Unforced variations: Dec 2011

Open thread for December…

406 comments on this post.
  1. Hank Roberts:

    Dan H. quoted part of a sentence — the paper is describing a pattern observed in rapidly urbanizing areas around cities in China, a pattern that’s different than found in London and Vienna, which aren’t changing fast nowadays

    Look at the air pollution in China. Extremely rapid change, very dirty air.
    “Climate effects of black carbon aerosols in China and India
    Menon, Hansen, Nazarenko… – Science, 2002
    … Black carbon also contributes significantly to global warming ….”

    The same abstract says: “Urban-related warming over China is shown to be about 0.1°C decade−1 over the period 1951–2004, with true climatic warming accounting for 0.81°C over this period.”

  2. Hank Roberts:


    —–excerpt follows

    In the last few years, winter dust storms on the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado have sharply increased …. Of 65 so-called dust-on-snow events since 2003, when tracking began, 32 have struck in just the last three years, according to the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, a nonprofit research group based in Silverton, Colo. Dust can accelerate how fast snow melts because it absorbs heat.

    “It’s not a mysterious process,” said Chris Landry, the organization’s executive director. “Anybody who has thrown coal dust on their driveway or sidewalk to melt it down knows the theory.”

  3. Michael Doliner:

    here is the link to the Plass article i mentioned in 188.

  4. MARodger:

    Vukcevic @200
    Any confusion I may have had, it was purely the outcome of your continued faffing about. And you continue to faff about still. You waffle on about SSN & HMF when the source of your temperature data (of whatever ilk it may be) continues to remain as a mystery.
    I could ask you again. What is the source of the temperature data you graph against sun spot data?
    If you cannot answer, if you cannot solve said mystery, a solution to which should be simplicity itself, I consider it fair to conclude that this data you use is bogus, your graph fake and you nought but a time-wasting hoaxer.

  5. CM:

    Hunt #199,

    > What, if anything, does the new UN climate talks agreement
    > say about sea level rise?

    Uh… “We’ve wasted two decades. All good things are three. Let’s waste another one”?

    Flippancy aside: Nothing at all that explicitly references SLR, I think, but you can check for yourself:

    You will want to have a look at the documents on adaptation (L8./Add.1, short version: blah blah blah) and the Green Climate Fund (L.9, short version: good news is we’ve got a plan to manage the funds, bad news is we don’t have a plan to raise them). And you might want to search all the documents for “Aosis” or “small island”. And check back again in a few days for decisions.

  6. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Michael Doliner @ 203
    > link to the Plass article

    You would be interested in

  7. vukcevic:

    Response to MARodger #204
    This is a highly respected blog, and I hope it stays as such. Fraud accusation should not be banded around likely, and I hope the moderator will react.
    Two top scientists in their field (Dr. Svalgaard and Dr. Steig) know that data are absolutely authentic, and that point was made to you very clearly, I am also happy to email temperature data to Dd. Schmidt, if he would whish to check authenticity himself.
    I hope you are not questioning their competence, if you are you should say so, if you are not than you should stop insinuating fraud, you can’t have it both ways. Nothing gives you right to be privileged to information before its publication and that is process which takes time.

    [Response: Communication would obviously be enhanced if data sets that were used were more given a more replicable provenance. Saying that you got it in an email may well be correct, but it is not replicable. If this is un-published data, you should say so – again with a provenance that will eventually lead to replication. However, neither temperature records nor sunspots are unpublished data, so you should be able to direct people to the online source. You cannot be surprised at people wanting this background, along with clear descriptions of any processing you have done, especially since you appear to be claiming some novel conclusions. Remember the burden is on you to convince people that your results are worth noting, not for other people to make a case that they aren’t. Taking the time to provide these references would be a far more productive use of your time than arguing with people over what is or is not justified. – gavin]

  8. Hank Roberts:

    Annals of Glaciology
    Papers accepted for publication in Annals 53(60)
    Theme: Interaction of Ice Sheets and Glaciers with the Ocean

  9. Susan Anderson:

    I hope you all have had a chance to look at this. Anjari Appadurai tells it like it is (yesterday) at Durban. If you love the truth, it is passionately so. Moved me and friends to tears, very powerful:
    (set up to begin around minute 15, be sure to stay until the President’s personal statement, and the performance at the end)

    We could use a little help over at DotEarth where the truth is subject to slime:

  10. Dan H.:

    You are correct in that other areas (especially in Europe) did not grow as fast as CHina and other regions. That is why the UHI is generally stated as being below your quoted value of 0.1C / decade.

