Wednesday, September 12, 2007


An email from John A [] of Climate Audit

As you've noted, the BBC have declined to bore the license-payers into submission with "Planet Relief" although I think that its a shame that we don't get to save the environment by switching it off and doing something else instead. I think they might not have covered the costs of the "artists" fees let alone paid the cameramen, but that's just me.

So Richard Black and his merry band of "consciousness raisers" (what cute names they have for propagandists these days) will have to fall on the old standbys of reporting every extreme weather event as if it were the last portent of doom and every climate model as the definitive future of the planet. And to round off the good work, peppering every science or nature article with ridiculous non-sequiturs and flourishes of anti-science designed to bamboozle.

So in what can only be described as "Things only climate change can do" we have this story of hope where black-throated and red-throated divers are recovering in numbers in Scotland thanks to some artificial floating rafts. But this being a nature story there has to be a climate change angle and so right at the end a Dr Mark Eaton ends with this chilling warning:

Dr Mark Eaton, an RSPB scientist, said: "We feared the numbers of red-throated divers might drop because the warming of the North Sea seems to be reducing stocks of the fish they feed on. "The black-throated diver could also be at risk in the future, despite the recent increases. If climate change causes loch temperatures to rise, the small fish the birds feed on could grow too large to eat."

So there we have it. Climate change reduces the number of fish in the North Sea, but might make fish thrive in the lochs so much that they become too large to swallow. It's a double-edge sword of doom is climate change. I'm only grateful that in the last few million years climate hasn't changed by anything like the horrendous changes we see today, leaving the poor birds unable to cope. Obviously Dr Eaton is an expert in these matters, which is why nobody will call him on it. Certainly not the BBC.

The dissection begins

Below is an early report of the now-beginning investigations into Hansen's analytical methods. Large areas of arbitrariness are already appearing -- including methods that bias the temperature record -- in which direction, do you think?

I have been spending some time (my wife would say “too much time”) examining how the Hansen Bias Method influences the temperature record. We have already observed that the Hansen method introduces an error in cases where the different versions are merely scribal variations. See and discussion.

The cause of the error has also been pinned down: in the case where a scribal version has only two of three monthly temperature values in a quarter available, Hansen calculates the anomalies of the available two months. It is important to note that the anomalies are the difference between the month’s recorded value and the month’s average value for the period of scribal record. Hansen takes these anomalies, averages them, and then sets the estimate of the “missing” month’s anomaly equal to this average. The “missing” monthly temperature value is then estimated by adding the estimated anomaly to the scribal record’s mean for the month. This occurs even when there is a temperature value available for the missing month in another scribal record. From the two available monthly values and the third, estimated monthly value a quarterly average is calculated, followed by a calculation of the annual average from the quarterly averages. Finally, for the two scribal records that are being combined, Hansen averages the annual averages for the overlap period, and, if there is a difference between the two averages, determines that to be a bias of one version relative to another and adjusts the earlier version downwards (or upwards) by the amount of the bias.

While the method clearly will corrupt the data set, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why it would introduce a material bias in northern hemisphere or global trends. We’ve observed cases in which the method caused early values to be falsely increased (Gassim) and cases where the method caused early values to be falsely reduced (Praha), and one’s first instinct is that Hansen’s method would not affect any overall numbers. (Of course that was one’s initial impression of the impact of the “Y2K” error on the US network.)

However, that proves not to be the case, because of a “perfect storm” so characteristic of climate errors. Hansen’s network outside the US has 2 main components: GHCN records, which all too often end in 1990 for non-US stations (USHCN records continue up to date); and 1502 MCDW stations (mainly airports). The MCDW reports started in January 1987 and continue to the present day.

In Siberia, to take an important case under discussion, the overlap between the MCDW record and GHCN record is typically 4 years - from January 1987 to December 1990 or so. Here’s where the next twist in the perfect storm comes in. Instead of calculating annual averages over a calendar year, Hansen calculates them over a “meteorological year” of Dec-Nov. While there may be a good reason for this choice, it has an important interaction with his “Bias Method”.

Even if the two versions are temperature-for-temperature identical in the overlap period, the MCDW series is “missing” the December 1986 value and the 1987 DJF quarter must be “estimated”. Now suppose that Jan-Feb 1987 are “cold” (in anomaly terms) relative to December 1986 (also in anomaly terms). As it happens, this seems to be the case over large parts of Asia (other areas will be examined on another occasion). The variations in Asian anomalies are very large. Let’s say that over large regions of Asia, the Dec 1986 anomaly was 2.5 deg C higher than the Jan-Feb 1987 anomaly. And let’s say that all other values are scribally equal.

Under Hansen’s system of comparing annual anomalies, this difference of 2.5 deg C will enter into the average of 4 years ( in effect being divided by 48 months) and then rounded up to a “bias” of 0.1 deg C. Since the MCDW version is “cold” relative to the prior GHCN version, the GHCN version extending to earlier values will be lowered by 0.1 deg C.

It looks like there may be a domino effect if there is more than one series involved, with the third series extending to (say) the 1930s. Hansen combines the first two series (so that the deduction of 0.1 deg C is included in this interim step.) When the early scribal version is compared to the “merged” version, the early scribal version now appears to be running “warm” relative to the adjusted version by 0.1 deg C. So it “needs” to be lowered as well.

