Climate change research keeps pace

Climate change research keeps pace

By Antonio Ruiz de Elvira

Change means something new, which we cannot get from past time series. Change means jumping from one regime to another, and we cannot find this by analyzing past time series, but by applying the theory.

We have already reached the first decade of the 21st century. The predictions about climate change have all come true.

But those who make mountains of money selling fossil fuels refuse to acknowledge the damages of these, and recognizing them, to dedicate a small part of their immense profits to the development of alternative energies (1). To such an extent they refuse (generating in the meantime sequential catastrophes) that they managed to destroy the Copenhagen meeting, in which measures should have been agreed to continue the Kyoto Protocol. And part of what they did was to discredit one of the best researchers on the evolution of the climate, in what was called climagate: the use of information taken out of context to discredit a person, as if from a telephone conversation the words murdered, me, yesterday, girl, to build “I murdered a girl yesterday”, when what the person on the phone said was “I found out yesterday that a girl had been murdered. And I say…"

The data managed by Phil Jones and his team at the University of East Anglia have not been manipulated (it can be verified by whoever has the will and time, as they are public. I have done it) and their statistical treatment is perfectly correct. Science has as a guarantee that anyone who wants to can repeat what others have done, to prove it. I encourage readers to be patient and do so, before accepting wrong statements.

Research on climate change keeps pace. Probably, global models have reached the maximum precision of which they are capable, while remaining faithful to the initial simplifications, above all, to what is known as the hydrostatic approximation, which replaces the direct integration of the vertical speed with its calculation at starting from the two horizontal speeds.

The approximation is false and invalidates any results of the models that want to have spatial precision. For this precision, a technique called statistical scaling is usually used, but when those who generally practice what the latter science is really reject, the results are not reliable.

We know for sure that the world is warming. That the poles heat up about three times more and three times faster than the rest of the planet. Of this there is no doubt. But current models are unable to make reliable predictions of what will happen in each area of ​​the globe less than 50 km x 50 km.

And here we have two almost insurmountable problems. One, that the important thing is the small magnitudes, like the vertical speed of the air. In the same way that traditional economic models neglect, as insignificant, the magnitude of energy in their calculations, when it is the control variable, climate models neglect the vertical speed, which is the control variable.

In control theory, it is always small actions that control large flows: the energy to move a gate at the exit of the water from a swamp is negligible compared to the energy of the water that leaves. But it is the gate that regulates the flow of water.

The next problem is that climate science is already a mature discipline. That means that the innovative ideas of young people (or mine, even if it no longer is) are rejected by those who control the publications, by the publishers who have based their prestige on traditional ideas and cannot, now, accept others.

The other current problem in climate research is presented by aerosols, particles ranging in size from a hundred nanometers to a few microns, which circulate through the atmosphere and serve as condensation nuclei for water vapor to form clouds. The main gas that traps the infrared radiation emitted by the earth's surface is water vapor, which condenses into clouds.

Depending on whether the clouds are high or low, their effect on the incident energy in the form of light (its reflectivity or albedo) and its effect on its absorption of infrared electromagnetic radiation is very different. We do not yet know how aerosols behave with respect to cloud formation. It is a cutting edge field of research today and we look forward to significant advancements over the next ten years. The variations on the warming predictions that depend on the existence of aerosols are in an environment of 0.3ºC, which is very important today, and much less in ten or twenty years.

Finally, and in research on climate change, I have to say a few words about what change means.

The scientific community, and the human community in general, does not understand what change is. It is often thought that we can extrapolate what we have today into the future. That is evolution, but not change.

If in 1880 it had been wanted to extrapolate (and it was done and is done in the science of economic theory) the situation from then until the year 2000, better horse carriages, better trains based on water vapor and better lamps would have been designed using oil. Change means something new, which we cannot get from past time series. But we do not know how to do the latter while the former does not require more than turning the crank.

We know a lot, in general, but we still have a lot to know, especially in the details.

Antonio Ruiz de Elvira is Professor of Applied Physics at the University of Alcalá and member of the European Climate Forum Daphnia, no. 52 -



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