Raising the level of the game

by Judith Curry

Documenting, understanding and predicting climate variability and change is an issue of substantial scientific and socioeconomic importance.  The IPCC put forth a strategy for assessing the science that is based upon reducing uncertainty and building a consensus.  This consensus was used to convince the public and policy makers of the IPCC’s scientific findings, which were linked with the UNFCCC treaties and policies to urge action on carbon stabilization.  The partial success of this strategy was reflected by the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC.

Failures of this strategy in terms of the actual science are to overly focus the science on one aspect of the climate problem, marginalize dissenting voices, polarize the scientific community, and alienate a large segment of the educated public who have the desire, interest, logic, and often the mathematical and physical science skills to understand and even contribute to the science.

There is a really good article in the Guardian by Andrew Holding.  Ignore the title and brief summary below the title, and read the main article.  Some excerpts:

The body of science is like a branching tree of concepts and theories: those at the trunk of the tree are concepts for which there is little debate, such as the existence of gravity or that the world is round, while the periphery of the tree is where the research happens, where new ideas develop and grow or die, and as the evidence gets stronger so the branch thickens.

In contrast, issues are presented to the public as if they are black or white. Headlines often read as if scientists have proved or disproved a whole subject in a single study. In reality, topics are sets of theories that evolve over time with the advancement of knowledge. The important thing to understand, though, is that the core of the research is generally a constant; it’s the fine details that keep developing and moving forward.

Of course, sometimes, a result will shatter preconceived ideas, but this is incredibly uncommon. When it does happen, it is also normally the result that will define an individual’s career, not something to be covered up.

If we want people to respect the scientific community and understand its own confidence in its output, we have to also accept that it’s not the individual scientists or skeptics who hold weight. We need to tear down the ivory towers of the past and remove the walls dividing the public and academia. Journals need to be open, and in complex cases, such as the evidence for climate change, we need to provide the skills and tools that people need to discover the answers for themselves. If we ask them to to accept our viewpoints just because we are the experts, we have already lost. We would be no different than anyone who stands on a pedestal and proclaims the truth.

Climate change is a massively complex topic and it is often assumed that dissemination of the body of evidence is beyond the understanding of the public. Professor Andy Parker, who is leading the ATLAS project in Cambridge, recently stated “[We should] give the public a bit more credit, they may not have the mathematical training, but they have the desire, interest and logic to understand”. If Andy believes he can explain the theories behind something as complex and abstract as subatomic particle physics to a lay audience, we should take note.

Scientific inquiry will not always provide the right answers first but, unlike other methods, it will eventually get there even if it has to admit its mistakes. There is plenty that we don’t know yet, but what we do know is that, given the same resources, tools and time, there is no reason for the public to disagree with the established consensus.

Pushing the “restart” button

The importance and complexity of the problem of climate variability and change means that we need “all hands on deck.”  Given the disarray of the past year on the climate change issue, the time is ripe for raising the level of the game and there is an opportunity to push the “restart” button.   Lets toss ideas around for what this would look like, here are a few of mine:

•  Acknowledge that the climate variability and change problem is massively complex, and that expertise from researchers from a wide range of scientific, engineering, mathematical, statistical and computational fields are needed, in addition to social scientists and philosophers of science.  Stop marginalizing scientists that do not belong to a certain “club” of climate researchers, such as attempted by the PNAS article.  Actively encourage collaborations between climate scientists and those from these other fields.  This can be accomplished through incentives from national funding agencies, and the blogosphere can play a major role in facilitating these connections.

•  Make all scientific journals publicly available.  Require all publications to make their data publicly available with adequate metadata.   Migrate towards open (online) discussion journals, where reviews are made public.

•  Establish an information system with climate data records, that include both raw and processed data sets with uncertainty estimates and the supporting documentation to explain the processing and uncertainty assessment.  The data should be easily accessible and searchable with ontologies and semantic search.

•  Stop using a laundry list of evidence and a consensus in place of explaining how the climate system actually works.  The fact that the public, not to mention a group of scientists, do not understand how the atmospheric greenhouse effect works is an indictment of our education on this topic.  I just received notice of publication of a new book entitled “Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.”  I haven’t read the book, but the contents are fairly predictable from the list of authors, and the contents undoubtedly include that the atmospheric greenhouse effect is physically impossible.  Explain the greenhouse effect on two different levels: one without mathematics, and a more technical version (and don’t use an actual greenhouse; talk about molecules selectively absorbing and emitting certain wavelengths of radiation, and moving around and bumping into to other molecules.)  Design some simple experiments. Make youtube movies, etc.

•  Fully documented verification and validation of climate models.

•  Rethink how the overall scientific arguments are being made.  This includes reasoning about uncertainty in a much more sophisticated way, and the organization of evidence, relations, and hypotheses using influence diagrams, hierarchical hypothesis models,  etc.

•  Figure out how to better use the blogosphere to enable large-scale collective intelligence to address the scientific challenges, including open source and crowd source.

•  other ideas?

450 responses to “Raising the level of the game

  1. The problem is pervasive, extending far beyond climatology into all branches of science and politics – including world leaders, research journals, research agencies, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee.

    Former President Eisenhower warned of this danger on 17 Jan 1961:

    The disease grew undetected for almost five decades, until finally exposed by the Climategate e-mails.

    • A new book, ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’, (Amazon, etc) debunks the theory of man-made global warming – the so-called ‘greenhouse gas effect.’

      With kind regards.
      Oliver K. Manuel
      One of many coauthors
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigators for Apollo

    • No, the disease of incompetence in modern science goes back much farther. Where is a competent scientist today among you all? You people cannot even agree that there is NO greenhouse effect at all; how can one who has made the greatest scientific discovery in history get you to properly confront that discovery, that invalidates the central theories of all the earth and life sciences? The stage of scientific endeavor is suddenly larger than you ever imagined. Everyone needs to grow up, face their much greater ignorance, and regain their scientific competence with some much-needed humility and dispassionate study of new knowledge.

    • Harry Dale Huffman may be right. It is easy to see the faults in others, but difficult to avoid responding arrogantly to arrogance. I have made that mistake on several occasions.

      Having been actively involved in research since 1960, I stubbornly objected when experimental data was hidden, distorted or ignored from government-financed (expensive to tax-payers) measurements on:

      a.) 1969 Allende carbonaceous meteorite that shows the Sun itself exploded 5 Gyr (US billion years) ago and gave birth to the Solar System

      b.) 1969 Apollo Mission to the Moon that shows the Sun consists mostly of iron (Fe) – like Earth – although the top of its atmosphere is mostly lightweight hydrogen (H, element #1) and helium (He, element #2)

      c.) 1995 Galileo probe of Jupiter that confirmed solar mass fractionation ["Isotopic ratios in Jupiter confirm intra-solar diffusion", Meteoritics and Planetary Science 33, A97, abstract 5011 (1998)]
      http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc98/pdf/5011.pdf

      d.) 2000 Nuclear rest mass data that show neutron repulsion is a great source of nuclear energy – probably the energy source that powers the Sun, the cosmos and causes fission of heavy nuclei, stars and galactic centers:

      Now I sincerely hope that leaders of the scientific community in the US National Academy of Sciences, funding agencies, and research journals can be persuaded to address the problems that have been identified by the Climategate scandal instead of trying to whitewash the errors and blacklist the scientists who pointed them out.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      Blacklisted by Nature

  2. “Stop marginalizing scientists that do not belong to a certain “club” of climate researchers, such as attempted by the PNAS article. “

    This is rather like the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” problem. I don’t agree that the PNAS problem is either an attempt to or has the effect of “marginalizing scientists that do not belong to a certain “club” of climate researchers”

    ” Stop using a laundry list of evidence and a consensus in place of explaining how the climate system actually works. “

    You use the example of a book being published which disputes the existence of the greenhouse effect as evidence this doesn’t already happen and that if it did happen such books (and by extension such views) would not exist.

    I have a proposal Dr Curry: How about you write a post about the greenhouse effect, explain it exactly the way you think it should be explained and see how many people who currently claim it’s not possible have their minds changed by the attempt. There a multitude of posts here which deal only with extremely high level concepts of uncertainty and literature review, a post concerning physical climate science on a specific issue might be a change of pace.

    I’d also note Dr Roy Spencer did a number of posts on the topic and I don’t believe he had much luck. If the problem really is that it isn’t being explained well enough then here’s an opportunity to finally put the matter to bed.

    • sharperoo

      Leonard Weinstein has had a stab over at climate clash. Worth a look.

      http://climateclash.com/2010/11/25/g1-the-atmospheric-greenhouse-effect-and-its-effect-on-agw/#comments

      Regards Gary

    • There aren’t many comments there yet, Dr Spencer’s has a few hundred comments so it’s easy to see if people go from a “Don’t believe it” to “believe it position”

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/07/yes-virginia-cooler-objects-can-make-warmer-objects-even-warmer-still/

    • Mmm yes maybe you chanced upon the silver bullet that means the greenhouse event can’t possibly be real (although not really, read Steve Goddard’s posts at WUWT, he already did the “It’s the atmospheric pressure!” thing) and that modern physics is basically wrong or maybe you simply don’t understand the issue well enough and continue to research the topic.

      If you think Dr Spencer’s post is “incompetent” as opposed to “I can see why he thinks he’s right and that’s a satisfactory explanation given what he knows but here’s what he doesn’t know” then that’s a strong indicator for you not understanding it.

    • I am co-author of “Slaying the Sky Dragon”, currently in eBook but due as paperback first week of December. I am a frequent critic of a wide range of FAUX Science in general, Climatology in particular and of Dr Spencer and Dr Curry. I AM MOST HEARTENED BY THIS THREAD. A marked evolution in thought and most welcome. I have 50 articles in archive at Canada Free Press and one deals with the Dr Roy Spencer deception. “Rocet Scientist Need NOT Apply” explains why his ‘Cool Warms’ article is erroneous. The Slayers are a fascinating team and a refreshing new look at Earth science. For a short time the eBook includes free Volume Two with even more groundbreaking information. We have moved the goalpost of all human thought. You will find this very rewarding.

    • This is a good version of the standard explanation, but not really mechanistic in a physical process sense.

    • Has anyone convincingly rebutted Miskolczi yet?

    • Yes,

      but they couldn’t convince you. Nor will they ever be able to convince you.

    • An unhelpful answer. Who has and do you have a cite for the journal?

    • I might do a greenhouse post, a more molecular view of what is actually going on, that seems to be missing from most other discussions.

    • Perhaps the molecular view is what people are missing. Most explanations I’ve seen try to explain the basic principle of how insulation doesn’t violate the laws of thermodynamics but maybe it’s the wrong approach.

      The point generally is though that if you think the greenhouse effect is being explained the wrong way, that opposition to the existence of the effect is a product of that then it’s going to be much easier and more effective for you to explain it the right way then it is to get other people to explain it the way you see it as right.

    • I agree, i never realized how bad this situation was until fairly recently, and with the serious spate of “the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist.” that seems to have ramped up recently, since G&T and also the moon stuff.

    • I am not saying don’t do it but some of the skeptical stuff is very technical and the criticisms are a mass of confusion. I have always regarded it as on the fringe of the debate, but then I have not seen the spate you refer to. I have my own little model which is based on random walks of quanta of heat that I will be happy to throw on the pile. Also, as I understand it Gavin and Co just published a paper saying the contribution of CO2 is around 7C degrees not 2.5 degrees or some such. If so that is a nice measure of uncertainty in standard GH theory, never mind the outliers.

    • I repeat my question from the previous thread. Can you please provide a justification or citation for your value of ’2.5 degC’?

      Making up a number that is different from the mainstream doesn’t make something subject to ‘a great uncertainty’. It is simply mis-direction.

      If you run away from an argument when you are challenged on a specific technical point, only to repeat it later when you think no-one noticed, this does not increase the credibility of anything else you say.

    • No I can’t Gavin. I just saw this number go by earlier.

    • As I recall it was attributed to Lindzen’s recent testimony. Is that false? Have you not seen this number before? It might be worth tracking down. How about your paper, is that real? I feel an investigation coming on.

      Sorry but I can’t read all the responses to my many comments. If only there were a comment specific notification system.

    • The conventional wisdom (e.g. Kiehl and Trenberth) puts the CO2 contribution to the overall greenhouse effect at about 25%.

    • Thank you.

      This does show very clearly how unsupported statements spread though. Someone makes a statement without justification in a forum that doesn’t really allow for technical discussion, and then it gets quoted by others who don’t know the details either. And thus it becomes another reason to think that science is more ‘uncertain’ than believed previously.

      People who have any fealty to truth or accuracy in the debate (which I hope includes people here) have a responsibility not to help the spread of misinformation. And checking your sources is one good way to do that.

      If you want more information on this specific issues, including how the K&T analysis fits in, our recent JGR paper is a pretty good start.

    • This is a very good paper, thanks for the link (hadn’t spotted it before). This is exactly the way the analysis should be done, globally. and the GISS radiative transfer model is as good as it gets.

    • Actually, this is a different paper, by the GISS group. But an interesting one (albeit controversial). I don’t think there should be much controversy surrounding Gavin’s paper?

    • Oops. My apologies for the paper mix-up. If nothing else, they’re prolific. :)

    • Gavin, you did not answer my two questions. Did Lindzen not say this? Have you seen this number before?

      I study the diffusion of belief (often incorrectly termed knowledge). Checking sources is only feasible in extreme conditions, as we read thousands of sentences every day and it can take days to track down the source of a single idea in a single sentence. Plus I am not convinced this is misinformation, vis a vis a genuine disagreement. Maybe if Curry does a posting on the GH effect it will be worth tracking this factoid down, otherwise probably not.

    • “Checking sources is only feasible in extreme conditions”

      Whether the entire contribution of C02 is only 2.5 degrees or not seems like an “extreme condition” to me.

      You appear entirely unconcerned with whether the claim is right or wrong (too busy/uninterested to check) and only whether there exists sufficient justification for you to continue saying it (whether Lindzen said anything close to it or not)

      This doesn’t reflect well on you or the level of reliability that can be attributed to any statement you make.

    • Lindzen did say this. And no, I have never heard this (or read this, or seen this justified) ever before.

      So, to answer your question below, what are you supposed to do if I say one thing and Lindzen says another? First of all, I think we all agree that science is not a democracy, so ‘truth’ is not determined by votes or by the relative prestige of someone’s institution. Second, I also think we can agree that the weight of evidence for a proposition should follow from how much independent support there is for it. Given that, where are we on this question?

      In support of my contention (selected refs):
      Schmidt et al, 2010
      Kiehl and Trenberth (1997)
      Ramanathan and Coakley (1987)
      Hansen et al (1984)
      and any number of line-by-line RT codes you could run yourself if you were so inclined.

      In support of Lindzen’s contention:
      A single comment in hearing provided with no cite, reference or any visible means of support.

      What do you think has most credibility?

    • Italian flag analysis here:
      evidence for Gavin’s assertion: >90%
      evidence against Gavin’s assertion: <0.1%
      uncertainty (r.t codes, some model inputs, whatever): <9.9%

    • curryja | November 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
      Italian flag analysis here:
      evidence for Gavin’s assertion: >90%
      evidence against Gavin’s assertion: 0.1%
      uncertainty (r.t codes, some model inputs, whatever): <9.9%

      Huh?

    • note, part I of my IF post is almost finished.

    • Richard S. Lindzen,Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science,Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a presentation given at the Yale Center for Globalization, October 21st, 2005.
      http://www.ycsg.yale.edu/climate/forms/LindzenYaleMtg.pdf

      Then we have Hansen Et al 2000
      PNAS August 29, 2000 vol. 97 no. 18 9875-9880
      http://www.pnas.org/content/97/18/9875.full
      To Quote
      “But we argue that rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as chlorofluorocarbons, CH4, and N2O, not by the products of fossil fuel burning”

      Do you believe that E=MC2 would have gained broad acceptance if Einstein’s first paper was E=MC3 then a few years later he republished with E=MC2.5 then he changed to E=MC4 then finally said, I have it absolutely right this time E=MC2.

      And then there is this whopper of a quote from Hansen et al 1988, talk about opening mouth, inserting foot. Wow, Hansen believed he could predict what the man in the street would believe!!!
      http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1988/1988_Hansen_etal.pdf
      “We infer from the computed changes in the frequency of warm summers that the man in the street is likely to be ready to accept that scientific conclusion”

    • What i am thinking is explaining with cartoons vibrational and rotational transitions that occur in some molecules but not others. Take a look at absorption lines. Then through the equipartition of energy, the absorption of radiation causes the molecule to move faster and bump into the other molecules like N2, O2, and make them move faster. And explain how these other molecules like N2, O2 influence the IR radiation through pressure broadening of the lines. There should be a cartoon way of explaining this. The magnitude of the effect and the feedbacks is a whole additional story (this is where the debate should be), but without explaining the basic physical mechanism of the actual greenhouse effect, we can’t get to 1st base in all this.

    • Judith, take a look at

      http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_1.htm

      A very quick perusal shows it has some of the material you’re interested in.

    • this is a start, at least it shows a molecule

    • A molecule. Chemistry! Something you can do experiments with!

      Good stuff. A massive step in the right direction.

    • Actually, it’s more about physics at the quantum level than it is about “chemistry” per se.

    • Been done. See

    • Reply to rust

      I seem to have a vague recollection of doing a bit of ‘quantum chemistry’ a while back. Important stuff when you get to anything more complex than a hydrogen atom and physics just gives up and says ‘too difficult’

      I’ll be happy to compromise and say that it is at the boundary between physics and chemistry.

    • It’s a shame they don’t show 1 single anthropogenic molecule, amongst the far greater number of more potent water vapour molecules, and explain how they determine this anthropogenic fingerprint.

    • water vapor is not a forcing. We are not adding water vapor in such a quantity that it makes the temperature rise, nor is anything else doing that. Water vapor also does not persist, as CO2 does.

      Water vapor is a feedback. The hotter it gets, the more water vapor can be held by the atmosphere.

      The other greenhouse gases are also considered in the IPCC reports.

    • Sounds great. The whole world needs this.

    • too bad i am no good with cartoons (can anyone help?), but i think i am now sufficiently motivated to try this.

    • Why bother? It looks like it’s already been done:

      http://www.rkm.com.au/GREENHOUSE/index.html

      You might have to pay, however.

    • Nice graphics, but this is about 10% of what I am talking about it.

    • actually this is pretty good, but argument needs to go further

    • Ted Carmichael

      Derecho64 – in the video up above, the guy said that the camera is “heat sensitive, infrared.” The CO2 is compressed at room temperature, and then released into the chamber. This cools the gas considerably. (The change in pressure is also why air released from a car’s tire feels cool.)

      Isn’t it more likely that the CO2 gas is absorbing the heat from the candle because it’s cold, rather than due to any attributes particular to CO2?

    • We have Josh in UK who is a cartoonist ‘sans pareil’, and has a fine grasp of AGW and all its foibles. You may have seen his work at Anthony’s, but you can often find him at Bishop Hill’s residence.

      He the man! Accept no substitutes.

    • On the skeptical side I guess saturation is the number one issue, so maybe you should go that far at least.

    • And the inability of longwave to heat the oceans, 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface.

    • Sigh.

    • Lol.

      Got a viable mechanism to offer?

    • I’ll leave it to radiative physics experts.

    • No reply from them yet then.

    • Is there any empirical evidence on absorption of long wave radiation by sea water? Any papers?

    • You know, tallbloake, I think you are right about the longwave radiation. It can’t penetrate water very far. Imagine doing the same experiment as the one Derecho64 posted where CO2 absorbed the LW radiation from a candle. It wouldn’t take a long path length of liquid water to absorb all the IR would it?

    • I don’t, as I was able to understand who the mechanism works from the information already out there by the scientists, but it sounds like you do.

    • Or you could look at David Archer’s lectures 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, here or here.

      As Chris Colose mentions, this information is abundantly available. If you can make some sort of breakthrough in communicating it, have at it.

    • “i never realized how bad this situation was until fairly recently”

      I don’t know how much exposure you’ve had to the full gamut of skeptical arguments. I get the feeling you’ve spent most of your time on technical sites and blogs such as climateaudit where points based on the impossibility of the greenhouse effect are a non-starter.

      On other blogs it’s practically a given that the entire greenhouse effect is a hoax. I don’t use the term “denier” myself or think it’s helpful but you can’t understand why the term exists without understanding the types of arguments that are out there and in force.

      Even if you do get people past the “Greenhouse effect is impossible” stuff you’ll be onto “The IR bands are saturated” and/or “Human emissions are only 3% of total”

      Stephen Mosher and Tom Fuller (when he was posting more) were attempting to move the debate past these and issues like “the temperature records are fraudulent” but with little success as far as I can see.

      This is ultimately the problem with blogosphere involvement in the scientific process. I can reasonably expect a published paper in a reputable journal to be somewhere on the spectrum of reasonable and informed opinion but anyone can start a blog. The casual observer can’t tell the difference between what’s well supported and what isn’t especially since what’s well supported is often non-intuitive and phrased tentatively while what’s not well supported is proclaimed loudly and seems logical.

    • I suspect that more people are inclined to submit a comment to a technical post (e.g. explaining RTEs) to say “Does not!!!, than to write, “Fascinating, I’ll mull over these ideas.” Partly, it may just reflect that argumentative people are more willing to argue. But I’m not certain that counts of Pro vs. Con comments are always telling.

    • “But I’m not certain that counts of Pro vs. Con comments are always telling.”

      You can tell part of the debate but you are right, many many more people read and never post.

      It’s the reason I think it’s always useful for a scientist to engage and give the straight up facts with a minimum of fuss. Sure the person they’re responding will most likely never relent but countless people will read and possibly learn something.

      The reason I’m mentioning the posted comments on this issue is because Dr Spencer made a post about the reality of the greenhouse effect and encountered significant resistance to the idea from people who’d generally be very much inclined to believe what he says. That’s representative of a strong cohort of people who simply don’t accept the greenhouse effect is real.

    • Even if you do get people past the “Greenhouse effect is impossible” stuff you’ll be onto “The IR bands are saturated” and/or “Human emissions are only 3% of total”

      I think this one is derived from discussions of C12 v C13 ratios, and it would be great to have this spelled out.

      On skeptical blogs regardless of stripe one of the #1 concerns is GISS back-adjustment of past temp records. Although I grasp the notion of normalisation and taking Tmin etc into account, I too am really fuzzy on the notion of the temps being back adjusted every time GISS releases a set of temp records. I get back adjusting ONCE, but back adjusting a given station (n) times? WTF? And I’m someone who does as best as I can to pay attention and who thinks GHGs are warming the planet (!)

