Interesting stuff, thanks. Do you intend to write the updated paper you mention at the end Eric?
[Response: At some point, yes. It’s not very inspiring work, since the answer doesn’t change, but i suppose it has to get done. I had hoped O’Donnell et al. would simply get it right, and we’d be done with the ‘debate’, but unfortunately not.–eric]
What factors are likely to be causing the Peninsula and West Antarctic warming? Previous articles and postings point to Southern Storm Track changes and intensification of individual storms. Sea surface temperature increases have also been implicated. Is there a role for aerosols as well?
[Response: Dave Schneider has a new paper in press on this, but it only explains what’s happening in Spring for West Antarctica. It’s in press in Climate Dynamics (here). Conventional wisdom is that intensified westerlies (Southern storm track, as you said, or the ‘Southern Annular Mode’) is driving Peninsula warming, but that explains at most half the story, and doesn’t explain why it has been happening for 100 years. I doubt aerosols are important here (air in Antarctica is pretty clean!). There is more work to be done, clearly.–eric]
I haven’t followed this issue in much detail but it’s interesting that a large degree of what’s going on in Antarctica isn’t just radiative but highly dynamical. Hopefully someone who knows what they are talking about chimes in but the variability in the high-latitude SH is influenced strongly by the SH annular mode (i.e. related to anomalies in the strength of the circumpolar vortex, the local tropospheric circulation). There’s been work showing that the decline of stratospheric ozone since the late 1970s may account for some warming in the peninsula region in the SH autumn and summer, which is linked to a positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode. This doesn’t really warm the Antarctic peninsula and there’s a mis-match in the seasons of predominant West antarctic warming and trends in SAM. There is a paper in pressreview from authors at UWashington (including Dr. Steig) that relates the warming to teleconnections between the Antarctic region and sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific. See Lachlan-Cope, T. & Connolley, W. Teleconnections between the tropical Pacific and the Amundsen-Bellinghausens Sea: Role of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, J. Geophys. Res. 111, D23101, (2006) for an interesting mechanism.
I don’t know a whole lot about the underlying dynamics here, but I think it’s neat. It also helps to think about how the global trend which is always radiative-forced is a lot easier to think about than regional trends! Presumably as the central tropical Pacific should keep warming those dynamic linkages would allow for persistence in the West Antarctic, but ozone recovery will matter too for other regions.
“… The primary sources for the observed iodine enrichment are likely to be biogenic processes in the ocean, but possibly also at the bottom of the sea ice which is a habitat for various algae species which are potentially emitting iodocarbons. However, it still remains unclear how the strong accu-
mulation of iodine on the snowpack occurs. Furthermore, it can only be speculated about the transport pathways of short-lived iodine compounds from the coast to inland Antarctica….
… IO present at these extraordinarily high concentrations in the snowpack interstitial air and in the atmosphere near the surface of the Antarctic shelf ice at Neumayer Station is expected to have a significant, if not dominating impact on photochemistry…. The formation of higher iodine oxides is likely to lead to the production of ultrafine particles….”
I stumbled over that paper after reading about increases in iodine in the Arctic from warming.
The reCaptcha AI awakens: “Iodogen mbfort”
I don’t have access to the O’Donnell et al paper. Does it state in the text that they use RegEM’s ‘iridge’, or does it include source code?
[Response: Yes, and yes. You can get O’Donnell’s code: here. You can also get the Supplementary Material, from which I got the last figure in this post, showing what happens when you use O’Donnell’s methodology but other values of their k_gnd. If you can get their code to work properly, let me know. It’s not exactly user friendly, as it is all in one file, and it takes some work to separate the modules.–eric]
Mr. Chris Colose writes on the 1st of February, 2011 at 12:56 PM :
“…a large degree of what’s going on in Antarctica isn’t just radiative but highly dynamical.”
I entirely agree, and would like to extend the statement: the important dynamics is in the warming oceans and the ice shelves and streams. This is slightly reminiscent of the situation in Greenland, except that as many have noted, Greenland glaciers can retreat for a time from the ocean, but Antarctica, both East and West have vasty deeps beneath where the ice is vulnerable. The ocean can deliver heat far faster than the air both as warmwater currents under the ice shelves, and rain as in Greenland. When I see reports of regular rain in East Antarctica, I shall know the end is nigh, and don my bathrobe and sandwich board.
[Response: I wouldn’t count on much rain in East Antarctica for some time there. I’ve been rained on in McMurdo of course….–eric]
J – If you overlay the volcano locations on the Antarctic warming, there is significant warming where there aren’t any volcanoes, and cooling where there are volcanoes, and warming and volcanoes only at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. Occam would say they aren’t correlated.
[Response: Sigh…. I’d put this in the “Bore Hole”, but perhaps one of our readers wants to explain something about the difference between watts/m^2 and milliwatts/m^2? [hint: I frequently ski on volcanoes; how the heck does the snow stay up there?] It might provide an object lesson, not to mention show why ‘jeffifermarohasy.com’ is not a credible source for anything.–eric]
“perhaps one of our readers wants to explain something about the difference between watts/m^2 and milliwatts/m^2?”
A few pictures are worth thousands of words:
Here’s a plot of geothermal heat flow. Note that the scale is in milliwatts per square meter, and that the highest levels are from ocean ridges, and most of Antarctica is less than 85 mW/m^2.
Here’s a plot of outbound longwave radiation. Note that the scale is in Watts per square meter, and that everything outside the 120 W/m^2 contour around the middle of Antarctica is more than 1000 times larger than the 120 mW/m^2 geothermal heat flux at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula from the first image.
Are you saying that there has been a surge in volcanic activity concurrent wioth the observed warming? I claim with an equal amount of evidence that there has been a significan decline in volcanic activity which has attenuated and masked the warming caused by GHG emissions.
A new paper with refined methods and four more years of data sounds very worthwhile to me. “It’s not very inspiring work, since the answer doesn’t change….” Surely it will change some, and this change and its rate matter.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 2 Feb 2011 @ 11:02 AM
I think you are making the mistake of misunderstanding the resolution to which these methods can be taken. You are looking at patterns in spatially autocorrelated data sorted by PC’s and making conclusions from them. IMO (from a lot of time spent) the small regions you are looking at are beyond the capability of these methods.
If your work happened to match the ‘trend’ of an expected region better than ours, it is only by pure luck as the data from S09 is simply smeared around – as can be seen from the low correlations and over representation of seasonal peninsular information across the continent. Our version just smears it around less. For instance, I don’t believe the little finger of warming from the peninsula into the continent we show is anything other than the boundary (node) of the eigenvectors that happens to visually follow the mountans, it could be true but how do we know?
If you really want trends for the Antarctic, I would humbly suggest just using the temperature station data that is available. Perhaps infilling using offset method provided on Roman’s statpad site. The satellite information provides little additional value for spatial distribution and only additional error for trend.
Of course that is just my opinion, my coauthors may feel differently. Ryan and Nic put a lot of time into investigation of different methods for improvement. As optimized as our results are, the process very clearly showed that these EM methods are limited and can lead to improper conclusions on small and large scales as well as large errors in result.
BTW, using closest station infilling with proper anomaly alignment should give you the satisfactory amount of warming for the West Antarctic you are looking for and is basically very difficult to argue with. The SI version didn’t make the cut through the review process.
[Response: It is a bit strange that your coauthors have spent so much time talking about the differences in the Ross Sea region, as if this somehow ‘refutes’ our work, and now you are saying that the methods simply can’t resolve such small areas. Whichizzit?
I think that one of the things that many readers will take away from your work is that these methods are simply too sensitive to parameter choices to be able to say anything. That’s Kevin Trenberth’s unhelpful comment when my paper came out: “It’s hard to obtain data where none exist” or something like that.” The problem with that — besides being demonstrably untrue — is that without these sorts of analyses, all that’s left is ‘interpolation by eye’, which is what everyone was doing for West Antarctica prior to our work. And to be clear again, a main point of my post is that you have *not* optimized the results properly. Our results can certainly be improved on, but unfortunately I don’t think you have been successful in doing that. As for the distance-weighting calculations, I agree that’s a reasonable thing to do, but the point of our paper was to use the *additional* information about spatial relationships that the satellite data provides. I think this is useful, and I think that your paper — with its very good agreement during the satellite era with weather forecast reanalysis products (NCEP2, etc.) demonstrates this very nicely. Cheers — eric]
Eric writes : “our work was to combine the surface temperature data available from satellites with the ~50 years of data from weather stations. The latter are generally considered more reliable and go back a full 50 years”
Would you mind explaining this? I was under the impression that many of the ground based stations were extremely problematic, continually breaking down and being covered in snow and ice.
Whereas satellite measurements, whilst having their own problems, are at least consistent and more likely to give reliable trends.
