Pielke Sr.: “sea level has actually flattened since 2006″
It is immensely unfortunate to read this from someone like Dr. Pielke. I actually clicked on the link twice to verify that it was really from Pielke. The combination of such a ridiculous short-term cherry-pick and deliberately ignoring the barometer-adjusted trend is something we would expect on politically-motivated blogs of much poorer quality. His argument on Arctic sea ice is even worse – a shameless act of desperation.
Pielke Sr. has been a skeptic I’ve paid attention to over the years but I’ve seen a gradual trend towards these sorts of blurbs from him recently, this perhaps being the worst. I want to emphasize that it’s not indicative of the work he’s done over the years but it’s a disturbing trend nonetheless. Based on his last comment, I can’t help but to think the recent U.S. political shift is leading towards a degradation of the quality of his arguments and bringing out potentially truer colors. Regardless of intent (which is speculation), this is actually quite depressing to me and I say that with all sincerity.
>>say starting in June 2007, which gives 5.3+/-2.2 mm/day!
Is this right! The year and a half through the end of 2008 would then yield a SLR change of almost 2 meters!
[Response: whoops. Meant /yr – gavin]
Comment by Brian Brademeyer — 1 Jul 2009 @ 9:37 PM
I’m feeling diplomatic, and might give Pielke Sr the benefit of the doubt that he simply interpreted your statement differently than it was meant. He seems to think you meant trends in those observations have accelerated in the last couple years, not that the longer-term trends are faster than the previous expectations.
In which case he is discussing oranges, and you are discussing apples.
You can say that discussing oranges (looking for trends in just a year or two of noisy data) is always pointless. You accuse him of bringing up oranges, when maybe he thinks you brought them up first.
So a simple misunderstanding?
[Response: I wish this were true. But Pielke concludes his post with: “These climate metrics might again start following the predictions of the models. However, until and unless they do,….” So he clearly realises that the Synthesis Report is talking about a comparison of observed data with model projections, and not about any recent trend changes (which can’t be derived anyhow from just a few years of new data). In fact there can be no ambiguity about this when you look at the Report – which, one assumes, he would have done before criticising it. -stefan]
Minor typo: “But again this not relevant” should be “But again this is not relevant”.
[Response: fixed. thanks – gavin]
Thanks again for all the good work. The lack of serious content in the vast bulk of the inactivist material for me is a very strong indicator that there is no serious case that the mainstream science is wrong. Recently someone mentioned the “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” pseudo-debate. Although that also had many uninformed hangers-on, it had a few serious scientists at its core, some of whom wrote papers that took a reasonable degree of medical knowledge to see through.
This stuff is just pathetic. Even a non-special-ist can easily see the problem. It’s sad that so many mainstream media outlets keep propagating it.
Gavin, I caught the last part of your interview this morning on KBOO radio then listened to it all when I got home (here). Part of your book tour? ;-) I was impressed by how well you were able to explain the issues in plain language and how you handled the more out there speculations KBOO is know for sometimes. Sort of like your rebuttals of Dr. Pielke in this post. BTW, you first caller (cell phone towers) is well known to regular listeners of the station as is Jeff (Waxman-Markey).
[Response: Thanks! It’s always nice to know someone is listening! I’m in Corvallis next week for a conference… – gavin]
Hank: If it were Monckton, I’d not be charitable. But Pielke surely knows better than to make some statement of trend based on “an absolutely preposterous sample period” of one year, as Daniel Goodwin puts it.
In the interest of civility, I think we should await Pielke’s response before heaping abuse on him. My guess is that none of this happens if the original RC post had links to the figures above.
[Response: Our original post linked to the Copenhagen Synthesis Report, which is what this is all about, and where all the statements that Pielke wrongly calls “NOT TRUE” are properly documented with references to the scientific literature. -stefan]
Oh, indeed not. The uncertainty in the data, over time periods as short as Mr. Pielke (so carefully) chooses, render his statements irrelevant. I believe Mr. Pielke is a good enough statistician to know this.
More seriously, he attributes such misunderstanding to realclimate. Which I suppose is why we have this post.
Mr. Pielke fails also to point out that the 2007 AR4 by the IPCC was based on papers published years earlier, and elides over the “was expected” bit in the sentence in the realclimate post.
As Mr. Rabett has pointed out elsewhere, a good way to treat him is to point out how ludicrous his statements are. 
I would be more likely to say something like “Hexapodia is the key insight.” Which would be about as relevant, and less misleading than Mr. Pielke’s screeds.
I just wanted to offer an anecdote to illustrate the (possible) value of your work on this website.
I own a PHEV Prius and regularly post on priuschat.com. There’s a section on that site for environmental issues. There’s a guy there who routinely posts the denialist party line, for whatever is current. And yeah, this came up.
Thanks to you, I had a ready response.
Fully understanding that what I do is just amateurs talking to amateurs, it still serves a purpose. If denialists are going to be out there pumping out disinformation, those of us with good sense need to have people like you around, to provide reasoned information. Otherwise, the undecided will see nothing but the nonsense.
Based on your last post, I am sure that, at times, it must seem to you that you are wasting your time responding to the same nonsense over and over. But the fact is, in terms of impact on public opinion, I think there is value in immediately responding to the latest baloney being spun.
Yes, you are at a disadvantage. There is a near-infinite supply of plausible bullsh*t in this area.
But, because dittohead denialists spread their fertilizer based on the most recent postings, I believe there is a real, huge value to your addressing those postings straight-on.
Thank you again for the work that you do, both the real science, and this website.
Comment by Christopher Hogan — 1 Jul 2009 @ 11:55 PM
Ah, actually, this comment was for your prior posting, but … I think I must have submitted it as the website was being updated. Please move it, otherwise delete it, as it has no bearing on this post.
Comment by Christopher Hogan — 2 Jul 2009 @ 12:05 AM
I get angry that pseudo science hijacks the discussion, drawing you into correcting their manufactured debate.
The scientific questions on climate I really want to read about are simple: How bad? and How soon? Models and scenarios deserve constant update to reflect changing rates of change. This is much more exciting. This sort of “what” and “when” can fuel endless discussion, and it can rigidly adhere to science and can showcase valid scientific differences.
[Response: I agree, it is a pain having to deal with nonsense again and again, rather than with the really interesting scientific issues. Here’s a good article for you on sea level that discusses current thinking about the “How bad? and How soon?” question. -stefan]
And such topics are far more worthy of your time than publicly trying to re-educate misguided and deluded researchers in the fundamentals of the scientific process.
This is like publicly dressing down an errant student for plagiarism. Other students in the class know the rules, know it is a necessary to call attention to them, but we are eager to move along and get back on topic.
I agree with Christopher Hogan. Sites like this are critical for amateurs who want to counter the bubkes being spewed out over the internet. I have never convinced a denier of the errors of their ways but I have managed to convince fence sitters that the science is clear and that the denier tactics to cast doubt are just smoke-and-mirrors.
I found this posting especially useful and interesting. It was very helpful for me to see graphs of the trends being considered. I am a scientist who has been reading and learning about climate science, but I do not have the time to become familiar with the primary literature or to know much about specific data sets. I pay attention to bloggers who have science (especially climate science) credentials. Pielke gains credibility with me, since he is actively publishing in climate science. I have read some of his skeptical posts and must admit that I am not able to find fault with his arguments, although I know that his views conflict with those of (many) other researchers. This contrasts with posts by Roy Spencer, for example. In his case, I can find points that seem deliberately misleading. I can’t comment on Pielke’s motives, but I must say that the points made in this posting must be embarrassing to him. This exchange points to how easy it must be for average citizens to be confused and mislead in the broader debate about climate. The only hope may be that a major of our political leaders and citizens assume that scientists and the peer-reviewed literature represent the best available knowledge and that they listen to scientists for guidance on what this literature says. I will try harder to provide an understanding of the peer-review process in my undergraduate classes.
#12 tharanga: “Pielke surely knows better than to make some statement of trend based on “an absolutely preposterous sample period” of one year, as Daniel Goodwin puts it”
It is Pielke (not Daniel Goodwin) who speaks about a one-year trend. A quick look at any graph showing the evolution of the Arctic sea ice clearly shows that one year is an absolutely preposterous sample period (because of the short-term variability you always find superimposed over the underlying trend).
#12 tharanga: “we should await Pielke’s response before heaping abuse on him”.
Pielke’s points are clearly stated on his blog post, as well as on this RealClimate article.
#12 tharanga: “My guess is that none of this happens if the original RC post had links to the figures above”
The original RC post just highlights some real objective facts. If you don’t know what the real facts are (i.e. how to get a real trend) or where to find it out, it is not RC’s fault (in fact you can learn a lot about that by reading other RC posts), and, of course, it doesn’t entitle you to make trends up and spread it among the (already sufficiently “disinformative”) denialsphere.
#6 Re the Ackerman LES. I would be very careful to try to take too many conclusions from an LES with a 5m grid spacing (in fact the grid is 5m x 50m x 50m). LES tends to work well only when the grid is close to the Kolmogorov scale which would be of the order of mm
But perhaps referring to Roger Pielke Sr’s work under the title of goat s..t (ie: meaning of the word bubkes) didn’t sit too well with Roger.
Also, on the small chance that temperatures/ sea levels/ sea ice remains stable (or falls) for an extended period into the future, you can be sure that the bubkes comment will end up coming back to haunt in larger animal form.
Personally I’m slightly nervous that temperatures have flattened off right at the time we seem to be entering a new low solar phase. Surely this is just a coincidence ?
I’d have to agree with #3 tharanga here. Though it’s unclear whether Pielke was misinterpreting it himself, or attacking wording that could and will be interpreted by many others…
Over the past few years and especially in the last few months, journalists have consistently misinterpreted reports’ and studies’ results in exactly the same way as the phrase “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” is prone to be, evidenced not only in the their headlines, by also in the bodies of their stories.
It’s unfortunate that Pielke has a “no comments” policy on his site, since (a) one can’t address his points at source, and (b) I suspect it lends itself to a rather bombastic style unconstrained by any possibility of criticism – if no one has an opportunity to address his arguments, there is little imperative on his part to be careful to make reasoned and scientifically-valid arguments.
An interesting case in point is in the blog post that one encounters on clicking the following link on Pielke’s current page under discussion:
In this blog page Pielke attempts to ridicule the GISS modelling of upper ocean heat content by asserting that the accumulating ocean heat content must satisfy certain criteria as “a requirement to NOT reject the IPCC claim for global warming“ Thus, for example, the added upper ocean heat content must be (according to Pielke) at least 13 x 10^22 J by the end of 2008, and he asserts elsewhere that the upper oceans should have acumulated 5.88 x 10^22 J in the period end 2002 to end 2008 (if Hansens radiative imbalance GISS model projections are to be satisfied). He then proceeds to ridicule the modelling with a list of years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 each with “~ 0“ as their accumulated heat content!
However if we compare Pielke’s proscriptions with the Levitus data (see graph in the top article of this thread under section 2. Ocean heat content ), we find that the accumulated heat in the upper oceans is around 14.5 x 10^22 J at end 2008, and the accumulated heat in the upper oceans between end 2002 and end 2008 is close to 5.8 x 10^22 J.
Obviously there is considerable uncertainty over these numbers. However the most up to date data on accumulated upper heat content actually conforms pretty much spot-on with the criteria that Pielke has “imposed” as his arbitrary requirement “to NOT reject the IPCC claim for global warming”, and which he uses to attempt to cast doubt on “the IPCC claim for global warming”
I notice Pielke’s Blog is titled “Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group News”. Does anyone know whether the other members of this research group stand behind these unscientific claims and unfounded attacks on colleagues? The heading does clearly seem to imply that Pielke is not just speaking for himself.
A fantastic read once again. The consensus lives on and on and on stronger than ever from real scientists doing real science. Surely its time to somehow out a stop to all this errant nonsense but the sites such as CA and WUWT seem to thrive as they get more shrill. However maybe more shrill means more desperate and the end of their debacle is closer then ever. Lets hope so.
Christopher Hogan in #15 illustrates a tremendous benefit afforded by this site. It allows those whose specialty is not climate science to discuss the issues of AGW intelligently with a wider audience. Most people are busy and have only limited time to devote to any issue. They read the paper, watch the news and gather that the topic is complex and differing opinions exist. RealClimate is an invaluable resource for allowing its adherents to educate the general public on climate science and AGW and expose faulty reasoning from whatever source.
I know that many regular readers are frustrated at continual refutations of junk science. Bear with it. An equity funds management CEO recently told me he was very dubious re AGW. He was acquainted with dissenting opinion from his reading of financial journals and more importantly to him, he was not seeing the economic responses he would anticipate if the problem were genuine. I was able to discuss CO2 lag, GHG forcing and its relative size to natural variability meaningfully with him.
Was he convinced? No. But I believe he has moved from a 2 to a 3 with respect to his understanding. RealClimate allows its readers to slowly shift the general populace in a direction informed by quality science.
RC – thanks so much for this post! I actually felt a little bad bringing up Pielke Sr’s comments (in #368 in the RC post “A warning from Copenhagen), but now that I see how convincingly you’ve been able to answer his charges, I’m glad I did!
Comment by Gerry Beauregard — 2 Jul 2009 @ 6:45 AM
Chalk one up for the dark side I guess.
I’m not from the US however clicking a few links on Pielke’s site that relate to the EPA endangerment thing reveals his politics. In particular I note he brings up the nonesense about the IPCC reports not having been independently reviewed, a point that made me laugh when I read it in Carlin’s report but it made me cringe to hear it from a scientist that I know has enjoyed some respect on this site. It seems clear to me his political opinion has triumphed over his scientific training.
Sad to say but I predict he will be a star attraction at a future Heartland climate confrence.
Gavin, the sentence “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” strongly suggests that it is the data from the previous few years what allows to conclude that everything is progressing faster, as only with the data you can see how well or how bad it progresses.
Pielke just points out that the data from the previous 2 years does NOT support that conclusion, which is a correct afirmation for all of the issues involved. You can say that 2 years of data are not statistically significant, which is true, but that works in both directions, you definitely cannot use the data of the recent years to claim that the trends are rising. You can avoid using that data or drawing conclusions about it altogether, but you cannot draw a conclusion which is opposite to what they actually suggest. And what the previous 2 years of data suggest is a smaller trend for the sea rise, a non-significant change in the oceans heat content, and a recovering Arctic sea ice.
As Pielke says, this may be a temporary disturbance and the trends may increase again later on, but claiming that the recent data is more worrying than the previous data is entirely wrong. It is like last year’s Pachauri’s speech in Australia saying that “the global warming is accelerating”. It was a very strange use of the present continuous tense, as it cannot make reference to the last 10 years of well-known data. These 10 years may be not important or not significant, but they definitely don’t allow you to claim any sort of recent acceleration in the trends either. If you use them, it has to lead to admiting less warming.
There seems to be confusion about trends, projected trends, and actual observations.
The statement in the Real Climate blog is “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice. “The updated estimates of the future global mean sea level rise are about double the IPCC projections from 2007″, says the new report”
I read this statement as saying that since the last data used for IPCC 2007 report that sea levels have risen faster than expected, that ocean heat content has risen faster than expected, and Arctic sea ice has shrunk faster than expected.
1. Is this an incorrect understanding of the Real Climate blog statement? If so, please explain what is really meant by “some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.”
2. When someone says that climate aspects are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago, it sounds to me like that verification of that statement would consist mostly of looking at the effect of adding recent data. Correct?
[Response: Not correct – anyone who looks at the actual report can see that this is not what it is about. If climate trends are calculated over sufficiently long periods, trends do not change a lot by adding two or three more years. What the report is about is scientific progress: new scientific studies that appeared since the deadline for the IPCC report. This is said directly in the bit we quote above: “Since 2007, reports comparing the IPCC projections of 1990 with observations show…” It is new analysis, not adding a couple of years of data. Another classic example is the revised heat content of Domingues et al. 2008 – a study appearing after the IPCC report, but analysing data up to 2003. Every year about 10,000 scientific papers appear on the subject of “climate” – that’s a lot of new science since the IPCC AR4. -stefan]
[Response: p.s. ..where I just notice this Synthesis Report sentence is actually inaccurate: it should read “… IPCC projections starting in 1990 with observations…”]
3. Are the climate aspects under consideration — sea level, ocean heat content, Arctic ice extent — aspects where recent data that fall beneath the trend line would cause us to believe that those climate aspects are progressing faster than previously projected ?
#17 Richard Pauli says “I get angry that pseudo science hijacks the discussion, drawing you into correcting their manufactured debate. ”
It appears to me that Stefen set up the conditions by making a statement that exceeds what available information supports. The attacks on Pielke about cherry picking and inadequate smoothing seem strange, since he’s trying to refute a statement by Stefen about what has happened in the last few years.
Evaluating a statement such as “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.” necessarily require short smoothing periods.
Global warming is scary enough without overreaching beyond the supportable facts.
I see this tempest in a teapot as being dependent upon what is meant by “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago ”
Obviously Pielke has interpreted this as saying that the author of this blog has claimed that some physical aspects of climate change are occurring faster than the projections of a few years ago.
To test the accuracy of that statement, one would naturally look at recent data in sea level, ocean heat content, and Arctic ice extent to see if indeed they are changing faster than expected a few years ago.
Of course, never having published a peer-reviewed article on climate, there may be ways that I am unaware of where deviations over the last few years from an expected trend line will move the trend line in the opposite direction.
“Evaluating a statement such as “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.” necessarily require short smoothing periods.”
Nope, it requires that you have more data.
If you use shorter periods, you MUST (and this is one area where Pielke shoud [note ***should***] have known better) increase your uncertainty or decrease your confidence.
In a way, I sympathize with Pielke . It can’t be easy even to pretend to do science when all the evidence is against you. It leaves you with no weapons but rhetoric and outrage. Given that Pielke has shown no talent for weilding either, it’s a pity he didn’t stick with science. Science is easy by compared many of life’s endeavors. If you stray, the evidence and your fellow scientists are always there to nudge you back onto the path–none to gently. It is a pity Pielke stopped listening to the evidence.
OK, OK. So this would not only require a misinterpretation by Pielke, but also a spot of laziness as he didn’t look at the report to see what you were talking about. I was trying to be nice.
It is rather odd on his part – there are many, many posts on this site chiding people that putting a trendline through 5 or 7 or 8 years of noisy data is not meaningful.
How he could look for a trend in 3 years, or less than one year, find a little wiggle in the noise, and think the wiggle was worth talking about, or that anybody else was talking about the wiggle, is beyond me. But he does read this site, so hopefully he will come by.
Nylo states: “Gavin, the sentence “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” strongly suggests that it is the data from the previous few years what allows to conclude that everything is progressing faster, as only with the data you can see how well or how bad it progresses.”
Nope, you can have better models. Better limits on the power of the changes (if you had a minimum CO2/temp sensitivity of 1.5C/doubling and then changed it from observation or model to 2.5C/doubling, the warming is progressing faster than expected before then).
Gavin, I just listened to your radio interview. Good stuff!
You mentioned (in response to a caller’s question) that although temperatures in the arctic are rising rapidly, there’s as yet no sign of an increase in atmospheric methane, its level having been stable for about a decade. But according to Rigby et al. 2009 (GRL, 35, L22805) there’s renewed growth of methane concentrations starting around early 2007. I’ve also taken a look at all the methane data I could get from WDCGG, and it appears to be quite real and significant.
[Response: It’s still a very small signal. As I said, it might be a precursor of things to come, but that kind of level of change could be driven by almost anything. Further monitoring is certainly warranted, but for it to be a significant forcing, it would need to be many times larger than last years bump. – gavin]
Just a quick question, does anyone have a reference in oceanic heat content with the polar ice melt removed? (In essence the ocean rise, minus additional inflow and sea temperature moderation due to ice melt…)
(At issue, IMHO, seems to be the energy source of ice melt. In the Antarctic is appears that Suns heating of the Southern Pacific current is under cutting shore based ice and in the Arctic the Sun is directly melting land based ice. Where in both cases recent fresh snow cover in the polar regions seems to be diminishing…)
Also, I am curious, when graphs such as those used in this posting are generated, it appears that they are based on time series analysis. Is there any reason that the stationary value chosen is not the mean of the population being represented, rather then the mean value at the beginning of the series? Not that I disregard the conclusion, only that it makes it appear that the approach being taken is more reasonable if the representation of the facts do not appear to be demonstrating bias, though clearly a rise of 16x10e22J is not in question…
REGINA, Saskatchewan, July 2 (UPI) — A severe drought is bringing havoc to grain and livestock farmers in Canada’s prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Nine counties in southern Alberta have declared emergencies and imposed watering restrictions and open fire bans in response to the dry conditions also plaguing western Saskatchewan, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.
One Saskatchewan researcher, Dr. Dave Sauchyn of the University of Regina, told the newspaper it’s likely part of a larger trend.
“We can’t possibly say with any certainty that this is a sign of global warming, but it’s entirely consistent with global climate model projections,” he said. “All this means is it’s highly probable we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.”
More evidence of a developing El Niño event has emerged during the past fortnight, and computer forecasts show there’s very little chance of the development stalling or reversing.
Responding to continued weak Trade Winds, equatorial sea-surface temperatures are now more than 1°C above normal in the eastern half of the Pacific. Although it has risen in the past fortnight, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) remains below zero at around −2.
El Niño events are usually (but not always) associated with below normal rainfall in the second half of the year across large parts of southern and inland eastern Australia.
Another adverse sign for southeastern Australian rainfall is the recent trend to positive values in the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), as measured by the Dipole Mode Index (DMI).
Notice also that the recent La Ninas did little to alleviate Australia’s drought – and it may very well be that this El Nino will do little to alleviate drought across the southeastern U.S. as well. Wait and see – but ENSO effects in a warming world are not the same as those of the pre-industrial ENSO, that’s obvious enough.
Charlie – if you think a trend can be demonstrated by less than a year’s data, then yes, Pielke Sr. has a point. If you also think it is acceptable to pick two arbitrary points in the data and draw a conclusion from those two points, then yes, Pielke Sr. has a point.
