Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bob Tisdale's Magical Cherries

Sou | 3:51 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Update (Tues 15 October 1:15 am AEDST):

Bob Tisdale is sending a few people over here this morning after writing a second WUWT article on the same topic - archived here. (Is Anthony Watts running out of contributors?).

Hello all and welcome :) I wonder how many of you recognise the fallacies in Bob's circular thinking?  After you've read this article and had a bit of a wander around HotWhopper, you might find what Wotts' has to say on this topic interesting too.

Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale is a denier of anthropogenic global warming.  His denial is amply demonstrated in his latest article on WUWT (archived here, and update here) about a new paper.

The paper, by Li et al (2013) is about to be published in GRL.  It's available as open access (pdf file is here).

The authors detrended the NH temperature record to remove the warming from human activities. Their key quote that underpins the paper is this one, I believe:
Observational analysis shows that the NAO leads both the detrended NHT and oceanic Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) by 15–20 years.
As I read it, the authors are looking to see if they can use the North Atlantic Oscillation to predict changes in Northern Hemisphere surface temperature.

It looks to me that they've done a mathematical extrapolation to surmise that the NH temperature will flatten and decrease slightly over the next couple of decades, even allowing for a rise in temperature from rising greenhouse gases.  I'm not sure what they used to model future NH temperatures.

Below is Figure 3 from the paper:

Fig 3 TNAO and residual NHT. (a) The contribution of NAO variability to NHT (TNAO, blue, see Methods in Supplementary Information) and the smoothed AMO-related NHT obtained by the linear regression of the annual mean NHT onto the AMO index (green). The grey area shows the 2-sigma uncertainty ranges of the AMO-related NHT for the HadSST3 dataset estimated using the 100 realizations. (b) The residual NHT obtained by subtracting TNAO from the smoothed NHT. The pink area shows the 2-sigma uncertainty ranges of the residual NHT for the HadCRUT4 dataset.

What Bob Tisdale has done is ignore Fig 3b. In fact he didn't put up any charts at all, not even his own, which makes a change.  Bob writes this:
It’s time for the IPCC to start thinking about cutting back on their predictions of future global warming by at least 50%. The public is catching on to the fact that if natural variability can stop global warming for 2 to 3 decades, then it also contributed to the warming from 1975 to the turn of the century—something the IPCC failed to account for in its projections.
Bob is wrong in his interpretation.  It looks as if he is once again acting as if a cyclic pattern (an oscillation) leads to an overall rise in temperature.  But it doesn't.  Fig 3a above shows it as an oscillation having no net effect over the full cycle.  As well as that, Fig 3b above shows that the Northern Hemisphere temperatures rose by more than 1° Celsius over the past century when stripped of the NAO-related temperature cycle.

The NH temperature is shown below in Fig 4a from Li et al, with their hindcasting of their NAO model shown as dots and lines.

Fig 4a: The 11-year running mean of the observed NHT (red) from 1916 to 2011, and two sets of 16-year hindcast NHT starting at 1976 and 1996, respectively, using the NAO-based linear model. The solid circle represents the starting year of the hindcast and the fitted NHT before each hindcast is shown as a dotted line in the same color as the corresponding hindcast. The model coefficients for each hindcast experiment are listed in Supplementary Table 1. Vertical bars denote the 95% confidence intervals for the linear model
The researchers then extrapolated, based on the observed NAO I presume.  This is what they wrote:
The results obtained from the Hasselmann climate model provide an explanation for the phase lead–lag between the NAO and DNHT. This lead–lag relationship offers a simple but useful way to predict NHT around a decade and half in advance. Namely, the NAOI being shifted by 16 years can serve to predict NHT. A NAO-based linear model for predicting decadal NHT is therefore established as follows: 
where t is time in years and the coefficients a, b and c are determined empirically by linear regression based on the data over the historical period, so that the regression error of Equation (2) is minimized.
Applying this equation to the NH temperature, Li et al came up with a short term prediction shown in their Figure 4b below:
Fig 4b: The 11-year running mean of the observed NHT (red) from 1916 to 2011, the model fit of NHT (blue), and the predicted NHT in 2012−2027. The model coefficient a is identical to that used in (a), and coefficients b and c for the training period 1900−2011 are 8.47×10–3 and –16.65, respectively. The pink shaded areas in (a) and (b) show the 2-sigma uncertainty ranges of the NHT series for the HadCRUT4 dataset

It will be interesting to see if the Li et al prediction is any more robust than the IPCC projections.  The CMIP5 models of global temperature (don't know about NH only) also hindcast very well with the 20th century record.  However the CMIP5 models project forward based on the physics (under given scenarios) and I don't know the extent to which they reflect the NAO/AMO.

