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The Bob-bot strikes again


At the end of last year, Bob Ward had this to say about a new paper on climate sensitivity:



In fact, far from being ignored by the sceptic community, the paper in question, by Marvel et al., turned out to be something of a car-crash and was the source of steady stream of more-or-less amused blog posts in the months that followed.

This morning I couldn't help but wonder if someone has replaced Bob with a bot, preprogrammed to issue identical tweets in the response to any new paper on climate sensitivity:



The paper, by Tan et al., looks as though it's a GCM-with-observational-constraints effort. 

Global climate model (GCM) estimates of the equilibrium global mean surface temperature response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2, measured by the equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), range from 2.0° to 4.6°C. Clouds are among the leading causes of this uncertainty. Here we show that the ECS can be up to 1.3°C higher in simulations where mixed-phase clouds consisting of ice crystals and supercooled liquid droplets are constrained by global satellite observations. The higher ECS estimates are directly linked to a weakened cloud-phase feedback arising from a decreased cloud glaciation rate in a warmer climate. We point out the need for realistic representations of the supercooled liquid fraction in mixed-phase clouds in GCMs, given the sensitivity of the ECS to the cloud-phase feedback.

I can't imagine quite how large the gap between a 5.7°C-ECS climate simulation and the historical temperature record is going to be. I wonder what fairy story will be conjured up to explain that away.

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Reader Comments (76)

Lasrt night the Guardian was running this as their main story after Panama and Cameron. Now it's disappeared from their web front page, though it's still on their environment page, and has attracted nearly 2000 comments, mostly critical, though none among the first hundred of so have made the obvious point that the higher they drive sensitivity estimates, the further they deviate from reality.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:08 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Are they Bob clones? Is this the way the Climateriti will achieve ultimate victory?

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Quite a big outlier! Of course since they are on the pessimistic side they are automatically part of the 'consensus'. The satellite cloud observations form a big noisy scattergraph that you could fit declining or inclining trends or even a picture of a dancing elephant if you so wished. Of course the assumption that the models are adequate to derive climate sensitivities in the first place is still baseless regardless of how many attempt it. First you must validate the models against obs then use the validated model!

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

High Climate Sensitivity claims are for the scientifically-ignorant** like Ward the modern equivalent of Yogi Bear running around, shouting 'Yabba Daba Do'!

**Real CO2 climate sensitivity in our cloudy climate is exactly zero, on average.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

They conclude that ECS could be between 5.0° and 5.3°C—higher than suggested by most global climate models.

Such precision! Will it appear in AR6 from the IPCC? I think I'd rather see some more money going to Jasper Kirby's a href="">CLOUD group at CERN - at least they're doing real physics.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

The climate system is evidently complex beyond the capacity of current science and resources to analyse.

Climate science is dressed up in the clothes of real science (computers, equations, papers, conferences) but missing one or two essential features - being uncritical of itself, not seeing the need to validate its models and not bothering with the scientific method. And believing that untested, unvalidated models of the most complicated object ever attempted to be modelled can actually predict its future behaviour.

It is what Richard Feynman called "cargo cult science".

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call Cargo Cult Science. In the South Seas there is a Cargo Cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:42 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Climate Alchemy is most definitely mostly a Cargo Cult.

However, it is lacking one essential aspect of Cargo Cults, which is to believe that Prince Philip is God.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Bobs holder of an "unfinished PhD thesis on palaeopiezometry"..cannot argue with the ultimate egghead

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenus

I was fascinated by this:

Here we show that the ECS can be ... higher in simulations where mixed-phase clouds ... are constrained by global satellite observations.
As a lifelong user of the English language I read this as meaning that the observations are constraining the clouds.
I know there is a theory in sub-atomic physics that you can change things simply by looking at them (an over-simplification, no doubt) but I think someone needs to explain how satellite observations can "constrain" anything. Or, better still, precisely what they mean in unambiguous language!
Then they can explain how "observations" can affect "simulations" anyway!
But it sounds impressive, I admit!

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Hey, lay off Yogi Bear! At least he was real, unlike computer modelling! AND he had a loyal sidekick in Booboo! Perhaps that is how we should refer to Mr Ward in future!

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

'....that the higher they drive sensitivity estimates, the further they deviate from reality'



Close thread.

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

All Bob needs is a goatee beard to join the Climate Illuminati.

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

If Ward were to wear a ghoti, he'd become a new Mahatma Ghandi......

There, Bob, your new career........

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Bob Ward is one of Climate Science's top experts. His control knob is set to maximum heat, and remains unadjustable.

If he was a climate science generated computer bot, adjustments would be straight forward and routine, to match the prevailing political needs, and finances available.

Apr 8, 2016 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Gotta love @retard. His devotion to the task of demonstrating his retardness is beyond reproach.

