The Week That Was
August 11 , 2007

Quote of the Week:

"One has only to cut away the alarmist rhetoric and the media distractions, one has only to focus on the central question in the climate-change debate, and at once the fact that there is no scientific consensus about climate change is laid bare.  The central question is this: By how much will global temperature increase in response to any foreseeable increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide?  On that question, the 'climate-sensitivity question', there is no consensus whatsoever within the scientific community.  There is no scientific basis for the current panic."  Lord Christopher Monckton, international authority on climate-change policy


Big news this week:  Steve McIntyre, slayer of the Hockeystick dragon, finds a significant error in Jim Hansen’s analysis of surface temperature data.  Now 1934 (!) is the warmest year of the past 100 years.  Is this the final nail in the GH coffin?  Read all the gory details in several blogs, assembled here for you under ITEM #1.

How ironic:  Just after Jim Hansen (you remember, the “muzzled” one) announced his discovery of the ‘smoking gun’ for anthropogenic global warming (AGW).  And he has a lot of followers:

· Al Gore, who goes along with Jim’s spectacular value of a 20-foot sea-level rise – about 20 times the IPCC estimate

· Lehman Brothers investment firm, which advises its clients on how to profit from AGW They may regret not having done their ‘due diligence’

· Scientific American regurgitates the IPCC garbage.  See my response  [ITEM #2]

· Newsweek, whose Aug 13 cover shows a glowing Sun and says in bold print: GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX.  Then they promptly deny it in a story ascribed to their science writer Sharon Begley (formerly with WSJ, and highly respected) but likely written by their political hack Eleanor Clift [See ITEM #3 for different takes on this story, including my Letter to Newsweek, pointing out errors.  Let’s see if they correct them]

·  SEJ, the Society of Environmental Journalists, shows its true colors: unadulterated bias.  And they feed this to the American public in large portions; they should add a dose of laxative.  [ITEM #4] 

Water vapor (WV) feedback may be negative and reduce the GH effect, satellites find [ITEM #5] 

The ‘Asian Brown Cloud’ may be as important as CO2 for global warming [ITEM #6]

For Hurricane aficionados: Wm Gray (hurricane expert, Colo State U) and Roger Pielke, Sr, comment on the Holland-Webster paper on Atlantic-basin tropical cyclones doubling in the last century, which was recently published in the UK (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London) and cited by Newsweek as a reliable source. [ITEM #7]


Maybe soot is responsible for much Arctic sea-ice melting.  See
20th-Century Industrial Black Carbon Emissions Altered Arctic Climate Forcing
Joseph R. McConnell et al
And also   "C"ing Arctic Climate with Black Ice
by Richard B. Alley
Black carbon (BC) from biomass and fossil fuel combustion alters chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere and snow albedo, yet little is known about its emission or deposition histories. Measurements in ice cores indicate that sources and concentrations of BC in Greenland precipitation varied greatly since 1788 as a result of boreal forest fires and industrial activities. Beginning about 1850, industrial emissions resulted in a seven-fold increase in ice core BC concentrations with most change occurring in winter. BC concentrations after about 1951 were lower but increasing. At its maximum from 1906 to 1910, estimated surface climate forcing in early summer from BC in Arctic snow was about 3 W m-2, eight times typical pre-industrial forcing.



