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  1. Thanks for the article.

    The link to the Dessler paper goes to a login page. Is there any chance of seeing the paper itself – or is it behind a paywall only at this time. (I’ve seen the abstract, and I’m aware that a site that I don’t patronise has posted a version.)

    [Response: The links now point to the version on Dessler's website. - gavin]

    Comment by Sou — 6 Sep 2011 @ 9:18 AM

  2. A well reasoned and thoughtful response. Thank you Gavin! I had figured Wagner resigned for reasons other than political or “IPCC” related reasons – he probably considers the journal to be like his own special piece of work (his “baby” if you will), and was not prepared for the controversey of a skeptical paper when his journal was so new. Thus, in order to “direct the lightning elsewhere,” he resigned. A strange move, but not entirely beyond the understanding of the sociology of science. Hopefully Remote Sensing will recover and continue on as it has for a few years now. We shall just have to wait and see.

    Comment by Jacob — 6 Sep 2011 @ 9:38 AM

  3. First sentence should read “Wagner” not “Warner”.

    [Response: Oops! - thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by J Bowers — 6 Sep 2011 @ 9:42 AM

  4. For those w/o AGU access, you can get a copy of the paper here: http://goo.gl/q4E7f

    [Response: Thanks. I've updated the links above. - gavin]

    Comment by Andrew Dessler — 6 Sep 2011 @ 9:58 AM

  5. Gavin

    There is a best link for Dessler:

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf

    Comment by meteor — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:13 AM

  6. I can only think of two climate science related papers that have been retracted in recent years

    Yep, and only one of these retractions went against the wish of the authors. The bar for doing this is appropriately very high (e.g., if a paper is established to contain fraudulent material).

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:27 AM

  7. Andrew, in his conclusion, write:

    “over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming”

    I guess you are thinking long-term action of the clouds by their feedback.

    Or other?

    Comment by meteor — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:34 AM

  8. Gavin,
    Do you have some thoughts on why Wagner would say “I’m sorry” to Trenberth?
    Cheers
    Big Dave

    [Response: "I'm sorry for all the media nonsense that arose out of this" or "I'm sorry that I let the reviewer suggestions go by without sufficient oversight" or "I'm sorry that I allowed my journal to be used so politically" - could be any of those or none. Perhaps if you had the actual text of some communication that could be examined for context we'd be able to get somewhere. Otherwise, it's just pointless speculation with people projecting their own biases on to some imagined statement. - gavin]

    Comment by Big Dave — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:48 AM

  9. Gavin et al.,

    Thank you for a very clam and rational and thoughtful post. RC has been the last blog to post on this fiasco, and i think that speaks volumes. Despite all the claims that RC, I think this post demonstrates that you are first and foremost concerned with the science.

    I eagerly await Spencer or McKitrick actually presenting some facts to support their assertions and conspiracy theories, but I am not going to hold my breath. I think the vitriol and rhetoric and volume of the harrumphing of “skeptics” of late, and on this particular issue, is proportional to how desperate they are and how they are not interested in science, but politics. So very sad.

    Looking forward to a post by RC on Dessler’s new paper.

    Comment by MapleLeaf — 6 Sep 2011 @ 11:12 AM

  10. It’s quite extraordinary how Roger Sr only ever manages to lay blame or find fault in one direction. His critiques of published papers are never against half-arsed “skeptic” efforts and his attacks (sometimes personal) are never against climate change deniers. His credibility is, IMO at least, now somewhat dented.

    Comment by SteveF — 6 Sep 2011 @ 11:17 AM

  11. Spencer has stated that the point of his work is to achieve a political end. And, of course, Spencer outrageously spun the import of his paper upon its publication. With that firmly in mind, any criticism of Wagner’s resignation that doesn’t acknowledge Spencer’s political intent in the first place should be considered a confession that the critic doesn’t have any intent to engage in an actual discussion.

    Save your breath. Save your ink. Save your bandwidth. Ignore them.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 6 Sep 2011 @ 11:45 AM

  12. #10:

    “Somewhat dented?” You have a much higher opinion of Pielke Sr. than I have. His past errors are well documented (e.g. do a quick search with his name on this website or on any of the other serious climate blogs), and his continued association with Anthony Watts speaks for itself.

    IMO his loud protests about SB11 leads me to suspect he was one of the paper’s reviewers.

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 6 Sep 2011 @ 11:54 AM

  13. It seems to me very rich that Roy Spencer is accusing others of politicizing science when he is consistently one of the most political of scientists. And not just on his blog–he’s on the Board of Directors of the Marshall Institute. The first thing he could do, to take politics out of the equation, is resign from that Board.

    Comment by David Appell — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:02 PM

  14. I’ve been waiting to see a RC post on this matter…because so often previously the administrators and scientists of this board have encouraged any/all of their detractors to “publish their (response, contrary results, etc.)” in journals. They have also said that peer review is not perfect, and that sometimes “bad” submissions get published and “good” ones do not. Further, they have said that if someone has a work they’d like to see published but isn’t achieving success at a certain impact factor, that they should try a lower level.

    To me, it seems like Dr. Spencer did all of these things, did he not? I’m trying to figure out where the seemingly nefarious ‘end-around’ of the peer review process took place either. I know many probably do not think so, but it seems like any criticism of the actual conduction of the research and the submission/acceptance of the paper for publication would have to fly in the face of previous comments of RealClimate.

    From what I’m reading here, it seems that there isn’t criticism of that sort of thing (besides the use of the ‘end-around’ term), and that’s refreshing. I just hope there isn’t a pattern connecting future ‘unique’ ‘one-time’ rarities involving publishing, resigning, and what-not.

    Speaking about rarities… How about the turn-around on the Dressler paper…What was that, a few weeks from start-to-finish? Ryan O’Donnell would be so jealous ;;)

    Comment by Davos — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:10 PM

  15. Jeffrey Davis wrote: “Save your breath. Save your ink. Save your bandwidth. Ignore them.” Boy, I wish they would go away if we ignored them, but the truth is they are not going anywhere! I support healthy skepticism, but these deniers do not belong in the skeptic’s category. Just like the Creationism movement, of which some of these guys belong to, climate change deniers are winning the battle of public opinion. Climate change deniers also have powerful political backing who will cut funding to agencies and scientists who are supporting established climate science given the chance….

    Comment by Rick Edenkrans — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:24 PM

  16. Gavin,

    The media was certainly culpable in the politicization, as Wagner pointed out in his notel, and as I discuss here:
    http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2011/09/editors-apologetic-resignation/

    Comment by Keith Kloor — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:24 PM

  17. Part of the “end around” in this case was Spencer’s keeping the journal name secret until the paper actually appeared. Quote:

    “Given the history of the IPCC gatekeepers in trying to kill journal papers that don’t agree with their politically-skewed interpretations of science…. I hope you will forgive me holding off for on giving the name of the journal until it is actually published.”

    Link:

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/07/spencer_and_the_mystery_journa.php

    If he hadn’t done that, others could have intervened sooner, and Mr. Wegner would probably have kept his position. Mr. Spencer almost certainly would NOT have got his paper published, however.

    [Response: I very much doubt this. Once a paper is accepted in a journal that is the final say on the matter - it would be almost completely unprecedented to pull a paper at that stage. Roy being coy was just funny. - gavin]

    Comment by bigcitylib — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:28 PM

  18. One thought on the process here — I appreciated Trenberth and Fasullo’s guest post here last month. The thread, though, filled with garbage (and replies to garbage) fast. If I were a visiting scientist I’d stay silent seeing that.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:32 PM

  19. Roy’s acute distress reflects a time interval between contrarian papers so long that this one’s half decade lead time merely amplifies Sturgeon’s Law of Scientific Publication ”
    ’90% of the papers published are junk.’
    And the lesser known Minsky Corollary:
    ‘So are 95% of the remainder.’

    Both cut in with axiomatic vengeance when there are less than 20 bona fide scientists publishing on one side of an issue, and only 19 published souls attended the original Heartland Conference, where Roy took his tautology public .

    That was early in 2008, a half decade after S&B 03, and so slow a drip of dud papers seems insufficient to sustain scientific curiosity.

    Or, pace Al Gore, media attention.-it’s hard to fill seats at a geriatric wrassling match when the stars lack strength enough to lift their folding chairs unassisted.

    Comment by Russell — 6 Sep 2011 @ 12:47 PM

  20. I feel kind of bad for Wagner. Yes, he presided over a poor review, but many other editors have made the same mistakes without consequences. Being an editor is hard, because you are receiving papers, many of which are outside your own field of expertise, and it can be hard to find qualified reviewers. So editors end up trusting authors to suggest qualified reviewers, and sometimes an author will suggest cronies who will provide a rubber-stamp review. A good editor will check the literature to make sure that the suggested reviewers are not recent co-authors with the submitter, but it is hard to know what connections people outside your field might have to one another. And of course, when it comes to a field as controversial as climate science, there may be links that are more ideological than scientific.

    Normally, a bad paper that slips through peer review pretty much sinks without a trace, because nobody ever cites it. But because self-styled “skeptics” are desperate for any real science that they can spin to support their position, a paper with even a hint of skepticism can end up receiving national headlines. So Warner’s slip-up ends up in the spotlight, and he has to step down to avoid tainting his fledgling journal. And for his integrity, he now ends up being the target of abuse.

    It does look to me like Wagner was taken advantage of by Spencer and Brasswell. Making public claims about the significance of your results that you were not willing to subject to peer review by including them in the actual paper is probably not scientific malfeasance, but it is skating awfully close to the boundaries of scientific ethics, and it had the effect of putting Wagner in the hot seat.

    Comment by trrll — 6 Sep 2011 @ 1:17 PM

  21. Gavin

    Indeed the “I’m sorry” letter itself is not shared, however it is not “imagined” that Trenberth received it… 

    Sept 2, 2011

    In his bid to cast doubts on the seriousness of climate change, University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer creates a media splash but claims a journal’s editor-in-chief. 
    The science doesn’t hold up.
     
    by Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick

    For the Daily Climate

    “Kevin Trenberth received a personal note of apology from both the editor-in-chief and the publisher of Remote Sensing. Wagner took this unusual and admirable step after becoming aware of the paper’s serious flaws.”

