October 24, 2007

The Sound Of Settled Science

Blunder down under...


Posted by Kate at October 24, 2007 12:31 AM

If this picture is from Southern California, the warm gauge would be going off the dial right now.

Posted by: set you free at October 24, 2007 1:11 AM

Well, it is only one station - I would hesistate to characterise all data from Australia as biased, but am not holding my breath that it is isolated incident.

It seem to me that as the blogs get all hold of these issues that we will soon see many more examples.

Note, for all the AGW proponents, this is the type of discrepancy that you must openly acknowledge and truly account for before I will begin to afford you any credibility.

Surface stations are only one part of our observation network, but they are generally the easiest for us to do, especially when one considers how accurately we COULD measure data from them.

So when the data from surface stations is biased/corrupted it should be a grave concern that other, more complex, observations are similarly biased.

Again, I will wait and see if this is a trend in other countries as well, but it definitely seems to have caused a bias in the US.

Posted by: Frenchie77 at October 24, 2007 6:20 AM

OMG! Its CONTAGIOUS!!!! Aiiieeee!

Kate, where's the barbecue in this picture? You know there's got to be one in there somewheres.

Posted by: The Phantom at October 24, 2007 8:47 AM

Forget the BBQ - where's the jet?

Posted by: Boudicae at October 24, 2007 9:14 AM

This must be the apartment building that houses the imaginary 2300 IPCC scientists ;-)

Safe from GW in their air conditioned suites tehy need never venture outside and rely entirely on their external field sensor data :)

Posted by: WL Mackenzie Redux at October 24, 2007 9:16 AM

you have to read all the way through to find out the city is sinking not the water rising.

lets give the journalists another year to saturate the readers to the point that we have go on a diet of brad pitt and such.

Posted by: cal2 at October 24, 2007 9:17 AM

Frenchie77: I doubt that anyone doesn't acknowledge that the site is a poor one. However the important thing is how does it affect the results. That is where John V's analysis comes in. And from that, there does not appear to be that much of an error in the US 48. Australia could be different, but I wouldn't bet on it.


Posted by: John Cross at October 24, 2007 10:03 AM

The best comment was the one stating that it makes sense for the weather station to be there since its purpose is to tell people the weather, where they are.

Of course, using the data from it to prove AGW was not what the station was designed for. Therefore, don't complain about the location of the station, just complain about how its data is being misused.

Posted by: CanadianKate at October 24, 2007 10:12 AM

And the eco-wackos will tell kids that backyard BBQs constibute to global warming just like their saying about the internal combustion engine, Enviromental defense should get a kick in the rear for lying

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at October 24, 2007 10:22 AM

John Cross: If you can provide a link to the analysis you are referring to that would be great.

However, I am not that interested in debating the merits of placing surface station in urban areas to measure man-made climate change, as I think the results are skewed from the start. It's look going to the mental bin to determine stats on crazy people in the population at large.

What I am interested in is the fact that, technically, these measurements should have the smallest error bars of all the data being fed into our climate models, i.e. we've had the tech to measure temp accurately for many, many years.

As I said in previous posts (Copied below) on related topics, the first thing we have to do is identify clearly if change is happening.

But in doing so, our most basic of observations produce clear questions about whether even that is being done properly.

Again, if you want to convince skeptics then AGW theory must be near perfect. Tripping on step 1 is not a good way to start.

1) The earth is warming /climate changing
2) the warming/change is predominatly caused by man
3) the full extent of this warming/change will be what, precisely (e.g. x degrees, water levels, desertification, etc)??
4) the overall effect of this warming/change is BAD (for man, for earth, etc)
5) man's effects can be realistically stopped and/or then reversed by man.

Posted by: Frenchie77 at October 24, 2007 11:10 AM

Frenchie77: It is the analysis over on Climate Audit (I would put in a link, but Kate's blog tends to eat my posts when I put a link in). I like the fact that he put it on climate audit and was very open with the code and data.

Right now, there is a lot of "wait and see" comments but as fas as I can see noone has actually been able to spot an error in it.

