October 10, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Brussels, CLIM, Climate challenge, Climate change, Climate protection, Climate science, Committee, EU, EUROPARL, European Parliament, Innovations, Technologies, Thematic sessions | Leave a comment

Below my italicised introduction is an example of content provided to the first of six sessions this semester held by the European Parliament (EUROPARL) Temporary Committee on Climate Change (CLIM).

The Committee has its own website here.

Thematic Sessions are listed here and relevant meeting documents appear on this page, some time after an event. The three sessions listed so far are:

3. “The social and economic dimension, R & D, new technologies, transfer of technologies, innovation and incentives”
Monday, 19 November 2007, 3.00 – 6.30 pm

2. “Climate protection challenge post-2012
Thursday, 4 October 2007, 3.00 – 6.30pm

1. “Climate impact of different levels of warming”
Monday, 10 September 2007, 3.00 – 6.30 pm

Meeting documents: Background dossier, Press conference (video)
Presentations: Prof. Schellnhuber, Prof. Van Ypersele, Mr Jarraud, Dr Lindzen, Prof. Sir Hoskins, Prof. Dr Watson, Prof. Martin-Vide, Dr Meinshausen, Dott.ssa Sabbioni
Theme leader: Vittorio Prodi
Key-note speaker: Prof. Hans Joachim SCHELLNHUBER, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Background notes for this particular meeting on 10 September 2007 and presenters’ curriculum vitae are here. The draft agenda included:

This Hearing is open to the public. However, since seats in the meeting room are limited, visitors are requested to go to the listening room available for this event (ASP 5E2).
For security reasons, participants who do not have a European Parliament access badge must obtain a pass in advance. Please contact the CLIM Secretariat by 3 September 2007 at the latest and provide us with your full name, address and date of birth.

I discovered the public nature of this hearing after the event, but there are four more thematic sessions to be held by CLIM this semester. It would certainly be interesting to go along to one, especially the November 19 session.

Here follows the text and single image presented by Richard Lindzen to CLIM on 10 September 2007. The asterisk highlights what I think is a typo in Dr Lindzen‘s presentation (i.e. an honest slip, whereby the date should read 1996, rather than 1986).

I adjusted the title a little to match the CLIM agenda (!) and the rest is simply the text from the PDF pasted into HTML so it’s easier to skim 😉



Global warming:
finding answers
prolonging the issue

Richard S. Lindzen
Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
European Parliament
Temporary Committee on Climate Change

10 September 2007

2 The world, today, contains vastly more professionals who are interested in the impacts of climate change or in the policy implications of climate change, than there are serious scientists studying the physics of climate change. It should not be surprising that those interested in the impacts and policy implications should wish the underlying science to be settled so that they can get on with their work. I am here to warn you that their altogether understandable wishes are very likely to be misplaced.

3 Never has an area of physical science been subjected to such a volume of illogic than has climate science in connection with global warming.

4 Relatively meaningless claims like it is probable that man is responsible for most warming over the past 30 years are based on the bald assertion that modelers can’t think of any other explanation. The IPCC text, of course, notes that this is premised on the assertion that the relevant models adequately account for unforced natural internal variability. A recent article in Science (by a scientist at the UK’s Hadley Centre), however, acknowledges that the models used by the IPCC did, in fact, deal improperly with unforced natural variability (Smith, et al, 2007). Smith et al may have been forced to their conclusion by the interesting fact that global mean temperature has remained essentially constant for the past ten years.

Global Mean Temperature Anomaly from Met Office as presented by Richard Lindzen to EUROPARL CLIM on 10Sep07

5 The records on the right are completely consistent with a rise from 1976 to 1986* and no significant rise since 1997. This would be more like what is referred to as a regime change than a response to global greenhouse warming. Note that the recent paper by Tsonis et al (2007) has shown precisely this. Note that recent years are among the warmest in the record, BUT there is no trend! Surface temperature has been essentially flat for almost a decade.