    Why did Wagner choose Trenberth?

    Thanks for your thoughts. 

    Cheers
    Big Dave

    [Response: You would have to ask either Wagner or Trenberth. I have no insight into their motivations or thoughts. - gavin]

    Comment by Big Dave — 6 Sep 2011 @ 1:40 PM

  22. I’m too busy, but people might want to be asking questions of UAH:
    do they stand behind their press release?
    Do they have any comments on all this?
    Do they expect more Federal funding for such?
    Good universities guard their reputations and take responsibility for their part of the action. (thus academic freedom is to be protected, but it doesn’t require a university to do press releases for silly papers.)

    Comment by John Mashey — 6 Sep 2011 @ 1:50 PM

  23. #8(Gavin’s answer):
    “I’m sorry that I let the reviewer suggestions go by without sufficient oversight”

    Does Gavin suggest that every scientific journal’s editor should (from now on) “per principia”" distrust his peer reviewers and make a “super-review” himself that would top the traditional ones?

    [Response: They very often do. But the problem is only really an issue if an editor is not sufficiently familiar with the topic/people/issues at hand. Then he has no choice but to trust in the good faith of the submitters and reviewers. Editors who have more of clue can recognise problems earlier on and know enough to ask neutral or otherwise independent reviewers to contribute. - gavin]

    Comment by Francis Massen — 6 Sep 2011 @ 1:53 PM

  24. Not sure what the point of Wagner resigning is. If an editor resigned every time a problem was found with a published paper, scientific publishing would quickly grind to a halt.

    Comment by MarcH — 6 Sep 2011 @ 2:06 PM

  25. Following on from #21 Big Dave,

    It is curious that Trenberth is identified as someone who should be apologized to in the whole affair. It would make some sense if Trenberth had been the third reviewer (thumbs down) and his input had been largely ignored.

    But as you say, this is pure speculation. Odd Though.

    Comment by GSW — 6 Sep 2011 @ 2:06 PM

  26. #23, in this case I believe Wagner feels Remote Sensing, and himself, were played. A paper bound to stir controversy, with a dubious and flawed analysis, is submitted to a journal with little to no expertise in the subject matter. It is accompanied with an overblown press release and an outrageous media reaction.

    This does not appear to be an example of someone forgetting to carry their ones. That sort of thing doesn’t garner headlines and is easily remedied within the journal and the scientific community.

    Comment by Logical Nick — 6 Sep 2011 @ 2:50 PM

  27. I suggest that it is worth backing up a level to more systemic issues, of which this is jsut an example.

    1) S&B:
    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf
    “This research was sponsored by DOE contract DE-SC0005330 and NOAA contract NA09NES4400017.”

    OK, that’s our tax money, and I wouldn’t want to get into Proxmire’s Golden Fleece turf (it’s easy to0 make almost any research sound silly), but:

    a) Everybody can make mistakes. How often does someone have to be wrong before they stop getting funded? Somebody with time (not me, right now), might want to look up those contracts and see what they are for. (Sometimes people Ack ocntracts that have little to do with the research.)

    b) Universities quite properly protect freedom of academic speech and research … but nothing requires them to support over-hyped press releases.
    http://www.uah.edu/news/newspages/campusnews.php?id=564

    Universities get much public support, and most take care with their reputation, i.e., they try hard to self-police so that we trust universities for truth-seeking more than many other entities. Has UAH said anything about this? Does it seem fair to ask?

    Papers don’t get retracted just because they are poor.
    As a distinguished academic wrote to me, p.7
    “Too bad you can only retract papers when it turns out they were plagiarized, when they should be retracted for not having any coherent or sensible argument!‖ This is sad, but has much truth.”

    Wagner took a very honorable course in resigning to send the message “we screwed up and *we take it seriously*” probably the only way to make the point strong enough to help the journal in the long run. This is a bit akin to “CEO seppuku” (not the real kind, just resigning to take responsibility and show that the problem is recognized. I used to go to Japan often.) For comparison, people might review E-i-C Azen’s actions in the link above, i.e., zero admission of a peer review problem.

    Comment by John Mashey — 6 Sep 2011 @ 2:53 PM

  28. Roger Pielke Sr., in his comments on his website goes on about how the paper was accepted in record time, but if you look at the “Papers in Press” you can see that there are a number with even quicker times: 12 days is not uncommon.

    Comment by Dan Kirk-Davidoff — 6 Sep 2011 @ 3:02 PM

  29. As Pielke Sr. has asked – why is Dessler publishing a new paper in GRL as a response instead of simply submitting comments via Remote Sensing. Isn’t the latter the normally accepted way of addressing such disagreements?

    [Response: Sometimes, sometimes not. We've discussed this a number of times - many journals do not like accepting comments, there are often space restrictions, the process can be unnecessarily long-winded and they are not valued as highly as stand-alone papers. Personally, I have both written comments on papers (i.e. Foster et al, 2010, Schmidt et al, 2011) and submitted standalone papers that also rebut other papers (Schmidt, 2009, Santer et al, 2008). Spencer and Braswell itself was supposed to be a rebuttal to Dessler (Science, 2010), though there was a comment submission to Science (which presumably did not pass peer review). But it's easy to find other examples of papers critical of a specific paper that appeared in a different journal (McIntyre and McKitrick, 2003; O'Donnel et al, 2011; McKitrick and Nierenberg (2010) etc.). - gavin]

    Comment by Mike M — 6 Sep 2011 @ 3:20 PM

  30. As Pielke Sr. has asked – why is Dessler publishing a new paper in GRL as a response instead of simply submitting comments via Remote Sensing.

    Why is Pielke Sr. attacking everything except the actual scientific errors made by Spencer?

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Sep 2011 @ 4:17 PM

  31. @Mike M,

    At times, too, some journals will respond to a major paper by inviting a gaggle of senior members to read it and write extended comments, often of paper size, although not as formal. The major paper usually advances the field in some way, or provides a controversial insight. To my recollection, this is sometimes done in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, and I do recall seeing it in Journal of the American Statistical Association three decades back. The follow-ups can be critical, or can extend the work, or can pursue some feature of the article in an unorthodox direction. See for a slightly related subject,

    http://pubs.amstat.org/doi/abs/10.1198/016214504000000872

    followed by

    http://pubs.amstat.org/doi/abs/10.1198/016214504000000935

    and

    http://pubs.amstat.org/doi/abs/10.1198/016214504000000944

    and

    http://pubs.amstat.org/doi/abs/10.1198/016214504000000926

    and finally a response by the original authors:

    http://pubs.amstat.org/doi/abs/10.1198/016214504000000953

    The other is Professor Bradley Efron’s famous paper “Empirical Bayes Methods for Combining Likelihoods” which had five comments. The original paper is at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291646, and the comments are at:
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291647, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291648, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291649, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291650, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291651, with Efron’s rejoinder at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2291652

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 6 Sep 2011 @ 4:39 PM

  32. I’m looking at Dessler’s paper (specifically the pre-publication PDF he’s uploaded to his webpage http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/Dessler2011.pdf ), and I have a couple of questions:

    1. In lines 183-184 he writes: “Thus, the lead-lag relation between TOA flux and ΔTs tells us nothing about the physics driving ΔTs.” But then in lines 191-193 he writes: “This means in turn that regressions of TOA fluxes vs. ΔTs can be used to accurately estimate climate sensitivity or the magnitude of climate feedbacks.” I may be missing something here, but aren’t these items (climate sensitivity and climate feedbacks) an essential part of “the physics driving ΔTs”?

    2. Figure 2 shows observations (with uncertainty ranges) vs. model outputs. What is most striking is that at the 2, 3 and 4 month lag intervals, none of the 13 model outputs are within the 2σ uncertainty range of the SB11 obvservations, and the majority of model outputs (10 of the 13) are clustered between 4σ and 6σ from the observed regression values. Based on that, how can he conclude that “the observations are not fundamentally inconsistent with mainstream climate models containing positive net feedbacks”? 4σ would appear to be a pretty fundamental inconsistency.

    Comment by Russ R. — 6 Sep 2011 @ 4:41 PM

  33. #20 trrll:

    It does look to me like Wagner was taken advantage of by Spencer and Brasswell. Making public claims about the significance of your results that you were not willing to subject to peer review by including them in the actual paper is probably not scientific malfeasance, but it is skating awfully close to the boundaries of scientific ethics, and it had the effect of putting Wagner in the hot seat.

    Touche. Over the years, Spencer has seemingly made a habit of managing to get rather mundane/workmanlike stuff published in the peer reviewed literature, but then doing and end run by sensationalising the findings in the mainstream media. To wit:

    How to cook a graph in three easy lessons

    From that article, by Raypierre:

    However, the thing you have to understand is that what he gets through peer-review is far less threatening to the mainstream picture of anthropogenic global warming than you’d think from the spin he puts on it in press releases, presentations and the blogosphere.

    And he’s at it once again…

    Comment by Steve Metzler — 6 Sep 2011 @ 4:52 PM

  34. @Russ R,

    Regarding “…are clustered between 4σ and 6σ from the observed regression values. Based on that, how can he conclude that ‘the observations are not fundamentally inconsistent with mainstream climate models containing positive net feedbacks’? 4σ would appear to be a pretty fundamental inconsistency”, where are the estimates of “4σ and 6σ” being used here? From what I saw, the D10 paper only identified 2σ bands …

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 6 Sep 2011 @ 5:08 PM

  35. @ Jan Galkowski,

    You’re correct… Figure 2 only shows a 2σ shaded band.

    My 4σ to 6σ estimate is eyeballed, as I don’t have access to any of the actual data.

    Comment by Russ R. — 6 Sep 2011 @ 5:54 PM

  36. #18 (mentioning Spencer being on the board of the Marshall Institute.

    Spencer is also chairman of the Climate Science Coalition of America, one of the climate disinformation outfits set up by Tom Harris (ex-APCO Worldwide etc.).

    Comment by Deep Climate — 6 Sep 2011 @ 6:21 PM

  37. @Russ R,

    The caution evident from the Figure is that the 2σ bands are not symmetric (vertically) about the centerline. I’m assuming centerline is median, but don’t really know these datasets. It would be good to see quantiles — always useful when doing comparisons. I also don’t know what “1-2-1″ filtering means here. I’d guess it’s a leading and lagging moving window, weighting the center by two and the lead and the lag by one. The significance of that is, if what’s being presented is *filtered* data, it wouldn’t be surprising that excursions are damped.

