Monday, July 30, 2012

Never in the field of human scientific endeavour has so little been so rubbished by so many

That's my summary of what you will read below about the Muller BEST project's latest emission:

It's out! The new Anthony Watts paper on biased surface temperature measurements

Which, inter alia, puts a bomb under the Muller claims also just published

For a private person to undertake almost single-handed such a big task as collating data from all U.S. temperature-measuring stations is a Herculean effort but Watts and his helpers have done so. There are great bureaucracies devoted to the task elsewhere.

What he has done is to show that a more rigorous measure of the urban heat island effect -- a measurement method embraced by the World Meteorological Organization -- greatly alters the resultant findings. And after that essential adjustment, the 1979-2008 U.S. temperature rise is much REDUCED, halved, in fact.

Its rather a disgrace that the official meteorological organizations have not applied the more rigorous method but they would have seen very early on that doing so would have dynamited their Warmist beliefs. Ideology trumps facts.

Below are three conclusions about the adjusted data used by Muller which I particularly like:

* Poorly sited station trends are adjusted sharply upward, and well sited stations are adjusted upward to match the already-adjusted poor stations.

* Well sited rural stations show a warming nearly three times greater after NOAA adjustment is applied.

* Urban sites warm more rapidly than semi-urban sites, which in turn warm more rapidly than rural sites.

In short, the tiny amount of global warming claimed by the Warmists gets even tinier if you bypass the conventional adjustments. Putting it another way, most of the claimed global warming is an artifact of the analytical method. It is not there in reality.

A quote from Watts about the Muller research: "“I fully accept the previous findings of these papers, including that of the Muller et al 2012 paper. These investigators found exactly what would be expected given the siting metadata they had."

In other words, the Muller paper found what it did only because of the poor data that the authors used.

Much more HERE

Some comments on the Watts and Muller papers from Roger Pielke Sr.

This paper is a game changer, in my view, with respect to the use of the land surface temperature anomalies as part of the diagnosis of global warming.

The new study extends and improves on the study of station siting quality, as they affect multi-decadal surface air temperature trends

Anthony has led what is a critically important assessment of the issue of station quality. Indeed, this type of analysis should have been performed by Tom Karl and Tom Peterson at NCDC, Jim Hansen at GISS and Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia (and Richard Muller). However, they apparently liked their answers and did not want to test the robustness of their findings.

In direct contradiction to Richard Muller’s BEST study, the new Watts et al 2012 paper has very effectively shown that a substantive warm bias exists even in the mean temperature trends. This type of bias certainly exists throughout the Global Historical Climate Network, as well as what Anthony has documented for the US Historical Climate Reference Network.

Anthony’s new results also undermine the latest claims by Richard Muller of BEST, as not only is Muller extracting data from mostly the same geographic areas as for the NCDC, GISS and CRU analyses, but he is accepting an older assessment of station siting quality as it affects the trends.

Indeed, since he accepted the Fall et al 2011 study in reporting his latest findings, he now needs to retrench and re-compute his trends. Of course, for the non-USHCN sites, he must bin those sites as performed by Anthony’s research group. If he does not, his study should be relegated to a footnote of a out-of-date analysis.

In Richard Muller’s Op-Ed in the New York Times (see The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic), he makes far-reaching conclusions based on his sparse knowledge of the uncertainties in multi-decadal land surface temperature record. His comments show what occurs when a scientist, with excellent research credentials within their area of scientific expertise, go outside of their area of knowledge.

Now, with the new Watts et al 2012 paper, Richard Muller’s conclusion regarding the robustness of the BEST analysis is refuted in the same day as his op-ed appeared.

It certainly appears that Richard Muller is an attention-getter, which he has succeeded at, but, unfortunately, he has demonstrated a remarkable lack of knowledge concerning the uncertainties in quantifying the actual long-term surface temperature trend, as well as a seriously incomplete knowledge of the climate system.

The proper way to complete a research study is provided in the Watts et al 2012 article. This article, a culmination of outstanding volunteer support under Anthony’s leadership, shows that Anthony Watts clearly understands the research process in climate science. As a result of his, and of and his colleagues, rigorous dedication to the scientific method, he has led a much more robust study than performed by Richard Muller in the BEST project.

The new Watts et al 2012 paper shows that Muller’s data base is really not a significant new addition for assessing land-side climate patterns, at least until further analyses are performed on the siting quality of the stations he uses in the BEST assessment.

Anthony Watt’s new paper shows that a major correction is needed Muller’s BEST study. Anthony also has shown what dedicated scientists can do with even limited financial support. Despite the large quantities of funds spent on the BEST study, it is Anthony Watts and his team who have actually significantly advanced our understanding of this aspect of the climate system.


