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Friday, May 31, 2013

More denier weirdness: Anthony Watts confirms the 'escalator'...

Sou | 10:30 PM Go to the first of 9 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has been acting even more oddly than usual lately.  A bit off kilter even for him.  He has just posted a graphic confirming how fake skeptics view surface temperatures.  His graphic was a little smudged, but here it is.

He says the blue bit is how he and other fake skeptics view surface temperature, writing "what the climate actually does".  Thus confirming what SkepticalScience portrayed in the "escalator".   The other odd thing is that he seems to think that 'alarmists' see the global warming temperatures as the red line above, even though he specifically refers to the SkepticalScience 'escalator'.

Anthony doesn't show the 'escalator' so I've put it below.  You can see where the red line is and it shows just how badly his hand slipped (or how bad his eyesight has become):

What do you reckon?  Did his Wacom not work properly or does he need spectacles?

Weird, eh!

While we're on the subject of temperatures, check out this one.  This is what Anthony Watts wants for the world:

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars

Anthony Watts claims he's won the Battle of the Brains ...ha ha ha

Sou | 8:16 PM Feel free to comment!

Anthony thinks he's clever, cleverer even than Dr Joe Romm

This quote from Anthony Watts (of WUWT) is funny, though once again it's not tagged as "humour".  Anthony decides he is cleverer than 'alarmists', in fact he even thinks he's smarter than Joe Romm and writes:
From the University of Alberta, this news release is making the rounds, but what many of the alarmists don’t get (Joe Romm for example) is that these plants had to have a warm environment to grow in first, then they were covered by ice, emerging again after the LIA ended. Many reports are only looking at the current emergence in a warmer period as if it is unique. – Anthony
Anthony, I believe you'll find, should you ask him, that Dr Romm knows that the bryophyte was not frozen in ice before it was frozen.  I wouldn't mind betting that there might even be one or two of Anthony's Dismissives who would twig to that.

Clever little Anthony is correct when he writes that the bryophytes emerged after the end of the Little Ice Age ended.  They emerged about 160 years after it ended.

It took more than the ending of the little ice age for these mosses to emerge.  It took human activity to heat up the world and cause a widespread and sharply accelerating ice retreat across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago according to the abstract:
Across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, widespread ice retreat during the 20th century has sharply accelerated since 2004. In Sverdrup Pass, central Ellesmere Island, rapid glacier retreat is exposing intact plant communities whose radiocarbon dates demonstrate entombment during the Little Ice Age (1550–1850 AD)....

What makes this warming unique

As for this warmer period being unique - does anyone think Anthony would be willing to admit its unique features?  Here are some unique features of this warmer period:

  • It's the first time ever since Homo sapiens evolved that carbon dioxide has been this high;
  • It's the first time in the history of earth in which there has been such a rapid period of warming as a result of human activity;
  • This past hundred years marks the first period ever in the history of Earth that any species has had the power to choose whether to end the world as we know it or whether to limit the damage being wreaked upon life on earth.
  • It's probably the first major mass extinction event since the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, which took place about 66 million years ago.
  • It would be the first time in the history of earth that a sentient species knowingly and willingly charged full pelt towards its own destruction, if Anthony Watts had his way.

Who's won the Battle of the Brains?

Hands up everyone who thinks Anthony Watts has it all over his scientific dog, Kenji and Dr Joe Romm when it comes to intellect.

Who has the best brain?

Now to the unfrozen bryophytes.  Here again is a link to the abstract in PNAS1.  Below is a repost from The Conversation.

Frozen plants from the Little Ice Age regenerate spontaneously

By Akshat Rathi, The Conversation

Retreating glaciers are proving to be good news for plant scientists. Underneath one such glacier on Ellesmere Island in Canada, researchers have found plants they believe have regrown after being entombed in the glacier for more than 400 years, since a cold period called the Little Ice Age.

These plants are called bryophyte, a group that includes mosses. They are non-vascular, which means they do not have tissue that distributes resources throughout the plant and they do not reproduce through flowers and seeds. They use spores instead. But they also possess the ability to regrow from tiny fragments of themselves through a process called clonal growth. “This ability makes bryophytes pretty tough,” Andrew Fleming, a plant scientist who was not involved in the study, said.

The discovery reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was made by a team led by Catherine La Farge, an expert on bryophytes at the University of Alberta. Because the bryophytes found were not much different from similar variety found in the wild today, La Farge used radio carbon dating to confirm the age of their find.

The plants were trapped during a period known as the Little Ice Age, between the 16th and 19th centuries, when glaciers were growing in size. Arctic glaciers have recently been retreating and, since 2004, the rate of ice melt has increased dramatically. La Farge is hopeful that, in addition to these plants, the melting glaciers will release other interesting flora and fauna of that time.

When these bryophytes were found they were blackened, but sported a hint of green. 
See to the right of the rock in the middle. Catherine La Farge

This discovery does not displace the record of the oldest frozen plant to be regenerated. That belongs to a 32,000 year old specimen of Silene stenophylla, which was regrown by using tissue extracted from its frozen seeds.

These bryophytes are also not the hardiest plants we know. That title belongs to what are commonly known as resurrection plants, which are able to survive extreme dehydration. Some of these are commonly found in deserts, such as Selaginella lepidophylla found in Chihuahuan Desert on the border of Mexico and the US.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.
1. Catherine La Farge, Krista H. Williams, and John H. England (2013) Regeneration of Little Ice Age bryophytes emerging from a polar glacier with implications of totipotency in extreme environments, PNAS,  doi:10.1073/pnas.1304199110

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making a meal of Pat 'n Chip on WUWT ...or...Don't shoot the messenger

Sou | 5:37 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts and Patrick J. Michaels had a miss on WUWT yesterday, so they are trying again.  This time with the help from Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger.  Once again it's tactic of appealing to the fear factor that by all accounts is one of the main causes of disability of science deniers.

