Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Steele’s ‘What’s Natural?’ Dissecting libertarian deception, a fishy tale.

A study guide to Jim Steele’s  “What’s Natural?”, featured in the Pacifica Tribune.


A friend from California has been sending me copies of a new column appearing in the Pacifica Tribune, a paper that, surprise surprise, is owned by a “libertarian” activist Sherman Frederick*.  I was able to sidestep the first couple, but this one.  Asked to do some fact checking and one thing leads to another.

Based on his first three columns it promises to be a revealing collection of artfully fabricated obfuscation, rhetorical misdirection, deliberate deception through omissions, spiced with a peppering of derogatory spin towards established experts in climatology and related Earth sciences.  All in all ripe to serve as a case study in political brainwashing.  

I'll beginning with a short Letter to the Editor that I emailed to Pacifica Tribune this morning; followed by a copy of Jim Steele’s opinion piece; this in turn is followed by a detailed exploration of its mischief.
  • I use the scare quotes because today’s “libertarianism” has nothing to do with pluralism and American Liberty and everything to do with Me First and an attitude of: ‘If I can grab it, it’s mine - what’s mine is mine and fuk you and yours.’   
  • Worst, in practice most “libertarians” believe that lying about geophysical facts is some free speech right and they have convinced themselves it’s okay to ignore physical reality with a white wash of self deception, rhetorical gotcha tricks, and distracting malicious slander.  ___________________________________________
Letter to the Pacifica Tribune Editor about "What’s Natural?" a fishy climate tale. 

Dear Editor, 

Regarding your “What’s Natural?” column of January 30th (“Climate fish tales”).  What I found fishy was that if the goal was trying to better understand climate expert’s warnings Jim Steele would have been obligated to first explain the simple fundamentals from which all else follows.

First and foremost being the reality that global warming is caused in our atmosphere, by our atmospheric insulation regulator, that is greenhouse gases.

This scientific certainty was driven home by intensive Air Force atmospheric studies conducted from late ’40s through to the ‘70s by various nations, working independently, all arriving at the same figures and conclusions.

The next is recognizing that humanity is injecting on the order of 3 billion metric tons of CO2 month after month.  That translates to our ‘atmospheric insulation regulator’ being ratcheted from around 280 ppm when the steam engine was invented, to over 410 ppm and climbing today.

Discussing “natural” oscillations and impacts on fisheries is fine.  But not if you ignore the fact that all those oscillations merely push and pull heat around our global heat and moisture distribution engine which includes our oceans. 

Today’s PDO, AMO and others are embedded within a warming climate engine, so naturally they are also warming. 

Sincerely,
Peter M
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Next is the copy of Steele's column, followed by a detailed Student’s Guide regarding What’s Natural’ about Steele’s fishy climate tales.

REPRINTED UNDER PROTECTION OF FAIR USE COPYRIGHT LAWS.  
My intention is a point by point review of libertarian deception in action.
(click on the image for a cleaner view)
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This is a tad tedious, but that’s how it is with important details.   Though too long for most, this is were you’ll find corrections, clarification, facts and links to expert evidence and self-educational opportunities.  Tailored for the self-starting critical thinker, the student of Earth and climate science. 

The first paragraph is plenty accurate, it finishes with a couple rhetorical questions worth answering.  Of course coastal Native Americans were aware of long term weather cycles and that they impacted fish and wildlife migration patterns.

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The second paragraph begins, “Observing Salmon certainly improved modern climate science.”  

What’s the point with that wording “certainly improved”?  My point is that all new evidence “certainly improves” the state of understanding.  It’s called the learning curve.  Especially in the early days of a subject, when it’s parameters aren’t even fully understood, let alone quantitatively defined.  It’s all part of science marching forward.  No need for snarky attitude.


“1990s scientists struggled to understand why sea surface temperatures… (fluctuated)  … suddenly warmed. Climate models predicted no such thing. However, fishery biologists noted salmon abundance…”

Struggling?  Hmmm, read Jim’s words carefully, a subtle game is being played here.  Lets be clear climate scientists were plenty aware of those temperature fluctuations and even salmon fisheries records and they were diligently compiling the data.  

As for understanding the “why” that’s an entirely different nut to crack.  Yes scientists were struggling to make their measurements and models better.  That’s what scientists do, struggle for substantively better understanding.

