About

Links : Colletta OSVision
I have a Bsc in Physics and a PhD in High Energy Physics and have worked as a research fellow at CERN for 3 years, Rutherford Lab for 2 years and the JET Nuclear Fusion experiment for 5 years. Thereafter I worked at the Joint Research Centre in Italy until April 2008 being seconded to the African Union in Addis Adaba Nov 2007 until March 2008. I originally started this blog to record my experiences in Ethiopia. It started out as a travel blog, but has now morphed mainly into a science blog on climate. All results, views, opinions and errors are entirely my own fault and in no way reflect any stance of any previous employer.

In  April 2008 I co-founded a start up company osvision.com. Since then I also got involved with holiday rentals and a business centre at Colletta – a quite beautiful and unique medieval village in Liguria, Italy. I also now have more freedom to travel the world.  I am basically a scientific sceptic but with a deep interest in other opinions and cultures.

I became interested in understanding the physics behind climate change after getting fed up with being told that the debate is over. Science is never a closed book and has a habit of turning round and biting those who think so.  This  explains why the blog now focusses on climate science.

43 Responses to About

  1. Dina says:

    Hi,
    I am a stock footage researcher with Apartment 11 Productions – an educational children’s television production company based in Montreal, Canada.

    We’d like to use your photo of King Lalibela in one of our shows in exchange for a credit. Could you please email me to discuss further? My email is dina2@apartment11.tv.
    Thanks,
    Dina

  2. Pingback: IPCC Models predict the exact opposite of what actually happens. No surprise there then. « The Septic Sceptic

  3. Mike Haseler says:

    Hi clive,

    I liked your post on predicted and actual temperature. I also like that you work at CERN and did real science!

    I’m trying to do something vaguely related for SCEF (Scottish Climate & Energy Forum), so I’d be very pleased if you could email me as I’d like to ask whether you can help us.

    Mike Haseler

  4. I’m in the process of revising a novel I wrote a couple of years ago. Would I be able to use in the novel an image that appears at http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=2862 The image is of the round changing-to-elliptical orbit of the earth and a resonant dust cloud that affects earth’s climate. The specific image is

    The novel attempts to present a plausible scenario of what could happen to some of the basic circumstances of our lives as an uncertain future unfolds. Climate change is included as one of those changing conditions.

    Alan Detwiler

    • Clive Best says:

      Yes – for me it’a fine to use the image as you wish.
      One other possible scenario for you to consider is the switching of the Earth’s magnetic field which happens every couple of million years. No-one knows how fast the flip occurs. However it would disrupt the weather, UV protection and in principal electronic communications. http://rense.com/general26/poles.htm New Scientist writes: “Studies of ocean sediments and lava flows show the Earth has undergone several hundred field reversals, with the most recent confirmed flip occurring about 780,000 years ago. But their timing appears random and physicists do not understand what causes them.”

  5. Franco Oliveri says:

    Clive,
    I’m Franco Oliveri and I met you while you were working at the JRC.
    I’d like to be in touch with you on issues related to climate change and migration: could you please contact me:
    franco.oliveri@jrc.ec.europa.eu
    Thanks
    Franco

  6. Martin Lack says:

    Clive, I respect the extent of your qualifications and experience in Physics, so I hope you will respect mine in Geology and Hydrogeology; and not (as so many have done) question the implications of my now also having an MA in Environmental Politics.

    I agree that, in certain respects, the conclusions of science are always provisional. However, do you accept that the scientific conclusions about the theory of gravity and that the Earth is an oblate spheroid are not now generally disputed? Presuming that you do not; you must accept that some things in science are “settled”

    Since the Second World War – and in the last 20 years in particular – the level of uncertainty regarding the primacy of excess atmospheric CO2 as the driver of change we are witnessing has reduced almost to vanishing point. Therefore, to dispute this today, despite all the accumulating evidence of unprecedented frequency and intensity of extreme weather events of all kinds (as predicted by atmospheric physics and models), seems to me to be evidence of willful blindness; and/or indicative of belief in a scientific conspiracy (for which there is no evidence) to foist environmental alarmism upon a credulous World? Can you please tell me if there is an alternative explanation?

  7. Fred Voetsch says:

    Excellent site, Clive. It’s strange to me how some people seem bothered by skeptical thought but I, for one, appreciate what I have read so far and will make a point of returning.

  8. Cry Wolf says:

    Clive, great blog!