1.  The temperature flap

NASA's James Hansen Reported Temperature Data Error Discovered
Excerpt: Steve McIntyre: I observed recently that Hansen's GISS series contains an apparent error in which Hansen switched the source of GISS raw from USHCN adjusted to USHCN raw for all values January 2000 and later. For Detroit Lakes MN, this introduced an error of 0.8 deg C. I've collated GISS raw minus USHCN adjusted for all USHCN sites (using the data scraped from the GISS site, for which I was most criticized in Rabett-world). Figure 1 below shows a histogram of the January 2000 step for the 1221 stations (calculated here as the difference between the average of the difference after Jan 2000 and for the 1990-1999 period.) < > NASA admits Error: "When we did our monthly update this morning, an offset based on the last 10 years of overlap in the two data sets was applied and our on-line documentation was changed correspondingly with an acknowledgment of your contribution. This change and its effect will be noted in our next paper on temperature analysis and in our end-of-year temperature summary." (Stay tuned for this developing story)
New Rankings for Warmest Years: 1934 Now Warmest in U.S. History NASA Temp Error Rewrites Record Books!
[Note: 80% of man-made CO2 emissions occurred after 1940]
Excerpt: By Joseph D'Aleo, Icecap
With the changes to the GISS data made today after an error was found by Stephen McIntyre, 1998 falls to #2 behind 1934 as the warmest year, followed by 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999 and 1953. Expect more changes to come in the months ahead as more scrutiny of the databases takes place. Note in the graph below the peak in the five-year mean around 2000 is a mere 0.25F higher than that in the early 1930s.
Don't expect any press releases from NASA or NOAA about this change or much coverage on the networks or major newspapers.
More on NASA's Reported Whopper of a Mistake

Excerpt: Four of the top 10 are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leader-board, behind even 1900. (World rankings are calculated separately.) Note: For the new leader-board see The old data has been erased; by sheer chance, I had the old data active in my R-session but I can't give a link to it.) GISS U.S. Temperatures (deg C) in New Order YearOldNew 19341.231.25 19981.241.23 19211.121.15 20061.231.13 19311.081.08 19990.940.93 19530.910.90 19900.880.87 19380.850.86 19390.840.85 Here's the old leader-board.
Recent changes to the NASA historical climate data records refute claims by Gore that 9 of the ten hottest years in U.S. history occurred since 1995 (Newsbusters)
Excerpt: A change in climate history data at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently occurred which dramatically alters the debate over global warming. Yet, this transpired with no official announcement from GISS head James Hansen, and went unreported until Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit discovered it Wednesday. < > Most importantly, according to the GISS, 1998 is no longer the warmest year in American history. That honor once again belongs to 1934.As global warming is such a key issue being debated all around this country and on Capitol Hill, wouldn't such a change by the agency responsible for calculating such things be important to disseminate? When this correction was made by Hansen's team at the GISS, shouldn't it have been reported?  In fact, it is quite disgraceful that it wasn't, as it suggests that a government agency is actually participating in a fraud against the American people by withholding information crucial to a major policy issue now facing the nation. Think this will be Newsweek's next cover-story? No, I don't either. Post facto thought: If Hansen's team had made changes to the data which showed that ten of the ten warmest years in American history occurred since 1995, do you think that would have been reported? Yeah, I do, too.
So they changed the recorded temps????

See esp the graph in the coyote blog
Well worth  reading  -- and  note  the strong  temp decline between 1940 and 1975


2.  Letter to Scientific American on IPCC


In support of the IPCC conclusion that current warming is anthropogenic, Wm. Collins et al. (“The physical science behind climate change,” SciAm August 2007, pp.64-73) assert that the mismatch between surface and troposphere warming trends has now been resolved.  However, this claim is not supported by actual observations. 

According to the authoritative CCSP (Climate Change Science Program) Report 1.1, issued by NOAA in April 2006  , there is considerable disparity between the two warming trends.  Greenhouse (GH) models indicate that the tropics should provide the most sensitive location for validation; trends there should increase by 200-300% with altitude, peaking at around 10 kilometers – a characteristic “fingerprint” for GH warming.  However, the data from weather balloons (and satellites) show the opposite result – no increasing trend with altitude but a lower trend than at the surface.

Fig. 1.3F shows a calculated pattern (from a typical state-of-the-art model); Fig 5.7E shows the observed pattern (from the most competent analysis of balloon data).  The fingerprints just don’t match; all one has to do is to "connect the dots."  Fig. 5.4G of the CCSP makes the disparity even clearer; it shows the difference between surface and troposphere trends for a collection of some 20 models (displayed as a histogram) and for the balloon and satellite data: This difference is positive for the data, but negative for the models.  [The disparity is less apparent in the CCSP report’s Summary, which displays model results in terms of “range” rather than as histograms.] 

