Do aliens cause global warming? The data say ‘yes!’

April 15th, 2014

It’s been over 11 years since the late novelist Michael Crichton advanced the hypothesis that aliens cause global warming.

I decided it was time to test his claim with real data.

Well, sure enough, the monthly UFO reports in recent decades are highly correlated with the increase in global ocean heat content. In fact, the relationship is so strong, if this was an epidemiological study it would be time to regulate UFOs.

Between 1979 and 2011 the number of UFO reports has been increasing right along with the average temperature of the upper 700 meters of ocean:

Fig. 1. Time series of monthly UFO reports and global average ocean temperature anomalies from the surface to 700 m depth. Trailing 12-month averages are also shown.

Fig. 1. Time series of monthly UFO reports and global average ocean temperature anomalies from the surface to 700 m depth. Trailing 12-month averages are also shown.

The correlation between UFO reports and ocean temperature is over 0.95, clearly better than the correlation between that boring old carbon dioxide and ocean warming:

Fig. 2. Lag correlations between UFO reports vs. upper ocean temperature, and CO2 versus upper ocean temperature.

Fig. 2. Lag correlations between UFO reports vs. upper ocean temperature, and CO2 versus upper ocean temperature.

In fact, note the tendency for CO2 to follow ocean temperature , suggesting a weak tendency for warming ocean water to outgas CO2 (or reduce the uptake of atmospheric CO2). In other words, warming causes a CO2 increase, versus the common view that CO2 causes warming. In contrast, the peak correlation between UFO reports and ocean temperature is at zero time lag. UFOs visit, the ocean warms.

(And for you alien deniers out there, here’s the spreadsheet with the data and links.)

But correlation isn’t necessarily causation. We need some sort of hypothesized mechanism for how — any maybe why — aliens cause global warming.

My hypothesis is that the extraterrestrials’ spaceships have some sort of powerful heat generators which are dumping energy into the ocean. Maybe an antigravity-based thermogenic flux capacitor technology (that’s just a guess…I’m only a rocket scientist, not a nuclear physicist or movie star).

But why? Why are the aliens trying to warm our oceans?

Do they come from a warm waterworld? Do they want to colonize our ocean after it is sufficiently heated up? Or are we just the proverbial frogs in a pot of water on the stove?

Clearly, aliens like warmer weather, because there is a strong annual cycle in UFO reports, with the peak number of visitations in July, which is when global average temperatures also peak:

Fig. 3. Average number of UFO reports by calendar month, illustrating aliens' affinity for warmer weather.

Fig. 3. Average number of UFO reports by calendar month, illustrating aliens’ affinity for warmer weather.

This is also consistent with the fact that aliens are known to not have any fur, let alone any clothes, probably because their home planets are so warm:

Fig. 4. Famous aliens have no fur or clothes, suggesting their home planet(s) are quite warm.

Fig. 4. Famous aliens have no fur or clothes, suggesting their home planet(s) are quite warm.

Or, maybe they just like to people-watch. More people are out and about in the summer. That would make abductions easier, too. A two-fer.

On an unrelated matter, I’ve also been working on a new generalized theory of where straight lines come from. Since they are all perfectly correlated with one another, I believe they have a common origin…maybe a super line that extends to infinity and beyond, which generates all other, lesser lines. But the linear algebra is proving to be kinda messy. Stay tuned.

Finally, I’d like to conclude with a quote from Mark Twain:

“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

A Closing Thought I talked with Michael Crichton before his death about his experiences getting involved in the global warming debate through his lectures, his book State of Fear (in which John Christy and I were represented by a lady scientist), and his congressional testimony on the subject of climate change. I think he believed he was doing a public service, but the politicization of the issue (and the way he was treated in congress) took him totally by surprise. That left a bad taste in his mouth, and he said he would no longer be involved in the climate issue. This is a crazy business we work in, and most sane people choose not to get involved in the public debate.