Even Warmist David Appell is critical of the Muller claims

He is happy with their picture of temperature rises but points out that their claim of human causation is not established by their research. Even I saw that in my comments yesterday -- JR

It seems BEST is getting into trouble with their claims of attribution [i.e. what causes the observed warming] instead of their reconstruction of the temperature data. What they've done sounds like -- well, like what a bunch of physicists would do, not what climate science needs (and what climate scientists do).

Andrew Revkin quotes Judith Curry (who declined to be a co-author on the BEST results being announced today):
Their latest paper on the 250-year record concludes that the best explanation for the observed warming is greenhouse gas emissions. Their analysis is way oversimplistic and not at all convincing in my opinion.

There is broad agreement that greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to the warming in the latter half of the 20th century; the big question is how much of this warming can we attribute to greenhouse gas emissions. I don’t think this question can be answered by the simple curve fitting used in this paper, and I don’t see that their paper adds anything to our understanding of the causes of the recent warming. That said, I think there are two interesting results in this paper, regarding their analysis of 19th century volcanoes and the impact on climate, and also the changes to the diurnal temperature range.

Attributing climate is more like figuring out the structure of DNA than it is like figuring out the laws of quantum mechanics -- simple curve-fitting ("exponentials, polynomials") doesn't cut it. In fact, it makes you look kind of foolish. If it were that simple climatologists would have done it in the 19th century (and, of course, they've all tried curve-fitting on the second week of their research, then hid those papers in a bottom drawer.) That's exactly why they scratch around for all the clues they can get, and why they ruin their youth building climate models. (Sure, CO2 is one of the big factors, which is already enough to be worried about our large emissions; but there is usually a lot going on.)

BEST did a great job reconstructing the temperature history of the planet (assuming their work passes peer review, at least). Perhaps they should have stopped there.


And, to cap it, even Michael "Hockeystick" Mann says Muller has contributed nothing new:

"My view is that Muller's efforts to promote himself by belittling the collective efforts of the entire atmospheric/climate research community over several decades, though, really does the scientific community a disservice. Its great that he's reaffirmed what we already knew. But for him to pretend that we couldn't trust this entire scientific field until Richard Muller put his personal stamp of approval on their conclusions is, in my view, a very dangerously misguided philosophical take on how science works. It seems, in the end--quite sadly--that this is all really about Richard Muller's self-aggrandizement"


And a big-time Warmist says that Muller's paper might even fail peer review

He would certainly have to drop his completely hollow attribution claims to get it published in any respectable journal -- JR

Benjamin D. Santer, a climate researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a lead author of the 1995 U.N. climate report, said he welcomed the involvement of another research group into “detection and attribution” of climate change and its causes. But he also said he found it troubling that Muller claimed such definitive results without his work undergoing peer-review.

“If you go into the public arena and claim to have generated evidence that is stronger than the IPCC, where is the detailed, scientific evidence? Has he used fundamental new data sets?” Santer said. “Publish the science and report on it after it’s done.”

He added: “I think you can do great harm to the broader debate. Imagine this scenario: that he makes these great claims and the papers aren't published? This (op-ed) is in the spirit of publicity, not the spirit of science.”


"We have no idea" -- Rare but honest admission from a climate scientist

SCIENTISTS say they have unravelled the mechanism by which Earth-warming carbon is sucked deep into the Southern Ocean to be safely locked away.

Wind, currents and eddies (a current running opposite to the main current) work together to create carbon-sucking funnels, said the research team from Britain and Australia in a discovery that adds to the toolkit of scientists attempting climate warming predictions.

About a quarter of the carbon dioxide on Earth is stored away in its oceans - some 40 per cent of that in the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica.

At a depth of about 1000 metres, carbon can be locked away for hundreds to thousands of years, yet scientists had never been sure exactly how it gets there after dissolving into surface waters.

They had suspected the wind was the main force at play, pooling up surface water in some areas and forcing it down into the ocean depths.

Using 10 years of data obtained from small, deep-sea robotic probes, the researchers found that in addition to the wind, eddies - big whirlpool-like phenomena about 100km in diameter on average, also played a part.

"You add the effect of these eddies and the effect of the wind and the effect of prominent currents in the Southern Ocean, you add these three effects, it makes ... 100km-wide funnels that bring the carbon from the sea surface to the interior," study author Jean-Baptiste Sallee told AFP.

The team had also used temperature, salinity and pressure data collected from ship-based observations since the 1990s.

"This is a very efficient process to bring carbon from the surface to the interior. We found in the Southern Ocean there are five such funnels," said Sallee.

The team also found that the eddies counterbalanced a different effect of strong winds - that of releasing stored carbon by violent mixing of the sea.

"This does seem to be good news, but the thing is what will be the impact of climate change on the eddies? Will they stop, will they intensify? We have no idea," said Sallee.

