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« Science as a public enterprise | Main | Piling on »
Tuesday
Jun052012

Large-scale temperature trends

This is a guest post by Rob Wilson. It addresses some concerns I raised when I spoke in St Andrews the other week. I had discussed Climategate and the lack of trust this engendered and then went on to briefly cover other issues that made me uncomfortable. In particular, I mentioned the tendency of corrections to the temperature records to produce cooling in the nineteenth century and warming in the twentieth, and the recent lack of warming.

In light of Myles’ and other comments w.r.t. instrumental data, I thought this might be a good time to quickly try and address some of Andrew’s observations that he made in his talk at St Andrews in April.

I had hoped to write a guest post along with colleagues from the Met Office showing temperature trends along with AR4 projections, but I already see the summer running away and what spare time I have, I would rather concentrate on a series of later guest posts focussing on dendroclimatology. So below, I concentrate only on temperature trends in the HADCRU and HADSST data-sets. Thanks to Ed Hawkins and John Kennedy for providing feedback.

There were two issues that Andrew raised:

  1. That updates of large scale temperature data-sets appear to depress 19th century and raise 21st century temperature values.
  2. That over the last decade or so, there had been a flattening off in temperature trends.

At the time, I could not comment on either as I had not looked at the new data-sets in detail.

So – the following link will take you to a series of figures that compares CRUTEM3 and 4 (land temperatures) and HADSST2 and 3 (SST) for northern and southern extra-tropics (ET) and tropical (TROP) latitudinal bands. References at end.

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~rjsw/ftp/TempTrends.htm

For those of you who want to check and replicate my plots, the data can be easily accessed from the Met office website:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadsst2/

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadsst3/

or perhaps an even more user friendly site is:

http://climexp.knmi.nl

I have purposely not added trend lines, or smoothing functions and have just plotted the temperature anomalies (w.r.t. 1961-1990).

I am not going to describe trends in exhaustive detail, but really want to address Andrew’s two main concerns.

Older vs newer temperature data-sets

There has been little change in the NH ET input data-sets. The major changes I am aware of are some early instrumental corrections of temperature data-sets in the Greater Alpine Region. However, this is only a small number of records in the extensive NH data-set so does not impact the large scale mean series. For those interested, the Alpine data-set correction is detailed here:

Böhm R, Jones PD, Hiebl J, Frank D, Brunetti M, Maugeri M (2010) The early instrumental warm-bias: a solution for long central European temperature series 1760 – 2007. Climatic Change 101, 41-67.

http://www.slf.ch/fe/landschaftsdynamik/dendroclimatology/Publikationen/index_DE/Bohm_2010_ClimCha.pdf

For TROP and southern hemisphere ET land temperatures, the major changes are in the 19th century which reflects the addition of newly digitized station records – probably mainly from Australia. Early instrumental temperatures are always going to be less certain and there is less data.

Changes in the late 20th century appear to be minimal.

w.r.t. SST, again little difference between HADSST2 and 3 in the ET NH.

The period of greatest difference in the TROP SST data is around the post 1940’s period which are related to biases in HADSST2 w.r.t. an “uncorrected change from engine room intake measurements

(US ships) to uninsulated bucket measurements (UK ships) at the end of the Second World War.” These have been adjusted in HADSST3. For those interested, the relevant paper is:

Thompson et al. (2008) A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature. Nature 453, 646-649

http://www.roberts.cmc.edu/159/2009%20Combined%20pdfs/Feb%2010%202009.pdf

For the southern hemisphere ET SSTs, we again see similar corrections in the 1940s as in the tropical SSTs, but interestingly, the HADSST3 are actually marginally “colder” in the recent period than HADSST2. I only highlight this to show that correction can go both ways.

As a final note, correction for homogeneity biases in temperature record is very important and if you want more information on the basic theory, a really good review paper is:

Peterson,T.C. et al, (1998). “Homogeneity adjustments of in situ atmospheric climate data: a review.” International Journal of Climatology, 18 1493-1517

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~rjsw/PalaeoPDFs/Peterson-etal-1998.pdf

 

The recent flattening of temperature trends

As for the recent flattening. Well this appears to vary markedly. For NH ET winter temperatures, there is clearly an “eye-ball” flattening in winter temperatures, but likewise, a continued increase in summer temperatures. Tropical land temperatures appear to show continued warming for all seasons, but tropical SST records could be argued to have flattened. SH ET land temperatures is a little mixed – perhaps a flattening in summer, but still increasing in spring and autumn.

