Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oliver Krüger and Frederik Schenk: The Long Run

Oliver Krüger and Frederik Schenk: The Long Run

1 Introduction

Just recently, klimazwiebel released an interview with Reiner Grundmann , in which he reports about his struggles with publishing a somewhat controversial paper. The story we are about to tell and the previous interview fit neatly together.

2 The Story

Half a year ago, we planned to write a comment to Donat et al. (2011) in the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). Because GRL changed its policies regarding comments to already published manuscripts, we prepared a small paper. In the following peer review process we realized that getting published would eventually become difficult. We received two rounds of reviews with GRL, which finally rejected our manuscript.

Later on we revised the manuscript and submitted to the Environmental Research Letters (ERL), where the manuscript was rejected after one round of reviews. After that incidence, we submitted to one open discussion journal, namely Climate of the Past (CP). CP rejected the manuscript immediately at the initial review stage. The initial review, done by one of the editors, is supposed to be a low standard to enter the open discussion, but we failed nevertheless.

In total we received seven reviews that lead to the rejection in three journals in a row. These seven reviews varied in their opinions significantly. They varied from minor comments to major comments. They were either positively or negatively minded. We also received "interesting" comments. For instance, one reviewer suggested that the average of +1 and -1 is 0.

The editor who did the initial review for CP was more open to questions regarding his rejection. He stated that our results would be plausible, but not convincing (even though he believed our results).

After these episodes, we decided to change our publication strategy. We put the manuscript on to make it publicly available. At the same, we submitted to Journal of Climate, from which we are expecting news whether they are willing to start the review process or not.

3 The Manuscript

The manuscript we are talking about is called "Inconsistencies between long-term trends in storminess derived from the 20CR reanalysis and observations" by Krueger, Schenk, Feser, and Weisse.
 In the letter to the editor we wrote: “In the manuscript we analyze storminess derived through a pressure-based proxy (extreme percentiles of geostrophic wind speed) in the 20th Century Reanalysis dataset 20CR over the Northeast Atlantic and compare our findings with results obtained from pressure observations.”
The method strictly follows Alexandersson et al. (1998, 2000) (their results made it into the last IPCC WG1 report as Fig. 3.41, online at

And continuing: “Our findings are based on a relatively simple, yet robust method for analyzing storminess over the large and well studied area of the Northeast Atlantic. The results point to a marked inconsistency between storminess in the reanalysis dataset and storminess derived from observations, which casts doubt on the use of 20CR to describe long term trends, at least in terms of storminess. We believe that changes in the number of stations assimilated into 20CR are a plausible explanation for the discrepancies.
The 20th Century Reanalysis dataset 20CR is a new climate dataset that reaches back to 1871. Because it is nearly 140 years long, scientists hope to use it for long-term trend analyses. With our work, we are assessing how realistically 20CR describes such long-term trends in terms of storminess. We chose to restrict our analyses to the Northeast Atlantic region as this region has been in the focus of several studies in the past that deal with storminess. Ideally, results obtained through 20CR and observations would agree with other, also because the pressure observations analyzed in those past studies have been very likely assimilated into 20CR. Unfortunately, as aforementioned, storminess in 20CR and observed storminess differs significantly.

The manuscript is available online at

4 Remarks

Despite from being rejected by several journals, we are continuing our struggles, because we believe it is worth to do so. We do not know yet how many approaches it will take us. Even though our manuscript seems quite controversial, we are willing to initiate a discussion about the topic if somebody lets us.


Alexandersson, H., T. Schmith, K. Iden, and H. Tuomenvirta, 1998: Long-term variations of the storm climate over NW Europe. The Global Atmosphere and Ocean System, 6 (2), 97–120.

Alexandersson, H., H. Tuomenvirta, T. Schmith, and K. Iden, 2000: Trends of storms in NW Europe derived from an updated pressure data set. Climate Research, 14 (1), 71–73.

