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L&C, GRL, comments on peer review and peer-reviewed comments

Filed under: — gavin @ 10 January 2010

I said on Friday that I didn’t think that Lindzen and Choi (2009) was obviously nonsense. Well, a number of people have disagreed with me, and in doing so, have presented some of the back story on the how the response was handled. I think this deserves to be more widely known in the hope that it will generate some discussion in the community for how such situations might be dealt with in the future.

From Chris O’Dell:

Given the large number of comments on the peer-review process in general and in the LC09 case in particular, it is probably worthwhile to give a bit more backstory to our Trenberth et al. paper. On my first reading of LC09, I was quite amazed and thought if the results were true, it would be incredible (and, in fact, a good thing!) and hence warranted independent checking. Very simple attempts to reproduce the LC09 numbers simply didn’t work out and revealed some flaws in their process. To find out more, I contacted Dr. Takmeng Wong at NASA Langley, a member of the CERES and ERBE science teams (and major player in the ERBE data set) and found out to my surprise that no one on these teams was a reviewer of LC09. Dr. Wong was doing his own verification of LC09 and so we decided to team up.

After some further checking, I came across a paper very similar to LC09 but written 3 years earlier – Forster & Gregory (2006) , hereafter FG06. FG06, however, came to essentially opposite conclusions from LC09, namely that the data implied an overall positive feedback to the earth’s climate system, though the results were somewhat uncertain for various reasons as described in the paper (they attempted a proper error analysis). The big question of course was, how is it that LC09 did not even bother to reference FG06, let alone explain the major differences in their results? Maybe Lindzen & Choi didn’t know about the existence of FG06, but certainly at least one reviewer should have. And if they also didn’t, well then, a very poor choice of reviewers was made.

This became clear when Dr. Wong presented a joint analysis he & I made at the CERES science team meeting held in Fort Collins, Colorado in November. At this meeting, Drs. Trenberth and Fasullo approached us and said they had done much the same thing as we had, and had already submitted a paper to GRL, specifically a comment paper on LC09. This comment was rejected out of hand by GRL, with essentially no reason given. With some more inquiry, it was discovered that:

  1. The reviews of LC09 were “extremely favorable”
  2. GRL doesn’t like comments and is thinking of doing away with them altogether.
  3. GRL wouldn’t accept comments on LC09 (and certainly not multiple comments), and instead it was recommended that the four of us submit a stand-alone paper rather than a comment on LC09.

We all felt strongly that we simply wanted to publish a comment directly on LC09, but gave in to GRL and submitted a stand-alone paper. This is why, for instance, LC09 is not directly referenced in our paper abstract. The implication of statement (1) above is that LC09 basically skated through the peer-review process unchanged, and the selected reviewers had no problems with the paper. This, and for GRL to summarily reject all comments on LC09 appears extremely sketchy.

In my opinion, there is a case to be made on the peer-review process being flawed, at least for certain papers. Many commenters say the system isn’t perfect, but it in general works. I would counter that it certainly could be better. For AGU journals, authors are invited to give a list of proposed reviewers for their paper. When the editor is lazy or tight on time or whatever, they may just use the suggested reviewers, whether or not those reviewers are appropriate for the paper in question. Also, when a comment on a paper is submitted, the comment goes to the editor that accepted the original paper – a clear conflict of interest.

So yes, the system may work most of the time, but LC09 is a clear example that it doesn’t work all of the time. I’m not saying LC09 should have been rejected or wasn’t ultimately worthy of publication, but reviewers should have required major modifications before it was accepted for publication.

To me this raises a number of questions. Why are the editors at GRL apparently not following the published editorial policy on comments? The current policy might not be ideal, and perhaps should be changed, but surely not by fiat, and surely not without announcing that policy change? This particular example has ended up divorcing the response from the original paper and clearly makes it harder to follow the development of this analysis in the literature. Additionally, in cases where there appears to have been lapses in peer-review (for whatever reason), is there not an argument for having a different editor deal with the comment/response? Perhaps a new online journal which independently publishes peer-reviewed comments and responses is called for?