Statistically, due to internally forced multi-decadal variability expressed in all of these records and the fact that we are “at the end of the time-series”, I think it is really very difficult to “quantify” a flattening or even a continued increase. Yes, we can fit linear trend lines to the latter end of the time-series, but with the known naturally forced decadal variability expressed in these data-series, I personally think that such exercises are really not very helpful. This issue will simply become clearer over the next 10-20 years............but should we wait until we have statistical certainty?

Final thought

So – my take home message. Let’s not generalise too much. The newer HADCRU4 and HADSST3 data-series are incrementally improved data-sets using new data and utilising corrections related to robust theory and methods. Many on this blog will disagree with this statement, but all I can urge is please read the papers below. Much effort is focussed on the uncertainties and biases in these records. I do not see a systematic change (between old and new) to cooling (warming) of early (late) large scale instrumental series – rather I see improved data-sets (HADCRU4 and HADSST3) with well documented uncertainties.

As for temperature trends, in the same way that it does not really matter if the medieval period was warmer or cooler than today, it does not really matter if a particular seasonal time series shows an increase or flattening in temperatures. What MATTERS is that we need to understand the drivers of these changes. Natural or anthropogenic (or a mix of both). CO2 cannot explain all trends since the 1850s, but likewise internal dynamics (PDO, ENSO, NAO etc) or changes in the sun or large-scale volcanic events cannot alone explain the variability in climate.

References:

Jones, P. D., D. H. Lister, T. J. Osborn, C. Harpham, M. Salmon, and C. P. Morice (2012), Hemispheric and large-scale land surface air temperature variations: An extensive revision and an update to 2010,

J. Geophys. Res., 117, D05127, doi:10.1029/2011JD017139.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/crutem4/CRUTEM4_accepted.pdf

Kennedy J.J., Rayner, N.A., Smith, R.O., Saunby, M. and Parker, D.E. (2011b). Reassessing biases and other uncertainties in sea-surface temperature observations since 1850 part 1: measurement and sampling errors. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D14103, doi:10.1029/2010JD015218

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadsst3/part_1_figinline.pdf

Kennedy J.J., Rayner, N.A., Smith, R.O., Saunby, M. and Parker, D.E. (2011c). Reassessing biases and other uncertainties in sea-surface temperature observations since 1850 part 2: biases and homogenisation. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D14104, doi:10.1029/2010JD015220

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadsst3/part_2_figinline.pdf

Morice, C. P., J. J. Kennedy, N. A. Rayner, and P. D. Jones (2012), Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: The HadCRUT4 dataset, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2011JD017187, in press.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/HadCRUT4_accepted.pdf

 

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Reader Comments (190)

rockchicken et al

As I understand it a large part of the reason for more Northerly vineyards now than in the recent past is because of hardier strains of vine which can survive in harsher conditions. If that is the case, then where vineyards are now isn't very relevant - where they were before the modern vines is the point.

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Typical post-modern revisionism.
Keep fiddling the experimental data until it fits the theory.

Sorry Rob. You are going to have to try alot harder to convince me.

Likewise with proxy reconstructions"

1) we looked at a whole bunch of natural things that can conceivably be affected by temperature.
2) we ignored the fact that many other environmental variables also affect these things
3) by trawling through the data we found some that significantly correlated with "detrended" instrumental temperature
4) we junked the majority of the data that didn't show this "correlation".
5) We dismissed/ignored the possibility that this correlation could be spurious
6) On the basis of (3) and (5) We then made the assumption that the selected datasets would continue to show this correlation for the 850 years or so of preinstrumental temperatures.
7) Lo and behold we find a "hockey stick"
8) Paper pal-reviewed and straight into the headlines and AR5.

Puh-leeze!

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The MWP is important enough for the Team to spend significant effort trying to get rid of it. When that didn't work they claimed it was a local cooling in Europe. Now that they have been proved wrong on that, the message is that the MWP isn't important

They managed to convince governments that current warming is unprecedented, Avoiding comparison with the MWP seems to have been very important indeed.

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Nebuchadnezzar,

I too welcome the introduction of the GUM into the discussion. I am a measurement scientist, amd the GUM is the bible of measurement.However, it is the absence of respect for the principles of the GUM in climate science I find surprising. I would love to see a metrological uncertainty analysis for tree rings, for example. Or even the most recent paper on Ocean Heat Content with the Argo data (don't have the reference to hand) where if I recall correctly uncertainty is quoted for the ocean heat content in 10^22 joules, but strangely the uncertainty for temperature (the primary measured variable) is not. Would the corresponding temperature uncertainty claim withstand scrutiny?

There are plenty of journals where you can't get your paper published without an uncertainty analysis - ASME journals, for example. [http://journaltool.asme.org/Content/JFEExperUncertainty.pdf]

And please, can the next IPCC report use metrological uncertainty properly instead of these silly sociological-style uncertainty statements.

