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back to article 'Missing heat': Is global warmth vanishing into space?

New research from satellite man Dr Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and maintainer of the UAH temperature record, sheds some light on climate science's "missing heat" mystery. Climate models have predicted more warming than the instruments have measured – leading to various …

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Anonymous Coward

Erm...

Most of the global warming predictions rely heavilly on the greenhouse effect, don't they? So claiming that the predicted heat has escaped into space would be to say that the greenhouse effect either isn't happening as predicted or the models are wrong.

I'd be more inclined to believe that the people behind the models have been exagerrating the effect in order to strengthen either their argument that we should do something about global warming or their claims for funding. I'm hoping it's the former in which case they are merely concerned about the future of the planet. If it's the latter they are just in it for the money, in which case they're like most of the people on the planet.

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No

Aerosols, particulates, gases etc in the atmosphere can have 3 main effects on temperature (I am simplifying)

1) Increase - CO2, Methane

2) Nothing - Nitrogen

3) Decrease - Sulphur Dioxide

What has been discussed is why the temperature appeared to largely plateau in the 2000's (albeit, still at historically very high temperatures).

It looks as though the main reason is sulphur emissions by the Chinese.

So what you have are multiple different effects, on top of each other, with different causes. This doesn't mean that the effects do not exist, just that they can mask each other.

Essentially, that means that when the chinese clean up their coal production, temperatures are predicted to jump rapidly, as happened after Europe and the US cleaned up their coal in the late 70's and early 80's.

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By the way..

the greenhouse effect increases HEAT retention but heat != temperature. For example the same amount of energy might raise a cubic meter of air by x degrees or a cubic meter of water by y degrees depending on the Specific Heat of the materials involved. The more telling example is that ice at 0C will not change in temperature until sufficient heat has been added to melt the ice.

It just shows how complicated a picture it all is. It looks like it is difficult to calculate the balance of heat in v. heat out. Approximating the resultant temperature change must be a nightmare.

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3up, 3 down

(and counting) for a post which accurately summarises current thought on the subject.

Truely, el reg has some idiots who will vote against anything their beliefs don't allow.

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FAIL

that's a massive over simplification

You missed ozone a massive greenhouse gas sitting in the upper atmosphere and 25 years ago there was that blg hole bouncing all through energy straight off the polar caps right back into space. That hole has changed but i remember the initial global warming scares and at the time was a physicist and i also remember the revision of the data sets as it became apparent that global warming is/ was a lot more complex than "co2 and methane, aaargh we're all going to drown."

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Sky Dragon Slayers Got it Right

Forget the second option. It's more likely the 22 scientists and experts who wrote the book, 'Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory' are right after all.

They were mocked for saying it when the book first came out but now an ever increasing number of independent scientists are agreeing with them: there is NO GREENHOUSE GAS EFFECT. PERIOD

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Heat != Temperature

Correct.

That's why all models naffing around with temperature are broken.

I spent a while searching throu all the UEA code that was "released" searching for heat - particularly latent heat - modeling. I could not find anything.

Unless climatic models are modelling heat (and not temperature) they are of no scientific use. All they are is providing fake evidence for the great unwashed who don't understand the difference between heat and temperature.

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Anonymous Coward

@J Daly

If there were no greenhouse effect, we'd all be dead. CO2 retaining energy in the IR is GCSE physics and required for the planet to function.

Also, 22 scientists - of dubiously relevant skills - Vs all of the other climate scientists in the world, who to believe?

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Boffin

@DaWolf

It is also worth noting that the cooling effects of sulphur aerosols operate on a different timescale to the warming effect of greenhouse gases. IIRC, sulphate aerosols in the troposphere (which is where they usually will end up as a result of power station emissions) typically have a lifetime of around a week. Carbon dioxide's lifetime is measured in years, and methane's in decades.

What this generally means is that thigns are actually worse than they appear to be, because pretty much as soon as the power stations stop pumping out sulphates, the effect drops off, and Chinese coal is notorious sulphur rich. They also burn a lot of it.

As for being downvoted; you just have to accept that despite giving an accurate and correct explanation of the chemistry and physics involved, many people involved in the 'debate' surrounding global warming do not have a scientific education, so don't see the bigger picture. It is sadly human nature to be swayed more by soundbites than by facts.

For the record, I have degrees in Chemistry but work in the IT industry. I have no vested interests in green technologies or climate research, other than the desire not to see the human race severely fuck up the planet for ourselves. Pumping crap into the atmosphere whilst putting our fingers in our ears and shouting 'la la la' is just one way we are doing this.

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Joke

AH!

a chemist, so obviously a believer.

the trouble with you believers is you dont understand democracy.

nevermind all your facts!, look at all the votes big oil can buy. it's people power man!