Who’s kidding whom Jim?  It’s not like the salmon biologists helped answer that question of “why.”  All they did was help in thoroughly describing the geophysical phenomena, not to diminish that wonderful cooperative effort.

The second half of that paragraph simply shares more anecdotes regarding the record.  To put the lie to Jim Steele's simplistic implication regarding scientists supposed lack of awareness, here’s a couple experts:

Meridional Atmospheric Teleconnections Over The North Pacific From 1950 to 1972
W.B.White and A.E.Walker, Scripps Institute of Oceanography
September 17, 1973 - Vol.101, No.11, Monthly Weather Review


Hat tip to Dave the Geologist:
Here’s an old review citizen, with then-current GCMs and references going back to the 1950s (but I guess not full GCMs in those days):
They also talk about models with prescribed SSTs, either to force the model into an interesting response, to to match historic data (like in assimilation/reanalysis studies, or weather forecasting), and see how the rest of the model responds. I suspect the OP of the quote is Not Even Wrong. Assuming of course, that the claim was made in good faith.

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Third paragraph is accurate enough.  

Although it’s a shame people don’t acknowledge all the decades of effort and volumes of work required to built the ground work upon which the Pacific Decadal Oscillation was ultimately defined in a scientifically acceptable nuanced manner.

Also take a moment to consider there are many climate models, if all you're looking for is poor ones, of course you'll find some.  But how about the best and most focused climate models done?  For the record:

Filed under: — group @ 11 April 2017

"Since we have been periodically posting updates (e.g. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016) of model output comparisons to observations across a range of variables, we have now set up this page as a permanent placeholder for the most up-to-date comparisons. We include surface temperature projections from 1981, 1988, CMIP3, CMIP5, and satellite products (MSU) from CMIP5, and we will update this on an annual basis, or as new observational products become available. For each comparison, we note the last update date. ..."
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The First Climate Model Turns 50, And Predicted Global Warming Almost Perfectly
Ethan Siegel  |  March 15, 2017

“… In fact, if you google "climate models wrong", eight of the first ten results showcase failure. But headlines are never as reliable as going to the scientific source itself, and the ultimate source, in this case, is the first accurate climate model ever: by Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald. 
50 years after their groundbreaking 1967 paper, the science can be can be robustly evaluated, and they got almost everything exactly right.”

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Fourth paragraph begins with an odd ill defined claim that is mistaken no matter how one takes it.  “The newly characterized PDO had yet to be included in climate models”  

Steele’s swipe at climate models is gratuitous and ignores the actually record - what they are, how they are utilized, what they can and can’t tell us.  In the 1990s climate models were still in their infancy, it’s called the march of science.  

I shared Steele's column under the subject line: "Fact Checking - Does PDO get incorporated into climate models?" with some scientists who actually work and publish in this field, here’s an enlightening response I received from a real expert (my highlights):

Hi Peter—

Yes, I don’t understand that statement either. The PDO is essentially just a statistical pattern of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the North Pacific. 

For well-known physical reasons, it is fairly common for the SSTs to “look” like the PDO (we call it the “dominant” pattern, since on average it is makes up a fairly large part of month-to-month variations of SST). 

Typical changes in surface winds in the North Pacific tend to cause surface warming and cooling of the sea surface in a PDO-like configuration, because these winds are related to the Aleutian Low, which is typically present in most of the wintertime and is often impacted by El Niño and La Niña events in the tropical Pacific. Additional change in SSTs related to changes in deeper ocean temperatures and currents (which are also often forced by the surface winds) also tend to “look” a lot like the PDO at the surface as well.

The thing is, this physics is all in the models, based on the (very well-known) equations that describe how heat, mass, and momentum move around in the ocean and atmosphere. The models do not simulate the PDO perfectly, of course (no model is perfect, and actually solving these equations is not a trivial task), but they simulate it reasonably well, and they’ve been getting better over the last two decades. 

The remaining errors in the simulations are interesting (to me for sure), so one could say that the models could do still *better* at incorporating the PDO (which my 2016 paper goes over*) but to say it’s not there at all is just wrong.

