Sunday, 23 February 2014

Climate Wars - CO2 vs. Solar in the Battle to Lay Claim to Jet Stream Anomalies

Mat Collins of Exeter University clarified to the world a week ago that the direct cause of the UK's wet and windy winter was/is the North Atlantic Jet Stream. It has been directly responsible for the 'conveyor belt' of powerful storms which have hit the UK, one after another, in seemingly endless succession, since December 2013 all the way into February of this year. The rain precipitated by those storms has resulted in widespread river flooding.

In addition, a particularly deep depression which coincided with a very high tide on the 5th/6th December also resulted in fairly severe coastal flooding along eastern coastal areas. Nothing as bad as the devastating tidal surge of 1953 but that was more down to massively improved flood defences in the last 50 years. The Dec 2013 tidal surge was probably only a shade less menacing in terms of actual sea level rise than was the 1953 event. Severe gales and storm force winds have also driven huge waves over sea defences in Wales and the West Country, resulting in yet more localised flooding.

All this chaos due to the Jet Stream, due to the run of extreme weather caused by that Jet Stream. But, given the exhaustive news coverage and the opportunity for a propaganda coup, it was inevitable that the proponents of CO2 induced global warming would figure out some way to link in the storms with 'climate change' and, right on cue, up stepped Julia Slingo to claim that 'all the evidence' pointed to a link between the UK floods and 'climate change'.

It turns out that what she really meant was that there was moderate confidence in climatological circles that a warmer world would result in a more humid atmosphere and hence increased frequency and intensity of downpours. Not at all comparable to increased storminess, especially in winter, but the effect was immediate and very favourable - the warmist press and politicians leapt on the bandwagon to claim that this winter was due to global warming. Scientific proof not needed, only the word of the Met Office chief scientist.

It has become increasingly apparent that the Jet Streams are implicated in the patterns of extreme weather which we seem to be increasingly seeing across the globe. There are four altogether, two in each hemisphere, the stronger polar jet streams and the weaker subtropical jet streams, each marking the boundaries between major air masses.

For example, it was a deep 'meander' in the Northern Hemisphere polar jet stream which created the 'blocking' conditions responsible for the Alaskan heatwave last year. Similarly, the 'washout summer' of 2012 here in the UK was caused by an abnormally southerly trending jet stream, again driving Atlantic storms over the British Isles, but this time during summer. The meandering jet stream over the USA this winter has allowed polar air to push far into the continent, giving Americans an exceptionally cold winter. Last winter (2012/13), the UK experienced a very cold late winter/early spring due to the jet stream moving way down south, missing the UK altogether and allowing the ingress of cold polar air and that memorable run of savage east/north-easterlies. A 'normal' UK winter would have the jet stream sitting generally a little further north, across Scotland. This winter it has been 'stuck' over southern Britain and has been abnormally strong.

With global mean temperatures static for 17 years but extreme weather seemingly on the rise linked to a changing jet stream, it is hardly a surprise that the man-made climate change advocates are looking to associate these changes with global warming. Hence Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University now postulates that a warming Arctic has 'slowed' the polar jet stream and made it meander more, much like a river meanders when it loses kinetic energy on the gently sloping flood plains way downstream of its upland source.

The speed of the jet stream is driven primarily by the temperature difference between the polar and subtropical air masses. If Arctic air is warmer due to accelerated warming in the polar regions because of global warming, the theory is that the difference in temperature between polar and subtropical air will be less. Thus the jet stream will slow and start to meander more, producing the 'loops' which have been responsible for weather getting 'stuck' in various locations, producing localised droughts or deluges, heatwaves or extreme cold spells.

The theory is tentative and Francis admits that there are uncertainties, but it does illustrate that alarmists are starting to line up in order to link jet stream changes (and hence patterns of extreme weather) with AGW.
 Trying to explain this year's flooding in the UK using such a theory runs into a big problem however - the jet stream may be meandering, but it has actually increased in speed over the North Atlantic, hence the ferocity and persistence of the storms which it has spawned and driven to our shores.
This belies the somewhat simplistic theory which equates a slower moving jet stream with a more meandering one and a faster jet stream with a much straighter course. Also, in a warmer world, climate models predict the jet streams will move polewards, just as they do during summer each year due to increased solar insolation, sinking southwards again during the winter months. This appears not to be happening.

Which rather neatly brings us to explanations for jet stream changes based upon solar activity, not seasonal changes in insolation but longer term changes over the 11 year solar cycle and beyond, plus - and this winter being a particular case in point - very brief changes marked by sudden bursts of increasing sunspot activity (solar flares and coronal mass ejections - CMEs). For it may be no coincidence that this winter has seen the Sun burst into life in what has otherwise been a remarkably subdued solar cycle, so remarkably subdued in fact that scientists are predicting a Grand Solar Minimum, at least as severe as the Dalton minimum, possibly even as pronounced as the Maunder minimum, which coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age.

