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Monday, June 30, 2014

Tim Ball is busy re-writing science at WUWT (again) and regurgitating his paranoid conspiracies

Sou | 8:06 PM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is back to the dregs of deniers again with another "essay" by uber-conspiracy theorist Tim Ball (archived here). Tim just recycles his hogwash from previous "essays" as a typical Gish gallop, so there's no need for me to go through this one bit by bit, if I could be bothered. I'll pick up on this sentence though. He wrote:

The 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report included evidence in the form of a “hockey stick” graph, showing that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) did not exist. Less prominent, but just as wrong, was erasure of the Little Ice Age (LIA). 

Tim for some reason has a fixation on the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age. He probably thinks that if climates changed anywhere in the past without being caused by greenhouse gases, then the current warming can't be caused by greenhouse gases. That's a logical fallacy of course. Just because bushfires get started from lightning strikes doesn't mean that they can't be caused by humans.

Here is the relevant section of the 2001 IPCC report. Both the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age were real. What Tim is objecting to is that science now shows that neither of them were global in effect. Not everywhere got warm and cold during those periods and those that did didn't get warm and cold all at the same time.

More studies have been done since 2001, not surprisingly. The latest IPCC report has this to say (TS.2.2.1 Surface):
Continental-scale surface temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multidecadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century. With high confidence, these intervals were not as synchronous across seasons and regions as the warming since the mid-20th century. Based on the comparison between reconstructions and simulations, there is high confidence that not only external orbital, solar and volcanic forcing, but also internal variability, contributed substantially to the spatial pattern and timing of surface-temperature changes between the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age.

Tim would like science to have stopped short in the 1960s, going by the ancient drawings in his article.  He also thinks that temperatures on an ice sheet on the top of a summit in Greenland make a good proxy for global surface temperatures. He's a real nutter. Nuttier even than Denier Don Easterbrook, who we haven't heard a peep from in ages.

Oh, and in case you think Tim wrote a coherent article, he didn't. As well as the medieval warm anomaly and the Little Ice Age, Tim jumped from one topic to another with no rhyme or reason. I've listed below most of the topics he covered and provided links so that you can compare facts with Tim's paranoid ramblings, if you can stomach them:

If you want to find out more about Tim Ball's "science" and his paranoid conspiracy ideations, you can do so here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Goodness me. Have I really wasted that much cyberspace on that despicable little man? Perhaps in future I'll just link back to here as a ready reckoner.

From the WUWT comments

Tim Ball is an unsavoury character and he tends to bring out the same characterics in others. The more reasonable deniers (if there is such a beast) generally avoid commenting on his articles. It's mainly the weird and wacky who do so. Like knr who says:
June 30, 2014 at 12:58 am
IPCC is a parasitic organisation whose existence relies on AGW , with Mann and his gang are merely parasite facilitators who have done very well out of their ‘work’ , without its ‘host ‘ like any parasite its it would be dead through starvation.
With that in mind, is anyone surprised to find its acts in the way it does?
The saddest part is the very people that should have acted has gate keepers to such behaviour have either played the three wise monkeys or deep their own snouts in bucket of funding slops no matter how much ‘filth’ they had to clog their eyes , ears and mouths with . And for that we may all pay the price as the people start to view all science through the dishonest, hypocritical , poor scientific approaches used by climate ‘science’ .

Bloke down the pub says:
June 30, 2014 at 12:29 am
Maybe one day there’ll be a presidential inquiry into who said what and when, but there again presidents don’t like asking embarrassing questions about previous incumbents, as they don’t want to set a dangerous precedent. 

Nova and Evans present ForceX: "It would be better if there was a known mechanism of course..."

Sou | 5:17 PM Go to the first of 37 comments. Add a comment

Update: The Notch has passed away, peacefully, in the presence of family and close friends, with little fanfare. RIP. [Sou 1 August 2014]

Someone suggested I preserve this for the record. It shows how some deniers will waste an inordinate amount of time and energy in the fruitless pursuit of ABCD (anything but carbon dioxide). From Joanne Nova (Codling) and her partner David "not a rocket scientist" Evans, (h/t John Mashey) - Deniers in Residence, Australia.

This is a record of all their blog posts on the subject so far. I've already written about their Part VIII. In this complete set (so far), they set out why they reckon it's not really CO2 that's causing global warming, it's Force X from the sun. Force X, by a strange coincidence, has about the same radiative forcing as greenhouse gases.

Update: The WUWT article by David "funny sunny" Archibald on this subject has earned 533 comments so far, so here's the archive - latest here, with 638 comments. More than any article for years, I'd say. But it's not listed in as one of the "top four active stories". Wonder why (not)! Watch for the match between Christopher Monckton and Leif Svalgaard and comments by Wondering Willis Eschenbach. Sou 2 July 2014

The mechanism for Force X is not known at this time, we're told. Which they agree is a shame. It could be anything from UV light to puppy dog tails. All they know is that it can't be CO2 and, to prove it, the world is about to get very cold, any day now. David's very meticulous 18-month modeling effort allows him to make this extremely precise, extremely falsifiable prediction:  it will cool by 0.8°C, or maybe 0.6°C, or maybe 0.1°C - next year, or maybe in ten or even twenty years.

Or, if you are David "funny sunny" Archibald, by two degrees:

Data source: Marcott13 and WUWT

If you're on the home page and you want to read about all their zany articles to date, click "read more". If you click on the title to their blog articles, it'll take you to the archived versions complete with comments.

Denier Weirdness: Desperately searching for denialist tidbits at WUWT

Sou | 11:10 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is lashing out at all and sundry. He is desperate to find some remnant from past history that will prove that the world isn't getting hotter (archived here).

Today he's stretching way back to July 1936 in the USA. He's absolutely convinced that July 1936 was the hottest month on record in the contiguous USA. And he may be right. Who knows.

Anthony reckons that back in July 1936 the average temperature for the contiguous USA was 76.8°F. In July 2012 it was only 76.77°F. At least according to the latest NOAA data he found.

Not only that, but he's found proof, PROOF - in black and purple and white - that NOAA adjust past temperatures. Oh, golly gosh. Would you believe they adjust past temperatures downwards. Two years ago it was 77.4°F in July 1936 and now it's only 76.8°F. Not only that but they adjust recent records downwards, too. In July 2012 two years ago it was 77.6°F and now the record shows it as 76.77°F.

If there's one thing that Anthony Watts cannot abide it's change. Especially change to his most treasured possession, the average temperature in the contiguous USA for the month of July 1936. How dare anyone adjust the record. Who cares if there were time of observation corrections to be made. Who cares if someone decided to add some new data unearthed from some old ledger. The record is sacred and must not be touched at penalty of a blog article at WUWT.

Anthony's given up looking for hotter years, now he's down to months. Won't be long before it's weeks, then days, then minutes, then seconds.

