We’ll be back next year

The belated conclusion to the exciting saga of this year’s Cambridge town bumps. As you’ll recall, yesterday we fell to Press, and today (well, Friday the 25th, I’ll date-change the post but this is actually written in August) we went down again, to St Neots, for a net minus one on the week. That’s maybe a touch unfortunate in our choice of surrounding crews, but such is life.

Today’s plan was simple and the only one available to us: start fast and see if maybe we could sneak up on Press. It wasn’t really viable, and although we got to 3/4 of a length at First Post that was the high point. The low point was St Neots not having much of a start: as it turned out, they were a decent quality crew capable of rowing well over the entire course. Which meant our plan of get-to-FP-and-or-die didn’t work – they were still on station at that point – so we had to row to the Plough before they ground us down. They even neglected to do the thing visiting crews sometimes do and fail to take the corners.

And so, back to Peterhouse for some gin. I’ll spare you the pictures of that. There are things to think about from this years campaign: most notably I think we should emphasise rowing well over distance as opposed to the fly-and-die style we ended up adopting. It worked well last year, but didn’t take down Tabs 2 (nor did Press, as it happened, and as I would have predicted). A shift of tactics on Thursday to a steady row over the course would likely have worked, and seen Press bumped by St Neots today; but we or perhaps I didn’t even think of that beforehand.

Always ready to fight the last war

No happy ending for us tonight alas. We had a good start, and not one but two whistles on Tabs into Grassy, and all of that was the plan, but we lacked the oomph to close down the last half length plus the overlap. Which was the bit that wasn’t under our control. We also got a rather wide line round Grassy which shows up clearly in the video; and rowed down Plough Reach in Tab’s puddles which slowed us down (ah, you can even see it in the GPS trace) (um, or do I have to take that back? Perhaps we were just tired? See Jo’s video), unlike Press who picked the other side and gained noticeably: from being merely on station into Grassy they gained to nearly half a length at Ditton. From there its a long way to top finish and we only made it halfway down the Reach. So much for our dreams.

Tactically, we could have rowed a different race: accepted we weren’t fast enough to get Tabs, and backed off. Rowed a more even pace, saved ourselves their puddles, and left Press with ours, whilst leaving ourselves enough margin to keep pushing them away (but looking at Jo’s video, that doesn’t seem to be how things were. It certainly felt like we were in their puddles, though. In Jo’s video it just looks like Press surge from nowhere just before Ditton). In retrospect, that would have been wiser. But less glorious.

Well, I got out, watched the other boats row by – we’d just passed Robs 2, who had caught City 1, something of a turn up for the books and leading to the amusing prospect of City 2 chasing their first boat tomorrow – and shook hands with Andrew, Roy and Silvia. And then it was time to go home.


* Jo Crissall’s video as she cycled.

Handbrake turn

I should write up day 2 before day 3, else I’ll be coloured. There’s a riggercam video, again, but it will look pretty similar to yesterday unless you care, so instead here’s some footage from Grassy. This has the benefit of showing the handbrake – I’ll come to that.

So, we’re now at 8, which means we get to go to Top Finish if we don’t bump out. Behind us we expect Press to demolish Champs, and indeed that happens, at about First Post (which is earlier than we got them, oh err). At this point we have one whistle on Tabs 2 which is spiffy, and it continues as such down to the entrance to Grassy, where the video kicks in. Unaccountably the ever-reliable Mr Tidy stuffs up his line totally and is reducing to sticking his hand in the water in order to steer us round. He was pretty angry with himself for doing that I can tell you, so much so that we didn’t even take the piss out of him. After that we’re suddenly two lengths down on Tabs and its over. Seeing it happen from the strokes seat was weird – I wondered what on Earth was going on.

Coming down the Reach it was somewhat alarming to see St Neots steaming on down hoping for the overbump. It was never really in prospect, but they’re clearly much faster than last year. For fans of Real Rowing, Robs bumped to head yesterday, so Tabs are clearly having a bad year.


* CN: Rob Roy and City prove tough to catch on day two of the Town Bumps
* Club blog

At last, Champs One

More nonscience, I’m afraid.

When we left off the never-ending story last year we’d just bumped Press, and were rather regretting not getting a shot at Champs. Roll forwards a year, and its Tuesday again. We have six of our old crew back, losing Mr W and Dr H, and replacing them with old-hand-turned-fit Paul “finger” Holland and controversial noob Dave “not that Dave” Ifould. And I move up from seven to stroke: ah, the glory. I recall at Oxford there was fierce competition for the stroke seat, perhaps because we wished ot impress the girls, but now we’re all old the competition is to avoid the seat. So with Dr S firmly but politely refusing the poisonned chalice there was no-one else to fill the void left by Dr H.