What we need to investigate, especially as far as this winter is concerned, is a link between solar activity and the character of the jet stream which might lead to increased extreme weather/storminess. Stephen Wilde, in his New Climate Model, equates a more active sun with a 'tighter', faster, more northerly tracking jet stream; conversely, a less active sun with a slower, more meandering, southerly trending stream. We seem to be at the stage of the latter now, where the general decrease in solar activity has rendered the jet stream more 'sluggish'.

But bursts of solar activity within the envelope of a generally less active period of solar activity seem to have energised this 'sluggish', meandering jet stream, not enough to push it northwards and straighten it out, but enough to make it move faster, at least along certain sections. Hence we have the storms which have slammed into the British Isles this winter.

The mechanism whereby increased/decreased solar activity affects the jet stream is not totally clear. Total solar irradiance (TSI) varies little but there are increasing numbers of scientific papers suggesting amplification mechanisms. Stephen Wilde states: "
The cause [of change in position and behaviour of the jet stream] appears not to be raw solar power output (TSI) which varies too little but instead, the precise mix of particles and wavelengths from the sun which varies more greatly and affects ozone amounts above the tropopause". Svensmark of course postulated that periods of decreased solar magnetic activity allowed greater influx of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) which he correlated with increased cloudiness leading to global cooling, and vice versa.

It might be worth noting that, apparently independently, earth's own geomagnetic field has weakened considerably over the last 100 years or so, possibly as a precursor to a complete geomagnetic field reversal. We can expect the geomagnetic field to weaken further in the coming years, allowing even more GCMs plus radiation from our sun to penetrate our atmosphere, affecting our climate in ways which may be hard to predict.

Coming back to solar activity and the effect it has had on this winter, particularly here and in the US, Tallbloke's TalkShop has a timely contribution from Polish contributor 'ren', which seeks, with somewhat limited clarity unfortunately, to explain why the polar vortex 'locked'. He says:

In October 2013 there was a decrease in solar activity, as evidenced by the growth of cosmic rays at that time. This decline resulted in a short-term rise in temperature in the stratosphere, the ozone zone. . . . . . . . . . . Smaller solar activity means an increase of ionizing radiation over the Arctic Circle, which in turn affects the reactions taking place in the area of ​​the ozone over the Arctic Circle. As is known the temperature drops in the troposphere and the stratosphere borders later grow depending on the amount of ozone formed in the ozone zone.
These seemingly small changes in the stratosphere were the beginning of the lock polar vortex, which lasts all winter and causes influx of polar air over North America and warm, with short breaks over Europe."

A comment from Stephen Wilde on this Tallbloke post is as follows:

"“This decline (in solar activity) resulted in a short-term rise in temperature in the stratosphere, the ozone zone.”
Yes, this is what I’ve been telling everyone for several years.
A quiet sun is supposed to REDUCE ozone and lead to COOLING of the stratosphere and I think that is right above the equator but not right above the poles."

Which only serves to confuse me further!

Another timely post on Tallbloke provides reference to a science paper which purports to show that the sun has distinct 'modes' of activity. I quote:

Conclusions. The Sun is shown to operate in distinct modes – a main general mode, a Grand minimum mode corresponding to an inactive Sun, and a possible Grand maximum mode corresponding to an unusually active Sun. These results provide important constraints for both dynamo models of Sun-like stars and investigations of possible solar influence on Earth’s climate."

This is important in that it demonstrates that the Sun behaves differently in these 2 (or possibly 3) modes and that variations in solar activity, increases or decreases, may not have exactly the same effect upon our climate and the general circulation, the specific effect being dependent upon what mode the Sun is in at the time. So, for instance, bursts of activity during a Grand Minimum may affect the jet stream differently than they would say when the sun is in main general mode. Likewise, quiescence during a Grand Maximum may be different in character than very quiet periods which occur during a Grand Minimum.

There is well documented evidence that the Little Ice Age, besides being considerably cooler, was also a particularly stormy period, especially in Northern Europe. The Great Storm of 1703 occurred on 26 November 1703 and remains the most violent and destructive storm ever to hit Southern England and the Channel. Virtually every ship in the English Channel was sunk on that fateful day, with the loss of 8000-10000 lives. Historical records abound which testify to its ferocity, seemingly unmatched before and certainly since. Even October 1987 paled in comparison.
What is fascinating is that 1703, in particular late 1703, marked an end to a very long period (from about 1645) during the Maunder minimum when virtually no sunspots were observed at all on the face of the Sun. A minor maximum of solar activity occurred in late 1703/early 1704 as shown here:

The graph was taken from this paper entitled 'The Revival of Solar Activity after Maunder Minimum in Reports and Observations of E. Manfredi'. The authors state:

"We have found in our archives a very great number of references to sunspots in the years 1703 to 1707."

