Jim Hansen’s opinion

Several people have written saying that it would be useful to have an expert opinion on the state of the surface temperature data from someone other than RealClimate members.

Here you go:


You don’t get more expert than Jim Hansen.

186 comments on this post.
  1. cougar_w:

    #43 [However, it is clear that Prof. Hansen is strongly associated with the CRU team and perhaps is not completely unbiased in his perspective of climategate.]

    It is a small enough area of study that everyone knows everyone else. CRU are major players. He shares their bias towards doing science in an open environment and maintaining process integrity. Climategate is positioned as entertainment for the rough masses and has nothing whatever to do with science, which most people couldn’t grasp if their lives dearly depended on it, which their lives do.

    So the problem is …. what? No really, help me out here because I don’t see your point at all.


  2. Doug Bostrom:

    It surprises me that contrarians continue their end-zone dance while climate scientists go on wringing their hands over this story, even as it has rapidly sunk almost without a trace. For journalists it’s a dead end, offering essentially no place to take the story and centered on a topic that is at root deadly dull for most people.

    It’s not far-fetched to look at the timing of the release of the material in question versus Copenhagen and draw a conclusion that TomskTwaddle was intended to throw a monkey wrench into the works there. An utter failure in that department; as far as I can see it never came up in official discussions in Copenhagen. No participating functionary, minister or head of state brought it up. Copenhagen represented one act of an extended kabuki play, but CRU was not in the plot.

    Undoubtedly it’ll serve to gull a few folks into delaying their acceptance of the obvious, but given the story’s abortive narrative it’s got nothing uniquely compelling compared to dozens of other misdirections already in ample supply.

    Depending on their status either as industrial vendors of deceit or basement hobbyists, for career contrarians it represents either fodder for a PR machine increasingly starved for effective, fresh propaganda or redundant confirmation of unshakable beliefs rooted in delusion. But again, the story is not leading anywhere so at the end of the day, a fizzle.

  3. Jerry Steffens:

    ZT 18 December 2009 @ 7:07 PM

    “However, it is clear that Prof. Hansen is strongly associated with the CRU team”

    If you try hard enough, I’m sure that you can show that Kevin Bacon is associated with the CRU team!

  4. cougar_w:

    #52 Best analysis of Climategate EVAR. My hat off to you.


  5. Doug Bostrom:


    “Since the theft of the CRU emails and their public dissemination, Phil has been subjected to the vilest personal attacks. These attacks are without justification. They are deeply disturbing. They should be of concern to all of you. We are now faced with powerful “forces of unreason” – forces that (at least to date) have been unsuccessful in challenging scientific findings of a warming Earth, and a “discernible human influence” on global climate. These forces of unreason are now shifting the focus of their attention to the scientists themselves. They seek to discredit, to skew the truth, to misrepresent. They seek to destroy scientific careers rather than to improve our understanding of the nature and causes of climate change.”

    I doubt it’s any serious consolation but– disregarding the sizable rabble of persons who can only be termed “conspiracy theorists” brought out by the CRU incident– the true progenitors of the contrarian movement are deeply reasonable, at least from their narrow perspective, which is that of discharging fiduciary duties to shareholders. Outside of that perspective, these people’s work certainly will appear sociopathic, hence our shock at the casual disregard of the impact of their actions on others, etc.

    Watching this drama unfold has real emotional impact. Who would be unmoved to see individuals buffeted by such atrocious circumstances, assaults on reputation inspired and engineered by a cold financial calculus? Climate scientists find themselves in the crosshairs of powerful enemies purely by coincidence, their only offense ultimately being an avid pursuit of curiosity.

  6. ZT:

    Hi Coug et al,

    Yes, I read the PDF. I think it was very well written and very clear. And yes, I vaguely know what heat capacity is, (if not photosynthesis). I still don’t understand why the ocean temperature is heading in two directions at once – if anyone would care to explain that (in simple words, few syllables, etc.) that would be much appreciated.

    As to any possible bias that Prof. Hansen might have. Here are some climategate emails which were written by him or sent to him. (If you google for these file names you will find the text easily.)


    This maybe a small community – which I think isn’t correct as 1700 UK climate savvy scientist signed a public statement recently – but the messages above do indicate that it CRU and Prof. Hansen were close, e.g.