Everyone involved in the peer-review process knows full well the difficulty in finding suitable reviewers who have the time and inclination to do a good review. The pressures on editors both to be seen to be fair, and to actually be fair to the authors (and the readers!) are strong, and occasionally things will go wrong. The measure of such a system is not whether it is perfect, but whether it deals appropriately and quickly with problems when they (inevitably) arise.

NB. Comments on how to improve the situation are welcome, but please avoid simply criticising papers that you personally think shouldn’t have been published in the form they were.


264 Responses to “L&C, GRL, comments on peer review and peer-reviewed comments”

  1. 151
    Think says:

    @Frank Giger (#147):

    The deniers are instigated by efforts from Big Oil. The methodology is to fund non-profits and think tanks (CATO Institute, Heartland Institute, etc) that can promote anything they are paid for.
    This process is not new to the climate issue. It was first done with the tobacco industry in the early 50s, then with chemical companies and now with fossil fuel companies.

    Read on at Doubt is their product for evidence. You can also google for more material (videos) on this book.

  2. 152
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #147, Frank & “During the late drought in Georgia (USA), we heard lots about how it was proof of AGW.”

    You need to distinguish between scientists and lay persons — Scientists, as far as I know, do not make such claims; it’s people like me who even use Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to speak of “here we come, global warming,” tho in my best moments I point out, “If Katrina or the Georgia drought & water shortage are not due to global warming, then we only have worse to expect in the future.” The scientist, bless their hearts, don’t make such claims.

    Hansen, however, has come up with a 6-faced die example in which 1951-1980 only 2 faces were painted red (meaning hotter than usual avergage global temperature in a particular year), while now it’s more like 4 faces of the die — though even then he points out that would be 67%, and the actuality is more like 60% (see p.145 of his STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN).

    RE “If a journal can be ‘taken over’ by oil industry interests it can be taken over by ANY interest” — Bingo. I think it was a JAMA or the J. of New England Medicine editor that did something unethical, and was being funded by a company that led to his bias, I think in a review about Steingraber’s, LIVING DOWN STREAM. I’ll look into it and let you know exactly. I think he was removed, so ultimately the system works. However, with AGW, we just don’t have a whole lot of time to let the system ultimately work. I think I read in Hansen’s STORMS that we only have about 5 more years to get this GHG emissions ship turning around.

    RE “Third, we used to have a saying about predictive models (I did statistical analysis very unrelated to climate change): all models are wrong; some are better than others,” Hansen puts paleoclimate science and actual current empirical data before models. So I don’t think climate scientists are so enamoured by models that they are unable to see or accept empirical evidence. That’s just a strawman.

    RE your last point, I think it’s fine people look seriously at scientific skeptical arguments and theories; scientists, at least, have to address such. From my point of view, I tend to look at “what’s the worse that could happen” & try to avoid that while hoping for the best. So if science says there’s no link between the TCE in the Woburn water and ill health effects (mostly due to small sample size), I tend to think there may likely be a link; and if science says AGW is yet unproven, as it did before 1995, I think, well, it seems to me it may be happening, and I should mitigate — which I’ve been doing (along with Pope John Paul II) since 1990. That’s just me. I do feel really bad that climate science has panned out with “AGW is happening and it is (& will be) much worse than we initially thought.” I’m hoping to wake up & find it’s just a bad dream.

  3. 153
    Edward Greisch says:

    Al Gore also has a petition to sign at http://www2.repoweramerica.org/page/m/396e8b99/6ffbac48/2df5fcd/19ba4641/1640143041/VEsF/
    The subject is the same: “Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and her allies are attacking the Clean Air Act”, specifically the CO2 part.