By way of introduction, research suggests that the fear factor prevents some people from rational thought. There is a strong association between this impediment and conservatism.  Fear causes cognitive dissonance which is only allayed by allaying the fear.  That becomes the priority.  When threatening facts can't be refuted then anyone who misrepresents the facts and lowers the fear becomes the new messiah.  It doesn't matter how wrong they are.  The fact they've reduced the fear is sufficient for the professional disinformer to be hailed as a hero.

Strike One: Unveiling The Strawman

First the build up.  Pat and Chip lead in with this, referring to Dr James E Hansen:
Specifically, he believes global average sea level will rise some 15 to 20 feet by 2095.
The question is, does Dr Hansen really believe this as a foregone conclusion?  Pat and Chip refer their readers to this book chapter by Hansen and Sato1.  Even a cursory read shows that the authors are not at all categorical.  What the authors maintain can be read in the abstract (my bold):
Gravity satellite data, although too brief to be conclusive, are consistent with a doubling time of 10 years or less, implying the possibility of multi-meter sea level rise this century
He believes vs implying the possibility of.  What Pat and Chip have carelessly done is build a strawman.

That's easy to do for the WUWT crowd who thrive on their disdain of climate science and especially of climate scientists and most especially of three or four climate scientists in particular.  James Hansen and Michael Mann are at the top of their list.  But the strawman really wasn't necessary.

Indeed the entire article wasn't necessary.  One word would have sufficed.

Pat and Chip - all you have to do is write the single word "Hansen" and the deniers go rigid with rage, their faces twisted into a slathering snarl, the words on the screen melt together in a blur and their hands are clenched so tightly they can barely unbend their fingers to type in the WUWT comment box.  The relief after clicking "Post Comment" is profound, and surges through their body. They take a deep breath and wait avidly for someone, anyone to acknowledge their intense feelings expressed variously as - "only in it for the money", "activist", "gravy train", "CAGW", "hoax" and "scam". (Yes, a bit of a let-down, isn't it :))

Don't believe me?  I wrote the above in advance of any responses to the article - now go check the comments.

Strike Two: Geography Fail

After that little diversion, back to what Pat and Chip did.  The straw man is built, now they try to knock it down.   I won't bore you with details of "another scientist said something therefore Hansen is wrong about everything", which is the basis of their argument.  I will point out that they are not crash hot at geography or logic.  Here is how I know.  Pat and Chip quote this passage from the Hansen and Sato chapter (with a couple of words changes for some reason):
However, the primary flaw with the kinematic constraint concept is the geology of Antarctica, where large portions of the ice sheet are buttressed by ice shelves that will not survive BAU climate scenarios. West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier (PIG) illustrates nonlinear processes coming into play. The floating ice shelf at PIG's terminus has been thinning in the past two decades as the ocean around Antarctica warms Shepherd et al., 2004). Thus the grounding line of the glacier has moved inland by 30 km into deeper water, allowing potentially unstable ice sheet retreat. PIG's rate of mass loss has accelerated almost continuously for the past decade (Wingham et al., 2009) and may account for about half of the mass loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which is of the order of 100 km3 per year(Sasgen et al., 2010).
Okay.  This paragraph follows from a discussion of Greenland.  Hansen and Sato are pointing out that West Antarctica is very different to Greenland.  (These are the two locations of greatest concern in the near future in regard to near term sea level rises.  That is, of the order of decades to centuries.)

Pat and Chip write the silliest thing.  They say:
While West Antarctica may be losing ice mass, East Antarctica appears to be gaining, as higher sea surface temperatures lead to more moisture in the atmosphere which leads to greater snowfall there.
Even if they were correct about East Antarctica gaining some, what the heck has snowfall in East Antarctica to do with the potential risks of glaciers melting in West Antarctica?  That's like saying people in San Fransisco don't need to be concerned about earthquakes because there's not much risk of a major earthquake in Boston.  Look for yourself.  Note the scale at the bottom and the mountain range separating east from west. (Click to enlarge):

Source: NASA via Wikipedia

If Pat and Chip make such a big deal about the Pine Island Glacier not being a problem because it's pretty darn cold in the middle of the high mountains in East Antarctica, then what else are they so wrong about?

Strike Three: And They are Out

Next Pat and Chip try to tell you that sea levels weren't higher in the Pliocene after all.  Their evidence?  This is what they write (by the way, prefaced with an "oops" -  implying that Hansen and Sato should have read a paper published just two weeks ago, before writing their chapter two years ago):
Oops. Wrong again. Breaking scientific research just published online from the journal Science (Rowley et al., 2013) conclude that the apparent 25 ± 10 meter sea level rise during the Pliocene was probably due to vertical land motions during the intervening 3 million years rather than an actual sea level rise from more water in the oceans from melting ice (Hansen’s mechanism).
Is that what the paper actually said?  By all accounts, no.  You can read the abstract here in Science Express, and the full article if you're a subscriber.  The abstract doesn't say that sea level rise wasn't as high as thought, it says that you can't determine the sea level from that stretch of land because it shifted as a result of mantle flow.  In other words, what is thought of as a "passive" shoreline was subject to movement.  Let's see what the press release has to say:
"The highlight is that mantle flow is a major component in distorting the Earth's surface over geologic time, even in so-called 'passive' continental margins," Simmons said. "Reconstructing long-term global sea-level change based on stratigraphic relations must account for this effect. In other words, did the water level change or did the ground move? This could have implications on understanding very long-term climate change."
This work may change estimates of sea level in the Pliocene or it may not.  It depends on what other evidence suggests.  But it seems to me that it doesn't necessarily negate higher sea levels.  Nor does it tell us about sea levels in other eras when the earth was as warm as we're heading towards.  I would have a lot less certainty than Pat and Chip that sea level rise will be benign - and I live 200 km from the coastline.

Where does that leave us?