If, on the other hand, you think it necessary to follow centuries-old scientific conventions, and avoid cherry-picking data, then you cannot possibly accept that Pielke Sr. is doing anything but grandstanding.
Have you actually read Tamino’s excellent analysis of noisy trends? Do you understand the difference between noise and signal? If not, please read some more and come back if there is anything you still don’t understand.
Have to add a minor point – artic ice coverage (area) is partly a red hearing – the total ice (defined as volume) is the real issue. None-the-less short time trends on artic ice volume do matter very much. Once the ice is (mostly) gone during late summer, big effects begin that will drive world climate in a very serious manner.
CTG, #46, actually wrong. You can’t get a trend of annual temperatures from less than a years data.
Since there is no year.
You cant get a trend from two arbitrary points.
What you CAN do is put out a number that says what the difference is between those two values. But though this can be done, this is not a trend any more than the laden speed of the European Swallow indicates your favourite colour.
If you use shorter periods, you MUST (and this is one area where Pielke shoud [note ***should***] have known better) increase your uncertainty or decrease your confidence.
What is the data that supports the original statement being discussed: Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice. ??
For this statement to be made with such confidence, we must have seen some very significant recent rises in sea level, correct?
Or is it a case that over the last few years that we have done further analysis, adjustment, and correction of past data such that we now believe that the sea level is rising much more rapidly than we believed a few years ago?
The comments about short data period, increased uncertainty and decreased confidence apply to the original statement which asserts a fact. IMO Pielke’s comment is simply saying that the recent data doesn’t support a high confidence, low uncertainty statement that sea levels are rising faster than expected, ice extent is shrinking faster than previously expected, and ocean heat content is rising more rapidly than previously expected.
For this statement to be made with such confidence, we must have seen some very significant recent rises in sea level, correct?
No, only trends that have proven to be higher than those that were projected (“expected”) a few years ago, as the copenhagen report, the post you’re responding to, and common sense say.
You can claim ignorance for yourself, i.e. that you don’t understand that only discussions of trends are in any way meaningful, and therefore the original statement is clear within the context of discussing climate.
But you can’t claim ignorance for Pielke, Sr. Well, you can, but if he’s truly so ignorant why should anyone listen to him?
BTW someone over at Deltoid has come up with the same argument, so obviously this is becoming the cut-‘n-paste spin du jour.
The phrase ‘rising sea levels progressing faster’ is clearly a statement that sea level rise is accelerating.
[Response: Possibly English is not your first language, but ‘faster’ is a relative term. To understand the sentence you need to know what something was ‘faster’ than. The sentence was actually clear – ‘faster than projections from a few years’ ago. Arguing that it magically meant something else is completely pointless. Misrepresentating a statement and then giving examples of how that misrepresented statement is wrong might be fun, but it isn’t constructive contribution and simply adds noise. – gavin]
Pielke is responding to the statement “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago.” and as near as I can tell is correct. The past “few years” show a definite leveling off and not an acceleration of earlier trends. He cannot be accused of cherry-picking since he is merely responding to the original statement which implies an acceleration of trends.
“…have not burrowed into your archives, but tend to a sceptical opinion of politicians who warn of disaster, and think that it may be possible that they have political reasons for doing so.”
You might note that those denying the science on global warming tend to be preaching economic catastrophe if we dare seek to reduce emissions. Since such claims aren’t remotely backed by objective economic studies (as opposed to global warming concerns being backed by a preponderance of evidence), one could call it alarmism.
If you ignore the politicians and focus on what the scientists say…
This issue seems to be pretty simply resolved, so can I go on a slight tangent?
The climate models produce their own wiggles and noise, which we’ll call internal variability. Among this is something similar to El Nino/La Nina.
If I understand, the models cannot predict the phase or timing of ENSO events.
Do you think it will ever be possible for the models to do so? Or is the phase of ENSO inherently a chaotic “weather” initial value problem, and we cannot realistically hope that GCMs will ever get to that point?
[Response: Well, seasonal forecasts do reasonably well – but out past a year? Very, very unlikely. – gavin]
The original quote that got RP Sr. going was: “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.”
So we can see that, it was RC, not RP that started to analyze climate change metrics based on “a few years”. But English is not my native language, so maybe there is a word or two that need explaining.
[Response: A misunderstanding I think. As the commenter below points out – it is our understanding and knowledge of long term trends that has changed in the last few years, not the trends themselves. – gavin]
An inline comment has been added to my comment #35.
The situation is much clearer to me now.
It is simply a matter of my misunderstanding the context of the statement.
Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.
is what was posted in the blog, but what Stefen is actually saying is
Some aspects of our UNDERSTANDING AND MODELING of climate change have progressed rapidly over the last few years and these changes in understanding and modeling have caused us to increase the projected changes.
Mark at 54: “Why treat someone better than they are willing to treat you and have given every indication that this will never change?”
I would counter by asking, Why say something is “progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” when you mean it was progressing faster than you believed a few years ago? The use of present continuous clearly implies that the difference is not in the projection made a few years ago, but rather in the evidence collected today.
[Response: No. It means only what it says – trends are faster than what was in earlier projections. Your confusion is possibly that earlier projections were not necessarily as large as the long-term trends even when they were made. Or as in the case of ocean heat content, there was significant uncertainty in the what the long term trends were that has partially at least been cleared up. The addition of a couple of more years data doesn’t greatly affect the long term trends which are the only things worth comparing the projections too. – gavin]
if you show the sea level rise, please show the 100a cycle and we all will see, that the rise in the 1st half was faster than in the second and there is now acceleration found in the last years. but this is what you want to tell us.
have a objetiv look at the last 10 years, you can not pronounce, that warming goes on like predicted, not as sea level rising and so on. if you and your modells would not fix this strong on co2, you ll maybe do better predictions in the future. your way ist a too simple one way.
I check out Pielke Sr’s blog occasionally and have seen _this_ trend: he refers to his own publications and those that support the same conclusion and then asserts that those conclusions are fact and anybody disagreeing (i.e. publishing with different results) is not just of another opinion, but is wrong – and here is the proof. It’s another form of cherry-picking, and his “not true” assertions are just a form of that. Since the short-term-in-place-of-valid-trend habit has become one of the main techniques for many, he has joined the crowd.
While I have suggested that spending time countering denialist rhetoric is not the best use of RC’s time, Pielke, whatever we are to make of his blogging methods, is not a denialist – he accepts AGW in general. I think it is good for RC to respond to actively-publishing scientists that RC feels are getting it wrong (and of course especially when they target RC – as many are now doing).
Pielke appears to have responded by essentially rehashing the same claims. Note the last amusing line:
“Real Climate could be an important venue to permit the presentation and debate on the diversity of peer reviewed perspectives on climate. However, they need to permit all such viewpoints to be presented,”
As can be seen, Pielke’s views and those of this supporters are presented here, although they certainly aren’t formally peer-reviewed.
“…as well as not attack (or permit their commenters to) colleagues with whom they disagree.”
This is laughable, considering Pielke’s statement:
“Media and policymakers who blindly accept these claims are either naive or are deliberately slanting the science to promote their particular advocacy position. ”
Pielke is claiming that those who don’t accept his easily-refutable arguments are either ignorant or dishonest, which makes his above statements very hypocritical, among other things. At any rate, those who live in glass houses…
Real Climate could be an important venue to permit the presentation and debate on the diversity of peer reviewed perspectives on climate. However, they need to permit all such viewpoints to be presented, as well as not attack (or permit their commenters to) colleagues with whom they disagree.
And while we’re talking about short-term noise and long term trend:
We ridicule people who look for meaning in three year spans, as above. Yet in some important papers, the few years after Pinatubo was used as a test of the models and the water vapour feedback.
Is this possible because the forcing due to Pinatubo was so strong that its effects dominate over the internal noise and fluctuations? I see there was an El Nino in 1991; can we say that a sufficiently strong external forcing can overwhelm an El Nino?
Is there maybe a rule of thumb for how strong a forcing has to be, for its effects to be clearly seen on a short time scale? Or is this a poorly posed question?
[Response: Its a great question. Indeed, this is a signal-to-noise problem. The forcing by Pinatubo was about as large (in the negative direction) as CO2 doubling is (in the positive direction), roughly 4W/m^2. So, yes, its a huge signal, if short lived (the volcanic aerosol falls out within about 2 years), and thus provides us an excellent test bed for investigating the climate response to forcing. But that test bed is somewhat limited. Because the forcing is not long-lived, the analogy with the response to a slow, steady, long-term forcing (such as GHGs) is imperfect, and looking at the response to explosive volcanism alone cannot provide us with a definitive understanding of the long-term sensitivity of the earth system to forcing, and the feedbacks that are important in the climate response to lower frequency forcing. -mike]
So anyway, Pielke has posted on his website what he intended to dispute. Perhaps that will help focus the argument. In the meantime I have, over the last few days, looked at more graphs of sea level rise then I had ever expected to. It appears to be very episodic. Is there any reason to believe that a ten year span of sea levels is sufficient time to detect a statistically significant change in trends or could a ten year period be just noise? Holgate still has a higher sea level rise trend for the years 1904-1953 then he does for the years 1954-2003. This is from Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory but since Science is still charging for more then the abstract and since I am cheap I will leave it to those with access to let me know if it has been misrepresented. I suppose I have no more reason to trust this website then I would one called woodfortrees for instance. I’m sure they are good or Gavin wouldn’t use them but I can see how a skeptic might wonder at being refered there.
#53 Hank Roberts Says:
“Charlie — did you READ the SOURCE for the statement?
It’s identified. You’re acting like PSr.”
I did not read the source for the statement. I read the statement as posted. “Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.”
I don’t think most politicians and members of the public will read all of the supporting material or the report that is being described. They will read the description and assume that it means what it says.
It is clear now that the statement wasn’t intended to say climate metrics are progressing faster than expected, but that climate models and analysis is progressing faster.
From 1953-2006, the observed September trend is -7.8 + 0.6 %/decade, compared to the multi-model mean trend of -2.5 + 0.2%/decade. For 1979-2006, the numbers are -9.1 +1.5 % (observed) and -4.3 + 0.3% (modeled). Even larger differences are found for the last 10 years. At present, summer minima levels are approximately 30 years ahead of the mean model forecast.
Interesting, isn’t it, that Pielke is attacking a blog but not the published work that said blog comments appear to be based on? Just goes to show that illegitimate scientific claims can’t stand the light of peer review.
As far as ‘deliberately slanting the science’, Pielke has kept his ‘analysis’ of the paper on ‘ocean cooling’ (based on faulty Argo floats) up on his website with no disclaimers (the paper was retracted):
An honest and unbiased researcher who ran a blog on climate would attach a disclaimer to that page stating that the paper had been withdrawn – or am I missing something here?
By the way, collegiality is the root of cronyism and nepotism in the scientific establishment – something all scientists should keep in mind. Good colleagues may keep their mouths shut as you blunder away – but a good adversary will point out your mistakes as you make them, which may be painful but which will also keep you from making truly epic blunders. So, good scientists make a point of ignoring their colleagues and cultivating their adversaries. In that way, you make faster and more reliable progress. The opposite approach is to surround yourself with so-called ‘yes men’, aka ‘sycophants’.
In other words, scientific progress is all about ‘indiscriminate bashing’ – and that means that emotional attachments to scientific theories are counterproductive. This is the problem with the denialist camp – they just can’t admit they’ve made such massive errors.
I would counter by asking, Why say something is “progressing faster than was expected a few years ago” when you mean it was progressing faster than you believed a few years ago?
I’m struggling to comprehend the implied difference here between “was expected” and “you believed.” The subject in both is functionally the same. The expectation is a belief, based on facts researched by climate scientists.
I must say I find this kind of reading silly to the point of being willfully obtuse. The line of defense that Pielke has established is to suggest that this sentence suggests something that only someone unfamiliar with scientific methods could confuse. That is the strongest suggestion yet that Pielke is knowingly being deceptive.
The expectation of climate change is what has changed, not a small subset of data points that couldn’t be used to prove anything one way or the other. The only way you could misread this statement is if you think reports about climate change are not based upon actual projections but rather cherry picked data (which is precisely what Pielke has done in order to refute it). That kind of straw man fallacy makes serious rebuttal almost pointless.
If I were to criticize real climate, I would agree that some opportunity is being lost.
I personally think that some of the wording is too technical for a general audience. If someone does not have a scientific education, he or she may be confused by so many technical terms being used. As the saying goes, keep it simple stupid.
I would also criticize the writing style of just about every climate site on the Internet. Good scientific information is usually presented humbly by the author. A little bit of humble pie would go a very long way in the climate science community. Quite frankly, many scientists have been way out of line with their writing, and it puts a bad face on the scientific community. Instead of labeling ideas as stupid or people as deniers, educational writing illustrating the errors and the solutions to correct them should be preferred. The political charge of climate science does not excuse the current trend of writing by professionals. Science education is not a political campaign, and it shouldn’t read like one.
“Pielke’s claim that this is “NOT TRUE” is merely based on the statement that “since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased.””
I read this as Pielke referring to current measurements not being as dramatic as 2007. Therefore, Pielke is flat out an amateur about sea ice, a bad amateur, given the power of the internet to study so many critical features on a daily basis, not only ice conditions, but the weather giving these conditions. 2007 had a perfect climate mix, world wide signals affecting the Polar regions, the El-Nino during winter of 06-07, followed abruptly by La-Nina in spring and summer had significant secondary effects, giving a mild cloudy winter and a very sunny hot summer over the Arctic Ocean.
A cloudy Arctic Ocean is key, if albedo is removed over the summer its doom for sea ice, however thick. If, despite warmer conditions, clouds cover the entire Arctic Ocean extensively over the summer (as is right now) the melt is not as brutal. But currently the melt is very significant
and will be comparable to 2007 and 2008. Taking away the weather context, the very reasons for
expanded melting, and summarizing a return to ice normalcy imminent, is not a scientific statement, but one born from willful ignorance, wishful thinking driven by the cause of ridiculing sound science by any means possible, providing raw meat for the contrarian megaphone propagandists. Pielke delivers here, his true colors, facts are useable without context, this way any fact, may seem irrelevant.
“What the report is about is scientific progress: new scientific studies that appeared since the deadline for the IPCC report. This is said directly in the bit we quote above: “Since 2007, reports comparing the IPCC projections of 1990 with observations show…” It is new analysis, not adding a couple of years of data.”
>>”It is new analysis, not adding a couple of years of data.”
To the other Paulk: I agree, the semantics argument is ridiculous. When the meaning of the quoted statement is in doubt, I think it should be interpreted in the context of how the statement was used. The entire paragraph reads:
So what does it say? Our regular readers will hardly be surprised by the key findings from physical climate science, most of which we have already discussed here. Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice. “The updated estimates of the future global mean sea level rise are about double the IPCC projections from 2007″, says the new report. And it points out that any warming caused will be virtually irreversible for at least a thousand years – because of the long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Since the very next sentence addressed “IPCC projections”, it clear from the context, that changes in climate change projections were being discussed.
The alternative interpretation, doesn’t make much sense.
It’s puzzling that Roger Pielke Sr. would take RC to task, in this instance. Perhaps the allegations are being made against RealClimate for only summarizing key findings of the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress because he, as a skeptic, is apprehensive of RC’s influence in documenting climate change.
Al Gore says in his movie “this is a moral issue”.
When *important* things like money and pride come into play, a lie easily becomes a legal issue. Can you lie to your government about your income?
There are so many knowledgeable people bowing down to mother earth! Why don’t they introduce the legal whip for those barkers?
If you include the extent of 2008 Arctic sea ice in a climatic 30-year time series and compare it to the trend from the previous 30-year series ending in 2007, you will get a slightly gentler slope, no?
I agree that this whole discussion is ridiculous and we should get on with something constructive, and return to this debate in 2015.
From the main post: “Yes, same thing again: Pielke’s argument is beside the point, since the Synthesis Report is explicitly talking about the summer sea ice minimum reached each September in the Arctic, and we don’t even know yet what its value will be for 2009. And Pielke is again referring to a time span (“since 2008”!) that is far too short to have much to do with climatic trends.”
This year’s melt has so far been tracking very close to the big melt of ’07. Once we get a full three year’s data since ’06, will that data be enough to show that the melting trend–fairly linear from ’80 to ’06–has now entered a new, less-linear phase?
The most recent methane data also seem to continue the upturn in methane concentrations that started in ’07 (as I recall). How will long will it be till we can call this a new trend?
Aren’t the facts that this upturn in atmospheric CH4 levels:
1)is more pronounced in the northernmost stations and
2)is not strongly CH4C13 (which as I understand represents non-biotic sources of methane)
suggestive, at least, that the well attested melting tundra (and perhaps the less-thoroughly attested release of seabed methane hydrates) are now large enough that they are showing up in the data of atmospheric concentration, i.e. that we have entered a new trend of methane feedback?
(Sorry for the long, rambling questions, and thanks ahead of time for any response.)
Instead of labeling ideas as stupid or people as deniers, educational writing illustrating the errors and the solutions to correct them should be preferred. The political charge of climate science does not excuse the current trend of writing by professionals. Science education is not a political campaign, and it shouldn’t read like one.
So essentially you want the debate about climate change to return to what it was before oil companies paid out so much cash to poison the well?
The criticism of Dr Pielke’s points 1 and 3 are reasonable.
Point 2, not so much!
Why stop the OHC graph in 2003 unless you’re practicing
‘Conclusion based evidence gathering’?
There is 2004-2008 data, which, although uncertain, point
to a moderating trend. Caution dictate that the metric
should not have been used!
Denialists spin, no question there, but on the warmist
side there’s a true believer’s tendency to accept
sleight-of-hand arguments supporting the cause.
[Response: Please stop jumping to conclusions. The Levitus paper had not come out at the time of the Copenhagen conference – thus the best and most up-to-date estimate of long term OHC changes was Domingues et al, 2008. We do have a new analysis that comes up to 2008 now (which makes things admittedly more uncertain because of the transition to a new measuring platform) and we show it above. What sleight of hand are you referring to? The long term trends are very similar in both cases. – gavin]
Here are the actual ice month end averages for September (30yrs ago and last year)
SEPTEMBER (month end averages) NSIDC
1980 Southern Hemisphere = 19.06 million sq km
1980 Northern Hemisphere = 6.02 million sq km
Total = 25.08 million sq km
2008 Southern Hemisphere = 18.50 million sq km
2008 Northern Hemisphere = 4.67 million sq km
Total = 23.17 million sq km
Re: #83 (Wili)
You can already call the upturn in CH4 concentration a trend; although the time period is short, the signal-to-noise level is high enough that it’s undeniably significant.
Gavin’s statement is correct, however, that the net increase has not so far been large enough to have a notable climate impact. If, however, the trend continues, that will no longer be the case.
What I’ve looked at so far (only a limited amount of data) indicates that arctic rises are larger than south polar rises; I don’t know about northernmost stations vs the rest of the globe, and I don’t have any data (yet) about 13CH4.
The NSIDC released the June figures to-day and I posted them, as I do at the end of each month. I have attached no importance, to their significance, at all. tamino, We must wait for September, in order to get 2009 report. I promise to post, then, too. It’s not exactly cherry picking, as it is the latest monthly data.
“Greenland is now losing about 300 gigatonnes of ice per year, enough to raise sea level by 0.83 millimetres. Antarctica is losing about 200 gigatonnes per year, almost all of it from West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, raising levels by 0.55 millimetres.”
how much heat is this ?
500GT x 1e9(T/GT) x 1e3 (Kg/Tonne) x 1e3 g/Kg x 80 Cal/g x 4.2 J/Cal = 1.7e20 J
as compared to the 1e22J/yr eyeballed from the last decade of the Levitus(2008) graf
EL says, “Good scientific information is usually presented humbly by the author.”
Uh, Dude, have you ever been to a scientific conference. Scientists are not known for low ego mass. Formal written publications are one thing, but talks, blogs, discussions around the coffee pot… can all get pretty rough.
Look, the first time a wildly wrong idea is posited, patient explanation is warranted, but after it’s raised seventy times seven times by the same person, even Jesus might be tempted to question their sinceriand intelligence. Climate scientists didn’t make this issue political. They raised a concern to policy makers and were met with Congressional subpoenas. After 30 years, at some point, you just have to admit that some people are uneducable. Let’s hurry up and get something better on television so they’ll quit standing in the way and the adults can get something accomplished.
Bob Lear (25) — We are currently experiencing the longest solar minimum since 1913 CE. Despite this, 2008 CE was about the tenth warmest year on record. You may care to compare this to the rank of 1913 CE.
David, consistancy of argument seems important to me. If co2 forcing would require a long period of time to warm the earth due to oceans delaying response then solar forcing would also require a long time to warm or cool the earth. I’m not supporting solar forcing as a primary climate driver since a mechanism hasn’t been identified, just pointing out the argument should be the same.
This is off-topic. I just don’t know where to ask this question. Some people were by our county looking at caves for sequestering CO2. Instead of storing it in caves, which seems like a bit of a waste. Why don’t they release it in the rainforests, or orchards? Trees and plants are nature’s recyclers, they could use that CO2 and produce more O. Instead of redistibuting income, you are redistributing CO2 from the places that don’t need it to the places that do. You get stronger, healthier plants, less CO2 and more O. Why are we storing CO2 in caves.
A footnote – Anthony Watts asks..Real Climate gets on the “hurry up bandwagon” in regards to climate change perception. Dr. Pielke takes them to task again. I ask “What’s the rush?”
However, RC posted the criticism of Pielke at 9.09pm on July 01, and Pielke’s response appeared at 9.11am the following morning. Time Zones notwithstanding, if responding rapidly is now some kind of flaw in the Wattosphere, then he really should be pursuading his good friend Roger to get more sleep….
21 June 2009 10:03am RC: ‘A warning from Copenhagen.’
30 June 2009 07:00am Pielke:’Real Climate’s Misinformation’
01 July 2009 09:09pm RC: ‘More Bubkes’
02 July 2009 09:11am Pielke: ‘Response to ‘More Bubkes’
The idea that solar and CO2 should have equal delays doesn’t make sense. Look at the answers to “what would happen if the sun went out” for details.
