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Climate Shifts » Climate Shifts http://www.climateshifts.org Science, climate change, coral reefs and the environment Sun, 05 Oct 2014 04:16:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.25 Breaking news: Stanford climate scientist Steve Schneider passes away at age 65 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5632 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5632#comments Tue, 20 Jul 2010 12:30:51 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5632

“No one, and I mean no one, had a broader and deeper understanding of the climate issue than Stephen,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “More than anyone else, he helped shape the way the public and experts thought about this problem — from the basic [...]]]>

“No one, and I mean no one, had a broader and deeper understanding of the climate issue than Stephen,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “More than anyone else, he helped shape the way the public and experts thought about this problem — from the basic physics of the problem, to the impact of human beings on nature’s ecosystems, to developing policy.”

World renowned climate scientist Steve Schneider, Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University died unexpectedly today of a heart attack whilst returning from a meeting in Sweden. For those that don’t know of him, it’s a huge loss to climate science: Real Climate weights in with eulogy. See Schneider’s work via his lab website here.

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The lies of Bob Carter and Anthony Watts http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5478 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5478#comments Mon, 14 Jun 2010 21:10:45 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5478 Denier disciples Bob Carter and Anthony Watts are giving a talk in Brisbane tonight at The Irish Club (175 Elizabeth Street, 7:00 pm).

The Climate Shifts crew and other scientists will be there en masse to record and debunk the lies that will be told.

But as a primer, we thought a simple compilation of the [...]]]> Denier disciples Bob Carter and Anthony Watts are giving a talk in Brisbane tonight at The Irish Club (175 Elizabeth Street, 7:00 pm).

The Climate Shifts crew and other scientists will be there en masse to record and debunk the lies that will be told.

But as a primer, we thought a simple compilation of the lies these two fools have been spreading would be valuable background information for any media planning to cover the event.

Bob Carter: Bob is a geologist associated with James Cook Uni.  Bob was a key player in one of the most recent denier scandals, aka “Cartergate” (see here and here).  The CS collection of articles on Bob’s falsehoods and shoddy science is here.  Also see Deltoid’s impressive collection here.

Anthony Watts: Tonight’s headliner is a former TV weatherman, known for his claims that the earth is cooling and is really square.  Well see here and here and  watch the videos:

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Climate change skeptics ‘lack scientific credibility’ http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5134 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5134#comments Sun, 11 Apr 2010 03:06:43 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5134

The skeptics who frequently deny the reality of climate change in the world’s media lack all scientific credibility, charge three eminent Australian researchers who have just been listed among the world’s 20 most influential scientists in the field of climate change.

Marine researchers Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor Terry Hughes and Professor John Pandolfi [...]]]>

The skeptics who frequently deny the reality of climate change in the world’s media lack all scientific credibility, charge three eminent Australian researchers who have just been listed among the world’s 20 most influential scientists in the field of climate change.

Marine researchers Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor Terry Hughes and Professor John Pandolfi were ranked in the world’s top 20 by the international science citation analysts Thomson Reuters and ScienceWatch, for the decade 1999-2009. All three are coral reef researchers, members of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS).

However, they warn, many self-proclaimed climate skeptics have never conducted any authentic climate research nor had it peer-reviewed by the world scientific community and published in respected journals.

The three researchers are urging the Australian and international media to be far more cautious in accepting views about climate change put by people whose work has not been subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny and peer-review – and to question the motives behind it.

Professors Hoegh-Guldberg, Hughes and Pandolfi (ranked 3, 7 and 17 in the world respectively) have published extensively in the world scientific literature, in particular on the impacts of climate change on the world’s coral reefs, fish and ocean ecosystems, and on the appropriate management responses to human-related climate change.

Collectively, their research papers on climate change have been cited by over 5000 other scientific publications, giving their work a powerful influence over the thinking of other researchers globally, who then cited it in their own peer-reviewed reports.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, is a co-author of the world’s most cited paper on climate change, the 2002 Nature report, “Ecological responses to recent climate change” (G.R. Walther et al., Nature 416: 389-95, 2002), which has now been cited about 1,100 times.

The US National Center for Atmospheric Research is ranked as the world’s most cited institution. Its most cited paper – the 2003 Science report, “Climate change, human impacts and the resilience of coral reefs“ – was co-authored by an international team including Professors Hughes, Hoegh-Guldberg and Pandolfi (T.P. Hughes et al., Science 302: 1503-1504, 2003)

“There are no climate skeptics among the coral reef science and management community, because we have seen first-hand the damage caused to reefs in response to the global warming that has already occurred. The evidence for man-made climate change is unequivocal,” says CoECRS director, Professor Hughes

“Our focus now is to move beyond the gloom, doom and denial, and look for practical solutions that will limit the damage from climate change.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said: “The evidence emerging from both ocean and atmospheric science makes it increasingly clear that humanity is going to have to get atmospheric CO2 levels back down to 350 parts per million or less, if we are to avoid major impacts on the planet and everything that lives on it.

“It is good that Australian science is playing a significant role in this global awakening – and Australians generally can support their science by demanding greater urgency and more action from their governments and political parties.”