    1200651426.txt from Prof. Hansen, mentions ranking temperatures in a way that ‘most reporters are sort of willing to accept’, in Prof. Hansen’s words (I don’t think I am quoting this out of context, but please feel free to check). Yet in the PDF – I see that Prof. Hansen suggests that these figures should only be trusted to 0.1C, which would make the ranking he suggests in this email a little, let’s say, ‘economical with the truth’.

    In fact, the gist of 1200651426.txt is a discussion between various climate science groups trying to get their figures to agree. There is a message embedded in this file from someone at NBC with the text (to the scientists, not the public) “If NOAA and NASA can’t even agree what the temperature was last year, how can we believe what they are saying about the future climate”. It as though the journalist is saying to the scientists – come on get your acts together – we cannot report this as it is – you have got the messaging all wrong! And low and behold the scientists start to figure out the appropriate tweaks.

    So – even in this email from Prof. Hansen – you can see the science being subverted to messaging. Please feel free to take a look!

  7. Wes:

    #4Eric, The Crowley paper you mean must be the one in reference #12 of the link you provided (Ambio 29). (Sorry, I don’t know how to cut and paste in this little box, but you should have no trouble with Google.)

    This is most interesting and thanks for the tip. Among other things I could point out from the Crowley paper, I call your attention to the remarkable increase in temperature that is shown in his data (FIG. 2) that occurred between 1840 and 1910. Without the benefit of the AGW excuse, the rate of temperature rise is still comparable to that of the present.

    [edit due to unsupported accusations]

    While Crowley raises additional concerns for me, I would appreciate any comments you might have on this on this point.



    [Response: I’m tired of answering this question about previous warming episodes again and again and again. Someone want to take this?–eric]

  8. Ray Ladbury:

    Doug Bostrom says of the CRU theft and Copenhagen: “No participating functionary, minister or head of state brought it up.”

    Actually, the Saudis did, but that’s not a shocker.

    [Response: The irony is that the deniers think that the price of oil would go up due to limiting CO2. Apparently, the Saudi’s don’t agree.–eric

  9. ZT:

    Here’s the email I mentioned:

    [Response: OK, first off, no reproducing of emails here.
    Second, I have read through the ones you posted, and you are utterly delusional if you think there is any problem with any of them. Do you really believe that the fact that people have sent email to each other, discussing their very similar work, and its difference, makes them ‘conspirators’?–eric]

  10. caerbannog:

    Slightly off-topic:

    Dr Richard Alley’s AGU lecture, “The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History” can now be downloaded from: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.zip

    Here’s an excellent “sound-bite” excerpt (paraphrasing slightly here):

    “Recall the (Penn State alum’s) complaint against me….

    “CO2 lags Earth’s temperature… This one scientific fact alone proves that CO2 is not the cause of recent warming.”

    Please don’t hold this against Penn State; we really do give our students a good education. Not sure what went wrong this time.

    In case you ever have to deal with this particular failure of logic, the following (response) may be useful…

    “Interest lags debt. How do we know interest adds to debt”?

  11. Doug Bostrom:

    ZT, the fact that you’re so excited w/the CRU email as to republish it here speaks volumes about your warped perspective; really, your voyeurism is much more morbidly intriguing than the email itself. Tell me, when you’re invited to dinner with other folks, do they find their smalls strangely disturbed after you’ve left?

    Anyway, how many people do you think are going to get through that without their eyes crossing from sheer boredom?

    It looks as though rummaging in other people’s sock drawers holds some special appeal for you, but for most people it’s not even slightly appealing. Even more so when all the socks are the same color: dull grey.

  12. Richard Badalamente:

    I don’t believe that the stolen emails effected in the least the disappointing result of the Copenhagen Climate Conference. However, the US congress will take up a climate bill in 2010 and the doubt campaign will make full use of these emails in their efforts to forestall any meaningful legislation. It’s here that climate scientists warning of global warming need to take a strong, UNQUALIFIED policy stance.

  13. Norman:

    It is an amazing amount of work and effort to compile a 100 year Global Average temp.

    I am only beginning my own project into temperature variations in my local area of Omaha, Nebraska.

    I was a firm believer in AGW theory until I found out how hot the 1930’s decade was. Many record highs in that decade in this area. 110 F days. Now I need to do some of my own research to feel confident of the reality of the concept of Global Warming.

    Here is the Question I would hope some math majors can help me with. I never did take a class in Statistics (majored in Chemistry). I am asking because of my ignorance on the subject.

