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Jim Hansen’s opinion

Filed under: — eric @ 18 December 2009 - (Español)

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

Here you go:

You don’t get more expert than Jim Hansen.

186 Responses to “Jim Hansen’s opinion”

  1. 1
    Dr. Alan Keller says:

    Recently the skeptic community around here is delighted with rumors that Anglia threw out the temperature data from 40% of the Russian stations. Any truth to this, and/or justification?

  2. 2
    Juliette says:

    Great text. Kudos to Hansen for keeping at it despite threats.

  3. 3
    Snorbert Zangox says:

    Kim Cobb and the rest of the RealClimate and CRU apologists seem to want to dismiss the events at the University of East Anglia, NCAR and Penn. State University as aberrations that have had no effect on the conclusions drawn by the climate research community (cabal?). I don’t think that is realistic. The scientists involved in Climategate are committee chairmen, primary authors, and final technical reviewers; in short, these men are the most influential of all climate scientists. The connection between GISS (i.e. Hansen and Schmidt) through this website leads one to wonder how much involvement GISS might have. I do not think that this dismissal will suffice.

    I also do not think that subjectivity is a major issue in this brouhaha. In fact, the description in the emails about the 20th century tree ring data makes one (me at least) believe that these researchers realized that the decline in the tree ring-indicated temperature in the face of rising thermometer measurements would lead to widespread dismissal of the accuracy of the tree ring surrogate. It seems to me, that the tree ring data were the only surrogate data that do not show a warm Medieval Climate Optimum, and that was important because the GCMs cannot reproduce the MCO. It all appears to be an attempt to cover up inconvenient data.

    I find Cobb’s treatment of the peer review aspects of this incident puzzling. He seems to be saying that a couple of articles gained widespread circulation and that attempts to refute their conclusions did not. Cobb appears to believe that this is sufficient reason to suppress articles that contradict the accepted litany. The portion about “politically motivated skeptics . . .” is pure argument ad hominem, which usually is the tactic of the losing side in a debate.

    I cannot believe that out of the estimated $50 billion that we have allocated to climate research that there were not a couple million dollars available for creating a public access data base. It could have come out of the paper clip budget and no one would have missed it. Before I can believe that persons or organizations submit temperature data to CRU and ask that they be held closely, someone will have to describe to me a scenario in which the local temperature or the fact that someone is measuring it, is confidential.

    I agree with Cobb’s last paragraph, that climate scientists must put themselves at the center of discussions of climate science. I also believe that climate scientists must respond positively to the allegations that are arising from examination of the leaked CRU data. RealClimate appears reticent to do so and Cobb’s article does not indicate that he is ready to do it either.

  4. 4
    Wes says:

    My main questions revolve around the MWP and LIA. Are there peer reviewed articles other than Jones, Briffa, Mann, etc. that do not depend in any way on any ‘team’ member’s articles that also show flat temperatures trends for the past 2000 years ?

    [Response: If you define ‘team’ as Steve McIntyre does, meaning anyone that corroborates these results, then obviously no. But the real answer is, yes, of course. Tom Crowley’s paper in Science from about 10 years ago is a nice example, here. Contrary to claims that this paper depends on Mann et al.’s work, it doesn’t. Nor do several other of the figures shown e.g. here, though there is some overlap in the underlying data used. There is no overlap of people or data in the work by Oerlemans, also shown in that figure (as discussed here.–eric]/

  5. 5
    Zorro says:

    Why do most of the graphs cited in research start mid 18th century?

  6. 6

    Thanks to Kim Cobb for a very well articulated view, the bottom line being:

    “these e-mails reveal nothing more than brief, emotion-fueled remarks made in the face of unrelenting and often disingenuous attacks.”

  7. 7
    Ray Ladbury says:

    It has always been clear that you have only the most tenuous grasp on the science of Earth’s climate. It now appears that reality may be another thing you don’t have much of a grasp on.
    The only people who see a smoking gun in the East Anglia emails are those who were already smoking something. Pray, why would you include the tree-rings in a reconstruction after they have failed to match up with the instrumental record. They do fine up ’til 196o, and that is plenty of calibration. Moreover, the era since 1950 contains plenty of changes that could account for the change in tree-ring behavior.

    As to the Medieval Warming Period–yes, lots of proxies show one. They just show it a different times in different parts of the globe. Put that into a global proxy reconstruction and you know what you get? Noise!

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

    In short, sir, you continue to amaze, but never surprise.