CoECRS principal researcher Professor Pandolfi from The University of Queensland, said: “We are entering a new era in the history of environmental change on our planet: dramatic changes in climate coupled with massive degradation from overexploitation and pollution continue to threaten the foundations of many ecosystems.

“By showing that these linked threats are unprecedented in the Earth’s long history, we are drawing a line in the sand for immediate and substantial action to promote the rehabilitation and recovery of ecosystem goods and services.”

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Debunking the climate change myths of Dr Andrew Burns http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5069 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5069#comments Sun, 28 Mar 2010 23:04:28 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5069 So quite often we get a torrent of completely pointless comments on Climate Shifts (e.g. “Don’t bother with the next scare of “Oceans going acidic, shock – horror” that one is dead in the water…. Get real, the AGW scare is gone forever. Climategate, glaciergate, amazongate, yawn, it goes it just goes on and on……” [...]]]> So quite often we get a torrent of completely pointless comments on Climate Shifts (e.g. “Don’t bother with the next scare of “Oceans going acidic, shock – horror” that one is dead in the water…. Get real, the AGW scare is gone forever. Climategate, glaciergate, amazongate, yawn, it goes it just goes on and on……” and “The public will determine policy based on preception so kiss AGW good bye baby! The skeptics have won. It’s over, go home.”). Other times, we get the usual “THE EARTH IS COOLING SO CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALL A LIE” approach. Here’s a comment we got this morning from Andrew Burns (unsurprisingly from this story) which seems to fit the usual template:

There’s thousands more scientists who have woken up to the global warming scam … and even more who look at the facts:

1. Warming since the Little Ice Age
2. A DECREASE in the rate of warming after 1945, when man’s CO2 output increased 1200%.
3. No warming in the past 15 years
4. No evidence that man’s CO2 has contributed to warming
5. Lots of faked temperature data (eg Darwin)
6. Oceans cooling for the past 5 years.
7. Sea levels rising for the past 6000 years with less increase in recent years.

Should we post comments like these? It’s pretty clear from above that it’s a deliberate campaign of disinformation. Instead, let’s dismantle this meme piece by piece (thanks in large part to Skeptical Science):

There’s thousands more scientists who have woken up to the global warming scam … and even more who look at the facts:

More often than not, these comments always appeal to the “facts” with zero evidence. So exactly who are these scientists? What is the scam they’ve woken up to? See these links for discussion on “Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?” and “Do 500 scientists refute the consensus?“. Here’s a challenge for you Dr Burns: name some of these thousands of scientists?

1. Warming since the Little Ice Age

Here’s one I never understood. Why do skeptics assume that all warming is anthropogenic? Anyhow, here’s what the science says:

“The main driver of the warming from the Little Ice Age to 1940 was the warming sun with a small contribution from volcanic activity. However, solar activity leveled off after 1940 and the net influence from sun and volcano since 1940 has been slight cooling. Greenhouse gases have been the main contributor of warming since 1970.”
(Read more)

2. A DECREASE in the rate of warming after 1945, when man’s CO2 output increased 1200%.

Where does this figure of 1200% come from? Why is 1945 significant? Who knows? Either way, this seems to be a new spin on the same recycled argument. Here’s what the science says:

Early 20th century warming was in large part due to rising solar activity and relatively quiet volcanic activity. However, both factors have played little to no part in the warming since 1975. Solar activity has been steady since the 50′s. Volcanoes have been relatively frequent and if anything, have exerted a cooling effect.
(Read more)

3. No warming in the past 15 years

The ‘it hasn’t warmed since 1998′ meme has been recycled and debunked more times than I can count:

The planet has continued to accumulate heat since 1998 – global warming is still happening. Nevertheless, surface temperatures show much internal variability due to heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. 1998 was an unusually hot year due to a strong El Nino. (Read more)

Empirical measurements of the Earth’s heat content show the planet is still accumulating heat and global warming is still happening. Surface temperatures can show short term cooling when heat is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, which has a much greater heat capacity than the air.
(Read more)

Globally-averaged annual mean temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius, together with 11-year unweighted moving averages (solid lines). Blue circles from the Hadley Centre (British). Red diamonds from NASA GISS. Green squares from NOAA NCDC. NASA GISS and NOAA NCDC are offset in vertical direction by increments of 0.5°C for visual clarity.

4. No evidence that man’s CO2 has contributed to warming

On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence that CO2 is contributing to warming:

Direct observations find that CO2 is rising sharply due to human activity. Satellite and surface measurements find less energy is escaping to space at CO2 absorption wavelengths. Ocean and surface temperature measurements find the planet continues to accumulate heat. This gives a line of empirical evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
(Read more)

5. Lots of faked temperature data (eg Darwin)

I don’t know where to start here. Darwin ‘faked’ temperature data?

6. Oceans cooling for the past 5 years.

Another debunked meme:

Early estimates of ocean heat from the Argo showed a cooling bias due to pressure sensor issues. Recent estimates of ocean heat that take this bias into account show continued warming of the upper ocean. This is confirmed by independent estimates of ocean heat as well as more comprehensive measurements of ocean heat down to 2000 metres deep. (Read more)

7. Sea levels rising for the past 6000 years with less increase in recent years

What was the rate of sea level rise for the past 6000 years? Without this we can only guess what was meant, but either way, the science is clear:

Sea levels are measured by a variety of methods that show close agreement – sediment cores, tidal gauges, satellite measurements. What they find is sea level rise has been steadily accelerating over the past century.(Read more).

Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates

Thanks to Dr Andrew Burns for allowing us to correct his misunderstandings! Thanks too for Skeptical Science, check out their new iPhone app:

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McLean et al respond and the saga heats up http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5028 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5028#comments Thu, 25 Mar 2010 05:39:51 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5028

Following this weeks earlier revelations of data fudging, the authors (John McLean, Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter) have responded to the debunking of their paper by Foster et al (Grant Foster, James Annan, Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Jim Renwick, Jim Salinger, Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth).  The paper was shown to [...]]]>

Following this weeks earlier revelations of data fudging, the authors (John McLean, Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter) have responded to the debunking of their paper by Foster et al (Grant Foster, James Annan, Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Jim Renwick, Jim Salinger, Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth).  The paper was shown to be rubbed and a good example of statistical trickery nearly immediately after it was published (more on the background at Climate Shifts and Skeptical Science).

Oddly, the response was posted to the ICECAP website (click here for a direct link to the pdf) and not on either authors hompages. In fact McLean’s web site still says “The informal nature of the Foster et al critique makes it inappropriate for me to respond in detail to it here, but should the criticisms be published in the normal manner we authors will respond as appropriate”.

The document is titled Censorship at AGU: scientists denied the right of reply”. Is there a “right of reply” in academic science?  No.  There is a tradition to allow authors whose work is being criticized to respond – a tradition that was followed in this case. However, the response has to go through peer review; you don’t have any kind of right to publish in any journal.

The McLean et al response was peer-reviewed and was rejected.  Looking at it, or at least what they claim was what they submitted as a response, we can see why.  The response contains the same errors as the original article. The point of a reply isn’t simply to repeat the statements in your original paper. McLean et al largely miss the nature of the debunking by Foster et al 2010. Contrary to blog science, this is not a mere difference of opinion; the original McLean at al 2009 paper was shown to be fundamentally flawed and the analysis was likely intentionally skewed to produced the desired result. The paper should be retracted by the authors. In scientific publishing, when your work is show to be flawed (and in this case probably fraudulent), there is no automatic “right of reply”.

One thing worth noting: this whole affair is hosted on the “IceCap” blog; AKA International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project. Interestingly, the people listed on experts page include de Freitas and Carter, and wait, also Sallie Baliunas of the notorious (and debunked) Soon and Baliunas paper. Wasn’t de Freitas the editor of that much-maligned paper?  Sure enough. So he edited Baliunas’ paper even though they are members of the same small ideologically-oriented organization?  Isn’t that a conflict of interest?  Yup. And it is ironic given McLean et al‘s complaints about Foster et al suggesting a reviewer whose name shows up in an (illegally obtained) email of one of the authors:

In response to this request, the Foster et al. group suggested the following persons as possible reviewers for their submitted critique: Ben Santer, Dave Thompson, Dave Easterling, Tom Peterson, Neville Nicholls, and David Parker (with Tom Wigley, Tom Karl and Mike Wallace also mentioned but regarded as doubtful). Phil Jones commenting “All of them know the sorts of things to say – about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting.”

A search of the Climategate emails for each of the names suggested above shows that all six of these persons were reasonably well known to Phil Jonesm

At the end of the day, the truth of the matter largely rests with AGU and we look forward to their perspective on all this.

Despite all the song and dance about how:

Science is best progressed by open and free discussion in which all participants have equal rights of contribution.

(which is complete nonsense: all participants, don’t have equal right of contribution in any science),  McLean et al seem to have spent more time documenting how they were wronged by AGU and criticising the scientific process than they did trying to rebut and correct the errors highlighted out by Foster et al (which are still valid).

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John McLean still manipulating data http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5012 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5012#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 23:34:23 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5012 Still waiting for John McLean and Bob Carter to comment on the Foster et al response published in JGR outlining exactly how they manipulated their dataset to give a false conclusion. According to McLean’s website, although the authors were well aware of the Foster response before it was published:

The informal [...]]]> Still waiting for John McLean and Bob Carter to comment on the Foster et al response published in JGR outlining exactly how they manipulated their dataset to give a false conclusion. According to McLean’s website, although the authors were well aware of the Foster response before it was published:

The informal nature of the Foster et al critique makes it inappropriate for me to respond in detail.

Right. Apparently the long delay between the original McLean et al publication and the Foster et al critique was in part due to the fact that the McClean et al were invited to respond to the critique prior to it being published in JGR, but ultimately declined.

So, while we wait for a formal response, here’s another lie from McLean’s own homepage: sea surface temperatures (SST’s) along the Great Barrier Reef are not increasing. In recent times, climate scientists have been blasted for using ultra-secret ‘tricks‘ to manipulate their data. It seems that McLean has gone one up on this in his analysis of SST’s, using statistical averaging to hide the any possible trends:

The data is in form of values for grid cells of 1 degree latitude by 1 degree longitude.  From it I extracted the data applying to the GBR Marine Park and calculated the average across the park for each month.

