I have always been reluctant to make any predictions, “especially about the future;” however, I want to make two exceptions.
I predict that the global warming pause of the last 40 years (“hiatus”), the growing “gap” between models and observed temperatures will continue to grow to the year 2100, and likely, beyond.
I also predict that increases in global Sea Level Rise (SLR) will reach about 6 inches by 2100, and contrary to the U.N-Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-2013), I expect there will be no discernible acceleration in this rate of rise.
During the only sure climate warming, 1910-40, the Sea Level Rise increased steadily at 1-2mm/year, as measured by most tidal gauges, with respect to their local shorelines, which did not have enough time to rise or fall.
But we know that water expands when heated. However, the Sea Level Rise did not accelerate during 1910-40.
Something must be offsetting that expansion, which increases rapidly. I believe the offset comes from evaporation, into the atmosphere, with subsequent precipitation turning into ice over the Antarctic. (The area-ratio oceans/Antarctic is 58.)
Following 1910-40, the climate cooled during 1945-75, according to our best data. Again, SLR does not react, but continues to rise at the same steady rate.
This lack of Sea Level Rise acceleration proves that ocean temperature change does not affect SLR — and neither does the steady increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) — contrary to what former Vice President Al Gore and James Hansen, a retired NASA scientist, say. It means that human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, has negligible influence on Sea Level Rise.
But if expansion is more or less canceled by evaporation, what then causes the rise in SLR? The slow average melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets, on a time-scale of millennia, because it is warmer now than during the recent ice age glaciation, more than 12,000 years ago.
There is negligible human influence on Sea Level Rise. By 2100, we expect the sea level to rise, about half-a-foot — a long way from the Gore-Hansen estimate of a 20-foot-rise, inundating coastal cities.
By most measures, a “warming pause” has been ongoing for at least 40 years, despite rising CO2. What is the future of this “hiatus?” There are at least three possibilities:
1. The “gap” between t he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models, based on increasing carbon dioxide, and the observations could suddenly disappear — it could be just a statistical fluke (Tom Carl, 2005). This seemed a possibility more than a decade ago, but becomes less likely as time goes on.
atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth assumed the extra incoming energy is “hiding” in the deep ocean, and will eventually be released.
2. The “gap” is permanent, and will increase over time. My belief is that this “gap” has been ongoing, at least since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, about 200 years ago, and likely much before.
The climate effect of carbon dioxide increases logarithmically, i.e. very slowly.
Thus, over the course of 200 years, carbon dioxide had near-zero climate impact — a conclusion hard to swallow for the IPCC.
3. The much larger climate effects of solar activity changes dominate climate change by carbon dioxide. It could be modulated also by climate oscillations, such as “PDO” (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). But we don’t know how to predict such future changes or oscillations — except for the general observation they should average to zero over a century, or more.
I will put my money on #3 — but I am not a betting man.
Professor John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, has plotted the gap, over the past 40 years, using independent, but congruent, satellite and radiosonde data for observed atmospheric temperatures. He showed an increasing gap since 1978 with models.
His graph illustrates the “gap” between IPCC climate models, based only on increasing carbon dioxide, and observed atmospheric temperatures; presented by Mr. Christy at a 2015 congressional hearing, showing the relative unimportance of carbon dioxide as a climate driver.
Carbon dioxide may be popular, but clearly, the ineffective 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, labeling carbon dioxide a pollutant, must be revisited.
So why this emphasis on a small carbon dioxide effect? The answer may be both political and scientific.
The political aspect is obvious: Politicians can control emissions of carbon dioxide from “evil” electric power-plants by taxes or other regulation; politicians love control.
The scientific reasons are more subtle: Scientific model-builders are attracted to carbon dioxide, because its climate effects, though tiny, can be calculated and allow construction of mathematical models, while the much larger effects of solar activity changes and climate oscillations are essentially unpredictable by existing theory.
• S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, is chairman emeritus of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).