  11. Susan Anderson:

    oops, DotEarth is here:

  12. John E. Pearson:

    Given that CO2 emissions are increasing it appears quite probable that we’re going to hit 550 ppm well before the century’s end. I suspect we’re still a half century off from any concerted action. It’s been 23 years since Hansen spoke to congress. It’s been 14 years since Kyoto. CO2 emissions haven’t slowed a whit. It will probably be the children of today’s children who respond. It’s not a stretch to think that they will be forced to perform some fairly drastic geoengineering feats. It would be tremendous to hear some of today’s geoengineering pioneers (Lackner and Broecker come to mind) discuss the physical and technological limitations of various geoengineering schemes on RC. This might serve to get a few more brains thinking about geoengineering. A few more brains could make a big difference if geoengineering becomes mandatory 75 years out.

  13. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Susan, right on! Get it done! Folks, check out Susan’s link for sure. There is also this from Eli about an unplanned young spokesperson.

    “Scores of delegates and observers gave her a sustained ovation. Then the South African authorities threw her out of the conference.”

  14. Craig Nazor:


    I am not shouting. This web site will not allow the use of italics or boldface type, so capitals are the only way to emphasize anything. You will just have to put in your eyeplugs.

    So your opinion has changed that the UHI effect is significant in terms of the recently observed warming, as you used to claim?

    The Phil Jones study does not significantly change the AR4’s estimate of the UHI effect on the observed global warming. Yes, China is heavily industrialized. One would expect a little more of the UHI effect in China.

    I do not deny the conclusions of every scientist with whom I disagree. That’s a red herring. I weigh all the evidence together to search for the best information, with the help of some of the knowledgeable people on this web site. But because of the influence of hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate money, there is a lot of misinformation about AGCC out there, and you still appear to be pedaling some of it, like the Lüdecke paper. Why is that?

    I am not misreading anything. You have still not responded to many of my questions. Instead, you bring up new points that include misrepresentations of what I have said. You have spent a lot of your time criticizing me personally or telling me what to do: “You seem to be misreading the presentation”; “You can stop shouting”; “You continue to deny the conclusions of every scientist with which you disagree”; “You really need to read your references more closely”; “You should refrain from attacking the researcher”. What is that condescending, controlling attitude all about?

  15. vukcevic:

    re:Response note from Dr.Schmidt

    Dr. Schmidt
    All data I use are published:
    Temperature data directly downloaded from: Met Office Hadley Centre
    Sunspot data from: SIDC Solar Influences Data Analysis Centre
    I have emailed direct download links with short explanation to your email address as shown at the NASA website:
    Subject: Temperature data source
    From v…-(at)- yahoo.com

    Dr. Schmidt thank you for your time and attention.

  16. Anonymous Coward:

    In the context of Durban, Susan, Pete and others are asking governments to “get it done”.
    Why are you expecting the call to “get it done” to work now when it hasn’t worked in the past? What’s the incentive for governments to heed this call?

    Anjali Appadurai asked “What does it take to get a stake in this game?”
    I thought that was obvious: in an intergovernmental process, it takes power over at least one governments.
    This is done through elections, corruption, industrial action or violence. Those who are not willing to use any of these means effectively will never have a voice at the intergovernmental level.

    “this from Eli” in #213 is a broken link by the way.

  17. MARodger:

    Vukcevic @206
    The word “fraud” in its most common usage is synonymous with criminality. As such it is a word I would not consider appropriate in this context and so I did not use it.

    Response (Gavin) @206
    I feel you are under the misapprehension that Vikcevic has named a source of unpublished data. The information to hand suggests the two named persons are not the source of it.
    I base this view on the note appended to the offending graph “Details and info regarding the temperature graph are emailed to Dr Svalgaard & Dr. Eric Steig (Washington University and the ‘RealClimate’). “
    Reliance on use of the preposition “to” would possibly be presumptive in present circumstances but its use is repeated @183 and also backed up by comment @104.
    Thus Vikcevic sent the the data to the named persons. The source is entirely unknown.

