Search HotWhopper

Loading...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Are US winters cooling or warming? It is all so very confusing at WUWT....

Sou | 5:17 PM Feel free to comment!

It wasn't that long ago that WUWT-ers were being warned that the world is heading for an ice age.  The "ice age cometh-ers" to varying degrees include:

The one thing you can say about those WUWT contributors is that they are prepared to make a prediction, even though their predictions are laughable.  Most of the people at WUWT just scoff at science but aren't prepared to stick their neck out.  I've yet to see Anthony Watts make any prediction.  Wondering Willis once made a guess that the world is about to get cooler.  Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale, when pinned down, doesn't want to make any predictions.  He's too busy keeping track of bits of the ocean in the hope that some bits haven't warmed as much lately (so that he can put up a chart of a patch of sea and say that global warming isn't happening, or it's not happening in that bit of the globe).


It was freezing cold in the USA this winter, but it's not unusual?


Over the past few months, there have been a myriad of WUWT articles about just how cold it was this winter in the USA.  If there was a WUWT article about the record hot Californian winter, I must have missed it. Which is odd, since that's where Anthony Watts, the blog owner, hails from. Here are just some of the articles about how cold it was in the USA this past winter:



However in an apparent about-face, today the headlines at WUWT are (archived here):

Holdren Is Wrong – Cold Winters Are Not Getting More Common

Paul Homewood, who wrote the article even put up a chart to prove that US winters aren't getting any colder.  In fact looking at the chart, since the 1980s winters in the USA have become a whole lot warmer:

Source: NOAA via WUWT

Paul injects a bit of reality at WUWT and writes:
Clearly, on a national basis, recent winters have not been unusually cold. In the last 10 years, only three winters have been colder than the 1901-2000 mean. Moreover, no winters in recent years have come anywhere near to being as cold as some of the winters in the 1970’s, for instance, or earlier.

Paul goes on to look to see how much of the USA had extreme winters.  Using his method, he confirmed that the 1970s was the last decade notable for cold extremes across the largest portion of contiguous USA.  He wrote that it's clear that much less of the country was affected by cold compared to the twentieth century:
It is abundantly clear that much less of the country has been affected by extreme cold this winter, and indeed other recent ones, when compared with the 20thC. There is also no trend towards cold winters becoming more common.

Then Paul remembers who he's writing for.  So he figures he'd better cover himself for the global warming deniers and say that mild winters aren't "taking over" either, writing:
What is also interesting is that there does not seem to be much of a trend towards milder winters taking over. Only the winter of 2011/12 stands out in this respect, and there have been plenty of similar years previously.

Yet if you look at the first chart he posted (above), it's pretty obvious even to the naked eye that in the last few decades, the average winter time temperature is much warmer than it was in the past. Even looking at his own charts of extremes, he should have recognised that there is a lot more red area than blue area in recent decades.  Here are the two charts Paul put up, showing extremes in minimum and extremes in maximum temperatures for winter, with my animations (click to enlarge):

Adapted from source: WUWT


So is it warming, cooling or doing neither? Anthony's readers must sometimes be scratching their head wondering whether to believe what they read at WUWT or whether to believe what they read at WUWT.


John Holdren and Jennifer Francis' Polar Vortex


John Holdren's statement, which Paul Homewood was countering, was from a video in which he discusses the polar vortex.




Paul quotes the following bits of text.  He doesn't link directly to where he got the quotes.  The first bit of text is from the above video (at 0:32), which Paul doesn't repost, and the second paragraph is taken from a White House web page :
“A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues….
We also know that this week’s cold spell is of a type there’s reason to believe may become more frequent in a world that’s getting warmer, on average, because of greenhouse-gas pollution.”
 The video is short, so I'll copy the text here so you can read John Holdren's quote in context:
If you've been hearing that extreme cold spells like the one that we're having in the United States now disprove global warming, don't believe it. The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change.
Climate is the pattern of weather that we observe geographically and over the seasons, and it's described in terms of averages, variations, and probabilities. But a growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues. And the reason is this: in the warming world that we're experiencing, the far north, the Arctic, is warming roughly twice as rapidly as the mid-latitudes, such as the United States. That means that the temperature difference between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes is shrinking, and that temperature difference is what drives what is called the circumpolar vortex, which is the great counterclockwise-swirling mass of cold air that hovers over the Arctic. As the temperature difference between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes declines, the polar vortex weakens, and it becomes wavier. The waviness means that there can be increased, larger excursions of cold air southward -- that is, into the mid-latitudes -- and, in the other phase of the wave, increased excursions of relatively warmer mid-latitude air into the far north. 
Computer models tell us that there are many different factors influencing these patterns. And, as in all science, there will be continuing debate about exactly what is happening. But I believe the odds are that we can expect, as a result of global warming, to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes and some extreme warm in the far north.

Essentially, what John Holdren is describing is the hypothesis put forward by Jennifer Francis and Stephen Vavrus in a paper in GRL in 2012.  As John Holdren says, "there will be continuing debate about exactly what is happening".  Indeed the Francis hypothesis is the subject of ongoing debate.  Some scientists, such as Kevin Trenberth, disagree quite strongly. Others are more circumspect and are entertaining the idea that the hypothesis has merit.

Coincidentally, there is an article in the current issue of Science about this very topic, titled "Into the Maelstrom" and written by Eli Kintisch.  If you can get hold of a copy it's worth a read (at least I found it very interesting and informative).  Eli Kintisch says that Jennifer Francis has modified part of her hypothesis in the light of a paper by Elizabeth Barnes, backing off from the notion that "a curvier jet stream is leading to more atmospheric "blocking"". Here's an excerpt of the Science article:
The most vociferous critiques, however, have come from researchers who study atmospheric dynamics, or the many mechanisms that jostle and shape air masses. Given the Arctic's relatively puny influence over the planet's atmospheric energy flows, the notion that it can alter the jet stream "is just plain wrong," says dynamicist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. The more likely culprit, he says, is natural variability driven by the tropics, where Earth gets its largest input of solar energy.
Such variability, Trenberth says, could explain the jet stream's giant curvy shape this past January, which brought record chill to the southeastern United States, warm temperatures to Alaska, and made "polar vortex" a household term. At the time, a massive amount of so-called latent heat was accumulating in the tropical Pacific, Trenberth notes, in an incipient El Niño event. Parcels of warm air from the tropics may have forced the jet stream northward in one place, causing it to meander southward farther east. "It may not be that Arctic amplification is causing a wavier jet stream, it may be that a wavier jet stream is causing Arctic amplification," he says.
"I understand that people would be skeptical," Francis says. "It's a new paradigm." But she counsels patience. She notes that evidence of Arctic amplification itself has emerged from the statistical noise only in the last 15 or so years, so it may take time for the changes to the jet stream to become statistically significant. And she believes the modeling experiments that fail to simulate a more meandering jet stream are biased, because they don't include sufficiently robust Arctic amplification.
Such arguments have persuaded some colleagues to at least wait and see. Oceanographer James Overland of NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, for example, says, "I find the tropical explanation for the recent behavior of the jet stream no less implausible than the Arctic one." And he suspects that, as data accumulate, the dynamicists will come to gain a greater appreciation for the Arctic's role.

