Textbook’s Take on Climate Change

November 20, 2008

“Even more controversial is global warming, which some scientists believe results from the carbon dioxide emissions.  The Earth’s average temperature has increased over the past 100 years, but most of the increase occured before 1940.  Determining what causes changes in the earth’s temperature and isolating the effect of carbon dioxide from other factors are proving to be difficult.

Equally controversial is the problem of ozone layer depletion.  There is no doubt that a hole in the ozone layer exists over Antarctica and that the ozone layer protects us from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays from the sun.  But how our industrial activity influences the ozone layer is simply not understood at this time.”

The author also did not place CO2 in the category of air polution.

Can you guess what subject this textbook covers?

The Eighth Edtion of Microeconomics by Michael Parken of the University of Western Ontario.

A Better Look at Temperature Trends

November 2, 2008

In the graph below, the temperature value for a certain month is the trend from that month to the present.  The data ends in 2003 (earlier for the Tropics) for ease of viewing (As we approach the current month, trends become increasingly large in magnitude).

New Blog

October 27, 2008

I’ve started a new blog with Australian winemaker and climate expert Erl Happ.  It can be found here: climatechange1.wordpress.com

I’ll still be posting here, though possibly less frequently.

RSS Anomoly Guess

October 6, 2008

September’s numbers are out from University of Huntsville, and global temperatures rose slightly.


RSS hasn’t released their data yet, but I’m going to guess that their anomoly will be around 0.25 degrees C (+/- 0.04 C).  This could turn out to be innacurate, but we’ll have to wait to see.  This isn’t a wild guess; I’ll describe how I got there when RSS releases September’s numbers.  When they do, it’ll be here:


Success! RSS’s September numbers are within my .08 range (0.21-.029), with a 0.211 anomoly.  To predict this I looked at UAH’s and RSS’ relationship (i.e. RSS minus UAH) over the course of several years.  Since 2003, the values of RSS – UAH have been cyclical as I have discussed in other posts, and these cycles have been nearly identical, which would make predicting the monthly value of RSS with the value of UAH relatively easy.  However, this year, the cycle has acted rather differently.  By this September, the difference between RSS and UAH had not yet begun to decrease, so it was apparent that to behave like the other years, it would have to decrease this month.  To decide the magnitude of the change, I looked at the range of magnitudes of decrease in the past few years during the fall.  Apparently, I was a little to conservative in determining the magnitude.

Below is a graph of RSS minus UAH with my guess and with the actual RSS anomoly.

And here is a graph of the the temperature anomoly for UAH and RSS since 2007, with my prediction.

Update on UAH/RSS Difference

October 3, 2008

A while ago, I posted on the annual cycle in the difference between UAH and RSS.


Looks like Lucia, Atmoz, and McIntyre beat me to it by a few months.  Here’s a post on Lucia’s Blackboard with a little more statistical sophistication than mine; note the discussion in the comments.


Alaskan Climate Change

October 3, 2008

“Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.” -Palin during the VP debate.

Here’s a graph of sea surface temperatures around Alaska:

It is apparent that the great climate shift of 1978 caused a step change in ocean temperatures, though there has been no trend in temperatures since.

Here’s data from several temperature stations in Alaska.

Aside from a few surface stations, climate change in Alaska seems to have been on hold for the past thirty years.

Cirrus Cloud Behavior During the 1986/87 El Nino

September 29, 2008

Click to play Cirrus During '86 Nino
Make a Smilebox slideshow


Cirrus Cloud Distribution During the 1997/98 El Nino

September 27, 2008

Click to play El Nino & Cirrus Cloud
Make a Smilebox slideshow

I made the slideshow above so that I could see if cirrus cloud distribution behaved signifcantly differently during the large El Nino of 1997/98.

Below is a graph showing the progression of the El Nino in the Pacific.

In the Pacific, it is apparent that there was (for the season) a strong cloud-free zone developing in the run up and very beginning of the SST rise.  During the middle of the rise, some problem with the collected data makes it difficult to see what the trend is, but it appears to be average.  During the end of the rise, the peak, and then the fall, there is an overwhelming amount of cirrus cloud distributed more South than would normally be seen during that season.  So, there may be evidence for a relationship between SST (sea surface temp) and cirrus cloud distribution, though the largest portion of of rise in SST occured with average cirrus cloud cover.  This would require a lag between changes in cloud cover and changes in SST, and this requires more work to determine if this is the case.  Also, I need to spend more time looking at years with no La Nina or El Nino in order to determine the extent to which cirrus cloud distribution fluctuates regardless of tropical warming/cooling events.  If the distribution remains extremely stable, except during El Nino/La Nina events, we would have more evidence to pursue the link between clouds and SST.  However, if distribution varies significantly on its own, it will be very hard to pursue to the possible connection.