Most sunlight reaches the ground promptly because the atmosphere is mostly transparent in the visible range. Most outgoing energy is in the infrared band and is delayed by greenhouse gas interactions with the atmosphere, and spread around during the delay.
steve (94) — The slight additional warming and cooling over a sunspot cycle does not penitrate very far into the ocean. The lag, similar to the lag experienced over the annual cycle, is about 1 year. This indicates the lack of depth.
This is, of course, a rather short term forcing, the average solar sunspot cycle being 10.448 years according to some NOAA site. The sun is very slowly warming up, but this has no effect during the instrumental record or even, I think, the ice core records.
Ray Ladbury – “Uh, Dude, have you ever been to a scientific conference. Scientists are not known for low ego mass. Formal written publications are one thing, but talks, blogs, discussions around the coffee pot… can all get pretty rough.”
We are not discussing locker room talk, but publicly created information outlets to education the general public. Children come to these web sites, and they see scientists conducting themselves poorly instead of enlightened well educated people.
While dealing with so many uncertainties around climate science, many people may find themselves proven wrong. Some people from both sides may eventually regret making some of their comments.
An ego is not a good quality for a person to have, and it is a trait of the uneducated or rude.
“Look, the first time a wildly wrong idea is posited, patient explanation is warranted, but after it’s raised seventy times seven times by the same person, even Jesus might be tempted to question their sinceriand intelligence. Climate scientists didn’t make this issue political. They raised a concern to policy makers and were met with Congressional subpoenas. After 30 years, at some point, you just have to admit that some people are uneducable. Let’s hurry up and get something better on television so they’ll quit standing in the way and the adults can get something accomplished.”
After an explanation is made, you can refer future questions with a link. Dealing with the public has never been easy.
Hank, if there was a mysterious forcing then it would affect the amount of water vapor in the air and you would have the same results for all intents and purposes as you would by adding any other GHG to the atmosphere, wouldn’t it?
David, I am a far way from being a solar expert but I do understand that solar output as we understand it is not a likely candidate for driving the recent climate. My point was that expecting an instantaneous response from a change in solar output should a mechanism exist that we aren’t aware of would be the same as expecting temperatures to immediately drop if co2 were cut by 3% or to immediately rise if it were increased by 3%. The inconsistancy is the expectation that solar must show an immediate correlation while allowing co2 lag times and the acknowledgement that noise can overcome short term climate signals.
And again, I am not interested in trying to defend the mysterious solar influence which we know not of. I prefer things that can be measured.
The new Synthesis Report will be very useful for a paper I’m writing on “Food Rights and Climate Change.” Thanks so much for the earlier post with the link. It’s hard to imagine that denialists are still out there.
I have a lot of sources now, but if anyone has any really good sources re how climate change will affect food production on land and sea, let me know. And my understanding that CC will increase crops in temperate & higher zones is probably wrong, since the heat will dessicate the plants & recent studies show it will turn some food crops toxic, that more CO2 will benefit weeds more than food crops, plus I understand that the soil up near the arctic is very poor, and other such contraindications. And what about the floods and droughts – not good for food crops either.
An ego is not a good quality for a person to have, and it is a trait of the uneducated or rude.
This is a call for the uneducated to be put in charge of science.
No more Galileo.
No more Darwin.
No more Einstein.
No, all must be sacrificed on the alter of having had the sin of ego.
OK so, you hate science and scientists, what’s your proposed solution? The society postulated by Vonnegut where everyone above average is handicapped with physical weights or buzzing noises so they can’t think, in order to make sure that everyone is equal?
No more Michael Jordan? No more Einstein? This is truly your vision of what you want our society to become?
Alas, no public sessions. If you have the time I recommend the Mt. Hood field trip. It’s a spectacular place. Based on both your work here and the interview on KBOO I’d have to say you’re a perfect person to talk on “Communicating scientific results”. Both that conference and the one that immediately follows it look like they would be fascinating if I was in a position to attend. Hope you enjoy your visit.
Katz (95) posed a question about CO2 sequestration. This is outside my AOS, but I thought I’d take a stab at answering the question to test my own understanding. This being a digital medium, if I get “bit-slapped” by those who know better, I’ll humbly accept my medicine.
Separating CO2 from other parts of the atmosphere, or even from other efluvia at the point of origin (such as a smoke stack) is no mean feat. We are talking about molecules of a gas that possesses no trivially obvious signature. It is not like determining if a Semi is trying to sneak through the car lane at a toll-booth.
Moreover, if we were only talking about a Semi-tractor-trailer’s worth of gas in one place, the issue would vanish into triviality. But we are talking about giga-tons — that’s 1,000,000,000+ tons — of a molecular substance too small to be imaged by the most powerful electronmicroscope in existence. And the idea/ideal is to somehow capture and sequester (that is, stash safely away) some significant amount of this stuff so that we avoid turning the planet into a tropical hell that would make Chicago in August look like ski-season.
So you ask, “Why don’t they release it in the rainforests, or orchards?” Well, first you have to catch it, and then you have to take it there, and then you have to do something with the billions of other tons of CO2 that would otherwise choke the life out of those places.
Consider this analogy: Water is good, water is necessary. There can be no life without water. Does that mean that you (or any other organism) will necessarily thrive if we seal you in a tank of water w/o even as much as a pocket of air? There is a matter of where and when and how much that must also be taken into account. Just because a little water (or CO2) is good — in the right place and at the right time — that does not mean that a lot of it (water or CO2), everywhere and all at once is somehow “better”, or even OK.
EL Says (99): 2 July 2009 at 9:06 PM “… An ego is not a good quality for a person to have, and it is a trait of the uneducated or rude.”
Echoing dhogaza in 103, I would ask: El, can you name a single Zen master who has made a substantive contribution to science? The psychological issues that motivate an individual to go into science are not relevant to the logical issues around the cogency of their arguments. But there would be no logical arguments if people were not motivated to make them, and that motivation springs only from the/their ego.
Apologies for my language, but nobody — including you — would give a shit about the truth if telling the truth were not also accompanied by some applause. If you did not have some personal investment in the claim you were trying to make, you would never bother to make it much less fight tooth, claw and nail for it. Yet it is only in such ego invested struggle, such dialectical conflict, that the merits of a claim or idea can ever hope to emerge. Eliminate that, and you eliminate even the possibility of discovering the truth.
(Apologies if this comes up twice: reCaptcha was getting weird on me.)
william Says: “I agree with Ike, there is a high degree of collegiality within the climate scientific establishment.”
Not nearly as much as within the denialist camp! How about that Heritage Institute meeting, or was it Heartland?
You don’t see the more testy internal debates within climate science on blog sites – it’s usually fairly arcane and on the leading edge of the science, because all rational climate researchers agree on the basic fundamentals.
The reason real climate scientists shy away from public debates on the arcane details of their research is best exemplified by the Carl Wunsch – Global Warming Swindle affair. First, read his response, where he states he has no doubts at all about the general conclusions, the IPCC reports, etc.:
This came about because he was discussing the uncertainties and complexities involved in modeling the ocean vs. the poor data coverage, and his comments were taken out of context and used in some fossil fuel propaganda piece that was run on British television as part of an attack on the general conclusions of climate models. This has no doubt greatly increased the distrust level among scientists when it comes to talking to the media – who wants to be treated like Carl Wunsch? (as noted, the rate of oceanic heat uptake is important to the rate of the short-term transient response, but not so much to the long-term projections, i.e. equilibrium climate sensitivity, or so it seems).
Likewise, I’m sure if you asked several Arctic ice researchers what the most important research projects in the region were, you’d get a lot of interestingly contentious discussion – for example, why precisely are the models underestimating the changes in ice volume & extent? It doesn’t mean the models are wrong, it means that there is room for improvement.
Secular animist: Yes, that’s an odd choice of words. “Perspectives” are usually solicited by journal editors after a paper has passed peer review by independent referees, so there might be editorial back and forth but not the typical peer review process. Usually it’s to give a larger context or to explain why the paper is important in the ‘big picture’.
Finally, hot off the presses, and probably likely to stimulate discussions:
Conventional El Niño events involve warming in the eastern Pacific. But a new wrinkle might be emerging as a phenomenon dubbed El Niño Modoki (from the Japanese meaning “similar, but different”) shows warming in the Central Pacific — similar to that which is seen during La Nina years.
“Normally, El Niño results in diminished hurricanes in the Atlantic,” said Peter Webster, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who led a research team studying the issue. “But this new type is resulting in a greater number of hurricanes with greater frequency and more potential to make landfall.”
Warming in the central Pacific Ocean is associated with a greater-than-average frequency and increasing landfall potential along the Gulf of Mexico coast and Central America, the report said.
The study’s findings are published in the July 3 issue of Science.
Hurricane-related studies always seem to light up the climate blogosphere, as do El Nino studies – so this should be interesting.
Can you show us what the recent 10 year trends of the contested variables look like? This should be a fair compromise between over removing any evidence in a varying trend, and excessive noise sampled over a short period. It would, for example, show how variable the sea level trend is over the longer term – allowing a consideration of the significance of any variation from a simple 30 year trend.
It is saddening and alarming to see the number ad hominem attacks against Professor Pielke both in the subject of the thread and in the posts that have been allowed into it, echoing the point that he made himself today on his blog. It begins at response 1 and goes from bad to bad throughout. Pielke’s own blog post may indeed have had a “shrillness” to it, but there were no personal attacks or ad hominems in any of his words. So why respond in this way?
For those of us who are not scientists and who can understand some of the points, and not others, these ad hominem attacks at Pielke’s character, and the word “Bubkes” (=BS?) in the thread title, only further increases our skepticism & suspicion. If he is wrong, then why can’t the reasons be given why he is wrong, without the attacks on his character? No one who reads Pielke’s blog doubts his sincerity. Thus, all other things being, the ad hominems just leave the general public with the take-home impression that he must have a point then. If this is the wrong take-home impression, those making the ad hominem attacks have only themselves to blame.
[Response: To me as a scientist the worst kind of ad-hominem attack is if someone accuses me in public of spreading “misinformation”, since this insinuates a deliberate deception and by suggesting sinister motives aims to undermine my personal credibility, which is the most cherished thing for any scientist. Had Pielke said “I disagree with your conclusions”, that would have been entirely different.
The term “bubkes” in our title is a colloquial Yiddish expression. Saying “what you’ve got is bubkes” means (as I was told beforehand) that what you’ve got is not a serious argument at all. And this is exactly what our article is saying: we don’t think Pielke has got any serious argument here. This is not ad-hom, it refers to the quality of his arguments. -stefan]
I can name any number of Zen masters (insofar as personal humility is concerned) who have made a substantive contribution to science: the great American physicist David Bohm is my personal favorite.
Some people truly do get a charge out of the truth alone, regardless of subsequent rewards (or, more likely, punishments). The subject of how wonderful I am quickly wears thin, while the truth is persistently elusive, our individual and collective knowledge so ephemeral at the edges that the distant points twinkle.
My experience of climate science is deeply conflicted on the subject of how great human beings are. On the one hand, we’re smart enough to figure out the trouble we’re headed for ahead of time, so that it’s possible for prudent action to head off disaster. On the other hand, we’re stupid enough to continue walking right into trouble despite the most explicit warnings possible. On the whole, I’m finding Homo sapiens an embarrassing species to be a member of.
Comment by Daniel C. Goodwin — 3 Jul 2009 @ 4:30 AM
Q. How many AGW denialists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. There is no good evidence that the light bulb needs to be changed.
Let’s top it off for G.Karst, who’s so impressed with this one of several views, the ‘extent’ at that. Did you identify the ‘Real Sea Ice Surface’ expressed in the ‘Area’ value. Then, did you identify Sea Ice mean Thickness? What if I told you, finger in the air, the sea ice 30 years ago was 3-4 meters thick end of June and now in mean it’s not 1.5 meter. Would that strike you as a dramatic reduction in polar sea ice?
Just that you understand what we’re looking at in the coming months, or rather what’s we’re not be looking at. Most terrifying this season anything on the west side of Greenland, baffin specifically!
Pielke’s interpretation of the sentence is correct. If the intention was to say something about our improved understanding of trends, the chosen sentence is faulty.
“Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago”
The key word is EXPECTED. A few years ago, expectations were about future data, not past data. If you use the term “expected”, you are talking about a future time relative to that moment. What was expected a few years ago was a future evolution of temperatures, arctic ice or sea level rise. Those are the aspects of climate change that were EXPECTED, the future ones. There were no expectations at all about calculated trends with PAST data, so that’s something that cannot progress compared to expectations. I never heard anybody claim that two years later new studies would probably appear that would claim higher trends for the same data, or would provide new past data which is more alarming. THAT would have been an expectation about improved understanding. But no. All expectations in the past were about the evolution of the real world. It is that evolution what you have to check to decide if expectations were too low or too high.
Anyway, given that all of this is just a misunderstanding, why no edit the initial sentence and write something more accurate that correctly reflects what has been going on? For example:
“Recent studies have shown that our previous understanding of the climate trends was probably a too conservative one, and we should expect a more rapid warming, arctic melt and sea level rise in the future. This is despite the observed reduction of the trends which happens as a result of including data from the last 2 years, which is believed to be affected by weather noise”.
[Response: Your last part is wrong, since the data of the last two years (June 2007 to June 2009) show an extremely high sea level rise of 5.3 mm/year (which we cited above only as an example for the fallacy of looking at short-term trends) as well as two record-breaking low sea ice minima in the Arctic.
But don’t lose sight of the bottom line of the argument: it is about how science has progressed in the three years since the deadline for papers included in the last IPCC report (which is of course what is primarily meant by “expected a few years ago”), and what this means for policy. Does the most recent science since IPCC argue for increased urgency in emissions reductions? That is what the Copenhagen Synthesis Report argues, and it makes a scientifically well-founded case for that, supported by a large number of leading scientists and a peer-review process. Or does it mean we can relax and take it easy with climate policy measures? That is what Pielke is trying to convey in his blog (just read his last sentence). And here I do not think that statements like “sea ice recovered since 2008″ or “sea level has flattened since 2006″ have any relevance to policy whatsoever, especially since this supposed flattening of sea level rise simply comes from cherry-picking a suitable start year and neglecting the inverted barometer correction, as mentioned above.-stefan]
Life goes much too fast here, however, in reply to #23
A quick look at any graph showing the evolution of the Arctic sea ice clearly shows that one year is an absolutely preposterous sample period (because of the short-term variability you always find superimposed over the underlying trend).
Is not quite true because multi-year and first year ice have very different characteristics, and thus a very cold or very hot year can have consequences over a very long time. One way of looking at 2007 is that it was a step change imposed on a declining trend, and its effect on the trend given rising greenhouse forcing will be visible essentially until the next ice age, if that ever comes
Bob Lear (#25): this is a meme that keeps resurfacing in various places.
The fact that we are at a solar minimum does not somehow debunk AGW. Rather, the opposite. If the solar variation was the major influence on temperature change, the last few years would have seen a strong cooling trend. That we have in fact had a slightly positive temperature trend over the last 10 years despite this down phase of the solar cycle is strong evidence that something else is holding temperatures at or near record highs.
The only plausible “something else” is greenhouse gas warming.
What troubles me about this meme is not that anyone is trying to find this “something else” (and there are enough bizarre theories out there) but that many people somehow think that where we are in the solar cycle is evidence against AGW. It is not. On the contrary, the clear break between the temperature trend in recent years and the solar cycle is pretty strong evidence for AGW.
I personally don’t like arguing against a mysterious force whose properties are not known and can’t be measured. The only solar forcing besides direct TSI I have heard discussed recently is cloud formation from cosmic rays (forgive me if I over simplify). Since this would cool the earth by preventing sunlight from reaching the surface if it was accurate then the TSI as measured by ground instruments should show a change with solar cycles above the levels of TSI as measured by satellites. I haven’t found a study that compares this but I didn’t try too long since I think it is safe to assume it has been done and if it showed a significant change it would be rather easy to find.
Alex, the argument has nothing to do with Pielke as a person. Rather, it has to do with the fact that he is trying to draw conclusions about the long-term behavior of a system whose short-term behavior is dominated by noise by looking at short datasets. To say that is a dumb thing to do is hardly ad hominem. It is valid criticism of method.
For reference, it would, in my opinion, be an ad hominem attack to argue against Roy Spencer’s recent attempts at comedy by pointing out that he is a creationist. That has nothing to do with the argument being made, however much it may raise questions about his understanding of scientific method.
Do you really think no mainstream scientists are looking at short-term behavior of the climate system? They are–but in that case, that is the signal, not the noise. What Pielke is trying to do is infer longterm behavior from short-term behavior. In a system where short-term behavior is dominated by many different, highly variable but short-lived phenomena, that verges on insanity. No wonder he’s so peevish.
EL @99 says, “After an explanation is made, you can refer future questions with a link. Dealing with the public has never been easy.”
EL, have you been cryogenically frozen for the past 20 years? You seem to have entirely missed the fact that some people refuse to read a link–or even what is put in front of their face. Some folks are WILLFULLY ignorant. At a point willful ignorance becomes indistinguishable from stupidity.
And scientists are human. Sorry to burst your bubble. Oh, and there’s no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, either.
Are you suggesting then that all the warming in the globes oceans since around 1985 is absorbed by polar ice melting.
I mean, if you were to suggest the current level were an increase of loss at a rate of 1.7e22J per year possibly dwindling down to 0 in 1985 suggesting a mean of 0.85e22J per year since 1985, times the time frame of melt, should average out for the last 23 years to be about 19.33e22J, where it is suggested that the 0.31 Deg. C suggested the ocean heat content increase appears to be about 16e22J over the same time period.
So if you were to remove the amount of heat absorbed by the state change of ice over 23 years the Earth’s oceans should actually be cooler, which appears to be in alignment with some of the studies in the 2003 measurements; but, contrary to recent studies.
Hence, the reason I was looking for actual measured records of say a remote sensing data base from which we could remove the ice melt and heat inflows from tributaries to attempt to build model of higher resolution with lesser parametrization. Thanks for the rough values, I am afraid that this venture may require more details…
In reply to the remarks levelled at me in the reply to :
English is my first language , as I’m pretty sure you know—and ‘faster’ relates to ‘than expected’.
If sea levels are not accelerating [ as KNMI and Wilco Hazeleger have said]—-and you concur with that , but then say that rising sea levels is one of the aspects that is progressing faster[ than you expected]—then it follows that what you expected was that the graph of sea level rise would have become less steep than it actually has—-and since there’s been no change in the rate of rise— that the maintenance of the same steepness in the graph tells you that the SLR is progressing faster than expected.
Or are you saying that the steepness of the trend line had been wrong all along [ on the low side]—and now it’s been discovered that it’s actually steeper than was thought?
Why didn’t you post the rest of the comment, with the Josh Willis view that the oceans are neither warming nor cooling [ was that previous trend line also wrong? ] —and the Drew Shindell view that 45% of the Arctic ice shrinkage is due to black carbon [ meaning that less of the Arctic warming is due to CO2 than had been previously thought ?
No matter how many times you point to Rothrock et. al, plus all the rest of it, the same garbage keeps popping up – right, Dave Cooke?
I think boos are more appropriate than cheers, in your case, as well as for Pielke – see this, for example:
Given all this information, perhaps Roger Pielke Sr. should revist his 2005 statement: “Our conclusion is that the Arctic Systems Science report, which received so much media attention, significantly overstated the actual trends of Arctic sea-ice coverage.”
When you’re proved wrong time and time again, yet refuse to acknowledge it and keep pumping out the same propaganda line, you lose all credibility and become ridiculous.
And please, could he take down his claims about ocean cooling on the dozen or so posts he put up based on the retracted Argo float paper? Or at least put a disclaimer on top of them, since he advertises his blog to reporters as a ‘reputable source’?
Could you get onto the issue of the “suppressed Carlin Report” which seems to be blowing up in the media? having read the report on th eweb it seems to me to be full of errors but it is making headlines and a good critique would be useful.
Once you are convinced of your own superiority to everyone else, you suffer under the delusion of a conjured felicity. It is a weakness not a strength, and it stands in the way of progress.
I could easily present Kurt Godel, Georg Cantor, and Micheal Faraday as great people who didn’t walk around as godly people. All three of these people were consistently attacked by people suffering under the delusion of egotism.
“OK so, you hate science and scientists, what’s your proposed solution?”
I never said I hate scientists or science.
Gary Herstein – “motivation springs only from the/their ego”
Ego as in self confidence and desire to have your ideas accepted is different from egotism. An egotistical person will deny clear evidence based upon his or her own superior view of the world. One does not have to look too far to find mistakes made by people who allowed their egos to go out of bounds. Lets take Albert Einstein as an example. When presented with evidence of black holes, Einstein remarked “Your mathematics is correct, but your physics is wrong.” When presented with the quantum world, Einstein remarked “God does not play dice.” Einstein became the people who he disliked as a child, and he missed out on some wonderful new science as a result.
I am an architect and have just been directly affected by global warming. I received this shocking news from a flooring subcontractor:
“This section over the last 3 x weeks has had a shift which may be due to the extreme environmental climate change and in turn created 2 x creases in the vinyl running across the corridor on the joins of the different parts of the existing substrate.”
I think he means here in London it has been particularly hot for the last week…
The problem is one of the practical details of farming. In the wheat growing Kansas of my youth, we had a 2-week period in June where we could expect dry weather for harvest and a 2-week period in August where we could expect enough rain to geminate the seed. We picked a wheat cultivar that was suited to this climate regime. Still, we expected to lose 2 or 3 crops in any 7 year period, a couple of years we would break even, and in a couple of years out of the 7 we would make enough money to pay our bills and keep farming.