Imagine the poor chap fifteen years from now, sweltering in the latest heat wave. He'll be hunched over paper records from the 1930s whimpering, "I know it's here. It's got to be here somewhere. I'm sure that one day in 1936, somewhere in the USA must have been hotter than today." You could almost feel sorry for the man if you didn't know he was such a shady character with a shameful record of unethical behaviour.

This is from the USA records, just in case you thought the USA was getting colder and was heading for an ice age. The average temperature for the entire year (not just one month) in 2012 was higher than any year in the 1930s. It was hotter than the hottest year in the 1930s. I've put a line across for comparison. The hottest year in the 1930s was 1934. But it was hotter again in 1998 and 2006 and much hotter still in 2012.

Data Source: NOAA

But it's not the "hottest" that's so important. It's the overall trend. Look at all those warm years bunched up together to the right of the chart. Keep your eye on that end as time goes by.

There were a few warmer than average years in the first half of the twentieth century in the USA. 1921, 1931 and 1934 stand out as being very warm years by comparison with the rest of the century.  After the 1950s it got colder for a bit, though nearly not as cold as some of the earliest years in the instrumental record. Since the early 1980s it's just kept getting warmer, with only one or two cooler years. The last time there was a year colder than the twentieth century average was almost twenty years ago in 1996. The last couple of decades is almost a solid block of warmer years. Quite different to the twentieth century and earlier.

And while Anthony has his nose buried in the 1930s in the USA, this is what's been happening in the rest of the world.

Data sources: NASA GISTempNODC/NOAA Ocean HeatU Colorado sea levelPIOMAS Arctic Ice

From the WUWT comments

The comments are pretty ordinary. Mostly they are just wailing that raw temperature records are adjusted. It's probably fair to say that most WUWT-ers are conservatives and conservatives don't like change of any kind.

NotAGolfer doesn't know what he's talking about but he's memorised the words of the meme he's meant to parrot and says:
June 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm
Anthony, wake up! It’s intentional. They are trying to make it appear that the warming trend is greater than it is. It’s beyond obvious. Do you still believe Clinton didn’t inhale?

Pamela Gray makes a more sensible comment for a change and says:
June 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm
On the other hand, this is kind of like the TSI/SSN data series. There are, as we have discussed, different reconstructions and observations that differ from one data set to another. The fact that it is being corrected is a matter of scientific correction. Not necessarily evidence of wrong doing.
Could this be a good sign when dealing with a very horrible set of measuring issues?

Lawrie Ayres complains that the keepers of the records are all warmists except for the Russians and Chinese (oh how sentiment has changed since the 1950s):
June 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm
The BoM in Australia has been fiddling the books for ages in order to arrive at “the hottest summer ever” and when an audit was about to take place cancelled that system and started another which was just as fraudulent. We do have a new government with a representative that’s a real scientist. He has been calling for another audit and will probably get it as many Coalition members are skeptics. The whole land based temperature system is in disarray as the keepers of the records all seem to be warmists except for the Russians and Chinese.

Lawrie might be interested in these charts of temperature trends in Russia and China, which aren't immune from warming any more than the rest of the world:

Source: Berkeley Earth

Sunday, June 29, 2014

How Anthony Watts mixes up his pipelines

Sou | 9:28 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

The articles at WUWT have been getting very silly lately. There's another silly one today (archived here). Anthony claims that:

Canada pulls the plug on the U.S. Keystone Pipeline – will send oil to Asia
...Obama’s inability to make a decision on Keystone has finally yielded a result – Canada has made the decision for him.
Breitbart reports Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project – a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil to Asia.
The Canadian oil will still be burnt – in Asia, instead of America.
All the jobs and energy security which Canadian oil could have delivered to America, will instead be delivered to Asia.

Anthony's wrong on more than one count.
  1. The decision hasn't been "just approved". The Canadian government announced it nearly two weeks ago, which makes it old news.
  2. It's not "either/or". The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is quite a separate initiative to that of Keystone XL. It was first proposed back in 2006.
  3. There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome before it becomes a reality, if it does.

NOAA and temperature data - it must be a conspiracy.

Sou | 7:11 PM Go to the first of 30 comments. Add a comment

Update: Nick Stokes of Moyhu has written two articles that demonstrate what would happen if Anthony Watts had his way and stations with no data were ignored completely. See here and here. Anthony Watts might change his tune if he read them.

Sou 3:22 pm 1 July 2014 AEST

This article is about the kerfuffle that erupted between a bunch of science deniers. It all started when Steve Goddard accused NOAA and NASA of "fabricating data" (archived here).  The lie was spread all over the right wing media. Politifact and Climate Crocks among others pointed out he was wrong. Steve didn't explain how the two agencies did this. All he did was put up an animated chart that he claimed showed that the US temperature was warmer in the 1930s than at any time since. He wrote:
Prior to the year 2000, NASA showed US temperatures cooling since the 1930′s, and 1934 much warmer than 1998....Right after the year 2000, NASA and NOAA dramatically altered US climate history, making the past much colder and the present much warmer. The animation below shows how NASA cooled 1934 and warmed 1998, to make 1998 the hottest year in US history instead of 1934. This alteration turned a long term cooling trend since 1930 into a warming trend.

Steve doesn't say what data was "fabricated". Why should he? He's not a fact checker. Quite the opposite. He's in the denial business of making up stuff to stop any action to mitigate global warming.

This article is another one that's too long :( Click read more if you're on the home page.

Denier Weirdness: Magical mysterious Force X and the Notch

Sou | 6:51 AM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment

Note: You can read a step by step account of the Big News here. In more recent news, it has been announced that The Notch has passed away, peacefully, in the presence of family and close friends. RIP. [Sou 1 August 2014]

If you ever wondered just how much a fake sceptic is willing to be duped, here's an example.

Until today there was only been one minor mention of the scam at WUWT that I noticed. Anthony Watts chastised Wondering Willis for not giving Jo Nova a plug, in another of his "it's not the sun" articles. Today it's being promoted by Anthony Watts in an article by David "funny sunny" Archibald (archived here, latest here, and very latest here, with 532 comments. Some of the stouches (battles) are hilarious).

I mean, you've got to wonder at how deniers can be so darned gullible.

If you're wondering what this is all about, apparently Jo Nova and her partner David Evans have found a Notch. What this Notch does is delay solar energy reaching the earth by eleven years, or something like that. That's a long time for light to wait in the queue. Einstein would be amused.

There's more. There is also a mysterious Force X that is affecting the climate. This Force X comes from the sun. It's just that no-one's noticed except David Evans and Jo Nova.

This is a long account. If you're on the home page click read more for the rest.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A shift in ice ages long ago

Sou | 6:24 AM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Today I came across an interesting article about ocean currents and ice ages, which was published in the early edition of Science on Thursday.

The paper is by Leopoldo Pena and Steven Goldstein and it's about what happened a very long time ago. Around 900,000 years ago, glaciations shifted from happening about once every 41,000 years to only once every 100,000 years. What the scientists describe was a major disruption to the thermohaline circulation between 950,000 years ago and 860,000 years ago. They say that the slowing, or perhaps cessation of deep ocean currents drew down a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere and stabilised the glacials at every 100,000 years.


