Saturday, December 19, 2009

Myles Allen and Hans von Storch in nature on ClimateGate

Myles Allen and me have commented on the implications of ClimateGate in nature, namely that apart of the ethical problems, one issue should be clear - the evidence for man-made climate change, based on the thermometer data, is not contested. -- see
http://www.nature.com/news/2009/012345/full/news.2009.1155.html

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

You claim in your article in Nature, that the current e-mail controversey in no way changes the temperature record which shows unequivical warming.

This is not so. The temperature record has indeed come under recent scrutiny with many questioning the adjustments made to the raw temperature dataset.

Australian records show unexplained upward adjustment of the raw data to give 'corrected' data of +2C or more.

A subset of less than 25% of available Russian weather stations were cherrypicked to show an increase in temperature not corroborated by the remainder.

You ignore the Urban Heat Island effect which has been shown to have badly affected over 80% of US weather stations (according to NOAA criteria).

It is clear that the surface staion temperature record is indeed very questionable.

Anonymous said...

Strictly speaking, you can only say that thermometer data is evidence of temerature change. Thermomters don't know the difference between man-made and natural temperature change.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it remarkable how one climatologiost after the other distances himself - sometimes in veiled terms - from the creator of a certain curved sports article, a certain research unit director, a certain obsolete software program, a certain notion of peer-reviewed science, or, as in this particular case, a certain set of proxy data?

Nah. Nothing to see here.

Anonymous said...

If you (HvS)claim that: "one issue should be clear - the evidence for man-made climate change, based on the thermometer data, is not contested", you should not regrard youself as a "Honest Broker"

ghost said...

I do not agree with the "skeptic" anonymous above. I think this was a sensible article. I think, that was a honest broker article.

Myles Allen wrote another great article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/science-climate-change-phil-jones

the end of it:

None of us can imagine what Phil Jones is going through, and all of us know that it might be our turn next. For all I know someone is already sorting through my emails on a Russian web server. But for the record, if they do decide to pick on me, I don't want people out there defending my integrity. I want people out there defending my results. Because we are scientists, and this is what we do.

and this did HvS and Myles Allen. Great.
PS: eine Übersetzung in der Welt wäre gut.

Anonymous said...

I think we all know what Phil Jones is going through: remorse, self-induced humiliation and fear of endless prosecution in the US.

But I want climate science to be judged on its merits, not on anyone's personal feelings for Mr Jones.

plazamoyua said...

I have a problem with this article, and a no problem too.

The no-problem:

* "it is absurd to suggest there is some kind of global conspiracy involving all climate scientists."

Sure. But you don't need a conspiracy to get some biased science. A common interest leading to a common error is quite enough. I don't think we need to mention the interest.

And the problem.

* "the thermometer record shows unequivocally that Earth is warming, and provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity. This important record remains essentially unchallenged.

.../...

The detection step reveals that the warming trend extending across the recent few decades is more rapid and sustained than warming or cooling trends that would be expected from internal variability alone (from phenomena such as El Niño, the Pacific decadal oscillation and so on). The statement is not that the present level of warmth is unprecedented, even though it may very well be, but that the speed and pattern of warming, as described by the CRU data and similar products, is remarkable.

Attributing observed temperature variations to specific causes relies more on climate models, because they are needed to discriminate between the response of the climate system to different 'drivers', such as solar activity, greenhouse gases and volcanoes. It turns out that the best, and really the only, satisfactory explanation of the history of surface air temperature change — particularly over the past few decades — is obtained when the warming influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases is taken into account
".

That's claiming they know natural variability and natural forcings -which is knowing the climate system, well enough. But if they do, they could tell us how much heat is the climate system going to accumulate during a -let's say- period of verification.

I can understand ten years of no heating, without an explanation, may be a too short term. Or six years for the oceans, which looks more problematic. But what about twenty years? What about if the next ten years have a trend similar to the last ones, and the models are still having the problem which Trenberth explains as ...

"The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t,"

Would we be still trusting the models which, according to the article, are our way to attribute the antropogenic warming? And thirty years?

How many years do we need to separate sensible knowledge from pure faith, or desire?

Hans Erren said...

"one issue should be clear - the evidence for man-made climate change, based on the thermometer data, is not contested"
That's not the issue at hand, the issue is if the effect of CO2 is the dominant man-made factor. (See Pielke et al in EOS) For me, as a luke-warmer, that evidence is far from proven.

Anonymous said...

You say: "the thermometer record shows unequivocally that Earth is warming, and provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity. This important record remains essentially unchallenged."