    Frank Giger (#147): You are far too trusting. Do you realize how much money $1 TRILLION is? People have killed each other over a paltry $1 Million! Somebody once said: “Everybody has a price.” I don’t doubt the honesty of scientists, but I believe in human nature, just like Lou Grant. The “paranoid” scale on the MMPI has 2 ends, with normal in the middle. Isn’t it possible that many scientists are on the naive/anti-paranoid end just a little too far from the middle? In the present circumstance, with a $trillion/year cash flow working against you, I would say that just a little paranoia would be healthy. There are so many stockholders who would be better off temporarily with all climate scientists dead/exterminated.
    I hope it is bravery on RC’s part rather than naivety/anti-paranoia.
    Question: How much would it cost to buy an MIT professor?
    Answer: A lot less than $1 Trillion.

  4. 154

    Think wrote:
    “@Frank Giger (#147):

    “The deniers are instigated by efforts from Big Oil…Read on at Doubt is their product for evidence. You can also google for more material (videos) on this book.”

    Yes, also read the book by a Pulitzer Prize winner, Boston Globe Ross Gelbspan, The Heat is On. It was required reading at a pilot climate change course I took at the University of Denver.

    By the way (and I did not make this up), the Boston Globe had to issue a statement that yes, Gelbspan did indeed receive the Publizer Prize after the contrarians publicly claimed that he had never received it. It is like a house of mirrors.

    See Gelbspans website for his photocopied evidence.
    http://www.heatisonline.org/

  5. 155
    Adam Sullivan says:

    Hidebound orthodoxies are often maintained by dogmatic insistence that tautologies be accepted as reason.

    LC09 can be undermined in one of two ways –

    (1) attack the process by which it got published, thereby reinforcing all of the suppositions to motive that surround “climate gate”
    (2) write and publish a paper that eviscerates the claims with firm research available for others to examine and verify.

    What would Einstein do?

    Gavin – your first impulse was the correct one. Going “meta” and trying to attack the process of peer review is both counterproductive and unnecessary.

  6. 156
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE 152, RE the editorial review of Steingraber’s LIVING DOWNSTREAM, it was the J. of New England Medicine, and the editor was working for W. R. Grace, which polluted the Woburn water. But I’m not sure if he was removed from his editor position or not.

  7. 157

    Edward Greisch wrote:

    “Isn’t it possible that many scientists are on the naive/anti-paranoid end just a little too far from the middle?.” Not really to disagree with you…

    It really doesn’t matter what scientists think (and neither should it)… that is the beauty of it. It is what is in the permanent peer-reviewed juried open world wide published journals and conferences…and that is overwhelmingly that human-caused climate change is happening (fast) with published studies dating back to 1824 (-Fourier and that human-caused global warming is an energy imbalance problem of how much energy is coming into the atmospheric system vs. leaving it).

  8. 158
    dhogaza says:

    (1) attack the process by which it got published, thereby reinforcing all of the suppositions to motive that surround “climate gate”

    What would Einstein do?

    Oh, good effing grief, do you really believe that Einstein would support reviewers who, in essence, pass a paper based on premises as off- base as “1+1 = 3″?

    I don’t think so.

    You are essentially arguing that “peer review” be so weakened that anything that anyone submits should be published, because the process shouldn’t be subjected to quality control assessment, because if you insist on quality, it reinforces all the insistence on quality control that real scientists at CRU were bitching about.

    Because that’s obviously the motive uncovered by so-called “Climategate” – *improve quality control so crap doesn’t get published so often”.

    You, of course, want the opposite. Insistence on quality control, in your eyes, is somehow evil, because it excludes bullshit that supports your political view which, if subjected to honest assessment, would be laughed out of existence.

    You’re the equivalent of a young-earth creationist who insists that dinos and man walked hand-in-hand in the garden of eden.

  9. 159
    Adam Sullivan says:

    dhogaza –

    wow – nice ad-homs you got there.

    If it is truly a matter of “1 + 1 = 3″ (which isn’t a premise, BTW, but an operation) then demonstrate it in a paper and get it published. Along with everyone else.

