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What does it mean when climate models don't predict weather?

 
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5218

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:52 pm    Post subject: What does it mean when climate models don't predict weather? Reply with quote

There is a great deal of misunderstanding, promoted by the carbon folks with funding to the conservative pundits, about the meaning of current temperatures. Those making money from fuels with CO2 emissions have promoted a completely unrealistic story arc, namely that climate models need to be highly accurate, and any shortcomings in those models disproves the underlying science behind climate change. There is a huge difference between modeling and making predictions. While we have pretty good information about the amount of carbon dioxide and heat that have accumulated in the atmosphere and oceans, current models are not at the level of resolution that would allow accurate predictions to be made at any scale below that of near-planetary or continental size.

Modeling vs. Prediction

When I was in graduate school in the early 1980’s, I studied numerical methods, the theoretical underpinnings for modeling by engineers. It was the most difficult and rigorous course in graduate school, and convinced me that I did not want to be a modeler—despite efforts of some of the faculty to get me to try to develop a hydrology model. Computing power was scant compared to what is readily available today—but modelers then, and now, suffer from the same disease that deniers do—overreliance on modeling to the point of believing the results.

The value of a model depends on how well it captures the underlying physics, and how well you populate the model with data. So in water resources engineering, the fluvial models were excellent for water surface level, and terrible for runoff and sediment transport. The physics for runoff in a channel are well established. But predicting runoff from a watershed depends on good information about vegetation cover, antecedent moisture conditions, and the variability of rainfall throughout the watershed.

Most models in those days were very crude, and useful only for comparing scenarios. While I didn’t pursue modeling as a career, and have forgotten much of what I learned, I had a hand in the use of models, particularly for evaluating circulation and concentration of contaminants in San Francisco Bay. With the help of brilliant scientists at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and the US Geological Service, we now have third and fourth generation models that are useful in making predictions and management decisions, not merely in testing scenarios.

The revolutions in computers and aps have contributed greatly to this. Modern agriculture, from crops to grazing to growing wine grapes, now relies on much more specific information about ground moisture and temperature. This information is beginning to enter into weather (NOT CLIMATE!) science. The availability of radar, and its use by television stations in the nightly news, is providing a density of data that I could not have imagined in the early 1980’s. As a result, NOAA is now working on models for predicting rainfall for events like the February 9, 2014, Pineapple Express, that will result in increasingly accurate predictions. For the Weather Office out of Monterey, current in-use models have a resolution of about 10 kilometers—that is, about one data prediction point for all of San Francisco. But they are nearing completion of models that will reduce the resolution grid to about 0.5 kilometers. I know the wing nuts think that government can’t do anything well—they are wrong. Poke around on this page for a while and look at the streaming model results: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/atmrivers/

Of course you can find the underlying science, not on Breitbart, but on sites like this: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-84-9-1205, and useful results on sites like this:
http://www.remss.com/blog/atmospheric-river-dumps-rain-marin-and-sonoma-counties

In summary, nobody with a background in science would expect climate models to be useful for predictions. It is likely that the increasing availability of raw data, from temperature to radar to moisture in the atmosphere readings, will give us the ability to improve the scale of our results, meaningful predictions are probably a decade or more away.

I understand that there are those who will gladly believe the Drudge report, untroubled by the conflict of interest in their funding sources, while doubting the government. There is no help, or hope, for such close-mindedness. The rest of you might think about how much better wind prediction is than when you first signed up for iwindsurf.com
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14169

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It means it would be asinine beyond belief to spend trillions of dollars trying in vain to prevent a hypothetical problem based purely on political ideology.
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nw30



Joined: 21 Dec 2008
Posts: 1706
Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What does it mean when climate history is used incorrectly?
A return of the dust bowl?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Al Gore brings climate change message to Kansas City
February 22

By BRIAN BURNES

The Kansas City Star


Al Gore has been known for his climate change warnings since the 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

But the former vice president, speaking Saturday in Kansas City, cited many more recent examples how heavy use of fossil fuels is contributing to extreme weather events and trends, in his view.

Gore filled a Westin Crown Center ballroom with a 90-minute presentation, using photos and videos to illustrate a litany of floods, wildfires, torrential rains, droughts, dust storms, rising sea levels and increasing world temperatures.

To those attending the Folk Alliance International conference, he noted examples of flooding in locations both remote and closer to home, such as in Manitou Springs, Colo., where high water barreled down mountain highways last year, carrying cars along with it.

“They had never seen anything like this in Manitou Springs,” Gore said.

He cited the possibility of how flooding in Pakistan could destabilize that country, a nuclear power, and the possible effect that continuing drought in California might have on the world’s food supply.

“Think about that,” he said. “The Dust Bowl is coming back, quickly, unless we act.”

Gore presented animation from his 2006 film depicting water pushing into the streets of lower Manhattan — much mocked at the time, Gore said — followed by images of water filling New York City subway tunnels during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Gore conceded the possible fatigue some may have with his warnings, as well as the possible sense of powerlessness as to what any one individual can do to affect what appear to be vast, unchangeable trends.

“Do we really have to do this and — if the answer is yes — can we do it?” Gore said, repeating two questions he routinely hears.

“The answer to both of those questions — spoiler alert — is ‘yes.’ ”

Gore cited what he considered the increasing momentum with which renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar power have been embraced.