As for the elimination of bias, well that's all well and good as part of a calibration procedure - matching your new measurement system to some prior known "truth", but that means including the uncertainty of your prior truth into that of the new result. So if you're going to calibrate modern readings against some dodgy old stuff from the 19th century, you can only do so by including the uncertainty of the old stuff in your shiny new results. Again the OHC papers looking at increases based on pre-Argo data are stuck with the Achilles heel of a baseline with what must be a large uncertainty.

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Dear Green Sand, the mechanism may be as follows: compute for each station over the years available the product moment correlation between its time series and a regional series (composed of all available data). Drop stations with the lowest correlations as much as you want. You will get interesting regression slopes. For special effects you may maintain all stations in the Tropics but apply the rule above at stations near the poles and drop more and more stations as you go to the north or the south.

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermindert eiting

Green Sand

Could somebody from the MO explain why did the MO not have the 2005-2010 Canadian land surface temperature data? Were they closed? If they have been could somebody please point me in the right direction? Are they now back online?

http://drtimball.com/2012/ipcc-climate-science-failure-requires-someone-to-blame/

Might have something to do with the election of a skeptical conservative government in 2006.

I'll wager PM Harper has read "The Hockey Stick Illusion".

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

It's late and I may have missed something, but it doesn't seem to me that Rob Wilson's post addresses the issue of adjustment of past temperatures by Phil "we only have the adjusted data because it wasn't possible to keep the raw data" Jones (aided by Tom "it would be good to remove the 1940s blip" Wigley, and others.)

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:22 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM Rob Wilson

Thanks for your post and subsequent response.

Re:- "some of the personal e-mails sent to me today"

This I find disappointing, as you have posted at BH, I would have expected any resultant questions to be expressed as comments here. I don't understand the need to make contact directly unless expressly requested by you. Sometimes the craving of those starved of communication can be construed as demanding and if so perceived will only become counterproductive.

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Rob Wilson - thanks for responding.

I am not sure if you intentionally shifted focus to GHCN from the HADCRUT and HADSST data which are the subjects of your post - perhaps my analogous example of GHCN confused the issue.

From your response:

"This link http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/crutem4/data/download.html may provide information on the theoretical availability of individual stations used in CRUTEM4."

I conclude that you do not know if there is an archive of raw unadjusted station data on which the HADCRUT products are built? Have I understood that correctly?

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:27 PM | rockchicken

I think I visited Leventhorpe in about 2006 and I recall the owner discussing some new vineyards being setup to the north which this must be one of. Again, the owner is an ex chemistry teacher from Wakefield I believe and really into the science behind making wine. He refuses to use added sugar during the process (Chaptalization) so at these latitudes it is hard to get enough sugar in the grapes themselves to get the strength above 8-9% alcohol. I visited in January when it was about -2 outside and we were all huddled up in the breeze block shed that is the vineyard eating cheese and wine...

On a related note I think he was really hoping for some global warming to occur to ease the process of growing vines in Leeds.

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:12 PM clipe

Thanks for the link. interesting read.

Figure 4 shows the stations used in Canada to calculate the national average (black diamonds). Stations chosen are troubling. For example, Eureka is the only station for the entire Arctic region. Beyond inadequate, Eureka is a well-known anomalous climate, a warm refugia with unique plants.

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Robert

that statement was in respone to the climategate emails

how many had you actually read when you signed it
signing that was to support, deletion of emails in the face of foi requests.
Or. Another example ..'hide the decline' Prof J Jones was very vocal at this blog about this issue.

When you signed that statement. Were you aware if this. And all the other issues.

The way it was organised. Is a concern. Sent to heads of depts. Etc. For distribution amongst juniors.
So a subtle pressure at work there. How many of those that looked at the email

Bob Watson signed it and months later said looked at a few.Sir John Houghton told me that he hsdn,'t looked at them either.

So had you looked at the serious issues when you signed it.
Please don't take this personally, I do not know you. But a friend of mine signed it. Who also had hundreds of mentions in the emails. Yet bizarrly to me. They had not looked at them before or since
The statement was a highly politicised statement in my mind. Not a scientific one, not in the interests of science, but circling the wagons around CRU.

Ie the statement was soley due to climategate, please let no one pretend it would have occured otherwise

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Jun 5, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Roger Longstaff

"Vineyards in Yorkshire were only possible because the Vikings...."

Roger, if you are in the area I'd recommend a visit to the Leventhorpe vineyard on the edge of Leeds. The owner is amazingly enthusiastic and will give you a good idea on the difficulties of growing vines in Yorkshire. I think it is still the most northerly vineyard in the country.

