Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for January 4th, 2012

Shifts, jerks or figments? You be the judge

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First week of December I was at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. This meeting is big: an estimated 20,000 attendees this year dealing with all matters geophysical from global change to stressed rocks. I had a poster to give, and being super organised, spent the first two days of the meeting preparing it. The AGU’s 24 hour poster print service got me a big 6’ x 4’ poster by the Thursday session.

And it was a complicated poster, let me say, though there were simple bits in it. When you want to overturn a paradigm, a simple “it ain’t so because it ain’t” doesn’t cut it. The main thesis is that the signal-to-noise model, which assumes a smooth anthropogenic change signal within a background of noisy natural variability, is wrong. Instead the climate follows a deterministic non-periodic pathway, to coin Ed Lorenz of butterfly complexity, where the forcing produced by increasing greenhouse gases does not gradually change climate, but comes in steps. The bulk of the energy is stored in the ocean, with climate showing little warming, only to be released in periodic bursts influenced by the processes associated with climate variability.

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Written by Roger Jones

January 4, 2012 at 12:36 am