    I have been having a detailed look at climate records from 23 UK MET office stations and am particularly interested in sunshine and temperature co-variance (R2=0.8 on 5y means). I need the assistance of a physicist to convert observed sunshine variance to expected temperature variance at surface. I’m not even sure if this is possible to do. In essence, the UK got sunnier from 1985 to 2000 and it got warmer. I was wondering if you may be interested to help, if so please get in touch.

    The UK data are also interesting compared with variance in ISCCP global D2 cloud.

    • ann ceely says:

      Cry Wolf,

      I remember sunnier from 1974. I was having babies at that time, and remember April 1974 when 8 months pregnant as unbearably hot & sunny – followed by the rest of the summer. Whereas the summer of 1972 just before the baby was born beginning of Sept was comfortably cool, and her early months were horribly cold.

      I remember waking up my 5-year-old one evening in 1977/8 to see the first snow of her life – it hadn’t snowed for 5 years in Essex.

  9. Alex Henney says:

    may I suggest you make a submission to the Energy and Climate Change Committee which is considering the implications of AR5 for electric policies.Thus far I have encouraged Judith Curry,Bob Carter, John Christy and I hope Richard Lindzen to pitch in.If you would send me an e mail and telephone I can share my submission and material about the electric industry with you
    0207 284 4217

  10. Hello,
    Seeing that you’ve lived in Italy I wonder whether you’ve heard of Roberto Madrigali’s theory of the way climate is influenced by the moon. His book ‘The future of the earth is written on the moon’ was recently published, and I’m waiting to get a copy in English, but my girlfriend has just finished reading it in the Italian. http://www.meteoclima.net/it/index.php/item/29-il-futuro-della-terra-e-scritto-nella-luna-un-libro-rivoluzionario
    I found your site whilst doing a general search on that. I have no scientific background so all the technical stuff is way beyond me, but the few bits and bobs I’ve just read of yours are very interesting. Thanks,
    Simon
    P.S. Madrigali is also predicting that a new ice age is just around the corner.

    • Clive Best says:

      Hi Simon,

      I had a quick look at Madrigali’s book description. His theory is that the moon changes the position of the Jet streams presumably through tidal effects on the atmosphere. There are indeed lunar tides near the poles at high altitude in winter. I don’t quite know how explains the ice ages though !

      I also looked at the moon’s effect on climate

      see this post

  11. Bob Peckham says:

    Hi Clive/Simon
    Also related to this, Piers Corbyn of Weather Action seems to have a very high rate of success in forecasting extreme weather events up to six weeks in advance using a technique which involves solar/lunar influence on the jet stream. However his technique seems to focus more on electromagnetic effects than tidal. I don’t think he publishes the full details of his method, probably because it is the basis of his livelihood, but some of the ideas can be gleaned from the website http://www.weatheraction.com
    He calls his method SLAT – Solar Lunar Action Technique – and it is based on solar activity (which is to some extent predictable) modulated by the moon (which is predictable).
    To quote directly from a very recent post on the Weather Action website:
    “ The R periods and wild behavior of the Jet Stream are driven from above and are associated with extra and extreme changes in electrical and magnetic activity above the stratosphere and in the ionosphere and the solar wind of charged particles coming from the sun and events on the sun itself**
    [**Note Ideas such as ‘temperature contrasts drive the Jet Stream’ are totally inadequate to explain or predict events. Such a picture cannot explain the relationship between Earth weather and events in the ionosphere, magnetosphere, the solar wind and on the sun and the simultaneity of extreme storm events across earth and their ~coincidence with (radio) storms on other planets. Indeed such a low-level Earth atmosphere centred view, notwithstanding certain feedbacks, is akin to suggesting the movement of tree branches causes winds.] “ (end of copy/paste)

    In view of the apparent success of this technique in forecasting extreme weather events I am inclined to think there must be some valid ideas behind it. Maybe worth taking a look at: http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=613&c=5
    If you scroll down you can see images of sunspots coming around to face the earth, and of the current “wild” jet stream.
    Bob P

  12. Rudy says:

    Thanks for your blogs and data and analysis of data Clive!

    I find this debate on AGW motivating and it inspires me to find a current model that can explain all the questions that everyone on both sides of the debate are asking. I am simply a high school physics and chemistry teacher. I stand on the shoulders of giants when I am having my best lesson or lab for my students.