Paul Homewood's Strawman


I think it's worth pointing out that Paul Homewood's article is one big strawman.  He is trying to refute something that John Holdren didn't say.

Paul is arguing that because the winters on average or over much of the USA aren't the coldest compared to the entire record of winters then John Holdren is wrong.  But John Holdren was talking about cold spells not average winter temperatures.  He was talking about periods when parts of the USA may experience extremely cold weather.  Also, in my view the winter extremes need to be considered in comparison with a rising global surface temperature.  What this would mean is that cold extremes would be getting warmer over time, as global surface temperatures rise.  Yet there can still be extreme cold across parts of the USA, just not as extreme as the coldest in the instrumental record.  Perhaps in several decades from now, an extreme cold spell will be as warm as a current mild winter in the USA, yet it may still be caused by a "wavy" polar vortex.  (A mild winter may well be as warm as a mild spring or even a mild summer in the future.)

From the WUWT comments


Let's see how the WUWT-ers reacted to Paul arguing that US winters aren't getting colder and writing that "There has been nothing unusual or unprecedented about this winter."  They are all over the place.  Some of them are saying winters are warmer. Others are arguing winters are colder. Many of them seem to think the USA is the whole globe. For example: more soylent green! says:
April 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm
“As global warming continues?” Do you think Holdren means “when (or if) global warming continues” because it ain’t warmed in nearly 2 decades.
A technical question — If global warming causes colder winters, at what point does global warming become global cooling? Or does it all just average out? If it all just averages out, does that mean the earth doesn’t have a fever anymore?

phlogiston is trying to work it all out and says:
April 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm
So let me get this straight:
The scientific adviser to the POTUS
is saying that
global warming
is causing colder winters

TonyG isn't giving up easily and says:
April 18, 2014 at 10:53 am
Over a year ago, I saw a program on NGC that suggested AGW could cause another ice age. I guess cold winters would be much more common with glaciation.

pokerguy is deeply depressed and says:
April 18, 2014 at 11:23 am
There was a time when I believed that people in highly positions….at least in a democracy….could not just make things up without paying a price. Now the scales have fallen from my eyes. You can say anything you want for the most part and get away with it. Holdren has been making ridiculous claims without being exposed as a serial liar in the MSM for a long time. Ditto Obama. I don’t think it was more than a year ago when the President of the U.S. simply made up his own facts about global warming by asserting that the globe was heating up even faster than the experts had predicted….which of course is utterly false. In fact there’s arguably been no warming at all for over 17 years.
Deeply, deeply depressing. 

Magma picks up an inconsistency and says:
April 18, 2014 at 11:39 am
Holdren says “cold spells”. Homewood shows Dec-Feb averages.
There is a difference. 

Richard Day likes question marks and says:
April 18, 2014 at 11:48 am
So extreme cold is the result of global warming?
Is there ANYTHING global warming can’t do?????? 

herkimer isn't the only one who says it's been cooling since 1998 (now that year rings a bell) (excerpt):
April 18, 2014 at 11:58 am
Winters in Contiguous US have been getting cooler for 17 winters or since 1998 , but certainly not for the reasons that Holdren states. This recent decline in US winter temperatures is similar to the cooler US winter cycles of 1895-1920 and again 1954-1979 and is due to ocean cycles. 

Rud Istvan gets everything topsy turvey and says:
April 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Holden even recently lied to Congress about previous testimony on US drought by Roger Pielke Jr. When Pielke asked for a retraction and apology, he got a six page White House memo citing one paper. Apparently they cannot read either, because that paper (by Trenberth) also supported the Pielke testimony. Which was simply thatnitmisnot possible to make a connection between drought and climate change, per the IPCC SREX and other papers. It is possible to make regional US connections with PDO and AMO.
Why did Holdren try to trash Pielke’s testimony? Because Obama is using the California problem to pump for his climate agenda. Just when you think they cannot stoop lower, they do.
No, Rud, that's not why John Holdren had a go at Roger Pielke Jr's testimony.  This is.


Rob is seeing warmer winters and says:
April 18, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Winters have gotten much less severe
here along the Gulf Coast since the terrible cold decades of the 1980′s and 1960′s.
Holdren’s “speculation” is NOT Science. Not even close.

HenryP says, I'm not sure what:
April 18, 2014 at 3:19 pm
@DirkH
As we are cooling from the top, the higher latitudes get drier and the lower latitudes get wetter.
That is physics.
Locally, at some places, due to the drier conditions, it can get hotter,
paradoxically
perhaps 

Bart says:
April 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm
Seems I recall that last year’s warmer-than-usual winter was supposed to be the harbinger of things to come.

bushbunny is firmly in the global cooling camp and disagrees with Paul Homewood (but doesn't come right out and say so):
April 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm
Of course the government would announce this nonsense to uphold their beliefs, and not face the fact Northern America and Canada would suffer most from extra cold winters. I hope that you don’t experience any more extra cold winters for your health mainly and productivity. Your government should take measures now not to rely on the global warming scare but global cooling that will prove a lot more expensive in the long run to adapt to. 


Eli Kintisch, "Into the Maelstrom", Science 18 April 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6181 pp. 250-253 DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6181.250

Francis, Jennifer A., and Stephen J. Vavrus. "Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid‐latitudes." Geophysical Research Letters 39.6 (2012). doi:10.1029/2012GL051000,

Barnes, Elizabeth A. "Revisiting the evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in midlatitudes." Geophysical Research Letters 40.17 (2013): 4734-4739. doi:10.1002/grl.50880

It's a trifecta with "Al Gore is Fat"! And is Anthony Watts owning up to science fakery?

Sou | 2:15 AM 6 Comments - leave a comment
Talk about old times, Anthony Watts is going for the trifecta at his denier blog, wattsupwiththat. He might even make the quadrella.  Here's what he'd done in the past day or so:
  1. Climategate resurrection: I've already mentioned his resurrection of a stolen email from "climategate" - dated January 2005, more than nine years ago.
  2. Greenland greening? I've just written about that one too. It got a mostly hostile response because, of course, one of the denier memes is that Greenland used to be so much greener.
  3. Al Gore is fat: not quite but almost.

All that's needed to win the quadrella would be an "ice age cometh" article by someone like David "funny sunny" Archibald.

Might as well tell you about how wrong Al Gore is, according to Anthony Watts.  Apparently Mr Gore went to Hawaii where he "dupes 9000 people" and "insults the rest" - or at least that's what Anthony Watts says. (Archived here.)


How Al Gore is a Hypocrite!


