Tuesday, July 2, 2013

If there was global warming we wouldn't have heat waves - what?

Updated: see below

Additional reading: John Nairn and Robert Fawcett (2013), Defining heatwaves: heatwave defined as a heat impact event servicing all community and business sectors in Australia, The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Technical Report No. 060 (Click here)

Jim Steele who is a keen bird watcher, has posted an article on WUWT.  He has decided that "CO2 has nothing to do with heat waves whether the record is ever broken or not".  He bases this notion on the fact that heat waves are typically associated with high pressure systems, which typically are dry.

I'm not sure if what he's arguing is that heat waves shouldn't happen with global warming, or whether it's that weather doesn't happen with global warming.  Or maybe he's arguing that if there is global warming earth shouldn't get hotter therefore if the heat waves are hotter now than they used to be, then it's nothing to do with global warming.

And anyway, he says, Death Valley proves it, because Death Valley is the entire world, didn't you know?

Bit weird really.  I wonder how Jim explains this?

Source: NASA

I doubt anyone disputes the fact that there have been heat waves in the past.  It's just that in a warmer world there will be more and hotter heat waves than there used to be.

PS I drafted this a few hours ago, but it was such an empty article I shelved it, figuring I must have missed something obvious that Jim wrote.  Then I read a comment by noodlyappendage6 who had the same impression as me.  If anyone has understood or even seen Jim's reasoning for this statement of his: "However, the mechanisms of every heat wave contradict nearly every aspect of the global warming theory. ", I hope you'll let us in on it.

UPDATE: Global warming means more extreme heat waves more often

Ryan writes that the adiabatic heating parts looks okay, but that it doesn't disprove the greenhouse effect.
July 1, 2013 at 9:10 am  While the post is correct that adiabatic heating is involved in heat waves, this in no way invalidates the greenhouse effect. That’s like saying that has gas pedals disprove combustion. They are different but related events in a system.
Which gets this rather odd response and mini-lecture from Anthony (my bold for emphasis).
REPLY: actually, note that most of the greenhouse effect has to do with CO2 molecules slowing heat transfer to the Top of the Atmosphere, a feature most strong at night due to slowing of LWIR radiating from Earth’s surface to TOA, not daytime when lots of solar shortwave, surface heating, and Tmax occurs.
The four fundamental heat transfer processes are:
Conduction or diffusion - The transfer of energy between objects that are in physical contact.
Convection - The transfer of energy between an object and its environment, due to fluid motion.
Radiation - The transfer of energy to or from a body by means of the emission or absorption of electromagnetic radiation.
Advection - The transfer of energy from one location to another as a side effect of physically moving an object containing that energy
Explain how CO2 works in reaching even higher Tmax when advection and convection (far more powerful forms of heat transport in our atmosphere) are muted by that blocking high pattern. Blocking high patterns reduce advection (atmospheric circulation), and vertical convection from thunderstorms which also help transport heat to TOA. CO2 radiative forcing doesn’t even operate in the same orders of magnitude when advection and convection (atmospheric mass transport) are in action or muted. Those that want to equate CO2 as the cause probably don’t understand the difference. -Anthony
If I read him correctly, Anthony's trying to argue that carbon dioxide doesn't have much effect on the total energy balance because the heat wave has a great effect on local temperature.  In other words, Anthony is comparing apples to oranges.  It's like saying we shouldn't get winter weather any more if CO2 is causing the earth to heat up.

Ryan is similarly puzzled and writes:
July 1, 2013 at 9:47 am  Nobody is arguing that the direct warming of CO2 caused that heat, Anthony. I can’t even imagine what you think climatologists think for that reply to make sense.
And Anthony's claws come out, together with the straw man:
REPLY: I never thought of you as a climatologist, just an activist. So of course the reply wouldn’t make sense to you. Many activists (and some scientists that are activists) blame CO2 induced AGW for increasing heat waves. -Anthony

Yes, that's right.  AGW will bring more frequent and more severe heat waves.

What scientists are finding is that in our warmer world heat waves are more severe than before.  Hansen talks of a climate on steroids.  Lewis et al showed that there is a five-fold increase in risk of extreme heat waves in Australia now, and that Australia's heatwave was so extreme because of human-induced global warming (putting their science-language into normal-speak.)  Different researchers have come to different conclusions in regard to, say, the Russian heatwave that killed 50,000 people or more.  One study found that global warming almost certainly contributed to it.  Another study came to a similar conclusion but with the probability marginally lower.  What most scientists will agree on is that events like that will occur much more often in future years.  Probably every other year by the end of this century.

