Are We Warming?
The first good question to ask and answer regarding Global Warming/Climate Change would be:
“Is the Earth warming? What are the long and short term trends?”
First, no, we are currently cooling.
We hit a peak of warming in 1998, dropped a little, went level or slightly cooling for about 7 years until last year when we started cooling more quickly. For recent temperatures, there are several sources:
GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) Click on the top graph and then go down to the bottom right graph of the set of four at the bottom of the page. It gives a month by month mean surface temperature of 2005, 2007, and 2008 compared to the peak temperatures of each month. They update this graph about the 10th of each month.
HadCRUT (Hadley Climate Research Unit)
UAH (University of Alabama, Huntsville) Their Oct. 2008 graph is below.
Watts UP with That? Check out the graph, then read the text.
Atmoz (a good discussion of the 4 main temperature data sources).
Note the bottom graph describing the trends: If you average over 20 years, we are on a warming trend, but that could be considered a biased view. Whenever a pattern takes a turn and it is analyzed by averaging, the peak will be moved forward as the peak temperatures are still in the average long after the real temperature peak was passed.
A telling point: if you are looking at a variable parameter, why be insisting on trying to fit a straight line to it? The answer: they use the unfounded assumption that temperature will go up regardless of . . . any evidence to the contrary.
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are ocean circulation patterns which are much larger, longer term, and influential than the La Nina and El Nino effects. The PDO, in particular, has a huge influence and flips between warming and cooling about every 30-35 years - and it flipped to cooling last year according to NASA. The NAO can also join the fun, which it appears to have done this time.
By the way, lobstermen have known of this warm-cold pattern for many decades. Back in the 1960's, a wonderful old, grizzled captain told me that the "lobsta don't like the cold or the hot" every 17 years, but liked the temperatures in between. 'Makes sense to me to favor the most common temeperatures.
Here’s one source for the PDO and a good discussion, “Shifting of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from its warm mode to cool mode assures global cooling for the next three decades.” Scan down to the bottom graph which shows the warm and cold phases.
Hmmmmm, no wonder they talk about “climate change” now and not “global warming". But, never fear, the intrepid supporters of global warming say any cooling is only temporary and warming WILL continue. The evidence for this is lacking completely except for their computer models which only predict different degrees of warming. THe IPCC has claimed that CO2 has swamped all natural variation, but now they are admitting that variation may be "temporarily" canceling the CO2 warming effects. We shall see.
There are also much longer term temperature records which I will not include aat this time. Suffice it to say that there was indeed a Little Ice Age (to address at another time) which we have been climbing out of for the last 200 years, so a mild warming over the centuries would not be unusual or unexpected. There was an unpleasant relapse to cold in the late 1700's-early 1800’s called the Dalton Minimum, which among other things was one of the stressors that tipped France into its revolution.
Now, here’s a controversial point. The IPCC discounts solar activity from having any detectable influence on climate change. They say the graph below shows the effect of CO2. I will not go into the faulty science of the CO2 curve below, that's another post, but they are willing to present this as true.
From the Woods Hole Research Center.
The only factor I have seen anywhere which is in lock step with the global temperatures is solar activity. CO2’s curve over the last 50 years may go up as does the temperature, sort of, but it is a poor fit.
The solar activity, however, is a good fit and hard to ignore, particularly when a group in Denmark found that it is the length of the solar cycle which really correlates.
See the graph below of the length of the solar cycle period versus the global temperature anomaly (how far it is from average). Cycle length on the left axis and temperature anomaly on the right axis.
From the Danish Meteorological Institute.
The most startling paper I have read in the last 3 years came out this year. “Predicting Solar Cycle 24 and beyond”. Solar researchers took six identified, low-frequency, solar oscillations, with cycles of 22 to 420 years, that modulate, or alter, the intensity and periods of the 11-year solar sunspot cycle and ran them at the same time to view how they interfered with each other, by constructive and destructive interference.
What they found was a pattern which is incredibly similar to the known 200 year record of sunspot activity, including the Dalton Minimum, which was not only a time of cold temperatures, but also a known time of low solar activity.
This is so cool, what a match! Their graph is below - the solid line is the sunspot record and the dotted line is their model of the oscillations/solar activity.
Remember, this is not a computer model which attempts to recreate all of the variable of the globe’s climate by programming and twiddling factors. It includes solar characteristics and lets them interact. A much simpler approach and devoid of programmers writing code for what they want to happen.
But, wait, the pattern also shows that the next two cycles should be very similar to the Dalton Minimum activity! To make matters more amazing, the most recent cycle, Cycle 24, has been very slow in starting and the predictions are that it will be a low activity cycle.
So, are we warming? We were.
What are we doing? Currently cooling. Possibly for the next 25-30 years.
Are these changes abnormal? No, not at all. They are perfectly normal and, apparently, even predictable.
Between the perdictable PDO warm/cold/warm flip-cycle and solar acitivty correlations over the long term, there are some big influences out there that cannot be just written off for political epediency, particularly when politicians are going to make huge policy decisions based on their idea of the climate. It had sure be the best and most realisitic idea or we will be suffering the consequences of bad decisions and at great costs.
The head of the UN IPCC just recently declared that warming is faster than ever, right now! How can we let him spout such obviously wrong stuff? "Truly inconvenient truths about climate change being ignored" It's disheartening to hear of such blithering, but then he does have to defend his huge multibillion dollar budget, eh? Lies will do it.
Another time I will go into more detail regarding the cyclic nature of the warm peaks at 1938 and 1998 and the cool interims, which describe the Gleissberg cycle. It is nothing new and perfectly normal.