For November, 2012

Climate Change & Global Temperature: Update

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CO2 Emissions & the Speed of Increase in Global Temperature    
Four new clips.   Scroll past headings for brief descriptions, youtube links & audio podcasts.

1. New Data on Earth’s ClimateSystem Amplifying the Effects of CO2 Increases –using a different method based on Historical Data
2. Risks of a Runaway episode in the Global Climate System: its Implications – Introduction
3. Risks of a Runaway episode in the Global Climate System: its Implications – Scientific Data
4. Risk of not using the best possible data & observations to estimate Global Temperature Increases

By David Wasdell,
Director of  Apollo-Gaia Project
June 2012

See also the 8 short June 2011 video clips explaining the greenhouse effect due to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, the amplification of this by the earth’s climate system, the faster increases in global temperature that result, and the potentially disastrous effects of this on human and all life on the planet.
In these 4 more recent  clips made in June 2012 David describes in more detail the results of a recent study by the Apollo Gaia project that set out to address two questions:
(1)   By how much does the earth’s climate system itself multiply or amplify the effects of what we have done by changing the composition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to increase the average global temperature?
(2)   Is there a tipping point or critical threshold beyond which the climate system takes off on its own momentum into a runaway episode in which case we have no further ability to control it?

This new study is based on a different methodology developed over the last four years. It promises to produce more reliable results than the system modelling done so far that informs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Papers are now being presented and about to be published based on this new method. Climate scientists recognise its importance, including the head of the IPCC. Normally new studies lead to debate. As a leading scientist said recently, debates on the validity of findings on climate change need to be between climate scientists, not scientists and non-scientists. The media might thrive on debate but it needs to be between those with the relevant knowledge and information. 95% of climate scientists agree on the seriousness of the situation. Science thrives on debate – let us hear the debate on this between scientists, and hope that this new study leads to a revised consensus on estimates and risks if necessary, the implications of which can then be debated and discussed more widely.

1. New Data on the Amplification by the Earth’s system of the effects of increases in CO2 in the atmosphere
In this first clip David first describes the change in method two years ago (2010) from attempting to model mathematically the feedback processes in climate change to conducting an empirical historical study of the earth system in the past, combining 5 disciplines, to track how the earth’s system is sensitive to, and so amplifies, the effects of increased CO concentration in the atmosphere. He uses a metaphor to illustrate the change in method. The  answer to the first question on amplification and sensitivity has serious implications as it is 2 ½ times greater than the estimates of current models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Audio: Amplification of CO2 effects

2. The Boundary Conditions and Risks of a potential Runaway episode in the Global Climate System and its Implications – Introduction
All the work on the response of the earth’s system to CO2 increases has been based on historical change. This has in the past been very slow and only just a little out of equilibrium. Today this change is about 300 times faster, bringing with it new feedback processes that increase the amplification of the effects of CO2 increase. David uses a metaphor to illustrate amplifying and damping feedback, and the imbalances between them. He ends by pointing out that we are at a point where there is a very real possibility of a runaway episode in which amplifying feedback is stronger than damping feedback. This allows global temperature to increase exponentially, to accelerate without limit, rather than tend towards a new equilibrium.
Audio   Runaway – 1

3. The Boundary Conditions and Risks of a potential Runaway episode in the Global Climate System – The Scientific Data
Graph 1 compares different computer models of how the earth’s climate system responds to changes in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Current change being 300 times faster than historical records the sensitivity or speed of response of the earth’s system is much higher. This means that there is a serious possibility of a tipping point or critical threshold being approached beyond which a runaway episode begins. Temperature goes on increasing: the faster it goes up the faster it goes up (non-linear change).
Graph 2 illustrates this. This shows how the amplifying effect of the strength of the feedback factor (feedback processes within the climate and earth systems in response to increases in CO2) in turn increases the global equilibrium temperature as it approaches the damping critical threshold of 3.3 Watts per square metre in radiated energy from the earth for every degree rise in the earth’s surface temperature. If this feedback factor is bigger than this measure of energy radiated from the earth the rise in temperature accelerates and the gap between energy in and out gets bigger and bigger.  But there are factors that will push the strength of the feedback beyond the critical threshold into an episode of increasingly faster runaway behaviour and temperature increases. This implies more intensive and faster interventions by us now before this happens.  For a full explanation of this see the 2012 Istanbul presentation link on the front page of
Audio  Runaway – 2

4. Risk of not basing estimates of Global Temperature increases and their effects on the best possible data and observations
Future changes in the earth’s climate system and the natural environment on which human life and all life depends will be greater than those we see today. Powerful analogy of misdiagnosing a temperature increase in a child. Very dangerous to dismiss climate change as a hoax.
Audio Risks

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