In a new study in the journal Science, researchers found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.
"The oceans started storing more carbon dioxide for a longer period of time," said Leopoldo Pena, the study's lead author, a paleoceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Our evidence shows that the oceans played a major role in slowing the pace of ice ages and making them more severe."
The researchers reconstructed the past strength of earth's system of deep-ocean currents by sampling deep-sea sediments off the coast of South Africa, where powerful currents originating in the North Atlantic Ocean pass on their way to Antarctica. How vigorously those currents moved in the past can be inferred by how much North Atlantic water made it that far, as measured by isotope ratios of the element neodymium bearing the signature of North Atlantic seawater. Like a tape recorder, the shells of ancient plankton incorporate this seawater signal through time, allowing scientists to approximate when the currents grew stronger and weaker off South Africa.
They confirmed that over the last 1.2 million years, the conveyor-like currents strengthened during warm periods and weakened during ice ages, as previously thought. But they also discovered that at about 950,000 years ago, ocean circulation weakened significantly and stayed weak for 100,000 years; during that period the planet skipped an interglacial -- the warm interval between ice-ages--and when the system recovered it entered a new phase of longer, 100,000-year ice age cycles. After this turning point, the deep ocean currents remain weak during ice ages, and the ice ages themselves become colder, they find.
"Our discovery of such a major breakdown in the ocean circulation system was a big surprise," said study coauthor Steven Goldstein, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty. "It allowed the ice sheets to grow when they should have melted, triggering the first 100,000-year cycle."

You can read the rest at or, if you have a subscription, read the paper at Science.

Leopoldo D. Pena and Steven L. Goldstein. Thermohaline circulation crisis and impacts during the mid-Pleistocene transition. Science, 26 June 2014 DOI: 10.1126/science.1249770

Friday, June 27, 2014

Assaying a muddled befuddled Jim Steele essay at WUWT

Sou | 6:34 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Oh boy. Poor old WUWT-ers are in for a boring time. Befuddled Jim Steele is back and has written an even more muddled article at WUWT. For those who weren't pronounced brain-dead after his last bowl of tripe, they will be after this one (archived here).

It's (not) natural

Jim Steele's article can be summed up as "it's natural". That's just the same as his last one, only he's more long-winded and even less coherent this time around (if possible). Jim starts in the Arctic, spins backward to medieval times and crashes forward. He reckons the world is about to cool, writing:
If natural cycles are indeed the climate control knob, the next 2 decades should witness a cool phase of the AMO and the retreat of southerly marine organisms. And the current scientific consensus that the upper 300 meters of the oceans have been cooling since 2003 bodes well for natural cycles prediction.

700 metres, 300 metres - what's 400 metres difference!

I don't know where he gets the upper 300 metres of oceans have been cooling from. Jim put a number beside it but it leads nowhere. Last time around he claimed it was the "upper 700 meters of Argo’s ocean data [that had] a cooling trend since 2003". This time he's dropped it back to 300 metres. He's got a Part 3 coming. I wonder will it be the "upper 100 meters cooling" next time?

Anyway, here is a chart showing the temperature changes in the ocean to both 100 metres and 700 metres. Since neither depth has cooled since 2003, the upper 300 metres could hardly have got any cooler.

Data source: NODC/NOAA

A muddled tour through deniersville

Of course since Jim doesn't believe that there is any such thing as a greenhouse effect his article is a load of garbage. He's pulled together various ingredients from denier memes, mixed them up in a blender, and the result is an incoherent babble. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a little under the weather when he wrote his "essay". Oh, he managed to put full stops in the right place much of the time. And most of his sentences had at least one noun and a verb. As for the rest, well let's see how he meandered:
  • The Arctic
  • Climate models
  • Dr James Hansen
  • Medieval warm anomaly
  • Sardines
  • Dr Camille Parmesan (Jim's anti-hero)
  • Pacific decadal oscillation
  • Back to the Arctic again

A one-way cycle!

Jim finishes off with this profound "natural cycles" comment:
If indeed natural cycles are the real climate control knobs, the next 15 to 20 years will settled the debate. While alarmists predict total loss of ice by 2030 (and earlier predictions have already failed), believers in the power of natural cycles expect Arctic sea ice to rebound by 2030. Until then the science is far from settled. And claims that the science is settled just one more of the great climate myths. (Part 3 will look at the chimeras created by averaging and meta-analyses)

It's easy to guess what Jim means by "believers" - and it's about the only accurate thing he's written in the entire article. Science deniers "believe" what they want to believe rather than explore facts and many of them "believe" we're heading for an ice age - any day now. And have "believed" that like, forever. A bit like there are "believers" in an imminent "day of judgement" or lizard men or flying pigs.

For the rest - natural cycles are the climate control knobs? Meaningless. What natural cycles? What controls the natural cycles. Settled (sic) the debate? What debate? Why has nature been cycling in the same direction for the past hundred years or so?  Hotter and hotter. That's not a cycle that's a speeding locomotive on a straight run!

Data sourcesNASA GISTempNODC/NOAA Ocean HeatU Colorado sea levelPIOMAS Arctic Ice

If you want unnatural cycles, Jim Steele cycles between pursuing his strange vendetta against Dr Parmesan and shouting to all who'll listen that "it's not happening".

What an odd "essay". Why Anthony put it on his blog is anyone's guess. Perhaps he is very hard up for essays.

From the WUWT comments

Jim's post has been up for a while and so far there are only six comments. Partly that's because most of the WUWT readers (who are in the USA) are fast asleep. The rest of them probably went to sleep reading Jim's article.

As if to prove that Jim's "essay" is incoherent, cnxtim can only parrot the denier standby comment and says:
June 27, 2014 at 12:35 am
Another nail in the coffin of CAGW – thanks…

M Courtney doesn't usually babble meaningless nonsense, but p'raps he thinks he'll reflect the tone of the "essay", so he says:
June 27, 2014 at 12:48 am
It’s CO2…
It’s the Sun…
It’s the Oceans…
It’s all and none of these. Just because the redistribution of heat from ocean currents is consistent with polar temperature observations does not mean it is the sole or even dominant cause.
Climate is complex. 

evanmjones is referring to his and Anthony's as-yet-unfinished work on US weather stations when he talks of "sensors", and seems to think the USA is the whole world when he says:
June 26, 2014 at 11:17 pm
But that narrow focus has biased Hansen and his disciples who have underestimated the power of ocean oscillations.
Of course, Hansen was making his projections before the PDO was described by science (i.e., 1996). So he ascribed the natural PDO warming to CO2 alone. Take it from 1950 when CO2 became significant and we see 1.1C/century warming. That’s over one complete PDO cycle (so that balances). So we see CO2 forcing according to Arrhenius — without net positive feedback.
And that’s assuming the sensors are accurate, and 4 out of 5 of them ain’t. 