[Response: Ray makes a bunch of good points below on this. The major problem with the infrared satellite data is that it can’t see through clouds, so a lot of work goes into trying to mask out cloudy days. If it is getting cloudier as it gets warmer, then you’ll mask out more and more clouds over time, and damp the warming trend. That assumes that you have done your cloud masking correctly of course. It’s also true, however, that it is generally an *assumption* that the ground-based records are more reliable; there’s not much proof. Note that we did not use the automatic weather stations, which are the really problematic ones since there is no person regularly attending them (though in fact you get the same result from them as from satellites). –eric]
I take it from your comment that you have never had to use satellite data. First, there is the problem that most space missions are short on climatic timescales. Even the longest Earth-orbiting missions are of order a decade. This means that of necessity to obtain a record relevant to climate, you must splice together 3 or datasets from different instruments on different birds.
Second, the space environment is both nasty and dynamic. So your sensors themselves are always changing–degrading in the radiation environment or from extremes of temperature or simple aging. On the ground, when a sensor starts to age, you replace it. In orbit, you live with it.
Third, satellites are VERY expensive. This means there are never enough to give you all the measurements you want AND that instruments are always multi-purpose compromises. Oh, and launching a Coke can into orbit costs ~$10000, so your instrument better be tiny and light.
Fourth, there are no housecalls to satellites. You live with the performance the instrument gives you, and you can’t really tweak it to optimize performance.
Fifth, you have about 100 miles of atmosphere between you and what you are trying to measure, so you will always have distortion.
Sixth, a spaceborne instrument never measures quite what you want. For instance, you can’t measure temperature, so you have to measure brightness in a particular spectral band. You can infer temperature, but the results will always be model dependent.
I could go on…and on and on and on. However, that gives you some idea.
I agree with you that ” it’s interesting that a large degree of what’s going on in Antarctica isn’t just radiative but highly dynamical.”
I only want to add that the radiative and dynamical aspects are coupled with each other, and even on global average the dynamical feedback can contribute to the warming directly or indirectly. On regional scale the radiative fluxes at the TOA can not be balanced by themselves, but have to be balanced by in(out)-put dynamical energy transports. Maybe it is better to distinguish them by local and non-local.
[edit — details of our paper aren’t really appropriate to get into at the moment, as it is still in review –eric]
Eric writes : “If it is getting cloudier as it gets warmer, then you’ll mask out more and more clouds over time, and damp the warming trend.”
Are you now suggesting there is a 30 year cloud cover trend present over Antarctica? That would be a significant result in itself and until it is known one way or the other, then speculating on its existence would seem premature.
[Response: No, of course not. I’m just giving a ‘what-if’ example to explain how the trends might be affected. Of course, if it is getting warmer, it is because of warm air advection, and in West Antarctica that typically means cloudier, so there probably *is* a trend in cloudiness. However, we’ve looked at this and it does not appear to be very strong.]
Assuming that Earth based temperature sensing in the Antarctic gives a better *trend* seems unsupportable to me given the known problems with earth based measurement.
Ray regarding “Second, the space environment is both nasty and dynamic.”
Seems irrelevent to the point at hand. Do you believe satellite based measurement will give a better trend for warming over the Antarctic continent or not?
Finally to Eric and others, are you aware of any “satellite only” analyses of Antarctic warming?
[Response: This isn’t a matter of ‘belief’, it is a matter of evidence, and the evidence at hand doesn’t really allow us to answer the questions you are posing. We don’t know. As for analyses with satellites only, sure, there are many. Start with Comiso, 2002, in the Journal of Climate. The results are not substantially different from ours. The reason our analysis — and O’Donnell et al.’s — works at all is that there is high correspondence in both interannual variability AND trend in both the satellite data and the ground station data.–eric]
#20–Thanks for a nice (if apparently incomplete) summary. I know some folks who apparently believe that satellite data is perfect upon initial download–as well as that the UAH analysis of same is perfect, too.
Thank you for the impressive amount of detail in explaining the differences and commonalities between your and O’Donnell’s reconstruction of Antarctic temps and West Antarctica in particular.
I must say some of the statistics go a bit over my head, so please forget my simplistic assessment below.
First off, I understand that you conclude that the main difference in the two reconstructions is in the interpretation from the weather data from one station (Byrd). O’Donnell reconstructs a lower trend than you do, as you point out in the graph.
I don’t understand all the issues involved in reconstructing and calibrating that station’s record (or the Byrd AWS record next door), but the thing that troubles me is your remarks that Byrd \is the only record of any length anywhere in West Antarctica\ and your subsequent remark that
\only Byrd goes back beyond the satellite era\.
If the temperature reconstruction from before 1980 for all of West Antarctica is based on the record of a single station, which apparently also contains \lot of missing data\, then you can work with statistics whatever you (or O’Donnell) want, but common sense would tell me that you cannot possibly derive any conclusions for temperature trends for the whole of West Antarctica from that.
If you would discard the Byrd station data altogether, would you (or O’Donnell) still be able to claim anything about the temperature trends in West Antarctica before 1980 ? And if not, then are you both not walking a very thin line when claiming that West Antarctica is warming ‘significantly’ ?
[Response: Temperature variations change over characteristics spatial scales. Those spatial scales are not infinite, but they are not zero either. Our calculations are estimates based on information about that spatial scale taken from the satellite data.–eric]
Thanks for the reference to the Comso paper, but as far as I can see it doesn’t have anything to do with warming trends in the sense I was interested in.
It states “The objective of this study is to explore the spatial details in the teleconnections between SO and the anomalies in the Southern Ocean climate and in particular the anomalies of the Antarctic sea ice cover.”
To be fair, I guess you did say “start with” though.
Eric writes : ” The results are not substantially different from ours.”
According to the IPCC AR4, the Comiso paper finds that recent decades are associated with “cold anomalies over most of Antarctica”
Specifically it says this, “The positive phase of the SAM is associated with cold anomalies over most of Antarctica and warm anomalies over the Antarctic Peninsula (Kwok and Comiso, 2002a). Over recent decades, a drift towards the positive phase in the SAM is evident”
How can you interpret the IPCC’s assessment of their paper, “cold anomalies over most of Antarctica” as being “not substantially different from ours” when yours finds warming over most of Antarctica?
[Response: Tim, what is your point here? That I don’t know what I’m talking about? Or that you haven’t read either my paper or O’Donnell’s? None of your questions make any sense if you’ve read our work. To be clear: Comiso’s estimates of the temperature trends at the time of that work were based on a much shorter time period, and his cloud masking routine, which was later refined, evidently produced unrealistically large warming trends and cooling trends. His updated work agreed much better with the weather stations. This is all discussed in our paper.–eric]
On the space environment and its effect on satellite records, perhaps I need to be more clear. Radiation and other strains of the space environment cause sensors to degrade fairly rapidly. The more sensitive the sensor, the more rapid the degradation. As such, this limits not just the lifetime of the sensor, but the type of sensor one can fly and how well calibrated it is over its mission. In addition, there are single-event effects (cosmic ray strikes) that introduce noise into sensor measurements or which may invalidate chunks of data.
As to whether ground-based or land-based is better…you need both. They are complementary. However, if there is a problem with an instrument, it’s a whole lot easier to do something about it on the ground–even in Antarctica–than it is in space. What is more (although this is not true in Antarctica), oversampling can make the groundbased record much more reliable.
Ray : “On the space environment and its effect on satellite records, perhaps I need to be more clear.”
No you dont need to be more clear. You are arguing that gradual degredation of satellite sensors is more problematic than sporadic icing over of temperature sensors, breakdowns and extreme sparseness of sensors in the East Antarctic interior.
[Response: Please stay civil, both of you. Tim, your points are valid about icing sensors etc. Ray is being a bit pedantic and overstating the problems with satellites, but he’s not entirely off base either. Bottom line is that measurements in extreme environments are difficult and their are problems with *both* these tools. Hence the importance ;) of both Steig and O’Donnell’s work to try to use information from both. –eric]
Eric, thank you for your response.
I understand that the post-1980 satellite data provides the spacial scales over which area the data from a weather station can be considered relevant.
However, my concern is with the fact that the Byrd station is the ONLY station data available in West Antarctica before the satellite era, and that your assessment of significant warming (before 1980) is based (only?)mostly on that one station.
I just imagine the scenario that the guy who was in reading the Byrd thermometer back in the 1950’s may have had a habit of rounding down between the resolution lines on the analog thermometers (probably in the range of a few tens of a degree), and that his human emotional bias of “see how much I’m suffering here in the mids of winter” now shows up on the front page of Nature as evidence that West Antarctica is warming..
Please do not get me wrong, I am a scientist myself and in great admiration of what climate scientists are accomplishing in the face of intense critisim from non-scientific sources. Still, you should admit that a single data point (although better than none) is not a good basis to draw any ‘significance’ conclusions for half a continent, and you would actually turn me into a ‘skeptic’ if you would think otherwise. Especially since trend dispute (0.1 C/decade) that you and O’Donnell talk about are an order of magnitude smaller than the standard deviation in the Byrd data (which seems to be in the order of 1 C).
In that regard, can you please address my question more directly : If you would discard the Byrd station data altogether, would you (or O’Donnell) still be able to claim anything about the temperature trends in West Antarctica before 1980 ? And if not, then are you both not walking a very thin line when claiming that West Antarctica is warming ‘significantly’ ?