    Vukcevic @206
    Nobody has the right to publish a graph here and then to refuse point blank to name the source of the data being graphed. In this thread you have been asked directly or indirectly to provide your data source a total of 16 times. So for a seventeenth time, what is the source of your temperature data?
    If you cannot or are unwilling to answer appropriately, I consider it entirely fair to conclude that this data you use is bogus, your graph fake and you nought but a time-wasting hoaxer.

  18. Snapple:

    Re comment 212 about geoengineering–

    Here is a power point presentation Dr. Robock gave in Moscow titled “Smoke and Mirrors: Is Geoengineering a Solution to Global Warming?”

    Dr. Robock was a speaker at a conference hosted by ROSHYDROMET titled “Problems of Adaptation to Climate Change” (November 7-9, 2011). The Russian site RACC 2011 has now posted information about the conference.

    Robock is an expert on nuclear winter, and geoengineering is looking at the possibility of making a little nuclear winter with aerosols in the sky.

    I wrote about the conference a few times on my blog. Here is the latest post.

    The Russians are discussing ways to mitigate climate change, but they make a lot of their money selling natural gas so they don’t usually address the need to move away from fossil fuels. Also, their scientists—like ours—may be targeted by the powerful fossil-fuel interests like Gazprom if they aren’t careful. Gazprom is majority owned by the Russian government and pays a lot of the bills.

    Still, Russia/Gazprom wants to know all about global warming so they can continue to sell gas—that’s my impression. They will have to fix their infrastructure, but they may be able to exploit gas in the Arctic Ocean.

    The Russian fossil-fuel companies own a lot of the T.V. and print media, so their political operatives can run influence operations. The big media can have a lot of influence as long as they promote the line of Putin’s ruling United Russia political party.

  19. gavin:

    Relevant text of the email from Vukcevic:

    Link for the temperature data


    Data is for month of June:

    – Highest insolation, the average June SST in the nearby box ( 45N- 55 N, 15W – 45 W ) is 12.2 C while the June land temperature is on average 14.2, so the land temperature is predominantly due to the effect of insolation, with 350 year trend-line: y = 0.0001x + 14.075, R2 = 0.0002

    Solar data is direct annual number as published by SIDC:


    Volatility of the temperature data is greater than sunspot annual number, so the 4 year moving average is applied to the temperature data in the graph plotted.


    Why this couldn’t have been made directly as a comment is beyond me. In future, please include sources of data alongside any analysis to avoid this pointless waste of everyone’s time.

  20. Kevin McKinney:


    Actually, italics are perfectly usable on RC. You do, however, have to type in the appropriate HTML tags.

  21. vukcevic:

    Dr. Schmidt
    Ok, I take your point.
    My very short article, offering more detailed analysis, but no interpretation of cause, mechanism or consequences for the solar input reassessment, a higher degree of competence is required.
    That will be left to you and colleagues at NASA, NOA, NCAR, Berkely, etc to properly evaluate.
    Dismissing the find as irrelevant will not do, thanks to internet and blogosphere I shall pursue the matter and press for the science’s interpretation whichever side of the argument scientists decide to approach it.

  22. vukcevic:

    It is assumed that any scientist, who chooses to pursue further work on this particular matter, would appropriately acknowledge contribution of M.A. Vukcevic.
    I suggest that until the article appears, to quote
    as the relevant reference.
    Thank you.

  23. John E. Pearson:

    218 snapple wrote “geoengineering is looking at the possibility of making a little nuclear winter with aerosols in the sky.”

    Interesting read. I will try (in my spare time) to read some of the references.
    Aerosols are one particular implementation of geoengineering. I don’t know how many others there are. Robcock alluded to the geritol solution. I think it has been determined that the geritol solution is not a serious option.

    The geoengineering proposed by Broecker and Lackner is not injecting aerosols into the stratosphere. It is essentially carbon sequestration via accelerated weathering. Presumably there are other schemes that I’ve never heard of.