Bob Tisdale picks up on Evan Jones and says (extract, removed quote and link):
June 27, 2014 at 12:58 am
...The PDO represents the spatial pattern of the sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Pacific, not the sea surface temperature anomalies. There is no mechanism through which the PDO can alter temperatures globally. ..

Old England uses the "essay" as an excuse to spout his latest conspiracy theory and says (excerpt from a much longer comment with more of the same):
June 27, 2014 at 1:09 am
What a clear illustration of the extent to which science has been blinded by the UN and Governments funded CO2 mantra. I wonder if scientists who have entered the fields of ‘climate change’ in the last 10 – 20 years are actually still capable of critical appreciation of true science and the extent to which you must look to explore all possible causes and explanations.
CO2 and ‘global warming’ is not about climate it is about deeply infiltrated and, typically, well-concealed marxist politics. It is all about creating ‘obedience’ to a doctrine by fabricating a climate of fear about climate. ...

Global surface temperature and homogenisation

Sou | 10:05 AM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

There's not been much that was worth my writing about at WUWT lately. There hasn't been too much mocking of science - or no more than usual. And I haven't seen any Russian Steampipes or OMG it's insects rubbish this past few days either. There is a greed article (archived here) - strenuously objecting to helping less developed and poverty-stricken countries deal with climate change. Par for the denier course. As the headline suggests, when it comes to deniers it's "all about money".

Anthony Watts wrote two articles about why Steve Goddard was wrong when he claimed the US temperature data has been "fabricated" (archived here and here), which elicited some compliments but more protests. (During this Anthony's still promising to show why he thinks the US temperature record is all wrong. Part of his general protest at his previous paper on the subject which proved there was not much wrong at all with the US temperature record. He's still trying apparently without success so far.)

Which brings me to another thing I noticed, though not from anyone at WUWT, despite their apparent interest in the topic. While science deniers are busy denying the science, real scientists continue to do science. Victor Venema has a couple of articles about an initiative relating to a worldwide temperature record. The most recent article is here.  The paper looks interesting and is available for comment, if you are an expert in homogenisation algorithms. The paper is called: Concepts for benchmarking of homogenisation algorithm performance on the global scale and you can read it here.

The work was an international collaboration, involving 19 scientists from the UK, USA, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain and Norway. No-one from Asia or Africa. You'll probably recognise some of the names.

The abstract describes it rather nicely (my paras):

The International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI) is striving towards substantively improving our ability to robustly understand historical land surface air temperature change at all scales. A key recently completed first step has been collating all available records into a comprehensive open access, traceable and version-controlled databank. The crucial next step is to maximise the value of the collated data through a robust international framework of benchmarking and assessment for product intercomparison and uncertainty estimation.
We focus on uncertainties arising from the presence of inhomogeneities in monthly surface temperature data and the varied methodological choices made by various groups in building homogeneous temperature products. The central facet of the benchmarking process is the creation of global scale synthetic analogs to the real-world database where both the "true" series and inhomogeneities are known (a luxury the real world data do not afford us). Hence algorithmic strengths and weaknesses can be meaningfully quantified and conditional inferences made about the real-world climate system.
Here we discuss the necessary framework for developing an international homogenisation benchmarking system on the global scale for monthly mean temperatures. The value of this framework is critically dependent upon the number of groups taking part and so we strongly advocate involvement in the benchmarking exercise from as many data analyst groups as possible to make the best use of this substantial effort. 

There's a comment by Blair Trewin from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, who says the paper is sound and adds some suggestions.

If you're interested in records of global surface temperatures, this effort might be worth watching.


(10:42 am 27 June 14)

I was half an hour early. Victor has just tweeted me his latest article, in which he writes:
In our benchmarking paper we generated a dataset that mimicked real temperature or precipitation data. To this data we added non-climatic changes (inhomogeneities). We requested the climatologists to homogenize this data, to remove the inhomogeneities we had inserted. How good the homogenization algorithms are can be seen by comparing the homogenized data to the original homogeneous data. ...
...The main conclusions were that homogenization improves the homogeneity of temperature data. Precipitation is more difficult and only the best algorithms were able to improve it. We found that modern methods improved the quality of temperature data about twice as much as traditional methods. It is thus important that people switch to one of these modern methods. My impression from the recent Homogenisation seminar and the upcoming European Meteorological Society (EMS) meeting is that this seems to be happening. 

Go to Victor's blog to read more and, as a bonus, you can see a photo of the fat cat scientists, living in their towers made from elephant tusks :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Denier weirdness: Is Steve McIntyre calling the instrumental record an "artifact"?

Sou | 5:10 AM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Saw this comment by that poor old obsessive climate science denying crusader Steve McIntyre at WUWT today. Steve McIntyre says:

June 25, 2014 at 10:34 am
Anthony, it looks to me like Goddard’s artifact is almost exactly equivalent in methodology to Marcott’s artifact spike – this is a much more exact comparison than Mann. Marcott’s artifact also arose from data drop-out.
However, rather than conceding the criticism, Marcott et al have failed to issue a corrigendum and their result has been widely cited.

Is Steve mistaking the instrumental record for an "artifact"? Or is he talking about that little blip in the most recent bit of the Marcott data. If the latter then it just goes to show that, even after all this time, Steve has still not bothered to read Marcott et al. Or if he did he missed the bit where they wrote (my bold italics):
Without filling data gaps, our Standard 5×5 reconstruction (Fig. 1A) exhibits 0.6°C greater warming over the past ~60 yr B.P. (1890 to 1950 CE) than our equivalent infilled 5° × 5° area-weighted mean stack (Fig. 1, C and D). However, considering the temporal resolution of our data set and the small number of records that cover this interval (Fig. 1G), this difference is probably not robust. Before this interval, the gap-filled and unfilled methods of calculating the stacks are nearly identical (Fig. 1D).

I've got to say that I'm a bit surprised Steve's continues to beat this drum.  It makes him look very foolish. Normally he likes to make believe he's clever. He usually wants people to think he knows more than all the climate scientists in the world. Yet, as his comment shows, the doddery dogsbody still hasn't got the point of the research or understood it's findings. I'd have thought by now he'd at least have read the paper and if not that, he could have read the FAQ, where they explain the above passage again, writing (my blue, bold italics):
Q: What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?
A: Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions. Our primary conclusions are based on a comparison of the longer term paleotemperature changes from our reconstruction with the well-documented temperature changes that have occurred over the last century, as documented by the instrumental record. Although not part of our study, high-resolution paleoclimate data from the past ~130 years have been compiled from various geological archives, and confirm the general features of warming trend over this time interval (Anderson, D.M. et al., 2013, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, p. 189-193;

You'll notice that as Shaun Marcott points out, there is plenty of data around for the recent past. Marcott13 is about the entire Holocene record. Steve McIntyre doesn't "get it". Still, Steve's got to deny I guess. It's all he's good for. And Marcott13 was an important paper, especially for deniers, because it really showed up the fact that humans are entering very new territory as far as climate goes.

