Monday, June 8, 2015

Pausing for a dozen protests at WUWT

Sou | 2:03 AM Go to the first of 29 comments. Add a comment
So far there have been 12 articles at WUWT protesting the NOAA paper that came out last Thursday - by my count. Not including the first two, which broke embargo, that's more than two protests a day. We're still waiting for Anthony's promised fatal weakness.

  1. Fred Singer decided it was wrong because of "Wow" and "Oh Boy" (the article at American Thinker was cross-posted at WUWT, without the "WoW!")
  2. Anthony Watts and Bob Tisdale decided it was wrong because of something or the other but they couldn't say what. In the same article Judith Curry, though she didn't show much sign of having read the paper properly, decided that BEST was BETTER (She probably didn't know that Berkeley Earth has a higher rate of warming from 1998 to 2012 than Karl15 shows. Nor was she aware that this work built on very detailed paper on ERSST v4 and HadSST, which was published last February.)
  3. Pat'n Chip'n Dick decided that instead of adding a fraction to one part of the data, the scientists should have subtracted it from the other - they couldn't work out that the impact on the trend is identical
  4. Bob Tisdale got out his trusty Microsoft Paint application and seems to be arguing that the authors should have relied solely on night marine temperature instead of carefully analysing all the buoy and ship data available for ERSST v4. (He also doesn't seem to have realised that buoys are increasing in proportion to ships as data sources.)
  5. Christopher Monckton figured that warming at the surface defies the laws of thermodynamics
  6. Ross McKitrick forgot any stats he'd learnt as Alexander Coulter shows
  7. Josh figured he'd hop along for the ride and show that he's not the brightest spark in the universe
  8. The Cornwall Alliance chappie just regurgitated some of the above. He didn't have anything else to add, but thought he'd join in with the chorus of denial
  9. David Middleton figured that if there really wasn't any pause in surface warming then that means that global warming might not be happening after all. (There's no logic involved in being a denier.)
  10. David Deming thought he'd show that scientists don't know nuffin about climate because geologists figured out how old the earth is, or something
  11. Anthony jumped the gun initially, alleging fraud by the NOAA, and because no-one knew what he was referring to...
  12. ...he did it again, this time alleging the NOAA lied.

I looked over all the different reasons for denial and admit that the only fatal weaknesses I could see were those made by deniers themselves.

There were, of course, conspiracy theories galore flying about. And not just from Anthony's chorus. Anthony himself decided from the outset that the NOAA committed fraud and lied. Subsequently, he called up a dead President, a 19th century battle and a dead Japanese Marshall Admiral as proof.

I know you're probably weary of reading about this paper - but that's about all that's occupying the deniers at WUWT at the moment. It's made an impression.

Further reading

If you missed all the fuss and want to know what it's about, there's a description of the work and the main findings in the article below, with links to the paper, related work, and other articles about it. The second link is to an email comment by one of the authors, Dr Tom Peterson, with an interesting comment about the background to the work, from Dr Peter Thorne:


palindrom said...

They've gone bat-guano crazy, of course, because "No warming in N years!" was their most persuasive (if always dubious) talking point. Gavin's post over at realclimate puts the Karl study into perspective -- it's useful, but not a radical step at all. But it's driven denierville into full-twitch conspiracy-theorizing mode.

Lewandowsky was right, of course.

I've devoted far too much time to the comments section on John Abraham's "97% concensus" blog over at the Guardian.

Kevin O'Neill said...

“If you just wanted to release to the American public our uncorrected data set, it would say that the world has warmed up about 2.071 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. Our corrected data set says things have warmed up about 1.65 degrees Fahrenheit. Our corrections lower the rate of warming on a global scale.” -- Dr Russell S. Vose, chief of the climate science division at NOAA’s Asheville center, and a coauthor of Karl(15) in the NY Times.

Most of the denizens of WUWT still don't understand this simple, basic fact. It's instructive that their chosen 'experts' - Tony, Ross, Pat 'n Chip, Lord Moncton, et al - rarely, if ever, acknowledge this.

Sou said...

The work is based on a massive effort to refine the sea surface temperature and land surface temperature, so shouldn't be understated.
As the papers on the subject show, there is more to be done. On the other hand, as you imply, this is part of the slow and steady progress in science that is ongoing.

Deniers picked up on one aspect that the paper highlighted - that the work shows that warming hasn't been as slow recently as previously thought. Cowtan and Way showed something similar, but isn't as massive a piece of work as that underpinning this study. Berkeley Earth shows the same thing, as do other datasets to a greater or lesser degree.

I agree it shouldn't be overstated, but neither should it be understated. I don't think deniers know what to do with it.

This work greatly expands the number of observations and has important refinements to improve the sea surface temperature. That puts deniers in a quandary. Some will argue that data shouldn't be used (throw away the data). Others will argue that corrections shouldn't be made (use uncorrected data). In doing so, they are getting themselves tied up in knots.