The GBR covers over 200,000km2, from 11′S to 24′S. By averaging surface temperatures across the entire region, McLean effectively destroys any warming trend, and presents the data as an average, with no indication of error or confidence intervals. In fact, here’s how spatially variable SST across the entire GBR Marine Park really can be (from Lough 1994):

Here it is again, this time using SST’s over the past 105 yrs (De’ath et al 2009):

Considering the seemingly obvious with latitudinal temperature gradients, why did McLean ignore spatial variability in SST’s and reach the conclusion that sea surface temperature isn’t increasing on the GBR?

These graphs make it abundantly clear that the sea surface temperature along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are not increasing at an alarming rate. The people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims. These sea temperatures might rise in future but the historical evidence suggests that this will most likely be due to the natural forces of El Nino events.

In case you missed it, here it is again: “The people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims“. Really? Instead of relying on website science*, let’s go to the published literature. Using mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) records were obtained from the HadISST1 for 1° grid cells, between 1900 to 2006, De’ath et al (2009) found clear temporal trends across 2° latitudinal bands:

We’ve tried replicating the results from McLean’s website results, but the methodology is (deliberately?) vague. Considering John McLean is an employee of “Applied Science Consultants” in Victoria, Australia, we can’t bombard him with FOI requests to show us his methods and data, so it seems only fair to ask McLean to be a little more transparent in his analysis. Otherwise, the conclusion that “.. people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims” seems particularly disingenuous. Should we expect a retraction on McLean’s behalf? As David Horton pointed out the other day: “This was never a scientific debate, always an ideological one, or, rather, it was always science versus ideology.”

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How Bob Carter diddled his data http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4968 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4968#comments Mon, 22 Mar 2010 00:53:52 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4968 “We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century.”

That is how Bob Carter described the implications of the paper he coauthored last year (McLean et al. 2009). But a new rebuttal to the paper (Foster et al. 2010) [...]]]> “We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century.”

That is how Bob Carter described the implications of the paper he coauthored last year (McLean et al. 2009). But a new rebuttal to the paper (Foster et al. 2010) describes how McLean et al diddled their data to create a bogus and very strong positive relationship between the ENSO index and global atmospheric temperature. Scientists have long known that ENSO cycles, El Nino and La Nino events, can drive short-term (year to year) fluctuations in global climate and temperature.  But Foster et al McLean et al argued that there was an extremely strong relationship between the two variables, and moreover, that an increase in the ENSO index explained 80% of the observed global warming since, i.e., they argued that ENSO caused global warming.

Foster et al. 2010 is currently in press at the peer-review journal Journal of Geophysical Research but a PDF preprint can be downloaded here. Some aspects of it are technical, but most of the paper is quite readable.

The primary problem Foster et al. 2010 identified in the McLean et al. 2009 is how they transformed or filtered their data before analyzing how related the two variables were.

their [McLean et al] conclusions are seriously in error because their analysis is based on inappropriate application of filters to the data used. It is well established that ENSO accounts for much of the interannual variability in tropospheric temperatures (Trenberth et al. [2002] and references therein). By filtering they have reduced the time series studied to a narrow frequency band, thereby exagerrating what is already well-known. Consequently, their estimates are at marked variance with essentially every other study of the connection between ENSO and large-scale temperature variability, particularly with regard to the role of ENSO in any long-term warming trends, that has been carried out over the past two decades. – Foster et al

It is only because of this faulty analysis that they are able to claim such extremely high correlations. The suggestion in their conclusions that ENSO may be a major contributor to recent trends in global temperature is not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in that paper,especially as the analysis method itself eliminates the influence of trends on the purported correlations. – Foster et al

Here Foster et al describe the diddling, in technical terms, that led to the bogus result:

For all monthly time series (the global and tropical MSU temperature estimates from UAH and the SOI from the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology), the analysis of MFC09 first takes 12-month moving averages of the data, then takes differences between those values which are 12 months apart. The first step filters the high-frequency variation from the time series, while the second step filters low frequency variation. The latter step is perhaps the most problematic aspect of their analysis. It approximates taking the time derivative of the smoothed series, and therefore any linear trend which may be present in the original data will be reduced to an additive constant. Since additive constants have no effect on the correlation between time series, any subsequent correlation-based analysis of the processed time series can tell us absolutely nothing about the presence or causes of trends in the original data. – Foster et al

McLean et al justify the filtering by stating:

“To remove the noise, the absolute values were replaced with derivative values based on variations. Here the derivative is the 12-month running average subtracted from the same average for data 12 months later.”

But as Foster et al point out:

taking the derivative of a time series does not remove, or even reduce, short-term noise. It has the opposite effect, amplifying the noise while attenuating the longerterm changes. Thus, the use of the differencing filter has not been justified, as it has precisely the opposite effect to that invoked by the authors. The noise due to short-term “forces” has already been reduced by the moving-average step. Yet even this noise should not have been removed if the authors truly wish to estimate how much of the total variation in GTTA is due to variations in the SOI.

