Sunday, July 4, 2010

Roger Pielke sr. claims to have found errors in WGI-report of IPCC AR4

Roger A. Pielke Sr. claims that the Working Group I report of IPCC AR4 (2007) contains at least three significant errors - with error meaning "an inaccurate or flawed analysis of the available, scientifically legitimate knowledge available in time of the deadline of AR4". Thus the issue is not whether the statements about the climate are in hindsight wrong or right, but if the assessment provides a reliable account of the knowledge at the time of the assessment. The deadline was in mid 2006.

One error refers to an incomplete account of the drivers of climate change (absorbing aerosols and land-use changes), another relates to a figure caption, and the third to the attribution of recent warm years only to elevated greenhouse gas levels.

Topic 1
On page 2 of the 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers (SPM) there is a title "Human and Natural Drivers of Climate Change".  The Statement, however, only focuses on a limited subset of these drivers and essentially ignores the findings in the 2005 NRC (US National Research Council) report.

In the SPM IPCC writes "Changes in the atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases and aerosols, in solar radiation and in land surface properties alter the energy balance of the climate system. These changes are expressed in terms of radiative forcing." and in the IPCC glossary to the WG1 report (page 11), that "For the purposes of this report, radiative forcing is further defined as the change relative to the year 1750 and, unless otherwise noted, refers to a global and annual average value."

However, as summarized in a 2005 US-National Research Council (NRC) report "Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties "Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA [top of the atmosphere] radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing."

The omission of this perspective the 2007 IPCC SPM has misled policymakers and others to conclude that these other heterogeneous climate are secondary to the global average radiative forcings. A number of peer reviewed papers that support this broader perspective, and were available prior tot he cut-off deadline of IPCC 2007 report, that were ignored in that IPCC report are summarized in Pielke (2008). Marland et al. (2003) also provides a recommendation for a broader view that was available for the 2007 IPCC WG1 assessment but this perspective was not discussed in the 2007 IPCC SPM.

Topic 2

The Figure SPM.2 caption in the 2007 IPCC WG1 Statement for Policymakers on page is in error. It reads "Global average radiative forcing (RF) estimates and ranges in 2005. The actual radiative forcings in 2005 must be less than given in Figure SPM.2. IPCC writes otherwise in their footnote, but the caption itself is clearly incorrect. See for more detail.

Topic 3

The conclusion that the “eleven of the… twelve years (1995–2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature" (since 1850)” and this is due predominately to human added greenhouse gases [Figure SPM.2 and associated text] ignored peer reviewed studies which found a major effect on the land portion of the temperature record due to human caused landscape change (e.g. Marshall et al 2004), as well  significant biases and remaining uncertainties in the land portion of the observational record (e.g. Pielke et al 2007). A discussion of a set of remaining uncertainties and biases in the land surface temperature trend record  in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) report [which was used in the completion of the 2007 IPCC report] was inappropriately excluded as reported in Pielke (2005) and


National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

Marland, G., R.A. Pielke, Sr., M. Apps, R. Avissar, R.A. Betts, K.J. Davis, P.C. Frumhoff, S.T. Jackson, L. Joyce, P. Kauppi, J. Katzenberger, K.G. MacDicken, R. Neilson, J.O. Niles, D. Dutta S. Niyogi, R.J. Norby, N. Pena, N. Sampson, and Y. Xue, 2003: The climatic impacts of land surface change and carbon management, and the implications for climate-change mitigation policy. Climate Policy, 3, 149-157.

Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., L.T. Steyaert, and D.A. Willard, 2004: The impact of anthropogenic land-cover change on the Florida peninsula sea breezes and warm season sensible weather. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 28-52.

Pielke Sr., R. A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences". 88 pp including appendices.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Pielke Sr., R. A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.


P Gosselin said...

I hope that such errors will be detected by the lead authors in the next IPCC AR5. I read recently that at least one reliable scientist will be contributing to it. ;)

Anonymous said...

None of these are errors of any sort.

Topic 1: Fig 2.1 describes nicely how radiative forcing is part of the effects on climate and the introduction to that chapter goes through some of the limitations. Simply because the RF concept is not perfect does not been it is not useful.

Topic 2. This is a simply misunderstanding on Dr. Pielke's side. RF is clearly defined as with respect to 1750 conditions and is not the current radiative imbalance. This misunderstanding has been pointed to Dr. Pielke many times.

Topic 3: These are statements with respect to the temperature records such as they are. This is regardless of what caused the warming whether it is land-use or GHGs. It is impossible for the IPCC report to have assessed Pielke et al 2007. There is instead plenty of discussion of issues in the surface temperature record.

There is enough misinformation out there about the IPCC report as it is, adding spurious talk of non-existent errors is irresponsible.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

The “Anonymous” commenter (who is not candid enough to even sign their name) incorrectly spins the three issues. First, the 2007 IPCC SPM [Statement for Policymakers] does not in fact discuss the limitations that were presented in the 2005 NRC report. This is an obvious error in the presentation of a summary assessment of climate science by the IPCC SPM.

