Temperature: The Blinding Obsession. It’s The Precipitation Stupid.

by Dr. Tim Ball on May 1, 2013

in Atmosphere,Deserts,Land,Theory,Water

It Occurred To Me…”Rules designed to facilitate operations bring them to a halt when people work to rule.

Hijacking of environmentalism for a political agenda centered on climate, but specifically increasing temperatures. This was predetermined by the goal of demonizing CO2, the byproduct of industrial nations, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and supporters claim are destroying the planet. Their temperature predictions fail, primarily because they ignore or lack data about water and secondarily because they assume CO2 causes temperature increase.

I’ve long campaigned to change the name of the planet from Earth to Water. When NASA seeks life on other planets the key is water, because they know without water there is no life as we know it. Regardless of temperature, there are no plants without water. No plants, no oxygen, no life. Temperature responds to the presence of water not CO2. Presence of water modifies by reducing the range of temperatures. Continentalism is a measure of the increasing range of temperature as you move away from larger water bodies. Temperature ranges in deserts are high, daily and annually. At In-Salah in southern Algeria the temperature dropped overnight from 52.2°C to -3.3°C (range 55.6°C). This has nothing to do with CO2. In deserts it remains relatively constant because it is not absorbed plants.

The method of temperature measurement creates considerable problems in constructing the long term records necessary for analysis and understanding of climate mechanisms. Three major segments are, a) the Instrumental covering approximately 120 years, b) the Historic covering human records of about 3000 years, and c) the Geologic/biologic that covers the remaining 5 billion years. The most obvious problem is the degree of accuracy. Most don’t know this exists even in the Instrumental, the supposed ‘best’ segment. For example, modern thermocouple thermometers can measure to hundredths of a degree, but the majority of the data was obtained with human observed levels of mercury or spirit in a tube to one half a degree.

All other determinations of temperature are secondary indicators either as proxy or phenologic records. Proxies are characteristics created by climate and physically preserved, such as tree rings or lake sediments. Phenology measures regular periodic biological phenomenon determined by climatic conditions, such as first appearance of cherry blossoms. Temperature is a factor in most cases, but more often precipitation is more important. Most claims of climate change attributed to temperature by the IPCC are primarily the result of precipitation changes. Here is what The Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing says.

“Precipitation is the key hydrologic variable linking the atmosphere with land surface processes, and playing a dominant role in both weather and climate. Three fourths of the heat in the atmosphere is contributed by the global release of latent heat, while the distribution of water vapor and clouds control the radiation balance (Water, 2002). Regional precipitation plays a major role in weather patterns and is, of course, the major renewable source of fresh water (both liquid and frozen).”

“While some regions have a history of ground-based operational measurements of precipitation, poor spatial and temporal sampling over land as well as over the ocean, is the globally prevalent condition. The spatial extent and temporal resolution of ground-based precipitation measurements are inadequate to support the creation of global precipitation data sets that can help in detecting trends, or in supporting process studies, let alone conducting adequate evaluation of climate and weather models at global and continental scales.”

Misdirection began with the IPCC definition of climate changes as only those caused by human activity. They assume human input of water vapour to the atmosphere inconsequential. As they note in the 2007 Report,

“Water vapour is the most abundant and important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. However, human activities have only a small direct influence on the amount of atmospheric water vapour.”

True, but that downplays the role of variation of water vapour in the natural climate system, which parallels their downplay of the role of water overall. It is far more important than temperature.

IPCC projections (predictions) are all based on computer models that either downplay or lack adequate measures of the role of water. Hypocritically, they tell people their science is sound while identifying all the limitations. For example:

1.Evaporation, latent energy and condensation are major components of energy transfer in the atmosphere. Despite this the IPCC acknowledge in Chapter 8

“Unfortunately, the total surface heat and water fluxes are not well observed.”

Significance of this limitation is that

“These errors in oceanic heat uptake will also have a large impact on the reliability of the sea level rise projections.”

2.Tropical cyclones are a major mechanism for transport of surplus tropical heat, but the IPCC say

“The spatial resolution of the coupled ocean-atmosphere models used in the IPCC assessment is generally not high enough to resolve tropical cyclones, and especially to simulate their intensity.”

3.Accurate measurement of atmospheric water is far more difficult than temperature. It varies more spatially and temporally and occurs as a gas, solid and liquid. Again the IPCC models fail.

“For models to simulate accurately the seasonally varying pattern of precipitation, they must correctly simulate a number of processes (e.g., evapotranspiration, condensation, transport) that are difficult to evaluate at a global scale.”

4.The interaction between the Atmosphere and the Oceans is critical to the dynamics of the movement of water through the hydrologic cycle. The IPCC tell us,

“The evaluation of the hydrological component of climate models has mainly been conducted uncoupled from AOGCMs (Bowling et al., 2003; Nijssen et al., 2003; Boone et al., 2004). This is due in part to the difficulties of evaluating runoff simulations across a range of climate models due to variations in rainfall, snowmelt and net radiation.”

5.Monsoons are a massive mechanism for energy and moisture transfer but,

“In short, most AOGCMs do not simulate the spatial or intra-seasonal variation of monsoon precipitation accurately.”

6.Place a sheet of plastic on the ground and watch how much moisture accumulates as it evaporates from the soil and condenses. Soil moisture is a major contributor to the atmospheric, but the IPCC say,

“Since the TAR, there have been few assessments of the capacity of climate models to simulate observed soil moisture. Despite the tremendous effort to collect and homogenize soil moisture measurements at global scales (Robock et al., 2000), discrepancies between large-scale estimates of observed soil moisture remain.”

In most cases proxy measurements used to claim temperature variation are actually representing precipitation variation. Tree rings were the classic example used in the 2001 IPCC Report to ‘prove’ human CO2 was causing temperature increase. Tree ring studies began as dendrochronology, an absolute dating technique, then evolved through a measure of solar activity in to dendroclimatology. Early work involved determining precipitation patterns as the principle growth factor. Astronomer A. E. Douglass, observed as early as 1890 that Douglas firs grew thicker rings in periods of heavy rain than dry years. He also connected the pattern to sunspots. Tree rings are primarily determined by precipitation. As Anthony Watt notes,

“If “the total growth response of a tree is the product of all environmental factors”, and  forest modelers have to separate temperature and precipitation diameter increments, plus create different models for different forest regions, how can then one accurately divine temperature over millennia from width analysis of tree ring growth from trees in a single region?”

The record is inadequate to determine temperature as Watt’s knows; it is much worse for precipitation.

Retreat of glaciers is attributed purely to temperature. Actually, most of the glacier dynamics are precipitation related and determined. A glacier is created above the altitude and latitude defined snow line. As snow accumulates reaches a critical depth it becomes plastic and starts to flow. A glacier snout doesn’t retreat because internally ice is constantly flowing forward. It appears to retreat with increased temperature but it also occurs when snowfall and therefore ice formation decreases.

Melting ice on Kilimanjaro became the image of warming. Its iconic status suited the public relations component of global warming. Now it underscores what was wrong with the claims because the snow has returned. The snow disappeared because of drought exacerbated by forest clearing and blowing dirt that increased the albedo and melt rate.

Stalactites and stalagmites form by water infiltrating through soil and rock to drip down from the ceiling of a cave. Some sediment is deposited on the ceiling to form stalactites and some on the floor forming stalagmites. Presumably each layer represents one season, but they are mostly the precipitation not temperature season.

Sedimentary layers only reflect temperature when precipitation patterns are seasonal. This is most evident in glacier fed lakes.