The chart below shows where we've been and where we're heading. The green bit is from Shakun12 showing when earth was cold and humans struggled for survival. The blue bit is the surface temperature over the period since human civilisation. The red bit is where we're heading this century.

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars

Incidentally, Anthony Watts in that article was doing something positive for a change. He was explaining why Steve Goddard is making a fool of himself over US surface temperatures (archived here).  Peter Sinclair talks about this in his latest "Climate Crocks" episode. So did Media Matters, because Fox News made some fuss about it all. Fox News really does know how to add to its reputation as the place to avoid if you are after facts. Dana Nuccitelli is on the ball at the Guardian, too.

It looks as if Anthony is going to spoil his good efforts in this regard in the upcoming Part 2 of his two-part take-down of Steve Goddard. Anthony Watts says, in reply to Steve McIntyre:
June 25, 2014 at 10:55 am
Steve McIntyre: good point, I’ll address that in part 2. Thank you.

From the WUWT comments

This comment is about Steve Goddard and I thought it was interesting because the person who made it usually comes across as being just as much of an "utter nutter".  NikFromNYC says:
June 25, 2014 at 10:47 am
Goddard willfully sponsors a hostile and utterly reason averse and pure tribal culture on his very high traffic skeptical blog where about a dozen political fanatics are cheerled on by a half dozen tag along crackpots who all pile on anybody who offers constructive criticism. His blog alone is responsible for the continuing and very successful negative stereotyping of mainstream skepticism by a highly funded alarmist PR machine. His overpolitization of climate model skepticism results in a great inertia by harshly alienating mostly liberal academic scientists and big city professionals who also lean left but who might otherwise be open to reason. I live two blocks from NASA GISS above Tom’s Diner, just above the extremely liberal Upper West Side and my main hassle in stating facts and showing official data plots is online extremism being pointed out by Al Gore’s activist crowd along with John Cook’s more sophisticated obfuscation crowd. Goddard’s regular conspiracy theory about CIA drug use to brainwash school kids into shooting incidents in order to disarm conservatives in preparation for concentration camps for conservatives is something skeptics should stop ignoring and start actively shunning. His blog is the crack house of skepticism.

Marcott, Shaun A., Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark, and Alan C. Mix. "A reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years." science 339, no. 6124 (2013): 1198-1201. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026

Shakun, Jeremy D., Peter U. Clark, Feng He, Shaun A. Marcott, Alan C. Mix, Zhengyu Liu, Bette Otto-Bliesner, Andreas Schmittner, and Edouard Bard. "Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation." Nature 484, no. 7392 (2012): 49-54. doi:10.1038/nature10915

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WUWT claim? CO2 is NOT plant food. How WUWT rejects chemistry, biology and photosynthesis

Sou | 5:00 PM Go to the first of 68 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts today posted an article on his blog rejecting chemistry, biology and photosynthesis (archived here). The article was written by WUWT "guest" essayist, James McCown, who wrote:

...if the CO2 concentration is accurately measured by Etheridge et al (1996), then it is more likely the result of a natural process than from industrial sources.
James McCown is said to be an "economist with the Toltec Group, an economic consulting practice in Oklahoma and has  a PhD in economics from Ohio State." It looks as if he is the Toltec Group. I'd say he is the sum total of the Toltec Group, which from its website is mainly interested in oil and gas (and flogging a free android app). I'd not recommend commissioning him to do any research relating to climate (or economics).

Most scientists will agree that most of the CO2 concentration changes of the past 1000 years as reported by Etheridge et al way back in 1996 would have been the result of natural processes rather than from industrial sources. The main contribution from industrial sources would have been from the industrial era, since the 1700s. Most of the changes from the several centuries prior to that would have been from natural sources, with only small changes arising from human activities such as deforestation and agriculture. So that's nothing new.

However I don't think that's what James McCown meant. I believe he was trying to argue that plants don't use CO2 in photosynthesis and that burning fossil fuels doesn't release carbon dioxide. It seems to me that he's rejecting plant biochemistry (photosynthesis) as well as chemistry (the reaction of burning hydrocarbons).  What he seems to be saying is that the recent hike in atmospheric CO2 wasn't added by humans.

I put together a chart based on these data from Lüthi et al 2009, just averaging the CO2 over each 10,000 years of the past 800,000 years and adding what's happened in the past 150 years, since we've been burning up fossil fuels and chopping down trees at a greater pace than ever:

Data source: Lüthi et al (2008)

Atmospheric CO2 oscillated between around 180 ppm and 280 ppm over the past 800,000 years as Earth cooled and warmed. It's only in recent decades that it's gone above 300 ppm and has now shot up to 400 ppm. Burning gigantic amounts of fossil fuels is the main reason for this. James hasn't thought it through when he writes: "it is more likely the result of a natural process than from industrial sources". In fact he doesn't even indicate what "natural process" could possibly cause such a stupendously huge amount of CO2 to get into the air all of a sudden.

Most of the WUWT article was about a paper and a comment on the paper. The first paper was by Michael Beenstock and colleagues, published in November 2012.  It was one of those statistical analyses that pop up from time to time wherein deniers try to prove that AGW doesn't exist or is minimal. The paper looks to have been an "it's the sun" claim, with the opening para in the Discussion section being (my bold):
We have shown that anthropogenic forcings do not polynomially cointegrate with global temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, data for 1880–2007 do not support the anthropogenic interpretation of global warming during this period. This key result is shown graphically in Fig. 3 where the vertical axis measures the component of global temperature that is unexplained by solar irradiance according to our estimates. In panel a the horizontal axis measures the anomaly in the anthropogenic trend when the latter is derived from forcings of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. In panel b the horizontal axis measures this anthropogenic anomaly when apart from these greenhouse gas forcings, it includes tropospheric aerosols and black carbon. Panels a and b both show that there is no relationship between temperature and the anthropogenic anomaly, once the warming effect of solar irradiance is taken into consideration.

The Beenstock paper is pretty well all statistics and econometrics which is beyond my expertise. It wasn't based on climate science. It didn't get much attention, being cited only 14 times so far (according to Google Scholar), with most citations being either refutations mixed with the occasional citation from other science deniers (eg Willie Soon).  At WUWT James is trying to defend the paper against one of the papers that pointed out its flaws, by Pretis and Hendry - who took it on from an econometric perspective. A fight fire with fire approach.

Michael Beenstock has only tackled global warming in one other paper that I found, and that was about tide gauges. I gather he's a climate science denier whose own field isn't climate science but economics.

The comment on the paper was by two economists, F. Pretis and D. F. Hendry, who argued there were errors in the Beenstock paper, which they discuss under six main headings. Anyway, that's enough of that. This HW article isn't about the merits or otherwise of the different papers. The papers themselves rely on technical analysis which is beyond my expertise and they aren't really about climate science, they are about statistics/econometrics. I just thought it was mildly interesting that WUWT has another article rejecting basic science. In this case, rejecting chemistry and biology.