In a period of climate change, dry periods and rain periods are less predictable, leading to real problems with harvest, planting and other field work schedules. In particular, selecting the correct cultivar to grow becomes a real gamble. As it becomes warmer, does the farmer grow wheat again, and what cultivar? Or, does he switch to sorghum? Many farmers have complex, multiyear rotation schedules to control weeds, pests, and soil moisture. Knowing how make money growing crops on a particular field is intellectual property that has real value. Changing the climate reduces the value of that IP. Abandoning the field obliterates that IP. Farmers have a huge store of knowledge about their local growing system. Moving a farmer can be as traumatic to him as forcing a climate scientist to design electronic systems for rockets. That is; much of what he knows is no longer useful, and he has a long, steep, learning curve ahead of him.
Farming takes a significant infrastructure. The cost to prepare raw land for farming is very significant. In addition, infrastructure for handling crops and maintaining that infrastructure is significant. Farmers will be reluctant to abandon their current farmlands where this infrastructure is in place, for new for raw land where they must invest in infrastructure. Then, the farmer gets 7 bad years in a row, and the farm goes bust. After the dust bowl of the 1930s, rain returned. And, we had many young people that still had farming skills. That may not happen with climate change. Agriculture has always been a low return industry where it was difficult to attract capital investment.
Studies on the feasibility of agriculture in a changing climate should thus be evaluated on how well the studies address the issues of predictability of growing seasons and the costs of moving agricultural infrastructure.
The response of a particular plant to CO2 is a miniscule part of agricultural productivity. High CO2 response does not count if there is no crop for lack of soil moisture. And, growing lots of wheat does not count if it rots in the field, or if you are able to harvest the grain, but do not have a railroad to get it to market. Try to permit a new railroad line or highway these days! Try to find a study on agrucultural productivity under climate change that addresses costs of new railroads and highways. (And, these are up front capial costs, not backend costs that can be discounted.)
Instead of posting individual data points, why not build ice extant trend lines for NH, SH, and GLOBAL? You could do them for annual averages, individual seasons, minimums, and maximums. Box your trends in 2xstandard deviations. Now you have a story to tell.
Posting individual data points from 1980 and 2008/2009 – not much of a story. Not much point to it at all. Kind of wonder why you bother to do it. That kind of completely insignificant busy work makes me question your motives.
@Ike:45 re el nino
Browsing around yesterday, I saw this …
Moving from El Nino (ENSO) to the Pacific and Atlantic oscillations,
this paper show a statistical reconstruction based on the sign (+ or -) of the AMO and PDO. It found that three factors accounted for about 75% of the drought pattern – with AMO and PDO accounting for about 25% each. (Interestingly, the paper claims that US SW has an inverse temp relation to drought – cooler temps lead to drier conditions. Most climate models project warmer temps and drier conditions of the US SW)
“Let’s top it off for G.Karst, who’s so impressed with this one of several views, the ‘extent’ at that”.
I posted the NSIDC data without any additional comment. If you have problems with the data you should take it up with the NSIDC. It is their data not mine. I left it’s relevance and importance completely up to the reader. How can you possibly know what impresses me? What views are you referring to???
Gavin, is there data that is unacceptable on this site that I don’t know about? Must data be accompanied by biased comment and rhetoric? I admit I am new to this site, so someone please explain the limits to observational science ruling here.
Perhaps, people are upset that I corrected tamino’s error. Is he some personage inviolate around here?? Someone needs to fill me in on the unwritten rules.
Science is a progressive endeavor. It does not arrive fully complete. New data must be examined and applied or rejected by discriminating logic and reason.
You say this report was – apparently “suppressed” – by the EPA & that it – supposedly – undermines what the EPA case.
Is there any actual doubt that the EPA did suppress it & that it, despite it coming from EPA personnel who clearly weren’t on message to what was required, not only undermined the EPA claims but flatly disagreed with them?
[Response: The Endangerment finding was open for public comment for months, no comments were ‘suppressed’ and Carlin could easily have put in his paper there. Instead he wanted it to be the official submission from his unit (NCEE) to the process which was not approved by his boss. How is that suppression? Who has an automatic right to get their institution to give their non-official musings on any subject they care to write about an imprimatur? No-one I know. But in any case, the real issue is whether there is any credible science in the document. There isn’t, and so whether the NCEE was or was not embarrassed to be associated with this is not really my concern as a scientist. – gavin]
As for calling Friends of Science an “a astroturf anti-climate science lobbying group” – by “astroturf” do you mean it involves only a small number of people who all work full time for some organisation (government or industry) because if so Realclimate is astroturf. he “anti-climate science” line is even stranger. Science is a process of comparing differing theories so if climate science is a genuine science it must welcome examination. The only way it would be possible for Mr Gregory to be “anti-climate science” is if he claims the subject doesn’t exist i.e. that this planet has no atmosphere & thus no climate which can possibly be scientifically examined. If this is what you are really claiming that would indeed be extraordinary.
[Response: I might suggest that Gregory’s and the FoS’s connection to the practice of true science is somewhat ambiguous…. – gavin]
That Carlin & Davidson’s conclusions reflect those Friends of Science hold is not, obviously a reasonable criticism. All science is based on standing on others shoulders & it is no more a criticism of what they say than it is of Realclimate to say appear to be directly that same as the IPCC’s. Indeed the opposite is true & there actually is some limited value in being able to show that your views hold a consensus position.
Proper criticism in science involves disputing the facts & the closest you come to that is saying they show a “complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales” which actually isn’t disputing facts but merely stating that the 11 years of cooling isn’t enough to count. If that is your position presumably the 18 years from 1980 to 1998 when we had warming isn’t enough to count either. By your own argument the whole alarmist cause has, from the start, been guilty of exactly the fault you complain of except magnified since alarmists take this short period as evidence of a change unparalleled in human history, likely to make Antarctica the only habitable continent & justifying our destruction of most of the world economy (as we can all see) whereas sceptics are merely sceptical of such claims.
[Response: “Destruction of most of the world economy” – and you are accusing me of being alarmist for pointing out that climate sensitivity is not negligible? Funny that. – gavin]
Hmmm, and here it looked like a possible intelligent conversation could have evolved… If you are suggesting that the polar ice has been in serious decline the entire 20th Century you might be right; however, the hard data in regards to ocean temperatures and measured ice loss is fairly recent.
There had been spot occurrences of prior spats of ice loss and excessive calving as can bee seen in Ice Berg Patrol warnings. Matter of fact as recent as the 1970’s there was significant warnings of glacerial recession in Alaska. (You might remember the story of the porpoise who was trapped by the reformation of the glacier…) This points to the idea variability at the edges was part and parcel of the territory. We can even go as far as to discuss the loss of beach along the East Coast of Florida where as a young person I watched beach houses and pools fall on the beach and get swept out to sea…, all without a storm. Including the encroachment by the ocean 50-60 year old piers, near ocean inlets, where the sea levels began to over top them…
By simply reviewing the recent graph at the top of the page, it appears that up to 1985 was characterized mainly of variability of oceanic heat content, with no more then three peaks above or below the line in succession, it is not until 1985 that there appears a near linear increase in oceanic heat content. As the heat content rose prior/or in-spite to/of volcanic triggers suggests there may not have been a solar origin, at least not in the NH.
This then leads us to the observations of SST in the South and Western Pacific. A strong El Nino during the period between 1989 and 2001 seemed to be in place. Along with this was a strong SST signature of increased insolation. The global data in the graphs above support the change and the growth in heat content. If you go to the Triton/TAO time series data set there is confirmation of additional heat in the North Pacific.
If we look further there is a suggestion that the PDO had vectored a portion of the increased SST pool towards the Bering Straights and into the Arctic Ocean. If on the other hand we go to the PIRATA data set and review this in relation to the NAO there appears to be an opposing forcing, coupled with the westward and southward movement of the Bermuda High. The change in the NAO demonstrated a warming, via a Labrador Sea, of the West coast of Greenland, out of phase with the warming of the PDO. During periods of transition there are rare; but, recently more common, occurrences of both events appearing in the same year.
As to the drivers of the higher SSTs there are studies that suggest they may have been due to a reduction of aerosols in the ITCZ region. There even has been a suggestion of dust or aerosols increasing the turbidity of the oceans surfaces adding the heat content of the surface while shading the depths.
The point is that there has been a reserve of heat due to several different processes and that has been a significant forcing of polar ice loss. (This does not invalidate any of the current works, my purpose is simple, my search hopefully will provide measured proof of the vectors that are irrefutable and not open for discussion.)
My main focus is the attempt to determine the various vectors, with measured values as opposed to derived values, as I am not an expert I was looking for some assistance or direction to data sets. What is yours?
Gary Herstein wrote: “… can you name a single Zen master who has made a substantive contribution to science?”
Actually, research in monitoring the brain waves of highly-trained Zen meditators has made substantive contributions to neuroscience.
Kevin McKinney wrote: “… do you really mean that ego is as necessary as eating?”
Generating an “ego” is a natural activity of the human brain — for most people, prolonged fasting would be easier than to stop “egoing” even for a short time! And a healthy ego is an important social adaptation, without which we would have difficulty functioning in human society.
What “Zen masters” understand is that just as your fist is not a thing but an action, the “ego” is also an ephemeral phenomenon — indeed, an ephemeral aggregation of interacting phenomena — and identifying with it and grasping at it as though it were a real, permanent “self” only leads to suffering.
With regard to the discussion of scientific “ego”, it seems the key point is to avoid identifying with and clinging to one’s ideas as though they were part of a “self” that must be defended.
Mark – “NOTE: being superior in education to the less educated isn’t a delusion. Nor is it a particularly dangerous scenario.”
Ramanujan had little education, and he contributed much to mathematics. Evariste Galois died at 20 in a dual, and he barely got to study as an undergraduate. He produced some of the most amazing mathematical works in all of history.
Education certainly does have its advantages, but it does not make a person superior over a less educated person. To quote Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Either way, it is beside the point. When people allow their egos to develop to the point that they have closed their minds, then they are blinded by their own egos.
Mark Says: “And having to eat interferes with finding the truth, over and over.”
I don’t think you understand the meaning of the point. If you believe so strongly that your view of the world is superior to everyone else, you will fail to see reason and truth. For example, you may declare that the world is flat. If someone presents evidence that the world is round, you would respond that they are stupid. As such, you are blinded by your own ego.
EL quotes ol’ Al Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Fine, but given that the denialists have shown neither… This is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of hard evidence. On one side you have a theory that can explain a tremendous amount about how Earth’s climate behaves. It has an unfortunate implication that we are screwing up the climate. On the other side you have no theories, no evidence, no consistent positions–just the same old, bulllet-riddled corpeses of arguments. Zombie arguments. I see nothing worthy of respect in a position that demands that one deny evidence.
Thanks for your suggestions concerning how I should spend my time. The graphs you are requesting have been done by many other organizations and people. If the NSIDC data has no significance, why did you feel it required criticism and your expert advice. Seems like it was important to you.
In regards to your comment on moisture levels with warming, there has only been one study based on absolute humidity and precipitation observations during a known warming period.
[Response: You are mistaken. There have been dozens of such studies. See IPCC AR4 Chapter 3 for an overview. – gavin]
“And as the air, earth and sea warms with climate change the atmospheric water vapor load increases by as much as 6.5 percent per degree Celsius, according to satellite data from the past 20 years. As the water vapor increases, so, too, will rainfall, argues physicist Frank Wentz, director of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in Santa Rosa, Calif., a provider of climate data records contracted by NASA. ”
No one can yet say where this increase in rainfall will fall. I am sure your opinion that it will only fall where it is already falling counts with some. However, I prefer observational data to models.
I know it may not be quite your area but … there are reports that burning in the Amazon are waaay down, based on some NASA photographs … the equipment is called “Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI)” and I thought you might know how ozone relates to forest burning, and also any insight on how confident we could be based on this reporting? it is posted at http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0630-amazon_fires.html
[Response: Seems valid – and is clearly good news. There is a partial temperature/drought connection to forest fires (wetter and cooler are associated unsurprisingly with reduced wildfires), but the story seems to suggest this is a minor point in the Amazon. – gavin]
“If the NSIDC data has no significance, why did you feel it required criticism and your expert advice. Seems like it was important to you.”
Not so much important as an opportunity for play. I enjoy a good game of whack-a-troll as much anyone. ;-)
“No one can yet say where this increase in rainfall will fall.”
With 100% certainity – of course not. But in this study, modeled circulation changes completely dominated simple increases in humidity.
To understand the cause of the precipitation anomalies that develop within the super-ensemble we also compute the terms in the vertically integrated model moisture budget separately for each ensemble member using data on the model’s hybrid-sigma vertical grid. The moisture budget terms were separated into a contribution from the change in circulation operating on the climatological humidity and a contribution from the climatological circulation operating on the change in humidity as well as the nonlinear cross term. It was found that the circulation change term was overwhelmingly dominant over the term involving the humidity change.
“… The positive trend in cirrus in areas of high aircraft traffic seems to have contrasted a general negative trend in cirrus. Extrapolation in time to cover the entire period of aircraft operations and in space to cover the global scale yields a best estimate of 0.05 Wm?2 for the radiative forcing due to aircraft. This is close to the value given by IPCC (1999) as an upper limit.”
… Some people were by our county looking at caves for sequestering CO2. Instead of storing it in caves, which seems like a bit of a waste. Why don’t they release it in the rainforests, or orchards? Trees and plants are nature’s recyclers, they could use that CO2 and produce more O. Instead of redistibuting income, you are redistributing CO2 from the places that don’t need it to the places that do. You get stronger, healthier plants, less CO2 and more O. Why are we storing CO2 in caves.
If you look up the Keeling curve, you will find that every year it has an up part and a down part. The down part is where the northern hemisphere’s trees and plants are taking advantage of northern hemisphere summer and doing their level best to take out CO2.
They get it almost back down to where it was the year before, and then winter comes and they die, or drop their leaves, and they or the leaves decompose, and all the CO2 they had grabbed in the summer, they let slip back into the atmosphere. (Northern hemisphere winter is southern hemisphere summer, but there isn’t so much land there, and so not so many trees.). Meanwhile, our fires have been putting CO2 into the atmosphere in winter, and putting CO2 into the atmosphere in summer. Trees can’t keep up.
No-one is putting more than a pound or two of CO2 in caves, but thousands of tonnes are being captured above-ground, permanently, as a side effect of certain mining operations. If serious concern about excess atmospheric CO2 arises, this will be done on purpose, with peridotite or dunite or some other alkaline earth silicate rock type.
So the short-term is not important in this context? I would have thought (isotopious opines) the short-term phenomena contains ALL the relevant data. After all, the long-term trend is simply a string of short-term events.
re gavin’s inline response to #22 above (“all politicians have political reasons for what they do”):
…and it bears reminding ourselves that just because a politician says something for political reasons, that fact does not invalidate whatever the politician said. Just because many of the professional deniers are backed by the oil/gas/automotive industries does not in and of itself invalidate what the deniers are saying. Just because Al Gore probably had political reasons for An Inconvenient Truth does not invalidate his point either.
I downloaded the last 13 days of Arctic Ice extent from the IJIS website http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm and compared it to the same period in 2008. The average difference is +0.678 percent, with a standard deviation of 0.212. the difference between 2008/07/02 and 2009/07/02 is 0.646 percent. The average daily decline from 2009/06/20 to 2009/07/02 is 0.687 percent, stdev 0.189. The current sea ice extent is ~ 10% below the 1979-2000 average http://www.nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png. It would have been more accurate for him to say “Since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased by 0.646 percent, or about a days worth of melt, compared to about 10 percent less than the 1979-2000 average.”
L.D.Cooke, find some references to support your claims or, failing, that, admit that they are nonsensical.
Considering the number of times my detailed comments on the AMO and PDO have been blocked by site administrators, I’m not commenting on that anymore, as requested – except to repeat that the evidence is about as slim as that for a similar phenomenon, the shut down of the “Atlantic Conveyor Belt” – didn’t the models predict that as well?
The point here is that sometimes scientists are wrong. For another example, about ten years ago, as I recall, I was listening to a bunch of very cocksure glaciologists loudly ridiculing claims of rapid ice melt, the breakup of Antarctic shelves, etc. They thought that ice sheets behaved like bigger versions of ice cubes… “It’ll take a thousand years”, they sneered. Seriously, that was the attitude at the time – and I’m not exaggerating the sneers, either.
The relevant quote here is “I wouldn’t want to fly in a modeled airplane – I’d worry to much about what was left out” – which doesn’t mean that models aren’t useful. These ‘quibbles’ only affect the rate of change of climate, not the overall conclusions on the effects of doubling CO2. Regardless, sensitive dependence on initial conditions is quite real and does affect the oceans as well as the atmosphere – I’ll leave it at that.
And no, you cannot capture and bury the carbon from the world’s coal-fired power plants and bury it in the ground – that’s just bogus propaganda put out by the fossil fuel lobby with the assistance of Team Lysenko – and there’s no doubt that Lysenkoism is alive and well in the U.S. academic system, just with a slightly different emphasis.
Irritation seems to be winning out over politeness, I’m afraid.
What you can do to address this particular problem (atmospheric CO2 accumulation) is build up solar and wind and fossil fuel free agriculture, using targeted government programs that provide a leveling playing field for renewable entrepreneurs – but to do that, you’d have to strip away the subsidies from fossil fuel interests, and that process is controlled by politicians who get their campaign warchests from those who benefit the most from a fossil fuel-addicted economy. Obama is little different from Bush in that respect – one was backed by big finance and the oil lobby, the other by big finance and the coal lobby – that’s Texas and Illinois for you.
For example, in world war II the U.S. was able to increase production of aviation fuel 15-fold in four years by building dozens of 100-octane plants at record speed – you could easily do the same with wind, solar and fossil fuel-free biofuels – but for that to happen, we’d apparently have to have the Nazis breathing down our necks.
What we have instead is a farce of a climate bill (still worth passing), bad media coverage, idiotic ‘solutions’ like clean coal backed by economists untrained in basic thermodynamics, and a whole host of fellow travelers in academia who’ve learned not to state the obvious facts in order to protect their career prospects. Yes, it really is that bad.
Truly ridiculous – even recaptcha agrees: “smarted laughter”
“Just because many of the professional deniers are backed by the oil/gas/automotive industries does not in and of itself invalidate what the deniers are saying”
But spouting the same old tired rubbish or stuff that is untrue DOES invalidate what the deniers say.
E.g. “It’s been a cooling TREND since 1998″. Wrong. It’s colder now than it was in 1998, but that doesn’t mean the trend is cooling. Some leave off the trend and have it implied. This is weasel wording.
This sort of thing does invalidate what the deniers say.
“I would have thought (isotopious opines) the short-term phenomena contains ALL the relevant data”
And it is your opinion. It just happens to be wrong.
If you shorten your sample for averaging, you increase your error. Therefore if the error margin for 95% confidence still includes the old figure for the average trend, there’s no statistically significant change in the trend.
Just because the dice rolled a 6 doesn’t mean it must be loaded now.
Re Brian’s current #173–Yes, and it’s interesting that 2007 and 2008 both ran higher that 2005 or 2006 at this point in the season, and by considerably higher margins than the differences Brian sets forth. Yet both years had huge declines later in the season, setting those shocking minima. We’ll see if that pattern holds this year.
Isotopious says “Ray,
So the short-term is not important in this context? I would have thought (isotopious opines) the short-term phenomena contains ALL the relevant data. After all, the long-term trend is simply a string of short-term events.”
Right, so based on the trend over the last 5 hours (from 3 AM to 8 AM), which shows a temperature rise of about 3 degrees C, are you going to posit that a cup of water left outside will boil in 3 days?
In looking at climate trends, you are of necessity looking at effects that are important more than 30 years in the future. By definition, that excludes short-term trends, and since short-term trends can swamp long-term trends in the SHORT TERM, it doesn’t make sense to look at short trends. Do you decide what to do with your stock portfolio based on 3 month performance?
Actually, reviewing today’s update, I find I misspoke slightly: it was just about this point in the season that 2007’s extent really started to crash–July 3 was the first day for which 2007 set the lowest extent for a particular date. It’s also the first day that this year has tracked below 2005, for what that’s worth.
Since I’m obviously going to get sucked into the spectator sport of ice-melt watching again this year, I took 40 minutes or so to download the IJIS data into Excel and format it into a table facilitating quick year-to-year comparisons. I’ll share with anyone who wants to save the 40 minutes–just e-mail me a request, though you’ll probably have to wait ’til next week for a response as I’m about to head out to the lake.
contrails have a liitle cooling effekt during daytime and e little warming during nights. netto they will have a very small warming effekt.
after 9.11 some people think that because of missing contrails it was getting warmer. the us t became in some areas warmer, but only in reason of chanching weather conditions, like we find it almost every week in an region like the us.
In response to my post at #109 3 July 2009 at 2:51 AM you wrote:
To me as a scientist the worst kind of ad-hominem attack is if someone accuses me in public of spreading “misinformation”, since this insinuates a deliberate deception and by suggesting sinister motives aims to undermine my personal credibility, which is the most cherished thing for any scientist. Had Pielke said “I disagree with your conclusions”, that would have been entirely different.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but you seem to be confusing the word “misinformation” — which implies only error — with “disinformation” — which implies a deliberate attempt to mislead. Quoting Wikipedia: “Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally. It is distinguished from disinformation by motive in that misinformation is simply erroneous, while disinformation, in contrast, is intended to mislead.” I guess it’s true that people often say ‘misinformation’ when they really mean ‘disinformation’ but you’d have to be fair and admit that Pielke probably knew the sense of the word he chose.
So to reiterate, people like me can easily understand the points Pielke makes. Or at least it’s easy for us to think we do. Anyone can have a look at the various publicly available temperature charts to see for ourselves that temperatures really haven’t gone up since 1998. We can see the same about ocean heat content. And so on. There may be a finer argument about the underlying trends and statistical significance and so forth, but who amongst us knows what a “trend” is anyway?
But — but — but — when we come here and find hundreds of commenters attacking Pielke’s character, calling him names, and mocking him and we still have those arguments that he made in our minds that we did understand — can you not see the effect this has on the average skeptic? These ad-homs might make the commenters feel good, but they also make the skeptics feel right.
Myself, I would like to see Pielke debated, not insulted; and not ridiculed. I would like to see his actual arguments refuted because I want certainty on the issue of climate change.