First up, Mr Gore was hypocritical because he didn't insist on turning off the stage lights and microphone when he spoke to 9,000 people in  Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center. Not only that, but he allowed the use of a image of himself speaking to be projected onto a large screen, which would have used up more electricity. 
Anthony said he even let the organisers turn on air-conditioning!  There's a photo of the stadium below, set up for sports. 

Source: Wikipedia Credit: ElChibo808

Anthony would say Mr Gore was a hypocrite for not swimming to Hawaii and talking to a crowd from a mountain top or at the beach.  In the daytime. Eating salad (to avoid using fuel) and cupping his hands and drinking water from a stream, so as to avoid using any utensils that might have been manufactured using energy.  Oh and he probably should have been starkers, too. It takes energy to make clothes.


Who's duping who?


Now that we've got that out of the way, let's see how Al Gore duped 9,000 people.  Anthony copied bits from an article at Honolulu Civil Beat.  I'll copy some of it here:
The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” 
Then Anthony wrote:
What. A. Liar.
Both the IPCC and Nature say there is no link between climate change aka global warming and severe weather, and so it follows about Gore’s “dirty energy” claim.

Anthony's second statement is wrong. In the IPCC AR5 WG1 Summary for Policy Makers, for example, it states that "it is likely that human influence has more than doubled the probability of occurrence of some observed heat waves in some locations" and has a similar finding for heavy precipitation.

Maybe Anthony has decided to reject the greenhouse effect after all, and this is a tentative step he's taking before "coming out" and rejecting the link between global warming and fossil fuel burning.

So as it turns out, Al Gore isn't lying.  He's using strong imagery for emphasis with his "dirty energy causes dirty weather".  But he's spot on.  Heat waves are the pits.  So are floods. So is drought. All of these will be exacerbated by global warming - in some areas more than others.


Anthony takes offence on behalf of polluters who promote fake science


Now for the bit where Al Gore supposedly insults the rest.  This part of the write-up that Anthony copied might be what he's referring to:
He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous. 
“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,” he said of both.

Now it's not that likely that Anthony Watts approves of tobacco companies hiring actors to play doctors to deny that cigarettes are dangerous.  He has often indicated that he's very sensitive to discussion of tobacco for personal reasons. So that leaves him deciding to take offence at any suggestion that there's something wrong with fake science coming from polluters.  Maybe in Anthony's book that's a noble undertaking.

The only other bit that might have got Anthony upset was this quote, about "game-changers":
The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. 
Perhaps Anthony is insulted because he can't find anything strange about the weather and as a diligent denier he should. Or shouldn't. Or something.

Whatever it was that upset Anthony, I reckon he must be either owning up to the fact that he's a climate science denier or else he's owning up to fake science and claiming to be a polluter.

There is one more clue, right at the bottom of the article.  Anthony wrote:
So while Mr. Gore calls climate skeptics (which seems to be the majority of the population these days) ‘Immoral, Unethical and Despicable’ ... 

But look again at what Al Gore said was ‘Immoral, Unethical and Despicable’.  It wasn't sceptics. It wasn't fake sceptics. It was "fake science from polluters" and actors playing doctors and denying cigarettes are dangerous.

So that brings us back to my first supposition.  Anthony must be owning up to producing fake science and being a polluter.  I bet you're glad to have that settled.


From the WUWT comments

There wasn't much usual stuff about mansions and oil in the comments. In the main, WUWT-ers came across as being disinterested, bored even. Just making comments for the sake of it. No passion. I get the sense their hearts aren't in it. "Al Gore is fat" has run its course with the denialati.  It was also the lowest common denominator of WUWT-ers.  (Yes, there's a definite hierarchy of commenter at WUWT. Different people comment on different types of articles.)

Latimer Alder was a smarty pants like me and says:
April 18, 2014 at 12:11 am
No doubt Al just walked across the Pacific to get there form his seaside home on the mainland.
He’d have been a hypocrite if he resorted to fossil-fuel powered aeroplane or boat.
;-)

David L says:
April 18, 2014 at 1:24 am
Why does anyone at all listen to this idiot anymore????

Christopher Hanley says:
April 18, 2014 at 1:28 am
“The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather …”
Has it been raining frogs and toads in Hawaii recently?

DirkH, one of the resident conspiracy theorists, says:
April 18, 2014 at 2:27 am
They didn’t pay to listen to his drivel; they paid to stay or move up in the crony hierarchy of the Obama regime. 

Another WUWT conspiracy theorist, Santa Baby, says:
April 18, 2014 at 1:40 am
Al Gore, Gro and several others helped set up the UNEP/UNFCCC/IPCC scheme. The real Agenda is international Marxism trough a climate treaty and UNEP Global Government.
Maybee he is hoping to become the first undemocratic elected President of Earth? 

Greenland has been (partly) white for a very long time, when will it turn green again?

Sou | 12:28 AM 4 Comments - leave a comment

Today Anthony Watts has an article about Greenland (archived here).  He copied a press release about how scientists have evidence that the ice sheet in Greenland could be 2.7 million years old. This could be something of a surprise, because recent thinking was that the ice sheet may have almost disappeared in MIS 11, about 400,000 years ago (eg Alley et al 2010).

I found out that the paper was published yesterday in Science Express. From sciencedaily.com:
The new discovery indicates that even during the warmest periods since the ice sheet formed, the center of Greenland remained stable; "it's likely that it did not fully melt at any time," Vermont's Bierman said. This allowed a tundra landscape to be locked away, unmodified, under ice through millions of years of global warming and cooling.
"The traditional knowledge about glaciers is that they are very powerful agents of erosion and can effectively strip a landscape clean," said study co-author Lee Corbett, a UVM graduate student who prepared the silty ice samples for analysis. Instead, "we demonstrate that the Greenland Ice Sheet is not acting as an agent of erosion; in fact, at it's center, it has performed incredibly little erosion since its inception almost three million years ago."...
The scientists examined the lowest 13 m of the GISP2 core, which had not been examined closely.  GISP2 is in central Greenland.
SourceNorth Greenland Ice Core Project (2004) 

That lowermost section of the core had a lot of sediment in it. The team used measurements of measurements of atmospherically produced (meteoric) 10Be, carbon and nitrogen in the sediment to figure out things like where the sediment came from and how old it was.  What they discovered was that below the silty ice in the lowest 13 m of the core was 48 cm of diamict lying over granite. The ice at the summit is frozen to the bed and, through modeling, the scientists estimate it's been in place for "at least the last several glacial cycles".

10Be comes from the atmosphere (produced by cosmic rays) and precipitates or falls down to the surface and sticks to the soil.  It has been used to date soils and to estimate the rate of erosion.  Measurements of this, plus organic carbon and total nitrogen allow a picture to be built up of the history of the ice sheet and the underlying surface.  From sciencedaily.com:
...The researchers expected to only find soil eroded from glacier-scoured bedrock in the sediment at the bottom of the ice core. “So we thought we were going looking for a needle in haystack,” Bierman said. They planned to work diligently to find vanishingly small amounts of the beryllium—since the landscape under the ice sheet would have not been exposed to the sky. “It turned out that we found an elephant in a haystack,” he said; the silt had very high concentrations of the isotope when the team measured it on a particle accelerator at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
“On a global basis, we only find these sorts of beryllium concentrations in soils that have developed over hundreds of thousands to millions of years,” said Joseph Graly, who analyzed the beryllium data while at the University of Vermont.