On the second issue, the caption clearly writes “Global average radiative forcing (RF) estimates and ranges in 2005″. The SPM failed to present what were the best estimates of the 2005 radiative forcings. To not accept the caption as an error is absurd.

On the third item, the issues raised in our 2007 paper were known to the authors of the CCSP 1.1 report, and thus to the IPCC community. They chose to ignore them when they excluded these issues from the 2006 CCSP report. My Public Comment was available in plenty of time before the deadline.

Hans von Storch said...

It is certainly a lousy style of anonymous to not give a name and instead make categorical statements such as "None of these are errors of any sort.", "This misunderstanding has been pointed to Dr. Pielke many times.". So what this contributor is saying to us readers is - trust me, Pielke ist not understanding the issues at hand. While the latter may be true - I do not believe so - it would be good to come with arguments, which readers could check. The anonymous writer fails to understand that times have changed, see e.g., analysis in the Guardian. Claimsmaking is not enough, in particular not anonymous claimsmaking.

Hans von Storch said...

The cut-off date for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report AR4 is obviously an important detail for this discussion. I have asked Susan Salomon, one of the cochairs of WG I of IPCC AR4. She sent me this document:

Guidelines for inclusion of recent scientific literature in the Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report.

We are very grateful to the many reviewers of the second draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for suggestions received on issues of balance and citation of additional scientific literature. To ensure clarity and transparency in determining how such material might be included in the final Working Group I report, the following guidelines will be used by Lead Authors in considering such suggestions.

In preparing the final draft of the IPCC Working Group I report, Lead Authors may include scientific papers published in 2006 where, in their judgment, doing so would advance the goal of achieving a balance of scientific views in addressing reviewer comments. However, new issues beyond those covered in the second order draft will not be introduced at this stage in the preparation of the report.

Reviewers are invited to submit copies of additional papers that are either in-press or published in 2006, along with the chapter and section number1 to which this material could pertain, via email to, not later than July 24, 2006. In the case of in-press papers a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal is requested for our records. All submissions must be received by the TSU not later than July 24, 2006 and incomplete submissions can not be accepted.

It seems the document is dated 1 July 2006.

ghost said...

@Prof von Storch

the opening post was disappointing. Just a copy. What is your opinion? do you think that there are "significant biases and remaining uncertainties in the land portion of the observational record"? which significant! biases are unknown?

However, thanks for comment #5. The paper in question was received by the journal at November 7th 2006. Thus, anon #2 was right. Pielke Sr knew this very well. The conclusion should be clear.

Hans von Storch said...

Ghost, my impression is that the bredth of the disucssion about the relative role of different drivers was not sufficiently well covered by IPCC WGI in AR4. If Roger's view on the role of landuse change is right or not, is not the issue here - the question is merely if the views available at that time, have been covered properly by the IPCC in AR4.

Now, your other issue, the paper which was submitted on 7 Nov 2006.- I do not understand which "clear" conclusion you are drawing. Could you explain mor explicitly, please?

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Ghost (another example of a post where the author does not present their name)-

The issues in the 2007 JGR paper that I cited in Topic 3 were available to the authors of the WG1 IPCC before the deadline. You can read about their deliberate and inappropriate exclusion of these issues in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences". 88 pp including appendices.

The multi-authored 2007 JGR article presents the issues in detail, since the CCSP committee refused to examine them properly.

ghost said...

well, what is so important about my name? I am an interested lay person. I like the surface temperature record problem, because I think data quality is a great topic. (And so frustrating)

Fact is, the paper was technically too late and should not be cited in this text. I really do not care about your issues with Thomas Karl and your general accusations.

I am much more interested in your ideas in improving the surface temperature data. The historic data is dirty and not complete. That is a problem. However, there are so many evidences, that there are no "significant biases" which are not corrected. I do not think that improvements will change the global picture a lot. In my opinion, while I think there are many issues to be solved, I believe you overstate the issue. This is my feeling.

Did you ever quantify your issues? Menne et al 2010 quantify the poor US station issue... well. It was not an issue! Of course climate reference networks are better and such projects are great. Together with a time machine we could solve all problems.

I was astounded about your reaction against Menne et al 2010... however, you wrote "We will discuss the science of the analysis in a subsequent post and a paper which is being prepared for submission." Are there any results now?

PS: I think anon #2 was not wrong. he/she did not make simply claims.

Adam Gallon said...

The IPCC is only too happy to stretch deadlines for papers supporting its desired results, see the Bishop Hill blog's "Caspar & Jesus" entry.

Roger A. Pielke Sr said...

Ghost - (names do matter in an open constructive debate). I will provide two responses here to your comments.

