Feeds

Global Warming IS REAL, argues sceptic mathematician - it just isn't THERMAGEDDON

IPCC hid the good news? Let's find out

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Interview The "certainty" that underpins European and UK climate policy may be wildly misplaced, as the models that the climate science establishment presents to politicians as evidence run far too hot.

That's according to a report released yesterday by UK think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

And this is very good news, says the report's author, Nicholas Lewis. Lewis is a relative newcomer to climate science who published his first peer-reviewed paper in 2011. Lewis also submitted written evidence published in the IPCC's Fifth assessment Report, AR5.

Lewis doesn't disagree that CO2 contributes to global warming - and most of the additional CO2 is caused by humans. The science today, however, shows around half a degree of surface temperature warming manifesting itself over the next 70 years. This the most important climate discovery in recent years - and you may reasonably think it should have grabbed the headlines.

However, with politicians pleading to be told what to do by scientists, the IPCC process - dominated by bureaucrats and politicians - pulled its punches. It acknowledged the finding but only referred to the lowering obliquely, and didn't explain why its own estimates had been lowered. It omitted to make a "best guess" at all - unlike in previous blockbusters.

We spoke to Lewis this week to unravel the mystery, and explain his workings after the publication of his review of the AR5's physics assessment yesterday (PDF). Lewis's subject is climate sensitivity - the response of the system to increasing amounts of greenhouse gas forcings - and this is the kernel upon which climate science is based. Lewis studied maths and physics at Cambridge and his career included modelling: he's an expert on the uses and misuses of Bayesian mathematics.

Lewis also told us he'd already found schoolboy maths error in the IPCC's AR4 published in 2007.

Known knowns and unknowns

The core of climate estimates is two key figures in the basic physics: equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and the transient climate response (TCR, a figure derived from ECS). Climate sensitivity is the response of the system to a doubling of a forcing, by the time it reaches equilibrium. TCR is a more useful figure since it shows the response over a shorter time frame. Once the latest observational evidence is incorporated, these are lower than previously guessed.

"It's slightly counter-intuitive," Lewis agrees. "Because of a better understanding of aerosols we think they play less of a role in the climate. So in a period where the temperature hasn't really changed, the influence CO2 must be less than thought."

As he explains in his latest review:

The observed temperature increase to date could result from a high climate sensitivity combined with a large aerosol cooling effect, or a low sensitivity combined with a small aerosol cooling effect (or combinations in between these extremes). Therefore, to the extent that aerosol forcing is small, sensitivity to carbon dioxide concentrations must also be relatively low.

AR5 uses a combination of simulations and satellite observations to derive its aerosol forcing estimate. But satellite observations, Lewis adds, put aerosols even lower.

(Before you read on, bear in mind there are two related avenues of enquiry thrust at policy-makers. There are workings based on an energy budget model, and there are the models. Budget calculations are generally lower than the runaway models. Lewis's best estimate ECS is 1.7˚C, close to the IPCC's lower bound of 1.5˚C, but much lower than the models average of 3.2˚C [and best estimate of 2.9˚C]. For TCR his best estimate is 1.3˚C, again close to the IPCC's lower bound of 1 and much lower than the GCMs.)

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.