An interesting little paper on climate and ... global cooling

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by B_big dirigible, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Read the sunspots

    This is of interest mainly because it's about as scientific as an article can get without being swamped by graphs. It's a modest 1700 words long, but manages to give some explanations of how vanished climates can be reconstructed and how solar output can be estimated, all by counting sunspots and fish scales. The usual articles dismiss this sort of stuff far too casually.

    I have some slight scientific reservations about some points, but generally speaking it's the best article I've yet seen on the subject which is actually readable. We need far more of this stuff, rather than pontifications by political types.
     
  2. dong20

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    Interesting. It's refreshing to see a 'hysteria' free article for once, robustly cautious for sure but in scientific writing that's not necessarily a vice.

    I've not read all the links, yet! But two sentences caught my attention:

    "The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all."

    and

    "It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada."

    What caught my attention was this; if, as suggested in the first sentence - the writer believes the science of climate change is indeed not settled (I agree), his confidence in predicting cooling in the second would seem premature. He may be right but his own earlier conclusions about the science would suggest that's far from certain.

    I try to keep an open mind on this, simply because it has been repeatedly proven than we seldom understand things as well as we think we do.
     
  3. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Good description.
    Yes, I interpreted those statements to be due to his concern that cooling, should it actually happen, taken in conjunction with his point about agriculture in the Canadian climate, could be an immediate and serious problem for Canada specifically (never mind Kyoto or anyone else). It does seem to be a good point. The Canadian economy could be in for rough times if local agriculture could grow nothing but Arctic birch trees.

    In other words, if global warming actually happens, that by itself wouldn't present Canada with the same immediate crisis as would global cooling. Hence, his concern that the government should worry less about one hypothetical, and more about the other one.

    I'd never run into that sunspot theory before. He's perfectly right, we have sunspot records going back to the fight between Galileo and one of the Jesuit astronomers as to who first noticed and charted sunspots. That was around 1612 or so, so there's a couple of century's worth of data there.

    Incidentally, it was one of Galileo's students who is credited with the technique of using the telescope to project the sun's image onto a white card for observation. Before that, observers looked directly at the sun, relying on evening and early morning observations and lots of squinting to save them from instant blindness. Ouch.
     
  4. dong20

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    As did I and I was rather nit-picking. I accept that it's hard to be entirely objective about one's own concerns while questioning the underpinnings of others in the same field.

    Nor me, at least not so well argued.

    There was a theory, in fact there probably still is that, in a nutshell; Global dimming due to particulates in the atmosphere was/is masking the GW trend. The irony being that as we reduce said particlates in the atmosphere the masking would cease lead to a startling increase in GW. I don't know how much credibilty to afford it but it sounded plausible at face value and there was observational data to support it.

    With hindsight, ouch indeed. Still, even today many are blinded the same way, so I suppose 'stupidity' is a historical constant.
     
  5. SpeedoGuy

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    One of the atmospheric sciences department faculty during my graduate study years published more than one paper on the cooling effects of aersols in the atmosphere. Their cooling effect is twofold: Sulfate pollution from vehicles and industry enlarges cloud droplets and thus enhances the direct reflection sunlight back to space off the top of clouds. Second, even without water, sulfates and dust particles absorb and reflect incoming sunlight. This also diverts or intercepts it from reaching the earth's surface and contributing to surface warming.

    An example of his work is at:

    AMS Online Journals - A Case Study of Ships Forming and Not Forming Tracks in Moderately Polluted Clouds

    The interesting thing is that since there is more industry and pollution in the northern hemisphere, the cooling/shading effect of aerosols should be more prevalent than in the less populated southern hemisphere. Every study I have seen so far verifies this to be true.
     
  6. Philly05

    Philly05 Member

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    It is good to see politics taken out of the weather. There are too many variables to know exactly what causes the current warming trend or how long it will last. As we have seen recently, temperature patterns tend to be cyclical as is nearly everything in the universe.
     
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