From the WUWT comments

One of the commenters at WUWT goes even further and disputes the denier meme that "CO2 is plant food". Doug Proctor says (extract):
June 24, 2014 at 11:15 am
Have a look at the details of the Keeling CO2 curve. There is a very odd SINGLE cycle to the rise and fall during the year. The peak is in late April, and the lowest level, in end September, beginning October. The annual rise is the difference between the rise and fall, of course, and attributed to power-plant, fossil fuel use. The cycle is attributed to “natural causes”. Yet what processes start net CO2 production in September and end net production in May? And why only one?
What processes indeed!

Beenstock, Michael, Yaniv Reingewertz, and Nathan Paldor. "Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming." Earth System Dynamics 3, no. 2 (2012): 173-188. doi:10.5194/esd-3-173-2012

Pretis, F., and D. F. Hendry. "Comment on" Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming" by Beenstock et al.(2012)–some hazards in econometric modelling of climate change." Earth System Dynamics 4, no. 2 (2013): 375-384. doi:10.5194/esd-4-375-2013

Etheridge, D. M., L. P. Steele, R. L. Langenfelds, R. J. Francey, J‐M. Barnola, and V. I. Morgan. "Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012) 101, no. D2 (1996): 4115-4128. DOI: 10.1029/95JD03410

Lüthi, Dieter, Martine Le Floch, Bernhard Bereiter, Thomas Blunier, Jean-Marc Barnola, Urs Siegenthaler, Dominique Raynaud et al. "High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000–800,000 years before present." Nature 453, no. 7193 (2008): 379-382. doi:10.1038/nature06949

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Heat kills! Pat'n Chip argue for survival of the wealthiest at WUWT

Sou | 4:43 PM Go to the first of 19 comments. Add a comment

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels (Pat'n Chip) keep plugging away at their weird notion that no matter how hot it gets, humans will adapt and fewer will die from heat-related causes.  Here is part of what they write at WUWT (archived here):

The cause of the observed decline in the sensitivity to extreme heat in the face of rising heat is likely found in a collection of adaptations including increased access to air-conditioning, better medical care, improved building design, community response programs, heat watch/warning systems, and biophysical changes. There is no reason to think that such response measures won’t continue to exist and be improved upon into the future.In our recent study summarizing the findings on declining heat-related mortality trends in both the U.S and Europe, we made this observation (Knappenberger et al., 2014):
Credit: Plognark

So everyone who lives somewhere that's affected by heatwaves, make sure you upgrade your air conditioner and try to find one that will work at 47°C plus. (I picked that number because I once had to drive my car in 47°C heat for half an hour or so to try to get the air conditioner fixed. I don't know how I made it without passing out. Also, I'm sure I'm not the only one whose home air conditioner is only rated to 43°C, the best we could find at the time.)

Not that your air-conditioner will do you much good when the power goes out because either it's broken down or can't cope with the stress on the system, caused by the heat wave. Heat can kill hundreds of people in a single heat wave. Maybe Pat'n Chip live in a very mild climate.

Make sure your local hospital is equipped to cope with the influx of people who get caught in future heat waves (those that don't collapse and die on the spot). And don't forget to boost your paramedic services. Hospitals won't help if you can't get there.  Stuff more insulation in your ceiling space and walls and don't go outside, whatever you do. Even if that means you get the sack from your job or your sports team (see also here).

I really don't know why Pat'n Chip keep beating this dead horse. Where I live there is a big spike in the number of deaths in a heat wave. Horrid heat is not something you want to inflict on anyone, unless you're like Pat'n Chip who don't care about those suffering the heat in India or South America or Australia or elsewhere.

Although it hasn't happened yet, as the world warms it's conceivable that large areas could become uninhabitable. That's not because of heat alone. It's because when temperatures soar enough alongside humidity then it exceeds the physiological tolerance of humans. This was described by two researchers a few years ago. Stephen Sherwood from the University of New South Wales and Matthew Huber from Purdue University did the maths and this is documented clearly and succinctly in their abstract:
Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation. Peak heat stress, quantified by the wetbulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today. TW never exceeds 31 °C. Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12 °C are possible from fossil fuel burning. One implication is that recent estimates of the costs of unmitigated climate change are too low unless the range of possible warming can somehow be narrowed. Heat stress also may help explain trends in the mammalian fossil record.

So although it would be quite a few decades before global temperatures rise 7 °C, there will still likely be parts of the world where those conditions could arise for short periods of time later this century. Particularly if we don't reduce carbon emissions enough.

Heat waves don't just kill people directly. They also affect the ability to supply electricity, they spark fires and cause them to turn into catastrophic killers, they dry up bodies of water and exacerbate drought. Heat is very pleasant in moderation. Too much of a good thing will kill.

I consider people like Pat'n Chip a menace to society.

From the WUWT comments

Eve doesn't give a rats for people who die in the heat and says:
June 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm
I have been freezing in Canada since I returned from the Bahamas. I have not had the quilt off since I arrived, plus having to wear long pants, long sleeves, no heat wave, just cold. Where is Obama that he is so hot? Tell him to turn down the heat.

Tom Harley is deluded about southern Australia. It can get much hotter down south than it does in the tropics. He says:
June 20, 2014 at 9:21 pm
Majormike1 is right, here in the tropical north of Australia, thousands of climate refugees are towing their camper vans, trailers and wotnot all over the region, clogging up the roads, hotels, resorts and camping grounds, just to get away from ‘the cold’ in the ‘Southern Australian States’.
Those of us who have lived here long enough, hate to leave here, even in the summer.
If you want your cold, you can keep your cold. Stay away Mr President. Bring global warming back, now. 

Eric Worrall suggests everyone move to beautiful Hervey Bay and says:
June 20, 2014 at 9:28 pm
I’ve got good news – when it gets too hot, here in Sunny Hervey Bay, 25 degrees south of the Equator, we wear shorts and t-shirts.
Hervey Bay has a lot of retired people, because of the year round pleasant climate, a lot like Florida. So far, heat related mortality does not seem to be an issue. 

Sherwood, Steven C., and Matthew Huber. "An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, no. 21 (2010): 9552-9555. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0913352107

WUWT IPCC Comment of the Day

Sou | 1:01 AM Go to the first of 19 comments. Add a comment

Some born-again denier called Caleb Rossiter was rabbiting on to the slack-jawed mob at WUWT about how he decided to reject climate science after all. He wrote how he reduced his students to tears (I wonder can he tell the difference between tears of laughter and tears of whatever):

I have had students who are very strongly pro-the global warming movement in my classes, of course, because most young people have heard this already,” he said. “And when I have them actually do the study, and take apart an IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] claim, sometimes they break into tears, and they say ‘I can’t believe this is the only class I’ve ever been in in which anyone has ever told me there is even an issue.’”

No. That's not the comment of the day, this one is:

kowalk says:
June 20, 2014 at 1:33 am
IPCC is the ‘Intergovernmental’ not ‘International’ Panel for Climate Control.