      The readjustment business is one of the primary drivers of the charge of hoax and fraud and such. If this were explained in a nice transparent way that everyone could get…

    • “I get back adjusting ONCE, but back adjusting a given station (n) times? WTF? “

      I’m not particularly familiar with the adjustments but the reason they keep getting adjusted is that it’s an active produce and an active area of research. Everytime they tweak the algorithm that performs the adjustments you end up with a different value.

      They still have the original data, it’s not like they’re adjusting adjustments of adjustments over time.

    • Handwaving; you don’t know either. Which was sorta the point I was making.

      Incidentally, you realise, do you not, that constantly revising past temps cooler — and NEVER warmer — with nary an explanation is a source of denier and skeptic creation, which is corollary to my point….

      With no real knowledge, you are taking it on faith that the adjustments are proper. Skeptics are taking it on faith that they are not. You are failing to demonstrate a qualitative difference between yourself (believer, as it were) and the skeptic (non-believer, as it were.) Wasn’t it Dr Curry who just recently posted about dogma?

    • No. If you look up Zeke Hausfather, he has personally gone out and taken all the raw data and come up with his own temperature record. It agrees pretty well with the established ones.

      http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/a-simple-model-for-spatially-weighted-temp-analysis/

      All the code and data are there. Other people have gone to the trouble of creating their own analysis. The consistent answer is, the IPCC report is correct.

      The work of refining the problems with the data goes on, but there are no surprises out there.

    • The consistent answer is, the IPCC report is correct.

      Nobody is suggesting otherwise.

      My point has been that fraud / hoax is charged when people see past land temps being revised to be cooler than present day temps when the raw data is otherwise flat, and this gets more pronounced with eevery GISS release.

      It’s one thing to see past data adjusted ONCE, say to normalise for observation time. But that’s not what happens. It happens every release. There is no suitable explanation for e.g. downtown Nashville Sept 24th 1921 to have been recorded as 77 deg F and then have this number change multiple times, and each time becoming cooler. Once? Sure. Correct for the observation timing. But changing EVERY time the data is released?

      No. There is no acceptable answer for that.

    • Wait a sec – are the analyses updated, or is the station data itself changed?

      I suspect Mr. Alson is confusing (or conflating) the two, even though they are not at all the same.

    • are the analyses updated, or is the station data itself changed?

      Obviously the past data is being adjusted via analysis; they’re claiming that the station data isn’t really the station data after all. In which case there’s no real difference, is there? (I conflated nothing.) There isn’t a suitable explanation why anything other than observation time is a proper change, which ought to have occured precisely ONCE.

    • Only observation time impacts temperature? What about station moves? Environment changes? Instrument changes? None of those matter?

    • None of those matter?

      This stuff wasn’t accounted for in the first adjustment? How can this possibly be that difficult? If my work was that sloppy I’d be long unemployed.

      One adjustment. That’s all that’s needed. Still waiting for a VALID reason for multiples other than the excuse of incompetence you’re proffering.

    • Wait a sec – one adjustment, and one adjustment only, for a given station? That’s hardly always true, given the other factors I listed that could represent a change in the climate of a given station.

    • Wait a sec – one adjustment, and one adjustment only, for a given station?

      I think you’re being argumentive here, and I’m not sure why. I’m saying that if you know what you’re doing and adjusted the station for history, pirate count, and nematode hormonal levels (i.e. whatever the relevant factors really are ) in 2003 then there’s no valid reason to REadjust in 2007. Past data should not be continually getting colder. Past data, once it has been adjusted, ought to be a solid number. It was 77 degrees or it was not. It wasn’t 77 oh wait we mean 76.8 oh wait 76.2 oh wait 76.1 oh wait 75 oh wait 74.4 oh wait (ad nauseum.)

      I don’t know what the reason is for continual readjustment, and obviously you don’t either; you’re offering a list of possible/potential reasons that sound good to you. If you know what you’re doing then you adjusted the station for your list of stuff in 2003 and that’s DONE. And even this is problematic; you’re taking a real recorded temp from a past date and applying some statistical guesswork to essentially say “woulda/shoulda” or “well not really” and applying a fudge to it. Fudge notwithstanding, one cannot say that it wasn’t really the 77 degrees recorded that day as it was really 74.3. No, it was 77. “Well, had the station been located at point X where it was moved to in 1973, it would have recorded 74.3.” Oh really?

      “Well, the continual adjustments are attributable to refinement of the supporting data and handling.”

      If true it stands to reason that the adjustments, if attributable solely to refinements in methodry/algorithm/guess quality, ought to wiggle: some go up, some go down. No different than any other software procedure that blindly applies the same approach to all data. But… nope. Never happens. Rather, each “improvement” makes nashville or peoria or springfield cooler in 1921 or 1942 or 1911 than the previous refinement, and warmer since 1970. So not only were the early 20th century temps NFG as they were falsely recording too warmly, the post 1970 temps were similarly taken by clueless imbeciles who recorded them with a cold bias.

      No wiggling, and these pre-post trends are more pronounced each iteration. Surely nobody could question that, now could they?

      Overall by NOT demonstrating that you know any more than I do you’re helping me make my point: deniers don’t know either, and their inclination is to unflatteringly compare Dr Hansen with Orwell’s Winston Smith, charged with rewriting the past. Surely it’s not a massive mental leap here to understand where some of the denier allegations come from. Knowing why they refer to this as fraud is material to the entire raison d’ etre of Dr Curry’s effort.

    • I can predict D064′s answer.

      ‘We cannot take into account any criticism as you have not published a scientific paper about it. As you are not a climate scientist, we would not read such a paper anyway. And we will prevent you from publishing such a paper.

      The quality of the raw data has been proved by our mates to have no effects on the results we obtain. So if you were to publish a paper which we wouldn’t read, it would be irrelevant.

      You are a denier’

    • GISS say since they are calculating an anomaly, it does not matter if one adjusts past readings down or current readings up, the delta will be the same. They are correct.

    • GISS say since they are calculating an anomaly, it does not matter if one adjusts past readings down or current readings up, the delta will be the same.

      So *that* explains why it’s necessary to readjust past temps on every data release — because it doesn’t matter. Thanks for clearing that up.

      Think you could address the issue, Jim?

    • Sharperoo says:
      “Stephen Mosher and Tom Fuller (when he was posting more) were attempting to move the debate past these and issues like “the temperature records are fraudulent” but with little success as far as I can see.”

      I believe the court case between NIWA and the sceptics is up soon.
      NIWA’s backpedalling submission in defence is that it wasn’t them, a big boy did it and ran away.

    • Let’s grant the “skeptics” argument and rather than replace the NZ data with the “real” data, just remove all of it. What difference would that make to the global value?

      A good approximation would be the area of NZ compared to that of the globe; NZ area = ~270,000 km^2, earth area = ~510,000,000 km^2; percentage from NZ = ~0.053%. Yep, that’ll get rid of AGW!

    • The guy responsible for the NZ ‘adjustments trained at CRU

      They taught him his trade.

    • You’re something else.

    • “percentage from NZ = ~0.053%” are you saying this represents the weight that was given to the NZ data?

    • That’s not what I said – I did note that NZ’s area as a fraction of the total surface area of the earth would be a good approximation to the weight of NZ’s station data to the global average.

      I don’t know what it’s actual weighting is.

    • It could be that the NZ data is used to extrapolate SST’ and hence near surface temps for a large area round about NZ itself pre-satellite. However, without access to CRU’s data, we don’t know for sure what their weighting is. Or was. Or whether the dog ate the homework.

    • “I don’t know what it’s actual weighting is.” So how could you declare what the effect of removing it would be?

    • I said “approximation”, Tom. As in zeroth-order. Certainly it makes more sense to weight NZ’s contribution to the global average by NZ’s area rather than, say, it’s population, or number of sheep, or number of Peter Jackson-directed movies filmed there.

    • thank you tallbloke. In fact, isn’t it more likely that in a vast area of ocean, an island with a century-plus temperature record would be used to approximate temperatures far beyond its shores? And would it not, therefore, have a significance to the statistical brew far greater than a series collected in a landlocked region of comparable area, with an abundance of stations in the neighbouring land? I suspect that Derech, not for the first time, is kicking a neat own goal?

      In any case if the NZ temperature record were as insignificant as he claims, why was it so assiduously debauched?

    • Well, fellas, if you’re so sure NZ data is punching above its weight, why don’t you *investigate* and *prove* your claims?

      Sheesh.

    • What small scale cheating is ok in your bid for World Dominance?

    • Your Honor I only murdered 1 woman so I should only get !/13th the Rippers sentence!
      .

    • “Well, fellas, if you’re so sure NZ data is punching above its weight, why don’t you *investigate* and *prove* your claims?

      Sheesh.”

      Another illustration of your ludicrous want of logic, Derech, thanks – I’m really giving serious thought to collecting them with a view to publication.

      It was YOU, not I, who raised the whole question of the weight to be attached to the NZ debacle. My post, to which you were responding, contained no such assertion. You, not I, claimed it amounted to “~0.053%”. All that followed was simply that I asked you a few simple questions that followed logically from your assertion. Of course I had a pretty good idea of a/ the true answers and b/ your response (not the same thing), but having my tongue in my cheek is something I have a weakness for. And you didn’t disappoint.

      We all understand why you did it – to deflect the egg from CAGW’s face which the NZ Met office’s repudiation of its dataset represents – but, like most of your “de haut en bas” pronouncements, you should have thought it through.

      Falsus in uno….

    • A lid on a pot does not create heat yet the water gets warmer faster due to less heat escaping. Unless a common pot lid violates the laws of thermodynamics than GHGs don’t either. I can think of no simpler explanation to use.

    • Image a lid that is minuscule, in comparison to the pot.
      Yes the water will still get warmer faster due to less heat escaping, but could you measure it, especially amongst the faster warming caused by thousands and thousands of other minuscule lids (water vapour).

    • My comment was only in regards to the argument that I have seen many times regarding the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Not an attempt to say because it can happen that it is happening exactly as modeled.

    • Why thanks, this will be immensely useful when an alien entity or a god tosses our planet into a big pot (on a turtle’s back, undoubtedly.)

    • Metaphorically speaking, you are right of course. Obviously, a simpler explanation is required.

    • I’m not sure if you were repeating an argument you have read or were just being argumentative over nothing. If you were serious I would of course confirm that we have indeed been thrown in a pot by Zues himself. Stop acting as though you were unaware. Didn’t you see the splash?

    • Judith,

      I have shared your frustration for a more complete version of the greenhouse effect that can be found outside the literature for radiation specialists. I have done a few on my own blog. My most complete post is probably this one, though I don’t look at the molecular view
      http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/

      In this one, I look at the molecule aspect a bit, but from my experience most people will accept that CO2 absorbs photons, they just want to know what happens with that
      http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/physics-of-the-greenhouse-effect-pt-2/

      (If you’d like, I’d be more than happy to offer a post at whatever technical level to this site as well)

      A note about the discussion of Lindzen’s quoted “2.5 C” cooling if you took all the atmospheric CO2 away. In order to substantiate this value, you aren’t just arguing that there’s no positive feedbacks, or even that feedbacks are neutral, or even a bit negative. You have to believe that feedbacks are VERY negative. Just due to the logarithmic nature of CO2 forcing, a complete removal of CO2 produces a forcing of some 7 times that of a doubling. In fact, there’s a number of other papers aside from the ones Gavin mentioned that show you get a snowball without CO2, as the water vapor greenhouse effect essentially collapses and the ice-albedo feedbacks becomes sufficiently strong. Ray Pierrehumbert has an article on this subject, as well as one from Voigt and Marotzke (2009, Climate dynamics). The Lacis paper is a review of the subject (albeit not very comprehensive), though I’m inclined to agree with those who don’t think of it as an original research paper, but there’s nothing wrong with it. The GISS model in the Schmidt paper produces well over 30 C of cooling in the absence of the non-condensing greenhouses gases to uphold the effects of water vapor and clouds on the greenhouse effect.

      There’s absolutely nothing to support Lindzen’s declaration on this one, and I’m rather disappointed none of the scientists had the insight at the panel to correct him (I’m sorry, but Cicerone was very confused throughout the whole talk).

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Essentially humans are already ‘geoengineering’ the planet’s climate even they don’t recgonize it, or don’t want to. Sounds like a good topic for discussion.

    • Chris, these are good posts. Adding the molecular stuff and turning it into some visuals and youtube clip is needed i think to make the points to people who aren’t getting it from posts like yours.

    • For us who haven’t seen the equations in action, it would be nice, Dr. Curry, if you could give a detailed example calculation for one frequency of CO2 as an example of what happens in terms of radiation.

  3. Judith

    a couple of points if I may

    1. I think climate science needs to eschew the influence of pressure groups – the likes of Greenpeace, WWF etc

    2. the focus of policy needs to shift from global to regional/local, and science needs to reflect this. There is no global mechanism for tackling climate change and the impacts will differ form region to region in any event

    Kind regards Gary

    • “There is no global mechanism for tackling climate change and the impacts will differ form region to region in any event”

      You’re talking about adaptation not avoidance. Avoiding climate change (in the context of human emitted greenhouse gases causing it) can only be handled at a global level.

    • Actually, you’re talking avoiding global climate change. Regional and local climate change or variation of similar or greater magnitude than forecast global shifts is more or less unavoidable (depending on the region and averaging timescale). That does require adaption or at least long-term infrastructure planning for a wide range of contingencies.

      Policy discussions often contain a large degree of (likely strategic) vagueness with regard to spatial averaging scales to define “climate”. It is best to be specific or risk misleading readers and leaders into thinking that controlling emissions can side-step all long-term local climate variation, or to end up talking past each other in discussions.

  4. “The important thing to understand, though, is that the core of the research is generally a constant; it’s the fine details that keep developing and moving forward”

    The fine details are what determines if the climate sensitivity is 1C or 6C. I’m not sure I would define it as fine.

  5. I have one question:

    Why is the climate so sensitive?

    • Because its been abused.

    • Thank you. :)

      Next question, What can we do to reduce the sensitivity of the climate?

    • Stop abusing it

    • It could just feel hurt from being called disruptive

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Why is the climate sensitive? The atmosphere/ocean/biota/soil is a closed system. And that system is sensitive to a number of feedbacks (deforestation, volcanic eruption, orbital cycle, etc) including carbon dioxide, which was at around 280 ppm for the last 800, ooo years (and possibly longer) until the industrial revolution. See CDIAC for more info.

    • The question was: why so sensitive?

    • Ted Carmichael

      Hi, Anthorpocene. Two points: The Earth is not a closed system. There’s the sun, for one thing. Also, cosmic rays have a very strong influence on climate, and are probably responsible for the ice ages, etc. Asteroids, too. So, not at all a closed system.

      Second point: we cannot say with suitable precision that CO2 levels did not exceed 280 ppm over the last 800,000 years. That number comes from the Vostok ice core data. There are a number of issues still being investigated, in terms of how the ice and the trapped air acts over millennia under high pressure, and we just don’t know how accurate this record is. But we DO know that this record is “smoothed” over 700 (+/- 200) years at least, due to the length of time (we think) before the air is trapped.

      You just can’t compare a 700-year level of precision with a 1-year level of precision. But it’s a common mistake, unfortunately.

  6. I guess a reasonable question is to ask what is your end goal? It sounds like you’re trying to set up a plan for an improved “lay public” understanding of climate change. If so, I don’t think better data accessibility is really that important (though I am always in support for better data accessibility, archiving, etc). It’s just I don’t know how many people wake up in the morning, decide they want to learn something about climate change, and start sifting through technical archives of information, or what they really need that isn’t there already.

    Similarly, the amount of information out there on the greenhouse effect is enormous. Certainly, if one goes to the blogosphere they will find an array of information, ranging from pseudo-science like “the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist” or “CO2 isn’t what makes it hot on Venus (a typical WUWT-type article)” to very basic blanket analogies, to the more complex top of the atmosphere radiative balance arguments (that I have tried to emphasize on my blog for example). Understanding it at the last level, and then beyond that will inevitably require picking up textbooks for spending a few years at University. But the basic picture is out there. If you want to learn about the greenhouse effect it’s just a google search away. Convincing the reader that some explanations are wrong and others are right, and some people just don’t have valuable opinions, is another thing.

    • My interest is in better science, and improved communication of it. My target (for both) is the broader scientific community and the educated lay public (with a science, engineering, or professional degree). What I am talking about is a physical, mechanistic understanding of the greenhouse effect.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      “Educated lay public”

      –27.2 of the US pop. has a college degree (USCB)
      –10 most popular college majors:
      Bus., Soc Sci./Hist., Educ., Psych., Nursing, Communication, Biology, Engin., English, Comp Sci.

      The population of the target group you want to broadcast to is probably exceedingly small. The CC debate is being determined by politics.

    • Ho wmany times do I have to remind you that you guys call it AGW for a reason.

      The G stands for Global. Global means ‘not just restricted to the United States of America’

      Global is big. Bigger even than Texas. It includes Yurp. Yurp has lots of countries (like states, only more so). And they are all a bit different from each other. soem of them don’t even get The Weather Channel or Glen Beck or Fox News.

      I know this may be very difficult for you to understand, but please try.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      The EU is irrelevant in this. And since you don’t care about AGW or controlling emissions anyway, why ask for a seat at the table with the US as Judith attempts to present the science to a tiny percentage of the Americans public? Pretty silly, don’t you think, Yurp? Who in their right-wing mind would be reading this blog from the EU anyway?
      You’re better off watching reruns of Monty Python, drinking Italian coffee, staying indoors, and avoiding the next housing bubble.

    • AEG – Well, Judith and the rest of us will do whatever we damn well please, so maybe it’s you who need to find some mindless hobby or something.

    • Pathetic.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      What’s pathetic is that you can’t face facts about the target population that will presumably be influenced by all of this ‘debate’ about the GH effect. Look at the figures I posted for the US pop. college educated and in science/tech fields. And your response? Don’t forget about Europe. Lol!
      Why should we care about Europe ? There’s a whole big bad world beyond the EU that won’t get the message either. Get it? You’re irrelevant.

    • There is nothing more sad than a control freak not getting his way.

    • Even I , humble sceptical Englishman that I am, concede that if there is indeed a warming problem that needs to be tackled (which I still firmly doubt), then it would be a GLOBAL problem.

      Mighty though the US of A is, and admirable in so many ways, it does not represent the entire world. Influencing just the poorly educated segment of US citizens is a laudable aim, but only gets a bronze medal. There are poorly scientifially educated people in China, India, Brazil, Russia, Belgium, Bolivia, Tuvalu and Kazakhstan (to randomly select a few countries) and any other country in the world.

      One of the big criticisms so rightfully laid at the door of Climatology has been its deeply unattractive arrogant belief in its own infallibility and its casual dismissal of anything it chooses to think beneath its self-appointed dignity. ‘You are not qualified to even have an opinion about the quality of our work because you do not have a PhD in radiative physics’ was one of the better remarks.

      So in a blog about how to become less exclusive and reach a wider audience, you wish to dismiss the 97% of the world’s population from participating because they are not in the US.

      You just don’t get it.

      PS : I agree with you about the EU political entity. That does not mean that you can dismiss the geographical entity and its population a little bit bigger than USA.

    • yes, the segment of the population that comprises decision makers and thought leaders

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Decision makers? Good for you, someone ‘up there’ is reading this.
      That House science hearing must have given you some added chutzpah in your attempts to mold/activiate the ‘debate’.

    • decision makers consist of corporate leaders, and whole host of others that do not reside on the “hill”. I do not pretend that I am reaching many of them, but you dismissed my target population, which I am arguing is not to be trivialized.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      I’m clearly not implying your efforts are w / out honor. I’m just suggesting that the total population of targetted ‘lay people’ has to be miniscule, given the stats I cited. I think politics still sways the massses in this issue. So, if corporate and gov are reading this, I have no idea how that will influence anything, unless the next round of hearing talks on CC are under preparation… for the new TP regime coming in.

    • Are you always this threatened by women?

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      How do you know that I’m not a woman, Jim?

    • Did I call you a man?

    • And that, AEG, is why you will never understand science.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Yes, Jim’s babbling is why I will never understand the science.
      What science?

    • By the way, the house staffer that proffered the invite is a regular reader of Climate Etc.

    • Chris,

      I’d agree that data accessability (as a component of a larger transparency campaign) is probably not that crucial to public education, but it is important to establishing a high level of trust.

      You note that there is a great deal of information already out there. It’s important to note that information is data that has been processed, filtered, compiled, analysed, etc. (please note, this is stated neutrally – I’m not making any value judgements about that processing). Having the access to check that processing, whether you actually do so yourself or not, should enhance trust in the information. I may not have the time, inclination, etc. to fact check every assertion, but chances are that someone (more likely several someones) will.

    • t …data accessability (as a component of a larger transparency campaign) is probably not that crucial to public education, but it is important to establishing a high level of trust.

      Gene: Quite right. And it’s not an answer for someone like Gavin Schmidt to say, “Here’s a link. Have you looked at the megabytes and megabytes of data we have released?”

      Likewise it’s important, as you note, to have a record for how the data has been handled from its raw measurements to its processing to its use in models. Everything.

      If climate scientists believe that the world needs to change on account of their research, then they must realize that they need to change how they work to a correspondingly higher standard on account of that importance.

      Otherwise what comes across to the public is that climate change is just another set of academic, scientific, and political turf wars for the benefit of the participants and at the expense of the taxpayers.

  7. I wonder what happens to the journal’s business model when they’re all “publicly available”. In a sense, they already are – any good research library has subscriptions to them. If Judith means that no article is behind a paywall, well, what would be the point of a journal existing if they can’t charge for access? E-media seems to be going the other way.

    • There are different models for making journals work financially. For example, open access online discussion journals (e.g. APCD) charge heavy page charges at the time of submission. The issue is this: government agencies fund the scientists to pay page charges (for the most part), and fund public universities to purchase library subscriptions. There should be alternate funding models to make this work (getting rid of print versions of journals would also help lower costs.)

    • Journals have priced themselves out of the market and will be irrelevant in five years time.

      They have proved themselves partisan anyway, so what is the difference between them and the polarized blogs?

    • There’s a fair bit of experimenting going on with academic publishing at the moment. Many academics were never really that attracted to the old business model in the first place, and would love to have bigger reach if it could be sustainable. Today you pretty much do get an institutional subscription to everything, but seeing how publicly-funded science is, there’s a big argument for having it all publicly available. Still, there are some costs involved which the public may indirectly pay (through public universities picking up the costs for example). Seeing as journal publishing was never that lucrative of a market (maybe with the exception of Science/Nature – I wonder what they pull in) and many academics do value openness, there aren’t that many sources of resistance – though still no clear model of how to proceed.

    • If we, the public, are expected to use CFLs, recycle, and maybe in the future get all stuffed into some unbearably dense city or some such, I think the journals can take a hit.

  8. Again, sorry. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. CAGW from a scientific point of view is simply broken. It makes no sense from the point of view of the physics so far presented.