    What I am finding in my daily logs of daily temps vs Normal Temps is an incredible amount of noise. Very noisy data. Here is the data so far (anomaly from Normal temps in F degrees: 2.5 11.5 10.5 6 10 13.5 2
    -7 -10 1 -6 -16 -5.5 -18 -19.5 -13 -5 -2 -13.5 -23 -11 -2)

    How does one get excited by about 1.5 F degrees in 100 years of data collection when the noise is so great? How does one find this trend? On any given day the variation of Global temperature is 200 F (Cold Antartic interior and Hot desert).

    My analogy may be a poor one, but from what I have been seeing in my data collection is similar to trying to hear and understand a whispered conversation 10 feet away during a loud rock concert…Too much noise to hear the meaningful data. Thanks to any brilliant math minds that can explain this!

  14. Ray Ladbury:

    ZT, your story about ocean cooling is out of date. See:


    The “cooling” was an artifact of a poorly calibrated instrument.

  15. Ray Ladbury:

    ZT, I see absolutely nothing untoward in any of the emails you spammed us with. What I do see could be the early stages of paranoia in you. You’re attempting character assassination, but you’re not sharp enough to stab someone in the back.

  16. Ray Ladbury:

    Norman says “I was a firm believer in AGW theory until I found out how hot the 1930’s decade was. Many record highs in that decade in this area. 110 F days.”

    Huh? Dude, it is much warmer now than it was in the 30s. This decade was the warmest on record.

    Norman, do you own stocks? A 401k? What happens to in on a daily basis? It fluctuates. How about if you looked at it a year ago? Way down. You have to look at it over a long time to see the trend (~15 years for stocks). For climate, you have to look at it a lot of factors and at least 30 years of data. Look here:


  17. Molnar:


    It’s not just about looking at graphs!


  18. Rattus Norvegicus:

    Tom Fuller @27:

    You make a statement about how great the Open Source development model is. This is true, to a certain extent. However, there are many, many projects sitting up on Sourceforge which are just dead and for which there is little support.

    The projects for which the open source model works are those which have a corporate sponsor or those upon which corporations depend. Examples of corporate supported projects would be the Linux kernel, the GNU utilities, CVS, svn, Eclipse…

    There are two open source climate models, CCSM and GISS ModelE. Neither of these has had much support from the “open source community”, ask Gavin if you are interest in ModelE. My take on it is that if the code is sexy and not too hard open source works pretty well. If the code is difficult or of limited general interest it seems like open source is not so hot.

    You also state that “computer scientists” are looking at the code. I haven’t seen any evidence of this. Eric Raymond did a sloppy analysis of some code, however he failed to note that the code he criticized was commented out. There is a similar code which when run shows some weird results, but the output of this program was never used in a paper or any other output of the CRU.

    There is an interview with a “software engineer” posted on a blog named “Hot Air” which was critical of the style of the CRU code. The code which was shown as being from “NASA” was, what is the best way to put this, anal retentive. I’ve been doing software engineering for 25 years and while I occasionally have seen code which looks like that, much more often professional code is clearly written, but lacking in comments. I spent about 15 years working on the UNIX kernel and it had just about no comments (my favorite one: in the middle of tons of lines of uncommented code a comment is placed which said “now here’s the tricky part”. This was buried in some VM code. I also worked on the NT kernel for a few years, and it was similarly lacking in comments.

    The same “computer scientist” quoted from the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file. He claimed that Harry (Ian Harris) was lamenting his “awful programming”. Reading the context of this, Harry had run a test, gotten results he did not expect, found that he had made an error, discovered the error and fixed it. Yep, an incompetent programmer. How many of you programmers out there have never made an error, found it, and fixed it. I don’t hear anyone out there saying everything they write is perfect. If someone *is* claiming that they are lying.

    Finally, the same guy makes a point about a workaround for a bug in the interpreter for IDL which showed up in the gridding program for the temperature data. The point is well taken, but nothing is known about the post processing which might be applied to the output of the criticised program. It is also not clear as to whether ITT Visual Information Solutions had fixed the bug alluded to in the code.


  19. Doug Bostrom:

    Comment by Richard Badalamente — 18 December 2009 @ 9:37 PM

    “However, the US congress will take up a climate bill in 2010 and the doubt campaign will make full use of these emails in their efforts to forestall any meaningful legislation.”

    Absolutely, stale and diminished in heft as the sordid affair will be by that point.