First, we have quantified a warm bias in the global surface temperature trends; see as a recent example

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: "An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841", J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655

Second, we are completing the more complete analysis of the location siting issue that the Menne et al paper incompletely explored. We will present that analysis when ready.

Finally, your comments would be more constructive if you addressed the individual issues with the land surface data record in our 2007 paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

See also

Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, B. Baker, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A. Carleton, A. Beltran-Przekurat, T. Chase, A.I. Quintanar, J.O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Conner, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D.R. Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O.W. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V.G. Anantharaj, S. Fall,R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H.-I. Chang, R. Leeper, U.S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, and J. Syktus, 2010: Impacts of land use land cover change on climate and future research priorities. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91, 37–46, DOI: 10.1175/2009BAMS2769.1

You should note that the concerns regarding the robustness of the land surface temperature trends to document long term changes in global warming (or cooling) is shared by a significant number of my colleagues.

Anonymous said...

#3+#4 I trust that you aren't as dismissive of anonymous peer review? I hope you'll try to stay focused on the substance though....

So let's try again. In topic 2, Dr. Pielke claims that there is an error in fig SPM 2 (essentially the same as fig 2.21 in the main report and fig 2 in FAQ 2.1). This figure shows the radiative forcings in 2005 *with respect to 1750* as is made clear in the caption "Global average radiative forcing (RF) estimates " and footnote #2 "In this report, radiative forcing values are for 2005 relative to pre-industrial conditions defined at 1750". Similarly, the caption in FAQ 2.1 states explicitly "The values represent the forcings in 2005 relative to the start of the industrial era (about 1750).".

And indeed, this is exactly what is given in the figures. How can this possibly be an error? What was shown is what was stated in the caption.

What we appear to have instead is a simple misunderstanding or at most a difference of opinion. Dr. Pielke appears to be under the impression that 'radiative forcing' is equivalent to the current radiative imbalance. It is not. Radiative forcing is *always* defined with respect to a reference - and in this case it was clearly defined as 1750, but could be any time period or concentration level you like. On the contrary, radiative imbalance is an absolute value for which no reference is required.

For instance, the forcing associated with 2xCO2 is around 3.7 W/m2. This is true whether the the CO2 has instantaneously been increased (in which case there will also be a TOA radiative imbalance of about 3.7 W/m2), or whether the planet has equilibriated to the increased 2xCO2 levels (radiative imbalance zero).

Perhaps Dr. Pielke might have preferred that figure SPM 2 show the attribution of the current radiative imbalance to various forcings (but given it is not yet possible to directly measure it, that other estimates (such as via ocean heat content changes) are uncertain, and that any such attribution would require a great deal of GCM modelling, this is not surprising). But having an author team make a different judgment call about what figure to show in the SPM than what Dr. Pielke would have chosen, is *not* an error - merely a difference of opinion.

HvS, you should be clearly be able to independently adjudicate this issue, and since this is your blog, I feel it is incumbent on you to do so. Thus, in your opinion, is there an 'error' in the caption to SPM.2?

P Gosselin said...

I happened to catch a story in the SZ online today about a brand new MPI study on the earth's CO2 cycle. I was writing a post about it and, much to my frustration, the story disappeared after being up only an hour or so.

I don't know why the SZ would take it down.

sHx said...

Adam Gallon said...
The IPCC is only too happy to stretch deadlines for papers supporting its desired results, see the Bishop Hill blog's "Caspar & Jesus" entry.

I made the effort just now and searched the Bishop Hill blog for "Caspar & Jesus" entry, and found it a cracking read. It is quite extraordinary to see how a couple of papers were given favourable treatment by the climate establishment because they remained 'on the message'. I simply cannot understand how a dozen or so climatologists could set up a cabal and lord over the entire Climate community unchallenged for so long. The climategate miracle could not have happened sooner.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Anonymous (why don't you present who you are; very puzzling. What are your climate science credentials as you are not accurately presenting the issue I raised?).

With respect to your comment

Radiative imbalance = Radiative Forcing + Radiative Feedbacks

as I have published and posted on a many times (e.g. see

Regarding the terms "radiative forcing" it is defined in the AMS Glossary []


"radiative forcing - In radiation, the net flux of radiation into or out of a system."

"Radiative forcing in 2005" literally means the net flux of radiation into and out of a system in 2005, not a difference from 1750. There is no other way to properly interpret the caption as written. I agree that what is plotted is the difference from 1750, but, instead of admitting that the caption is misleading, you make excuses. My experience with others, even in climate science, who interpret figure SPM.2 as the radiative forcing in 2005.

It should be a requirement for the IPCC to be clear in their reports. They also do not present a discussion of what are the current (2005) best estimates of the net radiative forcing. This is a failure in the assessment. They certainly can obtain estimates from their models.

