Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gort upgrades the Climate Changeometer with Ocean Dethermalization

When Gort first visited in 1951, it spent little effort on climate change issues, focusing on other aspects of our planet instead:

Gort returned in 2012 to answer puny human climatologist questions about whether climate change caused particular weather phenomena by making an obvious point:  rather than struggle with theoretical analysis, you can simply use your Climate Changeometer to remove all the excess greenhouse gases and aerosols above natural levels and then measure the outcome. Comments at the link suggested temps on land would respond to Gort quickly, within a week or so, while temps above the oceans could take months and years.

Gort now brings us an upgrade.

The Climate Changeometer now comes with Ocean Dethermalization. The point is to think how current weather patterns are affected by anthropogenic climate change, so it's necessary to consider the vast majority of that heat accumulating in the oceans. Gort instantly removes that heat at the same time as it put the atmosphere back to 1860 levels. The Dethermalizer also depuffenates the oceans from the sea level rise caused by thermal expansion. I'm not sure how quickly the oceans would drop - if it's instantaneous, let's assume Gort will buffer any tsunami type effect.

I'd guess is that if you apply this experiment to a tropical storm a few days away from landfall, it would have a significant effect on that storm. I think this is a helpful way to communicate how we've changed our climate. It's probably more scientifically meaningful on a global and longer term level than about immediate weather phenomena, which might be why there's actual scholarship about it (thanks MMM). On the level of immediate weather, this combats the delayist/denialist dodge that attribution for individual weather events is impossible (allegedly), so there's no point in discussing climate change when we face weather tragedies that are made more likely by climate change.

One other point - I do like the argument that we're living in the Anthropocene such that but for climate change, the individual weather events we see wouldn't have happened. I made the argument a while back, glad to see it more prevalent now.

(And btw, credit to Aaron in the 2012 post for also thinking about ocean heat.)