The East is Red

oglaf-dick Rather appropriately, with all the murk swirling around Trump’s ties to the Commies, Judith Curry and John Christy are looking for new sources of income suggesting that Congress fund “red teams” to investigate “natural” causes of global warming and challenge the findings of the United Nations’ climate science panel according to the WaPo. In case you’re in the slightest doubt about where La Curry was aiming her testimony, she concludes Let’s make scientific debate about climate change great again. FFS. This, in case you’ve been asleep, is all in the context of the House Committee on un-American Climatology aka Full Committee Hearing- Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.

I couldn’t bring myself to do much more than skim Curry’s words, because it is the same old stuff all over again. To pick out some bits:

* I realized that the premature consensus on human-caused climate change was harming scientific progress because of the questions that don’t get asked and the investigations that aren’t madeand yet she is rather short of ideas about things to investigate. Like the denialists, she knows that she doesn’t like the IPCC conclusions, but that’s about it.
* As a result of my analyses that challenge the IPCC consensus, I have been publicly called a serial climate disinformer, anti-science, and a denier – this is dishonest, and from the std.septic playbook. The truth is that she has many any number of inaccurate or unsupported statements, and wild allegations about people who should be her colleagues. That is what people have attacked. See Judith Curry WTF? and links therein, which helpfully provides my title image, too.
* A scientist’s job is to continually challenge their own biases and ask “How could I be wrong?” – but obviously this only applies to other scientists; not to Curry or Christy. At least, I can’t find any reflection of that sort in her testimony.
* As usual, her only real contribution is “things are more uncertain than we think”. And this might be true (how certain are we of our uncertainty, after all). But the clear implication of her testimony is “and this means we don’t have to worry”. Her implication is that if we’re uncertain, we don’t need to worry about the impacts of GW; completely forgetting that (a) it could be worse, as easily as it could be better; and (b) if it is worse – in terms of temperature deviation from the expected mean – then the impacts increase non-linearly, so the overall effect of uncertainty is to increase, not decrease, the expected damages.

Enough of Curry. What of Christy? I don’t think I have his testimony available. The WaPo reports him saying credible ‘red teams’ that look at issues such as… the huge benefits to society from affordable energy, carbon-based and otherwise,” said witness John Christy… “I would expect such a team would offer to Congress some very different conclusions regarding the human impacts on climate. Which is stupid. Your views on the benefits of fossil-based energy should not affect your conclusions on the impacts in the slightest1.

I suppose I should discuss the “red teams” idea a bit. The idea isn’t to bring in the Commies, this is a different sort of red, though actually it is really the same sort of red. Try reading wiki if you’re confused. Anywaaay, where was I? Oh yes: why this is a stupid idea. Well to start with it isn’t necessarily totally stupid, unless it is being run by a group of ideologues with a fore-ordained conclusion for which they’re desperately searching for evidence. How likely is that? Secondly, this is language from a different area (the military; business) being imported into science. If it was being done by the pols, you could simply put it down to ignorance. That it is being done by scientists in an effort to sell their ideas to pols I think you put down to something rather different. But the military and business are areas with rigid hierarchies and enforced obedience and suppression of dissent2. C+C are trying to tell the pols that science is like that; and it isn’t. Science already provides all the internal red teams that it needs.

Could the idea actually be of any use? In the present context, I think that’s doubtful. Suppose they did it anyway, what happens? Probably, C+C and their ilk get thrown some taxpayers money to attack their should-be-colleagues, which would be galling but minor in the great scheme of things. They would fail to do anything of scientific use, and that failure might ultimately be revealing, and therefore good. But in the meantime they get a platform to spout nonsense. Ah well, these are difficult times, you cannot expect to choose amongst different good outcomes.

Finally, notice that the WaPo calls La Curry “professor emeritus” which AFAIK is wrong; she is simply ex. Anyone know for sure?

Anyone got links to the testimony of Mann or Pielke?

[EFS wins the race: Curry, Christy, Mann, Pielke. Thanks.]

Notes

1. That’s Bellamy logic.

2. At least, that’s my picture of the mils. I have had no experience of it since CCF3 whilst at school. I can assure you that dissent, and it’s expression, was not encouraged then.

3. Try http://www.berkhamstedschool.org/ccf-sixth. Though I did it in the not-really-voluntary phase, during middle school. And we didn’t get to carry guns much.