Hope this helps, 
Matt  
_____  Then Dr. Newman added some more background  _____

Also, on the topic of separating natural from anthropogenic effects, see this paper too, which I was involved with:
And this is also a very nice paper, at a bit more of a generalist level, which explains one way (I’d say currently the best approach) that we use to separate out natural variability in model experiments:

Deser, C., R. Knutti, S. Solomon, and A. S. Phillips, 2012: Communication of the role of natural variability in future North American climate. Nat. Clim. Change2, 775-779, doi: 10.1038/nclimate1562. Link: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/cdeser/docs/deser.communicating_navari.ncc12.pdf

This also, btw, shows that a lot of claims about identifying past trends in anything other than temperature are tricky, actually. The global change signature in temperature is unambiguous, as are some regional changes (the Arctic being most prominent). There are a lot of good physical arguments (which is what a model is to some extent, although model tuning complicates that interpretation) for changes in storms, precipitation, etc., but on the regional scale many of these changes are still relatively small compared to natural variability.

Matt Newman
Senior Research Scientist
CIRES/University of Colorado 
& NOAA/ESRL/PSD
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* The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Revisited

Abstract
The Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), the dominant year-round pattern of monthly North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability, is an important target of ongoing research within the meteorological and climate dynamics communities and is central to the work of many geologists, ecologists, natural resource managers, and social scientists. 
Research over the last 15 years has led to an emerging consensus: the PDO is not a single phenomenon, but is instead the result of a combination of different physical processes, including both remote tropical forcing and local North Pacific atmosphere–ocean interactions, which operate on different time scales to drive similar PDO-like SST anomaly patterns. 
How these processes combine to generate the observed PDO evolution, including apparent regime shifts, is shown using simple autoregressive models of increasing spatial complexity. Simulations of recent climate in coupled GCMs are able to capture many aspects of the PDO, but do so based on a balance of processes often more independent of the tropics than is observed. 
Finally, it is suggested that the assessment of PDO-related regional climate impacts, reconstruction of PDO-related variability into the past with proxy records, and diagnosis of Pacific variability within coupled GCMs should all account for the effects of these different processes, which only partly represent the direct forcing of the atmosphere by North Pacific Ocean SSTs.
Steele goes on,  “But progress in climate research recently argues the PDO largely' explains western North America's last 100 years of climate change.”  But what?  Of course regional temperature fluctuations and weather patterns are intimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean’s internal oscillations, it’s only natural. Especially the past century before the atmosphere skyrocketed to over 410 ppm, with much more on the way!  Wake up, we live on a new planet and it'll be a very long time before the dust settles.
Historic long term oceanic currents and oscillations in no way eliminates the growing impacts of increasing our atmospheric insulation, thus warming our global heat and moisture distribution engine along with all her components (to varying degrees).
He goes on: So how do we separate naturally-caused weather extremes from human contributions?” 
It can’t be described in a neat line or two, but here are some links explaining how scientists do it.  And they are getting better at it all the time - of course the signal keeps getting stronger too.
Separating Natural from Anthropogenic Influences in Twentieth Century Climate Data Records
December 2008
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Extreme weather explicitly blamed on humans for the first time
Scientists take the bold step of saying phenomena wouldn’t have happened without global warming. - December 19, 2017
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How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006
Judith L. Lean and David H. Rind | September 2008
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Contribution of human and climate change impacts to changes in streamflow of Canada
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L18701
Published online 2015 Dec 4. doi: 10.1038/srep17767

There’s plenty more out there, just gotta poke around.

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Fourth paragraph finishes with, “Unfortunately, few Americans are aware of these “cycles."  But if we don't educate our children about natural cLimate change, the next generation will surely fall victim to every Chicken Little climate story told by scientifically illiterate politicians or by journalists who profit from sensationalism; if it bleeds, it leads!”
I figured Jim’s political melodrama would peek through at some point.  Ye olde rhetorical dog whistle calling in the faithful.
If we don’t educate?  What kind of education is it to imply that the ocean’s natural cycles aren’t impacted by anthropogenic global warming?  (That’s what we used to call manmade global warming, back before the political crazy-makers took over the field of public education.)
Steele steadfastly ignores the fact that all those oscillations merely push and pull heat around our global heat and moisture distribution engine which includes our oceans.  Today’s PDO, AMO and others are embedded within a warming climate engine, so naturally they are also being warmed. 
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Fifth paragraph begins, “Similar fish tales have been reported globally. …”  Here Steele gets to the Atlantic which has a longer paper trail of fisheries going back hundreds of years.  Again he offers a recitation of information that, despite what Steele implies, climate scientists are well aware of and even working with.