  8. 8
    Jerry Steffens says:

    “Snorbert Zangox” — 18 December 3:51 PM
    (and many others)

    “Tree-ring temperatures” are DERIVED FROM the thermometer record — they don’t constitute an independent temperature record. Using “tree-ring” temperatures to invalidate the thermometer record is a circular argument: If the tree-ring record shows that the thermometer record is wrong, that means that the tree-ring temperatures must be wrong, etc.

  9. 9
    chris says:

    oh dear Snorbert, that’s poor.

    Cobbb doesn’t say anything about “suppressing articles…”.

    Can you give us a source of your “estimated $50 billion that we have allocated to climate research”. Is that a personal “estimate”?

    …and climate scientists have and are “respond(ing) positively to the allegations that are arising from examination of the leaked CRU data” (don’t you mean leaked CRU emails, Snorbert?). This site is full of careful and patient positive responses to the allegations.

    you’re contrived indignation is getting the better of you.

  10. 10
    Deep Climate says:

    #3 Snorbert Zangox

    I find this comment depressing, as it shows that many are convinced by sophistry and misleading accounts.

    Make no mistake, climate scientists, and indeed science itself, are under attack. For the scientists, every word said in private is fodder to be taken out of context and twisted. And yet the attackers, and those supporting them behind the scenes, sail on relatively free of scrutiny, as they have for years. There is even evidence that the peer review process itself has been more than once corrupted by interests opposed to greenhouse gas emissions. And yet the perpetrators escape without consequence.

    It should go without saying that the science is compelling and warrants action. Yes, it should – but it won’t so long as the war on science goes underreported. So we must continue to repeat the obvious and insist that the science – the real science – be recognized and its implications addressed.

    But we must also expose the intellectual vacuity and bad faith of the attackers.

    I think several of my recent posts at are relevant to these issues, so I won’t point to any one in particular.

    But enough is enough.

  11. 11
    Mark J. Fiore says:

    Excellent post.Hansen has the best data and is the most accurate.Bill McKibben posted on, very recently, that he and friends ran the numbers and got 700 ppm co2 as the level of co2 if we continue to do business as usual, for about the year 2100.I thought that blog was an interesting read.I still believe that levels of 700 ppm to 1000 ppm are well within reach, as I’ve said many times before.Of course,as I’ve said before, on this site, at those levels anoxic extinctions starting in the oceans take place, such extinctions quickly spreading to land as the oceans fail to support life, and the Anthropocene Epoch blossoms into its full manifestation.I think Peter Ward has done some excellent work on what a 700 ppm to 1000 ppm world will look like.And, Copenhagen, thanks for nothing, AND weakening the REDD standards.
    Merry Christmas, planet Earth.

    Mark J. Fiore

  12. 12
    Dan Ives says:

    My thanks, admiration, and respect goes out to Hansen, Cobb, Gavin, Eric, David – indeed all climate scientists who have taken it upon themselves to educate the public and fight against the misinformation and lies in a professional, analytical manner. I imagine it can be very frustrating and discouraging at times, but in the eyes of our future generations, it is a heroic undertaking. Thank you for taking time from your research and personal lives to do so.



  13. 13
  14. 14
    ZZT says:


    Question – why are the ocean’s temperatures increasing at a lower rate than the land? Where is all the missing energy going?

    [Response: Into the ocean – which takes a lot more energy to warm up than the land does. The land-ocean contrast is completely expected. – gavin]

  15. 15
    MidnightRambler says:

    I’ve been reading a book called “Something New Under the Sun” by JR McNeill. It is a book which focus is on environmental history in the 20th century. I suggest that people take into account a historical perspective of what was actually done to the earth in that short 100 years. This I believe is more significant than any temperature model that can be shown, because it puts a human perspective of environmental change, rather than just a set of data which most people fail to understand.

    I am not suprised that thousands of e-mails would be misinterpreted, because most people fail to understand the most basic reasoning. In my opinion we are regressing as a society, where information is received in short bursts as opposed to long and reasoned analysis. Environmental history is a long and reasoned analysis, and when combined with scientific explanations of temperature increases we see the true perspective of anthropogenic climate change.

  16. 16
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #3 Norbert Zangox, just keep up with all your climate mitigation activities (most of which save money, improve health, etc). Whatever the scientists say, nature doesn’t listen.

    So if there is global warming (according to nature, not necessarily what scientists say), then you would have not only saved money and improved your health, but would have helped mitigate what actually could be a much worse problem than what scientists in their false-positive avoiding, reticence have to say.