    I am not arguing that the peer review process is “so weakened” … The whole idea is a self correcting system. It will correct itself. People insisting that a new orthodoxy be imposed that over rides the existing protocols simply plays into the hands of the “Climategate” crowd (notice the quotes?)

    Even the best will get it wrong and get corrected – Einstein wasn’t too hot on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle when he made the “God doesn’t play dice” comment. He later admitted he was wrong.

    Point is – let the process run its course.

    Then again you could try the self appointed enforcer of the orthodoxy routine that you just tried on me (a confirmed atheist not by any stretch a denier) and make an ass of yourself.

  10. 160
    Edward Greisch says:

    157 Richard Ordway: I have no disagreement with you on how science is supposed to work or on how science does work. I understand that science is organized to cancel the mistakes of individual SCIENTISTS.
    The problem is the outsiders with trillions of dollars at stake. We don’t live in a world of scientists. Scientists make up a very small percentage of all people. Science is also a very recent phenomenon. Remember Giordano Bruno. There are a lot more people who wish Climate Science would go away than there are climate scientists.
    Keep up the good work, but always remember: There are those who wish you ill. Be safe. Protect your computers from break-ins. There are lots of not-so-nice people in this world. Enough said?

  11. 161
    Andrew says:

    @Adam Sullivan: “Going “meta” and trying to attack the process of peer review is both counterproductive and unnecessary.”

    The process of peer review is not perfect, and there might very well be a better one.

    However the real question in this case is that the editor was out of his competence in one or another way. The referees are reported to have been uniformly positive, fair enough, that could happen, even if only by chance. Still, the editor is supposed to do more than just look at a box ticked “publish” or “perish” and pretend that it’s all up to the referees. The editor has to make an assessment of the content of the paper in order to correctly assign referees. In the paper in question, the authors straight up contradict the results of many other studies – probably tens of thousands of man hours of work by many scientists and a reasonably well traveled chunk of the literature.

    I would have thought the editor would have considered a second look. Yes, there is undoubtedly a press of business and a short turn-around time. But how many of those papers claim that most of the climate models in the world wear socks made of anti-matter?

    I suppose if people want a non-politically charged example of a letters journal with a paper that had to be retracted, the 1999 non-production of element 118 is one. In that case, a faulty data analysis misled the authors to conclude that they had produced element 118, and it took several other experimenters’ failure to confirm for the problem to come to light. In that sort of case, I think one does not really blame the editorial process for not finding the error.

    That one is documented in Simon LeVay’s book “When Science Goes Wrong”.

  12. 162
    Steve says:

    Re # 37..

    Jefferey Davis..The dead pine forests in British Columbia have now moved from the category of victim of AGW to that of climate forcing mechanism and are now reseasing carbon as they decompose. They are reputed to be capable of challenging (perhaps out doing) that released by Alberta’s tar sands.

  13. 163
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “GRL papers are designed to be cutting edge, newsworthy stuff that supposedly needs to get out right away. It’s a very high profile journal.”

    They are meant to get an idea out right away and therefore, in the rush to print, what gets left behind?

    All the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s.

    “I don’t see how Lindzen and Choi’s paper doesn’t qualify for submission.”

    Because it’s throwing away a LOT of other work, saying “they are wrong and here’s the proof”, they are making an extraordinary claim.

    And you really MUST make sure that you’ve dotted i’s etc.

    And I can’t be held responsible for what you can or cannot see.

  14. 164
    Completely Fed Up says:

    MApleLeaf: “What ‘m trying to say is that I personally do not believe that anonymity when reviewing papers is a fundamental right, ”

    It isn’t.

    Some journals don’t let that happen.

    Some do.

    It *is* the right of a journal to decide what processes they follow. If they’ve chosen unwisely, they’ll get no respect (see E&E). And a journal without respect is a rag.

