An Analysis of Radiative Equilibrium, Forcings, and Feedbacks…with some other random stuff

I have recently posted on the 2009 Mathematics Awareness Month, a forum by the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics that is a national-level event to spread awareness of the importance of Math. This year’s theme was Math and Climate.

I have recently submitted a paper to add to their list of Climate Articles entitled “An Analysis of Radiative Equilibrium, Forcings, and Feedbacks.” It’s a 21 page PDF file.

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Mathematics and Climate

Every year in April, there is a Mathematics Awareness Month with the goal to increase public understanding and appreciation for mathematics. This year, the theme for the event is Mathematics and Climate.

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GISS summary of Aerosol direct, indirect, and BC albedo effects

Aerosols have played a large role in climate change over the 20th century and have partially offset greenhouse gas warming, leading to a net warming that is smaller than a purely GHG-forced 20th century climate change. They affect climate though their direct ability to reflect shortwave radiation, but also through their indirect influence on cloud cover. A recent study (in press) by some folks at GISS using ModelE have published on aerosol effects from 1890-1995 and I’ll summarize some of their work:

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Arctic sea ice flatline

Usually September is the month that gets everyone checking out the arctic sea ice pictures daily, and this is just weather, but it’s interesting. 
Mark Serreze has a commentary at Roger Pielke’s site on the developments.


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Skeptics/Denialists Part 2: Hotspots and Repetition

In Part 1 I discussed the difference between skeptics and denialists. Not a few hours after I did that, I read a post over at Deltoid where Tim Lambert talks about a popular subject: Hotspots (no, nothing to do with geology).

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Will the real skeptics please stand up?

Chris wants to ask the age-old question: what separates denialists from skeptics? There are no scientific studies that unequivocally show particular people are being dishonest, and all people (even scientists) are prone to mistakes, so the existence of a bad publication doesn’t show that someone is pushing an agenda. Being “skeptical” is a job that all scientists have, and although the term may have a bad name attached to it in global warming debates, it’s actually a very honorable title to have and it’s difficult to find any scientist who is not skeptical of a lot.

This is of course different than simply plugging your fingers in your ears and denying any evidence put in your face.

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An update to Kiehl and Trenberth 1997

Kiehl and Trenberth 1997 is a widely cited document on the Earth’s global, annual energy budget and discusses important things like how much solar radiation comes in, how much is reflected away, how much infrared goes out, how the surface energy budget is partitioned between radiative and the latent and sensible heat fluxes, etc. The authors (along with J. T. Fasullo) have a new, 2008 paper on the same subject—and a new colorful diagram to go along with it.  These values are all globally and annually averaged, with the “net absorbed” part of 0.9 W/m2 due to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Update– Actually it will be a 2009 paper, coming out in BAMS in March.


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Cyril Galvin and AGU’s position on Climate Change

The American Geophysical Union adopted a position statement concerning climate change in December 2007 which can be found here.

The position begins,

The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming.

Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century.

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Easterbrook and the coming ‘Global Cooling.’

Prof. Don Easterbrook has a piece Global Cooling is Here:Evidence for Predicting Global Cooling for the Next Three Decades that has been getting some attention in the blogosphere in which he claims that global warming has ended and that global cooling will occur over the next several decades.  Easterbrook’s analysis is hopelessly flawed, and one is left to wonder just why he would intentionally shoot down his own credibility with such sloppiness. Any support of this work on internet sources is not a support of any actual science or data, but an appeal to authority.

Lets’ go point-by point

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Is methane a ‘better’ greenhouse gas than CO2?

The idea that methane is a more ‘potent’ greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is a popular notion. There’s an interesting discussion going on in Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait. Plait says,

Methane is in fact a more efficient greenhouse gas than CO2, but there’s so much less of it that the overall effect is much lower. Methane’s contribution to the greenhouse effect is only about half or less that of carbon dioxide.

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