So, 1703 marks a very important year in the revival of solar activity after the very pronounced Maunder Minimum, and indeed, we can see this revival on the record of sunspot activity stretching back 400 years from 2000:

It's the small red peak visible just after 1700. Insignificant one might feel against the backdrop of the much greater activity in the centuries which followed. But is it any coincidence that, at almost exactly the time when the Sun first first burst into life after decades of inactivity, the monster storm of 1703 hit our shores?

In summary then, the jet streams, in particular the faster, more powerful mid-high latitude polar jet streams, drive our patterns of weather. When they are in 'meander' mode, they can produce prolonged spells of severe weather, be it droughts, heatwaves, severe floods or bitingly prolonged cold. They shift north or south according to the seasons. An energised North Atlantic jet stream has been responsible for the remarkable run of UK storms this winter and the resultant flooding.

The race is on to discover what drives the jet streams and determines their character, whether 'sluggish' and meandering or faster moving and straighter. The CO2 warmists obviously have a vested interest in proving that global warming is responsible for the current jet stream anomalies, because then they can 'prove' that severe weather really is down to 'climate change' - rather, that is, than just stating it without any scientific evidence whatsoever.

For my money, there is far greater evidence and a lot more research in the literature which demonstrates that solar activity drives the jet streams - the exact manner and the specific physical mechanisms involved still yet to be pinpointed exactly, but we're getting there, fairly rapidly now.

Monday, 17 February 2014

There is NO disagreement. . . . it only APPEARS that way.

Another day, another debacle at the UK Met Office. This one started last week with Dame Julia Slingo hopping onto the bandwagon created by the UK floods to claim that "all the evidence supported the theory that climate change had played a role" in the floods. That's a fairly definitive statement. Of course it was hedged by the usual ifs and buts common to a politician (oh no, sorry, scientist), but the statement stands.

Then yesterday, David Rose reported an interview in the Mail on Sunday with Mat Collins, a senior climate scientist at the Met Office and Exeter University in which Collins is quoted as saying:

‘. . . . . the storms have been driven by the jet stream – the high-speed current of air that girdles the globe – which has been ‘stuck’ further south than usual. There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter. If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge.'

That too is a fairly definitive statement and difficult to misinterpret. It is also obviously difficult to square with Slingo's statement above. This is why Rose's article says:

Appears to contradict Met Office chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo"

Rose also says:

"Prof Collins declined to comment on his difference of opinion with Dame Julia."

Mat Collins tweeted last night that a joint statement by him and the Met Office would be issued today, and so it has been, here.

The statement starts off:

"In it he [Rose] says that Mat Collins, Professor in Climate Systems at Exeter University, ‘appears to contradict’ the report released by the Met Office last weekend and that he ‘declined to comment on his difference in opinion’ with one of the report’s authors, Dame Julia Slingo.
This is not the case and there is no disagreement."

So, did Mat Collins not decline to comment on his difference in opinion? If so, what did he say about it to Rose? They say also that it is not the case that Collins' statements to Rose 'appear to contradict' Slingo. Well, patently, they do appear to contradict what Slingo said a few days earlier, and for very good reason. So saying that this is not the case is simply a provable falsehood and stupid, quite frankly. Going on to say that there is 'no disagreement' invites doubt in the reader considering the glaring inconsistencies in Slingo's and Collins' statements to the media.

It appears (that nasty word again) that Slingo has had 'words' with Collins for his audacity in speaking to the Mail and giving us all the impression that there is a genuine scientist at the Met Office who is unhappy with attributing our extreme winter to climate change to any degree. The Dame in charge of our Met Office has likely donned her proverbial thigh-high leather boots and cracked the proverbial bull-whip very close to the cringing features of one of her sub-servients; an employee who has shown a spark of independent thought at odds with the 'man-made climate change' ideological group-think which has held sway at the Met Office for so many years now.

This can't go on. Presumably there are good scientists still working at the Met office and presumably Mat Collins is one of them. They can't forever be gagged and pulled into line every time they dare to waver from the 'common purpose' of convincing the UK populace that 'climate change' is happening, that it's getting worse and it's all our fault.

The rest of the statement in response to the Mail on Sunday is mere waffle which attempts to back-pedal slightly on Slingo's earlier comments re. extreme weather attribution and fails - miserably. Give us a UK Met Office 'fit for purpose' for heaven's sake!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Dame Slingo at UKMO Crosses the Line on Extreme Weather Attribution

It's happened. The battle lines have finally been re-drawn. Global surface temperature rises (which have been inconveniently static for 17+ years) have been ditched by the warmists in favour of the new CAGW meme - extreme weather. The opportunities for making unfalsifiable claims are endlessly more expansive and the sheer headline-grabbing power of 'big weather' far exceeds that of mere 'global warming'.

