Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another downfall for the Warmist attempt to "get rid of" Antarctic cooling

They used known bad data

Professor Eric Steig last month announced in Nature that he'd spotted a warming in West Antarctica that previous researchers had missed through slackness - a warming so strong that it more than made up for the cooling in East Antarctica. Whew! Finally we had proof that Antarctica as a whole was warming, and not cooling, after all. Global warming really was global now.

The paper was immediately greeted with suspicion, not least because one of the authors was Michael Mann of the infamous "hockey stick", now discredited, and the data was reconstructed from very sketchy weather station records, combined with assumptions from satellite observations.

But Steve McIntyre, who did most to expose Mann's "hockey stick", now notices a far more embarrassing problem with Steig's paper. Previous researchers hadn't overlooked the data. What they'd done was to ignore data from four West Antarctic automatic weather stations in particular that didn't meet their quality control. As you can see above, one shows no warming, two show insignificant warming and fourth - from a station dubbed "Harry" shows a sharp jump in temperature that helped Steig and his team discover their warming Antarctic.

Uh oh. Harry in fact is a problematic site that was buried in snow for years and then re-sited in 2005. But, worse, the data that Steig used in his modelling which he claimed came from Harry was actually old data from another station on the Ross Ice Shelf known as Gill with new data from Harry added to it, producing the abrupt warming. The data is worthless. Or as McIntyre puts it:
Considered by itself, Gill has a slightly negative trend from 1987 to 2002. The big trend in "New Harry" arises entirely from the impact of splicing the two data sets together. It's a mess.

Read this link and this to see McIntyre's superb forensic work. Why wasn't this error picked up earlier? Perhaps because the researchers got the results they'd hoped for, and no alarm bell went off that made them check. Now, wait for the papers to report the error with the zeal with which they reported Steig's "warming".

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Just don't expect ethics from Warmists

Lets say that I go to public talk by a colleague. My colleague presents a talk suggestive that there is a problem with the economic data used by the U.S. government Department of Treasury. Specifically there are some odd things going on in its data on unemployment in West Virginia and Texas. I then go home from the talk, go online and take a look at the data, and identify that there is indeed a problem and I see that some of the West Virginia data has been mistakenly placed into the Texas columns. I the contact the Treasury and notify them of the error. The Treasury puts a thank you notice on their website recognizing my efforts. Would there be any ethical problem with such behavior?

This is not a hypothetical example, but a caricature of real goings on with our friends over at Real Climate . . .

Due to an inadvertent release of information, NASA's Gavin Schmidt (a "real scientist" of the Real Climate blog) admits to stealing a scientific idea from his arch-nemesis, Steve McIntyre (not a "real scientist" of the Climate Audit blog) and then representing it as his own idea, and getting credit for it. (Details here and here.)

In his explanation why this is OK, Gavin explains that he did some work on his own after getting the idea from Steve's blog, and so it was OK to take full credit for the idea. I am sure that there are legions of graduate students and other scientific support staff who do a lot of work on a project, only to find their sponsor or advisor, who initially proposed the idea, as first author on the resulting paper, who might have empathy for Gavin's logic. And of course researchers in many fields try to keep their work secret lest an unscrupulous colleague steal the idea. You just don't get to see such things in action when you are outside of the academy. Well through the magic of the internet everyone can see the less than noble side of scientific practice.

But lets be clear, in science, the ethical thing to do is to give full credit to the origination of an idea, even if it comes from your arch-enemy. Gavin's outing is remarkable because it shows him not only stealing an idea, but stealing from someone who he and his colleagues routinely criticize as being wrong, corrupt, and a fraud. Does anyone wonder why skepticism flourishes? When evaluations of expertise hinge on trust, stealing someone's ideas and taking credit for them does not help.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Big snake refutes Warmist panic about forests

Stunned scientists have found the fossilised remains of the world's greatest snake -- a record-busting serpent that was as long as a bus and snacked on crocodiles. The boa-like behemoth, dubbed Titanoboa, ruled the tropical rainforests of what is now Colombia some 60 million years ago, at a time when the world was far hotter than now, they report in a study . The size of the snake's vertebrae suggest the beast weighed some 1.135 tonnes, in a range of 730 kilos (1,600 pounds) to 2.03 tonnes. And it measured 13 metres (42.7 feet) from nose to tail, in a range of 10.64-15 metres (34.6-48.75 feet), they estimate.