What Hansen is concerned about is that people will allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that sea levels will rise only gradually and by 'only' a half metre or so this century.  But glaciers in particular are slippery things - they can slide into the ocean, huge chunks can break off and there could be a sudden larger rise.  Heck, imagine if instead of a twenty cm rise in a century there was a half meter rise in a decade.  Imagine a storm surge or a cyclone.  It's not going to be much comfort to inhabitants of coastal cities to say, sorry - we knew it was possible but we didn't think it was likely so we kept on burning fossil fuels.

Maybe the seas won't rise two meters this century.  Maybe it won't happen for another 120 years.  That would foist the problem onto our children's children.  What will they think of us, knowing we could have prevented a sudden rise?

And what will half a meter rise in sea level mean?  We might have only a few decades to relocate thousands of cities and billions of people to higher ground.  That's an enormous undertaking.  (Think of large infrastructure projects that can take anything from ten years to thirty years to completion.)

Here are the closing paragraphs from Hansen and Sato.  Their projections are on the high side for the Business as Usual scenario.  Does that mean we should ignore them in favour of projections that are less uncomfortable just because we prefer the latter?  Surely that would be another logical fallacy - that of personal incredulity. (My bold and italics for emphasis.)
BAU scenarios result in global warming of the order of 3-6°C. It is this scenario for which we assert that multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale are not only possible, but almost dead certain. Such a huge rapidly increasing climate forcing dwarfs anything in the peleoclimate record. Antarctic ice shelves would disappear and the lower reaches of the Antarctic ice sheets would experience summer melt comparable to that on Greenland today.
The other extreme scenario, FFPO, does not eliminate the possibility of multi-meter sea level rise, but it leaves the time scale for ice sheet disintegration very uncertain, possibly very long. If the time scale is several centuries, then it may be possible to avoid large sea level rise by decreasing emissions fast enough to cause atmospheric greenhouse gases to decline in amount.
What about the intermediate scenario, EU2C? We have presented evidence in this paper that prior interglacial periods were less than 1°C warmer than the Holocene maximum. If we are correct in that conclusion, the EU2C scenario implies a sea level rise of many meters. It is difficult to predict a time scale for the sea level rise, but it would be dangerous and foolish to take such a global warming scenario as a goal.
The upshot is that sooner or later ice is going to melt and seas will rise.  That is certain.  The question is over what time scale.  How long do we have and will it be sudden or gradual.  Will there be sudden shifts over a few years.  Do we want to take the risk?  How lucky do you feel?  How lucky will your grandchildren be?

Whatever we do, we can't shoot the messenger.  Their message might be the most important one we'll ever get.

1. Hansen, J.E., and Mki. Sato, 2011: Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change. In Climate Change: Inferences from Paleoclimate and Regional Aspects. A. Berger, F. Mesinger, and D. Šijači, Eds. Springer.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More certain of the temperature rise before the end of the century ...

Sou | 2:11 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

...after that it's up to us

Last night I posted about the Roger Bodman. Peter Rayner and David Karoly study on my other (serious) blog, reposting an article from The Conversation.

I notice that Anthony Watts wrote an article on WUWT with no snipe other than his slightly misleading headline.  Enough to get the ratbag Dismissives showing off their wilful ignorance and general disdain for learning.

Here's the chart with the Bodman et al estimated range for business as usual labelled MAGICC:

Scary enough for you?  Do fake skeptics really think the temperature is just going to stop rising altogether once the clock ticks over to 2100?

Anthony Watts' Next Trick is to Disappear the Data - or Laughing at Pat Michaels

Sou | 1:21 PM Go to the first of 35 comments. Add a comment

Today Anthony Watts puts up a chart of what he says is the rate of change of global sea level using a ten-year running mean of the sea level change each decade.  Problem is not only that he forgot some of the data, he forgot that like him, lots of his readers are chart illiterate and confuse rate of change with total actual change.  Or did he.  Is it any more likely he was counting on that?  Anthony's not very bright when it comes to charts.

This is the actual sea level change from the University of Colorado (click any chart to enlarge it):

This is the chart Anthony posted - what he calls the Decadal (overlapping) rates for sea level rise as determined from the satellite sea level rise observations, 1993-2011.  Obviously smoothed by some means or other, though Anthony doesn't say so.

This is the chart I plotted based on these data - with and without Anthony's missing data points and no smoothing.  Remember this is just the amount of the increase in sea level from each preceding 10-year period  stepping one year at a time. A ten year moving average of the rate of change not the total change over the period from 1993 to 2013:

Not just hiding the data but also hiding the incline..

But wait, doesn't the moving average tend to hide the most recent incline?  This is the chart I plotted showing the actual sea level rise, with an eleven year moving average:

Another view

Here is more exposure of Anthony's latest trick.  It's the same data plotted as an annual rise from 1993 to 2012 as well as the change in sea level from one year to the next.  Note the huge jump in sea level in 2012 after the slight drop in 2011. Seas dropped noticeably in 2011 because of all the rain that fell in the "unprecedented" (deniers hate that word) global flooding in places like Australia, Brazil and elsewhere.  It didn't take long to more than recover, did it:

Anthony doesn't find it funny

Anthony doesn't tag his article "humour", he tags it "politics, sea level".  My guess is he doesn't understand it and didn't know it was "meant to be funny".  But he does give a hat tip to Pat Michaels.  Buried in the comments is this little post, after a few readers pointed out problems. Michaels decides he'd better spell out in black and white to Anthony and his readers that it's "just a joke", appropriately substituting a term that he thinks the WUWT infants would be more comfortable with - "funsies":
Pat Michaels says:
May 28, 2013 at 5:49 pm  May I humbly point out that I posted this for funsies? If we lose our sense of humor, we become like Mikey Mann.

Pat Michaels and his Dismissives are a joke!

Let's do what Pat Michaels suggests and laugh at Michaels and who he chooses as his crowd.  They surely are a joke.  Anthony Watts and his WUWT Dismissives who can't read a chart, don't check the data, who just look at the pictures and bash their keyboard.

Steven says scientists who actually measure this stuff are deluded in an 'all the world is mad' comment:
May 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm Latitude: The bottoms of the oceans are sinking and the land is rising. All at the same time. Imagine that ! People who think there will ever be a significant rise in oceans levels are seriously deluded.