    If the doubt campaign was more intelligently managed, it would realize that the longer it “successfully” delays legislation, treaties, etc. the more harshly punitive will be the result. Each year of procrastination affords more more solidity to research results, more confirmation from disparate sources of climate signals. Once the results become sufficiently dramatic, expect a flip-flop as politicians sniff the wind and begin looking for scapegoats to blame.

    For instance, there’s been some speculation about when the Arctic ice cap might vanish during summer months. If contrarians are so “successful” as to extend domestic and international legislative responses to AGW until such time as that may happen, the industrial component of the campaign will sorely regret their pyrrhic victory.

  20. ZT:

    Sorry about the spam. Despite its ugliness, the spam does make it relatively straightforward to see the ‘scientific’ discussion engendered by a journalist trying to bring NOAA and NASA into alignment – which involved the leaders of this close knit community.

    By the way, I am definitely not attempting character assassination. I took a look at the association between Prof. Hansen and the climategate emails because of Prof. Hansen’s comment in his PDF file that, as he was thought not to be ‘implicated’ (his word) in the climategate emails (by a blogger), he was unfairly accused of being the source of the archive. And as he was expressing opinions on the hacking/leak, I wanted to test the hypothesis that he was not mentioned or was not a correspondent in the emails. Well, the blogger was wrong, Prof. Hansen is a correspondent in the emails.

    I have to admit, as yet no firm link to Kevin Bacon has been established. But it is clear that Prof. Hansen is strongly associated with the CRU team, and therefore perhaps not optimally positioned to pronounce their complete innocence.

    I checked out the link on ocean cooling. I was bothered by the apparent anomaly there – so many thanks for enlightening me. Seeing that scientists like Hansen and Willis are prepared to scrutinize their data and be upfront about the adjustments and uncertainties that they contain, is very positive for me.

    There is a discrepancy in the stories, though, as the NPR story is dated March 2008 and the the NASA article indicates that the mistake was identified by Willis in February 2007 – I’m not sure why that should be a one year time lag between the correction and the incorrect story – perhaps this isn’t a conspiracy!

    Also I’ll note that the ongoing general up and down adjustments of all data, e.g.

    “So the new Argo data were too cold, and the older XBT data were too warm, and together, they made it seem like the ocean had cooled,” says Willis.

    An additional comment (get ready for more dramatic eye rolling – if you are still reading)…

    Heat capacities of oceans. Yes, that is a good point. The heat capacity of the ocean water is higher than that of the land. Additionally, there is much more ocean, and its thermal conductivity is higher than silica (etc.). The temperature of the ocean is easier to measure (as there are few air conditioning units and parking lots in the ocean – though it appears the need for occasional adjustments remains).

    However, the size of the ocean, and its heat capacity, make it the most useful source of temperature records for the earth (agreed?). According to the data in Prof. Hansen’s PDF the ocean temperature, while not declining, is increasing significantly less rapidly than the land temperatures, but perhaps this rise is more scientifically defensible. Why not build the AGW case around the ocean temperature rise?

    As I am sure that you can tell from my comments, I am no expert in this field. (No forehead slapping, please). Prof. Hansen’s write up for this article is very clear. Reading that, and having questions answered, has been very enlightening – so I thank him and you for your patience and tolerance.

    One of the things that Prof. Hansen asks in his piece is what is to be learned from ‘climategate’. His conclusion is that stubbornness, or more positively fortitude, (on his side) and character assassination (on the contrary side) are the key take home messages.

    Perhaps there is a slightly more positive ‘message’. The public and lay people like me have been made more aware of the science, scientists like Prof. Hansen possessing an open attitude to data and its processing will succeed in getting science done, and the net level of understanding will increase, leading to reasoned decisions for society.

    [Response: “Why not build the AGW case around the ocean temperature rise?” Because the data are far more uncertain, and the records don’t go back as far in time. Oh, and also, the ‘case’ doesn’t need ‘building’. Think of this is a skyscraper. People are trying to knock it down by knocking out a few bricks at the bottom, but fortunately the thing is built with concrete-encased rebar. Then someone empties a recycling bin on the grounds, containing documents showing that some engineers expressed doubt about whether the building’s light switches were in good working order, and starts telling people the building is going to fall over. Most people walking by assume there is some sort of theatre going on, but remain generally unaware of the construction of the skyscraper, but quite cognizant it is there. Some naive and optimistic folks start a blog explaining the basics of skyscraper construction, but to little avail.–eric]

  21. Edward Greisch:

    Jeff Aitken (20): HAARP does exist. It is a research project in Alaska. Google it. It doesn’t/couldn’t have enough energy to change anything.