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 6 Sep 2011 @ 6:54 PM

  38. I think an important aspect of the resignation is the role of E-i-C in the system of DPMI, a newish outfit that publishes on-line journals like Remote Sensing. They have a kind of factory approach:
    “The Editorial Offices will organize peer-review and collect at least two review reports per manuscript, ask the authors for adequate revision (peer-review again whenever necessary), before requesting the decision of an external editor (usually the Editor-in-Chief of a journal or the Guest Editor of a special issue).”

    It seems that interaction with referees is seen as an Offices function, with a scientist invited to lend his name and reputation to the process at the end. Fine when it goes well, but the scientist is left very exposed when it doesn’t. Prof Wagner isn’t going to get in that situation again.

    Comment by Nick Stokes — 6 Sep 2011 @ 7:46 PM

  39. > DPMI
    MDPI — http://www.mdpi.com/authors/
    “… all articles are thoroughly peer-reviewed …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Sep 2011 @ 8:31 PM

  40. Libelous???? wow.

    [Response: Oh please. Don't you ever get tired of this שטיק? - gavin]

    Comment by Jeff Id — 6 Sep 2011 @ 8:52 PM

  41. From the resignation editorial, I gather that the decisions regarding the selection of referees were not made by Wagner. I am not clear, in fact, at what stage he would have been able to step in and exercise any control. I suspect he resigned because he felt he had been used as a rubber stamp to give authority to a rather dubious paper.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 6 Sep 2011 @ 9:50 PM

  42. I suspect he resigned because he felt he had been used as a rubber stamp to give authority to a rather dubious paper.

    Bingo …

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:38 PM

  43. This debate is on http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/a-reality-check-on-clouds-and-climate/#preview

    where we hear

    “More Thoughts on the War Being Waged Against Us”
    September 5th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/09/more-thoughts-on-the-war-being-waged-against-us/

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:46 PM

  44. Was the Physical Data from the Remote Sensors in the Satellites that was used in the Spencer and Braswell paper correct?
    Were the Remote Sensors operating correctly?
    Was the Physical Data recorded correct?
    Did the paper present the Measured Physical Data as Actual Measured Data?
    Did the Data show that the amount of energy leaving the system was greater that any of the computer simulation indicated?

    Actual measured data.

    P.S. CLOUD

    [Response: Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, no. - gavin]

    Comment by Andrew30 — 6 Sep 2011 @ 10:50 PM

  45. Wow, quite the convincing and objective and qualitative comment by JeffId. Not. That is all they have now?

    Mr. McKitrick’s propensity to defame/libel others may catch up with him one day. I wonder if Mr. Id donated money to Tim Ball’s “cause”?

    Sorry, OK, back to the science :)

    Comment by MapleLeaf — 6 Sep 2011 @ 11:44 PM

  46. #32 RTFP!

    lines 183-4 –> “the lead-lag relation between …” “regressions of …” <—

    As to your 2nd point, read lines 161-172.

    If you don't understand english, then I can't help you there dude.

    Comment by EFS_Junior — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:00 AM

  47. Well, my previous post is missing a part due to my use of ,d’oh!

    It should read;

    lines 183-4 “the lead-lag relation between … ” has nothing to do with lines 191-3 “regressions of … ”

    He’s talking about two entirely different things in those two sentences.

    Comment by EFS_Junior — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:07 AM

  48. The climate science community as a whole occasionally publishes flawed papers, but the contrarians only publish flawed papers. It is therefore a tad rich for them to claim there’s a conspiracy against them, a systematic bias, etc. Name me one other field of science in which those pushing a contrary evidence-free position have such an easy ride.

    Another example of this exact same effect: McLean et at. 2009. Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, J. Geophys Res. v114, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637, which uses a “smoothing” technique that subtracts out the linear trend, then claims that ENSO is the dominant signal in temperature data. One of the authors, Bob Carter, hyped this up as showing that there is “little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions”, totally unjustified by the data and an exaggeration of the rather thin conclusions in the paper.

    These people are politicians masquerading as scientists who use the “you’re a bigger one” defence when they get caught out.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 7 Sep 2011 @ 2:06 AM

  49. Are you not taking this paragraph that even gets in to the abstract a bit to easy.

    “While the satellite-based metrics for the period 2000–2010 depart substantially in the direction of lower climate sensitivity from those similarly computed from coupled climate models, we find that, with traditional methods, it is not possible to accurately quantify this discrepancy in terms of the feedbacks which determine climate sensitivity.”

    You could interpret that as they have shown that with some constrains a climate model gives a much lower climate sensitivity? Not that it should be, but that never seams to be how things work…

    Comment by Magnus W — 7 Sep 2011 @ 2:43 AM

  50. Russ R. #32:

    none of the 13 model outputs are within the 2σ uncertainty range of the SB11 obvservations

    I suppose that depends on who’s looking… Eyeball-Vermeer-1.0 says three of them (black lines) are within the 2σ range of some observation set (coloured bullets), and do not differ more from the observations than the observations differ amongst themselves…

    Based on that, how can he conclude that “the observations are not fundamentally inconsistent with mainstream climate models containing positive net feedbacks”?

    Actually a fuller quote is

    Second, some of the models (not plotted by SB11) agree with the observations, which means that [your quote. And continues:] Third, the models that do a good job simulating the observations (…) are among those that have been identified as realistically reproducing ENSO [Lin, 2007]. And since most of the climate variations over this period were due to ENSO, this suggests that the ability to reproduce ENSO is being tested here, not anything directly related to equilibrium climate sensitivity.

    So, the “non-inconsistency” is with the sensitivity aspect of GCMs (which was SB11′s claim). Yes, the models are still struggling with ENSO, but that’s an unrelated issue… see also Trenberth at al.’s post making precisely this point.

    Note also the dry “(not plotted by SB11)”…

    (Please give me back the preview!)

    [Response: (Sorry about the preview. We updated and it broke. Should be back now). - gavin]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:36 AM

  51. The disparity Gavin notes between S&B unexceptional technical premise, which he finds
    ” actually uncontroversial (despite what Spencer would have you believe), recalls another controversy in which ” the media and blogospheric interest in the paper had very little to do with the actual paper, rather it was provoked by the over-exaggerated press release”

    In the original case , the press release and subsequent media hype stemmed not ” from UAH and the truly absurd piece in Forbes by the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor., but a full service inside the beltway PR firm, Porter Novelli , which provided the jaw dropping artists impressions that transformed an “actually uncontroversial ” claim – it does tend to be cooler in the shade, into a politically charged campaign to overthrow some of the basic assumptions of strategic policy at the height of the Cold War.

    Denial is where you find it, and Steve Schneider may be spinning in his grave at the ‘nuclear winter’ controversy’s transformation from a locus classicus of the hazards of science by press conference and DIY peer review into a handy how-to guide for practitioners of media hype.

    Instead of the chagrined editors of Foreign Affairs commissioning Schneider & Thompson to defrost Sagan’s apocalyptic gambit, we see Wagner stepping down to protest the shenanigans of a latter day Freeze Movement.

    Comment by Russell — 7 Sep 2011 @ 6:21 AM

  52. In Dessler’s recent paper, clearly the Focean term has a large component of DSR.

    Why is Dessler justified in using a value of Rcloud of 0.5W/m2 and call it “energy trapped by clouds” when it appears that the term Rcloud for radiative forcing should include albedo effects resulting in a much larger value?

    Comment by TimTheToolMan — 7 Sep 2011 @ 6:46 AM

  53. @ Martin Vermeer,

    First, thanks for your civil response… far better some others can seem to manage.

    As I understand Figure 2, only the blue line is a reproduction of SB11′s results using CERES observations regressed on HadCRUT3 temperature data. The three red lines are Dessler’s own regression series using different temperature data sets (MERRA, ERA-Interim, and GISTEMP).

    So there are two important issues here… the first is the convenient inclusion or exclusion of results to suit one’s view (which both authors have demonstrated albeit to different degrees), and the second is the sizable gaps still remaining between observations and most models’ outputs over two specific interval (2-4 months lag and 10-15 months lead).

    I’d agree with D11′s point that SB11 was wrong to not include outputs from all 14 (or 13) models, and I would suspect this choice to exclude certain results was likely made to overemphasize the gap, especially if the excluded series looked the way D11 showed them (though I can’t be certain since SB11 and D11 generated their model runs in different ways).

    On the flip-side of that, I see absolutely nothing wrong with SB11′s use of HadCRUT temperature data for their regressions. D11′s unexplained decision to include observations regressed on other temperature series would seem to have no real purpose except to narrow the gap. (Not as serious as excluding results, but still a form of cherry-picking.)

    As for the gaps, as I pointed out already, specifically for lag intervals of 2, 3 and 4 months, absolutely NONE of the 13 model output regressions come within 2σ of the original SB11/HadCRUT observation series, and 10 of the 13 don’t come close to ANY of the 4 observation series (instead clustering in a range of 4σ to 6σ from the SB11/HadCRUT regression series).

    A similar, though less pronounced gap exists among the lead regressions, looking specifically at the interval of 12-14 months lead. Here, none of the model outputs fall within 2σ of the D11/GISTEMP regression, and most (9 of 13) fall outside of 2σ from the SB11/HadCRUT3 regression.

    Now I’m not nearly educated enough about to speculate on the cause of these gaps, or their relative importance, but D11 has confirmed to anyone with eyes that significant (>2σ) gaps exists.

    I could be all interpreting this incorrectly, but the gaps are pretty clearly graphed, so my reading ability shouldn’t be an issue here.

    Comment by Russ R. — 7 Sep 2011 @ 7:35 AM

  54. Preview is, indeed working. Of course, one has to remember to actually look down and read it. [Mumbles, blushes, shuffles feet.]

    #44–andrew30: “Did the Data show that the amount of energy leaving the system was greater that any of the computer simulation indicated?” Gavin: “No.”

    I was glad to read that, as I’d read Dr. Spencer’s comments suggesting that that had been shown, yet I was unable to find a basis for that idea in SB ’11 (which I’ve read through twice, but–I must admit–I still understand incompletely.)