"The discovery of Titanoboa challenges our understanding of past climates and environments, as well as the biological limitations on the evolution of giant snakes," said Jason Head, member of the Panama-based research institute and lead author of the study to be published in Nature magazine. "This shows how much more information about the history of Earth there is to glean from a resource like the reptile fossil record," said the assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

From the size of the 1.14-tonne Titanoboa, scientists have estimated the average annual temperature in the tropical jungle it inhabited 60 million years ago at 30-34 degrees Celsius (86-93 degrees Farenheit). "This temperature estimate is much hotter than modern temperatures in tropical rainforests anywhere in the world," said Carlos Jaramillo, Smithsonian staff scientist and co-organizer of the excavations in Colombia. "That means that tropical rainforests could exist at temperatures 3-4 degrees Celsius hotter than modern tropical rainforests experience," he added, alluding to scientific theories that would have tropical forests disappear if global warming boosts temperatures by that measure in the future.

Jonathan Block, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Florida, who co-led the work said "Truly enormous snakes really spark people's imagination, but reality has exceeded the fantasies of Hollywood." "The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie 'Anaconda' is not as big as the one we found." "At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips," said David Polly, a geologist at the University of Indiana at Bloomington.

The investigators found the remains of the new species at an unlikely location -- at one of the world's biggest open-cast coalmines, in Cerrejon, Colombia, where giant machines had obligingly gnawed away surface layers of dirt. Working as huge coal-laden trucks thundered by, the team sifted through the earth, laying bare the remains of supersized snakes and their likely prey -- extinct species of crocodiles and giant turtles -- and evidence that a massive rainforest once covered the ground. "The giant Colombian snake is a truly exciting discovery. For years, herpetologists have argued about just how big snakes can get, with debatable estimates of the max somewhere less than 40 feet" (12.3 metres), said leading snake expert Harry Greene of Cornell University, New York.

Titanoboa cerrejonensis -- whose Latin name honours the coal mine -- is not only a source of jaw-dropping wonder. It is also a useful indicator as to the world's climate after the dinosaurs were wiped out some 65 million years ago, the team say. Unlike mammals, reptiles cannot regulate their own temperature. As a result, they are limited in body size by the ambient temperature of where they live. For example, reptiles today are bigger in the tropics than they are in cooler latitudes.

Based on T. cerrejonensis, the scientists calculate that the mean annual temperature in equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been 30-34 degrees Celsius, or 86-93 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes it around 3-4 C (5.5-7.2 F) hotter than tropical rainforests today.

If so, this is a welcome piece of news about climate change. Simulations about global warming suggest that, on present trends, the world's surface temperatures could rise by between 1.8-4.0 C (3.2-7.2 F) by 2100. If the supersnakes are a guide, tropical rain forests could still exist at such temperatures, although a fast, massive rise in warming could well be devastating to many species.

The paper is published by the British-based weekly science journal Nature. The world's longest snake today is the Asian reticulated python, specimens of which can grow around 10 metres (32.5 feet), and the biggest in terms of mass is the green anaconda, with some specimens weighing 227 kilos (550 pounds).


Warmist "scientist" Schmidt needs to go back to school

By Atmospheric scientist Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, a scientific pioneer in the development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at The Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute, and an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric boundary layer processes.

Roger Pielke Sr. has graciously invited me to add my perspective to his discussion with Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate. If this were not such a serious matter, I would have been amused by Gavin's lack of knowledge of the differences between weather models and climate models. As it stands, I am appalled. Back to graduate school, Gavin!

A weather model deals with the atmosphere. Slow processes in the oceans, the biosphere, and human activities can be ignored or crudely parameterized. This strategy has been very successful. The dominant fraternity in the meteorological modeling community has appropriated this advantage, and made itself the lead community for climate modeling. Backed by an observational system much more advanced than those in oceanography or other parts of the climate system, they have exploited their lead position for all they can. For them, it is a fortunate coincidence that the dominant synoptic systems in the atmosphere have scales on the order of many hundreds of kilometers, so that the shortcomings of the parameterizations and the observation network, including weather satellite coverage, do not prevent skillful predictions several days ahead.

A climate model, however, has to deal with the entire climate system, which does include the world's oceans. The oceans constitute a crucial slow component of the climate system. Crucial, because this is where most of the accessible heat in the system is stored. Meteorologists tend to forget that just a few meters of water contain as much heat as the entire atmosphere. Also, the oceans are the main source of the water vapor that makes atmospheric dynamics on our planet both interesting and exceedingly complicated. For these and other reasons, an explicit representation of the oceans should be the core of any self-respecting climate model.

However, the observational systems for the oceans are primitive in comparison with their atmospheric counterparts. Satellites that can keep track of what happens below the surface of the ocean have limited spatial and temporalresolution. Also, the scale of synoptic motions in the ocean is much smaller than that of cyclones in the atmosphere, requiring a spatial resolution in numerical models and in the observation network beyond the capabilities of present observational systems and supercomputers. We cannot observe, for example, the vertical and horizontal structure of temperature, salinity and motion of eddies in the Gulf Stream in real time with sufficient detail, and cannot model them at the detail that is needed because of computer limitations. How, for goodness' sake, can we then reliably compute their contribution to multi-decadal changes in the meridional transport of heat? Are the crude parameterizations used in practice up to the task of skillfully predicting the physical processes in the ocean several tens of years ahead? I submit they are not.

