The Kauppinen papers (1/2)

  1. Climate sensitivity.

The most important question regarding anthropogenic climate change is that of the climate sensitivity: in short “what supplementary warming will be caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration”. This question lies at the heart of “climate protection policies”: if this sensitivity is great, rapid decarbonisation might be seen as inevitable, if it is low, a better policy might be to wait for upcoming technologies allowing a more pain-less switch to a non- or low-carbon future.

The IPCC can not get is uncertainty range narrowed down since more than 20 years: it stubbornly lies in the interval 1.5 to 4.5 °C with a “best” estimate of approx. 3.5°C. These numbers are (mostly) the outcomes of climate models, and all assume that feedback factors like increasing water vapour are positive, i.e. they augment the warming (about 3.6 W/m2 radiative forcing caused by a CO2 doubling) considerably.

Many scientists agree with the IPCC, but a smaller group does not. This group (like Lindzen, Lewis and Curry etc…) tries to find the climate sensitivity from the observations of past climate, and most get an answer which lies below (often well below) the lower the IPCC’s lowest boundary.

If they are right (and the IPCC consensus people wrong), most of the expensive policies following the Paris outcome (“limit warming to 1.5°C w.r. to pre-industrial times”) could be scrapped.

The notion of “climate sensitivity” is complex: usually 2 different sensitivities are used: the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity ECS which considers the final temperature change caused by a CO2 doubling if “everything has settled down”, what means all feedback factors have played out, and all momentary thermal imbalances on the planet have been resolved. This may take a horrible long time, with a magnitude of centuries, and thus is too long to represent a realistic political goal. So often a second definition the Transient Climate Sensitivity TCS is used (often also called transient climate response TCR); here we assume a yearly 1% increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration which will lead to a doubling in 70 years, a time span more acceptable for a political agenda.

If we look at the history of scientific papers treating this subject, there is a clear tendency for lower sensitivities since the first calculation of Charney in 1979:

Decline of published TCR and ECS values since 2000 (link).

So this extremely important subject is far from “settled science” as most media, environmental groups and politicians continue to shout and want us make believe.

2. Dr Jyrki Kauppinen

Dr. Kauppinen is a professor of physics at the Turku University in Finland. He has published quite a lot of papers on spectroscopy, Fourier analysis etc. Four of his (and co-authors) papers (published 2011, 2017, 2018 and 2019) look at the climate sensitivity problem using only observations, and finding that the most important feedbacks caused by water vapor (condensing into low clouds or not) are negative and not positive as assumed by the IPCC.

They find that the human activity is insignificant on climate change (read here a general comment in the Helsinki Times from 14 July 2019).

In the following parts of this blog, I will look into these papers, which are not always easy to read and understand. They are quite heavy on mathematics, and even if I am able to follow most, there are some occurrences where I have to assume that their calculations are correct.


to be continued….

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