    This is exemplified in your

    • Fully documented verification and validation of climate models.

    None of the models used in trying to estsablish that CAGW is real have ever been validated. Further, it is simply impossible to ever validate the models is a reasonable period of time.

    • Are you familiar with Steve Easterbrook’s work in this area?

    • I base my cliam on the idea that the only way to validate a model, is to have it predict the future, quantitatively, on many occasions. None of the models used by the proponents of CAGW has ever attempted to do this sort of validation.

    • Really. Take a look at Hansen’s prediction ca. 1988. Remarkably good.

    • Remarkably good? Hansen predicted in 1988 that New York City’s West Side Highway would be underwater by 2008 due to rising sea levels. I live in NJ across the river from New York City and I can assure you that there are cars, not boats, plying the West Side Highway.

    • This paper:

      http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/1988/Hansen_etal.html

      The same one Michaels misrepresented when he testified to Congress (but not his most recent appearance).

    • You have not read what I wrote. One occasion getting the correct answer could be a coincidence. What I wrote was “on many occasions”.

    • Your metric is so poorly described that it’s impossible to determine what you mean. Can you be more specific?

    • You need enough instances so that you can show, statictically, that the matches could not have been arrived at by lucky guesses. I am not a statistician. But clearly, just one right answer, along with other predictions which were not correct, is not enough.

    • You need to define “right answer”.

      If you mean something like “a climate model run in 1995 that correctly predicted that the high temperature in Chicago on May 17, 2004″, then no climate model will ever be “right”.

    • Derecho64 (no reply button link near your Chicago comment)
      So, in response to the question about the predictive utility of models, you assert 1) Hansen showed skill, and 2) you dispute (apparently) the possibility of a statistical test for model utility and 3) you suggest the models don’t predict weather, but climate.
      I have a lot of troble holding mutually contradictory positions in my head, but, just to be clear, are you claiming that climate models are not statistically testable or verifyable in terms of what they collectively predict? Does that make them science or faith?

    • Mingy, take a look at this IPCC chapter on “Skill of Models in Simulating Present Climate”.

    • Whoa – that wasn’t the best reference. This chapter, Climate Models and their Evaluation is much better.

    • Its a long read, but, on Page 1
      “Confidence in a model can be gained through simulations of the historical record, or of palaeoclimate …”
      No, actually. Seriously. A model which cannot model the past has no utility, obviuosly. Any self respecting economist (there’s a contradiction in terms) can produce a model of the past. Models which can’t predict the past don’t get published because they are rubbish.

      The value of a predictive model is exclusively in its ability to predict. I’ll work through the report – assuming my eyes don’t start bleeding, but note this:
      “For any given metric, it is important to assess how good a test it is of model results for making projections of future climate change. This cannot be tested directly, since there are no observed periods with forcing changes exactly analogous to those expected over the 21st century. ”

      But the models drive the policy and the hysteria.

    • Unless you can invent a time machine, go to the future, and come back with a set of forcings for the 2010-onwards period, Mingy, I suggest you give climate models some slack about their ability to predict future climate.

    • I’d rather go with good information than with black box magic and support policies based on models with little, if any, demonstrated relevance.

    • Empiricism can only take you so far.

    • Which one? Scenario B? From his paper:

      “Scenario B has decreasing trace gas growth rates, such that the annual increase of the greenhouse climate forcing remains approximately constant at the present level.”

      I’m not an atmospheric physicist but this sounds like a linear warming argument to me. Wasn’t that the argument Michaels was using?

    • Didn’t Hansen’s scenario b end up with a trend of 0.26C/decade over the 20 years from 1989 compared with HadCRUT at 0.18?

    • Bruce Cunningham

      Remarkably good? What a howler! Hansen’s predictions (scenario A, B and C) are a laughing stock. Steve McIntyre did a post last year in which he used the first thirty years of satellite temp data from UAH to determine how much warming had occurred. He pointed out that by the end of 2008, temps in the tropics and elsewhere were no higher than they had been thirty years before. He did another a few months ago that showed models predictions are 200% high for the troposphere, and 400% high for the stratosphere. Don’t make me look it up for you.
      As I write this, the UAH temp anomaly is negative. If it stays there for a few months, it will mean we are no warmer than when the satellite data first started in 1978. If the scenarios that Hansen, Mann, Jones, Gore, etc were true, the temp anomaly should be at about +2.0 (and STAY there). The highest it has ever been is +.76 (in 1998).

    • “As I write this, the UAH temp anomaly is negative.”

      Really? According to

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures

      Oct 2010 was at +0.42 C. Do you have later numbers?

    • Bruce Cunningham

      Absolutely! Dr. Spencer post daily temps here
      http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps

      The latest data is for Nov 21. He usually post the data from 2 days ago, so normally he would have data thru the 24th up now, but being it is Thanksgiving and all….

      Nov 21, 2010 anomaly was -.08 deg. Temps have been dropping like a rock since Nov 8, when it was +.36, and are still going down fast. I wonder how low it will go? According to the alarmists, it should be anywhere from +1.2 to +3.0!

      El nino has broken, la Nina is here, and the temps are following what we have seen in the past.

      Back to Hansen’s remarkable predictions.

      Dr. Christy posted about that here
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/13/is-jim-hansens-global-temperature-skillful/

      According to his graph, the anomaly should be over +1.2.
      It was facts such as last month’s UAH at +.42 and RSS at +.29 and UAH today showing a negative anomaly, ARGO data showing a dropping ocean heat content (contrary to what GW theory predicts) that make me a skeptic.

    • The few comments in that WUWT thread that are worthwhile indicate that at least a few people over there aren’t hoodwinked by Watts’ silliness. Before I’d pass judgement on whether or not Hansen’s 1988 work was “skillful”, I’d do a lot more analysis than eyeball a plot.

      Have you done so, Bruce? Oh, and your first link doesn’t work.

    • http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/

      Channel 5 is the most indicative of current lower troposphere trends.

    • Well since you did pass judgment on Hansen’s work back at the start of this sub-thread, could you share the analysis you did?

    • Steve Easterbrook makes an argument that this has been done.
      http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~sme/papers/2008/Easterbrook-Johns-2008.pdf

      IMO, few of the other modeling centers would rank anywhere near as high as the Hadley Center, because of its affiliation with a weather predication center and its unified code across weather and climate models. Personally, I think this is “V&V lite.” And the validation part does not address the fitness for purpose issue.

    • “IMO”? Judith, it would help if you actually knew what you were talking about. My study of the Hadley Centre’s modeling practices was conducted in 2008. This year, I’ve done comparative studies at NCAR, MPI-M, IPSL, and I’ve had exploratory conversations with modellers at CCCma, GFDL and NASA GISS. I’m in the process of writing up the findings, but here’s some highlights:
      0) The notion that there’s a “right way” to do model V&V is ridiculous. We need a variety of approaches, which is what we have right now: each of the modeling centres is organised differently, with different scientific goals, and different modeling processes and priorities. The variety is good for the science.
      1) the Hadley centre is significantly different on the unification with NWP, which provides them with many benefits in terms of validating short term processes. But it also hampers their progress, and the approach wouldn’t be appropriate for all modelling centres to adopt.
      2) While some other centres have less mature code management and release processes than the Hadley centre, their model validation processes are not inferior. Just different.
      3) All the centres have evolved a V&V process that is highly tailored to their organisational context. All emphasize scientific validity as the central goal, and all are doing remarkably well at realizing this. While there’s room for improvement in the readability and usability of the models, the validation processes are already close to optimal.
      4) The idea that a commercial software V&V process should be applied is quite simply wrong. It would be expensive, it would hamper the science, and it would produce no noticeable different in the quality of the models as scientific instruments.

      Judith: as an influential senior academic, with a large audience, you owe it to your colleagues to stop making unsupported claims about what modeling centres do, don’t do, or should be doing. You have no expertise in software V&V, and you have not studied the model development practices used at modeling centres. You’re letting your political ideology to override your scientific training, and offering opinions for which you have no evidence.

    • Steve, get over it, I have no relevant political ideology here. I did not ever call for a commercial V&V approach. My concern is for a fully documented and publicly available V&V for climate models. And also validation for fitness for purpose. This is a key issue. I devoted an entire thread to building confidence in climate models. Your judgment in a comment on that thread “But your argument that the validation practices need to be improved is quite wrong – they are already better than any V&V process I’ve seen in any part of the software industry” is interesting but not well supported IMO (I’ve read much of what you have written, and I’ve read what some others have to say on the subject.) No room at all for improvement? Interesting. I am stating my considered opinion, and opening up this point for discussion, that such V&V activities need to be more visible and transparent. And further that there is a serious issue in terms of validation for fitness for purpose. And there is the further issue of independent V&V.

      I am a user of climate models. i have also contributed to their development in terms of parameterizations (related to sea ice, radiative transfer, and cloud microphysics). I also have a number of publications related to evaluating aspects of climate models. In the 1990′s I participated in the NCAR Community Climate System Modeling Working Groups. I am not ignorant of what goes on in the climate modeling community. I am entitled to my opinion on what could be improved, and I do not issue pronouncements but rather open up topics for discussion.

    • “few of the other modeling centers would rank anywhere near as high as the Hadley Center”

      That sounds much less like a discussion than a pronouncement.

    • Discussion requires two people, if anyone wants to discuss this, let me know. The argument supporting this statement is that it is the only climate model that is unified with an operational weather model, which gets validated every day.

    • And if you thought about it for a few seconds, you’d realize that while the unification with NWP brings many benefits, it doesn’t constitute a complete validation of the longer-timescale processes relevant to CR. And the idea that this is the only way of validating a climate model is simply ludicrous. Once again, you’re over-extending your reach. If you were able to describe how different modeling centres actually do their model V&V, and critique that, you’d have some credibility on this topic. But all you can do is make sweeping generalizations. It’s really very irresponsible of you.

    • Steve, read my thread on building confidence in climate models. Read it twice. And this time pay attention to what I actually say.

      And on this thread, pay attention to what i actually say: “Fully documented verification and validation of climate models.” Emphasis on fully documented, implying publicly available. Which is completely consistent with your previous statement on this blog: “I agree that these practices aren’t as visible to those outside the modeling community as they ought to be. ”

      You are welcome to come over here and insult me, but I ask you not to use words such as “bullshit”, which appeared in one of your comments yesterday. But slinging insults and appealing to your own authority doesn’t carry much weight with me or others over here.

    • “slinging insults and appealing to your own authority doesn’t carry much weight with me or others over here” – well said Dr Curry, but not strictly accurate. In fact it carries significant weight – in the form of a “credibilty discount”.

      Since Easterbrook may yet (although the evidence is not encouraging) have something of value to impart here, it is only fair to point out to him that the rules here are not the ones to which the last couple of decades of “science by druidical proclamation” have accustomed him.

      Now Steve, say thank you to Judith for helping you fit in here.

    • Judith,
      Okay – I’ll try and moderate my use of the vernacular. I was raised in a culture that’s a lot less sensitive about swearing, and I keep forgetting how funny Americans are about it. When I lived in the US, I remember being very amused one day when my work colleagues (en masse) shuffled up to my office one day obviously nervous about breaking the news to me that my wife swears. We both still chuckle about that!

      Anyway, I have read your thread on building confidence in climate models. Twice. I think it’s completely wrong-headed. I think you’re misrepresenting the role of models in determining climate policy, and you’re misrepresenting the maturity and sophistication of the V&V practices currently used in modeling labs. The problem isn’t that climate models suddenly have some new role to play, nor that climate modellers are now obligated to change their ways. The problem is that people who take on the role of communicating the climate science to broader audiences (including you) need to be more responsible in characterizing how science works, what the role of models are in the science, and how the IPCC process works.

      You appear to have bought into this whole denialist meme that “IPCC prescriptions are based entirely on the models, and the models are untested” without actually investigating it. You are unable to describe the testing strategies used at different labs, nor how the CMIP process works. Instead of going and finding out stuff like this and offering detailed, constructive criticism, you’re happy making sweeping generalizations, siding with people who know nothing about how climate models are developed and tested, cannot be bothered to find out, and then sit there saying it’s up to the scientists to do a better job of convincing them.

      Can describe how the V&V practices at the Hadley Center differ from those at NCAR? Can you compare their relative strengths and weaknesses? If you can’t, then I don’t believe you’re qualified to criticize them.

      I’ve written a piece that debunks one of your suggestions (about *independent* V&V):
      http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1556
      I guess I’ll have to devote some time to demolishing some of the other myths you’re promoting about climate models…

    • I’ve spotted your piece. I am working on a more extensive post on the issue of V&V. And yes I can describe one major difference between the validation practices between NCAR and the Hadley Center. Owing to its connection with the UKMO, there is a good heritage and expertise in using satellite data sets to evaluate models. There is very little expertise and activity at NCAR, particularly relative to what goes on at the Hadley Center.

      Lets get this one out of the way right now. With regards to the role of climate models in climate policy. Presumably you have heard of the UNFCCC and are familiar with the IPCC’s connection to it. Exactly where to you think the UNFCCC’s stabilization targets come from? did they make them up? ALso, the basis for the U.S. EPA’s endangerment ruling is the IPCC’s attribution statement for the 20th century warming, which is determined from climate model simulations. Given this, the public has the right to expect some accountability (that is publicly available and accessible), at least at the level of other models upon which EPA regulations relies (see this link)

      Also, read my piece on what can we learn from climate models? I understand exactly how climate models are tested, and I’ve written a number of papers on aspects of testing climate models, and participated in international working groups that address this issue. Among the many issues in this regard validation for fitness of purpose. More in my next post on V&V, hopefully it should be up tomorrow.

    • Yes, I read your piece on what we can learn from climate models. It’s a nice summary, and covers most of the recent literature the roles and limitations of modeling in climate science. But it really lacks any insight. You fail to make any link with late 20th-C philosophy of science (from post-positivism onwards), and, like most of the papers you cite, your piece lacks any detailed account of what model builders actually do from day-to-day to test the models. Which means your conclusions are just more vague arm-waving. You claim early in the post to differ from the mainstream on your evaluation of climate models, but you haven’t offered any evidence of why this should be (other than some vague existential worries you developed when hanging out on denialist websites).

      If the only difference you can give me between NCAR and the Hadley centre’s V&V practices is another vague claim about the benefits from being linked to an operational NWP facility, then I rest my case. How exactly do the CR group at the UKMO use these satellite data? How are they incorporating them into their test suites? And what makes you think such practices are missing for the CESM? This is way too vague to constitute a critique of either center’s practices.

    • Yes, my reply is somewhat vague, because i am busy preparing a more in depth post. And what climate modelers do on a day to day basis isn’t all that relevant. Over the past two decades, I’ve spent weeks that accumulate to months at ECMWF, I’ve spent time at NCAR including weeklong meetings with the CCSM Working Groups. I’ve served on international committees that address climate model evaluation. I’ve served on on the NOAA Climate Working Group that has periodic 3-day long reviews of the GFDL climate modeling effort. Etc. So trying to tell me that I don’t know anything about climate models isn’t particularly useful. And with regards to my post on what we can learn from climate models, do you prefer the “conventional” view of climate models reflected by this assessment? So far I am not getting anything out of this exchange, but lets keep trying and see where it goes.

    • Judith: if you don’t think what modellers do on a day to day basis is relevant, then you really haven’t understood anything at all about V&V. You can’t get much insight into model V&V from sitting on committees – you need to be at the coalface where the hard work of is done. And I don’t just mean developing new parameterizations either. I mean the much harder job of incorporating new parameterizations into an existing model family and investigating their impact on all the different configurations of the models, and checking that overall the change makes a set of models more scientifically justified.
      Anyway, I wrote another post for you on my blog about what *I* think validation is all about:
      http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=2032
      If you’re still not sure whether you’re getting anything out of the discussion, feel free to ignore it :-)

    • I’m reading it and keeping up with it. I’m working on my v&v post, which is more extensive than I originally planned, hoping to post on Wed.

    • Steve,
      Do you guys still program directly in FORTRAN or are you using a meta language?

    • I’m not sure I’ve got the hang of how replies are dealt with but for the removal of doubt this responds to Steve Easterbrook | November 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm |

      Can I put aside the various definitions that different disciplines use in this area and cut to the quick. If Validation is defined as the Utility of a model then a couple of things follow:

      1. Utility is a relative matter, so therefore is validation i.e. some models are very useful, some are not so useful.
      2. Utility like beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. This perhaps explains some of the debates about Climate models.

      Two points follow:

      First, the interesting question from a users perspective is not the utility of the model, but what is the most useful model.

      I suspect if the question is “What will the climate look like in 2050?” the answer is not a GCM.

      Second, the only users who will worry, like Steve, about whether due process has been followed in creating the model will be those who are interested in compliance with best practice in model construction. Scientists involved in understanding the climate will be interested in the performance of subsystems and their relationship with theoretical constructs, while those whose interests are external to the study of climate will have only passing interest in compliance with methodology.

      By way of analogy if we buy a product we may have a passing interest that the products manufacturing process complied with ISO 9001, but we sure as heck worry about whether it does what we wanted it to.

      The important take out from this second point is that the value judgment is very likely to be defined external to the formal system that produced it.

    • Steve you want to re-arrange my (and my children’s) relationship to the economy. The same is true for the other 6 billion souls on this planet. You no doubt think that the model results gives your position some scientifc validity. I guess if you just want to do the science with the models then go ahead as is but if you want this to influence policy then I’d prefer to see some transparent validation. The science may not require V&V but it’s not to difficult to see why policy (and the mob) would require it. But then I wouldn’t be surprised if you believe that the mob should be passive acceptors of the experts opinion.

    • Head spinning stuff, man.

      “V&V process that is highly tailored to their organisational context”
      ” the quality of the models as scientific instruments.”

      Steve,
      that is the second time you are throwing your politics word in.

      Do you realize your descriptions are obscurantist, with no added benefits in clarity?

    • curryja | November 26, 2010 at 11:21 am
      IMO, few of the other modeling centers would rank anywhere near as high as the Hadley Center, because of its affiliation with a weather predication center and its unified code across weather and climate models.

      The MET recently gave up trying to do seasonal forecasting. What chance an accurate assessment of weather or climate 10, 25, 50 or 100 years out?

    • Weather 10, 25, 50, 100 years from now? Not a chance.

      Climate? 10, 25, 50? Not bad. 100? Less so.

      Why do you mention the two in the same sentence?

    • Because with analog methods, it can be done 5 to 15 years out.
      Both for weather (daily maps viewable), and for climate trends.

      The numerology models don’t use the basic primary mechanisms that drive the weather, and don’t understand the solar/planetary mechanisms that drive the variations that are the climate trends.

    • Because the MET climate model is an extension of its weather model.

    • Every procedure and process that Professor Easterbrook has so far described is less than “V&V lite”. All of them, each and every one, is Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, for every engineering software project with which I have been involved. Every one, without a single exception. Professor Easterbrook continues to attempt to raise these SOP knock-offs to the level of IV&V. What I have read so far leads me to call the Climate Science activities in this arena “SOP Lite”.

      He also continues to focus on GCMs when there are hundreds of other software that are equally, or maybe more, important. He has limited his investigations to a small subset of all the models, and implies that every lab uses the same methodology. Which is not surprising because of the SOP nature of the revelations.

      Comparative calculations across different codes and different developers have been a part of engineering software since the mid 1970s in my industry. And in turbulence modeling it seems to have started in the early 1980s with the (in)famous Stanford Olympics. More importantly, these comparative calculations in engineering include calculations of measured experimental data.

      These SOPs are not IV&V. Never have been and never will be.

      The commercial software aspect is solely an invention of Professor Easterbrook. He is the only person who has attempted to use such a comparison. It’s a red herring. All other posts and comments of which I am aware have focused on engineering and scientific software. There’s a large literature in this area which continues to be completely ignored by all the Climate Science Community, and especially ignored by the chief spokesperson for the software. Self reference from a position of authority always fails.

    • Dan I am working on a new V&V post, should have it ready tomorrow.

  9. For reasonably intelligent and informed non-scientists (like me), too much of what passes for CAGW science does not meet the “smell” test i.e. the Vickie Pope and UK Met Office are going to revise the last decade’s temperatures upward “to account for newer sensors” and “adjust for a new method that masked some of the rising temperature trend,” or Jim Hansen and GISS’ continual adjustments downward of temperature records in the 1930′s and adjustments upward from 1980 on.

    Throw in the Climategate e-mails, papers by McIntyre, et al, McShane & Wyner, Wegners’s report, and others, casting serious doubt on the efficacy of tree rings and other proxies for determing historic global temperatures, there is little reason to believe, let alone have confidence in, any pronouncements, studies, etc. on future climate trends from the cabal that still controls much of climate research.

  10. Dr Curry,
    One of the authors of the eBook you refer to above is Professor of Applied Mathematics Dr. Claes Johnson. Perhaps you can enlighten us on where he has gone wrong in his description of the “greenhouse effect” in this chapter:

    http://www.nada.kth.se/~cgjoh/atmothermo.pdf

    • He doesn’t describe the greenhouse effect, he ignores it. The figure 4 that he includes actually sits on a NASA website

      http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/EDDOCS/images/Erb/components2.gif

      His justification for ignoring the greenhouse effect is this diagram (a Kiehl-Trenberth style diagram, except without the greenhouse effect).
      Gavin or Andy, if you are reading this, PLEASE do something to get this diagram removed from NASA’s website. I investigated this previously, sent emails to a few people, but no response. If i recall the heritage of this is from the late 90′s, an educational document written by Eric Barron and John Theon. And we wonder why people are confused . . .

    • 1. Claiming that Dr. Johnson bases his analysis on the NASA diagram is not fair to Dr. Johnson. The NASA figure is simply included to show that the Earth energy budget balances without greenhouse gases. He provides an alternate explanation of the temperature profile of the atmosphere without invoking a “greenhouse effect.” What do you specifically claim is wrong with his alternate explanation of the temperature profile of the atmosphere?
      2. The NASA figure is only one of a number of Earth energy budgets that do not incorporate a “greenhouse effect.”

      For example, see Ozawa et al 2003 Reviews of Geophysics

      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.164.110&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    • If you include the free convection of evaporating water vapour (and why not?) then convection shifts more heat from the surface to the atmosphere than radiation does.

      The Kiehl Trenberth sketch overeggs the radiation pudding. The oceans don’t absorb longwave.

    • On the other hand, without the GHG impact on longwave, the earth’s surface goes below freezing everywhere, once the water vapor condenses out and becomes irrelevant.

    • the oceans absorb longwave radiation, this is well known.

    • I disagree. It might have been repeated a lot of times, but I’ve never found an argument which stands up to scrutiny. The only way the greenhouse effect is operative is by increasing the altitude at which the atmosphere radiates to space.