Refs

* House Science Committee Comes to Agreement on Climate Science – Just kidding! – QS
* BISHOP & POPE BLANCH AS QUEENSLAND LAWYER CANNONIZES HIS OWN BLURB WRITER WHILE IMPEACHING 97% OF HER COLLAGUES – RS
* Curry can’t quite bring herself to say it, but she pretty well admits that Mann got the better of her. Astonishingly, she wants Steyn for backup.
* AtTP has some comments which I’ve linked to, even though he has rudely ignored my post. It is interesting that he mostly liked Pielke’s testimony.
* Lamar Smith and denier scientists were outwitted and outperformed by Michael Mann – Sou
* Toys, pram, out! – ATTP.
* Team B, Red Teaming and Steve Koonin – Eli.
* WHITE HOUSE CHIEF AXES RED TEAM EXERCISE – RS, 2018 / 03.

Rogues gallery

Stilz from the vidz.

curry
Curry. A bit untidy.
christy
Christy. Very buttoned-down and engineer like.
mann
Mann, our Hero.
pielke
Pielke. Looking a little round.

I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations?

doubt So says Victoria Herrmann in the Graun; with subheading These politically motivated data deletions come at a time when the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. The alert will immeadiately wonder: do you mean citations, or data? Because they aren’t the same thing. Those even more alert will wonder “did you even mean citations, or just hyperlinks?” Such folk will not be enlightened by the rest of the article, which continues with paragraphs like:

At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.

Is this the first sign of the much-trumpeted Trump Data Deletion, that I mocked so mercilessly? Or is it just one woman who is unable to write clearly? Before considering that, let’s do the ad-homs.

Who is Victoria Herrmann? She appears to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar, PhD Candidate 2014 – 2018 (Expected) at the dept of Geography and/or SPRI. You might well ask how that is compatible with her also being 2015—Present: President & Managing Director, The Arctic Institute. Well, she is USAnian, and Victoria is interested in exploring the nexus of climate change, human development, and public policy in the Arctic. Her PhD research focuses on how images and aesthetic codes construct values, identities, and ideas of power in the Arctic since the Second World War. From a young age Victoria’s grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, has inspired her to… which I think will do.

What has gone missing? Her first example is the “US National Strategy for the Arctic”. If you look in some places, like http://www.cfr.org/arctic/us-national-strategy-arctic-region/p30686 (archive) you’ll find it links to https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/nat_arctic_strategy.pdf which is indeed missing (archive, “Thank you for your interest in this subject. STAY TUNED AS WE CONTINUE TO UPDATE WHITEHOUSE.GOV”). But this – as all but the most hyperventilating know – is simply the new administration *cough* refreshing *cough* the whitehouse.gov website. And as we all know – for example, http://www.thearcticinstitute.org/us-national-strategy-for-arctic-region/ does – you simply need to update your link to https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/nat_arctic_strategy.pdf. Victoria Herrmann might not know this – she is, after all, just a naive managing director. But the Graun ought to know better; we’re back to memory-of-a-goldfish type stuff.

All her other examples are reports, too. And naturally when she says “citations” she doesn’t mean it in the usual academic sense, of citations to journal papers. Because obviously not even the rabidly paranoid think Trump is deleting back issues of Nature and Science. Not that she has published in either.

So I think she is a touch confused and unable to clearly distinguish data from reports, and citations from internet links. I’m confident, though, that her apparently-entirely-inaccurate piece will be much quoted. As she herself quotes We’ve seen this type of data strangling before. Just three years ago, Arctic researchers witnessed another world leader remove thousands of scientific documents from the public domain. In 2014, then Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper closed 11 department of fisheries and oceans regional libraries, including the only Arctic center. Hundreds of reports and studies containing well over a century of research were destroyed in that process – a historic loss from which we still have not recovered. But I think that’s largely made up too; or rather, she didn’t make it up, just credulously and opportunistically believed stuff she read that she wanted to believe. We’ve discussed this before, inconclusively, and no-one has presented any evidence that actual data was deleted, let alone “remove thousands of scientific documents from the public domain”.

‘Moore’s law’ for carbon would defeat global warming?

17545379_10155148769467350_6493523413752513322_o Or so says the Graun: A plan to halve carbon emissions every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years, provides a simple but rigorous roadmap to tackle climate change, scientists say. Well you can’t fault the simplicity; then again “everyone should be nice to everyone else” is also simple. The obvious flaw is that Moore’s law is descriptive, not prescriptive: it describes a situation that is observed to exist. It is not a “law” in the legislative sense of a thing that we want to happen1.