Steele finishes the paragraph with, “Today’s Arctic warming and reduced sea ice has likewise coincided with greater intrusions of warm Atlantic water. Will there be a return cycle of retreating Atlantic waters that causes sea ice to rebound again?” 

Does Steele imply that Arctic Ice Cap’s drastic melting is because of the Atlantic ocean currents?  

To answer his question, naturally, NO.  Other than small yearly variations, there will be no rebound.  It’s simple physics.  

Our global heat and moisture distribution engine is huge, beyond our ability to perceive, but we do know what our instruments tell us, namely our atmosphere’s insulation regulator has gone from 280 to over 410 and climbing rapidly!   

Past ice ages were caused by Earth’s fleetingly small spin and orbital perturbations that changed the sun’s insolation patterns, that slowly altered CO2 levels on the order of 100 ppm over the course of centuries and millennia, that is ~180-280 ppm.  We are at 410 ppm and rising, do the math.

We continue adding hundreds of gigatons of atmospheric insulation.  Stuff that’s been sequestered for hundreds of millions of years, its no contest.  Naturally speaking - think of the difference between wearing a light jacket or a winter coat on a nice warm day. 

Animation: How temperature has changed in each country since 1900
Carbon Brief  |  Published on Aug 2, 2017

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Global temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2017
NASA Climate Change  |  Published on Jan 18, 2018

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Older Arctic Sea Ice Disappearing
NASA Goddard  |  Published on Oct 28, 2016

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Snow over Antarctica Buffered Sea Level Rise during Last Century
It’s a complicated story, an introduction …
NASA Goddard  |  Published on Dec 13, 2018
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Antarctic ice loss 2002-2016
NASA Climate Change  |  Published on May 19, 2017
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Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast 
Professor David Archer  
A comprehensive introduction to all aspects of global warming. Written in an accessible way, and assuming no specialist prior knowledge, this book examines the processes that control climate change and climate stability, from the distant past to the distant future. 

List of lectures on physics of global warming - Understanding the Forecast.

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Sixth paragraph starts off with “Finally contrary to recent claims of ”unprecedented” rapid warming, Greenland’s air temperatures warmed more rapidly during the 1920s to ‘30s."

Jim Steele, your point is?  Of course local temperature and weather changes are related to those natural oscillations.  Okay.  Now, what’s unprecedented compared to what, you don't define anything?

Readers, please notice the fraud being applied here?  Steele’s using a short term local event and implies it’s representative of the entire planet.  It’s, like, totally unnatural.  Short term regional fluctuations are fairly irrelevant to understand what’s happening on a long term global level.

Slippery as a snake steele is.  For more details:

Greenland’s recent temperature drop does not disprove global warming
By: Charlotte Price Persson | January 29, 2018 

Intuitively, you may think that temperature throughout all of Greenland has been increasing, but that is not the case. When you look at the yearly average, the ice-free parts of Greenland show a slight drop in temperature between 2001 and 2015. With swings in temperature from year to year.
However, these results should not be interpreted as “proof” that the Earth is not warming, say the scientists behind the research, which is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
This is weather, not climate
You need to have thirty years’ worth of data before you can “talk about climate,” says Professor Bo Elberling, an environmental geochemist and senior scientist on the study. …
Global warming is real
Professor Michael Tjernström, a meteorologist from Stockholm University, Sweden, agrees with this assessment.
“The time series is too short to say anything about climate trends,
give me a specific location and a short time series and you could get almost any trend. 
Over a large area and over longer time I'm sure Greenland is warming,” writes Tjernström, who was not involved in the study.
The results should be seen as a part of the natural swings in climate. While you might find a small drop in temperature at individual locations, the overall development is in one direction, he writes. …
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"Accelerating changes in ice mass within Greenland, and the ice sheet's sensitivity to atmospheric forcing," 
Michael Bevis el al.,   PNAS (2019). 


Bevis' team used data from GRACE and from GPS stations scattered around Greenland's coast to identify changes in ice mass. The patterns they found show an alarming trend—by 2012, ice was being lost at nearly four times the rate that prevailed in 2003. 

The final sentence of 6th paragraph reads: “Since (2012) Greenland’s melting gradually subsided and Greenland gained ice in 2017 and 2018, perhaps signaling a new cooling phase.” 