The few genuine attempts in this thread of responding to his arguments without any name calling have been entirely drowned out in the noise of battle cries “Denier!” “Down with Pielke!” Thus, in the eyes of this viewer, Pielke has won the exchange.
Barton Paul Levenson questions my comment “that scientifically acceptable measurements only go back for a couple of centuries “. As he probably realised I should have specified “instrumental measurements of climate parameters.” Sediments and other proxies, do of course, go back for millions of years.
Barton also questions the source of data I cited from http://www.climatedata.info . All sources are given on the site. The data showing that the 10 year rate of sea level of rise is similar to that in the past is cited as: “The data for two independently calculated sea level series based on tide gauges were downloaded from: http://www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/datainfo/. (References: Jevrejeva, S., A. Grinsted, J. C. Moore, and S. Holgate (2006), “Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records”, J. Geophys. Res., 111 and Church, J. A., and N. J. White (2006), A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise”, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33)”
The data showing no trend in hurricanes is based on the file tracks_atl downloaded from http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/atlantic/. The data on the files derives from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division.
The graph showing that the rate of rise of temperature is similar now to that in the 1920s and 30s is based on the HadCRUTv3 data set. The line on the same graph showing that GCMs did not represent that rate of temperature rise or the subsequent cooling is based on the sub-set of models tabulated by the IPCC “General Guidelines on the Use of Scenario Data for Climate Impact and Adaptation Assessment”, Version 2, June 2007.
The site seems to me to be genuine attempt to present facts in as neutral a way as possible. It is well known that many of the public remain sceptical in spite of the evidence and I believe one of the reasons is that they feel, with some justification, that the facts have been oversold.
Mark, I suggested the IPCC definitions be used to save you this effort.
Words are always arguable.
Definitions resolve arguments about words for specific purposes.
The IPCC definition of clouds does not include the dust you raise.
The IPCC definition of clouds includes cirrus associated with aircraft.
Of course if you _want_ a problem, we can argue about it. Not here, please. Start a blog?
One discussion theme in comments here: Can someone be a good scientist if he/she has an ego? As pointed out earlier, some of the greatest and most brilliant scientists have had large egos. On the other hand, the following provocative comment is evidence of ego and arrogance, but is not backed by a cogent argument…
“Media and policymakers who blindly accept these claims are either naive or are deliberately slanting the science to promote their particular advocacy position.”
…or in other words, if you don’t agree with this person’s arguments, you’re stupid or dishonest. This comment wouldn’t be so ridiculous if the person making it was able to back it up with clear irrefutable evidence. Such a comment wouldn’t be so out of place if some individual had stated something like “global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th century.” (Alan Carlin) Even then, the comments would be unnecessary.
What’s many times more important than ego is the quality of an argument. If we remove Pielke’s comment above or “misinformation” from his post and simply compare arguments, most objective observers would reward all debate points to RealClimate, as the argument Pielke is making is very weak (and not indicative of the quality of work he’s done over the years).
Another issue is with how perceived ego or arrogance has on the casual observer, or general public. Alex Harvey (#109) implies that shrillness or ad hominens (such as comments by Pielke) could be a turn-off to individuals who don’t necessarily fully understand the arguments being presented. If this was true, sites like WattsUpWithThat wouldn’t be very popular, as many posts are filled with shrill ad hominens (both by the presenter and those commenting) and charges that the entire climate science community is perpetuating a hoax. Surely that should be a turn-off that would cause casual observers to be more skeptical of such a website. ClimateAudit routinely contains charges of bias and fraud, but continues to get plenty of web traffic. Using an analogous example, U.S. political talk show host Rush Limbaugh would not be so popular if he toned down the rhetoric and certainly many of his spurious charges are accepted by a very large portion of the population.
While arrogance can be a turn-off to some, it’s also viewed as confidence by others. Someone who can state falsities forcefully is often more convincing than someone who tells the truth humbly. Even more convincing to some is a variety of people stating and repeating the same falsities forcefully. How many individuals are going around echoing Pielke’s recent argument? How many of them would be doing this if Pielke didn’t include the terms “misinformation” and the provocative line “Media and policymakers who blindly accept these claims are either naive or are deliberately slanting the science to promote their particular advocacy position.”?
“For example, you may declare that the world is flat. If someone presents evidence that the world is round, you would respond that they are stupid. As such, you are blinded by your own ego.”
In this case, Pielke appears to be on the “flat-Earth” side – making a very poor argument and declaring those who don’t agree with him naive or dishonest.
Of course, this swings both ways. Someone might argue that the Earth is flat and calmly present some information that might look like good evidence to someone with no knowledge of science. Someone might refute this argument then say those making such an argument are naive. While that might be indicative of ego, it does not imply ego is always blinding. The quality of argument is always vastly more important.
why are politicans not interrested in easy solutions?
one very usefull way to reduce karbon emissions ist to put very high taxes on electric energie,
and at the same time we reduce taxes on work.
for the citizen it should be egual, if they dont waste energie like today, but easy in handling and for the industrie you create much more employment, the energie costs go up, but the costs for emploies go down. if you find the right relation, you can create big business and prosperity.
but, are the goverments realy interrestet in growing prosperity for us?
“… Linked, abrupt changes of North Atlantic deep water formation, North Atlantic sea ice extent, and widespread climate occurred repeatedly during the last ice age cycle and beyond in response to changing freshwater fluxes and perhaps other causes. This paradigm, developed and championed especially by W.S. Broecker, has repeatedly proven to be successfully predictive as well as explanatory with high confidence. Much work remains to fully understand what happened and to assess possible implications for the future, but the foundations for this work are remarkably solid.”
The point you’d get if you took a look at the literature is, contrails or that is to say the –contents– of contrails appear to nucleate clouds that can become far larger than the original contrail.
I imagine if you had a flying car and operated it at the correct altitude you might make little contrails of your own. They might become larger than intuitively seems possible. If you had a magic carpet and beat it out at that altitude, maybe the same? Though beating the magic carpet you’re riding at high altitude seems unwise.
“one very usefull way to reduce karbon emissions ist to put very high taxes on electric energie, and at the same time we reduce taxes on work.”
I believe that horrible devil Al Gore has proposed exactly that. Eminently sensible, but it would change the vector of cash flow so instead of discussing his suggestion we instead are treated to idiotic remarks about how fat he is.
You’re quite right that the arguments put forth by Pielke make sense to most lay readers. The arguments which refute him depend on the proper statistical treatment of data — and there are few faster and surer ways to make lay readers roll their eyes and stop paying attention, than to start talking about statistical subtleties. We expect that the lay public, simply looking at a graph, might draw the same conclusions, and that Pielke’s statements will “ring true” with such readers.
The reason we’re outraged at Pielke is that he has been a working scientist; as such he’s supposed to know better. In fact I presume he does know better. This means that he’s deliberately taking advantage of you; he relies on your statistical naivete, because without it you’d see right through his claims.
He has so little respect for your intellect that he expects you not to know better and he relies on you not to bother to investigate. As poorly as he’s treated Gavin with his latest posts, he’s shown even more disrespect to you (and your fellow lay public). I hope you come to realize this — in which case, you just might be even more outraged than any of us.
And Church 2006 says Between 1930 and 1960, GMSL rises faster than the quadratic curve at a rate of about 2.5 mm/yr (Figure 2c), following (with about a 20 year lag) the 1910 to 1940 period of more rapid global temperature rise [Folland et al., 2001]. Variability in GMSL trends prior to 1930 are not significant. After 1960, there are minima in the rates of rise in the 1960s and 1980s, each followed by more rapid rates of rise peaking at over 3 mm/yr), consistent with Holgate and Woodworth . From 1993, the rates of rise estimated from tide gauge and altimeter data (after correction for GIA effects [Douglas and Peltier, 2002]) are about 3 mm/yr [Leuliette et al., 2004; Church et al., 2004], faster than the quadratic (about 2.3 mm/yr) at this time. … AN ACCELERATION IN GLOBAL SEA-LEVEL RISE
So is the current 1980-2009 sea level rate of +3.2mm/year anomalous when compared to earlier 20th Century peak trends maxing out around 2.5mm/year? Hard to say yet. The error both authors give for tidal series is about +/- 1mm/year. But its pushing up against that envelope, isn’t it?
Meanwhile the graph (inverse barometer applied, seasonal signals removed) appears to me to tell a different story altogether (that perspective thing again). Even the two graphs (seasonal signals included, inverse barometer not applied, and, seasonal signals included, inverse barometer applied) appear to tell a different story. The claim does not appear to be supported in whole by me. Very misleading.
From the Earth Observatory NASA.
“The same flaws in the XBT data that affected Willis’ ocean heat maps showed up in the long-term historical trend (light blue). After applying a correction, the historical record shows a relatively steady increase in line with what’s shown by climate models. The remaining short-term variability is as likely to be natural variation, such as El Niño, as noise in the data.”
So while Roger’s contention that there has been no statistically supported increase in Ocean Heat Content since 2003 may in part be true for the short term, it is misleading from two perspectives. One being that establishing some sort of trend for Ocean Heat Content from a five year period is absurd, and, failure to take natural variation, “noise”, such as El Nino into account (El Nino being something that the models don’t reproduce well). The long term trend thus reflects a continuing upward movement.
Also for Anne T Cyclone, this conclusion on your temperature page lacks a cite, where did you get this?
“It generally accepted that the first warming period was natural and the second was a result of CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases. If this is the case then it appears that anthropogenic warming affects land in different way to the oceans whereas natural warming does not. Another possible explanation is that despite the efforts of meteorologists to minimise heat island effects the higher land temperatures are caused by extra heat sources around and based temperature measurements.”
Just for starters I will suggest growing up on the East Coast of Florida prior to widespread Air Conditioning and the humidity making swamp coolers ineffective trying to find a cool place was important.
In the region there are several small fresh water ponds and lakes and during the 60’s, when the gators were in decline, the fear of swimming in these bodies of water was much lower, as the wild gators realized their future was related to keeping their distance from humans.
Hence, the young would seek out these ponds when ever they could convince one of the neighbor hood mothers to “carry them to the lake”. As would be expected and can be noticed in public pools in summer heating of the water was not an issue, most felt like a public heated bath rather then a cool plunge into refreshing water. That is except for those ponds with either a significant density of tannic acid or especially turbidity from either algae or stirred up sediments. Interestingly these ponds had exceptionally cool water just a few feet below the surface.
The point, is if the sea ice is melting there is no conflict with that or the heat countered by the melt. However, as to the depth of penetration of this heat that can be similar to a discussion on atmospheric optical depth, with the Sea Wiffs package offering a small insight as to regions where there may be lower temperatures in the ocean water column.
Here is a small sample of papers discussing models derived from spot observations:
This is just for starters, I am sure there are significant other papers and studies that could be referenced however, I wanted to simply demonstrate that what I am suggesting is not unique…, and provide a little simple material for others, less technical, if they are interested.
Alex , Yes one can be fooled by “easily understand”(able) points. A simple misrepresentation, asserted with confidence, can be rather convincing if one lacks the knowledge/expertise to address the particular issue properly. Have a look at this easily understandable point of Pielke’s and see what category (“misinformation” or “disinformation”) you consider it falls within:
Click on Pielke’s current blog page under discussion:
As part of Pielke’s denunciation of the upper ocean heat content part of the “trilogy” of aspects of the climate science that he is disputing (1. Sea level; 2. ocean heat; 3. arctic sea ice), Pielke refers us to a previous page of his blog in which he attempts to portray a major disconnect between predicted and measured accumulated upper ocean heat content:
However if we look at the recent published data, estimates of upper ocean heat content are in fact similar to those predicted by modelling based on the radiative imbalance due to an enhanced greenhouse effect. You can see from the Levitus data [*] graphed in the top article of this thread, for example, that this group (correcting for some known biases and other errors in the ocean heat measuring instruments) have measured substantial increases in upper ocean heat; around 5.8 x 10^22 J in the period end 2002 to end 2008. This is a very large amount of accumulated heat – it’s clearly much greater than the “~0 Joules” that Pielke is attempting to pursuade us with. Likewise recent papers by Cazenave et al [**] and Leuliette and Miller [***] find heat content increases in the period 2003/4-2007/8 (a steric- heat uptake portion of 15% and 40-50%, respectively, of the sea level rise during these periods).
How do you classify that, Alex? misinformation or disinformation? Clearly the readers of Pielke’s site are being misinformed about the science on recent upper ocean heat content, and since Pielke allows no comments on his site, this is unchallengable misinformation. Is Pielke deliberately disinforming his readers? Or might he be unaware of the recent work on this subject? That seems unlikely given his apparently authoritative pronouncements. Does he consider the recent work flawed in some manner, such that it doesn’t override his assertions of “0 Joules“ of accumulated upper ocean heat in every single year since end 2002? It’s difficult to say, since Pielke allows no comments/corrections on his blog….
What do you think, – mis- or dis-information?
[*] S. Levitus et al. (2009) Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L07608
[**] Cazenave A et al. (2009) Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo Glob. Planet. Change 65, 83-88
[***] Leuliette EW and Miller L.(2009) Closing the sea level rise budget with altimetry, Argo, and GRACE Geophys Res. Lett. 36, art # L0406
I understand your point. However, looking at climate trends over 30 year periods: If you cannot explain the change in long-term behavior by using short-term data, I fail to see how you would be able to predict long-term behavior.
For example, stating “sea level has actually flattened since 2006″
is just as risky as saying “look at the long-term linear trend”.
[Response: Think about it. It’s the difference between today being cooler than yesterday and still expecting August to be warmer than June. – gavin]
Isotopious, OK, let’s think about another system with a lot of short-term noise–the stock market. I cannot tell you what the market will do on Monday or a week from now. I cannot tell you with certainty whether a particular stock will rise or fall in the next six months. I can tell you that if you invest over the long haul, you are likely to make money. I don’t have to understand what drives the market on a given day. Now, if I did, I could make a lot of money a whole lot faster. However, most such schemes are wrong and fail spectacularly.
Another one: Go to Vegas. You will win some and lose some. I can’t tell you whether you’ll be up or down after an hour or two or three. Over the long term, though, the house will win. They know that, too, and that is why they will comp you a hotel room if you get lucky.
Some systems with very complicated short-term dynamics look a lot more simple over longer timescales.
So greenhouse gases are as fundamental to sea level rise, as axis tilt is to the seasons?
I would say yes. But sea level rise is not something we invented, therefore greenhouse must have changed in the past as well….Even comparing post-industrial to pre-industrial (ignoring instrumentation limitations) maybe be a waste of time?
I have a fundamental question that I have not seen raised or answered. Why don’t the measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere (re: Mauna Loa, others) increase at the same rate that man is increasing CO2 releases? It appears that CO2 is increasing linearly while the release of CO2 in the atmosphere by man is increasing exponentially. Perhaps there have been posts in the past or elsewhere on the internet, but I have not seen it. Thanks!
Comment by AZ Climate Watcher — 4 Jul 2009 @ 10:59 PM
Iso — there are many forcings and many feedbacks. You’re making it too simple.
Don’t imagine just one cart, one horse, and cart before or after horse.
What’s different now is that we’re pumping fossil carbon into the air faster than has ever happened– first by burning coal and oil, and now by warming up permafrost and such. In the past the fossil carbon went into the air more slowly as permafrost and such warmed up, but the warming was caused by other things not human action. But those are not the only 2 things happening.
This (just one example picked by an amateur reader, moi) may help you get more of an idea of past warmings:
“… We conducted the first synchronously coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model simulation of the transient evolution of global climate from the Last Glacial Maximum 21,000 years ago to the abrupt BA warming 14,500 years ago. Our model reproduces the major features of the evolution of deglacial climate change, including the magnitude of the climate response, suggesting good agreement between
observed and model climate sensitivity. The model simulates the BA warming as a transient response of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to the termination of imposed freshwater discharge associated with Heinrich event 1 (H1).
In the ramped forcing scenario, the freshwater forcing is slowing down gradually in the north Atlantic ocean, but an abrupt warming event occurs before the freshwater forcing zeros out: in four decades, the surface air temperature in GIN Sea shoots up from
-10oC to above freezing. This abrupt warming is triggered by the sudden switch–on of the GIN convection and the rapid opening the sea ice in the GIN sea….
AZ Climate Watcher: As humanity’s emissions mix in the natural carbon cycle, it is harder to verify the exponential fit to the Keeling (or any) CO2 curve. Were the nature’s carbon sinks cease to funtion, the fit would likely become clear, and show more direct connection to the emissions, but this is not what I like to think about. If I remember correctly, this question has been asked on Tamino’s site somewhere (discussion of C13/C12 ?). Applying exponential fit to positive feedbacks in models very easily leads to scenarios that are catastrophic and incalculable due the many unknowns associated with life on earth in very high temperatures, and I don’t know if it is even necessary to try to predict such scenarios.
Perusal of Pielke’s recent blog page (that we’re discussing) highlights another disconcerting statement that is likely to mislead the causal reader. Apols for the long account which follows!
Pielke’s entire rejection of the Copenhagen report statement specifically with respect to ocean heat content is (pasted from his site):
2. “the increase of heat stored in the ocean”
NOT TRUE; see:
Update On A Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions.
Their has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.
We’ve seen that the link to his previous account (“NOT TRUE; see:”) takes the unwitting reader to a spurious analysis that is contradicted by recent science (see my post #204 just above).
The curious statement is the last one concerning “statistical significance”. This is interesting for two reasons:
ONE: While Pielke is attempting to pursue the notion that the accumulated upper ocean heat was “~0 Joules” for every year since 2002, he makes no mention of “statistical significance”. He just asserts that these were the “Observed best estimate(s)”. Now that recent data indicates that the upper ocean heat content seems to have increased after all, Pielke wants the issue of “statistical significance” to be brought into the mix. Let’s look at this:
TWO: Surely a request for statistical significance is admirable! Unfortunately, things are not so straightforward in many aspects of climate science (this would be a worthy discussion point for RealClimate IMHO), and particularly so in this instance. Analysis of statistical significance requires that the nature of random variation is understood and can be assessed. In measuring ocean heat content, one might take a large number of daily measurements, calculate the expected steric sea level rise, and compare these to tide guage or satellite altimeter measurements to assess the inherent variability in the measure of interest. However, while that might allow statistical significance at such and such a confidence level to be assessed with respect to that particular criterion, the analysis might be scuppered by unknown biases in the data (due to malfunctioning in the measurement instruments, or incorrect calibration, or other as yet unknown confounding elements of the system under study).
Problems of this sort (confounding variables whose influence is unknown or can’t easily be quantitated) are part of the reason that the IPCC reports assign degrees of likelihood to their specific conclusions/interpretations, rather than statistical significance. Statistical significance may either not be readily attainable, or may be calculated only for peripheral elements of the question at hand (often the technical aspects of the measuring methodologies). This applies to lots of “historical” data where the “population” within which statistical analysis can be made is “one” (history has only occurred once). An example would be measuring CO2 levels in ice cores. We can easily determine the statistical significance of the “measures” of CO2 in ice cores (by making multiple measures of samples to generate a population that can be analysed statistically in comparison with samples of air with known CO2 content), but while this allows us to assess the accuracy and precision of the measure of CO2 with respect to random error in measuring CO2, it tells us little about the accuracy of the CO2 measures with respect to the true atmospheric CO2 concentrations at the time the ice was formed, even if information on this might be attainable by other means which can increase our confidence in assigning high likelihoods to the relevance of variability in the cores..
Let’s go back to Pielke. For Pielke’s assignment of “~ 0 Joules” to the accumulated upper ocean heat content for every year since 2002 (see my post #204 above), he uses the data from Willis et al (2008) [abstract below [***]]. Willis et al (2008) present their data with admirable “error bars”. However Willis et al are careful to make it clear that these error bars only refer to the inherent precision in the measures and can’t be taken to imply statistical significance to the question of whether the upper ocean heat content has changed (or not). They say (my italics):
The error bars for this curve represent one standard error and were computed by combining the random error in a 60-d average with the overall accuracy of MSL for a single 10-d cycle of the altimeter (~5 mm), determined by comparison with tide gauges [Leuliette et al., 2004]. This gives a standard error of approximately 2 mm for an individual 60-d average. As with all of the error estimates presented here, these errors reflect only random errors that have been quantified in some way, and unknown systematic errors may remain.
In fact there is a “systematic error” somewhere in the Willis et al analysis, although this isn’t necessarily in the heat content measure. That’s clear from the abstract of their paper (see below [***]; my italics).
The recent data [Levitus et al (2009); Cazenave et al (2009) Leuliette and Miller (2009) cited in my post #204 above] addresses the problem of the systematic long term errors that preclude “closing” of the “sea level budget” and come to the conclusion that the accumulated upper heat content is a significant contribution to recent sea level rise (and the “sea level budget” can now be closed).
So one needs to be careful in assertions about the “statistical significance”. Personally, I would consider that the data in the three 2009 papers on ocean heat content constitute a significant advance in recent years in our understanding of upper ocean heat content and reinforce the Copenhagen Synthesis Report statement that “..Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago..”. In Pielke’s terminology, these are now the “observed best estimate” of accumulated upper ocean heat. Are they “statistically significant”? No…(it depends what one means by statistical significance, but no more or no less than Pielke’s now outdated “measures” of upper heat content). Has our confidence risen in the likelihood that the upper ocean heat content has increased in recent years? Yes. Is everything sorted now? No. There is still uncertainty – we need longer term assessment of the oceans.
Basically, one shouldn’t jump on short term data at the “fuzzy” leading edge of scientific advance and pretend that the ambiguities clearly described by the scientists don’t exist, in order to assert apparently simple conclusions about the entire edifice of the subject at had (“global warming”!).
[***] Josh K. Willis et al. (2008) Assessing the globally averaged sea level budget on seasonal to interannual timescales J. Geophys. Res. 113, C06015.
