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Unforced variations: Jan 2011

Filed under: — group @ 6 January 2011

After perusing the comments and suggestions made last week, we are going to try a new approach to dealing with comment thread disruptions. We are going to try and ensure that there is always an open thread for off-topic questions and discussions. They will be called (as this one) “Unforced Variation: [current month]” and we will try and move all off-topic comments on other threads to these threads. So if your comment seems to disappear from one thread, look for it here.

Additionally, we will institute a thread for all the troll-like comments to be called “The Bore Hole” (apologies to any actual borehole specialists) that won’t allow discussion, but will serve to show how silly and repetitive some of the nonsense that we have been moderating out is. (Note that truly offensive posts will still get deleted). If you think you’ve ended up there by mistake, please let us know.

With no further ado, please talk about anything climate science related you like.

370 Responses to “Unforced variations: Jan 2011”

  1. 1

    Little heroes: bacteria gobble up 200,000 tonnes of potent greenhouse gas methane from BP oil disaster:

  2. 2
    Luke says:

    I found this video from Peter Sinclair interesting. Its of isaac Asimov talking about the greenhouse effect back in 1989. Just goes to show the basic foundations of AGW were understood over 120 years ago and yet the deniers still dont want to accept it.

  3. 3
    catman306 says:

    Excellent idea, especially with a moderator to do the move. You’ve improved your site.

  4. 4

    RE: #596, “Better to deny and retreat…”

    In another thread on RC, I believe Bob (Sphaerica) wrote eloquently on the uses of trolls. His point as I recall was that in revealing the bankruptcy of the trolls’ arguments, posters illuminate the soundness and solidity of the scientific case. He put it much better than I!

    As one who usually lurks, I can attest to the validity of Bob’s point of view.

    You have also been eloquent over the years; whatever your motivations I hope you will continue to help unmask the bogus denialist arguments.


  5. 5
    Joel says:

    1989 may have been a tad more recent than that.

  6. 6
    Joel says:

    Something that’s nonetheless worth adding is that the warming effects of GHG’s have indeed been known for nearly that long… Arrhenius published in 1896.

  7. 7
    Isotopolopolus says:

    “NASA Studies Report Oceans Entering New Cooling Phase”

    Would be nice to have some ‘up to date’ data.

    The article is from 5 Nov, 2008 => So any new data points could dramatically change the linear trend of the very short Argo data series.

    So it could be cooling for all I know. Where is the data or do I have to join the stonecutters society?


  8. 8
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    You should probably make the point a little clearer and the black hole thread “The Boor Hole”. Much better.

  9. 9
    Sou says:

    My compliments on the blog enhancements. I like Rattus’ suggestion for ‘the boor hole’ – very apt.

    On another note, for the deniers and skeptics out there (and those having trouble distinguishing deniers from those wanting to learn), I came across an excellent primer for you from Greenfyre’s excellent blog:

  10. 10
    Luke says:

    My bad, should have been 1889

  11. 11
    Jaime Frontero says:

    I agree. “The Boor Hole”.

    The linguistic implication of ‘bore’ coupled with a touch of a Swedish accent (in honor of Svante Arrhenius), and roasted over the mellow yet current fire of punk rock…

    Oh please: The Boor Hole.

  12. 12
    Deep Climate says:

    Wegman on Deep Climate (and climategate)

    Courtesy of Donald Rapp, we now have more insight into Edward Wegman’s take on \Climategate\ and other subjects of interest.

    But for now I want to focus on two emails from Wegman himself, both forwarded by Rapp. Wegman has some choice comments about the “totally unsavory” blog of yours truly, claiming it to be – wait for it – “developed in retaliation” for enquiries into the “obvious misconduct made clear” by climategate. But the problem is not just some obscure Canadian blogger; according to Wegman, even Bradley’s complaint to GMU itself is nothing more than “a smear campaign that attempts to deflect scrutiny from the real misconduct revealed by the climategate emails”.

    When the story of the Wegman misconduct inquiry first broke in USA Today, Wegman plaintively protested “We are not the bad guys”, leaving one to wonder just who the “bad guys” might be, at least in Wegman’s fevered imagination. Now, we have the answer in Wegman’s latest outrageous and unsubstantiated accusations against climate scientists.

  13. 13
    arch stanton says:

    “Bore Hole” (w/closed comments) – This is a good thing, thank you.

  14. 14
    JCH says:


    In summary, we find that estimates of the recent (2003–2008) OHC rates of change are preponderantly negative. This does not support the existence of either a large positive radiative imbalance or a “missing energy.”