6 Earlier, the claim was made that present temperatures were warmer than they had been for 1000 years. This involved using a few handfuls of proxy records to infer average temperatures for the whole northern hemisphere (Mann et al, 2001). Such an analysis involves regressing these proxies (mostly tree rings) on time series obtained from instrumental records for a few decades. In using the derived coefficients to extrapolate records to centuries prior to the instrumental record, one assumes that the pattern of climate change remains the same. The results were used to claim that the medieval warm period was peculiar to the North Atlantic Region but not characteristic of the Northern Hemisphere mean (since it did not appear in the reconstruction). If this were true, however, then the pattern had to have changed, and the whole basis for the analysis was incorrect.

7 Such arguments must be defended by claims of consensus. Ordinary logic and analysis would fail.

8 The situation with the ever popular catastrophic consequences of global warming is a somewhat different matter. These catastrophes do not follow directly from warming. Rather, they depend on a chain of inferences. Even when the linkages required for the outcome are possible, they are sufficiently numerous that the resulting catastrophe is, as usual, extremely unlikely – especially when it is noted that each link is subject to a plethora of influences other than global warming. Moreover, a crucial link to all such projections is climate sensitivity, a matter we shall soon turn to.

9 (removed)

10 That at least one object of the game is to generate alarm is indicated by the following: The physics of extratropical storminess and variability is reasonably clear: these diminish as the equator to pole temperature difference decreases (as it is projected to do with global warming affecting the poles more than the tropics). Since this doesn’t sound alarming, the opposite is claimed to be true (and, of course, consensus is claimed). A reason is given: namely that in a warmer world there may be more evaporation, and this will provide more latent heat for disturbances, but this contradicts basic understanding of extratropical meteorology. The situation with respect to tropical storms is more controversial, but model studies increasingly suggest diminished rather than more and stronger hurricanes and little change in convection (Vecchi and Soden, 2007).

11 Ignoring the overt misrepresentation posed by the last example, let us return to the matter of climate sensitivity, upon which all projections of alarm depend. Climate sensitivity commonly refers to the expected change in global mean temperature associated with the radiative forcing produced by a doubling of CO2. This radiative forcing amounts to about 3.5 Watts per square meter (a perturbation in the radiative budget of the earth of less than 2%; also according to the IPCC, total greenhouse forcing is already over 80% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2). Since 1979, the sensitivity has been estimated simply by considering the range of results obtained by existing models. The range presented in the Charney Report of 1979 was 1.5-4 degrees Centigrade. It is still presented by the IPCC to be in about the same range. Actually, the value of the sensitivity due to a doubling of CO2 alone is easy to calculate and amounts to only about 1 degree Centigrade. However, all the models have positive (amplifying) feedbacks from the atmosphere’s main greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, which current models cannot actually deal with because of inadequate resolution among numerous other problems.

12 Why this peculiarly unscientific approach to a crucial number? Why the absence of any improvement in its estimation over almost 30 years of generously supported research? In point of fact, it is relatively simple to eliminate the high values of sensitivity, and it is even fairly simple to directly estimate sensitivity.

13 The high values were essentially eliminated in studies from the world’s leading modeling centers: the Japanese Frontier Program (Annan et al, 2006), and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (Rodwell and Palmer, 2007). They basically showed that models with such high sensitivity were incapable of forecasting observed weather on the time scales associated with the relevant feedback processes.