The IPCC SPM, despite the footnote, has, therefore, misled readers of the report. What is the best estimate of the current net radiative forcing? This is a fundamental issue in climate science that was glossed over in the 2007 IPCC report.

Martin Heimann said...

Gosselin (#13): Easy to understand - no conspiracy here, just marketing. Nature and Science always place an embargo on new articles; as author one gets specifically asked to adhere to it. The journals want to be the first to publish it. Other journals get the texts but are subject to the embargo. In this case SZ violated this and were asked to remove the text. Both articles will appear in Science Express later tonight - after that the embargo is lifted. I am sure the text will be back tomorrow.

BTW: MPI in this case is the MPI for Biogeochemistry, which is located in Jena...

Anonymous said...

#15 What difference does it make who I am or what my credentials are? The issue here is not one where authority has any implication.

We have however found the source of your confusion. The definition of radiative forcing used by the IPCC is *not* the TOA radiative flux at a specific time. That is very clearly the current radiative imbalance, which by your own equation is *not* equal to the forcing. The radiative forcing is equal to the change in flux associated with an instantaneous change in an atmospheric constituent, land surface change or solar input. If it is defined as a change, then it must be defined with respect to a baseline (most often, but not exclusively, the pre-industrial situation).

The definition is clear in the IPCC report, and in this NASA glossary: it is similarly defined as a *change* in radiative flux. It is even correct on the Wikipedia page (at least when I looked at it!).

Indeed, here is another definition:
"Radiative forcing is reported in the climate change scientific literature as a change in energy flux at the tropopause" - and where does that come from?

.... the NRC (2005) report on which Dr. Pielke was an author:

The caption is not misleading.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Annoymous -

As to who you are, it is courteous and relevant. I am sure other readers would like to know who you are also.

Radiative forcing is a rate in Watts per meter squared. There is no baseline. The radiative forcing in 2005 - the radiative forcing in ~1750 is a difference in radiative forcing. This difference is not a radiative forcing.

The 2007 IPCC SPM presents two conflicting uses as I have clearly identified.

I am surprised that you will not even just admit the caption could have been written more clearly, and that literally reading the caption as given can be misinterpreted by policymakers.

Anonymous said...

You aren't even reading the definition in your own report. The irony in you not admitting to making a mistake while accusing the IPCC of the same is evident.

Perhaps, HvS will adjudicate since this conversation is clearly going nowhere.

Hans von Storch said...

Anonymous -- in principle I do not communicate with people, who do not assign a name to themselves (an alias is ok, as "ghost"; then at least I know what else this person has written).

I find it interesting that these suggestions by Roger Pielke sr. receive so much anonymous flak. I wonder what that means.

ghost said...

@Pielke Sr
also from me: names do not matter. Respect matters.

first: thanks for your time. That's the best in climate science. It is easy to get in touch with you scientists. :)

you claim: there is a warming bias in the land station temperature record. That would lead to a lower warming trend. But, how do you reconcile obvious changes in the nature with your claim? We can observe many changes overall in the world. Many of them indicate (strong) warming: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, melting permafrost in the mountains or in the North, vegetation period changes, wild life changes... etc. etc. Maybe some can be explained by local influences, but I do not see a lot room for a strong warming bias. Did you make any investigation into this direction?

Secondly: there are a lot of great regional projects to clean up the temperature records for these regions. For example, the HISTALP project for the Alps in Europe. I think, these projects improve, but also support the global surface records. Did you look into these projects? They did not only take photos from stations but really made homogenizations and tried to solve the problems.

Last point: in your papers I have the feeling, you present the satellite temperatures records as the absolute truth. But, in the past these records had huge problems. I mean, one of the biggest errors in climate science history was the UAH computation error by Christy and Spencer. Why should I trust them more than surface station records?

Thanks for you patience, I hope it is not too tedious and superficial.

PS: all your references are after 2007. Thus, irrelevant for the last IPCC report. I still think, it was wrong (or even worse) to include the Pielke et al 2007 paper into your complaints.

sHx said...

Dr Pielke, sir, the most annoying aspect of the anonymous commenter is that he calls himself 'anonymous'. He should choose himself a moniker and stick with it.

Other than that, sir, it is really irrelevant who he is. Perhaps that's what you wanted from him too, not his real name but a moniker. If he refuses, perhaps he should not be indulged in a dialogue, but ignored all together. Regards.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

The issue of the date of our 2007 JGR paper keeps coming up in these comments. To further clarify that the issues we presented in that paper were available in time for the 2007 IPCC assessment

[in addition to my Public Comment

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences". 88 pp including appendices.]

there are a number of papers that were ignored in the 2007 IPCC assessment. These include, for example,

Davey, C.A., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2005Microclimate exposures of surface-based weather stations - implications for the assessment of long-term temperature trends. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., Vol. 86, No. 4, 497–504.