    OTOH, if there it no global warming, then you would have at the least saved money, improved your health, mitigated other problems, environmental and non-environmental.

    I think we’ve all got to get beyond the science, beyond the heel-dragging governments, and just get out and mitigate — if not global warming, then our monetary and health troubles and threats, and other problems.

    You are one of the very few skeptics I actually admire for your ability to do things that mitigate climate change even when you don’t believe it’s real. We need more skeptics like you. In that way we could also fulfill Lomborg’s sincere concern about malaria and other pressing problems, by having enough surplus money to send over and help mitigate those other problems.

    So, if CC is real, then mitigating it is a win1-win2-win3-win4-win5-win6-win7 situation (did I mention about how cycling and walking, rather than driving helps reduce crime and taxes to maintain roads & prisons? And it is also great for the health, spirit, and personal happiness).

    And if CC is not real, then mitigating it is only a win1-win2-win3-win4-win5-win6 situation, but not at all bad!

  17. 17
    cougar_w says:

    OK, Snorbert, I’m calling it:

    Dunning-Kruger Effect

    “The Dunning-Kruger effect is an example of cognitive bias in which people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the meta-cognitive ability to realize it. They therefore suffer an illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average… ” — Wikipedia

    DK Hypotheses:
    1) Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
    2) Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
    3) Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
    4) If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

    ref: Dunning-Kruger Effect

    IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Hypothesis #4 is why we all keep doing this.


  18. 18

    Please, have a look to HISTALP project ( ), an international study coordinated by Reinhard Boehm from Austrian met service, relating long time series in the Alps, back to 1750. Recent warming is clearly showed by series coming from ten countries and dozen of independent researchers. Gridded data available and single series data here:

    Luca Mercalli – Italian Meteorological Society

    [Response: Thanks, we have added this to our data page.-eric

  19. 19
    steven mosher says:

    Dr. Cobb,

    Nothing in the mails changes the science. How could it? they are just mails. Not data, not code ( at least code that is used as far as I can tell). So, your defense is really off the mark. It’s obvious also that you have not read all the mails and put them in context; that is, you have not put them together in a timeline from 2000 to 2009 taking special care to cross reference them with other correspondence. I will do that, but not here. I’ll end just by taking issue with your characterization of a couple things: There’s more, but this should do:

    “Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that a small portion of the raw data that went into some of the CRU SST datasets is proprietary, and was shared by parties who stipulated that it not be publicly distributed. ”

    I dont think you meant SST and CRU never claimed agreements covering SST. In any case, You simply do not know as a matter of fact that a small porton of the data is confidential. . The claim was made. It was made after it was revealed that the hadcru dataset was made available to Peter Webster. At first, the claim was made that the agreements precluded the release to “non academics” This claim was made to explain why the data could be released to Webster but not to me and others. After bone fide published academics ( authors cited in IPCC reports) requested the data, the reason was changed. The agreements were “lost”. Then a handful of agreements were found and posted. None of which prevented release to academics or non academics. One of the agreements wasn’t even signed. So, you don’t know that agreements were in place. Neither does CRU. You have a claim by a party that they were lost. That party is on the record stating that he would rather delete data than share it. His FOIA officer, who claimed the agreements precluded release to non academics, was found to be incorrect on this claim in a Nov 13th appeal.
    The record simply shows that CRU claim they were lost. You don’t know the terms of those agreements. Neither does CRU. Further, the existence of the agreements does not PRECLUDE a FOIA request trumping the agreement. The public interest in the data can trump any confidentiality agreement per FOIA and EIR regulations. Further, when CRU attempt to get data and a confidentiality agreement is requested by the third party CRU must per its guidelines:

    1. Determine that the data in question is in fact NECESSARY or Essential to its mission. Since as you point out the sample of data is small and since GISS do just fine without confidential data such a finding of necessity will be hard to sustain. A pending FOIA on this matter will be illuminating I trust

    2. Inform the third party that their confidentiality agreement may be trumped by the public interest. A pending
    FOIA on whether CRU have met this obligation shall also be illuminating.