I think Anthony is caught between a rock and a hard place.  He wants to deny global warming because he doesn't want to pay for the consequences.  On the other hand he wants desperately to be considered "reasonable" not just another denier crank.  Thing is, he can't have it both ways.  At the moment the balance has shifted to the "just another denier crank" end of the scale.

Finally Anthony has enough of proper science talk and decides to let the deniers run rampant over WUWT.  He snips Ryan's comment altogether:
Ryan says:
July 1, 2013 at 11:13 am
[snip - not interested - Anthony]

To get more insight into the mind of a denier, read this next extract, in which Dirk confuses "mechanics of a heat wave" with the fact that a hotter world means more frequent and more severe heat waves:
DirkH says:
July 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm  Nick Stokes says: July 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm
“But who to teach? Ryan’s right. No-one is saying that CO2 is involved in the mechanics of a heat wave event.”
Warmunists are only on the record predicting more extreme heat waves, caused by increased CO2. Now you say, yes, but it is not CAUSED by CO2? That’s what I call a flexible brain.

That's what I call a fossilised brain, DirkH. 


  1. Water vapor contributes between 80 and 94% of the greenhouse effect. But during a dry heat wave, greenhouse gases are reduced, and that fact should alert people that other more critical factors are governing heat waves. [my emphasis]

    Emeritus indeed! Water vapour is reduced during hot spells / water vapour is the chief greenhouse gas / therefore hot spells are caused by, um, hot spells, not by greenhouse gases. Think of it in hot-water system terms - the whole atmosphere is a kind of 'instant' heater, rather than a storage tank - didn't you know?

    Achilles vs. the tortoise stuff!

    I've often encountered this thing where deniers don't quite get the whole 'accumulated energy in the system' thing, the global energy imbalance thing, or the carbon-cyle, duration in atmosphere thing, for that matter.

    Connoisseurs of the cranks vs. cranks thing may enjoy the first comment from none other than Ken Coffman

    From here, it’s just a small leap to realizing that adding the CO2 molecule that wasn’t there before is an agent of cooling via convection…I’m not worried, you guys will get there.

    REPLY: No, it isn’t, and that crap you are spewing comes from John O’Sullivan’s epic misunderstanding of how the thermosphere works. – Anthony

    1. You've got to wonder why Anthony posted the article in the first place. He used the headline "Heat wave validates skeptics" as if to encourage comments like Ken's.

      Anyway, that response from Anthony must have been added quite some time later. I'll add Anthony's early responses to a couple of comments by Ryan that give some insight into his motives for posting rubbish. All an article like this one does is give another kick to WUWT on its downward spiral into the mire of nonsense that's become WUWT's trademark.

  2. Th sad part is that Anthony truly couldn't understand what I was talking about. Even the original author admitted in a comment that most climatologists wouldn't think CO2 was responsible for the heat waves in the way he described.

  3. LOL, why on earth do you comment and write articles on meteorological based subjects if you yourself have no idea of the workings... HIGHS create heatwaves, LOWS create heatwaves( and just quietly, both create cold snaps too!)... It's dependant on the air parcel transport modes vs localized interactions. EG. The "Angry" summer heatwave you love was created by a massive upper level ridge(HIGH) that never gave up, on several occasions, shortwave troughs attempted to break down the prevailing conditions but failed and subsequently the Ridge rebuilt its self effectively “capping” the heat from sun shining in the SOHEMI. The ridging originated from vigorous convection in equatorial regions(ITCZ) and was fed further from the outflow of TC Narelle of the WA coast, and …NO CO2 was NOT what caused it, it’s just the weather!!! But anyways, my comment won't get past moderation...I am no longer welcome because I "dared" to give you some of your own damm medicine by hijacking the WZ thread! Sooks! Go back to school and learn meteorology, you could’ve learnt a lot on WZ but alas your little mate CeeBee ruined that entire forum in the name of your pathetic cause!!!

    1. Ah, another 'hot spells are caused by hot spells' genius. No wonder Weatherzone fell to pieces...

    2. Bill, looks as if Anonymous posted to the wrong blog. Most of it is directed at WUWT, not here. It reads as a criticism of what Jim Steele wrote, or maybe a criticism of the comment by Anthony Watts that I copied above.

      The last bit about "you" and "no longer welcome" - I don't know who she or he thinks they are talking to. It's meant for someone who posts at Weatherzone as far as I can make out.

      It's a mixed up garble and hard to decipher. Anonymous might be a bit under the weather :)


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