James Padgett doesn't check the facts.  Nor does he realise that Anthony plotted a (distorted and incomplete) rate of change, not the total change when he says:
May 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm  Trenberth’s missing heat doesn’t seem to be doing much in the way of thermal expansion.

While FerdinandAkin thinks every rise in sea level brings us one step closer to the imaginary imminent ice age that's going to hit any day now, when he says:
May 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm  Does not the geological record tell us that sea level peaks out just before the start of next glaciation period?

Update: It looks as if another professional disinformer, Marc Morano fell for it hook, line and sinker, as did the potty peer Monckton.  Just like Watts, neither of them suggest it's a 'funsie'.  Goes to show innumeracy is a common characteristic of the anti-science propagandists.  Not a surprise.

Update2: Several hours later Anthony belatedly added a "humour" tag to his post.  He must have read Pat Michael's comment - or maybe he visited HotWhopper.  I had to go back to a cached version to check the original. Here are the two versions (animated):

More denier weirdness: scientists are not real people...

MobyT | 3:06 AM Feel free to comment!

...according to one science denier

According to HotCopper's Hanrahan, now scientists aren't REAL PEOPLE.  Here are some excerpts from a thread on Hotcopper (in which I got a mention):

Hanrahan, who has been actively denying global warming for years, doesn't seem to know that:
  • the IPCC reports list contributors who are real people, or that
  • each IPCC chapter has a list of references like this with each paper written by real people, or that 
  • Google Scholar allows you to search papers on climate change that are authored by real people , or that 
  • SkepticalScience has a facility to search for abstracts and authors of scientific papers of the past twenty years or so, written by real people.  

He writes in HotCopper's S&M club (subs req'd), making sure he gets his denial in early in case someone responds:
To sceptics the consensus is non-existent and meaningless even if it were so.  I am asking for something more like NAMES of who comprises this so-called consensus.  You cannot even prove there are more than a few fanatics. I can show thousands who disagree. Over to you.

Tinnitus does respond and writes:
Well you could ring up each of the authors of the 32.6% of the 11944 climate abstracts that endorsed AGW in the Cook survey. I am sure that will keep you busy for a while. Or you could ring up the authors of the 0.7% of the 11944 climate abstracts that didn't endorse AGW.
That will not take you long at all.

To which Hanrahan replied - but scientists aren't PEOPLE:

Tin, you talk about statistical analysis of papers I am talking PEOPLE.
A consensus comprises people and I claim you don't actually have many. You have dodged this for years PRETENDING you don't need real people.

Here ya go Hanrahan.  These people are REAL climate scientists:

These media reports are REAL, too, and prepared by REAL people:

This is REAL as well:

Visit The Consensus Project

And a bonus for Hanrahan who, despite having had the case proven to him over and over and over again, also wrote earlier in the same thread:
If you think it is getting hotter, prove your case, don't try to censor me.
A real global land and sea temperature chart, based on data collected and analysed by real people and plotted by a real blogger:

There is plenty of other evidence for young Hanrahan, if only he wanted to see it!

Anthony Watts Really Thinks Global Temperatures Rose and Fell by Sixty Degrees Celsius in the Holocene?

Sou | 12:37 AM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Update: The UK Met Office has responded.  See below.

So  No, it would seem...

...he thinks it rose by up to fifteen degrees Celsius in the Holocene (Richard corrected his workings but Anthony hasn't corrected his), which is really silly.

Anthony Watts has made a new 'sticky' post, making false claims about the UK Met Office.  Apparently some chap in deep denial, Doug Keenan, has once again been harassing the UK Parliament again with dumb questions. (Why doesn't he ask a scientist, I wonder.)

Richard Telford has crunched Doug's numbers and this is what he found.

Is Anthony Watts as dumb as he looks?  We know he protested the Marcott study but does he really think this? This is what Doug Keenan and Anthony Watts seem to think happened to temperatures during the Holocene, putting Doug's 'statistics' to work.

A rise of  5 to 15° Celsius:

Anthony Watts very foolishly tries to preach to and put down Associate Professor Richard Telford, when richard telford says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:26 am  “Met Office has set the cat amongst the pigeons”
More of a red herring than a cat. Only Keenan cannot tell the difference.
REPLY: Mr. Telford, who is on the government climate science payroll, would do well to embrace this: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary  tip jar, speaker fees and Heartland Institute handouts depends upon his not understanding it!” 
- Upton Sinclair
Okay, I modified Anthony's quote slightly but don't you think it's a better fit?

When Richard points out:
If you have to stoop to using ad hominem arguments, you could at least ensure that the ad hominem is correct. The salary of academics is not dependent on their opinions – a concept known as academic freedom.
Anthony responds in typical illiterati fashion, showing he doesn't even know what an ad hom attack is, let alone what was the global temperature range of the Holocene:
REPLY: A famous quote is an “ad hom” LOL!. Yes no dependency, sure, no ‘publish or perish’ until such time you get that cushy deal known as tenure, where you can be free to be as loony as Paul Ehrlich without fear of losing your job. It doesn’t work that way in the real world outside academia my friend. – Anthony

For readers who might not be familiar with it, this is what Marcott et al (2013) found for the Holocene. Note the difference in the temperature scale:

And this is where we are heading:

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars


The UK Met Office has published their reply to the Parliamentary Question asked on behalf of Doug Keenan.  In short, their response is: "What a dumb question."

You can read their longer version here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DuKE-ing it out...

Sou | 4:49 AM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

The Battle of the DuKEs*

Anthony Watts of  WUWT is DuKE-ing it out with the Dragon Slayers** from Principia Scientific International.  A quote from the Slayers on WUWT:

“All of us on our side have researched and deeply pondered the actual principles of radiative heat transfer. On the other side, however, the “experts” we argue with, like Spencer, Lindzen, Monckton, Watts, just insist that a body’s radiant energy can be doubled by directing that energy back to it — even though the simplest of experiments will shows that this is false.