You’d hope the distinction would be obvious; for the Graun, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Prof John Schellnhuber… said the aim of the carbon law was to provide “a really compelling story of how decarbonisation can be achieved”, and to bridge the gap between the pledges made by nations in Paris and what will be needed in the long term to keep global warming well below the danger limit of 2C. The bit I’ve bolded appears to be the key, and calling it a “story” makes it much much weaker than the headline. Which isn’t terrible in itself; headlines are always stupid2.

Enough of the Graun; let’s look at A roadmap for rapid decarbonization by Johan Rockström… Malte Meinshausen, Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in Science 24 Mar 2017: Vol. 355, Issue 6331, pp. 1269-1271. DOI: 10.1126/science.aah3443. Which begins Although the Paris Agreement’s goals (1) are aligned with science (2) and can, in principle, be technically and economically achieved (3), alarming inconsistencies remain between science-based targets and national commitments… “aligned with science” is a slightly odd phrase, don’t you think? Designed to slip past without triggering any reaction in the unwary mind. What’s “(2)”? It’s our old friend HJS, in H. J. Schellnhuber, S. Rahmstorf, R. Winkelmann, Nat. Clim. Chang. 6, 649 (2016), not that self-citation is any crime. Although that’s only a Nature Climate Change commentary not a proper paper. I’m somewhat cautious about the links between physical science, cost/ benefit analysis, and politics; but happily the paper is paywalled so I don’t have to pretend to want to read it. But I’ll note that and can, in principle, be technically and economically achieved (3) is somewhat odd, because the aforecited “(2)” already contains Limiting the anthropogenic temperature anomaly to 1.5–2 °C is possible, yet requires transformational change across the board of modernity so what exactly is the need for ref 3, other than to make the text look respectable by having lots of nice references?

But enough nit-picking, what do they actually say? I’m glad you asked: propose framing the decarbonization challenge in terms of a global decadal roadmap based on a simple heuristic—a “carbon law”—of halving gross anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions every decade. Complemented by immediately instigated, scalable carbon removal… so it’s a heuristic. Or, looked at another way, a slogan; but that wouldn’t sound so academic. I’m dubious about the need for scaling up carbon removal; and if you can halve CO2 emissions every decade, you don’t need it anyway. Perhaps one of the authors was desperately interested in removal.

2017–2020: No-Brainers

Oh dear. Scrolling down just a little bit more in the hope of discovering if there was anything to this paper, or if it really was no more than a slogan, I discovered this section header. I hate the phrase “no brainer”. It is so stupid, so ill-bred, so uncultured, so dismissive of debate. And now it appears in journals – admittedly, USAnian, not British, journals – like Science?

Naturally, I stopped reading at that point. What else could I do?

Update: another thought

There’s another obvious thought, though, which is: why would you expect any response to follow a half-every-decade law? An S-shaped curve is more likely: things begin slowly – arguably we’re round about that point – then progress becomes faster, then the easy stuff is done and you’re left with the hard bits and progress slows again. If you were decarbonising by, say, producing solar panels, why would that kick in so suddenly in the next decade? and if it did: why would you then slow down in the following decade?

Notes

1. Originally. After being articulated it did become a rough plan for chip makers and foundaries to work towards.

2. Except mine.

Donald trump, ha ha ha

17505215_10154622397135787_3263008678759612417_o Tired of tossers6, I seem to be having a ha ha ha series. And it’s time for a two-month review of my brilliantly prescient Trump predictions. Except not really, because it’s too early, but I think the failure of his repeal of Obamacare is a good time to take stock, without breaking my resolution to not post too much politics too often2.

[Picture: us at The Bridge at Clayhithe7. We were supposed to be going to HoRR but it was cancelled due to bad weather… as you can see.]

There are many people going “nya nya” to Trump; here’s one in The Atlantic from the Republican viewpoint. Since repeal of Obamacare was a major campaign promise, Trump looks (a) stupid and (b) a failure5. It is worth noting, in passing, that even if the bill had been passed it would have broken any number of promises but I’m doubtful that would have mattered too much, because everyone has a memory like a goldfish nowadays and most of those promises were forgotten seconds after they were uttered. The only meaningful promise was repeal-and-replace; that failed. To me, Trump’s failure to persevere looks… I struggle to find the one key word that sums it up. Instead of knuckling down to it, instead of rolling up his sleeves and settling in for some hard work persuading doubters, threatening the malleable, and reworking the bill to make it acceptable to enough Republicans1, he just gave up. It looks lightweight; careless; petulant. He has long been indifferent to the truth; this makes him indifferent to reality. To say the obvious thing that everyone else has said, it makes his much-vaunted claims to be a peerless dealmaker look suspect. Naturally, he’ll move quickly on to the next thing in the hope that the public’s goldfish-like mind forgets all about it. In this case, the next thing is tax reform. This is more promising, there are lots of sensible things that could be done, so he may have some luck3, 9. But the USAnian tax code isn’t a giant bureaucratic disaster area for no good reason: it’s that way because decades of effort by special interest groups have made it that way, and they haven’t gone away. Is trump brave enough to cut through them? No, of course not. Ryan might be.