We knew Press were somewhat faster than us – we’d lost to them by 3 feet in Nines regatta, and 5 seconds in the Timed Race – but Champs ahead were a mystery: no-one had seen them out, or in any races. Going up the start the answer appeared to be that they weren’t good; the race confirmed that: we bumped them in the Gut quite convincingly. What the video doesn’t show, somehow, is how the boat jumps around in the choppy water as you close in. Indeed the video doesn’t really show much at all – you can just see Champ’s orange in the distance a few times. They were fairly later conceding – we hit them several times – which makes no sense if you know you’re slow; and so there is a period of chaos while we (and they) clear. Press behind us had closed to half a length, but only while we were in the choppy water; probably a length more reasonably; they’ll get Champs tomorrow, and we can aim for Tabs 2, knocked down from 6 to 7 by City-2-featuring-Tom.

Here’s a somewhat more conventional image:

We’re coming into the Gut from First Post; City closing Tabs in the distance, and Champs blades just ahead of us.

New watch, old watch, not the same

A break from The Deep. In New watch, old watch, still the same I described the truely fascinating tale of me buying a replacement Garmin Forerunner 110. A few weeks ago I was faced with the replacement having the strap broken in a second place, and the glass having cracked when I incautiously thrutched a chimney having tied the watch to the back of my harness. I put sellotape across the crack, but it was ugly and it clearly wasn’t going to stay waterproof on a long term basis.

I very nearly reflexively bought my fourth 110 (a bargain at about £80-90 now) but paused long enough to think of its weaknesses and wonder if I wanted a new one. And ended up deciding that I wanted a 610. So in case you care, this is my comparison.

Virtues of the 610


* Visually, slightly cleaner, though I’d prefer them to take the word “Garmin” off the front.
* Charging now gives you a clear %-charged, and who knows might even be accurate.
* I can now get instantaneous pace, as well as average lap pace. This is a major plus for rowing purposes. Update: but in use its still smearing / averaging the pace it shows.
* Being able to have customisable screens is very nice. I ended up with heart rate and pace last night.
* Recording to 1-second time is good too. See graph (vertical axis pace. Ignore the green line, that’s a different piece. Ignore the absolute splits, I was subbing with the Ladies). I ought to do some more analysis on this, but I’m not convinced that either handles sharp changes well.
* Update: It will show you height – ha, I found this at last, it buried under “other” in the options screen. W00t!

Irritations with the 610

* Upload is via the silly USB-Ant-stick, rather than via the USB cable. Idiots.
* The USB cable is different from the 110. Having had multiple 110’s, I’m used to the luxury of a cable at home and at work.
* Still no height.
* The touch screen is OK, but is annoying while I’m getting used to it.
* The Garmin website smears 1-second data in the way it used to smear the 5-second, but worse. Not the watch’s fault, I admit.

Other stuff

* The 610 is about £160, which is about twice the price of the 110.
* Its compatible with the old style heart rate strap.
* I was surprised to find the strap on the 110 breaking. I’ve used it pretty heavily, but it seems like a design flaw. Others have had this problem and some have solved it. If I hadn’t cracked the screen I might try for a replacement. I did like I just cut the band off and used superglue to glue it to my wrist. It lasts about a week or 10 days depending and it doesn’t slip around anymore. Hard to recharge, though.

But to live outside the law, you must be honest

We didn’t win the Timed Race, alas. But we rowed well enough.

In other news:

* ATTP bemoans the poor quality of “skeptic” out there. As usual, wise comments from PP who amongst other ideas proposes that Another possibility is that the idea is to learn from the discussion.
* If you’d like a fine example of poor quality “skeptics” and people *not* learning from the discussion, then About that graph… is good. Starting approximately with my comment July 7, 2014 at 1:49 am we have the WUWT version of Godwin’s law: all discussions will degenerate into was-the-MWP-warmer-than-now-or-not.
* Brian skirts close to that with a useful comparison.
* SoD discussues GCM tuning, an interesting topic not often addressed: the “skeptics” are too clueless to know about it, and the modellers themselves are maybe not keen to thrust it to the forefront. Here’s a non-paywalled copy of Mauritsen et al., 2012 (DOI: 10.1029/2012MS000154).
* CIP links to Peter Woit saying interesting things about “post empirical” physics, but some stuff like every theorist is well aware that one can can’t just demand experimental predictions and confirmation for ideas, that one spends basically all one’s time working on better understanding ideas that are far from the point where empirical confirmation comes into play will resonate in the GW debate.
* Moyhu’s polar polar ice plot.
* Everything you know about Galileo and the Church is wrong, as is everything you know about why the heliocentric view became accepted (I over-state for effect, slightly :-).
* History of the word “Scientist”. I know the true definition of the word.
* And note forgetting the Pope Urban Heat Island effect.


* Tuning to the global mean temperature record by Isaac Held, 2016.

The bomb plot

sato Turning aside from the moment from the strange world of Monkers we come to something that at least touches on science: to what extent did the atmospheric nuclear tests of the 50’s and 60’s affect the climate? It turns out that the answer is “hardly at all” and that the question isn’t interesting; but I haven’t seen the answer written down properly anywhere, or even considered properly, so I’ll present what I’ve gleaned here (I’m almost certain this came up in sci.env in the Olde Dayes but I can’t find it).