Donat, M., D. Renggli, S. Wild, L. Alexander, G. Leckebusch, and U. Ulbrich, 2011: Reanalysis suggests long-term upward trends in european storminess since 1871. Geophysical Research Letters, 38 (14), L14 703.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview Reiner Grundmann

1. Reiner, you have published the paper “’Climategate’ and The Scientific Ethos” in Science Technology & Human Values. I understand that this article had a long history of submissions and rejections. Would you mind telling us, what happened, and what you think why this happened?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Die Leute und die Reduktion des Klimawandels"

Eine Freund schrieb mich an und bat um Rat: "Nun wollen die Leute aber auch gerne wissen, wie sie persönlich zur Reduktion des Klimawandels beitragen können. Kannst Du mir da weiterhelfen - mit ein paar Gedanken?". Meine Antwort dazu, in Kürze und spontan:

Pumping sea-level up

Global sea-level has risen at a pace of about 1.8 mm/year in the period 1960 to 2003. Several factors are contributing to this rise: ocean thermal expansion, glacier melting, and ground water depletion. Which factor has been the strongest contributor ?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

From the web-page of reuters an article is available, which discusses the recent strong increase in CO2 emissions, perspectives for the future and ongoing political efforts:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Knowledge Market

When discussing the issue of science-society interaction on climate change, I usually present these theses:
  • Science-policy/public interaction is not an issue of the linear model of „knowledge speaks to power“. 
  • The problem is not that the public is stupid or uneducated. 
  • Scientists have failed to respond to legitimate public questions and has instead requested. “Trust us, we are scientists”. 
  • The problem is that the scientific knowledge is confronted on the „explanation marked“ with other forms of knowledge. Scientific knowledge does not necessarily “win” this competition. 
  • Non-sustainable claims-making by climate change (stealth) advocates to the public has lead to fatigue.
  • Overselling goes with loss of “capital” of science, namely public trust. 
 Examples of other knowledge systems are provided by
  • skeptics
  • political interests (e.g., deniers, alarmists)
  • climatic determinism
  • religion

Monday, May 21, 2012



by Alex HARVEY h/t GoRight
Recent events in the labyrinthine world of the Wikipedia community have prompted me to speak out about what is happening there.

Many readers will have heard of William Connolley and his Wikipedia activities. If not, I recommend three articles by Lawrence Solomon, namely The Opinionator, Wikipropaganda - spinning green, and Who am I?. Then read on here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Occupy Climate

Auf spiegel-online ein sehr interessantes Interview mit dem Ethnologen David Graeber, der Occupy Wallstreet Aktivist und Autor u.a. von "Schulden. Die ersten 5000 Jahre" ist und zur Zeit an den Frankfurter Blockupy Protesten teilnimmt. In dem Interview kommt die Sprache auf den Klimawandel und auf die Strategie, was dagegen unternommen werden könnte. Auf den auch auf klimazwiebel immer wieder gerne vorgebrachten Einwand, dass die Leute sich zwar viel über den Klimawandel beklagen, aber nicht bereit sind, dafür Konsequenzen in Kauf zu nehmen, antwortet Graeber:
"Es geht bei Systemumstürzen weniger darum, was die Menschen wollen – sondern was sie für möglich halten. Wir müssen den Horizont der Leute erweitern."
Und auf den Vorwurf der Konzeptlosigkeit der Occupy Bewegung antwortet Graeber:
"Wenn Sie etwas fordern, verlangen Sie von einer höheren Instanz im Staat, es Ihnen zu geben. Damit akzeptieren Sie die Existenz und Funktion dieser Instanz. Genau das tun wir nicht."
Hier die Passagen im Kontext:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

This one deserves a post of its own: James Hansen's truly apocalyptic vision of current climate; the answer by Martin Hoerling from NOAA, and finally Kerry Emanuel's comment  here on Andrew Revkin's dotearth. In my opinion, Kerry Emanuel's statement demonstrates beautifully that both alarmism and its critics have done their job; now it's time to talk seriously.