Right, gained ice compared to the previous couple years?  How splendidly irrelevant.  

Also keep in mind that new accumulations aren’t glacial ice, it’s snow and fresh ice, not to be mistaken for multi-decadal, centuries and millennia old glacial ice, which continues to be lost at an alarming rate.  

It’s a gotcha claim dependent on remaining faith-blinded to a huge swath of solid data and scientific explanations. 

Coastal Greenland air temperature extremes and trends 1890–2010: annual and monthly analysis
July 3, 2013 
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Data from DRI ice core lab shows rapid melting of Greenland ice sheet
December 5, 2018

The study, titled "Nonlinear Rise in Greenland Runoff in Response to Post-industrial Arctic Warming", was published in the journal Nature in on December 5, 2018: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0752-4. A detailed press release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is below. 

“Surface melting across Greenland’s mile-thick ice sheet began increasing in the mid-19th century and then ramped up dramatically during the 20th and early 21st centuries, showing no signs of abating, according to new research published Dec. 5, 2018, in the journal Nature. The study provides new evidence of the impacts of climate change on Arctic melting and global sea level rise.   
“Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive. As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years,” said Luke Trusel, a glaciologist at Rowan University’s School of Earth & Environment and former post-doctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and lead author of the study. “And increasing melt began around the same time as we started altering the atmosphere in the mid-1800s.”    …”
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350 years of Greenland ice melt reconstructed

Modern Greenland ice sheet melt unprecedented since age of industrialisation.
Current melting at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet is unprecedented for at least the last three-and-a-half centuries. That is what a group of climate researchers from the US, Belgium and Utrecht report today in the journal Nature, based on melt records from three ice cores drilled in central west Greenland. Brice Noël, postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research of Utrecht University (IMAU), played an important role in the research by contributing an advanced polar climate model. “This model translates the local melt history stored in the ice cores to the whole of Greenland.”
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National Snow and Ice Data Center - Greenland Ice Sheet Today
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Polar Portal, Monitoring ice and climate in the Arctic.
Danish Arctic research institutions
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Greenland ice mass loss 2003-2013
NASA Climate Change  |  Published on Apr 27, 2016
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NASA | Glacial Ice Loss: Himalayas
NASA Goddard  |  Published on Feb 8, 2012
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The seventh paragraph is a great example of “libertarian” fantasy thinking in action.  “And there is a truly optimistic fish tale … starting in the late 1800s as temperature’s warmed… fish abundance increased.”  

So?  What does that have to do with 2019?

Steele conveniently pretends Ocean Acidification doesn’t exist.  Though on this real physical planet it promises to radically upend oceanic food webs over these next decades.


Survey: Shellfish industry recognizes impacts of ocean acidification
By Mark Floyd, OSU News and Research Communications

Learn more:
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Seattle Times Investigative Series.  Ocean Acidification - Craig Welch https://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2014/apr/30/pteropod-shells-dissolving/
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The eighth paragraph reads, “To promote plant growth, commercial greenhouses add an additional l,ooo ppm to the current 4oo ppm of atmospheric COz concentrations. So, did marine life also increase due to rising levels of COz? Or perhaps, because land temperatures warm faster than ocean temperatures, did stronger winds increase ocean upwelling? Whatever the drivers of the observed increases in ocean life, it appears likely that rising COz contributed definitive benefits.” 
It’s pure gobbledygook, with a very odd claim tacked onto the end.  
1st sentence: Who cares?  The question isn’t about enclosed fully controlled plant warehouses, we are discussing our natural biosphere!

2nd question: Is another non sequitur - the little ice age did not end because of increasing CO2, and in no way does it correlate to our current warming situation!  (not all global warming has the same cause)
3rd supposition: Sure, okay, that’s basically how that works.
4th sentence: Where did that come from?  No reasoning or evidence was offered, it’s simply an opinionated declaration.  And about what?  It’s too ill defined to say.  In other words another non sequitur.
Worst, Steele’s deception hides the reality that rising ocean CO2 levels are the nightmare of current marine biology!  One that promises to upend the ocean’s food web and lead to grievously diminished ocean life, every bit as bad as over fishing promises, over the coming decades.  

Early damages are already being documented, and again it is the product of deniable, but unavoidable, down to Earth reality, it’s physics, and it’s as natural as it gets.