The remarkable UK Cyclonic Winter of 2013/14 - still ongoing as we speak - has afforded the warmist politicos an eagerly awaited unique opportunity to climb firmly aboard the extreme weather bandwagon and claim that it's all down to CAGW branded 'climate change' (patent pending). Hence Dame Slingo of the UK Met Office now claiming definitively that " “all the evidence” supported the theory that climate change had played a role" in the devastating West Country floods. I am sure that the farmers whose land has been underwater since December will be delighted to know that it is simply because they drive around all day in their gas guzzling 4x4s and their environmentally unfriendly tractors which consume umpteen gallons per mile of tax exempted red diesel, blasting out vast clouds of demonic CO2 into the atmosphere in the process - not forgetting the unfortunate habit of their herds of cows constantly expelling the more potent greenhouse gas methane as they innocently go about their daily business of munching grass! I am equally certain that the thousands of people whose homes, lives and livelihoods have been devastated this winter by the flooding will also be grateful that Cameron and Slingo have, between them - with a little help from Ed 'duhhh' Davey - pinned down the cause and, though it's bad news for now, a few more windmills thrown up here and there, higher fuel bills and more grant funded insulation should help solve the problem.

It was inevitable of course that Dame Slingo, Chief 'Scientist' at the UK Met Office, would eventually jump on this irresistible opportunity to promote the flagging global warming cause - such is the depressingly predictable majority mindset of the 'intellects' charged with researching climate science in the UK today. Meanwhile, something even more sinister emerges in this Telegraph report by Christopher Booker and associated EUreferendum post. Flooding of designated rural areas is revealed to be part of an EU grand plan of 're-wilding', basically, giving up cultivated land - often to water incursion - in order to create 'sustainable' wildlife habits, notably free of human beings. Agenda 21 rears its ugly head.

In her urgent quest to twist and contort "all the available" scientific evidence to claim that CO2 mediated global warming is propelling us into a new and dangerous Age of Meteorological Extremities, Slingo conveniently forgets to mention the immediate cause of our extraordinary run of bad weather - an energised and persistent Jet Stream which has funneled a 'conveyor belt' of one Atlantic storm after another to UK shores - preferring instead to waffle on about "persistent rainfall over Indonesia and the tropical West Pacific" triggering "a global weather system that included the severe storms that have flooded thousands of homes in Britain, as well as the exceptionally cold weather in North America" and the fact that extreme weather is "consistent with what we might expect from climate change". Note the emergence too of that other unfalsifiable CAGW meme - 'warming causes extreme cold'. Problem is, my dear, the IPCC benchmark of 'climate change' (aka man-made global warming) - global surface temperature rises - has not manifested its presence for 17 and a half years now, and counting. So, if this 'climate change' hasn't been happening, what has been driving the changes which we apparently see in the Jet Stream which have given us a remarkably wet and windy winter this year and a notably very cold late winter/early spring last year, in addition to the famously wet summer of 2012?

Increasingly in the scientific literature, and encouragingly I might add, we are witnessing a growing trend to attribute natural climate variation to a combination of factors governed principally by variations in solar activity. The IPCC dismisses solar variation as insignificant compared to CO2 induced warming, but the tide is turning and amplification mechanisms which explain how relatively modest variations in solar output can drive changes in global meteorological patterns (and hence climate change) are being put forward. For instance, here and here. There are literally hundreds of papers linking climate change with solar amplification mechanisms and of course many will also invoke induced changes in the subtropical and mid-latitudinal jet streams in both hemispheres as being instrumental in the manifestation of such climate change. Of course, this leads us to a possible explanation also for the changes in weather patterns - more 'extreme' weather - which we are witnessing in the UK and elsewhere. I wonder if Slingo can quote hundreds of papers explaining how increasing CO2 (without subsequent increase in average global surface temperatures of course) causes extreme weather via changes in the jet streams?

Stephen Wilde seems to be on the right track with his New Climate Model and those scurrilous 'climate sceptics' over at the now infamously censored Pattern Recognition In Physics also contributed some very interesting theories linking Planetary and Lunar tidal forces and orientations to solar variability and hence climate change.

The ball game is changing for sure and the tactics of the AGW theorists are becoming ever more blatantly outrageous and anti-scientific. Scientific credibility and observational confirmation deserted their camp some time ago and now they are having to scrape the bottom of the global warming barrel to come up with ever more tortuous and convoluted pseudo-scientific 'evidence' to support their claims that the human race is the destroyer of our benign climate.