That maybe so if by country you mean England. It maybe not a vineyard but the previous proprietor of a posh hotel on the south-side of Loch Tay (Perthshire) planted some vines a few years ago, presumably because he believed that global warming was going to make the local climate warm enough for wine production. Needless to say, since the vines were planted, three of the four winters have been damned cold, with an extreme of -22C locally in Dec 2010. Other seasons have not been much different, a local gardener described 2011 as "the year without a summer" after he failed to get anything except tatties to grow, even in a poly tunnel. It's true that last October & November were mild, and we had a good 5 days this March, but it was Baltic through all of April until May 26th, when finally some warm air arrived from the south (and afternoon temps peaked at 29-30C for a few days). Cold again now though. So I doubt very much if the Loch Tay vines are still with us. The freak peach tree hasn't produced any edible fruit for 3 years. As mentioned above, we are into a cooling phase now. http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/figure-101.png

Jun 5, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

@Rob Burton, rockchicken, lapogus
I saw a vineyard at Bolton Castle today, south east of Scotch Corner. Mind you I would describe it as pretty knackered frankly but I admire the gardener's optimism. I'll not be investing in the wine,

Jun 5, 2012 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

"Statistically, due to internally forced multi-decadal variability expressed in all of these records and the fact that we are “at the end of the time-series”, I think it is really very difficult to “quantify” a flattening or even a continued increase. Yes, we can fit linear trend lines to the latter end of the time-series, but with the known naturally forced decadal variability expressed in these data-series, I personally think that such exercises are really not very helpful. This issue will simply become clearer over the next 10-20 years............but should we wait until we have statistical certainty?"

That's the problem with "now". The present will always be at the end of a time series!

I agree that no end of people love to draw inappropriate trend lines through data. I would be more sympathetic to someone now faced with the difficult task of defending a lack of warming, if I felt I hadn't already spent 10-20 years listening to others telling us just how certain they were.

We only had "5 years to save the blah blah blah..." That time has passed. Disaster is still not happening. Things that were considered important are now, apparently, not quite so important.

I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for any significant predictions that were successfully made. And by "significant" I don't mean a manicured temperature within a whisker of a model's generously-low error bar, where the statistical grim-reaper is sharpening his scythe.

Jun 6, 2012 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Please note that as some of you here don’t want your taxes wasted on climate research, my only conclusion is that these individuals don’t want further study in trying to understand the complexities of the climate system. This would be foolish I think."

Please Dr Wilson. From a member of a scientific community that is as bloated with funds as yours and possibly orders of magnitude more, I can tell you, that it would do a world of good to *not* waste tax dollars on climate research for a while. It would cut the flab and get rid of the pretentious inflow who want to study climate science because they want to 'save the planet' or because they are 'green at heart'. Freed from the pressures of churning out material just to 'make the IPCC deadline', scientists then might accidentally stumble upon the secrets to unlocking the complexities of the climate system!

I think it would be foolish to glibly imagine that increased funding of a science guarantees quality output.

"...I will try and keep my responses measured. However, some of the personal e-mails sent to me today would be rather embarrassing to some of you if I posted them on BH. So let’s please keep this civil."

Please, Dr Wilson. Let us keep the moral upbraiding strictly directed at those who wrote those messages, shall we? Previous attempts, by climate scientists no less, to use ugly emails to preach the virtues of civility to sceptics at large, were damp squibs, to say the least.

Jun 6, 2012 at 1:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I started with Bishop Hill and ended with Elmer Gantry?

Effects of Spatial Aggregation of Initial Conditions and Forcing Data on Modeling Snowmelt Using a Land Surface Scheme

The modeling strategy has been formulated applying a combined approach. First, the landscape heterogeneity is explicitly represented in the model (i.e., basin division) based on the previous understanding of the main controls over the hydrological processes in this environment. On this basis, a detailed description was used to generate the physically based forcing data and process representations. This was also achieved in the context of a calibration problem, where the effective parameters values were automatically optimized to best represent the complexity of the system.

journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2007JHM958.1

Jun 6, 2012 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

I will not make comments to any links to other blog posts. If individuals have alternative hypotheses, then they should write a paper and submit to an appropriate journal. Yes, I KNOW, there is a conspiracy to bury alternate theories, but forgive me if, in a slightly flippant way, I ignore such statements.

Forgive me Dr Wilson for your hubris attempts to interfere with logical thought. If you are not prepared to read scientific opinion by some of the world's finest then you are never going to find yourself in the enviable position of actually learning something that is other than your self-selected confirmation bias.

Jun 6, 2012 at 1:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

@ Rob Wilson (Jun 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM)

Rob, on this thread were of course more questions (for instance Jun 5, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Commenter September 2011) (perhaps more than you can respond to), not only w.r.t. "non-adjusted data-series" (Same questions could be applicable also, for example, to parametrizations or, w.r.t. http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/5/26/myles-allen-writes.html (May 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Commenter September 2011), to codes and so forth.). I have the dream that someday someone at least tries to investigate/answer these questions seriously.

Do you mock somebody particular of your readership here?:

If individuals have alternative hypotheses, then they should write a paper and submit to an appropriate journal. Yes, I KNOW, there is a conspiracy to bury alternate theories, but forgive me if, in a slightly flippant way, I ignore such statements.

I know you do not have to ask for example for the raw data in a peer review process but if nobody asks for the raw data (nobody asked for instance Professor Phil Jones (cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBInhAVeixk#t=3m8))... what shall we make of that "pal review" process in so-called appropriate journals? Is it perhaps not a "classical" conspiracy but, for example, "just" a publication bias or even a kind of a so-called open conspiracy (cf. for instance http://bilderberger-konferenzen.de.tl/Forum/thema-1-Test_Edit-01.htm)?

When you ask for "alternative hypotheses" you seem to imply that "your" hypothesis (AGW), respectively the causation of so-called GW, would appear to be convincing; all conviction aside, (global?) MWP flip-flopping, years of research forwards and backwards, so many universities and institutions back and forth: it seems to be harder today than in earlier days to be heard with alternative hypotheses, isn't it? What amount of facts is needed (and even at the administrative level of institutions) to make the scientific community/institutions or the bureaucratic system rethink AGW, especially cAGW, again, or to convince "them" of an alternative? How many publications do the "skeptics" need?

@ Barry (Jun 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM)

I agree. It looks -- at least for me -- strange that apparently only a few people seem to have looked into the climategate correspondence and still less had questions (for example with a media bias (e.g. mainly asking "main stream scientists" of the "consensus side" after climategate) one could explain a lot).

Jun 6, 2012 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

Sorry, good honest scientists do not act like crooks as the UEA do.
And climate is not temperature, and the reconstructions are not based on robust theory.
Storms and other extreme weather are not increasing in strength or frequency. Climate is still as variable as always.
The difference is that a movement has grown up around some guys who figured out how to convert angst into dollars by preaching cliamte doom.

Jun 6, 2012 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

"CO2 cannot explain all trends since the 1850s, but likewise internal dynamics (PDO, ENSO, NAO etc) or changes in the sun or large-scale volcanic events cannot alone explain the variability in climate."

I think there are a huge amount of questions about the data and interpretaion of the temperature record. This statement still seems to boil it down to, it can't be anything else so it must be CO2. How does increasing CO2 supposed to effect the Earth's albedo anyway, according to GCMs? seeing how albedo is obviously a critical factor in how much of the Sun's energy enters the system initially.

Jun 6, 2012 at 3:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Oh, sorry to have hit enter so soon.
You believers need to get this in your thick noggins:
The only thing we skeptics need to do is show you are wrong.
We have.
Deal with that and get back to us, instead of trying to weasel out by demanding alternative hypotheses.
Your calamitous claptrap and CO2 obsession has failed.
Enough.
Move on out of mom's basement and get a real life.

Jun 6, 2012 at 3:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I think I can offer an explanation on why some people are upset. In the good old days we used to call a particular scientific perspective that most scientists agreed upon as a 'paradigm' or a 'research program'. The problem with a paradigm, though, is that they tend to shift over time. So politically those words weren't convenient and hence 'consensus' was called into service instead. Unfortunately 'consensus' implies a type of infallible knowledge handed down to the ignotus ex cathedra.

Jun 6, 2012 at 4:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

"CO2 cannot explain all trends since the 1850s"

If the medieval warm period was warmer than present, then temperature swings may be completely natural without any cause outside of random chance.

Why when you throw the dice is the result 2, and other times 12. Can you calculate the next throw, knowing all the physics of the dice, the surface and the person throwing the dice?

Do you propose that climate is less complicated than someone throwing a pair of dice?

Jun 6, 2012 at 5:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterferd berple

It is my distinct impression that meteorological offices around the world have done their utmost to ensure that there is no unadjusted temperature data from the first half of last century available anywhere. They have also done their utmost to ensure that any records of how and why temperatures were adjusted have disappeared.

Fortunately a few intrepid souls are resisting these efforts. I await with interest the pending case in the New Zealand High Court.

Jun 6, 2012 at 6:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Heyworth

Dr. Wilson: "Please note that as some of you here don’t want your taxes wasted on climate research, my only conclusion is that these individuals don’t want This would be foolish I think."

The letter he signed in support of the CRU (Sorry De. Betts I don't for one minute buy anything other than a circling of the wagons).

"We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method.