Just as one telephone company study 25 years ago underestimated the huge increase in the use of cellphones, estimates on the acceptance of wind and solar technology also have been conservative, Gore said.

Among the countries or states turning to renewable energy strategies, Gore mentioned the Vatican’s increasing use of solar technology. Vatican City, Gore said, wants to be the first CO2-neutral sovereign city-state in the world.

“They have two advantages,” Gore said. “It is very small, and they have God on their side.”

He urged his listeners to act on an individual basis.

“The one missing ingredient may well be you, no kidding,” he said.

And, given how he was addressing a room filled with folk music admirers, Gore framed his remarks with references to two singers: Bob Dylan and the late Pete Seeger. Reciting a phrase from “The Times They Are a-Changin’ ” and later invoking Seeger’s memory, Gore urged those in attendance to write songs and spread a renewable energy message “all over this land.”

Folk music, he added, “played a positive role in resolving the central question in civil rights, as to what was truly right and truly wrong.”

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/22/4843012/al-gore-brings-climate-change.html#storylink=cpy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Funny how he conveniently doesn't mention that the dust bowl was more of a result of not using contour plowing along with crop rotation, which is why we've been able to avoid dust bowls ever since.
What a tool.

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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5218

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two people, clinging firmly to the elephant's tail, announce that they didn't bother to read the post. What a wonderful world in the bubble.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5817

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"...a hypothetical problem based purely on political ideology."



You can tell that isobars didn't really read what mac wrote. Political ideology? Some folks are too brainwashed to think critically. For a guy that claims to be rocket scientist and engineer, you have to wonder when he lost his way and abandoned the scientific world to be a mouthpiece for the nonsense coming out of right wing talk radio and Fox News.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5218

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nit wit--not only did your post have nothing to do with the topic--you are almost completely wrong. Not a surprise. See this:

Quote:
Question: The Dust Bowl - What Caused the Dust Bowl in the US Midwest in the 1930's?
One of the worst climatic events in the history of the United States was the "Dust Bowl" drought which devastated the United States central states region known as the Great Plains. The Dust Bowl all but dried up an already depressed American economy in the 1930's creating millions of dollars in damages. With modern technology, NASA now believes the Jet Stream was partly responsible for this drought.
Answer: Ocean Temperatures in the 1930's Were Unstable
Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center recently used a computer model and satellite data to examine climate over the past century. In the study, cooler than normal tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures and warmer than normal tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures created ideal drought conditions due to the unstable sea surface temperatures. The result was dry air and high temperatures in the Midwest from about 1931 to 1939.

The Normal Supply of Moist Air From the Gulf of Mexico Was Reduced.

Changes in sea surface temperatures create shifts in weather patterns. One way is by changing the patterns in the jet stream. In the 1930's, the jet stream was weakened causing the normally moisture rich air from the Gulf of Mexico to become drier. Low level winds further reduced the normal supply of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and reduced rainfall throughout the US Midwest.

Images of the Dust Bowl

1934 US Temperature Records

Palmer Drought Index for 1934

The Jet Stream Changed Course.

The jet stream normally flows west over the Gulf of Mexico and turns northward pulling up moisture and dumping rain onto the Great Plains. As the jet stream weakened and changed course, it traveled farther south than normal starving the Midwest of precious rain.

Video Clip of the Jet Strem

For further explanation, watch the brief video clip - How Does the Jet Stream Affect Global Weather Patterns and Influence Droughts? (MPEG 1, 1MB, 10 seconds long. Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Science Visualizations Studio. Video will take you to a new screen and take several seconds to download.) After watching this weather video clip, join the weather forum for a discussion on world climate change issues.


Reference

Siegfried Schubert, Max Suarez, Philip Pegion , Randal Koster, and Julio Bacmeister, "On the Cause of the 1930s Dust Bowl", March 19, 2004 SCIENCE Magazine.


Hmm, ocean temperatures caused drought. Betcha Drudge didn't know that.
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frederick23



Joined: 24 Dec 2013
Posts: 409

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac don’t sell yourself so short. Yes we can predict weather very well now. Yes climate modeling is incomplete science, but science is outstanding now. We know down to the part per million the atmosphere content of all the planets in our solar system. We are even beginning to discover the atmosphere content of exoplanets outside our solar system.

I suggest we do an experiment. Rush Limbaugh has a very large McMansion in Florida. Why don’t we lock him and Hannity in one of the rooms, fill 2/3 of the house with sea water, of the 1/3 that’s left we will plant 30% of it with shrubbery to represent the amount of forests on Earth. We will lock all the doors, seal all the windows, turn on the air circulation, burn a couple shrubs to represent deforestation and start a lawn mower in the basement to represent man made carbon.

The objective will be to see what happens to Rush and Sean over time? Good plan?
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nw30



Joined: 21 Dec 2008
Posts: 1706
Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GREAT IDEA!!!
You set it up, and lets see how far it goes.

_________________
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5218

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NW--you have suddenly become silent about the respected climate scientists you are relying on. Three, and their latest peer reviewed publications. You know I will check them out. What, you were making it up--again?
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pueno



Joined: 03 Mar 2007
Posts: 2670

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

frederick23 wrote:
...and start a lawn mower in the basement to represent man made carbon.

The objective will be to see what happens to Rush and Sean over time? Good plan?

No need for the lawnmower. Just let those two talk for a few minutes -- job done.
.
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