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Monday, May 16, 2016

Ingenious or Misleading Rationalization for the "Pause" in Global Warming?

[Left] The temperature of a glass of ice water "Pauses" at freezing until nearly all the ice melts.
[Right] Top: The ice water effect is due to the Heat of Fusion of water. Does that effect apply to the melting of polar ice caps, and explain the statistical "Pause"? Bottom: The IPCC's climate theory produced climate models that grossly over-estimated warming and failed to predict the "Pause". 
"A glass of ice water in a hot place is certainly warming," said the confident questioner, "despite the thermometer 'pausing' at freeing until most of the ice has melted. Don't look at the thermometer to detect the warming, watch the ice cubes melt!"

"Seriously," he continued, "we should watch the alarming melting of glaciers and polar sea ice rather than the 'Pause' in Global Warming according to thermometer readings."

When I give talks about climate science to intelligent audiences, my general theme is that Global Warming is REAL, and partly due to human activities, but it is NOT a big DEAL.,
  • Yes, the Atmospheric "Greenhouse" effect is real. It is responsible for the Earth being about 33⁰C (60⁰F) warmer than it would be absent "Greenhouse" gasses in the Atmosphere.
  • Yes Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a key "Greenhouse" gas, second only to Water Vapor (H2O).
  • Yes CO2 has increased by about a third during the past century (from 300 to 400 parts per million), mostly due to unprecedented burning of large quantities of coal, oil, and natural gas.
  • Yes, temperatures have gone up by about 0.8⁰C (1.5F) over the past century. 
  • Warming is mostly natural and due to Earth's recovery from the depths of the last ice age, some 18,000 years ago. 
  • No matter what we do, the Earth will warm for hundreds or thousands of years, then plunge into the next ice age. Of course this will not happen monotonically. There will be multi-decade periods of warming and of cooling, just as the Medieval Warm Period (1000-1200s) was considerably warmer than today, and the Little Ice Age (1600-1700s) was much colder.
  • IPCC climate theory and computer models have failed to match actual satellite temperature data. Alarming predictions have not come to pass. They totally missed the statistical warming "Pause" of the early 2000s. [The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]
  • [See the lower right section of the figure] For several periods, even the lowest edge of the Yellow error band is warmer than the highest edge of the Blue band! [These error bands are 5%-95% statistical confidence limits, which means there is less than 1 chance in 20 any point outside a band is due to random error. Thus, there is less than 1 chance in 20 x 20 = 400 that any point in the White space between the Yellow and Blue bands is due to random error. Either the NASA satellite sensor systems are badly out of order or the IPCC climate models are terribly wrong!]
  • The gross failure of the IPCC models to correctly predict warming, despite a significant increase in CO2, proves that the models, and the underlying IPCC climate theories, are wrong. 
  • The most generous explanation is that the IPCC climate scientists simply over-estimated the sensitivity of climate to CO2 increase by a factor of two to three. 
  • The most likely explanation is that their climate theory is either incomplete or totally wrong, so their models failed. Either that, or, for political purposes, they purposely jiggered the model parameters to create alarming projections and keep research funding coming from we taxpayers to their organizations. 
Rationalizations for what happened to the excess heat due to human-made CO2:
  • The Oceans absorbed it! 
  • The melting Ice Caps absorbed it!
How can the world's leading climate theorists and modelers still be considered competent if they did not know about the heat capacity of the oceans? (Or, apparently, even the Ice Water Experiment! :^)

The Abstract for the recently published study by Michael "Nature Trick - Hockey Stick" Mann, et. al admits the reality of the "Pause" "temporary slowdown". Guess what he blames it on?:
The temporary slowdown in large-scale surface warming during the early 2000s has been attributed to both external and internal sources of climate variability. Using semiempirical estimates of the internal low-frequency variability component in Northern Hemisphere, Atlantic, and Pacific surface temperatures in concert with statistical hindcast experiments, we investigate whether the slowdown and its recent recovery were predictable. We conclude that the internal variability of the North Pacific, which played a critical role in the slowdown, does not appear to have been predictable using statistical forecast methods... [emphasis mine]
In other words, the unpredictable "internal variability of the North Pacific" ate my alarmist projection! (A variation on the old "dog ate my homework" excuse :^)

Why was it not predictable?
  • Because statistical forecast methods are weak? 
  • Because the alarmist climate theory is wrong? 
  • Because they knew better but did not dare to reign in their catastrophic predictions for fear of losing research grants?
I find it amazing that so many of my friends (who are otherwise intelligent people) cling to their firm belief in a coming human-caused climate catastrophe. Their confidence is based on the alarming predictions rooted in IPCC climate theory and computer models.

