are increasing numbers of scientific papers suggesting amplification mechanisms. Stephen Wilde states: "
The cause [of change in position and behaviour of the jet stream] appears not to be raw solar power output (TSI) which varies too little but instead, the precise mix of particles and wavelengths from the sun which varies more greatly and affects ozone amounts above the tropopause". Svensmark of course postulated that periods of decreased solar magnetic activity allowed greater influx of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) which he correlated with increased cloudiness leading to global cooling, and vice versa.

It might be worth noting that, apparently independently, earth's own geomagnetic field has weakened considerably over the last 100 years or so, possibly as a precursor to a complete geomagnetic field reversal. We can expect the geomagnetic field to weaken further in the coming years, allowing even more GCMs plus radiation from our sun to penetrate our atmosphere, affecting our climate in ways which may be hard to predict.

Coming back to solar activity and the effect it has had on this winter, particularly here and in the US, Tallbloke's TalkShop has a timely contribution from Polish contributor 'ren', which seeks, with somewhat limited clarity unfortunately, to explain why the polar vortex 'locked'. He says:

In October 2013 there was a decrease in solar activity, as evidenced by the growth of cosmic rays at that time. This decline resulted in a short-term rise in temperature in the stratosphere, the ozone zone. . . . . . . . . . . Smaller solar activity means an increase of ionizing radiation over the Arctic Circle, which in turn affects the reactions taking place in the area of ​​the ozone over the Arctic Circle. As is known the temperature drops in the troposphere and the stratosphere borders later grow depending on the amount of ozone formed in the ozone zone.
These seemingly small changes in the stratosphere were the beginning of the lock polar vortex, which lasts all winter and causes influx of polar air over North America and warm, with short breaks over Europe."

A comment from Stephen Wilde on this Tallbloke post is as follows:

"“This decline (in solar activity) resulted in a short-term rise in temperature in the stratosphere, the ozone zone.”
Yes, this is what I’ve been telling everyone for several years.
A quiet sun is supposed to REDUCE ozone and lead to COOLING of the stratosphere and I think that is right above the equator but not right above the poles."

Which only serves to confuse me further!

Another timely post on Tallbloke provides reference to a science paper which purports to show that the sun has distinct 'modes' of activity. I quote:

Conclusions. The Sun is shown to operate in distinct modes – a main general mode, a Grand minimum mode corresponding to an inactive Sun, and a possible Grand maximum mode corresponding to an unusually active Sun. These results provide important constraints for both dynamo models of Sun-like stars and investigations of possible solar influence on Earth’s climate."

This is important in that it demonstrates that the Sun behaves differently in these 2 (or possibly 3) modes and that variations in solar activity, increases or decreases, may not have exactly the same effect upon our climate and the general circulation, the specific effect being dependent upon what mode the Sun is in at the time. So, for instance, bursts of activity during a Grand Minimum may affect the jet stream differently than they would say when the sun is in main general mode. Likewise, quiescence during a Grand Maximum may be different in character than very quiet periods which occur during a Grand Minimum.

There is well documented evidence that the Little Ice Age, besides being considerably cooler, was also a particularly stormy period, especially in Northern Europe. The Great Storm of 1703 occurred on 26 November 1703 and remains the most violent and destructive storm ever to hit Southern England and the Channel. Virtually every ship in the English Channel was sunk on that fateful day, with the loss of 8000-10000 lives. Historical records abound which testify to its ferocity, seemingly unmatched before and certainly since. Even October 1987 paled in comparison.
What is fascinating is that 1703, in particular late 1703, marked an end to a very long period (from about 1645) during the Maunder minimum when virtually no sunspots were observed at all on the face of the Sun. A minor maximum of solar activity occurred in late 1703/early 1704 as shown here:

The graph was taken from this paper entitled 'The Revival of Solar Activity after Maunder Minimum in Reports and Observations of E. Manfredi'. The authors state:

"We have found in our archives a very great number of references to sunspots in the years 1703 to 1707."

So, 1703 marks a very important year in the revival of solar activity after the very pronounced Maunder Minimum, and indeed, we can see this revival on the record of sunspot activity stretching back 400 years from 2000:

It's the small red peak visible just after 1700. Insignificant one might feel against the backdrop of the much greater activity in the centuries which followed. But is it any coincidence that, at almost exactly the time when the Sun first first burst into life after decades of inactivity, the monster storm of 1703 hit our shores?

