Friday, February 28, 2014

Rise Up

We Have a Winner


"When May I Shoot a Student?" by Greg Hampikian in the New York Times.

Hadley Centre: 7th-warmest January

Shadow off Mt. Ranier
The Hadley Centre found January to be the 7th-warmest January since 1849, +0.506°C warmer than the 1961-1990 average. (GISS found it to be the 4th-warmest.)

The 30-year trend is +0.17 °C/decade.

The 15-year trend is +0.07 °C/decade (but has a large uncertainty, of course; see this nice plot by Tamino).

The trend since last weekend is....sure to be quoted by some blogger somewhere or other as "proof" climate change isn't happening. Probably Patrick Moore.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who is Patrick Moore?

Well, he's not a co-founder of Greenpeace, as you often hear (and I mistakenly repeated two days ago). Just an early member.

Greenpeace wrote a statement on the issue:
Patrick Moore frequently portrays himself as a founder or co-founder of Greenpeace, and many news outlets have repeated this characterization. Although Mr. Moore played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada for several years, he did not found Greenpeace. Phil Cotes, Irving Stowe, and Jim Bohlen founded Greenpeace in 1970. Patrick Moore applied for a berth on the Phyllis Cormack in March, 1971 after the organization had already been in existence for a year. A copy of his application letter and Greenpeace's response are available here (PDF). [Greenpeace, 12/7/10]
Media Matters has more about Patrick Moore, writing:
Patrick Moore founded Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in 1991, a communications strategy firm that promotes energy-intensive industries including "mining, energy, forestry, aquaculture, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing," and supports "environmentally sound oil extraction, like is being done in the Canadian oil sands."
He's also pro-nuclear power, though I can't fault him for that. But Greenpeace suggests he sold-out, having said before he became a "consultant":
"It should be remembered that there are employed in the nuclear industry some very high-powered public relations organizations. One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste will result in the sexiest smile,"(9) he wrote before becoming a spokesman for polluters.
Here's his recent testimony before Congress. Try not to gag. But it's alright to laugh (how can you not at this scientific charlatan?)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Pause That Ain't

Tamino has been making a strong case that the trend of surface temperatures isn't any different than it has been since 1975, except for some ordinary fluctuations about the trend. He's giving away his graphs for free, and they're worth reproducing.

Here, in 5 short steps, is his proof that there is no pause.

First, take the Cowtan & Way data for surface temperatures, which is HadCRUT4 infilled by kriging. (This is a nice introduction to kriging, if you're looking for one.)

Plot the annual anomaly value from 1975 to 2000:

Determine the linear trend:

and the uncertainty of that trend:

In this chart, the first dashed line on either side of the trendline (which is the solid line) is the 1-standard deviation value, and the second dashed line outside it is the 2-standard deviation value.

Project these trend lines to the present:

Add in the annual Cowtan & Way anomalies up to 2013:

What you see is that the present (last) anomaly is not even one standard deviation below the 1975-2000 trend. No different than it's often been before.

It's hard to make it more clear than this. By calculating the trend only "since 1998" or only "for the last 17 years" or the like, with nonkriged data, you're only presenting a piece of the picture -- a highly selected piece -- a picture where the early data is above the long-term trendline, and the later data is below the long-term trendline. (And not even below it by that much.) It's the SkS escalator graph but looking just at the last step.

By the way, the C&W trend since 1975 is 0.17 ± 0.02 °C/decade (1-sigma, OLS uncertainty, R= 0.83). Tamino's value for sigma includes autocorrelation, which is why it's larger than the one here.

As he wrote, "If that’s what you call a pause,' then it’s not a very impressive one."

Return of an Ice Spike

Another ice spike showed up in my refrigerator freezer, the first one since last May. I almost feel honored.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Much Warming Since 1950? This Much.

From last week's Science magazine, from Gabi Hegerl and Peter Stott:

This says that internal variability, which Judith Curry likes to emphasize, is only about 1 part in 6.

Dr. Patrick Moore Just Misled Congress

Patrick Moore
Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore just testified before Congress, and purposely misled them about carbon dioxide. (Correction 2/28: No, he really isn't a founder of Greenpeace.)

He said, among other misleading statements:
Then an Ice Age occurred 450 million years ago when CO2 was 10 times higher than today.' 
How do I know Moore purposely misled Congress? Because I corrected him on exactly this point on Twitter a few months ago. And he simply ignored all that science.

It is true that an ice age occurred about 450 million years ago -- the Ordovician–Silurian ice age.

