More Wadhams

paladin Browsing Twitter after a break I was unsurprised to see the usual suspects dissing that fine chap, Peter Wadhams. Heaven forfend that I should ever stoop so low. It is tempting to describe the “lame article” they were dissing as the usual stuff, but alas it isn’t. It lards extra Yellow Peril guff onto the pre-existing guff. Incidentally the author, Paul Brown, was once a respectable chap – my great-aunt Proctor knew him somewhat. But that was many years ago. Bizarrely, the first “related posts” link in the article is to a far better article by Ed Hawkins pointing out how bad the previous article about Wadhams was.

[You may be wondering “why the image?” At least, if you’re new here you might. The answer is that web-indexers tend to throw up the first image on a page that they find; and I didn’t want that nice PH to be the “image” for this post.]

Bordering on dishonest

“What is needed is something that has not been invented yet − a way of stopping elderly scientists from talking nonsense” (I may have fabricated part of that quote). And my section header is a sub-headline in the article, to they can hardly complain if I reproduce it to my own ends. The rest of this post is just character assassination (or, to dignify it somewhat, trying to work out what his current status is); look away if you like Wadhams.

I was intrigued by the article calling him “former head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge” (my bold). It appears to be wrong; as far as I can tell, he is still head of this little known group. The article may have got confused by him also being (accurately) the former head of SPRI. But the POPG is an odd little thing. Just look at it’s web page: Professor Peter Wadhams has run the Group since January 1976, which until December 2002 was based in the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), University of Cambridge. In January 2003 the Group moved within the university from SPRI to the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. It was previously called the Sea Ice and Polar Oceanography Group. Text by Prof Peter Wadhams, 2002. Updated by Oliver Merrington, POPG Webmaster, October 2005. This is certainly not an active web page. [I’ve just re-read that. He’s run the group for forty years!?! Can that be healthy?]

Poking further, I find his Clare Hall bio, where he self-describes as “became Emeritus Professor in October 2015” (and there’s also this little letter which may or may not be deliberately public). So his DAMPT page is clearly out of date (it still describes him as “Professor”, which he is isn’t, any more that Murry Salby is2). I think the best explanation is that the DAMPT pages are just out of date and unloved; they don’t give the impression of vibrancy.

Within DAMPT, the POPG is a touch anomalous, to my eye. It fits within the highly-respected Geophysics group, and might be compared (in the sense that it appears to sit on the same organisational level as), say, to the Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics Group. This is a highly active research group featuring hard man1 (just look at those eyes; you wouldn’t want to run across him on a dark river) Peter Haynes (who, I might perhaps hasten to add, has nothing at all to do with the story (story? This post has a plot? Well no. OK then, ramble) I’m telling) and mysterious old wizard Michael McIntyre (famous for telling you to repeat words). Compare that to the POPG page and it looks a touch moribund; poke further into the list of projects and the impression re-surfaces. Can an active research group be lead by an emeritus professor? It seems odd to me, but what do I know?

There’s also this bio which, perhaps fittingly, ends on the ludicrous Vast costs of Arctic change.


1. Whillans was well regarded for his capacity to deliver a cracking one-liner off the cuff. One example which encapsulates his wry humour concerns him encountering a team of—to his mind—poorly equipped Japanese mountaineers attempting the north face of the Eiger. “You going up?” Whillans asked them. “Yes! Yes!” came the reply. Pause, then Whillans: “You may be going a lot higher than you think.”

2. Update: that’s unfair to Wadhams; emeritus is a decent status, far better than “former” which is all Salby has left. I should have compared him to Lindzen instead, perhaps.

Dark deeds of definitions?

In comments on the sea ice post, both Rob Dekker and Chris Randles has queried an apparent change to the definition of “ice free” as applied to the Arctic. As any fule kno, the definition of “ice free” usually used is “less than a million square km” (1MSK) in order to account for the misc pockets of stuff that will hang around Greenland. FWIW, I’m not sure how useful this defn is, or whether it will survive closer analysis as we get closer to the event, but we’re decades away now so it hardly matters.