Yet, like the confident questioner I mentioned in the first paragraph, they seem to acknowledge that the IPCC theorists did not know about the relatively simple concepts of ocean heat capacity, or even the temperature profile of ice water due to the Heat of Fusion!

If these  models could not correctly predict a near-term event, such as the "Pause", why put any credence in their catastrophic predictions for 50 or 100 years hence?

How Does the Ice Water Experiment Relate to Earth's Proportion of Ice to Liquid Water?

To satisfy my own curiosity, I decided to do some research and figure out how much the melting of glaciers, sea ice, and ice sheets might have reduced Global Warming since 1979. This period includes the statistical "Pause" (or "temporary slowdown in large-scale surface warming during the early 2000s" as Mann refers to it).

The Ice Water Temperature Pause Experiment works for two reasons:
  1. It takes nearly 80 times as much energy to melt a given mass of ice as it does to raise an equivalent mass of water 1⁰C (1.8⁰F). (This is called the heat of fusion associated with the state transition of water from solid to liquid form.)
  2. The Ice Cubes make up a substantial percentage of the total mass of the ice water mixture. (When the ice cubes melt down to a small proportion of the water, the temperature does rise.)
So, what is the percentage of ice to liquid water on Earth, and has enough of it melted to account for the failure of the IPCC models since 1979, or during the "Pause"?

According to Debenedetti, Pablo G. & H. Eugene Stanley. "Supercooled and Glassy Water."Physics Today. Vol. 56, No. 6 (June 2003): 40 (quoted by http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/HannaBerenblit.shtml) here is what we need to know about the Earth's Ice and Water:
  • 1,300 x 106 km3 of water in the oceans [106 km3 = millions of cubic kilometers]
  •      33 x 106 km3 of ice in the polar ice caps
    •   3 x 106 km3 in the Greenland ice shelf and
    • 30 x 106 km3 in the Antarctic ice shelf
  •     0.2 x 106 kmof ice in glaciers
  •     0.1 x 106 km3 of water in lakes
  •     0.0012 x 106 kmof water in rivers
  •     0.22 x 106 kmof water in annual precipitation
We can see from the above that virtually all of the Earth's liquid water is in the oceans and virtually all the ice is in the polar caps. Even if we froze all the water in lakes, rivers, along with annual precipitation, and combined that with the ice in glaciers, the total would be 0.32 x 106 km3, less than 1% of the total ice caps and less than 0.03% of the total water on Earth!

If both the Arctic/Greenland and Antarctic Ice were to melt, that would account for a reduction in warming of about 33 x 80 / 1300 = 2⁰C (3.6⁰F). Wow! That seems substantial, and there certainly would be catastrophic flooding in some low-lying places if all the Earth's ice melted.

However, actual ice melt rates are much, much, much less, according to https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/ice_sheets.html
... best estimates of mass balance changes per year for 1992 through 2011: Greenland: lost 142 ± 49 gigatons; East Antarctica: gained 14 ± 43 gigatons; West Antarctica: lost 65 ± 26 gigatons; Antarctic Peninsula: lost 20 ± 14 gigatons. [net annual melt loss 213 gigatons]
Conveniently, 1 gigaton is the weight of one cubic kilometer (km3) of fresh water. So, 213 gigatons is equal to 213 km3 of ice (momentarily ignoring the fact that 1 km3 of ice weighs a bit less than 1 kmof sea water). Lacking more specifics, let us assume an average annual melt rate of 213 km3 is at least roughly representative of average annual melt rates from 1979 to 2015. Thus, the total melt for 1979-2015 would be 213 x 36 = 7688 km3, which we will round up to 8000 kmto more than make up for the difference in weight of ice and sea water.

So how much does all that melting amount to in terms of delayed temperature increase? 80 x 8000 / 1,300,000,000 = 0.000492⁰C, which we may round up to 0.0005⁰C (0.0009⁰F) of the warming since 1979, and even less of the missing warming during the "Pause".

So, total Earth ice melt accounts for less 0.09% of the warming missing from the IPCC's alarming projection. Not so impressive, is it?

So, if anyone hits you with the Ice Cube Temperature Pause Experiment, congratulate them on being 0.09% right (and thus 99.91% wrong :^)

Ira Glickstein

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