Wednesday Open Thread

Wednesday Open Thread

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January 31, 2023 at 10:28PM

AAT Hearing about Hyping Maximum Daily Temperature – Friday 3rd February

We, the Australian public, are continually told by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology that global temperatures need to be restricted to within 1.5C above the pre-industrial era. Further the Bureau attributes the ‘dramatically increased rate of observed hot record breaking in recent Australian temperatures’ to human-caused global warming.

But what if at least some of this warming was natural, and what if the other component could be attributed to how the temperatures are now recorded – with probes in electronic weather stations replacing mercury thermometers – and then there is the remodelling through the process of homogenisation.

To some extent the Bureau documents the extent of the remodelling that has the technical name homogenisation, but the Bureau has never made public the extent of the discrepancy between temperatures as recorded from mercury thermometers versus the new electronic automatic weather stations.

Work that I have undertaken with John Abbot shows that even without the industrial revolution there would have been a temperature increase of about 1C through the 20th Century.

The limited parallel data that I secured from the Bureau, following the intervention of Josh Frydenberg back in 2017, shows that the probe within the automatic weather station often records 0.4C warmer than the mercury thermometer for the same weather.

The AAT hearing on Friday is about the need to make the parallel data public, so we can know how much of recent warming can be directly attributed to the change in how temperatures are measured.

And for those wishing to attend the AAT hearing, details are:

APPLICANT: John William Abbot RESPONDENT: Director of Meteorology
This application has been listed as shown below:
Hearing
Date: Time: Location:
Contact Officer: Jessica S
Friday, 3 February 2023
10:00AM (Qld time)
Please proceed to Level 6 Reception Address: 295 Ann St
BRISBANE QLD 4000

You may need to register in advance to be allowed into the hearing.

brisbane.registry@aat.gov.au

Dr John Abbot is an IPA Senior Fellow.

Dr Jennifer Marohasy will be appearing as an expert witness.

*****
The feature image was taken by Craig Kelly and features in an article in today’s The Daily Telegraph by Clarissa Bye entitled ‘Bit hot and bothered? BoM silent on suspect solar panel shift’. It quotes me querying why the BoM temporarily placed a solar panel near the weather station for Sydney Observatory, specifically when it appeared this weather station was recording a run of record cool days.

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January 31, 2023 at 09:12PM

Emperor penguin ESA listing in 2022 used Antarctic sea ice models known to be flawed

From Polar Bear Science

Susan Crockford

While Arctic sea ice has declined remarkably since 1979, Antarctic ice has been unexpectedly stable. Experts acknowledge that existing climate models–which assume that CO2 emissions drive global sea ice loss–had predicted Antarctic sea ice would have declined over the last several decades–and would decline even more in the future. They’ve finally admitted they were wrong.

John Turner (British Antarctic Survey) and Josifino Comiso (NASA) in a NATURE paper in 2017:

Current climate models struggle to simulate the seasonal and regional variability seen in Antarctic sea ice.

A new model released earlier this year suggests the virtually stable Antarctic sea ice cover that has existed over the last four decades can now be expected to continue for almost another three decades, until at least 2050, and decline only slowly after that (Rackow et al. 2022).

However, emperor penguin researchers used the old flawed models to get the species listed as ‘threatened’ in the US just a few months ago due to predicted sea ice loss (Jenouvrier et al. 2009; Jenouvrier et al. 2020; Trathan et al 2020; USFWS 2022).

In other words, it’s not just that penguin researchers picked the most pessimistic and totally implausible ‘worst case’ scenario to make their case, as polar bear specialist so love to do (Crockford 2019; Hausfather and Peters 2020): sea ice experts now say those old sea ice models are quite useless for predicting future sea ice conditions and have known this for more than a decade (Blanchard-Wrigglesworth et al. 2021, 2022; Comiso et al. 2017; Turner and Comiso 2017; Turner and Overland 2009; Turner et al. 2013).

Sea ice experts knew the models were wrong about Antarctic sea ice and CO2–and wrote about their concerns in the scientific literature–yet penguin biologists ignored that evidence and continued to insist that penguins are doomed to near-extinction by future sea ice loss in the Southern Ocean. See graphic below, from Jenouvrier et al. 2020:

ESA protection for emperors was granted by US Fish & Wildlife on 25 October 2022, even though a new Antarctic sea ice model was published more than eight months earlier, on 2 February 2022. This means both the petitioners for the ESA listing and the USFWS ignored years of evidence provided by trusted experts that Antarctic sea ice models were not fit for purpose plus a more plausible option offered, then called it all “best available science.”