The science of climate change draws on fundamental research from an increasing number of disciplines, many of which are represented here. As professional scientists, from students to senior professors, we uphold the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which concludes that 'Warming of the climate system is unequivocal' and that 'Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations"

This doesn't look like a community "...further study in trying to understand the complexities of the climate system." to me, it looks like a community that thinks it's got the science nailed. If that's the case then we need to drastically reduce our funding of research in this area and transfer the money to causes where the science isn't nearly nailed. Don't you agree?

Jun 6, 2012 at 6:29 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Please note that as some of you here don’t want your taxes wasted on climate research, my only conclusion is that these individuals don’t want further study in trying to understand the complexities of the climate system.

Fair comment, Dr Wilson. My response to that would be to observe that, the more complex the scientific problem, the more likely it is that the conclusions of any published paper in the field are wrong. According to the more vocal and political of your colleagues, however, the opposite is true, and catastrophe is certain.

A lot more humility and a lot less hubris would be appropriate. In Greek tragedy, hubris was always followed by nemesis. I don't suppose it will be any different this time.

PS, I am not accusing you of hubris! On the contrary, it is a very welcome sign that you have taken the time to post here and respond to frequently hostile questioning. My position is that the research is welcome, the publicity seeking and aggrandisement is not.

Jun 6, 2012 at 6:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Heyworth

Nebuchadnezzar

Have you really taken from the posts here that the many scientists and engineers on this blog are arguing that raw data shouldn't be adjusted? I haven't. I believe everyone accepts that data has to be adjusted to take account of the environment and technology of the measuring instruments, of that there is no argument. (Although there seems to be a determined effort to ignore the effects of the UHI effect, which may, or may not, have an effect on the global average).

So two points to clarify my own understanding of what people are saying:

1. We accept that the raw data has to be adjusted, but it also has to be available for people to understand what they were and how the adjustments were made.

2. As I pointed out in my post we accept the adjustments, but once adjusted and having been in the records for 100 years plus there can be no reason whatsoever to adjust them (downward or upwards) again because, they remain the data.

I believe you, or I, may have misunderstood Stephen Richards in his excellent post. I believe he was saying the raw data is sacrosanct and adjustments have to be necessary and reasonable, just like all those measuring beaurocracies you quoted.

Jun 6, 2012 at 6:45 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Rob Wilson--

This graph of CRUTEM4-CRUTEM3 shows what the Bish was referring to: http://tinypic.com/r/f3xgs6/6

Probably your graphs of CRUTEM4 vs. CRUTEM3 show the same thing, it is just that you chose to present them in such a way (extremely squeezed in the vertical direction) that it becomes almost impossible to see any difference.

Could you comment on the clear direction of the changes?

Jun 6, 2012 at 7:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

"I personally think that such exercises are really not very helpful. This issue will simply become clearer over the next 10-20 years............but should we wait until we have statistical certainty?"
only go to reinforce my suspicion of those who now seem to be reluctantly acknowledging that the science is NOT settled but cannot bring themselves to actually say it.

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:21 AM | TC>>>>

Sorry to sound cynical but you might add 'until they are no longer responsible and are claiming their pensions'

Jun 6, 2012 at 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRKS

Scabrous though the critics may be, Rob Wilson's steeliness is commendable. What trouble me, however, is something else that troubles others. The bowing and scraping before an orthodoxy that is ungrounded.

This puts wilson at a distinctly challenged position among us at BH. Is there really any alternative to this kind of bifurcated dialog? Those who 'get with the program' versus those who stand outside it, to challenge it?

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

Jun 5, 2012 at 9:17 PM Rob Wilson

Lastly, some of you are a prickly bunch and I will try and keep my responses measured. However, some of the personal e-mails sent to me today would be rather embarrassing to some of you if I posted them on BH. So let’s please keep this civil. I can accept that some/many of you are rather sceptical, but insults will not help the discourse.

That surprises me. Poster on BH are often forthright and frank and do not pull their punches in saying what they think. But I don't see examples of nastiness here. Occasionally something gets snipped by BH but in the cases I have seen, prior to snipping, it's impoliteness rather than insults.

I'd be interested to see these insulting emails and know more about what they said. I don't see that anybody here (other than the senders of these emails) need be embarrassed. I'd say go ahead and make them public. I imagine that regular posters on BH, like me, would utterly deprecate the sending of insulting emails.

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

If it was as warm in the past , as it is now, then the simplest deduction is that it is a nautrally occurring event.
Simple.

An academic interest is fine but it doesn't warrant spending so much money on this subject today.

Why worry about something that might happen...the sun exploding, meteorite strike aliens invaders when money is better spent elsewhere.