In spite of the extreme distorting effect of their filter, MFC09 consistently refer to the correlations and fractions of explained variation they derive as between the SOI and tropospheric temperature, both in the abstract and the conclusions. They make no attempt to draw attention to the fact, let alone emphasize, that the reported correlations are between heavily filtered time series, or between estimated derivatives of time series. This failure causes what is essentially a mistaken result to be misinterpreted as a direct relationship between important climate variables. – Foster et al

The second problem with McLean at el is their stitching together of temperature data from two sources in their Figure 7, as a way to suggest their statistical findings are also evident in the raw data trends.  Two aspects of this are fishy.  One, they failed to correct for an offset in one of the datasets, which effectively reduced a recent observed warming trend (see Foster et al’s discussion of this just below).  Two, they effectively hid this stitching wiith vertical lines in their graphic.

In Figure 7 of MFC09, the authors plot actual GTTA (not filtered versions) against the SOI (using different axes) to illustrate the quality of the match between them. However the GTTA signal they plot is a splice of RATPAC-A data through 1979 followed by UAH TLT data since 1980. RATPAC-A data show a pronounced trend over the entire time span, which is visually evident from Figure 4 in MFC09, the temperature line rising away from the SOI line. It is especially misleading simply to append one data set to the other because there is a zero-point difference between the two. The mean values of RATPAC-A and UAH TLT data during their period of overlap differ by nearly 0.2 K, so splicing them together without compensating for this introduces an artificial 0.2-degree temperature drop at the boundary between the two. Unfortunately this is obscured by the fact that the graph is split into different panels precisely at the splicing boundary. – Foster et al

John Cook has a clear explanation of this problem too:

Another interesting feature of McLean et al 2009 is a plot of unfiltered temperature data (GTTA) against the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) to illustrate the quality of the match between them. However the temperature signal is a splice of weather balloon data (RATPAC-A) to the end of 1979 followed by satellite data (UAH TLT) since 1980. RATPAC-A data show a pronounced warming trend from 1960 to 2008 with the temperature line rising away from the SOI line. This warming trend is obscured by substituting the weather balloon data with satellite data after 1980. It is especially misleading because the mean values of RATPAC-A and UAH TLT data during their period of overlap differ by nearly 0.2 K. Splicing them together introduces an artificial 0.2-degree temperature drop at the boundary between the two. Unfortunately, the splicing is obscured by the fact that the graph is split into different panels precisely at the splicing boundary. This splicing + graph splitting technique is an effective way to “hide the incline” of the warming trend.

McLean et al first author John McLean is an Andrew Bolt palwho often gets Bolt into trouble by sharing misinformation with him. Second author Chris de Freitas has an ethically challenged reputation as well; as an editor at Climate Research he published the notorious (and debunked) Soon and Baliunas paper.  The lead editor and several additional editors at Climate Research resigned over the de Freitas flap (see a round up of this saga here in Scientific American). And third author, Bob Carter is a skeptic media darling, frequently appearing on right wing American talk shows like the Glenn Beck show and speaking at Heartland Institute conferences.

There was already a fair amount of analysis and discussion of the mis-deeds of McLean et al. 2009 even before the Foster et al. 2010 paper was published. Many think some of the anonymous bloggers who first noticed the problems with the study, e.g., Tamino, are indeed authors on the new Foster et al rebuttal paper. Brian Bahnisch has a recent roundup here, including:

Tamino’s explanation of the errors in the analaysis

Greenfyres list of a range of ethical lapses and other problems with the paper

Deep Climates very deep analysis of the problems with the analysis:

Finally, see John Cooks post Foster et al overview of the problems with McLean et al here

References

McLean, J. D., C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter (2009), Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, D14104, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637.

Foster, G., J. D. Annan, P. D. Jones, M. E. Mann, J. Renwick, J. Salinger, G. A. Schmidt, K. E. Trenberth. Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature by J. D. McLean, C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter. In Press at Journal of Geophysical Research (download the PDF preprint here)

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Climate scientist busted for fudging data http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4911 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4911#comments Thu, 18 Mar 2010 20:53:06 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4911 Nope, it isn’t Phil Jones or Michael Mann. It is Bob Carter, a co-author on McLean et al. 2009 “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature”.

Last year, Bob claimed “We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past [...]]]> Nope, it isn’t Phil Jones or Michael Mann. It is Bob Carter, a co-author on McLean et al. 2009 “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature”.

Last year, Bob claimed “We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century.”

Well a new paper (Foster et al. 2010) debunks these claims and shows the underlying analysis of McLean et al. 2009 to be totally erroneous. Oops.

See John Cooks technical overview here, but put simply, the authors transformed their data in a way that resulted in an erroneous conclusion. Their inappropriate treatment of their data greatly inflated the temporal relationship between ENSO (a natural cyclic phenomena) and warming of the lower atmosphere.

Basically, Bob and his mates used a few statistical tricks to smooth away the climate trend (have a look at Figure 3 and 4 in Foster and co. paper for how this works).