Anyway, my prediction here – based on not very much – is that his core support will not be at all happy about the failure of repealing Obamacare, but they’ll kinda forgive him this one4, 8 and see what else comes along. Another major fuck-up will be much harder to explain or pass over; so I’d expect them to be more careful, and therefore slower, about the next one. If we get really lucky, this failure will give the saner heads amongst his advisers some leverage over the nutters.

And so, onto my prediction-review, which as promised won’t be in detail, I’ll just review my overall prediction is “minor”. I think that’s looking good so far, which admittedly is not very far.

Incidentally, to revive a possibly-unjustly-passed-over discussion, you might like to read RD’s comments on Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice?.

Notes

1. Obviously, that was going to be tricky. The softer ones thought the bill was too hard, and the harder ones thought the bill was too soft. It wasn’t clear how moving to one side or another would help. Moreover, the more the public heard about the bill the worse they thought of it, so having the party horse-trade over messy provisions in public would be a loser too.

2. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous over-reaction to one murderous nutter on Westminster bridge, totally belying our much vaunted claims to “keep calm and carry on”.

3. Timmy for example reports Munchkin saying as much. But (a) he would say that and (b) Timmy then proceeds to prove himself wrong by pushing for the entirely sensible but entirely doomed idea of abolishing corporation tax.

4. The immigration ban thing isn’t going brilliantly either. But he’s demonstrated that “his heart is in the right place”- i.e., he’s prepared to be gratuitously unpleasant to brown foreigners – so that will be alright for him I expect.

5. As Newsthump puts it, “Trump wants a solid win next week,” we were told by an insider. “So we’re trying to arrange a competition to find The Most Orange Man in Washington as quickly as possible, and we’ve asked the Kool-Aid man not to enter.” Let’s hope that their other point, White House staffers have been ordered to find things Trump can win at in short order to bolster his falling ratings, and have variously suggested rock, paper, scissors, a game of Buckaroo, and war with North Korea doesn’t come to pass.

6. If you want more convincing that Scott Adams is a tosser, you can read his completely ridiculous post about how Trump’s failure was great, because he now looks like a failure, rather than Hitler. To me, this is silly because Trump-as-Hitler (to consider for a moment SA’s deliberately OTT framing) is a problem for him with his opponents; but Trump-as-incompetent is a problem with his supporters, which is far more of a problem.

7. GPS trace. Yes, I know we’re slow. That’s because that boat was a scratch mixed quad, not the M1 VIII.

8. I don’t think they should forgive him this one, and there are people saying things like The spectacular failure of Trumpcare exposed the president as the inept fraud we suspected he was all along. But as far as I can see the people saying that are people who, like me, thought he was a bozo all along.

9. Not everyone thinks tax will be any easier.

Refs

* Arctic Sea Ice update: everything is proceeding exactly as we had foreseen – some token sea ice, and another nice graph.
* Maybe the Republicans will LGBTQ our health care after all – Brian at Eli’s.
* Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton? Andrew Sullivan via Timmy

The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression

The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression is a history by Angus Burgin of… well, you can read the potted summaries there, none are quite exact, I’ll off you another gross simplification: of the transition from Hayek as prophet-in-the-wilderness to the triumph of Friedman. So, this post is yet more politics, or economics, as you please; with only tangential reference to science.

The context – relevant for me, and therefore fascinating for you – is me reading Law, Legislation and Liberty and The Road to Serfdom (both, I admit, uncompleted tasks; Hayek is many things but easy reading is not one of them). But what is always difficult to understand is the context these things arise in. For which this book is excellent. It isn’t particularly expensive or long; and it is moderately readable; so I won’t attempt to provide much detail; but I’ll summarise the context for those, like me, who didn’t know it.