      Water does not absorb longwave much beyond it’s own wavelength. This is well known physics. This means a lot of W/m^2 are concentrated at the surface in the first 0.05mm. This causes a lot of evaporation, which cools the ocean surface as the latent heat of evaporation heads upwards with the lighter than air water vapour molecules.

      By what mechanism do you propose a significant amount of energy is transferred into the ocean by longwave radiation?

    • I see your point Tallbloke. The heat is carried off by evaporation and not stored in the ocean. I want to hear from people who claim longwave transfers heat INTO the ocean.

    • “Water does not absorb longwave much beyond it’s own wavelength. ”

      Means exactly what?

    • I am so glad that you posted this passage from Johnson. I teach a grad/undergrad climate course(*) on climate and global change each fall. I would like to post Johnson’s piece for the class’ comments as I post many articles: some good and some bad but all educational. It will be interesting to see if they pick out the basic omissions and errors in the text. I especially like the hyperbole regarding the physics of the lapse rate and that climate scientists believe that this is caused by radiation. I presume that Dr. Johnson doesn’t apply this reasoning to the troposphere where the dry adiabatic lapse rate (the 10C/km) is independent of temperature. You can derive the lapse rate (=-g/Cp) directly from the first law or from physical arguments that when you raise a parcel of air through a vertical pressure gradient the expanding parcel does work on the environment and, using its internal energy, cools. The difference between the observed and theoretical lapse rate is temperature dependent. As saturation vapor pressure increases exponentially with temperature, the magnitude of the release of latent heat of a rising parcel is greater in a warm column of air. Compare the actual tropospheric lapse rates of a column in the arctic versus the tropics. Even the undergraduates in my climate class understand this. And as for using the incorrect NASA diagram! Colorful but wrong. Earth would have a base temperature well below the water freezing point if the schematic were correct.
      PW
      (*) It is a fun class to teach. The basic ethic for the class is that I don’t mind what the student’s opinion of global warming and climate change is as long as they can defend it physically (or thermodynamically: sorry Dr. Johnson)

  11. @Dr Curry

    ‘Failures of this strategy in terms of the actual science are to …………… alienate a large segment of the educated public who have the desire, interest, logic, and often the mathematical and physical science skills to understand and even contribute to the science’

    Alienate is an understatement! You have kindly – and at some personal cost – provided a forum in which sceptics and alarmists can interact on a roughly level playing field. I thank you greatly for this initiative.

    I started blogging there with a pretty low opinion of the science and its defenders. A few days later it has sunk to an even lower point. The scientists have learnt few lessons from Climategate about their behaviour and how it affects the general educated public’s perception of their work and conclusions.

    For them to raise their game they will need a complete mindset readjustment t openness, patience and education. From their existing norms of secrecy, impatience, arrogance and insults.

    Assuming that those I have ‘met’ on the blog are, by definition, those more inclined to engage with the sceptical viewpoint, I see little sign of this happening.

    I fear your excellent initiative may be falling in deaf ears.

  12. Latimer

    I think that is a bit harsh Climate-gate has raised the professional status of climate scientists up to that of Politicians, Journalists, Solicitors and Estate Agents. Unfortunately this makes regaining the trust of the general non scientific community difficult, as most people only trust them as far as they can throw them!

  13. “Climate-gate has raised the professional status of climate scientists up to that of Politicians, Journalists, Solicitors and Estate Agents.”

    This type of group guilt is sort of like saying that because there are some people who don’t think that there is such a thing as the greenhouse effect, that anybody who doubts anything from the IPCC fits into that category.

    If the group guilt doesn’t work for skeptics, why does it work for scientists? Of the thousands of working climatologists, just how many were quoted in the stolen emails?

    Note: the scientists quoted have not been actually found guilty of any wrong-doing (I’m assuming most of us believe in due process), so the term “guilt” here is used loosely. Whatever you tend to think the people quoted in those emails did, that opinion should only apply to the people quoted. But this kind of group treatment seems to be commonplace for those who blame the email theft for undermining the trust of climate science.

    This is another reason that I think dealing with messaging and the way climate science is communicated will have minimal affect on policy development or the related politics.

    • This would be true of anyone from within the climatology community had shown the slightest inclination to even go so far as to say …maybe our colleagues over there were sailing a bit close to the wind. We’d rather they didn’t as we could be tarred with the same brush.

      The only two who have done so are (to their credit) Judith Curry and George Monbiot. Without exception, every other climatologist has toed the line which has been to ignore the behaviour, make handwaving arguments about how the evidence was obtained, or to brush it aside as beneath their notice.

      And the general public has noticed. If every single one of the profession find the bad beheviour acceptable, Joe Sixpack doesn’t. He finds it unscientific and devious. And he views the pronouncements of all cliamtologists with deep suspicion. Opinion polls show this. Election results show this. This blog shows it.

      Climatology is held in increasingly low esteem. Your own failure to regulate your colleagues has had a major effect on this PR disaster.

      Dean – will you now speak out and say that the behaviour reveled in Climategate was wrong?

    • “Group Guilt” what arrogance! most people are quite capable of recognizing what the words, phrases and content of those emails mean, everyone has experienced this behavior. Scientists have included themselves by defending the indefensible thus treating the general public who incidentally employ most of them as imbeciles. Most people are not naive enough to believe the inquiries were anything but establishment whitewashes and they have not been letdown. Indeed Bishop Hill and Climate Audit are discussing some of the finer points now.

    • “Dean – will you now speak out and say that the behaviour reveled in Climategate was wrong?”

      Emails are talk, not behavior. To the degree that the talk in the emails is proven to have been behavior as well, then it is wrong. So what has been proven so far? Very little in fact. The attitude in the emails is bad as well, but we’ve all had a bad day and said things we wish we hadn’t.

      However, as far as I can see, a lot of commenters on this blog think that any investigation that clears the emailers is rigged, and any evidence that, say, Wegman violated ethics is rigged. As if nobody in climate science – except those who are “skeptics” could actually be honest.

      I’m not saying this applies to everybody who posts here or elsewhere. But clearly there is a lot of pre-determined belief in guilt or innocence, and Dr. Curry’s regular statements that the email theft undermined climate science in general just supports this, even though I’m sure she doesn’t think everybody on the field is dishonest.

    • Dean, my comments regarding the emails were regarding the public perception of climate science and the behavior by the scientists. I have avoided censuring the scientists themselves, and have publicly stated that there was no apparent research misconduct. The issue that I am most concerned about is behavior by the institutions.

    • Of course we can all have a bad day. I had one yesterday.

      But the Climategate e-mails do not just reveal a bad day. They show a bad attitude extending over a decade (3000+ days)

      And I do not think that everyone in the field is actively dishonest. I do remark, and stand by that remark, that with the two notable excecptions, there has not been a rush of climatologists to suggest that the behaviour and attitude is unacceptable……and it has been enormously counter-productive.

      If you are caught goung around behaving like a shyster ..no matter who does the catching and how…people will think thatyou are a member of that clan, and mistrust you accordingly.

      But, I’m grateful to you for your guarded recognition that the attitude and behaviour was wrong.

  14. Sharperoo writes:
    I have a proposal Dr Curry: How about you write a post about the greenhouse effect, explain it exactly the way you think it should be explained and see how many people who currently claim it’s not possible have their minds changed by the attempt.

    The goal shouldn’t be “victory” by “changing” minds. It should be to influence opinions by informing and educating so that they are open to eventually changing their own minds. A decade ago the skeptics were questioning whether their was actually any climate change attributable to Co2. Now, the debate has moved on (for the most part) to the magnitude of the change and the policy for combating it. People who are regularly reading a climate change blog probably have read a significant amount of material about the topic. They have opinions with subject to a lot of “information” inertia. The blogs are not a safe place to admit error; ridicule and insult are all too common. Expecting an instant conversion in a hostile envirnoment is unrealistic. Many valid scientific theories have taken years before they have generally been accepted. I believe that for many lay people, one of the most common tests of validity is if a theory survives “the test of time”. A lot of climate science is new and cutting edge. When a relationship of trust is built up between the blogger and the reader, the reader will add the bloggers positions to their “experts that I trust believe this” information pile. If the blogger is rude, condecending or dismissive, they will add the bloggers opinions to their internal “enemies believe this” information pile. In other words, go for the soft sell. The hard sell is scaring off the customers.

  15. http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/26/raising-the-level-of-the-game/#comment-15488 presents a serious misunderstanding of my work.
    Sharperoo says “You appear entirely unconcerned with whether the claim is right or wrong (too busy/uninterested to check) and only whether there exists sufficient justification for you to continue saying it (whether Lindzen said anything close to it or not).”

    My field is the logic of complex issues and I catalog the issues in the climate change debate. I am not an expert in climate science so yes indeed I do not make judgments about which claims are right or wrong. Nor is there any way to do this in most cases. I merely reported the debate as I understood it.

    This is what it means to have a debate: we do not know which claims are right or wrong. For example if Gavin and Lindzen disagree then it is an open question as far as I am concerned. How could it be otherwise?

    • There a bit of a problem with getting to the point where the blog software no longer offers a reply. First Sharperoo did it regarding the CO2 greenhouse issue and now Gavin has done it at http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/26/raising-the-level-of-the-game/#comment-15517
      My reply is that I do not try to estimate credibility (whatever that might mean) beyond basic credentials, which Lindzen has in spades. As a minimum, before I would drop this issue from my catalog I would have to hear Dick’s side. I note that your short list is all by leading warmers. Dick may have his own list, or maybe even original research. If you do not know why he said it, I would think you should be interested rather than dismissive, so you can attempt to refute him.

      In any case it is nice to know that my report was correct.

    • “My field is the logic of complex issues and I catalog the issues in the climate change debate. I am not an expert in climate science”

      My field is software engineering and I’m not an expert in climate science either. However I strike to be as accurate as possible so I only repeat information I’ve researched and I can justify.

      If you don’t want to check if a particular claim (e.g. 2.5 degrees of warming due to C02) then don’t bring it up.

      “This is what it means to have a debate: we do not know which claims are right or wrong. For example if Gavin and Lindzen disagree then it is an open question as far as I am concerned. How could it be otherwise?”

      If Gavin and Lindzen debate a topic I can observe and see which makes the strongest case based on available evidence. For any given claim I lack the knowledge necessary to construct my own argument for or against but that doesn’t mean I can’t evaluate expert arguments for or against.

      Your position basically says that any fact is “debatable” so long as someone somewhere is willing to debate it, that puts the spherical nature of the planet Earth into the “debatable” category.

      “My reply is that I do not try to estimate credibility (whatever that might mean) beyond basic credentials, which Lindzen has in spades.”

      That’s a severe mistake which will cause you to lend too much credibility to those with good credentials making bad arguments and too little to those without making good arguments.

      “I note that your short list is all by leading warmers.”

      In addition to the above your focus on credentials shifts your focus away from the facts at hand and towards the individuals involved. Instead of discussing the makeup of the greenhouse effect with Gavin you instead want him to line up a list of people to support it that you find acceptable while also dismissing it because you think you can probably find a similar list of people to support your position.

      “He said/she said” is what really bad journalists do, it’s not how science, debate or discussion works.

    • “Your position basically says that any fact is “debatable” so long as someone somewhere is willing to debate it, that puts the spherical nature of the planet Earth into the “debatable” category.”

      Exactly – that’s David’s problem. Any and all ideas are equal, because any and all ideas are debatable.

  16. “I just received notice of publication of a new book entitled “Slaying the Sky Dragon – Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.”

    Nice false balance…
    This is how it came across…
    ” I’m not saying I support this view but here’s a book that does. but I won’t show you one that counters it. That’s their job. “

    • The website for the book reads like it was written by Alex Jones. Yuck.

    • My reading of it was that the book is an example that the viewpoint exists and is something that needs to be countered although I do think it’s naive to think scientists haven’t been trying to counter it.

    • false balance, not even close, I am tearing my hear out that this got published (although I haven’t read it).

    • Wouldn’t a more rational response be something like:

      Once I read this book, I will make all of my objections and disagreements fully public. Until then, because I have no idea what arguments and analysis are presented, I shall withhold any opinion.

      Your hair will thank you for this.

    • I’ve gotten some previews from several of the authors, what i’ve seen is not worth rebutting. If someone sends me a copy of the book, I will read it and comment on it, but I’m certainly not going to buy it.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon’–
      Sounds like it needs to be made into a feature length movie, in 3D. The film model to emulate: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
      First scene will be imperial guard Al Gore (draped in green) flying through hazy, black skies having a sword fight with emperor Roy Spencer .
      How better to educate middle schoolers on CC?

  17. From Climateaudit, an old thread.

    Top Fifteen Reasons for Withholding Data or Code

    15. It’s on a diskette somewhere, but I don’t know where.
    14. If we get a good climatic story from a chronology, we write a paper using it. That is our funded mission! The rejected data are set aside and not archived.
    13. A source code request by a reviewer is unprecedented in the 28 years since I founded the journal.
    12. It’s on our FTP site, but I’ve forgotten the location.
    11. His research is published in the peer-reviewed literature which has passed muster with the editors of those journals and other scientists who have reviewed his manuscripts. You are free to your analysis of climate data and he is free to his.
    10. With regard to the additional experimental results that you request, our view is that this goes beyond an obligation on the part of the authors.
    9. It’s password protected.
    8. It’s the property of the originating author.
    7. It will be available after we publish an article.
    6. We’re planning to publish another article.
    5. As an ex- marine I refer to the concept of a few good men. A lesser amount of good data is better without a copious amount of poor data stirred in.
    4. I’ve misplaced it.
    3. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.
    2. Giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in.
    1. No reply

  18. “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” —Mark Twain

    Physcist <Hal Lewis took APS to task for claiming climate change was “incontrovertible”.

    Strongly recommend keeping foundational skepticism in science and in principle avoiding stating anything is “incontrovertible.”

    • Lewis went a wee bit further than that. If that’s all he had said, he wouldn’t have so many “skeptic” fall down and worship his screed.

    • Lay off the shallow, jejune sarcasm, eh mate ? It’s extremely unwitty and you just clutter the threads with this stupid BS – most of us are trying to follow the grown-ups and your juvenile interjections are simply irritating

      I suspect that this is your point, however … now demonstrate that I’m right

    • It’s one thing to be reasonably skeptical (unbounded skepticism isn’t tenable for life), it’s another to layer on a heavy dose of silliness unsupported by any facts (“the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it”) (*trillions*, really!) as Lewis did in his letter.

    • Thank you for demonstrating my point

      The only interesting aspect to the Lewis episode is the *fact* that the APS executive discourteously ignored it’s own Constitution in issuing it’s blanket statement on AGW attribution. Discuss the Constitutional issue, that’s what grown-ups do – blanket conspiracy notions from all sides are commonplace, very tedious and pointless

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      According to investors.com, Richard Sandor, founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) estimates that climate trading could be “a $10 trillion dollar market”.

    • If I live long enough, my income “could be” in the “trillions”.

    • Then join us in laughing at Sandor.
      I think Dr. Lewis was talking about the trillions of dollars at risk due to AGW imposed policies, if I recall his letter.

    • David L. Hagen

      To be sure. I was highlighting just the most foundational complaint.

      See Hal Lewis: My resignation from the American Physical Society.

      Besides his numerous scientific objections, Lewis states:

      I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club.

      That financial feedback loop is the greatest challenge to restoring/keeping integrity in Climate Science.
      Politicians and NSF reviewers have the major responsibility to call for/fund objective science, including proportional funding for the “red team” to “kick the tires” and find out what is real/not among all the claims and alarms.

  19. Concerned Citizen

    Judith,
    I have no idea if I am part of your target audience. I am not qualified to join any detailed debate on these topics. I do have a PhD in engineering. I have run many models on supercomputers (“simple” FE stuff) and have a fine grasp of GIGO. I don’t need anyone to convince me there is a greenhouse effect. Like so many others, I object to the apocalyptic AGW predictions based on scant (any?) evidence that they will come true if society continues on its current course. I don’t need anyone (especially a non-scientist journalist) to sit me down like a child and explain to me how the Climategate emails were innocent. I am a 50 year old adult with a career in science and I can read them and interpret them for myself. Once I started reading blogs including WUWT, I have repeatedly seen a troubling (to me) situation: what is represented as raw temperature data showing weak to no time-based trend over the last several decades and “corrected” data showing strong, consistent upward trends. Why will nobody in the established climate camp address what appears to an outsider like me to be data manipulation? Similarly, I thought the existence of the Medieval warm period was part of the “tree trunk” of established history, yet it is the established scientists who seem bent on removing it. These are things that trouble me. I would greatly appreciate your comments on both.

    • If you want to know how weather data are used for climate studies, there’s not many websites worse that WUWT for learning the facts.

    • That is not what he wants to know. He wants to know why the criticisms have been ignored? We all want to know that. Happily we may get a Congressional investigation or two, which might finally force the agencies out of their trenches. For starters they could report these questionable statistical results as rough estimates rather than facts. What a breakthrough that would be.

    • I don’t consider pictures of weather stations to be “criticisms”. Nor are insinuations of fraud, manipulation, or (snicker) fewer stations in “cold” areas. Menne et.al. asked Watts to work with them, and even referenced his atrocious Heartland hit-job, but he bailed and quit talking to them. Probably in a snit because doing analysis means, well, *analysis*, not just photographs.

      Have you read Menne et.al.’s 2009 paper, “On the Reliability of the US Surface Temperature”? I recommend doing so. Blows Watts’ accusations right out of the water.

    • Please explain why pictorial evidence of inappropriately sited weather stations are not considered to be ‘criticisms’ in your world.

      To many, me included, siting a thermometer near a hot spot would seem to be a sure fire way of introducing a possibility of falsely increased readings. But obviously not to you. Why not?

    • Do you understand the difference between absolute value and anomaly?

      Can a weight scale that’s always 10 kg heavy tell you if you’re gaining or losing weight?

    • Much of the siting debate is about whether the conditions change over time – trees grow, jets get bigger, tarmac extends.

    • Those things are attempted to be known and accounted for. Don’t blame climate scientists for making reasonable efforts to use the data available for purposes for which it wasn’t intended. It would be nice if we could go back to the invention of good thermometers and tell the world to set them in places that will allow us to determine climate over the coming centuries, but that didn’t happen, so the science has to use what was actually recorded, to the best of our ability to determine. I recommend Edwards’ “A Vast Machine” for information on how climate scientists try to use weather data for climate studies.

      It’s safe to say that Watts doesn’t help with his ignorant accusations of fraud and manipulation, unsupported by any real analysis.

    • David L. Hagen

      Derecho64
      Lay off the ad hominem attacks, slander and libel.
      “It’s safe to say that Watts doesn’t help with his ignorant accusations of fraud and manipulation, unsupported by any real analysis.”
      Watts and his volunteers are the only ones who have actually thoroughly documented the condition of the US weather stations – despite billions to NOAA etc.

      Quit the trash and address the science. Otherwise I recommend everyone ignore this troll.

    • I don’t think Watts needs any defending from you. He certainly slings accusations of fraud and manipulation with aplomb; if he was taken seriously, he’d really have to back off the rhetoric, unless he wanted to land in court.

      That said, his “science” is a joke; perhaps you can light a fire under him to get his paper published so the real science community can lay into him.

    • I think you missed my point. I was just mildly rebuking you for the impoliteness of your response to Latimer Alder.

      If you know and agree that there are problems with consistent temperature measurement over time, why respond by suggesting that it is all a problem with his understanding, rather than just conceding the point as you did in your response to me?

    • Yes. I do understand that difference. Being a chemist I got to do lots of experiments in my undergraduate and masters work. Simple techniques of experimental procedure and data analysis did not escape my notice. I even have my old lab notebooks in the attic somewhere.

      If the weight scale is consistently always 10Kg heavy, then you just have a zero error….measuring anomalies only will of course take care of that. Or you can reset your scale to zero and recalibrate it before every experiment.

      But the discussions of siting often show how the thermometer’s environment has changed over time. So the consistency of misreading has gone. It is not just a zero error problem.

      As the environment changes, there is an in-built drift towards higher temperatures…for example if a station previously sited on a large grassed area becomes surrounded by lovely black heat-absorbing tarmac. Or from being well-ventilated becomes obstructed by the presence of surrounding buildings.

      Or all sorts of other changes – that may not be known to the lab bound climatologist – that will in general produce falsely high temperature anomalies. There are plenty of effects that produce false highs…I can think of very few that produce false lows…can you?

      ‘Those things are attempted to be known and accounted for. Don’t blame climate scientists for making reasonable efforts to use the data available for purposes for which it wasn’t intended’

      I love your weasel words…these things are attempted to be known and accounted for’. In other words…’we tried’. You get gold stars in junior school of trying. But you guys like us to believe that you are the pros. The bees knees. the undisputed masters of the subject.

      It so not good enough for you to say ‘we tried, but its hard’.

      You guys now have to be able to show that not only did you try, you took all reasonable – and quite a few beyond the call of duty – steps to account for all possible causes of error. You may not like Anthony Watts personally (though to many outsiders he presents a reasonably amiable, though sceptical face to the world), but you cannot just dismiss his criticisms with a langorous wave of your superior hand.

      Before I started studying Climatology, I kind of had a mental image of how I expected the field to be working. If somebody had come up with reasonably documented proof of the possibility that 100 weather stations that we relied upon for raw data feeding everything we do from understanding the basic problem we think we might have to ‘teaching’ models how they should work, had serious and systemic siting problems that could be badly affecting our results, then I kind of hoped that there would have been a pretty serious effort to spend some of the money available to get out there, understand the problems in depth, fix them where possible – or document very thoroughly what they are so that future users of the individual data could know exactly what they were dealing with.

      I’d also make sure I had a feet on the ground programme of regular verification that the conditions of all the stations remained good – or if not good – at least the errors and difficulties were known. And I’d do this regardless of whether the person drawing the point to my attention was a bum called Joe Sixpack who ran off with my wife – or the President of the IPCC himself.

      Because I’d recognise that since the data is the bedrock of everything, we have to get it as right as we can..we have a public duty to do so as part of our contract with the wider world as their leading scientific advisers. And leaving aside the high-faluting stuff and that, its good PR. If you can show Joe Sixpack all the efforts that get made to ensure the value of the data, it builds hos confidence in your work…with all the goodies that flow from that …careers, grants, recognition. And as pure scientist, you get to work with better data and draw better conclusions. Win-win-win all round.

      But what actually happens? The evidence is dismissed because you don’t like Watts’s blog and he hasn’t published a paper yet. But you think somebody might have tried a bit once upon a time. And that’s it. That is the entire response from the science of Climatology.

      Utterly curseword pathetic.

      The real clue comes later on:

      ‘Don’t blame climate scientists for making reasonable efforts to use the data available for purposes for which it wasn’t intended’

      I don’t blame them for trying. I do blame them for not going the extra mile ..or five hundred miles…to show that they really are making the absolute best efforts possible to eliminate all source of error. What you call reasonable is blatantly not good enough.