SSM/I Global Ocean Product Update: Increasing clouds with a chance of cooling

April 14th, 2014

SSMIMy research field of satellite passive microwave remote sensing took off like a rocket (pun intended) when the first Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I, built by Hughes Aircraft) was launched in mid-1987 on the DoD series of weather satellites (DMSP).

We SO anticipated that first instrument…good calibration, and high frequency channels to estimate precipitation over land. The previous NASA instruments (ESMR-5, -6, and SMMR) were a good start, but had limited channel selection and less than optimal calibration strategies.

The SSM/I instrument series was later redesigned to incorporate the temperature sounding channels (SSMIS, built by Aerojet). (By the way, we don’t use these in our UAH global temperature monitoring work, since we receive very little money to produce the UAH datasets and incorporating an entirely new series of instruments would be a major effort).

But the real benefit of the SSM/I series of satellite sensors was the production of the “ocean suite” of products: integrated water vapor, surface wind speed, integrated cloud water, and rain rate. These continue to be produced by several investigators, and I use those produced by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).

To help interpret the SSM/I measurements, let’s start with the HadSST3 sea surface temperatures (SSTs) measured since July, 1987, which is when SSM/I data first became available. (All of the following time series are monthly global anomalies since July, 1987; some have trailing 6-month averages plotted as well). It shows the well-known warming up until the 1997/98 El Nino, then roughly level temperatures since then.

HadSST3 monthly anomalies for the global oceans from July 1987 thru Feb. 2014.

Fig. 1. Monthly global oceanic HadSST3 anomalies from July 1987 thru Feb. 2014.

The first SSM/I field to address is total vertically-integrated water vapor, which closely follows the SST variations:

Fig. 2. Monthly global ocean anomalies in SSM/I total integrated water vapor.

Fig. 2. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in SSM/I total integrated water vapor.


The water vapor variations lag the SST variations by an average of one month. A regression relationship reveals an average 10.2% increase in vapor per deg. C increase in SST. This is larger than the theoretically-expected value of 6.5% to 7% increase, a discrepancy which can be interpreted in different ways (more evaporative cooling of the ocean stabilizing the climate, or more water vapor feedback destabilizing the climate — take your pick).

Next, let’s examine the surface wind speed variations from SSM/I. These have been compared to literally millions of buoy wind measurements, and are quite accurate. In fact, I would wager these are by far the best estimate of changes in global ocean wind speed we have:

Fig. 3.  Global average ocean surface wind speed anomalies from SSM/I.

Fig. 3. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in surface wind speed from SSM/I.


We see there was a slight (1-2%) increase in ocean wind speed from before the 1997/98 El Nino to after, which at least qualitatively might be supportive of Trenberth’s claim of increase ocean heat storage and surface cooling temporarily cancelling out anthropogenic global surface warming. I have not looked into whether a 1-2% change in wind speed could have such an effect, so feel free to comment on this. Note also that the last year or so hints at a reversal of this increase back to pre-1998 wind speeds. If wind speeds remain at the lower level, it will be interesting to see if surface warming resumes. I’m making no predictions on this.

The SSM/I rain rate variations are always quite noisy. Warm conditions tend to show more rainfall, but the strong 1997/98 El Nino curiously shows little effect, and there is a hint of increasing ocean rainfall in recent years:

Fig. 4. Monthly global ocean anomalies in rainfall from the SSM/I.

Fig. 4. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in rainfall from SSM/I.

Finally, let’s look at what I think is the most interesting SSM/I variable from a climate change standpoint, total integrated cloud liquid water (CLW):

Monthly global ocean anomalies in integrated cloud water from SSM/I.

Fig. 5. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in integrated cloud water from SSM/I.


The variations in cloud water show some interesting low-frequency behavior. I have previously discussed the fact that these cloud water variations are correlated with CERES-measured net radiative flux, and so provide a proxy measurement for the net radiative imbalance over the ocean which suggest some portion of recent warming was simple due to a natural decrease in cloud cover.