    Specifically, what SB ’11 presented was not net radiation flux observations versus model results–that would clearly have been a basis for the ‘energy leaving the system’ claim. They presented rather the correlation of net flux with surface temperature changes in observations versus (some) climate models. It’s not clear to me that the model-observation differences imply a difference in net flux.

    (I presume that S & B didn’t simply present the net flux data separately for each because it would have been obvious that it wasn’t ‘apples-to-apples,’ in that observations are analagous to a single model realization, not to an ensemble of model runs, which I presume is the case for the model data used. But if that’s correct, haven’t they simply camouflaged the problem by coming at it through the statistical back door, as it were? In other words, might the different lag-lead regressions reflect lesser variability in ensemble model runs, not climate sensitivity? Or perhaps that’s just restating the point about ENSO from a different perspective?)

    #49–Yes, I’ve quoted that sentence a couple of times for the folks swallowing the “blows a hole in AGW” hype. In conjunction with the statements made by Dr. Spencer on his blog, it also becomes a pretty good illustration of the ‘end run’ strategy noted above.

    #50–Martin, thanks for highlighting the seemingly non-random selection of climate models in SB ’11. Curious, that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Sep 2011 @ 8:13 AM

  55. I see absolutely nothing wrong with SB11′s use of HadCRUT temperature data for their regressions

    But Russ, doesn’t it make you wonder why they chose it? The paper doesn’t say. Where is your curiosity? :-)

    Dessler clearly wonders: “… they plotted … the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis.”

    BTW trying alternatives like this gives you one more handle on the real uncertainty of the observational curve, in addition to the formal sigmas. A due-diligence thing, and rather obvious.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Sep 2011 @ 9:50 AM

  56. @ Martin Vermeer,

    “But Russ, doesn’t it make you wonder why they chose it? The paper doesn’t say. Where is your curiosity?”

    I would question a lot of other things before questioning the choice to use HadCRUT3 data, which in my novice opinion seems pretty uncontroversial.

    If anything, I would probably have assumed that SB11 would have used UAH temperature data, given Spencer’s familiarity with it. (If I were to guess why they didn’t use UAH data, it could be because the satellite data are more sensitive to ENSO variations, recording higher peaks and lower troughs during ENSO events, so this may have been a reason to favour surface measurements over satellite measures for a time period were ENSO was a significant driver of variability.)

    “Dessler clearly wonders: “… they plotted … the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis.”

    And likewise, D11 plotted the data sets that provided the maximum support for his hypothesis. (Coincidentally, the GISTEMP regression diverges from the model outputs by more than the HadCRUT3 regression for lead times of 12-14 months.)

    “BTW trying alternatives like this gives you one more handle on the real uncertainty of the observational curve, in addition to the formal sigmas. A due-diligence thing, and rather obvious.”

    Overall, I agree with you on this… more relevant comparisons are better than fewer (provided they don’t create clutter).

    I guess the big question I have is this: Since both SB11 and D11 show a couple of significant (>2σ) non-conformities between virtually all of the model outputs and the observed lead-lag relationship between radiative flux and temperature change, why is there so much discord over these (now confirmed) findings? Instead of trying to ignore the divergences, shouldn’t modelers instead be saying “Thanks for pointing out a shortcoming in our model. We’ll happily work to correct this, and in the process make our understanding of the physical processes more robust.”?

    Who knows… the net impact of improving the models to reflect this relationship might end up being entirely trivial, or it might be signficant. But rather than arguing whether the models might need to be changed or not, why not update them regardless and see if it has an impact? You know… “a due-diligence thing”.

    Comment by Russ R. — 7 Sep 2011 @ 11:06 AM

  57. Do all universities (US non-US) issue press releases? Wonder what the criteria might be for doing so?

    Any thoughts on the practice of allowing authors to suggest a pool of reviewers?

    Comment by BillS — 7 Sep 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  58. Russ R. and Martin Vermeer, you have a nice interchange.

    After reading hyped claims and counter-claims for decades, and after reading Wagner’s letter in its entirety, I can’t see how his resignation accomplishes anything good. It would have been better if he had published, after 6 months or so, a rebuttal by Dessler or someone else; and then after while the counter-rebuttal by Spencer, and so forth, with an editorial note that further commentary ought to have something new.

    SB11, D11 (as they are called) and their precursors and successors are important because clouds are important. They are trying to gain as much information as possible from extant observational data sets, but the data sets themselves have limited utility because they are observational rather than experimental. “Little utility” does not imply “no utility”. As with Mann et al analyses of proxy data, these analyses will stimulate other people to carry out more extensive data analyses using multiple methods and seeking relationships with other data in order to explore causal hypotheses as well as possible.

    It is true that Spencer and friends exaggerated the importance of his paper; however, Wagner’s resignation makes it look like SB11 was REALLY IMPORTANT. It has added to the hype instead of quelling it.

    There is hardly space to criticize everyone who made a mistake in this matter, but Ross McKittrick really ought to have kept quiet.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Sep 2011 @ 11:57 AM

  59. 56, Russ R,

    None of your complaints in any way address the real issue, which is that Spencer tries to infer climate sensitivity from his study when that is not possible. Aa is pointed out by Dessler, all he is doing when he compares models to observations is to evaluate the ability of the models to accurately predict ENSO events, which is a known challenge that is being worked on and improving.

    From Gavin’s post above:

    And the ‘bottom-line’ implication by S&B that their reported discrepancy correlates with climate sensitivity is not even supported by their own figure 3. Their failure to acknowledge previous work on the role of ENSO in creating the TOA radiative changes they are examining (such as Trenberth et al, 2010 or Chung et al, 2010), likely led them to ignore the fact that it is the simulation of ENSO variability, not climate sensitivity, that determines how well the models match the S&B analysis (as clearly demonstrated in Trenberth and Fasullo’s guest post here last month).

    Spencer’s method of using this study to evaluate climate sensitivity is very clearly flawed, and your own focus is misplaced.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:17 PM

  60. 58, Septic Matthew,

    Of course there’s every chance that Wagner did not resign to make some sort of political statement, but rather as a professional move to try to rescue the reputation of a young and aspiring journal from the coming storm, in an effort to prevent reputable scientists from turning their back on it as a possible avenue of publication for future papers.

    And when I say “chance” what I mean is that that’s obviously what he did. I doubt he made this decision in a vacuum in an effort to be a climate-martyr-hero and just landed it on his superior’s desk one morning. He was a part of a business, a responsible part, and they needed to make moves to support their business. He was the price that Remote Sensing had to pay for a business mistake.

    The denial need to see everything in the political perspective of the “climate debate” is warping this out of perspective. The correct perspective is that of a business running a journal, not of a maverick science-editor gone rogue to bring down the mighty forces of light who are fighting for truth and denial-reason against the dark-evil-scientist-cabal.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:23 PM

  61. Martin:

    “BTW trying alternatives like this gives you one more handle on the real uncertainty of the observational curve, in addition to the formal sigmas. A due-diligence thing, and rather obvious.”

    Thank you. Over the course of the past four years quite a number of us have suggested just this type of due-diligence thing repeatedly. These suggestions which seem utterly normal to anyone who has had to work with messy datasets, conflicting datasets, and divergent models, have been routinely met with cat calls, insults, and challenges to “do your own damn science.” I find it heartening that you publicly endorse the approach. This would be a good thing for reviewers to request. What’s the sensitivity of your results to your data selection decisions? And of course you’ll have no objection to other’s asking these fundamental due diligence questions

    [Response: Mosher: There has never been any objection to the idea of 'due diligence' at RealClimate. The objection has been to the laughable and arrogant claim -- repeated ad nauseum by you -- that the idea of 'diligence' hasn't occurred to anyone before, and to the offensive and unsubstantiated accusation that the mainstream scientific community have placed scientific diligence secondary to a perceived political agenda by the mainstream scientific community.--eric]

    Comment by steven mosher — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:26 PM

  62. Septic Matthew:

    After reading hyped claims and counter-claims for decades, and after reading Wagner’s letter in its entirety, I can’t see how his resignation accomplishes anything good.

    Perhaps rather than trying to “do good” he was simply preserving his personal honor and reputation. Such things count to some people. To those smearing him … not so much.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:38 PM

  63. Time to play whack-a-mole again. Roy responds. He really ought to have thought and reflected more before doing so…

    Comment by MapleLeaf — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:58 PM

  64. “But rather than arguing whether the models might need to be changed or not, why not update them regardless and see if it has an impact?”

    They are basically always undergoing updating, as I understand it. And of course newer models are always incorporating more and more aspects of the real world, as the growth of computing power allows. A nice graphic illustrating the latter process can be found as Figure 3 of the following review article:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.95/full

    In short, your quoted question is pretty much moot–nobody is arguing against improving climate models. They’re just going ahead and doing it.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Sep 2011 @ 12:59 PM

  65. Sphaerica(Bob): The correct perspective is that of a business running a journal, not of a maverick science-editor gone rogue to bring down the mighty forces of light who are fighting for truth and denial-reason against the dark-evil-scientist-cabal.

    It’s purely a business decision? I don’t know for sure, but 56,000 downloads speaks to a business success, and a mere publication of a rebuttal would have achieved more business success than Wagner’s resignation.

    Dessler’s rebuttal shows that SB11 would have been a better paper had S&B presented results based on more than 1 temperature series, and had S&B presented all model results instead of a selection. D11 is not itself beyond reproach, as it misquoted the main conclusion of SB11. SB11 does not refute D10, but merely shows that the analysis of lagged correlations produces a slightly higher squared correlation while reversing the direction of the cloud-temperature link. As a business proposition, I don’t see how the business of the journal would be hurt by continuing to publish a long series of interchanges on this topic — extending on to Granger causality, intervening variables like humidity (if measured), cosmic rays (if measured), nonlinear nonstationary vector autoregressive models, etc. The journal could have produced a high “impact factor” in the journal ratings.

    Not everyone agrees with your conjecture that it is purely a business decision.

    61, dhogaza: Perhaps rather than trying to “do good” he was simply preserving his personal honor and reputation.

