Missing the point by miles

I have been steering clear of Wishart-related material for the last week or two (on the “wrestling with pigs” principle), but I can’t let this post at his blog pass without comment. It begins:

In the climate debate, we can choose to listen to truffle fanciers like Gareth at Hot Topic, journalists like myself or politicians like Al Gore, or one of the leading scientists in the climate field, like Roy Spencer from University of Alabama-Huntsville. The following is a fascinating essay from his blogsite, which backs up the central thesis in Air Con – most of the CO2 increase is natural, not man-made:

He then reposts Spencer’s blog item in full, adding in the comments:

Spencer’s study suggests strong evidence that oceanic CO2 is the primary driver of increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere. (Looking at the graphs, very strong evidence).

Not a squeak out of Hot Topic and no one posting here challenges it.

Notice how a blog post became a “study”? Ah well, here’s a squeak…

Continue reading “Missing the point by miles”

Where the streets have no name


Not much of a climate connection here (though Greenland and sea ice are in the picture), but regular readers will know that I’m fond of looking down on the Earth from space. This image from NASA’s Earth Observatory shows a beautiful von Karman vortex street downwind of Jan Mayen island in the Greenland Sea (600 km N of Iceland, 500 km E of Greenland), surrounded by more conventional cloud streets running south off the sea ice. Click on the image for more detail, and check out the Wikipedia page for an excellent animation showing how the vortices form, and more pictures. We get them too: here’s a NASA satellite image from 2002 of a similar vortex street forming to the west of Mt Taranaki:

Normal climate service will resume shortly…
[Pet Shop Boys]

The heater

global_energy_budget_in.png While some on the crank fringe fixate over a “global cooling” (that ain’t happening), the imbalance in our planet’s heat budget has inevitable — and inexorable — consequences for our climate. More heat’s coming into the system than can leave, as this excellent new article at NASA’s Earth Observatory spells out. It’s an easy to follow, but not dumbed-down explanation of how the earth and its atmosphere respond to energy arriving from the sun, with some superb illustrations — and astronaut photographs. Well worth a read, and a useful reference on the complex reality of the “greenhouse” we live in.

[Mutton Birds]

The tracks of my tears

EarthApollo8.jpg NASA was 50 years old last July, and the Earth Observatory has been celebrating by reviewing some of the classic images they’ve captured over the years. The image of the Earth at left was captured by Apollo 8 astronauts on December 22nd 1968 – one of the first “blue marble” pictures. Forty years on, it’s sobering to realise that only 24 people have seen the planet from this perspective – from the moon. But the picture that really caught my attention this week was part of a feature where NASA asked earth scientists what “unique insights” spaceflight had given us about the planet.


On page three, you’ll find this stunning image of “ship tracks” – the maritime equivalent of the contrails left by high flying aircraft – over the Bay of Biscay. If you ever doubted man’s influence on the atmosphere, here’s a dramatic confirmation of the large scale impacts brought about by our modern way of life. There are also satellite maps of ENSO sea level changes, Arctic sea ice decline, La Niña-related sea level changes, and many more pretty pictures. Educational eye candy.

[Title reference]

Back in harness

ChinaI bought one of Martin’s pork pies today. After too much yak in Shangri-La, I found myself lusting after something a little more in my own cultural tradition… But as I try to catch up with climate news, I find that Xian Ge Li La is in the news for all the wrong reasons:

KUNMING, September 10 — One of China’s leading tourist landmarks, Meili Snow Mountain, will be devoid of snow within 80 years if global warming trends continue, a meteorological scientist warned on Monday. Liu Jiaxun also said China’s lowest and southernmost glacier, Mingyong, has shrunk by at least 40 meters over the past 13 years. The combined effects of ice melting and drying water sources would have devastating effects downstream, said Liu, deputy director of the Meteorological Bureau of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in northeastern Yunnan Province. Mingyong — at 2,700 meters above sea level and 28.5 degrees north — had the lowest elevation and latitude of all China’s glaciers, said Liu. At 11.7 km long and covering 13 sq. km, it was shrinking faster than any other Chinese glacier, he said.

Sadly, during my visit to the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture the Himalayas were shrouded in cloud. It rained. (Picture from Erhai Lake near Lijiang). Catching up will continue soon.

[Update: Pictures of the Meili Snow Mountain and glacier from China View here. The clouds cleared briefly, apparently…]