    RC and Jim Hansen: Thank you for another great article. Really sad that police protection is necessary. That shows desperation on the part of denialists. Perhaps in another 4 million years a species worthy of the name Homo SAPIENS will evolve, if we missing links don’t make ourselves extinct. Extinction events and the current situation are so non-selective.
    I often wonder what causes denialists. It isn’t just money because not all of them have money. It is some sort of evolutionary bottleneck. If we get past it, we can claim the whole galaxy. If not, we go extinct.
    I hope some praise here for Jim Hansen can make up for the negative emails he gets. Remember that you must be important to get so much attention.

  22. Spanish Climatologist:

    I am a Spanish climatologist working for a public university and I am particularly tired of paying high budgets to our public national meteorological service for access to observed data that will be used for research. Every time I pay those datasets I have to sign lots of non-disclosure agreements to third parties with them. I find incredible that “sceptics” (to call them some way) don’t understand this point. Any european researcher could tell them about this but they would surely don’t believe us. Anyway … perhaps this could lead to international efforts so that meteorological data is of free access for research worldwide (not just in the U.S.A.). This could clearly lead to the advancement of climate science.

  23. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Dr. Aitken,

    As a physicist, I can assure you that the HAARP hypothesis of climate change is pure pseudoscience. There simply isn’t enough energy available in any kind of Earth-based projector to do what this idea suggests. And if it could, it wouldn’t have the effects they say.

  24. Guy:

    That is a brilliant piece by Hansen, very readable and comprehensible – huge thanks.

    Is #20 actually a joke? It’s hard to believe it isn’t… “I was convinced by the Occam’s Razor basic science of AGW (Life exists on earth because of the warming and stabilising greenhouse effect / humans emit more greenhouse gasses / earth gets warmer) until I heard about an invisible beam generator that…” no, I can’t even think about it any further than that. Sorry to be blunt, but I think that’s a plot from Austin Powers…

    Hey, shame all this is moot now, eh? Wonder how much “climategate” DID steal momentum at Copenhagen, and potentially seal the fate of millions?

  25. Knut Witberg:

    Administring the Thruth

    Religious people are concerned about the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to them by the God and many believers vigorously defend the Truth.

    It is worrying when scientists say that they modify the data so that “the truth” is more efficiently conveyed. Or that they reassure each other that they only want “the truth” to be clearer. As no one know the truth, and these very data should be used to come as close to the truth as possible, how can one then come closer to the truth by modifying the data?

    Scientists who change data to make the truth more revealing are most likely not criminals. They are simply people who know the Truth, i.e. religious people. It is not criminal to be religious, but scientists should understand the difference between science and religion. Those of us with no confession, spot a religion from miles away, “if it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck….”

    Likewise, it is important that scientists know the difference between politics and science. When mixed, the combined efforts become much less efficient and the work less useful. One becomes in the eye of the public either a “politician in the disguise of a scientist”, “an unprofessional scientist” or “a religious scientist”.

    If you on top of the mixing in of religion and politics knowingly observe a lack of transparency regarding raw data, methods, software etc, the outcome is disastrous regardless of the quality of the science.

    The common man is not an idiot and should not be regarded as such by the scientific community. Regardless of knowledge and intelligence, the common man has the right to know all details as he please. After all, the scientists have to realize that also their predicament is a democratic society.

  26. Bart Verheggen:

    Tom Fuller (27),

    You write: “If the code is robust, it will help draw a line under the episode.”

    I don’t think that would be the case. Many of those who are criticizing climate science will never be satisfied; they’re not interested in the science, but rather in attempting to discredit it (they even go so far as to steal and release private emails). You may disagree with this take on the situation, but from the “science” side, that’s very much how it appears.

    For those who are sincere in their criticism, their efforts may be better spent in lobbying the funding institutions to fund more of the groundwork for programming. Scientists would probably be very happy with that, and indeed, it could be very useful.

    Moreover, Dhogaza gave some examples of code that is publicly available, as well as succesful replication efforts.

  27. Barton Paul Levenson:

    ZT, what are you doing publishing peoples’ email addresses on-line without their permission?

