Potentially Huge Climate Turnabout

One of the big problems with the climate establishment is that, like many institutions, it tends to polarize according to interest and ideology.  Like the League of Women Voters or the American Association of University Women (both reliably liberal organizations, though they did not start out that way), a combination of self-selection and bias has placed the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and various scientific associations, almost wholly in the hands of True Believers.  While the IPCC has included some prominent dissidents from the “consensus,” their critiques from inside the process tend to be ignored or rejected.

This is what makes so significant today’s news that the American Physical Society is appointing a balanced, six-person committee to review its stance on climate change.  The APS, with 60,000 members, has hitherto fallen in line by issuing statements reflecting the usual alarmism about climate, but experienced the resignations of some of its high profile members because of their official stance.

The Quadrant lays out the membership:

The APS Panel’s review sub-committee, after ‘consulting broadly’, appointed a workshop to get science input into the questions. The appointed  workshop of six expert advisers, amazingly, includes three eminent sceptic scientists: Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Judith Curry. The other three members comprise long-time IPCC stalwart Ben Santer (who, in 1996, drafted, in suspicious circumstances, the original IPCC mantra about a “discernible” influence of manmade CO2 on climate), an IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, and atmospheric physicist Isaac Held.

Lindzen, Christy, and Curry will be a handful for the APS.  Maybe the most important part of the review will be its transparency:

The sub-committee is ensuring the entire process is publicly transparent — not just the drafts and documents, but the workshop discussions, which have been taped, transcribed and officially published, in a giant record running to 500+ pages

At the center of this inquiry will be the problem of “temperature stasis,” i.e., the current “pause” In warming that is causing so much embarrassment to the Climatistas just now.  Among the questions the APS committee will review:

While the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) rose strongly from 1980-98, it has shown no significant rise for the past 15 years…[The APS notes that neither the 4th nor 5th IPCC report modeling suggested any stasis would occur, and then asks] …

To what would you attribute the stasis?

If non-anthropogenic influences are strong enough to counteract the expected effects of increased CO2, why wouldn’t they be strong enough to sometimes enhance warming trends, and in so doing lead to an over-estimate of CO2 influence?

What are the implications of this statis for confidence in the models and their projections?

What do you see as the likelihood of solar influences beyond TSI (total solar irradiance)? Is it coincidence that the statis has occurred during the weakest solar cycle (ie sunspot activity) in about a century?

Some have suggested that the ‘missing heat’ is going into the deep ocean…

Are deep ocean observations sufficient in coverage and precision to bear on this hypothesis quantitatively?

Why would the heat sequestration have ‘turned on’ at the turn of this century?

What could make it ‘turn off’ and when might that occur?

Is there any mechanism that would allow the added heat in the deep ocean to reappear in the atmosphere?

IPCC suggests that the stasis can be attributed in part to ‘internal variability’. Yet climate models imply that a 15-year stasis is very rare and models cannot reproduce the observed Global Mean Surface Temperature even with the observed radiative forcing.

What is the definition of ‘internal variability’? Is it poorly defined initial conditions in the models or an intrinsically chaotic nature of the climate system? If the latter, what features of the climate system ARE predictable?

How would the models underestimate of internal variability impact detection and attribution?

How long must the statis persist before there would be a firm declaration of a problem with the models? If that occurs, would the fix entail: A retuning of model parameters? A modification of ocean conditions? A re-examination of fundamental assumptions?

The APS committee may well deadlock given its membership, in which case they’ll just move to the sidelines.  But if the APS breaks from the “consensus,” or issues any kind of original statement that confounds the climate conformists, the favorite talking point about the ironclad “consensus” will go Poof.

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