Anthony Watts is arguing with the Slayers that the greenhouse effect is real.  Meanwhile Anthony's top sticky post is that global warming isn't real.

*DuKE - a collective noun eg A DuKE of deniers TM Lotharsson.
** Dragon Slayers - refer: The Uncertainty Monster Swallows the Sky Dragon

Duke it out:
  1. To fight, especially with the fists. A large crowd came to watch the boxers duke it out. 
  2. (idiomatic) To argue heavily or at length. The candidates duked it out on the proposal for hours.

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Tisdale Tricks....Don't Worry...

Sou | 8:32 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

Bob Tisdale has a post on WUWT castigating David Appell for writing on his blog about the latest ocean heat content figures.  This is what David reports:

Ocean heat content numbers are in for the first three months of 2013, and they show the 0-2000 meter layer increasing more than in any previous observed period:

David shows these charts from NODC/NOAA (click to enlarge):

It seems a minor quibble to me, but Bob Tisdale takes issue because there was one quarter - back eight years ago - when the quarterly increase was a bit higher than the amount the heat rose this past quarter.  Bob is really incensed, writing as part of the title: "...Alarmist Writes Science Fiction" and in the text::
Some might think he’s an author of science fiction after reading the opening to his post...
It could be argued that David was merely a bit lax in his expression. By "increased more" did David mean the ocean heat content is higher than ever observed before or did he mean the difference from one quarter to the next has never been greater?

Even if David did make a mistake and mean the latter, it's hardly 'science fiction' to miss a slightly higher change in a single quarter going back eight years earlier.

The oceans are heating up ... quickly

Lets look at the record. The latest quarter is the highest ever heat content in the record. The quarterly record down to 2000 meters only goes back eight years to March 2005 and the heat content has risen by about 30% of the total heat gained since the 1960s in that time. We've already got an idea of the heat content of the top two kilometres of ocean going back to the 1950s in the top chart above. The heat is accumulating at a very fast pace. (Click to enlarge.)

Don't Worry...

Bob Tisdale is well aware that WUWT-ers don't like scary stuff, so what he does is plot the difference from one quarter to the next. He then he seems to argue that because the change from this quarter to the previous one was once exceeded by the change in a previous quarter (back in December quarter 2005), there is "nothing to worry about". You can see the amount of change each quarter in this chart (click to enlarge):

Okay, the above chart doesn't look scary until you see what it is.  Once you realise it's the change in heat content from quarter to the next (non-cumulative), and that there are many more quarters in which heat content is rising than falling, it becomes more of a concern.

Let's look at this ocean heat accumulation more closely. Heat content rose by 10.4x1022 joules in only eight years. In the last quarter it rose by 2.7x1022 joules or 26% of the total amount of heat added over that period. Since the 1960s the heat content has risen by nearly 30x1022 joules.  That's a lot of Hiroshima bombs.

Certainly there are ups and downs over time - but overall the heat content of the ocean is going up, up, up.

Bob's next trick

So Bob tricks his readers by making it look like there's not much change.  What does he do next?  Well, his next trick is to show his readers some ocean areas where there hasn't been a huge change in warming - since 2005 only - the North Atlantic and the North Pacific.  (I haven't checked these but let's assume he is correct).

Then he shows the tropical Pacific and the extra-tropical North Pacific for the period since the 1950s, where there has been quite a bit of warming.  What does he write about that?  Well, true to form Bob blames it on the magical ENSO:
It’s plainly obvious that the ocean heat content of the tropical Pacific would cool over the long-term without the 1973-76 and 1995/96 La Niña events.
But Bob - why didn't it cool again with all the El Niños over that period - huh?  Thousands of WUWT readers are clamouring for the answer....well, no, not really.  They are too busy ad hom-ing David Appell to take much notice of what Bob wrote about ocean heat content and his fixation on the magical leaping and cavorting of ENSO :(

Bob's perpetual warming machine

To sum up, Bob seems to be telling his readers that a perpetual warming of the world's oceans is 'normal'. That it's of no consequence that the heat content of the top two kilometres of ocean has risen by 10.4x1022 joules in only eight years. I wonder how long he will think like that? Can you see him saying down the track: "Oceans are boiling*? Nothing to worry about, folks. The quarterly change has been higher in the past!"

B..b..but It's Natural!

What's weird is all the congratulations Bob gets for outing the scaremonger. Must be that conservative brain at work again, relieved that the numbers can't be all that scary because Bob told them "it's natural". happy

* No, I don't believe the oceans are about to literally boil!

Scared of 'scary' graphics!

Sou | 9:11 AM Feel free to comment!

Why do deniers reject climate science?

Based on this article by Anthony Watts at WUWT - it looks as if one answer is because they don't want to see 'scary' graphics.

(It's that darn conservative brain at work again!)

To save you having to go over and see what I'm talking about, here is what Anthony Watts wrote about a climate discussion on CNN:

The panelists, while on one hand saying there’s no link between tornadoes and increased CO2, on the other hand they were playing Janus and trying to convince the audience that now the weather has a new ‘personality’ while using scary and misleading graphics like this one:

Okay - it was me that bolded the 'scary' bit :D  My guess is the image was probably from the hottest year ever recorded in the USA last year - but I don't know.

Whatever - it sure is scary!

Can you cope with more scary?

Australia's angry summer - 2012-13.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who's a Denier Dunce?

Sou | 1:20 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Given Anthony Watts' post of Josh's latest cartoon on WUWT, I thought it might be fun to google:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wondering Willis, Volcanoes and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

Sou | 8:45 PM Go to the first of 41 comments. Add a comment

Update: I've added a chart below.