  28. Norman:

    #66 Ray Ladbury says: Thank you for your response Ray Ladbury.

    “Huh? Dude, it is much warmer now than it was in the 30s. This decade was the warmest on record.”


    This is a link to United States record highs. Note the years the highs took place and the temperatures. I have not seen any extemes like that during this warming period.

    In the Omaha Nebraska area, I strongly believed in Global Warming as I could walk around outside in a T-shirt in January on some days. But I have been doing my own study on temps and the same type of temperatures were happening in the 1930’s. In fact the record high for December 18th in Omaha NE was in 1939 at 66 F. I agree it is warmer now, but it still does not look any warmer than the 1930’s.

    Greenland temps were the same in the 1930’s as they are today, so the same type of melting would have been happening in that decade, but the ice recovered between the 30’s and the current warming.

    The 401K example was nice but I looked at your link of the average line drawn between the variations. The station I am observing is so much more noisy than the the few tenths of a degree variations on that graph, 10 times the amount. I can’t imagine that the noisy behavior of the Omaha station will change and I can’t imagine that many other stations are as noisy as the Omaha one. If you graphed the actual data anomalies I am getting they would be way off the chart and the line drawn between them would not be so significant.

    Thanks again.

  29. guthrie:

    Comment #59 breaks the rules of civilised behaviour by leaving loads of e-mails out clear where spam harvesters can get them, therefore needs edited or chopped.

  30. Completely Fed Up:

    “[Response: If you define ‘team’ as Steve McIntyre does, meaning anyone that corroborates these results,…”

    MangoChutneyOKUK is currently spouting this meme over in BBC blogs. He’s under the apprehension that you’re asking for the source code to, for example, the CRU products.

    That so many over in the BBC Climate Blogs should start talking about “The Team” just now and just after McIntyre shows how “open to ideas” they are. Unfortunately, they’re now full and can’t get any new information in…

  31. Completely Fed Up:

    Ray: “And where in the hell are you getting $50 billion? You’d be lucky to account for 10% of that going to real climate research.”

    It’s the currently touted total spent on weather research and prediction over 25 years. As I’ve said before, this is often spouted by the evil without the “25 years” and without “for weather research”, letting you think it is only Climate Research and doesn’t include the observing network or the sattelites etc.

    Compared to the $7.1Bn subsidy the nuclear lobby get in the US ALONE in ***one year***, this is small potatoes.

    Nuclear research has had over the 60 years of life something like $3,500Bn spent on it in subsidy by governments worldwide.

    Now add coal, oil and gas…

  32. Completely Fed Up:

    “[Response: I’m tired of answering this question about previous warming episodes again and again and again. Someone want to take this?–eric]”

    Two things point to “don’t bother”.

    1) “I appreciate”. Well if he doesn’t get it, all he said was “if you can, I’d appreciate it”.

    2) He only *says* he’d appreciate it. Given that many before have said the same thing yet several turn up in other places asking the same thing, I would posit that he isn’t going to listen.

  33. dhogaza:

    Isnt that the way it should work? Nick Barnes and his team are working to improve NASA gisstemp and John Graham Cumming is volunteering his time to check hadcru. ( his code for displaying things is posted and its very clear and readable)

    Yes, Mosher, and much more productive then yelling “Piltdown Mann”, don’t you agree?

    Note that Nick Barnes isn’t a skeptic, and that GISTEMP has been available for some time. Apparently a genuine interest in examining the code and algorithms by a serious software engineer provides a lot more motivation than screaming “fraud! fraud! fraud!” because the fraud-screamers haven’t done a damn think with the code they scream must be available for a “proper audit”.

  34. dhogaza:

    ZT, I see absolutely nothing untoward in any of the emails you spammed us with.

    Scientists discussing the best way to try to get their message across in press releases to journalists with no training, imagine. Trying to come up with a common message to share when asked why GISTEMP and HadCRUT differ using the sixth-grade vocabulary so many newspapers restrict themselves to.

    Stating that “the second through sixth are in a statistical tie for second in our analysis. This
    seems useful, and most reporters are sort of willing to accept it.” Wow, the horror. Getting journalists to report a ranking of temps *and* the fact that these years are in a “statistical tie” proves … proves … proves … what does it prove, ZT?

    They’ve got to put these things into terms that weathermen like Anthony Watts can understand, if there’s to be any hope of it being properly reported on TV. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get someone like Watts to understand even basic science?