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

"...I will try and keep my responses measured. However, some of the personal e-mails sent to me today would be rather embarrassing to some of you if I posted them on BH. So let’s please keep this civil."

Please, Dr Wilson. Let us keep the moral upbraiding strictly directed at those who wrote those messages, shall we? Previous attempts, by climate scientists no less, to use ugly emails to preach the virtues of civility to sceptics at large, were damp squibs, to say the least.
Jun 6, 2012 at 1:20 AM Shub

That throwaway remark of Rob Wilson's triggered my BS detector as well.

We've been around the block three times now with the "climate scientists threatened by deranged sceptics" meme - and each time it's turned out to be a calculated PR stunt based on wildly exaggerated evidence.

I would be amazed if any of the regular commentators here would resort to such behaviour since it seems totally out of character. Those of us who feel frustrated enough by the machinations of climate scientists to stray into less-than-diplomatic language seem quite happy to do it in public.

If Rob has received such missives he should do the rest of us, and his colleagues, a favour by revealing them so that we can all see the behaviour he's complaining about and judge it accordingly.

Otherwise, experience will lead us to believe it's just another example of "trust me - something terrible is happening but I can't show you the evidence right now".

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Can we be sure that the "insulting emails" weren't from the usual astroturfing trolls paid to come on here and spread confusion?

Publish!

And be damned!

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Farbeit from me to suggest another science communicator having come here to preach from his ivory tower is setting himself up for the inevitable scuttle away with 'you just can't talk to those people'.

I refer you to Disney's Jungle Book. Yes I know it use to be Kipling's but what are you gonna do?

Trust in me, just in me
Shut your eyes and trust in me
You can sleep safe and sound
Knowing I am around

Slip into silent slumber
Sail on a silver mist
Slowly and surely your senses
Will cease to resist

Trust in me, just in me
Shut your eyes and trust in me

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

The key point is that they have said that their theories are correct because it fitted the data.

They are now claiming they are not wrong because they didn't (couldn't) predict the current pause.

The two are logically incompatible.

If you claim extraordinary reasons to scale up known CO2 warming by some ridiculous amount claiming that "it has to fit the temperature record", then you have to accept that when it does not fit the temperature record, those extraordinary claims are clearly false.

To try to suggest otherwise is not scientific and verging on the fraudulent/criminal.

Only in the fairytale towers of University do they think that extraordinary claims do not have to be accepted unless or until they are proven wrong.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Sorry guys I think your wasting your time, another bubble dwelling academic not willing to actually open the window and take a deep dreath of the real CAGW world.

Hint: It has a smell of digested straw Bob Wilson.

Academic science is dead in the 21st centuary, long live post modern science were fear * political power = grants.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

There's an extra "not".

Only yesterday I found another thing I assumed about climate science was completely unfounded.

Normally, when researching a subject, you dig until you find the things that "are likely correct". In climate science I dig and dig and dig and I'm still yet to find anything which is "likely to be correct".

The whole subject is so rotten that .... you can't build a firm argument on crap. You can't construct an intellectual argument about climate change when every single "rock" you try to build on turns out to be dog shite.

And how academics have the gall to come here and try to defend it is beyond me.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

This thread shows very well the issues facing the experimental part of climate science, defining a World average temperature. However, there is another major issue also coming to the fore.

The bedrock of climate modelling is the IR pyrometers called pyrgeometers supposed to measure 'Downwelling IR' needed to calibrate the two-stream physics' based models. Unfortunately, they don't measure what is claimed. This mistake, coming from meteorology, has persisted for ~50 years.

The manufacturers point out that you need two, back to back to measure true energy flow, a fact which is the basis of teaching for all engineers for example, but this major experimental mistake persists.

Without it, the models lose ~40% gain in input energy mainly in the IR. It's this which creates imaginary positive feedback. Also, the two-stream approximation fails. 'Downwelling LW' is our version of Phlogiston. The temperature specialists are looking desperately for something which doesn't exist!

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

Dr. Wilson.

Re:- "some of the personal e-mails sent to me today"

I'm sorry, I don't buy this. These vague unproven allegations have been used too often. IMHO, most of the fibs have come from the warmist community. Such innuendos do nothing to help your case. Very few of us on this blog would appprove of such on-goings. Please either put up, give us proof, or shut up.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

HuhneToTheSlammer: Very few of us on this blog would appprove of such on-goings. Please either put up, give us proof, or shut up.
__________________________________________________________________

I agree entirely, Huhne.

Dr Wilson. If you have received insulting emails from anyone here, I'm sure we would all like to know who the culprits are because they are doing the rest of us a great disservice. You have gained a lot of respect from me by posting here and I can see that you think you have an open mind. However, I would be convinced that you do if you were to state unequivocally on this forum that the science is NOT settled (in relation to the role of CO2 in cAGW). A challenge for you Dr Wilson. Are you prepared to take me up on it?