 Analysis of ocean temperature and salinity data from profiling floats along with satellite measurements of sea surface height and the time variable gravity field are used to investigate the causes of global mean sea level rise between mid-2003 and mid-2007. The observed interannual and seasonal fluctuations in sea level can be explained as the sum of a mass component and a steric (or density related) component to within the error bounds of each observing system. During most of 2005, seasonally adjusted sea level was approximately 5 mm higher than in 2004 owing primarily to a sudden increase in ocean mass in late 2004 and early 2005, with a negligible contribution from steric variability. Despite excellent agreement of seasonal and interannual sea level variability, the 4-year trends do not agree, suggesting that systematic long-period errors remain in one or more of these observing systems.
I have a fundamental question that I have not seen raised or answered. Why don’t the measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere (re: Mauna Loa, others) increase at the same rate that man is increasing CO2 releases? It appears that CO2 is increasing linearly while the release of CO2 in the atmosphere by man is increasing exponentially.
Actually the measurements at Mauna Loa do increase at the same rate as anthropogenic CO2 releases, after taking into account that roughly half of the stuff is drawn down again by the ocean and biosphere.
If you look at the whole Keeling curve from Mauna Loa, you see that it is most certainly not linear: it is the sum of a pre-industrial background (280 ppmv) and the cumulative antropogenic contribution, which is well approximated by an exponential. If you look at a small part of the curve, for a short span of years e.g., it will indeed look linear, as with any smooth curve as can be demonstrated by a Taylor expansion.
BTW I like the new format. Only, ‘recent comments’ is poorer now. Can we have back the subcategorization by post title?
when we come here and find hundreds of commenters attacking Pielke’s character, calling him names, and mocking him.
Hundreds? Let’s not make this too difficult for you. I challenge you to find more than 5.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 5 Jul 2009 @ 8:52 AM
Re: 189 Anne T Cyclone 4 July 2009 at 10:26 AM
Thank you so much for the site link @ climate data. I found it refreshing to see the same old data reformatted. I agree that this site seems to be genuinely interested in the science of climate change. Makes me want to hear more of your interesting perspectives. Please continue to rise above the conformist pressure.
I too have observed that if you look at the apparent rise in the spot CO2 measurements since 1850 there is significant rise in CO2 that does not match the global average temperature. This would suggest that there had to be a delay and that temperature follows CO2.
However, we have an issue in that the anthropogenic contribution of CO2 at the time was small enough to not have contributed to the increase. It is likely the natural CO2 respiration would easily have encompassed the contribution from human emissions.
This would have a tendency to suggest that there had to be another process that was the root cause of the initial noted rise in CO2. If we look at the other anthropogenic activities at the time it was likely that the the conversion of land area from natural old growth to farm and rangeland may have been playing a part. However, it is unlikely that there was enough change due to human activities to prompt the rise in CO2 until late in the 19th Century.
However, the most recent change since about 1952 does indeed seem to demonstrate a linkage between human emissions and the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. So where there may not be supporting evidence of a human source prior to the middle of the 20th Century does not invalidate the current push to reduce the emissions.
That there could have been a natural process such as an increase in sunspot effects or changes in ocean biota or even aerosol changes resulting in cloud cover as a result of volcanic activity or drought, may explain the earlier deviation. However, the exponential change since 1970 has the clear footprint of man.
So though there may have been a natural condition suggesting the original rise, even if it were simply related to the change in human presence up until 1890. The current phenomena and concern are based on clear scientific principles related to emissions.
This may be one of those cases in which there maybe multiple CO2 emission participants… Hopefully, there will be future funding to allow the deeper analysis to see if the breadth of the CO2 and temperature mean range (indications of multiple peaks) in the derived data set between 1750 and 1950 indicates multiple participants. In the meantime the scientific analysis to date, indicates that since 1950, the clear primary participant in the CO2 and temperature rise are related.
chris #204: are dis-information or mis-information our only choices? There seems to be a lot of factors that go into sea level attribution and measurement. We can be so confident in this analysis of sea levels to tell someone they are wrong because they are relying on direct temperature measurements of the oceans since there are problems with this form of measurement? We know they should instead be relying on an attribution of sea levels with it’s own inherent problems and if they aren’t they are misinformed or disingenuous? I think you have made a leap of faith in your assessment. My assessment is that a fair statement would be to say the sea level attributions and the ocean temperature measurements do not agree.
How does it feel to be called liars outright, RealClimate?
Socialism’s Last Stand
The global warming movement is not about global warming. It is about the creation of an international political control arrangement by which bureaucrats who favor socialism can gain control over the international economy.
Pretty scary stuff for a patriotic 4th of July!
[Response: Busted! That’s exactly what we discuss at those ‘international’ meetings… -gavin]
“My assessment is that a fair statement would be to say the sea level attributions and the ocean temperature measurements do not agree.”
You’re right, but acknowledging that should not become another rationale for evasion from dealing with AGW.
The fundamental properties of water are not in question. At bottom we know what will happen if the temperature of the sea rises. The water will expand, and ultimately finding no other place to go will take the only available path for relief, that is to say up and out.
Here we have water in a complex system with undoubtedly some ambiguous or even completely unknown mechanisms at play, but at the end of the day as the water warms it’s going to expand. Is the expansion going to override the “noise” of unattributed changes in sea level? It’s fair to answer “yes” if the water is a sink for eye-popping amounts of heat, which seems to be the case.
Attempting to use sea level measurements to show that climate change is not happening is to use a poor proxy in attacking AGW; if we accept that water expands when it warms the argument ultimately hinges on denying a source for increased heat in the water.
Not that I’m saying that’s what you’re doing, but sea level seems to another area where folks who’re having a hard time with intellectually grasping AGW are lost in a forest measurement minutia, forgetting that the underlying drivers of AGW as well as some of it’s more gross physical effects are not really disputable.
Well, one thing climatedata.info might be useful for is a quick guide to the currently popular notions that blog-commenters think might explain away the science.
Take this, from the climatedata site–no sources given, they’re just ‘teaching the controversy’ — their Temperatures page.
They start off with the Wegman error, taking the hand-drawn curve from the early IPCC and claiming it’s based on data that supports European Medieval warming, although North corrected that mistake in the same hearings and subsequently.
Then they show a lot of pictures of graphs. Oooh, pictures.
They end that page with “… During the second warming period land temperatures increased rapidly compared to sea temperatures and have continued to do so even though the rate of temperature increase has levelled off since the start of this century. It generally accepted that the first warming period was natural and the second was a result of CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases. If this is the case then it appears that anthropogenic warming affects land in different way to the oceans whereas natural warming does not. Another possible explanation is that despite the efforts of meteorologists to minimise heat island effects the higher land temperatures are caused by extra heat sources around and based temperature measurements.”
(All errors of spelling and grammar are in the original)
Try their search tool for, say,
land sea temperature warming
Get it? They’ll show you blog comments about it. Overwhelmingly WTF
Compare the above to the science that Google Scholar finds, e.g.:
Land/sea warming ratio in response to climate change: IPCC AR4
model results and comparison with observations
“… Climate model simulations consistently show that in
response to greenhouse gas forcing surface temperatures
over land increase more rapidly than over sea. The
enhanced warming over land is not simply a transient
effect, since it is also present in equilibrium conditions. We
examine 20 models from the IPCC AR4 database. The
global land/sea warming ratio varies in the range 1.36–1.84,
independent of global mean temperature change. In the
presence of increasing radiative forcing, the warming ratio
for a single model is fairly constant in time, implying that
the land/sea temperature difference increases with time. The
warming ratio varies with latitude, with a minimum in
equatorial latitudes, and maxima in the subtropics. A simple
explanation for these findings is provided, and comparisons
are made with observations….”
I debated whether to clutter up the thread with a followup to my earlier inaccurate analysis of the IJIS Arctic ice area. For reasons which are made obvious at the end of my post, I decided to sally forth. Sekerob 4 July 2009 at 8:31 AM noted that 2008 was a leap year(nice catch!-thanks), for which I lazily failed to account. This led me to compare 2009 with 2008 ice extent on a day by day basis, from January 1 through July 2, the last day of the data I downloaded, using spreadsheet statistical functions of which I have a rudimentary understanding. On average, 2009 ice extent for the first 181 days is 0.084% higher than 2008. The standard deviation is 1.317%, the minimum is -2.844% below 2008, the maximum is 2.636% above 2008, the average absolute daily change is 0.332%, and the maximum daily change is 1.381%. Although it is true that on June 30, when Dr Pielke said that “Since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased.” 2009 ice extent was 0.285% above the same day(181) of 2008, by July 2 it was -0.257%, below 2008. It’s my opinion that statistically speaking,
Dr. Pielke is
(Wait for it)
on thin ice. &;>)
(rimshot from the band; groans from the audience: Sorry, guys, but I couldn’t resist)
I quite enjoyed Gary North’s diatribe on soc-ial-ism (hyphens because anti-spam sees the name of a well known drug here), Oregon Petition and Global Freezing in Newsweek.
I often wonder how many Yanks who rant against soc-ila-ism have ever left the US and actually visited such a country. And why when I lived in the US I never met these ranters.
On the Oregon Petition.
I have read up the petition and a criticism of it as it is often quoted (usually just as 10,000 scientists say…..) in the UK press. However, US critics of the petition seem to only address the science and shenanigans around the science. Maybe as an outsider what is blindingly obvious to me is that it is a political document first of all – the first of the two paragraphs is political. It is quite reasonable for lots of people to reject Kyoto for any number of reasons, and to sign up to the petition because of that and their own politics; the second papa can be seen as just supplementary to the first. It is _not_ a scientific petition, it is a political petition.
On Global Cooling (circa 1975).
I am probably one of the very few people on this website who actually read the Newsweek global cooling article at the time it was published. (Good chance even Gavin didn’t?).
At the time I was working in the Sultanate of Oman setting up a furniture factory and working on the shop floor. The factory was un-air-conditioned. Indeed, at that time most places in Oman were un-air-conditioned. That I was reading Newsweek was that, then, the only two English language news publications available were this and Time. No other newspapers of any sort from any other country, unless you had a friend at the air-strip who would pick up discarded newspapers left by passengers. So that’s why I read it.
Global cooling seemed a Very Good Idea! (Conditions then were so hard in Oman then that the US embassy staff were awarded three years service for each two years actually served).
Now, in 1975 I was a campaigning environmentalist (if the word “environmentalist” had then been actually minted?). When I got back home in 1976, with my wedge in my back pocket, the local Friends of the Earth group I worked with had never ever heard of global cooling. They were still doing things like getting lead out of petrol (impossible, said the industry) and mad ideas like local councils collecting recycled stuff, of all crazy things, from outside your house.
Point is. I can tell you that the environmental movement in the UK were never campaigning to stop global cooling, for by not reading Newsweek, they had never heard about it. Environmentalists being worried about cooling is a fiction, at least in the UK.
How does it feel to be called liars outright, RealClimate?
Gary North is a “libertarian” that makes other libertarians nervous.
Mainstream outlets like the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post are finally starting to take note of the influence Rushdoony and his followers have exerted for years in American conservative circles. But a second part of the story, of particular interest to readers of this magazine, is the degree to which Reconstructionists have gained prominence in libertarian causes, ranging from hard-money economics to the defense of home schooling. “Christian economist” Gary North, Rushdoony’s son-in-law and star polemicist of the Reconstructionist movement, is widely cited as a spokesman for free markets, if not exactly free minds; he even served for a brief time on the House staff of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 1988, when Paul was a member of Congress in the ’70s. For his part, Rushdoony has blandly described himself to the press as a critic of “statism” and even as a “Christian libertarian.” Say what?
If you are wondering what the reference to a “stoning” means, as a member of the Reconstructionist/Dominionist movement, he believes that society should be reconstructed in accordance with all Old Testament law which has not specifically been rescinded by later revelation:
Theonomy (Greek for “God’s Law”) includes the concept that “God’s revealed standing laws are a reflection of His immutable moral character and, as such, are absolute in the sense of being nonarbitrary, objective, universal, and established in advance of particular circumstances (thus applicable to general types of moral situations).” 6,7 Thus, each of the 613 laws given to Moses and recorded in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Hebrew Scriptures) are binding on people of all nations, cultures, and religions forever, except for those laws which have been specifically rescinded or modified by further revelation.
I had been wondering why it would be the case that, even after equilibriation, land will have warmed more than water. Then I thought, “Deserts.” (No, not, “Desserts.”)
Much of the heat that is lost by the surface is lost due to latent heat — heat lost due to evaporation. This will be more of a factor over water than over land, and therefore water will cool more efficiently just as moister climates cool more efficiently than deserts. And this is the solution they hit on — although it is expressed more rigorously and backed up by empirical evidence.
“My assessment is that a fair statement would be to say the sea level attributions and the ocean temperature measurements do not agree.”
In addition to the papers cited by chris, I would like to add Meier’s work on continental(not including Greenland or Antarctica) ice loss. Steve may discover that we are much closer to reconciling the oceanic heat content/ice mass wasting/sea level rise measurements than we were two years ago. And the twin blades of global and local analysis (see e.g. Luthcke and Velicogna calculations) are closing in on good estimates of the isostatic rebound corrections to the GRACE data on polar ice mass loss. The GOCE statellite will add to that data in the near future.
RE: #223 ccpo says (quoting Gary North):
5 July 2009 at 11:00 AM
“Socialism’s Last Stand
“The global warming movement is not about global warming. It is about the creation of an international political control arrangement by which bureaucrats who favor socialism can gain control over the international economy!”
So will the International Climate Police fly in on green, solar-powered helicopters? Gavin, we want to know! (Also just finishing up Schmidt and Wolfe – excellent book.)
Captcha: morphine Colombo
[Response: I like that- the green helicopter brigade! – gavin]
In principle, SIC data could have errors of 10% at most, particularly for the area of thin sea ice seen around the edge of sea-ice cover and melted sea ice seen in summer. Also, SIC along coastal lines could also have errors due to sub-pixel contamination of land cover in an instantaneous field of view of AMSR-E data.
I don’t think the differences between 2008-2009 approach meaningful at this point.
By and large, the quick sample of material that I saw looked fairly rational, with occasional opinions or fuzziness that might come from someone who wasn’t quite up to speed on some details (like UHI corrections). But, it not a bad compendium of information. They clearly did some work. They usefully identified some denialist sites I hadn’t seen.
“I quite enjoyed Gary North’s diatribe on soc-ial-ism (hyphens because anti-spam sees the name of a well known drug here)…”
Which I suppose says something about me, because I didn’t see it, and still have no idea what it is.
“I often wonder how many Yanks who rant against soc-ila-ism have ever left the US and actually visited such a country.”
While I don’t like to think I rant, you’d certainly have to count me among the opponents, and I have spent a good bit of time in the UK. While there are a great many things I liked about the place, from the Ridgeway Path to the Great Glen, the social system was not one. Especially having to guard my bike & pack from freelance so-cial-ists :-)
“And why when I lived in the US I never met these ranters.”
Thanks John, I’d be very curious what experts think about their choice of data sets — of which they say:
“All supplementary data presented on this site were obtained form perr [sic] reviewed sources …. Data sets from all climate change proxies (e.g. tree rings, ice core) have been added to the site in order to allow the user to compare with each other and against a variety of recorded climate events.
All data sets are downloadable and are presented in an immediately useable form for both policy makers, scientists and general interested persons alike….”
Well, if they have everything and keep their copies updated, ok.
Good to know who’s behind it, I’ll look them up.
I’ll give the new site’s contact link a try if I notice more oddities.
And I’ll mail them the info about the 1990 IPCC curve that they missed.
I just wanted to comment that there is little doubt that as Hank suggests, based on large scale observations and models, the surface of the land would be much more likely to increase in temperature as it appears land retains IR more readily then the ocean. (Yes, radiative versus convective transport likely plays a part.)
On a small scale there is supporting evidence related to insolation and the zone where incoming UV converts to IR. Generally, UV reaching the oceans surface penetrates deeper into the liquid translucent mass of the ocean. As opposed to the UV being stopped quite quickly by the denser solid Terra Firma.
The primary difference is related to heat content versus depth of penetration. Heat energy with less penetration would appear to result in a higher temperature on a surface. Meaning the daily penetration of insolation in, say soft dry sand is generally lower then ocean water. (At the same time it is useful to keep in mind an additional principle, that a mass with a greater albedo will be slower in releasing added energy.
(A nice empirical experiment would be to take a trip to the nearest sea coast. For instance, a small ocean inlet on the East Coast of FL has a monthly flood tidal pool that is surrounded by a wide band of soft beach sand. During the summer, during the monthly full or new moon, you can do a simple experiment simply measuring the temperature of the surface of the sand versus the surface of the tidal pool and taking a separate measure of say both mediums at say 6 inches depth.)
(For me, as a young child chasing Fiddler Crabs around the tidal pool, it quickly became apparent the water was cooler then the sand. What made it even more interesting was that you could shuffle your feet through the sand and actually keep them cool. The problem was the stinging red band around your ankles where after a hour of plowing through the sand you would have 1st degree burns…)
#241, James, it is the free market in stolen bikes that lead to theft not the right to bike soc-ial-ists. The solution is quite simple, own the crummiest bike in town. Works for me, and the bike gets me where I want to go. Sort of the same principle as driving. who’s gonna get the right of way, the $100,000 Porsche, or the $100 Ford?
So long term trends on the scale of thousands of years, iso, have been very much lower than today’s sea level rise. A life raft won’t keep you from drowning in a sea of smugness. But by all means, keep sneering and blindly throwing up straw men. It’s like shooting clay pigeons. It gets easier the more I practice and the less cogent your arguments. :-)
“It should be noted that some authors propose the existence of significant short-term fluctuations in sea level such that the sea level curve might oscillate up and down about this ~1 kyr mean state. Others dispute this and argue that sea level change has been a smooth and gradual process for essentially the entire length of the Holocene..”
Doug, I have no problem with the GHG theory or the concept of thermal expansion so no conflict between us in the basics. I do consider the rising sea levels to be indicative of warming but hardly an open and shut case especially in the face of conflicting temperature readings. Should the sea levels start to lower I would view them with the same skepticism especially should the ocean temperature measurements be going up at the time.
sidd yes, I would expect that we would be improving our attributions. I have no reason to doubt we have made improvements in the last two years. I would expect that the same could be said for direct temperature measurements also. If I was going to bet on a method that would reach an acceptable level of precision first I would put my money on direct measurements. An example of an attributing factor for sea level rise that I don’t think has received the proper amount of attention is dam construction. The world Commission on Dams state that the average age of large dams is currently 35 years. This means that the reservoirs have long since filled up and they are in a state of semi-equilibrium. Yet while they were filling up they would have reduced sea level rise. Vivien Gornitz placed the sea level rise postponed by land sequestration at 1.3 to 1.8 mm per year. If the lack of consistent dam construction and new sequestration of water canceled out half of that it could account for a significant portion of the 1990s sea level rise. Then of course there are issues of subsurface water use and subsequent release to water systems, soil dehydration during times of drought, loss of biomass from deforestation, tectonic plate movements, and soil erosion all providing their own special margins of error. Yes, I would say fixing the temperature taking methodology seems our best bet.
Especially having to guard my bike & pack from freelance so-cial-ists
More likely junkies.
The solution is quite simple, own the crummiest bike in town. Works for me, and the bike gets me where I want to go.
Well, everyone does that in Amsterdam, and they get stolen anyway. Junkies sell them at a particular bridge, but even more just get thrown into the canals for sport (A’dam has special barges with small cranes and grapples that patrol, clearing the canals of tossed-off bikes, etc).
This is unrelated to political beliefs, part being driven by the need for income to buy heroin, much of the rest driven by some sort of city-wide prank sport thinking, etc.
When I was working there some years ago, a colleague had her front wheel stolen. It was replaced by someone else’s front wheel … which had a flat tire. Swapping easier than flat-fixing.
It’s always probably wrong to associate one particular local culture with some sort of global political movement.
Ron Broberg @ 199
Some of the difference in conclusions comes from different periods for calculating the date of rise. The site seems to use a 10 year period which is probably about the minimum for sea level change. It would be useful if the climate change community could agree on this (or another period) for reporting.
#247 Ron Broberg: keep in mind that these are relative sea level rises not taking into account glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA). For the NE US sites which are in the subsiding forebulge, this could explain as much as 1 mm/yr. The Alaska paper claims negligible GIA, not sure what to think of that.
But yes, for thousands of years sea level rise has been fairly small.
It seems, from Roger Pielke’s most recent response that this disagreement is as much about how you parse the sentence that provoked his first ‘misinformation’ post, as it is about the data.
Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago
He seems to interpret the sentence as meaning that the data from the last few years show the rate of change of various metrics has increased over that period, whereas the point RealClimate and the Copenhagen report were trying to communicate is that the rather longer term trends are at the high end of the IPCC expectations, indeed this is Key Message No 1 from the Congress
Recent observations show that greenhouse gas emissions and many aspects of the climate are changing near the upper boundary of the IPCC range of projections. Many key climate indicators are already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which contemporary society and economy have developed and thrived. These indicators include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, global ocean temperature, Arctic sea ice extent, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events.
On recent sea level rise, RC point to a figure from the French analysis of 2.9 mm/year, while Pielke cites 2.5 +/-0.4 mm/yr from Cazenave et al. However for Dr Pielke this represents a ‘flattening’ because it is below the longer term rate of 3.2mm/year, so ‘Real Climate has it backwards; these climate metrics are changing less than was expected a few years ago’ while for RC the significance is that ‘The best estimate of the IPCC models for the same time period is 1.9 mm/year …. Hence the conclusion of the Synthesis Report is entirely correct.’
So both ‘sides’ are using [effectively] the same data to prove their point, which must mean that the points being made are fundamentally different!
(An interesting side issue is the use of the word ‘flattening’, Dr Pielke uses this to mean ‘decreasing in trend’, rather than ‘to become flat’ while Anthony Watts removes any such ambiguity by slapping a big pink ‘Flat’ annotation over his sea level graph, Pielke concedes that this is wrong (‘This finding is not flat’). Given the title of Pielke’s post, we’ll see if he advises Mr Watts to remove his inaccurate and misleading annotation, and if Mr Watts does so).