Jim Steele, greenhouse effect denier, gets up to his tricks in the Arctic

Sou | 12:02 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is on a roll wheeling out one greenhouse effect denier after another. Yesterday it was Dr Lu who reckons that CO2 isn't working anymore. Now it's Jim Steele (archived here).

This article is quite long. It's not a bad example of denialism in action - from the WUWT article itself through to the idiotic comments that followed it. As well as relying on the very same scientific papers (and scientists) he scoffs at, Jim misrepresents them. Jim uses cherry picking mixed with disinformation. If Anthony Watts really wanted to be taken seriously, he wouldn't be promoting greenhouse effect deniers like Jim Steele. But Anthony doesn't want to be taken seriously, except as a true blue disinformer and fake sceptic. His first priority is to impress all his science-rejecting fans who willingly send him their hard-earned cash, and patrons like the Heartland Institute.

Jim Steele fails Logic 101

I don't know if Jim is lacking in the intellect department or if he's just pretending to be dumb, but he doesn't start off his article too well. He begins by attacking an article at, without linking to it of course. He wrote:
At the website deceptively named SkepticalScience, they list “Climate Changed Before” as the skeptics’ #1 “mythical” argument. But the website’s authors have fabricated a straw man argument writing, “The ‘climate changed naturally in the past’ argument is a logical fallacy known as non sequitur, in which the conclusion doesn’t follow from the arguments.  It’s equivalent to seeing a dead body with a knife sticking out the back, then arguing the death must be natural because people died naturally in the past. It fails to even consider the available evidence.” 
Jim doesn't say what he finds to be the strawman in that passage that he quotes. I can't see one. Perhaps a reader can explain it. All I see is an explanation of why the notion that climates having changed in the past from other causes is no reason to reject the notion that it's human activities that are causing the current climate change. Pretty straightforward, I'd have thought.

Jim goes on and writes:
Then after wading through theoretical gish-gallop, the Skeptical Science author concludes their argument with a non-sequitur of their own-“Past climate change actually provides evidence that humans can affect climate now.”
Jim thinks the SkepticalScience article is a gish-gallop. Jim doesn't know what a gish gallop is. He is also mixing up two articles. has two responses to the denier illogic: "climate changed naturally in the past [therefore it must be changing naturally in the present]". There is a short basic version and a longer intermediate version. Jim has taken the last sentence of the intermediate version out of context and wrongly labelled it a non-sequitur. (Jim isn't an expert in climate and evidence shows that neither is he competent at logic.) The statement is factual, accurate and stands on its own in any case. Past climate change does indeed provide evidence that humans can affect climate now.

Click "read more" if you want to read lots more nonsense from Jim Steele.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Anthony Watts blows his dog whistle to round up the cosmic ray lynch mob

Sou | 12:24 AM Go to the first of 25 comments. Add a comment

Ha ha ha. This is hilarious. There's an article by Anthony Watts on his climate science denier blog WUWT where he writes (archived here):

A peer reviewed Nuccitelli smackdown
Posted on June 19, 2014 by Anthony Watts
Reply to “Comment on ‘Cosmic-ray-driven reaction and greenhouse effect of halogenated molecules: Culprits for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate change’ by Dana Nuccitelli et al.”

Anthony copies the abstract of the reply to the comment but nothing else apart from the above and a link to the reply. He leaves it up to readers to try to find the original paper, figure out who wrote it and see if they can lay their hand on the comment. (The reply was published a month ago, so Anthony is losing his touch.)

Click "read more" to read the rest :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A curious finding from WUWT in Korean speleothems

Sou | 5:53 PM One comment so far. Add a comment

Here's one for the shrinks out there. Anthony Watts isn't scoffing at a new scientific paper and the question is, why not? (Archived here).

There's a new paper in Nature about climate (hydrologic) patterns in the mid-latitudes and how there appear to be opposite swings in part of the northern and southern hemisphere mid-latitudes in relation to moisture. (Anthony has finally taken notice of the gripe that he doesn't link to sources, because this time he did link to the press release, though not to the paper itself.)

The researchers were studying climate patterns over the past 550,000 years. They analysed samples from limestone caves in Korea. In glacial periods when it is cold and dry the limestone growth stagnates and in interglacials when it is warm and moist they grow (I'd say it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it). Having established climatic patterns in those locations they looked at a range of climate data from elsewhere - solar insolation, glaciers, and deep sea sediments, and found that the same climate change patterns for the same periods.

So then they examined other limestone formations in the southern and northern hemisphere and found a see-saw pattern for the hydrology of the mid-latitudes. More moisture meant a bit warmer and less moisture meant colder and the hemispheres had an opposite pattern, or a see-saw pattern during glacials and interglacials.  From the press release:

In particular, he and colleagues revealed the fact that climate changes in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres showed opposite tendencies by analyzing the fact that stalagmites and flowstones in the temperate zones of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres had opposite growth periods. This suggests for the first time that the so-called phenomenon of the interhemispheric hydrological seesaw that the precipitation changes in the tropical regions show opposing tendencies between Northern and Southern Hemispheres had been spread to the temperate region in which the Korean peninsula was located at least for the last 550,000 years.
Due to the interhemispheric hydrological seesaw, when it rains frequently in a region that belongs to the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), it accelerates the growth of plants and increases the temperature, whereas other areas exhibit cold dry weather. This theory has been applied only to the tropical region and had not been significance in global climate change. However, if it is expanded to the temperate regions by the study of Doctor Jo, the seesaw phenomenon may be regarded as another key factor besides the insolation change which has been regarded as the most powerful factor in the glacial and interglacial cycles.

Put simplistically, as I understand it, when it's warm and moist somewhere it's cold and dry somewhere else - and this has been observed as a see-saw hemispherical pattern in some areas of the tropics and now, with this research, in part of the mid-latitudes. The pattern is purported to be a climatic response to orbital forcing. So it looks as if we're talking about gross patterns over millenia on a geological time scale, not annual, decadal or even centennial patterns.

I found the abstract easier to follow than the press release, so here it is (my paras):
An interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw—in which latitudinal migrations of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) produce simultaneous wetting (increased precipitation) in one hemisphere and drying in the other—has been discovered in some tropical and subtropical regions1, 2, 3. For instance, Chinese and Brazilian subtropical speleothem (cave formations such as stalactites and stalagmites) records show opposite trends in time series of oxygen isotopes (a proxy for precipitation variability) at millennial to orbital timescales2, 3, suggesting that hydrologic cycles were antiphased in the northerly versus southerly subtropics.
This tropical to subtropical hydrologic phenomenon is likely to be an initial and important climatic response to orbital forcing3. The impacts of such an interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw on higher-latitude regions and the global climate system, however, are unknown. Here we show that the antiphasing seen in the tropical records is also present in both hemispheres of the mid-latitude western Pacific Ocean.
Our results are based on a new 550,000-year record of the growth frequency of speleothems from the Korean peninsula, which we compare to Southern Hemisphere equivalents4. The Korean data are discontinuous and derived from 24 separate speleothems, but still allow the identification of periods of peak speleothem growth and, thus, precipitation.
The clear hemispheric antiphasing indicates that the sphere of influence of the interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw over the past 550,000 years extended at least to the mid-latitudes, such as northeast Asia, and that orbital-timescale ITCZ shifts can have serious effects on temperate climate systems. Furthermore, our result implies that insolation-driven ITCZ dynamics may provoke water vapour and vegetation feedbacks in northern mid-latitude regions and could have regulated global climate conditions throughout the late Quaternary ice age cycles.