As I saw someone say - Anthony Watts has been busy the last few years trying to argue that surface temperatures in the USA should be adjusted for station siting. Now he's stuck. If he argues against corrections he's going against his recent "life's work". If he argues in favour of making corrections, he's defending science - a stance that's anathema to a science denier.

chuck said...

Totally 0ff topic but could anyone tell me what altitude the UAH Lower Troposphere temperature charts are for? I am in an argument with a denier who insists they are surface charts. Now as a pilot, I know he is wrong as the lower troposphere in meteorology is defined as starting at 5000 ft or 850 mb and going up to 500 mb, but nowhere can I find what pressure altitude those UAH measurements refer to. A link explaining this would be a great help. Thanks

Kevin O'Neill said...

Chuck the UAH V6 weighting is strongest at approximately 10km for their Upper Troposhere product and just below 4km for their Lower Tropsphere product.

Visual of the weighting functions available here:


Victor Venema said...

A bit off-topic. ;) The MSU weighting functions can be found on Wikipedia..

The one normally used is the Temperature of the Lower Troposphere (TLT), which could also simply be called the Temperature of the Troposphere, but there is a bit of a preference for the lower part.

Victor Venema said...

In case Wikipedia is not sufficiently neutral. ;-) Happens at WUWT. There is a similar graph at RSS, the second group that computes a tropospheric temperature.

palindrom said...

I didn't mean to minimize the work, or its signficance, but just to point out that it mostly firms up what we already pretty much knew, namely that the "hiatus" really wasn't much of a hiatus.

It's amazing also that denialists persist in claiming that every adjustment made to the record serves to make global warming appear more alarming, when by far the largest adjustments raise the temperature of the oceans before 1940, making the overall amount of warming signficantly less than it would have been without such adjustment.

Contrail Chook said...

"We're still waiting for Anthony's promised fatal weakness."

It's between his ears.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

And there is now a 13th up. The problem is they just keep getting lamer and lamer...

Cugel said...

I think Karl15 might be the new MBH98 for the denialati; all it needs is a nickname. Where MBH98 "hid" the Little Ice Age Karl15 is "hiding" The Pause or even the New Little Ice Age. Both are known to be fatally flawed without the actual flaws ever being pinned down (something to do with centring in one case, perhaps something to do with global instead of regional SST adjustments in the other? That has McKitrick's fingerprints on it already). MBH98 ran counter to the then current "no unusual warming occurring" line while Karl15, of course, counters the now current "no warming going on" line. And both are bones to gnaw on while reality goes to pot all around them.

Victor Venema said...

This study is similar to Cowtan and Way, which also made minimal changes, but in doing so changed their beloved "hiatus" a lot. Thus my guess would be that after a lot of bad faith, they will return to their usual programming of conspiracies, scientists know nothing and the "hiatus" in UAHv6.

john byatt said...

well give willard his due, he may be bat shit crazy but not this crazy, from bob bat shit tisdale, http://optimalprediction.com/wp/fukushima-radioactive-contamination-is-rapidly-warming-north-pacific-seawater/

Rattus Norvegicus said...

That is batshit crazy, but I dond't think that is Tisdale, his site is:


Looks like there might be a preview of the next tedious yet insane post from him there...

Bells said...

Ok, I am dense, and do not in any way dispute the science behind AGW - it's happeing, and man-made forcing is the primary driver of the increase in temperatures. One thing, albeit simple, I cannot get my head around. If a) buoys are the more reliable temperature reading vs. ship-based readings, b) buoys are reading on average -0.12 C less than collocated ship measurements, wouldn't the appropriate adjustment be to lower the ship-based measurements to equate to the buoys? I've also read that this would have no impact on the conclusion, but having a hard time understanding that - wouldn't the adjustment result in lower readings by a factor of -0.12 C * the proportionate # of collocated buoys? Really, just need someone to express this in a different way. No one whose looked at the data except for perhaps some WUWT yellers has made the adjustment an issue, so I figure it must be something basic I'm missing. Thanks in advance.

Alexander Coulter said...

I respond to this in the post linked within the one Sou gave of mine above. There is no difference when talking about temperature anomalies, which are what matter.

Alexander Coulter said...

I'm on mobile so I'm slow to get links up, but here's the post I'm talking about.


Sou said...

Bells, it's a reasonable question and the answer is fairly simple. I've written the response from NOAA. I asked NOAA scientists about it when I was preparing the main article about the paper. I'll repeat the reply I got from Dr. Boyin Huang, one of the coauthors of the paper (the lead author of the ERSST v4 paper:

The reason for adjusting buoy (+0.12C) rather than adjusting ship (-0.12C) is that there is no buoy observation at all before the 1970s. Therefore, it would be questionable how ship can be adjusted relative to buoy before the 1970s, if we did so. However, assuming that the adjustment to ship is -0.12C before the 1970s, our tests show that the long term temperature trends remain the same. This has been discussed in Huang et al. 2015 (J. Climate 28, 911-930, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00006.1.)