    “Even if this were not the case, archiving such a large dataset in such a way as to make it useful to those not well-versed in IDL or GRADS is not a trivial task. There is a financial cost associated with making data and metadata and code publicly accessible, and this cost needs to be borne by someone other than the scientists themselves or their institutions, which operate on tight budgets. ”

    There is no requirement to change from IDL. We merely requested what Webster got. If people are interested they will learn what they have to. There is no requirement to make it useful to everyone. It just needs to be available to those able or willing to work with it in the form the scientists work with it.
    Second, NASA had a similar argument. They were concerned about getting support questions: Eventually they released the code and data. Nick barnes and his folks are working with NASA correcting minor bugs for free. There are people who care about this problem enough to volunteer their time. Third, you didnt read one mail about a growing budget surplus at CRU. You have no knowledge of CRU budget. The data is already being kept. If its not, then you have another data loss event waiting to happen. I’m sure we can find a server to house the data. I’m guessing its not a lot of code. Host it on google code. Its free. Finally, you obviously did not read the mail where parties discuss using this request for data as an opportunity to request more budget to work on hadcrut4. So, your arguments about its too hard or its too costly are just wrong and look silly, especially to a community of readers who work daily on problems of similar and larger scope. Especially to a community that will volunteer to help and especially since you know that the data was shared with Webster. If you want to know about the cost of transparency, look what the lack of transparency bought CRU.

  20. 20
    Jeff Aitken PhD says:

    As a longtime lurker with much appreciation, I cringe a bit to post the following. An interlocutor of mine who dismisses the CO2 argument after talking with a well known denier scientist instead offers this explanation. I can’t find reference to it on this blog before, so I wonder if someone will make a response. Is my friend out to lunch?

    “HAARP (High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) technology uses multi-billion-watt beams that are directed right into the atmosphere. This chilling technology uses radio frequency to alter subatomic particles in our atmosphere. At such high altitudes, HAARP technology can mimic the effects of the sun. This is totally missing from the conversation and education process regarding weather and climate. It includes, but is not limited to, the use of weather modification technology.

    By leaving it out of the overall picture of weather and climate and considering it a non-factor, we are closing our eyes to a MASSIVE contributing factor to the alteration of our weather and to the devastating and unforeseen effects it has on climate.

    The military-industrial complex has the power to secure patents that enable them to cook our atmosphere. Furthermore, they have free reign to use this technology as if earth is “their” lab. It is practically beyond my comprehention that not one person has raised these issues in the context of climate justice, debate, law, industry, science & the Copenhagen Climate Conference.”

  21. 21
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #14, ZZT, I figure you must be male, or if you are female, then not a housewife.

    Any housewife knows “a watched pot never boils,” meaning it takes a long time, especially for really big pots of water to heat up and boil, no matter how high the stove flame. I call this a branch of “kitchen physics.”

    Another thing we know (those of us with SunFrost refrigerators, that require defrosting a couple of times a year, but use only 1/10 the electricity) is that warmth melts ice, and not only that but there are these events (in mathematics, catastrophe theory, or discontinuous functions ?? ) that happen really suddenly due to gravity. The melting will be going on very slowly (at glacial speed, so to speak), and we think “nothing’s happening.” We even develop tautotlogical hypotheses that the ice in the frig is what’s keeping the ice in the frig frozen, despite the frig being off, door open, and warm air getting in. Then all of a sudden, bang, ice sheets start falling from the top, and start crumbling.

    It’s very easy for us to relate to the mechanical (not just heat energy) factors involved in glacier and ice sheet break up and disintigation. I doubt there is a housewife with defrost frig alive who was in the least bit surprised when those Antarctic ice sheet broke up and disintegrated very rapidly.

    Did you ever try putting a black cloth and a white cloth over the snow, and see which had the faster melting? Unfortunately I’m down here in the Rio Grande Valley, and we don’t have that experiential knowledge, but at some point I just believe what the scientists say….

  22. 22
    Gubbi says:

    Kim Cobb,

    The complexity involved in hosting the data and managing it’s costs shouldn’t be much of a problem with Amazon’s Public Data Sets.

    It is no longer a complex and involved process and there are many tools which simplify the whole process. However, Amazon is your best bet and also it’s free.

    Also, some data being proprietary shouldn’t stop from making non-proprietary data public. An initiative in this direction has to be started with whatever data that can be made open. Closed data will follow suit.

    The allegations regarding data secrecy takes away a lot of time from scientists from their work. And shouldn’t really stand in the way of scientific discussions and development.

  23. 23
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    BTW, I just want to thank all you scientists for grace under fire, especially Jim Hansen.

  24. 24
    vboring says:

    I was hoping he would discuss the state of the surface temperature data.

    Seemingly defensible claims are made that there are significant differences between the raw and used data sets because of adjustments and selection bias. I can’t imagine it would take long to put together a few charts demonstrating that there is no selection bias (compare random site selection vs actual data site selection) and that data adjustments result in positive and negative shifts equally often (pull out the data scale factors and sum them to show that they are nearly net zero impact for all years).

