Unforced Variations: July 2012

Have at it.

561 comments on this post.
  1. Pete Dunkelberg:

    > That does rather narrow the field, doesn’t it?

    Here it is:

  2. AIC:

    I hope you are preparing a posting on the Muller et al papers…er…Website postings. And whatever WUWT is referring to, to distract attention.

  3. Jan Galkowski:

    (Tried to post this review here directly, but was rejected by filter as “spam”. Consequently, am only providing link to same. –jtg)


  4. Pete Dunkelberg:

    BEST results:

    422 Discussion

    423 We have obtained an estimate of the Earth land surface temperature from 1753 unto the

    424 present. The limited land coverage prior to 1850 results in larger uncertainties in the

    > begin page 22

    425 behavior of the record; despite these, we see behavior that is significant. Most dramatic

    426 are the large swings in the earliest period. These dips can be explained as the effect of

    427 large volcanic eruptions that took place during that period. The rapid changes in the

    428 Earth’s temperature at that time are remarkably swift, and at times even greater than the

    429 changes taking place in the last 50 years. Our records also show an average temperature

    430 during the early 1800s that is on the lower end of what had previously been estimated

    431 from proxy measurements, although there are large discrepancies between the values

    432 obtained by using different proxy sets.

    434 The behavior changes in the early 1900s, and follows closely the results that had been
    435 previously reported by the three other major groups that analyze historic thermometer
    436 records, but with a smaller uncertainty than has been previously achieved. Since the
    437 1950s, we observe a rise in the average land surface temperature of 0.87 ± 0.05 º C (95%
    438 confidence). This value is in the middle of the comparable values reported by other
    439 groups, but with an estimated uncertainty approximately twice as tight as prior reports.

    441 We observe that the record of diurnal temperature range, Tmax – Tmin, follows an
    442 unexpected path, with a slow drop from the period 1900 to the late 1980s, followed by a
    443 rise up to the most recent period (2011). This change in direction is unexpected and not
    444 anticipated by existing climate models.
    446 Many of the changes in land-surface temperature follow a simple linear combination of
    447 volcanic forcing (based on estimates of stratospheric sulfate injection) and an
    448 anthropogenic term represented here by the logarithm of the CO2 concentration. The best

    > begin page 23

    449 fit an volcanic forcing term is -1.5 ± 0.5 º449 C per 100 Tg of atmospheric sulfate. The
    450 anthropogenic forcing parameter is 3.1 ± 0.3 ºC for CO2 doubling (compared to pre
    451 industrial levels), broadly consistent with the IPCC estimate of ~3 ºC for the equilibrium
    452 warming at doubled CO2. When we included solar forcing we found that the solar
    453 variability record assumed by the IPCC did not contribute significantly to the fit of
    454 historic temperature. This could imply that any effect associated with solar variability is
    455 too small to be detected by our simple approach. It might also imply that the shape of
    456 solar forcing assumed by the IPCC during the last 250 years is too inaccurate for an
    457 effective comparison. However, if the shape of the solar forcing history is accurate, then
    458 the impact of solar variability on climate would have to be on the low side of present
    459 estimates, no more than 0.08 ºC since 1750.

    461 After accounting for volcanic and anthropogenic effects, the residual variability in land
    462 surface temperature is observed to closely mirror and for slower changes slightly lead
    463 variations in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation Index. This is consistent with both the
    464 land and North Atlantic responding the same unknown process. That process may be
    465 partially anthropogenic and include effects whose time evolution is not proportional CO2.
    466 It might also include natural processes. If all of the residual evolution during the last 150
    467 years is assumed to be natural, then it places an upper 95% confidence bound on the scale
    468 of decadal natural variability at ±0.17 ºC. Though non-trivial, this number is small
    469 compared to the anthropogenic changes that appear to have occurred during the last
    470 century.
    > begin page 24

    472 Acknowledgements

  5. sidd:

    Prof. Muller seems to be an autodidact. Watching him educate himself is a distraction. There are far more important questions, for example, is Eemian sea level rise avoidable today, regardless of our best efforts. Or if projected tundra carbon release makes a mockery of a 2C carbon budget.


  6. Susan Anderson:

    Rick A, you ought to keep up with developments and look at Greenland’s topography. Even with the land rise if all the weight goes, roughly speaking the bathtub has four big outlets.