This disparity is a “smoking gun” that contradicts the IPCC conclusion.  Of course, it does not deny the existence of an enhanced GH effect from the considerable increase in anthropogenic GH gases, principally CO2.  It does suggest, however, that present climate models greatly overestimate the magnitude of the effect.  One may conclude, therefore, that future warming calculated from these same models will be a good deal less than currently assumed.  Since there is little doubt about the radiative forcing from CO2 increases, one suspects that the models omit a negative feedback, likely from a slight increase in cloudiness or from a change in the atmospheric distribution of water vapor, the most important GH gas.
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He did his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University and earned his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami, the founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and served for five years as vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a dozen books and monographs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, which discusses the evidence for natural climate cycles of cooling and warming, as seen in the geological record.



3.  The Newsweek flap 



Newsweek: Alarmed by Deniers
By Paul Chesser ,Published 8/9/2007

Now even the partisan-resistant public must acknowledge what conservatives have known for a long time: that Newsweek is driven by a leftist agenda, even if they won't acknowledge it themselves.
That can't be illustrated more clearly than by the magazine's cover story this week, titled "Global Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine." Science writer Sharon Begley writes proudly and passionately in what she obviously thinks is an eye-opening expose' about the conspiring entities who "deny the science of climate change." Her Woodward and Bernstein-like prose tracks money passages from big energy producers to intellectual skeptics, who exist to undermine what she says is the consensus view: that human-induced worldwide warming is a threat to the planet's existence. Begley bemoans the results of a new Newsweek poll that "finds the influence of the denial machine remains strong," with respondents split about human influence on the greenhouse effect. She blames the "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks [disclosure: that's me!] and industry for creating "a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change."
In other words, those of you still with reservations have been duped. What else could be the explanation, since Begley claims rock-solid resources that uncontrovertibly nailed down the Left's climate change dogma?
One proof she characterized as "the verdict." It came from "a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries" that said, "warming of the climate system is unequivocal." What was the report? Who were the scientists? I have no idea -- apparently all that matters are the number of experts (probably no larger than the amount of scientists working at a large state university), the number of countries (all friends of the U.S., right?), and the word "unequivocal." And what do you think were the philosophical leanings of "governments, academia, green groups and (unidentified) businesses?" Consensus indeed.
Upping the ante, Begley also cited the most recent update from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which "was written by more than 800 climate researchers and vetted by 2,500 scientists from 130 nations" and attributed at least part of global warming to human causes. Again, strength in numbers, but what has the IPCC really said? If you haven't read it yourself you don't really know, because Begley doesn't dig into it.
The truth is, read any legitimate scientific study on climate -- including IPCC's -- that suggests human influence is the dominant cause for global warming, and you will discover dozens of qualifiers like "could," "possibly," "potentially," and "may." For all the certainty and consensus that global warming fear-mongers assert, those sound a lot like weasel words.
When taking that into consideration, you realize that both camps are in the "maybe" category on climate change. It's just a matter of degrees (there's a fortunate pun). But the consensus claimers are all too happy to let the allegation "they deny the science of global warming" stand alone, making the undiscerning believe that global warming skeptics reject the clear evidence that the earth is warming. Both sides generally agree that the planet has increased in temperature by one degree in the past 100 years; the so-called "deniers" simply question the cause and whether there is a need for the costly remedies that the green groups want.
But Newsweek ignores that uncomplicated nuance. Instead Begley and her reporter helpers (including that paragon of objectivity, Eleanor Clift) largely avoid any substantive discussion over the scientific views both sides hold in the debate, and instead snipe at those who doubt Newsweek's panic agenda. Their opponents consist of industry and associations "representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities," who "sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research." The contrarian curmudgeons' scientists, like MIT's Richard Lindzen and Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels, are dismissed as obstinate folks who don't do their own climate research but instead "kibitzed about other people's" (like most in the climate change caution camp). The intellect and credentials of the doubters are irrelevant in Newsweek's eyes.
At the heart of it all, of course, is the deniers' money. Begley emphasizes repeatedly how big oil and utilities feed the opinions from conservative think tanks. But what about the flow of cash that sustains the nonprofit-driven eco-movement? The dollars pushing global warming paranoia, coming from wealthy foundations like those established by Merck, the Rockefellers and Ted Turner, dwarf the skeptics' resources. But Begley and Newsweek show prejudice only against certain shades of green -- both monetary and ecological.
Begley's piece should surprise nobody. Anyone who has subscribed to Newsweek in recent years could not help but notice the near-weekly articles promoting the global warming scare agenda, and "what can be done about it."
This story reflects Newsweek's newest paranoia: the "skeptics" are finally getting traction on an issue dear to the hearts of the leftist media. Expect the attacks on the "denial machine" to escalate.
Paul Chesser is an associate editor for the John Locke Foundation