14 But why bother to simply eliminate the high values, when the use of basic greenhouse theory, existing observations, and the appropriate use of models permits one to actually pin down the value? Here is the gist of the argument:

15 First it must be understood that the greenhouse effect involves the balance of thermal energy radiated from the earth (OLR) with the net incoming solar energy (NISR). The infrared absorptivity of atmospheric greenhouse gases and substances (mostly water vapor and clouds), prevents OLR originating from the surface from effectively reaching space. Rather the OLR reaching space mostly originates from a certain depth into the atmosphere (measured downward from space) determined by the amount of greenhouse gas between space and that level (which we schematically refer to as one optical depth or t=1). The height at which this level occurs varies (as does water vapor) with latitude. In the tropics it is in the neighborhood of 10 km. Now, beneath the tropopause, the atmosphere’s temperature decreases with height, and the OLR depends on the temperature at the t=1 level. When greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere, the t=1 level is reached at a higher altitude characterized by a lower temperature. Hence, the OLR is reduced, and no longer balances the NISR. In order to reestablish balance with NISR, the temperature at the new t=1 level must rise to roughly the value it had at the old level. The question of how this elevated temperature at high altitude translates into surface warming is complex and not altogether clear. However, models prove useful for determining this.

16-18 (removed)

19 A recent study by Lee et al (2007) shows that a variety of GCMs subjected to a doubling of CO2, display the usual range of sensitivities, but regardless of sensitivity, all show maximum warming in the tropical upper troposphere, and this warming is about 2.5 times greater than the surface warming. Thus, less than about 40% of the warming observed in tropical upper troposphere represents greenhouse warming at the surface. It is less than about 40% because the warming at t=1 occurs quickly while the surface warming takes time to evolve because of the heat capacity of the ocean.

20 (removed)

21 What does the data show? Balloon data analyzed by the UK Meteorological Office shows warming in the tropical upper troposphere occurs at a rate only about 3/4 of what is seen at the surface (not 2.5 times). Hence, only about 30% of the surface warming since 1979 can be attributed to greenhouse warming of any sort. This, in turn, implies a sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 of about 0.4 degrees Centigrade.

22 (removed)

23 This argument, alone, is sufficient to disregard the entire range of sensitivity found in models – including the lowest values offered. However, there are numerous studies confirming such a low value: Theoretically, the response time of the ocean is proportional to climate sensitivity. Explicit studies of the ocean response to specific events inevitably demonstrates rapid response indicating low sensitivity (Lindzen and Giannitsis, 1998, 2001, Douglass and Knox, 2005); so do independent studies of the response time (Kärner, 2007). Satellite studies of outgoing long wave radiation by numerous groups show that OLR corresponding to warm periods is much greater than inferred from climate models. This implies negative rather than positive feedbacks. Studies of the rate of heat uptake by the ocean suggest tight coupling of the atmosphere and ocean which demands low sensitivity (Schwartz, 2007). Observational studies show the presence of negative feedbacks that current models fail to replicate (Lindzen, Chou and Hou, 2001, Spencer, Braswell, Christy and Hnilo, 2007)

24-27 (removed)

28 The IPCC shows that the observed warming over the past 30 years is much less than would be expected (from climate models) given the increase in greenhouse forcing (N.B. Recall that we already have 80% of the greenhouse forcing that would result from a doubling of CO2). While the IPCC claims that much of the forcing was cancelled by aerosols, this is being increasingly challenged, and evidence is growing that aerosols may primarily warm rather than cool. Recent studies, moreover, show that warming over the past century can be wholly accounted for by known modes of internal variations in climate like ENSO, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (Tsonis et al, 2007).

29 (removed)

30 Are there any basic arguments for the commonly stated sensitivities? Only that models obtain them based on physics that the models cannot, as yet, handle.

31 Thus, the long chains of inference involved in projecting catastrophic consequences are not only grossly unlikely simply because of the length of the chains, but an early link in the chain is likely to be completely broken.

32 The use of climate as a threat is hardly new. Here is a somewhat early example:

33 “The Lord will smite thee … with fiery heat, and with drought, and with blasting (wind), and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The Lord will make the rain of thy land powder and dust; from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”

34 This threat is about 3 thousand years old and is from Deuteronomy XXVIII 22-24. It is more eloquent and powerful than our contemporary threats, but, of course, it is a more serious matter to fail to adhere to the Ten Commandments than to fail to yield control of breathing and combustion to a regulatory bureaucracy putting forth incorrect and/or misleading science.


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