I might be a bit thick, but would you be so kind as to explain HOW the thermometer record "provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity".

I assume that you can establish a correlation between temperature and human 'activity'. However, correlation is NOT causation.

Am I missing something????

Anonymous said...

"We do agree, however, that it is absurd to suggest there is some kind of global conspiracy involving all climate scientists."

This is very disappointing coming from you. A classic straw man, worthy of realclimate. Nobody is claiming such a thing. What people are suggesting is that there is a biased clique of some activist scientists who exaggerate their story and try to suppress anything that does not support their story.

The previous (different) Anon also makes a good point. The thermo record shows a slow gradual non-accelerating rise since 1850, no evidence that it's related to human activity.

Anonymous said...

See one of the emerging big stories (20Dec2009) at
http://wattsupwiththat.com )the temperature station Darwin Zero in northern Australia, which actually shows colling has been radically adjusted by main stream scientists until it indicated warming. Yes, this warming was men made!

Hans von Storch said...

See als Myles Allen's comment (without Hans von Storch): http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/science-climate-change-phil-jones

Hans von Storch said...

Will come with an answer to the thermom. temp/detection issue later.

Anonymous said...

Re Anonymous above who asks "I might be a bit thick, but would you be so kind as to explain HOW the thermometer record "provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity".

The answer is clearly evident. That is, delta UHI effects have been the main contributor to warming, and in that sense the thermometer record provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity.

This point is made not just in a cheeky fashion. Numerous studies are now emerging that demonstrate the point quite well - the Russian record for example.

plazamoyua said...

Regarding the temps register there is a post on Climate Audit which may be of interest.

Climategatekeeping: Siberia

About a paper not published in 2004, thanks to Jones efforts -as seen in the emails. Kamel thought he found problems with Siberian CRU temp trend. Sort of 0.33 - 0.62 K/century of excess warming in CRU data, between 1900 and 2002.

Kamel recommended: The result presented here does, however, suggest that the surface record should be checked in more regions and even globally.

The paper can be fond al CA's post.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Hans: I have seen Myles's comment in the Guardian and don't think it is convincing. The last thing we need is a cover up. I cannot believe he does not see the problems involved with the alleged actions by two coordinating lead authors of the IPCC. To quote other misdemeanors (as Gallo/Montagnier in AIDS research) does not make it better. If Myles agrees that the hockey stick is not an established fact (as evidenced by the disagreement in the scientific community) it is perhaps an error to claim that it is? WOuld this fulfil his definition of committing an error?

Anonymous said...

"the evidence for man-made climate change, based on the thermometer data, is not contested"

"What the e-mails do not prove — or even suggest — is that the main product of the CRU, namely the record of global surface air temperature based on thermometer readings, has been compromised."

Two more falsehoods, as pointed out by the latest Climate audit thread linked above. There have been numerous studies now showing that the Russian CRU data is faulty, by the russian IEA, by Lars Kamel, by Willis Eschenbach and by Alan Cheetham at
http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/CRUSiberia.htm

In the emails, Jones boasted of having trashed two papers that criticised the Russian CRU data.

Anonymous said...

The articel in Nature is very troubling indeed, because it makes an argument beside the point.

After years and years of biased science and of main stream media fear-mongering, the public rightly says the case for global warming is overstated. This is certainly true of the picture from main stream media. If it's true regarding the science is less clear, obvious only for the knowledgable.

In this situation, when CRU has been caught red-handed biassing science, is it necessary to reaffirm the temperature data? Is it not more important for readers of Nature or the public to be told that the Hockey stick was a lie? Is it not more important to argue against the ghastly editorial in Nature saying "there is nothing to see here, please move on".

By the way, I no longer trust the temperature data!

Jonas B1

Hans von Storch said...

Myles and I will shortly publish the longer version of our nature-online piece, spelling out some arguments in more detail (will be a new post). Please keep in mind that this is a joint consensus paper, where we spell out our joint conviction that the thermometer record is not seriously in question, but that we disagree on other issues. Thus, the seriously contested part is the hockeystick, while the thermometer data product is not significantly contested.

However, it is my opinion that the CRU temperature data, based on thermometer data, needs a re-analysis by an independent group, from scratch - but I do not expect dramatic deviations from the curves presented by CRU and other institutions. Minor changes I would expect.

Such an independent re-analysis is needed, to rebuild confidence, which has been shattered by the emails.