"Newsweek's latest cover story predicting 'global warming' catastrophe is no more scientific and no less incredible than its story 30 years ago predicting 'global cooling'," said Robert Ferguson, President of the influential Science and Public Policy Institute (
"Newsweek appears a naively willing party to a sophisticated but unsuccessful campaign, strikingly similar to the tobacco industry's callous 40-year campaign challenging the established causative link between smoking and fatal diseases such as lung cancer. This strategy provides a positive "pro-science" public stance that masks the ignominious activity of institutional and professional persecution of numerous scientists whose honest work casts legitimate doubt upon the more alarmist projections of the supposed man-made global warming ‘consensus.’ "
Like the tobacco industry, this campaign (to which Newsweek has made itself party) has:
Ø             "Manufactured uncertainty and fear by stridently proclaiming certainty and consensus based on dubious and uncertain modeled results predicting disastrous consequences of a warmer climate. For a thorough understanding of the limits on the extent of the 'consensus' on climate change, please see:
Ø             "Adopted a strategy of information laundering by acting as a seemingly independent and respectable front publicly to further the message of climate apocalypse and thereby to profit by confusing and terrifying the public.
Ø             "Ignored or misrepresented peer-reviewed scientific findings or cherry-picked facts in an attempt to persuade the media and the public that current climate change is exceptional. In the entire Newsweek piece, there is not a single reference to any peer-reviewed scientific paper.
Ø             "Attempted to shift the focus away from research based on observation with misleading charges that journalistic balance on climate change is the enemy of free of speech, and that those who disagree with the hysterical view of 'global warming' should be silenced.
Ø             "Stifled legitimate debate on whether 'global warming' will be beneficial and on whether any measures to mitigate it will have any significant impact on the climate.
Ø                                               "Placed bad politics and deliberate misinformation before good science and rational understanding."
Are Gore and Newsweek's Climate Change Deniers Accusations Coordinated?

Excerpt: Is this a coordinated attack designed to incite anger in citizens that polls show are not as upset about this issue as the left and their media minions? < > Coincidence, or a coordinated campaign by the left to stifle the growing number of scientists around the world who are speaking out and writing articles refuting anthropogenic global warming theories whilst inciting the public's anger? After all, neither Gore nor Newsweek chose to address the billions of dollars being spent by global warming alarmists to elicit international hysteria concerning this issue, and how such funds dwarf what is going to skeptical scientists and writers to add a modicum of balance to the discussion. As Marc Morano, Communications Director for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), pointed out in his rebuttal to Newsweek's disgraceful piece, "proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so, while skeptics have received a paltry $19 MILLION by comparison." < > Has the June failure of the G-8 to impose CO2 emissions caps, and the July failure of Gore's Live Earth concerts, scared alarmists about the future of their cause? Have polls consistently showing that Americans aren't getting nearly as hysterical about this issue as Gore and his sycophants in the media want discouraged believers to the point that a new tactic is being tested? < > What seems new is the timing of this Newsweek piece coincident with Gore's statements in Singapore, along with skeptics now being referred to as deniers. As such, this bears watching.
CNN: Newsweek accused of equating climate skeptics with Holocaust deniers (Note: this article appeared on CNN's website, hope for the mainstream media yet!)