Except, there’s an unclarity. Is it 1MSK for a single year (maybe not; there could be a freak year); averaged over 5 years (generally the way things get done); or “for at least five consecutive years”? The latter appears to be what the AR5 SPM says (figure SPM.7 caption): The dashed line represents nearly ice-free conditions (i.e., when sea ice extent is less than 10^6 km2 for at least five consecutive years). For further technical details see the Technical Summary Supplementary Material {Figures 6.28, 12.5, and 12.28–12.31; Figures TS.15, TS.17, and TS.20}. RD and CR point out that earlier drafts (including the final draft) don’t quite say this, that the “five consecutive years” is new. OTOH, in the “final” draft what becomes SPM.7 is SPM.6, so it wasn’t really final; and the dashed line seems to be absent entirely, rather than being redefined.

Also, SPM.7 shows a 5-year-running-mean of sea ice, so when things cross the dashed line, that shows that a 5-year-mean is below 1MSK. So the text, about “consecutive” years, would appear to be wrong anyway.

Perhaps I should go off and read chapter 12 which ought to be the source for this. Figure 12.30 just has the line at 1MSK, and of course the careful language “nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean”. And some text:

A nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean (sea ice extent less than 1 × 10^6 km2 for at least 5 consecutive years) in September before mid-century is likely under RCP8.5 (medium confidence), based on an assessment of a subset of models that most closely reproduce the climatological mean state and 1979–2012 trend of the Arctic sea ice cover. Some climate projections exhibit 5- to 10-year periods of sharp summer Arctic sea ice decline—even steeper than observed over the last decade—and it is likely that such instances of rapid ice loss will occur in the future. There is little evidence in global climate models of a tipping point (or critical threshold) in the transition from a perennially ice-covered to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean beyond which further sea ice loss is unstoppable and irreversible.

So I’m not sure there is anything terribly nefarious in there. Would anyone more closely involved care to comment?

All of this is just an excuse for more pix. Here’s the refuge des Bans, one of the lower down (2000 m) huts and therefore beloved of day walkers. My apologies for not taking it when it was in the sun.

Nice rocks though:


But its not all rocks and ice:


A Falconer Uppermost

Plan 8 from outer space refers. If you can guess how that relates to this post’s title1, then you will understand Gavin’s tweet (which I didn’t at the time). There’s also a WaPo article and doubtless much elsewhere. This is for stuff so stupid that even WUWT is now rejecting it (though they used to like it). It’s the pressure-causes-warming-not-GHE stuff, by Ned Nikolov2 and Karl Zeller, or possibly by Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez, or perhaps by my cat Phoebe, it is rather hard to tell.

As Neuroskeptic points out, publishing under a pseudonym is a bit of an odd reason for rejecting a paper, and I personally wouldn’t favour it. Indeed, publishing anonymously could easily be a good thing as it forces you to evaluate the argument, not rely on “these are good ol’ boys” kinda prejudice. But in this case the argument is drivel anyway.

Since I have it to hand (thanks RS):

It is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors. For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon’s teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. ‘Tis true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre; whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and fifth essence, the breath of reason itself, slays an immortality rather than a life…

But neither you nor anyone you know really wants to know this nonsense (Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.); instead, you’d like some more pictures from the Ecrins. Very sensible of you! First the woods of le petit Tabuc valley above le Casset; then Briancon.







1. Well, I was slightly more imaginative and used the anagram generator. They just reversed their names, nearly. How dull.

2. [2018/10/03] In a late update, Ned Nikolov goes winging off into total nutjob land with I think the Sun is a plasma sphere fueled by galactic electric currents. The thermonuclear model of the Sun proposed ~85 years ago does not fit modern observations of things like a low neutrino flux and the absence of strong convective turbulence at the surface… (arch).


* U.S. gov’t scientist says he was banned from climate research at work — so he used a pseudonym – Retraction Watch

Sea ice: dull as expected

Time to declare this year’s sea ice race over – thanks to those of you who pointed this out to me while I was on holiday. As an apology for the lack of interesting things to say about sea ice, there’s a couple of nice pix of mountain ice at the end. Follow them to links to the full set but believe me there are far too many to look at. My lead pic I’ve ripped from Tamino; as compensation to him, if you click on it you’ll get to his post.

Before people get confused, I should point out that “dull as expected” just means “the long term trend of decline continues”. Those predicting imminent catastrophe were quite wrong; those predicting miraculous recovery, ditto.

The sea ice post from June refers, by which point it was clear to me that I’m not going to win, but Rob might. To remind you, my bet with Rob for the grand sum of $10k was

If both NSIDC and IARC-JAXA September 2016 monthly average sea ice extent report are above 4.80 million km^2, RD pays WMC US$ 10,000. If both are below 3.10 million km^2, WMC pays RD US$ 10,000. In all other cases the bet is null and void.