      And thanks – I so much enjoy the patronising tone of your little ripostes to me. Its the small things that make the difference.

    • Obviously you don’t understand how weather station data is analyzed, corrections made, and so on.

      Perhaps, before you get yourself all lathered up, you should look into the process before you pronounce judgement that the scientists who do such things are lazy and incompetent. I pass judgement on Watts because I know what his agenda is. You pass judgement without having a clue.

      But, far be it from me to point out the obvious. Your own commentary does that.

    • What then is your view on the treatment of seasonality and auto correlation in change point detection and homogenization in climate time series?

    • Ask the experts – of which I am not one.

    • In response to comment below @ 10.13 am:

      Then how do you know Latimer Alder doesn’t “understand how weather station data is analyzed, corrections made, and so on” if you don’t?

    • Actually it looks as though the comments in threads are better behaved than I thought. Previous should read “Response to comment below”

    • It’s been a hard day “shouldn’t read”

    • We can all figure out his knowledge level based on the questions he asked. He took Watts’ word as truth and merely parroted it here.

    • I did not take Watts’s word as truth and parrotted it anywhere. I studied the case he made and the various commentaries and thought about the fundamentals of this problem…which is unreliable and inconsistent data collection.

      And all my experience tells me that the way to get the best data for any problem is to correct is as near to the fundamental source of that data as possible and to understand the method being used in as much detail as possible. Collecting the data in a slipshod way and then hoping that a subsequent set of ‘corrections’ will somehow produce accurate and reliable observations is a very poor second.

      And when it is apparent that things like ‘station location’ are not even reliably recorded…and stations move several times while while keeping the
      same name…or their coordiantes are recorded as being in places that are geographically impossible (in the middle of the ocean for a land-based airport for example), and that the station sitings blatantly violate the relevant guidelines for where and how they should be placed then it is apparent that there are major problems with the whole data collection exercise. (PS – those examples are from the USA where we might expect the data quality to be better on average than in less ‘developed’ areas where accurate temperature recording comes a long way down the list of people’s priorities) .

      If you choose to put great faith into climatologists abilities to do post-processing (adjustments) to somehow magic a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, than I have these Enron shares I might be able to interest you in. I’d believe you just a little more if you were able to describe even some of the processes you admire so much…but this seems to be beyond you.

      It is a simple rule of science..bad data cannot produce good result. The most sophisticated data analysis iaginable does not change this fundamental fact.

      That both Anthony Watts and I have arrived at the same conclusions probably shows that we have had similar experiences in data collection and analysis.

      Your attempt to brush this problem under the carpet shows just how weak your case really is.
      ‘Watch the wall, my darlings, as the Gentlemen go by’

    • The serious point about this Derecho64 is twofold.

      1. Abusing others is easy, giving reasoned arguments is harder, but more widely appreciated.

      2. If you don’t know much about what you are talking about perhaps spend less time on send and more on receive.

    • “Please explain why pictorial evidence of inappropriately sited weather stations are not considered to be ‘criticisms’ in your world.”

      Mr Watts is supposed to have published a proper study showing the temperature stations in question have introduced a warming bias into the record. For some reason though he can’t just get around to finishing it although he was able to publish his “Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?” report via the Heartland Institute 18 months ago which naturally concluded that it wasn’t.

      Imagine for a second that Dr Hansen published his conclusions in a Greenpeace newsletter while sitting around for years saying he was going to publish a proper analysis but that in the meantime you should assume it’s true.

      So no pictorial evidence is not good enough. A real analysis is what’s needed and the only one performed to date (which ironically really annoyed the folks at WUWT because scientists actually dared to download the publicly available data at surfacestations.org and analyse it) says that poorly sited stations actually introduce a cooling bias overall.

    • I was at Menne’s talk at AMS this past January and he bent over backwards to thank Watts and his project, and indicated that he and his coauthors would have been happy to work with Watts. However, Watts declined and ceased communicating with him.

      I wonder if Watts realized the jig was up.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Here is some additional information. Anthony Watts discusses Menne et al in this Jan 27, 2010 post.

    • I wouldn’t trust Watts to tell a story accurately and honestly. He has too much history of being a BSer.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      I provided this link not for you, but for others so that they might judge for themselves who is accurate & honest and who is the BSer.

    • You are perfectly at liberty to disagree with his account on his blog if you have an alternative view.

      Joe Sixpack will see a reasonably well-documented history that seemingly covers the known facts and sequence of events, backed up with a bit of a paper trail. And the efforts of many volunteers who participated. And well over 250 comments.

      On the other hand there will be you, denying it is true, but with nothing other than your opinion of Mr Watts’s personality to back it up.

      Which account do you think Joe SP is more likely to be persuaded by?

    • Basically, Menne et.al. called Watts’ bluff. The fact that his “paper” has been in “preparation” for well over a year (to be generous) raises suspicion as well.

    • The only worse sites would be Real Climate, Joe Romm, collide-a-scape and whatever site Gore is running lately.

    • yes you are in the center of mass of my target audience.

    • A Ph.D. in engineering gives you the relevant background for how to go about learning. For starters, taking the word of WUWT on temperature data shows that your methodology on knowledge acquisition needs retooling. As I said earlier, you need to look to your skills training for better approaches to knowledge-building: following the many amateur studies of temperature data on rankexploits.com is a good start.

    • Did I hear that one of the ways in which climatologists needed to change was to become less arrogant and patronising to what Judith called:

      ”a large segment of the educated public who have the desire, interest, logic, and often the mathematical and physical science skills to understand and even contribute to the science’ ?

      Clearly RB has yet to go on the ‘suppression of arrogance and patronising behaviour’ module. I’m sure that he has just helped the sceptical Concerned Citizen become a Very Sceptical Concerned Citizen.
      He just doesn’t get it.

    • Would you claim that WUWT is a good place to learn about how weather data is used for climate studies? Oh what grounds?

      Pointing out that the site “Concerned Citizen” mentioned by name as one he/she visits is a pretty lousy place for science isn’t condescending or patronizing.

    • IMO, WUWT has some dubious posts. However their analyses of individual surface temperature records seem robust and at least occasionally make significant points.

    • Menne et.al. took Watts’ classification of stations based on siting, analyzed the data, and showed that station siting didn’t have the impact on US average temperature that Watts insinuated it did. Menne also went further and compared their standard USHCN analyses against the USCRN (Watts can’t use siting issues against those stations!) and found that for the period of overlap, the two are in very close agreement. That should have been the end of the story for Watts’ claims, but until he gets his paper out (we’ve been waiting quite some time now), his criticisms of the US temperature record are very difficult to accept.

    • I guess Concerned Citizen was not just talking about Watts.

    • You’re right – I don’t pay much attention to WUWT, and deservedly so. Though throwing Goddard under the bus was a very small step in the right direction.

    • You should have quit digging when the hole was not so deep.

    • David L. Hagen

      Concerned Citizen – Ditto your perspective.
      See also:
      Musings from the Chiefio,
      Lucia’s The Blackboard
      Niche Modeling
      William Biggs
      Climate Audit etc.

      Derecho64
      Cut the ad hominem attacks. Stop wasting our time. Address the science and policy issues!

    • Concerned Citizen, see also:

      Open Mind,
      Skeptical Science,
      The Discovery of Global Warming,
      Science of Doom,
      Climate Central

      These are just a small taste of the reality-based climate science sites, to serve as palate cleansers after Hagen’s list.

    • This list is a good one. For instance, the bulk of Watts’ accusations about the global surface temperature record are described in the SPPI document that Pat Cassen linked to below. Chiefio whose analysis formed the basis of that document ran away from answering questions that contradicted his findings at Lucia’s blog here .

    • There are occasional good posts at WUWT, on the order of 1 or 2 in a two week period although that includes posts presented positively which are subsequently shredded in the comments.

      The problem is that the casual reader at WUWT will generally have the impression that the temperature record is hopelessly unreliable owing to the fact that almost daily some analysis will be posted showing “yet another” problem. You’ll also notice that “good” posts generally attract a small number of comments while “red meat” posts often attract hundreds of “more fraud!!” comments.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/05/analysis-cru-tosses-valid-5-sigma-climate-data/
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/27/tisdale-on-comparing-global-climate-data-with-sst/
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/11/more-gunsmoke-this-time-in-nepal/
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/27/the-australian-temperature-record-the-big-picture/

      I don’t know why you included these as examples presumably with the implication that they’re good. They’re in the form of “The data is adjusted downwards! There must be fraud!”.

      People are constantly comparing the “raw” to “adjusted” data and deciding that if they “like” the raw data better then that must mean the adjusted dataset is wrong. That principle alone covers about 60% of WUWT posts on temperature data.

      Generally Stephen Mosher posts the best analysis, I actually wouldn’t be surprised that if I went and listed all the good WUWT posts I could think of that he was the author of all of them.

    • Concerned Citizen

      I agree that WUWT has some dubious posts. So does RealClimate, IMHO. I’m not an idiot and have spent a 25-yr career interpreting experimental data (that isn’t nearly as nice as model-output information). It amazes me that on the internet there are a large number of people who make tremendous assumptions about posters they only know through a few-sentence post. I’d advise all not to underestimate those around them here. Part of the reason the public’s hackles are always up is that so often the climate experts appear shrill or dismissive and the “Skeptics” appear civil and reasonable. I don’t plan on posting further here, but would appreciate Dr. Curry’s comments on the “Attack on the MWP.”

    • I am not an expert on the MWP or paleo reconstructions. The MWP is undeniable in certain regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The paleoclimate data is insufficient to assess whether the MWP was global. Attempts to construct a global surface temperature analysis using paleo proxies are far too uncertain IMO particularly in terms of sampling, but also in terms of relating the proxies to surface temperature anomalies. The relevant statements in the IPCC TAR (especially) and also the AR4 are associated with confidence levels that are too high, IMO.

    • Heikki Hartela

      The warm middle age, and the small ice age were well know in history before climate scientists even existed.
      To me it appears apparent that there was an active attempt (by some climate scientists) to change that, and by statistical “tricks” make natural climate variability go away.
      Why did they do that? Did they do it deliberately?
      Predicting is difficult, especially predicting the future. So if there was a need to change history in order to make the “models” more reliable, should we not be concerned about the certainty of the future they predict.
      I am not so concerned about the reliability of the climate records of the past century, and I feel too much energy is going into investigating and debiting that. I feel there is still a lot of unhandled dirty laundry around the way the MWP disappeared.

    • Concerned Citizen,

      If the alarmists didn’t slander, they’d have nothing left to say. The inability to conduct a rational discussion without resort to ad hominems is a great tipoff that their argument is weak. There are many of us, just like you, who have doctorates and a lifetime of work in fields that require rigor and logic and we often shake our heads in wonder at the inability of so many alarmists to respond with logic.

      Perhaps the most curious tic that seems to afflict them is this bizarre need to establish some kind of equivalence argument with various skeptics. For example, this isn’t a grudge match between McIntyre and Mann. They can’t seem to understand that the policy argument can be related to the different burdens on the prosecution and the defense in a criminal trial. They want to change the world? They have the burden of proving the case, every element. If a skeptic accurately points out one flaw in the supposed consensus science and is wildly wrong in a dozen other arguments, the only thing that is relevant is the flaw. This isn’t a battle to prove who is more flawed than the other guy.

    • I have observed before that the Believers’ choice of arguments is a good measure of their inability to distinguish opinion from science. Their logical toolbox is empty, except of devices that inflict more damage on their user than on the work in hand.

    • see e.g. Trenberth’s flaming of Pielke, Jr. http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/10/shameful-article-review-and-update.html

      Not science. More like a crusade.

    • I spotted this. Pielke’s book has gotten over a hundred rave reviews (I haven’t reviewed it, but i give it *****). Either Trenberth didn’t read the book, or he didn’t understand it, or he really wants to nuke Pielke. Science embarrassed itself on this on

    • Dr. Curry -
      You state: “…their [WUWT] analyses of individual surface temperature records seem robust and at least occasionally make significant points.”

      Much of the work of D’Aleo and Watts is written up in the document SURFACE TEMPERATURE RECORDS: POLICY-DRIVEN DECEPTION?

      Do you regard the conclusions of this document to be robust and significant?

    • Pat, i referred to specific posts on WUWT in my message. I have not read the paper you provide a link to.

    • I’d recommend it, Judith, if for no other reason to understand what Watts’ intentions are. Science is waaaay down his list.

    • I’m not particularly interested in Watt’s motives, but there are occasionally some very good articles there.

    • Thanks for your reply, Dr. C.

      I agree with Derecho64′s recommendation that you give it a read, even if it’s just the up-front ‘Summary’, to gain some perspective on what Watts really thinks.

    • I had a look at the paper – they seem to make some compelling points. What’s your problem? Is it because their analysis conflicts with your beliefs? You talk as thought they are committing some kind of herecy.

    • As I remarked above, Chiefio wouldn’t even show up to defend his work at Lucia’s blog as described here

    • Being a scientist I”m sure you are more interested in the evidence presented rather than what Messrs Watts and d@Aleo’s motivations might be.

      If you can challenge the evidence and conclusions, you’re welcome to do so. But relying on your interpretation of what their motivations may or may not be is hardly ‘scientific’.

      Or do you consider that your analysis is ‘Good Enough for Climatology’?

    • I made no comment on the appropriateness of WUWT. My comment was restricted to the arrogance and patronising nature of the tenor of RB’s remarks.

      He could easily have made the point in a pleasant and helpful way. But he chose not to. If he (or you) don’t realise just how far from that ideal his remarks are, then it is you who need the re-education, not CC.

      I comment on WUWT below, and ask you what is so wrong with the analysis they present.

    • Latimer,
      Thanks for your observations. I believe that my answer was keeping in spirit with the original poster’s question. You are correct that tone is everything.

    • You make my point (perhaps unconsciously) far better than I could.

    • Roy Spencer compared his satellite data with Jones’s surface data at the last Heartland conference, and seemed unable to find any significant differences even looking especially hard for urban effects. There is a video of this. He got only tepid applause for this, of course. Independent checks like this are important for science.

    • That’s an inconvenient truth that some folks aren’t willing to accept – that CRU’s work isn’t entirely wrong.

    • Nice to see an admission that it mostly is. Thanks for that.

    • If CRU’s analysis is mostly wrong (which isn’t what I said), then so are NOAA’s, NASA’s, Spencer’s, JMA’s, and so on, since they’re all very close.

      Perhaps Watts will swoop it and tell us all the right value, eh?

      This kind of comment is why your cred with me is so low, tallbloke.

    • I’m simply amazed at the amount of time people spend picking through temperate datasets looking for the fraud. Ok throw out the entire surface station record but first explain how scientists fraudulently created something that just happened to match satellite trends.

    • Pretty much the same thing I said. I’m beginning to think the GHCN attracts “skeptics” like a laser attracts kitties.

    • You both conveniently forget the systematic reduction of temperatures in pre-satellite records near the start of the last century.

      Lots of tampering to be dealt with, after we’ve sacked the offenders.

    • “Lots of tampering to be dealt with, after we’ve sacked the offenders.”

      All you have to do is show that it’s “tampering”.

      You have the published research the adjustments are based on. You have the source code. You have the data. What’s the problem? You realise of course that you simply not “liking” the direction of the adjustment doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      Of course what you mean is “Those guys reached the wrong answer”. You know what the real temperature trends are and those guys are just wrong, they need to be replaced with people who reach the “right” answers.

    • All you have to do is show that it’s “tampering”.

      Not so fast.

      Records left to themselves without the adjustments tend to show a relatively flat linear regression.

      Adjusted (tampered) records show sharp upward trends, even… dare I say it… hockey sticks… depending on the breakup of era data within the station record.

      Apparently data collectors back in the 20′s were morons? Who knew?

      Again, this is a spot of skeptic and denier creation — flat linear regressions on raw data turned into hockey sticks via the magic of statistics. It’s no wonder that *most* people who have seen this assume that this is evidence of fraud.

      And then, as I pointed out upthread, just as you’re shaking your head at the inexplicable and wrong appearing “adjhustment,” GISS releases more data, and the same station has been adjusted AGAIN — and this time, it’s even scarier.

      As for code and data etc to replicate, you’ll have to ask Steve Mosher, but frankly I don’t know that I’ve heard of anyone who has made the GISS stuff work, much less replicate the results.

      *** PAGING STEVE MOSHER ***

    • “frankly I don’t know that I’ve heard of anyone who has made the GISS stuff work, much less replicate the results.”

      Just goes to show you don’t know everything. See Clear Climate Code to educate yourself.

    • Does that also explain the GHCN adjustments to the data GISS and CRU uses as input?

    • Interestingly, in the closest any of these adjustment scams has (yet) come to trial,

      http://www.suite101.com/content/legal-defeat-for-global-warming-in-kiwigate-scandal-a294157

      the fearless guardians of NZ’s climate data seem to have felt the cold (and unfamiliar) wind of forensic enquiry blowing up their trousers, and quailed at the prospect of a trial. By a piece of impressive sophistry, they seem to have disowned responsibility for the temperature record they have been using to scare the children with for a couple of decades. No doubt, being climate scientists, this presents no logical difficulties to them. But then as we know, climate “scientists” are required to have a forensic bypass installed upon induction to the lodge.

    • Here is Spencer’s talk at the Heartland Institute.

    • He measures/calculates climate sensitivity at 1 C/century.

    • I misstated that. He found a climate sensitivity of 0.5 C.

    • This is one more area where the skeptics try to have it both ways.

      A warming world will be good for us.
      It is not warming.

      I would appreciate it if they could get a consistent story together for the debate.

    • This is because alarmists have the burden of proving both parts of the argument — 1) that the world is warming , and also 2) that said warming will be catastrophic. (along with proving that the proposed policies will be effective in saving the world from the catastrophe). Argument in the alternative is well understood by those who have an elementary understanding of logic. Lawyers do it all the time.

    • ‘Snot what I think – I think

      A warming world WOULD be good for us.
      It is not warming.

      Happy now?

    • Snide -

      A more honest formulation would be:

      We’re not sure that the world is warming for the same reasons or to the same degree you do.
      If it is warming, there is a very real possibility that that warming will have a net positive impact.

      You might (probably will) think it’s wrong, but it is consistent.

  20. I’m a member of the general public, though a somewhat educated one. I pretty much believed the consensus view regarding AGW, until I spent some time researching it. The first problem I had was the fact that so much is made of predictions which arose from computer models. Now, I’m not a published scientist or anything, but I happen to know a lot about computer models. Anybody – I don’t care how many PhDs they hold – who thinks a long term forecast produced by a computer model of a large scale non-linear system has any predictive value whatsoever is delusional, to put it mildly.

    There may be some merit it producing such a model, and nobody can blame anybody for making a living out of it, but even if we knew almost everything there is to know about what drives climate, and even if we had near infinite computing resources (which is what you would need), such a model would tell you nothing useful except the deficiencies in the model.

    Banks spend billions trying to model stock moves and the economy and their models have no long term predictive ability, so why would anybody think a longer term model of an infinitely more complex and even less well understood system would be any better?

    I don’t doubt whether CO2 and H2O are ‘greenhouse gases’, but I have to confess I find the whole positive feedback thing a little dicey. Not as much as temperature proxies which diverge from actually readings but are presumed to tell us the exact temperature for the past thousand years. However, the models, not the theory, is what drives the hysteria and, most importantly, government policy decisions.

    The public is concerned about the policy decisions which are the outcome of the AGW debate (sorry, the AGW fact which one must never even think of questioning), not the scientific nuance. Does it make sense, for example, for the people of Germany to fund the development of a profitable solar industry in China in order to pretend they are producing ‘green energy’ in Germany? Should Canadian be handicapped by a carbon tax because we happen to live in a near arctic climate and have to heat buildings most of the year? Should North America drop its CO2 production by 30%, at tremendous cost to the economy if growth in ‘emissions’ by China, India, and the rest of the developing world means rise in global CO2 will simply be delayed by 8 or 10 years?

    The reality of human history is that the availability of inexpensive energy drives progress and human living standards. Rich countries use a lot of energy, poor countries much less. If you reduce energy consumption you become poor. Poor countries become rich and they use more energy. It would be great if there were alternatives.

    So, yeah, openness would be nice. I actually thought that openess was part of the scientific process: you know, do an experiment, publish a paper, other folk try the experiment and see if it works out, etc.. That seems to be problematic, because you could only publish useful and testable stuff and its all ‘publish or perish’, etc.. If you can crank stuff out, and you don’t have to make your experimental design, data, or computer codes, etc., public – well thats just great because nobody can show your conclusions are flawed. You can let your buddies have a look (show me yours and I’ll show you mine), but certainly not ‘critics’ (aka skeptics, aka deniers, aka petroleum industry hacks) because they are only interested in proving you are wrong.

    Not being a professional scientist, if I know I’m right about something, I’m not worried about being proven wrong. And if I’m wrong, I’d want to know about it. After all, most great scientists kept their methodologies, data, and calculations confidential, right?

    • One difference between economics models and climate models – the latter are constrained by physics. The former are not. Plus, given that too many macroeconomic models are driven towards “equilibrium” and have many simplistic assumptions about the behavior of humans in markets, it’s not surprising that they’re failures. Climate modelers could teach economy modelers a thing or two.

    • You are not understanding what they are trying to model. What they are modelling is the overall response. They do not, and say they cannot, model the weather. They will not be able to tell you in 50 years time what the weather will be on any day, at any place.

      But they can take the forcings that are present in the climate, and say what they overall response will be.

      The current generation of models come up with a good answer, and they do not use initial conditions to get the answer. They just say that for this set of inputs, what will be my output. There are refinements that track the changes, such as reduced sea ice and changes in vegetation.

      IANAS, so I cannot tell you the details, but this is what I understand the current technology does, but I can say your objection misses the mark of what they are actually doing.

    • Dear Snide,

      You really can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, models can’t state what the weather will be like at point (t) some time in the future at some (x,y) in space. But one would expect the models to provide a probability density function of weather. After all, isn’t climate the integral of weather. But I find it incongruous that people point to specific weather events (e.g., Katrina’s magnitude, the floods in Idaho, Pakistan’s flooding and the drought/fires in Russia) as examples of climate change and global warming, at least as attested in the media by people such as Trenberth. I think there is a philosophical (and convenient) disconnect here.

      Peter W

  21. A few observations:

    1. You say ‘stop marginalizing scientists that do not belong to a certain ‘club’ of climate researchers…’ . I assume (as will most people, I think) that you mean ‘professional scientists’ – people with PhDs paid to research a particular area. You should say instead ‘stop marginalizing contributors who do not belong to a certain ‘club’ of climate researchers’. I’m an engineer and scientist and I think that the engineering viewpoint is valuable here. But not just engineers – there’s nothing anywhere that says three magic letters make you cleverer or your contributions more meaningful. Historically science was not a ‘closed shop’ – it is the rise of ‘big science’ that has made it so. Big science has failed to serve us very well here, even if some feel its only failing has been to make its case so poorly.