HHOS

:-) makes you want to scream dont it

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 11:04

"Also, 22 scientists - of dubiously relevant skills - Vs all of the other climate scientists in the world, who to believe?"

So the physical universe is now a democracy is it? I think if you look back at the history of scientific research you will find any number of times where the majority have been in the wrong. This seems to particularly be the case where religion is concerned. Think Gallileo or Darwin, and global warming theory isn't too far from a religion.*

Generally speaking when anybody comes up with a new theory that argues against the currently accepted theory then the scientific community will not accept that theory. It's how science has always worked. Scientists should be completely rational and open minded people who can look at a new theory and accept it based purely on it's merits. Human nature being what it is, however, it's impossible for any human being to work this way.

* Firstly the believers don't require any evidence to support their belief and ignore any inconvenient evidence that argues against their belief. Secondly the powers that be use that belief to control the population. Sounds like a religion to me.

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Water Vapour

That's the real greenhouse effect. You don't need masses of ex engineers not being able to ski any more to prove it. Deserts at night rapidly lose heat heavy cloud cover retains it. Oh I forgot you people are allergic to things like SIM.

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FAIL

That's useful

So let's be clear then - when all the gloomy predictions of the global warming models fail abysmally to reflect the observed results, then voila! A new theory is pulled from a magicians hat! It's the sulphur!

There is observed evidence emerging all the time that utterly debunks the doomy predictions - the latest one being NASA's own report on heat radiation into space...

And as the UEA emails proved the climate models are utter rubbish anyway - they utterly corrupted the data to fit the proposed model..

So in summary - give it up.

The AGW movement is nothing more than 60's commies dressing up their anti capitalistic rages as pseudo earth hugging science... and just like regular communism, if implemented will generate hundreds of millions of dead people...

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, but

They're supposed to be in it for the science. Not for the lulz, the girls or saving Gaia. Corruption is inevitable when these are their motivations.

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Coat

Wha?

"Not for . . . the girls "

I clearly am involved in the wrong sort of science and have been attending the wrong sort of parties.

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Boffin

Re: Wha?

You should go to the parties with the finite improbability machines.

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Devil

I would but...

Most of the parties I go to, the women are already wearing no underwear.

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Unhappy

@AC

Downvote 'cos........The parties I go to, I have never found out if they do or not.

So downvote 'cos i hate you OK.

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Devil

Am I bovvered?

Ha, you're obviously going to the wrong parties ;)

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Mushroom

Or ...

... it could simply be that the models are totally wrong.

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Gordon is . .....

The models are made by climate scientists, so it's the scientists who are wrong.

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Coat

Heresy!

Mines the one with 2 points, 2 flats and a packet of gravel.

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Coat

Climate scientists make models?

Cool. Do you think they could make me one that looks like Kelly Brook?

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Paris Hilton

MOdels

Models may well be completely wrong - almost certainly very wrong and definitely not 100% correct.

Interesting to see the greater enthusiasm for dissing these scientists who can't find their heat than for scorning those than still can't put their fingers on their bosons, dark matter or antimatter.

There seems to be great certainty amongst the educated non-experts (although no unanimity) about this subject compared with other avenues of scientific enquiry.

Am I the only person who just doesn't know which lobby is right?

Paris to remind us that examining even a non-professional model can be worthwhile.

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Devil

There's a good reason for that..

Particle physicists who can't find bosons don't influence my governemnt to royally screw me with ever increasing 'green' taxes which might explain why they don't get 'dissed' when they break their latest doughnut.

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A new conservation law?

The conservation of hot air.

The more pundits who go on about climate change, the more atmospheric heat is turned into chatter. The only problem is that after you change stored energy into speculation, you have to keep speculating. If the hype every died down, it would turn back into rising temperatures again.

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Headmaster

"Warmists poured scorn on the veteran sceptic."

Let me fix that for you.

"Scientists poured scorn on the evangelical creationist."

(http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/)

You're welcome.

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lol

top post!

although i do sometimes feel bad mocking the hard of thinking, i mean it's a bit like standing infront of someone in a wheelchair and dancing.

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Dr Roy Spencer

Is on the Board of Advisors of the Cornwall Alliance, a creationist evangelical mob:

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/about/board-of-advisors/

Of course, that doesn't mean his analysis is wrong; but his scientific views are, shall we say, a little eccentric.

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Stop

Logic...?

"Of course, that doesn't mean his analysis is wrong; "

So why do you mention it then?

"but his scientific views are, shall we say, a little eccentric."

Ah... ad hominem. Pity.

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Understanding boost needed for Mr Knox

His claims to be an unbiased scientific observer are incompatible with his apparent belief that the Earth was created historically recently by a big white guy in a beard. His analysis may be correct (even a stopped clock is right twice a day), but the odds are against it.