In summary then, the jet streams, in particular the faster, more powerful mid-high latitude polar jet streams, drive our patterns of weather. When they are in 'meander' mode, they can produce prolonged spells of severe weather, be it droughts, heatwaves, severe floods or bitingly prolonged cold. They shift north or south according to the seasons. An energised North Atlantic jet stream has been responsible for the remarkable run of UK storms this winter and the resultant flooding.

The race is on to discover what drives the jet streams and determines their character, whether 'sluggish' and meandering or faster moving and straighter. The CO2 warmists obviously have a vested interest in proving that global warming is responsible for the current jet stream anomalies, because then they can 'prove' that severe weather really is down to 'climate change' - rather, that is, than just stating it without any scientific evidence whatsoever.

For my money, there is far greater evidence and a lot more research in the literature which demonstrates that solar activity drives the jet streams - the exact manner and the specific physical mechanisms involved still yet to be pinpointed exactly, but we're getting there, fairly rapidly now.

Monday, 17 February 2014

There is NO disagreement. . . . it only APPEARS that way.

Another day, another debacle at the UK Met Office. This one started last week with Dame Julia Slingo hopping onto the bandwagon created by the UK floods to claim that "all the evidence supported the theory that climate change had played a role" in the floods. That's a fairly definitive statement. Of course it was hedged by the usual ifs and buts common to a politician (oh no, sorry, scientist), but the statement stands.

Then yesterday, David Rose reported an interview in the Mail on Sunday with Mat Collins, a senior climate scientist at the Met Office and Exeter University in which Collins is quoted as saying:

‘. . . . . the storms have been driven by the jet stream – the high-speed current of air that girdles the globe – which has been ‘stuck’ further south than usual. There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter. If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge.'

That too is a fairly definitive statement and difficult to misinterpret. It is also obviously difficult to square with Slingo's statement above. This is why Rose's article says:

Appears to contradict Met Office chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo"

Rose also says:

"Prof Collins declined to comment on his difference of opinion with Dame Julia."

Mat Collins tweeted last night that a joint statement by him and the Met Office would be issued today, and so it has been, here.

The statement starts off:

"In it he [Rose] says that Mat Collins, Professor in Climate Systems at Exeter University, ‘appears to contradict’ the report released by the Met Office last weekend and that he ‘declined to comment on his difference in opinion’ with one of the report’s authors, Dame Julia Slingo.
This is not the case and there is no disagreement."

So, did Mat Collins not decline to comment on his difference in opinion? If so, what did he say about it to Rose? They say also that it is not the case that Collins' statements to Rose 'appear to contradict' Slingo. Well, patently, they do appear to contradict what Slingo said a few days earlier, and for very good reason. So saying that this is not the case is simply a provable falsehood and stupid, quite frankly. Going on to say that there is 'no disagreement' invites doubt in the reader considering the glaring inconsistencies in Slingo's and Collins' statements to the media.

It appears (that nasty word again) that Slingo has had 'words' with Collins for his audacity in speaking to the Mail and giving us all the impression that there is a genuine scientist at the Met Office who is unhappy with attributing our extreme winter to climate change to any degree. The Dame in charge of our Met Office has likely donned her proverbial thigh-high leather boots and cracked the proverbial bull-whip very close to the cringing features of one of her sub-servients; an employee who has shown a spark of independent thought at odds with the 'man-made climate change' ideological group-think which has held sway at the Met Office for so many years now.

This can't go on. Presumably there are good scientists still working at the Met office and presumably Mat Collins is one of them. They can't forever be gagged and pulled into line every time they dare to waver from the 'common purpose' of convincing the UK populace that 'climate change' is happening, that it's getting worse and it's all our fault.

The rest of the statement in response to the Mail on Sunday is mere waffle which attempts to back-pedal slightly on Slingo's earlier comments re. extreme weather attribution and fails - miserably. Give us a UK Met Office 'fit for purpose' for heaven's sake!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Dame Slingo at UKMO Crosses the Line on Extreme Weather Attribution

It's happened. The battle lines have finally been re-drawn. Global surface temperature rises (which have been inconveniently static for 17+ years) have been ditched by the warmists in favour of the new CAGW meme - extreme weather. The opportunities for making unfalsifiable claims are endlessly more expansive and the sheer headline-grabbing power of 'big weather' far exceeds that of mere 'global warming'.