But in order to make me considering the thermometer-based data significantly contested, I am asking for scientific legitimate literature (not weblogs) spelling out the problems and the consequeunces for the overall curve. I have done so in 2003, when the Soon and Baliunas (Climate Research) paper was attacked, and I am applying the same criteria here. And do not tell me that it would be impossible to publish this type of critical analysis. We went through it with the hockeystick; it is possible, in particular now after ClimateGate. Maybe not that easily, but good arguments do it in the end.

Hans von Storch said...

@Reiner: Myles comment in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/science-climate-change-phil-jones) - that was his comment, and I was not involved. I would not have written it this way, as it seems to be driven mainly by a concern for his peers, and less so by the concern for the credibility of the societal institution "science". While it is certainly a hard and unpleasant time for Phil Jones, the damage done is enormeous. Damage done to the reputation of all climate scientists, including myself and my institute.

We need an open debate with most welcomed comments of the type of Myles' in the Guardian. Indeed, while disagreeing with him on many issues, I find Myles' contributions to the debate always very enlightening.

plazamoyua said...

I'd like to thank the blog members their opennes and fair way. And the time explaining their point of view on such a crucial discussion.

Blogs won't substitute "peer reviewed" scientific literature, of course. But they may be very important for public opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hans,

Things are now getting quite confused. You say that the evidence is not contested and yet you call for an independent re-analysis of the CRU data from scratch.

You are now saying that you disagree with Myles Allen on several points. So why are you writing joint articles with him (perpetuating the 'concensus' myth)?

ghost said...

to be a honest broker is not simple...

Prof von Storch, you should strengthen the science and stop trying to be a politician. YOU criticized others for doing politics. You mentioned Prof Rahmstorf, for example.

So, as a scientist I would look how do validate results, especially, in empirical sciences. You have to explain the results by a theory, but most importantly: try to get similar or same results by totally different methods.

Now, the CRU temperature is validated by independent analyses of GISS (open-source btw.) and the Japanese temperature as well as NOAA. YOU should say, these show the same. Period.

Now, where do they overlap? All use the GHCN network data, but they use it differently. The Japanese team uses own data from 2001 on. NO significant difference. SST data is shared by GISS, GHCN, and NOAA, I think, but is also processed differently.

Plus: there a many natural indicators: changed vegetation zones, glacier retreat, etc etc. All fraud?

That would say a scientists plus some analysis of the CRU data. REALCLIMATE DID THESE THINGS ALL. They are scientists.

That would a scientist do in this case.... a re-analysis of the CRU data is nice, but only a bonus.

ghost said...

further remark:

you will find in any temperature series minor deviations if you do a re-analysis from scratch. if you fund it, a team will do it. You can make many different decisions in detail. But IMHO, nothing will change the big picture.

Again, I can only show the open source reimplementation of GISTEMP. If done, they will modify and try to improve it. That is really nice work of volunteers who are really interested in this stuff. http://code.google.com/p/ccc-gistemp/

Anonymous said...

I posted a question above (Anonymous Dec 21, 2009 7.43 am) asking how you could say: "the thermometer record shows unequivocally that Earth is warming, and provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity."

While I think that there are many questions about the veracity of the temperature record (delta UHI effects, changing population of stations etc etc) that require examination, that is not my main concern.

What I do not understand is how you can say "The thermometer record .......... provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity."

What is the evidence for this statement? The thermometer record shows temperature changes, but how can it show the causes of those temperature changes.

The comments since I asked the question do not address my question. Presumably there is an answer?

corinna.schrum said...

Hans (and Miles),

I agree with your speculation that a re-analysis of temperature data would not substantially change the result that the earth
was warming during the period of the temperature based thermometer record.
However, the degree of warming might well change with consequences for the detection step.
But these are speculations and we´ll have to await the new analysis.

However, I canot share your key message and conclusion :

> The conclusion that our planet is warming thanks to human activity must not be forgotten amid discussion of research ethics.

This conclusion is based on detection and attribution, the latter relies on the climate models.

You say:
>Attributing observed temperature variations to specific causes relies more on climate models, because they are needed to
>discriminate between the response of the climate system to different 'drivers', such as solar activity, greenhouse gases and
>volcanoes. It turns out that the best, and really the only, satisfactory explanation of the history of surface air temperature
>change — particularly over the past few decades — is obtained when the warming influence of anthropogenic greenhouse
>gases is taken into account.

You find in literature evidence that climate models overestimate the climate sensitivity to CO2 and
underestimate the sensitivity to solar forcing significantly.

Climate models are still very simplified theoretical constructs and their results are only valid in the specific model environment.
Whether these could be transferred to the real world needs always careful investigation and validation.