Without going into too much detail, what I gather is there was too much 10Be in the soil for anything but a very long period of exposure to the atmosphere. Longer than would have been possible if the soil had been exposed in more recent interglacials. They concluded that "the data are most consistent with soil formation prior to the existence of the present GIS".  And given that it's still there intact, they concluded that the ice sheet has been very stable at the base and has been there for the best part of the past 2.7 million years. Before that, it was likely tundra. In fact the 10Be under the Greenland ice sheet was found to at levels very similar to the permafrost tundra in Alaska today.

This of course has implications for what will happen as we heat up the planet.  From ScienceDaily.com again:
Many geologists are seeking a long-term view of the history of the Greenland Ice Sheet, including how it moves and has shaped the landscape beneath it -- with an eye toward better understanding its future behavior. It's 656,000 square miles of ice, containing enough water, if fully melted, to raise global sea levels twenty-three feet -- "yet we have very little information about what is happening at the bed with regards to erosion and landscape formation," said Corbett.
What is clear, however, from an abundance of worldwide indicators, is that global temperatures are on a path to be "far warmer than the warmest interglacials in millions of years," said Bierman. "There is a 2.7-million-year-old soil sitting under Greenland. The ice sheet on top of it has not disappeared in the time in which humans became a species. But if we keep on our current trajectory, the ice sheet will not survive. And once you clear it off, it's really hard to put it back on."

This puts the final nail in the coffin for last year's WUWT article about how Greenland ice sheet was only 650 years old.  That article had a not-so-brief appearance at WUWT before Anthony finally responded to the guffaws (even from deniers) and took it down.


From the WUWT comments


It doesn't suit the crowd, some of whom want to argue about Eric the Red and the vikings. Lee says:
April 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm
Least we forget that the Vikings grew crops on Greenland 1000 years ago where permafrost exists today.

mickgreenhough says:
April 17, 2014 at 11:07 pm
In 982 Eric the Red sailed west from Iceland and found a ‘green land’ He started a settlement there which grew to 4-5000 people and 150 farms. It lasted some 400years until the ‘Little Ice age’ of the Middle Ages saw the return of ice to Greenland. [redacted link]

Colorado Wellington says:
April 17, 2014 at 11:16 pm
“Greenland really was green! However, it was millions of years ago,” said Rood …
Expanding on the authors’ pop commentary we must conclude that Erik the Red knew this and decided to wait it out.

Stephen Singer says:
April 17, 2014 at 5:46 pm
I’d suggest that it’s more likely humankind and other species are likely to disappear before the Greenland ice sheet does. One needs to remember that the earths continents are tectonic plates in very slow motion. Anybody think they know where the current continents are going to be in say 1-100 million years from now and what species will still exist. Your guess on that question maybe more accurate than current prognostications about what a few 100 parts per million increase in CO2 will do to all earths species.

Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
April 17, 2014 at 5:53 pm
“[it] will have a fundamental influence on how fast and high global sea levels rise from human-caused climate change.”
I beg your pardon? Talk about an agenda-powered presupposition, in bold face. That slithered by the reviewers like sub-glacial slime mold.

George Turner raises an interesting possibility and says:
April 17, 2014 at 5:53 pmThis raises the interesting possibility of finding fairly fresh remains of long extinct species, either in Greenland or Antarctica.

William McClenney says (excerpt):
April 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm
Two of the main problems with some of the central Greenland cores, in particular GISP and GISP2 are described in: http://epic.awi.de/10226/1/Nor2004a.pdf
“The two deep ice cores drilled at the beginning of the 1990s in central Greenland (GRIP1–3 and GISP24,5, respectively 3,027m and 3,053m long) have played a key role in documenting rapid climate changes during the last glacial period. However, it quickly became clear that the bottom 10% of at least one (and most probably both) of these ice cores4,6–9 was disturbed owing to ice folding close to the bedrock. The Central Greenland ice core records are fully reliable climate archives back to 105,000 years before present (105 kyr BP), but the disturbances mean that no reliableNorthern Hemisphere ice core record of the previous interglacial (the Eemian climatic period) was known to exist in the Northern Hemisphere.”
The first problem being that ~10% of the bottom core is folded.
The second problem is that no ice dated older than 105,000 years has been described in the literature to my knowledge, which is what makes this somewhat dubious.
It is exceptionally difficult to age date ice, particularly if it has been disturbed. It normally requires layer counting, registration with known tephras (volcanic ash layers) etc. etc. So I will be interested to see how they dated this ice to some 25 TIMES older than the oldest known ice (at least known to me). 

If William had read the paper or the press release or Anthony's article, he'd have seen that the scientists weren't dating ice, they were dating the soil and sediment at the bottom of the ice.


spangled drongo says:
April 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm
What’s our current trajectory? Warming or cooling?

Then there are the conspiracy theorists like DirkH, who says:
April 18, 2014 at 2:37 am
The money quote at the end. Scientists prostituting themselves for the globalist cause. Well, they always wanted to become the benevolent technocrat dictators of the entire world anyway.
They’re all giddy for dictatorship.

James Martin says:
April 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm
What bothers me in reading this is how any climate scientist – or any layperson with an IQ over 90 – not come to realize the true magnitude of global climate variability, and from this see that the amount of increase in the latter part of the last century was nothing new or out of the norm? The spin is so apparent as to be nauseating – and to suggest we are headed for being warmer than any previous interglacial? Really?? Why not post some numbers from prior interglacials and let’s compare, rather than make some comment that some would take as truth because some “expert” said it is so.

Rick K says:
April 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm
What is clear, however, from an abundance of worldwide indicators, is that global temperatures are on a path to be “far warmer than the warmest interglacials in millions of years,” said Bierman.
THAT… is a lie.

Mark 543 says:
April 17, 2014 at 6:33 pm
Even at high end warming estimates it would take hundreds of years to melt the Greenland ice sheet. The problem for future generations is that they will never have stable coastlines.

Eve says:
April 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm
They gave ti add the last bit to get their paper published. Even though they know that this planet has done nothing but cool through it’s life.

SIGINT EX says:
April 17, 2014 at 7:53 pm
For more than three decades, Science and the American Association of Science have been allied to fraud and malfeasance, unethical behavior and lack of morality.
Yet again, “Science” stands up to be beheaded yet again.
A sad epitaph.