The Foster et al (2010) abstract states:  McLean et al. [2009] claim that the El Ni˜no/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), as represented by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), accounts for as much as 72% of the global tropospheric temperature anomaly (GTTA) and an even higher 81% of this anomaly in the tropics. They conclude that the SOI is a “dominant and consistent influence on mean global temperatures,” “and perhaps recent trends in global temperatures”. However, their analysis is incorrect in a number of ways, and greatly overstates the influence of ENSO on the climate system. This comment first briefly reviews what is understood about the influence of ENSO on global temperatures, then goes on to show that the analysis of MFC09 severely overestimates the correlation between temperature anomalies and the SOI by inflating the power in the 2–6 year time window while filtering out variability on longer and shorter time scales. It is only because of this faulty analysis that they are able to claim such extremely high correlations. The suggestion in their conclusions that ENSO may be a major contributor to recent trends in global temperature is not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in that paper, especially as the analysis method itself eliminates the influence of trends on the purported correlations.

Bob is a well-known skeptic who also happens to be a university PhD scientist at James Cook University in Townsville Australia, also home of our friend Peter Ridd.

His rightwing affiliations are outlined by sourcewatch here:

He is a member of the right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs [8], and a founding member of the Australian Environment Foundation, a front group set up by the Institute of Public Affairs.

He has made countless outlandish and false claims about climate change, climate change science and the IPCC over the years, including these gems:

“atmospheric CO2 is not a primary forcing agent for temperature change”

“any cumulative human signal is so far undetectable at a global level and, if present, is buried deeply in the noise of natural variation”

If you have the time, you can peruse his impressive catalogue of denialist talks and essays here (including his appearances on the Glenn Beck show, talks at the Heartland Institute, you get the picture).

He recently penned a screed against James Hansen in which Bob related Hansen to soviet Lamarckian biologist Trofim Lysenko. (what?!) Carter argues for an investigation of climate science and scientists. Indeed. Since he is the first prominent climate scientists to be caught manipulating data to achieve a pre-determmined outcome, is it not obvious where the investigation should begin? Secondly, he also argues that the (mostly bogus and totally overblown) problems in some of the IPCC reports should result in a policy shift. Well the logic makes sense: science should in part drive the policy.  And when found to be incorrect, the policy should adapt. The same must certainly be true then of Bob’s policy prescriptions that he based on the results of his now debunked study. As Michael Tobis write, Carter made some wild policy arguments based on the McLean et al 2009 paper:

Bob Carter, one of four scientists who has recently questioned the justification for the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme, says that this paper has significant consequences for public climate policy.

“The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

MT links to the Climate Depot story about the paper from July 2009 which includes the press release, which in turn includes these statements:

Nature not man responsible for recent global warming

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

“The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely” says corresponding author de Freitas.

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

Bob Carter, one of four scientists who has recently questioned the justification for the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme, says that this paper has significant consequences for public climate policy.

“The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

Also see MTs analysis and related coverage (that predates the new Foster et al paper) here and the RealClimate take here (an atrocious paper…).  Tamino, not surprisingly, picked up on this error a day after the paper was published. (so why isn’t he an author on Foster et al. 2010 – or is he?)

the real reason they note such strong correlation is that their analysis method removes all temperature variation which is due to trend — which of course makes it impossible for their analysis to indicate anything whatever about the trend.

It’s certainly not true that their analysis shows “natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to variability and perhaps recent trends in global temperature.” It shows no such thing; their analysis removes all the effect of trends.

Bob Carter’s statement in particular, that “The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions,” shows how little he understand the analysis he himself participated in. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first to fail to understand the impact of using estimated derivatives on correlation analysis.

read the rest here (warning, equations and graphs lay ahead)

The five things we want to know are:

1) Will McLean et al. retract the paper (and will Bob Carter admit fault or even discuss the errors publicly)?

2) Will the denial0sphere and the MSM give this story (a climate change scandal!) the same coverage it has recently showered on various IPCC hiccups?

3) Will there be an investigation as Bob Carter himself and so many other skeptics have insisted on over and over again, usually in response to bogus and unsubstantiated allegations.

4) Will Bob now reverse his policy positions and urge (vocally) politicians that may have been swayed by his bogus science to do the same?  After all Bob, shouldn’t the science drive the policy?

5) Will The Australian cover this pending scandal!  A scientist behaving badly!

In the CimateDepot post titled “Peer-Reviewed Study Rocks Climate Debate! ‘Nature not man responsible for recent global warming…little or none of late 20th century warming and cooling can be attributed to humans” Mark Morano (yes that Mark Morano, whom Randy Olsen describes as “arguably the loudest mouth in the climate skeptic movement with his increasingly popular website, www.climatedepot.com. He is a former field correspondent for Rush Limbaugh, helped to promote the Kerry Swift Boat Veterans story, and former spokesman for Senator James Inhofe“) makes the argument below:

Those who claim correlation using derivatives (differences) removes a linear trend miss the point. McLean et al use this method to construct Figures 5 and 6. It should be noted that detrended data was used purely to establish the time lag between the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and MGT in Figures 5 and 6. This time lag was then used in Figure 7 to show that close correlation between trends in temperature and changes in the Southern Oscillation Index seven months previously.
Figure 7 presents the data in its original form; namely, data that is not detrended, but with the time shift in SOI obtained from the detrended data. If an underlying trend existed, it would have shown up in Figure 7. One would see the temperature line rising away from the SOI line if, for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations had a significant influence. There is little or no sign of this.