  15. 165
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Adam Sullivan,
    While I am happy that the paper appeared in the peer-reviewed literature where
    1)there would be a single, definitive version, rather than a bunch of versions floating around on various blogs
    2)it could receive attention from the experts

    I do think the editorial process was substandard. I don’t think it failed badly, but I think this paper would have benefitted significantly had it been published in a more deliberative journal than GRL, which ought to be devoted to short, newsworthy, uncontroversial work.

  16. 166
    flxible says:

    It appears the Canadian government has decided how to fix climate research there – quit funding it

  17. 167
    dhogaza says:

    Adam Sullivan …

    If it is truly a matter of “1 + 1 = 3″ (which isn’t a premise, BTW, but an operation) then demonstrate it in a paper and get it published.

    Well, no, it’s a conclusion, not a premise. But you’re essentially saying that if I submit a proof to a mathematics journal that 1+1=3, that the journal should publish the proof. As I said in my original post responding to you, you’re suggesting dropping quality control altogether.

    Any journal that might do so on a routine basis would quickly become ignored by mathematicians.

    Or, if they cared about the journal, they might bitch amongst themselves about how that journal has become, effectively, non-peer reviewed. And they might discuss getting better editors and review standards in place.

    As they should.

    Sounds a bit like the CRU e-mails, doesn’t it?

  18. 168
    Eli Rabett says:

    An interesting question is how Lindzen confronts his critics.

    a) Dig in
    b) Admit he was wrong
    b1) Admit he was wrong specifically but dig in on low climate sensitivity and try and find new mechanisms/data
    b2) Admit that best understanding gives a climate sensitivity of 2-4.5 K

    A good indication is whether he sticks to the low sensitivity in the wsj. Anyone want to take bets?

    The reason that this is interesting is that his reputation in the climate science community is going to take a hit. A lot of his ability to manipulate public opinion rests on his reputation in the science community and he is in serious danger of entering the crank zone.

  19. 169
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Eli says, “A lot of his ability to manipulate public opinion rests on his reputation in the science community…”

    Hmm. Wanna bet? I expect backpedaling in the scientific journals and complete silence on the WS Urinal Op Ed pages. Among the WSJ libertarian crowd, competence as a science counts against you.

  20. 170
    Tilo Reber says:

    Barton: #39

    “BPL: Because the vacuum of space doesn’t begin directly above the sea?”

    How is that relevant, Barton? More radiation at sea level still means that more will eventually get to the vacuum of space.

  21. 171
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #170

    Must we really begin over with our A-B-C lessons, yet again? There’s no opportunity for education here, help is not what’s being requested, this is about something else we can only guess at. Please, no.

  22. 172
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo says: “More radiation at sea level still means that more will eventually get to the vacuum of space.”

    WRONG!!! Tilo needs to discover the greenhouse effect. It depends on the wavelength of emission and atmospheric composition. See the latest Plass thread: TOA and Surface are both important!

  23. 173
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Ray, he does not care.

  24. 174
    Hank Roberts says:

    > TR: “How is that relevant”

    Changes the sign of the answer.

  25. 175

    TR: More radiation at sea level still means that more will eventually get to the vacuum of space.

    BPL: Does it? Are you sure?

  26. 176
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Of course it does, BPL! Didn’t you know that putting a blanket on yourself makes the TOP of the blanket even warmer than the bottom!!!

  27. 177

    Adam Sullivan #159: there is no reason that 1 + 1 = 3 couldn’t be a premise as proposed by dhogaza. A premise is the starting point for a logical proof. If a logical proof has a bogus premise, then the conclusions are meaningless. If a mathematical journal published a paper with an obviously bogus premise, of course its reputation would be in tatters. If on the basis of valid premises and laws of proof someone proved 1 + 1 = 3, that would be a different matter, but you’ve changed the argument by insisting that 1 + 1 = 3 isn’t a premise.