Science is moving way too quickly and far beyond the comprehension of asybot who says (and I sympathise):
April 18, 2014 at 12:32 am
I am getting tired of the time frames used in some of these models papers and reports, 2 million years here, 4 million years there. I have lived and farmed on my property for a little over 25 years in some places the land has “settled” 6 to 10 feet (ok, 2-3 mtrs) without a 2 mile icecap. Add to that that in a news item today the “Keppler” scientists have found an earth like “Rockey” planet 500 light years away in a solar system where it is called “Kepler186-F” .
Sorry but can some one help me here ? How can we see a “rockey” planet the size of earth 500 light years away? (We can barely see ice movements in the arctic from a 100 miles up!) In a solar system that has a red dwarf star (less bright than our sun). Can some one put that in physical perspective .
This is a grain of sand and then compare it to what Keppler 186f would look like from our point of view. I know the answers are going to include ” the permutations of the orbits of the other planets etc etc I do not believe for one second the scientists coming to these conclusions are much different than Mann etc . The conclusions they give are almost, if not impossible, to contest they have all the funding to keep on keep on going on. The Keppler project is important but do they have any template to hold up, ( gee maybe I am getting way to skeptical.) to compare their findings of today with? 



Paul R. Bierman, Lee B. Corbett, Joseph A. Graly, Thomas A. Neumann, Andrea Lini, Benjamin T. Crosby, Dylan H. Rood. Preservation of a Preglacial Landscape Under the Center of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 2014 DOI: 10.1126/science.1249047

Alley, R.B., et al., History of the Greenland Ice Sheet: Paleoclimatic insights, Quaternary Science Reviews (2010), doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.02.007

Friday, April 18, 2014

A blow to smear merchants and disinformers

Sou | 2:03 AM 56 Comments - leave a comment

Anthony Watts says (archived here) that today's Supreme Court decision (in Virginia) to reject an appeal by the American Tradition Institute to ferret through ancient emails is, as he put it in the headline: "a blow to open science".  I differ, I call it a blow to those who are trying to stifle academic freedom and open science.

Anthony thinks that science is only open if he can read the scientists' emails.  Or more likely, if he can read the interpretation of snippets of other people's emails as made by smear-merchants and disinformers (that was prophetic, see update below).  Anthony is not very knowledgeable when it comes to science.

The issue as I understand it, is an appeal by ATI against a circuit court decision.  It's mainly about ATI wanting to gain access to Michael Mann's emails, that he sent or received during the six years he spent at the University of Virginia.

Here is the summary of the decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia (my paras and bold italics):
130934 American Tradition Inst. v. Rector and Visitors 04/17/2014
The circuit court was correct in denying a request for disclosure of certain documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The purpose of the higher education research exemption under Code § 2.2-3705.4(4) for "information of a proprietary nature" is to avoid competitive harm, not limited to financial matters.
The definition of "proprietary" in prior case law, that it is "a right customarily associated with ownership, title, and possession, an interest or a right of one who exercises dominion over a thing or property, of one who manages and controls," is consistent with that goal and the circuit court did not err in applying that definition. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the university that prevailed below, it produced sufficient evidence to meet each of the higher education research exemption’s seven requirements.
Also, in the context of the Code § 2.2-3704(F) provision allowing a public entity to make reasonable charges for its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying or searching for requested records, "searching" includes inquiry into whether a disputed document can be released under federal or state law, and this statute permits a public body to charge a reasonable fee for exclusion review. The circuit court's judgment excluding disputed documents and approving such cost recovery is affirmed, and final judgment is entered in favor of the university.

The full decision is here. It makes for interesting reading. In it, the court noted that:
On January 6, 2011, American Tradition Institute and Robert Marshall (collectively, "ATI") sent a request to UVA, a public university, seeking all of the documents that "Dr. Michael Mann produced and/or received while working for the University . . . and otherwise while using its facilities and resources . . . ."

ATI wanted the lot. It was a pure, unadulterated fishing expedition.  They didn't have a clue what they were looking for or what they might find.  They just wanted all the documents produced or received by Professor Mann. Bear in mind that the newest document would have to be nine years old and the oldest would be fifteen years old. And at the time, to comply with VFOIA, the university would have had to provide the information within five days.

Now Michael Mann was busy during his time at UVA (from 1999 to 2005).  The university wrote to ATI and said they found 34,062 "potentially responsive" documents. They got that down to 8,000 and then worked through 1,000 of those before the ATI's $2,000 prepayment was all used up. They are very efficient workers at UVA.  They said they'd keep going if ATI paid up the balance of the original cost estimate ($8,500).  Which I think it did.

But then there was a bit more to-ing and fro-ing between UVA and ATI.  Before all the material was provided to ATI, Michael Mann intervened.  He argued that the University could not sufficiently protect his interests in privacy, academic freedom, and free speech.  He wasn't objecting to published material and related.  What he was arguing was that his personal correspondence was just that - personal and that his other emails should be exempt under the "proprietary" definition. Or at least that's how I understand it. There's a lot of legalese. There was a lot more to the arguments, including what constitutes "proprietary", which definition the press was keen to narrow. The other argument related to who should bear the costs of getting the information.

Anyway, the upshot seems to be that scientists can continue to communicate by email, at least in Virginia, and be open with their colleagues knowing that the grubby little denier bloggers won't easily purloin snippets of their conversations and twist them beyond recognition. At least until and unless there is a different definition of proprietary in Virginian law.

Moreover, provided no-one steals them.  Anthony Watts yesterday wrote another article on the same subject, in which he said:
With Mann, it’s all about delaying the inevitable, unless of course somebody like the hero of Climategate “FOIA” decides to take matters into their own hands and stop this abuse of the legal system and FOIA law by making an email dump. I don’t underestimate that possibility.

It's heroic to steal personal property in deniersville (just like it's heroic to pretend to be a dog).  But only if you're a science denier.  (I expect Anthony will find his door being knocked upon if anyone does steal emails of climate scientists in the USA.)


Other blog articles


Michael Halpern has written about the Supreme Court decision and the implications, at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

There's also a short discussion of the finding by L. Steven Emmert, who blogs about court findings and appeals. I've archived it here for future reference, because there doesn't seem to be a way to link directly to the article.

Eli Rabett has written about this too.


WUWT update - another email smear


Anthony Watts has just done some more smearing with the help of Eric "eugenics" Worrall.  He's cut and pasted snippets from two stolen private emails, reversing them, to make it appear as one email and to make it look as if it's something it's not.  The two emails don't involve Michael Mann.  They are a query from one scientist to another, asking the first scientist if, under the (then) new FOI laws in Britain, he would be required to hand out to all and sundry computer code prepared (as I understand it) by the second scientist.  The reply was that code might be exempt under property rights provisions. But Anthony and Eric manage to turn it into a smear.  That example is a good illustration of why private emails should be kept private and out of the hands of smear merchants and disinformers. (The article is archived here.)


From the WUWT comments


Many of the commenters at WUWT don't have a clue.  Here are a couple of comments from Anthony's article of yesterday (archived here):

bushbunny has got the situation topsy turvy and says:
April 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm
I thought the university of Virginia were suing him because they want their grant back? Oh the result will be interesting, as it may affect Mark’s case too?