  35. dhogaza:

    This is a link to United States record highs. Note the years the highs took place and the temperatures. I have not seen any extemes like that during this warming period.

    The United States is not the world. In fact, it’s a small percentage of the world. Yes, the dust bowl era was an extremely warm period of time in the United States. Regarding the world … not so much.

    In the Omaha Nebraska area

    Omaha isn’t even Nebraska, much less the United States, or the world.

    You’re really going to question global temperatures based on records from one city in the United States?

    Prepare yourself for some rude responses, if you are. Maybe you should rethink this a bit …

  36. dhogaza:

    Also, Mosher, note how “the team” has been responding to help. And don’t say “it’s because of Climategate” because the Clear Climate Code project predates that, and Barnes et al have been in touch with the GISTEMP code maintainer before.

    #1. Bug fix and patch: murmurs of thanks and appreciation, code gets fixed.

    #2. Screams that the use of FORTRAN proves the code can’t possibly work and therefore all of climate science is a fraud: phone is hung up.

    #1: Clear Climate Code people.

    #2: Typical follower of McIntyre and Watts.

  37. dhogaza:

    Normal …

    If you graphed the actual data anomalies I am getting they would be way off the chart and the line drawn between them would not be so significant.

    You said you have no background in statistics, and it’s showing. You can’t just draw lines between the points.

  38. dhogaza:

    As to the MWP, thanks all the same, Snorbert, but I’ll take the peer reviewed literature over Idsos. I’ve looked at that very plot, and no, the warm periods do not match up globally. In Mexico, it’s 1000-1200. In the Caribean it starts about 1200. In Peru, it’s over before 1100. In Africa, some warm periods don’t start ’til after the Vikings had starved!

    It’s obvious, Ray, the viking dragon ships were really slow, and it took them a long time to transport the MWP from Greenland to the rest of the world …

  39. Jiminmpls:

    #33 ZT ” I have read that the ocean temperatures are decreasing at present ”

    Huh? You ARE joking aren’t you? Ocean temperatures reached record highs in July 2009. If you were even marginally informed, you would know this. This was widely reported. I googled “ocean temperatures record high” and got over one million hits. You don’t have to be a scientist to avoid making embarrassingly stvpid statements like this.

    ZT – You are soooooo typical. You come on here asking seemingly innocent (though astoundingly ignorant) questions, but just a few posts down and your true intentions are revealed: Mindless, groundless attacks. Your combination of ignorance and arrogance is so pointedly offensive that you should be barred from posting here at all. That you are not underscores the amazing kindness and generosity shown by Gavin, Eric and all toward mindless id1ots like you.

  40. Grabski:

    Hansen’s 1988 forecasts; we’ve had a 21 year out of sample test of global ‘warming’…how close are they to reality?

  41. ICE:

    i was wondering if you were aware of the MIT Great “ClimateGate” debate, with Lindzen, K.Emmanuel, and others ? it’s a rather long video (2h), but some intersting points were made (in particular by J. Layzer, IMO)

  42. Completely Fed Up:

    “Hansen’s 1988 forecasts; we’ve had a 21 year out of sample test of global ‘warming’…how close are they to reality?”

    Still within the error bars for the upper bound of human CO2 production schemes. Remember, this is a complicit system: forecasting climate change depends on CO2 production of humans. If humans stop (because, for example, they agree AGW is a problem) then the forecast which didn’t know this would happen (humans are not CO2 molecules and photons) would have been wrong.

    To counter that possibility, several scenarios of human action are taken.

    And the forecast is managing within spec of the “Humans burn even more fossil fuels even quicker than we thought” scenario.

  43. Craig Allen:

    Norman, for pities sake, go get a book on basic statistics, or find some good resources on the internet. You aren’t going to get this knowledge by asking about it on a blog.

    Work out how to do a regression analysis at least, and get your head around what it actually means. This powerpoint presentation from University of Texas provides a good introduction.

    Also, learn how to test for significance in the difference between two sets of data, or of the slope of a regression line.

    Keep collecting your data and see if you can demonstrate that winter is significantly colder than summer.

  44. Ray Ladbury:

    Norman, First, you need to realize that when you are talking records, you are of necessity in the realm of piss-poor statistics (1 per state by definition). Welcome to the world of extreme-value statistics. There are other ways to look at this that improve the stats somewhat:


    This isn’t perfect either as they stop in the 1950s.