A changing climate could theoretically affect the nature and effect of the Southern Ocean eddies by changing ocean currents, intensifying winds or creating stark temperature spikes.

There is also another carbon capturing process, not covered by this study, of CO2-producing micro organisms that live near the ocean surface sinking to the sea floor and settling there when they die.


Frackin' B.S.

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day” is an adage we’ve all heard dozens of times. Today, it applies to the EPA as even it gets things right now and then. The EPA is well known for its attacks on virtually every kind of industry that might result in economic development—hitting the energy sector particularly hard. Despite the agency's best efforts, it has not been able to match up the science with its desired claims of water contamination from natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing—which has been in use in America for more than 60 years.

In early December 2011, the New York Times ran a story declaring: “Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies.” Environmental groups jumped all over the announcement. Amy Mall, a fracking opponent with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report “underscores the urgent need to get federal rules and safeguards on the books to help protect all Americans from the dangers of fracking.” An NPR story on the EPA’s draft study released on December 8, 2011, stated: “The gas industry and other experts have long contended that fracking doesn't contaminate drinking water. The EPA's findings provide the first official confirmation to the contrary.”

However, just three months later, on March 8, it was announced that the EPA had to backtrack as frequent attacks forced the agency to acknowledge that it had rushed to judgment. The chemicals supposedly found in the drinking water of Pavilion, Wyoming, were chemicals that could have come from a variety of sources—including the plastic piping. The EPA released the data and findings outside of the purview of two “working groups” made up of state and EPA officials, which had been examining the Pavillion pollution for the better part of a year. Following accusations that the EPA rushed the release of the report without peer review, the EPA backed down and agreed to retest. Now, the EPA and Wyoming, as well as U.S. Geological Survey and two American Indian tribes, are working together on further study of the Pavillion groundwater.

On April 1, a lawsuit the EPA had filed earlier this year against a Texas energy company, Range Resources, accusing it of contaminating water through hydraulic fracturing, was quietly dropped. Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas development, responded: “By dropping their court case and enforcement actions, EPA now acknowledges what we at the Railroad Commission have known for more than a year: Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater. This announcement is a vindication of the science-based processes at the Railroad Commission.”

On April 7, 2011, the EPA released test results for Dimock, Pennsylvania, that “did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action.” Despite the EPA’s test results, Water Defense executive director Claire Sandberg claimed that the “EPA's test results continue to show what Dimock residents have claimed for years: the water is contaminated.”

Dimock became the “symbol of possible threats to water from hydraulic fracturing” through the anti-fracking movie Gasland. While testing was being done, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the company drilling in the area, had, beginning in 2009, been providing families with fresh water, installed water filters, and offered to pay each affected family twice the value of their home. According to Bloomberg, “The Houston-based company set aside $4.1 million to pay claims stemming from residents’ complaints.” After its testing found the water to be safe and state regulators agreed, Cabot discontinued the fresh water deliveries late last year. However, the EPA stepped in and continued delivering water.

A few days ago, “after months of back-and-forth wrangling,” the EPA finally cleared Dimock’s water and announced it would discontinue the water deliveries saying that it has “no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.” The EPA acknowledged that the substances found in the water were “naturally occurring.”

Thursday’s announcement was a victory for proponents of oil and gas drilling, the economic development that comes with it, and the energy independence it gives to America.

Cabot company spokesman George Stark emphasized: “Cabot's operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community.”

One oil and gas official heralded the decision, but called the EPA’s approach part of a “pattern of overreaching, aimed at undercutting job-creating American energy development.”

While the decision, as Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber stated, provides “closure to the situation,” self-described “fracktivists” gathered on Saturday in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Frack Attack” rally—billed as the first-ever national protest to stop hydraulic fracturing. Despite their claim that thousands of people would descend on the west lawn of the Capitol building, live video of the event showed that, perhaps, the EPA’s decision took some of the wind out of their sails as a sparse crowd listened to speakers spread fear over “dirty water” and rising global temperatures.

The EPA has had to retreat in these three widely-publicized cases: Wyoming/Encana, Texas/Range Resources, and now, Pennsylvania/Cabot Oil and Gas. What remains to be seen is how the decisions will impact America’s job-creating domestic energy development. Will our energy policy be dominated by the emotion and ideology of “fracktivists” carrying signs such as those seen at the “Stop the Frack Attack” rally: “Stop feeding us bull**** and making us drink gas” or will it be determined by facts and sound science?

Thousands of jobs and billions in economic development are waiting in states such as New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky—and others with new resource discovery. Supporters of America’s job-creating domestic energy development don’t want to eliminate all regulations, but they need to be reasonable—encouraging responsible resource extraction, not so strident that they stifle progress and kill jobs.

The Dimock decision proves that the efforts of the “fracktivists” are more about a political anti-energy agenda than doing what is best for America.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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