Proud Skeptic is wrong, and needs to learn about what FOIA covers and what is exempt, and maybe think about the result of allowing all government-funded information to be freely available to everyone at any time when he or she says:
April 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm
Maybe I’m naïve but isn’t public money funding Mann’s research? IMHO, when the public is paying the freight then EVERYTHING is public. if you want privacy, then use private money…preferably your own.

 And here are a few from today's article (archived here). Not all WUWT-ers disagree with the decision.

Brad hatches a conspiracy theory about the seven Supreme Court Judges and says:
April 17, 2014 at 7:53 am
Sounds rigged, have to wonder how many judges, or family members, or political contributors, are alumni?
Something stinks…. And Lew-paper won’t make the smell go away.

tim maguire didn't read the decision or the bit about "not limited to financial matters" and says:
April 17, 2014 at 7:42 am
Publicly funded educational research is specifically exempted to protect financial interests? Wouldn’t the right of possession be held by the people of Virginia?
What a strange outcome. 

David in Michigan finds the decision correct and says:
April 17, 2014 at 8:01 am
After reading the decision by the court, I agree that their interpretation is correct. It’s disappointing, yes, but reasonable and coherent. I also note the caveat by one of the judges at the end of the decision write up that there might be unintended consequences of applying the definition of the word “proprietary” to other sections. So it goes….

Paul Coppin says:
April 17, 2014 at 8:06 am
On a quick read through and without looking at the referenced cases, I note two things: ATI probably argued the case badly, and the ruling is a cautious ruling. Th nut of the last part is in the court’s caution over the meaning of “proprietary”, the ambiguous intent of its meaning as derived from the Va legislature in statute (which the court has asked the legislature to clarify), and the consequence, that because of this ambiguity, the court was obliged to follow the narrower definition established by case law in respect of the specific Codes in the VAFOIA. The competitive issue of public schools vs private schools is an interesting wrinkle. The decision is not a failure of the court to uphold access to publicly funded information, it’s a failure of the state legislature to properly construct statutes with consistent common use terminology. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Same old, same old from WUWT deniers

Sou | 5:54 PM 2 Comments - leave a comment

There's not been much happening in the climate denier blogosphere worth writing about with some exceptions, which I'll address in a future article.

Anthony Watts is copying and pasting some stuff from WUWT deniers like Larry Hamlin and paid disinformers like Pat 'n Chip, wailing that "all the models are wrong".  The same nonsense that Anthony wheels out when he runs out of ideas for new material.

It's nothing new.  They are trading on the false idea that global warming has stopped.  I guess they figure that they need to get in while they can because the slow down in global surface temperatures won't last.  And if the anticipated El Nino eventuates and it follows the pattern of previous ones, then next year would be hotter than any previous El Nino year, which would make it the hottest year on record. Hotter even than 2010. Which would mean the deniers would have to write about something else altogether to try to persuade the public that:

  • global warming isn't happening, or
  • if it is it's not bad, or 
  • if it is bad, we'll adapt, or 
  • if it is bad, some of us will adapt and
  • if it is bad and some of us manage to adapt, it won't cost much to adapt, or 
  • if it is bad and some of us manage to adapt and it does cost a lot to adapt then taxpayer's shouldn't have to pay to adapt - or 
  • something.

I'm a bit too busy to go through their articles and arguments line by line, so I'll just put up a couple of charts that highlight the problem we are facing.  First, earth is still getting hotter as seen in multiple ways:




Next, we're not even close to cutting CO2 emissions yet.  And time is running out:

Adapted from IPCC AR5 WG1

Finally, from WGIII Summary for Policy Makers, the longer we wait the fewer options we'll have:
Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer‐term emissions levels and narrow the range of options consistent with maintaining temperature change below 2°C relative to pre‐industrial levels.



From the WUWT comments


You'll all have read the empty protests, like those archived here and here before.  I won't bother picking holes in them - the IPCC reports themselves do that.  Here are some choice comments from the WUWT deniers to Pat 'n Chip's article (archived here):


Latitude opts for the fantastical climate hoax conspiracy theory favoured by many science deniers and says:
April 16, 2014 at 6:10 pm
Why do so many people discuss the science or computer models…without first acknowledging they are all based on fraudulent temperature records that have been fudged.
Even if they had invented the perfect model…they would never know it….because the models are all tuned to temp histories that have made the past colder and the present warmer….to show a faster rise in global warming…
They cooked their own goose with this one…they will never get an accurate computer model…with out first admitting they cooked the temp record

SIGINT EX is, I think, trying to be clever or funny or something and says:
April 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm
IPCC Titanic.
Do not trust the … “Captain” !
The “Watch Maker” turned “Ship Designer” on 2nd Deck standing by the spiral staircase and looking at the Ship-clock and glancing to his Swiss Chronograph on his wrist … knows !

Joel O'Bryan opts for ethno-religious imagery and says:
April 16, 2014 at 9:29 pm
This analysis is devastating to the “CO2 is evil” CAGW believers.
Ayatollah Al “Jezeera” Gore will issue a Fatwah against this blasphemy any day now.

Bob Greene's intuition is off.  Climate models are geared for long range not short range.  In the short term, random weather fluctuations can dominate. In the long term, these even out.  And like many others, he seems to be held in thrall by the mighty dollar and says:
April 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm
Results of 108-114 models were compared to actual temperatures. The models give a wider spread of results (0.4°C) for shorter time periods (Fig. 1 a and b) and a narrower spread for the longer time period. This seems to be intuitively wrong if the models had any capability to match reality.
Models that don’t work so large numbers are used to create reality. How many wrongs do you have to use to make a right? The ensemble doesn’t do too well at matching reality. It’s total gibberish. How many billion dollars were poured down this rat hole? And they give advanced degrees and nice tenured professorships for this?

norah4you says something about "courses to learn".  It looks as if she could do with some "learning" herself:
April 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm
Had been better had IPCC sent their so called experts on courses to learn by understanding Theories of Science what they forgot to learn during attending same courses once upon a time….

Peter Miller brings up the subject of satellites and says:
April 16, 2014 at 10:40 pm
And let’s not forget our gratitude for the satellites which measure global temperature, for they have kept the statistics reasonably honest for the past 35 years. Prior to the late 1970s, the manipulation/torture/homogenisation of temperature data has run riot, especially the GISS numbers.
Without the satellites acting as the police, the IPCC models would have undoubtedly been shown to be ‘correct’. 

Not a bad note to end on. Let's compare the two satellite records of lower troposphere temperatures (UAH and RSS) with that recorded below on the surface (HadCRUT4 and GISTemp). Click for larger view:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Fishy Failure at WUWT - not so spectacular

Sou | 2:29 PM 12 Comments - leave a comment

Anthony Watts has a thing about fish.  Today he has an article about a new paper in Nature Climate Change. Looking at the link, Anthony originally wrote his article (archived here) under the headline:
Another sad claim about ocean acidification where researchers fool themselves into thinking they can replicate the ocean in a fish tank

Someone must have picked him up on the "fish tank" part because he changed the headline to:
Another ‘fish story’ about ocean acidification where researchers fool themselves into thinking they are actually doing science
Unfortunately for Anthony, he didn't change enough of his text.