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Robert says:

    Anyone care to comment on Semenov et al. 2010 and work on IMP which show a contribution to the current warming from the atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Previous work more or less considered it to be a redistribution of heat but it is difficult to understand whether it can still be considered that.

  17. 17
    David B. Benson says:

    Robert @16 — Using the AMO helps to explain the global temperature record:

  18. 18
    Dappledwater says:

    JCH @ 14 – Given his track record, I would place too much confidence in Douglass. I think we saw a similar scenario with the MSU satellite data, a while back.

    Hopefully once the extent of the faults in the ARGO float pressure sensors is fully known and corrected for, we can see some re-analysis of the data.

    By the way, where do you think all that energy is going if not into the oceans?.

  19. 19
    John Mashey says:

    JCH: people sometimes post a link to something, maybe with a quick quote, without motivating it or showing udnerstanding.

    For the sake of credibility, can you explain this paper, and why you think it’s worth bothering with?

    1) The publisher, Scientific Research Publishing, SCIRP has odd characteristics.

    a)IJG is in its 3rd issue, total. The same issue has this article by Paulo Cesar Soares.
    It says:
    “The main conclusion one arrives at the analysis is that CO2 has not a causal relation with global warming and it is not powerful enough to cause the historical changes in temperature that were observed. The main argument is the absence of immediate correlation between CO2 changes preceding temperature either for global or local changes. The greenhouse effect of the CO2 is very small compared to the water vapor because the absorbing effect is already realized with its historical values.”

    Presumably a journal that prints that is credible?

    b) IJG might be better than Energy&Environment, but it is too new to know. It is not Science or Nature.

    2) The paper:
    a) Went from Received July 23, 2010 to accepted August 3, 2010. That is the sort of interval where an associate editor takes a quick look. Real peer review rarely goes so quickly.

    b) Cites a paper in E&E.

    c) talks about a 5-year period, picked from a longer period. This is not an encouraging start, given any idea of statistics.

    3) I have some familiarity with Knox and Douglass, from 2009 study on petition to APS. See p.7 for the petition they signed. See p.27 and p.87-88 for notes on Douglass, who has spoken at several Heartland conferences. He and Knox invited the Viscount Monckton to speak to the physics department at U of R. And there is plenty more, including Douglass’ attacks on Ben Santer. I’ve studied some of their earlier papers.

    4) So, none of this is the slightest encouragement to look at this paper, but you believe it is worth citing. Can you explain this paper and why you think it is worth spending time on? I do not dismiss it out fo hand, but life is short.

  20. 20
    S. Molnar says:

    Any chance of a link to The Bore Hole on the right panel? It will get a little hard to find when this post is off the front page.

  21. 21
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    S Molnar #20 seconded. Perhaps instead of a link to “the Bore Hole” it could be a little gif of a trashcan.

  22. 22
    JCH says:

    John M, Maya, and Dapplewater – I sensed some excitement about the paper so I was just trying to get comments before it bloomed into “this is the end of global warming.”

    It just showed up Dr. Curry’s latest technical article on her blog.

    As for where I think it went, I believe Gavin said, and this was a couple of years ago, that it’s either in the oceans or it went into outer space. P

    Reading the tea leaves, and this is just a hunch, the authors seem to think they’ve found something wrong with von Schuckmann’s:

    Global hydrographic variability patterns during. 2003-2008.

  23. 23
    Isotopolopolus says:

    Looks like the SOI December value +27 highest on record. So much for a weakening of the walker circulation, or a strengthening of the walker circulation for that matter. As they say on mythbusters…Busted.

    “Like a candle in wind…”


    [Response: How many times does it have to be repeated that long-term trends are not determined by single months? – gavin]

  24. 24
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Just to demonstrate how CC can effect the world’s economy, look at us in Queensland Australia. We are enjuring the worst natural disaster in our history..namely the never ending rain and unprecedented widespread flooding. Notwithstanding the $50billion+ cost to queensland but our 40odd coal mines produce 2/3 of the world’s supply of coking coal.used in the manufacture or iron and steel and other metals. 3/4 of those mines are underwater, the diggers and trucks are also underwater and will be for months, the rail and road routes from those mines are also impassable. Anotherwords we are exporting currently only about one quarter of what we should. This will impact the major steel producers globally..basically a short fall in steel equals a shortfall in world economic growth and this this has occurred just after the GFC. In the global village like we have now, a natural disaster in one or several countries can really impact the entire planet. As for us in queensland the wet season hasn’t really oficially begun as we still have another 3 months to go..the state premier considering renaming Queensland to ‘Waterworld’!!