    On the bigger picture: the argument here is not that no contrarian papers should be published but that contrarian papers appear to be accepted with a much lower standard of review than the mainstream. I’m sure some bogus papers supporting the mainstream do get published. But almost no contrarian papers are published without some obvious flaw (even obvious to the non-special-ist, e.g. McLean, de Freitas and Carter 2009). Contrast this with the hockey stick “imbroglio”. (Note the quotes.) No one found a substantial basis for criticising the original paper; some details of procedure and methodology could have been better, but not to the extent of overturning the results. Here, by contrast, we have a paper that falls apart under critical scrutiny. Senate enquiry? Any bets on that happening?

  28. 178
    caerbannog says:

    Please accept my apologies in advance for this off-topic post.

    Well-known AGW “skeptic” weatherman John Coleman is will be hosting an anti-AGW special on San Diego’s KUSI TV channel Thursday (1/14) at 9PM. Rick Roberts, a right-wing San Diego radio host, has been flogging this special on his show. Roberts will be featuring Coleman’s special on his Friday morning time slot (5-9AM IIRC). And he says that he’ll be taking callers to discuss it.

    (BTW, A podcast of Roberts interviewing Coleman is available here: http://media.worldnow.com/kfmbam/podcast/rick_roberts_1095.mp3)

    I have this fantasy of folks at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography calling into Rick’s show to set the record straight. So if anyone here knows any folks at Scripps, could you pass this along to them?

    (This is probably all a waste of time; I can’t imagine that Rick Roberts’ call-screeners ever letting knowledgeable scientists onto his show — but I can fantasize, can’t I?)

  29. 179
    Rod B says:

    Are you guys saying that an increase in the radiation leaving the surface will not cause any increase in the radiation leaving the TOA??

  30. 180
    Hank Roberts says:

    Of course not, Rod. You know where the energy he calls “radiation” at ground level comes from, and the various routes by which it gets there. You understand the picture. Try to help the nice newbie understand the basics, please.

  31. 181
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, read what I wrote–I said it depended on the wavelength(s) emitted and the composition of the atmosphere.

  32. 182
    Tilo Reber says:

    Ray: #172
    WRONG!!! Tilo needs to discover the greenhouse effect.

    What does the greenhouse effect have to do with it? We are talking about changing one variable, not two. Given a certain level of greenhouse effect, increasing the radiation at sea level still means more will escape to space.

    Hank: #174
    “Changes the sign of the answer.”

    I’m not saying how is it relevant if the argument for extra radiation escaping is true; I’m saying how is the argument relevant that if the sea is not next to space it means that more radiation doesn’t mean more escaping radiation. As far as changing the sign goes, I assume that you are talking abour the feedback sign. Maybe, maybe not. If feedback without the effect is, say, 2C per CO2 doubling, then you can get a lot smaller before going negative. Unfortunately your comments are so cryptic, Hank, that I don’t know what to respond to.

    Barton: #175
    “Does it?”

    Yes.

    “Are you sure?”

    Yes.

  33. 183
    Tilo Reber says:

    Hank: #180
    “Of course not, Rod.”

    Why are you agreeing with Rod and disagreeing with me when I am saying exactly the same thing?

  34. 184
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo says, “Given a certain level of greenhouse effect, increasing the radiation at sea level still means more will escape to space.”

    No, it does not. It depends on the wavelength of the radiation. If it is in the greenhouse absorption spectrum, many of the additional photons will also be absorbed–or do you think the CO2 molecules are smart enough to discriminate between old and new photons?

  35. 185

    Re 158-9–Dhogaza has no “ad homs” in his post.

    An ad hominem is an argument of the form: “person A is known to be evil, his argument must therefore be wrong.”

    Dhogaza, by contrast, imputes motives based on arguments. It may not be very polite, but an ad hom it ain’t.

  36. 186

    Tilo–TR–I like it. I note a few relevant words begin thus.

