IPCC Obsession With Temperature Distorts Climate Change Science

by Dr. Tim Ball on February 8, 2011

in Arctic,Atmosphere,Data,Government,Philosophy,Tropics

Several factors prove the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and all those pushing global warming or climate change have a political agenda. They include those items ignored, glossed over, or deliberately misrepresented; projections are consistently wrong; the science has not advanced, a 2007 paper in Science by Roe and Baker concludes; “The envelope of uncertainty in climate projections has not narrowed appreciably over the past 30 years, despite tremendous increases in computing power, in observations, and in the number of scientists studying the problem”; and claims of impending disasters that simply do not make scientific sense. A major one is the claim droughts will increase, which is counterintuitive because warmer temperatures increase evaporation and increases precipitation potential.

What Drives the Temperature?

Most of these factors are driven by the obsession with temperature. It’s a narrowly focused obsession because they effectively ignore the Sun, the main cause of temperature variation. Just consider what happens to temperatures seasonally, at night or during an eclipse. They claim CO2 (which accounts for less than 4 percent of the greenhouse gases) is the major cause of temperature change. When it was shown that doubling or tripling CO2 had very little effect on temperature, they claimed it would increase water vapor, the greenhouse gas they virtually ignore, which in turn increased temperature. This was a positive feedback that was subsequently proved false.

Here’s a bizarre 2008 statement from NASA:

Water vapor is known to be Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas, but the extent of its contribution to global warming has been debated. Using recent NASA satellite data, researchers have estimated more precisely than ever the heat-trapping effect of water in the air, validating the role of the gas as a critical component of climate change.

How does this fit with the certainty of the IPCC claims they were 90% certain CO2 was the cause? Estimates may be better than ever but they are still grossly inadequate. NASA only used the information to support the false feedback hypothesis.

IPCC claimed while CO2 was less than 4 percent, it was more effective in trapping heat radiating from the ground. Estimates of how much more effective it was varied considerably. They claimed CO2 was evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere, which it turns out is incorrect. “Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, carbon dioxide is not well mixed in the mid-troposphere. You can see the jet stream splitting the carbon dioxide clump.”

What’s The Water Doing?

The bigger problem is we don’t know how much water vapor there is in the atmosphere. Inaccuracies in measurements and natural variations are likely sufficient to equal variations of CO2 effects, human additions or even CO2 in total. Water is the great problem for climate studies. It is extremely difficult to measure the volume in the atmosphere and how much that varies over time. Best estimates in the recent past have an error of 30 to 40%.

It is unlike all other atmospheric gases because it varies naturally from almost zero in desert regions to 4 percent in the tropics. We also know it’s a major transporter of heat, but only have crude estimates of how much. Despite these inadequacies the IPCC have made predictions about precipitation.

IPCC relative changes in precipitation (in percent) for the period 2090–2099, relative to 1980–1999 Figure 1
Relative changes in precipitation (in percent) for the period 2090–2099, relative to 1980–1999. Values are multi-model averages based on the SRES A1B scenario for December to February (left) and June to August (right). White areas are where less than 66% of the models agree in the sign of the change and stippled areas are where more than 90% of the models agree in the sign of the change.
Source: IPCC

Figure 1 shows the 2007 IPCC Report model projections of changes in precipitation for the decade from 2090–2099 compared to the pattern for 1980–1999. It is a meaningless exercise because we have no data.

The surface temperature record is inadequate for coverage, length and accuracy – it is even worse for precipitation. The headline of an August 2006 Science journal article reads, “No one can predict the heavy summer rains that bring the Sahel back to life each year.” They explain why it can’t be done:

One obvious problem is a lack of data. Africa’s network of 1,152 weather watch stations, which provide real-time data and supply international climate archives, is just one-eighth the minimum density recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Furthermore, the stations that do exist often fail to report.

The situation is little better in the rest of the world. There are no records for the entire Arctic Basin. The problem was exacerbated when they reduced the number of stations assuming satellites would provide a replacement. The problem is you cannot determine if precipitation occurred or if it was rain or snow.

Droughts are the single most devastating climate events. Flora, fauna and humans are all impacted. In the year 2000, NOAA identified the worst climate disasters of the 20th century. Eleven of the top twenty-five disasters were droughts. Every part of the world experiences drought because even if you normally receive 1000mm of precipitation then 500mm is a drought.

A weakness of climate change studies is the focus on temperature and specifically warming when cooling is a greater problem. A more important omission is discussion, understanding and assessment of how precipitation is going to change. Advocates of global warming, aware of concern about drought, predict increasing extent, frequency and duration.

When water vapor condenses in the atmosphere it forms microscopic water droplets. These are visible as clouds and it takes 1 million to form a moderate sized raindrop. Clouds play a major role in weather and climate. They reflect sunlight and stop heat from the earth escaping directly to space. Each cloud type functions differently and this is virtually impossible to put into climate models. For example, those towering thunderstorm clouds (cumulonimbus) are very important mechanisms in transporting heat, but are too small for the large grid system of the models. As eminent physicist Freeman Dyson says, “Models do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests.” These are just a few of the problems illustrated by the attempt to forecast precipitation for Africa. It is little better for the rest of the world yet that does not stop the IPCC and climate alarmists from predicting impending doom.