Davey, C.A., R.A. Pielke Sr., and K.P. Gallo, 2006: Differences between near-surface equivalent temperature and temperature trends for the eastern United States - Equivalent temperature as an alternative measure of heat content. Global and Planetary Change, 54, 19–32.

Hale, R.C., K.P. Gallo, T.W. Owen, and T.R. Loveland, 2006: Land use/land cover change effects on temperature trends at U.S. Climate Normals Stations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, doi:10.1029/2006GL026358.

Hanamean, J.R. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., C.L. Castro, D.S. Ojima, B.C. Reed, and Z. Gao, 2003: Vegetation impacts on maximum and minimum temperatures in northeast Colorado. Meteorological Applications, 10, 203-215.

Hubbard, K.G., and X. Lin, 2006: Reexamination of instrument change effects in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L15710, doi:10.1029/2006GL027069.

Kalnay, E., M. Cai, H. Li, and J. Tobin, 2006: Estimation of the impact of land-surface forcings on temperature trends in eastern United States J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 111, No. D6, D06106.

Lim, Y.K., M. Cai, E. Kalnay, and L. Zhou, 2005: Observational evidence of sensitivity of surface climate changes to land types and urbanization. Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 32, No. 22, L2271210.1029/2005GL024267.

Mahmood, R., S.A. Foster, and D. Logan, 2006: The GeoProfile metadata, exposure of instruments, and measurement bias in climatic record revisited. Int. J. Climatology, 26(8), 1091-1124.

Runnalls, K.E. and T.R. Oke, 2006: A technique to detect microclimatic inhomogeneities in historical records of screen-level air temperature. J. Climate, 19, 959-978

Hopefully, readers will now be convinced that there were a variety of peer reviewed publications which raised remaining unresolved issues with the land surface temperature trend assessments that were not reported on in the 2007 IPCC report, despite their availability.

We completed the 2007 JGR paper to bring together an overview and review of the issues raised in this earlier papers.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

ghost- With respect to your first comment, our Klotzbach et al paper presents quantitative evidence of a warm bias. Regardless of any other climate metric, the issue we raised has not been refuted in the peer reviewed literture.

On the second issue, I am completely supportive of attempts to improve the surface temperature record, including the requirement to take photographs of all sites. With respect to monitoring global warming/cooling, however, this is the wrong data. We need to focus on the ocean heat content changes as I have urged in my papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

On the third issue, I do not know where you obtained the view that the "one of the biggest errors in climate science history was the UAH computation error by Christy and Spencer". This is clearly an inappropriate unsubstantiated claim. In fact, Ben Herman examined the quality of the UAH and RSS data several years ago, and reported the results in the paper

Randall R. M., B. M. Herman (2008), Using limited time period trends as a means to determine attribution of discrepancies in microwave sounding unit–derived tropospheric temperature time series, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D05105, doi:10.1029/2007JD008864.

Their paper documented that while both UAH and RSS are outstanding research groups, with respect to the assessment of multi-decadal tropospheric temperature trends, the independent comparison reported in Randall and Herman indicates that the trend values of the UAH group are more accurate.

Since the MSU data is a spatially consistent (and reasonably consistent temporal) data set (unlike the in-situ surface temperature data) it is a more accurate tool to assess a global average trend.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Anonymous - In your earlier comments, you brought up the issue of the current radiative imbalance. I agree this is an important issue. What is your estimate of this imbalance? The IPCC SPM is silent on this subject, which I view as an error of omission.

With respect to global warming and cooling, it is this imbalance that matters.

Anonymous Fred said...

#20 I too wonder what it means when instead of addressing a question of some importance (potential errors in the SPM of WG1!), you instead argue about who is who on the internet. Really? You think it is more important that some random blog commenter reveal their identity than addressing whether the accusation against the IPCC is valid or not? Really?

I can only imagine that you prefer that casual readers conclude that you are dodging the question. So be it. It does not change the fact that you know very well that my point is correct. ;)

PS. My name is Fred. Happy now?

Hans von Storch said...

Anonymous Fred - thanks for picking a name. It makes it easier to address you, and to discuss your various ciomments, because we now know that it is the same person blogging, and different statements belong together.
If this is your real name really is your eprsonal choice, which is a matter of personal style.

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Anonymous Fred - I am still waiting your answer to the best estimate of the 2005 (or current) radiative imbalance as obtained from the 2007 IPCC report, or eleswhere.

richardtol said...

What matters is the authority of the argument, not the authority of the person who makes the argument.

Still, I find a signed claim more credible than an anonymous one -- if only because someone is putting her reputation on the line. Not knowing much about this, I would tend to believe Roger Pielke rather than Anonymous Fred who, for all we know, may be a dog.

That said, I was recently engaged in a discussion where the others concluded that I was an imposter. My (anonymous) friends had evidently followed an introductory course in economics, but they were so flabbergasted by my more advanced reasoning (I teach economics at PhD level) that they concluded that I could not possible be an economist.