    Second, I cited the post by Tamino as to why the 1930s were warm. You also have to understand how the greenhouse effect works. Increased CO2 provides only a moderate increased forcing–but it provides it ALL THE TIME. You could easily be overwhelmed in the short term by an La Nina or a volcano, but these influences last for months, while CO2’s effects persist for centuries. Moderate and steady wins the race in this case.

    This brings up a point that I think is important. If we suddenly had a real hot spell and all of the state records were broken in a year, you’d probably become a “believer” again, right? And yet, this would be weather, not climate. What really matters is the physics of Earth’s climate–that is why despite what the thermometer says today or tomorrow, we are confident that we are still warming. Well, that and the fact that all the melting ice and earlier springs and later winters… support the fact that we are warming. Of course, if the temperatures diverged significantly from predictions for an extended period of times (decades), we’d have to look for new physics. However, the data are still VERY consistent with expectations.


    I urge you to come over to Tamino’s blog if you really want to learn how to deal with statistics.

  45. Aaron Lewis:

    The current El Nino characterized as “moderate”. By the formal El Nino standards based on the temperature of the equatorial Pacific, it certainly is moderate. And, moderate El Nino events are commonly associated areas of warm water on the surface of the South Pacific, see for example: http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/1997/anomnight.12.16.1997.gif and http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2002/anomnight.12.16.2002.gif .

    However, the current El Nino is concurrent with an area of warm water in the South Pacific that appears to be unique in the satellite record of South Pacific sea surface temperatures for its breadth and intensity (http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2009/anomnight.12.17.2009.gif). Granted, this water is still very cold compared to the tropical waters where El Nino is defined, but it is still a lot of heat compared to what I expect in the surface of the Southern Ocean, even in the context of Dec. 1985.

    Why do I seem to be the only one saying, “Oh, Wow!”?

  46. Ray Ladbury:

    While ZT has parroted more than a few denialist talking points, his cade does point to a problem in the Intertube age. No analysis or news story or mistake ever completely goes away. The NPR story he cited did not link to the subsequent explanation–calibration error. Now granted, due diligence would demand looking for an update , but not everyone is as Internet savvy as Hank Roberts. Knowing that you had to look for stories on Argos, for example, might not be obvious. The problem is that of the all the sides in this debate, only one (the scientists) really cares about learning how climate works. The denialists or the greenie true believers just look as far as the websites that tell them what they want to hear.

  47. Ray Ladbury:

    Knut Witberg @75
    What a load of post-modernist, looneytarian crap. The whole point of science is to take a huge pile of data and use it to illustrate the truth. For my thesis experiment, I looked through tens of millions of interactions of neutrons with a Be target and teased out about a hundred events that were of interest. The whole point of a 20-year scientific education is to learn how to do this properly and make the truth about ones field of study apparent to ones fellow researchers.

    What we do not need is a bunch of liberal arts and business majors who have never solved a differential equation, looked through a microscope or done a Maximum Likelihood analysis to come along and tell us how to do science. It’s fine if you want to learn the science, but please try to learn enough of the basics so that you don’t embarrass yourself as Knut has done here!

  48. Ken W:

    ZT (42):
    “Prof. Hansen is discussing how to present information optimally such that ‘most reporters are sort of willing to accept it’. This may well be an example of taking a line out of context.”

    I’d agree, your inference does seem to be taking this out of context. Read further down in the e-mail thread and you’ll see:
    “I try to address this when talking to journalists, but they generally ignore this level of detail.”

    In other words, most journalist tend to gloss over when a scientist tries to explain complex things. So they have to scale explanations to a level that journalists will “accept”, otherwise they’ll write articles that misinform the public.

    The word “accept” doesn’t suggest believing a lie. Merriam-Webster includes in it’s definition: “b: to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable c: to recognize as true”

  49. sidd:

    Mr. Lewis: the last link in your comment has an extra ‘)’ at the end. The correct link is

    and the warm pool in the south pacific is quite striking. thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  50. Ken W:

    ZT (56):
    “the gist of 1200651426.txt is a discussion between various climate science groups trying to get their figures to agree”

    The gist of that e-mail is absolutely NOT “trying to get their figures to agree”. If all they wanted was agreement between their different analysis firgures, they’d just ‘cook the books’. But that’s not the case. They are discussing why their independent analysis comes up with differences (something I’d hope all scientists would do) and how best to explain that to journalists that aren’t interested in details.