Madhav Khandekar

Unless I haven’t been paying attention, the mighty Madhav Khandekar’s “Questioning the Global Warming Science: An Annotated bibliography of recent peer-reviewed papers” has been met with total indifference. Until now… Its supposed (I think) to be a sort of Peiser-done-properly.

He saith: “a large number of studies questioning the GW science have appeared in peer-reviewed International scientific Journals” and “This Document presents an annotated bibliography of selected peer reviewed papers which question the current state of the GW science.” So we’d better start at the beginning, “1. Temperature reconstruction using proxy data: The Hockey-Stick Graph [ie, MBH98/99]”
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Hurricanes and AIT, again

Prompted by the proofs of my review of AIT for Met Apps (oh, the fame!) I looked at the site again and found The Science. What they list there is very thin and with no useful links. I would have hoped for something better.

Anyway, their first point is “The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.” and they source this to Emanuel, K. 2005. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature 436: 686-688. Now E does say This combined PDI has nearly doubled over the past 30 yr, but never uses the word “category”. And this is not surprising, because it starts Theory and modelling predict that hurricane intensity should increase with increasing global mean temperatures, but work on the detection of trends in hurricane activity has focused mostly on their frequency and shows no trend. The paper is about the destructiveness index, not the number of storms. Has Gore… simply misinterpreted the paper? Found something in it my quick skim missed? Or wot?

So… anyone know a good source for hurricane numbers, and how they have changed?

[Update: OK… I think I have to largely forgive them this. Their reference is wrong (it should be Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment, P. J. Webster, G. J. Holland, J. A. Curry, H.-R. Chang but it does say: “hurricanes in the strongest categories (4 + 5) have almost doubled in number (50 per pentad in the 1970s to near 90 per pentad during the past decade) and in proportion (from around 20% to around 35% during the same period). These changes occur in all of the ocean basins”. Thanks to SB for pointing this out -W]

TGGWS, again

Just when you thought the Great Global Warming Swindle rubbish had died down, Bob Ward has to go and stir things up again. So it gets into the Grauniad and the Scotsman too.

Predictably enough, the scientists talk about the science; and Durkin avoids this to talk about gagging. A classic case of framing, much as I hate to admit it.

So the question is, why bother write the letter? The idea that Durkin would have said “its a fair cop guv; I’ve seen the truth and I’ll withdraw it” is absurd. What will people that read the newspaper articles get? Not, sadly, a link to the letter detailing the misrepresentations. The Grauniad does get Myles Allen saying the papably false “all this programme did was rehash debates that were had and finished in the scientific community 15 years ago.” (the MSU debate wasn’t finished 15 years ago… or even the ice core lead/lags stuff. And in 1992, the attribution debate wasn’t settled either). Note, BTW, that the letter leaves out one gross example – for the 400y T/sunspots graph, TGGWS infilled absent sunspot data during the Maunder minimum (convenient pic of that here a little way down). The comments after the Scotsman example ar a classic example of people just saying the same things again and again in total absence of facts.

At face value, all its done is garner more publicity for Durkin… and Bob Ward. Ahhhhh.

Betting on Global Warming

While I still have a possible bet in the pipeline, Brian Schmidt now has a real bet lined up for a total of $6-$9k. Personally I think that 0.15 oC/decade is more likely than not, but that less is a realistic possiblity given natural variablity. So while its good from an expected return view it could potentially be bad from a PR view. I wonder how important the latter is… probably not very, in 10 years time.

Brian has a spread of bets across 10, 15 and 20 years which is an interesting way of doing things. I’m still looking forward to making big money (a-la James 🙂 when a real market for these things developes and reselling good-odds bets for a sure fire profit becomes possible.

Framing Science

Having been away for the past two weeks i’ve missed most of the exciting “Framing Science” stuff. I feel most sympathetic to the PZ view… In that addressing your message to your audience seems fairly obvious. But I rather like this from the globalchange mailing list:

> does a field of human endeavour which has at its foundation a
> profound belief in the value of reason go about addressing an audience
> which, for a variety of reasons, has a large proportion of members
> whose response to the issues is irrational and who do not value reason
> in the same way, instead apparently preferring an almost pre-rational,
> mythic narrative and its associated value system?

...I think the Pielkian (Jr) answer is to redefine the
problem in such a way that the denialists can swallow an acceptable
solution, the Mooney and Nisbet answer is to dress it up in language
that might disarm their objections, and the scientists' answer is to
wait for them to die out.

[Update: that was JA responding to FB, btw -W]

The scientists answer has worked before for other questions, but perhaps not for things that actually require policy responses.

BTW, Eli has a nice joke that is partly relevant… check the comments as well.

So how do I know if I understand the framing stuff? N+M say “In reality, citizens do not use the news media as scientists assume. Research shows that people are rarely well enough informed or motivated to weigh competing ideas and arguments” – weeeelll… I assume that citizens are thoroughly confused by the news media, as they get different incompatible stories from different sources – or even from the same source on different days. Judging from the way the media publish things, the stories are there for entertainment not enlightenment – and I assume that is what their readership wants.

Reith Lecture woes

I’ve just listened to that Jeffrey Sachs, the international economist, giving the 2007 Reith Lecture called “Bursting At The Seams”. I was only half listening but woke up when he said:

Now like the ozone crisis, public awareness has been the second step. For a long time climate change was discussed as something for the far future. Now it’s understood as something that imperils us today as well. The heatwave in Europe in 2003, claiming more than twenty thousand lives; Hurricane Katrina, a storm of devastating proportions, shocking the American people and the world about what climate can do; the mega-drought in Australia that took place this year, and destroyed a substantial part of Australia’s export crop; the massive typhoons being experienced by this country, as well as the warming taking place in large parts of this country, and severe droughts in the interior of China – have all made climate change an immediate issue, an understandable issue, and one that of course will get worse, no matter what we do right now, for a while, because we are on a trajectory of worsening climate change stresses that is locked in place for the near term.