    [Response: Err, yes. That’s been done.–eric]

  25. 25
    LAWiley says:

    #19 vboring

    I think it is time for you to get on with your project.

    I am anxiously awaiting your analysis of surface temperature data and your “take” on “selection bias.”

    Please publish your results here so we can all become more informed.

  26. 26
    Ariel Thomann says:

    I am a humble non-technical spectator, but interested in these matters for decades. The question I haven’t seen addressed is: WHY the CRU e-mail theft? I think it’s a case “best defense is a ‘good’ offense”. It follows two events “deniers” want to bury (or at least surround with smoke):

    (a) On 24 Apr 09 the New York Times exposed that oil companies, Detroit and others were found to have been lying for 14 years about climate matters:

    (b) The oft-cited (in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere) “study” from Spain to the effect that renewable energy projects cost twice as many jobs as they create, has been rebutted in Spain for months. The rebuttal finally reached the U.S. as well:

  27. 27
    Tom Fuller says:

    Hi all,

    Your guest editorials are eloquent and helpful to some extent. Perhaps Real Climate can be equally helpful. At several points you have declared authoritatively that the code released in the leaked file is not the code being used in CRU calculations. I’m sure you’re aware that several computer scientists are analysing this code, and indeed have found errors in it. If they are analysing code that is not being used, they’re wasting their time. Perhaps Real Climate can be of assistance in gaining the release of the actual code so that those wishing to analyse it will be more effective.

    I have no doubt that there are some who will say that those outside the climate community will only be searching for errors to make a political point, and for some that will be true. But if at the end of the day the code is improved as a result, everybody wins.

    The fact that so many prestigious scientists have put down their work to write essays defending climate science and scientists probably means these are difficult times for you. It is possible that some of what I have written has contributed towards your difficulties, and I can’t really apologise for that. But if these are tough times for you all, that would make this a more appropriate time to do what I’ve suggested–if there is bad news revealed along with the code, better it come out now than later. If the code is robust, it will help draw a line under the episode.

    The open source model of software development and maintenance is robust, and is championed by scientists and educators everywhere. Some of the people who would look at your code could perhaps improve it, and would do so for no other reason than that they are able to help you.

  28. 28
    vboring says:

    @eric’s response to my comment @24

    I was just reading that analysis and it certainly covers part of what I suggested. It take 65 long and complete records and compares them to CRU’s cell average’s for the same area. Choosing to use long and complete data potentially reduces the impact of the argument, though, since cells that contain long complete data sets should be based on those same sets, so you should expect minimal deviation. It seems more useful results would be from looking at randomly selected data sets from randomly selected cells.

    And if anyone could point me to a metadata bias sum, I would be very appreciative.

  29. 29
    Snorbert Zangox says:

    The point is exactly what Ray and Jerry say. The tree ring data for the late 20th century do not match up with the thermometer data. The tree ring data show the temperature to be declining. That means that the tree ring data are not a reliable source of temperature estimates. Because the tree ring data are the only data that do not show a MCO, finding out that the tree ring data are poor leaves us with no evidence with which to dismiss the existence of the MCO. The comment “hide the decline” apparently refers to a trick (Mike’s Nature trick) of overlaying thermometer data on the tree ring data in such a way as to occlude the declining portion of the tree ring data.

    Ray, you are wrong about the proxies showing warming periods at different times across the globe. Look at the data that the Idsos have compiled for example.

    Chris, Cobb’s fourth paragraph, the one about peer review, certainly does not condemn the attempts to suppress publication of contrary views. In fact, Cobb apparently sympathizes with Mann, Jones, et al. My indignation is not contrived.

    Deep Climate, I am sorry that I depressed you. They do have pills for that you know. No, it should not go without saying that any science is compelling. You have to say it and you have to defend it. That is the way it works. Someone composes a hypothesis. Someone else does an experiment that shows that the hypothesis does not explain his results. Others perform and confirm the same experiment. You modify the hypothesis. In science, you never prove a positive. You offer hypotheses, which after they have withstood many attempted disprovals, may become theories. However, even theories can be disproven. In addition, if it turns out that these men were trying to suppress dissent, they will have been the ones assaulting science. To contend or even to prove, that those who are concerned are attackers and are vacuous and of bad faith does not in any way controvert their criticisms.

  30. 30
    uncle pete says:

    @ 12 Dan
    I second that and merry Xmas to everyone.
    Keep up the good work in the new year.