Pielke does not defend his assertion about the Arctic ice, maybe a short term trend too far, notwithstanding this, there clearly is no debate about the numerical values of the various metrics under discussion, the disagreement seems to boil down to a fairly unedifying and sterile semantic discussion about how these data are described and communicated to the public and policymakers.
Personally I don’t think the original post was ambigiuous, particularly when read in association with the Synthesis Report, and I don’t think it supports the interpretation about recent short term trends that Pielke places upon it, indeed one is surprised to find a scientist of his calibre apparently aligning himself with the ‘global warming has stopped’ crowd. This focus upon the short term continues in the challenge that ends his post …
1. Using the upper ocean heat data from 2004 to the present, what is the Real Climate best estimate of the accumulation of heat in Joules?
2. Using that value of heat accumulation, what is the diagnosed global average radiative imbalance over the time period? How does this compare with Jim Hansen’s value of an imbalance of 0.85 W/m2 for the end of the 1990s?
To which my response would be to query the significance of such a short period, given the large interannual, not to say decadal fluctuations in these numbers, and to ask why he apparently expects a monotonic, linear rise in OHC, especially given that this variability was explicitly noted by Hansen et al
Total ocean heat storage in that period is consistent with climate model simulations, but the models do not reproduce reported decadal fluctuations. The fluctuations may be a result of variability of ocean dynamics or, at least in part, an artifact of incomplete sampling of a dynamically variable ocean .
Surely Dr Pielke knows the distinction between weather and climate?
steve, there are (at least!) two issues here, and it’s easy to get confused by mixing these up. Let’s focus on upper ocean heat content again:
ONE: Validity of the Copenhagen Synthesis report statement:
The Copenhagen Synthesis report presented new data on ocean upper heat content. This data shows that the long term trend in upper ocean heat content is greater than was thought to be the case a few years ago. The very recent reassessment has arisen following (amongst other things) identification of systematic warm biases in expendable bathythermographs (XBT’s) that artefactually raised the apparent upper ocean heat content for the decade around 1975-1985. The problem is described in detail in a paper published in November 2008 [***]. The corrected heat ocean content data was also used by Domingues et al (2008) as discussed in the top article of this thread. The upper ocean heat content data corrected for the XBT biases result in a larger long term upper ocean heat content than was considered to be the case a few years ago.
That’s the terms in which the Copenhagen synthesis report discussed our revised understanding of the warming trend in upper ocean heat. The long term trend due to greenhouse-induced radiative imbalance is larger than was thought to be the case a few years ago, since in earlier estimates, the early part of the record was aretfactually enhanced with a warm bias.
Note that Pielke hasn’t addressed the Copenhagen report statement on the terms in which they used this. In fact Pielke made no real argument whatsoever. His criticism consisted of an assertion “Their (sic) has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.”, and a link to a previous web page containing a spurious “analysis” of yearly accumulated heat content (see my post #204 above). Neither of these address the scientific basis of the Copenhagen report statement.
TWO: Recent upper ocean heat content.
Pielke focusses on a very short recent period of upper ocean heat content. Originally in his “rebuttal” he was considering data from 2003 (see my post #204 above). In his updated pronouncements he’s shortend this to the period since 2004 (because the Levitus data shows a very large accumulated heat for 2003?). Whatever, these are extremely short periods from which one cannot draw meaningful conclusions of long term trends. In his original “rebuttal” Pielkes “argument” consisted of a link to an earlier web page in which he asserted that the “Observed best estimate” of accumulated upper ocean heat was “~ 0 Joules” for every year from 2003 to 2008, inclusive. We know (see my post #204) that this simply doesn’t accord with the recent scientific data. Pielke is misinforming his readers with his analysis (although on his more recent blog, he’s reintroduced these papers which is good).
Leaving aside Pielke, what can we say about recent upper ocean heat content? As the papers I cited above, and that of sidds (#236), indicate, the uncertainties highlighted by Willis 2008 (cited in my post #214) in which there is a short term (4-5 years) disconnect in the “sea level budget” between measured sea level rise and the independently determined mass (land ice) and steric (ocean heat) contributions, seems to be on the way to resolution. In each of the cases, the papers indicate that there has been a significant increase in ocean heat in this period. It also seems likely that the accumulated upper ocean heat content has been smaller in the last few years. It may be that is an artefact from difficulties in measuring upper ocean heat accurately (recent history of errors in both the XBT and ARGO data would lend us to be careful in making profound interpretations based on a few years of data!)…or it might be real. Of course we wouldn’t be surprised if the increase of accumulated uppoer ocean heat was small during the last couple of years in which we’ve had a strongish and extended La Nina episode, and the sun is rather reluctant to leave it’s position smack at the bottom of the solar cycle…..
[***]Wijffels SE, Willis J, Domingues CM, Barker P, White NJ, Gronell A , Ridgway K, Church JA (2008) Changing Expendable Bathythermograph Fall Rates and Their Impact on Estimates of Thermosteric Sea Level Rise J. Climate 21, 5657-5672
Abstract: A time-varying warm bias in the global XBT data archive is demonstrated to be largely due to changes in the fall rate of XBT probes likely associated with small manufacturing changes at the factory. Deep-reaching XBTs have a different fall rate history than shallow XBTs. Fall rates were fasterst in the early 1970s, reached a minimum between 1975 and 1985, reached another maximum in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and have been declining since. Field XBT/CTD intercomparisons and a pseudoprofile technique based on satellite altimetry largely confirm this time history. A global correction is presented and applied to estimates of the thermosteric component of sea level rise. The XBT fall rate minimum from 1975 to 1985 appears as a 10-yr “warm period” in the global ocean in thermosteric sea level and heat content estimates using uncorrected data. Upon correction, the thermosteric sea level curve has reduced decadal variability and a larger, steadier long-term trend.
Yup, it’s all very silly Phil! Pielke seems to be playing to the peanut gallery in his challenge to RealClimate to give an estimate of the 2004-2008 accumulated upper ocean heat content for comparison with Hansen’s modelling.
It’s particularly daft if one compares Pielke’s earlier assertion of a disconnect between Hansen’s modelled expectation of ocean heat uptake and measured heat uptake which he describes here:
Here Pielke asserts that for “a requirement to NOT reject the IPCC claim for global warming“, various criteria of heat content should be satisfied. Thus, for example, the added upper ocean heat content must be (according to Pielke) at least 13 x 10^22 J by the end of 2008, and he asserts elsewhere that the upper oceans should have acumulated 5.88 x 10^22 J in the period end 2002 to end 2008 (if Hansens radiative imbalance GISS model projections are to be satisfied). He then proceeds to ridicule the modelling with a list of years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 each with “~ 0 Joules“ as their accumulated heat content!
However if we compare Pielke’s requirements with the Levitus data (see Figure in the top article to this thread), we find that (acccording to the Levitus analysis) the accumulated heat in the upper oceans is around 14.5 x 10^22 J at end 2008, and the accumulated heat in the upper oceans between end 2002 and end 2008 is close to 5.8 x 10^22 J.
So in fact the more recent analysis of accumulated upper ocean heat content is (somewhat fortuitously probably!) almost exactly what Pielke asserts it has to be as “a requirement to NOT reject the IPCC claim for global warming“!
I expect that’s why Pielke has “moved the goal posts” forward to an even shorter period (2004-2008) in his latest challenge…..
iso quotes Wiki: “It should be noted that some authors propose the existence of significant short-term fluctuations in sea level such that the sea level curve might oscillate up and down about this ~1 kyr mean state. Others dispute this and argue that sea level change has been a smooth and gradual process for essentially the entire length of the Holocene..”
iso responds “Wow. Short-term = ~1 kyr mean state?”
No, iso, the short-term in this statement would be the oscillaton around the 1000 year trend – not the 1kyr trend itself.
Good point. Probably beyond the level of the game that I’m having with isotopious. Also worth noting, analysis of tide gauge show strong regional differences. It’s not appropriate to use Chukchi by itself to try to quantify global sea level changes.
chris #260: I don’t see anything new in this comment. I have been avoiding getting into the “what did he mean when he said that” dispute since I find the argument silly. If I want to know what someone means when they make a comment that seems obviously inaccurate compared to what I think they mean then I ask them. Who would know better what was going through their mind then the person making the statement? Perhaps he did change his “goalposts” when changing from 2003 to 2004. I see nothing wrong with a scientist changing his position to fit the data. I would be much more skeptical of a scientist that didn’t. Are there perfectly reasonable explanations why the ocean heat content may not be going up? Possibly, but the sea levels have continued to rise and so now are you arguing that even if you are wrong you are right? I don’t want to get involved in the personal animosity portion of this argument and so I will just reiterate my initial assessment: there is a conflict between sea level rise and temperature measurements. Hopefully I can leave it at that because I suspect getting any more involved in this argument will cause me to lose a very valuable resource in answering some of my questions.
My distiction between weather and climate is a matter of resolution with both respect to time and space. Both are driven by the same fundamental processes. Models, either statistical,fundamental, or a combination of both are limited by our lack of underestanding of the fundamental processes and the accuracy of the data that we try to model. A really good model should be able to predict both weather and climate changes.
Models, either statistical,fundamental, or a combination of both are limited by our lack of underestanding of the fundamental processes and the accuracy of the data that we try to model.
Yet, our lack of understanding of fundamental processes etc doesn’t stop Fred from “proving”, in the paper linked to his sig above, that burning fossil fuels doesn’t contribute significantly to the observed increase in CO2 concentration during the industrial age. The increase is just (of course!) part of a natural cycle.
Fair enough steve. I think the arguments have been pretty much played out on this thread now. I would just say that (as I indicated in my post #260) the section of the Copenhagen Synthesis report on upper ocean heat content is prefectly clear about their meaning of an increase in the long term rate of accumulation of upper ocean heat as a result of reassessment taking into account instrumental measurement biases, and Pielke, while rejecting their statement, chose not to address this. It’s not really about a misunderstanding over \meaning\ in this case.
I’m not sure what you mean by this (and don’t bother answering if you don’t feel like it – I just want to clarify my position):
\Are there perfectly reasonable explanations why the ocean heat content may not be going up? Possibly, but the sea levels have continued to rise and so now are you arguing that even if you are wrong you are right? \
It’s quite likely that with a somewhat reduced radiative imbalance (sun at bottom of solar cycle) and strongish La Nina, that the last couple of years will yield upper ocean accumulated heat that is (temporarily) smaller than the long term trend. That’s what we’d expect. That’s not imcompatible with a continuing sea level rise which has both mass (land ice) and steric (ocean heat) components. The recent data (several papers cited in my post #204 and by sidd #236) indicates that there isn’t necessarily an incompatibility (as there seemed to be a year ago) between the independent measures of sea level rise and the calculated rise resulting from a summation of the steric and mass contributions to sea level, and in fact the steric (ocean heat) component continues to be significant. That’s what the scientific evidence indicates in my view.
I just wanted to comment that there is little doubt that as Hank suggests, based on large scale observations and models, the surface of the land would be much more likely to increase in temperature as it appears land retains IR more readily then the ocean. (Yes, radiative versus convective transport likely plays a part.)
On a small scale there is supporting evidence related to insolation and the zone where incoming UV converts to IR. Generally, UV reaching the oceans surface penetrates deeper into the liquid translucent mass of the ocean. As opposed to the UV being stopped quite quickly by the denser solid Terra Firma…
Sorry about not responding sooner. I was getting wrapped up a bit in a new book that an acquaintance has coming out on the role of viruses in the evolution of life — and digging into the origins of early type II introns from which later type II introns, spliceosomal introns and retroviruses appear to have evolved. (The answer appears to lie in retroplasmids similar to the Mauriceville retroplasmid, although it is complicated by the mobility of type II introns, including their lateral transmission by plasmids and the exchange of genetic material between plasmids and their bacterial hosts. But I am no expert, and simply relying upon the technical papers I find on the web.)
The role of the deeper penetration of electromagnetic energy into the ocean as opposed to land makes a great deal of sense. I assume that the same would apply to visible light as well which would be more significant in the sense that the peak of the solar spectrum is in the visible range, but perhaps less significant to the extent that visible light, particularly the lower, less energetic end of the spectrum (e.g., red light) will tend to get absorbed closer to the surface?
However, another thought comes to mind. Solid matter will be rigid, and as such will not result in the circulation of heat due to the movement of matter itself. Porous solid matter such as soil will be less conducive to conduction. Both of these will result in heat being kept closer to the surface rather than smeared out in the layers below — although given borehole measurements clearly there is some smearing which is more or less a linear function of depth.
But in the case of the oceans there is circulation, and not all of that circulation is due to convection. Much is due to tidal motion where the motion itself will be inversely proportional to the distance from the surface. This will result in thermal energy penetrating more deeply into the the ocean, smearing out the thermal energy and resulting in a lower temperature at the surface even after equilibriation. Or so I would assume. Then again, tidal motion also travels along the bottom of the ocean, and the breaking of such waves occurs there as well — which should result in further heat transport there as well.
In any case thank you again. You have given me more to think about, which is pretty much always a good thing.
Fred Haynie says, “A really good model should be able to predict both weather and climate changes.”
Uh, given that weather is demonstrably chaotic, good luck with that. So, if you apply your logic to investing, I’d guess you’d be running to sell about now. After all, no model predicted the day-to-day behavior of the stocks. Did you even think about that statement before you wrote it?
[Response: Actually, this isn’t as bad an idea as you think. The basic code is very similar – the differences are in the initialisation and kind of experiment that is run. Standard climate models can be used in weather forecast mode if set up appropriately – though the weather forecasts are generally worse because the resolution is not as good, and the skill scores for this process have not been the key target over time. On the other hand, running weather models as if they were climate models doesn’t work very well either – turns out there are usually a lot of small terms that aren’t important for a few days, but make large differences to the climatology. – gavin]
I know I’m coming to this rather late, but can someone please explain to me, or point me to an explanation on, what is the effect of the inverse barometer correction on a near-global sea level data set like this.
I am aware of the science behind the inverse barometer correction on smaller scales: surface pressure is a boundary condition for the pressure field in the ocean, so that at equilibrium a drop in surface pressure would require a small rise in sea level to maintain a zero horizontal pressure gradient.
However a change in surface pressure over the global ocean as a whole (as might be caused by a shifting in atmospheric mass from over the oceans to over the land, or vice versa) would not raise global sea level, which is constrained by global ocean volume.
However, there’s another “however” to consider: the satellite altimeters don’t work all the way to the poles (do they stop at 70 deg N & S?). So an exchange in atmospheric mass between the circumpolar regions and the mid-latitudes, will also affect the sea level, and in this case the sea level can adjust to it.
So has anyone assessed whether the inverse barometer correction on the CU sea level dataset really does improve its estimate of the quantity we really want, which is global ocean volume?
Sorry for possible mis-communication in regards to the radiative versus convective statement. Generally, I was suggesting the land/air versus sea/air interface. The point being that most of the heat released by dry land would be primarily by radiative transmission where most of the heat released by the ocean would be convective transmission, in to the atmosphere.
(The only difference would be the release of heat by moist land versus dry land, which suggests that if droughts were to increase there would be a higher tendency for the land to retain more heat then the ocean for a given surface area.) This in part plays into the discussion of regional deviation of the Jet Stream and the deviation of Rossby waves, which is a topic for another day…
As to internal turn over within the masses, granted the ocean will more likely model the atmosphere; however, it would likely be inverted as the troposphere is primarily warmed from the bottom and the ocean mainly from the top. (In essence, you have the “burner” heat bubbling up through the pot of one and you are trying to “broil” heat into the pot of the other…)
(Now it would be interesting to see the radiative source and its participation in either mutation or the creation of free agent RNA strings. Is it possible that the lack of pre-stratospheric ozone allowed UVA through, which attacked Blue Green bacterial DNA forcing the mutation into the two separate kingdoms…?)
“The Met Office Unified Model (UM) is the numerical modelling system developed and used at the Met Office. It is unique, because it has been designed to allow different configurations of the same model to be used to produce all our weather forecasts and climate predictions. The system has been in continual development since 1990…”
Pielke lost at least one subscriber to his blog when he said the decrease in sea ice has stopped, based on comparing 2008 figures to a 2009 figure that *does not exist yet* (the September minimum). Talk about not playing with a full deck—oops, I mean data set. (Anybody, please feel free to consider that ad hominem, heh heh.)
“Cloud formation is ESSENTIAL to getting good weather forecasts. It makes a BIG difference to the temperature and no cloud equals (near enough) no rain.
Getting its average effect is all that’s needed for climate forecasts.”
I’m not sure that’s really the whole story. It would be, if the effect was a one-way street but I don’t think it can be. Since clouds affect temperature and temperature affects clouds (plus a whole lot of other factors kicking in both ways and many of them not fully understood), there can’t be anthing like so easy as an “average effect”.
Maybe we mean the same thing. I guess the point is: how do you get the proportion of something like heavy cloud right (averaged over a grid cell) when the thing you’re looking for is a lot smaller than the cell itself, interacts heavily with all the other parameters traced, can move from one cell to another and can, when averaged, mean “one huge,deep cloud” as well as “many small, shallow clouds” which gives the same number but would still make a differnce for climate when systematically misjudged? My gut feeling is that cloud parameterization can only achieve so much but won’t really crack the problem with the way climate models work today. Unless clouds can be treated and traced as separate entities or objects, wandering on their own through grid cells and interact with them, they will probably remain one of the biggest sources of uncertainty. Frankly I don’t understand why that approach hasn’t been taken in the past – or maybe it has, failed and I simply couldn’t find it or there is an obvious reason for not doing so that I, not knowing anything about climate but just software development, am not aware of.
“I guess the point is: how do you get the proportion of something like heavy cloud right”
Actually, that’s one I do know about.
You work out with VERY detailed physics and VERY SMALL boxes (rather like you do when designing the aerodynamics of fighter aircraft for the military) and work out “and what changes if we change THIS” over and over (and, I suspect, for the people who do this for a living, OVER, and OVER, …) again.
Then you run your model through a historical forecast test:
Get some weather start time in the past.
Run your model for some years.
Check the results against the weather observations over that period.
(the important bit here is that the data is in the past, so is OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE, but it isn’t used to tune your model parameters and therefore isn’t curve fitting, but a record you check your model against)
If it works our wrong, you try and think of how. Model that (from the physics) and try your even newer model.
More papers available on sea level and climate on John Moore’s page, in addition to the very clear slideshow presentation that I linked recently above. It’d be good to focus on what’s really happening, rather than being distractible by kerfluffles in the bogusphere.
It’s generous of the authors to make full text available
a few recent ones that might be worth a look, links in original page:
102. Moore, J. C., A. Grinsted, and S. Jevrejeva (in Press) Wavelet-lag regression analysis of Atlantic tropical cyclone dependence on ENSO and Atlantic thermohaline variability Proceedings of the 1st International Summit on Hurricanes and Climate Change., J.B. Elsner & T. Jagger (Eds.), Springer
96. Jevrejeva, S., J.C. Moore, A. Grinsted and P.L. Woodworth (2008) Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago, Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611.
95. Moore, J. C., A. Grinsted, and S. Jevrejeva (2008), Gulf Stream and ENSO increasing the temperature sensitivity of Atlantic tropical cyclones, Journal of Climate. 21 (7) 1523-1531
94. Jevrejeva, S., J.C. Moore and A. Grinsted, (2008) Relative importance of mass and volume changes to global sea level rise, Journal of Geophysical Research 113, D08105, doi:10.1029/2007JD009208.
Yes, very funny. But all you’re saying in #288 is that the parameterization for wide grid GCMs haven’t been created from thin air but arrived at through some sort of high resolution modelling, probably verified using sattellite cloud object data and other observations. Well, I guessed that (with my brain) anyway. However the question is not how the parameterization has been calculated. The question is whether parameterization (thus “averaging” the effects of and on clouds in relatively large areas) is the best way to model clouds in a GCM.
The question is whether parameterization (thus “averaging” the effects of and on clouds in relatively large areas) is the best way to model clouds in a GCM.
It’s basically the only way on a global scale given today’s computers, because of the combinatorial explosion of computations required as the size of the grid “boxes” shrink. As I understand it, from reading some model explanations available from the UK Met office, cloud phenomena are smaller than the grid size currently used.
As computers get faster, grid size can be shrunk, and have been shrinking over the last 20 years (when Hansen was running his early models in the 1980s even the supercomputers of the day were puny by today’s standards). Then more stuff can be physically modeled at the resulting higher spacial and temperal resolution.
This totally ignores the increasing state of physical knowledge that can be reflected in models, My guess is that the combinatorial explosion of computations that results when one shrinks the grid far outweighs the costs of incorporating new physics when processing an individual grid during each time step, but I am *only* guessing.
Bottom line, though – more spacial and temporal resolution and physics in the model, the more time spent watching lights blink and the electricity bill soar until you get a new computer that’s significantly faster. Then you can improve things and wait for the next new fast computer to come along.
ReCaptcha – what the signers of the Declaration were hoping for if they lost the Revolution: 1776 acquited.
“Unless clouds can be treated and traced as separate entities or objects, wandering on their own through grid cells and interact with them, they will probably remain one of the biggest sources of uncertainty.”
But the eating habits of a single soldier in the army doesn’t stop logistics from keeping their men fed and supplied.
Even though the food such a soldier needs depends on what he’s done that day, how he’s interacted with his allies and his enemies.
But logistics uses an average soldier.
Not that specific soldier.
And they seem to do OK with it.
Are you SURE that what you say is necessary?
Ideal gas laws.
They are the result of literally countless particles all running around at different speeds. No single atom or molecule is tracked.
Yet we get VERY good numbers for using in real applications where accuracy is important by considering them as an “average” and “a range” rather than “this atom here…” and tracking it through the gas.
“My guess is that the combinatorial explosion of computations that results when one shrinks the grid far outweighs the costs of incorporating new physics when processing an individual grid during each time step”
Yup. You need to make sure that your timestep is short enough that only a little of the content that is contained in the box leaves it and little can get in.
So a smaller box by half requires 8x the number of boxes and (at least) 2x the number of timesteps.