    I don’t think anyone believes that it is dishonorable for an editor to publish a paper that is too good to retract, that he later came to believe was incorrect. That his letter says the decision was not [purely political] obscures the motivational analysis.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Sep 2011 @ 1:13 PM

  66. I tend to agree with septic on this one. Neither paper is very important, except that clouds are important to climate researcherd. That said, neither paper presenting any new insight into cloud behavier. The resignation only seemed to focus attention on the papers which are rather benign in their conclusions.

    Reminds of the lyrics to the song Signs, “hurray for our side.”

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Sep 2011 @ 1:14 PM

  67. Moshpit teaching granny to suck eggs (Gavin what’s that in Yiddish?)

    [Response: חוצפּה - gavin]

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 Sep 2011 @ 2:51 PM

  68. 65, Septic Matthew,

    Except the rebuttal was published in another journal. The point of the resignation isn’t the quality of the paper, it’s the future of the journal. The editor’s job isn’t to make sure that the science is done right next time, it’s to make sure that his journal remains a part of that process.

    Not everyone agrees with your conjecture that it is purely a business decision.

    Please note that “not everyone” in this sentence refers, as far as I can tell, exclusively to climate contrarians. They are the only ones perceiving this as an outlandish political statement.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 7 Sep 2011 @ 2:57 PM

  69. 66, Dan H.

    The papers would not have been all that important, if the UAH press release, Fox News and Forbes didn’t hype it into something it wasn’t (i.e. the final nail in the entire climate change coffin, overturning all of climate science) then yes, this would have been a non-issue, with no resignation involved.

    You’ll note that this was a major point in Wagner’s resignation letter, i.e. the behavior of the scientists and media circus surrounding the publication of the original paper. They backed him into that corner by making it into something it shouldn’t have been, i.e. treated as a landmark paper before it was even seen by other climate scientists.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:03 PM

  70. Steven Mosher has stated somewhere (as he is completely uninteresting, I can’t be bothered to look it up) that he is out to provoke. The proper response to him doing his provoking here, then, would be to let it stand.

    And then just.. ignore. I mean, stupid posts come on blogs all the time. Nothing distinguishes Mosher’s stupidity from the rest, apart from his admission to being quarrelsome.

    Comment by Øystein — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:29 PM

  71. Septic and DanH,

    you guys are rather missing the point. Spencer’s paper is a (likely knowingly) fundamentally flawed effort. Its interpretations are simply not supported by the broader evidence base. In the general course of things it would simply be ignored. However it has been trumpeted through the blogosphere and in the media as an apparent counter to the science that informs us about climate response to radiative forcing and the role of clouds.

    In that light, Wagner’s resignation and Dessler’s paper are valuable. Of course Wagner’s resignation is an entirely personal matter and it’s secondary whether it’s consequences are “good” or “bad” – Wagner simply did what he felt was right. However the consequences are positive to my mind. A paper of little worth has been overblown to serve non-science agendas; rather than simply let this pass, the two aspects of Spencer’s bad faith are highlighted – the bad faith abuse of the publishing process has been highlighted by Wagner’s resignation; the bad faith abuse of standard scientific practice (cherry picking particular models to support a preconceived point of view; fundamentally misplacing the relative roles of ENSO and climate sensitivity in model/empirical comparisons; flawed/absent statistical analysis etc) is highlighted by Dessler’s paper.

    That’s all useful. There isn’t much new science…but we’re a good bit clearer about (i) the state of the science that bears on climate response to forcing/ENSO/cloud feedbacks and (ii) the nature of efforts to pursue non-science agendas.

    Comment by chris — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:30 PM

  72. Looking at Dr. Spencer’s initial response to Dessler, he notes that he finds it “pretty clever” to apply his lag correlation analysis to the output of GCM models, which do not include a mechanism for clouds to provide surface temperature changes. I was surprised by this comment, because it was a test that immediately occurred to me when I read his paper, in which he seems to be arguing that such lag correlations are diagnostic of the existence of such a mechanism. This reinforces my opinion that Dr. Spencer was poorly served by the reviewers of his original submission. I’m not even a climate scientist, but if I had been asked to review his manuscript, this is a test that I would have insisted upon.

    I don’t know if the poor reviewing was in any way Spencer’s fault, but I’ll note that it can be tempting to suggest reviewers whom you think will “go easy” on your submission. This is almost always a mistake; it is better to have a reviewer express harsh criticisms to you before publication, so that you can fix or preemptively rebut them in the text, than to have your critics saying similar things to one another after publication.

    Spencer at this point still does not seem to quite grasp the significance of what Dessler has done. He comments “But look at what Dessler has done: he has used models which DO NOT ALLOW cloud changes to affect temperature, in order to support his case that cloud changes do not affect temperature! While I will have to think about this some more, it smacks of circular reasoning. ”

    But of course, that is not what Dessler is arguing–he is arguing that lag correlations coefficients such as Spencer reported do not constitute compelling evidence for a mechanistic link between clouds and surface heating. There is nothing circular about this. Spencer might still be able to argue that in this particular case, the pattern of correlation coefficients is the result of such a link (Dessler proved that it doesn’t have to be; he didn’t prove that it can’t be), but that will require a more sophisticated argument on Spencer’s part–which if he’d gotten a proper review, he would have known in the first place that he needed to provide.

    I should note that I do not disagree with the suggestions that I’ve seen that the paper should have been withdrawn by the journal due to the failure of review. Even if the editors now believe that the paper is wrong, that would be inappropriate. Even though it is true that publications such as this can be used for political purposes in an unfortunate way (and even though Spencer himself appears to have encouraged this), it is not scientific malfeasance to be wrong in a publication, and erroneous conclusions slip past review all the time. Besides, I can think of a number of individuals in various fields who have enhanced the progress of science substantially despite being consistently wrong about nearly everything important, simply because their errors stimulated others to clarify their own thinking and carry out important experiments and analyses.

    Comment by trrll — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:37 PM

  73. 68, Sphaerica(Bob): Please note that “not everyone” in this sentence refers, as far as I can tell, exclusively to climate contrarians.

    Dhogaza wrote that it was a matter of honor.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:40 PM

  74. Martin,

    I’m just thankful that we finally agree on something. That basic due diligence requires these types of checks. I think if we spent more time focusing on our agreements rather than our disagreements that we might make some progress. I’ll note, as I did before, that I find SB11 most unconvincing. In particular WRT the way they only showed the results from a few models. I think this was misleading. I know for some that this tactic played on the assumption that other models would fall in between the high sensitivity models and the low ones. It was also interesting to note that the models that matched best (D11) had sensitivities around 3.4, although I’m not at all clear that this has anything to do with the ECR. Your thoughts? Personally, i’d like to see more discussion about using data to do System Indentification.

    Comment by steven mosher — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:41 PM

  75. 71, chris: Its interpretations are simply not supported by the broader evidence base.

    That’s one way to phrase it.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:43 PM

  76. Oystein.

    I think that the best ideas do survive a good argument.
    And you will note, that Martin and I have come to agreement. Basic due diligence requires the kinds of checks he suggests. Forget, if you must, that people you don’t happen to like have uttered these same words. Forget that people argued with the common sense notion. be happy, that we agree. Basic due diligence requires these kinds of checks. If you disagree with that, now would be the time to make your argument. And this would be the place. And martin will tell you why you are wrong. I promise not to say a thing, when you disagree with me and he corrects you.

    Comment by steven mosher — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:48 PM

  77. …56,000 downloads speaks to a business success…

    In terms of notoriety with a certain demographic, sure, free downloads contributing no revenue, no gain in reputation where it counts and a subsequent embarrassing exposition of grave flaws are undeniably successful customer relations in the Biblical sense. Question is, who were the customers and who came out on top? Where was success to be found?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 7 Sep 2011 @ 3:56 PM

  78. Resigning for incompetence! What a unique concept!

    Lets face it self immolation is a practice only conducted for personal betterment (e.g. better than being fired, or for personal gain – you were induced) or as a political statement.

    We can probably presume it wasn’t a resign or get fired choice.

    [Response: The old 'argument from personal incredulity' again. Just because you can't imagine ever doing something honorable, it doesn't mean it never happens. - gavin]

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 7 Sep 2011 @ 4:00 PM

  79. Septic Matthew:

    Dhogaza wrote that it was a matter of honor.

    Are you allergic to the word “perhaps” that goes along with that quote?

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Sep 2011 @ 4:10 PM

  80. The deniers’ false narrative (that mainstream climatology is political) forces them into this increasingly ludicrous position. On the one hand we have Professor Wagner, articulate and open about the reasons for his decision to step aside, and on the other we have the paranoid denier narrative, seeing conspiracy everywhere, IPCC gatekeepers hiding under the bed, dogs and cats living together…
    The basis for their allegations? Well, nothing actually, not a skerrik of evidence, just assertion piled upon imagination piled upon assumption.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Sep 2011 @ 4:25 PM

  81. @Sphaerica (Bob)

    Hi Bob,

    “None of your complaints in any way address the real issue, which is that Spencer tries to infer climate sensitivity from his study when that is not possible.

    This conclusion is a bit of a problem for me. Is it really “not possible” to assess climate sensitivity from observational data?

    “Aa is pointed out by Dessler, all he is doing when he compares models to observations is to evaluate the ability of the models to accurately predict ENSO events, which is a known challenge that is being worked on and improving.”

    Looking at a 10-year period of observations, particularly during a stretch of time where GHG forcings should have been steadily increasing (in conjunction with all of the associated feedbacks), how is it possible that the only material temperature signal is attributable exclusively to ENSO events?

    After an good amount of time and effort spent pondering this question, I can only come up with a handful of potential explanations:

    1. The modelled direct GHG forcing is overestimated. (Included only for the sake of completeness, since this would be effectively impossible.)

    2. The modelled feedbacks are overestimated. (As Spencer and others would have us believe.)

    3. The ENSO forcing is much larger than the atmospheric forcing and feedback signals, and as such they’re being completely washed out. (Which I believe is Dessler’s position, but if this is the case and the radiative forcings and feedbacks are indeed so small that they’re indistinguishable from noise, what’s the cause for concern?).

    4. There were some other cooling forcings or feedbacks at play which were not captured in the models but were masking the GHG warming signal. (Often speculated, but with no solid supporting evidence as yet.)