  25. 25
    Tom Mazanec says:

    It is about time to introduce a new Blytt-Sernander chronozone, after the SubAtlantic. How about calling it the Anthropic?

  26. 26
    Jack Savage says:

    I think George Orwell called it the Memory Hole….

    [Response: Different hole…. – gavin]

  27. 27
    JiminMpls says:

    #24 coal mines produce 2/3 of the world’s supply of coking coal.used in the manufacture or iron and steel

    Not quite

    Global Hard (Coking)Coal Production in 2009 was 5990Mt. China, USA and India are the top producers. Australia was the 4th largest producer at 335Mt.

    Australia IS the largest EXPORTER of coking coal, accounting for about 2/3 of global coking coal trade.

  28. 28
    Snapple says:

    The Russian government doesn’t like for their people to get alarmed about “apocalyptic” reports that the government may not be able to cope with: war, disease, nuclear accidents, or global warming.

    The global cooling alarmists like Pravda and Marc Morano have been posting nonsense about a coming ice age. This propaganda has backfired in Russia, and the media is reassuring people that actually there is global warming. Even Bedritsky is debunking the notion that a new ice age is on the horizon. Plus, TV is showing Ice Age 2: The Meltdown!

    Bedritsky claims that scientists don’t agree on the causes of global warming, but he says the fight against global warming is a good thing.

    I have started some details here:

    Just look what those alarmist denialists have done!

  29. 29
    Snapple says:

    The Russian government doesn’t like for their people to get alarmed about “apocalyptic” reports that the government may not be able to cope with: war, disease, nuclear accidents, or global warming.

    The global cooling alarmists like Pravda and Marc Morano have been posting nonsense about a coming ice age. This propaganda has backfired in Russia, and the media is reassuring people that actually there is global warming. Even Bedritsky is debunking the notion that a new ice age is on the horizon. Plus, TV is showing Ice Age 2: The Meltdown!

    Bedritsky claims that scientists don’t agree on the causes of global warming, but he says the fight against global warming is a good thing.

    I have started some details here:

    Just look what those alarmist denialists have done!

  30. 30
    Robert Guercio says:

    I have written a blog explaining the mechanisms responsible for Stratospheric Cooling resulting from greenhouse gases. Please see:


  31. 31
    John W says:


    I run a lab in a large manufacturing facility in a small town, basically, I’m the closest thing to a scientist a lot of these people know and trust. I’m continually being asked by people about Global Warming. On the one side I get those that have heard stuff like “the world is coming to an end” or “Earth is turning into Venus”; on the other side I get the Fox news watchers who have heard its a “hoax”. So, I find myself explaining the science as I understand it and debunking myths and hyperbole from both sides of the “debate”. This can be very tiring as one goes from the nearly sucidal to the nearly Al Gore linch mob forming. The thing is there’s tons of information easily obtainable to debunk the Fox news side, but the hyperbole from the “hyper-alarmists” doesn’t seem to be challenged directly by actual climatologists in one convienient location. Anyway, have I missed the “What GW is NOT” page?

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Hank Roberts says:

    Are all the variations on “iso …” usernames from the same IP, or are they from a bunch of different people?

  34. 34
    sidd says:

    The article on Greenland is referenced in this:

    Here is the abstract

    And I include the final sentences:

    “The rate of SMB loss, largely tied to changes in ablation processes, leads to an enhanced average loss of 331 km3 from 1950 to 2080 and an average SMB level of −99 km3 for the period 2070–80. GrIS surface freshwater runoff yielded a eustatic rise in sea level from 0.8 ± 0.1 (1950–59) to 1.9 ± 0.1 mm (2070–80) sea level equivalent (SLE) yr−1. The accumulated GrIS freshwater runoff contribution from surface melting equaled 160-mm SLE from 1950 through 2080”

    This is the first article I have seen that definitely predicts the GRIS is certainly gone in a kiloyear.


  35. 35
    Russ Doty says:

    Since the 1960s I’ve watched as natural gas and refinery bi-products are flared from production wells and refineries. Recently there has been a dust up about this waste and what some of it is doing to deprive the government of revenue from leases on public land. Is anyone researching what contribution this flaring is making to climate change? More importantly is anyone researching what can be done about it to divert the gas to productive uses? According to the fossil fuel industry it has to be flared for safety or other reasons which may be legitimate, but which have existed for so long that it is hard to understand why the great engineering skills of this world have not gone to work on the problem.

  36. 36
    Robert says:

    David B. Benson @ 17,

    have you gotten any feedback on this simplified model from any climate scientists? If so, what did they say pertaining to your inclusion of the AMO?