    At the end Robcock mentioned the “moral hazard” asking “do we have the right do this”? If your geoengineering scheme is injection of aerosols into the stratosphere I find myself asking (but not answering) the same question. However if your geoengineering scheme is taking CO2 directly out of the air and burying at a la Broecker and Lachner I personally find the “moral hazard” to be a nonissue. The fact remains that the world has done nothing to mitigate global warming, reduce CO2 emissions, etc. The current crop of effective noisy liars James Imhofe, Rush Limbaugh, etc will die. The children of today’s children will pay for the lies of Inhofe et al. Part of the price they pay will likely include geoengineering. Figuring it out ahead of time is preferable to an “oh shit” response 80 years down the line.

  24. vukcevic:

    All past comments relating to reliability of data used are shown to have been baseless. It is up to contributors if they whish to reassess their position on the matter. I am happy to answer any further questions within the reason.
    My thanks to anyone who has shown an interest, and particularly to those who didn’t question my credibility, which obviously was honest and true. This is far more important than what this minor discovery may or may not mean to the reassessment of the solar contribution.
    Thanks to Dr. Schmidt, Dr Steig, ‘Jim’ and others involved in running this blog, for their patience and extreme tolerance.

    [Response: I think with your interests you could contribute a lot. Just remember that you always have to document sources and procedures. Even when you do that, some people will still have questions and doubts, it’s the nature of the beast.–Jim]

  25. MARodger:

    Thank you Vukcevic for the links @219.
    After so much prevaricating, it is most pleasing to confirm the graph that MA Vukcevic has linked to so frequently in this thread (and that I and a few others had despaired at ever getting to the bottom of) is not at all fake, that it is without bogus data and not in any way a hoax. I have myself reproduced it at the (non-permanent) link below.
    As to the implications of this graph, whether for instance it is safe to say it shows CET June temperatures oscillating with SSN, that issue remains.


  26. Dan H.:

    I do not know what you mean by my opinion has changed, please elaborate.
    I have responded to all your questions, and the new points are relavent to the discussion. If you feel that you are being misrepresented, then please clarify your position. You presented one piece of old data to support your view, while I presented three newer reports to support mine. If you feel that the one report you referenced is more valid than the newer work, then I suggest you show adequate reasons why, without falling back on the researcher’s personal beliefs or the money stream.

  27. Edward Greisch:

    223 John E. Pearson: What is the geritol solution?

    How would putting H2SO4 in the air affect my asthma?

  28. Richard Simons:

    Elsewhere I have been having arguments with people who insist that there is a ‘pause’ in global warming. They can’t accept that there is no significant deviation from the previous trend (I think they know no statistics) but keep coming back to one or two papers that refer to a recent pause. Reading the papers, it is obvious to me that the authors attach no long-term importance to this and have not examined the statistical significance. Non-the-less, the people I am disagreeing with persist in the belief that there is a real pause in warming. Please could I ask scientists writing papers to use ‘apparent pause’ or similar wording unless the deviation from the long-term trend is significant? I know it is tedious and should not be necessary when dealing with educated, responsible adults, but unfortunately it seems we are not. Thanks.

  29. Hank Roberts:

    Dan — when you respond to someone’s statement quoting partial sentences out of new abstracts without mentioning the caveats, it often sounds like you think they directly pertinent to the subject already being discussed.

    Beware the “Gish gallop.”

  30. vukcevic:

    Thanks for your comment; your advice is always welcome. I spent many years doing things according to a required modus operandi. Now I have some time available to pursue it my own way and pace. The ‘patience is a virtue’ has been abounded at wayside in the age of the instant communication and the instant knowledge. I am learning that voluntarily going into lion’s den one shouldn’t complain about few minor claw scratches.

    To #225
    I thank you for your latest statement.

  31. Ray Ladbury:

    Look at the temperature record since 1975. Count how many times the warming has “paused” and then come back again. Ask they why they think this one is different.

  32. Dan H.:

    The problem is that there is a real ‘pause.’ Whether it is attributable to Asian aerosols (as claimed by Hansen), ENSO, solar activity, or all of the above occurring simultaneously, has not been ascertained. While there may be no long-term importance attached to this recent period, it cannot be ignored.
    Just remind people that we had a much longer ‘pause’ from the 1940s to 1970s, until warming resumed. This currect period is but a third of that. The long term trend of 0.6C/century has not changed.

