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« Kevin Anderson gets shirty | Main | The word spreads »
Monday
May132013

Upholders do climate sensitivity. Badly.

With all the interest in climate sensitivity, it was perhaps inevitable that the activist arm of the global warming consensus would continue to wail and gnash its collective teeth. I'm not entirely convinced that people are going to be persuaded by the latest contributions though.

In the first of these, Dana Nuccitelli continues his long struggle to become the least reputable person upholding the IPCC consensus (and heaven knows it's a strong field). In his latest contribution to the pages of the Guardian he continues to tell his readers that there is only a single study pointing to low climate sensitivity.

...when we put all the evidence together, we can be confident that average surface temperatures will warm between about 2 and 4.5°C in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It's also important to remember that this range is based on a large body of evidence using several different approaches, which all give us about the same answer. No single study is going to overturn that vast body of evidence.

I have already reviewed the evidence behind this claim here, so I'm now struggling to think of a more blatant mispresentation of the facts than this. The depths to which the Guardian is willing to go these days never ceases to amaze. When you are losing as much money as they are I suppose a decline in standards is inevitable.

Meanwhile, Justin Gillis, the dark green blogger at the New York Times seems to be struggling with the whole mathematics thing:

...several recent papers have offered best estimates for climate sensitivity that are below four degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the previous best estimate of just above five degrees, and they have also suggested that the highest estimates are pretty implausible.

Notice that these recent calculations fall well within the long-accepted range [of 3-8 deg F] — just on the lower end of it. But the papers have caused considerable excitement among climate-change contrarians.

3-8°F is 1.7-4.5°C, which is, of course, not the same as the "likely" range for AR4, which is 2-4.5°C. These "likely" figures are the ones that are usually quoted and discussed. So in fact the new estimates are outside the accepted range.

And when Gillis says "below four degrees F, readers should note that he actually means "three degrees F", which is pretty much where the modes of all the new low estimates of ECS are falling.

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Reader Comments (23)

Is "climate sensitivity" is a meaningful concept?

Are there fairies at the bottom of my garden?

May 13, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Not unless you include (at least) measurements H2O variations in the calculations, which I think is thoroughly ignored

Can you calculate "economic sensitivity" based only on historical fluctuations of the price of gold?

They are similar oversimplifications, either climatic or economic

May 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

4.5 degrees is still much better than the long tail of 10 degrees that the nutty mod would have been quoting 12 months ago, so perhaps he has modified his stance.

May 13, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterColin Porter

... By H2O I mean water vapour in the atmosphere, which is assumed to be a linear function of CO2, but refuses to behave in the precribed way.
Let's not forget that most of the modelled warming comes from feedbacks of CO2 induced water vapour increases, yet most of the sensitivity studies focus only on CO2, taking for granted the water vapour linear relationship dogma

May 13, 2013 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

In his 1906 publication, Arrhenius adjusted the value downwards to 1.6°C (including water vapour feedback: 2.1°C).

Still, I don't suppose he counts nowadays. He didn't use a model running on a computer.

May 13, 2013 at 9:48 PM | Registered CommenterGrumpyDenier

Nuccitelli is ... boring. Not worth the.

He goes around claiming he is an 'environmental scientist' and that he's written a paper called Nuccitelli et al 2012. Both are wrong.

May 13, 2013 at 9:50 PM | Registered Commentershub

@shub

Nuccitelli came up with a really feeble excuse for not responding to the slap-down he and his "et al."s got from Douglass and Knox for their comment on the D&K paper:

No, we thought about it, but decided it wouldn't be worth the effort. I don't know how many iterations of comments PLA would publish, for one thing. For another, D&K didn't dispute the main points in our paper, so there's not much to be gained by responding. All they did was try to defend their 'climate shifts' thesis. They did a really bad job of it with some major errors that would could point out in another comment, but it would take some effort and there wouldn't be much gained from it. Honestly we could write a whole paper about the problems with the 'climate shifts' hypothesis, but we've got more important things to do.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/may/01/roy-spencer-wrong-fossil-fuels-expensive#comment-23241699

I like the "more important things to do" bit - I supposed blogging on the Graun is more important than contributing to the literature!

May 13, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Scooter is that annoying little kid in the neighborhood who badly wants to be seen playing with the big lads, but is so much of a PITA that even the most gentle hearted of the bunch can't put up with him.