Zajko said...

Identities also allow the tracing of positions, views, arguments beyond the context of one blog thread. When Roger Pielke Sr. comes on here readers will already be familiar with him from some other context, whereas any anonymous poster, or one without either a blogging history or a "climate science identity" is understood and judged only in the context of their individual blog comment.
There is an ideal in the blogosphere (as I see it) that the great leveler of the internet makes all voices equal. While it obviously does have a leveling effect (offering a space for anonymous members of the general public to engage with climate scientists) that does not make all voices equal, and maybe it shouldn't.
Appeals to authority can never be avoided entirely on the blogs, although that authority can (in part) be derived from simply having a blogging history. Traditional forms of science expertise still operate on the blogs and certainly count for something, but they occasionally come into conflict with different understandings of science, or different valuations of their expertise.
However the openness offered by the blogs is their greatest asset, and as long as comments are allowed anonymous or unidentified participants will engage with more established ones, and ideally find some room for (respectful) discussion.

Anonymous Fred said...

As expected, adopting a name has had no impact whatsoever on the substance. I find that this kind of ambiguity in commenting on readily verifiable facts odd. Isn't this what distinguishes science from mere opinion?

If someone claims that a figure is mislabelled and misleading - in the SPM no less - and yet a very quick check on the substance demonstrates clearly that the claim is without merit, why is there any hesistancy in saying so? HvS is of course well aware of what 'radiative forcing' means and too, knows well what the 'radiative imbalance' is defined to be and that they are not the same thing. Why not add clarity to a discussion rather than leaving this as an apparent "he said/she said" matter of opinion?

If Dr. Pielke were correct, that would be a very serious issue, why would you not be interested in resolving it? Really, I'm curious, for if people who do know the facts refuse to say anything, how are any less knowledgeable people supposed to work it out?

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Since we are receiving no feedback from Anonymous Fred (or others) on the radiative imbalance in 2005 (or other year), I present here what Jim Hansen wrote in 2005


"Our simulated 1993-2003 heat storage rate was 0.6 W/m2 in the upper
750 m of the ocean. The decadal mean planetary energy imbalance, 0.75 W/m2includes heat storage in the deeper ocean and energy used to melt ice and warm the air and land. 0.85 W/m2 is
the imbalance at the end of the decade."

This 0.85 W/m2 is Jim Hansen's estimate of the rate of global warming ~2000.

This 2005 information by Jim Hansen (or anyone else) in not presented in the 2007 IPCC SPM. Most policymakers, I suspect do not realize that the radiative imbalance is less than the net "radiative forcings" given in Figure SPM.2.

Unless the 2005 actual radiative forcings are less than this 0.85 Watts per meter squared, this necessarily means that the radiative feedbacks are negative unless the actual net radiatice forcings in 2005 were less than this value. Where is the water vapor amplicification of the radiative forcing, for example?

Since this is such a fundamental issue with respect to global warming, the absence of its discussion in the 2007 IPCC SPM is yet another example of an error of omission in that assessment report.

It will also be interesting to see how the next IPCC assessment handles this issue, as the radiative imbalance in recent years has clearly been significantly less than 0.85 Watts per meter squared [see]

Anonymous Fred said...

This will be my last attempt to try and get some actual substance into this post.

Drs. von Storch and Zorita, can you please make a statement about how you consider radiative forcing to be defined and whether the caption on SPM.2 is 'misleading' as claimed by Dr. Pielke?

Both of you have publicly criticized other scientists (in other issues), in far harsher terms than is called for here, and so your absence on this issue cannot be due to shyness. I would be very disappointed to find that your criticisms are only directed at scientists you don't like at a personal level.

Perhaps you find this trivial? Well, then say so. But your writings and quotes on the various issues related to IPCC in recent months indicate that you take these things very seriously.

Perhaps you think I am mistaken? Then again, make that plain (I won't be upset).

But in the absence of any comment, I am very puzzled. What is preventing you from commenting?

This is a question of integrity, not just of science.

eduardo said...

Dear Fred,

your comment is quite surprising. This is a quite open blog, with different authors, each one posting independently of the others. Perhaps you are used to other blogs in which contributions and comments are controlled before hand. This is definitively not the case here. You have chosen to engage with Dr. Pielke in this issue. I would suggest that *you*rebut his arguments, if you can, and not try to close a discussion by appealing to authority, either from me or Hans. We have had many other guest blogs in which we do not have commented at all.

The readers here would not be impressed by what I say on the issue of radiative forcing and radiative imbalance, and rightly so. *You* can convince them though, with good arguments. For that this blog is open to you. The same applies to Dr. Pielke.

Anonymous Fred said...

Eduardo, I have made my case by pointing very clearly to the definition of radiative forcing in many places - and indeed in a report that Dr. Pielke himself co-athored. What more argument do you want? Simply repeating myself is not advancing anything. Dr. Pielke has not responded in any substantive way, preferring to talk about the current imbalance instead. This might be an interesting topic, but is not relevant to the whether the SPM.2 caption is correct or not.