Wondering Willis Eschenbach is wondering again.  This time he has written a very long article on WUWT and concludes by writing:

A. Either the climate sensitivity is around half a degree per doubling of CO2, and the time constant is under a year, or
B. The current paradigm of climate sensitivity is wrong and forcings don’t determine surface temperature.
Based on the actual observations, I hold for the latter.
They don't make sense to me.  A. seems like gobbledook.  Can anyone explain what he means by 'the time constant is under a year'?  B. seems very odd because he is using a definition (climate sensitivity) to contradict that same definition.  That can't be done. Leaving aside the inexplicable meaning of them - on what does he base his conclusions?  On his strange analysis of the impact of volcanoes.  It looks to me that he has taken the short term impact of different volcanoes on global surface temperatures and drawn conclusions about the long term impact of all forcings, including the very long-lived forcing of carbon dioxide.  He writes:
Unlike the situation with say greenhouse gases, we actually can measure how much sunlight is lost when a volcano erupts.
Let's not wonder why Willis thinks sunlight is lost by greenhouse gases and focus on his wonderings about volcanoes.  He goes on to talk about:
...the huge reductions in global forcing that volcanoes cause, the global temperature has steadfastly refused to cooperate. The temperature hasn’t changed much even with the largest of modern volcanoes.
Well, that's not quite so.  But modern volcanoes have only had a very short term impact globally.  The cooling effect disappears in a matter of months to years, depending on the nature, composition and location of the eruption as well, one would imagine, as the prevailing weather conditions at least in regard to smaller eruptions.

Willis builds a strawman

Willis makes a logical fallacy known as the strawman fallacy here, when he says:
The current climate paradigm says that the surface air temperature is a linear function of the “forcing”...Change in Temperature (∆T) = Change in Forcing (∆F) times Climate Sensitivity
What he seems to have done is taking an equation relating to a simple energy balance model (probably from this Wikipedia entry) and applied it to the much more complex climate system.  Dunning and Kruger at work.

What is climate sensitivity?

Climate sensitivity is the term used to denote a change in temperature for a given forcing, generally used to describe the expected rise in global surface temperature to a doubling of CO2.  That does not imply a linear function of the forcing.  Does this seem "linear" to you?
The climate sensitivity depends on the type of forcing agents applied to the climate system and on their geographical and vertical distributions (Allen and Ingram, 2002; Sausen et al., 2002; Joshi et al., 2003). As it is influenced by the nature and the magnitude of the feedbacks at work in the climate response, it also depends on the mean climate state (Boer and Yu, 2003). Some differences in climate sensitivity will also result simply from differences in the particular radiative forcing calculated by different radiation codes (see Sections 10.2.1 and The global annual mean surface temperature change thus presents limitations regarding the description and the understanding of the climate response to an external forcing. Indeed, the regional temperature response to a uniform forcing (and even more to a vertically or geographically distributed forcing) is highly inhomogeneous. In addition, climate sensitivity only considers the surface mean temperature and gives no indication of the occurrence of abrupt changes or extreme events.
What about this:
Note, however, that because of the inherently nonlinear nature of the response to feedbacks, the final impact on sensitivity is not simply the sum of these responses. The effect of multiple positive feedbacks is that they mutually amplify each other’s impact on climate sensitivity.
The very fact that some feedbacks act more quickly than others plus the fact that feedbacks act on each other should be sufficient to demonstrate that surface air temperature is not a linear function of forcing. After building his strawman, Wondering Willis proceeds to chop it down, writing:
In lieu of a more colorful term, let me say that’s highly unlikely. In my experience, complex natural systems are rarely that simply coupled from input to output.
By demolishing his own strawman, he's starting to sound more reasonable.

Willis invokes Gaia

It doesn't last.  Willis quickly shifts back to the unreasonable when he writes:
I say that after an eruption, the climate system actively responds to reductions in the incoming sunlight by altering various parts of the climate system to increase the amount of heat absorbed by other means. This rapidly brings the system back into equilibrium.
If I've understood him correctly than that's just plain weird.  Where is the extra heat coming from?  As Willis has already said, the aerosols from the volcanic eruption have temporarily reduced the amount of incoming radiation.  There is no other source of 'heat' for the climate system to absorb.

Applying a long term equilibrium sensitivity to short lived event

Willis does some number crunching and draws some coloured charts and says:
To properly judge the response, however, we need to compare it to the expected response under various scenarios. Figure 3 shows the same records, with the addition of the results from the average models from the Forster study, the results that the models were calculated to have on average, and the results if we assume a climate sensitivity of 3.0 W/m2 per doubling of CO2. Note that in all cases I’m referring the equilibrium climate sensitivity, not the transient climate response, which is smaller.
Why would he use the equilibrium climate sensitivity of an assumed 3° Celsius on a transient effect lasting only a few months or years at most and apply it in the same way to eruptions at different locations and of different magnitudes and chemical composition? The equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3° Celsius refers to the temperature after a doubling of CO2, all other feedbacks have run their course and the climate is at a new equilibrium.  Willis does not appear to have calculated just how much incoming radiation was reflected back out by any of the volcanoes, so it doesn't seem to me that he's showing anything of value at all.

Leaving out inconvenient data

Willis leaves out inconvenient data.  First to get the chop is El Chichon eruption, which Willis calls an 'outlier' - but not giving any reason for doing so.  Later on he drops Krakatoa as another 'outlier'.  That's two out of six dropped from his analysis or one third.  Did they spoil his yarn?

Not considering differing impacts of different volcanoes

Willis seems to assume that each eruption will have the same impact on incoming solar radiation.  Consider this - the top three were part of Willis' analysis, the bottom one was a real beauty, but earlier in time:

El Chichonreleased an unusually large volume of aerosols (7 Mt of SO2 compared to 1.0 for Mount St. Helens).  El Chichon produced some climate effects. The temperature of the stratosphere increased by 4 degrees C. ...Impact on ground temperatures is harder to quantify but temperatures in the Northern hemisphere may have been 0.2 degree C less about 2 months after the eruption.

Pinatubo produced the greatest volume of SO2 ever measured, 20 Mt, about three times more than El Chichon (McCormick, 1992). It is estimated that the gases caused a global temperature decrease of 0.5 degree C for about 2 to 4 years after the eruption.