(Thanks to Reiner, who posted the link to these articles already here).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

North and South contrast

During the last week we have been confronted by two papers published in Nature and Science relating changes in the cryosphere and global sea-level. Their conclusions point to opposite directions and the attention they have found in the media is quite unbalanced.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Roger Pielke jr. über Energiewende und ehrliche Makler

"Prekärer Expertenrat - Was Wissenschaftler in der Klimadebatte leisten können": Tolles Interview auf deutsch mit Roger Pielke jr. auf nzz-online über die Energiewende, den "honest broker" - der hier zum "aufrechten Makler" wird -  und die Rolle von Expertenkommissionen. Der "honest broker" sind viele; der einzelne Experte wird zu sehr von seinen Emotionen und Neigungen geleitet. Der "ehrliche Makler" ist vielmehr als ein Gremium zu verstehen, das mit Experten mit unterschiedlichen Sichtweisen besetzt ist. Das führt zu einem spannenden Gespräch, denn auch Roger, der science & policy Experte, hat durchaus eine Meinung, zum Beispiel zur Energiewende in Deutschland:

Zurück in die Zukunft: Der neue Club of Rome Bericht

 40 Jahre nach Erscheinen von "Die Grenzen des Wachstums" (1972) legt der Club of Rome einen neuen Bericht vor. "2052 - A global forecast for the next forty years" präsentiert sich wie eine Zeitreise zurück in die Zukunft. Die Idee, dass das Wachstum Grenzen hat, war einmal revolutionär und hat seitdem das Weltbild von Generationen geprägt. An den Voraussagen des Club of Rome hat sich nicht viel geändert seitdem, außer dass der Klimawandel als die größte Katastrophe dazu gekommen und die Bevölkerungsbombe etwas entschärft ist. Manche Dinge ändern sich eben nie, doch welche eigentlich genau: die Apokalyptiker vom Club of Rome oder die Menschen? Die Visionen oder die Realität? Ist es eigentlich ungefähr so schlimm wie damals vorausgesagt und wenn nicht, wird es so schlimm werden wie vorausgesagt?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grundmann on ClimateGate

Reiner Grundmann has now published two articles on "ClimateGate". The first is

‘Climategate’’ and The Scientific Ethos.
It was published on-line on 23 April 2012 in Science Technology Human Values, and the full article is available here. Before acceptance for publication, the article met lots of flak.

The abstract reads:
In late 2009, e-mails from a server at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia were released that showed some climate scientists in an unfavorable light. Soon this scandal was known as ‘‘Climategate’’ and a highly charged debate started to rage on blogs and in the mass media. Much of the debate has been about the question whether anthropogenic global warming was undermined by the revelations. But ethical issues, too, became part and parcel of the debate. This article aims to contribute to this debate, assessing the e-mail affair in the light of two normative analyses of science, one proposed by Robert Merton (and developed further by some of his followers), the second by a recent suggestion to use the concept of honest brokering in science policy interactions. On the basis of these analyses, different aspects of malpractice will be discussed and possible solutions will be suggested.

The second  paper is the "opinion" article in WIRES Climate Change with the title

"The legacy of climategate: revitalizing or undermining climate science and policy?"
(Full article here; WIREs Clim Change 2012. doi: 10.1002/wcc.166)

The abstract reads:
The release of emails from a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in November 2009 and the following climategate controversy have become a topic for interpretation in the social sciences. This article picks out some of the most visible social science comments on the affair for discussion. These comments are compared to an account of what can be seen as problematic practices by climate scientists. There is general agreement in these comments that climate science needs more openness and transparency. But when evaluating climategate a variety of responses is seen, ranging from the apologetic to the highly critical, even condemning the practices in question. It is argued that reluctance to critically examine the climategate affair, including suspect practices of scientists, has to do with the nature of the debate which is highly politicized. A call is made for more reflection on this case which should not be closed off because of political expediency.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Backfiring PR in climate policy

Last week, the Heartland Institute, one of the controversial skeptical lobby groups in the US which oppose climate change regulations, initiated an even more controversial poster campaign across the country. Next to a picture of Ted Kaczynski, the jailed Unabomber, the posters read "I still believe in Global Warming - Do you?"  Kaczynski had written a pamphlet against modern society which you can read here.