  31. 31
    vboring says:

    Found something close to what I was asking for in my previous comments.

    The chart is called “Mean Annual GHCN Adjustment.”

    I don’t know how RC handles links. If you’re interested just search for:

    statistics and other things GHCN and Adjustment Trends

  32. 32
    ZT says:

    I was surprised/disappointed to see some of my comment edit out – can you supply a reason? Please feel free to email me rather than snip it out of the comment.

    Kim, regarding water heating all of a sudden. I think that temperature rise is linear with the amount of energy supplied. (Please correct me if I have this wrong). Fig 3. of professor Hansen’s PDF shows no lag between the short term ocean and land peaks (implying no lag in the effects of heating). However, Fig 3. also shows a lower rate of overall temperature increase in the oceans. Could you comment on this?

    Given that the land is often covered with an insulating layer of vegetation (unhappily spewing out CO2, but nevertheless insulating), and given the fact that water is a good thermal conductor, and not generally reflective (except at the rapidly shrinking) ice caps) one would suspect that the sun’s energy would be absorbed most effectively by the ocean. (Imagine turning your gas burner upside down to impinge on the surface of your pan of heating water).

    Also – I read of missing energy in the oceans in the climategate emails – can you comment on this?

  33. 33
    ZT says:

    Ooops – I made a mistake in the last comment – I should have said that the land was insulated by flora and fauna – and that the fauna (e.g. termites) are spewing out CO2).

    Another question on Prof. Hansen’s Fig. 3. I have read that the ocean temperatures are decreasing at present (I think it was a bbc news report). However, I do not see this in Fig. 3. What am I missing?

  34. 34
    dhogaza says:

    Tom Fuller parrots a bunch of talking points regarding code, but what the heck …

    1. Steve Easterbrook and colleagues examined the development methodology for the development of their 825,000 line climate model and found strong similarities with methodologies favored by the open source community.

    Read and learn, Tom Fuller.

    2. NASA GISS Model E source is freely available to those who learn the Google.

    Read and learn, Tom Fuller.

    3. The Clear Climate Code project has written a cleaner implementation of GISTEMP in Python. On the way they found a very small number of bugs in GISTEMP (which is written in FORTRAN) that do not in any way affect the output. Fixes for those bugs have been given to NASA GIS, which has incorporated them into their latest version. The Clear Climate Code people have verified that GISTEMP correctly implements the algorithms published in the scientific literature by NASA GISS.

    Read and learn, Tom Fuller.

    4. The supposed analysis by “computer scientists” (mostly self-professed software experts) of code stolen from CRU harps on supposed shortcomings in code structure, documentation, etc. I’ve read a fair amount of that criticism. Speaking as a senior software engineer with over 35 years in the industry, it is cr*p.

    However, since you’ve convinced yourself that CRU scientists are guilty of fraud, etc, go ahead and just throw CRU away. Use GISTEMP instead. The source is available. The source has been independently verified to perform the algorithms published in the scientific literature years ago by a team of highly skilled private-sector software engineers. Go ahead, just use it. After all, it shows more warming than those “frauds” at CRU do …

  35. 35
    steven mosher says:

    As you all know CRU have started the process of releasing data.

    Well, This just in. Some volunteer has already pointed out an error which they will correct. This from John Graham Cumming. He has a nice blog started and has posted code for reading in their data and building nice charts and animations.

    He writes

    Well, I was right about one thing
    Just received a nice mail from the Met Office in response to my queries about the data showing that I was right about one thing: there is something odd about the values in Australasia (or as they say, Oceania).

    I had written to them saying:

    I’ve noticed that there seems to be a big difference between the ‘Normals’ given in many of the datafiles for Australisia and the actual normal values calculated from the 1961-1990 data. See for example, this blog of entry of mine about one of them:

    Do you know of any issues with these values?

    Tonight they have replied:

    First off, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have undertaken further investigation upon the full dataset and confirmed this. The error affects <1% of the network and is primarily in Oceania. It arises because normals were calculated outside of the update cycle and the normals for these stations were not updated when extra data were added in the normals period as CRUTEM3 was being finalised for publication.

    We intend to add this information to our online Q and A for the data and we would like to credit you with pointing out the error. Would you be happy to be mentioned in this way?

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

  36. 36
    Hank Roberts says:

    ZT, your ‘ocean’ question was answered ‘inline’ above; always check for inline answers, that’s the usual way the scientists answer us readers.

