Friday, September 18, 2020

Large gaps in climate data

NOAA’s global and US temperature estimates have become highly controversial. The core issue is accuracy. These estimates are made by very complex statistical models which are sensitive to a large number of factors, but the magnitude of sensitivity for each factor is unknown. NOAA’s present practice of stating temperatures with precision is clearly untenable, because it ignores these significant uncertainties.

Thus NOAA needs a focused research program to try to determine the accuracy range of these controversial temperature estimates. Below is a brief outline of the factors to be explored. The research goal is to systematically explore the uncertainty each factor contributes to the temperature estimates.

1. The urban heat island effect (UHI). This is known to exist but its specific effect on the temperature recording stations at any given time and place is uncertain.

2. Local heat contamination of temperature readings. Extensive investigation has shown that this is a widespread problem. Its overall extent and effect is highly uncertain.

3. The limited accuracy of individual thermometer readings. The average temperature cannot be more accurate than the individual readings that go into it. It has been suggested that in some cases this inaccuracy is an entire degree.

4. Other temperature recording station factors, to be identified and explored. Several have been discussed in the literature.

5. Adjustments to temperature data, to be systematically identified and explored. There are numerous adjustments made to the raw temperature data. These need to be cataloged, and then analyzed for uncertainty.

6. Homogenization, which assumes that temperature change is uniform over large areas, is a particularly troubling adjustment deserving of special attention.

7. The use of sea surface temperature (SST) proxies in global temperature estimates. Proxies always add significant uncertainty. In the global case the majority of the surface is oceanic.

8. The use of an availability or convenience sample rather than a random sample. It is a canon of statistical sampling theory that convenience samples are unreliable. How much uncertainty this creates in the temperature estimates is a major issue.

9. Area averaging. This is the basic method used in the surface temperature estimating model and it is a nonstandard statistical method, which creates its own uncertainties. For example, different thermometers are in effect given very different weights. Plus the global average is an average of averages.

10. Interpolation or in-filling. Many of the area averaging grid cells do not have good temperature data, so interpolation is used to fill them in. This can be done in many different ways, which creates another major uncertainty.

Other factors are likely to be identified and explored as this research proceeds. To the extent that the uncertainty range contributed by each factor can be quantified, these ranges can then be combined and added into the statistical temperature model. How to do this is itself a research need.

Note that it is not a matter of adjusting the estimate, which is what is presently done. One cannot adjust away an uncertainty. The resulting temperature estimates will at best be in the form of a likely range, not a specific value as is now done. This range may be large. For example, if each of the ten uncertainty factors listed above were to be about 0.1 degrees, then the sum might be a whole degree or more.

Note also that most of this research will also be applicable to the other surface temperature estimation models, such as GISS, HadCRU and BEST. All of these models use roughly the same data and methods, with many differences in detail.


NOAA Hires Climate Realist, Media Strokes Out

By statistician Briggs

Dear Men of the Right, you might complain that you have not got all you wanted from President Trump. But you will not be able to deny he has the unparalleled ability to send his enemies into shivering bat-guano fits of drooling insanity. It is a beautiful thing to see. The entertainment value alone of his presidency makes his re-election imperative.

Trump has done his signal service for us again by hiring a friend of ours, David Legates, for a top science position at NOAA.

Long-time readers will remember Legates. He allowed me to tag along on a few papers on the climate (example). The most infamous of which caused—I’m guessing—at least seven TIAs, three full strokes, seventeen angina attacks, and four fatal myocardial infarctions. This was “Why Models Run Hot: Results From An Irreducibly Simple Climate Model“, with lead author Christopher Monckton.

This peer-reviewed sensation made a simple claim: man, like all creatures, influences the climate; he is influencing this one, likely to the tune of a 1 degree C or so global temperature increase with a doubling of pre-industrial atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Now, with all the worry, angst, consternation, fretting, wailing, lamentations, and just plain unhappiness about global-warming-of-doom, you’d think a paper like ours would be greeted with cheers and sighs of relief! Here was hope! We thought we were all going to die of heat death, but here was evidence saying maybe it will be okay. Isn’t that wonderful!

Alas, no.

Word is that that MSNBC reporter lady’s hair caught on fire when reading our story. Environmentalist activists lit torches. Members of Congress—and here I do not jest—launched investigations. Willie Soon, one of the other authors, was hounded, harassed, and hectored. Monkton was disparaged in many foreign languages. My old site was hacked. All of us were called names that I hadn’t even learned in the military.

It was strange. It was almost as if the left did not want good news about the climate! It was as if the left hated the idea that their services to cure this non-problem were not necessary. But how could this be? They loved Science! Yet when science said “Calm yourselves”, that love evaporated.

It’s true. The left became science deniers. A sad thing to see.

Well, five years have passed and we have all grown in maturity and sobriety. We have come to appreciate the massive and unseen uncertainties that lurk in scientific models. We’ve seen how many forecasts have failed, we’ve seen that our fears were exaggerated. Our well-funded scientists, now abashed, have switched from temerity to timidity.