What? I thought. 2003 is at best increased as a risk by GW. Katrina was not a huge storm; it was only its track that was dangerous. Australia hasn’t got a mega-drought, only a 10-15% reduction in rainfall. Is there really evidence of increased typhoons over China?

So I’m not convinced by his science (and I think he gets his ozone history wrong too).

[Update: I got lots of complaints about this post, mostly about the Australian drought. While I don’t doubt its having severe effects on agriculture and people, I’m still not convinced its a “mega-drought”. For one thing I don’t know what a mega-drought is supposed to be, and I suspect a 15% reduction in ppn isn’t enough. For Katrina, I’m using the RC take on it -W]

[From the comments: The drought here has been absolutely instrumental in changing public opinion on climate change, even though there is a good case (in this particular instance) for saying it is natural variability more than climate change. I fear this is all too likely to be true. I don’t think it is good; and it is very vulnerable – what happens when it starts raining again? -W]

[Another comment, almost the same as above but differently framed perhaps: The experience of 2003 brought home to many people how seriously weather upheavals can disrupt their lives, even if they don’t live in an area directly affected. And if that makes them look more closely at the impact of global climate change on humanity as a whole, I’m all in favor of it. This one I definitely agree with: ie, rather than focus on the-drought-is-climate-change, focus on weather-can-impact-our-lives -W]

EGU friday

Thin day today, and anyway my plane leaves at half five. Some friends are off to see Mozarts grave but I opt for a sit in the cafe in front of th Dom. The pic follows in the tradiation established last year and shows Me relfected in Something; in this case the entrance to the Albertina. Which is OK but not up to the kunstmuseum.

I shall follow that up with a lunchtime session on Insurance and Climate in the hope that it might be interesting, and a little bit of Feedbacks this afternoon.

EGU: thursday

Rowan Sutton: on the amplification of warming over land. That the land warms more than the oceans is well know; but as RS points out the *why* is somewhat less well known. I would have said, unthinkingly, its because of the ocean heat capacity. But… you get the same effect (or similar) in equilibrium runs so its not that, or not all that. He says its because the oceans are wet and so can lose heat through evap, which is harder for the drier land, and this seems likely. Its interesting how well-known-things like this turn out not to have been much investigated.

Some talk of precipitation and its variability between different predictions… keyed to the usual water stress will be a problem in future stuff. Which brings me back to the Australian drought and the stick I got in comments by belittling it. But doesn’t help in knowing what is to come.

Fichefet – LOVECLIM simple climate model – total melting in 3kyr (depending on scenario) with half gone in about 1kyr. Which isn’t very fast (probably slower than the hadcm3 estimates. Mikolajewicz, later, gets 3.4m after 600 y but I think he is using 4*CO2). 6 mm/yr at max. In Q’s: is your model reliable: its quite simple? Maybe. Could the recent glacier speed-up remove it faster? A (from Huybrechts): no. Climate and melting is more important.

Gregory: wot the IPCC did re SLR from ice sheets. Mostly the obvious: that Ant will gain mass and Gr lose (ablation at margins bigger than gain in interior). But high-res models are needed to do this well. Thermal expansion is biggest, followed by small ice caps. But recent Gr/Ant speed-up isn’t modellable, so in the absence of knowing what to do with it, it gets added in as a term scaled with temperature. This then roughly balances the gain of Antarctica. Points out that AR4 ests v sim to TAR, but with reduced error range due to greater certainty.

Rahmstorf think we are underestimating future sea level rise. He has an empirical model simply correlating T to SLR over the 20th C, and gets 3.4mm/yr per 1 oC above pre-ind. Applying this to future T projections gets him a higher rise than IPCC – quite a lot higher, 50-150 cm by 2100. It will be out in Science soon. He does note that obs SLR is higher than the GCMs currently predict. Q: when will the difference between you and IPCC estimates become clear? A: about 20 years. Most of the Q’s focus on individual components, and he answers with “but I’m not looking at individual components”. Best Q: mountain glaciers will run out as a source, so the linear assumption is wrong. Slightly unsatisfactory answer is that other things will take over.

Nathan Gillett: detecting changes in humidity.

Treat of the day is to be Singer, in the anthro session. Wot will he come up with this time? His first point is unclear, possibly even to him… something about pattern correlations apparently taken from IPCC ’95. The second point is back to the trop temperature trends… the tropical problem. Which appears to amount to cherry-picking from the CCSP report (as someone who was familiar with the report and its review points out in the questions). He is pushing the mis-match between the models (warming inc with altitude in the trop) and the obs (not really in the tropics). But to do this he has to ignore all the stuff about problems found with the sondes, and indeed the conclusions of the report itself. So, unsurprisingly, he doesnt actually address any of the detection and attribution stuff at all.

Now its lunchtime. A little chat with that Alistair McDonald. I fear we still disagree about radiative param and LTE.

van Oldenborg: why does Europe warm more than the ar4 runs say it should? Globally, the ar4 models are on the obs trend. But in Europe, they are below it, by 3 SD. And especially over the one Netherlands grid point which they care about (is tis pushing local stuff too hard?). And the suggestion is that this may be due to problems with the THC: which is too southwards (and too deep in the oceans?) in the ar4 runs.