[Response: If you discard Byrd, you still have covariance information with all the other stations. As O’Donnell et al. say in their paper, their results don’t actually depend much on Byrd. However, I agree that without any data Byrd, both our results and O’Donnell’s would be at *subjectively* less compelling. Whether they would be *objectively* less compelling depends on the goodness of fit of statistics, and whether the those statistics are stationary. With no stations for verification in West Antarctica, it would be impossible to test stationarity, but one could still put confidence levels on the calculations with the caveat that stationarity is assumed. The reality of course is that we do have Byrd, we also have the borehole data, and we have the fact that very minor changes to the parameter choices made by O’Donnell et al. are in better agreement with those independent data sources.–eric]
If a sensor ices over, it will eventually thaw. (Note temperature control can be a significant issue for satellites as well.) If it breaks, you can replace it on a timescale of months and a cost of a few thousand dollars. It will also be obvious that something is wrong with it.
You can count on none of these things with satellite data. If a satellite loses thermal control, you lose the bird. If the instrument breaks, game over. And replacing it will take 4-10 years and cost millions.
I am not saying satellite data are not useful, but they complement rather than replace ground measurements.
[Response: Yes, but Ray, the satellite data *we* used didn’t break down. We have 30 years of continuous records now. You’re greatly overstating the problems.–eric]
I appreciate your honesty in confirming the influence of the Byrd station as pivotal in the determination of ‘significance of warming’ for West Antarctica in the 50 year reconstruction. Also, I find it admirable of you to mention not just your critisim of the methods used in O’Donnells findings, but also the common conclusions, and the benefits of their methods (more accurate during the satellite era, and confirmation of the NCEP and ERA product data).
Your honest and scientific analysis of the O’Donnell findings is a relief compared to the overblown ‘victory’ reports of the O’Donnell paper on the ‘contrarian’ web-sites, where O’Donnell’s paper was hailed as a ‘debunking’ of your findings.
In the end, since the conclusions from you and O’Donnell are not really far apart at all, I think that the actual warming rate of West Antarctica is in effect marginally important.
In all, I found yours and O’Donnell’s papers facinating, not just because both your papers find consistent results that West Antarctica is warming, but because (for an outsider like me) it shows how little the results differ between two teams that are obviously in competition with each other.
Thus, it shows that skepticism in climate science is alive and well, and in that regard, your hard work to defend your findings and put perspective on the differences with O’Donnell’s work are more significant for public perception than you may want to believe. For me personally, thank you for the perspective, since I’ll be more informed when debating with ‘skeptics’ on the contrarian web sites (which is what I do in my spare time).
Belated congratulations on your Nature publication, thank you for your post, and please keep up the good work. Incidentally, what will be your next subject of research ?
As for next line of research well, we have two or three independent data sets that demonstrate the significant warming at Byrd is real and widespread, a couple explaining the origin of the Antarctic Peninsula warming, and a few other things. The major thing, however, is the new deep ice core which we just completed drilling to 3331 m. –eric]
Rob (#29) says: \Please do not get me wrong, I am a scientist myself and in great admiration of what climate scientists are accomplishing in the face of intense critisim from non-scientific sources. Still, you should admit that a single data point (although better than none) is not a good basis to draw any ‘significance’ conclusions for half a continent, and you would actually turn me into a ‘skeptic’ if you would think otherwise. Especially since trend dispute (0.1 C/decade) that you and O’Donnell talk about are an order of magnitude smaller than the standard deviation in the Byrd data (which seems to be in the order of 1 C).
I’m with Rob all the way on this. His is the only blog comment so far in this trail that brings us smack up against reality: How on earth can people be arguing (one way or the other) about a trend of the order of 0.1degC/decade when the data has a standard deviation of the order of 1degC? It just defies all common sense.
C’mon all you guys, we are in danger of having a fierce (although pleasingly polite) discussion about how many angels can dance on the point of a needle – when what most people out there want to know is whether there is any evidence at all that the Antarctic has warmed overall over the past half century. Answer not significantly – so end of (important) story, surely?
[Response: You are making a fair enough point — that O’Donnell and I seem to be arguing about seemingly unknowable thing, but note that your estimate of the trend and variance is off by a factor of five. The variance is indeed 1, but the trend about 0.4, significant at p< .001 --eric]
Eric, My intent is not to denigrate the importance of satellite data. Far from it. It is absolutely essential. Rather, my intent is to highlight the fact that even when things go perfectly, satellite data are not easy to interpret. That is true whether your instruments are pointed at Earth or at a gamma-ray burst.
In any Earth-related observation, terrestrial data will complement satellite data, and each will pose their own difficulties. Scientists know how to use imperfect data, regardles of its source. The question is how long some poor grad student or post doc is going to have to sweat over the data to make sense out of it
I have concentrated on the difficulties of interpreting satellite data becuase 1)I work on satellites in my day job; 2)Tim was saying the satellite data were of necessity better and more reliable. I’m merely sayin’ “‘Taint so.” My goal when I am working on a satellite is to keep the poor grad stuedent’s from consigning me to perdition more than about once a month.
Eric says (response to my #33): You are making a fair enough point — that O’Donnell and I seem to be arguing about seemingly unknowable thing, but note that your estimate of the trend and variance is off by a factor of five. The variance is indeed 1, but the trend about 0.4, significant at p less than 0.001
Thanks for you interesting reply. But in fact it was not me but Rob who asserted that both you and O’Donnell talk about a trend dispute of 0.1degC/decade. It would be interesting to hear from Rob why he used that figure and whether he now accepts your much larger trend figure of 0.4degC/decade.
[Response: Whatever — you said “I’m with Rob all the way”. Anyway, Rob is right — the *dispute* is about 0.1°C, because both sets of calculations underestimate the real actual observed trend.–eric]
The south pole during Antarctica’s polar winter provides a great contrast to the wind and temperature asymmetries generated by oscillations on the peninsula and west Antarctica . During the south pole winter without incoming shortwave radiation, there is a steady cooling as longwave radiation exports energy. Surprisingly from the end of March to the end of July the temperatures do no drop more than 2 degrees C. This is because an upper level supply of warm air is advected poleward. Due to the inversion layer of cold stable air their is insignificantly little vertical mixing at the pole. Thus the heat budget during the winter at the south pole is relatively the most simple to analyze Using the temperature data from Amundsen-Scott we see there is a heat budget equilibrium from March thorugh August which varies for the years 1955 to 1976 from -55 to -57. From 1977-2010 those winter lows have dropped -2 C on average- varying from -57 to almost -60.
If CO2 was increasingy holding more heat in the cold air mass at the pole it should be warming. If the poleward advected air mass held more moisture or CO2, it should be warming. The cooling trend also would suggest that the cooler air might move coastward more quickly and thus draw in a greater amount of upper level warm air to to replace the colder air flow towards the coast , but in contrast it is still cooling. The southpole winters suggest something very different is affecting it that overpowers any possible CO2 attribution.
Using south pole cooling trend as a background heat budget,the rising temperatures in the west Antarctica can on;y be attributed to changes in asymmetrical heat distribution through oscillations such as the SAM, etc
[Response: Yes, dynamics dominates; I agree with you entirely there. But using South Pole radiative budget as a way to estimate the heat budget everywhere else is problematic. That is, don’t conflate South Pole with all of Antarctica. CO2 is globally quite well mixed, so this isn’t in question. As you said (but I’m just trying to make it a bit clearer here), the question is whether dynamics (air mass advection) or other radiative influences (e.g. ozone) overwhelms it. I agree that at South Pole, it obviously does, and I think this is also the case for West Antarctica, but the argument doesn’t follow directly from the South Pole observations. Our original paper makes it very clear that we think it is dynamics, and we articulate a mechanism. A major point we make is that the structure of the dynamical changes in wave-3 like, not wave-1 like. That is, it’s not the SAM.
Note that SAM has no trend in winter or spring, so this obviously cannot account for the winter cooling at Pole. Incidentally, the the ‘cooling trend’ at Pole has never been statistically significant and is now gone, at least in the annual mean. In fact, the 1st or 2nd warmest summer on record at South Pole is 2009 or 2010 last time I checked (though 1958 or 1959 may be warmer, slightly). –eric]
I am curious what you think would cause the south pole’s winter cooling trend. I agree it is not likely SAM related. I also doubt it is ozone related as correlations seen with ozone and coastal temperatures are not similarly observed at the pole or McMurdo or Halley stations. I am also sure that a statistically significant cooling trend is absent for the annual trend although that may depend on the time frame, but at the pole for the winter months it appears quite significant. The warm summers you mention are undoubtedly related to advection and disturbed vertical motions that are connected to the SAM. But I hesitate to read to much into such short term jumps since much of Antarctica is subject to foehn wind storms that can lead to 30+C rises within 24 hours.
The only similar cooling trend I observe is the declining solar trend since 1959.
[Response: I don’t know what the answer is to the winter cooling — I agree it is statistically significant. There is probably some literature on this, but I’ve not looked into it much. We actually talk about this a bit in our 2004 paper in J. Climate (Schneider, Steig and Comiso), but only indirectly (look for the stuff on ‘blocking events’). More work needs to be done on this, for sure! (And the sun is a total red herring of course — remember, there is no sunlight in winter in Antarctica, and in general the lure of solar forcing usually turns out to be of dubious merit.)–eric]
Ray writes : “Tim was saying the satellite data were of necessity better and more reliable.”