Strange, then, that NPR said “Longtime Climate Science Denier Hired At NOAA“. They said Legates, “a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science”.

Younger readers won’t recall that it used be the job of scientists to question basic, and even not-so-basic, tenets of science. That was how, in the old days, mistakes were recognized and progress made. All that has, of course, changed for the better. Tenets are now supplied by political agencies and are, as is proper, unquestionable.

One has to admit that this change makes doing science much easier. Used to take years, even decades, of gruesome and mostly vain toil to ferret out flubs in theories, and even longer to discover fixes. Now all we have to do is check with the press and we know all the right answers.

This is where the term denier originates. Anybody who questions the official line is called one. Anybody who can prove the parts of the official line are false are not only called deniers, but names I’m not allowed to print (my mother reads this blog). Truth and accuracy are not wanted. Compliance is all that counts.

CNN sent plaintive emails to people asking for dirt on Legates. That MSNBC’s lady’s hair caught fire again. Science magazine, an international journal of politics, not realizing the pun, called Legates’s hiring an “escalation”.

The most devastating critique of all came from the ex-head of the American Society of Interior Designers, Randy Fiser. He said Legates’s use of throw pillows and afghan carpet combination was sure to spell disaster for the country.

Kidding! No, Fiser was hired by The American Geophysical Union, which is evidently an organization devoted to settle the scientific debate of wood floors versus tile. Fiser demanded Legates’s position be revoked. It’s not clear, but Fiser may be holding his breath until he turns blue to show earnest he is.

Then came the hate calls. I have permission for you to delight in this mad woman’s ravings. She apparently believes “climate change”, and not admitted and caught arsonists, are responsible the wildfires out west (how many times have we been reminded that propaganda works?). I have removed all identifying information, so there are a few quiet spots.


Data Falsifies Alarmist Claims ‘Climate Migrants’ Are Heading North

Theory versus facts

At the top of Google News searches today for “climate change,” an article published by the website Pro Publica claims global warming during the next few decades will force millions of Americans from warm southern states to cooler states.

A look at state population patterns, however, shows exactly the opposite is happening. Even with our modest recent warming, more Americans prefer to move to warmer southern states than colder northern states.

The Pro Publica article, “Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration,” claims:

“[One] in 12 Americans in the Southern half of the country will move toward California, the Mountain West or the Northwest over the next 45 years because of climate influences alone. … It will eat away at prosperity, dealing repeated economic blows to coastal, rural, and Southern regions, which could in turn push entire communities to the brink of collapse. This process has already begun in rural Louisiana and coastal Georgia…”

So, according to the article, people moving from one part of the country to another to seek a better climate is disastrous and puts whole communities on the brink of collapse. If that is indeed the case, perhaps we should do something about it.

A map published, ironically, by the climate-alarmist website Daily Kos illustrates how Americans are reacting to climate by seeking warmer, not colder, temperatures.

As shown in the Daily Kos map below, U.S. Census Bureau data show Texas will gain the most congressional seats in the 2020 Census update. Florida will gain the second-most seats.

Texas and Florida are the two southernmost states in the contiguous 48 states. Other states expected to gain seats are hot-weather Arizona, warm-weather North Carolina, climate-neutral Colorado, climate-neutral Oregon, and cold-weather Montana (largely due to people fleeing liberal California).

By contrast, eight of the 10 states expected to lose seats are cold, northern states. One of the others is California, where people are fleeing liberal state government.

Alabama is the only warm-weather state expected to lose a congressional seat. Contrary to the Pro Publica article, Louisiana and Georgia will not lose any seats.

As the population data clearly show, if global warming will have any impact on U.S. interstate migration – which climate alarmists claim is inherently harmful – it will be to slow the existing migration flood from cold northern states to warm southern states.

Yet another objective clear benefit of our ongoing modest warming.


California likely would have had these wildfires ‘even without any global warming’

Environmental policy expert Michael Shellenberger says scientists agree high intensity fires can be moderated by managing the forests, but the fact is obscured by “this hyper politicisation around this climate apocalypse”.

Nearly 5,000 buildings have been destroyed and 20 people killed as more than 7,000 fires burned across the state of California.

Mr Shellenberger said the fires had been “catastrophic”.

Mr Shellenberger said before Europeans arrived in California, between four to 12 million acres annually would burn with low intensity fires, burning only the ground of the forest.

“What we’re dealing with today are these high intensity fires that reach into the tops of the trees,” he said.

“These fires are so intense because there is about five times more fuel wood, fuel debris in the forest than there was before we started fire suppression over a century ago.

“We have badly managed our forests, and the main reason for it is ideology.”

He said there were some well managed forests in the state and fires, burning around them with high intensity, would drop to low intensity upon reaching the well managed areas.

“What that proves is that we are not doomed to high intensity fires and the determining factor is forest management, not climate change,” Mr Shellenberger said.

Mr Shellenberger said the top forest scientists in the state said the determining factor for the spread of the fires was the accumulation of wood fuel.