    5. The 10-year period being studied was some sort of ENSO outlier, and the modeled relationship would hold up under normal periods. (Hard to demonstrate this)

    6. 10-years is insufficient to draw conclusions, and a larger sample size is required to see meaningful relationships. (As Santer et al. recently wrote.)

    7. The SB11 methodology of regression analysis is fundamentally mis-specified for the task. (But then what is the correct methodology? Is it even possible to evaluate? And if not, then what does that say about the falsifiability of the models?)

    (My sincere apologies if the above list is incomplete, incorrect, or imprecise… it’s my own novice interpretation, and I’m open to corrections.)

    Comment by Russ R. — 7 Sep 2011 @ 4:40 PM

  82. “Just because you can’t imagine ever doing something honorable, it doesn’t mean it never happens. – gavin”

    I don’t think thats what I said. Accepting responsibility is an honorable thing to do.

    But where do you draw the line? Putting a bullet in your head?

    What is not being described here is the damage that cannot be corrected by any other means that suggests its actually sane to go beyond simply accepting responsibility.

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 7 Sep 2011 @ 5:17 PM

  83. Russ R:

    “None of your complaints in any way address the real issue, which is that Spencer tries to infer climate sensitivity from his study when that is not possible.”

    This conclusion is a bit of a problem for me. Is it really “not possible” to assess climate sensitivity from observational data?

    Russ, surely you can understand that the limited data used by Roy in his study doesn’t equate to “observational data” in the universal sense.

    Comment by dhogaza — 7 Sep 2011 @ 5:32 PM

  84. If Remote Sensing charged the same as Climatic Change, the downloads would have cost Heartland’s torch and pitchfork chorus $2,352,000

    Comment by Russell — 7 Sep 2011 @ 6:28 PM

  85. I have always had a problem with researchers using that data which best supports their premise. Unfortunately, it is not restricted to Spencer. A rebuttal in another journal does the same thing using different data.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Sep 2011 @ 6:44 PM

  86. One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Sep 2011 @ 4:25 PM

    “The deniers’ false narrative (that mainstream climatology is political) forces them into this increasingly ludicrous position. On the one hand we have Professor Wagner, articulate and open about the reasons for his decision to step aside, and on the other we have the paranoid denier narrative, seeing conspiracy everywhere, IPCC gatekeepers hiding under the bed, dogs and cats living together…
    The basis for their allegations? Well, nothing actually, not a skerrik of evidence, just assertion piled upon imagination piled upon assumption.”

    Bloke
    Do you have any thoughts about why Wagner would single out Trenberth for his “I’m sorry” note?  It seemed very odd to me. 
    Cheers
    Big Dave

    [Response: And thus a new conspiracy theory is born. I mean, really, of all the things that one might worry about - why the Forbes piece was so bad, why the UAH press release went so overboard, what Spencer's correlations actually signify, - you think the oddest thing is an email which you have no direct knowledge of, between two people you don't know (and at least one of which you had never heard of a week ago) expressing sentiments which depend entirely on the (again unknown) context to be interpreted. While this might be fascinating to you, it is almost the definition of untethered pointless triviality to me. Please take it somewhere else. - gavin]

    Comment by Big Dave — 7 Sep 2011 @ 7:08 PM

  87. 80, Russ R.

    Your numbers 4 and 7 are related. If there are other important variables (intermediate steps to account for the lag, or much evidence that there is no lag), then the simple correlational methods of SB11 and D10 and D11 are inadequate. That the time series is short and possibly unrepresentative of most decades are also problems.

    It would be strange to prefer the model with a lower squared correlation coefficient (D10 compared to SB11), but SB11 would acquire more credibility if they knew, and modeled, the mechanism producing the lag effect. I think that their paper will inspire more searches for such a mechanism. Especially if their result holds up through 2030 data.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 7 Sep 2011 @ 7:51 PM

  88. 80, Russ R,

    Is it really “not possible” to assess climate sensitivity from observational data?

    You tell me. Climate scientists regularly say you need at least 30 years to detect a trend. At just under 15 years Phil Jones said that warming for that period was not yet statistically significant. It reached the point of statistical significance just at 15 years, but only to detect the warming, nothing more.

    There are probably two or three dozen papers that try to estimate climate sensitivity, all written over the course of the past two decades, and even more attempts to infer it from combinations of such papers.

    Do you really think that someone could be so brilliant as to tease out climate sensitivity from just ten years of observations, using a simple single equation box model?

    Beyond this, the month to month and annual variations caused by ENSO, as well as other noise in the system, vastly masks the actual signal (warming). How could one possibly ever infer climate sensitivity from such a situation? It would be rather like successfully inferring the entire content of the U.S. Constitution by looking only at every 53rd word of the text.

    [Response: The question depends entirely on context. "Observational data" is a very large amount of data indeed, and I'm sure that there are constraints on climate sensitivity to be found within it. However, looking at short term trends and variability in global average quantities are not likely to be that useful. Nor is the seasonal cycle, or (on it's own) the response to ENSO, nor trends over the 20th C (because of the uncertainties in the forcings). I'm far more impressed by looking at the paleo-data for good observational constraints (i.e. Kohler et al, 2009; Annan and Hargreaves, 2006; etc.) since we have good candidate periods that were close to radiative equilibrium and for which many of the drivers can be quantified. As an aside, Spencer bizarrely thinks that the prior statement implies I am ignoring "many years of detailed global satellite observations of today’s climate system" and "giving science a bad name" (something in which I will accept he has more experience). - gavin]

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 7 Sep 2011 @ 8:01 PM

  89. Russ R., Let me see if I can come up with a cosmological argument:

    The electromagnetic force is far stronger than the gravitational force, and yet cosmology is dominated by gravitation. There must be something critically wrong with General Relativity, right? Woohoo! Let’s go slide down a black hole. Oh, wait. Positive and negative charges balance each other over large distances, so the net electromagnetic field over large distances is zero.

    Likewise, the El Nino Southern OSCILLATION doesn’t dominate climate on a long timescale precisely because it is an OSCILLATION. It goes up and down. Greenhouse forcing goes up and up. Is this really so hard to grasp?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 Sep 2011 @ 9:22 PM

  90. “Is this really so hard to grasp?

    You know the answer, don’t you?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 7 Sep 2011 @ 11:51 PM

  91. Dan H:

    I have always had a problem with researchers using that data which best supports their premise. Unfortunately, it is not restricted to Spencer. A rebuttal in another journal does the same thing using different data.

    No, it does not. Spencer says “we show that models (all of them, in general) don’t match the observational data”. The rebuttal shows that Spencer only discusses those that are outliers regarding computed sensitivity and that don’t do a good job of generating ENSO-like events in support. Spencer looked at 14 models and threw out those that don’t meet his “models suck” pre-determined conclusion.

    What Dressler does is show that the models that more realistically generate ENSO-like events, which (probably not coincidently) also generate mid-range sensitivity numbers, actually do a pretty good job of matching Spencers observational data.

    If you don’t see the difference, you’re simply refusing to open your eyes.

    Of course, I could be wrong, perhaps you meant that Dressler’s premise is that those models that best model ENSO events will more closely match observations taken during ENSO events. But this premise isn’t at all like Spencer’s cherry picking, so I’m sure you didn’t mean it. Particularly given your track record …

    Comment by dhogaza — 8 Sep 2011 @ 12:15 AM

  92. Mosher, the only thing I can see wrong in Øystein’s comment is his estimation that you are stupid. My description of you would contain colourful language — which civility bids me not to elaborate on — but it would not contain the word stupid.

    Sometimes you even say the truth, or something close to it; stuff happens. I’ll try not to hold that against the truth ;-)

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 8 Sep 2011 @ 12:57 AM

  93. Do you have any thoughts about why Wagner would single out Trenberth for his “I’m sorry” note? It seemed very odd to me.

    Not at all… Wagner made the apology that Spencer should have made. Elaboration here.

    BTW you know what I find odd? How come the faceless powers that forced Wagner to resign, and then to remain quiet about being forced to resign, and to write an elaborate note with apparently made-up reasons, didn’t manage to force a simple retraction of the paper? There’s a mystery for you.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 8 Sep 2011 @ 1:12 AM

  94. Big Dave #84 – Do I have any thoughts? Yes, I think that you need to watch out for that confirmation bias, and pay more attention to the evidence, rather than anecdotes or advocacy.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 8 Sep 2011 @ 5:34 AM

  95. I think that it is revealing that the denialist camp view climate science as having two sides. It doesn’t. In climate science as in all science, the only thing that matters is whether your theories, viewpoints and ideas help you better understand the subject you are researching. Spencer’s work is rejected not because it donesn’t fit into the climate orthodoxy or even because it is incorrect, but rather because it leads nowhere. We do not emerge from reading Spencer with a better understanding or anythning. Even if Spencer were 100% correct and proper, the question it would raise would be how we understand his results in light of the fact that all other lines of evidence suggest a much higher climate sensitivity and feedback.

    Published as it was, SB11 was more about providing political cover than about trying to advance understanding. Viewed in this light, Wagner’s resignation makes perfect sense.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Sep 2011 @ 9:06 AM

  96. Thanks for all the engaging responses. I’ll try to address them individually.

    #82 dhogaza
    “Russ, surely you can understand that the limited data used by Roy in his study doesn’t equate to “observational data” in the universal sense.”

    That depends on what you mean by “limited data”. If you mean insufficent sample size, then that’s item #6 on my list (i.e. 10 years isn’t long enough).

    If however, you’re suggesting the observational data Spencer is using isn’t relevant or applicable to what he’s trying to deduce, then that’s captured in my list as item #7 (i.e. the methodology may mis-specified for the task), in which case no amount of additional CERES data will shed any more light on clouds’ impact on the earth’s radiation budget and climate sensitivity. This would be quite disappointing given the amount invested in the project.

    #84 Septic Matthew

    “SB11 would acquire more credibility if they knew, and modeled, the mechanism producing the lag effect. “ Agree, but this is a next step… well outside the scope of the paper, which merely identifies a stronger lag relationship than is currently reflected in most models. Once everyone agrees on the existence and approximate size of the gap (and D11 would confirm that there is a significant gap, albeit narrower than suggested by SB11), then people can turn their attention to developing and testing hypothesis for the mechanisms that cause the gap. (The work currently going on at CERN is an example of this… it may show evidence of cloud forcing that might fill some or all of the gap… or it might not.)