Figure 4: Seven-month shifted SOI with (a) weather balloon RATPAC-A temperature data 1958–1979 and satellite UAH temperature data (b) 1980–1995. Dark line indicates SOI and light line indicates lower tropospheric temperature. Periods of volcanic activity are indicated.

Seem reasonable?  John Cook explains why it isn’t;

Another interesting feature of McLean et al 2009 is a plot of unfiltered temperature data (GTTA) against the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) to illustrate the quality of the match between them. However the temperature signal is a splice of weather balloon data (RATPAC-A) to the end of 1979 followed by satellite data (UAH TLT) since 1980. RATPAC-A data show a pronounced warming trend from 1960 to 2008 with the temperature line rising away from the SOI line. This warming trend is obscured by substituting the weather balloon data with satellite data after 1980. It is especially misleading because the mean values of RATPAC-A and UAH TLT data during their period of overlap differ by nearly 0.2 K. Splicing them together introduces an artificial 0.2-degree temperature drop at the boundary between the two. Unfortunately, the splicing is obscured by the fact that the graph is split into different panels precisely at the splicing boundary.

A simple mistake?  A mere coincidence?

This splicing + graph splitting technique is an effective way to “hide the incline” of the warming trend.

Precisely. Time for a climate audit?

To be clear, there is no way to discern the intentions of the authors from the published manuscript.  This could all be a series of mistakes that just happened to produce a surprising result that aligned with the ideology of the authors.  The only way to possibly determine why the authors chose the method of data transformation they did, stitched together disparate data, then effectively hid that data-melding in their figures is to ask them and/or to obtain their lab notes and correspondence about the paper. This would be invasive, but is precisely the type of scrutiny the Bob Carter’s of the world continually demand.

References

McLean, J. D., C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter (2009), Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, D14104, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637.

Foster, G., J. D. Annan, P. D. Jones, M. E. Mann, J. Renwick, J. Salinger, G. A. Schmidt, K. E. Trenberth. Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature by J. D. McLean, C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter. In Press at Journal of Geophysical Research (download the PDF preprint here)

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More on the IPCC process http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4271 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4271#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2010 01:32:42 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4271 A few days ago a journalist from one of the major British newspapers contacted me for my opinion on the IPCC review process, and I thought that i’d post my response here for a bit of clarity:

1.      Do you have concerns about science, data or claims presented in the final draft of [...]]]> A few days ago a journalist from one of the major British newspapers contacted me for my opinion on the IPCC review process, and I thought that i’d post my response here for a bit of clarity:

1.      Do you have concerns about science, data or claims presented in the final draft of the IPCC AR4 report? If so, please detail.

I do not have any major concerns except to point out that the IPCC AR4 is probably a little behind the latest science due to its careful review process and it requires the consensus of the wide array of experts involved.   The other major reason for saying this lies in the fact that the assessment reports of the IPCC are only published every 5 years or so.  The science of climate change is continuously and rapidly changing, hence reports get out of date very quickly.

Perhaps the best example of the fact that the IPCC is conservative in its predictions with the fact that AR4 failed to predict the sudden and precipitous drop of the Arctic summer sea ice.  This was not the fault of the highly qualified scientists involved, but a consequence of the fact that predictions like this are often highly controversial and, despite being true, require greater scientific investigation before all members of the IPCC expert teams involved are willing to sign on to them.  Hence, the IPCC process is an inherently conservative one, which has enormous significance to our understanding of the risk of a rapidly changing climate.

2.      Clearly the recent revelations and apology have dented public confidence in the IPCC’s process, what can the IPCC do to restore confidence in its findings for future reports?

Whereas the recent cherry-picking by a well supported denialist movement may have dented the public’s confidence in the IPCC process, the scientific community still stands behind the IPCC process.   I think that it would be very useful for journalists such as yourself to outline the process of coming to a conclusion on both sides of the debate.  On one side, you have well supported consensus science while on the other, you have non-peer-reviewed conclusions, bias and conjecture. Personally, if the public did actually see this, I don’t think they would be so much confusion.

One of the last points that make in response to your question, is that the IPCC is continuously reviewing the way that it goes about its processes.  This is a good strategy, whether you are making aircraft, manufacturing kitchen equipment or reviewing the latest science from the IPCC.  In the next few months, there are a number of documents that will be released from the IPCC (the result of review committees since AR4) that will recommend improvements to the IPCC process as we move towards AR5.  Clearly an organisation that is serious about quality and excellence undergoes such adaptive self improving reviews and procedures on a regular basis – the result being consistent with the IPCC’s mission statement of transparency, objectivity and honesty in reporting the latest science.

3.      Do you still have confidence in the chair and vice-chairs of the IPCC or should they stand down from their positions? Please also give a short explanation for your answer?

Personally, I have the utmost confidence in Dr Rajendra Pachauri and the IPCC vice chairs.  The sustained attack by the denialist movement have done nothing to demonstrate that Dr. Pachauri or the vice chairs have not fulfilled their IPCC duties to a high level of excellence. Attempts to undermine a couple of statements within the AR4 of the IPCC do not constitute reasons for not taking the other 99.99% of the carefully reviewed and supported science extremely seriously.

