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Flimsin flies in - Josh 191

Yesterday there was another RMetS event, this time on "Quantifying Uncertainties in Climate Science".

Dr Tamsin Edwards, a seasoned BishopHill contributor (and whose Twitter name is @flimsin) spoke at the meeting. It was an interesting afternoon, great to meet people from the Met Office, Hadley Centre etc, and a treat to meet up afterwards in the pub with a few BishopHill readers.

I drew some cartoon notes, see below, but due to the technical nature of the talks, they can only cover a small part of what was discussed. Hopefully others will add their thoughts and recollections.


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Reader Comments (25)

Hi Josh, love the Uncertainty Plume and Random Noise :-)

Also great to see Tamsin immortalised!

Dec 13, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Are google trying to say something with the last two images?

Dec 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Registered Commentersteveta

still waiting for the box of odd socks to be immortalised, Josh!

Dec 13, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Good to meet you yesterday Josh (and others!). Calendar is much admired in the office :o)

Dec 13, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterErica

Erica, great! And now I have to learn about nonpolynomial problems ;-)

Diogenes, odd socks, you'll have to remind me what that was about...

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Thanks for the pictorial notes Josh :-)

Unfortunately I couldn't get to this event so I'm looking forwards to hearing from those who were there. From Josh's notes I've distilled "Nothing is known" - is that a fair summary?!?

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I think you should amend your CV, Josh. I like cartoonists*, but you are an illustrator.

*With the possible exception of John Cook...

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Another two great drawings. Illumination, elevation, inspiration, edification.

Thanks also for the recently added link to the presentations. Having seen highlights of the opera so to speak, now we can read the score!

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Jonty excellent, interesting chat re climate sensitivity, he avoids direct thought on the 'plausibility' of a 3-4c number, as non-expert and too aware of fallacy of using plausibility in unusual feedback systems, impression he prefers sticking to the maths.

Paul Williams really excellent, even a thick layman like me could see that (and I checked with Jonty and Nic Lewis to be sure), 'rising star' came to mind. Properly sceptical I thought.

Mournful conversation with Nic and @ruth_dixon about how the sceptical community is so ..... ancient? Where are the 25 yo rebels?

Tamsin - how was the gig?

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Josh - thanks for adding the link to the presentations. From a quick skim it looks an excellent session. Please can you check Tamsin's slides - they come up with an unfortunate crop for me. Also if there is any av coverage that would be much appreciated.

Dec 13, 2012 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Another gem from Josh. I wonder if RMetSoc could be persuaded to put it on the meeting webpage?

Josh has been busy, there's another one at GWPF on the shale argument.

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:02 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Mark Lynas says fracking uses "only sand, water, a benign chemical called polyacrylamide (at 0.04% concentration) and trace amounts of salt"

David Santillo, senior scientist for Greenpeace, says "A range of hazardous chemicals are added to fracturing fluids (at least 260 chemical additives are known to be used)"

Someone is telling fibs - I wonder who?

(see the above GWPF reference).

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

(This is a slightly edited version of my comment on the Quantifying Uncertainty thread where the meeting was announced.)

The RMS meeting was very interesting and it was great to meet Tamsin Edwards, Jonty Rougier, Josh, and others.

Tamsin's talk was essentially an update of her post from April 2012: . She described how she (with her co-authors) are using two paleoclimate eras (the mid-Holocene, 6000 years ago, and the Last Glacial Maximum 21,000 years ago) to constrain climate sensitivity. The result (the climate sensitivity itself) is still to come.

This method has the advantage of testing models that have been created to simulate present-day climates against completely independent data, that is, reconstructions of past climates. Otherwise you risk 'double-counting' (as David Sexton explained in his talk) - both optimising the model to match the present climate and also validating the model against the same observations. His talk explained how attempts are made to get round that using only contemporary data but there is always an element of circularity (e.g. testing one model against others that also use the same data). But of course the details of paleoclimates are less well known than the present climate, given the sparse distribution of proxies, etc.