Back to Bob Tisdale. He nearly forgot to put in a plug for his latest science-denying book so he adds it as a comment, together with his standard pledge of science rejection.  Bob Tisdale says (my bold italics):
October 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm
Sheesh. I’m slipping. I forgot to call attention to the final few words of the Li et al. (2013) abstract, “that temporarily offsets the anthropogenically induced warming,” and the fact that ocean heat content data and satellite-era sea surface temperature data both indicate the oceans warmed via natural processes, not from manmade greenhouse gases. See my illustrated essay, “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” (42MB):

Bob's "natural processes" is his code for "magic".  And this comment of his is priceless:
Because North Atlantic sea surface temperatures have warmed, outgoing longwave radiation increases. Didn’t that just change the Earth’s energy budget—without any extra heat input? October 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm
What he's (wrongly) saying, torturing logic and physics, is that:
  • the temperature went up without any extra heat input!
  • sea surface temperature went up leading to more heat leaving the system as longwave radiation therefore the energy budget changed.  At the same time as arguing that the energy budget didn't change.
Bob has a fantastic ability not just for magical thinking but for not recognising his magical thinking, and repeating it over and over again!


A question was asked in the comments about the forcings over the past century.  Here is a chart from Chapter 8 of the AR5 WG1 IPCC report, which can be downloaded here. Click the chart to enlarge it.

Figure 8.18: Time evolution of forcing for anthropogenic and natural forcing mechanisms. Bars with the forcing and uncertainty ranges (5–95% confidence range) at present are given in the right part of the figure. For aerosol the ERF due to aerosol-radiation interaction and total aerosol ERF are shown. The uncertainty ranges are for present (2011 versus 1750) and are given in Table 8.6. For aerosols, only the uncertainty in the total aerosol ERF is given. For several of the forcing agents the relative uncertainty may be larger for certain time periods compared to present. See Supplementary Material Table 8.SM.8 for further information on the forcing time evolutions. Forcing numbers provided in Annex II.
There is also a chart from the Technical Summary (Box TS.5 Fig 1 on page TS-103) showing radiative forcings (volcanic, solar and well-mixed greenhouse gases) going back over the past 1200 years or so compared with reconstructed NH temperature, which I posted in another article.

Source: Box TS.5, Fig 1 IPCC WG1 AR5 Technical Summary

From the WUWT comments

MrX says, ignoring the paper and the charts above:

October 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm
temporarily offsets the anthropogenically induced warming
That’s point blank admitting they were wrong. They’re trying to spin it, but it doesn’t work. If natural causes can offset it, then humans are no longer the primary cause of climate change (not that they ever were). It’s not catastrophic. Crisis averted.

dalyplanet has read the paper itself and says:
October 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm
An interesting paper, but I find the Wyatt paper much more in agreement with the understanding that you have presented to me Bob. This paper agrees with an internal variability that nets to zero over decadal time scales, rather than a natural variability that does not necessarily net to zero in decadal or even centennial time scale.

Bob Tisdale has a habit of making up stuff and telling fibs, like when he writes:
Leo, are you aware that the only support for the hypothesis of human-induced global warming are climate models? Without climate models, we only know that surface temperatures have warmed. October 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Leo Geiger rises to Bob Tisdale's challenge and says:
October 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm
Bob Tisdale: No, I’m not new here. I am well aware of your opinions. I am more concerned with the how the opinions expressed in published research are presented or misrepresented. You are free to use phrases like “stoppage” or “cessation”. The authors of the paper clearly did not, and they say things throughout the paper at odds with your beliefs. Do not bootstrap your opinions onto their work.

Jianping Li1, Cheng Sun, Fei-Fei Jin (2013) NAO implicated as a predictor of Northern Hemisphere mean temperature multidecadal variability, Geophysical Research Letters DOI: 10.1002/2013GL057877


  1. I have the biggest issue with his closing statement:

    "It’s time for the IPCC to start thinking about cutting back on their predictions of future global warming by at least 50%. The public is catching on to the fact that if natural variability can stop global warming for 2 to 3 decades, then it also contributed to the warming from 1975 to the turn of the century—something the IPCC failed to account for in its projections."

    The IPCC has these types of natural variability in their models and they talk about how this influences temperatures. I'm not fully up to date with the details on how this is done but the variability we see from measurements is in the models. You just don't see it in the projections because they use multiple model runs to filter out this noise so they can see the underlying trend.

  2. Sou, you say I'm not sure what they used to model future NH temperatures. It's really just their equation 2 (which you've included in the post) and so the temperature change due to GHG is simply bt + c and the coefficients are in the caption for figure 4. From that, they're assuming a long-term trend of 0.0847 degrees per decade and that's what they're projecting into the future.