    I’d guess the question you repeat — where you said:

    > vegetation (unhappily spewing out CO2 …)

    might have been what was snipped the first time.
    I’m sure you know why, on second thought — photosynthesis doesn’t do that.
    You can look that up.

  37. 37
    cougar_w says:

    #32 [can you supply a reason?]

    I’ll hazard that you were babbling incoherently, as evidenced above.

    Plants spewing CO2. Now I’ve heard everything.


  38. 38
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Snorbert, [edit] You want to talk science, maybe you can tell us how you get simultaneous stratospheric cooling and tropospheric warming without a greenhouse mechanism?

    The treerings are not reliable IN THE LATE 20th CENTURY. They do quite well from mid 1800s to the ~1960. As the period 1960-2009 is more different from this calibration period (climate change, pesticides,…) than the period prior to the calibration, it is not surprising that there is a change.

    As to the MWP, thanks all the same, Snorbert, but I’ll take the peer reviewed literature over Idsos. I’ve looked at that very plot, and no, the warm periods do not match up globally. In Mexico, it’s 1000-1200. In the Caribean it starts about 1200. In Peru, it’s over before 1100. In Africa, some warm periods don’t start ’til after the Vikings had starved! In some places it lasts centuries, in some, decades. Dude, that’s not a global phenomenon! Now granted, Idsos doesn’t make it esay to see this. The graphs are postage stamp size, and spread out all over the map. This makes it difficult to compare, but if you do compare, you see noise.

    Snorbert, it’s a pity you’ve used up all your skepticism against the science. It would come in useful any time you find something at CO2″Science”.

  39. 39
    geodoc says:

    Good series of posts.

    To some extent, all riffing around the tension between science, presentation of science and- maybe less explicitly- advocacy and policy.

    Can’t help thinking- maybe climate science, or some part of it, needs to transform itself into something analogous to the discipline of public health, which manages to integrate science, policy and sometimes outright advocacy, generally without sacrificing credibility. The parallels between smoking/tobacco control and the so-called ‘climate wars’ are striking.

  40. 40
    Ken W says:

    Jeff Aitken (20):

    HAARP has been blamed (falsely, I might add) for so many things it’s hard to keep track. I wouldn’t expect RC to write an article about HAARP, because they try to stick to climate science. Whereas HAARP is clearly in the realm of conspiracy theories.

    Here’s a couple good articles on the subject:

  41. 41
    cougar_w says:

    #29 [suppress publication of contrary views]

    The “documents” in question were published. There might have been some discussion about whether to go any further with them because some people felt strongly that the documents were published cr4p. Nothing wrong with one saying that one would like to keep the process free of cr4p. Opinions are allowed. As such your indignation remains entirely contrived.

    [You have to say it and you have to defend it] Been there, done that, in spades. You just don’t get it because you are retarded. That is why you are depressing; your self-inflicted retardation lowers one’s faith in humanity, and your spewing random brain farts provides ample evidence that we were not meant to travel far.


  42. 42
    ZT says:

    It is good to see an expert stand up for what the believe in. To defend the other scientists actions, though, it would be more impressive to see an expert who is not referenced many times in the climategate emails. For example, in this message, ‘1200651426.txt’, Prof. Hansen is discussing how to present information optimally such that ‘most reporters are sort of willing to accept it’. This may well be an example of taking a line out of context. However, to me, it shows that Prof. Hansen is feeling the need to present data in a ‘special’ way, rather than just presenting it and making a simple, straightforward scientific case. I don’t think that this is anything like a ‘smoking gun’ association between Prof. Hansen and the more extreme examples of what occurred at the CRU. However, it is clear that Prof. Hansen is strongly associated with the CRU team and perhaps is not completely unbiased in his perspective of climategate.

    Many thanks for doing a great job with Real Climate – I strongly believe that this is a huge positive for the public understanding of climate research. If government money funds Real Climate – this would be a very good investment in my view (as a member of the public).

    [Response: Government money does not fund RealClimate, but thanks for the sentiment.–eric]

  43. 43
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I should have said that the land was insulated by flora and fauna
    > – and that the fauna (e.g. termites) are spewing out CO2).

    But so what? Land use changes are taken into account in the climate research and models (including in some models going back to the invention of agriculture, look up Ruddiman).

    The termites haven’t changed recently; human fossil fuel use has changed very fast.

    You can look this stuff up for yourself very easily.

  44. 44
    cougar_w says:

    Not to be a suck-up, but every time I read something by Jim Hansen I come away more impressed with the guy. He gets it, and I don’t mean the science alone.