Excerpt: Newsweek equates global warming skeptics with Holocaust deniers and accuses reputable scientists of being paid to create confusion in the face of consensus. Galileo is once again on trial. Even the supporters of global warming hype found the title of Newsweek's Aug. 13 attack on skeptics, "The Truth About Denial," offensive. The use of the word "denier" is deliberate, an attempt to paint as either crazy or corrupt what Al Gore has proclaimed as Truth. Reputable scientists have been accused by a major news magazine of being paid to lie. "Let's be blunt," said Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. "This allusion is an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change. I say this as someone fully convinced of a significant human role in the behavior of the climate system."

Letter to Newsweek


Global warming may well be real but it is not caused by humans.  As your cover picture (August 14) suggests, climate change is caused mainly by the variable Sun and is therefore unstoppable.  But your report never presents the readily available evidence; instead it questions the motivations of climate “skeptics” (or, better, “realists”)  and contains much that is either false or misleading.

For example, President Bush never “withdrew from the Kyoto [climate] treaty”; he effectively continued the Clinton/Gore policy.  The National Academy report of January 2000 does not reconcile the conflicting temperature trends of the surface and atmosphere – on the contrary.  In the geological past, CO2 did not rise because of “increasing plant growth” -- the opposite is true.  My Science & Environmental Policy Project does not try to “discredit evidence of global warming” -- we do challenge bad data and models.  No member of my project ever attended a planning meeting with Exxon at the American Petroleum Institute (or anywhere else).  In Senate testimony, I did raise doubts about current warming in the United States, based on then-available surface data; indeed, just last week an error was discovered in this data set, making 1934 the warmest year of the 20th century. 
   Finally, I am not much impressed by the putative “consensus” of 600 IPCC scientists (p.20).  Or is it “800 climate researchers” (p. 25)? … from 130 nations, like Albania and Zimbabwe.
S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, former director of the US Weather Satellite Service, and coauthor of “Unstoppable Global Warming” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), on the New York Times bestseller list.
Strongly  recommended -- all about Newsweek, floods, hurricanes,  Read also

Meteorologists Note Newsweek's reported error on hurricanes

Meteorologist Craig James from Michigan: Excerpt:  Among many other errors, the Newsweek article erroneously states: The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century. I have written posts on the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes here and here and you can read a new post about Atlantic hurricane frequency from Roger Pielke Sr. here. Basically, the article is a long, biased, closed-minded dissertation of a subject the authors cannot or chose not to understand, masquerading as news, with the intent of scaring the unchattering classes into becoming believers.

From Meteorologist Joe DAleo on Newsweek's reported (formerly Weather Channel)
Excerpt: Note: The Newsweek story contained blatant errors including The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century. This has been shown clearly by Dr. Bill Gray and Chris Landsea in stories and papers on this site to be very wrong.

Newsweek climate article an 'editorial rag,' says warming skeptic
Excerpt: Marc Morano points out that even The New York Times concedes that current weather patterns are within natural climate variability. He states that the only thing "global warming" skeptics are denying is the uncertainty of computer models of the future predicting doom. "That's it. And the U.N. itself is now on record saying the models don't account for half the climate variability and aren't very reliable," he says. As for Newsweek's use of the term "global warming deniers," Morano says it is designed to equate skepticism of manmade global warming to questioning of the Holocaust.

SciAm Worried that Newsweek’s ‘Global Warming Is A Hoax’ Headline is Misleading

Excerpt: Maybe it's because I don't have the faith in people that I should, but I find this Newsweek cover really irresponsible. Actually, it's due to the polls cited in the article--and those I have seen elsewhere--that suggest that the American public thinks, among other things, that scientists are still trying to determine if global warming is for real and that it's a major issue in the upcoming Presidential election. Sure, the cover is provocative and gripping, but it also may be doing a disservice to the general public and the people working hard to develop new ways to combat what is realistically the greatest threat to our livelihood: climate change.