    Great thinkers can solve this issue before it ends up creating a slew of bad scenarios. If AGW is as bad as some say it is, then we may have already done the damage to the globe and trying to reverse it now will be too late. But if it is not a significant factor in the climate variations the earth experiences, in response to things such as sun activity, tidal shifts influenced by the alignment of the sun, moon and earth in 100,000 year cycles or increased volcanic and geologic activity, dust particles in the atmosphere, and hot vents in the ocean that heat up ocean water, then from the regulations our government is placing on our energy and industry, we are likely to be creating a sociological crisis that will be spawned by a net decline in food production. Carl Sagan hit the nail on the head almost 2 decades ago.
    http://www.educateinspirechange.org/2013/12/carl-sagans-last-warning-to-humanity.html

    I know some scientific debates like evolution and the Big Bang are still unresolved and this debate on AGW is definitely unresolved. A more complete model, and a model that can predict climate response by variables such as geologic activity, solar activity, tidal activity, and particulates in the atmosphere. I have thought about it enough to come up with an equation that is not in the books and one I never really thought about before. It is a combined gas law version of the Ideal Gas Law, not the one we see in books. But it seems gravity will keep the container of earths atmosphere at a near constant volume. So it makes sense that with more gas molecules in the air, and an increased temp. of 1.5 K in the past 100 or so years, that the pressure would also have to go up. The equation becomes P1/n1T1 = P2/n2T2. It is intuitive from the gas law equation that the pressure today must be higher than it was before AGW. If you do the math it comes out to be about 5mmHg higher today than yestercentury. To solve it I needed to find the volume of the earth’s atmosphere and the number of moles of air in it both 100 years ago and today. I solved a bunch of back of the envelope calculations to obtain a number of moles of molecules in the atmosphere 100 years ago. Ironically I was looking up the answer to my question and got the same question that was not accurately answered on Yahoo Answers. So I answered it. I took this approach to solve. I assumed that CO2 acts like an ideal gas. The temperature of the atmosphere today is 1.5 K higher than it was 150 years ago. So Today if the temp. is 288 K then 150 years ago it was 286.5 K. The Atmospheric pressure I will use is 1 Atm, although the pressure goes down as we increase altitude. To k.i.s.s. I did not adjust for a changing pressure with altitude. I calculated the spherical volume of the solid earth with a mean volumetric radius of 6371 km and then the volume of the sphere using that same radius + 8.5 km of atmosphere we are focused on (higher altitudes have an insignificant amount of CO2). I took the difference of the larger volume with the atmosphere and the smaller volume of just the solid earth, for a volume of 4.34 x 10^9 km^3 of air in the atmosphere we are going to focus on. Convert that to liters for use in our gas law equation; you should get 4.34 x 10^21 L. Using Pv=nRT, where Pressure is 1 atm. and Volume for the 2 different scenarios of today’s concentration of CO2 and the concentration of CO2 150 years ago, would be (.000400 x 4.34 x 10^21 L ) and(.000250 x 4.34 x 10^21 L), if today there are 400ppm of CO2 and 100 years ago there were 250 ppm. Now the volume is 1.74 x 10^18L for the current atmosphere and 1.09 x 10^18 L for the atmosphere 150 years ago. Plug the correct values in the Ideal Gas Law equation for each scenario: 1 Atm (1.74 x 10^18L) = n (.0821 L.atm/mol.K)(288K) = 7.34 x 10^16 moles of CO2 1 Atm (1.09 x 10^18L) = n (.0821 L.atm/mol.K)(286.5K) = 4.61 x 10^16 moles of CO2
    Multiply each mole calculation by Avogadro’s number: you get 4.42 x 10^40 molecules of CO2 today and
    2.78 x 10^40 molecules of CO2 150 years ago. The difference is a scant (jk) 1.64 x 10^40 more CO2 molecules today in the atmosphere than there was 150 years ago. Any change in vegetation consumption of CO2 and rate of ocean limestone uptake of CO2 may actually change the value a bit, Yes if you check this on Yahoo Answers, I am Chem is Try. I answered it a few days ago, not finding someone’s answer on the internet, but stumbling on one of the same questions I have. I wanted to know this just so I could find the pressure difference. My next hunt is for the heat exchange rate between water and the atmosphere when the conditions exist that heat can travel according the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    • Rudy says:

      whoops, I needed to mention that the number of total moles of all air molecules in the atmosphere today are 1.8355 e20 and the number of moles of air molecules in the atmosphere 100 years ago were 150 ppm less concentrated in CO2; giving a figure of 1.8342 e20 moles. Using 760 mmHg today for the pressure, I got 755.5 mmHg a century or so ago. What kind of effect will this pressure rise have? A higher pressure on water’s phase change diagram makes it more difficult to stay a vapor, but the effects of a higher temperature will also play a role in its ability to keep in its vapor state. I forgot to mention one other statement recently published in Scientific American. The editor wrote an article in which he state something to the effect that the more and more the sea ice in the arctic ocean melts, the warmer and warmer the sea gets. I contested this statement on 2 fronts. First of all the sea will have to lose heat to melt ice, and secondly, the Arctic Ocean is a very closed ocean with a limited area of which to freeze. If it is completely frozen in it 14,056,000 km^3 area, then when it does melt, and it never melts all the way, the highest its temperatures according to http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/ocean_temperature_salinity.html could go would be 0 deg. C to 4 degC. I kind of find that 4 deg C figure a bit hard to swallow, that would not be a surface temperature due to the fact water is its most dense at 4 deg. C, unless ocean water deviates from this. The lowest its temperature gets is -2 deg. C due to its salinity. So the range in temp is not more than 2 deg. C. This is a far cry from warmer and warmer. I posted a blog about that on FB and a career long Biology Teacher colleague and friend of mine proceeded to tell me where my confusion was; he said that the Albedo of open lower than Ice. And so the more Ice that melts the more heat is absorbed from the sunlight by the ocean. Although this is true, it still cannot heat the ocean above freezing until all the ice melts. I think this last fall over 3 million Km^3 of ice remained. Now in January over 89 % has returned. I just don’t accept the statement from a major Scientific magazine, from its own editor, that the more ice that melts, the more that ocean increases in temp. It is not thermodynamically feasible. People reading the magazine should be scientifically literate enough to analyze the statement. I think the conclusion is logical that the ocean does not heat up in conjunction with the more and more ice that melts, mainly due to the fact it takes heat to melt ice and that heat comes from the ocean water, so the water must lose a lot of heat to melt all that ice. I guess the water can only absorb so many kilojoules a day by the sun. I already did a back of the envelope calculation on that one as well,

    • Clive Best says:

      Rudy,

      Thanks for your contribution. I also think it is very important that young students are taught that there is as yet no agreed science regarding climate change. The challenge is still open to them to resolve the science behind it. I fear that instead some school curriculum (including here in the UK) are more influenced by green propaganda than hard science. It is wrong to teach them that global warming will bring disaster.

      Your ideas on gravity effects and the prefect gas laws are similar to those of Stephen Wilde. See for example this post

      My position is more that of a luke warmer. The physics of radiative transfer is well established. What is not so clear is the complex feedbacks of the water cycle to any change in CO2 forcing. I suspect that this will make climate change a minor threat to mankind.

  13. TRG says:

    Just read your essay on “super tides and interglacials” over at WUWT. Very interesting discussion. Thanks very much.

  14. Colin Smith says:

    Hi, I am doing a research paper for university on temperature change and emissions per capita for several countries. I really like your temperature anomaly graphs however is there any way I would be able to access the raw data as I need to perform statistical tests on it. Any data would obviously be fully referenced.
    Thanks!

  15. Clive Best,

    I tried to locate a direct email address for you to send you something I just received that is germane to your theory about atmospheric saturation/evaporation/humidity as THE driver of atmospheric warming.

    The premise is: reduced evaporation rate due to a change in solar gamma radiation resulting in drier air (with less heat transfer) as well as reduced IR transmission/radiance into space.

    I could not find your email, and so I am including a portion of the document in this comment block.

    **************************************************

    Climate Change is the result of solar bi-flex. The term bi flex refers to the terminal
    exposure of the internal parts of the sun’s core itself to chemical and solar elements not
    usually associated with a star of this magnitude. Solar-Bi-flex occurs when elements of
    cesium and nitrogen combine to form dipoles of magnetic disruptions that retain enough
    heat to erupt as gamma rays and thereby expose (the Earths atmosphere) to excess gamma ray radiation.
    Gamma ray radiation, when absorbed by (the Earths atmosphere) causes water in
    (the Earths atmosphere) to fail to evaporate as it should. Consequently the water in (the
    Earths atmosphere) is losing its ability to become useable where it once could go as a gas
    that allowed cooling by evaporation processes mostly unknown to science.

    *******************************************************

    I Googled “graph humidity over time” to do a spot-check on the premise, and found a graph of yours, which lead me to your site, and I read your post about your theory, which sounds……sound…..to me, and so I thought you might like the info above.

    namaste

    Dave
    Seattle, WA – US

  16. Hello,
    I recently checked Roberto Madrigali’s meteoclima.net site and see that you’re now well represented there! All the best, Simon

  17. Ron Graf says:

    Clive,

    I just subscribed. If you have access to that email address now you can reply if you would allow me to send you some research coordinating information.