Since heat storage and heat transport in the oceans are crucial to the dynamics of the climate system, yet cannot be properly observed or modeled, one has to admit that claims about the predictive performance of climate models are built on quicksand. Climate modelers claiming predictive skill decades into the future operate in a fantasy world, where they have to fiddle with the numerous knobs of the parameterizations to produce results that have some semblance of veracity. Firm footing? Forget it!

Gavin Schmidt is not the only meteorologist with an inadequate grasp of the role of the oceans in the climate system. In my weblog of June 24, 2008, I addressed the limited perception that at least one other climate modeler appears to have. A few lines from that essay deserve repeating here. In response to a paper by Tim Palmer of ECMWF, I wrote: "Palmer et al. seem to forget that, though weather forecasting is focused on the rapid succession of atmospheric events, climate forecasting has to focus on the slow evolution of the circulation in the world ocean and slow changes in land use and natural vegetation. In the evolution of the Slow Manifold (to borrow a term coined by Ed Lorenz) the atmosphere acts primarily as stochastic high-frequency noise. If I were still young, I would attempt to build a conceptual climate model based on a deterministic representation of the world ocean and a stochastic representation of synoptic activity in the atmosphere."

From my perspective it is not a little bit alarming that the current generation of climate models cannot simulate such fundamental phenomena as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. I will not trust any climate model until and unless it can accurately represent the PDO and other slow features of the world ocean circulation. Even then, I would remain skeptical about the potential predictive skill of such a model many tens of years into the future.


Better tillage is miles more efficient than tree planting at absorbing CO2

Greenies should love this but it's not simplistic enough for them -- and it is actually working already! Horrors. Every time something works the Greenies lose something to whine about

Back in the late 1980s I proposed the concept that we could combat global warming by sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide from the air and converting it into soil organic matter. Thankfully the idea has spread and is beginning to be considered seriously by those knowledgeable in soil science and atmospherics. But sadly not fast enough. The Keyline System of soil land management was designed and developed by my father P.A. Yeomans on our family farms at North Richmond N.S.W. in the late forties and early 1950s. Keyline management includes techniques for the rapid enhancement of soil fertility. Keyline is now taught in agricultural colleges and universities around the world.

'm a moderately competent meteorologist as my sport is flying and racing gliders. I've also lectured on meteorology. Putting the two disciplines together presented an unusual concept. Soil enhancement, on a world scale could beat global warming; and all the climate change horrors would stop. Regrettably the concept receiving exclusive government support and copious media attention is not soil; it's the planting of trees.

So let's compare, let's first look at soil. In my writings and lectures and in my book "PRIORITY ONE Together We Can Beat Global Warming" I argue we can restore the atmosphere to normal by increasing the organic matter in the world's soils directly under man's control by 1.6 percentage points (That's a one percentage point rise in actual carbon). The terms humus and organic matter are somewhat interchangeable. Both are the stuff that makes rich soil black. Organic farmers often exceed that 1.6 figure tenfold. It's not hard to do.

So in essence we switch to an agricultural system that generally approaches that used by organic farmers. Keyline is itself such a system. We either stop using or drastically minimise the use of agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, most herbicides and particularly ammonia based fertilisers. Those chemicals kill soil friendly earthworms as well as the friendly bacteria and fungicides that convert dead plant material into rich humus. We re-adopt the old practice of crop rotation that sustained agriculture and food production for centuries.

And we also stop the practice of "turning the soil". Turning a clod of soil upside down plays havoc with the specialised life cycle of our friendly soil bacteria, earthworms and fungi. A hectare of soil 30 cm, a foot or 3 hands-width deep weighs about 4000 tonnes. A 1.6 percentage point increase in soil organic matter content is thus about 64 tonnes per hectare or near 40 tonnes of carbon. And to create that increase in soil fertility extracts 145 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air. An organic farmer, in the first few years will often sequester 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air while massively enriching his soil and simultaneously producing huge quantities of healthy, tasty and nutritious crops. Production costs and yields for large scale organic farming are surprisingly similar to conventional based agriculture.

About three quarters of a hectare of agricultural land, grazing land, cropland, golf courses or whatever is every human's individual foot print on our Earth. Remember that number. Now let's look at trees. A reasonably productive forest, from planting the seedling to the maturity of the forest produces about 20 cubic metres of wood per hectare per year, which equates to about nine tonnes of carbon.