Gore Slings Bogus Borrowed Charges

Excerpt: Speaking Tuesday in [Singapore], Gore shamelessly repeated point after nonsensical point of Senior Editor Sharon Begley's The Truth About Denial, apparently favoring credit upon neither the author nor the publication.  Quite astounding, as the basis of his cerebral petty-larceny was ripped straight from the article's core contention that, in Gore's words, there lurks an organized campaign, "[by] some of the largest carbon polluters, to create the impression that there is disagreement in the scientific community."



4  The SEJ flap

SEPP is one of the organizations listed by The Society of Environmental Journalists under the heading Deniers, Dissenters, and Skeptics on this web page:


Aug 10, 2007   Letter to  SEJ Exec Dir

Dear Ms Parke

I am happy to comply with yr request for information about my faculty status and recent scientific publications

1.  Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

2.  My most recent climate science publications

Singer, S.F.  Climate Responses. Geotimes 51, No. 9, 6, Sept 2006

Singer, S.F. and D.T. Avery. Unstoppable Global Warming – Every 1500 Years. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD, 2007.  260 pp.

D H Douglass, B D Pearson, S F Singer.  “Altitude Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature Trends: Climate models versus observations” Geophys. Res. Letters (09 July 2004), Vol. 31, No. 13, L13208, 10.1029/2004GL020103

D H Douglass, B D Pearson, S F Singer, P.C. Knappenberger; P.J. Michaels, “Disparity of tropospheric and surface temperature trends: New evidence” Geophys. Res. Letters (09 July 2004), Vol. 31, No. 13, L13207, 10.1029/2004GL020212

My most recent publication in planetary science:

S. F. Singer. "Origin of the Martian Satellites Phobos and Deimos"  Meteoritics & Planetary Science 42:142 Aug 2007 (Suppl)

3.  The SEJ website states that SEPP "actually does receive funds from oil and coal interests, according to Ross Gelbspan, SourceWatch, Wikipedia "

I would like to see documentation for this statement that goes beyond citing these three suspect sources.  We maintain meticulous records of all income; they show only private donations, some foundation grants, book sales, and speaking fees -- none from "oil and coal interests."


S Fred Singer

Dear Ms Parke
Tom Bearden of The NewsHour has  called my attention to yr  website and asked for  my comments.
As you can see from my response (below), every statement about me is either  untrue or misleading.
I am appalled by  the  bias shown here, but even more so by the lack of journalistic ethics.
I don't know who is  responsible for this libelous material, but as its Executive  Director would you please tell me how SEJ plans to rectify this matter.
Fred Singer


A productive global warming propaganda factory

Excerpt: Last week I wrote an article exposing the way the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) pre-packages templates for stories on the environment. At time I wrote it, I vowed to revisit the issue from time to time to see if the templates are being used. Well, I didn't have wait very long. Wednesday's Washington Post had a front page story on how global warming is drawing the faithful in into the fold. And by faithful, they don't mean global warming believers, they're talking about that old-time religion, Christianity. The story template, action line and some sources appear to be lifted right from the SEJ website. In fact, their climate change propaganda handbook has a chapter devoted to this very topic.