    1. Oh, okay. Thanks, Wotts. So it's just based on extrapolation of the historical trend, not on any physics or estimates of projected CO2 emissions. Is that right?

      That's what I thought was probably the case on my first reading, too, from when they wrote: the coefficients a, b and c are determined empirically by linear regression based on the data over the historical period

      I guess they would argue it's such a short period of time that near enough is good enough :)

    2. As far as I understand it, yes it's not based on any estimates of projected CO2 emissions. Your post has motivated me to write about this too, so I elaborate a bit more on my thoughts about this paper there.

  3. Thee Scafetta comment in the WUWT comments is worth reading. He's valiantly trying to say that this isn't new, but sadly for him no-one cares because that would involve reading "old stuff" and who ever does that? Secondly, he also points out a valid flaw (IMHO) in the Li assumptions.

    1. Thanks, William. I've updated the archived version but it doesn't look as if anyone has taken any notice of what Nicola is saying.

      I expect you are referring to this part of his comment:

      Li would like to use NAO as a “predictor” for temperature changes. The ability to predict is however a consequence of the 60-year oscillation, not of the fact that NAO is a true “predictor”.

      The predictor is “apparent” in the sense that Li did not realize that for physical reasons NAO (which is a pressure signal) is indirectly linked to the temperature anomaly via an integration algorithm.

      In some way it is like the speed and the position of an oscillating signal that are described by a sin and a cos function with a 90 degree phase lag (= 15 year in a 60 year oscillation). So, if one would like to have an observable that can be directly compared with the temperature, NAO needs to be integrated first, as we did in our paper.

      So, a priori it is not possible to use NAO as a “predictor” of the temperture after 15 years unless we already know that NAO is oscillating with a 60 year cycle which is something that Li does not demonstrate because they analyze data since 1900.

      Fortunately in Mazzarella & Scafetta (2012) and Scafetta (2013) we analyze NAO since 1700 and the quasi 60 -year oscillation is pretty well evident. So, in our argument (based on a 300-year analysis) the projection is more plausible while in Li et al argument (based on a 110-year data) is more fortuitous.

  4. Sou,
    Not surprisingly but ironically you rely on circular argument to avoid dealing with Bob's points.

    1. Anonymous, my article was not intended to pick up on every silly thing Bob wrote. It was as much about the Li paper as Bob's meanderings.

      You'll have to be more specific in the point you've made. Explain which point of Bob's I avoided dealing with and specify where you see a circular argument made by me, and what it is that makes it circular.

      Also, have you any substantive comment to make on Bob's waffle or the Li et al paper or my take on either or both?

  5. The issue is, Sou, that if Li's theory and maths is correct (and there's a cycle laid over a residual rise) then why is the residual line fairly straight, and why is there a rise from 1920 to 1940? That predates any significant CO2 rise.

    So if Li et al's theory matches recorded temperatures over the next few years, will you accept that CO2 does not make a significant ("catastrophic") contribution to the temperature (beyond the minor, expected, Arrhenius forcing)?

    1. Martin, the way you've worded your question suggests you don't know much about what forcings have acted in the industrial era. These are fairly well quantified. For answers to your first question, Chapter 8 of the latest IPCC report is what you are after.

      Solar radiation had a bigger impact early last century for example. Aerosols have had a bigger impact from time to time too, for example human pollution had quite a big impact in industrialised countries prior to them cleaning up their act.

      If you want to see the different forcing represented graphically, look for Figure 8.18 on page 8-121 of the AR5 WG1 report. I'll put the chart as a post-script to the main article for you with a link to the IPCC report.

      Your second question, the onee about the Li paper, is missing the point of their work. Their hypothesis is not about GHG forcing as such, it's about the relationship between the NAO and the AMO. Their paper makes assumptions about GHG forcing but that's not what they are investigating.

      Finally, your concepts of what constitutes "minor" and "catastrophic" need to be defined. In the context you've used them, the terms are probably best avoided if you want to discuss climate with anyone except science deniers. Best to use numbers where you can. Otherwise you might find yourself talking at cross-purposes. What you might regard as minor, another person might regard as catastrophic - it depends on values and frames of reference. (Do you regard species extinction as minor, for example. Or maybe you regard some extinctions as minor and some as major. And maybe you regard one or two metres of sea level rise in the next several decades as not having any catastrophic impact anywhere, while others would see it differently.)

  6. There is a similar 'wave paper' out by Curry and 'independent scientist' Marcia Wyatt.

    I was just thinking this seems a bit like the Tsonis stuff too but then I saw she (Marcia) was lead author on that Tsonis paper from 2012. It will be interesting if this evolves as a competing climate-skeptic science narrative to the mainstream view - something they've been singularly lacking till now. It all seem a bit like mathturbation with no physics (e.g. correlation =/= causation) to me but IANACS.


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