Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The sunny side of climate change

We spend our entire lives in one climate or another, so we may all claim intimate familiarity with climate behaviour even when we know little about the science.

Climate is a major factor in holiday destinations too. We we often toddle off in search of sunshine and higher temperatures - which oddly enough we don't regard as catastrophic.

This is a recent picture of our somewhat scrubby lawn after a frosty night. As you may be able to see, the morning sun has melted the frost apart from an area still in the shadow cast by our garage roof.

We’ve all seen something similar where night frosts are reasonably common, but what do we make of it apart from enjoying the ephemeral beauties of a sunny morning?

Well - first let's add another common experience.

Here in Derbyshire we recently had two consecutive days with the same temperature but different levels of sunshine. The first day was sunny and warm, the second was less sunny and felt less warm even though the air temperature was about the same for both days.

The house was warmer on the first day too, with all that sunshine streaming through the windows. So sunshine affects temperature without necessarily having an exact correspondence with air temperature.

Yet sunshine is important to plants, soil temperatures, soil moisture, shallow waters, oceans, forests, grassland and many animals. It isn’t only air temperature.

So why don't we hear more about sunshine in the CAGW  (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) narrative? Is it :-

1. A paucity of reliable long-term sunshine records?
2. The poorly understood dynamics of cloud formation?
3. The problem of generating alarm about a bit more sunshine?

I'll go for all of them - particularly number 3. Long-term surface temperature records are available and they suit the CAGW narrative, so that big hot thing in the sky is quietly buried in the bowels of climate models. Yet simple observations such as frost on the lawn suggest a much more nuanced and complex story.

This is a non-technical post, not about solar effects on our climate, but human behaviour. It merely suggests how easy it has been to build an alarming climate narrative partly by leaving out a complex, yet familiar and generally welcome aspect of daily life - sunshine.

Do susceptible folk notice the significance of that frosty lawn once the CAGW narrative has dulled their critical faculties?

I don’t suppose they do.


Mark Wadsworth said...

"It is :-"

That would read better as "Is it:"

A K Haart said...

Mark - oops, amended - thanks.

Graeme said...

it is a horrible combination of poor quality measurements of too few variables over very short periods, coupled with very low-grade scientists trying to become media celebs

A K Haart said...

Graeme - I agree. If I'd been working in this field I would expect to be gathering good quality data for decades before a decent theory could be built on it.

James Higham said...

Ah but are decades enough?

A K Haart said...

James - maybe not. Astronomy took centuries.