    RealClimate is a great place to bring facts, but you need to be careful advancing unsupported and in this case inadequately researched information here; RC does not accept substitution of wishful thinking for facts. Greenland’s topography is not obscure.

  7. Susan Anderson:

    re BEST, for a hint of what’s coming from the confusionists, who would be pathetic if they didn’t wield so much influence with powerful but not knowledgeable actors, here (h/t Tenney Naumer). I do encourage you all to not contribute clicks to and waste energy on WUWT et al. They already steal enough oxygen.


  8. ozajh:

    sidd @ 505,

    Whether Professor Muller is an autodidact or not, and regardless of whether his conclusions advance the SCIENTIFIC debate, his latest contribution is far from being only a distraction.

    The BEST study was commissioned (and paid for) BY DENIALISTS, who confidently expected it to support their side of the argument. Some of the denialist blogs were openly predicting the results before they were published.

    Even the previous results from the study were greeted with dismay. The denialati will go berserk trying to spin away this latest effort. I would personally expect to see Professor Muller’s probity called into question.

  9. simon abingdon:

    #507 Susan Anderson

    Good advice Susan. The confusionists are even trying to muddy the waters by appealing to the “WMO-approved Siting Classification System”. What credibility does that have, if any?

  10. Chris Dudley:

    Sorry Jim (#492),

    It just seems pretty clear to me that Koch money goes where it will do their industry the most good. They picked Muller to fund along with Heartland. If my inference is over the top, I’m sorry.

  11. TO:

    The Insitute of World Politics published on their website that David Archibald, solar cycle self declared expert and carbon tax champion, testified before the Australian Senate on the carbon tax. This is untrue and both the Institute of World politics and David Archobald have been gievn the opportunity to explain or retract. They haven’t. Check it out at http://uknowispeaksense.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/david-archibald-addressed-the-senate/

    I have emailed the Institute of World Politics asking for an explanation. No reply. Someone else emailed them at least a week ago. No reply. Others have emailed asking the Institute for World Politics to explain why they would claim that David Archibald testified anywhere. No replies.

    Maybe the Institute for World Politics offers a masters degree in misinformation.

  12. JCH:

    Another Other Opinions recommendation:


  13. dhogaza:

    Hail the new king of climate science! Hilarious piece by Roger Sr

    Remember, it was RPSr who gave (virtual) birth to Watts and the surface station project in the first place. No surprise that his response is … ummm … uncritical.

  14. John E. Pearson:

    505 sidd and 491 Patrick:

    Dunno if Muller did any new science or not. He claims to have shrunk some of the error bounds which is believable to me.

    Scientifically I don’t think this is important. Politically it might be.

  15. Jan Galkowski:

    Follow-up on my post from 29 July 2012 5:08 PM … I have improved this Comment and added some additional links. It is available offline at:

  16. Pete Dunkelberg:

    IMHO Muller/BEST is the most important climate issue for now.
    Evidently Muller has a certain style and method which sometimes works, and luckily this is one of those times. Or close enough.

    > …is Eemian sea level rise avoidable today, regardless of our best efforts.
    No. Sorry. Even with best efforts it takes too long to turn this ship around.

  17. deconvoluter:

    Alex Cockburn has just died. He was not a very original contrarian but attempted to shift left wing opinion against taking action on CO2 by recycling e.g. Martin Hertzberg and Gerlich & Tscheuschner


  18. SecularAnimist:

    FYI, Joe Romm’s take on the new BEST report is here:

    Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution
    By Joe Romm
    July 28, 2012

    There are about 190 comments so far.

    A PDF of the report is here:


  19. Dan H.:

    Another take on the new BEST report.


  20. John E. Pearson:

    Patrick at 354 (july 21) wrote: “(whereas with iteration, you start with ∆T1 = RF/B, then add ∆T(n+1) = (F*∆Tn)/B repeatedly)”

    I appreciate the effort. You assumed a particular iterative scheme and explained how it would differ from your calculation. It is substantially different from the iterative scheme I had in mind.

  21. Pekka Kostamo:

    Simon: The WMO has a rather recently approved recommendation of climatological station classification. It was built on a “prototype” designed and used for years by the French meteorological service and subsequently processed by the WMO formal bodies, such as the “Commission of Basic Systems” (CBS) and the “Commission on Instruments and Methods of Observation” (CIMO). CBS deals with observation network design, CIMO with technical details, both providing quite extensive handbooks and statistics for their respective areas. As usual, these are only recommendations, national Governments are free to design their own.