And I maintain satellite data is MUCH better and more reliable in the context of this conversation. And the context of this conversation is determining temperature trends in Antarctica.
None of your points even *begin* to compare to the problems and shortcomings of the Antarctic land based measurements. As others have stated, pre-satellite data includes just ONE station upon which the result hinges. And that station has problems of missing data and icing over of the thermometer.
One last thought. Although many cooling trends elsewhere can be attributed to changes in the wind directions and thus source of winds ie land vs ocean, I think that the cooling trend at the south pole would a very significant piece of the climate puzzle. Simply because of all the places on earth, trends in the long winter on the south pole would be most free from known dynamical effects. And this would be especially true for understanding the degree of CO2 inhibition of longwave energy loss.
More research seems to focus on the warming spots, such as Schneider’s 2010 work looking at just spring temperatures. Although very insightful, it is really only half, actually, 1/4th of the climate phenomenon. With a declining input of shortwave as observed via sunspot, and other solar proxies, I could justifiably conclude that there is a general global cooling trend with a dynamically induced warming trend that is superimposed, and likely due to the ocean’s “heat memory” that is then re-distributed by various Rossby waves.
This conclusion is further supported when I look at Epica CO2 data since 7-8000 years BP there is a steady rise from about 260 to 280. However in the Arctic from GISP2 temperature reconstructions I see a cooling trend that is in complete contradiction to the predicted effects of the CO2 trend. The GISP2 cooling trend is punctuated with periodic warmings, which would be expected in a dynamic oceanic climate. So again I must conclude that not only is the west Antarctic warming all dynamical but so it is very likely that most if not all the global warming trends.
A sustained global warming trend cannot be sustained dynamically, especially in the modern climate, unless you can find a way to permanently shift the mean albedo to a new state. This is especially clear when you look at the fact heat is going into the ocean and the direction of the TOA imbalance. There are interesting aspects to the bi-polar see saw pattern and ocean dynamics for abrupt climate change in the near past (see my post here on the Younger Dryas and LGM events); there are also interesting hypotheses concerning stochastic resonance (basically threshold processes in the presence of noise) which might be relevant to D-O events. Dr. Steig will be far better informed on the current state of these subjects, but your final conclusion in 40 does not follow and is demonstratably untrue in the modern case.
Purely radiatively, I think the “well-mixed” nature of CO2 is a bit overrated. It sure makes concentration measurements easier, but the radiative forcing and spatial response to that forcing from CO2 is not uniform. Over Antarctica, the TOA forcing for a doubling of CO2 can be much less and the surface forcing can be more than other regions. As Jianhua Lu noted, this is not completely separate from the dynamics, and he some papers (especially with Ming Cai) on the subject.
[Response: A good point. Even though CO2 is well-mixed, the corresponding radiative forcing is not, because the radiative forcing depends on the vertical temperature profile (among other things). In the Antarctic winter, this is an especially important issue, because of the strong surface inversion. –raypierre]
Chris (#41) “A sustained global warming trend cannot be sustained dynamically, especially in the modern climate, unless you can find a way to permanently shift the mean albedo to a new state.”
I agree that dynamically the trend sustained by a “static” ocean heat memory would not last much more than 40 years a la the models investigating natural variability showing .4C degree trendsfor 40 years ie Wigley et al 1990 . The trend in OHC via Argo will be telling which has greater impact: cooling solar or rising CO2.
Eric writes : ” Whether they would be *objectively* less compelling depends on the goodness of fit of statistics, and whether the those statistics are stationary.”
What arguments do you have that the statistics are indeed stationary?
[Response: Tim: No offense intended but please (please) read our paper, and O’Donnell et al. too, before asking me more questions at this level of detail. The short answer is that split verification statistics provide this evidence.–eric]
[Response: Are you honestly telling me you’ve been asking all these questions and you have *not* read the papers? Really?! GO TO THE LIBRARY (but in any case I’ve just emailed you a copy, probably breaking some law or other in doing so)–eric]
Eric writes : ” Are you honestly telling me you’ve been asking all these questions and you have *not* read the papers?”
If I had the papers to read then perhaps I could skip by some of these questions. Just “going to the library” every time I need to look up a paper isn’t really terribly practical unfortunately.
Thanks for sending it along though! Much appreciated.
Its just that you said “With no stations for verification in West Antarctica, it would be impossible to test stationarity” so if its impossible to test, then I figured you must have reasons for making the assumption. So one last question before reading the paper, is it impossible to test or not?
@Jim(#37 and #40) Re: cooling trend at South Pole.
Jim, During the Antarctic winter, the Antarctic polar vortex forms. Like any cyclone, it prevents heat from reaching the center. Since the cyclone rages at near stratospheric altitude, and pulls air down from that level, and surface temperatures in the center of the vortex can thus get frightfully low.
Knowing this, one can easily imagine a number of reasons of a lowered South Pole temperatures during Antarctic winter, such as changing location of the center of the vortex, or it’s strength, both of which depend on a large number of chaotic factors.
However, there is one reason that you may find interesting since it is related to GHG concentrations. If you imagine the polar vortex as a cyclone that is essentially thermally isolated from the outside (apart from radiation), then it’s not hard to imagine that increased GHG concentrations will increase radiation to space, and thus cool down the area inside the vortex during the duration of winter months.
I am not sure if there have been any studies done on this effect, or if there are any other effects that would significantly offset it, but physically I find it very plausible that the increase of CO2 and methane concentrations could explain the cooling of the center of the polar vortex during the winter months.
When you want to know if your kid has a fever, do you use a good ol’ mercury or alcohol thermometer or do you stand across the room with an IR sensor? What you seem not to understand is that no data set is perfect. The question is whether it is usable. If there are small gaps, you can fill them in. If there are unreliable readings, you can filter them out. Antartica is the toughest place on Earth for this kind of analysis as it is one of the few places on the planet that is undersampled rather than oversampled. However, that does not mean that the temperature time series carry no information. Again, what I am saying is that the datasets are complementary. You will get a more complete picture if you use both rather than either one. And they are independent, so the chances of spurious agreement in the trends are small.
I find myself agreeing with SM. It is nice to have a thread that is dominated by actual SCIENTIFIC controversy. And I would notice that while there is substantial disagreement, there is nowhere near the level of vitriol does not even approach the level where the disagreement is politically dominated.
[Response: Ray, thanks! I’ve said many times directly to the authors of O’Donnell et al. that I think they did a nice job with the paper. I mean it, despite my problems with it. Perhaps that is helping here.–eric]
TTTM, the papers are easy to find. You know how to do it.
For anyone who’s never learned, here’s the easy way (the middling hard way is to email the corresponding author and ask for a copy, they’re allowed to send personal copies by most publishers’ agreements):
Paste the cite into Scholar’s search box,
[at this point note whether other papers have cited that paper]
click the ‘all … versions’ link,
look for a PDF or HTML.
For the two discussed here, that finds among other copies:
arrrrgh. The blog software has edited the “cited by” and “view as” links I tried to post so as to break them — it appears they now point back to this thread. Sorry about that. If you find links with those words on them with a Scholar search they will work.
Eric, I think it’s much easier to remain civil when both positions are evidence/reality based. When one side has all the evidence, the only option open to the other side is to cast aspersions on how the evidence was gathered and by association, the gatherers.
I think that this serves as a great example of “normal” science. It is not that the participants are dispassionate automatons. They will argue their positions passionately, but the positions must be based on evidence.
However, even more than being “right” the ultimate goal is to understand the phenomena under study.
That said, I’d praise both sides for sticking to the evidence.
For Rob #48 “it’s not hard to imagine that increased GHG concentrations will increase radiation to space, and thus cool down the area inside the vortex during the duration of winter months.”
Rob it is actually very hard for me to imagine your scenario especially because it completely contradicts the whole CO2-warming theory.
[Response: Actually not. It’s often forgotten that infrared opacity is only half of the story of how greenhouse gases affect the temperature of atmospheres and the surface. The other (and equally important) half is vertical temperature structure, which determines the energy flow. When the ground is much colder than some part of the atmosphere, it is theoretically possible for increased CO2 — or any other greenhouse gas — to cool the atmosphere while warming the surface. This happens because when the surface is very cold, there isn’t much upwelling IR to absorb, but increasing CO2 increases the IR cooling, both to space and to the ground. I’m not saying that the Antarctic winter surface is actually cold enough to be in this regime — I haven’t run the numbers — but radiative transfer is a very versatile tool, and can give rise to a surprising variety of phenomena. By the way, back when I was first teaching myself about radiative transfer, I published an example showing how increased greenhouse gases can cool at atmosphere. That’s in my JAS “Radiator Fins” paper, available through my publications site. –raypierre]
Vortices on other planets such as Venus are ever changing and completely dynamical. Also compare the vortex in the Arctic which is more broken up by Rossby waves and thus leaving the Arctic winters much warmer than the Antarctic winters. Steig’s paper as well as others argue that a train of Rossby Waves originating in the Pacific near New Zealand are bringing warmth into the west Antarctic sector. I think that is likely very true. However those waves if anything would disrupt and weaken the vortex, and then more likely increase temperatures. So I do not see it as reasonable explanation for the significant cooling of the south pole in the winter half of the year. There have been trends noted with the time of break up of the vortex and ozone, but that is mostly a spring phenomenon and does little to explain the winter cooling trend. I was hoping Eric had some greater insight but he seems unable to explain that cooling trend either.