    He just gets what all this is about and what is ultimately at stake and he can talk about it from those terms clearly and with conviction. That is a rare gift.

    You go, Jimbo. We are lucky to have you doing what you do, and one of these days people are going to realize how true that is.


  45. 45
    Stephan says:

    Re#19, on distributing climatological data:

    The German Meteorological Office, Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), offers climatological data under these conditions, citing from as of today:

    “The following products/data are available online: Climate data of selected weather stations in Germany, Norway, Finland and South Korea
    Weather reports, which have been agreed by the WMO to be exchanged internationally exchange (GTS bulletins according to WMO Meteorological Bulletin Vol. C1) Selected satellite images, forecast maps and analysis data from the DWDSAT programme catalogue

    To be able to use WebWerdis to its full extent, registration with WebWerdis is required. Registration, though, is ONLY OPEN TO NON-COMMERCIAL RESEARCH OR TRAINING INSTITUTES, FEDERAL OR STATE AUTHORITIES AND NATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES, WHICH ALL FULFIL THE REQUIREMENTS OF RECEIVING THE DATA FREE OF CHARGE.” (end of citation, capitalization by me)

    To be fair to the DWD, they also offer cost-free to everyone and freely distributable daily, monthly and mean values from selected German weather stations, among them for example Hohenpeissenberg going back to 1780.

    The point of this post is to show that some NMOs do release some of their climatological data free of charge only to “academics,” under terms of usage that preclude distribution to “non-academics”, this is certainly not made up by the CRU.

  46. 46
    ZT says:

    According to green house pot growers, plant growth increases with increasing CO2 concentration, globally that would be an interesting element in the overall CO2 balance, I suppose.

    Here is the news article that says talks about the currently declining temperature of the oceans and ‘missing heat’. I don’t see a decline in Prof. Hansen’s Fig 3. What is the difference between these two perspectives on the data? (i.e. why do they apparently diverge in recent years?)

    If the URL is missing, google for “The Mystery of Global Warming’s Missing Heat” you’ll find the article. I think that comments with URLs get auto edited…

  47. 47
    Doug Bostrom says:

    ZT says: 18 December 2009 at 6:11 PM

    ZZT, before you post again you really ought to look up and then understand the term “specific heat”.

  48. 48
    cougar_w says:

    #39 [needs to transform itself into something analogous to the discipline of public health, which manages to integrate science, policy and sometimes outright advocacy]

    This is very much at the heart of the challenge. Permit me to guess on why it is/shallbe difficult to impossible…

    Health issues affect individuals. Individuals have a vested interest in their health and the health of their families. They will take exception at being lied to about their personal well-being (smoking, junk food ads, impure foods, contaminated toys, defective products) and can and will sue a single corporation over health-related deprivations (tobacco companies, food processors, auto manufacturers) and can sue doctors over health-related malpractice. We have all kinds of regulations on the books to prevent individuals from being individually destroyed in the wholesale pursuit of profit, and to protect and even encourage civil actions against offenders, and every single person knows all these things.

    Climate is not this way. Nobody owns the climate and everybody uses it. Some use it more than others, and their use can limit the use by others (air pollution, climate change) but it is seldom obvious who is abusing the commons and who is being harmed, and in any case the answer is seldom “me”. Seldom (if ever) does any single individual wake up and say “wow I’m being harmed by someone changing my world out from under me and depriving me of a reasonable climate” (the same can be said of air pollution, where we’ve had about 100 years to wake up and say that and largely have not) therefore at no time (or nearly so) does any individual or group seize upon the idea that something is being taken from them that they have a natural right (under natural law) to possess and enjoy.

    Thus. We’ll have 10,000 regulations concerning the metal lead in food, materials and toys, and not even one on CO2 releases into the atmosphere. That disparity appears baked into the cake. People are narrowly blinded to a certain kind of threat, and are then easily killed by it.


  49. 49
    caerbannog says:

    According to green house pot growers, plant growth increases with increasing CO2 concentration, globally that would be an interesting element in the overall CO2 balance, I suppose.

    Liebig’s Law of the Minimum

  50. 50
    cougar_w says:

    #46 Hansen doesn’t discuss it because it’s not happening. That’s not what the article is about. Did you read it? The title is misleading, and they often are; editors make up titles to sell product, and everyone knows it. This line better sums it up:

    “it’s probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.”

    Even if you don’t buy that explanation, the importance of the story is that if we look in the right places with the right tools, we’ll find the heat. Because it’s there somewhere. Because nothing else has changed.