Generally forests can be considered to reach maturity in about 20 years. At which time the forest releases carbon dioxide as fast as it is sequestering it and the forest thus becomes completely and utterly, global warming neutral and note that global warming protocols (e.g. Kyoto) mandate no harvesting nor clearing for 100 years. Let's say we planted enough trees to sequest the carbon dioxide we produce.

Every human in a modern western society would need about three quarters of a hectare of new forest to sequest the carbon dioxide produced from the burning of the coal, gas or oil to cover that person's footprint of power requirements, and another three quarters of a hectare to cater for the car she or he might drive.

Within 20 years we would need another three quarter hectare of new plantings for each human and each car. If we all had a reasonable lifestyle and standard of living then, most unfortunately, within 20 years there would be no agricultural land, no grazing lands, no golf courses and absolutely no place anywhere on Earth to grow any food whatever. Those lands would be all forests. And yet more forests would need to be planted. That's the arithmetic of the trees. Additionally if you've ever grown trees from seedlings you'd know the trouble, care, the watering and nurturing it takes. Tree seedlings have a high attrition rate so would need to plant between 400 and 4000 seedlings per hectare. So depending on the tree type and variety you would need to plant anywhere from 300 to 3000 seedlings in your three quarter hectare plot every twenty years.

So why have trees become flavour of the month to beat global warming? Sherlock Holmes told Watson "Look for those who will benefit". And I don't think the planet will. The agrochemical people believe more chemicals produce more food per hectare, and food demand is constant. So take some agricultural land out of production and the rest needs more chemicals. Then "wasting" the land left on growing biofuel becomes antisocial. That's good for the oil people. Have concerned citizens preoccupied with trees and they're successfully blindsided. That's good. So I say to you, "first get understanding".


Australian scientists blame Indian Ocean for "drought"

Given the vast dishonesty over global warming that has characterized climate science, I think I may be forgiven for questioning ALL climate science. The claim below seems junk to me. Both North-Eastern Australia and South-Eastern Australia are roughly equidistant from the Indian ocean so if the Indian ocean is involved in causing rainfall, how come huge areas of the North are having record floods while the South is having a slight downturn in rain?

Maybe I am missing something but climate scientists have their dogmatic selves to blame if their credibility is zero with the roughly 50% of the population who do not believe in global warming. I live roughly halfway between the flooded North and the drier South and it rains here nearly every day so "drought" is a very strange word to use about the present situation. Such misuse of words also does little to establish the credibility of these "scientists"

SCIENTISTS believe the Indian Ocean is the culprit behind the crippling drought of Australia's southeastern states and not direct El Nino events. "Our findings will help to improve seasonal rainfall forecasts and therefore directly benefit water and agricultural management," Caroline Ummenhofer, a post doctoral fellow at the University of New South Wales, said.

The group of Australian scientists, who made the discovery, has detailed for the first time how a variable and irregular cycle of warming and cooling of ocean water dictates whether moisture-bearing winds are carried across the southern half of Australia. The phenomenon, known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), has been in its positive or neutral phase since 1992 - the longest period of its kind since records began in the late 19th Century, according to the study. "When the IOD is in its negative phase, a pattern occurs with cool Indian Ocean water west of Australia and warm Timor Sea water to the north. "This generates winds that pick up moisture from the ocean and then sweep down towards southern Australia to deliver wet conditions," a spokesman for UNSW said.

And to make matters worse, this period has coincided with a trend towards higher average air temperatures over the land, which the study says may be linked to human-induced climate change. "The ramifications of drought for this region are dire, with acute water shortages for rural and metropolitan areas, record agricultural losses, the drying out of two of Australia's major river systems and far-reaching ecosystem damage," Dr Ummenhofer said. "During this latest drought ... recent higher air temperatures across southeastern Australia have exacerbated the problem."

Dr Ummenhofer expected the study, with further development, would enable forecasters to predict rainfall three to six months in advance. "There is certainly scope for a lot more work and a lot more understanding," she said. "Hopefully there will be more engagement with the Bureau (of Meteorology) to possibly incorporate this into their operational forecasting." She said there were indications the positive phase was becoming more frequent than the negative, leaving a grim outlook for farmers. "And that would be really alarming," she said.

It is understood negative phases, which bring rain to the southern states, are most likely to occur from March to May. The study explains the current record-breaking drought in southeastern Australia and solves the mystery of why a string of La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean, which usually brings rain, has failed to break it. It also reveals the causes of other iconic extreme droughts in recorded history.

"More than the variability associated with the El Nino-La Nina cycle in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean Dipole is the key factor for driving major southeast Australian droughts over the past 120 years," Dr Ummenhofer said.

The team, jointly led by Professor Matthew England from the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, has detailed its findings in a paper, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Review Letters. The team includes researchers from CSIRO Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research and the University of Tasmania.



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