In the 1930’s was the Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash, and not unnaturally this was a challenge to the advocates of Free Markets, and an opportunity for those who favoured planning and regulation such as the New Deal and Keynes. Strange as it may now seem in our times, “neoliberal” thought was in the minority and scattered. Efforts to organise, notably the Colloque Walter Lippmann, were interrupted by WWII; after which the Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 19472 to promote the gradual encroachment of its ideas6. Initially modelled after the reticent – barring the Road to Serfdom – pattern of Hayek, it nonetheless incubated ideas that burst forth with Friedman.

Although the MPS folk knew what they were against – planning; socialism; fascism – they had a hard time producing a positive programme of what they were for3, most famously including a name for themselves. From the 1930’s to its early years, those arguing against planning nonetheless distanced themselves from 19th laissez-faire (except von Mises). But while tRtS explicitly condoned govt intervention in various ways, it didn’t obviously resolve the contradiction between that and the repudiation of central planning1. I don’t think this was ever fully solved, but was roughly resolved in favour of reducing the support for intervention. Friedman, AB notes, was relentlessly optimistic and accounted for people’s intrinsic desire to act; and this is a lesson for us all in effectiveness.

Architecture and morality

There’s a huge problem in all this around morality5. Although, as economists, they are arguing for what they see as an economically more efficient structure; which would lead to both economic and intellectual freedom which they regarded as good; the question of morals remains. As Liberals, they distance themselves from Conservatives, who favour statis, which is anti-freedom. So they cannot be in favour of “a return to good ol’ fashioned morality”, no matter how much their dress sense might suggest that on a personal level. However Hayek, Polanyi and Oakeshott’s view was that markets were to be favoured not least because ignorance prevented central planning from being even in principle possible; a corollary of this was that institutions and society evolved, slowly; and that many institutions – that were valuable – would nonetheless function in ways inscrutable to those doing the functioning; and a corollary of that was respect for social traditions. This was probably not a majority view in MPS. Others would favour a somewhat paternalistic idea that markets and competition would tend to coarsen morality and “standards”4. Hayek saw markets as morally neutral; Friedman saw them as rewarding virtuous behaviour, a useful rhetorical tool. “Virtue”, in this sense, largely meant self-reliance; perhaps seen as a proxy for all other virtues. Like Hobbes, whose over-riding value is prevention of civil war and the need for a sovereign that allows all things to be deduced from it; Friedman’s approach is deference for the choices of others, in the Hayekian model, which doesn’t allow the imposition of an external moral framework.

Efficiency and values

There’s an interesting fragment towards the end, attributed to Irving Kristol: the idea that the Left had abandoned debate on economic efficiency, and instead switched their focus to values. This reminded me of the science-vs-religion wars.

Refs

* The Headquarters of Neo-Marxism by Samuel Freeman in the NY review of books.
* Did the lack of an election threshold save The Netherlands? – VV
* The US Libertarian party
* What Is “Neoliberalism” Anyway? – not as good as it might be, but useful.
* Scott Sumner defines what he means by neoliberalism.

Notes

1. This is AB’s view; I expect to finish reading tRtS looking out for this point.

2. Supported by the Volker fund. In the 50’s, by the Earhart and Relm foundations.

3. They were for Free Markets, obvs, but that’s the easy bit. They adduced connections between intellectual and economic freedom. They favour the rule of law.

4. The Ethics of Competition, Frank Knight, 1923.

5. And smaller one about democracy. I’ll come to that at some point; here I’ll note that Hayek explicitly argues for limits on the divine right of democracies; although characteristically has a hard time saying exactly what might enforce those limits.

6. Albert Dicey, Lectures on the relation between law and public opinion in England during the nineteenth century.

Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice?

0eeeeb05df801e345be37e2ad34d524d Also known as Qinghua Ding et al., Nature Climate Change (2017) doi:10.1038/nclimate3241; published online 13 March 2017 (PDF as submitted). And the abstract:

The Arctic has seen rapid sea-ice decline in the past three decades, whilst warming at about twice the global average rate. Yet the relationship between Arctic warming and sea-ice loss is not well understood. Here, we present evidence that trends in summertime atmospheric circulation may have contributed as much as 60% to the September sea-ice extent decline since 1979. A tendency towards a stronger anticyclonic circulation over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean with a barotropic structure blah blah you’re not reading this bit are you in the troposphere increased the downwelling longwave radiation above the ice by warming and moistening the lower troposphere. Model experiments, with reanalysis data constraining atmospheric circulation, replicate the observed thermodynamic response and indicate that the near-surface changes are dominated by circulation changes rather than feedbacks from the changing sea-ice cover. Internal variability dominates the Arctic summer circulation trend and may be responsible for about 30–50% of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979.

In case you’re completely asleep, I’ve bolded the bit of general interest. Can it really be true that our beloved Arctic sea ice decline is no more than natural variability? Well of course they aren’t saying that; but they are saying that a substantial fraction of it might be. Are we really going to sit still for that? Of course not, I’m going to quibble, but don’t get too excited; this isn’t a Curry paper, it isn’t fatally flawed. Should you believe it? If you’re a septic no you certainly shouldn’t, because this paper is totally reliant on models for it’s conclusions, and we all know that a good septic doesn’t trust models, only hard data. Carbon Brief has a go at spinning it as Humans causing up to two-thirds of Arctic summer sea ice loss, study confirms but I’m not sure that’s entirely satisfactory.

But enough of that. What does it say? Weeell an awful lot of it is about the connection between September sea-ice extent and the preceding summer (June–July–August, JJA) atmospheric circulation. We choose thisp receding 3-month window because sea-ice extent anomalies have a ∼3-month decorrelation timescale and the reference for that is Blanchard-Wrigglesworth et al., one of the authors. Again, without being able to pick any obvious holes I feel somewhat uncomfortable with that; the idea that September ice depends just on JJA circulation doesn’t feel at all right. Having decided that, though, they then run a variety of model experiments, for example “nudging” the circulation back to re-analysis, with and without an ocean-ice model underneath. And the result seems to be that it is mostly the circulation forcing the sea ice, rather than the sea ice changes forcing the atmosphere. This kinda-fits the “information flow” meme from way back so I should be prepared to accept that mostly. having done that they then convince themselves that most of the circulation changes that matter to the ice are not GW forced, and so must be natural variability; and hence the conclusion. If you took all of this at face value then they’d have solved one of the puzzles, that on the whole models show much less ice decline that reality. But of course if the decline is substantially a freak of variation, not forced, that would fit.

The flaw in this overall, without looking at the details, is that it’s hard to see a near-40-year trend and being so much natural variability. That seems to be asking for an awful lot of one-way variation.

Woy and the Black Helicopters

13923343_1168563846541880_3074128595119371114_o UAH V6 has finally been published (archive). Once upon a time this kind of stuff was dead exciting, but now it is just another revision of just another dataset, and no-one cares very much. The paper itself is paywalled, but RS kindly points to the submitted version.

As DA points out, RS needs a reason why his lovely shiny new paper is in a relatively minor journal. RS’s explanation is the Evil Klimate Konspiwacy but I think two three other explanations are more likely. The most prosaic is that the paper simply isn’t very exciting or novel; it is, as I said at the start, just another iteration of another dataset and will undoubtedly be followed by yet another iteration at some point. Another is that he quite shamelessly self-published the bloody thing two years ago. And the third and most entertaining possibility is that it’s a little bit duff and he is deliberately avoiding searching review.

That third, whilst most entertaining, would require careful expert reading of the paper to determine, and naturally I’m not going to provide that. I’ll offer a token though. Consider:

That these instruments are stable enough to provide a climate monitoring capability of the bulk troposphere was first demonstrated by Spencer and Christy (1990), and verified by Mears et al. (2003), producing the “UAH” and “RSS” datasets, respectively.

which does rather glide over the many flaws found in early version of UAH, as does Corrections for such effects can either be well understood and straightforward, such as the orbit decay correction which is based upon satellite instrument scan geometry and average tropospheric temperature lapse rates; or poorly understood and empirical, such as the instrument temperature effect which is quantified by comparing data from simultaneously operating satellites. These effects have been adjusted for in both the RSS and UAH datasets for many years.

I didn’t read the whole thing, I hope you understand. But here’s one sample minor oddity:

Unfortunately, the theoretically-based AMSU5 reference incidence angle of 34.99 deg. was found to cause… anomalously cold at very high terrain altitudes… compared to surrounding low-elevation areas. This problem was traced to a probable error in the theoretically calculated AMSU5 weighting function… To correct for this, we increased the AMSU5 reference Earth incidence angle by small amounts until the spurious effect on gridpoint trends over Greenland and the Himalayas was largely eliminated.

This seems rather kludgy: they find what they think is an error, but rather than fixing it, they fiddle with something else until, presumably by eye, it kinda looks OK.

Refs

* Now we know why UAH v6 is so late…
* “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong (part II)
* Death at UAH
* MSU ping-pong. Or Yo-yo. Or some word denoting here-and-then-not-here
* S+C/UAH MSU temperature trend now 0.12 oC/decade
* More satellite stuff, including explanations, a bit