The updated regression relationship I get is 0.24 W/m2 loss in Net (solar plus IR) radiative energy for each percent increase in SSM/I cloud water, a scale factor we can then apply to the cloud water graph to get a Net radiative flux graph:

Fig. 6. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in Net radiative flux estimated from SSM/I cloud water variations, using a CERES-based scale factor of 0.24 W/m2 per percent cloud water.

Fig. 6. Monthly global oceanic anomalies in Net radiative flux estimated from SSM/I cloud water variations, using a CERES-based scale factor of 0.24 W/m2 per percent cloud water change.

Why use an SSM/I estimate of CERES Net radiative flux, instead of CERES directly? Mostly because CERES is available only since 2000, whereas SSM/I is available since 1987. But also, the CERES measurements are very difficult, with the reflected solar flux (which dominates the CERES-SSM/I relationship) having a strong angular dependence. The SSM/I measurements are instead thermally-based (microwave emission) and have no such angular dependence. Finally, radiative fluxes are so important (e.g. being the basis for global warming theory) that any independent means of estimating them are worth looking into.

Be careful in interpreting the estimated radiative fluxes in Fig. 6 because they could have an offset. Since the anomalies I compute (by definition) sum to zero over the entire time series, that means the total time-integrated radiative energy flux also sums to zero. So, while the graph in Fig. 6 suggests energy loss by the global oceans over the last 5 years, it could be the whole curve needs to be shifted upward. There is no way to know. The CERES fluxes have already been adjusted to match the increase in oceanic heat content, which was a logical thing for the CERES Team to do since the absolute accuracy of CERES is ~10 W/m2, whereas the increase in ocean heat content in recent years (IF you believe the warming estimates) correspond to only a few tenths of a W/m2 imbalance. The main value in the graph is to identify possible changes over time.

Others might see some relationships in the above plots that I haven’t noticed; I’ve made the Excel spreadsheet available for those who want to play with the data.

(Note that a possible El Nino this year would temporarily dominate everything else, as would any La Nina afterward. I’m instead talking about the longer term evolution of the cloud cover of the global oceans and what it might mean for global temperatures on decadal time scales.)

UAH Global Temperature Update for March, 2014: +0.17 deg. C (again)

April 7th, 2014

The Version 5.6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for March, 2014 is +0.17 deg. C, unchanged from February (click for full size version):
UAH_LT_1979_thru_March_2014_v5

The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 15 months are:

YR MON GLOBAL NH SH TROPICS
2013 1 +0.497 +0.517 +0.478 +0.386
2013 2 +0.203 +0.372 +0.033 +0.195
2013 3 +0.200 +0.333 +0.067 +0.243
2013 4 +0.114 +0.128 +0.101 +0.165
2013 5 +0.082 +0.180 -0.015 +0.112
2013 6 +0.295 +0.335 +0.255 +0.220
2013 7 +0.173 +0.134 +0.211 +0.074
2013 8 +0.158 +0.111 +0.206 +0.009
2013 9 +0.365 +0.339 +0.390 +0.190
2013 10 +0.290 +0.331 +0.249 +0.031
2013 11 +0.193 +0.160 +0.226 +0.020
2013 12 +0.266 +0.272 +0.260 +0.057
2014 1 +0.291 +0.387 +0.194 -0.029
2014 2 +0.170 +0.320 +0.020 -0.103
2014 3 +0.170 +0.337 +0.002 -0.002

Potential 2014-15 El Nino Discussion

With the possibility of an El Nino developing later this year (still considered a 50% probability in the latest Climate Prediction Center discussion), there is the possibility of a new record high global temperature if the El Nino is sufficiently strong enough. I personally don’t think this is going to happen, because we are in the negative phase of the PDO (which favors stronger La Nina and weaker El Nino).

If El Nino does develop, peak tropospheric warmth as measured by the satellites tends to lag the surface warming. John Christy sent me this summary of past El Ninos during the satellite record:

82-83 peaked in Mar
86-87 peaked in Feb (86-88 was a weird one)
87-88 peaked in Dec
91-92 fouled up by Pinatubo
94-95 peaked in Apr
97-98 peaked in Apr (just above Feb)
02-03 peaked in Jan
04-05 peaked in Apr
06-07 peaked in Jan
09-10 peaked in Mar

Of course, an El Nino at the end of the record will increase the global temperature trend…at least temporarily…but El Nino is often followed by a cool La Nina, which would basically cancel out that effect.

