Comments elsewhere

I’m going to intermittently keep track of the comments I make on other blogs. I’ll spare you the totally trivial ones, but I don’t guarantee this to be especially interesting. One point of doing this will be to track the ones that “disappear” on various sites (no names for now) that I’ve found don’t post anything that might frighten the horses.

Image0047-the-scull-joy I move this up to the top every now and again by fudging the date.

Since this is at the top, I can use it for spam-of-the-week. This weeks spam is: the Boston Marathon.


Editor’s Apologetic Resignation Blows Gaping Hole in Over-Hyped Media Story – KK

> the view among many

Many? Just the usual wackos.

Which is to say: you should have left that piece of flame bait out. As
you say, “some… just don’t know when to leave well enough alone”.

[Note: KK joins the fray a bit late, having been on holiday, the wimp. Alas my fine comment has been censored [*] (not by him, but by whoever runs the site apparently) whilst the trolls are being given free rein. Not a promising start for the new place! OTOH Keith can use this to burnish his anti-AGW credentials in certain quarters if required, which have apparently been wearing a bit thin recently, since it is pretty hard for any sane person to stay -ahem- “balanced”.

[*] Actually, it turns out that it just didn’t get submitted properly, or something. Never mind -W]

Continue reading “Comments elsewhere”


I’ve just tried to turn on registration, to deal with spam. It is probably doomed. Please try to leave a comment on this post letting me know how it worked. If it just totally f*cks up, then email me (wmconnolley (at) If just-post fails, try previewing first.

OK, it is totally f*ck*d. Thanks for your emails. I’ll turn it all off now. My apologies.

I seem to have left approve-all-comments turned on. I’m going to leave that, for at least a bit.

Note that according to the settings, any “authenticated” commenter doesn’t need approving.

[Most amusing failure email: “For some reason it thinks I am from Finland… and I dont understand Finnish”. For those who said: I couldn’t see any way to register: yes, I noticed that, I assumed it would work, somehow, for you lot.]

Recycling old posts

* We don’t even know how many legs he’s got

Why does the stratosphere cool under GW?

Those with long memories will note that this is a re-post of this from my old blog. I’ve hoicked it over here because I read Stratospheric Cooling, April 18, 2010, by scienceofdoom who says “Why Is the Stratosphere Expected to Cool from Increases in “Greenhouse” Gases? This is a difficult one to answer with a 30-second soundbite”. But I think he is wrong. Now read on.

One of the strongest predictions of global warming is that the stratosphere will cool – unlike the troposphere, which will warm, of course. See the IPCC here for example. This turns out to be not as useful for detecting climate change as it might be, because ozone decreases also lower the stratospheric temperature. However…

The interesting question is, why does the stratosphere cool? From asking colleagues [*], its quite clear that very few people have thought about this, and of those few who do think about it few get the right answer. Indeed, I’m not absolutely sure that what I’ve written below is the right answer, but I think it is [+]. For a long (and possibly doomed) attempt to explain it, see this at RealClimate.

Note, BTW, that this post is about why the stratosphere cools if all you do is change the GHG’s, e.g. CO2. It is not about what happens if you decrease the ozone – that, trivially, cools the stratosphere. Consequently, I am not talking about the observed decrease in temperature in the strat – which is caused by a mixture of ozone depletion and GHG increase – but about what would happen in a though experiment if GHG’s are increased but ozone is held fixed.

Anyway: my explanation (thanks HKR; start your 30-second timer now) is:

in a uniformly grey non-convecting atmosphere (ie, if the atmosphere were equally transparent at all wavelengths, and uniformly through its depth) heated from below (ie, solar radiation warming the surface; assuming of course that we’ve relaxed the grey assumption to let the solar through), then increasing the greenhouse gases (GHG’s) doesn’t lead to a cooling at the top: instead, the whole atmosphere warms, though not uniformly. You can see some calcs and pictures and code here;

of course, the real atmos does convect; isn’t totally transparent to solar; etc; but the real difference is:

the reason that the real atmosphere has a stratosphere is because of ozone absorbing UV, thereby warming that portion of the upper atmosphere;

hence the stratosphere is considerably warmer than it would be under just longwave (LW, or infra-red, IR) forcing; and CO2 is only effective in LW frequencies;

hence, increasing CO2 increases the stratospheres ability to radiate in the LW, but doesn’t substantially increase its ability to gain heat, because most of that comes from the SW;

hence it cools. Please turn off your timer.

In the troposphere (ignoring convection etc etc; the real atmos is complex…) increasing CO2 increases both the ability to gain and lose heat, and this first-order argument doesn’t tell you what will happen; as it turns out, it warms.

Note: of course the fact that many people couldn’t explain this makes no difference at all to the fact that climate models produce the correct answer: they just integrate the equations, and don’t care about why things happen.

Jargon: the troposhere is the lowest bit of the atmosphere – up to about 8km. Temperature generally decreases with height at about 7 oC/km. The stratosphere comes next, temperatures increase with height (the temp min defines the interface, called the tropopause) until the mid-strat, then declines again to the stratopause. See IPCC glossary for more, or nowadays, just ask wikipedia.

CO2 is only radiatively active in the LW – ie the infrared portion of the spectrum. It is essentially transparent to visible (SW) light.

[*] Now ex-colleagues, of course. But we’re still friends.

[+] Probably worth pointing out that Gavin disagrees in the comments, and he is still a real scientist [$].

[$] OTOH, Pierrehumbert agrees with me.


* Eli also had a go but I didn’t like it
* Also, the comments in the original post are worth reading. Except Lubos’s, of course.

Its been a bad year for the bees

I speak personally, I should add, not of the world in general. I can’t find my spring post – maybe I didn’t do one – but I recall only taking about 4-5 frames off, which is pretty poor by spring standards – I normally expect a couple of supers. Two days ago (I mention this because I put in the Apistan, so I need to remember to take it out 6 weeks later) I opened up the hive to discover that the top super could be trivially lifted off, which is a bad sign, since a light super is an empty super. The next one down was a bit better, but mostly only because they had glued it down the fiends. In the brood box there were plenty of bees, though perhaps with a gap on the LHS of a frame or two – not quite happy with that. But, they were storing honey down there. So I put in the Apistan and left them to get on with it – it was a sunny day, at last.

[Update: 2011/10/28: a sunny still morning and I happened to be at home, so I took the Apistan out. The bees were fine.Pulled down a few nettles. It would be good to crop some more trees to allow the hive to get winter sun. Or raise the hive, or pull it back a few feet.]


* 2010

Porkies from Woy

One issue about the infamous Spencer and Braswell (incidentally, who is Braswell? Everyone is ignoring him, is he a nonentity? ) is, of course, who were the referees? The suspicion voiced in various places is that Spencer managed to wangle skeptics in as his referees; indeed, Wagner in his resignation letter says “The managing editor of Remote Sensing selected three senior scientists from
renowned US universities… the editorial team unintentionally selected three reviewers who probably share some climate sceptic notions of the authors” (note the slight contradiction in there: first off, it was the managing editor; then it was the editorial team). Now it is not possible to believe that you could, given the pool of climatologists, “unintentionally” select three skeptics: there are just too few of them. It could only be deliberate: either by choice of the managing editor, at Spencer’s private urging, or because Spencer supplied a list of suggested referees (this is commonplace) and the editor just used those.

So one question is: did Spencer provide a list of suggested referees? And if so, who were they? If Spencer has answered this fairly obvious question, I haven’t seen it. Let me know if you know better. I see in the comments on his blog that he was asked this question directly, but evaded.

Another question is, does Spencer know who the referees are? This is where it gets fun, because of course Spencer wants to say “oh yeah my reviewers were great” in order to give credibility to his tattered paper. But then again, reviewers are generally anonymous, no?

Obscurity seems to have detected Woy trying to have it both ways, or (put another way) telling porkies:

“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 1:03 PM… re Q1: Almost every journal requires a list of suggested reviewers, and except for one reviewer, the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”:

“Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says: September 2, 2011 at 5:29 PM Excuse me, but the peer reviewers were all researchers who have actually published on the subject of climate sensitivity. “

Did Woy perhaps learn something new about the reviewers in the 4 1/2 hours between those two entries? It seems rather unlikely. It is also very unlikely that you could find 3 experts in climate sensitivity who are skeptics (although looking closer Woy doesn’t say they are experts, only people who have published on the subject. Woy himself is clearly clueless, but published).

Or, can Spencer Jesuit out of this by the tense, in “the identities of the reviewers chosen was unknown to us”. Will he try to claim that at some point in the past, he didn’t know who they were, but does now? Perhaps he’ll reference the “was” to “the exact point in time when the referees were chosen? It is just possible, but not very plausible.