In the climate models framework
a large number of key processes which have been suggested in the literature as relevant
for the observed climatic changes are left out completely. Some of these are:

-The effect of cosmic ray and its changes with solar intensity on cloud formation
-The changes in the radiation spectrum associated with variations in solar intensity (including the consequent changes in solar energy absorption in the ocean)
-The tides and specifically their longterm variability
-The effect of plankton and its variation with solar radiation on absorption and attenuation of solar radiation in the ocean

Consequently, the use of climate models in the attribution would require a very careful discussion of the models limits with respect to parameterisations used,
numerical setups chosen and neglected processes. This has not at all been done so far. Moreover, the IPCC is violating its own standards when
it comes to the utilization of models. Unpublished tools and model results have been used for the assessment and a careful discussion of
parameterisations, limits of the models and specific properties of implemented numerical schemes and/or coupling techniques is missing for the set-ups used in AR4.
The models, the set-ups and the results have not been out in the scientific community for discussions and evaluations,
the internal circles which decide on the setups and configuration of IPCC experiments are not an adequate replacement.

If this is the base for the attribution of climate change, than the base could hardly be weaker.

It is time for cleaning up and the community should take the chance to openly discuss the arguments of sceptics
(some of them published in scientific paper you are asking for), many of them are very relevant and founded.
Our key challenge in future is to find back to scientific standards and ethics and to the scientific discussion
(instead of using excellence and leading scientist status to reject arguments) and we have to reject its replacement by political agendas.
Otherwise the next scandal is just waiting round the corner.


Corinna

Hans von Storch said...

@Anonymous (Paul ok?): "you disagree with Myles Allen on several points. So why are you writing joint articles with him (perpetuating the 'concensus' myth)?" - Well, should we not all do that - discuss with others, try to understand and sometimes revise our position? What Myles and I wrote was: "a) we agree on this; b) on this we disagree" - so we tried to be explicit to what extent consensus on agreement exists, and to spell out our consensus on disensus.

How would you, Paul, do this?
It sounds a bit as if you would take Bush's position "You are with me or against me" - a pretty disastreous strategy, as disastreous as claiming that no disensus would exist. The issues, we disagree on, must be dabatable - or?

Hans von Storch said...

Dear Ghost (Clarissa ok?) - the issue is credibility, trust. This has been spoiled by the CRU cartell. If you like it or not. The cartel people may not have intended to do so; in fact, I do not think that anything was planned but that they stumbled just into the mess. But the mess is there - as I try to explain in the nature piece: not in the thermometer data area - but in the general attitude of trying to control the field, as exemplified with the hockeystick.

To be sure, Clarissa - the CRU-cartel people may be nice people (some are definitely not), but they did created a mess - and damaged by their doing our all credibility and also other people. This was not innocent playing.

So, Clarissa, what to do ? (Lenin) Think of an accident in the non-nuclear part of an nuclear power plant. We have seen that often. The experts try to conceil, declare "trust us" - and the public becomes more and more skeptical, independently if the experts are right or not. The process is called social dynamics. Natural scientists do not understand this type of dynamics, in most cases. They behave like good old Atom-scientists, "trust us, we are doctors".

But we had plenty of this type of accidents, not only in the nuclear sector - and there is one receipt: openness. Allow inspection; demonstrate, verify, allow falsification; accept question, which you find silly, even offending. - in our case: re-analyse the CRU thermometer data set.

Clarissa, you see from the contributions on this blog that many people have concerns about the thermometer-record. With our piece in "nature online", we acted like "trust us, we are doctors", but I know it will not be sufficient. These critics will not give up because we ask them to do. They will accept our assertion only after an independent check, done in an open manner by people, who have not been involved in the business so far. No CRU, no Hadley Center, no GISS, no IPCC lead authors. But maybe the Dutch weather service, or the South African Weather Service.

Please, Clarissa, help us to get this message through.

Hans von Storch said...

Forgot to say - if people accept our (climate scientists') assertion only after an indcependent verification - that is entirely ok for me; a legitimate position. Trust is fine, re-analysis is better (something of that sort is attributed to Lenin, right?)

Hans von Storch said...

@Anonymous: I posted a question above (Anonymous Dec 21, 2009 7.43 am) asking how you could say: "the thermometer record shows unequivocally that Earth is warming, and provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity."

-- I will come back to this; the idea is to post the "long version" of the nature-online piece here - it explains the detection and attribution concept; to do so Myles and I have to iterate the text a bit back and forth (we did not find the "original"long version), so that we both agree (on what we agree and what we do not agree). A little patience, please. Myles had small kids, and X-mas is coming closer. :-)