(I hope others will correct me if I've misrepresented anything!)

Altogether an interesting afternoon, and I'm sorry I couldn't come to the pub afterwards.

The meeting's Tweets #QUCS have been collected here:

The popularity of the meeting can be judged by the fact that the mulled wine was only enough for about 1/4 of the audience (it ran out long before I got out of the lecture theatre). :-(

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRuth Dixon

Thanks Ruth - any details of the wine budget to help with my attendance calcs? :-)

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

steveta, I wondered about that too. Also, his typically vague " it appears that the greenhouse gas “footprint” of shale gas may be significantly greater than for conventional gas and has even be claimed by some to be worse than coal" quote seems unlikely to me. Is this like sour gas or is he just making it up?

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

Roddy Campbell - who are you calling ancient? :-)

But yes, it does seem to be the case. Who is the youngest sceptic anyone knows?

Dec 13, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

NBY - we were told that they had catered for 50 for mulled wine. My very rough guess is that there were 200 attending.

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Youngest sceptic I know is Andrew_Florida, sometime commenter at Lucia's and more frequently at Air Vent. Might be about 20 by now.

Dec 13, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Thanks for the numbers Ruth.

Dec 13, 2012 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I particularly enjoyed model/data and paleoclimate - brilliant. Even Matt must be envious of your observational skills as well as your characterisations. A picture, like a graph, says more than a thousand words.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

Ruth Dixon - they will be about 60 of course as anyone younger still needs a job and/or some grant money. I suppose there are a few youngsters, perhaps with a private income.

Dec 13, 2012 at 10:58 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave


"David Santillo, senior scientist for Greenpeace, says "A range of hazardous chemicals are added to fracturing fluids (at least 260 chemical additives are known to be used)"

Someone is telling fibs - I wonder who?"

Santillo is probably correct, in the sense that there are a lot of additives available. What is used in any given case depends on what the particular circumstances of that hole are, and what you are trying to achieve.

It's over 30 years since I was contracting on a drill fluid research rig at BP Sunbury, but here goes.

Drill fluid serves a number of purposes. It cools and lubricates the bit, transports cuttings out of the hole, lubricates the drill string and supports the hole (preventing cave-ins). In horizontal drilling, the fluid also powers the bit.

Typically, the fluid will be water based. A dense mineral such as powdered barite will be added to increase the density to that of the surrounding rock, a thickener such as starch added, to keep the barite in suspension, and a biocide to stop the fluid going off. Possibly a surfactant too. That's about it. If you have problems with the hole, then there is a range of extras which may be added, but this is not standard practice.

Santillo is being disengenuous (surprise). Adding stuff costs money, and the mud man (yes there are mud specialists) won't be putting stuff in the hole without good reason. His "range of hazardous chemicals" is equivalent and as meaningful as saying your GP has access to "a range of hazardous drugs". And of course, "chemicals" are always "hazardous", just as fracturing is always "contorversial".

Dec 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

He sketches, he scores!

Once again, Josh's Brilliant Sketches of a Little Meeting* make it almost better than being there for the rest of us :-)

* An appreciative nod to the late, great, Canadian humourist, Stephen Leacock whose Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a CanLit classic (well, it certainly was when I went to school!)

Dec 14, 2012 at 1:00 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

"Who is the youngest sceptic anyone knows"

My boy is 14 and seems to have acquired a degree of scepticism, if only from hearing me shouting at the radio...

Dec 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Young sceptics may be hard to find, but youngsters alarmed by climate scares less so. They have been deliberately targeted by a wide range of individuals, companies, NGOs, the British Council, and even government departments interfering in curricula during the previous administration. Universities have been at it, as have a harpist, an art gallery, theatre groups, and schools. I suspect the youngest victims of all this irresponsibility will be under 5 years of age. I have a partly-organised clump of examples here:

Dec 15, 2012 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

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