Sometimes when your main tool is a hammer the whole world is nail. I just don’t see a reliable CO2 connection to the cooling. It reminds me of how despite Trenberth 1999 concluding. ““With higher average temperatures in winter expected, more precipitation is likely to fall in the form of rain rather than snow”, yet recently everyone in the media and some scientists are now trying to connect CO2 to recent increased snow. I suppose that is a normal reaction to defend an accepted theory, but reality suggests looking for an additional tool of analysis.
raypierre said ” it is theoretically possible for increased CO2 — or any other greenhouse gas — to cool the atmosphere while warming the surface.”
But that is is exactly my point. The air mass ~500-1500m above the surface of the southpole is downwelling IR to the surface as well as to space. Agreed. The downwelling IR is exactly what maintains the steady 6 month winter temperatures that ony vary by about 2 degrees all season but that would otherwise drop by 1-2 degrees/day! – due to outgoing IR from the surface. Increased CO2 in that ~500-1500m air mass then should increase downwelling IR and thus contribute to surface warming. Yet the southpole surface temperature is significantly cooling in the winter half year.
@Jim(#54) “Rob it is actually very hard for me to imagine your scenario especially because it completely contradicts the whole CO2-warming theory.”
You are right Jim. I realized this after I posted. ‘raypierre’s reply is of course correct in general, but a temperature profile where the stratosphere would be warmer than the upper troposphere is indeed ‘hard to imagine’, especially in the Antarctic polar vortex.
I’ll think a bit more about other effects, but so far I’m with Eric. I do not know what could cause a cooling of the South Pole in winter. What do you think could cause it ?
Richard, I felt the same thing you do when I posted my response.
Until now, I still feel that the Byrd station data is a thin line to walk to draw conclusions of ‘significant’ warming in West Antarctica over the past 50 years, especially since previous papers (based on 30 years of satellite data) reported a mild cooling trend.
Still, please read Eric’s reply very carefully, since he put a lot of information in there, which ultimately convinced me that West Antarctica is warming, although I’m not so sure that the uncertainty margin (especially for the period before 1980) is accurate.
Also, please understand that O’Donnell’s team is in direct competition with Eric’s team, and for me as an outsider, that tells me that if there was something fishy going on that O’Donnell would have found it. However, the result of both Eric’s and O’Donnell’s papers is consistent, and both studies are again consistent with more recent observations : West Antarctica is indeed warming.
It would actually be strange if any one of these researchers would conclude otherwise, since many other observations (such as glacier retreat and speed-up and ocean temperature analysis) show the same pattern, warming starting at the Antarctic Peninsula, and working it’s way towards the interior.
Like Eric I really can’t say what are the causal factors for the southpole cooling. The south pole cooling is curious especially with such dry air, it should be very sensitive to any forcings. The dynamics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave certainly deserve more attentions and I believe would mesh well with Eric’s west Antarctica work.
Comparing weather stations does not gives us a long enough picture. I believe Jones did not even include Antarctica data in generating global trends (but maybe he used the Orcada data?). Anyways the Chinese and Australians did several joint ice core drillings to use ice core date from which Zhang 2002 wrote a paper “Temperature Variation and its Driving Forces over Antarctica”. Those cores give a picture of great variations.
In the past 50 years within the Lambert Glacier basin had temperatures rising in the eastern part, while cores on the Mizuho plateau, Kamp Land and western Lambert Glacial Basin show cooling or no trend in the past 50 years.
In contrast from 1850-1950 the Mizuho cores show warming, as do cores from Hercules Neve (just south of the western Ross Sea), Law Dome While the four sites, Darlinger Dome, Siple, T340, (in the Peninsula region) and DT001(180 degrees from the peninsula) all show cooling trends from 1850-1950. But the peninsula has been one of the most rapidly warming areas recently.
Zhang suggests that the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave shifts weather patterns along the coast areas by ~90 degrees on ~150 year time spans. While on scales of ~50 years large scale terrain effects such as major drainage basins may be the bigger climate factor.
However the ACW may have little to directly do with the more inland and southpole trends. The southpole cooling trend may simply reflect the same general cooling trend seen in the Arctic for the past ~9000 years but just insulated from dynamical ocean and wind forcings.
“While most of the Earth warmed rapidly during recent decades, surface temperatures decreased significantly over most of Antarctica. This cooling is consistent with circulation changes associated with a shift in the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). It has been suggested that both Antarctic ozone depletion and increasing greenhouses gases have contributed to these trends.
We show that a climate model including the stratosphere and both composition changes reproduces the vertical structure and seasonality of observed trends. We find that the two factors have had comparable surface impacts over recent decades, though ozone dominates above the middle troposphere.
Projected impacts of the two factors on circulation over the next fifty years oppose one another, resulting in minimal trends.
In contrast, their effects on surface climate reinforce one another, causing a departure from the SAM pattern and a turnabout in Antarctic temperatures, which rise more rapidly than elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.”
“Why are responses from one of the co-authors not being posted? That seems counter productive.”
Two of the authors RyanO and JeffID are posting at ClimateAudit.org and Wattsupwiththat.com
Hey Eric – why don’t you go and debate this at ClimateAudit.org? At least then we will all know the comments are not being censored.[edit for insulting remarks].
[Response:Know what? I have a day job. And those guys know perfectly well I do not read those sites without a good reason to, and telling me I have ‘explaining to do’ doesn’t rise to that level. If they have scientific points to make, they should make them here.–eric]
Comment by ThinkingScientist — 7 Feb 2011 @ 5:24 PM
Did someone send an invitation to the loons? Looks like the bore hole will be opening up
[Response: No, they invited themselves. as usual.–Jim]
Eric, I guess civility has been thrown out of the window. To quote O’Donnell talking about you:
“There are not enough vulgar words in the English language to properly articulate my disgust at his blatant dishonesty and duplicity.”
“Fool me once, shame on you. But twice isn’t going to happen, bud.”
So forget about communicating with him, he thinks you are blatantly dishonest.
So the biggest complaint is that Steig intentionally forced ODonnell, in a review comment, to use a result that he could later criticize by saying it underestimated the trend. But is it the case that both underestimated the trend and that ODonnell’s use of station data had pitfalls either way, it’s just that Steig’s suggestion was the “most likely”? Not sure what the answer is here. This appears to be another example of dragging scientific arguments out into the open to make a scientist look bad (Oh how surprising!) But I would like at least the scientific complaint to be addressed, if possible.
[Response: I haven’t bothered to go read what is evidently being written about me, but if this is an accurate description um.. you’re kidding right? I’m now being blamed for their writing a lousy paper? Really? If this weren’t so sad it would be hilarious!–eric]
[Response: If said co-author could stick to the point at hand, said co-author would get listened to.–eric]
Given you have criticised their paper surely it is better to allow the co-authors’ comments to stand out of courtesy and fairness, even if you think they are avoiding the point. By moving Jeff Id’s response to the Bore Hole it just makes it look to outsiders as though you can’t take criticism.
I have RC in the past against some of the the flack it gets elsewhere but this makes it more difficult.
[Response: The only thing that was moved to the Borehole was off topic snark referring to Mike Mann’s earlier work. Jeff knows full well that any on-topic scientific comments will be posted here if he writes them. I’ve seen nothing come through since then, so this is a complete fabrication.
P.S. I’m not really interested in more unsolicited advice on how to respond to someone calling me ‘duplicitous’.–eric]
I have read the piece here in RC regarding Antartic temperatures and also read the pice by a Jeff Id. I do not know who these people are but there seems to be a real disagreement about scientific method and who said what – but its is beyond my understanding.
Mr Id seems somewhat agrieved on a number of points that he feels a very important. One is whether a reviewer of his paper was actually one of the people who’s methods were being challenged (is this correct, is it “normal” practice or does he have a point?). Secondly, he takes issue with processes and statements and the way he has/is being treated.
Any chance that someone could clarify these points for me?
[Response: It would be entirely normal for an editor to send a paper criticizing someone’s work to that person, for their opinion. You just wouldn’t want that opinion to be the deciding factor, which is why normally you’d get several other reviewers; this is presumably the case here. Reviews, however, are usually confidential and anonymous. As for our ‘treatment’ of Jeff Condon, he hasn’t written anything here lately so I really don’t have any idea what he is talking about.–eric]
Let me see, the title of the recent posts at CA are:
Now compare those with the title of this post– telling is it not? And McIntyre has just attended a “reconciliation” workshop in Lisbon….well that was apparently just some window dressing on his part…
Accusations of ‘duplicity’ McIntyre is laughable, seriously– he must be deluded. Moreover, it very clearly demonstrates that Stephen McIntyre and JeffId have no interest whatsoever in engaging in good faith. This is a power game for them, an attempt to feed fodder to the “skeptics” and another attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill by Stephen McIntyre– times are hard, their “reach” declined rapidly and has now plateaued after the SwiftHack debacle. So they are clearly trying to fabricate some “denialist chum”.