Additionally, I will look at what cirrus cloud cover does during La Ninas. Unfortunately, the data starts in July 1983, and there have not been many strong La Ninas since then.

Inter-Annual Fluctuations in Cirrus Cloud Cover

September 27, 2008

Click to play Cirrus Cloud over 1 year
Make a Smilebox slideshow

The above slideshow is intended to show how cirrus cloud distribution changes each year.  I am chieflyconcerned with the tropical regions.

Cirrus clouds have a yearly path Northwards and then Southwards.  From January to March, cirrus clouds are maintained South.  From April to June, they move North.  From July to August, they are maintained North.  And from September to December, they move South.  This annual pattern has a significant impact on cirrus cloud-free zones in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans.  As the cirrus clouds move Northward, regions near the equator in the Pacific ocean become very cloud-free along with the coast of S. America just South of the equator. A cloud free zone forms slightly south of the equator in the Atlantic, by Africa.  And from October through April, the strong cirrus cloud cover over the Northern Indian Ocean (stretching outwards into the Pacific) dissipates, becoming less intense and less organized.

With these annual trends in cirrus cloud distribution, we are led to a question concerning our postulation that decreases in cirrus cloud cause El Ninos.  Does it matter that inter-annual fluctuations in cirrus cloud cover are larger than changes during El Ninos?  But that is a question to be asked down the road.  Right now, I am focussing on determining if changes in cirrus cloud cover accompany tropical warming events.

Cirrus Cloud and the 1997/1998 El Nino

September 26, 2008

One assertion made by Erl Happ’s theory of climate is that changes in cirrus cloud cover create tropical warming events (El Ninos).  Cirrus cloud is a cause of albedo, reflecting sunlight back into space.  Therefore, less cirrus cloud would lead to a warming event, while more cirrus cloud would lead to a cooling event.

After a lot of searching, I finally found this site: http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/products/browsed2.html.

It is run by the International Sattelite Cloud Climatology Project, which describes itself:

“The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) was established in 1982 as part of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) to collect weather satellite radiance measurements and to analyze them to infer the global distribution of clouds, their properties, and their diurnal, seasonal and interannual variations. The resulting datasets and analysis products are being used to study the role of clouds in climate , both their effects on radiative energy exchanges and their role in the global water cycle.

I have two pictures to show you, and they have something in common.

My point in showing the second image is that the behavior of cirrus clouds in the Pacific during October of 1996 is identical to changes in temperature seen in the Pacific during an El Nino.

This similarity between cirrus cloud and temperature trends (with the 97/98 El Nino) illustrates that cirrus cloud cover and sea surface temperature might be closely related.  Yet, we can go a step farther.  Below is a graph of sea surface temperature in the region in the Pacific that I have used before and with no smoothing.  This graph should show the first indications of an El Nino.

Note that the El Nino does not start until the first month of 1997.  This means that the decrease in cirrus cloud cover that was so consistent with sea surface temperature trends during El Ninos occured three months before the El Nino began!

The big question to answer now is this: Was the decrease in cirrus cloud responding to atmospheric changes related to the El-Nino that preceded the actual sea surface temperature rise?  Or was the El Nino responding to the decrease in cirrus cloud?

Erl Happ’s theory is truly a theory of climate and not just “global warming”; it is a way of describing terrestrial temperature trends, and it does so very well.  Some steps of the theory require more evidence than others, so I’ll continue posting as I try to confirm the various steps.

UPDATE: Backtracking….

After looking at more months and more years, it seems that the region in the Pacific of varying cirrus cloud cover always holds the same shape (with decreased cirrus cloud) as an El Nino SST trend does for some circulation-related reason during the months July through January.  Here’s a graph of the mean cirrus cloud cover for October (1983-2006).

With that said, my Oct 1996 map does hold somewhat more of a clear El Nino shape, though not significantly.  This does not mean that there is no correlation; it just means that this is more complex than I assumed when I made the post because I will have to take into account monthly means when looking for an El Nino signature.