5.  Negative feedback?  Warming might thin heat-trapping clouds
News release 8/9/2007

The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.  Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.
That was not what he expected to find: "All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," he said. "That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."
The results of this research were published today in the American Geophysical Union's "Geophysical Research Letters" on-line edition. The paper was co-authored by UAHuntsville's Dr. John R. Christy and Dr. W. Danny Braswell, and Dr. Justin Hnilo of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA.
"While low clouds have a predominantly cooling effect due to their shading of sunlight, most cirrus clouds have a net warming effect on the Earth," Spencer said. With high altitude ice clouds their infrared heat trapping exceeds their solar shading effect.
In the tropics most cirrus-type clouds flow out of the upper reaches of thunderstorm clouds. As the Earth's surface warms - due to either manmade greenhouse gases or natural fluctuations in the climate system - more water evaporates from the surface. Since more evaporation leads to more precipitation, most climate researchers expected increased cirrus cloudiness to follow warming.
"To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer said. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."
The only way to see how these new findings impact global warming forecasts is to include them in computerized climate models.  "The role of clouds in global warming is widely agreed to be pretty uncertain," Spencer said. "Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."
The UAHuntsville research team used 30- to 60-day tropical temperature fluctuations - known as "intraseasonal oscillations" - as proxies for global warming.  "Fifteen years ago, when we first started monitoring global temperatures with satellites, we noticed these big temperature fluctuations in the tropics," Spencer said. "What amounts to a decade of global warming routinely occurs in just a few weeks in the tropical atmosphere. Then, as if by flipping a switch, the rapid warming is replaced by strong cooling. It now looks like the change in cirrus cloud coverage is the major reason for this switch from warming to cooling."
The team analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites. The researchers tracked precipitation amounts, air and sea surface temperatures, high and low altitude cloud cover, reflected sunlight, and infrared energy escaping out to space.  When they tracked the daily evolution of a composite of fifteen of the strongest intraseasonal oscillations they found that although rainfall and air temperatures would be rising, the amount of infrared energy being trapped by the cloudy areas would start to decrease rapidly as the air warmed. This unexpected behavior was traced to the decrease in cirrus cloud cover.
The new results raise questions about some current theories regarding precipitation, clouds and the efficiency with which weather systems convert water vapor into rainfall. These are significant issues in the global warming debate.  "Global warming theory says warming will generally be accompanied by more rainfall," Spencer said. "Everyone just assumed that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That would be your first guess and, since we didn't have any data to suggest otherwise ...."
There are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of precipitation systems and their interactions with the climate, he said. "At least 80 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds, and those are largely under the control of precipitation systems.  "Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don't believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can't predict future climate change with any degree of certainty."

Spencer and his colleagues expect these new findings to be controversial.  "I know some climate modelers will say that these results are interesting but that they probably don't apply to long-term global warming," he said. "But this represents a fundamental natural cooling process in the atmosphere. Let's see if climate models can get this part right before we rely on their long term projections."



The haze of pollution called the "Asian Brown Cloud," caused by wood and dung burned for fuel, may be doing more harm than the tailpipes of our SUVs, according to a new study published in the Aug. 2 issue of the British science journal Nature.
Researchers led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California, launched three unmanned aircraft last March from the Maldives island of Hanimadhoo to fly through the Brown Cloud at various altitudes.  A total of 18 missions were flown to explore the blanket of soot, dust and smoke that at times is two miles thick and covers an area about the size of the United States.  According to the researchers:
o   The cloud of soot and particulate matter boosted the effect of solar heating on the surrounding air by as much as 50 percent.
o   These findings also may help to explain the rapid melting among the 46,000 glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau and why the Himalayan glaciers have been retreating since at least 1780.
o   This phenomenon also might help explain why carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures don't track very well, if at all.
The Asian Brown Cloud was first discovered by Ramanathan in 1999.  He grew up near Madras, India, where his mother, like millions of other Indian homemakers, cooked with dried cow dung -- a plentiful, and renewable, source of cheap fuel that was a good source of heat.  Such pollution, because it contains the residue from hundreds of millions of dung-fueled cooking fires and inefficient wood and coal furnaces, carries an unusually large amount of soot.
S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, finds it "ironic that much of (this) pollution could be avoided by the use of cleaner fossil fuels, like gas, oil, and even coal, all of which release CO2."
Source: Editorial, "Clouding The Issue," Investor's Business Daily, August 10, 2007. Courtesy: NCPA


7.  Comments on the Holland-Webster paper on Atlantic basin tropical cyclones doubling in the last century which was recently published in the UK (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London) and cited by Newsweek as a reliable source.

Summary by Wm Gray:  This paper is inaccurate, alarmist, and a terrible piece of research.  I have told the authors the same. It was published in the UK where there are few peer-reviewers who know much about hurricanes.  It should never have been accepted.  I doubt it could ever have been published in the US.  All of my colleagues who know much about hurricanes do not accept this papers results. 