  37. 187
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Changes the sign of the answer

    See the original posting, around

    “… FG06, however, came to essentially opposite conclusions from LC09, namely that the data implied an overall positive feedback to the earth’s climate system, …”

  38. 188
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Tilo “I’m not saying how is it relevant if the argument for extra radiation escaping is true;”

    It’s not just that a wrong argument is both irrelevant to the thread but it is VERY relevant to how you waste time and have absolutely no qualms about lying your a** off and wasting everyone’s time.

  39. 189
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Tilo revels in his idiocy: ““Are you sure?”

    Yes.”

    So please explain the physical process that makes more energy leave the top of the atmosphere, Tilo.

    I’ll get the popcorn…

  40. 190
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Rod B, if the radiation leaving TOA increases, are you saying that this would NOT cool the surface? Because if so, where is that extra energy coming in to the system?

  41. 191

    Rod B: Are you guys saying that an increase in the radiation leaving the surface will not cause any increase in the radiation leaving the TOA??

    BPL: Depends on what’s happening in the atmosphere in between, doesn’t it? Maybe the surface is hotter BECAUSE less is leaving the TOA. In which case, in the long run, TOA radiation will have to go up. But TR (and Lindzen and Choi) have the idea that you can cool the Earth off that way; that it’s an IR “safety valve” which counteracts the greenhouse effect. It isn’t.

  42. 192

    BPL: “Does it?”
    TR: Yes.
    BPL “Are you sure?”
    TR: Yes.

    BPL: That’s your problem. It’s not what you don’t know, it’s what you’re sure of that just ain’t so.

  43. 193
    Hank Roberts says:

    Tilo, you’re making an absolute statement that’s impossible, thinking it’s clever.
    You’re ignoring climate sensitivity, short-term vs. long-term; it changes over time.
    You’re asking a question too simple to answer. Rod supports people who ask unanswerable questions, usually by making them look even simpler.

    If there’s no atmosphere? No greenhouse effect? Enceladus. You know how to look it up.

  44. 194
    Tilo Reber says:

    Ray: #184
    “It depends on the wavelength of the radiation.”

    What part of “changing only one variable” don’t you understand, Ray?

  45. 195
    Tilo Reber says:

    Looking at the “Unraveled” paper I see the statement:

    “They didn’t provide an objective criterion for selecting these endpoints and in some instances (see their Fig. 1), the selection of these intervals actually appears to be quite odd.”

    So I look at the chart and I see that Lindzen and Choi have uptrend lines that end before their peak in 93 and before their peak in 98. That does seem a little odd. Looking at the chart, I tried to make some sense out of their choice of start points and end points. Looking at the first start point for their first up leg and the last end point for their last down leg, it looks like they started and ended at very close to the same SST level. Looking at the start and end points for “present analysis”, it looks like the first start point was picked at the absolute lowest point of -0.4 and it looks like the last end point was picked at the absolute highest point of > 0.6. It also looks like the “present analysis” uses four up phases (one of which is split into two parts) and only three down phases.

    Can anyone explain the asymetric choices that were made in the TFOW paper.

    Then the “Unraveled” piece says:

    “In TFOW we show that the apparent relationship is reduced to zero if one chooses to displace the endpoints selected in LC09 by a month or less.”

    I don’t know if this is true, because the starting point for the first leg up is displaced by more than a year, and the last leg down is left out completely. And that leg also extends for more than a year. If the relationship can be reduced to zero by displacing by only one month, then why have a “present analysis” with start and end points that are so radically displaced.

    In the last bullet TFOW say that they correct LC09 from having a climate sensitivity of 0.5K to one having a climate sensitivity of 0.82K. Well … okay. And what is the variation in climate sensitivity that is produced by the various models?

    Then they say:

    “TFOW results yield a positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity estimate”

    Fine. But what is that positive feedback parameter and greater sensitivity estimate. Is that positive feedback 0.1K or is it 4.0K. That would seem to be important. Why is no number given?