  18. Pingback: Untangling UK Wind power production | Energy Matters

  19. Pingback: L’ossigeno, la vita e un sistema che sì e no si accorge di noi | Climatemonitor

  20. ralfellis says:

    Re: Modulation of Ice Ages via Precession and Dust-Albedo Feedbacks

    A new paper proving that CO2 is a minor player in the drama that is the Earth’s climate.

    Abstract

    We present here a simple and novel proposal for the modulation and rhythm of ice ages and interglacials during the late Pleistocene. While the standard Milankovitch-precession theory fails to explain the long intervals between interglacials, these can be accounted for by a novel forcing and feedback system involving CO2, dust and albedo. During the glacial period, the high albedo of the northern ice sheets drives down global temperatures and CO2 concentrations, despite subsequent precessional forcing maxima. Over the following millennia CO2 is sequestered in the oceans and atmospheric concentrations eventually reach a critical minima of about 200 ppm, which causes a die-back of temperate and boreal forests and grasslands, especially at high altitude. The ensuing soil erosion generates dust storms, resulting in increased dust deposition and lower albedo on the northern ice sheets. As northern hemisphere insolation increases during the next Milankovitch cycle, the dust-laden ice-sheets absorb considerably more insolation and undergo rapid melting, which forces the climate into an interglacial period. The proposed mechanism is simple, robust, and comprehensive in its scope, and its key elements are well supported by empirical evidence.

    https://www.academia.edu/20051643/Modulation_of_Ice_Ages_via_Precession_and_Dust-Albedo_Feedbacks

    Sincerely,
    Ralph Ellis

    • Clive Best says:

      That looks very interesting. I think you may be right as the one missing link was the dust signal in the ice cores. Die off of vegetation in the NH due to low CO2 makes sense as the trigger for dust storms. Dust over ice sheets decreases albedo. Nice !

  21. Bob Peckham says:

    I would like to thank Ralph Ellis for pointing out this paper which for me has been the most interesting and intriguing article I have read so far this year!
    Naturally it raises quite a few questions. My first one stems from the final sentence which suggests that “the most effective way of controlling global temperature is through the modulation of soot particulates on ice sheets”.
    As it happens I have just finished reading “Travels through the Alps” by J. Forbes who travelled through the Alps in the mid 1800s, crossing passes and measuring the flows of glaciers. In this work it is very clearly and reliably reported that the maximum (recent) extension of Alpine glaciers occurred in about 1820. And we know they have been shrinking since then. So is it possible that the shrinking of Alpine glaciers was already being influenced by man’s activities in 1820 ? If so is it possible to quantify by how much ?

    • Clive Best says:

      Bob,

      I agree. This is the best new idea to explain the termination of ice ages that I have seen !
      The maximum extension of Alpine glaciers coincides reasonably well with a dip in UK temperatures where winters averaged only 3.5C. If the retreat in glaciers coincided with say rising soot pollution from coal fires, then I guess it should be possible to see this in the ice. I have no idea whether this has been looked at.

      cheers

      Clive

  22. bob Peckham says:

    Good point Clive. I just googled ” soot in Alpine ice ” and top of the list comes “How soot killed off the Little Ice Age” – and plenty of references to a paper in Nature from 2013.

    Seems we are the ones playing catch-up this time….

    Bob P.

  23. daveburton says:

    You do a lot of very nice work, Dr. Best!

    I’ve linked to your blog on my site, and also borrowed a quote from you.

  24. daveburton says:

    I attempted to post a comment on your 2012 article about Effective Emission Height, but I get an error: “Invalid security token.”

    • Nick Stokes says:

      I’ve benn getting that too. I believe it is caused by a JetPack… anti-spam program

    • Clive Best says:

      If you include any tags in a comment such as HTML then Jetpack simply deletes them. Any URLs should be pasted without tags.

      • daveburton says:

        Thank you, Nick & Clive.

        I deleted all HTML tags and still got the error.

        So then I deleted a couple of ndash HTML special-character entities, and that solved it.

        I don’t know whether deleting all of the HTML tags was actually necessary. I had used three HTML tags: a, b, i

        JetPack seems pretty awful!

        • daveburton says:

          I just sent a message to JetPack, reporting this problem.

          • daveburton says:

            I got the following reply from JetPack:

            From our testing, it seems to be specifically the ampersand character.

            We’re tracking the bug here:
            https://github.com/Automattic/jetpack/issues/2898

            Unfortunately it rarely comes up, so it hasn’t been prioritized for a fix yet. I’ll make a note of your ticket number there so we can let you know when its been fixed, but also to show it has affected your Jetpack use.

            Thanks!

            Lisa

            (Hmmm… it looks like blockquote works okay.)

Leave a Reply