May 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

Turning Tide.

Ah, this is what he is doing now on Twitter.

May 13, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

If 'climate sensitivity to CO2' is a meaningful concept then there might be other meaningful concepts such as 'climate sensitivity to aerosols' and 'climate sensitivity to TSI ( Total Solar Irradiance)' etc, etc. If this range of meaningful concepts exists then the weather, and therefore climate, is a simple linear system.

If these other potential meaningful concepts don't exist then CO2 would seem to be a special case as the only component of the earth's complex atmosphere which behaves in a linear fashion (aka the CO2 thermostat control knob).

I think the weather, and therefore climate, is a chaotic process and therefore 'climate sensitivity to CO2' is a simplification without merit.

May 13, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

The cartoonists lapdog seems to have be handing a regular slot on the Guardain and has already got himself of group of unquestioning 'followers' , but he still uses his old SS tricks along with heavy moduration.

May 13, 2013 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

It could have been worse.
I remember a report a while back in which some rocket surgeon of a reporter discovered that there might be a 2C increase in global temperature ... and then managed to work out that this was 35.6F.

May 14, 2013 at 4:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterLew Skannen

A better name for the alarmists might be Ice Age fetishists - they seem that they won't be satisfied unless the world is a glacier.

May 14, 2013 at 5:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Minchin

Tim Minchin, I've been talking glaciers on twitter at https://twitter.com/nmrqip/status/333964976991657985

May 14, 2013 at 8:06 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Lew Skannen:

...a reporter discovered that there might be a 2C increase in global temperature ... and then managed to work out that this was 35.6F.

Well, of course a temperature of 2ºC IS a temperature of 35.6ºF.

On the other hand, a temperature difference of 2Fº equates to a temperature difference of 3.6Fº.

One of the few people to understand – and use – this subtle distinction in notation is Lord Monckton. I wish more would.

May 14, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

Lew Skannen:

...a reporter discovered that there might be a 2C increase in global temperature ... and then managed to work out that this was 35.6F.

Well, of course a temperature of 2ºC IS a temperature of 35.6ºF.

On the other hand, a temperature difference of 2Cº equates to a temperature difference of 3.6Fº.

One of the few people to understand – and use – this subtle distinction in notation is Lord Monckton. I wish more would.

May 14, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

John Christy's graph (on Roy Spencer's blog) really ought to be a catalyst for the Nuccitellis of this world to re-examine their own conceit.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-global-LT-vs-UAH-and-RSS.png

Forty four CMIP5 models "predicting" higher temperatures than are observed by satellites. All forty four. Is reality trying to tell them something?

The band played on.

May 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

When you are losing as much money as they are I suppose a decline in standards is inevitable.

When standards are declining so fast as theirs are I suppose losing money is inevitable.

There, fixed that.

The MSM really is going to carry a large part of the blame for letting the AGW charade rumble on and on.

May 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

The recently published results from the Siberian crater lake cores are not consistent with a low climate sensitivity.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2013/05/08/science.1233137

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/05/new-study-tells-three-million-year-old-story-of-the-arctic

May 15, 2013 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

I've just (10.20 am) posted a detailed comment on the relevant thread at Nuccitelli's Guardian blog, rebutting all the allegations that he made in his "Climate Sensitivity Single Study Syndrome, Nic Lewis Edition" article at Skeptical Science, to which his Guardian piece linked.

We shall see whether it is allowed to remain there!

May 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

@Nic Lewis

Your post is still there as of 11.30 a.m. - duly recommended (I can still recommend even though I cannot post). I commend your politeness: it's more than DN deserves.

May 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Damn hosting sites keep blurring my images. Trying again:

http://oi43.tinypic.com/2uokxfr.jpg

May 15, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

@Rick Bradford:

Many people in the MSM have invested an awful lot of their credibility in CAGW, as have many politicians. As it all unravels they will be desperately looking for a scapegoat. That means scientists, and the risk is that they won't just attack the kind of scientactivists who really are guilty of exaggeration and distortion, but will attack science in general. Some of them won't understand the difference and some of them just won't care.

Scientists, and not just climate scientists, need to recognise that there is a Category 5 blamestorm heading their way and they really need to start preparing for it.

May 15, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Zalotocky

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