This is not some simple 'matter of opinion' on which reasonable people might have different and equally valid views. Rather it is a straight matter of definition (and Dr. Pielke has erred in interpreting the figure and caption).

As far as I can tell your publications and science have dealt with these issues in some detail, and so I find it hard to countenance that you do not know how radiative forcing is defined. You of course do not owe me anything, and I am grateful for the interactions that exist so far, but, given the potential importance of these claims, the publication of these claims on your blog, and the very simple matter of the dispute, continued silence could be interpreted as agreement.

Posing interesting questions, and allowing for open discussion is to be commended, but allowing your thoughts simply to be inferred by the fact that you do not comment seems antithetical to your stated mission.

However, if you do not want to say what you think, I cannot force you. Readers will form their own opinions in any case.

Saul Dr. said...

Just enjoyed to read all conversations here.

eduardo said...


'As far as I can tell your publications and science have dealt with these issues in some detail,..'

Dear Fred,
thank you for the comment, but as far as I can tell, in none of the papers in which I have collaborated is this question dealt with.
The only one vaguely related is one in which we compare the radiative imbalance simulated in one simulation with the Hansen estimation - one sentence.

To your last comment: if you think that you have already exposed your arguments clearly, what are you pursuing? the interested readers will be able to tell which one is right.

Anonymous Fred said...

What am I pursuing?


Is it responsible for scientists who know better to let unfounded accusations against the IPCC, the climate science community or individual scientists take root in the blogs, and then maybe the wider media, without any actions to correct what might be mis-perceived?

For scientists who don't have a media presence, it is hard to argue that they must do anything (though I think it would be in their best interests to call out incorrect statements when they can). However, for those whose opinions are widely quoted, and for those who choose to blog, I think there is a larger responsibility to accuracy.

In this case, you and your co-bloggers have chosen to highlight apparently serious allegations and imply (through lack of comment) that you agree with them (otherwise why give them an uncritical platform?). One of those criticisms is based on nothing more than a mistaken understanding of what radiative forcing is - something that is actually pretty basic - and that is dealt with in papers like Hegerl et al (2007) or Goosse et al (2005) that you co-authored. (Found in one minute using google scholar).

For all the attention you and HvS have paid my comments - discourses on internet anonymity and blogging philosophy - you haven't taken the tiny amount of time to actual deal with the substance.

Why is that?

PolyisTCOandbanned said...


If the subject is one, where you can engage on the content, would appreciate if you did. I confess to not being able to make any judgment from reading this thread and too lazy to look at the refs.

eduardo said...

Dear Fred,

I can tell you that the reason is quite simple. I will have to go through Roger Pielkes papers, the relevant IPCC chapter. That takes time in a subject in which I am not actively working. You are over interpreting, as often happens in the bloggosphere

But as the issue seems to be interesting, I will try to form myself an opinion, which may be very well be ' i dont know'.

Other than that, as I wrote before, this is an open blog and I may agree or not with many other blogs that have been published here before. This is a platform for discussion, not a party leaflet. Please, keep this in mind

Hans von Storch said...

Fred has come forward with his request that Eduardo and I are obliged to have an decisive opinion about the issues discussed on the Zwiebel. This is certainly not the case; sometimes we approach others for publishing their points of view, because we find these views interesting and worth to be discussed - not because we a-priori think the analysis is "right". This was also in case of Roger's thread - Roger is an eminent scientist, who has written a significant book on a large variety of meteorologcial processes and on regional weather and very many peer-reviewed journals. Thus, his understanding of the issue is much better than mine - my knowledge about radiative processes is really slim (I have never published an article on the issue of the physics of radiation) - and I thought his point of view may really have not received the deserved attention in the IPCC process. Therefore I convinced him that it would make sense to present his complaint about insufficient attention by the IPCC WG I "in one piece" here at the Zwiebel, and I was very happy that he did so.

Now my opinion: I tend to believe that the IPCC did not consider the position of Roger and others on the relative role of different anthropogenic drivers on climate well enough; the material was published well before the dead-line, and a thorough discussion - possibly with a negative concluding assessment - would have been warranted.

But, we learned soemthing else from Fred's insistence - there are lots of people out there who can not stand uncertainty; they need "authorities", who are considered experts by some, to make authorative statements - yes or no! But this approach will lead nowhere. Why are Eduardo and I considered experts? We know a lot, but are we knowledgeable with respect to the issue of radiation? Not really, if compared to Roger (which does not mean that Roger is necessarily right). Thus, dear Freds of the world, make up your own mind - on the issue based on the arguments brought forward, on the experts, who are constructed by various media.

Anonymous Fred said...