The “at least” is because if you get small enough, you can have variations that change your instantaneous velocity. E.g. if your model has a box small enough to have sound waves represented with several boxes, each clap of thunder can significantly empty your box at the speed of sound.
You learn a lot when you fail at creating a model of an accreting white dwarf binary system in university.
You learn it too late to get honours for it, but you learn it…
Yes, I know why parameterization is being done in the first place and how its being done. I can also imagine that there are a number of physical phaenomena that can be parameterized sufficiently for the purposes of a climate model. However with clouds I doubt that this approach will lead anywhere soon, seeing as even a halfed gridsize would still be orders of magnitude larger than a cloud. Therefore I wondered whether an object oriented approach, treating individual clouds or at least cloud systems as separate entities with inherited properties, the ability to spawn and merge etc. would be more effective than static cells (which could still be used for everything else).
I don’t know what you’re getting at. I’m here to learn about climate simply because I’m interested. Like all of us, I have some ideas and wonder about why some things are being done the way they are. Am I sure my questions MUST be answered and that they are IMPORTANT in the cosmic scale of things? No. Are you sure that cloud parameterization in climate models works perfectly? Probably not. So don’t be an ass and act like I was trying to make a point here. If you can explain why cloud parameterization can’t be replaced and why it wouldn’t matter anyway if it could, because its not an issue and its nothing that modelers still worry about – then I’d be happy to listen.
Yup. You need to make sure that your timestep is short enough that only a little of the content that is contained in the box leaves it and little can get in.
So a smaller box by half requires 8x the number of boxes and (at least) 2x the number of timesteps.
Except as I understand this, you have grid size and then thinner vertical layers (atmosphere is a thin blanket surrounding the planet). So I visualize this as pizza boxes layered a dozen or two deep, tiling the surface. Apparently HadCM3 uses 19 levels.
So if only the grid size is shrunk, without adding layers, you get 4x for the physical shrinkage of the grid, 2x for the timesteps, so it goes up by the cube 8x rather than 16x. Still that’s a huge increase in the amount of time needed to do a run.
For given levels of computational power available, I can imagine that perhaps shrinking the grid size alone while not adding layers can be very useful given that the grid sizes used are apparently on the order of three hundred km. Thus the “boxes” being “pizza boxes” rather than cubes, i.e. each of the 19 layers is far less than three hundred km thick.
re 308, there’s a lot more vertical constraint on movement than horizontal. The atmosphere really doesn’t go that far up, when you compare it to how far round it goes.
I don’t believe you can get away with not increasing the layer count if you increase horizontal resolution, though it’s not a 2x . Mostly because there’s a better constraint on vertical. But it is unwise to not increase layers.
But then again, you shouldn’t use the idea of “pizza boxes”. In terms of how far things can move, the vertical scale is far larger than its physical dimension would lead you to believe.
A cloud, after all, is relatively tall compared to its extent when you compare to the full size available.
So the short (from what I remember on the explanation of what I did wrong) is that you have to worry about 3d movement and that to a large extent goes up vertically and so a higher resolution there is warranted. Missing out increasing vertical resolution will hide mixing that you’re trying to bring out horizontally because your height is too coarse.
There was a lot about space-centred and time-centred interpolation that stops your model becoming inherently unstable (our problem. I went “D’OH!” when I read the first flipping CHAPTER on how weather models do it…) and that is possibly *why* you should increase level numbers when increasing horizontal resolution.
I have. I found some reference to the Met Office using object oriented convection models to model percipitation properties in weather forecasts, but nothing about climate modeling (still browsing – its a lot of stuff and most of it is not related to actually treating clouds (or anything else) as objects but just referring to object oriented programming with GCMs in general).
“I don’t know what you’re getting at. I’m here to learn about climate simply because I’m interested.”
I’m getting at your questions are leading.
You’re ASSUMING that what you think is a real problem is, actually, a real problem.
Ensemble modeling shows how not-a-problem this is.
That this is how people who DO this sort of thing don’t do, should be another pointer.
But your position is not correct.
It’s not the problem with climate and clouds. Or at least not to an extent that is solvable and doesn’t have EXTREME constraints based on past evidence, making using resource to “crack” this “problem” a waste of time and energy.
But if you’re here to learn, learn to ask yourself questions. Stop making me type them out because you aren’t asking yourself them.
“Standard GCMs have most of this physics included, and some are even going so far as to embed cloud resolving models in each grid box. These models are supposed to do away with much of the parameterisation (though they too need some, smaller-scale, ones), but at the cost of greatly increased complexity and computation time. Something like this is probably the way of the future.”
(from the realclimate model FAQ)
… I indeed assumed this was a real problem – or at least something worth improving.
Gavin notes above that the trend in this ‘flat’ period is actually +2.9mm year, and Dr Pielke concurs, stating that ‘This finding is not flat’.
5. Dr Pielke is apparently exercised about the spreading of ‘misinformation’ by one of Scientific American’s Top 50 researchers, Mr Watts frequently points out how much more traffic than RC his modest online presence receives…
6. Although he apparently has the time to trawl picture libraries for an image of the Iraqi Information Minister with which to illustrate his echoing of Dr Pielke’s latest example of RC’s ‘misinformation’ [nothing but the highest standards of debate here], Mr Watts apprently does not have the time to correct his egregious (and horribly colour-co-ordinated) annotation. This is not bad undergraduate science, this is not even bad high school science.
It is a given over on our side of the pond that Americans cannot do irony, add the above to the awarding to WUWT of ‘Science Blog of the Year’ and I think I have a pretty convincing case to the contrary.
In the UK Guardian recently, Dr Schmidt was quoted thus … A lot of the noise when it comes to climate is deliberate because the increase of noise means you don’t hear the signal, and if you don’t hear the signal you can’t do anything about it, and so everything just gets left alone. Increasing the level of noise is a deliberate political tactic. It’s been used by all segments of the political spectrum for different problems. With the climate issue in the US and not elsewhere, it’s used by a particular segment of the political community in ways that is personally distressing. How do you deal with that? That is a question that I’m always asking myself and I haven’t gotten an answer to that one.
A friendly word of advice, lifted from that traditionally given by the Scott Trust to a new incoming Guardian Editor … continue the same lines and in the same spirit as heretofore. By which I mean continue in the classical spirit of evidence-based science; and please do not be tempted to mudwrestle with those unable accurately to label a graph. The noise merchants are recognised for what they are, in the long term they cannot compete with science, as classically defined.
“… I indeed assumed this was a real problem – or at least something worth improving.”
Nope, it means there’s improvements possible, bob.
Newtonian gravity has errors in it. But at the moment, they don’t make a difference when working out probe trajectories.
Improvements ARE possible, but aren’t necessary.
Quantum gravity doesn’t work with relativity, so improvements are possible. Like, make them work together.
But we aren’t being flung off the earth because we don’t know how it works.
And note: it says “some parameterisations”.
And you’re still wrong. It isn’t a big problem.
If you rerun the models with a slightly different cloud parameterisation, you can see the sensitivity of the climate forecasts to that parameter.
Then again, you don’t care about that, do you. You want to keep alive “well, you don’t really know what’s going on, do you, so maybe we should *wait*. I’m not saying AGW is false, but please ignore that what I want you to do is the same as if it were…”
“Then again, you don’t care about that, do you. You want to keep alive “well, you don’t really know what’s going on, do you, so maybe we should *wait*. I’m not saying AGW is false, but please ignore that what I want you to do is the same as if it were…””
I don’t know what the greeks have to say about paranoia or strawmen but I’m sure you do. Is that a reflex? “Don’t pretend complex things like cloud modelling aren’t sufficiently solved or you’re a denialist?” Come off it.
“Improvements ARE possible, but aren’t necessary.”
Aren’t necessary for what? For us to think that AGW is real? Guess what – I agree. If you believe they’re not necessary beyond that, you may want to penetrate the modelers burning a lot of time and money on improving models with some of your wisdoms on soldiers and gravity. I’m sure they wouldn’t think in their wildest dreams that their job is done – especially when it comes to clouds.
“I don’t know what the greeks have to say about paranoia or strawmen but I’m sure you do.”
It’s called “observational evidence” and “cognitive reasoning”.
This may seem like paranoia to some, bob.
“Aren’t necessary for what?”
To know that if we continue on this course, we WILL see massive changes.
You don’t need to know what the chemical breakdown in your liver is to know that your renal failure will not be good for you.
You don’t need to know if you’re going to die or just have internal injuries if you drop from the second floor onto concrete. You know enough just from a ballpark estimate that you are unlikely to walk away whistling, so maybe NOT jumping would be a good idea.
But if there’s a fire raging and no other way out, you don’t need to know what the statistical chances are of surviving the fall, or the survival rate of the fire reaching toward you to make you know that you’re better off jumping.
Did you know a 4ft fall can kill you?
You don’t need the complex mathematics that proved that to know that you’re unlikely to die falling from a stool, though.
Just wanted to thank Abi (110), Francois (121), and Aaron (140) and some others for their helpful insights and link re climate change and food (re my post 102).
Aaron (140), your experience and insights are an especially important holistic complement to the science, since science usually only looks at a few variables. There are a lot of straws out there to break the camel’s back (& harm food production); they just can’t all be included in scientific studies. Or can they???
Also the nonlinear effects that Francois pointed out are just up my alley of thinking. Why do we have such a one-track, linear mind? Well, at last partly it’s our European male culture heritage.
Sorry, I’ve had very poor internet connectivity these past 2 months….
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 8 Jul 2009 @ 11:54 AM
It seems like the main confusion is that the synthesis report says that the climate “studies” over the past few years suggest that climate change is progressing more than was believed just a few years ago. Whereas Pielke notes that climate “data” over the past few years actually suggests the opposite, if anything.
Because the studies over the past few years primarily use data from before 2006, there is no inconsistency there. But a lot of people are out there saying that wow, the synthesis report shows that since 2006, global warming is actually accelerating–even though the synthesis report doesn’t even use much data post 2006.
MaybePielke would be right to guess that climate studies over the next few years (when they include data up through 2009), will suggest a less rapid climate change than studies using data through 2006.
You might be right, Colin, but as far as evidence is concerned, the one who made that mistake first (and, since he blogged it and gets a lot of adoring fans reading his blog, with AW copying as fast as possible for WUWT for wider consumption) was Pielke himself.
Since it is a mistake HE started as far as available evidence goes, he can’t really shift the blame off to “well, it read like that, have a look at all the others who did the same..”, can he.
After having looked at the modelE source (and yes, I am old enough to be able to read fortran) I’ll at least have to agree that my proposal for an object oriented approach to handling clouds in models can NOT be a top priority. Top priority should be redesigning the entire thing from scratch. The physics may be sufficient but from a software engineering point of view, the code is a structural disaster. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the people writing it don’t have the first idea about how to do it on such a scale. My guess is that it started out as a quick and dirty prototype long ago and the point at which somebody would have had to pull the plug and invest the extra time for a redesign was simply missed (which is a common problem with many evolving software projects). So it grew and grew to the point where it is today. Just look at a sub like “MSTCNV”. Hats off to whoever has to debug that large pot of spagetti (let alone take a shot at optimizing it on an object code level). There are far better, faster, better maintainable and more flexible techniques for modeling abstract, externally defined rules such as physics than hard-coding them line by line directly into a routine. But I’m sure the people at GISS know all this.
We are are unwilling to pay more tax because we’re neurotically obsessed with the relatively tiny fraction of tax dollars wasted, so the refactoring you mention does not get done.
Same deal as the discussion elsewhere about unprocessed satellite data return. Instead of risking that a fraction of our money might be wasted by the government, we’d rather spend all of it on important things such as DVD rentals, pizzas, or innumerable other vital, indispensable products.
Put another way, we paid to gather the data, but we don’t want to waste money so we waste the money we paid to gather the data. Irrational, but there you have it.
Doug. I think its one of those investments that would pay off very well in the future but doesn’t have any immediate, positive effect and is therefore probably hard to justify. Stragely enough, this seems to work with things like satellites but is often more of a problem with relatively cheap stuff like this.
Mark. You keep missing the point with remarkable accuracy. “Proof it needs rewriting”? Come on. Look at it (or maybe you better don’t). The question is not whether its buggy. Software usually is and a redesign won’t change THAT (although it would, if done properly, make debugging a lot easier). The question is how flexible it is, how long it takes to introduce new functionality, adjust the underlying logic and principles (mostly physics in this case), trace it and probably more important than anything else – speed it up. (there you go – another two minutes of your invaluable time wasted away just like that and for nothing at all).
I agree with Bob that this code should be rewritten, for a number of reasons. That’s why I started the Clear Climate Code project last year. Most of my intervening time has been spent on other activities, but I have recently been working towards version 0.2 of a Python reimplementation of GISTEMP.
There is a systemic problem with scientific software, because scientists are not software engineers. The code is poorly documented, inflexible, hard to maintain, and often inefficient. It also contains bugs, as all code contains bugs.
This observation is not a criticism of scientists, and climate scientists are certainly neither better nor worse at software than those in other fields, but does suggest a way in which software specia/ists could help. It’s a lot more positive and productive than commenting on RC.
Incidentally, I’m very sceptical of an OO approach to cloud modelling in a GCM, although I am sure that OO modelling could be used to study, develop, refine, and validate statistical properties of clouds which could then be applied to a GCM.
By the way, the stupid anti-spam filtering system on RC is an excellent example of crappy software written by software specia/ists. Very poor. What sort of dumb-ass string matching is it using that can’t tell that the word s p e c i a l i s t is not pharma spam? 0/10 for effort.
“The question is how flexible it is, how long it takes to introduce new functionality, adjust the underlying logic and principles (mostly physics in this case), trace it and probably more important than anything else – speed it up.”
Look, I know object-oriented programming has become something of a religion in certain circles, but (and I write as someone who’s made a living doing this for some years) you aren’t very likely to speed up a program simply by making it object-oriented. Quite the reverse: part of my master’s thesis involved re-writing a complex object-oriented modeling code (in another field). In addition to adding a good bit of functionality, I sped it up by almost two orders of magnitude, reduced memory footprint by a factor of 10, and decreased the size of the source code by a quarter.
I know – all too well – that code written by scientists for their own use is often not as well-written as it could be, but objectifying it usually makes the problem worse, not better. Ever tried to decipher a poorly-written OO code? In my experience, it’s far more difficult than any tangled mass of spagetti.
James. I never suggested replacing poorly written fortran with poorly written c++ (or whatever). The main problem I see with ModelE is that there seems to be practically no abstraction whatsoever. Just an example (from CLOUDS2.f)
C**** calculate subsiding fraction here. Then we can use FMC1 from the
C**** beginning. The analagous arrays are only set if plume is actually
C**** moved up.
IF (MCCONT.le.0) THEN
C**** guard against possibility of too big a plume
As you can see, there is no separation of logic, data, parametrization and actual computation. Its all put together in actual code. If you want to change the bahavior of clouds, you have to change the code, recompile it, test it, debug it, restrain it, set boundary conditions, test again etc.
I spent half may professional carreer being responsible for a CAE project (still more or less pure ANSI C, btw.) and we’d never dreamed of hard-coding the properties of, say, any specific material or tool into the code itself for obvious reasons. These days we rarely touch the code any more and our team has changed over the years from 15 programmers and 6 engineers to 2 programmers and 5 engineers (who know practically nothing about the code – and fortunately don’t have to).
With ModelE, it wouldn’t work like that. Whenever a scientist wants to try a slightly different behavior for any of the physics involved, he or she can’t just define the new rules abstractly and trust the model to handle it appropriately – they have to go in there and change the code itself. To me, that sounds like a lot of time wasted for both – scientists who would probably want to focus on science rather than fortran as well as programmers who probably want to focus on fortran rather than science.
The thing I don’t get about this: If we look at the importance of the climate change issue and of the weight models have in researching it – why are these cornerstones of research apparently not funded appropriately? A few years ago, Gavin noted in a discussion about the ModelE code on Dan Hughes’ blog:
“The level of software engineering support for Numerical Weather Prediction models for instance, is an order of magnitude ahead of what is available for us.”
In the light of what faces humanity, that sounds totally unacceptable.
I would agree with James. My first job in IT was looking after a large software library which was written by 100-odd developers, who were mostly mathematicians. Standard programming training was to be given a copy of Knuth. As a result, some of the code they produced was pretty curly – one genius (he really was a maths genius) managed to bring a Cray to its knees by doing something very odd with file input.
Having said that, their code generally did the job, and did it fast. I rewrote one of their programs in Java – the original was a C program with a command line interface. My program was several times slower at doing calculations, and its only saving grace was that it had a GUI, which actually made it easier for the user to use.
Now, I may have made the program friendlier for the users, but that was about all my formal IT training and OO techniques could do. The underlying maths of the application that the original programmer did was spot on, and I was certainly in no position to make that part of it any better. OO in and of itself would have done nothing to improve the quality of the program – and indeed, the calculation parts of the Java program I wrote were rather more functional than OO.
So while I have not seen the code that you have looked at, I would be very surprised indeed converting it to C++ or Java would make it better just because of being OO.
I suppose it’s possible that– as with so many software projects that are originally envisioned as a one-off effort not really intended for application by a wider user base or even intended to be run often– nobody imagined how important this would become, nor perhaps how many times the code would need to be revisited and extended or modified.
Certainly I can picture that not only were budgets lacking to bring in software-specific talent, but even producing requirements specifications at the time to feed to engineers would have been enormous friction in terms of getting results. It is a fact that much software is used as a calculational jig with no intention for production operations.
Reading Spencer Weart’s –excellent– synopsis of climate science, I can just picture how some of these projects were started.
Not a criticism, at all, quite likely wrong for that matter.
Now there’s no excuse to starve this important work. To the extent they’d like assistance, folks operating models should be provided with that. It’s so little money, after all, compared to what’s in play as an upshot of their work.
If it would help at all I could give you the Fortran code I wrote for a recent radiative-convective model of Earth’s atmosphere. I’ve been told I have an unusually clear coding style.
The simulation isn’t great in terms of accuracy. I get 293 K for the Earth’s mean global annual surface temperature (should be 288 K), and doubling CO2 alone raises Ts by 3.4 K (should be 1.2 K). But it illustrates some of the principles involved.
I have some experience dealing with substantial bodies of old code. The reason scientists (at least in physics and engineering) prefer to use these codes is that they have been debugged well over the years, their accuracy under various floating point schemes is very well characterized, and (very important) their output is reproducible.
I am personally acquainted with codes from the 1960’s running today. I have written FORTRAN code thirty years ago that is still in use. These are not in use because they are pretty. They are in use because they are well understood.
Barton: that’s very generous. Although clearer Fortran would be an improvement, the CCC project is moving away from Fortran altogether towards programming languages which are intrinsically more accessible to non-scientists.
However, we would definitely appreciate help from anyone who can read Fortran code (mostly F77-ish) and accurately document the algorithm in English (and maths).
sidd: in terms of “accuracy under various floating point schemes”, I observe that GISTEMP’s answers depend on the Fortran compiler used (different compilers, and different releases of the same compiler, have radically different notions of rounding).
Many of the intermediate results of GISTEMP are also basically impossible to reproduce to a bitwise level in languages which prefer 64-bit floats. For instance, there are several phases which combine many data points in an order determined by sorting computed weights, and the sort order changes when using 64-bit floats as opposed to 32-bit, and the combining function is not symmetric. This doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to the final results – although a few of the sub-box monthly temperatures do change significantly – but does make it hard to test piece-wise replacement of Fortran phases with Python phases. I’d like to be able to use binary diff, to maximise confidence in the Python code (which encapsulates our understanding of the algorithms).
Mr. Barnes writes:
“I observe that GISTEMP’s answers depend on the Fortran compiler used (different compilers, and different releases of the same compiler, have radically different notions of rounding).”
Yes. This is an old problem, partially addressed in MIL-STD 1750 and later, IEEE-754. I have had issues in the past when larger hardware allowed us to ‘upgrade’ our algorithms to double, and then (in some cases) quadruple precision. Occasionally, we found that doing so provoked instabilities in the algorithms which were not previously revealed in lower precision schedules, as you are seeing. I recall that these issues were addressed by carefully examining the routines, sometimes rewriting them entirely, and even sometimes returning to lower precision in a few parts of the calculation, where the extra precision was unnecessary. This was always accompanied by careful testing against the original routines to verify that previous results were a)correct and b)reproducible.
Re: help with reading/documenting F77
My time is limited, but I will help as I may.
You can seriously screw up in absolutely every language – fortran being just one of them. And there surely is lots of code out there that was never changed and works just fine (I think the first banking project I worked on for my current employer back when I was a student is still in production – at least they did some Y2K testing with it back in the late 90s – and that was in COBOL) but it was never really changed and of course when a new company hit the market, they didn’t have to edit the code and add mindbogglingly specific lines.
ModelE changes all the time and it HAS to change because its structured in a way that won’t allow it to learn any new tricks through anything but reprogramming. It practically begs for OOP. If NASA is afraid of that for whatever reason, they could still stick with a strictly procedural approach and put in some extra work but either way – they’ll have to introduce some serious abstraction if they want to improve the way this thing handles and performs.
As a software professional, I find bobberger’s comments on the maintainability of old code pretty reasonable in general. They don’t go much beyond motherhood and apple pie for practitioners in the field, though. Discussion of OO in particular is just way OT, and a yawn on this thread.
Stefan, wouldn’t you admit that your non-linear trend line in your Science paper is flawed? A better way to do this would clearly have been to compare the linear trend of the data to the projections!
[Response: We agree on the main point: only the linear trend can be meaningfully compared with such a short noisy time series. As the TAR projections start in 1990, there is simply not enough data points to say any more, e.g. about the curvature (whether the trend has accelerated or slowed down). That is why we chose the parameters of the smooth curve so that it is almost linear after 1990, and we verified it is practically the same as the linear trend line. (We explained this more in our online-update of the diagrams.) A non-linear trend line has the added advantage that it joins smoothly to the pre-1990 data and is less sensitive to the choice of start year. So in my view this is the best way to do it – but if you prefer using a linear trend, that’s also fine and gives the same result. -stefan]