Krakatau - Although Krakatau erupted a large volume, the magma was relative poor in sulfur, and the eruption had less climate impact compared to some small volume eruptions that were sulfur rich (e.g., Agung in Indonesia). ...Rampino and Self (1982) estimated that the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere decreased 0.3 C due to the eruption.

Toba The eruption of 2,800 cubic km of magma at Toba caldera 75,000 years ago was the largest eruption in the last 2 million years. The eruption may have release as much as 10E12 kg of sulfuric acid, an order of magnitude more than Laki in 1783 and Tambora in 1815, two of the greatest Holocene eruptions. The Toba eruption may have caused about 3 to 4 degree C cooling at the surface but this impact is hard to detect because of concurrent glacial conditions (Sigurdsson, 1990).

This is from NASA, which suggests that Willis might need to dig a bit deeper: 
With a single volcano it may be hard to identify a climate "signal" among the large amount of weather and climate "noise", that is, the unforced chaotic fluctuations of the atmosphere and ocean. So the Pinatubo team first looked at the average climate response after the five largest volcanos this century. They found (Figure 1) that there was a small cooling, about 1/4°C (1/2°F), which peaked 1-2 years after the eruption. This tends to confirm that volcanos do cause a small global cooling.

It's not the sun?

I've just picked up this in the midst of Willis' article.  If you take what he writes to it's logical conclusion, he seems to be arguing "it's not the sun".  That is, if there is a drop in temperature as a result of less incoming radiation (either because it's reflected back by volcanic aerosols or because of a reduction in incoming solar), it will be offset by thunderstorms, clouds and oceans deciding to oppose it and heat the world back up again by ...magic?  What do you think?  It doesn't seem consistent with theories relating to energy.
I say that the temperature is regulated, not by the forcing, but by a host of overlapping natural emergent temperature control mechanisms, e.g. thunderstorms, the El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the timing of the onset of tropical clouds, and others. Changes in these and other natural regulatory phenomena quickly oppose any unusual rise or fall in temperature, and they work together to maintain the temperature very stably regardless of the differences in forcing.

More on volcanoes

Willis put up some charts saying, "look see no impact".  I can't tell what he did, so I plotted GIStemp and marked the volcanic eruptions.  Click the chart to enlarge it.

They all seem to show the drop in temperature that has been associated with them (see above).  Of course you can't tell just from a chart.  You'd have to account for other things that affect surface temperature, like ENSO.  (Further up I've added a quote from a NASA website, which also emphasises this point.)

Anyway, the standout is Novarupta, which is in the Arctic.  The others are closer to the equator and their impact was spread through both hemispheres.  Click here for a discussion of Novarupta and how its impact was contained because of where it is located.

Willis' magical ocean

While I'm here, I'll add a comment that caught my eye.  It's about Willis saying how the oceans and clouds and thunderstorms all gang up and win a war against the laws of physics to offset a change in climate forcing - my bold and italics for emphasis:
David Longinotti says: May 25, 2013 at 4:17 am  I think this is a strong challenge to the orthodoxy regarding climate sensitivity, but the posited correction mechanism doesn’t appear to cohere with the data shown. The claim is that “When the reduction in sunlight occurs following an eruption, the Pacific starts storing up more energy.” But the timing seems to challenge this assertion – in Figure 6 the change in the slope of the cumulative Best Index occurs about 20 months BEFORE the eruptions, and there is no change in slope around the time of the eruption. Is the implication that the Pacific starts storing energy in anticipation of the eruption, or have I misunderstood the proposed correction phenomenon (or its measurement)?
Good to see it's not just me who wonders what prompts the Pacific to start 'storing up more energy' and where that energy could possibly come from, given there is less incoming energy.  I hadn't bothered to check just when the ocean took it into it's head to 'store up more energy' to make up for the lack of incoming.  Seems it can not only decide to create energy out of nothing, it can do so in advance of the event that prompts it to do so.  What a clever little ocean, eh?

Update: In the comments Ashby alerted me to the fact that Willis is basing his assertion for oceans storing energy on an apparent association with El Nino.  Problem is the ocean releases heat in its El Nino phase, it doesn't store it.  So bang goes another bit of Willis' wonderings.

My conclusions

  1. Willis has read very little climate science and understands less.
  2. Willis suffers from the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
  3. Willis enjoys holding the floor.
  4. Willis has a veneer of 'hail fellow well met' but it's very thin. He can't take criticism or even polite questions from real sceptics and loses his cool easily - in fact he gets downright nasty.  Supported by his patron when the going gets tough. 


Here's a chart from the AR4 IPCC report that shows the then current state of understanding (2007) of different forcings over the past 1,000 years and the temperature response for the northern hemisphere. Note the different scale for the volcanic forcing.  Click the chart to enlarge.
Figure 6.14. Simulated temperatures during the last 1 kyr with and without anthropogenic forcing, and also with weak or strong solar irradiance variations. Global mean radiative forcing (W m–2) used to drive climate model simulations due to (a) volcanic activity, (b) strong (blue) and weak (brown) solar irradiance variations, and (c) all other forcings, including greenhouse gases and tropospheric sulphate aerosols (the thin flat line after 1765 indicates the fixed anthropogenic forcing used in the ‘Nat’ simulations). (d) Annual mean NH temperature (°C) simulated by three climate models under the forcings shown in (a) to (c), compared with the concentration of overlapping NH temperature reconstructions (shown by grey shading, modified from Figure 6.10c to account for the 1500 to 1899 reference period used here). ‘All’ (thick lines) used anthropogenic and natural forcings; ‘Nat’ (thin lines) used only natural forcings. All forcings and temperatures are expressed as anomalies from their 1500 to 1899 means; the temperatures were then smoothed with a Gaussian-weighted filter to remove fluctuations on time scales less than 30 years. Note the different vertical scale used for the volcanic forcing compared with the other forcings. The individual series are identified in Table 6.3.

Climate Science History Raises the Question: Is Anthony Watts "Thick as a Brick" or playing "Scary Bad Guy"?