“We’re obviously seeing that, we’re seeing that well managed forests are surviving climate change and they’re even surviving these mega fires, these high intensity fires,” he said.

“You are seeing more agreement that we do need to manage our forests well, and that’s at risk of being destroyed by this hyper politicisation around this climate apocalypse.

“You would probably have had these high intense fires without any global warming, and we know that even with this global warming that we’ve had, that well managed forests can survive.”


Australia singled out for mammal extinction in UN’s dire global biodiversity report

LOL. The good ol’ Bramble cay melomys again: A small rodent that has actually gone extinct in recent years. The Greenies love it so we keep hearing about it.

The whole thing is a beat up. It is only the Melomys on Bramble cay that has gone extinct. There are tons of them on the nearby mainland.

And their extinction has NOTHING to do with global warming. One of the cyclones that bedevil the far North blew most of the vegetation and a lot of the sand away that formed its habitat. Any that survived the big blow died of starvation, not of any temperature rise

The Greenies will of course say that the big blow was caused by global warming but that is nonsense. Big blows have always been a frequent occurrence in the Far North. Where they hit is random however. Bramble cay and its inhabitants just got unlucky on one occasion

The extinction of Australia’s Bramble Cay melomys has been singled out for criticism in a United Nation’s report on the state of biodiversity across the world.

The fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook, released last night, warned that biodiversity is declining “at an unprecedented rate [while] the pressures driving this decline are intensifying”.

Australia was named alongside Cameroon, the Galapagos and Brazil as countries having suffered at least one extinction in the last decade.

The Bramble Cay melomys — a native rodent found on a coral cay in the northern Great Barrier Reef — was officially declared extinct by the Australian Government in 2019, although it was last seen in 2009.

It is believed to be the world’s first mammal extinction due to climate change.

Today’s report is an update on the world’s progress with the Aichi biodiversity targets — a set of 20 conservation targets set out in 2010 to be achieved by 2020, and signed off on by 194 countries including Australia.

Those targets include the elimination of “incentives, including subsidies harmful to biodiversity”, and halving “the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests”.

“At the global level, none of the 20 targets have been fully achieved,” the report stated, “though six targets have been partially achieved.”

Strengthening and enforcing environmental protection laws is outlined as a key lever to help stop the loss of biodiversity — a warning that Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Basha Stasak said the Government needs to pay attention to.

“The Australian Government’s own report to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in March 2020 revealed the Government failed to meet or measure the majority of its [Aichi] targets,” Ms Stasak said.

“Yet the Morrison Government is trying to further weaken nature protection in rushed changes to the national environment law due to be debated in the Senate next month.”

Australia’s environment laws have come under scrutiny since the interim report into the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, released in July, found that the Act is failing to curb our loss of habitat and species.

The report’s recommendation for an independent “cop” to oversee the enforcement of environment protection laws was rejected by the Government.

Instead the Government is moving to introduce changes to the EPBC Act which would shift environmental assessments for major development projects to the states — a move critics say will further weaken an already failing system.

In a statement to the ABC, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said that the Government was aiming to strengthen environmental protection.

“The Government continues to work on delivering both short- and long-term change that will make the Act more efficient and result in clearer, stronger protection for the environment,” the spokesperson said.

Australian species at risk of extinction without change
Australia currently has 21 species listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list — a globally recognised database of flora and fauna conservation status.

A further 24 Australian animals are listed as endangered, with 19 of those having decreasing populations.

One of the biggest failings of our environment protection laws is the self-assessment criteria, according to David Chapple, who heads up Monash University’s Evolutionary Ecology of Environmental Change Laboratory.

Under the self-assessment guidelines, people are required to decide for themselves whether they think their activity needs to be referred to the Federal Government for approval.

Yet, researchers have found that 93 per cent of the over 7 million hectares of threatened species habitat cleared since 1999 (when the EPBC Act came into effect) were not referred for assessment.

More than 3 million of that 7 million hectares was koala habitat.

“Self assessment and whether you actually refer yourself to the Act in the first place is an area where there’s a lot of improvement to be made,” Dr Chapple said.

“The [EPBC report] recommendation for an independent panel to oversee the Act is one thing that most conservation biologists think is a key element to [improve] it.”

In research published earlier this month, Dr Chapple and colleague’s assessed the conservation trajectory of just lizards and snakes in Australia.

They found that there are at least 11 species of lizard and snake at significant risk of extinction by 2040.

The biggest driver of species loss in Australia and globally is habitat loss, according to Associate Professor Chapple.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the poor outcomes in the UN’s report today.

“There wasn’t anything in there that surprised me. It’s a reinforcement of what we already know,” he said.

“In terms of the Samuel’s review of the EPBC Act, it’s very timely. It remains to be seen how many of those things [the Government] do take on.”

A Department spokesperson told the ABC the Government has made “significant progress” across its Aichi targets.

“The Australian Government is investing in dedicated threatened species strategies, national environmental science programs, practical on ground action to reduce threats from feral predators and pests and $200 million in bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery strategies that focus heavily on threatened species impacts.”




Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life — as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together — which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


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