In other words, whether the adjustment is to the buoys or the ships makes no difference to the trend (which is the important thing). It is less scientific to adjust ship data when there are no buoys to compare it to (pre-1970s), even if it is a reasonable assumption that the observations would always have run a bit hot compared to buoys had they been there before the 1970s. However to not make any correction would also be inaccurate. So the adjustments were made for the period during which there are direct comparisons - and to the buoys, not the ships. That's to make sure that the corrections applied to the whole record. If they'd only adjusted the ships post-1970s, the pre-1970s data would have been wrong. There'd have been a discontinuity in the record when the buoys first started.

The adjustments were tested both ways, and it made no difference to the trend. This is all documented in some detail in the paper on ERSSTv4 and HadSST.

Bells said...

Thanks everyone, appreciate the help.

Bells said...

Sou - very well explained, thanks.

chuck said...

Thanks for that. So it would appear that the satellite weighting function is not precise enough to assign a particular altitude for TLT but just that its between 0 and 4 km. Definitely not surface. Is it possible to derive surface temperatures from satellites?

Neven said...

I've always found it convincing that there was a slowdown in the rate of warming due to short term influences all being negative, like ENSO being dominated by La Niña, AMO and PDO in negative phase, lowest sun spot numbers since I don't know when, BRIC countries emitting massive amounts of aerosols.

Does this correction mean that when these factors flip to positive again, we'll see not just the modelled warming of around 0.2 °C per decade, but actually a massive speed-up? Something we're seeing now with the brewing El Niño, but then even worse?

If so, I'm really unhappy with this paper. Far unhappier than climate risk deniers.

dhogaza said...

If you look at the comparative graphs, you'll see that the change is really minor. The notion of the "hiatus" - warming stopped - wasn't ever quite correct. Rather, warming continued but over the favored timeframe-du-jour was not statistically significance. The new reconstruction bumps the trend slightly, but that slight bump is enough to push it over the significance boundary.

Hiatus - no. Slowdown, well, yes ...

but still statistically significant warming. "no warming since ..." was always an overstatement of the case even without adjustments for ENSO etc. Now it can be stated that it is wrong, which is why the denialsphere is attacking it so vehemently.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

That is batshit crazy, but I dond't think that is Tisdale, his site is:


Looks like there might be a preview of the next tedious yet insane post from him there...

Victor Venema said...

There are weather stations that transmit their data to satellites. :)

Otherwise I see no hope of measuring the surface air temperature with normal (passive) satellites. They see the radiation from an entire column of air, to zoom in to just the lowest few meters seems nearly impossible.

There are some new satellites in space with active instruments: radar and lidar (a kind of radar that works with light). The emit and radio or light wave and then observe what comes back. This way they know from which height the signal comes. Now they are used to study clouds and rain, maybe one day they will be able to measure temperature (under cloud free conditions).

And there are satellite measurements of the temperature of the Earth surface itself, which need to remove the influence of the atmosphere they have to look though. They do not seem to be used a lot, maybe because they only work under cloud free conditions, maybe because, like all satellite datasets, it is very hard to make their trends reliable.

Harry Twinotter said...


unfortunately the answer is yes. The warming is occurring despite natural cooling, it means CO2 warming is swamping natural variability.

Soon or later a majority of the natural variability factors will have positive signs, and the warming will increase rapidly. If a period of rapid warming accelerates the positive feedbacks such as water vapour and ice-albedo loss, the rapid warming may become entrenched.

It is a worst-case scenario, but I can see why some of the climatologists got nervous during the rapid warming in the late 20th century.

Bernard J. said...

Like Neven I'm unhappy with the implications of this paper.

There have been too many conjunctions of natural system and of methodological variability, and too much occurrence of mendacious propensity of denialists to exploit them, to be conducive of the well-being of our biosphere.

There's a perfect storm brewing, and it's not a meteorological one. Not in the greater sense...

Alexander Coulter said...

Bob Tisdale's recent open letter confuses me. The reason I'm confused is that "skeptics" seem to think that HadNMAT must show a larger warming trend that ERSST in order to provide any correction that induces a larger trend. But the NMAT series is compared (locally) to the ship measurements to deduce the fraction of insulated v. non-insulated buckets. It is an absolute temperature difference that has to do with sensible heat transfer, trend does not matter. How the difference between sea and air temperature differs with time is used as a proxy of sorts for this fraction. This would happen even if there was a larger trend.

Is my understanding incorrect? It doesn't seem to me that I am wrong.

Harry Twinotter said...

You are probably correct.

I have given up reading Bob Tisdale's stuff. I tried a couple of time, found some errors and queried him about it - all I got was insults back.

He is just a basic trickster.