    2. You say ‘make all scientific journals publicly available’ (by which I believe you mean ‘available free of charge’). This is unnecessary. All that’s required is to make reprints of the articles freely available to the public; this has already happened to a large extent with medical research as NIH requires all publications to be made freely available to the public within 12 months of publication. If NSF, DOE, NERC etc. said that it was mandatory for recipients of their grants to make papers freely available a short time after journal publication, it would happen tomorrow. It’s inexcusable that this has not already taken place, and symptomatic of the (arrogant?) disconnect between scientists and public. And of course they could just as easily extend this to the datasets, too.

    3. In this debate it is often assumed that scientists know how science works. This is mostly not true. You get a PhD for knowing more & more about less and less, not for a magisterial overview of the history of science and the philosphy of science. The way the debate has been conducted over the past (say) 20 years reveals that senior scientists (rhymes with ‘Nansen’) are unable to distinguish between their own strong belief in a proposition and the objective level of certainty in the proposition (which is what science is all about). At the point where scientists leave their area of specialization to demand policies based on their beliefs multiplied by how-bad-it-will-be-if-they’re-right, we are under no obligation to listen to them. I think the public knows that – the public’s notion of a scientist is someone who is ‘book clever’ but rather impractical in the real world; so the public is inclined to view their panicky policy recommendations with a pinch of salt.
    And the public is right to do this, because the scientists seem often to be unaware of the number of times eminent scientists have been utterly wrong in their public pronouncements in the past.

    Great blog, by the way, and rather courageous of you to have started it.

  22. Dr. Curry,
    A former business associate, Dr. Arthur Kantrowitz, proposed the so-called Science Court in 1967 to “…to assess the state of knowledge in scientific controversies of importance to public policy.” Kantrowitz proposed

    “[A] methodology for communicating what science knows and especially what science doesn’t know when scientific facts are needed for public policy decision making, one based on a norm for communicating with the public intended to be enforced by the scientific community. It also describes efforts to advance the positions that: (1) the scientific community has a duty to minimize the political efficacy of external controversy concerning scientific facts and (2) by extending to public statements the checks and balances traditionally used to police communication within the community, resolution internal to that community can be more persuasive and effective in discouraging external absurdities.”

    The Ford Administration formed a task force in 1976 to evaluate the proposed Science Court concept. The task force’s interim report maybe found here . After Ford failed to be re-elected, the Science Court debate continued but the concept eventually died.

    Thomas Field chronicles the history of the Science Court here. Perhaps the Science Court might have helped in the MA v. EPA case.

    Perhaps the Science Court concept should be re-visited.

  23. Derecho64
    Really? But the physics are non-linear and chaotic. And the carbon cycle contains a sigificant biological component. And biology has a behavioural and unpredictable component. Even human carbon emissions are heavily impacted by economic factors – as is land use, etc.. Last limt I looked at climate models, the scale was measured in kilometers, but topographical features are important at the meter scale …
    I could go on an on. Do any two climate models actually agree with one another? Have any been shown to have any predictive value (i.e. did a prediction made in 1990 prove out in 2015?)

    If climate modelrs had any skills in modeling, they’d be running billion dollar hedge funds.

    • If climate is as chaotic as it’s often assumed to be, I cannot tell you that June 2020 will be colder at the South Pole than June 2020 in Death Valley.

      Climate models aren’t weather prediction models. Two different things.

      And yes, a climate model has shown predictive skill. Check out Hansen’s 1988 paper. Readily found via Google.

      Oh, and the “if X knew anything about Y, they’d be rich” assumes that the motivation for X to learn about Y is to make money. There are other motivations at work. Thank goodness scientists don’t get into it just for the money (because they don’t earn as much as it’s presumed they do), and that there are many of us who find value in things other than being Scrooge McDuck.

  24. Derecho64 |
    You obviously do not understand the meaning of chaotic. Chaotic systems abound in nature. Fluid dymanics, for example. Oh wait – isn’t the atmosphere a fluid system?
    Ok. One model hit the mark (?). Can we check back in five years? How many others came close? Let me rephrase: do a statistically signfiicant number of models agree and do a statistically signficiant number demonstrate skill over even a decadal timeframe?
    The point about climate modelers is this: perhaps the skills associated with climate modelers are not only found in Ghandi-like people who have no motivation for profit, but prefer a modest living as a tenured professor saving the world. Is it not more likely that the billions of dollars of ‘dirty lucre’ would atract somebody with equisite modeling skills?
    I know a lot about computer modeling. Enough to know its limitations.

    • And climate modelers know about climate modeling – enough to know its limitations.

      A couple of good reads include “An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling”, by Washington and Parkinson, and “Climate System Modeling”, edited by Trenberth. A good college library should have copies of both. There are many others.

    • Climate is a mean state of the chaos. Models are very good at getting equilibrium states, and how they change with different forcings in the energy balance, such as doubling CO2, or increasing solar intensity, or adding volcanoes or pollution. There is only a limited number of degrees of freedom of how to distribute the energy in the ocean, land, ice, and atmosphere accounting for water and CO2. It is much more constrained than you might think when considering the mean state in general circulation models.

    • Chaotic systems do not necessarily diverge to extremes, etc.. The system is chaotic, which makes modeling virtually impossible, especially over the longer term, and especially when you are using scales mulitple orders of magnitudes greater than the inlfuences you are trying to model. This isn’t just a black box with sunlight, CO2 and H2O (even clouds can’t be modeled). There is topology, biology, the carbon cycle, human economics, etc., etc., etc..

    • AGW doesn’t predict divergence to an extreme. It predicts what is actually a very modest change of 3-4 degrees by 2100 in the scheme of things. Remember they are also predicting summer/winter and equator/pole temperature differences which are an order of magnitude higher, and seem quite successful at that. It is almost just a perturbation to the current state.

    • In case it needs clarifying, I mean “simulating summer/winter and equator/pole temperature differences”. Didn’t mean to suggest those were changing.

    • If it is modest, then we do not need ot do dramatic things about it.

    • 3-4 degrees is what the science says. I just stop there and leave it to others to decide how drastic this is. I have no expertise on the effects such a change would have, but there are some books on the matter by people who have thought more about it than me, so I would go to them and form an opinion based on researching those.

    • Not sure where to aim these comments. Perhaps I have a different view of chaotic systems or of “constrained” chaotic systems. It is simple (and correct) to say that the climate system is chaotic but then one has to explain the “normalcy” of the climate for the last 3 billion years (or 6014 years if you lean towards Bishop Ussher’s theories). Perhaps I can post an argument for this “normalcy” at some later time if anyone is interested.

      The simplest chaotic system is the 3-body system. Newton solved the 2-body system (the orbital characteristics of 2 planets or a planet and a sun). Hence the inverse square law. Yet, the extension to a 3-body or n-body system has defied theorists for centuries and for very “simple” reasons: the solutions are chaotic. There are abundant numerical examples of these systems on the web which we use in our climate and global change course at GaTech. But when one looks at planetary motions of the solar system, at least of the inner and middle planets, their orbits are more or less predictable (or so we think…). The outer planets perhaps less so. So how can this order come out of chaotic physics? The mass of the sun is something like 98.5 the mass of the solar system with the remainder of the mass being taken up by the other planets, especially Jupiter and Saturn. So, in essence, the solar system behaves as series of two body systems. That is, the mass of the sun constrains the sytem to be quasi-linear. Thus, a potential chaotic aberration of planetary is possible but not very likely and probably (for Earth) low amplitude. That is, the mass of the sun constrains the potential chaotic behavior of the solar system. If the sun were half its mass then ……

      Go now to the chaotic climate system. It is nonlinear and potentially chaotic. But is it a constrained chaotic system? Are the feedbacks sufficiently resilient to buffer aberrant behavior so that changes in external forcing (increases in AGG) are essentially linear and predictable? Milankovitch (orbital theory) imposes far greater changes on the planetary forcing on the earth than those projected to occur with GHG increases. Yet, there has been no run-away climate change although one may raise an eye-brow regarding the ice ages. But one can counter by saying that these global changes in climate occurred before the exponential increase in population. I am sure that the changes in climate during the Mid-Holecene could be accommodated far easier with a global population orders of magnitude less than we have now. So perhaps the chaotic behavior of the climate system, probably small dues to the constraints mentioned above, may be dwarfed by chaotic responses humankind in their billions to relatively small changes in climate.

      PW

    • If I heat up a pot of water on a stove, it will get hotter. The water currents inside that pot will be chaotic, I will not be able to predict them. The spread of the heat will not be uniform with time. But I will be quite confident in predicting the water in the pot will rise in temperature.

  25. Have you guys heard the joke about the cadre of progressive-activist climate scientists who saw a global 0.74C temperature rise in 100 years and then started running around shouting about unprecedented warming, droughts, floods, ocean acidification, species extinction and other hysterical elements of impending doom?

    It’s pretty funny.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      What’s even funnier is that when I clicked on your name I was routed to your online book company. How’s business Ken? You’re pretty clever, but you only sell books by deniers, is that right?

    • whilst you are anonymous! ?

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      I’m not a climate scientist, and I’m not here to sell product. Anything else you need to know?

    • until you pointed it out, I had no idea he was in the book business. Nice of you to advertise his wares – I’ll take a look.

    • Business is okay and growing. I can’t complain. If I thought a book was interesting and thought-provoking, I’d consider publishing it, regardless of the POV. The most money I ever offered was for a book written by a progressive lefty, but it was well-written and delivered a great read. Take Iain Banks, for example. I don’t agree with his political POV, but he’s an excellent, brilliant writer and I’m quite a fan of his work. He’s way out of my price range, but you know how it is. Hope springs eternal.

  26. Judith,

    I encourage you to work on the essay you propose above. But I also think it might be worthwhile to develop a flow chart or its equivalent in words, of the standard orthodox account, with pauses to show exactly where sceptics have reasonable doubt about the proposition being put forward in the orthodox account.

    For example, (1) the earth has warmed over the past century (not much disagreement); (2) the warming has been of the order of x degrees (disagreement about the data on which this figure has been based; (3) the rate of warming is unprecedented (much disagreement about the data, the inferences from the past, the use of proxies, the nature of proxies etc); (4) if the warming continues the outcomes could be dangerous for humanity (great disagreement on the models, estimates, lack of knowledge, sensitivity etc etc) .

    Perhaps I should do it myself. But we do seem to float around a lot, here and elsewhere, dabbing at this bit, and at that bit, but without shaping the whole issue in terms of what we can reasonably agree on and what is moot.

    I think someone else has pointed to this asking for us to concentrate on the ‘second-order’ issue, but I’ve lost it.

  27. Dr. Curry,

    During my time in software development, most of which was involvement in systems analysis, we would use diagrams of various sorts to get a handle on a system. We used things called systems flowcharts, context and data flow diagrams, etc. You can easily enough Google these.

    If I understood climate science well enough, I know I’d be able to make use of some of these diagrams and produce something that would quickly help newbies get into things. It’s not just the science of GHG we are talking about – there are other key aspects of climate science, and it’s difficult to identify first and foremost what they are, and secondly, how they relate.

    I’ll bet it would take you minutes to come up with a context diagram showing the key areas of climate science. I’ll bet you could easily indicate gross data flows between them. And likewise, each area at that level could be decomposed at a lower level showing internal entities and data flows. Even a couple of levels would help someone like me get a usefully better grip on the scope of climate science.

    You have people coming to this blog who between them probably have enough expertise to address a sub-area or two. We could maybe crowdsource a really useful layperson-level resource for the benefit of all, whichever side they are on. And with all the feedback, corrections and refinements could be made.

    Doing something constructive like this might actually be a useful foundation for what I think you’re after, and help forge an esprit de corps amongst your readers and contributors, whatever their views.

    • Good suggestion. Flow diagrams, logic trees etc. would be very useful. I am working on some posts (including the italian flag) that will lead up to this. Lets work towards something like this.

    • Please keep in mind…just because a theory hangs together and seems coherent, does not mean it’s true. Pattern recognition and pattern matching are part of our human nature. Give us a few cheap, random correlations and we can spin the most compelling storyline. Just because a theory is consistent and logical does not make it true. You have to show the linkages and prove the control mechanism. Simply saying we can’t find a better theory to explain something is insufficient.

    • Science is built upon the idea that a given theory is what we use, until it’s changed by an idea that better explains the phenomena. Sounds to me like you’re claiming that this method is insufficient. Newton’s laws of motions were fine until it was realized they weren’t working in all instances, but they are still very applicable at almost all scales that we care about. Sure, you can use them with Einstein’s modifications, but that’s needlessly complex.

    • Michael Larkin

      Glad you like it.

      I don’t have the scientific expertise to be a primary contributer, but as an educationalist as well as sometime software developer, I could perhaps contribute ideas about presentation, wording, etc. At any rate, I’m game to do whatever I can.

  28. Judith

    “• Make all scientific journals publicly available. Require all publications to make their data publicly available with adequate metadata. Migrate towards open (online) discussion journals, where reviews are made public.”

    It’s a pity that this meritorious suggestion received only cursory discussion upthread.

    Pointing out that well-resourced libraries subscribe to some of the paywall journals ignores the fact that large numbers of people do *not* live in cities sufficiently well-populated to support such libraries. People do have net access, though – but not deep pockets

    And there are numerous paywall journals containing interesting papers that even well-resourced city libraries do not carry

    Hiding critical information behind paywalls is definitely one of my pet dislikes, but thank you for raising the issue

    • Strong words softly spoken.

      WE ALREADY PAID FOR ALL OF IT WHEN THE RESEARCH WAS PAID FOR WITH OUR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      HAND IT OVER OR WE’LL BREAK YOUR WINDOWS AND STEAL IT.

      Cheeky twonks.

    • As far as I know, the scientific journals are paid for with membership dues, not with government money. Even then, they are not free to the members in all cases. However, some of them become free electronically to subscriber organizations after six months, or some such time, has elapsed.

    • Also, I should mention the authors have page charges that usually come out of their research grants. I don’t know how the revenue breaks down, however.

    • So we pay for the research, then we pay again to cover the authors fees, then we pay again to buy the journal articles.

      Nice deal. Not.

    • Yes, obviously there is a cost to cover to produce a journal, or should the government pay for all of them in all fields of science, engineering, arts, social sciences, etc?

    • Seriously?

      I think when the arts and social sciences are threatening to change the western way of life and demand enormous expenditure and sacrifice we can discuss these.

      Obviously the intent here is to make that which is going to be used to make policy affecting everyone (and negatively at that) be open enough to invite informed discussion.

    • I thought the line was government-funded research. It seems to have moved. So, would it be just climate journals, or geology, paleo, ecology, alternative energy, or weather? Where do you draw the line? Also, it is not the scientists making policy. The policy debate should be the one that is open, and is.
      Anyway, authors are free to distribute or post their own papers publicly on their own websites, so I think with current technology, the subject is moot.

    • I thought the line was government-funded research

      Ideally, YES. Practically? At least the stuff that’s being used to form policy.

      The point being made is that FOIA ought not be required by any citizen whatsoever for that which backgrounds policy decisions when the citizen is who pays for it.

    • Thank you for your reply

      Your attitude here describes precisely what I so dislike

  29. On public radio one day a few years ago, I heard a scientist say that the scientific consensus on global warming was as strong as that on the second law of thermodynamics. Given the choice, I think the average educated person would stand on the opposite side from that person and his ‘consensus.’ Ultimately, his position may very well be the correct one, but as a matter of general practice, people with the truth on their side usually don’t say those sorts of things. And reasonable people can be excused for taking such statements as evidence against, not for his position.

    I spent much time in college and grad school considering the public controversy over evolution, but in all the disputes, it never occurred to me to appeal to a consensus of biologists, and I never heard such an appeal. It was the evidence itself that was appealed to when dealing with intelligent design, etc., not a majority vote of those who know better.

    • Dear MarkB,

      What a pity no one asked what was his/her interpretation of the second law? What an opportunity missed! I have noticed in scientific presentations that if one uses such terms as “we use Bayesian statistics” there will not be a peep for the audience. No one wants to admit that they don’t understand Bayes. So I wonder how the presenter would have responded? Feet to the fire!

      Peter W

  30. Obviously certain gasses and other atmospheric components can selectively capture or block radiation.
    This is very different from what a greenhouse does, but tradition going back to the late 19th century has been to call it a greenhouse effect. This has become for many a misleading name because a real greenhouse mostly works by blocking convection.
    Perhaps it is time to make a name that clarifies this further.
    A rose is a rose, and the atmosphere will still function no matter what we decide to call its functions.
    The only theory that needs to be declared dead is the on that claims we are facing a global climate disruption due to CO2.

    • The scientific term is IR-active. Not very catchy, but a very precise definition.

    • Actually, the greenhouse terminology is quite descriptive. The terrestrial greenhouse does a fairly good job in trapping heat within the troposphere and at the ground surface. There is remarkably little convective energy that gets transported into the stratosphere. And there is zero convective (or conducted) energy leaving the top of the atmosphere – almost as if there were a solid glass ceiling preventing that from happening.

  31. As per instructions, I am here making a general commenting on the “Skeptics: make you best case thread just posted.”
    I think JC has laid it out well, and I hope people follow instructions and keep it a clean scientific debate. I am looking forwards to seeing the arguments posted.

  32. Perhaps only skeptics who make their case should be allowed to comment on other skeptics who make their case? :-)

  33. Dr. Judith –

    Both you and Gavin seem to agree on this point, that:

    @curryja | November 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    “The conventional wisdom (e.g. Kiehl and Trenberth) puts the CO2 contribution to the overall greenhouse effect at about 25%.”

    So, I thought I’d read this paper. I’m not a climate scientist (or a scientist at all), but I do take time occasionally to read climate science lit that isn’t lurking behind a paywall.

    Here are some excerpts from this paper:

    “Despite … important improvements in our understanding [of the annual global mean surface latent heat flux], a number of key terms in the energy budget remain uncertain, in particular, the net absorbed shortwave and longwave surface fluxes.” That would seem important to me.

    And “… the measured top-of-atmosphere energy budget balances to within 3 W m-2,” yet goes on to state that “the final ERBE [Earth Radiation Budget Experiment] rms uncertainty estimates are 7.8 W m-2…” So if I understand correctly, the error in measurement is more than 2x greater than what is being measured?

    And yet, K&T are confident enough to conclude that, “The annual mean net top-of-atmosphere radiation has varied from late 1978 to 1986 by about 1 W m-2, part of which could be associated with the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…”

    If the error in measurement is 7.8 W m-2 (and even this estimated margin of error could be off another +/- 50%), then how can anyone draw a conclusion (speculation really) on a fraction of 1 W m-2?

    Then further on regarding calculating longwave radiative forcings, K&T write, “We must rely on model calculations to determine the surface radiative fluxes.” Science-by-simulation strikes yet again…

    K&T go on to state, “The estimate of the amount [of radiative heat] leaving via the atmospheric window is somewhat ad hoc.” Not too rigorous here. How much more error are we talking about?

    And where does the 25% for CO2 come from? “Detailed radiative transfer models” which contain all the uncertainties that the authors painstakingly point out in their text.

    In reading the paper, I found that the words ‘assume’, ‘assumed’ and ‘assumes’ are used 12x in this short 12 pager and yet >90% of climate scientists can positively assert that CO2 contributes to “overall greenhouse effect at about 25%”? Is that plus/minus 10%, 50%, maybe even 100% error? How much? The paper provides no quantitative guidance as to overall uncertainty or margin of error and yet the paper’s conclusions can be asserted with great confidence by over 90% of climate scientists?

    More broadly though with respect to all climate research, I wonder just how much error and uncertainty is compounded as one paper’s error and uncertainty is propagated by another paper it is referenced by, then another, and so on. What is the accumulated effect? This paper references over 40 sources. How much error/uncertainty/assumption is contained in these sources?

    When researchers are at the point when they can defensibly write “we know that…” instead of “we assume that…”, I’ll start taking their findings more seriously.

    • I know you didn’t ask me, but since I’m here…
      These budgets are for equilibrium states, while the uncertainties you quote are for changes from year to year, which are hard to measure and balance because they are small compared to the background values of the terms. The numbers going into the equilibrium state are 10′s to 100′s of W/m2, so these are estimated quite accurately, and the Schmidt paper shows independent work by KT is within a few percent. Numbers like 25% come from global average changes to greenhouse effect by adding or removing all the CO2, which are extreme cases to demonstrate the full effect.

    • Sorry, I don’t follow.

      What do you mean by the “numbers going into the equilibrium state are 10′s to 100′s of W/m2″? I read the paper to mean that total flux is on the order of 100′s W m-2 putting the 7.8 W m-2 at a low % error. But the paper is about measuring the imbalance; not the total flux. The K&T paper states 3 W m-2 but that the measurement error is 7.8 W m-2. The inaccuracy of the measurements is an order of magnitude greater than what is being measured.

      Regarding the “Numbers like 25% come from global average changes to greenhouse effect by adding or removing all the CO2, which are extreme cases to demonstrate the full effect.” From a model, I suppose?

    • The 25% comes from the studies with the radiative transfer model using either a standard US sounding or global model soundings. These are independent of the measurement uncertainties in the first part of KT97. Radiative transfer models are very accurate when you can specify the atmospheric profile, because they only need to know the gas IR properties, which is based on physical/chemical science that is robust.

    • What do you mean by ‘soundings’? If you mean results from model runs, how do we verify that the models are accurate? The only way I ‘m aware of is through satellite measurements such as the ones referred to in K&T.

      We know that the models are not accurate with respect to clouds and aerosols. And we know that clouds have a very large affect on transfer. If clouds affect radiative transfer by say 100 W m-2 and the models don’t reflect this, how can the models accurately determine a 3 W m-2 budget imbalance?

      But it all gets back to the satellites since that is the only real data we have. And from K&T, is only accurate to 7.8 W m-2. Therefore, the precision is too low to estimate a 3 W m-2 budget imbalance.

    • More broadly, if the 25% is solely from equilibrium radiative transfer models then how many (1) non-equilibrium or (2) non-radiative processes are being ignored? I find this astounding if true.

    • If you look at a location on earth with a satellite and measure the outgoing longwave radiation, then take all the CO2 away and measure it again, it changes by 14% of the amount you get by removing the H2O and other GHGs too. This can be done with accurate 1-d radiative transfer models. If you add CO2 to an atmosphere with no GHGs, it increases the longwave radiation by 25% compared to if you add all the GHGs. Schmidt’s paper is about this sensitivity study using radiative transfer models (such as MODTRAN).