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WTF?

Re: Chris Miller

Where do you get off implying that he has an "apparent belief that the Earth was created historically recently by a big white guy in a beard"?

There is a difference between the use of the word "creation" by religious types to describe the world, and the people who advocate a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I can't find anything to indicate that the organization in question has anything to do with Creationism. Did I miss something?

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its not an ad hom

The thing is Roy Spencer has appealed to having investigated the subject of evolution in detail scientifically:

"Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as "fact," I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism."

http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2005/08/faith-based-evolution.html

Something is wrong if you proclaim to have studied the issue as a PhD scientist and conclude that the theory of evolution is a religion.

Spencer is a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance which has "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming":

"We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/

And recently Spencer said: "I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government"

You have to worry that Spencer believes on faith that climate sensitivity is low because he thinks God wouldn't have made an Earth humans could dangerously harm themselves with through fossil fuel emissions, and is setting out to argue this because he sees it his job to prevent any solution which would involve the role of the government.

For all the crying skeptics do about funding of climate scientists, I think the above is a far more disturbing indicator of potential bias.

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Devil

@nomnomnom 23:42 - playing devil's advocate...

"the theory of evolution is a religion"

Is it not the belief's of a set of people, who also may practice within the confines of those beliefs?

From the dictionary: "the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices."

Seems to fit to me... and it isn't "science fact" at this time either.

Proper science "fact" requires that it be tested with the same results. So far no one has changed primordial slime into DNA let alone into a single-cell living creature. And panspermia simply moves the whole "didn't happen" to another location. This makes evolution still a "theory". I'm not going to debate its merits here though.

"... he thinks God wouldn't have made an Earth humans could dangerously harm themselves..."

Sounds like he should open his bible once in a while.

Just one scriptural example: Rev 11:18

... destroy them which destroy the earth. (AKJV 1611)

... and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth. (NWT)

That sounds to me like we (mankind) are considered to be ruining the earth in the scriptures...

Maybe he's not that kind of evangelist though?

Also... "God" who? That's a pretty generic word.

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Coat

Read the argument

There's no question the creationism and intelligent design are screwball concepts, but when you parse, AGW is just about as screwy as ID. So, while some of his ideas may be cockeyed, not even a majority of biologists can actually talk coherently about evolution with descending into ontological confusion. The question is not whether all of his ideas are screwy, just if this one is. Spencer's arguments are directed at recognized problems in existing GCMs having to do with atmospheric moisture, cloud formation, etc. He concludes sanely that satellite evidence strongly suggests that there really is no "missing" energy. That guarantees an attack from AGW theorists because implies they can't do their sums properly.

He isn't the only scientist to argue so either. In fact, contrary to the media-provided impressions one might develop, there is no general agreement among atmospheric scientists that a "greenhouse effect" theory is even necessary to understand climate, or in fact to explain earth's weather and average climate. There are physicists that are quite blunt in pointing out that the "physics" of current climate theory should mean that perpetual motion machines are possible. It might be best to regard the arguments and logic and not the men. We might actually form a consensus about what we don't know.

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@deegee

"the theory of evolution is a religion"

"Is it not the belief's of a set of people, who also may practice within the confines of those beliefs?"

No. It is a constructed hypothesis based upon observable and reproducible evidence, rather than a work of fantasy written by several authors several centuries after the supposed events took place.

I'm afraid I didn't read the rest of your post, as your first line is observable and reproducible evidence of it being drivel.

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FAIL

our survey said...

evolution is a theory

a theory inspired by close observation

occams razor

and finaly backed by _countless_ examples.

stuff changes, slowly, very slowly

the key word is EVOLUTION

not CREATION

bags of evidence

even ID is proof of evolution!

scripture is bunk, and with each passing day more and more of the 'outragous jewish folk tale about a snake and an apple' is demonstrated to be hokum.

so to keep the meme going, some creative (lol) creationists came up with intelligent design, lamely trying to hitch their hotch-potch bunch of borrowed superstition to the 'scientific method' juggernaut.

they are fooling no one - excepting those who were terminally gullible to start with.

get thee behind me kiddie fiddler!

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Hmmm...

So, if it wasn't a specifically Jewish folk tale, you wouldn't mind, yes?

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Yet another. . .

So you have decided to cope with the cognitive dissonance occasioned by the Climategate emails etc by pretending it never happened. Good strategy. It enables you to ignore the fact that the theory of global warming is built on cherry-picking of data (for example, from the "hottest tree in the world!) the undermining of scientific procedure and peer review, the falsification of data (hi James Hansen!), and in general more dishonesty than you will find in the health-supplements industry.

Or perhaps you too feel that the best way to address criticism of a purportedly scientific theory is to attempt to sue, for libel, the journal publishing the criticism?