The global image for March should be available in the next day or so here.

Popular monthly data files (these might take a few days to update):

uahncdc_lt_5.6.txt (Lower Troposphere)
uahncdc_mt_5.6.txt (Mid-Troposphere)
uahncdc_ls_5.6.txt (Lower Stratosphere)

Global Warming is Destroying April Fools Day

April 1st, 2014

stop-global-warming

For the last few days I’ve been trying to think of some crazy, almost-believable angle to illustrate the absurdity of the current global warming movement.

Post it on April 1st, and say “Ha! Fooled ya! The warmists didn’t really say that…but I made you think they did!”

Alas, the global warming alarmists have already used up all of the crazy ideas themselves. As far as they are concerned, global warming causes everything.

More rain AND less rain. Check.

More snow AND less snow. Check.

More hurricanes AND fewer hurricanes. Check.

You get the idea.

And, once you get journalists’ imaginations involved, it gets even crazier. Earthquakes. Meteor strikes. These are people who actually think the movie Gravity was filmed in outer space.

(OK, so some scientists also are on the warming-causes-earthquakes bandwagon. I guess that makes them as smart as journalists.)

Now, as the new 2014 IPCC report is revealed, we find that a lack of warming for 15+ years has the experts even more concerned than ever. So, the greater the amount of good news on the global warming front, the greater their hand-wringing.

How can we make fun of them when they are already parodying themselves?? It’s disheartening.

So, I would like to add an item to that long list of things that global warming is destroying…

…global warming is destroying April Fools Day.

Hey, IPCC, quit misusing the term “risk”

March 31st, 2014

Noah-fleeing-global-warming
The latest report of Working Group II of the IPCC, entitled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was approved yesterday. In it, the concept of the “risks” posed by human-induced climate change figures prominently.

Now, I can understand using terms like “possibilities” when it comes to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It’s theoretically possible that the average warming of the last 50+ years was mostly human-caused, and it’s possible that the slight sea level rise over this time was more human-caused than natural (sea level was rising naturally anyway). But we really don’t know.

And the idea that severe weather, snowstorms, droughts, or floods have gotten worse due to the atmosphere now having 4 parts per 10,000 CO2, rather than 3 parts per 10,000, is even more sketchy. Mostly because there is little or no objective evidence that these events have experienced any long-term increase that is commensurate with warming. (It’s possible they are worse with globally cool conditions…we really don’t know).

But the main point of my article is that the IPCC has bastardized the use of the term “risk”. Talking “possibilities” is one thing, because just about anything is possible in science. But “risk” refers to the known tendency of bad things to happen as a result of some causal mechanism.

Walking across the street raises your risk of being hit by a car. We know this, because it has happened many thousands of times.

Cigarette smoking raises your risk of lung cancer. We know this because it has happened millions of times (and is consistent with other medical evidence that human tissue exposed to repeated injury, anywhere in your body, can result in the formation of cancerous tissue).

But when it comes to climate change, there is no demonstrated causal connection between (A) an extra 1 CO2 molecule per 10,000 molecules of air, and (B) any resulting observed change in weather or climate.

There are theories of how the former might impact the latter. But that’s all.

You cannot use the term “risk” to describe these theoretical possibilities.

The fact that the IPCC has chosen to do so further demonstrates it is an organization that was political in its intended purpose, with the ultimate mission of regulating CO2 emissions, and operates within an echo chamber of like-minded individuals who are chosen based upon their political support of the IPCC’s goals.

Now, you might ask, “Dr. Roy, are you telling me there are NO known risks to adding more CO2 to the atmosphere?”

Well, I can only think of one. There are abundant controlled scientific studies which suggest that more CO2 will cause most vegetation to grow better, with more drought tolerance and more efficient use of water.