National Academy of Sciences

The oceans have absorbed a significant portion of all anthropogenic (CO2) emissions (approximately a third of the CO2 emitted from fossil fuel emissions, cement production and deforestation; Sabine et al., 2004), and in doing so have tempered the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels and avoided some CO2-related climate warming. 

In addition to playing a pivotal role in moderating climate, oceanic uptake of CO2 is causing important changes in ocean chemistry and biology. Carbon dioxide dissolved in water acts as an acid, decreasing its pH,1 and fostering a series of chemical changes. The entire process is known as ocean acidification.2

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OCEAN ACIDIFICATION - Starting with the Science


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The ninth and final paragraph starts, “If we are to truly understand climate change and discern human contributions, these fish tales all suggest we must first account for natural oscillations that have surely been operating for millennia.” 

Pure nonsense.  No!  We must first appreciate it's us and the atmospheric insulation silly. 

Scientists are well aware of these age old fish tales and natural oscillations and they are steadily improving their modeling techniques to better map our immensely dynamic oceans.  

I suggest that if we are to truly understand current climate change we must first have the ethical, moral and intellectual backbone to honestly face the down to Earth physical realities of our situation.  For starters the impacts of injecting on the order of three gigatonnes worth of CO2 into our atmosphere month after month. 

One more time, 
Carbon Dioxide is our atmosphere’s main insulation medium, you could almost look at it as a regulator.  Consider, during ice ages this regulator went down to about 180 ppm, when it ended CO2 slowly rose back to 280ish as had been Earth’s habit for a very long time.  Then the Steam Age came along.  At the time our atmosphere’s ‘insulation regulator’ was at around 280 ppm, today we’ve cranked that regulator up past 410 ppm and rising fast.  Something Earth hasn’t experienced in many millions of years.  You really think that’s not going to have a huge impact?

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Weekly Arctic sea ice age between 1984 and 2016
Published on Nov 3, 2016
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CO2 Science - Blue team: "Pruitt, it's certain as certain gets! 
It's the physics!  Don't you know?


     "Atmospheric CO2 Science" is as certain as certain gets !

To understand that, you must learn about where our greenhouse gas understanding comes from.  Namely intensive atmospheric studies made by no nonsense Air Force atmospheric scientists.  

Nature doesn't play tricks like people do, through careful study scientists have revealed one natural secret after another.  Why in the world would atmospheric radiative transfer physics be any different?  On top of all that, many nations studied greenhouse gases independently (we are talking about military secrets back then!) and all those experts came up with the same answers. …
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CO2 Science - Pruitt, proof is in the pudding! Impossible Modern Marvels


After explaining that the USAF scientists and technicians who established our "CO2 science" possessed impeccable credentials, we should also point out that if those scientists had been wrong, they would have been exposed in short order.  

Why you ask?  Because of the increasing variety of modern marvels that would have been impossible had those studies not produced exquisitely accurate facts and figures.

The following was written to supplement the previous review of USA atmospheric research and to explain why a layperson can feel very comfortable trusting, heck believing, scientists, their atmospheric studies, and overall understanding.  …


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Further information for those interested in learning about the rest of the story.

Here are two other comments, Dave the Geologist over at ATTP shared:

“Here’s an old review citizen, with then-current GCMs and references going back to the 1950s (but I guess not full GCMs in those days):
They also talk about models with prescribed SSTs, either to force the model into an interesting response, to to match historic data (like in assimilation/reanalysis studies, or weather forecasting), and see how the rest of the model responds. I suspect the OP of the quote is Not Even Wrong. Assuming of course, that the claim was made in good faith.”

The devil is in the details:

“Lots of examples, and you can filter by date. I would think it depends on what you mean by implement. It’s an emergent phenomenon, like cloud, convection and poleward heat transport. A major reason why different realisations, even of the same model, have different average global temperatures in the same year, so you have to look at ensemble averages. 
That they do so without being forced to is a feature, not a bug. It shows that they’re getting (some of) the physics right. If you mean explicitly force models to replicate past PDO phases, or predict future ones, no, they don’t. Nor should they. It would be like expecting a weather forecast to predict a particular cloud at a particular time at a particular location. 
The important thing is that they generate PDO-like conditions in the ocean and atmosphere, but with timing which is stochastic or chaotic. AFAIK they do. If the author thinks that equates to ‘Climate models do not incorporate the PDO’, and represents a weakness in climate models, the author doesn’t understand modelling or the climate.”
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THE PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION (PDO) AND NAO BASICS:





Dr. Nathan Mantua and his colleagues were the first to show that adult salmon catches in the Northeast Pacific were correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Mantua et al. 1997).  They noted that in the Pacific Northwest, the cool PDO years of 1947–1976 coincided with high returns of Chinook salmon and coho salmon to Oregon rivers.  Conversely, during the warm PDO cycle that followed (1977–1998), salmon numbers declined steadily. 
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About those Salmon, here’s The Case of the Disappearing Salmon
and how they helped climate scientists connect the dots
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North Atlantic Oscillation  
Edward Hanna and Thomas E. Cropper

Subject: Climate Systems and Climate Dynamics
Online Publication Date: Feb 2017
DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.22


Introduction
The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a prominent “seesaw” of atmospheric surface pressure fluctuation between the Azores and Iceland that has been meteorologically well defined since at least the late 19th century (e.g., Hurrell, Kushnir, Ottersen, & Visbeck, 2003). It is defined using the NAO index, which is typically a normalized mean sea-level pressure (SLP) index between a southern station located in the Azores or continental Iberia and a northern station in western Iceland (Cropper, Hanna, Valente & Jónsson, 2015; Hurrell, 1995; Jones, Jónsson, & Wheeler, 1997; van Loon & Rogers, 1978). 
The NAO has historically been recognized since at least the time of the Vikings; pioneering work based on early instrumental meteorological records was undertaken by Hildebrandsson (1897), who using surface air pressure data discovered the inverse relation between Iceland and Azores pressure, and by Sir Gilbert Walker who in works published in 1924 and 1932 (the latter with Bliss) undertook correlation analysis and constructed a robust multivariate NAO index based on surface air pressure and surface air temperature data from several European stations (Stephenson, Wanner, Brönnimann, & Luterbacher, 2003).
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Regarding ocean heat content:

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How the Greenland ice sheet fared in 2018
October 27, 2018

This budget takes into account the balance between snow that is added to the ice sheet and melting snow and glacier ice that runs off into the ocean. The ice sheet also loses ice by the breaking off, or “calving”, of icebergs from its edge, but that is not included in this type of budget. As a result, the SMB will always be positive – that is, the ice sheet gains more snow than the ice it loses.
Our analysis shows that the year-to-year variability in SMB can be high and is highly dependent on the weather. But what about the total mass budget – that also accounts for mass loss via calving and melting at the base of the ice sheet? Well there is good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the GRACE satellite that can measure the mass change has not given any reliable data since June 2016. The good news is that the successor, GRACE-FO, launched in May and has already started giving some early observations.”
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There’s this informative video from May of 2017, it describes some of the contortions contrarians must resort to in order to claim Greenland is doing fine and another ice age is just around the corner, Latest claim: The Greenland ice sheet is growing
potholer54 | Published on May 15, 2017
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Re Greenland’s ice sheet mass budget info:

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The Unexpected Threat To Greenland's Melting Glaciers (HBO)

VICE News | Published on Oct 15, 2018

“… glacial melt isn’t just the result of our planet’s warming air. The biggest threat to these glaciers’ continued existence resides deep below the water’s surface.

Unlike most other bodies of water, the ocean surrounding Greenland gets warmer with increasing depth. That’s because warm, salty currents from the Atlantic are heavier than fresh glacial water, so those currents end up on the bottom. And that’s what’s got scientists’ attention: our oceans absorb the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, so they’re getting warmer, and as they do, Greenland’s biggest, deepest glaciers are interacting with them — and melting at increasing speeds.”
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Contrasting temperature trends across the ice-free part of Greenland

Published: 25 January 2018
Andreas Westergaard-Nielsen, Mojtaba Karami, Birger Ulf Hansen, Sebastian Westermann & Bo Elberling 
volume 8, article number: 1586 (2018) 
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Acidic Oceans: Why Should We Care? - Perspectives on Ocean Science
University of California Television (UCTV)  |  Published on Mar 12, 2009


The ocean absorbs almost half of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, changing its chemistry in ways that may have significant effects on marine ecosystems. Join Scripps marine chemist Andrew Dickson as he explains what we know -- and what we don't -- about this emerging problem. Series: Perspectives on Ocean Science [3/2009] [Science] [Show ID: 15754]



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