  33. Hank Roberts:

    for Richard Simons: high school level explanation might help convince your acquaintances, if they want to learn the statistics: http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/01/results-on-deciding-trends.html

    Those whose goal is to repeat the talking point won’t care about the math. Good luck with them.

  34. Hank Roberts:

    So, Richard, see if you can convince Dan, for example. If he would read and understand Bob Grumbine’s high-school-level explanation, he’d quit claiming he knows a pause exists that is not ascertainable by statistics.

  35. JCH:

    Dan H. – this graph shows that since 1998 one year has tied 1998, and four years have exceeded 1998. The 17-year trend is less steep than the 1979-to-present trend, but not much, and it does not appear to me to be sufficient for claiming there has been a ‘pause’:

    1998 – 0.563333
    2002 – 0.563333
    2005 – 0.624167
    2007 – 0.580833
    2009 – 0.570833
    2010 – 0.63

  36. Hank Roberts:

    Those nice crisp lines on charts are what fools people.

    What we need is a graphics charting program that includes display of the uncertainty for the data set being viewed.

    It could start by displaying a long timespam in a thumbnail (in which lines look nice and crisp).

    It should include the uncertainty/error bar for that particular data set.

    So taking annual global temperature, when the viewer zooms in to look at, for example, the last ten or fifteen years, the display would automagically fuzz the misleading “line” and show the actual cloud of uncertainty for that time span.

    Trends aren’t there in the data for short time spans; they’re an illusion.


    Any programmers around here?

  37. Hank Roberts:

    These aren’t as confusing as most:

    Those are from:
    Parker David E., Urban heat island effects on estimates of observed climate change. WIREs Clim Change 2010, 1: 123-133. doi: 10.1002/wcc.21

  38. George Fripley:

    Apparently Ian Plimer has now written a book for kids entitled – How to get expelled from school. It is all about the ‘global warming scam’. Does this man have any integrity at all?

    It has also, unfortunately, been endorsed by ex Prime Minister John Howard.

  39. Ray Ladbury:

    George Fripley of Ian Plimer: “Does this man have any integrity at all?”

    I do not think that it makes sense to speak of integrity when the person is not of sound mind. I look forward to the day when the Diagnostic Standard Manual carries a diagnosis of Epistemic Closure as a mental illness.

  40. MalcolmT:

    @238 You can credit Plimer (and Carter, Bolt, Monckton, etc) with integrity or intelligence but not both.
    I’m happy to say the ABC report was good enough to point up Howard’s lack of integrity (supporting an ETS when in office but not believing in it), mention that the launch was held at the Sydney Mining Club(!) and give generous space to a critical comment from the Science Teachers’ Association of NSW president.

  41. Yvan Dutil:

    Scariest story I have seen recently!!!


  42. Richard Simons:

    Dan H. said “The problem is that there is a real ‘pause.’ ”

    To me, a real pause would be temperatures significantly less than expected from the preceding trend. I challenge you to select a series of years between, say, 1970 to 2000, and determine the trend in global temperature. Then select the equivalent data from one or any number of recent consecutive years and demonstrate that the temperatures are significantly less than would have been expected from extrapolating the trend. You choose the years for determining the trend and also the years to determine the ‘pause’. You choose any reasonable method of analysis. So, now’s your chance! Up and at ’em, and show us the ‘real pause’.

    Hank Roberts “Those nice crisp lines on charts are what fools people.”
    Also, I suspect there can be strong optical illusions where one year’s data (e.g. 1998) carry more weight than is justified.

    “So taking annual global temperature, when the viewer zooms in to look at, for example, the last ten or fifteen years, the display would automagically fuzz the misleading “line” and show the actual cloud of uncertainty for that time span.”
    That sounds a great idea.

    An analogy I’ve used is the heights of 6 children born at 2-week intervals. You wouldn’t be particularly surprised if the relationship between age and height was negative, but you would not conclude from that that children shrink as they get older.