If you want to call that a “risk”, fine. But it doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to me, especially given the life-enhancing benefits of access to abundant, low cost forms of energy.

Did global warming take down Flight 370?

March 20th, 2014

Sure, why not? I can’t believe this explanation wasn’t near the top of the list from the beginning.

If CNN can entertain the possibility that an errant black hole did it, why not global warming?

Look at all the evidence we had from the TV series Lost…but there never was a good explanation for what happened to that flight, right?
Lost-meme

How might global warming be involved? Well, let’s see. There are those mysterious megacryometeors (falls of giant pieces of ice, even out of a blue sky), which Jesus Martinez-Frias, a planetary geologist at the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain, tried to tell me are due to climate change. Maybe one of those smacked the plane.

Or, what about a rogue jet stream, disrupted by global warming, suddenly arising and causing so much tail wind that the jet loses lift and drops out of the sky?

C’mon folks, lets’ use our imaginations! Surely we can do better than black holes!

The Next Great Famine…or Age of Abundance?

March 18th, 2014

One of the most annoying things about climate forecasts is the apparent need to predict catastrophe.

Of course, it makes good press, like the latest from Bryan Walsh at Time, Climate Change Could Cause the Next Great Famine.

While such theories can always find a home with some learned academics, for those who ‘do’ rather than ‘teach’, the world is a very different place.

For the last 4 years, I have spoken at a Kansas City conference of grain growing and investment interests organized by The ProExporter Network, a company which tracks and predicts both U.S. and international grain markets and growing conditions, especially for corn, soybeans, and wheat.

I was with these folks again last week, and from what I hear, there have been no negative climate-related changes which have been identified. If they do exist, they are swamped by technological improvements…and maybe even the positive effects of CO2 fertilization (which has somewhat conflicting research results for maize).

Here in the U.S, as well as globally, grain production as well as yields (in bushels per acre) have been on an upward linear trend for at least 50 years, primarily due to improvements in varieties (e.g. with greater drought tolerance) and growing practices:
global-grain-yields

Most year-to-year interruptions in normal growing weather are due to heat waves and droughts, or less frequently, floods. High corn yields are favored by a warm spring with dry planting weather, a not-too-hot summer with sufficient rain (the most important growing period), and a warm, dry fall.

If we examine observed summer (June/July/August) temperatures over the corn belt, we see no obvious warming in the USHCN data. This is in stark
contrast to the average of 42 climate models available through the KNMI Climate Explorer for approximately the same region as the corn belt:

Corn-belt-CMIP5-models-vs-USHCN-temps

Needless to say, the average model expectation of warming has not materialized in the corn belt. The corresponding average precipitation change in the models (not shown) has a near-zero trend for the corn belt, while there has been maybe a 10% increase in observed precipitation over the last 100 years, largely due to the Dust Bowl days early in the record.

The IPCC claims there is a negative impact of global warming on corn, but the experts I have talked to say there is no way to get that out of the data. You would have to have accurate quantitative knowledge of the technological trend, which you don’t.

In other words, without an accurate removal of the factors leading to the huge increase in corn yield (which is not possible), you can’t back out of the data any kind of climate-related signal. (If anything, the face-value evidence is that warming leads to higher yields, not lower.)

And without that accurate quantitative knowledge (and no evidence of observed corn belt climate change anyway), they tell me there is little reason to depart from a forecast of slowly increasing corn yields in the coming years.

So, unless you are an academic who is trying to remain relevant to the real world by forecasting doom and asking for government grants to support your Malthusian view of the world (wherein population increases exponentially and food production remains more constant), the real world scenario is that population will level off in the next 50 years, while grain production and yields will likely continue to grow, at least for the foreseeable future.

Re Missing Flight MH370: Smoke from North Sentinel Island

March 14th, 2014

Most days I check out the global MODIS imagery at the NASA Worldview website, and today I zoomed in on North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal. Looking through recent days, I noticed a plume of smoke starting on the afternoon of Saturday, March 8. Ever since then, there has been smoke evident on most of the days, through yesterday, and it seems to emanate from the north side of the island:

Smoke streaming southward from North Sentinel Island on 13 March, 2014.