    #86 Sphaerica (Bob)
    “Do you really think that someone could be so brilliant as to tease out climate sensitivity from just ten years of observations, using a simple single equation box model?”
    The “ten years” issue was also in my list as #6, but I don’t entirely agree with your objection to a “simple single equation box model”. The equation being used (i.e. “change in temperature * heat capacity = net energy transfer”) is pretty fundamental for a closed system over a period of time.

    #86 Gavin (in Response)
    ” I’m far more impressed by looking at the paleo-data for good observational constraints (i.e. Kohler et al, 2009; Annan and Hargreaves, 2006; etc.) since we have good candidate periods that were close to radiative equilibrium and for which many of the drivers can be quantified”

    I might be completely misunderstand you here, but when there are multiple variables simultaneously acting on a system in equilibrium, it becomes almost impossible to identify the sensitivity to any one variable. (An analogy from economics is the price and quantity relationship in response to changes in supply and demand.) Rather than observing periods of equilibrium, wouldn’t the most valuable observations be instances where one variable changes materially and quantifiably, while all others are effectively held constant, so that one can observe the temporary disequilibrium and subsequent shift to a new equilibrium state (e.g. volcanic events)?

    #87 Ray Ladbury

    I quite like your cosmological analogy. If the same characteristics apply in this case, then hopefully more years of CERES data will help differentiate the cumulative effects of GHG forcing from the cyclical effects of ENSO events. This was basically item #6 on my list.

    Comment by Russ R. — 8 Sep 2011 @ 9:07 AM

  97. Martin, just to clarify:

    I don’t think Mosher is stupid. That claim would take a lot of evidence. His post here, and other posts he has made, however, are stupid. And deserve no attention.

    Which means I just wasted another minute of my life… oh, the irony

    Comment by Øystein — 8 Sep 2011 @ 9:59 AM

  98. Re both Spencer and Lindzen, don’t neglect the conservation of energy problem – see Rabett.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 8 Sep 2011 @ 10:09 AM

  99. Russ R.,
    More years of CERES data? First, we’ve got ~40 years of data that show behavior that is strikingly consistent with what we expect from a greenhouse mechanism–and inconsistent with any other explanation. Second, CERES is not even the right tool for the job! Ideally, we ought to have an entire array of satellites looking at both incoming solar radiation (a la the upcoming Total Solar Irradiance Sensor–TSIS) AND measuring outgoing radiation over the entire globe. And we would need about 30 years of it–because the climate, fundamentally, is not a one-box model. You need at least 2 boxes to capture the effects of the oceans or very long time-series to average out their effects.

    None of this is at all controversial or new.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Sep 2011 @ 11:31 AM

  100. 94, Russ R: Rather than observing periods of equilibrium, wouldn’t the most valuable observations be instances where one variable changes materially and quantifiably, while all others are effectively held constant, so that one can observe the temporary disequilibrium and subsequent shift to a new equilibrium state (e.g. volcanic events)?

    That’s why they do experiments in industrial process control. I’m guessing you knew that. In climate science, it is difficult to assure the condition of ceteris paribas. I’m guessing you knew that also.

    I hope you enjoy your time here at RealClimate, and return often.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 8 Sep 2011 @ 11:46 AM

  101. It appears Dessler 2010 is the new auditing target (fancy that!) at CA. In post 1, D10 is essentially reproduced and said not to align with Dessler’s conclusions. In post 2 D10 is critisized for using Ceres all-sky and ERA clear sky instead of both Ceres series. If so, the slope is reversed. It ends, “the questions are obvious”. And it’s all the reviewers fault too.

    Comment by grypo — 8 Sep 2011 @ 12:39 PM

  102. Hey – folks in the climate science community. Grow a pair OK. Put on the boxing gloves, or better yet take out the brass knuckles.In the name of truth and consequences the harassment, offending exaggerations and complete bull is winning consequently to the point that the Obama Administration is looking Bush-like. You have a “Wednesday freak show representing half the country. My god. The attacks on your work are never defended until the lie has been republished and spoken on the net a millions times. As someone who lives in the Northeast and is getting 300% rainfall, 100, hell 500 year floods pretty consistently with in a decade now and the relationships to higher SSTs and higher PW’s time to fight like a bastard. that’s what the science says – my god stand by it and kick ass!

    Comment by Roger R. Hill — 8 Sep 2011 @ 12:52 PM

  103. grypo– ClimateAudit can only remain alive insofar as there is some sort of illusion or conspiracy to be kept alive. It is unable to persist without a “Team” or some other object of attack, and not a single post there is free of this theme. Ignore it.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 8 Sep 2011 @ 1:14 PM

  104. Eric,

    “[Response: Mosher: There has never been any objection to the idea of 'due diligence' at RealClimate. The objection has been to the laughable and arrogant claim -- repeated ad nauseum by you -- that the idea of 'diligence' hasn't occurred to anyone before, and to the offensive and unsubstantiated accusation that the mainstream scientific community have placed scientific diligence secondary to a perceived political agenda by the mainstream scientific community.--eric

    Dr. Steig a few points.

    If you read what I wrote carefully you will see that I'm not claiming that anyone at Real Climate "objects" to the "idea" of due diligence. Here is what I wrote:

    "Thank you. Over the course of the past four years quite a number of us have suggested just this type of due-diligence thing repeatedly. These suggestions which seem utterly normal to anyone who has had to work with messy datasets, conflicting datasets, and divergent models, have been routinely met with cat calls, insults, and challenges to “do your own damn science.”

    I don't see any references there to real climate. What I am pointing out is simply this. In the past when people asked if certain due diligence was performed, those questions were met with the kind of responses I mentioned. You'll note that I dont call those responses "objections" to the idea of due diligence. They are something else. They are not objections to the idea, they are objections to the person who raises the issue. That's two entirely different things. Of course, that behavior is often taken as an objection to the idea itself. Hence, it's good to see that clarified. The objection is to certain people raising the issue in a way that you don't approve of or that makes you uncomfortable.

    Second, If you read carefully you will see that no where do I make the claim to be the "originator of this idea" In fact, in all my writing I've given deference to the people who taught me. I have expressed surprise when I have, on occassion, found little documentary evidence of due diligence. By that I mean no documentary evidence that due diligence has been performed. It may have been performed, but in certain cases which interest me, I have on occasion seen no documentary evidence that it occurred. I am by no means the first person to notice this. I am glad that we can both agree that testing multiple datasets is one of the ordinary things you do as a part of due diligence. It's a good day when we can agree on that. More on that later. Rest assured that both you and martin and gavin will get full credit for the idea of testing with alternative datasets.

    I will assume that you agree with Martin that looking at alternative datasets is normal due diligence and let him handle any arguments you have with that.

    Third, Like you I do not think that general indictments of an entire community of scientist's is well founded or useful. It's rather like calling all skeptics Oil Shills. Some clearly are, other's, well, not so clear. Moreover, my main focus has been on a few, very few, isolated cases. In those isolated cases my focus has been exclusively on the sociological aspects, and institutional aspects, not the political aspects. Let's suppose I had somebody who had challenged an engineer to take a matlab class from him. I would never look to the political aspects of this. I would look at the institutional and sociological aspects to explain the phenomena. In fact, you will find that is a common theme for me going back 4 years when I first noticed this rather odd dynamic. Frankly, I find politics and arguments about people's politics boring.

    So peace dude. It's a good day when we can agree on something.

    [Response: Steve: You miss my point, largely. There has never been any 'objection to the person' raising ideas. The objection has been to the crap that accompanies it too often. And once again you provide a nice example of this: Amidst the sober sounding language of your reply to me is yet another boring reference to the Jeff Id "matlab affair". [Fact: my statement about matlab was not 'challenge'. It was a response to a snide and inaccurate accusation by Jeff.] In other words, you have once again chosen to place your otherwise reasonable points in the context of cajoling language, with the obvious goal of point scoring. MY point, once again, is that your claim to have ‘finally been heard’ with respect to ‘due diligence’ is simply self-aggrandizing.–eric]

    Comment by steven mosher — 8 Sep 2011 @ 2:25 PM

  105. #97 Ray Ladbury

    “More years of CERES data? First, we’ve got ~40 years of data that show behavior that is strikingly consistent with what we expect from a greenhouse mechanism–and inconsistent with any other explanation.”

    I have no concerns regarding the greenhouse mechanism itself. My concerns revolve around the problem of quantifying feedbacks.

    “Second, CERES is not even the right tool for the job! Ideally, we ought to have an entire array of satellites looking at both incoming solar radiation (a la the upcoming Total Solar Irradiance Sensor–TSIS) AND measuring outgoing radiation over the entire globe.”

    Really? CERES isn’t the right tool? That’s not what they were saying when they launched the project. Why didn’t you speak up then? You could have saved everyone a whole lot of time and expense. Okay… kidding aside… To my understanding CERES measures both LW and SW radiation over the entire globe. So, knowing the outgoing SW component, you simply solve for the net incoming solar radiation.

    “And we would need about 30 years of it–because the climate, fundamentally, is not a one-box model. You need at least 2 boxes to capture the effects of the oceans or very long time-series to average out their effects.”

    Sorry… you lost me. How do you get to the 30 years number?

    [Response: CERES is a broadband downward pointing instrument. It cannot say what the incoming solar radiation is. All it can measure is the reflected solar radiation and outgoing long wave radiation. One can *infer* the albedo *if* one knows the incoming solar radiation. But that is also uncertain (though becoming less so i.e. Kopp and Lean (2011)). Nonetheless, CERES is very important for helping constrain elements of the energy budget - it just doesn't do it all on it's own. - gavin]

    Comment by Russ R. — 8 Sep 2011 @ 2:53 PM

  106. 97, Ray Ladbury: Second, CERES is not even the right tool for the job!

    Which job? D10 (and the editors of Science) and D11 (and more editors) have claimed that the CERES data are informative about cloud effects. Are you disputing them? Cloud effects are among the effects that almost everyone agrees are poorly known. SB11, D11 and Spencer’s unpublished rejoinder to D11 make a case that the cloud effects are poorly modeled. Do you have a particular detailed critique to offer why CERES is inappropriate for D10, SB11 and D11?