  34. A point I was trying to make in an earlier post is that it is useful to start first with a simple physical problem that can be easily understood, and which also contains the essence of the energy balance aspect of the Earth-atmosphere system.

    The Earth, having an albedo of about 30%, absorbs (as a global annual mean) about 240 W/m2. This will heat the Earth’s surface. When the Earth’s surface reaches a temperature of about 255 K, the thermal radiation emitted by the surface will approach 240 W/m2, and this system is then said to be in thermal equilibrium.

    Consider adding an idealized single-layer atmosphere atop of the ground surface – an idealized atmosphere layer completely transparent to solar radiation, and completely opaque (absorption only, no reflection) to thermal radiation. The atmosphere layer is further idealized to have fast internal energy redistribution to maintain an isothermal temperature. And, the energy communication with the ground is by radiative transfer means only.

    Such an idealized atmosphere layer placed above the ground surface will begin to heat up since it is absorbing all of the thermal energy emitted by the ground surface, and it will keep warming until it reaches a temperature of 255 K when it will be radiating 240 W/m2 of thermal radiation to space to maintain energy balance for the Earth-atmosphere system (since it is the atmosphere layer that is now the outermost radiating surface from which the radiation to space comes from).

    The idealized atmosphere layer being isothermal, in addition to radiating 240 W/m2 out to space from its top surface, must also be radiating 240 W/m2 in the downward direction from its bottom surface. This further warms the ground surface which is now absorbing 480 W/m2 (240 W/m2 from the sun, and 240 W/m2 from the atmosphere), causing the ground to warm to about 288 K, whereupon the ground now is emitting 480 W/m2 to keep in radiative energy balance.

    This is the simplified operating principle of the greenhouse effect where the Earth-atmosphere system and the individual components (the ground surface and atmosphere layer) are all (individually, and combined) in thermal equilibrium. Since the ground surface emits energy at the rate σTS^4, and the atmosphere layer at the rate 2×σTA^4, the surface temperature TS will be (1/4 root of 2) = 1.19 time warmer than the atmosphere temperature TA. This concept can be extended by stacking additional idealized atmosphere layers, with each additional atmosphere layer needing to be 0.84 times the temperature of the layer below.

    It is this basic setup that makes it possible for Venus to support a very high surface temperature for a modest input of solar energy at the ground level, and it also explains why there is a monotonically decreasing temperature in an atmosphere in radiative equilibrium.

    The real atmosphere is not so idealized with significant solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere, e.g., ozone in the stratosphere, which makes the stratospheric temperature warmer that that at the tropopause. Also, atmospheric layers are not isothermal, nor are they totally opaque to thermal radiation, and there is also the possibility of energy transport within the atmosphere by convective and advective means in addition to radiative.

    By doing the radiative transfer accurately, we get the basic result that the total greenhouse strength of the terrestrial atmosphere is 150 W/m2 (or the equivalent 33 K),Breaking it down to being 50% due to water vapor, 25% due to clouds, 20% due to CO2 (with the other minor GHGs accounting for the remaining 5%) may be numerically intensive, but the concept is basically the same as for the isothermal single-layer atmosphere.

    • The CO2 laden atmosphere on Venus is heavy dense and dry. No convective transport, right? Or does it rain SOXs?

      As the insulating thermal gradient increases so does the likelihood of onset of convection+advection+condensation.

      Let me see if I have this correctly …

      The increased thermal gradient caused by the back scatter of black body radiation promulgates the formation and onset of convection cells You know …. Rayleigh-Bénard convection

      Ever heard of a nonlinear system?

      Obviously you must know and also you must know where it leads … Don’t you?

      Please tell me that I don’t know physics from a hole in the ground. Otherwise the IPCC is playing both sides of the coin simultaneously to boost their scare mongering game.

      A) Increased hurricanes = increased convection = increased cooling = nonlinear transport

      B) Increased GHG = increased diffusive heat buildup + onset of (A) [increased convective promulgating (and NET COOLING) gradient.]

      Let me guess… Does the IPCC conveniently assert BOTH A) and B) ?

      My stupid physics tells me (B) —> (A)—> net cooling

      … Although I suspect that lots of windmills help to delay the onset of (A) right? Smart man, that Al Gore.

    • “The idealized atmosphere layer being isothermal, in addition to radiating 240 W/m2 out to space from its top surface, must also be radiating 240 W/m2 in the downward direction from its bottom surface.” Are you absolutely sure about this? There are two kinds of photon emission: spontaneous and stimulated. Spontaneous emission is random in direction and if all the photons emitted by greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are emitted spontaneously then your statement is correct; but if there is any significant amount of stimulated emission in the atmosphere (there are such things as CO2 lasers after all), and there could be given that the atmosphere is being flooded from below by IR photons emitted from the surface, which photons have the same frequencies and wavelengths which the greenhouse gasses preferentially emit (which is why they absorbed similar photons in the first place), then your statement could be in error. There can be stimulated emission which does not amount to lasing but which does result in the emitted photons taking roughly the same direction as the stimulating photons. Quoting “Integrated Optics” by Hunsperger “Such predominant stimulated emission as has been described is known as super-radiance radiation. It is not yet the coherent light produced by lasing … The photons are not travelling in exactly the same direction; they may have slightly different energy, they are not in phase.” The thing is, if the direction of emission of photons by greenhouse gasses is not entirely symmetrical, tending rather to be more toward space because of the spaceward flux of IR from the ground producing stimulated emission, then the amount of surface heating due to the greenhouse gasses will be reduced. I don’t know if this effect has been looked for, and I can’t calculated a theoretical intensity, but if it hasn’t been it might be worth the looking.

    • What about the non equilibrium convective transport. Isn’t it antagonistic to the diffusive GHG gradient?

      A pot of water gently heated from the bottom does not form convection cells so readily and thus does not lose heat quickly by being carried off at the surface.

      Why are steady state models being applied to an inherently non-steady state system and process?

      You people do use a 3 dimensional finite element CFD models don’t you?

    • In climate models, the hydrodynamic and thermodynamic processes are handled by finite difference time marching using something like 15 minute time steps. By comparison, radiative processes happen instantaneously. The temperature profile at each GCM gridbox is determined at each model time step is determined by the model hydrodynamics and thermodynamics, including the heating or cooling due to radiation. The radiative heating and cooling rates are instantaneous values that are determined by the (instantaneous) distribution of atmospheric absorbers and the temperature profile (and solar zenith angle for solar radiation).

    • A Lacis, a question for you: how far into stratosphere/ thermosphere do you calculate your path integrals to get the radiative forcing for CO2 doubling?

    • Andy Lacis says:
      must also be radiating 240 W/m2 in the downward direction from its bottom surface. This further warms the ground surface which is now absorbing 480 W/m2 (240 W/m2 from the sun, and 240 W/m2 from the atmosphere), causing the ground to warm to about 288 K

      Except 70% of the ‘ground’ is ocean which doesn’t absorb longwave radiation.

      If you disagree , then please state by what mechanism you propose the back radiation heats the ocean to any significant degree.

      Thanks

    • Actually, oceans are very efficient absorbers of thermal radiation. It is a fundamental concept in radiative transfer that anything that emits thermal radiation, also absorbs in the same way that it emits. Ocean emissivity for thermal radiation is something like 0.98, meaning that the thermal flux emitted by the ocean surface is sigma*T^4 times 0.98. This also means that the ocean surface absorbs 0.98 (and reflects 0.02) of the downwelling flux from the atmosphere. On the other hand, dry desert surfaces are more reflecting for thermal radiation, having an emissivity of something like 0.8 (and reflectivity of 0.2).

    • I can understand that water would be a very efficient absorber of IR. But that means it won’t penetrate very far, which is what Tallbloke has been saying. The means it heats the surface layer with then tends to evaporate. This would make the surface evaporate carrying away the heat, meaning the heat would not be carried deeper into the ocean to be “stored.” The question is how much heat gets carried off by evaporation and how much is stored. I found a global map of lightning activity a while back. There is much more lightning over land than water. I am wondering if there is a connection between the IR heating of land vs. water, due to the short penetration depth of IR in water. The ocean surface is continually cooled, making the strength of thunderstorms less over the ocean. What say you?

    • This is interesting. There is what seems like a good explanation/discussion here (which I noticed Tallbloke comments on):
      http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/10/06/does-back-radiation-heat-the-ocean-part-one/
      Google-searching was not giving me a lot of hits on studies on long-wave absorption by the ocean…

      I am not well versed on the radiation side of things so cannot vouch for its accuracy. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on this as well…

    • Jen – water is a greenhouse gas. Well, it is also a “greenhouse liquid” in the sense that liquid water is a strong absorber of IR. See Absorption Spectrum of Liquid Water.

    • this is a good thread. SOD’s statements are quite accurate, as are the contributions from Nick Stokes and Willis Eschenbach

    • Isn’t this a key question? I’m an atmospheric chemist (PhD, Ga Tech before Judy Curry arrived) so I’ve no issues understanding that H2O is an efficient absorber of IR, but I’m interested to see some studies on what happens long-term.

    • Well, downwelling longwave radiation is part of the surface energy balance of the ocean, which varies on time scales from seconds to millennia (or whatever). Everytime a cloud comes over, the downwelling longwave radiation changes, and so the ocean surface energy balance. The penetration depth of radiation varies with the wavelength of radiation; it is greatest for visible radiation and much less for near infrared and infrared radiation. These differences in penetration depth give rise to a cool skin on the ocean surface (willis E describes this on the SOD thread). This is explained in section 11.2 of my text Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans. Here is the text (note the equations don’t show up, and i have no idea how to do equations in wordpress):

      The temperature at the interface between the atmosphere and ocean is called the skin sea surface temperature. It is this interfacial temperature that is used in Section 9.1 to calculate the surface sensible and latent heat fluxes and the upwelling longwave flux. It is difficult to measure the skin temperature directly, and remote infrared thermometers must be employed. So-called sea surface temperatures are most commonly measured from ships with thermometers by sampling water at a depth of about 5 m from engine water intake, or from buoys or moorings that measure temperature at a depth of about 0.5 m. These measurements are referred to as bulk sea surface temperatures and are typically characteristic of the temperature of the ocean mixed layer some tens of meters deep. Observations show that the skin temperature is invariably a few tenths of a degree cooler than the water a few millimeters below the surface, even during periods of weak winds and strong insolation.
      To explain the cool skin, we examine the energy balance of a millimeter thick layer at the ocean surface. The energy balance for this layer differs from that described in Section 9.1 where we examined the surface energy balance in the context of the heat budget of the entire ocean mixed layer. The difference arises because virtually all of the shortwave radiation is absorbed in the ocean mixed layer, while less than 10% is absorbed in the upper millimeter. Since the surface latent and sensible heat fluxes and the net longwave radiation fluxes are typically negative, there is a net heat loss in this millimeter-thick skin layer, even though the ocean mixed layer may be heating due to solar radiation. The net heat loss in the thin surface layer requires a flux of heat from the upper ocean. On both sides of the interface, the atmosphere and ocean are typically in turbulent motion. However upon approaching the interface, turbulence is suppressed and the interface is a strong barrier to the turbulent transport between the ocean and atmosphere. Therefore on both sides of the interface the required heat transfer is accomplished by molecular conduction. To balance the large heat loss at the surface by molecular conduction, the temperature gradient just below the surface must be sufficiently large. Since there is a large heat reservoir in the ocean, the surface skin temperature must drop to accommodate the required heat flux from the ocean interior. This results in a cool skin that is a few tenths of a degree cooler than the ocean temperature a millimeter below the surface.
      The diffusive sublayer beneath the ocean surface is characterized by a thickness δ, which is given by (e.g., Krauss and Businger, 1994)

      (11.2)

      where κ is the thermal conductivity. The surface renewal time scale, t*, is the residence time of small eddies which are renewed intermittently after random times of contact with the evaporating surface. The surface renewal time scale is a function of the turbulent velocity scale u*, the surface roughness length z0, and the net surface heat flux in the surface layer, .
      The temperature drop across the molecular sublayer, ΔT, which is the bulk-skin temperature difference, is given by (Liu and Businger, 1975)

      (11.3)

      Typical nighttime values of ΔT are 0.3°C, although values may exceed 1°C under some extreme conditions. During the daytime there is significant variability in ΔT that depends on the amount of solar insolation, ocean turbidity, and the magnitude of the wind. While such a small value of ΔT may seem insignificant, use of the bulk temperature instead of the skin temperature to calculate the surface sensible and latent heat fluxes from (9.10) and (9.11) can result in errors in the computed fluxes that exceed 10%. Errors of this magnitude may be large enough to change even the sign of the net surface heat flux and could significantly modify boundary layer and convective processes. Because of the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, small errors in surface temperature result in larger errors in the latent heat flux particularly when the surface temperature is high.
      When evaporation exceeds precipitation, a “salt skin” forms on the surface, analogously to the cool skin. This tends to occur in the subtropical oceanic regions (see Section 9.2) where precipitation is very light. The cooling at the surface combined with the higher salinity causes an increase in density at the surface; depending on the stratification of the ocean below the sublayer, this may promote convective stirring of the ocean mixed layer. A dramatic case of the salt skin occurs over open water in the sea ice pack during winter, when surface sensible and latent heat fluxes may exceed several hundred W m-2 as the cold air that has been modified over the ice pack streams over open leads or polynyas. Since open water in the ice pack is very near the freezing point, it would seem that any skin cooling would immediately result in surface freezing. However, because of the high evaporation from the surface, surface skin salinity is expected to exceed 80 psu, allowing a cool skin to exist at a temperature below the freezing temperature that corresponds to the mixed layer salinity. This increase in surface salinity will decrease the surface saturation vapor pressure and thus qv0, reducing the surface latent heat and evaporative fluxes.

    • Nice article Jen.

    • The net effect of longwave at the surface is cooling, since upward flux exceeds downward. With more GHGs, the cooling is less, and the ocean cools less due to the longwave part of the budget, while it warms due to the shortwave. Evaporation and sensible heat flux are other terms that all balance in the ocean’s surface energy budget. GHGs affect one term, changing the budget in the direction of warming.

    • It is a fundamental concept in radiative transfer that anything that emits thermal radiation, also absorbs in the same way that it emits.

      This was certainly a fundamental tenet of radiation physics before Kasha, who was the first to point out, in 1950, an asymmetry in absorption and emission probabilities for complex molecules. Kasha’s rule is that, for any given multiplicity (singlet, doublet, triplet, etc.), emission is most probable from the lowest excited state S’ of that multiplicity. Naturally it was met with considerable resistance at the time and Kasha had to argue it very carefully to make his point.

      One corollary of Kasha’s rule is that emission wavelength is independent of absorption wavelength. In particular narrow-band radiation of a wavelength that drives electrons from ground state S to state S3 will be re-radiated at the longer wavelength corresponding to an S-S’ transition, with the electron at S3 preferring to make its way down to S’ via internal conversion defined by Kasha as “the rapid radiationless combination of excited electronic states of like multiplicity.” But if the radiation being absorbed is switched to that for S0-S1 transitions, with the same energy, no change will be seen in the resulting emitted radiation, either in wavelength or energy.

      The change in wavelength in the former case is referred to as Stokes shift. The extent of Stokes shift is determined by the energy level to which the absorbed radiation sends the electrons, since almost all of the emitted radiation is the same.

    • Forget to say that S and S’ are synonyms for respectively S0 and S1 as the ground and lowest excited states.

    • A Lacis

      thank you for the exposition which I find compelling and which fits in with my albeit limited understanding of radiative transfer thanks to Science of Doom (via J Curry). I accept that what you propose is in the nature of a thought experiment and does not reflect the reality of the earth system. However, in the thought experiment do we not get to a position where the system continues to loop through the process with the amount of energy radiating from the surface increasing in perpetuity? If that is the case (and I accept it may not be for reasons I do not understand) does it not undermine the validity of the thought experiment? I hope you have a chance to consider this and respond.

      Regards Gary

    • “The idealized atmosphere layer being isothermal, in addition to radiating 240 W/m2 out to space from its top surface, must also be radiating 240 W/m2 in the downward direction from its bottom surface. This further warms the ground surface …”

      Right here I lost you. A watt is a unit of power; if we radiate a total of 480 watts from an input of 240, we are creating energy, or to paraphrase G&T, a perpetual motion machine. Shouldn’t we be radiating 120 W/m2 from each surface? Or counting the input from the surface before we figure out how much the isothermal atmosphere is radiating?

      Willis’ explanation at WUWT makes much more sense.

  35. Actually GISTEMP does redo the past temps every month. It is not done on individual stations but as infilling missing grid data. It is recomputed every month. For example here is what they had in 2005 vs 2009:

    Data set 2005 2009
    1880 -0.22 -0.25
    1881 -0.17 -0.19
    1882 -0.19 -0.22
    1883 -0.21 -0.23
    1884 -0.25 -0.3
    1885 -0.25 -0.3
    1886 -0.21 -0.25
    1887 -0.3 -0.35
    1888 -0.22 -0.26
    1889 -0.12 -0.15
    1890 -0.33 -0.37
    1891 -0.24 -0.28
    1892 -0.29 -0.32
    1893 -0.29 -0.32
    1894 -0.29 -0.33
    1895 -0.24 -0.27
    1896 -0.13 -0.17
    1897 -0.1 -0.12
    1898 -0.21 -0.24
    1899 -0.13 -0.17
    1900 -0.07 -0.1
    1901 -0.14 -0.16
    1902 -0.22 -0.27
    1903 -0.28 -0.31
    1904 -0.3 -0.34
    1905 -0.22 -0.25
    1906 -0.17 -0.2
    1907 -0.34 -0.39

    As can be clearly seen the temperatures became more than 10 percent colder on average.

    • Vernon – 10% of what? Kelvin?

    • TomFP,

      Difference between 2005 and 2009 temperature values and when expressed as the percentage change is (2009-2005)/2005. GISTEMP is done in C.

      The GISTEMP process consistently lowers the past temperatures and ~10 percent of the warming trend appears to be an artifact.

  36. Dr. Curry. Regarding the “Skeptics make your best case” thread. I collect skeptical arguments but I do not collect references or citations for them, so they do not meet your criteria for posting. Some are broad generalizations about uncertainties and research needs. I have several favorites that are worth mentioning. Should I post them here or what?

  37. Dr. Curry
    Climate science has moved from purely ‘science discourse’ into the political and lately into fiscal arena. Inevitable it has attained, like it or not, most of the attributes of a classic ‘ideology confrontation’.
    As in any political struggle there are true believers on both sides, honest interlocutors, but there are also ‘refuseniks’ as well as ‘agent provocateurs’ (sometimes difficult to tell apart), short term profiteers, the armchair generals (I am one of these), and finally, as in any revolution, the most dangerous ‘uninformed rabble’, who do not care for fancy phraseology, formulae or feedback sensitivity, just for what they see as the phoney excuse for extra taxation burden. Few honourable scientists may find the road to Damascus full of potholes and uninviting, while the ‘uninformed rabble’ is boarding the Boston train.

  38. Regarding publications and citations it is well to keep the following in mind. The number of peer reviewed articles published each year is estimated to be about one million. Of these perhaps half a million are in the physical sciences. Many of these may be applicable to the climate change issue. Within climate science itself I estimate that the number of articles is between 1000 and 10,000 per year, or between 3 and 30 per day. $3 to 4 billion in research funding buys a lot of articles.

    Then too there is a vast gray literature. For example every US federal research contract requires a final report, which is typically 10 times or so longer than the resulting journal article, if there even is one. The more controversial results are often in these reports not the subsequent articles.

    The point is that no one reads more than a tinl fraction of these publications and reports, so no one knows what the science says.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      So even the community of climate scientists reading their fraction of the pubs, don’t know what their own science says? Nice try.
      More propaganda, from someone w/a degree in understanding (promulgating?) confusion.
      For sure you don’t know what the science says.

  39. Professor Curry,

    Climategate exposed prostitution of science for government propaganda by Al Gore, an international alliance of politicians, the UN’s IPCC, editors of leading science journals, leaders of the scientific community and the research agencies they control.

    Arresting prostitutes is not the solution!

    This corrupt system system threatens the very foundation of constitutional government.

    Climategate has shown us that Al Gore and the leaders of many supposedly constitutional governments misled the public on one occasion.

    Until this abuse of science is acknowledged, no one will know when they can trust any future government proclamations.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  40. Why was government science prostituted worldwide?

    Nobody knows, but I suspect noble motives:

    To protect the world from destruction by nuclear warfare after the Cold War (When stockpiles of nuclear weapons could kill every person in the “Free West” and in the “Communist East” many times over), honorable world leaders tried collectively to:

    a.) Prevent more countries from getting nuclear weapons;
    b.) Identify a common enemy (AGW) to all nations; and
    c.) Simultaneously level the standard of living worldwide . . .

    So national boundaries and the threat of mutual nuclear destruction would be eliminated. Opposition to government deception does not necessarily mean opposition to these goals.

  41. I reviewed this discussion and don’t notice many comments directly addressing Dr. Curry’s challenge of “Raising the Level of the Game.”

    To the extent “Raising” was addressed, skeptics are for it (not surprisingly), but the climate change advocates have largely been pursuing other issues, with the exception of sharper00 who admirably took on Dr. Curry’s points head-on, though in the negative.

    Climate Change Advocates: Do you agree with “Raising the Level of the Game”? Disagree? Neutral? Don’t care?

    • I agree – but let’s get knowledgable first. Let’s drop the silliness about how there’s no “greenhouse effect”, that Hansen/Mann/Jones/&c are all frauds and crooks, that US temperature data is corrupted beyond use, that climate scientists have never heard of “natural variability” and all that other rot.

      If anything, it’s the “skeptics” who need to up their game.

    • In case of any doubt…I have never referred to anyone in these hallowed halls as frauds or crooks. My preferred description is ‘shysters’.

      And I do not claim that temperature records are ‘corrupted beyond (any) use’. But I do take leave to doubt that they are sufficiently accurate to be able to confidently discuss changes of global average temperature of 0.74 degrees per 100 years. And no amount of post-hoc rationalisation and ‘adjustments’ will make them so.

      Just thought you;d like to know.

    • “Shyster” is so much better than “fraud” or “crook”, right?

      Drop the nonsense, do *lots* of reading (not on blogs), then come back (hopefully) suitably chastened.

    • Well, we’ve mainly heard that “Full documentation of climate model verification and validation” is an outrageous and stupid idea, not to mention irresponsible, borne of the fact that I know nothing about modeling.

    • I ask innocently

      Has ‘full documentation of …. model verification and validation’ been satisfactorily achieved in any other field?

      If so, there is no reason why the same could not be achievable in climatology. The techniques are understood …it just needs the grunt work to do it.