  37. 37

    re #1 Kees van der Leun

    Note of course that the methane was turned into CO2 in the process.

    Methane directly released into the atmosphere gets turned into CO2 in about 14 years anyway, if I remember right. Thus, it has a strong but brief role as a ‘greenhouse gas’.

    The CO2 from the methane would of course be composed of carbon isotopes dating from the time of ancient methane creation, whenever that happened.

    Our hosts here seem satisfied with radio-carbon dating of deep ocean water, but we seem to have new knowledge of bacteria eating methane and oil, which would seem to be a new thing to consider.

    On another matter, the search for methane seems to have shown that it is all gone, but there is a missing statement in the news reports regarding how much oil is still hanging around.

  38. 38
    Rod B says:

    Clippo, sorry if I got the wrong inference on what you meant.

    I don’t disagree much with what you say in #190. But I’m concerned with your limited and one-sided scope. The media as a whole is currently overwhelming in support of AGW, your crocodile tears over Fox News not withstanding. Secondly, all governments, regardless of their party affiliation, have twisted facts and science from time to time to suit their beliefs or desires. Do you think the left never makes stuff up or stifles debate?

    [Response: Moved. Everyone: you now know where off-topic conversations belong. Please continue it there if you must–and only if it relates to climate science and not politics or other extranea.–Jim]

  39. 39
    Rod B says:

    I trust the Bore Hole is not RC’s answer to ethnic cleansing.

    I wouldn’t for a moment believe that the moderators here would do such a thing. But thought I’d just make a quick check…

    [Response: Let me rephrase it for you Rod. You thought that you’d slip in an analogy between ethnic cleansing and us putting comments in the Bore Hole, and then beg off having done so. If you make any such outrageous accusation again you are permanently banned from this site. Period.–Jim]

  40. 40
    joe says:

    Can you comment on this? Has the warming been cancelled?

    [Response: Yep, it was called off in November when that came out.–Jim]

  41. 41
    caerbannog says:

    I spent a bit of time crunching some GHCN data (raw and “adjusted”) — wrote a program that computes crude global temperature anomaly estimates by via unweighted averaging.

    A plot of my results is here:


    Green — my results from GHCN monthly-mean “raw” data.
    Red — my results from GHCN monthly-mean “adjusted” data.
    Blue — official NASA “Northern Latitudes” temperature anomalies.

    I think that the results pretty much speak for themselves — will be keeping the plot handy for anyone who hits me with any Wattsian talking-points. This is just the sort of “quick and dirty” sanity-checking that any true skeptic should do before shooting off his or her mouth about supposed “manipulation” of temperature data by climate-scientists.

  42. 42
    dhogaza says:

    I trust the Bore Hole is not RC’s answer to ethnic cleansing.

    I think of it being more like an entrance exam …

  43. 43
    dhogaza says:

    Specifically, the receptacle for those who fail.

  44. 44
    Chris Colose says:

    Joe (#40)

    Closure of the energy budget over the past 5 years is still pretty elusive. The long-term warming of the ocean is robust to all kinds of assumptions about how the data are processed (see Lyman et al 2010), though the exact amount of the warming and the changes in rate over time are still uncertain, and the slowing since 2003 is at odds with TOA radiation measurements. But note the possibility of a yet-undiscovered bias in the observing system (the flatline occurs around the transition from a predominant XBT data to ARGO floats, it could just be coincident but maybe not) as well as significant warming below the 700 m level. Lyman argues that the uncertainty associated with sampling, mapping, and the use of different climatologies are large enough so that that interannual variations (such as the 2003–2008 flattening) are not statistically meaningful.

  45. 45
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B.,
    I for one am glad to have the borehole to insulate me from the white-hot, weapons-grade stupidity in some of those posts. My respect for Gavin’s patience–indeed the mental stability that keeps him from running screaming into the night when reading some of thos posts–has been increased by a quick perusal. And now I need some tea to calm my nerves!

  46. 46
    David B. Benson says:

    Robert @36 — I only have received responses from some of the amateurs here. [I’ll add that amateur standing does not mean that some of them are quite good climatologists.]

    The general response was that it is quite a surprise that a merely zero dimensiional, zero resevoir model does so well and that adding the AMO was quite a nice touch. The only downside comment was that using decadal averages improved the degree to which the variance is explained. [On that point, I’m trying to finish up a zero dimensional, two resevoir model which uses the annualized data; it demonstrates once again that using the AMO as an index of nternal variability explains more of the variance than leaving it out does.]