The CA gang are trying to bait Steig into a food fight and are trolling for ammunition to use against Steig– don’t fall for it Eric. You and O’Donnell can publish side-by-side comments in the journal which speak to these issues. That is the appropriate forum, not internet blogs.
If people do insist on a blog, then they need to go to a neutral venue and have it out– might I suggest Bart Verheggen’s, and that rule for engagement be spelled out clearly.
In the interests of trying to reach some common ground, how about a demonstration of the sensitivity to modified trends at some selected stations used for this analysis? I have found it very instructive to see how some methods can give what are superficially bizarre results when applied to data sets with known trends. It’s all very well claiming that one method is better than another, but please show this with some comparative data sets.
And McIntyre has just attended a “reconciliation” workshop in Lisbon….well that was apparently just some window dressing on his part…
Well, Mapleleaf, as you know, “reconciliation” in the denialist’s handbook is defined as “surrender or we’ll take no prisoners”. And, of course, if you don’t show up for your pre-ordained surrender ceremony you’ll be lied about by Pearce at the Guardian and smeared all over the blogosphere …
P.S. I’m not really interested in more unsolicited advice on how to respond to someone calling me ‘duplicitous’.–eric
Probably a good thing, because my suggestions would probably be unpleasant for the person acting so unprofessionally towards you …
No afraid not. This looks like a full on blitz. You are being accused of gaming the system by using your review comments to either a) hope ODonnell refuses and gets rejected or b) even if he publishes, you have a way to easily refute his paper.
Point taken about the author of the posts. I am still disturbed that Mcintyre would publish such posts, and permit the vitriolic titles and content. It is McIntyre’s blog (i.e., he approves which posts are published) and he was also a co-author on the O’donnell paper. How does McIntyre allowing those posts work towards “reconciliation”? Answer, it does not, not by any stretch of the imagination.
McIntyre now appears to be doing something similar to Watts does– offering a podium (i.e., his blog) from which people can attack the scientists.
This turn of character by O’Donnell is troubling. Initially he seems very reasonable, sincere and amicable. What we are seeing now is very unpleasant and uncalled for. I have to wonder whether his initial tone was all a facade, because this unpleasant transition has been very rapid.
They have run out of steam on the Mann et al’s HS and ClimateGate, now they have turned their attention to Steig and are trying to game Eric into a street fight to try and fabricate a new “controversy”.
54, raypierre in response: It’s often forgotten that infrared opacity is only half of the story of how greenhouse gases affect the temperature of atmospheres and the surface. The other (and equally important) half is vertical temperature structure, which determines the energy flow. … .
O’Donnell and his coauthors argue that the choice of iridge (instead of TTLS) in response to comments from a reviewer of the paper. This, at least, seems to be a somewhat weak point upon which to critique their approach if their originally submitted work relied solely on TTLS.
[Response: How can I put this succinctly? How about this; I have pointed out the facts of the matter to O’Donnell et al. They have not changed what they have written. They are therefore now lying to their readers. It’s actually about that simple. –eric]
Sigh! I guess I spoke too soon about a post that stuck to the science. But I guess since ad hominem is all the denialists have, they feel they have to use it…or are they doing it just to keep in practice? Really, publishing such idiocy on CA is just dumb. If they are correct, their method will eventually prevail. If they are wrong, then there are worse things that being wrong–unlike most denialists, they at least published. Instead they feel the need to make it personal AND public. How unprofessional.
Did my questions get snipped/moderated and if so, why? I should have kept a copy of my questions in case they failed to make it through. They were perfectly legitimate questions giving you a chance to explain this issue from your side rather than letting folks like myself simply take O’Donnell at his word that you acted in an unprofessional and potentially dishonest manner. Simply asking you to clarify your position.
1) Were you, as he states, one of the referees on his paper?
2) If so, do you think that the conflict of interest that would seem to come from that being the case is meaningful and if not, why not?
3) Did you, as part of your review, ask that they change their method only to later criticize that method?
Like it or not, if you don’t directly address these accusations, the impression lay people are left with is that the whole thing smacks of dishonest use of peer review.
I am not qualified to suss out the science, but i am qualified to understand O’Donnell’s accusations. I am willing to accept that there is something lost and that he is misrepresenting the situation, but if you waive away these type of questions and quash those who try to ask, what are we left to think?
[Response: Perhaps you should try thinking, instead of asking me what to think. Let me turn this question around on you: why do you take O’Donnell at his word? And now he’s my word: His allegations have no basis in fact. Now you have my word against his. Now try thinking,-eric]
> Think of the traffic! The number of comments!
> Universal Rule
But think of what the journal’s editors established by bringing the original exchange out of the blogs into the journal:
“O’Donnell et al. is the peer-reviewed outcome of a series of blog posts …. As one would expect of a peer-reviewed paper, those obviously unsupportable claims found in the original blog posts are absent, and in my view O’Donnell et al. is a perfectly acceptable addition to the literature.”
So — next move, try to take the science away from the journal editors AGAIN?
I hope the journal editors take this issue and, again, make a publication out of the issue. They will get scrutinized. I hope they’re up to it.
Someone should invite them into the conversation — or urge them to invite the parties into a conversation at their place, wherever that is.
Watts claims that Eric’s reply, to Jeff Id’s comment number 18, was a threat to send his post to the borehole. Their quote was actually a reply to post number 10. This was reply to a comment by J, that quoted Marohasy.
In fact your reply to Jeff Id was polite and scientific. WUWT?
It seems that so far, I was the only poster to check out Anthony’s claim, because it seemed wrong, and it was.
They were perfectly legitimate questions giving you a chance to explain this issue from your side rather than letting folks like myself simply take O’Donnell at his word that you acted in an unprofessional and potentially dishonest manner
Eric beat me to it, by why would you take O’Donnell at his word???
Why must Eric counter it before you question whether or not his word is trustworthy?
And … why haven’t you quit beating your wife? I don’t have the words to describe how despicable your actions are.
And my word is equally as trustworthy as O’Donnell’s.
So, dude, answer my question. Why haven’t you quit?
See the problem, now?
(for the record, I think you’re probably actually a promoter who will get O’Donnell’s and Steig’s wives on HBO pay-for-view in a cage fight, because, you know, we can all make shit up.)
So — next move, try to take the science away from the journal editors AGAIN?
At this point, I think it’s clear that they’re trying to take the science away from the journal editors.
Rather, they’re pissing on Eric’s ethics and professionalism (in an incredibly unprofessional way, given that they want to be let into the fold), and they’re blaming Eric for whatever errors they may’ve made, because “the peer review process made us introduce errors!”.
I DON’T take him at his word. Which is why I asked. But you did not respond to the question. Telling me to think is not addressing the issue, nor answering the question. Nor did I ask you what you think aside from the conflict of interest issue, and on that point I would actually appreciate your opinion on the subject. Especially with regards to–allegedly–making important suggestions, which result in changes, which you later critique as being incorrect.
As for your statement that his accusations are bogus? OK, I am willing to listen. But since O’Donnell’s accusations are fairly serious, and detailed, I would be more convinced if you had more of a response than “his allegations have no basis in fact” supported by no facts.
I think that your–alleged–part in the review has the potential to be perceived as a conflict of interest. Others do as well. Tell me (us) why we should not believe it to be true.
I follow these blogs as a hobby. An interest. I am not biased against you even a little. I make my living in the world of science despite not being a scientist myself. I am not anti you, or science. But O’Donnell does bring up points which seem, at face value, valid, and supported. I think you should answer these accusations lest they be believed by people like myself as being the truth by default.
This story breathes serious life into the concept that peer review is tainted. O’Donnell has provided a strong case which does not seem implausible. Tell me (us) (people) your side.
To be fair, and in conclusion, you owe me nothing. Tell me to pound sand if you like. It’s your right. But this situation has the potential to taint your message, and the perception of the science as a whole, for the curious like myself.
[Response: I’ll have a post later today addressing these points. Forgive me for being annoyed with you for assuming it might actually be true that I am a deceptive duplicitous idiot.–eric]
Eric (Steig): I think this issue can be resolved quite easily, you could just publish your reviewer comments so everyone can read what you indicated *in context*. You could even add an explanation how O’Donnell et al did or did not implement your comments in the manuscript. All that is possible without snark.
1. No chance for cherry-picking (although there still may be discussions on what you meant and how they interpreted the comments)
2. Another nail in the coffin (ha!) of “when we skeptics ask nice questions, alarmist can only react with abuse”
I recommend doing this without reading what O’Donnell and Patrick Condon wrote exactly, although you already have had some snippets. Forget them. Make it factual and to the point.
Yesterday, O’Donnell presented a set of images that suggest that the main algorithm used in Steig et al (2009) yields a picture of Antarctic temperatures that is sensitive to the addition of a synthetic +0.2 C or -0.2 C trend to the weather stations on the Peninsula. This is an intuitive finding. However, O’Donnell’s images show that the algorithm is insensitive to addition of such trends to the only two weather stations on the West Antarctic Peninsula (Russkaya and Byrd).