While I’m here: I was going to do a whole post about this, but there is no news at the moment so I’ll relegate it: why did the editor resign, rather than get the paper retracted? This has shades of von S, who resigned *because* he couldn’t get in a retraction, or a dissociation. Presumably (this is mere speculation on my part) Wagner asked the journal to retract it, and they refused (NS has a nice comment at flopsie’s pointing out how untenable Wagner’s position can look, in certain lights. Also izen a little lower down). Does Wagner’s resignation restore the reputation of the journal? No. It restores his personal reputation, but if anything diminishes that of the journal further.

Incidentally, currently if you google-news “Roy Spencer” you get this, and that nice little piccy is a link to me.

Holy editor resignation, Batman!

This couldn’t be more damming:


the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing… should therefore not have been published… I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing… I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements

Spencer and the Mystery Journal refers, as does the eerily-similar von Storch Climate Research affair.

h/t: JM and FS.

Updated to add: the more detailed reasons are interesting:

If a paper presents interesting scientific arguments, even if controversial, it should be published and responded to in the open literature. This was my initial response after having become aware of this particular case. So why, after a more careful study of the pro and contra arguments, have I changed my initial view? The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers. In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.

What I read that to mean is that Yes, novel and interesting challenges to the established view should be published – perhaps even get given a slightly easier ride, if they are novel. But No: just saying the same old thing again isn’t any good.

Another update: Woy Wesponds: it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation. Quite where Woy gets the evidence for IPCC involvement is a mystery; presumably, it is inconceiveable that there could possibly be anything wrong with any of his papers. Spencer’s “Update 2” is funny as well; his “immediately corrected” is a joke; his temperature series was wrong for years on end, before RSS put him straight.

Update, again: this is just too funny: Woy, in the comments section:

Well, well…is that you, Kevin Trenberth, hiding behind a screen name? [Obscurity – WMC] First of all, our results were GLOBAL, so transport between regions are irrelevant to the issue at hand. Secondly, the lag associated with the heat carrying capacity was central to the point we were making!!! If you even bothered to read our paper, you would understand that! OMG! You are wasting time and space here with your straw men and red herrings! CONGRATULATIONS, OBSCURITY, YOU ARE THE FIRST TO BE BANNED FROM THIS SITE. THE CHARGE IS EITHER (1) CHRONIC IGNORANCE, OR (2) MALICIOUS OBFUSCATION. YOUR CHOICE.

Another update: Spencer will be delighted: the creationists are on his side.


* Grauniad
* Beeb Journal editor resigns over ‘problematic’ climate paper
* Remote Sens. 2011, 3(9), 2002-2004; doi:10.3390/rs3092002 Editorial: Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-1613. Wolfgang Wagner; Published: 2 September 2011
* MediaMatters: Journal Editor Resigns After Publishing Flawed Climate Study Touted By Forbes, Fox
* Retraction Watch
* Deltoid
* Bart
* Peter Gleick in Forbes
* QS
* Fluffy

* SMBC (its even vaguely relevant: h/t: BA)
* BB
* arstechnica
* Nurture – but beware porkies in the comments
* Science
* Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick say Spencer is cr*p
* RP Sr foams at the mouth

Oh dear

There is a Wikileaks fiasco going about. Der Spiegel has what looks like a plausible story. If you read the Wikileaks version after that, the latter looks rather incomplete and self-serving. The Grauniad also says “not us guv” which isn’t quite true: if they hadn’t been dumb enough to publish the password, all would have been well. But assuming DS has this right, fundamentally this is a Wikileaks foul up.

h/t Bruce (not Steve) Schneier.

[Update: no-one has dented the DS story as far as I can see. So I think that, as told, this remains fundamentally a WL foul up. However (whilst I think the Grauniad were correct to believe that the password they’d got was now irrelevant) they (a) should not have published it, just on general sanity grounds (b) they should not have published it because they could not be confident that they hadn’t ended up with a backup of the file themselves, somewhere]

Ha ha


The story so far: some nut attacks Rahmstorf, comparing him to Aryan physics in a letter to the German TV channel ZDF. The usual fools get confused, the usual fools propagate the nonsense. But this time there is a happy ending, as the lawyers step in and stamp it out (lawyers good? Well maybe not on balance. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do good sometimes). This won’t make anything clearer.