  46. 196
    Brian Dodge says:

    “…and I think there will be no more conversions…” Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 January 2010 @ 5:46 PM
    Maybe not any voluntary conversions, but some may be tarred, feathered, an ridden out of the “no” camp on a rail. Roy Spencer did a guest post.on how UAH temperature data is derived at WUWT and got some snarky comments –
    “If so, then isn’t the satellite baseline point “corrected” (er, corrupted) as well by being set against those manipulated average earth temperatures?”
    “With that explanation it is obvious that none of the data from these satellites can be trusted.”
    “without this, there is no reason to believe that we have any more than a bunch of aliased nonsense. sorry to be so sceptical”
    “We have seen how surface data has been corrupted, so my concern really is what measures are in place to ensure the same does not happen for satellite data.”
    “If ever there was an example of how AGW theory is being used to justify outrageous research expenditure on the wrong things, this was it.”
    “Dr Spencer seems to have overlooked that fact. More propaganda dressed up as science.”
    “Were these satellites callibrated by “consensus”?☺”
    “So any “trend” measured over the last ten years of operation can be discarded as merely measurement noise.”

    I’ve posted on denialist sites about the inconsistencies and contradictions in the stuff they post, ranging from a single paragraph on WUWT that claimed ~”it can’t be CO2 because CO2 is saturated and besides H2O is a stronger absorber and it controls the greenhouse effect anyway” to a paper on Idso’s site about the MWP that claimed warming in NZ about 450-900 AD and “”Of equal interest in the reconstruction is the sharp and sustained cold period in the A.D. 993-1091 interval. This cold event is easily the most extreme to have occurred over the past 1,100 years.”(Cook et al GRL, VOL. 29, NO. 14, 1667, 10.1029/2001GL014580, 2002). It appears that the various flavors of denialist are slowly coalescing into a circular firing squad – maybe that can be encouraged?

    To get back to peer review, how about if the editors of Nature, Science, Nature Geoscience, PNAS, GRL. & Proceedings of the Royal Society A, Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman did a real world study where every paper was reviewed by 4 people, 2 double blind and 2 open, 1 in each group suggested by the researcher, the other chosen “at random” by the editor(s), and then a comparison of cites versus review factors to see where improvements in peer review could be made.
    IMHO, peer review should be like medical diagnosis – a tolerable level of flawed papers/false positives is unavoidable in order to insure no knowledge missed/no diagnosis missed. Surely there are examples of often cited flawed papers that advance science despite, or even perhaps because of their mistakes?

  47. 197
    Rod B says:

    Maybe I misunderstood the question, like I’m not certain of my use of “surface” versus the term “sea” or “sea level” or “SST” — though the basic theory ought to be the same it seems. None-the-less I can’t see how an increase in the surface emission can’t increase by some fraction the radiation leaving the TOA. I’m guessing that, maybe part of your all’s argument stems from also increasing GH gases or some other variable. Is that it? Though that wasn’t the question asked (as far as I can tell…).

    If everything else remained constant and the surface emission, as the only independent variable, increased, how could the TOA emission not increase somewhat? I’m assuming (guessing?) the surface emission is a continuous Planck function. And I’m assuming the physical process is because of more surface emission (DUH!) that doesn’t get all absorbed in the constant concentration of GHGases. (That’s O.K., Fed Up, finish your popcorn!) I don’t know about the “safety valve” thing, but (if this is what it is) I don’t see how the increase in TOA emission can be greater than the surface’s increase.

    This admittedly is a very simple question as Hank says. But why do simple questions seem to cause everybody so much grief and angst??

  48. 198
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Tilo: “What part of “changing only one variable” don’t you understand, Ray”

    he (and everyone else) don’t understand how you can get it so consistently wrong.

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    > changing only one variable
    Same as saying “ignore climate sensitivity.”

  50. 200
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tilo Reber says “What part of “changing only one variable” don’t you understand, Ray?”

    The part where it has anything to do with reality. If you change the outgoing IR, you change the absorption unless you do it in the window region of the spectrum. That’s reality. You should really get to know it sometime.


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