  43. George Fripley:

    Ray Ladbury @239

    Perhaps it is Epistemic Closure for Ian Plimer, but it’s more a case of Manic Irrelevance Syndrome for John Howard (ie the belief of all ex-politicians that people are interested in what they have to say)

  44. Michael Doliner:

    response to Pete Dunkelberg at 206. Thanks for the reference. Plass’s discussion of radiation is not really relevant. This whole subject has gotten far too complicated. Plass’s central point is that the only real sinks for CO2 are the ocean and the sequestering of hydrocarbons. Both take a long geological time. Once CO2 increases in the system the glacial oscillation is set off and it takes a minimum of 50,000 years to stabilize again. Just exactly why the warming occurs in interesting, but the important thing is that it does occur. If rthe ocean and atmosphere are considered a system there is no way to get CO2 out of the system except for the multimillion year process of sequestering in hydrocarbons.And once the level is high enough to raise the temperature enough to release sequestered carbon then the jig is up–carbon levels will continue to grow until all the CO2 that can be released in this way is released and new sequestering can begin.

  45. Edward Greisch:

    Pause: See:
    “How Can It Be Warming When It’s (Almost) Always Cooling?

  46. Charles:

    Ray Ladbury @ 239:
    “I do not think that it makes sense to speak of integrity when the person is not of sound mind. I look forward to the day when the Diagnostic Standard Manual carries a diagnosis of Epistemic Closure as a mental illness.”

    ROTFLMAO! Ray, I always enjoy your pithy comments, and I can appreciate your being short-tempered with some stuff. But this one is a beauty! Hear! Hear!

  47. CM:

    Hank #236, re: a charting tool with automatic uncertainties,

    Maybe we should suggest it to Paul at woodfortrees.org, or maybe someone with C++ and stats skills could offer him a patch for analyse?

    He expressed some misgivings about adding trend lines back in 2008, and indeed they have been roundly abused and the caveats ignored by the usual suspects. I have wondered why he didn’t add uncertainties as an option. I suspect the reason is that getting it wrong (i.e. underestimating uncertainties by not accounting properly for autocorrelation) would do more harm than good, and that getting it right may mean different methodical choices for different kinds of data, cf. the appendix to Foster and Rahmstorf 2011. (And perhaps it’s really difficult to implement from scratch, as he does, or would involve a much bigger number-crunching load on the server; I don’t know; but then, he’s already implemented Fourier transforms.)

  48. Craig Nazor:


    Since you asked:

    “The UHI has been shown to contribute between 25% and 50% of the observed warming. I would call that major.” You said that back on the Change.org blog when you were posting under the alias of “Dan Johnson”:


    Questions I have asked here that you haven’t answered:

    “But because of the influence of hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate money, there is a lot of misinformation about AGCC out there, and you still appear to be pedaling some of it, like the Lüdecke paper. Why is that?”

    [After a list of examples @214] “What is that condescending, controlling attitude all about?”

    By the way, there is no “real pause” in rising global temperatures. The rise is not linear, but it is not expected to be linear. Do you have any peer-reviewed science to back up that claim?

    For reference, here’s what you said about rising global temperatures on the above Change.org link under the “Dan Johnson” moniker:

    “Temperatures during the last decade have not warmed”

    Are you still willing to own that opinion?


    I (and others) have warned Dan about the “Gish Gallop” before. It has not sunk in yet. You can reference that by doing a search on the Change.org link above. There is no doubt that this is the same “Dan”, since he recognized me (as seen @60 above) on RealClimate, and I know no other “Dan” when it comes to blogging climate change. It is a lively debate, with some interesting participants.

  49. Walter Pearce:

    Re: 232, “the pause” — What pause? Here’s a nice link referring to a study done by some folks you may recognize:


    “When the fluctuations in temperature over the last 32 years (which tend to obscure the continuation of the global warming trend) are accounted for, it becomes obvious that there has not been any cessation, or even any slowing, of global warming over the last decade (or at any time during this time span),” the study states. “All five data sets show statistically significant warming even for the time span from 2000 to the present.”

  50. Kevin McKinney:

    #206–I second the thanks for this link.

    I had the pleasurable sensation that I understood the implications more deeply this time around. Maybe I’m learning. . .