TC

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC

I feel sorry for those in academic areas which depend for their existence on the IPCC science continuing to draw in the funds. To them, every sceptic is a threat to the ability to pay off the mortgage.

However, our friend should realise that out of adversity comes strength: when the shake out comes, and it'll be soon because it's very obvious to most that the World is cooling, the best academics will prevail.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

michael hart:: "I agree that no end of people love to draw inappropriate trend lines through data. I would be more sympathetic to someone now faced with the difficult task of defending a lack of warming, if I felt I hadn't already spent 10-20 years listening to others telling us just how certain they were."

That is it. For years they told us "look at the trend data (from 1970)" it "proves" global warming (after the trend proved global cooling).

Now, we say: "the current trend is not warming" and they say: "don't look at the trend line".

Global warming is supposedly proven by a warming trend from 1970 to 1998 (28years). But the lack of any warming from 1998 to 2012 is (14yrs ) is supposedly irrelevant.

We are being asked to ignore 1970s cooling and the naughties lack of warming and just concentrate on the 28 years of warming.

So, ... and I've not checked the dates, .... a decade is 10 years. So 14+10 = 24 years of no warming is totally dismissed out of hand because there have been 28 years of warming.

And please don't mention 20th century trends ... most warming is supposed to have happened after 1960 (which make the warming up to 1940s another thing we are not supposed to look at!!!)

Come on Wilson. You had more than an evens chance to "prove" the world was warming!! And you flunked big time and you and your colleagues backed a looser and its time you admitted it.

We sceptics accept that there is CO2 warming of around 0.07C/decade due to rising CO2 (not proven man-made!!). You theory is that this warming is scaled up by your mythical feedbacks.

How well does your theory stand up?

We all accept the world should have warming 0.07C in the last decade due to the rising level of CO2. Instead there was no warming which makes the size of the potential positive feedback -0.07. Your theory was 1.4 to 5.8C warming per century. Take away the 0.07 CO2 warming and your theory predicts +0.07 to +5.0 C warming.

You predict warming due to feedbacks of 0.07-5.0C and we see a "feeback" effect of -0.07C (note there was no mention of natural climatic variation by the IPCC ... so as you didn't suggest that natural variation was present, how can this be an excuse post-evaluation?)

I've not done the evaluation myself (there is no point, I don't get paid and none of your bogus journals would publish it) But having seen the statistics, there is now something like a 95-99% confidence that the IPCC models were wrong about overall warming. That means

There is absolutely no reasonable doubt whatsoever that the predicted feedbacks are proven to be false

The world is spending $trillion on the basis of a theory which is proven to be false. And then we have people like the BBC likening us to paedophiles because you will not admit the truth that your theory has failed

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Oops ... that upper limit figure is 0.5 not 5C.

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

Jun 6, 2012 at 8:48 AM Foxgoose

"That throwaway remark of Rob Wilson's triggered my BS detector as well.
(...)
Otherwise, experience will lead us to believe it's just another example of "trust me - something terrible is happening but I can't show you the evidence right now".

Could not have put it better myself.

It's also known as the "poor Phil" meme.

Jun 6, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Jun 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM Scottish Sceptic

The key point is that they have said that their theories are correct because it fitted the data.

They are now claiming they are not wrong because they didn't (couldn't) predict the current pause.

The two are logically incompatible.

ScSc: No, you have not understood. They *are* compatible (according to the Met Office).

Dr Betts (Met Office) stated here that the current pause *was* predicted by the Met Office models. He went on to explain that the meaning of "predicted" is that the current pause falls within the uncertainty range of their models' forecasts.

My response was along the lines that I have written a computer program which correctly predicts the number of a thrown die every time - it never fails. [It invariably predicts that the number thrown will be 3.5, with a tolerance of plus/minus 2.5.]

Jun 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

[snip] you must admit though that the general case is that when climate scientists have complained about threatening e-mails, those complaints have often been exaggerated.

It's always useful when writing about such an event to place evidence on file including the header data which will reveal who sent the information to be read.by the public.

Jun 6, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

spartacusisfree, your comments really sound very similar in tone and content to those mydog used to make. Are you perhaps related to him in the same way that Johann Hari was to David Rose? How about 'Alexander' (e.g. this comment) or 'alistair' (e.g. here - this thread at Lucia's is also interesting)?

Jun 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commentercalling spartacus

If the Met Office is so sure of its science why does it not participate in open & public debates.

Wouldn't that be better than skulking around blogs gnawing at the periphery?

Jun 6, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

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