The net effect is to artificially increase the upward slope in the overall temperature trend for most of the stations we have studied. As noted earlier, this process can bias records in the other direction, but stations with the requisite conditions have been hard to come by - Gassim being one of the few.


More global warming hype

Popular Science published a special issue in August. The lead article is a puff piece on climatologists Konrad Steffen who made a career on the ice pack of Greenland. "Koni", as he is known to climate colleagues and friends has spent 32 years in the high Arctic, the last 15 on Greenland.

Using dramatic pictures like the portrait of Steffen, beard and mustache encrusted with ice, face framed by a heavy fur cap, peering out sunglasses that reflect the weather station on the ice pack you don't have to be the Amazing Kreskin to figure out where they're going with this one.
"...Steffen personally customized and deployed much of the instrumentation that tells the scientific world, hour by hour and year by year, the conditions on the Greenland ice sheet and how they're changing. We call this phenomenon 'dynamic response,' " Steffen says. "What happens is that the melting accelerates as meltwater funnels down to the bedrock. At the bottom, the water acts as a lubricant, flowing under the outlet glaciers and allowing the ice to slip into the sea more quickly. We hadn't expected that ice sheets could react to warming so quickly."

"...In fact, new data that Steffen and his colleagues are just beginning to truly understand suggest that the seemingly dire warnings in the recent reports from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may turn out to be profoundly understated.The current acceleration could be a short-term adjustment to the warmer temperatures, Steffen says, or it might last much longer."

In other words, their 15 years of data may be a meaningful or it may not be. Well at least Koni looks good for the picture. Never fear, the author of the piece is ready to counter this honest but uncertain assessment. What source does he turn to salvage the whole exercise? Who else but NASA's infamous Dr. James "Whopper" Hansen. Steffen isn't willing to make sensational unsubstantiated claims but scientists like lead NASA climatologist James Hansen is more than ready and willing. He says he believes
"Zwally and Steffen's observations, coupled with new data from Antarctica, suggest that a major polar melt may be commencing. They point to a phenomenon called the albedo effect, in which melting ice exposes more land and water, causing the earth's surface to become less reflective, and to absorb more of the sun's energy"

After all the hype and spin the author concedes that the Greenland ice changes are poorly understood. The lead investigator is unwilling sweeping conclusions so they trot out James Hansen to sound the alarm. This is becoming a recurring pattern



Recent research may shed new light on whether the increase in hurricane activity on the Gulf Coast is part of a cycle that could end in a couple of decades, or a long-term climate trend that could last for centuries. Two studies published this summer contend that the number of hurricanes counted in the early 20th century is lower than the number that actually formed. The reason: Weather-recording technology has improved to the point that scientists can see tropical storms now that they never would have known about 100 years ago.

The findings are important because in recent years, several researchers have factored in historical data to show that hurricane seasons have become more active. They have theorized that the more active seasons are linked to global warming. But those theories could come into question if there were more hurricanes in the past than previously believed. "If what I've done is reasonable, then taking into account what was missed, there's nothing you can relate to global warming," said Chris Landsea, a National Hurricane Center researcher who published one of the papers.

In the long run -- the very long run -- that would be good news for Mobile and other coastal cities, which enter every summer worrying about the death, destruction and rising insurance premiums that hurricanes can bring. Insurance industry officials have said that they would be forced to raise rates and drop customers along the coast if global warming proves to create more risk for hurricane damage.

Landsea said he believes that global warming causes fewer hurricanes because it increases vertical wind shear, which tears apart the storms. The cyclones that do form see a slight increase in intensity, he said, but the difference is so small that humans couldn't measure it.

The two studies, one by Landsea and one by Stony Brook University professors Edmund Chang and Yuanjian Guo, differ on how many storms were missed in the early part of the century. Landsea believes that there were an average of 2.2 cyclones missed each year from 1900 to 1965, and that those missed cyclones totally eliminate any notion of a recent upward trend in storms.



Apparently tired of being berated by the European Union, US President George W Bush said on Sept. 5 that the claim he didn't care about climate change was "preposterous" and berated Europeans for trumpeting their binding Kyoto emission-reduction targets and not meeting them. Speaking at a joint press conference in Sydney with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Bush also made a strong pitch for nuclear power and its capacity to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are heating up the planet. "Now, I know that some say, "Well, since he's against Kyoto, he didn't care about the climate change,'" Bush said. "That's urban legend, and it's preposterous"

Bush, in Sydney to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, said the binding reduction targets enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol and championed by European countries "just didn't make sense for the United States." The US and Australia are the only industrialised countries to reject the 1997 UN-sponsored Kyoto initiative, arguing it would adversely affect their economies and that Kyoto is flawed because it doesn't rope in big developing country polluters like China, India, Indonesia and Brazil.

Bush said that at June's Group of Eight summit of leading industrialised nations in Germany, he "took the message that said to our partners that if you really want to really solve the global climate change issue, let's get everybody to the table." "Let's make sure that countries such as China and India are at the table as we discuss the way forward," he added. "Otherwise, I suspect if they feel like nations are going to cram down a solution down their throat and not give them a voice on how to achieve a common objective, they'll walk."



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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1 comment:

Bishop Hill said...

The RSPB is not a trustworthy source on bird numbers.