      If not, it gives them a new and interesting challenge to do truly innovative work that will benefit humanity in many apparently unrelated fields.

    • I must say, Dan, that Easterbrook’s arguments bounce right off you.

      If you want rigorous V&V applied to climate models, start by writing your congresscritter and demanding a significant boost in funding, to hire a whole slew of necessarily well-remuerated software engineers to take on the task. Oh, and they best be domain-conversant as well. And lastly, forget any scientific progress on the models whilst this exercise is being undertaken. Can’t go changing stuff in the middle of V&V!

    • It would probably be a better idea to consolidate models into 3 and have everyone concentrate their resources on those.

    • I recall seeing a paper sometime in last 4 months or so, that showed substantial redundancy in the 20 or so models used by the IPCC, saying something like only 4 actually distinct models/solutions. Does anyone recall this paper? would appreciate the citation. Thx.

    • I think Josh Stults has a copy of the family tree for some of the major codes. Maybe he’ll see your request.
      It’s very common for software that evolves over decades of time to be interrelated. Nobody wants to go around reinventing the good wheels. Some GCMs probably started as radiative transport codes, some others started as general circulation codes, others had ice, etc. The better pieces parts are pulled together as the software evolves.

    • It would make sense to consolidate money and effort on a larger, more powerful project like CERNs LHC. More than one program can be run on the hardware, especially if the hardware is very powerful.

    • Derecho64, I have already, several years ago, volunteered to assist with writing the proposals to get the funding. With the proviso that I get a cut of the action. I think maybe the proviso was the reason that I’ve never been contacted about my offer.

      The following is plain nonsense;

      And lastly, forget any scientific progress on the models whilst this exercise is being undertaken. Can’t go changing stuff in the middle of V&V!

      It’s done all the time. It’s done the exact same way that updating and maintaining the models and methods is already done. There is a, more or less, frozen version of the code and a developmental version of the code. When a new version is to be released, the changes developed and tested in the developmental version are implemented into the next frozen version for release. It’s exceedingly simple; it’s not rocket science.

      Easterbrook’s arguments are completely inconsistent with what has been proven to be doable, is done, and has been proven to be very successful in many other areas of engineering and science. See the URLs above. Several professional engineering societies require that Verification be proven for a code and calculation before a paper based on the model and code will be accepted for review for publication.

      Professor Easterbrook can certainly argue that Climate Science software does not require IV&V, but he cannot argue that the procedures and processes that he has so far described is IV&V. I would not agree with the former position, either.

    • With programs in things as simple as CNC machine production programs, the programmer writes the basic moves, feeds, and speeds of the tooling into the pattern of positional moves and tool changes to minimize the idle time.

      Once we operators get it and check for gross errors, load and run the first part, we tweak out the feeds and speeds to maximize tool life time, position and progression of moves to further reduce idle time, and actual available tools in the tool crib.

      A good operator can reduce tool wear and increase parts per hour by judicious edits, usually about 60% increase in productivity with 25% reduction in tool wear and improvements in finish. I enjoyed that part of the job!

    • Edits were done by the operator as the part run progressed as they saw ways to save time and clear up problems that were slow to show up. When the programmer got the edited revised program back at end of part run, made changes to the archived files, returned the hard copy program file folder back to the operator who proof read it to check for transcription errors. THEN the revised copy was uploaded to the active file HD.

      This was done on any part production run that was to be repeated in the future. Just about doubled production usually, and allowed a good handle on tool wear and consumption, to figure the total part cost and profitability.

    • Here’s an idea, Dan. Assemble a team of experts on IV&V, write a proposal, get it funded, and grab one of the climate model codes that’s readily available. You and your team then do a genuinely “I” V&V process, and report back.

    • Yes you do have to stop building to do V&V so no new money is required, just use the existing stream, as in any normal project. V&V is a lot more important than tweaking the algorithms yet again. This quote from Dan’s national lab link is telling:

      “Verification can be summarized as the analysis of whether the numerical solutions of the discrete algorithms provide accurate solutions of the corresponding continuum equations. Distinct numerical schemes based on the identical continuum equations can produce radically different quantitative (and qualitative) results; therefore, while one may obtain nominally correct solutions of the discretized schemes, those results might be inaccurate solutions of the underlying continuum equations. Consequently, verification analysis constitutes a critically important aspect of the development, assessment, and application of simulation software for physics and engineering.”
      http://models-methods-software.com/2009/08/25/vv-and-nnsa-advanced-strategic-computing-at-lanl/

    • Verification of whether a numerical solution converges to “accurate solutions of the corresponding continuum equations” is a rather trivial and routine part of any “numerical experiment” in normal sciences. Climatology somehow excuses itself from this basic process despite of their perfect awareness of the fact that, say, precipitation patterns cannot be adequately modeled unless the grid is below 25x25km, or something like that.

      More important part is whether their “corresponding continuum equations” do correspond to anything of reality. This part of validation process in climatology is completely lacking, from what I have seen.

    • ‘forget any scientific progress on the models whilst this exercise is being undertaken’

      Since there seems to have been little scientific progress in the recent past, a hiatus for a few months or years seems like a small price to pay.

      There is a very good rule of sailing in unfamiliar waters. Check your position very frequently lest you go a very long way off course. And check the depth under your keel to see if you are approaching the shallows.

      From what I read about climate modelling the last time the position was checked was about 1990. And they’ve gone a very long way since. But with no indications (verification against reality) that they are on the right course at all.

  42. Dr. C,

    Taking a break from the great Climate debate, I read Lee Smith’s thoughtful book The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, and came across the following in a discussion of Dubai:

    … Without the values and worldview that underpin the manufacture of technology, the Arabs will not only come short of catching up to the West but also living a schizophrenic existence. The gap between the West and the Orient is not geographical; rather, it is a rift between two worldviews, where the first is an open and free society that cannot help but constantly reevaluate and investigate its own premises, leading it to prize the empiricism and quest for the new that propel technological innovation, while the second is a culkture that draws red lines around authority — political, religious, cultural, and even familial — as a matter of habit.

    Note that “drawing red lines around authority” is precisely what AGW proponents do when they attempt to shut down debate by citing billions and billions of scientists… (Apologies to Dr. Sagan.)

  43. Dr Curry.

    My idea for stepping up my game involves the use of ranking and filtering – on your site! (It does involve writing some software and it depends on WordPress’ capabilities to accommodate it.)

    By using selectable criteria, any given combination of perspective, category, poster and rankings could be used to filter posts.

    Another plus is that posters with a political rating of say, ‘irrelevant troll’ might have limited posting abilities on technical threads. This would allow for some spicy disruption of intelligent, civil discussion, but not a complete derailment. If a troll’s comment happens to be relevant, an appropriate poster could extend a troll’s comment limit for that thread, etc.

    To make this work, registered posters would need the ability to rank themselves and other posters in a variety of categories. Individual posts and sub-threads would be also rankable.

    I wonder how a poster’s self-ranking might differ from one given by others. Or how posters’ rankings would change over time. I think ranking and filtering could point to areas where climate science is most solid and to the most clear and interesting discussions. Maybe it could point -in a helpful way- to areas where it is lacking.

    Ideally, ranking and filtering would provide useful information for studies in political science, philosophy of science or maybe even climate science.

    • How would your filter handle someone who claims the Sun is made of iron, or that the “greenhouse effect” violates the 2nd law of thermo?

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      There would be two types of filtering. One is employed by users for viewing posts and placing limits on participation. The other would provide automatic poster filtering based on known rules.

      An anecdotal post on what happens in peer-review to an iron-sun paper might have relevance in a thread disscusion of peer-review. But those who are disturbed by the post rank it as inappropriate in the context of that thread (and in sufficient numbers), no further posts in that particular thread (which are self-categorized as iron-sun by that poster) would appear. (Note: Deliberate mis-categorizing of posts could result in more problems for the poster.) If even a single post per thread is intolerable then a user would be able to filter out posts by that poster from his view.

      Similarly, some troll comments might be tolerated simply for the entertainment value. Or not.

      The idea is not to provide censorship but to quiet things down abit in threads other than those designated as free-for-all.

    • Once again the percentage is the question, and its relative effects just like CO2, we know it is there and how it works in the lab.

      When we get a sample of the inner core of the Earth or the center of the sun let me know what the lab analysis shows?

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Based on this one post, I would categorize you as hostile/confused and your post as inappropriate.

      Alas, there is no such opportunity. One can only hope.

    • this is pretty interesting, this is the idea of semantic web. I also saw an idea like this floated for an internet climate policy discussion.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Depending on how reliably posters can self-categorize (posts & themselves), the less moderation from others would be necessary. Then to a limited extent, this idea could implement a poor-man’s version of a semantic web-blog, however, not an idealized one.

  44. Gavin, nice to see you contributing to a discussion with some interesting papers for non climatologists to read. I hope you see how useful it is to engage with your critics rather than moderate them out of existence as you do routinely at Realclimate. You could significantly increase the influence of your blog if you took a more open stance on opposing views. Of course over here at at Judy’s I can politely disagree with you, I couldn’t at Realclimate which really makes it not worth the bandwidth. Perhaps you should consider a change in moderation policy?

  45. Summing up then, aside from Derecho64, climate change advocates either oppose parts of Dr. Curry’s topic, “Raising the Level of the Game” or don’t express opinions of it.

    This is consistent with what I’ve read from advocates in this blog. Whatever problems or abuses that have emerged in the climate change debate, its advocates are, for the most part, uninterested in acknowledging mistakes, responding to criticism, or making improvements in the process of climate change science.

    • The real problem is as shown here:

      http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/26/raising-the-level-of-the-game/#comment-15429

      by sharper00.

      How many times does the climate science community have to fend off the same few dozen arguments that are based on nonsense? Based on the reception of these “arguments” here, a few thousand times (summed up over various papers and blog posts) is insufficient. There are outstanding issues in climate science – of course – but some folks can’t move past the silliness sharper00 points out.

      Toss in the reprehensible babble promoted by O’Sullivan (no, I won’t use one of his favorite words) and people like Latimer Alder, and that’s why the climate science community almost always avoids this blog and blogs like it. There’s nothing to be gained via the expenditure of time and effort. Playing whack-a-mole in the blogosphere doesn’t advance one’s career.

    • Good of you also – as you so regularly impute malign motives to others – to show that yours is to ‘advance one’s career’.

      We now know exactly how much ‘independence from the consensus’ to expect from you.

    • Just about the sort of response I was expecting to get from you.

    • The ironic award of the day goes to our greenhouse orthodoxy defenders, Derecho64 and sharperoo for their defense of of the greenhouse effect:
      http://blogs.chron.com/climateabyss/2010/11/the_tyndall_gas_effect_part_1.html
      You guys need to keep up with the re-branding efforts of the AGW community better. You would not want to look (more) foolish.

  46. For a layman who just barely remembers high-school chemistry and physics, perhaps you kind folks would point me to a simple explanation of this conundrum which is my next step upward in understanding? I’m a plodder and need Asimov like steps in my thinking.

    Reason for this question: I can’t believe that IR absorbtion directly heats the air, for it’s pretty transparent and close to an ideal gas.

    Yet, Curryja wrote…………. “Then through the equipartition of energy, the absorption of radiation causes the molecule to move faster and bump into the other molecules like N2, O2, and make them move faster. …”

    My “built-in-doubter” is triggered.

    Absorbtion of a photon I thought merely bumped an electron from one orbital shell to another, raising the molecule’s potential energy not its kinetic (temperature). Just as winding a clock tightens its mainspring instead of warming the mechanism. That’s why there’s spectrometer lines…….

    Well, that energy is released later by re-radiating another photon when the electron returns to its natural orbit.
    Now, the re-radiated photons come out of the orbitals headed in random directions. That’s why infrared coming up from from the ground, where the visible light indeed has warmed things up (by impinging on molecules that are bound in lattice structures of solids like grass and dirt or sticky ones like water), can get intercepted by a CO2 molecule and be very soon re-radiated, half of it headed up and half back down. The half that goes back down once again strikes dirt and warms it further.

    So what we have is neither blanketing of infrared coming from the sun nor absorbtion of same, but an increase of backscatter from ground originating infrared.

    Simply put, a blanket over you only warms you if you’re warmer than the surroundings. Were the sun emitting pure single wavelength infrared, a CO2 blanket between Earth and Sun would cool Earth because it’d act as a reflector..

    Am i wrong?

    thanks, old jim hardy

    • A relatively easy way to understand this is to think of greenhouse gases as the atmospheric equivalent of a survival blanket. If you don’t know what that is, it is a thin, aluminized sheet of mylar that you can wrap around yourself. It does not “warm” you. What it does is slow down the rate at which heat energy is radiated away from your body. Your temperature is determined by the balance between how fast your metabolism generates heat and how fast that heat is radiated away. You can raise your temperature either by generating more heat, or slowing down the rate at which it leaves your body.

      Second, there is a common misunderstanding of how radiation is converted into heat and heat into radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas molecules absorb IR radiation. When they do this, as you say, they move to a higher energy quantum state (vibration rotation). However, this excess energy rapidly is converted into translational energy by collision with other molecules (N2, O2, etc) Essentially NONE of the absorbed energy is re-radiated from the excited molecule before it is quenched otherwise we could not say that the distribution of energy among all the molecules (and in particular the greenhouse gas molecules) was thermal. By this we mean that the distribution of energy in each of the modes of motion, translation, vibration and rotation, is characterized by the same temperature.

      OTOH, thermal collisional energy is high enough that at atmospheric temperatures a small fraction of the greenhouse gas molecules are constantly being vibrationally/rotationally excited by collisions with the O2 and N2, etc. Of course, as many as are excited, are de-excited per second. Still, we can regard this as maintaining an equilibrium population of excited molecules (same number, but each molecule cycles in and out constantly), and on average a constant number of these excited molecules radiate per second. It is this back and forth that maintains a thermal equilibrium in the atmosphere.

      Your final example of a single frequency sun, has an answer, Venus. Almost no light gets down to the surface, which is red hot.

    • This is helpful, thanks.

    • This (Josh Halpern’s comment) is helpful, thanks.

      It is? How? I found it only complicated and confusing. Doesn’t he have a simpler story?

    • My understanding of analogy’s question is not how does the whole process of moving energy around in the atmosphere work but the simpler problem of how could a mere shift of an electron to a higher state become kinetic energy.

      The answer to that question is that what gets excited is not electrons in shells of a single atom but electrons in bonds of a complex molecule. As analog says this is like winding a mainspring, and the bond energy changes. This changes the binding force between the bound atoms, thereby displacing them, and they vibrate accordingly. Voila, kinetic energy. To be precise, an alternation between kinetic and potential energy, with the latter achieving its maximum (and hence the former its minimum) at apogee and perigee of the two atoms, least and greatest separation.

      Judging from how analogy phrased his question it sounds like this was the only missing piece for him.

    • Almost no light gets down to the surface, which is red hot.

      You mean like in the last of the red hot mamas? In terms of radiation red hot is at least 2000 K, whereas Venus is around 750 K. If you waved a red hot poker at a Venusian they’d take it as a serious threat.

  47. hmm i found this helpful… thanks Gary Mirada for pointer…

    ” ………………..
    Quit chasing photons, convection dominates up to near the outgoing radiation.”

    http://climateclash.com/2010/11/25/g1-the-atmospheric-greenhouse-effect-and-its-effect-on-agw/#comments, comment 12

    Convection? … send more hurricanes, Mother nature’s sasfety valve.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/ocean-heat-content-latest-numbers/comment-page-2/#comments, comment 96

    old jim himself

  48. Steve, this is a reply to your recent post #16717, but the “reply” space has run out.

    You said, “Validity is then the extent to which climate models match our current theories,” and “fidelity of a model to the real world is impossible to establish.” Let me just say, from a layman’s point of view, that this is completely absurd.

    A model is a theory – or a set of theories combined together, if you prefer. A computer simulation is a realization of that theory. Now you can define validation of the simulations in terms of how well they reproduce theories, if you want. But I can tell you straight up, nobody gives a flip. Because this misses the whole point of the exercise. If a model – a hypothesis – cannot show what actually happens in the real world, or make decent predictions of future global temperatures, then it is damn near useless.

    I understand that you don’t know in advance how much CO2 will be released exactly, or what the sunspot record will look like in the future, or when the next El Niño will hit. They are all guesses, and that’s fine … we get that. But these models should be sequestered, when the developers are satisfied that they match the theory, and they should be run for 10 or 15 years. And they should have the benefit of real-world values as inputs – the exact CO2 levels, the exact number of volcanoes, etc.

    But at the end of the day, if these models produce wildly inaccurate projections of global temperatures, that means the models don’t work. The hypothesis is fundamentally flawed.

    That doesn’t happen, of course. Instead, we get model projections presented again and again as evidence. Simulation outputs are not evidence of anything but a theory realized. When these outputs fail to match the real world, that means the theory is bad and need to be amended. Instead, we get an endless stream of “Well, our models are better now. We constantly improve them.” Or we get your equivocating posts about how models aren’t supposed to match the real world, they’re supposed to match the theory. And then we get new stories and papers saying that temperatures in 2100 will be even worse than we thought, and here is the model that proves it.

    I cannot express enough how ridiculous that sounds. If the theory, or the model, or the simulation, does not match the real world then it is wrong. End of story.

    What we need more of, to truly advance the science of climate, are people who have the balls to say, “Yes, we produced five different models in the year 2000, and we ran them for the last decade, and none of them were able to predict current temperatures. Now we will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out where the theory is wrong.”

    I can tell you where they are wrong, if you’d like. The sensitivity to CO2 is too high, and the positive feedback of water vapor is also too high. The next 20 years of temperatures will show this, as temperatures are now holding steady or in decline. I guarantee it.

    • Ted Carmichael

      One more quick point. When George Box said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful,” he did NOT mean that models are inherently unable to “accurately capture[] real physical processes.” He did not mean that models should not attempt to explain and predict reality.

      What this quotation does is express the fact that models are simplifications. All of them. They scrape away inconsequential factors and attempt to capture only the most pertinent aspects of reality, the core dynamics or the relevant parameters. If they do this well, then “some models are useful.”

    • The sensitivity to CO2 is too high.

      Define “the”.

    • What I mean by “define ‘the’ ” is that there are many notions of climate sensitivity none of which can be said to be the canonical one. The notion of equilibrium sensitivity only makes sense for modeled sensitivity, and is hugely dependent on the choice of model.

      Transient climate response is more practical and there are two general kinds, modeled and observed. Usually the former is meant, but the latter can be defined simply by shifting whichever global temperature curve you’re using a few years earlier than the CO2 curve and then treating it as one would for observed climate sensitivity defined as instantaneous transient climate response. The IPCC defines the shift as 20 years but the concept is just as well defined for any shift, giving rise to a continuum of transient climate responses, whether modeled or observed.

      The IPCC also specifies an annual CO2 increase of 1% for transient climate response, which is a dead giveaway that they’re talking about modeled sensitivity since for observed sensitivity the annual increase is not for them to say, having the fixed form H’/H where H’ is the derivative of the Hofmann function H(t) = b + exp((y-s)/g) where b is the natural CO2 level in ppmv, y-s is the time in years since the start s of industrial CO2, and g is the number of years for anthropogenic CO2 to grow by a factor of e. Hofmann favors b = 280 ppmv, which forces s = 1790 and g = 46.9 in order to fit the Keeling curve. My preference is for b = 260 ppmv, which forces s = 1718.5 and g = 60.0. With Hofmann’s parameters H’ (the annual increase in CO2) today is 2.32 or .6% CO2 growth per year, with mine it is 2.15 or .55% which is closer to reality. (Truncating s to 1718 might seem inconsequential but with H’ at 2.15 today it has the effect today of adding 1.07 ppmv to H so the .5 matters. It was nice that b and g could both be such round numbers, over which I had no say since they arose as the best fit of the Hofmann law to the Keeling curve.)

      Solving algebraically for H’/H = .01 (i.e. the 1% per year specified by the IPCC) you get t = g*ln(b/(100/g – 1)) + s. For Hofmann’s parameters this is 2048, for mine it is 2076, these being the year in which CO2 is growing at 1% according respectively to Hofmann and me. The only control the IPCC has over when CO2 will grow at 1% is by choosing b, g, and s consistently with the Keeling curve, which limits them to dates in the second half of this century.

      All this of course assumes business-as-usual CO2 growth. So far there has been no sign of abatement, and with 50 global warming deniers just now joining the US congress there is no reason to expect any abatement soon.

  49. Professor Andy Parker, who is leading the ATLAS project in Cambridge, recently stated “[We should] give the public a bit more credit, they may not have the mathematical training, but they have the desire, interest and logic to understand”.

    I can’t speak for desire or interest, which almost every under 45 has in spades as far as I can tell (and modern drugs can help the rest). But after debating this Arfur Bryant character I’ve come to the conclusion that the average human being has ten times the mathematical training to “understand” as logical training.

    If you have the slightest doubt about this, look at the typical high school curriculum and ask yourself just how much mathematics is in it vs. logic.

    Granted high schools don’t teach desire or interest. But I had no trouble with either of those as a teenager, did you? If we had, high schools might have undertaken to fix this. But what high school has ever seen that need?

    Basically the public is utterly bereft of logic. This, not mathematics, is the crux of this whole stinking global warming debate. And stink it does. God does their logic suck.

    • Agreed re your point on logic. It also seems to be be missing in many scientific arguments as well. I took an undergraduate course in logic, but it sure wasn’t required, and not many scientists that I know have any training at all in logic. We need help (public and scientists). Which is why i have started a series of threads on the scientific method. We have had several guest posts on this topic, I would HUGELY welcome posts on this topic from you.

    • I enjoy theorizing about the application of logic to computers, in particular getting them to reason sensibly about complex concepts, whether for program verification, automated mathematics, robotics, or common sense reasoning.

      However my preference when applying it to people is to illustrate it in action rather than theorizing about it. This can be done by drawing attention to where logic is used both correctly and incorrectly in arguments about climate, which I’ve been trying to do in postings on your various threads. The advantage of starting there is that it grounds any metadiscussions of the kind you’ve been hosting on concrete examples, thereby keeping the discussions focused, relevant, and motivated.

      The disadvantage is that it doesn’t constitute a crash course in logic, since the lessons are scattered through material that is not itself about logic but merely stands to benefit from better logic.

      The difficulty I have right now is getting motivated to talk about logic per se instead of about the material that’s in need of logic. I retired from many years of teaching a course in algebraic logic at Stanford in order to learn about other subjects such as climate science by teaching them instead of logic. Teaching a subject forces you to learn it in more depth than can be achieved by taking the subject. I’m kind of burned out on talking about logic instead of just doing it. Maybe Spock taught logic on Vulcan but on the Enterprise he just does it.

  50. Thanks to both responders… Mr Pratt, you hit the nail succinctly on the head. Thanks.

    a.

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