Smoke streaming southward from North Sentinel Island on 13 March, 2014.

The MODIS spatial resolution (250 m) is nowhere near good enough to observe something as small as an airplane, but it routinely sees smoke plumes. Now, it might well be that the natives on this (very primitive and hostile) island have burnings during this time of year. There are thought to be less than 100 inhabitants of the island, and they do not like visitors.

But, I looked through all of the days in March of last year (2013), and saw no obvious evidence of smoke. Nor was there smoke earlier this month before the plane disappeared.

I believe this is one of the many islands that is being targeted for investigation.

Interestingly, the island was raised 1 to 2 meters after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, exposing many of the coral reefs surrounding the island.

I doubt that there is a connection to the missing flight, which would be a real shot in the dark. But it is a strange coincidence.

At a minimum, this is a plug for the NASA Worldview website, which I’ve been wanting to mention anyway.

UAH Global Temperature Update for February 2014: +0.17 deg. C

March 5th, 2014

The Version 5.6 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for February, 2014 is +0.17 deg. C, down 0.12 deg C from January (click for full size version):
UAH_LT_1979_thru_February_2014_v5

The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 14 months are:

YR MON GLOBAL NH SH TROPICS
2013 1 +0.497 +0.517 +0.478 +0.386
2013 2 +0.203 +0.372 +0.033 +0.195
2013 3 +0.200 +0.333 +0.067 +0.243
2013 4 +0.114 +0.128 +0.101 +0.165
2013 5 +0.082 +0.180 -0.015 +0.112
2013 6 +0.295 +0.335 +0.255 +0.220
2013 7 +0.173 +0.134 +0.211 +0.074
2013 8 +0.158 +0.111 +0.206 +0.009
2013 9 +0.365 +0.339 +0.390 +0.190
2013 10 +0.290 +0.331 +0.249 +0.031
2013 11 +0.193 +0.160 +0.226 +0.020
2013 12 +0.266 +0.272 +0.260 +0.057
2014 1 +0.291 +0.387 +0.194 -0.028
2014 2 +0.172 +0.325 +0.019 -0.102

Note that most of the cooling was in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere, less in the Northern Hemisphere.

The global image for February should be available in the next day or so here.

Popular monthly data files (these might take a few days to update):

uahncdc_lt_5.6.txt (Lower Troposphere)
uahncdc_mt_5.6.txt (Mid-Troposphere)
uahncdc_ls_5.6.txt (Lower Stratosphere)

Christy & Emanuel have A Conversation on Climate Change

March 4th, 2014

“A Conversation on Climate Change” was held in the UAH Chan Auditorium last evening in front of a standing room only audience. UAH professor John Christy (aka “my boss”) and Prof. Kerry Emanuel (MIT) answered questions posed by the moderator, noted economist Russ Roberts. The event was hosted by the UAH College of Business Administration.

Kerry Emanuel, Russ Roberts, and John Christy have A Conversation on Climate Change, March 3, 2014.

Kerry Emanuel, Russ Roberts, and John Christy have A Conversation on Climate Change, March 3, 2014.


The discussion focused on how much the world has warmed, whether severe weather has gotten worse, how much consensus exists in the climate community, and what should be done about the problem.

John Christy emphasized that all of the 100+ climate models have over-predicted warming in the tropical troposphere, by at least a factor of 2, and this was supposed to be the most obvious manifestation of global warming as predicted by climate models.

Kerry Emanuel emphasized the strong consensus in the climate community that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause warming, that the details of that warming remains uncertain (much of the heating has gone into the ocean), and that at least the possibility of catastrophic climate change compels us to act through energy policy.

Christy’s view was that we have the moral obligation to allow access to inexpensive energy by the world’s poor, a view which Emanuel also supported.

The “debate” was very well received by the audience. It will appear in a week or two as an EconTalk podcast, part of a series that Russ Roberts hosts.