The curiosity at WUWT

The research is interesting in and of itself. What I also found interesting from a denier-watch perspective was that it was presented at WUWT without any "claim" in the headline and as if it were solid science, not something to be mocked. Anthony wrote the following headline and lead-in (archived here):
Study finds climate of the past behaved as hemispherical opposites
Posted on June 18, 2014 by Anthony Watts
This is from a press release from the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral resources (KIGAM) The English in the PR is not the best, but is does have an interesting finding.

The question in my mind is:
  • Is this a new resolution of Anthony's in response to a small number of people requesting less scoffing at science and more of the "here it is, you decide" approach - or
  • Is it that Korean science is more acceptable to science deniers than science from the USA, Oceania and Europe? (Two of the authors are from the University of Minnesota, but Anthony probably doesn't know that.)

The research itself relies on fairly sparse data from few locations - "24 separate speleothems from 15 limestone caves" in Korea combined with what I understand to have been existing analyses from selected locations elsewhere in the world.  The southern hemisphere data is only from a few locations - described in the research as the western Pacific, though it includes caves in Naracoorte in South Australia.

The supplementary information includes the following images (click to enlarge):
Background image is from NASA Eclipse Web Site ( a, Peak interglacial periods are characterized by large geographic variations in the seasonal ITCZ and strong atmospheric meridional overturning circulations. b, Stadial periods show intermediate climatic conditions between those of peak interglacial and full glacial periods. c, Interstadial periods show intermediate climatic conditions between those of peak interglacial and full glacial periods. d, Full glacial periods are characterized by small geographic variations in the seasonal ITCZ and weak atmospheric meridional overturning circulations. Conceptual geographic ranges of estimated permafrost and ice sheets during stadial periods are shown by grey- and white-coloured areas, respectively48. Also shown are the cave locations of active speleothem growth during each time period (red dots)4, 15, 21, 42, 49, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59. See Methods for a detailed description of the scenario.

I'm not questioning the research itself.  It looks quite interesting and the scientists themselves as well as reviewers from Nature think so too.

What I'm curious about is why, when science deniers reject global temperature reconstructions of the past one or two millenia, which are based on many, many more proxies of many many more different types from many, many more locations all around the world - why they would embrace a study of climate patterns over five hundred and fifty millenia based on a very small number of proxies from a much smaller number of locations? (You may recall the vehement protests from the denialati at Marcott13.)

From the WUWT comments

Anthony Watts had better watch out. Some of his readers respond as if the paper has merit - heaven forbid! For example, a couple of people picked up on the orbital linkage (Milankovitch cycles), though they didn't seem aware that the research findings were that this was likely a "climatic response to orbital forcing". JimS says:
June 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm
Perhaps this phenomenon can be explained by the Milankovitch precession cycle?

Frank Lee responds to JimS and says:
June 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm
JimS suggested this may have something to do with Milankovitch’s precession cycle, but I believe it is the eccentricity of the elliptical orbit that would better explain the differences between the northern and southern hemispheres. As I understand them, both the tilt and precession cycles would move both hemispheres toward or away from a glaciation at the same time, but the eccentricity cycle would have opposite effects on the hemispheres. 

PeteP adds some information from a article about  a 2009 paper about oceanic patterns and says:
June 18, 2014 at 8:50 pm
Is this perhaps related to, and builds on, this study of the Atlantic Ocean currents?
Cardiff University. “Oceanic Seesaw Links Northern And Southern Hemisphere During Abrupt Climate Change During Last Ice Age.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2009. .
The new study suggests that abrupt changes in the north were accompanied by equally abrupt but opposite changes in the south. It provides the first concrete evidence of an immediate seesaw connection between the North and South Atlantic. The data shows, for example, that an abrupt cooling in the north would be accompanied by a rapid southerly shift of ocean fronts in the Southern Ocean, followed by more gradual warming across the south.
Dr Barker explains: “The most intuitive way to explain these changes is by varying the strength of ocean circulation in the Atlantic. By weakening the circulation, the heat transported northwards would be retained in the south.” 

Greg Goodman starts off well but spoils it a bit at the end when he says (excerpts):
June 18, 2014 at 11:39 pm
There have been several lines of evidence that the hemispheres do not run in sync.
A lot of warmist claims that LIA was predominantly a NH phenomenon. Opposite tendancies of polar trends as we are currently seeing, often refered to as “polar see-saw” and differences of timing in the changes that marked the end of last glacial period.
...There are clearly large scale changes that produce opposing effects in each hemisphere. Since the NH has more land and thus less heat capacity at the surface it’s temperatures will vary more than SH. Thus the usual obsession with metrics like “global mean surface temperature” could suggest “global warming” even if the global heat content did not change. 

Then come the less knowledgeable WUWT-ers. Gunga Din confuses weather and climate and says:
June 18, 2014 at 6:56 pm
Perhaps I missed something (wouldn’t the first time), but might not the fact that the seasons are opposite in the NH and SH have something to do it?

Santa Baby says irrelevantly and wrongly (the sun has a polarity flip every 11 years or so):
June 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm
The Sun changes magnetic polarity after aprox 22 years and Earth does not? 

philjourdan says:
June 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm
That seems to jive with the fact that almost all the warming during the 90s was in the NH. And why Antarctica ice is growing.

Finally the hard core WUWT illiterati bash away at their keyboards, as they do with every science article. Eustace Cranch says:
June 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm
“…in relation to glacial and interglacial cycles which have been puzzled for the past 60 years.”
The cycles have been puzzled? Dang, climate science confuses everything :)

And illiterati member Aphan says:
June 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm
Wait..what? They are just now figuring out that they are opposites??? Woah

cnxtim says:
June 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm
So, I guess now the new “scare-em” headline will be CHAGW?

Kyoung-nam Jo, Kyung Sik Woo, Sangheon Yi, Dong Yoon Yang, Hyoun Soo Lim, Yongjin Wang, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards. "Mid-latitude interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw over the past 550,000 years". Nature, 2014; 508 (7496): 378 DOI: 10.1038/nature13076

Barker, Stephen, Paula Diz, Maryline J. Vautravers, Jennifer Pike, Gregor Knorr, Ian R. Hall, and Wallace S. Broecker. "Interhemispheric Atlantic seesaw response during the last deglaciation." Nature 457, no. 7233 (2009): 1097-1102. doi:10.1038/nature07770