[Global Change: 3791] The Poster Boy of Global Warming Parameters

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Tom Adams

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May 13, 2010, 9:43:09 AM5/13/10
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I guess the AGW hypothesis implies that the energy of Earth system is
relentlessly increasing.

It might be nice to have a measurable proxy parameter for that energy
that is relentlessly increasing year after year.

Such a parameter could become like the Dow Jones Industrial Average of
AGW, it might be more convincing to the general public to focus
attention on a relentlessly increasing parameter.

The thermal expansion of the oceans might be a suitable parameter of
this sort.

I have the impression that denying or explaining away of the thermal
expansion of the oceans is difficult, but I am not sure about this. I
don't want to underestimate the creativity or PR prowess of the
deniers.

The general characteristics of this parameter:

1. Captures a good bit of the Earth's AGW-induced energy increase
relatively quickly

2. Easy to explain to the public and hard to deny or explain away.

3. Increases relentlessly year over year (assuming a big volcano or
something does not cause a temporary halt to warming, if that is
possible.)

Of course, there are a lot of ocean-related parameters of interest
(runoff, ice extent, sea-level rise). To paraphrase James Carville:

"It's the oceans, stupid"

Coined from Carville's "It's the economy, stupid":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It's_the_economy,_stupid

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Robert I Ellison

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May 14, 2010, 9:41:37 PM5/14/10
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I give you the 1st order differential eqaution of global energy
storage:

Ein = Eout + d(GES)/dt - it is measured at TOA by the 'Cloud and
Earth's Radiant Energy Sytems' CERES and by ARGO in the oceans.

http://www.earthandocean.robertellison.com.au/page4.html

All of the global warming in the satellite era has been in the SW
band.


Robert

Owen Gaffney

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May 23, 2010, 3:56:17 PM5/23/10
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In December 2009 we released something close to what you describe - a
climate change index that relentlessly increases.

http://www.igbp.net/page.php?pid=504

The index brings together sea level rise, Arctic sea ice, temperature
and CO2.

Going back to 1980 the index only falls in three years - the biggest
dip could be related to the Pinatubo eruption in 1991. We plan to
release the most up-to-date index shortly.

Owen

Steve Reynolds

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May 24, 2010, 6:38:00 PM5/24/10
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Does CO2 belong in that index? I don't see how it is a proxy for
climate change.

Also, the web site states that a rising index indicates a change away
from 'stable climate'. What evidence is there that a warmer climate is
less stable? Historically colder is less stable (ice ages).
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Comms

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May 26, 2010, 7:43:43 AM5/26/10
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There was a lot of debate in our community whether CO2 would be included or
not, some still feel it should not be. The final decision was that it should
be included because it is a climate control and it is rapidly changing. The
issue some in our community had was that it is the driver of the other
changes. On balance, it was felt that human activities are the driver,
rising atmospheric CO2 levels is one of the consequences. Also, another
consideration is that now the rising atmospheric CO2 levels have complex and
not-fully-understood feedbacks with terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks - so
it is more cmplex than just the steady human forcing pushing the climate.

Re stable climate: I think we are talking about a relatively stable climate
over the last 10,000 years. I think the point here is not how stable
particular era are but that we may be destabilising our particular era and
pushing the planet into a less predictable climate state that as you say,
may eventually stabilise.

We are planning to put out an updated index soon - as soon as we have the
sea level data in a format we can use. We will work on the wording and
descriptions to improve clarity, so thanks for your thoughts, it is really
helpful.

Owen

Bart Verheggen

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May 26, 2010, 9:21:37 AM5/26/10
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The IGBP climate change index is very useful indeed, and even though
it is obvious that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and thus very relevant for
climate, it is different than the other paremeters in that it's a
forcing (cause) rather than a phenomenological effect, as the other
parameters (Arctic sea ice, SLR, temp) are. Ocean heat content would
be a good one to include (though it doesn't go as far back in time).

Steve, a rising index means it's moving further away from the
preindustrial climate.

Bart

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Comms

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May 26, 2010, 11:21:57 AM5/26/10
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We are looking in to adding other parameters - the original idea was to make
a global change index, so we feel the climate change index is a start.
Several institutions have asked if we could work with them to develop an
oceans index and an extremes index. These are interesting ideas, which we
hope to develop further.

Owen

Tom Adams

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May 27, 2010, 8:30:00 AM5/27/10
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The index components seem to be calibrated based on 100 = maximum
change since 1980. Does that mean all the past index values are
changed when we get a new yearly maximum?

If I understand correctly, that means that the relative contribution
of each component is based on the year of maximum change. But maximum
change is kind of a amplifier of noise or isolated events. A big
volcano that caused a .4 change in temperature would reduce the
contribution (in all years) of the temperature component relative to
components that responded less (or not at all) to volcanoes.

Seems like it might be better to normalize in some other way.

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