    There is a NOAA geophysical lab in Florida. On their website that are some presentations stating that the AMO is thought to be related to MOC rate. A related paper, I think, is
    DelSole, T., M. K. Tippett, and J. Shukla, 2010: A Significant Component of Unforced Multidecadal Variability in the Recent Acceleration of Global Warming. J. Climate, submitted.
    so I feel I am on good ground in using the AMO as that index of internal variability.

    P.S. The model using the annualized data also uses SOI as another, more important index of internal variability, ENSO.

  47. 47
    Robert Guercio says:

    I hope that this comment doesn’t wind up in the borehole but I really don’t like the idea of the borehole.

    This is a professional science website and contrarian pseudoscience comments do not belong here. The idea of the borehole cheapens this site and, in my opinion, gives the contrarians a sense of legitimacy.


  48. 48
    Snapple says:

    Maybe you should gently critique what the Russians are saying instead of Forbes. In the Russian media there is a new line on global warming: they are writing facts about about global warming and also debunking Western pseudoscience about a coming ice age. Seems our denialists are causing them a headache!

    Many “conservative” Western media cited Pravda about an ice age, but that author was really an American 9-11 Truther!

    I am sure there is much misinformation, but I think they are trying. The government authorities are telling the people that they are “arming” to meet the challenges of global warming. The fires made the government focus on this problem. People are asking the authorities about global warming after the fires and wanting to know “what is to be done.”

    Last summer during the fires, the official press agency began reporting everything NASA was saying. I think they thought this would reassure their very angry people that they were on top of the problem.

    Many places–like Petersburg–are very vulnerable to flooding, not unlike London.

    Here is an article that cites the head of their version of FEMA–Sergei Shoigu.

    Shoigu stresses adaptations, but their climate expert Bedritsky talks about new technology that will not emit so much carbon:

    Bedritsky observes in Murmansk’s Komsomolskaya Pravda (12-15-10):

    The fight against global warming is useful in any case. It leads to an increase in technology, reducing production costs – it is not bad, but good.

    Not long ago, President Medvedev claimed that global warming was a “trick” by certain commercial interests.

    The scientists are also trying to explain to people the difference between weather and climate. They are trying to exlain that warming in the Arctic and melting ice could make England colder.

    They are saying that global warming is costing trillions.

    If you are interested, this is global warming in Russian: глобальное потепление

    I read Russian, and the Google translation tool is usually pretty good. Sometimes strange things happen.

    I remember when they were trashing the climate scientists that “Mike’s” came out as T-shirt! That’s because Mikla (the possessive of Mike) means T-shirt. There are some things like that, but it’s not terrible. The “T-shirt’s trick” did confuse me for a minute, until I went back to the Russian!

  49. 49
    Snapple says:

    I really admire Russian scientists. After Climategate, Russian scientists were quiet, but now one Russian article even debunks the “evil conspiracy trials” of Climategate and the “secret [climate] weapon” conspiracy:

    In 2010, many of the overheated, and the Internet community, rumors spread about the “evil conspiracy” trials and secret weapon. Alexander Ginzburg, Deputy Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics. Obukhov Academy of Sciences, explained that the reason for the temperature anomalies – global climate change: “The scale, but the local natural and technological disasters (Mexican oil, the Icelandic volcano) are not able to turn everything upside down.”

    I hope this will last.

  50. 50
    Scott Mandia says:

    In my classroom I see 100 students per semester. None of them have any clue that there is a coming crisis that should be the Top Story of the Century. OK. They are 18 and care more about Jersey Shore than reading solid news sources. I will forgive them to a degree.

    I do public lectures every semester and people are shocked when they hear the likely impacts of what even a 2-3C increase will bring. We can only hope for 2-3C on our current trajectory of apathy and emissions.

    I work with many academics day in and day out who are not scientists and they are shocked when I tell them about the risks we are assuming by a business as usual emission scenario.

    I work with scientists with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, and astronomy every day and even those that understand humans are dramatically altering the planet are surprised to hear about the risks associated with a 2xCO2 or 3xCO2 world.

    So why are all of these people clueless about the huge risks we are accepting? As I told Tom in a private email: “Fingers can be pointed in many directions including toward scientists and media. Both have failed to truly educate the public about how serious the situation is even though within both groups there are very vocal foot soldiers. We need both ARMIES to be more vocal.”

    Although not a scientific analysis, you should look at the link below where I show how the coverage of climategate was unfair. This says a lot about why the Story of the Century is not.

    Climategate Coverage: Unfair & Unbalanced