Much is being written about the very public resignation of Wolfgang Wagner from the editorship of Remote Sensing over the publication of Spencer and Braswell (2011) – and rightly so. It is a very rare situation that an editor resigns over the failure of peer review, and to my knowledge it has only happened once before in anything related to climate science – the mass resignation of 6 editors at Climate Research in 2003 in the wake of the Soon and Baliunas debacle. Some of the commentary this weekend has been reasonable, but many people are obviously puzzled by this turn of events and unsupported rumours are flying around.
I will be live-blogging the House Energy and Commerce committee hearings on climate science with Eli Kintisch. The details are available here, and there should be a live feed from the committee website from 10am.
Eli and I did this last year for the last Democrat-run hearings, and it went quite well – a little like a play-by-play from Eli and some background analysis/cites from me. People can ask questions and comment in real time and depending on how busy it gets, they might get a response.
As usual, this hearing will likely be long on political grandstanding and short on informed discussion, but there might be some gems. Of the witnesses, John Christy and Roger Pielke Sr. are the main witnesses for the majority side, while Richard Somerville, Francis Zwiers and Chris Field are the Dem invitees. There is newcomer to the roster (at least to me), in Knute Nadelhoffer, who presumably will discuss climate change impacts on biological systems (but I don’t really know). There is one out-of-left-field witness, Donald Roberts, who is a serially wrong DDT advocate who is probably there in order to dismiss environmental regulation in general, following the well-worn strategy described in Oreskes and Conway’s “Merchants of Doubt” (Chapter 7 on the revisionist attacks on Rachel Carson) (NB. DDT-related arguments are off topic for this blog, but for background of the specifics of the DDT ‘meme’ see this summary, and interested commenters are encouraged to go to Deltoid).
Anyway, for those who are aficionados of science as contact sport (TM, Steve Schneider), it might be fun.
There are two new papers in Nature this week that go right to the heart of the conversation about extreme events and their potential relationship to climate change. This is a complex issue, and one not well-suited to soundbite quotes and headlines, and so we’ll try and give a flavour of what the issues are and what new directions these new papers are pointing towards.
The temperature reconstruction of O’Donnell et al. (2010) confirms that West Antarctica is warming — but underestimates the rate
At the end of my post last month on the history of Antarctic science I noted that I had an initial, generally favorable opinion of the paper by O’Donnell et al. in the Journal of Climate. O’Donnell et al. is the peer-reviewed outcome of a series of blog posts started two years ago, mostly aimed at criticizing the 2009 paper in Nature, of which I was the lead author. As one would expect of a peer-reviewed paper, those obviously unsupportable claims found in the original blog posts are absent, and in my view O’Donnell et al. is a perfectly acceptable addition to the literature. O’Donnell et al. suggest several improvements to the methodology we used, most of which I agree with in principle. Unfortunately, their actual implementation by O’Donnell et al. leaves something to be desired, and yield a result that is in disagreement with independent evidence for the magnitude of warming, at least in West Antarctica.
In this post, I’ll summarize the key methodological changes suggested by O’Donnell et al., discuss how their results compare with our results, and the implications for our understanding of recent Antarctic climate change. I’ll then try to make sense of how O’Donnell et al. have apparently wound up with an erroneous result.