Month: March 2018

Global Oceans Temps Keep Falling, Now Colder Than Before 2015/16 El Nino

Global ocean temperatures continue to fall and are now colder than they were before the record 2015/16 El Nino.

The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through February 2018.
Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back below its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added three bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

A global cooling pattern has persisted, seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH dropping since last August. An upward bump occurred last October, and again in January 2018.  Now the cooling has resumed in February with only the NH showing a slight increase.  As will be shown in the analysis below, 0.410C has been the average global anomaly since 1995 and this month remains lower at 0.349C.  SH erased the January bump while the tropics reached a new low of 0.155 for this period.

Global and NH SSTs are the lowest since 3/2014, while SH and Tropics SSTs are the lowest since 3/2012.

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.

Open image in new tab for sharper detail.

1995 is a reasonable starting point prior to the first El Nino.  The sharp Tropical rise peaking in 1998 is dominant in the record, starting Jan. ’97 to pull up SSTs uniformly before returning to the same level Jan. ’99.  For the next 2 years, the Tropics stayed down, and the world’s oceans held steady around 0.2C above 1961 to 1990 average.

Then comes a steady rise over two years to a lesser peak Jan. 2003, but again uniformly pulling all oceans up around 0.4C.  Something changes at this point, with more hemispheric divergence than before. Over the 4 years until Jan 2007, the Tropics go through ups and downs, NH a series of ups and SH mostly downs.  As a result the Global average fluctuates around that same 0.4C, which also turns out to be the average for the entire record since 1995.

2007 stands out with a sharp drop in temperatures so that Jan.08 matches the low in Jan. ’99, but starting from a lower high. The oceans all decline as well, until temps build peaking in 2010.

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March 31, 2018 at 07:15AM

Climate Change Movement Retreats to California Courts

After failing in every American political forum since the Paris climate accord was reached two years ago, the climate change movement has once again retreated to the courts.

Not surprisingly, these advocates selected California’s federal courts as the forum of choice, counting on their comparatively liberal dispositions to breathe new life into their agenda. Pursuant to this initiative, several California counties and cities have sued numerous defendants, including major oil and gas companies, for emitting and exacerbating emissions of greenhouse gases.

In doing so, the plaintiffs based their claims on the tort of public nuisance, the broadest and vaguest remedy available. Public nuisance has been condemned by legal scholars as “notoriously contingent and unsummarizable” and a “wilderness of law.” William Prosser, one of America’s most famous law professors, wrote that nuisance was an “impenetrable jungle” and a “legal garbage can” full of “vagueness, uncertainty and confusion.”

Richard Epstein, another noted legal authority, concluded that nuisance “does not work on a moral or deductive principle.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously remarked that “one searches in vain for anything resembling a principle in the law of nuisance,” and even the California Supreme Court has rejected the remedy when it threatened to impose “standardless liability.”

Given this history, it is especially alarming that the climate change movement now seeks legal judgments in the absence of objective standards derived from the legislative or regulatory process.  Even more incredibly, this persistent excursion has already been rejected by not only the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – the reviewing court that will decide any appeal from these judgments – but also by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Controversies such as climate change concern policy choices and value determinations that are constitutionally reserved to the executive branch or Congress and are especially ill-suited for judges. The Supreme Court has held that courts are fundamentally unequipped to formulate national polices or develop standards for matters, such as climate change, that are not legal in nature. As Justice Felix Frankfurter cautioned, “A court is likely to lose its way if it strays outside the modest bounds of its own special competency” and adjudicates only the legal phases of a broad social problem into an “opportunity for formulating judgments of social policy.” Although such “political questions” cannot be resolved constitutionally by judges, the climate movement seeks that precise result in California.

Even more curiously, the movement seeks monetary judgments for the California cities’ and counties’ own pockets – judgments supposedly intended to pay for adaptation and abatement of the alleged worldwide nuisance.  Such money, if awarded as damages, would comprise gigantic windfalls allocated by unelected federal judges and spent at each plaintiff’s discretion.  The judgments could never be implemented in a manner reasonably calculated to reverse global warming unless they were accompanied by a bureaucracy created, elected and funded to supervise the work internationally and ensure against waste and abuse. Since neither Congress, the California legislature, the county and city governments, nor any other elected bodies are willing to serve in these roles, the plundering of America’s energy enterprises is entirely unwarranted.

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March 31, 2018 at 07:15AM

Much Ado About Nothing

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever,- One foot in sea and one on shore, To one thing constant never.”

― William Shakespeare

via The Deplorable Climate Science Blog

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March 31, 2018 at 06:03AM

Tesla Looked Like the Future. Now Some Ask if It Has One

Just a year ago, Tesla looked like a rising force destined to revolutionize the auto industry. Some analysts are asking whether the company could run out of money by the end of the year.

Its battery-powered Model S sedan was the rage among luxury-car buyers. Its Autopilot system seemed far ahead of its competitors in self-driving technology. Its chief executive, Elon Musk, was promising that the more affordable Model 3 would soon roll off its assembly line and bring emission-free driving to the masses.

Wall Street was enraptured. Tesla’s market value rose to surpass that of either General Motors or Ford, car companies with a century of experience.

What a rough ride it’s been since then.

Not only has the Model 3’s introduction been mired in glitches and delays — “manufacturing hell,” as Mr. Musk put it — but Tesla’s driverless efforts have been overshadowed, and the company has continued to lose money quarter after quarter.

In just the past week, Tesla’s troubles have intensified. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the company’s credit rating, concerned that it was burning through cash. Those worries have grown so dire that some analysts are asking whether the company could run out of money by the end of the year.

“I’ve said for some time that Tesla is far from a sure bet, or a stable company for that matter,” said Clement Thibault, a senior analyst at Investing.com. “Tesla has been living on borrowed time and money for quite some time.”

Tesla shares dropped 8 percent on Tuesday and another 8 percent Wednesday, and though they regained ground Thursday, they have lost almost a quarter of their value in less than three weeks.

Reflecting questions about Tesla’s ability to pay off its debt, its bonds have slumped as well. Those that will mature in 2025 traded at about 88 cents on the dollar on Thursday.

A Tesla representative declined to comment on the company’s finances.

But the company’s recent troubles extend beyond its balance sheet. Federal investigators are looking into a fiery crash that killed a Tesla driver last week in California, including the possibility that Autopilot was in use. (Autopilot was in use during a 2016 crash in Florida that killed a Tesla driver, but safety officials concluded that the crash did not result from a flaw in the system but found it lacked safeguards to prevent its misuse.)

And on Thursday, Tesla said it was recalling 123,000 Model S cars made before April 2016 to replace bolts that hold a power-steering motor in place. The bolts can become corroded and break, leaving drivers with only manual steering. The company said no crashes or injuries related to the issue had been reported.

Tesla’s reversal of fortune is a jolt for both the company and its chief executive, who had built a reputation not only as a visionary but also as an achiever, masterminding an automotive brand, breaking ground on a battery plant that would be the world’s biggest building, and launching rockets through his SpaceX venture.

For years, Tesla has ridden a wave of enthusiastic support from its customers and a certain set of investors, even though it generated barely any profit in the 15 years since its founding. Company events to present new models tend to have the feel of a religious revival, with hundreds or thousands of owners cheering wildly at each new pronouncement from Mr. Musk. Anticipation for the Model 3 prompted nearly 400,000 prospective customers to put down deposits of $1,000 each.

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March 31, 2018 at 05:14AM