Dr. von Storch, you completely misconstrue my point. I am interested in your opinion on this issue only because you have brought this matter to public attention via your blog. I do not see your opinion as authoritative and I doubt that my understanding of the issue is going to change because of it. Neither am I somehow troubled by uncertainty (where did you get that impression? Does the desire for clarity where clarity is possible automatically imply that I am incapable of seeing where clarity is impossible? I hardly think so).

However, Dr. Pielke's 'topic 2' does not require a wide range of reading to understand, nor is it a particularly esoteric point. The diagram in SPM.2 is of the radiative forcing in 2005 (referenced to 1750) and is clearly so captioned. Dr. Pielke bases his claim of an IPCC 'error' on the fact that he thinks that 'radiative forcing' is defined as the current radiative imbalance. This is a mistake, and you do not need to be an expert in radiative transfer to see it.

You are certainly not responsible for correcting every mistake in the science that appears on the internet, but when they appear on your blog, I think you do have such a responsibility.

Of course, if you prefer to suggest that you do not yourself know what the definition of radiative forcing is, that is your prerogative (it is after all central to the issue of anthropogenic climate change). However, I (and others I suspect) would find that surprising.

The other two topics are indeed more nuanced and IMO are questions of balance, rather than error, but let's see if we can't disaggregate issues by starting with the most straightforward...

Roger A. Pielke Sr. said...

Annoymous Fred - Regarding your statement

"The diagram in SPM.2 is of the radiative forcing in 2005 (referenced to 1750) and is clearly so captioned",

this is not how the figure is captioned [it is only in reading the footnote that they correct this misstatement]

The 2001 IPCC report Figure 3 [], in contrast, is clear on what they are presenting.

I am amazed that you will just not agree that the caption is not correctly articulated, and could have been more clearly written. It is an error that I would have an author correct in their figure caption if I were serving as an editor or reviewer.

There remains, regardless, the issue as to what are the best estimates of the globally and annually averaged radiative forcing and radiative imbalance in 2005 (or for the current year). The 2007 IPCC SPM, by not presenting these estimates, is the real error that their Figure caption for SPM.2 obscures.

Paul Matthews said...

There is in fact a more basic error in figure SPM2.
The average figure for cloud albedo feedback is wrong.
See number 5 on my list of errors, distortions and exaggerations in WG1 at
(Many of which originated from Roger Pielke).

PolyisTCOandbanned said...

Eduardo: are in my "the man" category. Got no problem with the need to read the shiznet. It's not immediately clear to me either which nitpicker is correct. Just didn't want to think you would take a pass on saying the truth regardless of your side or not. I should have known better. (but this is a trait of McI, etc. who like to run things and then not take responsibility for them, or to not call out their own side on errors even when well within their area of knowledge and interest). But...again...I know you are better than that. And completely understand the need to go read that crap to weed through and get the point. Must be saying something about how hard it is for a general reader to adjuticate the Peilke/Fred points if you can't do it immediately either.

eduardo said...

My interpretation of the claim by Roger Pielke Sr. is the following:
There are several entangled questions. One is the definition of radiative forcing, which can be quite subtle. To my understanding radiative forcing is the energy imbalance caused by an instantaneous changing one 'external agent', e.g. solar irradiance of the concentration of CO2. The word 'instantaneous' assures that the system has not had material time to start its adaptation towards the new boundary conditions. For instance, if we increase solar irradiance, the down welling energy will increase, but after some time temperature will increase (this increasing the outgoing long-wave radiation), cloud cover and atmospheric moisture will also change, modifying the initial energy imbalance. The second question is that most climate researchers would believe that the radiative forcing would be defined in a state of equilibrium, but strictly speaking it should not be necessaryly so. Now the figure caption of SPM.2 does not refer to any previous state of equilibrium (only the footnote does, 1750). So a policy maker , based only on the figure caption and on the definition of radiative forcing would reach the conclusion that the figures in SPM2 display the radiative imbalance in 2005, which would be wrong. Also, it would certainly almost imposible to disentangle the contribution to radiative imbalance of the different external forcings, since the reaction of the system is in many cases independent of the forcing (e.g. the increase longwave emission). So the figure caption alone is not very meaningful. The best way to elucidate weather or not this is true would be to make exactly that experiment: ask a policy maker what he/she understands from the figure and the figure caption.
I personally would not interpret it in that way, and I think any other climate scientist would not either, but the figure is in the summary for policy makers, which supposedly is read by ...policy makers.

In summary, I think the figure caption is not correct, but I would not put it in the same category as the Himalayan- glacier mistake. It is rather a use of language that could be misleading for the non expert. This being said, I believe that only very few policy makers, apart from those that were involved in its writing, have read in detail the summary for policy makers. I also doubt that many policy makers understood what radiative forcing is - beyond being some type of index of relative importance of external factors - but of course I may be wrong.

PolyisTCOandbanned said...

Thanks, Ed.