But little is known about CO2 levels at that time -- as I pointed out to Moore on Twitter -- and what's even more significant is that the Sun was weaker than by about 4%. And the continents were in different places, meaning the planet's albedo was very different from today.

Moore ignored all this in order to pretend that the O-S ice age means CO2 is an insignificant greenhouse gas.

The Sun's irradiance increases by about 1% every 110 million years. (See the top equation on page 4 here, or Pierrehumbert's textbook pg 12 equation 1.1.) So 450 million years ago there was about 54 W/m2 less sunlight impinging on the top of Earth's atmosphere.

That's a huge amount. By comparison, recall that anthropogenic CO2's radiative forcing is now only about 1.9 W/m2.

The continents were in places nothing like where they are today. The Earth's albedo (reflectance) would have been signficantly different.

But if the Earth's albedo then was the same as today's, 0.3, it would have taken lots of CO2 just to counteract the weaker Sun. You can calculate this easily:

(1-albedo)*ΔS/4 = CO2's RF = 5.35*ln(CO2/today's baseline CO2)

or CO2 = 1640 ppm. That's with no albedo change (unlikely), just to get the same average global temperature as today (which includes our ice sheets).

Even worse, we really don't know what CO2 levels were back then. On Twitter Moore casually tossed around the cartoon to the right:

The problem is, there is very little data from back then -- proxy data points are about 10 million years apart -- and these curves come from carbon cycle models, which are much more uncertain than, say, today's climate models.

(Carbon cycle modeling is an integral part of climate models, but also their biggest uncertainty.)

This excellent review article by Dana L. Royer of Wesleyan covers CO2-forcing during the Phanerozoic -- the last 541 million years of Earth's history.

From Royer, Geochimica (2006).
Today is at the far right of the horizontal axis;
 intervals are 100 M yrs backwards.
Royer writes (pg 5666), about long-term carbon models:
The best-regarded model of this class that predicts CO2 for the full Phanerozoic is GEOCARB, which has a time-step of 10 my (Berner and Kothavala, 2001); this means that CO2 fluctuations operating at timescales shorter than 10 my may not influence GEOCARB.
10 million years between time steps. A huge amount can happen in 10 million years. Look how much CO2 changed during the PETM, and that was only about 200,000 years.

By the way, the O-S ice age lasted only 0.5 M yrs.

In fact, Royer says that 4% lower sunshine means the glaciation threshold rises from 500 ppm today to 3000 ppm then. Dr. Patrick Moore completely ignored that knowledge.

So the cartoon is very misleading, without error bars in either the vertical or (especially) the horizontal direction.

Moore ignored all this. He wanted to paint a certain picture -- that CO2 is not very relevant -- and he was doing to do that with or without science.

In this case, mostly without.

These are the kind of rogues we have testifying before Congress on the most important issue of our day.

Update: SkS wrote about the O-S ice period here.

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Western U.K.'s Winter of Weather Discontent Featured in New Video (Feb 25 2014)

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Western U.K.'s Winter of Weather Discontent Featured in New Video (Peter Sinclair video) New video produced for The Yale Forum points to historic storms ripping through much of southwestern coast of United Kingdom virtually since the start of 2014 and suggests slim odds they occurred naturally. [Watch the video]


Strange Bedfellows ... and Fear of Broad Impacts of Mann/UVa Court Ruling (John Wihbey)

Six Climate Freelancers Seeking Support Base of 800 Subscribers (Bud Ward)

Thoughts on Abrupt Climate Change, As In 30 Years, not 100 (Peter Sinclair Video)

Reviewing Impacts of Historic Drought Facing California and the West (Bruce Lieberman)

Thinking Appropriately About Climate Change (Paul C. Stern)

Key Facts, Issues and Next Steps on Keystone XL Pipeline (John Wihbey)

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Mann v. Ball Still On

Steve McIntyre says he checked with Tim Ball, and Mann's lawsuit against him is still going on:

Steve McIntyre (Comment #124923)
February 21st, 2014 at 3:46 pm
"I checked with Tim Ball and the Ball lawsuit has not been dismissed. They have outstanding discovery requests, but to go from mere delay to succeed in a motion for dismissal is a large step and one that has not been taken."

If "fraudulent" Isn't An Accusation of Fraud, What Is?