Ocean acidification and behavioural abnormalities in fish


The scientists were investigating the impact of ocean acidification on the behaviour of fish.  This time they compared behaviour of juveniles at different sites (one control site and one CO2-seep site), observing the species:  Dascyllus aruanus (average total length: 17.0 mm), Pomacentrus moluccensis (19.8 mm), Apogon cyanosoma (22.9 mm) and Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus (22.3 mm).  These are small fish, the largest being less than an inch long. The scientists selected three reef sites where ocean water is naturally more acidic from CO2 seeps (that is, more acidic or less alkaline than the ocean as a whole) and three control sites close by, where the ocean is less acidic. (See note below.) They found that that "juvenile reef fishes at CO2 seeps exhibit behavioural abnormalities similar to those seen in laboratory experiments".

Dascyllus aruanus CreditDanielle L. Dixson


What the scientists found was that high CO2 didn't make any difference to metabolic rate or aerobic performance, which is a bit of a surprise to me.  In regard to behaviour, the fish on the high CO2 reefs "were attracted to predator odour, did not distinguish between odours of different habitats, and exhibited bolder behaviour than fish from control reefs".


Update


The lead author, Professor Philip Munday, kindly sent me more information and suggested I clarify this article, writing - my bold italics: "while we examined the community structure of fishes at three CO2 seep sites, and paired controls (as you carefully point out), we only studied the behaviour of the fish from one of the CO2 seeps and a nearby control reef."

- Sou 4:51 pm 15 April 2014 AEST


You can read the paper (or abstract) at Nature Climate Change.  There's a press release at ScienceDaily.com and a short interview by Felicity Ogilvie with Philip Munday and Jodie Rummer on PM at ABC Australia.


Anthony's Boneheaded Blunders


It's not just Sou at HotWhopper who makes boneheaded blunders (where is Brandon Shollenberger today?).  Anthony Watts makes them from time to time as well.  He wrote:
Fish from acidic ocean waters less able to smell predators smells fishy to me. Just ask any salt-water aquariaist how hard it is to simulate the ocean in a fish tank and keep the fish from being stressed.

Yes, it can be hard to keep fish from being stressed if you don't take care of your tank.  However stress would normally affect the metabolism of fish.  If the fish being observed at high CO2 sites were stressed from being observed, it was no different to the stress response of fish at the normal CO2 sites, going by the fact that there was no difference in metabolic rate or aerobic performance between populations at the control site and at the high CO2 site.

To figure out why Anthony wrote that throwaway line, one has to go to his next few sentences. I don't know what Anthony thinks of the ocean off Papua New Guinea, but he wrote:
The failure of this claim is clear when you watch the video below, showing natural CO2 bubbles coming off the sea floor in Milne Bay, in Papua New Guinea. They use this as the “control” for the experiment, according to the caption, when they should be using a normal reef and doing the experiments in situ. 

That sentence doesn't make any sense. Anthony didn't write the full caption to his "video below", but he did provide a link to the video.  The caption read "Scientists collected fish from the coral reefs shown here and found that fish from the more acidic waters of the bubble reefs were less likely to detect the odor of predators."

Anthony said that the high CO2 reefs were the controls. They weren't. They were the experiment. The controls were nearby reefs with no CO2 seeps and higher pH.  It's all described in a table in the supplementary information.

Does Anthony think that all observations should have been made "in situ"?  Or that nearby control sites in the ocean aren't controls?  Anthony decided that:
...they transport these fish back to the the mobile lab (on a boat), perform experiments, and assume there is no difference in the environment that may contribute to behavioral differences. They apparently don’t stop to consider that BOTH groups of fish in the mobile lab might be stressed the same way.  

I don't know why Anthony decided that the researchers didn't stop to consider that both groups of fish might be stressed in the same way (ie the fish from the control area compared to the fish from the high CO2 area). He wrote:
Worse, there’s no mention of transporting fish caught at a non-bubbling reef back to the mobile lab so that they can perform the same test on them and compare differences if any. Instead they say:  “The results do show that what Dixson and colleagues found in the lab matches with what is seen in the field.”

If Anthony had bothered to stop and think he'd be asking himself how the researchers could do a comparison if they didn't have something to compare it to.  Even if he couldn't access the paper itself, controls were mentioned:

And if he'd known more about the research, like maybe reading the list of references, then he should have cottoned onto the fact that maybe, just maybe, the authors were referring to an earlier study when they say "in the lab".  A study like the one described in this 2010 paper in Ecology Letters, which is listed as a reference and was written by some of the same authors.  In that study the fish were reared in a tank in the lab, not the ocean.

For effect, Anthony repeated his claim again:
They simply ignored the most obvious control group test and did no actual in situ experiment.

But the press release and abstract Anthony copied and pasted in his own article stated there were control groups (at three control sites as it turns out - but see my update above) and while measurements were taken on the boat, the fish came from the ocean itself, not a lab.


In situ - à la Anthony Watts


Personally, I think Anthony is just taken by the words in situ. It makes him sound sort of sciency to his readers.  This is probably how Anthony thinks the measurements should have been taken - by strapping equipment onto the tiny fish:

Fish being monitored in situ wearing micro monitoring apparatus, with camera, to monitor its own behaviour and that of its predators
Credit/source: cyborgdb


The "most obvious question"


I'd say Anthony didn't read the paper, didn't read the abstract and didn't even read the press release because he then wrote:
Then there’s the most obvious question they didn’t ask: if CO2 affects the fish behavior so poorly, making them more susceptible to predators how is it that they observe “Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs.”. How would the fishes near CO2 bubbling reefs survive if their predator response was adversely affected. They claim there’s less predators near the CO2 bubbling reefs. Well hello! Wouldn’t that mean the fish were conditioned by their lower predator environment to be less afraid of predators to start with and CO2 may not play a role at all? 

Presumably the most obvious question he thinks the scientists "didn't ask" was the one I bolded above.  If Anthony had read what he himself copied and pasted, he would have found that not only did the scientists ask themselves the question, they provided a provisional answer to the question, writing in the abstract:
Our results suggest that recruitment of juvenile fish from outside the seeps, along with fewer predators within the seeps, is currently sufficient to offset any negative effects of high CO2 within the seeps.

It's suggested that, despite the fact the fish weren't able to detect predators, the population may be maintained by recruitment from outside the high CO2 area plus a paucity of predators within the high CO2 area.


A not so spectacular failure


Anthony decides that "It is such a spectacular failure of the scientific method I don’t know how this got past peer review."  When in fact it's Anthony who fails - not so spectacularly for him.  He's failed more spectacularly on other occasions.  His article reads as if he wrote a previous wrong version (going by his changed headline) and then, instead of admitting his error he tried to cover himself, but not well enough.