The new model may also be crap but that doesn’t warrant ignoring solid evidence that the old one was seriously flawed.

The graph below is from the Turner and Comiso paper and shows the discrepancy of concern: summer Arctic ice vs. Antarctic winter ice (September for both) from 1979-2017, with max for Antarctic ice hitting 20.11mkm2 in 2014 (when Arctic ice was its 6th lowest at 5.02mkm2):

That graph ends in 2017, now five years ago. Below was the extent at 19 September 2022, near the maximum for that year, eventually reaching 18.19 mkm2. Plenty of ice for emperor penguins, who uniquely lay their eggs and raise hatchlings over the winter/spring, primarily on land-fast ice:

As an aside, I couldn’t help but notice that emperor penguin researchers working in the Antarctic focus on winter sea ice with regard to future health and survival while polar bear specialists and other Arctic biologists are most concerned about summer sea ice loss. In both cases, the ice-dependent species of concern require sea ice in the winter/spring for reproducing and/or feeding. The difference is that summer sea ice in the Antarctic has always virtually disappeared over the summer (down to 15% or less than winter extent) and no one pretends that any Antarctic animal requires summer sea ice for survival. Odd, that.

References

BirdLife International. 2020. Aptenodytes forsteri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T22697752A132600320. Downloaded on 26 October 2022. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22697752/157658053

Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E., I. Eisenman, S. Zhang, et al. 2022. New perspectives on the enigma of expanding Antarctic sea ice, Eos 103. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022EO220076.

Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E., Roach, L.A., Donohoe, A. and Ding, Q. 2021. Impact of winds and Southern Ocean SSTs on Antarctic sea ice trends and variability. Journal of Climate 34(3):949–965. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0386.1.

Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620

Jenouvrier, S., Caswell, H., Barbraud, C., Holland, M., Stroeve, J. and Weimerskirch, H. 2009. Demographic models and IPCC climate projections predict the decline of an emperor penguin population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 106: 1844-1847. Available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/23951047_Demographic_models_and_IPCC_climate_projections_predict_the_decline_of_an_Emperor_penguin_population

Jenouvrier, S. et al. 2020. The Paris Agreement objectives will likely halt future declines of emperor penguins. Global Change Biology 26(3): 1170-1184. [paywalled] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.14864

Rackow, T., Danilov, S., Goessling, H.F. et al. 2022. Delayed Antarctic sea-ice decline in high-resolution climate change simulations. Nature Communications 13:637. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28259-y

Trathan, P.N. et al. 2020. The emperor penguin – Vulnerable to projected rates of warming and sea ice loss. Biological Conservation 241:108216. [open access] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108216

Turner, J. and Comiso, J. 2017. Solve Antarctica’s sea-ice puzzle. Nature 547:275-277. https://www.nature.com/articles/547275a

Turner, J. and Overland, J. 2009. Contrasting climate change in the two polar regions. Polar Research 28(2):146-164. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v28i2.6120

Turner, J., Bracegirdle, T.J., Phillips, T. et al. 2013. An initial assessment of Antarctic sea ice extent in the CMIP5 models. Journal of Climate 26(5):1473-1484.

USFWS 2022. ‘Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Emperor Penguin With Section 4(d) Rule.’ Federal Register 87(206):64700-64720.

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January 31, 2023 at 08:32PM

Feds push ignorance defense for whale killing by offshore wind development

From CFACT

By David Wojick

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the NOAA Fisheries agency have both put out what amount to “arguments from ignorance” claiming that offshore wind development has nothing to do with the recent whale deaths. “We know nothing about it so it must not be happening” is a ridiculous defense to the charge of offshore wind development causing the death of a lot of whales. But this is exactly what the Feds are now saying.

NOAA Fisheries is a scientific agency and their version is more scientific, which is important because this is really a scientific issue. Let us look at their arguments. They have a fairly long FAQ page on wind and whales here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/marine-life-distress/frequent-questions-offshore-wind-and-whales

Here is their core argument: “At this point, there is no evidence to support speculation that noise resulting from wind development-related site characterization surveys could potentially cause mortality of whales. There are no specific links between recent large whale mortalities and currently ongoing surveys for offshore wind development.”

These two sentences present different aspects of the argument. Let’s take the second sentence first.

The concept of “specific links” is pretty vague. It has a narrow meaning that BOEM has asserted, namely sonar blasting killing whales on the spot. There is indeed no evidence that this has ever happened. This is not like land based wind, where you can count the dead eagles on the ground around the tower.

Instead, likely causes of death are indirect and death may occur relatively far away in space and time. These causes range from injury, such as bleeding and deafness, to fleeing or avoidance or other behavioral changes.

But ask this question about possible injury: “How many whales have been examined for injury after being sonar blasted?” The answer is none, because there is no way to examine wild whales for bleeding or deafness. Thus the fact that we know of no instances of injury in no way means there are no such injuries. Injury might actually be common.

There are however some very specific links between mortality and sonar survey blasting in the broader sense. First of all, the East Coast humpback whale mortality rate roughly tripled beginning in 2016, which is just when offshore wind surveying really geared up. I discuss this in my article here: https://www.cfact.org/2023/01/23/evidence-says-offshore-wind-development-is-killing-lots-of-whales/.

The recent humpback deaths look to be part of this long term trend. The NOAA FAQ suggests that this huge 2016 jump in mortality might be due to a big increase in humpback numbers. This conjecture is falsified by the fact that the dramatic die-off of the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW) also started in 2016.

Given no other apparent cause, the ongoing sonar blasting surveys are the likely link between offshore wind development and ongoing elevated whale mortality. Thus sentence two is false. There is a likely link.

Sentence one says there is no evidence that survey noise could potentially cause mortality. It is amusing that this claim is falsified by NOAA’s own activity. Since 2016 they have issued over 40 authorizations for survey noise to harass large numbers of whales. One authorization I looked at permitted harassment of over 100 right whales, whose entire population is estimated at just 340 critters.

Harassment is defined as potentially inducing a change in behavior and these changes can potentially cause mortality. Thus NOAA Fisheries has emphatically certified the potential for survey noise to cause mortality.

I first pointed out a simple case last year in an article titled “How to kill whales with offshore wind”. See https://www.cfact.org/2022/09/27/how-to-kill-whales-with-offshore-wind/ (which I sent to a lot of people at NOAH Fisheries).

The article is about operational noise but site survey noise is just as bad, perhaps much worse. The wind site described is in a low traffic area, as most likely are, with heavy coastal traffic passing nearby. To avoid the horrendous noise, the migrating whales are forced to go around the site, which puts them right into heavy traffic.

The potential for increased deaths is obvious, making sentence one deeply false.

In fact there seems to be a huge gap in the science being done at NOAH Fisheries. On one hand they do a lot on underwater acoustics, that is noise, in order to do these Harassment Authorizations.

As I understand it they first estimate the size and location of the area where the noise level will be above the safe level. Then they use a density model to estimate the number of critters that will be adversely affected and the authorization number is derived from that. This is in effect a forecast of the potential, forced behavior changes.

On the other hand they also do a lot of what is called “population dynamics”. This means looking at what it takes to sustain or grow a given critter population, be it whales, other marine mammals, various monitored fish species, or even sea turtles.

For example they recently lowered the allowed human kill rate for NARW from 0.9 kills per year to 0.7, reflecting the steadily declining population. This means we can safely cause the deaths of no more than 7 whales every 10 years. Killing 2 whales every 3 years also meets this standard as the average is 0.67 whales a year. NOAA estimates we are presently killing well over 2 NARW per year.

What NOAA Fisheries does not seem to be doing is looking at the potential adverse impact of the authorized wind site harassments on the monitored populations, especially whales. Instead they now seem to be claiming that there are no such potential impacts, which is clearly false.

It is precisely this kind of adverse population impact that needs to be assessed before any more Harassment Authorizations are issued by NOAH Fisheries.

What harassment driven behavior changes are to be expected? How might they lead to deaths, such as by injury, infection, ship collision or fishing gear entanglements, etc? In some cases, especially the NARW’s shrinking population, adverse impacts on fertility might also be important.

The basic scientific question is very simple: “What is the potential death rate from proposed authorized harassment?” Authorizing harassment of whales and other protected animals should be suspended until this question is answered.

Author

David Wojick
David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.

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January 31, 2023 at 04:27PM