The remarkable UK Cyclonic Winter of 2013/14 - still ongoing as we speak - has afforded the warmist politicos an eagerly awaited unique opportunity to climb firmly aboard the extreme weather bandwagon and claim that it's all down to CAGW branded 'climate change' (patent pending). Hence Dame Slingo of the UK Met Office now claiming definitively that " “all the evidence” supported the theory that climate change had played a role" in the devastating West Country floods. I am sure that the farmers whose land has been underwater since December will be delighted to know that it is simply because they drive around all day in their gas guzzling 4x4s and their environmentally unfriendly tractors which consume umpteen gallons per mile of tax exempted red diesel, blasting out vast clouds of demonic CO2 into the atmosphere in the process - not forgetting the unfortunate habit of their herds of cows constantly expelling the more potent greenhouse gas methane as they innocently go about their daily business of munching grass! I am equally certain that the thousands of people whose homes, lives and livelihoods have been devastated this winter by the flooding will also be grateful that Cameron and Slingo have, between them - with a little help from Ed 'duhhh' Davey - pinned down the cause and, though it's bad news for now, a few more windmills thrown up here and there, higher fuel bills and more grant funded insulation should help solve the problem.

It was inevitable of course that Dame Slingo, Chief 'Scientist' at the UK Met Office, would eventually jump on this irresistible opportunity to promote the flagging global warming cause - such is the depressingly predictable majority mindset of the 'intellects' charged with researching climate science in the UK today. Meanwhile, something even more sinister emerges in this Telegraph report by Christopher Booker and associated EUreferendum post. Flooding of designated rural areas is revealed to be part of an EU grand plan of 're-wilding', basically, giving up cultivated land - often to water incursion - in order to create 'sustainable' wildlife habits, notably free of human beings. Agenda 21 rears its ugly head.

In her urgent quest to twist and contort "all the available" scientific evidence to claim that CO2 mediated global warming is propelling us into a new and dangerous Age of Meteorological Extremities, Slingo conveniently forgets to mention the immediate cause of our extraordinary run of bad weather - an energised and persistent Jet Stream which has funneled a 'conveyor belt' of one Atlantic storm after another to UK shores - preferring instead to waffle on about "persistent rainfall over Indonesia and the tropical West Pacific" triggering "a global weather system that included the severe storms that have flooded thousands of homes in Britain, as well as the exceptionally cold weather in North America" and the fact that extreme weather is "consistent with what we might expect from climate change". Note the emergence too of that other unfalsifiable CAGW meme - 'warming causes extreme cold'. Problem is, my dear, the IPCC benchmark of 'climate change' (aka man-made global warming) - global surface temperature rises - has not manifested its presence for 17 and a half years now, and counting. So, if this 'climate change' hasn't been happening, what has been driving the changes which we apparently see in the Jet Stream which have given us a remarkably wet and windy winter this year and a notably very cold late winter/early spring last year, in addition to the famously wet summer of 2012?

Increasingly in the scientific literature, and encouragingly I might add, we are witnessing a growing trend to attribute natural climate variation to a combination of factors governed principally by variations in solar activity. The IPCC dismisses solar variation as insignificant compared to CO2 induced warming, but the tide is turning and amplification mechanisms which explain how relatively modest variations in solar output can drive changes in global meteorological patterns (and hence climate change) are being put forward. For instance, here and here. There are literally hundreds of papers linking climate change with solar amplification mechanisms and of course many will also invoke induced changes in the subtropical and mid-latitudinal jet streams in both hemispheres as being instrumental in the manifestation of such climate change. Of course, this leads us to a possible explanation also for the changes in weather patterns - more 'extreme' weather - which we are witnessing in the UK and elsewhere. I wonder if Slingo can quote hundreds of papers explaining how increasing CO2 (without subsequent increase in average global surface temperatures of course) causes extreme weather via changes in the jet streams?

Stephen Wilde seems to be on the right track with his New Climate Model and those scurrilous 'climate sceptics' over at the now infamously censored Pattern Recognition In Physics also contributed some very interesting theories linking Planetary and Lunar tidal forces and orientations to solar variability and hence climate change.

The ball game is changing for sure and the tactics of the AGW theorists are becoming ever more blatantly outrageous and anti-scientific. Scientific credibility and observational confirmation deserted their camp some time ago and now they are having to scrape the bottom of the global warming barrel to come up with ever more tortuous and convoluted pseudo-scientific 'evidence' to support their claims that the human race is the destroyer of our benign climate.