Sou | 2:29 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

When a scientist makes a new scientific discovery it generally attracts some attention.  The amount of attention it attracts depends on the perceived importance of the discovery.

Let's say that the discovery could affect numerous aspects of society - ranging from where people live, how and where they grow food, the spread of disease, the balance of all life on earth and a major extinction event.  That would attract considerable attention.  Add that it would affect the weather - arguably the item most discussed by humans on a daily basis with the possible exception of human health.  ("What's the weather today?" "Do I need to bring a brolly?" "Sorry I'm late, there was heavy traffic because of the rain." "Can't wait for the snow to go skiing again." vs "Hi, how are you?")

Such a discovery would be expected to attract a lot of attention.  First there would be a rash of studies to corroborate or refute the discovery.  Then if corroborated, there would be a rash of studies to scope the discovery.  What are the implications of the discovery?  How far do the impacts and effects extend?  Then along with scoping the boundaries and exploring the details there would be a lot of work put into what, if anything, should be done with the knowledge.  Is it possible to change the impacts?  If so, how?

A Brief History of Climate Research

It was first mooted by Fourier in the 1820s that the air, or more precisely some components in the air, kept earth at a liveable temperature.  This spawned other work by Tyndall in the mid 1800s, which identified which components were responsible and the mechanism by which it operated.  This in turn led to more work by Arrhenius to quantify how a change in the amount of these components would affect the temperature of earth.  All of this work was done more than 100 years ago.

A few decades later, in the 1930s, an engineer named Callendar did more calculations to determine the amount of actual change that was taking place in the composition of the air as a result of human activity, and what that means for surface temperatures.  The second world war intervened.  After the war Gilbert Plass  and others picked up the study.  In the 1950s, Charles David Keeling began to measure atmospheric CO2.

Finally, in the 1960s the President of the United States was formally alerted of the issue by Roger Reveille.

In the UK, the Climatic Research Unit commenced the massive task of collating and documenting temperature records across the entire world, going right back to when such measures were first recorded more than a hundred years earlier.  Elsewhere in the world scientific institutions expanded their research.

By the 1980s it was obvious to people in the scientific community and to many outside it that burning fossil fuels was causing or going to cause a change to climates all over the world.  Not only that, it was going to cause changes to the oceans, to glaciers, to waterways, to sea levels, to the spread of pests and diseases, to all life forms and ultimately would affect where and how people could live.  Governments were rightly concerned about this and acted together and created a mechanism by which they could be informed.  The IPCC was finally established in 1988.

Today there is little if any research aimed at corroborating the finding.  It's well accepted and understood.  There is ongoing research scoping the problems the discovery has uncovered.  Answering questions such as: how quickly will seas rise; how long before a region will run out of water; what areas will dry and what will be inundated; how many life forms will survive the resulting mass extinction, which ones and how will that affect humanity.  And a lot more research into how to combat the problems, such as: developing new crop varieties resistant to drought or excess moisture; how best to combat catastrophic bushfires of unprecedented ferocity; whether to relocate cities or build barriers to protect them.

Spencer Weart has written a history of climate research that can be accessed here.

My Snark of Today

This leads me to the question - which I know is not very polite and frowned upon, but it is pertinent: Are people who deny even the position of the science "Not Very Bright" or is it that they assume their audience is "Not Very Bright" or are they just shouting for the sake of it?

Anthony Watts sometimes comes across as being, to put it politely, thick as a brick.  Today on WUWT he shows a chart from a paper on scientific consensus, saying:
Roman Murieka has a great statistical analysis of the Cook ‘consensus’ paper over at Climate Audit. There’s a surprise result: The number of papers endorsing AGW is falling, while the number of papers with no position is increasing. Looks like an increase in uncertainty to me.

"Looks like an increase in uncertainty?"  Only if you are thick as a brick.  Anthony posts a chart based on this one from the Cook13 paper itself.  Roman's "analysis" as far as this chart went, consisted of adding linear trend lines.

Has Anthony even read the paper he's writing about? No?

Since Anthony wrote this as a "surprise result", it looks as if, despite his various articles on the study, Anthony hasn't even read the paper!  Not only that, but if the number of papers explicitly stating "humans are causing global warming" is declining - that is not a surprise, it's because that fact is so well accepted it doesn't bear repeating.  In the early 1990s as many as 50% of abstracts were still explicitly stating that humans are causing global warming.  These days it's fewer than 40%.

If there were an "increase in uncertainty" then the miniscule number of papers disputing the fact would have shot up.  Instead that miniscule number is even more miniscule.

The other thing that this article of Anthony's suggest is that he is not at all familiar with climate science.  For him to be unaware of the overwhelming consensus on the cause of the recent warming is barely credible.  For someone who's been blogging on the subject for four years or more his ignorance is appalling.  Surely he doesn't expect anyone to take him seriously.

Is Anthony Watts "Thick as a Brick" or a "Disinformation Propagandist"?

Watts as Scary Bad Guy
or Thick as a Brick!
For this reason among others I maintain we are entitled to wonder aloud if Anthony Watts is "thick as a brick" or a deliberate "disinformation propagandist" or both.

Why is it that on this arguably most critical problem ever faced by humankind, that there are still a number of people intent on spreading lies and delaying solutions.  What do they hope to gain?

Unless it's because they decided to not try for a place in history for the "good" figuring it's easier and takes far less effort to play the role of the villain, so they might at least be remembered for the "bad".

Yeah, right - as a comic book "bad guy" but more likely not even a footnote.


Looking at the comments, it's reasonable to assume that Anthony has narrowed his target audience away from the general population to focus in on the Dismissives, including two people who endorse a paedophile analogy; several who want to argue the details of the 97% consensus and shift the focus to the less than 3%; and others who are distinctly paranoid arguing for a conspiracy on a gargantuan scale, hugely grander than any paranoid conspiracy theory before.  That the majority of humans are conspiring to hide the real facts from the 'skeptics' (and that 'skeptics' are not clever or able enough to figure out the 'real' situation).