Monday, August 30, 2010

And now for something completely different

I would like to post 4 diagrams concerning scientists’ perceptions of some aspects of the state of climate science. The data was collected in 2008. Three lists were employed in constructing the sample. List one included a list of authors, affiliations and email addresses drawn from climate journals with the 10 highest ISI impact ratings for the last 10 years. These are authors of climate related papers in peer reviewed climate related journals. The second list was the list of authors who contributed to Oreskes’ (2004) published conclusions concerning consensus in the climate change issue. A third list was drawn from readily available email lists on institute web sites (i.e. NCAR, MPI, AMS, etc.). Duplicates in the three lists were removed before distribution. The combined invitation list numbered a potential 2677 respondents; defunct email addresses reduced the valid mail out to 2059. Invitations to participate in the survey were distributed by email, providing a link to the on-line survey. Provisions were made so that should someone submit a duplicate form the form identifier resulted in the original being over written. Consequently, for each invitation it was only possible to have one completed survey written to the data set. The response rate for ISI authors list was approximately 27%, for Oreskes’ list, approximately 10%, and from the Institute list, approximately 19%, for a combined response rate of 18% (375 responses). (The full survey will shortly be available on-line as a GKSS report)

The diagrams are presented without comment or interpretation and the results are open for discussion.   

Data availability for climate change analysis is

Data collection efforts are currently


The state of theoretical understanding of climate change phenomena is

Current theory development for climate change is


richardtol said...


Dennis Bray said...

Hey Richard, do you mean everything is 'just right'?

bigcitylib said...

How much change from the last go-round? If not much, could this reflect more of a fundamental attitude of the scientisits to their science and less a response to changes in modelling, obs, and etc.? (for example, they say if you ask an Irishman how things are, they will always tell you "getting worse")

Also, would be interesting if the dissatisfaction/satisfaction levels are related to sub-disciplines within the field.

Dennis Bray said...

@ bigcitylib

in 2008 293 of the 375 respondents claimed to work in the 'physics of the climate system (modelling, model development, data acquisition, theory development)

While it is possible to seperate them out from the rest of the sample, a more detailed analysis of modellers evaluation of models is under review for publication so won't be posted on this blog. This is also true of change over time. It is safe to say that modellers have claimed that some things remain unchanged, some are worse and some are better.

richardtol said...

Sure. There is a clear tendency to reply somewhere in the middle.

Next time, maybe you should ask them to allocate research moneys. Suppose there is $10 bln of funding. Which fraction should go to data collection, making data avaiable, modelling, theory, communication?

Anonymous said...

The third graph is very interesting :

"The state of theoretical understanding of climate change phenomena is ..."

At a first glance it looks balanced, but is it really and what does it mean?

Is todays theoretical understanding of meteorological phenomena adequate? Can we ever really be satisfied?

But in the climate change debate there are more fundamental divergences about what we know today. Does this graphic reflect the divergences between "believers" and "sceptics"? Or does it just say that the understanding of what will (after all) happen could be better?


ingno said...

Comparing the third graph above to figure 15 of the last report (2007) indicates a significant shift toward being less confident in the ability of climate theories to assess the effects of green-house gases (from 2003 to 2008). Although the questions are not identically phrased they seem to me to ask about the same thing.