In terms of your list - we are going backwards ;-) A while ago, when we talked about this you were willing to give me 1. In regards to 2, do you accept that CO2 will cause warming and that the current rise in CO2 is anthropogenic?


Posted by: John Cross at October 24, 2007 11:25 AM

John Cross:
Yes, in previous posts I said that 1 can be a given as clearly climate is changing (always has always will).

This is why I am always so amazed that even with step 1 being so easy to show (as most people accept that we had ice-ages and warming periods in the past) it is still done poorly. In fact, it seems that it is the AGW crowd that is insisting that climate ought to be a constant - why?

Credibility problems with step 1 flow right through the process to 5.

As for step 2, you repeat CO2 as cause (maybe you don't think it's the only one, but it definitely seems to be important to AGW proponents) but surely there are others?

Why so eager to pin this all on CO2? Yes, it can be shown that CO2 can reflect some IR from the surface back to the surface under certain conditions. But then again so does water vapour, methane, etc.

Can you please account (where it goes), exactly, for all 1350 w/m^2 that the Earth receives from the sun at a point just outside the atmosphere.

Until we can isolate all the potential factors, coming to a conclusion on 2 is near pointless.

Posted by: Frenchie77 at October 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Maybe if the denier camp didn't have such powerful support in Washington that was bent on editing the science out of every speech, there would be less suspicion towards them.

I suppose you're all for freedom of information, as long as it offers - or potentially offers - some support for your position.

Posted by: anon at October 24, 2007 12:21 PM

While the Aussie station has raised a few eyebrows, here are a few points to consider.
1: The Stevenson screen is a British invention. The Brits used a standardized method of recording temp across the Brit. Empire, using a standard set of Fahrenheit thermometers.
2: It was recommended by climatologists that the screen be located at least 50 feet from any building or contrivane. If the building or contrivance was more than 50 Ft. high, the screen was to be located at a horizontal distance that was (at least) equal to the height of the building.
3: The base of the Stevenson screen was to be mounted four feet above a well mowed grass surface. In Canada, a standard base constructed of cedar 2x4s was used. The outside paint on the screen and on the base was semi-gloss enamel.
Forgive me if I've erred, I am writing this from memory. However the point was to attempt to record temp etc. using a standard system all over the world. When the metric system was later introduced, F was being converted to C, leaving more room for error. And what happned in many parts of the world is what happened in the photo. Buildings got higher, cities got congested, there just wasn't enough space for the stations.
Many were moved out to the airports. However given the massive amount of solar heat that is generated by the black asphalt runways, added to the heat generated by jet engines, today, I doubt that the readings and recordings are very accurate.
I beleive the screens should about 6 miles outside of any major city, in the middle of a grassed in surface that is at least 100 yards in diameter. Rememeber, you're trying to measure the mean average atmospheric temperature, not the heat that is being generated by an urban surrounding. Hope this info is helpful!

Posted by: Johnny Jesus at October 24, 2007 1:58 PM

Any real scientist knows that it is difficult (as in "hard as hell") to obtain reliable data. These pictures reinforce the point - and suggest that some "climate scientists" are not very good scientists.

The site was probably a good one, in 1855 and probably even in 1900. I wonder if there are any old photographs of it?

If GCOS is set up carefully then we may have a solid body of reliable data about 50 years from now. And we will have better computer models, and will have a better idea how well they work.

I'd be willing to bet, however, that 50 years hence it will have been found that climate predictions (other than of the solar forcing component) have little skill beyond about a year, because the climate will have been found to be chaotic. Not that I'll be around to collect on the bet.

It is a pity that so few of those who discuss climate have read Gleick's "Chaos", or otherwise have knowledge of mathematical chaos.

Posted by: John Lewis at October 24, 2007 3:01 PM

Frenchie77: I am not aware of anyone saying that the climate should be a constant.

In regards to CO2, while it is only 1 factor, it is one that we are currently amplyfing. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas, as is methane - no one says anything different. However the governing factor in regards to water vapour is temperature.