The end result for the minimum – not the monthly average, which will be higher, since “recovery” has already started – was let us say 4 million. That’s pretty well slap in the middle of our “null” range so the bet is null and void. That this would happen has been pretty clear for a bit, even if the extent last winter did give me cause to worry. I order to demonstrate my brilliant predictive skillz, in August I guessed that 2016 probably wouldn’t scrape second; in the event, it just about did.

How could we make bets like this more exciting in future? I think that encouraging a lively reselling market in fragments of the bet might help generate more interest. But still, they are intrinsically multi-year slow bets, if they are to have any scientific validity.

[Incidentally, elsewhere while I was on hols CR asked Who gets to define (virtually) ice free arctic and do you see anything odd with what has happened with AR5?

I can understand that one year under 1m km^2 might well be an exceptional year and that might be too soon. But why would scientists decide there has to be 5 consecutive years under 1m km^2 rather than a 5 year average to be under 1m km^2? If we had just over 1m km^2 every 4th or 5th year the date of ice free might be delayed for a considerable period.

To which I’d say 1m km^2 is clearly arbitrary, but also (a) easy to compute and (b) a long way away; so its arbitrariness isn’t currently a problem. As we get somewhat closer to it in a few decades people will probably re-think the criterion more carefully.]

For those still in suspense, it was the Ecrins of course, specifically the Dome de Neige des Ecrins. I wimped out of the Barre. As I say, more later.



Massive Cover-up Exposed: 285 Papers From 1960s-’80s Reveal Robust Global Cooling Scientific ‘Consensus’?

pcf-fig It’s the folks over at No Truth Zone again. Thanks (do I mean that? No, I don’t) ATTP for drawing it to my attention (via the swamp that is Breitbart). The wiki part is tediously wrong; see A child’s garden of wikipedia, part I in the unlikely event of your not being able to work out why yourself. It is though important to realise that Breitbart and NTZ are lying about everything; not just the important bits. Notice also the way that Peterson is Rasooled.

NTZ achieves it’s trick by the not-very-subtle method of redefining the meaning of “global cooling scare”. Instead of being a worry about the future, it comes to include papers from the 1960s and 1970s that indicated the globe had cooled (by -0.3° C between the 1940s and ’70s). And some other things. Naturally, if you do that you’ll get a very different answer (note also that estimate is no longer valid, but it looked like that then; the temperature records have got better).

I didn’t bother look through their full list of papers (did you? Did you find any new and interesting ones in the list? Do tell). They will, inevitably, be wrong. One obvious wrong one is them citing the 1975 NAS report in their favour, which it isn’t.

Wiki note: the wiki article [[Global Cooling]] has been stable for ages. Oddly, just after the NTZ post, “User:Urbansiberia” tried its hand; for example correcting erroneous claims (referencing, ho ho ho, Breitbart; as though anyone could use that as a reference) or the what-might-appear-to-be-more-subtle-if-you’re-clueless-about-wikipedia summary-free edit.


* 1970s cooling, again (2013)
* We’re number 1! (2009)
* Global cooling awareness in the 60’s?
* 2018/11: The 1970s Global Cooling Consensus was not a Myth – WUWT has another go, this time by Angus McFarlane. Fortunately Nick Stokes is there to point out their errors. Also fortunately, we can tell that AMcF is a nutter, because he is kind enough to write words equivalent to “I am a nutter”.

A bit more mountain

You may have noticed that blogging here has been a little thin recently. That’s because I’ve been on holiday. It was glorious. There will be a full post or indeed series of posts in due course; for the moment you get just this.


If you can work out where that is without cheating you’re doing well.

I plan to catch up on my email and blog comment backlog in due course.

* 2013
* 2012
* 2009
* 2007

Which early works are cited most frequently in climate change research literature?

anomaly The answer turns out to be “Arrhenius, of course” and the details turn out to be not desperately interesting. But if you want to know more see Which early works are cited most frequently in climate change research literature? A bibliometric approach based on Reference Publication Year Spectroscopy (no, I didn’t bother find out exactly what they meant by that) by Werner Marx, Robin Haunschild, Andreas Thor and Lutz Bornmann. h/t Retraction Watch although this appears to have nothing to do with retraction.

Most of the others aren’t really “climate change” at all – trade winds and the like. Darwin makes it in.

Fourier doesn’t appear till you get into the detail, which surprised me.