At the legal blog Popehat (?), Ken White writes:
My view of the case is unchanged. I think the statements Mann attacks are best viewed as opinions expressed through vivid rhetoric and hyperbole, rather than statements of literal fact susceptible to defamation analysis. That view is strengthened by the steady progress of the law since 2012 in cases like Cox v. Obsidian Finance, which I discussed last month.1 The tone and rhetorical flair of the statements, the places they were published, and their entire tenor strongly suggest they were argumentative opinions rather than falsifiable statements of fact. Therefore, they ought to be absolutely protected by the First Amendment.
(My emphasis.) So if calling Mann et al's work "fraudulent" is just "vivid rhetoric and hyperbole," what would you have to call it if in fact you thought it really was fraudulent?

I think that's a good question.

By the way, I found yet another instance where Mark Steyn called Mann et al's work fraud or fraudulent, also in the National Review:
Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann’s global-warming “hockey stick” graph)....
So that makes three: in 2006 in The Australian, in 2009 in National Review, and in 2012 in NR.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Not a "Whopper" At All

The New York Times opines:
Virtually everyone accepts the overwhelming evidence of human influence on climate change and the urgent need to address it, except for a handful of hardened skeptics and those who benefit financially from less regulation.
which for some reason Steve Milloy and Marc Morano find to be a "whopper."

Some people need to get out of the DC circle and attend a science conference or three....

For that matter, so does Mark Steyn.... The American Geophysical Union often holds its spring conference in Boston. Wonder if he will attend to see what all the fuss is about....?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Medieval Warm Period in the IPCC 1AR

What was known about the "Medieval Warm Period" before Mann et al and others did their reconstruction work in the 1990s?

Not a whole lot. At least, not as portrayed in the IPCC's First Assessment Report.

A commenter writes,
Pardon me, but assuming Michael Mann and co-authors are correct...isn't Mann himself a contemporary example of a dogged contrarian overturning the long-held consensus regarding the so-called Medieval Warm Period postulated by Hubert Lamb and agreed to by like 97% or so(earlier) eminent climatologists? From the IPCC First Report (FAR) back into the history of science, the consensus seemed to be that the era about AD 1000 to AD 1300 was "warmer" (whatever that means) than the following "little ice age" between AD 1400 and AD 1800, and that "now" was again "warm". EVERYBODY tended to agree with Lamb and his acolytes....
which is similar to what Mark Steyn said on a recent Powerline podcast:
"Dr. Michael Mann created this thing called the hockey stick, which purposted to show that late 20th century temperatures are warmer than they've been in a millennium. I don't think that's true -- a lot of people don't think that's true.... To get that result he had to eliminate....

"His big contribution was eliminating this thing called the Medieval Warm Period, when they had vineyards in Greenland, for example. The Medieval Warm Period is something I learned about at school. It was followed by the Little Ice Age where they were skating on the Thames, and this kind of thing, He eliminated all that and showed a flat line from the year 900 to the year 1900, and I think that's a lot of hooey."
Is it hooey? I can't vouch for the quality of Steyn's science education, but that picture of the MWP is not what the IPCC wrote on their First Assessment Report in 1990. In the FAR Chapter 7, page 202, they gave the figure to the right.

Notice there isn't even a scale on the vertical axis (the IPCC calls it a "schematic diagram").

The text reads
"The period since the end of the last glaciation has been characterized by small changes in global average temperature with a range of probably less than 2°C (Figure 7.1), though it is still not clear whether all the fluctuations indicated were truly global....

The late tenth to early thirteenth centuries (about AD 950-1250) appear to have been exceptionally warm in western Europe, Iceland and Greenland (Alexandre 1987, Lamb, 1988) This period is known as the Medieval Climatic Optimum China was, however, cold at this time (mainly in winter) but South Japan was warm (Yoshino, 1978) This period of widespread warmth is notable in that there is no evidence that it was accompanied by an increase of greenhouse gases.
In other words, there wasn't a lot known then, and there were cold regions as well. They refer to only two papers, both of which pertain mostly to Europe.
So Mann et al didn't "eliminate" anything -- they provided illumination where before there was much darkness.

There just wasn't a lot known about the MCA (Medieval Climate Anomaly) before people started seriously collecting and understanding proxy data, and the theorists then started to analyze it.

For the Steyniacs, a Webcast

The National Academies Press
NAS and The Royal Society to Release Joint Publication on Climate Change Science

On Thursday, February 27th from 10:00-11:30 EST, you're invited to join the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK's Royal Society for the release of Climate Change: Evidence & Causes . Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document that addresses some of the questions that continue to be asked. Miles O'Brien of the PBS Newshour will moderate a discussion between some of the authors and the audience.
Participants can join in person at the NAS building on Constitution Avenue & 21st Street, NW, or by webcast. Coffee service begins at 9:00 a.m.
Register today to attend in person or view the webcast.