    A lot of WMO texts are found by Google search, i.e. “WMO observation station siting guidelines”.

    To generate a temperature history, the global climate science has to rely upon measurements made for other purposes, be they general weather forecasting, aviation support or old style climate statistics.

    The “old style climate” observations had various purposes. The stations were set up to serve local needs, very often the needs of farmers deciding which crop to plant (and when) in a given valley, county or village. Consequently there was no need for extreme accuracy or even reliability, such as are expected for the global application, global climate change analysis. The original application also set limits to investment in instruments (some $500) as well as on cost of training of observers (part time, volunteers) and system maintenance.

    The WMO recommendations for siting and instrumentation for climatological stations are quite old and well established (somebody else would know how old) and have been very influential in most countries. National variations exist nevetherless.

    A possibly significant variance is found in organizations. In most countries the climatological observations were organized by the national meteorological service. Its staff selected the sites, provided the instrumentation and trainig of the observers, organized technical maintenance, collected the data (mostly on pencilled sheets), processed and distributed the results as a central service.

    An exception to this was/is the USA, where this service has been provided by the separate States. Most States employ a state climatologist, either as a full time or a part time official. This gives rise to some problems in network design. Local interests may vary and i.e. station siting standards are adapted to fit the perceived data end-user needs (as has been amply demonstrated).

    Having seen many climate stations over a long time, I believe their measurement accuracy has improved substantially. Quality of maintenance is better now as the global warming has developed as an issue. earlier, dirt, mold or flaking paint were seen on many stations. Better or cleaner thermometer screens produce lower readings and help to underestimate (marginally) the warming.

    A climatologist and a meteorolgist has to forecast temperature by popular demand. However, temperature measurement does not go into his/her forecasting model, so from that viewpoint it is just a “nice to know” parameter. 2 – 4 degC margins are usually discussed.

  22. snafu:

    Ahem, please read:


    Including his update; [Update July 30: JGR told me “This paper was rejected and the editor recommended that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”]

  23. dhogaza:

    “This paper was rejected and the editor recommended that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”

    Actually, it wasn’t “this paper”, it was an earlier one (UHI paper).

    Please *try* to pay attention, ok?

  24. J Bowers:

    It’s official. Homo sapiens sapiens is a mad species.

    Europe looks to open up Greenland for natural resources extraction

    Melting of icy surface opens up possibility of extracting rare earth metals and gemstones, but many fear it could destroy the Arctic
    Oil and gas have been the focus of exploitation so far – but the EU sees just as much potential in a massive opening up of mining operations across the world’s biggest island, according to Antonio Tajani, the European commission’s vice-president and one of the most powerful politicians in the union. He called the move “raw material diplomacy”.

  25. Hank Roberts:

    >>“This paper was rejected and the editor recommended
    >> that the author resubmit it as a new paper.”
    >Actually, it wasn’t “this paper”, it was an earlier one (UHI paper).

    Dan H. misleads anyone who will try to follow him. Eschew.

    > Greenland … raw material
    Ah, yes, vast tracts of unclaimed land on which to pioneer a new civilization.

  26. Hank Roberts:

    Wups, “snafu” not “Dan H.” misstating what that cite says there.

  27. Unsettled Scientist:

    Hah, a Pavlovian response there Hank? Don’t worry. Dan H’s link wasn’t exactly intelligent. On that site the blogger says that you can’t ask a physicist what X-ray crystallography has to say about DNA. I suppose that blogger still has the common impression that Watson and Crick came up the double helix on their own and is completely unaware of Rosalind Franklin’s contribution (her stolen photo) and that she fixed Watson and Crick’s tinker toy model when they had the backbone on the inside. I certainly wouldn’t trust that blogger for a good take on the BEST results.

  28. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    RE # 522 & 523, why would a science journal like JGR have an economist review papers? McKitrick is known denialist focused on trying to throw doubt on the works of actual climate scientists…but instead turning up wrong in those efforts (see Mann, HOCKEY STICK, pp. 82, 122-24, 130, 136-141, 190), even though his faulty attemps cause a tremendous amount of fallacious fodder that the denialist community runs wild with, obstructing needed mitigation efforts (that may even amount to harms (if not crimes) against humanity).

    Makes me wonder about that journal and its editors. Couldn’t they find someone else (whose main mission in life is not debunking & throwing doubt on climate science) to do the peer-reviewing?

  29. Anna Haynes:

    Where in the concerned climate blogosphere would be the place to submit “here’s an action you can take” suggestions?

    The one I’m thinking of: the NY Times, site of very good climate coverage lately, is today offering half-off (1st 18 weeks) subscriptions, so if your community is like mine, you might get one for your local coffeehouse.

  30. Kevin McKinney:

    Just in case anyone has been trying to access the Mann “Hockey Stick” review from the link upthread, there’s an ongoing glitch with that page. I’ll update when it’s fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience.

    (Why does that sound familiar?)

  31. Steven Sullivan:

    Indeed. McKitrick is whinging about Wickham et al. “Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average Using Rural Sites Identified from MODIS Classifications”(http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/uhi-revised-june-26.pdf), which was apparently submitted twice, once in 2011 and again in 2012, with RM a reviewer both times. Muller’s op-ed and press is mainly about Rhode et al. (2012) “A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011” (http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/results-paper-july-8.pdf). Neither paper has been formally published.

    Was RM a reviewer of Rhode et al (2012)? If not could it be that the ‘auditors’ are engaging in a bit of diversionary sleight of hand here?

  32. J Bowers:

    Ye reap what ye sow: Drought strains U.S. oil production. Not just oil, either.

  33. Hank Roberts:

    > Rhode
    Rohde: http://berkeleyearth.org/robert-rohde/

  34. Chris Machens:

    When It Rains, It Pours: New Study Finds Extreme Snowstorms And Deluges Are Becoming More Frequent And More Severe

  35. Jack Maloney:

    Re: #534

    Tried following your links. What new study?

  36. Hank Roberts:

    local fm radio: KQED Forum: Wed, Aug 1, 2012 — 9:00 AM
    UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller

    He’s made the jump from “I’m not convinced” to “we can do nothing, it’s up to the Chinese and Indian government” while holding firmly to his accusation that the climate modelers are making stuff up to try to scare people into political action.

    He sounds to me, listening, on the radio, a lot more like a passionate political advocate than he reads in print.

    He’s pushing Robert Rohde out in front as responsible for the statistics, giving him all the credit for the analysis.

    Hmmm …

  37. Hank Roberts:

    Muller and another guest are now discussing the “blogosphere” coverage. “Roger Pielke Jr., who likes to think of himself as the conscience of …” did I hear this right? Oh well, enough.

  38. Hank Roberts:

    oh, lordy , you really ought to listen to that KQED interview.

    The day’s host is Spencer Michaels, not Michael Krasny. Seems to me this host is their ‘ibertarianish guy who tends to lean not too subtly; he’s now asked questions that led Muller into an extended attack on Al Gore past and Al Gore present-day.

    This reminds me of the 1960s, seeing the people who most opposed changes in civil rights and the war who were able to turn on a dime and claim leadership in the new direction of society as it happened, dismissing those who had more foresight as wacky extremists.

    Muller is now lauding “our _clean_ fracking technology” as though it actually existed, as if he knew something about that.

    “As I point out in my new book, you can make money ….”

    This is sad stuff to hear. The spin is strong.

    “We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century” — by three percent conservation and changing from coal to clean natural gas, says Muller.

    Yeah. right. Anything but the IPCC.

  39. Hank Roberts:

    My mistake, Forum program featuring Muller — Host: Scott Shafer
    Link, to repeat, is: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201208010900

    If nothing else jump to the very end.

    A caller asks why we should take Muller as a leader when he’s so late to this and other scientists have known about it for so long.

    Muller’s answer is that nobody before him could know the problems were real, because “surface stations issues” made it impossible to decide whether there was a problem until he looked into it.

    Or something like that. Astonishing!

  40. Steven Sullivan:

    McIntyre backing slowly away from Watts’ paper — the one he’s a co-author on?

    “Interestingly, McIntyre is listed as a co-author of the Watts paper but begins a blog post expressing “puzzlement at Anthony’s [Watts’press release] announcement”and qualifies his involvement as “very last minute and limited”. And he admits to not having “parsed” parts of the Watts study.”


  41. flxible:

    “We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century . . . ” Interesting he didn’t say ‘the American standard’.
    The world, including the U.S., living at the standard of Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, etc, will come much sooner than the end on the century, and conservation won’t play a part in it. ;)

  42. Hank Roberts:


  43. Lawrence Coleman:

    To me what is very worrying is that the rate of change of the world temp trend line over the last 10-15 years is actually higher than the natural climatic variability, thus a whole series of consecutive temp records have been posted. How many more years of consecutive record highs will be needed before someone states unequivically that a major tipping point has been breached? Could someone state the bloody obvious!

  44. Hank Roberts:

    > the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century

    Give Muller credit for saying something that should challenge US politicians to wake up, if they were inclined to listen. Planning for a slow intentional change to that standard of living over the next 80 or 90 years would be doable with no loss of comfort, just a huge decrease in waste, inefficiency, and pork barrelling.

  45. Jim Larsen:

    542 Hank links to a note that says solar is big.

    OK, but meaningless. Yep, there’s a lot of sunlight out there. Nope, it can’t be harvested at market rates. Pretty much ends the discussion in Republican-land, and Republican-land sets the tone of the discussion.

    And besides, every single solar panel bought today is a HORRIBLE investment. MUCH better would be to wait 1 year and get a better panel for less money, and only pay 10 cents or so a kilowatt for the year’s worth of electricity in the meantime. The TRUTH is that solar power should be avoided at all costs, while solar power research should be wildly funded for the next 5 to 10 years. AFTER that, we could reasonably start adding solar in more than insignificant amounts to our power production systems.

    (Note that some folks pretend that if the taxpayer pays for 70% of the bill, somehow the bill is “really” 30%. That’s insane. the bill is 100%.)

  46. Jim Larsen:

    541 flxible said ““We could have the entire world living at the European standard … by the end of the century . . . ” Interesting he didn’t say ‘the American standard’.
    The world, including the U.S., living at the standard of Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, etc, will come much sooner than the end on the century, and conservation won’t play a part in it. ;)”

    Uh, the US is at a lower standard of living than the European level, so using the BEST current level is appropriate. (The US has more money but less freedom, less healthcare, less quality of life, and less most everything else)

  47. David B. Benson:

    Hank Roberts @542 — I read the NREL report. Based on just that the grids would require prohibitively expensive storage. That is the problem with using generation sources which only run intermittently.

    I’ll not take this further here as this is a climatology site, not a energy site. For more in a setting with many knowledgable commenters, try the new Brave New World Discussion Form:

  48. Hank Roberts:

    > better would be to wait 1 year and get a better panel for less money
    Agreed, personally. Solar hot water makes sense now, once I rebuild the roof to support the weight.

    Also, better not to invest the money in coal or gas infrastructure, but hang on to it to be able to buy better solar (and better battery/storage) technology.

    I pointed the NREL because it’s an argument for less spending on coal and gas infrastructure — which only leads to burning more coal and gas — and it makes an argument both for conservation and economy now and care where (and when) we spend.

  49. Bobl:

    Hank Roberts @ 542
    Solar Power isn’t a viable baseload power source at any efficiency. The problem with it is woeful energy density.

    It goes like this
    At best you can expect 1000 Watts per square meter irradiation.
    This is multiplied by the efficiency of the panel, best are around 0.2. In the tropics at midday that’s 200W per square meter, now when you are delivering baseload you need to deliver energy 24×7. If effect the daily output of a panel is on average 5 hours of 24, so the average output over the day of a solar panel is now down to 5/24 x 200 or 41.6 watts per square meter.
    Now we must consider that the power system must still be able to supply power when it is cloudy, panels generate about 20% output when shaded like this so our RELIABLE output over 24 hours is down to 0.2 x 41.6 or 8.32 Watts per square meter.

    After this we must account for conversion losses of 5% and transmission loss of 15% or .95x 0.85 x 8.32 = 6.71 W/m2

    To construct a Gigawatt of reliable baseload 24×7 power from solar panels therefore requires 1e9/6.71 149031296 square meters (149 square km) carpeted in panels (no Gaps) assuming we had the energy storage to even do it.

    Do you see how impractical this is?

  50. Hank Roberts:

    Bobi, tell NREL; I”m not advocating their numbers, I pointed to it as of interest after hearing Muller’s declaration that we must use more “clean fracking” gas.
    Look at the rate of change of efficiency for collectors; that’s why I’m not buying them for my house this year, they keep getting more efficient faster and cheaper.

    Where does the trend take us, and where should we invest to reduce CO2, not for short term profit but for longterm climate stability? We need to actually reduce CO2 remember; not just use less, but stop the increase and reverse it.