Apr 8, 2016 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

OT but breaking following on from the previous josh cartoon thread

BBC reports Tata Steel only invested in the UK to clean up on Carbon Credits so it could switch production to India but not accused of wrong doing .Yeah right

Harrabin hope your proud of your brand of Compassionate Capitalism or fraud as the rest of us call it. A fraud your ilk made possible.Proberly invested the profits in Pannama

Apr 8, 2016 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Mike Jackson

I think what the authors were trying to explain was that they constrained the development of clouds in the model based on observations from real world cloud behaviour. As a result, the ECS of the model increased compared with an unconstrained run. I agree that the language has been mangled in the way only an academic can manage, especially one who is trying to discuss both models and the real world..

Only one conclusion - the models are far too sensitive, in particular because of poor constraints on the modelling of clouds. Heck, we know that observational ECS is around or below the lowest model estimates, and yet here we have a tweak to the model moving the higher model estimate of ECS from being about 3 times the observed to about 4 times the observed.

Apr 8, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

There's a problem with this model that immediately jumps to mind: the 20th century.

Estimates of aerosol forcing for the period are getting smaller (less negative). If climate sensitivity really is 40% larger than the canonical 3°C, then how can one account for the historical warming?

Apr 8, 2016 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDB

@DB: the sign of the net AIE is wrong**; it's positive so has been the real AGW.

van de Hulst (1967) and Hansen (1969) attempted to correct for intense forward scattering by rain droplets, but failed to account for a second optical physics' effect; quite subtle but experiment proves it.

Apr 8, 2016 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Ian Blanchard
Keeps the grant money rolling in though. And I'm sure it's the ideal language for keeping government's eyes away from the man behind the curtain or the pea under the thimble!
"These are not the data you are looking for, minister."

Apr 8, 2016 at 1:38 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Jamspid,. It's amazing they had to wait until they were desperate to report on Grand Theft Carbon (£19 bn)

"Tata Steel made hundreds of millions of pounds selling carbon emissions permits given for free under a European Union emissions trading scheme, experts say.The allegation is controversial because critics previously blamed EU climate policies for undermining the company.

Three separate experts said Tata was allocated more carbon allowances than it really needed. Tata, which plans to sell its UK steel business, refused to comment but there is no suggestion it broke the rules.
Tata was able to sell the surplus to other firms wanting permits to pollute at an estimated profit of around £700m.
Another analyst, Simon Evans from Carbonbrief, believes the windfall was probably double that.

Reports say Tata profited more than any other firm in the UK from the system. Other windfalls allegedly went to Lafarge, Hanson, and Total UK. One report, by consultants CTDelft for citizens' group Carbon Market Watch, shows that the ailing steel firm made £704m from the windfall.

Overall it says industry across Europe has earned a £19bn windfall from 2008 to 2014.

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff


That's the itsy bitsy problem I have with computer climate models. A wee tuck in her, a wee let out there and you can swing from polar to tropical futures fairly easily.

Suit you sir.

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

should these cargo culters not dress differently?

to send the appropriate signals to the gullible and to "like mindeds" so they can procreate..
A bedouin bedsheet perhaps. Or a tropics helmet to fend off "the heat".

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenus

@Esmiff windfall? It was a bribe to stop them complaining about the stupid cabin policies

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:31 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"it is lacking one essential aspect of Cargo Cults"

Yes, the fact that Cargo Cults have a higher degree of rationality.

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligula Jones

"If Ward were to wear a ghoti, he'd become a new Mahatma Ghandi [sic]......"

To the best of my recollection, Gandhi never wore fish.

Apr 8, 2016 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAkatsukami

Wasted on most of those who read this blog.....

Apr 8, 2016 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

...but not all of us, NCC 1701E

Apr 8, 2016 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

You shaw are good!

Apr 8, 2016 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I read the paper in other way: The GCM were "tuned" with an assumption of "supercooled liquid fraction" (SLF) for replicating the GMST 1976...2005, see
It's well known that the cloud microphysics have a strong impact on ECS, see: .
The authors argue that the observed SLF (satellites) is much greater than assumed: " Global satellite observations of cloud thermodynamic phases have enabled us to show that unrealistically low SLFs common to a multitude of GCMs lead to a cloud-phase feedback that is too negative. This has important ramifications for ECS estimates. Should the low-SLF bias be eliminated in GCMs, the most likely range of ECS should shift to higher values." Higher values in GCM, which contrastes much more to the observed ECS, see Otto (2013) ( . In my eyes the paper is a strong critique in the direction of GCM.

Apr 8, 2016 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Looks like they proved the computer climate models to be wrong.

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat


I think that everyone who has not got a PhD, holds an unfinished one .
But for missing the first red snooker ball, I would have scored a maximum 147.