Or do these things only matter when global warming is being challenged?

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@LoyalC 11:41

Perhaps you should have read the rest of my post...

"It is a constructed hypothesis based upon observable and reproducible evidence..."

It is not reproducible. That is 100% false.

Show me one documented and repeated case where scientists have created DNA from primordial slime, let alone then had it "evolve" into a single cell creature.

And the entire argument about "it takes millions of years" is also bogus.

I never said in my post that apples and snakes are the truth, but equally "evolution" from primordial slime or pangea, or evolutionary "species jumping" is just as equally not truth, nor is it "observable" or "reproducible". You've been lied to if that is what you believe.

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What is the falsifiable premise

of Evolution?

If you can't produce one, it might be right, it might be wrong, but it isn't science.

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Stop

Massive Health Warning

He's a kook, and a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance. Here is the first article of their declaration:

"We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."

Hmm. Not saying he's wrong with this research, but for me that hits his credibility pretty f*cking hard. For those too lazy to google:

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/about/board-of-advisors

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WTF?

But his science any good?

Because that's all that matters.

Look, three identical posts in 10 minutes.

The Hive Mind attacks!

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Meh

You're right - to a degree

"because that's all that matters"

Very true, and if/when the research is independently verified then I'll show a lot more interest.

However, tying yourself to a bunch of evangelical young-earth creationists does not, to my mind, give me confidence in Roy Spencer's critical faculties, or enhance his credibility as a rational, unbiased scientist. If the results had shown the opposite of what he claims to have measured, I very much doubt they'd have seen the light of day.

Fair point about the hive mind, that was a bit weird. If we start menstruating at the same time then I'll really start to worry.

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Stop

Notice the first line

"We believe" it begins. Therefore his judgement is clouded by belief. Belief is a dangerous thing for scientists - it suggests they might have certaInty about things that they haven't even seen, let alone measured. Difficult to separate his science from his absolute certainty, I would think. For all anyone here knows, his densely argued paper could have a tiny asterisk by the crucial point that refers to a note at the foot of the page which says:

"It was God what done it - see Bible for further details"

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Meh

Cornwall Declaration

Agreed that particular statement from the Cornwall Alliance contains some idiotic religious mumbo jumbo and deserves to be ridiculed. However I have no problem with the other 3 points in their declaration:

"2) We believe abundant, affordable energy is indispensable to human flourishing, particularly to societies which are rising out of abject poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that accompany it. With present technologies, fossil and nuclear fuels are indispensable if energy is to be abundant and affordable.

3) We believe mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, achievable mainly by greatly reduced use of fossil fuels, will greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.

4) We believe such policies will harm the poor more than others because the poor spend a higher percentage of their income on energy and desperately need economic growth to rise out of poverty and overcome its miseries."

Based on these points - they seem to have a much firmer grasp on reality than Chris Huhne & co at HM Department of Climate Change & energy - who worship at the alter of man-made climate change hysteria.

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So...

So, when you learned from the Climagegate ruckus that UEA has been refusing for years to let their data be scrutinized, you immediately reevaluated your opinion of their work and of global warming, right? Or need research only be independently verifiable when it conflicts with your opinions?

"If the results had shown the opposite of what he claims to have measured, I very much doubt they'd have seen the light of day." And if his results were the opposite of what they were and if he had published them anyway, you would have no problems with him, with his results, his CV, or any other opinions of anything else that he might entertain.

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Coat

Comment

Whether or not you believe in the greenhouse effect theory, or even whether global warming is actually happening (and I am personally a greenhouse sceptic) ...

...its is blatantly obvious from satelite imagery and rising sea levels that the polar ice caps ARE melting, more of the earth becomes desert each year and tropical storms are getting stronger and more frequent.

Remember the scientist who got slated for suggesting that we should be investing in adapting civilisation to suit the changing environment? I think he was making a reasonable point.

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blatantly wot?

"is blatantly obvious from satelite imagery and rising sea levels that the polar ice caps ARE melting, more of the earth becomes desert each year and tropical storms are getting stronger and more frequent."

a) The polar ice melts every year - the thirty-year low was reached in 2007, we only have instrumentation as far back as 1979. But the seaways were more navigable before, when there was even less ice:

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/northwest-passage-news-article.png

b) Desertification: there are also 50 acres of additional tropical rainforest for every acre cut down in the Amazon. The health of the biosphere is improving.

c) Tropical storm activity is at an all-time low. Ding!

http://coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

GRL:

"Tropical cyclone accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) has exhibited strikingly large global interannual variability during the past 40-years. In the pentad since 2006, Northern Hemisphere and global tropical cyclone ACE has decreased dramatically to the lowest levels since the late 1970s. Additionally, the frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low"

d) Satellite is spelled with two Ls.

Innit?

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