    103, gavin in line: Nonetheless, CERES is very important for helping constrain elements of the energy budget – it just doesn’t do it all on it’s own.

    Oughtn’t you have been addressed that to comment 97 of Ray Ladbury? Has someone asserted that it does “do it all on [its] own”?

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 8 Sep 2011 @ 5:18 PM

  107. Septic Matthew, CERES is a great mission, but it is limited in scope. To really measure energy balance for Earth’s climate would require a long-term progrem with probably a dozen or more satellites. Clouds are one part of that, but long time series of detailed spectra and profiles of incoming and outgoing radiation are really what we need.

    Saying a mission isn’t the right tool to do a job for which it was never constructed is hardly denigrating the mission.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Sep 2011 @ 7:39 PM

  108. It’s a good day when we can agree on something.

    Probably not meant to sound like a passive-aggressive groupie.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 8 Sep 2011 @ 11:51 PM

  109. For those asking about observational constraints on climate sensitivity, there is quite a bit summarising the work in this area in AR4 WG1

    9.6 Observational Constraints on Climate Sensitivity

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-6.html

    9.6. Summary of Observational Constraints for Climate Sensitivity

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-6-4.html

    “…Results from studies of observed climate change and the consistency of estimates from different time periods indicate that ECS is very likely larger than 1.5°C with a most likely value between 2°C and 3°C. The lower bound is consistent with the view that the sum of all atmospheric feedbacks affecting climate sensitivity is positive….”

    Comment by PeteB — 9 Sep 2011 @ 2:50 AM

  110. 107, Ray Ladbury: Saying a mission isn’t the right tool to do a job for which it was never constructed is hardly denigrating the mission.

    No, but it is denigrating D10.

    If CERES is appropriate for D10, then it is appropriate for SB11.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 9 Sep 2011 @ 8:21 AM

  111. 96, Russ R,

    [Sorry, I got busy yesterday and forgot to reply.]

    but I don’t entirely agree with your objection to a “simple single equation box model”. The equation being used (i.e. “change in temperature * heat capacity = net energy transfer”) is pretty fundamental for a closed system over a period of time.

    This highlights exactly my two problems with it, and totally ignores the third.

    First, the period of time is far too short to draw any conclusions about “climate”, given the amount of noise in the system and the minor degree of forcing in that time span. I calculate, for a change from from 2000 to 2010 of 370 ppm to 390 ppm, a direct CO2 forcing without feedbacks of 0.076˚C. This does admittedly ignore any lag in forcing from prior increases, but then again Spencer’s premise is that there is no such warming in the pipeline because the cloud forcing/feedbacks respond almost instantly to control things. This is particularly true when you consider that many feedbacks result from much longer time frames.

    Second, and far more importantly, as you yourself said it is a good model for a closed system. The injection of CO2 is an external forcing. It’s tipping the balance… although I will admit I’m not entirely clear on how Spencer determined his ∆Focean and ∆Rcloud values, and so whether or not those values included the “observed” external forcing of CO2 changes in that decade as an inherent part of the inputs.

    Third, no matter what adjectives you apply to it, the model is far too simple. There is no way in the universe a four term equation is going to accurately model a multidimensional, complex problem like the climate, closed system or not. I dare you to suggest that you could test the flight worthiness of a new airplane design with a similar equation as your only tool. It may be a good model for a 10 year ENSO cycle, but nothing more.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 9 Sep 2011 @ 8:59 AM

  112. Septic Matthew, Are you being deliberately obtuse? The proper tool does not exist at present–nor is it likely to in the foreseeable future given the attitude of idiots who control the purse strings.

    The data for CERES are interesting, but a few years of data from a single satellite in Low-Earth Orbit is NOT going to give you a definitive answer. I am sure Dessler would agree with that–and probably even Spencer, at least if he weren’t writing a press release.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Sep 2011 @ 10:50 AM

  113. Dr. Steig:

    Thanks for your response. You wrote:

    “[Response: Steve: You miss my point, largely. There has never been any 'objection to the person' raising ideas. The objection has been to the crap that accompanies it too often. And once again you provide a nice example of this: Amidst the sober sounding language of your reply to me is yet another boring reference to the Jeff Id "matlab affair". [Fact: my statement about matlab was not 'challenge'. It was a response to a snide and inaccurate accusation by Jeff.] In other words, you have once again chosen to place your otherwise reasonable points in the context of cajoling language, with the obvious goal of point scoring. MY point, once again, is that your claim to have ‘finally been heard’ with respect to ‘due diligence’ is simply self-aggrandizing.–eric]

    I think I’m beginning to get a clearer picture, thank you. You don’t object to the idea of due diligence ( that was never really an issue ). You don’t object to the people per se. You object to the ‘crap’ that accompanies it. So, you don’t object to who asks for due diligence, you don’t object to due diligence, you object to the way people ask for it or to extraneous features of the request. My point in raising the “matlab” incident was this. I wanted an example to clearly show you that ‘politics’ has never been any part of my discussions. You think my reference to the affair is boring. That may be. But I think there is something there that may actually be illuminating. I try to look at problems like that with an eye toward sociology and the institutions involved. You read Jeff as ‘snide’. And you don’t see your response to him as a challenge. I don’t argue with that. I try to understand that. Let’s look at the text, reminding ourselves that there isn’t really any right or wrong here, just different ways of reading the same text:
    JeffId

    A link to my recent post requesting again that code be released.
    [edit]
    I believe your reconstruction is robust. Let me see the detail so I can agree in public.

    [Response: What is there about the sentence, "The code, all of it, exactly as we used it, is right here," that you don't understand? Or are you asking for a step-by-step guide to Matlab? If so, you're certainly welcome to enroll in one of my classes at the University of Washington.--eric]

    The point I would make about this is not the one you might think I would make. I would not take issue with your characterization. Your response to jeff is not a “challenge”. I would ask.. does the fact that one of these people is a engineer and the owner of a company, used to getting documents he asks for, and the other a scientist used to friendly private requests from colleagues have anything to do with the obvious breakdown in comity? And further what can we do to make this situation better? Personally, I’d rather fill out a standard request form for data and code than write a email or a blog post. Maybe a discussion for another day. Finally, I think I should have been clearer. I’m not saying that “I’ve finally been listened to” I’m saying that we, we, you and me Dr. Steig have something we can agree about. That’s a good thing. Not “you” finally listened to “me”. We. we agree. That’s a good thing.

    [Response: Steve, you characterization of the interaction between me and Jeff is not even close to accurate. He wrote vitriolic comments on his blog about my 'refusal' to release code, when in fact I had pointed him to the only thing that I could possibly have imagined that he meant by 'code'. His initial request was polite, but my polite response to him didn't satisfy, so he started blogging about it. Bullying people (as he was doing) and then acting all surprised why they get tired of it and start responding (mildly) in kind, is simply not being 'polite'.--eric]

    [Response: Steve, by the way, I should have responded to your actual question, which was "Does the fact that one of these people is a engineer and the owner of a company, used to getting documents he asks for, and the other a scientist used to friendly private requests from colleagues have anything to do with the obvious breakdown in comity?" The answer, of course, is that the breakdown in comity had nothing whatsever to do with whether Jeff was an engineer or a football player. I am used to getting friendly requests, both public and private, from people who have not previously accused me of fraud, deception, idiocy etc. I am not used to be accused of all these things and then getting 'polite' requests from the very same people making those accusations. Well, actually, I have grown accustomed to it. But at the time of the incident you refer to, I was quite new to the style of discourse. --eric]

    Comment by steven mosher — 9 Sep 2011 @ 11:49 AM

  114. In regard to Dessler 2011, GRL state about papers in press:

    “Papers in Press is a service for subscribers that allows immediate citation and access to accepted manuscripts prior to copyediting and formatting according to AGU style. Manuscripts are removed from this list upon publication.”

    The AGU Authors Guide states: “Once the figures pass technical requirements, your final figures and text will be combined into a PDF file that is placed on the journal’s Papers in Press page. Papers in Press is a service for subscribers that allows immediate citation and access to accepted manuscripts prior to copyediting and formatting according to AGU style.”

    The Publishing Guidelines state:
    “An author should make no changes to a paper after it has been accepted. If there is a compelling reason to make changes, the author is obligated to inform the editor directly of the nature of the desired change. Only the editor has the final authority to approve any such requested changes.”

    As the changes suggested by Dessler are greater than “copyediting and formatting” it seems the paper must be withdrawn and a new version submitted and reviewed. Any comment?

    Comment by MarcH — 9 Sep 2011 @ 6:08 PM

  115. 112, Ray Ladbury: Septic Matthew, Are you being deliberately obtuse?

    I think that’s a good note on which to end.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 9 Sep 2011 @ 8:09 PM

  116. MarcH:

    Here is what Dessler told Spencer he will change:

    “I’m happy to change the introductory paragraph of my paper when I get the galley proofs to better represent your views. My apologies for any misunderstanding. Also, I’ll be changing the sentence “over the decades or centuries relevant for long-term climate change, on the other hand, clouds can indeed cause significant warming” to make it clear that I’m talking about cloud feedbacks doing the action here, not cloud forcing.”

    Somehow I don’t think the paper will be withdrawn over either having or not having those changes included. Although if they don’t allow the changes to clarify Roy’s views he will use it as a cudgel in his next paper on the subject. Good luck getting that published Roy!

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 10 Sep 2011 @ 11:43 AM

  117. The denialists must find ways to change the subject to anything but They are wrong as usual. They have even cooked up a complaint that the paper is evil because it was published to soon after SB11. The ever alert Skeptical Science group has it covered in spades: http://skepticalscience.com/Conspiracy-Dog-whistling-Dessler2011-GRL.html.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 11 Sep 2011 @ 6:36 AM

  118. Mr. Steig,

    I am not used to be accused of all these things and then getting ‘polite’ requests from the very same people making those accusations.

    Some people don’t seem to know how to engage in scholarly exchange. You are a better person than I am. I would have ignored those requests. Plus competent researchers in my area of research would be able to write their own code for existing and the proposed methodologies.

    Comment by jrh — 13 Sep 2011 @ 7:27 PM

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