Perhaps it is useful to look at the standards on the other side of the ‘debate’.  The recent book by the denialist Ian Plimer from the University of Adelaide (“Heaven and Earth) had so many errors and falsely supported references that one university professor commented that the book would fail outright if it had been submitted as a Ph.D. thesis.

4.       Should the AR4 be reviewed in detail to check for other errors, particularly given that it is a document designed to help governments and officials make policy decisions that can impact both the environment and on people’s lives?

It is important to already realise that the IPCC is already a review document – its role already is to bring together the conclusions of thousands of scientific studies.  It also has a clear and transparent process and a excellent track record of reporting the latest scientific consensus accurately (see above).  This is unparalleled by any other source of information (compare it to the convicted felon and chief scientist Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute for example).   In my opinion, as someone who knows the IPCC process and its outputs well, I don’t think a detailed review would find more than vanishingly small number of poorly supported or erroneous statements, among thousands of scientific statements that are robustly supported.

However, given the extreme importance of climate change to government decision-making, it would be important in my opinion for any government or decision-making body using the IPCC process to apply due diligence – to explore it and be satisfied with its accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness.

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Climate Shifts Round-up for 2009 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4024 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4024#comments Sun, 03 Jan 2010 03:57:20 +0000 http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=4024 As 2010 begins, we figured it was an apt time to do a round-up of 2009 here it at Climate Shifts. It has been an exciting year – we enlisted several new bloggers, created 327 posts and greatly expanded our readership. With thirteen scientists and experts in the field of coral reefs and climate change [...]]]> As 2010 begins, we figured it was an apt time to do a round-up of 2009 here it at Climate Shifts. It has been an exciting year – we enlisted several new bloggers, created 327 posts and greatly expanded our readership. With thirteen scientists and experts in the field of coral reefs and climate change writing commentaries, the blog is expanding to a considerable expertise.

Since we moved to more reliable servers (carbon-netural green hosting!) at the end of September we’ve had 10,539 unique visitors with over 35,572 page views (excluding bots). We’ve had people from 152 countries/territories from from 2,628 cities reading our posts:

In other news, the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland officially commenced on January 1st 2010 under the guidance of Ove, and John is heading down under to Brisbane with his family for a sabbatical at UQ. Onwards to 2010! We are planning some changes for next year and would really appreciate hearing from you what type of content you want us to provide.

See below for a few stats from our plugins (again since September) – seems that the notorious Andrew Bolt post drew a few deniers out of the woodwork with 2578 views and 48 comments.

most rated posts

  1. COP15: Cold and grey but buzzing with excitement and hope. 472 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5472 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5472 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5472 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5472 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  2. “Macro-algal dominated coral reefs: shake that ASS” 4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 54 votes, average: 5.00 out of 54 votes, average: 5.00 out of 54 votes, average: 5.00 out of 54 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  3. More climate delusionism and questionable science 3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  4. Humpty dumpty and the ghosts 3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 53 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  5. Testing the ‘macroalgal dominated coral reefs’ paradigm 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  6. Local stressors act to reduce the resilience of corals to bleaching events 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  7. Maldives President Calls Underwater Meeting 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  8. Hot Pink Beasties of the Deep 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  9. Preservation of coral reefs: why isn’t the majority heard? 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (5.00 out of 5)
  10. Corals likely to starve in a high CO2 world 2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5(5.00 out of 5)

most viewed posts

  1. Happy Birthday to… Andrew Bolt! – 2,578 views
  2. “Macro-algal dominated coral reefs: shake that ASS” – 1,593 views
  3. The never-ending jellyfish joyride – 1,511 views
  4. “Great Barrier Reef could adapt to climate change, scientists say” – Facts, fallacies and fanciful thinking. – 1,126 views
  5. Why the existence of ‘heat tolerant’ corals does not mean that coral reefs will be able to resist climate change. – 1,096 views
  6. PLoS One: an open access venue for coral reef science – 955 views
  7. ExxonMobil still funding climate change sceptics – 893 views
  8. The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of <350 ppm CO2 – 843 views
  9. Catch of the day: invasive lionfish – 814 views
  10. Doom and Boom on a Resilient Reef: Climate Change, Algal Overgrowth and Coral Recovery – 784 views

There is so much great science being done in the oceans, on coral reefs and on climate change and so many important policy debates, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up and cover it all.  Luckily there are a number of awesome online resources, at least regarding climate change.  Below is a list of our favorites, in no particular order:

  • RealClimate: An amazing resource from real climate scientists.  The comments can be very educational too.
  • Skeptical Science: The webs best debunker of denier myths.
  • All the Peter Sinclair videos (which can be seen here and on YouTube)
  • ClimateProgress (a very thorough coverage of climate change policy and science, even though Joe verges on hysteria at times)
  • Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice and Sunsets:  Always interesting and informative commentary from a boots on the ground coral reef conservation scientist.
  • Deltoid: Tim Lambert tells it how it is
  • David Horton: David blogs about the environment and social justice here and on the Huff Post here
  • Monbiot.com: A collection of George Monbiot’s provocative essays
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