The latest folk to resurrect the idea that “all those bomb tests must have done something” are JN (Jo Nova) / DE (David Evans) in their BIG NEWS series. They’re currently bogged down fighting off LS over TSI, but when that’s beaten to death or quietly forgotten, they’ll need to return to the question of “attribution”. In their part VII their model – curve-fitting in my view, though they insist its a “physical” model though I don’t think they know what that means – produces a stonking forcing from bomb tests (which in itself tells you their model is non-physical, even if you don’t know any details). I’ll inline their picture below.

Notice how the bomb-tests line in black is massively bigger than the volcanoes line, by a factor of something like 10. They’ve done that because they want their model to match the observed temperature changes; and they’ve decided to “model” the 50’s-70’s dip (which most folks ascribe to aerosol-from-fossil-fuel-use cooling) as being due to bomb tests. I’ve no idea why they thought this would be a good idea, and even they have realised that its just a touch problematic: While this is only an answer found by numerically piecing together the test yield data with the output of the solar model and the observed temperatures, it fits. Maybe the nuclear winter hypothesis is partly correct. We feel it is likely to overestimate the effect. Alternative causes for a cooling influence during the 1950s to 1990s could be pollutant aerosols and/or whatever caused global dimming, or even the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). With no data that quantifies their effects, the total climate model only had the nuclear bomb yield data to work with, but it is remarkable that the piece that fits the puzzle quite well is the atmospheric nuclear bomb test data.

JN attempts some kind of defence of the bomb idea: You’ve [that’s not me, BTW – W] called the contribution of the atmospheric bomb tests a fudge factor but you haven’t actually provided any reasons why 440Mt of explosions wouldn’t have some cooling impact. The question then is how much of an impact is reasonable. We provided two papers with estimates in the same ballpark.

So there are two defences in there: the first is “oh it must have had some effect” which is just squid ink. The second is refs to some papers – this is better. The papers JN is referring to here are Fujii, Y. (2011). The role of atmospheric nuclear explosions on the stagnation of global warming in the mid 20th century. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Volume 73, Issues 5-6, April 2011, Pages 643-652 and Edwards (2012) Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The statement that “We provided two papers with estimates in the same ballpark” is rather hard to understand if you read the papers. The Edwards one can be neglected; it says nothing really to the point. The title of the Fujii one is thoroughly to the point, and if we had nothing but the title it would prop up the JN / DE theory wonderfully. But the paper is either ignorant or dishonest, I don’t know which, since it says The stagnation in global warming in the mid 20th century has not been simulated well even by the most advanced climate models. But as the graph I’ve inlined shows (from IPCC AR4 WGI) that’s not true (and note that the paper was written well after AR4. But the main problem with the Fujii paper is that it makes no attempt to deal with actual observations of stratospheric aerosol loading. Its full of arm-waving, and it attempts to compare the 440 MT yield with the traditional “nuclear winter” papers; and it even manages to notice that the comparison makes no sense because the nuclear winter scenario is based on soot from city fires being lofted; but goes on to make the comparison anyway.

And so we return to the pic I inlined at the top, and will include again here slightly cut for convenience:


(this stuff is also available somewhat updated and in glorious techicolour from http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/strataer/).

If you care about the details, you need to be aware that the data here is non uniform, and fairly crude in the early days. As they say:

We divide our discussion of stratospheric aerosol data sources into four periods (Figure 1), which have successively improved data quality. In period 1 (1850-1882) we have only very crude estimates of aerosol optical thickness based on the volume of ejecta from major known volcanoes, supported by qualitative reports of atmospheric optical phenomena. Period 2 (1883-1959) has measurements of solar extinction, but during the time of principal volcanic activity (1883-1915) the data are confined to middle-latitude northern hemisphere observatories. Period 3 (1960-1978) has more widespread measurements of solar and stellar extinction, lunar eclipses, and some in situ sampling of aerosol properties. Period 4 (1979-1990) adds precise widespread data from satellite measurements.

Incidentally, I’m not entirely sure what the “?” above the peak over Pinatubo is; probably its the caveat about post-1990 data at the end of their section 2.

And, errm, well: there you have it. The stratospheric aerosol loading looks like volcanoes, and looks nothing at all like the line DE’s model produces. Attempting, in a genuine physical model, to use a bomb-test forcing that peaks at more than 10 times the volcano forcing and whose time-integral is even larger would produce massive cooling. In DE’s toy curve-fitting model you can mash the curves together, but it means nothing.

This ties into “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong (and part 2, where I diss Curry as well). And by that I mean the overall theme, not the details: that JN / DE don’t have anyone serious they can discuss this stuff with, so they’re forced to do all their “science” in isolation. Which is, like, really hard maan. Which is why people don’t do it if they have a choice.