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NCDC: 4th-warmest January

Last month was the 4th-warmest January globally, said NOAA, after 2007, 2002 and 2003. Cold in Russia and eastern North America, but warm nearly everywhere else. Look at Greenland.
 January Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in degrees Celsius

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meteorologist Apologizes to Mann

Tom Russell, meteorologist for WHP CBS 21, apologized Wednesday after he tweeted a comment about Penn State Climatologist Michael Mann which apparently upset some residents of the twitterverse.

Russell tweeted “Oh no, Mann and his fabrications are safe!” after Twitter user Joe Stepansky quoted incoming Penn State President Eric Barron as saying “human-induced climate change is underway.”

Stepansky and other Twitter users took exception to Russell's comment, who later issued – via Twitter – an apology to Mann.

In a separate tweet, Russell said "My intention wasn’t to question his credibility, only to express that there is a range of opinions on this topic. "

Mann accepted Russell's apology, thus ending the short-lived discussion.

via The Patriot News

There are No 'Dogged Contrarians' In Science

It is too bad that the Michael Mann v Mark Steyn case doesn't involve Shirley Temple or Buddy Epsen -- where clearly Steyn's real passions lie. Steyn might then actually have a chance of winning.

Unfortunately for him, it's about defamation and it's about science, about which Steyn knows little. And he demonstrates this with every post he makes on scientific topics.

For example, the other day he wrote
Science advances through dogged contrarians testing the "settled science", not through glassy-eyed consensus acolytes prostrating themselves before "one proven answer".
This is just wrong. Worse, it's silly.

Science does not advance by testing "settled science." There are no scientists today testing Newton's laws with ever more precise micrometers. Geologists do not repeatedly do analyses to confirm or deny the theory of plate tectonics. No one is yet again measuring the mass of the electron, to be sure it's isn't wildly different from the consensus number.

Science advances by testing the edges of knowledge, where things are still not settled. Scientists -- real scientists -- accept the existence of, say, he greenhouse effect -- because that's what the evidence shows. They aren't endlessly verifying its existence or replicating the evidence for it -- what would be the point, any more than doing endless lab bench experiments on colliding marbles to see if energy is conserved.

In fact, there are essentially no "dogged contrarians" (Steyn's term) in science, because they invariably look like poseurs and fools and real scientists don't have time for such people. Because such people aren't intellectually serious.

Being a good scientist is, to a very significant degree, about knowing where to look for problems -- about understanding what has been proven, and then going to its edge to test and probe for weaknesses, deviations, and new phenomena. But these only occur at the edge of scientific knowledge, never at the middle of scientific knowledge.    

This is a very real and very large part of why science has been so successful for the last 400 years -- when it knows something, it knows it. It doesn't spend endless time repeatedly confirming old knowledge, as if the second law of thermodynamics is true only by opinion, like what is the best Frank Sinatra song. Opinions change. Bodies of scientific knowledge don't.

This is something contrarians usually get wrong. Michael Crichton liked to say that consensus had no place in science. Wrong! There is consensus all over science -- about Newton's Laws of Motion, the Laws of Thermodynamics, the existence of quarks, the basics of radiative transfer, and countless other things.

If there is new knowledge to be found, it will be at the edges of existing knowledge, not at its middle. Maybe Newton's laws don't hold over scales larger than galactic. Maybe quarks behave unusually at very high densities of quark-gluon plasmas. Maybe internal climate variablity occurs a little more rapidly than models simulate.

But the basics are sound. Ken Caldeira said recently,  "...we have as much confidence in the basic climate science as we have in the fundamental science of plate tectonics or biological evolution." Go to any science conference, and you will hear what scientists are talking about -- it certainly isn't an endless rehashing of the basics.

There is consensus about the basics: CO2 is a strong greenhouse gas. It causes at least 2 C of warming when doubled. 2 C is a lot of warming.

This is the "settled science." And what's unsettled -- perhaps, as many lines of evidence suggest, equilibrium climate sensitivity is more like 3 C, or even larger -- isn't necessarily reassuring. Uncertainty cuts both ways, and its error bars are far more serious than those on Shirley Temple's greatness.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014


It's from the end, here, of this already famous 6-minute tracking shot from True Detective: