Happy Birthday to Watts’ paper!

[Don’t miss the 2nd birthday!]

why-are-we-waiting About a year ago the entirety of the intertubes were rocked to their foundations by an announcement of epochal proportions: WUWT publishing suspended – major announcement coming. Or so we were told. Speculation was rife: had AW finally found those pix of Mann’s Prince Albert? But exactly a year ago the Truth Was Out and it all turned out to be very dull – it was just a paper preprint [*].

Most scientists of any kind of quality manage to produce at least a paper a year, anyone with ambitions for their step up is looking at two or more, in decent journals. Even a blog scientist (a bit close to the knuckle there, but the bit about guest posts about climate elves being utter sh*t resonates. AFAIK the true Blog Science manifesto is to be found at denialdepot) shouldn’t get too excited about a preprint.

However, a year has now passed with little public evidence of action. Perhaps the climate elves are working behind the scenes. I imagine that AW hasn’t given up all hope, because the “2012” graphic is still proudly on his blog. I wonder if any of the Watties ever notice it and wonder, or is it like the underpants on my bedroom floor, once they’ve been left lying there for a while they become invisible?

[*] The disparity between the mighty trailering and the feeble reality has lead those few who still think AW has a strong grasp on reality to speculate that Something Else was originally intended, and when that Something Else went sour, a half-baked preprint had to be rushed out to fill the gap. We may never know.


* Top Physicist Withdraws Support For Climate Sceptic Professor Sacked By Australian University says JM
* 2014/06: we’ve spent two years reworking it and dealing with those criticisms. Our results are unchanged and will be published soon sez Watts in “Reason”.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear: chaos, weather and climate confuses denialists

Its shooting fish in a barrel, of course, but you must go and read Another uncertainty for climate models – different results on different computers using the same code [WebCitation].

The issue here is a well-known one – it dates back to Lorenz’s original stuff on chaos. That trivial differences in initial conditions, or in processing methods, will lead to divergences in weather forecasts. The (entirely harmless) paper that has sparked all this off is an Evaluation of the Software System Dependency of a Global Atmospheric Model by Song-You Hong et al. and sez

There exist differences in the results for different compilers, parallel libraries, and optimization levels, primarily due to the treatment of rounding errors by the different software systems.

This astonishes the Watties, as though it was a new idea. To them I suppose it is. But it’s exactly what you’d expect, within a numerical weather prediction framework (though I’d expect you not to care within NWP. If differences in optimisation level have lead to error growth large enough to see, I’d have expected uncertainties in initial conditions to have grown much more and made the whole output unreliable). I don’t think you’d expect it within a climate projection framework, at least atmospheric-wise. You might expect more memory from the ocean. JA and I have a post on RC from 2005 that might help, originating from a post on old-stoat by me where I was playing with HadAM3.

In the comments at WUWT Nick Stokes has done his best to explain to the Watties their mistake – but AW has just rubbed out NS’s comments, because they were too embarrassing.

There’s an important distinction to make here, which is that climate modelling isn’t an Initial Value Problem, as weather prediction is. Its more of a Boundary Value Problem, with things like GHGs being the “boundary”s. Or at least, that’s the assumption and that is how people are approaching it (RP Sr disagrees, and you could discuss it with him. Except you can’t, becasue he doesn’t allow comments at his blog. RP Sr is too wise to value anyone else’s opinion). Potentially, there’s an interesting debate to be had about whether climate modelling can indeed be considered largely free of its initial conditions. But you can’t start such a debate from the level of incoherent rage displayed at WUWT.


* Initial value vs. boundary value problems – Serendipity
* Chaos, CFD and GCMs – Moyhu, 2016.

Curry’s wide Sargasso Sea of Stupidity

ph This entire episode is so depressingly stupid that I almost threw the post away. But, courage!

As my title suggests, this is a morass of stupidity, of interest only to the navel-gazers within the incestuous world of climate blogs. Anyone with an interest in the actual science should steer clear. Metaphorically: if you’re starting from one side of the Sargasso Sea and wish to reach clear water on the other side, you’re better off going round rather than pushing through and clearing an endless buildup of weed off your rudder.

The motive for this was, now that I have a moment from the rowing to pause to think, me thinking “hmm, I haven’t written about science much recently”. That is partly an inevitable, and predicted, consequence of me not doing science any more. But also, it seems to me, because there isn’t that much going on. So since James and Eli are on hols, and not much was showing up elsewhere, I thought I’d range off into Curry-land, to see what she had found. And it was looking pretty thin to me: weekend discussion threads and stuff. But then I found Ocean acidification discussion thread, and took a look. On the surface, its yet another of those rubbish posts that JC does which boil down to “I haven’t got a clue about subject X, but here are two people who disagree, errrm, well that didn’t teach anyone anything did it, never mind I got a pile of page hits”. But there is far more wrong with it than that.

Lets do the surface stuff first. Actually lets not. Lets first notice that she attempts to use her “Italian flag method” to reason about the situation. That method is drivel, as many people have pointed out. Set that aside, and return to the surface.

JC complains about

Today the surface ocean is almost 30% more acidic than it was in pre-industrial times

on the grounds that the speaker, Doney, provided “no evidence or reference”. But this is dishonest of her because she’s clipped the preceeding sentence:

Over the past two centuries, human activities have resulted in dramatic and well documented increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and acidification of the upper ocean

That is a hint that he isn’t bothering to docuemnt the bleedin’ obvious. Anyone less clueless that JC, or the legions of fools who form the majority of her commentators, could simply look it up. And furthermore Doney (who I don’t know, but is a “Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution”, and even JC pretends to respect his expertise) just isn’t going to lie about basic, easily-checked facts to the US Senate. There’s a basic dumb America fallacy to this, as to so much of the denialist tripe. But anyway.

Then we need to clear away some confusion: a change in pH from 8.25 to 8.14, which is what has happened, is indeed a change in H+ [*] ion concentration by ~30% (covered in some detail here, wot I got via DA, thanks). That little mathematical transformation ties up people for quite a long time over on the Dork Side.

She then complains that Doney isn’t providing enough expressions of uncertainty. However, since we’re actually certain of this particular factoid, expressions of uncertainty would be wrong. But there seems to be no place in JC’s science-is-a-social-construct type worldview for this; expressions of scientific information have a strengthened credibility if they contain uncertainty.

And here we come to the nub of it all: JC is clueless, and is (if we pretend for a moment to believe what she says) attempting to evaluate these two competing views as texts to try and determine credibility. She needs to use this method, because she lacks the ability, or the time, to understand or verify what is being said. But the problem is that her method is worthless. The only way to evaluate such texts accurately is to read, understand and verify them. Or a useful shortcut is to depend on the authority of the speaker – this is, inevitably, what most of the populace are obliged to do, since “read and understand” simply isn’t open to them.

But the last (and to me worst) part of all this is that JC is just spraying disinformation around. If she finds this issue interesting, and finds this very basic fact to be beyond her ability to verify, then she can f*ck*ng well talk to some of her colleagues (assuming she hasn’t managed to cut all her ties to people of any quality). She’s at a university, no? She can talk to the prof of Chemistry. Or of Oceans. Or something. But one way or another, she can f*ck*ng well find out the truth, first. Then she could have written a post that might have been informative, and might have reduced people’s confusion on this issue. Instead she’s made the world a little bit worse.

[Update: hello, Watties! Are any of you brave enough to leave your walled garden and click through? How about being brave enough to comment. Not much hope there I suspect, you talk big in your little world but you’re not so brave in the Real World. You might be wondering why I’m not making sarky comments over at the Dork Side. The answer is that AW the gutless coward banned me for exposing his fantasies.

And to add a pic from a pdf suggested by NS]

[*] There’s a subtlety here that I hadn’t at first appreciated: pH is -log_10(a_H+), whereas the original p[H] is -log_10(H+). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH for details. For our purposes, the difference doesn’t matter.


* Eli will arise to say “the Sun”
* Eli again on pH measurement
* The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification Bärbel Hönisch et al..; Science, 2012 (via MV).
* Curry, 2015: pushing “Quantifying (that is to say, denying) the anthropogenic contribution to atmospheric CO2” by Fred Haynie.

“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong (part II)

This spawned by reading DA, who comments that “Roy Spencer has a very unprofessional post”, EPIC FAIL: 73 Climate Models vs. Observations for Tropical Tropospheric Temperature. And it is very unprofessional: its just not what you write, if you have any hope of belonging to a scientific community. Its what you write if you know you’ve marginalised yourself and there is no way back. And as DA points out, the UAH record itself has suffered numerous disastrous failings over the years, up to and including getting the very sign of the temperature change wrong.

“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong refers.

Update: DA thinks Judith Curry is going down the same road.


* Roy Spencer’s latest deceit and deception – Hotwhopper, 2014/02.

RP Jr is a tosser

oglaf-dick I haven’t called anyone a tosser recently, indeed I think that RP Jr is the first 2013 winner of this most prestigious of awards. I believe that Sr was the last winner, almost a year ago. And I bestow this award sadly, because despite my naughty words I still have a deal of respect for RP (Jr and Sr). But in this instance, he’s worked himself up into a froth over nothing and is casting evil aspersions over blameless people. I’m not sure why; perhaps as ever Oscar Wilde had it right (and I don’t mean about the bat’s urine).

Before I go on, I should point out that this post is mostly just a ruder and less detailed version of DA’s post, so you could read him if you like.

Where to begin? Well, this is all about the Marcott et al. man smashing his head against the wall graph (what? You’ve heard it called something else?). The Dark Side don’t like it, of course, but even so its a bad sign that the first ref to RP’s post I found was WUWT gleefully quoting There are a few bad eggs, with the Real Climate mafia being among them, who are exploiting climate science for personal and political gain. Makes the whole effort look bad. Well, you can’t ask for much better than that, and that is why RP gets his “Tosser” award, instead of me just being bitter and sarcastic.

Continuing, this is all about the “uptick” in the Marcott plot. Why oh why this is of the least interest to anyone I don’t know, because its the one bit where the proxies (which is what Marcott are using) are of no interest [*]. We already have instrumental records for this period; and while that instrumental series is not perfect, its certainly much better than the proxy record. Somehow spinning this into However, here I document the gross misrepresentation of the findings of a recent scientific paper via press release which appears to skirt awfully close to crossing the line into research misconduct is just stupid and pointless. How can you write stuff like that and have any aspirations to be an “honest broker” or even offer unsolicited advice on how to do the same?

[*] Of no interest in reconstructing the temperature, I mean. It clearly is of interest to see how to mesh the proxies and the instrumental record, but that isn’t what M et al. is about, it isn’t what RP Jr is talking about, and it isn’t what all the voluminous denialosphere whinging is about.


* Smearing Climate Data – Tamino
* “Honest broker”? – at the old blog, 2005.

1970s cooling, again

pcf-fig Just when you thought this tripe was dead, it comes round again. Well, its winter at least in this hemisphere, and a bit chilly, so perhaps it seems plausible – the septics usually have trouble telling weather from climate.

Anyway, your reference is We’re number 1! which provises you a handy link to The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus – the paper that the denialists are too scared to address. Ta da. I’ve helpfully cut out a nice figure from that paper, which rather summarises the situation.

And maybe now is a good time to say, if I haven’t before, how grateful I am to Tom Peterson for picking up my hobby (look at that link, if you haven’t before; loadsa good stuff down there) and turning it into a proper paper, and John Fleck who skilz turned into a far more readable paper.

So much for the science history. But AW is interested in the popular media (a familiar story). Indeed, he’s just recycling someone else’s lists. Neither is honest enough to link to the science. My usual answer to that has always been “I’m a scientist; I’m not responsible for the media; yes there is any amount of tripe in the media”. That was in the old days, when I was a scientist. But with that corrected, I’d still give much the same answer, and continue: there’s nothing very useful you can do with that list. You’ve got no idea of the balance of warming vs cooling publications; the warming ones, then, have been deliberately omitted.

AW’s point appears to be that there was as much stuff about cooling, then, as there is warming, now. That’s false, obviously: you just have to do a google news search to find more stories about GW in the past month than AW managed to find for a decade.


* Global cooling awareness in the 60′s?
* Klotzbach Revisited, by Jos Hagelaars chez Bart
* Video by Frank Capra

Cage fight: Ridley vs Romm

W00t, its the Big Fight, or at least its the spat du jour. Does anyone outside the little blogospheric circle care? My guess is no. As I said over at Timmy’s recently, my personal “does-the-outside-world-give-a-shit-o-meter” (as applied to the latest septic nonsense to hit the blogospheric fan) is “has anyone tried to push it into any of the major GW type articles on wikipedia”? By that test, the latest stuff from Lewis scores zero. Even Schwartz managed better.

But (whilst Romm wouldn’t be my choice as the prime upholder of Truth and Light) the latest to-and-fro provides an interesting way to tell who is lying to you. To no-one’s great surprise, the answer is… available at the end of this post. Its all out in the open, and verifiable to everyone (the one unverifiable aspect is who has changed their postings since they were first written. I’ve taken snapshots of how things are now).


* Joe Romm demonstrates himself to be an angry know-nothing in his attack on Matt Ridley’s WSJ essay – Ridley responds – Ridley at WUWT [cite], complaining about…
* Error-Riddled Matt Ridley Piece Lowballs Climate Change, Discredits Wall Street Journal. World Faces 10°F Warming – Romm at TP [cite], complaining about…
* Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change – Ridley’s piece [cite] puffing Lewis’s piece about sensitivity.

For the moment, we care not whether Lewis’s original is correct or not (I still think its wrong, but have done no real analysis, that you’ll have to wait for. I’m still hoping someone competent might do it – hint, hint). I think Romm’s headline assertion that Ridley has “Discredit[ed the] Wall Street Journal” is dubious, on the grounds that it had no reputation to lose on the subject of Climate Change. But on…

Part the first

From Ridley:

He [Romm] quotes a scientist as saying

it is very clear water vapor … is an amplifying effect. It is a very strong warmer for the climate.

I agree. My piece states:

water vapor itself is a greenhouse gas.

So there is no confusion there. At least not on my part.

But this is indeed confused by Ridley, in an important way. The WV feedback is important, and Ridley can’t be unaware of that. By confusing this with the doubted-by-no-one statement that WV is a GHG, Ridley is throwing up squid ink. Though I’m dubious he really understands this stuff at all – there is a fair chance that some of his errors are simply caused by his own lack of competence.

Part the second

Ridley continues:

However, I do discuss the possibility that clouds, formed from water vapor, either amplify or damp warming – and nobody at this stage knows which. This is the point that my physicist informant was making: the consequence of increased temperatures and water vapor in the atmosphere may be changes in clouds that have a cooling effect. You will find few who disagree with this. As the IPCC AR4 said:

Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

Joe Romm disagrees with this consensus, saying

The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive.

He gives no backing for this dogmatic conclusion.

Romm, correctly, points out that his “The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive” is taken from the AR5 draft, and says so (at least it currently says so. Whether it originally did, I can’t say. However Ridley really can’t fulminate about “no backing” and “dogmatic”, because it really is sourced).

What AR5 says (at least in part) is:

Therefore, there is very high confidence that the net feedbacks are strongly positive and the black body response of the climate to a forcing will therefore be amplified. Cloud feedbacks continue to be the largest uncertainty… New approaches to diagnosing cloud feedback in GCMs have clarified robust cloud responses, while continuing to implicate low cloud cover as the most important source of intermodel spread in simulated cloud feedbacks. The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive, although a negative feedback (damping global climate changes) is still possible.

The AR4 was less certain: Conclusion on cloud feedbacks. Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable. However, progress has been made in the identification of the cloud types, the dynamical regimes and the regions of the globe responsible for the large spread of cloud feedback estimates among current models. This is likely to foster more specific observational analyses and model evaluations that will improve future assessments of climate change cloud feedbacks.

So it appears to me that:

(1) AR5 has strengthened the assessment of cloud forcing, which is now thought to be likely (which is weak, but its there) to be positive,
(2) AR4 and AR5 both say cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty. Ridley is right to quote this, but wrong to imply that this is the last word the IPCC has to say on the subject,
(3) Ridley is wrong to say that by asserting (1) Romm is denying (2) – the two are entirely compatible. Obviously: they’re in the same IPCC paragraph,
(4) Ridley is wrong to say that Romm’s assertion is dogmatic, or not backed. Its a quote from the draft, and its fully backed up.
(5) Ridley is wrong to state, of the cloud feedback, that “nobody at this stage knows which… You will find few who disagree with this”. That would have been defensible from the AR4, but not now.


I think its most likely that Ridley is incompetent – if he knows what he is actually saying, then he knows he is wrong on all these counts, and he knows that anyone competent will be able to see that. Of course, he may just be playing to the gallery.

If you want more, in a bit I didn’t bother look at Ridley tries to drag in Schlesinger onto his side. Alas, Schlesinger will have none of it, and Romm quotes a letter from Schlesinger: Matt Ridley mentions the findings of my Climate Research Group’s paper… In his article, Mr. Ridley is just plain wrong about future global warming…


* Neven on AR5 sea ice