If true, this would be a very surprising outcome. Do you think this portrayal is accurate? If it is, what’s the likely explanation?
[Response: Yes, it would be surprising. It is hard to follow their line of argument amidst all the allegations and other crap though.–eric]
BPW says – “Like it or not, if you don’t directly address these accusations, the impression lay people are left with is that the whole thing smacks of dishonest use of peer review.”
As a layperson might I suggest you speak only for yourself or explicitly state exactly who you represent, because it certainly isn’t me. The impression I am left with is not the same as yours, apparently.
BPW 91. I’m sure Eric will express this much better than I can, but my impression is that if science isn’t an argument, it won’t work properly. O’Donnel et al were advised to change something in their paper during the peer review process. They didn’t change it. The reviewer who made the suggestion thinks that undermines their findings (well duh!), and has explained why. This doesn’t show that the peer-review process is compromised, it shows that it’s working. Now the O’Donnel paper has been published, we laypeople can gauge its skill by the number of cites it receives in the years to come.
As an aside, Fourier and Arrhenius were the pioneering outliers who risked their reputations on AGW; it took one hundred years (give or take) for the truth of their findings to be demonstrated.
[Response: This is the first rational response I’ve seen yet. Thank you.–eric]
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Feb 2011 @ 1:03 PM
Without knowing what _all_ the reviewers said to the editors, you don’t know what the editors relied on in getting the paper into shape to publish.
Please consider this from the point of view of the journal’s editors, and of the other reviewers–whoever they were, and whatever they said.
The editors had to weigh information we outsiders don’t have. The authors and any individual reviewer likely don’t have everything the editors had to consider.
This fuss over this paper is one piece in a bigger game – taking peer review out of the hands of the journal editors and individual reviers.
But if there’s any real challenge to the process, the editors ought to get first crack at it.
Have the journal’s editors already had time to consider the claims now being blogged?
I am not assuming anything Eric. Which is why I asked rather than accused and why I sprinkled “alleged(ly)” through my post. Though without an answer, I might get the impression from you that you are being deceitful. Not sure why my reasonable, and I believe polite, questions would annoy you. I would think if the allegations are false, you would be anxious to show that is the case. I look forward to hearing your side of this story. Like I said, you owe me nothing, so I appreciate your response.
[Response: You wonder why ‘polite’ questions about whether I am a duplicitous idiot would annoy me?? Hey, I heard you stopped beating your wife. GET IT?–eric]
I am speaking for myself in this case, but it is clear if one reads enough that there are plenty of people who are of the impression that this is a perfect example of the alleged problems with peer-review. Perhaps I could have written “some lay people” but since I suspect you and others realize I don’t speak for the masses I’m not sure why it would matter. For the record, I don’t yet have an impression because I have read only one side of the story. Can I assume you have formed yours based on the same information, or are you privy to something I am not?
I think this is a good suggestion, but I would suggest to Eric that he actually should read what O’Donnell wrote because there are some serious allegations he might want to, and probably should, address directly. Otherwise there will be the opportunity for people to claim he dodged portions of the issue.
Methinks there are a whole lot of folks out there who don’t understand peer review. It is not a friendly little informal cheerleading session. You want to be reviewed by your toughest rivals, because if your mistakes aren’t caught in peer review, the entire community will know about them and you will be asked whether you like your crow medium or well done.
If you are such a wimp that you can’t take criticism, maybe you ought to consider a career in a field other than science.
My first comment you chose simply states that “people like myself” i.e. lay people who have interest in the story may base their opinions, right or wrong, having only O’Donnells side to go on. See, this is actually what is happening. Many people HAVE passed judgment. Nowhere does it even intimate that “I” actually feel that way which is why I asked for Eric’s side of the story to begin with.
You can play BS games with semantics–as you often like to do–but that does not change the fact that without both sides of the story, people will base their opinion on the side they have read. I actually like to read both sides before I pass judgment. Which, again, is why I asked. Too bad you don’t share that way of thinking.
No dho gaza, the fail is all yours. Tough to skew my words when they are right in front of everyone to read. But it was a nice try.
[Response: Let me be clear, once more. There are two sides to this story: O’Donnell’s, and the facts. If you want to read the facts, go here.
So from reading that, it appears that Reviewer 1 raised the same issues during the review process that were raised by Steig here, correct? If my interpretation is correct why the vitriol from O’Donnell, Id, et. al.? I don’t see anything two faced or duplicitous at all, assuming Eric was Reviewer 1 (a pretty good guess). The objections raised here were raised in the the review process.
Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 9 Feb 2011 @ 3:38 PM
BPW #101: Dr. Steig’s ‘side of the story’ is right here, in the article above and in the responses he’s made. He has signalled his intention to formally respond to the O’Donnel paper: “This probably means going back to the drawing board to write up another paper, taking into account those suggestions of O’Donnell et al. that are valid…”
How this demonstrates bias is beyond me. He just said they made a valid contribution!
The accusations being made say something about the accusers, period.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 9 Feb 2011 @ 3:46 PM
If you are such a wimp that you can’t take criticism, maybe you ought to consider a career in a field other than science.
I don’t think that’s the goal here, I think the goal is to do their best to destroy Eric’s reputation and credibility, as they’ve done with Mann and others.
Between what went on before the paper was put together, and what’s going on now, I simply do not believe that the advancement of knowledge is the real goal here.
I also added ODonnell’s response to the third review to the thread over there. There could be a resolution point there on the science, not sure, I’m not familiar with the science to comment there. But I don’t see how we are able to get the science communicated effectively if one side screams foul play when this type of scientific argument happens. I think it’s important to point it out when the facts get gathered.
“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92)
“1) Were you, as he states, one of the referees on his paper?
2) If so, do you think that the conflict of interest that would seem to come from that being the case is meaningful and if not, why not?”
Interestingly, Pielke Sr. threw a fit regarding Watts not being a referee on Menne et al..
“I was quite surprised to learn that despite the central role of Anthony Watt’s analysis in the paper, he was not asked to be a referee of the paper. This is inappropriate and suggests the Editor did not provide a balanced review process. ”
Of course, Anthony Watts is on record asserting confidently that the surface record is unreliable and there’s a strong warm bias, so it’s doubtful he would give a fair and logical review.
[Response: Good catch. There is also Steve McIntyre complaining that Climatic Change breached their contract with him by not sending him the final version of the Wahl and Amman (2006) paper. Then you have McKitrick asking specifically that I not be a reviewer on their paper criticising mine. etc… consistency seems to be too hard a think to ask for. – gavin]
Between all the mudslinging going on at climateaudit (and wuwt) after Eric’s scientific post here, I thought it would be refreshing to actually attempt to “discuss the science” as these web sites so often claim to want to do.
So I took Eric’s first point of criticism (regarding the Byrd data), weeded out the science in O’Donnell’s response on that issue, found that he failed to address Eric’s core concern (+0.08 C/decade at Byrd does not match the Byrd station data), and posted on ‘climateaudit’ to get clarity.
After an initial quick response from Ryan there were some red herrings thrown, and then the thread went dead.
with this being the second request that went unanswered so far :
In absence of an answer to my question, let me make the issue a bit clearer.
Byrd is not just “an individual station”, it is the ONLY station on West Antarctica that has a temperature record before 1980.
Any reconstruction that does not match the Byrd station data at least somewhat realistically is thus useless and should be discarded as statistical unsound at the earliest convenience.
Ryan mentions in his post above mentions that “the 50-year Byrd trend is 0.25 +/- 0.2 (corrected for serial correlation)” which confirms assessments done by Monaghan. However, the statistical methods and parameters chosen in O10 result in a trend of +0.08 C/decade for the full Byrd record. Why ? Because
the statistical methods and choice of parameters used by Ryan calculated an ‘offset’ between the manned (before 1980) and the automatic (after 1980) stations. Why an offset ? Because the considered them as ‘individual’ stations. Why not consider the fact that they represent a single location because they are only 2.5 km apart ? Because Ryan above claims that “microclimates matter”. If anyone has ever been to Byrd, or has seen the pictures on Google Earth, it would be very hard to validate ANY offset between two stations being 2.5 km apart on that deserted ice field without a proper explanation.
Instead of assuming an offset of 0 (the null hypothesis), Ryan calculates the offset based mainly on “regression coefficients” of two stations located more than 1000 miles away, on the East Antarctic coast (Scott Base and McMurdo). And then again, Ryan avoids mentioning HOW MUCH the offset at Byrd actually turned out to be with his statistical methods.
Now does this offset at Byrd matter for the final conclusions of the paper ? Ryan states “what happens if you add a 0.5 Deg C / decade trend to Byrd? Why, the West Antarctic trend increases 160% from 0.10 to 0.26 Deg C / decade”. In reality, the only trend that his unsubstantiated offset created is a 0.25 – 0.08 = 0.17 C/decade, which would increase the trend from West Antarctica in the O’Donnell from 0.1 to some 0.15 C/decade. With uncertainty margins, this would bring the O’Donnell ’10 conclusions very much in line with the Steig ’09 reconstruction that it is trying to ‘correct’.
