In the wake of the appalling mass shootings last weekend, Neil DeGrasse Tyson (the pre-eminent scientist/communicator in the US) tweeted some facts that were, let’s just say, not well received (and for which he kind of apologised). At least one of the facts he tweeted about was incorrect (deaths by medical errors are far smaller). However, even if it had been correct, the overall response would have been the same, because the reaction was not driven by the specifics of what was said, but rather by the implied message of the context in which it was said. This is a key feature (or bug) of communications in a politicized environment, and one that continues to trip up people who are experienced enough to know better.[Read more…] about Just the facts?
We watch long YouTube videos so you don’t have to.
In the seemingly endless deliberations on whether there should be a ‘red team’ exercise to review various climate science reports, Scott Waldman reported last week that the original architect of the idea, Steve Koonin, had given a talk on touching on the topic at Purdue University in Indiana last month. Since the talk is online, I thought it might be worth a viewing.
[Spoiler alert. It wasn’t].[Read more…] about Koonin’s case for yet another review of climate science
an initial claim of imperfection spiced up with insinuations of misconduct, coordination with a breathless hyping of the initial claim with ridiculous supposed implications, some sensible responses refuting the initial specific claims and demolishing the wilder extrapolations. Unable to defend the nonsense clarifications are made that the initial claim wasn’t about misconduct but merely about ‘process’ (for who can argue against better processes?). Meanwhile the misconduct and data falsification claims escape into the wild, get more exaggerated and lose all connection to any actual substance.
The outcome was easy to predict:
the issues of ‘process’ will be lost in the noise, the fake overreaction will dominate the wider conversation and become an alternative fact to be regurgitated in twitter threads and blog comments for years, the originators of the issue may or may not walk back the many mis-statements they and others made but will lose credibility in any case, mainstream scientists will just see it as hyper-partisan noise and ignore it, no papers will be redacted, no science will change, and the actual point (one presumes) of the ‘process’ complaint (to encourage better archiving practices) gets set back because it’s associated with such obvious nonsense.
But I missed out the very final outcome which I should have been able to predict too: a report, commissioned from learned experts, who spent months poring over the details (including more than 600,000 emails!) and in the end, concluding there was nothing significantly wrong in anything Karl et al did.
In it the authors make some sensible recommendations to clean up the thicket of conflicting requirements at NOAA for publishing science papers, they spot one mistake made by Karl et al (submitting to Science the day before the NOAA internal review was officially completed), but overall find no substance to the allegations of “thumbs on the scale”, no improper interference by politicians, no rush to publish to influence political discussions, no data tampering, no missing archives. Nothing.
But there is one curious revelation. It turns out that the person in charge of the NOAA internal review about which John Bates was so concerned was…. John Bates!
And even more curiously:
“The MITRE Committee learned that the internal review, later criticized by Bates, was conducted and approved under his own authority. The MITRE Committee found no evidence that Bates ever mentioned this fact in his blog, email, or anywhere else in his discussion of the matter in public.”
Did he mention this to David Rose or Judith Curry in private perhaps? If so, you’d think that they would have publically said so. If not, it adds one more misrepresentation to the pile.
What a colossal and counter-productive waste of everyone’s time.
- T.R. Karl, A. Arguez, B. Huang, J.H. Lawrimore, J.R. McMahon, M.J. Menne, T.C. Peterson, R.S. Vose, and H. Zhang, "Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus", Science, vol. 348, pp. 1469-1472, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa5632
The underlying mission of my job is to safeguard lives and property through climate change adaptation based on science. In other words, to help society to prepare itself for risks connected with more extreme rainfall and temperatures.
For many people, “climate” may seem to be an abstract concept. I have had many conversations about climate, and then realised that people often have different interpretations. In my mind, climate is the same as weather statistics (which I realise can be quite abstract to many).
To avoid miscommunication, I want to make sure that we are on the same page when I discuss climate. Maybe it helps if I talk about more familiar and specific aspects, such as the temperature, rainfall, snow, or wind?
The climate system is complex, and a complete description of its state would require huge amounts of data. However, it is possible to keep track of its conditions through summary statistics.
The most common indicator is the atmospheric background CO2 concentration, the global mean temperature, the global mean sea level, and the area with snow or Arctic sea ice. Other indicators include rainfall statistics, drought indices, or other hydrological aspects. The EPA provides some examples.
One challenge has been that the state of the hydrological cycle is not as easily summarised by one single index in the same way as the global mean temperature or the global mean sea level height. However, Giorgi et al. (2011) suggested a measure of hydro-climatic intensity (HY-INT) which is an integrated metric that captures the precipitation intensity as well as dry spell length.
There are also global datasets of indices representing the more extreme aspects of climate called CLIMDEX, providing a list of 27 core climate extremes indices (so-called the ‘ETCCDI’ indices, referring to the ‘CCl/CLIVAR/JCOMM Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices’).
In addition, there is a website hosted by the NOAA that presents various U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) in an interactive way.
So there are quite a few indicators for various aspects of the climate. One question we should ask, however, is whether they capture all the important and relevant aspects of the climate. I think that they don’t, and that there are still some gaps.
- F. Giorgi, E. Im, E. Coppola, N.S. Diffenbaugh, X.J. Gao, L. Mariotti, and Y. Shi, "Higher Hydroclimatic Intensity with Global Warming", Journal of Climate, vol. 24, pp. 5309-5324, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI3979.1
A recent story in the Guardian claims that new calculations reduce the uncertainty associated with a global warming:
A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, …
It was based on a study recently published in Nature (Cox et al. 2018), however, I think its conclusions are premature.
- P.M. Cox, C. Huntingford, and M.S. Williamson, "Emergent constraint on equilibrium climate sensitivity from global temperature variability", Nature, vol. 553, pp. 319-322, 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature25450
Distortion? False information? Conspiracy theories? Hacked email? Climate scientists have known all this for decades. What can be learned from their rich experience with climate propaganda.
The world is slowly waking up. “Post-truth” was declared the word of the year 2016 by the Oxford Dictionaries. Finally, people start to widely appreciate how dangerous the epidemic of fake news is for democracy.
Stir up hate, destroy discourse, make insane claims until no one can distinguish the most bizarre absurdity from the truth any more.
Thus the Austrian author Robert Misik aptly describes the strategy of right-wing populists.
Some call it “alternative facts”. (Those are the convenient alternative to true facts.) Let’s simply call it propaganda. [Read more…] about Fake news, hacked mail, alternative facts – that’s old hat for climate scientists
Blizzard Jonas on the US east coast has just shattered snowfall records. Both weather forecasters and climate experts have linked the high snowfall amounts to the exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures off the east coast. In this post I will examine a related question: why are sea surface temperatures so high there, as shown in the snapshot from Climate Reanalyzer below?
I will argue that this warmth (as well as the cold blob in the subpolar Atlantic) is partly due to a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), sometimes referred to as the Gulf Stream System, in response to global warming. There are two points to this argument:
I was surprised by the shrill headlines from a British newspaper with the old fashioned name the Telegraph: “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever”. So what is this all about?