Newsweek Magazine should never have used it as a reference and ignored all the previous statements by myself, Chris Landsea, Roger Pielke, etc. that contradicted this paper and its implication of a doubling of tropical cyclones in the last century.  And we also contradict the notion that human-induced greenhouse gases are making hurricanes more frequent and more intense.  The evidence just does not back this up in any of the global ocean basins.

The Holland-Webster paper alarms millions of Atlantic basin coastal residents to the likely general benefit of the authors in their desires for federal hurricane grant support.  Grant support that has in the recent past been going so readily to those advocating human-induced global warming.

Holland and Webster’s research implies that as CO2 keeps increasing in coming decades that hurricane numbers will keep increasing.  By contrast, those of us who associate the strong increase in major Atlantic hurricanes over the last 12 years to an increase in the Atlantic Thermohaline circulation (THC or AMO) expect a downturn in Atlantic major hurricane numbers in 15-20 years when the current THC has run its expected 30-35 year course. This has happened many times in the past.

The major problem with the Holland-Webster paper is the reliability of their Atlantic tropical cyclone data before the satellite era.  The most reliable long period measurements we have over the last century are the numbers of US landfalling hurricanes.  As discussed in my WSJ op/ed of 26 July, US landfalling hurricanes showed a long period downward trend between 1900-1949 and 1957-2006 - not the expected upward trend as the Newsweek and the Holland-Webster article imply.  Between 1925-1965 there were 39 major US hurricane landfall events but in the more recent same length of period 1966-2006 there were only 22.  These recent decreasing landfall numbers occurred during a period of rising CO2.  The Newsweek article saying that Atlantic hurricane numbers have doubled in the last century is just wrong.  It is irresponsible of Newsweek to get its facts so wrong and to faulty alarm millions of Atlantic basin coastal residents.  They should, in my view, publish a large and prominent retraction with an apology.

Roger Pielke, Sr., on Holland-Webster paper  in Phil Trans Roy Soc 2007
“My conclusions from this exercise
1. Given how crucially the results of HW2007 depend upon a yet-to-be completed reanalysis, aggressive and loud public claims to absolute certainty (in any direction) are way overstated.
2. Extension of a still-uncertain analysis of trends to claims of conclusive attribution to greenhouse gas emission may be supported by other available research but is not at all by HW2007, at least not according to anything even remotely resembling the IPCC’s approach to detection and attribution. I doubt that the detection threshold has been achieved, pending a proper uncertainty analysis.
3. Was Landsea justified in claiming that HW 2007 were “sloppy”? HW could of course easily resolve this by releasing their dataset for all to see (don’t hold your breath, by we shall see), but my analysis suggests pretty strongly that they did not follow the procedures that they described in the paper, exactly as alleged by Landsea. For a paper broadcast around the world as being policy relevant, this is unfortunate, to say the least.
4. Should the American public have new and increased concerns about increasing hurricane landfalls, as compared to recent years? Maybe, but HW2007 do not make this case. In fact, their paper does not even discuss landfalls!
5. Until the research community can satisfactorily explain the relationship of basin-wide activity with landfall rates, any suggestion that landfalls will continue to increase (or even decrease!) in future years remains speculative at best and at worst, a dramatic overstatement of what science can provide at this time. There is marginal skill in forecasting basin-wide activity on a seasonal basis, and no skill at predicting landfalls at any timescale (greater than 5 days;-). I welcome corrections if this assessment is incorrect (but I don’t think that it is).
6. And it probably needs to be said that it is already well documented that there has been a dramatic increase in activity 1995-2006 as compared to 1970-1994. This is widely accepted and its causes are debated. But it is not the focus of HW2007 which claims to discern a heretofore unseen trend from 1905-2005.
Bottom line? Landsea was absolutely correct about the sloppiness, which is inexcusable. The jury is still out on trends, though uncertainty seems sure to persist for a while, despite the loud and aggressive claims to the contrary.