So yes. Byrd matters. The Byrd offset numbers, please…
Note that this is my own interpretation of Eric’s point on Byrd, and I take sole and full responsibility for any inaccuracies in my text.
O’Donnell’s failure to bring such a simple (and crucial) factual number (the Byrd ‘offset’ data that O’Donnell used) in the open, and instead dance around the issue with ad hominems is revealing at multiple levels and scientifically suspect. And that is only the FIRST of Eric’s points of criticism.
At climataudit discussing science is apparently not appreciated, I’m counting on you guys here to help to re-insert the scientific arguments in the discussion (either here or in the deafening noise of the climateaudit and wuwt comment section).
Yep. Know the joke. If I had asked, for instance, “are you still lying to hide the truth” you would have a point. But I didn’t.
The interesting thing for me is that, with all the commenting elsewhere regarding moderation, and since you did not publish my first questions, that you chose to allow the second ones. As I have said more than once, thanks for your responses, even if they were a bit terse. You could have said nothing.
I was not insinuating that such a process was inherently “bad”, I was actually asking if Eric thought there could be a conflict. Seems from your comments about others, and Gavin’s response, that the belief is that there, in fact, could be conflict issues. If Watts cannot be trusted–according to MarkB’s comment “…it’s doubtful he (Watts) would give a fair and logical review.”–is it not fair to state the same of others regardless of what “side” they are on? With all the personal attacks and bad vibes surrounding this topic, it does not seem to far a stretch to think those emotions would have an effect in a review environment. Or is there a double standard?
I also still find it puzzling that such review is normal but, at the same time, expected to remain secret. If so normal, why would Eric, or anyone, care that people knew he was a referee and why deny having read the paper on other forums? Why not just own it and avoid the impression that something untoward took place after the fact?
Eric, I see you have posted your response and perhaps all my questions will be answered. I will take a look and perhaps comment further on that thread.
This is just how the peer review system has evolved. In very small, contentious fields with highly public debates, anonymity means less because there is a culture and necessity of extremely critical dialogue. Other fields are larger, and anonymity allows hopefully legitimate criticism without the fueling of grudges between author and reviewer.
If the conflict is scientifically based it usually isn’t an issue. If the conflict is based on competition this could be an issue, but up to the editor to decide what is fair and the reviewer should also interrogate their own conscience. The job of the editor is to publish the best paper that advances the science. To do so may require the input of the most knowledgeable person working in the same field to best review the manuscript. It isn’t perfect, but it works.
Thought it would be more appropriate to post this on the science thread, not the [self-snip] thread which was started later.
I spent the afternoon cobbling up an explanation of several issues for some of the less mathematical readers (not intended as a slur to anyone) with something that you might like to address as well, Eric. It is too lengthy to put as a comment and includes some graphs so I put it on my website:
If I am not mistaken the Watts situation was that his surface station data was used by Menne et al. prior to Watts publishing his own report. It was his data that he had not completely reviewed so he had a legitimate right to review the paper whether or not he was qualified.
Kinda surprising a moderator did let you know that.
[Response: Nobody has a ‘right’ to review any paper. Editors choose reviewers as they see fit. I’m surprised no-one has pointed that out to you. – gavin]
[Response: Nobody has a ‘right’ to review any paper. Editors choose reviewers as they see fit. I’m surprised no-one has pointed that out to you. – gavin]
Even if intellectual property is used without prior approval? That is why Watts asked to be allowed to review the paper. Perhaps he should have exercised other rights?
[Response:No, he should have exercised some common sense. If you don’t want people to use data, don’t put it online. And as above, editors choose reviewers, reviewers do not choose themselves. – gavin]
Of course, Anthony Watts is on record asserting confidently that the surface record is unreliable and there’s a strong warm bias, so it’s doubtful he would give a fair and logical review.
I recently “rolled my own” simple global-average anomaly calculation app in my spare time. It’s a straightforward C++ app that reads in GHCN V2 data and metadata and computes a simple gridded global average of the station data. Here’s a plot of my results vs. NASA’s “Meteorological Stations” global-temperature results (I used GHCN “raw” monthly-mean data): http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/6175/caerbannogvnasalandinde.jpg
This was not a hard project at all — got the basic app up and running in my spare time over just a few days. If Watts and Co are having trouble getting their analysis done, they should post the WMO ID’s of the stations that they’d like to have processed and I could turn around some results for them very quickly (easily same-day service).
I can slice and dice the temperature data in all kinds of ways — and no matter what I do with the data, I get a global-warming signature very similar to what the NASA/CRU/etc folks get. I can throw out over 90 percent of the stations at random and still get consistent results.
The global-warming signal is so strong and the temperature record is so robust that you’d have to work *really* hard *not* to show significant global warming.
Hmmm…maybe *that’s* the problem that Watts and Co. are having…
caerbannog: you initialize a couple of static data members of type “float”, which isn’t standard C++ (only integral types can be initalized) and not support by the version of GCC I’m using, at least … (4.01, Mac OS/X 10.5.8).
Easy to fix, just thought I’d give you a heads up.
caerbannog: you initialize a couple of static data members of type “float”, which isn’t standard C++ (only integral types can be initalized) and not support by the version of GCC I’m using, at least … (4.01, Mac OS/X 10.5.8).
Easy to fix, just thought I’d give you a heads up.
Thanks for the heads-up — The app compiles for me without complaints with Linux/g++-4.4 and OS/X-10.6.0/g++-4.2. (I’m basically a “seat of the pants” programmer who just gets by, so every now and then I get tripped up over standards issues — the very latest gcc/g++ releases help keep me out of trouble in that respect).
The version of the app that I posted over at skepticalscience.com doesn’t read in all the GHCN data correctly (due to my failure to RTFM properly) — I described the issue in a followup to my skepticalscience post.
Since then, I’ve added a simple gridded averaging algorithm and some metadata-sniffing code to sort out urban vs rural stations, etc. Not very hard at all. Even with my modest programming skills, I seem to have been able to accomplish more in just a few days’ effort than Anthony Watts and his followers have managed to accomplish in several years. Does that qualify me for any brownie-points?
Thanks for the heads-up — The app compiles for me without complaints with Linux/g++-4.4 and OS/X-10.6.0/g++-4.2.
OT here so my last on this:
For some reason I can’t get this macbook pro to upgrade to snow leopard, it’s sick in a way that’s not killed it day-to-day. So it’s still got gcc 4.01.
Since then, I’ve added a simple gridded averaging algorithm and some metadata-sniffing code to sort out urban vs rural stations, etc. Not very hard at all. Even with my modest programming skills, I seem to have been able to accomplish more in just a few days’ effort than Anthony Watts and his followers have managed to accomplish in several years
Technically, yes. Politically … they’re not such failures :(
Anyway, ¡¡¡ good job !!!, thanks, and I’ll look over at skeptical climate to get a later version.
The thread was silent for a couple of days, but an entity called ‘troyca’ now posted a response with an argument that very much looks like an attempt to weasel out of this store issue.
O’Donnell gave no scientific validation for modeling Byrd as separate stations with an offset. But he needed this offset at Byrd, to create an artificially low trend at Byrd location, so he could claim ‘significant’ difference in trends with S09. Since he cannot validate that offset physically (Byrd is an icefield without ‘microclimates’), he got really upset when Eric brought up the issue. Result was the ad hominem’s and smoke and mirrors that we have all been a witness of.
I have no time now, but I will respond on that thread at CA later.
Please feel free to comment on CA or here about this subject. Just be aware that entity ‘troyca’ can be one of the co-authors of the O’Donnell paper.
Let me also note that entity ‘troyca’ implicitly questions the trend that Monaghan reconstructed at Byrd. For that trend, I relied on Eric’s number (+0.32 C/decade). It would be great if we can get that rate confirmed scientifically.
And, ‘troyca’ attempts to equalize O10 and S09 and blame RegEM for failure to reconstruct the offset at Byrd.
It seems that the time is right now to discuss science, and clear up the issue of Byrd in both reconstructions, and cut through the weasel tactics to get to the core which should reveal that O10 and S09 are really not ‘significantly’ different in results for an area as wide as West Antarctica.
As I am not a scientist I cannot give to this article some exact resolution. But I have found this article very interesting in many points. Especially I am wondering how difficult can be to measure the surface temperature. I also appreciate that you can take it so seriously and that various teams work out the results with so much declinations. Perhaps it is because of the conditions and technology you are using. What I can see a problem here is that we should expect more prevalence of higher temperature anywhere around the Globe. As we are in Holocene epoch (that is in the middle of two Ice age epoch) together with impact of human´s activities we should have to consider that thing will change. And I assume that this is what´s happening in Antarctica too.
See the first post; the O’Donnell et al. paper (and others ) originated in a series of blog posts; the journal editors’ job is to help the authors sort out the ‘discussion’ and publish the science.
I reread this post after I read Eric’s response to O’Donnell, and I think that this post is very informative, though quite technical for people who have not used ridge regression and other techniques for ill-posed problems in high-dimensional statistics. I look forward to a peer-reviewed version in a journal.