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

@Frank: wot a load of gobbledygook! G L Stephens has shown that cloud negative feedback =f(dα/dτ) is underestimated by a factor of 4 in the GCMs compared with reality. To claim there has to be higher SLF in the models to 'get' high ECS is legerdemain of the first order. In reality, ECS is kept at zero on average by the water cycle, hence no statistically significant warming for ~19 years!

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Believe it or not, The Gavin strongly disapproves of making headlines with this.

Guardian headline writers would have been better off reading WaPo on this.

Current level of tolerance for cliched 'Scientists say' 'Worse than expected' headlines is very low

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

@ NCC: That's what I meant: When one considers the measured SLF from the paper ( did you read it?) than the GCM reach a (unrealistic) high value for ECS. Something is wrong with the GCM?

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank


Enron discovered a wheeze to make trillions of dollars out of global warming for big business. The European system could have been created by the Mafia. itself. Actually the EU !

Apr 8, 2016 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Ya know. I stopped looking at such papers after Willis did his thunderstorm hypothesis and all the follow on work.

Can't remember if it was a comment or part of one of his relevant pieces but it was pointed out that if the thunderstorms started 5/10 minutes earlier on average (because of our plant food generating activities) then who would notice?

In my view he was right then and is right now.

A 'PR' man like Bob, babbling on about 'tha science', just doesn't change my mind. He's paid even if CO2 turns out have some other effect. Well paid mouthpiece for 'the cause'.

Must be difficult being 'Bob' when the entire Planetary temperature, give or take an el ninio or two, just hangs around some typical value. Indeed it must be difficult if his heroes happen to find some warming down the back of the filing cabinet just prior to 'Paris' and some other nonsense that indicates that Satellite measurements can no longer be relied upon.

Pants on fire.(My pants - obviously. No other pants, any resemblance to other pants is purely coincidental - especially pants that may be backed by huge amounts of cash and hence Lawyers).

Apr 8, 2016 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Hi. My name's Bob and this here's my younger brother, Bob.
I was named after our father but my brother had to settle for our uncle's name.

Apr 8, 2016 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Oh, dear. I'll alert the real scientists that sometimes come around here to sort this out. You deniers are soon going to be in a whole world of trouble.

In the meantime, deal with this: Bob Ward is a modern day Comte d'Artagnan.

Apr 8, 2016 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAyla

must be tough, having a cv where you can only write you have an unfinished degree ..
does he have CGSE ? or only unfinished ones??

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenus

Ayla, I am not sure that Bob Ward ever made it as a proper Muscadet, but he remains one of the better known producers of classic whines, of dubious provenance, and an uncertain bouquet de poisson.

Apr 8, 2016 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

What first attracted you to $100 billion carbon trader Jeremy Grantham, Bob ?

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff


"Bob Ward is a modern day Comte"

I wholeheartedly agree, but that's rather unorthodox spelling.

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:31 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

What first attracted you to $100 billion carbon trader Jeremy Grantham, Bob ?

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Wins the thread, marky esmiffy.

The second funniest thing is poor old Bob pretending to talk about a scientific paper, but making sure he gets his retaliation in first by attacking Matt Ridley for ignoring it before he's even had a decent opportunity to ignore it.

Apr 8, 2016 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Notice the side menu at the top right of this page
How to make the climate change debate more productive from the GranthamInstitute itself

The climate change debate is a battle of attrition with a habit of getting nasty. Both sides in the debate (climate scientists and those that are sceptical of the science) are equally stubborn ...
So her idea of conciliation is to begin with flagrant simplistic MISREPRESENTATION that it's scientists vs sceptics, whereas there are thousands of components and those skeptical of each component include numerous scientists. And of those voices unskeptical of various components are not limited to scientists but are more often activists..... Like Bob Ward.

A few paragraphs down she says. "It is a complex, multifaceted issue for which easy answers are not to be found. And it needs to be recognised as such."

With Bob and the Grantham team as ever : It's about the PR not the Science

Apr 9, 2016 at 5:30 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Apr 9, 2016 at 5:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRahul Rana

Copy, paste and edit!
Mavis Beacon must be expanding.

Apr 9, 2016 at 8:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

More climategate nonsense :(

Apr 9, 2016 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterZac

Zac, this nonsense has been paid for by taxpayers, and Jeremy Grantham, to support Michael Mann and his known and unknown expert accomplices.

This is not just any old nonsense, it is some of the best quality nonsense money can buy, and should be treated with appropriate respect.

Apr 9, 2016 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Fantasies about the 3 musketeers dealing with wicked skeptics is really funny on so many levels
In an unintended ael revelation sort of way

Apr 9, 2016 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

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