His complaints don't make sense.  Anthony seems to want the researchers to make refined observations of behaviour while leaving the fish in the reef.  Is he suggesting they strap microchips onto the tiny fish (the largest being 22 mm or 0.9 inches) and all their predators and track their movements for days on end? And how does Anthony suggest the researchers measure the metabolism of the fish while the fish are still in the ocean.  How about their respiration? Does he expect the researchers to put a teeny tiny gillmask onto the teeny tiny fish while they swim about the reef? And how does Anthony suggest they limit other differences between the control environment and the high CO2 environment so they can properly compare behaviour?


You can read how the measurements were taken in the supplementary information here if like me you don't have access to the paper itself.

Anthony Watts doesn't just have a "thing" about fish, he has it in for these particular researchers.  He wrote about a previous study they did on clown fish a couple of years ago, thinking it was funny that clown fish behaviour was impaired in high CO2 waters (archived here).

Maybe we could do a research study about what causes Anthony Watts faculties to be impaired when he sees scientific articles about fish.  Here's a hypothesis.  He once tried to set up a marine aquarium but messed it up and killed all his fish.


From the WUWT comments


R. Shearer says:
April 14, 2014 at 11:37 am
I suppose if those fish were thirsty, they would prefer to drink Perrier.


JimS says:
April 14, 2014 at 11:44 am
April Fool’s day is long past, so this means I must have mistakenly side-stepped to The Onion instead of WUWT.
Seriously though, if research like this was done on their own dime, it would not matter too much and it would be just good for a laugh; but it looks like this was a formal scientific study paid for by taxpayers.

njsnowfan decides it's not that the fish can't smell predators, it's that they can't see them for all the CO2 bubbles! She or he says:
April 14, 2014 at 11:51 am
Bubbling reefs would be similar to predators that use air bubbles to drive fish in circles to eat them Fish are not dumb and reef fish would get use to bubbles and lack of preditors Bubbles would make it harded for them to see predators when they do come into the area.
Their control should of included the first week of placing bubblers around the reefs, I bet the fish were scared until they got use to them.

philjourdan says:
April 14, 2014 at 11:52 am
Of course it cannot be due to the fact that they were raised without the usual predators. Nah! Every one is scared of a saber tooth tiger and area always sniffing the air for them.

Latitude doesn't know that all but one of the researchers are from James Cook University or AIMS in Australia and says:
April 14, 2014 at 11:58 am
they (georgia) keep producing this crap just to embarrass the hell out of the rest of us……..

hunter says:
April 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm
More faux science, like that from the lobster kid, designed to basically see if angels, dancing on the head of a pin in a high CO2 bell jar, prefer the can-can or the limbo.

John Robertson says:
April 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm
So, fresh water fish must be at a terrible disadvantage…we obviously need to salt the lakes and rivers to help them smell better!
Or would fish who live in areas where the CO2 content is different not be able to work out that the area is more dangerous and avoid it? If they don’t avoid it then there is no increased risk to the fish. Only to fish researchers grants…

Gary says:
April 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm
Sounds like this research is worthy of this children’s joke:
Q. How do you keep fish from smelling?
A. Cut off their noses?

Latitude decides to try the sciency approach and claims the scientists' pH readings must have been off, and says:
April 14, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Fish from acidic ocean waters less able to smell predators…
Ok, you guys have had enough time already….and not one word about the corals….in the acidic ocean water with CO2 bubbling up through them.
You can’t lower the pH until you use up all of the buffer!

kimbokrossroads might be one who prompted Anthony to change the headline and fix up the text and says:
April 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm
If you are going to debunk this study, try to write credibly. It’s hard for me to agree that this study is sloppy when you, the source, are writing like mud. You are also spelling names wrong making you even less legit. F+ for wasted time.

This comment from Pat Frank is the only one I saw that included a reasonable question:
April 14, 2014 at 4:08 pm
I thought ocean CO2 “acidification” was going to exterminate the calcifiers. So how is it that there’s a reef at all around a pH 7.8 CO2 seep, much less a thriving reef with all sorts of species diversity?
By the way, Rud, H2S is even more toxic to we mammals than is cyanide. It’s just we can smell the stuff at 1 ppb in air and get away.

Of some relevance to Pat's question, the supplementary information did state:
Nearly pure CO2 bubbles have been gassing through the seafloor for an unknown period (confirmed for approximately 70 years, but possibly much longer), locally reducing the seawater pH. No reef development is found at pH <7.7, so areas of intense seeping were not included in the surveys. 


Philip L. Munday, Alistair J. Cheal, Danielle L. Dixson, Jodie L. Rummer, Katharina E. Fabricius. Behavioural impairment in reef fishes caused by ocean acidification at CO2 seeps. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2195

Dixson, D. L., Munday, P. L. & Jones, G. P. Ocean acidification disrupts the innate ability of fish to detect predator olfactory cues. Ecol. Lett. 13, 68–75 (2010). DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01400.x

Monday, April 14, 2014

Living Dangerously: Jim Steele denies Texas warming

Sou | 8:04 PM 54 Comments - leave a comment

Jim Steele seems to be addicted to making up stuff.  Today he wrote a long article for Anthony Watts' blog WUWT, picking on Katharine Hayhoe and Don Cheadle, who featured in the Years of Living Dangerously (which I haven't seen). Jim wrote a long article short on facts and long on his normal rejection of science (archived here).  At one stage he wrote:
The truth is there has been no climate warming in Texas. 

To support his claim he put up a chart that he described as "Plainview TX temperature trends found online from the US Historical Climate Network".  I don't know why he stopped at 2012.  Anyway, I've got a better chart if you want to know about Texas temperatures.  It's a statewide chart, not just one small town in the north of the state.  The data is from NOAA. I converted it from Fahrenheit to Celsius and plotted it as an anomaly from the twentieth century mean.

Data Source: NOAA

You can see how much hotter it's been getting, consistently - in Texas. It's been hotter for longer for any time in the record going back to the late 1800s. Much hotter, with 2012 being nearly two degrees Celsius above the twentieth century average.

I can't be bothered going through the rest of Jim's diatribe.  He does end up blaming Joe Romm for whatever Katherine Hayhoe said.  Jim's a climate science denier.  He's written a book about his denial. It pays to check every word he writes.  What I suggest for anyone who's come looking to find out more about Jim Steele, you can type his name into the search box above.  This is by no means the first time he's lashed out at scientists or misrepresented data.

You can read about how Jim doubled down when I pointed out he'd got his seas wrong and his seasons wrong.  [Update: You can see Jim continues to "double down" in the comments below. Not once has he conceded that the NOAA data shows warming or that the paper he himself cited states that Texas has warmed (which  it does).  Not only does the paper state that Texas has warmed, it attributes some of this warming to human factors! Sou 2:10 pm AEST Thurs 17 April 2014]

Better yet, have a look at the Years of Living Dangerously and tell us what you think of it.