You lost me when you said CO2 can reflect some IR from the surface back to the surface under certain conditions . What are the conditions where it would not do this?

We could probably start to develop a list of climate drivers, and here are a couple:
solar intensity
continental drift
Feel free to add more then we can actually look at them.

I will also note that the actual solar intensity outside the atmosphere is between 1365 and 1367 (not 1350). We could see where it goes but only in terms of averages.


Posted by: John Cross at October 24, 2007 3:57 PM

JLewis: Perhaps reading a layman's introduction to nonlinear dynamics is not the best foundation from which to criticize. I suggest you check out for an explanation of why chaotic systems are not 'unpredictable' in the sense you assert.

Posted by: anon at October 24, 2007 5:27 PM

"I suggest you check out for an explanation of why chaotic systems are not 'unpredictable' in the sense you assert"

So let's extend the "Exec Decision Maker" analogy to planetary climate.

We have an unknown number of magnets (the multiple factors driving climate), with each having unknown strength (how strongly does each impact climate), and unknown position (how probable will each factor affect climate as climate changes).

Then the cherry on the sundae is that all of these factors may also change over time and the previous conditions. So one climate factor changes due to changes to other factors (like increased temperature causes oceans to release more CO2) with fewer or more new factors coming into play, and their impact changing over time.

So in effect, the "magnets" may move and change size as the pendulum swings.

I'd suggest that it is an impossible leap for anyone to claim that we have any level of climate predictibility here. I'd agree with JLewis.

Posted by: Dave at October 24, 2007 10:41 PM

John Cross:

There are many factors that determine the ability of CO2, methane, water vapour, etc to reflect/absorb IR.

The 'reflection' of IR is more than a linear function of the partial pressure of C02, i.e. a single molecule of CO2 may 'reflect' a photon based on the orientation of the molecule and the photon and other factors. In order to see a lot of photons 'reflect' in the general direction of the source requires a certain amount of C02 in order to achieve the statistical likelihood that significant amounts of photons get bounced around enough to head home.
Note: I use to the term 'reflect' loosely, if you want to understand more on this then look in any photonics textbook.

But why focus on just C02? Are we also not 'amplifying' several other factors such as surface absorption, airborne particulates, methane, etc,etc..I don't understand the desire to just focus on C02.

A list of 5, well you are just starting the list, I would expect a more accurate list to number in the hundreds at least. Even if you just focus on atmospheric constituents, there are several factors that we don't understand much.

Yah, I use 1350 for most of my work as it tends to leave a little buffer room and solar cells don't 'see' the full spectrum anyways.

Posted by: Frenchie77 at October 25, 2007 5:54 AM

There are many factors that determine the ability of CO2, methane, water vapour, etc to reflect/absorb IR

I am still not following your comment here. Sure, atmospheric molecules that have more than 2 atoms will have vibration modes that allow them to absorb IR. But apart from some pressure broadening, what would cause a change in the properties?

In regards to other things, climatologists do look at them. For example in Chapter 2 from the IPCC AR4 ( Changes in Atmosphere and Forcings) lists under sectino 2.3 (Chemically and Radiatively Important Gases): CO2, CH4, Hydroxyl, O3, Other Kyoto Gases and Other Montreal Protocol Gases.

In terms of the causes, those are a start, are there others, possible - but I would not suspect in the hundreds. A couple of others that occur to me are land use and contrails. What others are there? Volcanic aerosols, perhaps, but I would list those as aerosols anyway. Have you read the IPCC AR4 to see what they consider and what they don't?

Yah, I use 1350 for most of my work as it tends to leave a little buffer room and solar cells don't 'see' the full spectrum anyways.

Cool - that must be satellite stuff that you are working on (at ground level it is less than 1/2 that).


Posted by: John Cross at October 25, 2007 2:42 PM

This is an old argument already (the supposed 'heat island' effect).

The same temperature trends are seen in isolated rural areas.

Here's some debunking of McIntyre.

Posted by: Mark Francis at October 27, 2007 1:33 AM