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A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

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Carry on up the charts

The Prospect review seems to have done the trick, with the Hockey Stick Illusion up around 1000 places in the Amazon UK chart to around the 400 mark.  Unfortunately it looks as though Prospect are only going to publish the review online, which is a bit of a blow. It's still nice to be noticed though.


First print review of HSI

Prospect magazine is the first print media outlet to publish a proper review of The Hockey Stick Illusion.  Hooray!

Montford’s book is written with grace and flair. Like all the best science writers, he knows that the secret is not to leave out the details (because this just results in platitudes and leaps of faith), but rather to make the details delicious, even to the most unmathematical reader. I never thought I would find myself unable to put a book down because—sad, but true—I wanted to know what happened next in an r-squared calculation. This book deserves to win prizes.



Change of tone at Nature

Nature has returned to the subject of climatology for its latest editorial and I'm pleased to say that they have made a welcome rediscovery of their former considered tone, with not a mention of the word "denier" to be seen.

In fact they are positively critical of the noisier sections of the media, particularly the new media, and their perceived lack of good manners and good science:

Civility, honesty, fact and perspective are irrelevant.

This sentence might have been the cue for some cheap retaliatory shots at Nature, but I shall resist.



UN announces review of IPCC procedures

UN chief Ban Ki Moon has announced what the media is calling a "mistakes review" but is actually a review of IPCC procedures prior to the Fifth Assessment Report.

The review is going to be performed by an umbrella body for national science academies, which frankly doesn't inspire much confidence and it will be interesting to see just how independent the panel turns out to be. A sixth independent-but-entirely-free-of-sceptics review might cause eyebrows to be raised, I would say.

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Predicting climate 100 years from now

These are notes of a lecture given by Prof Tim Palmer on some of the fundamentals of weather prediction. The notes were taken by Simon Anthony. This is well worth a read, and I'm certainly struck by how little we know about how to forecast the climate.

If we can't forecast next month's weather, what hope for predicting climate 100 years from now?

Lecture at Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford by Professor Tim Palmer, Royal Society Professor at Oxford, previously at European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts.

[In contrast to simplistic fixed view of climate change preferred by journalists and politicians, TP adopts more traditional scientific view: create and develop models, make predictions, compare predictions with actual measurements, revise/replace models, try to understand models’ limitations. He seems happy to talk about uncertainties.  That said, he did sign the Met Office “Statement from the UK Science Community”… .  Taken together with his final suggestion of the need for a “CERN for Climate”, I’d say he seems like a good scientist who believes in the importance of his science, trying to argue the best case for that science but not necessarily too concerned about “collateral damage”.]

Why ask this question?

Following Climategate, Glaciergate and the repeated failure of Met Office’s seasonal forecasts, this is a question the public and commentators often ask rhetorically to argue that long-term climate predictions must be nothing more than guesswork.

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Power down

I'm expecting to have no electricity for much of the day, so posting will be light.


It's the wrong dataset Gromit!

Marcel Crok writes:

This morning, there was lot of noise in the Dutch media (unfortunately in Dutch only) about new research that was claiming a dramatic warming of 4 degrees in 2050. The news report quoted Dutch econometricians from the University of Tilburg. They had done a statistical analysis of temperature data and the influence of CO2 and solar radiation and concluded that aerosols masked much more of the warming of greenhouse gases than previously thought.

Unfortunately, the econometricians concerned didn't read the instructions on the tin before use. Most amusing.

Read it here.



The ICO on the six-month time limit

The ICO's office has issued a response to an FoI request enquiring about the legal status of the six-month statute of limitations that is apparently preventing them from prosecuting anyone at UEA over breaches of the FoI Act. Alongside their statement, the ICO has also released a lot of their correspondence on the matter, including an interesting exchange with Jonathan Leake of the Sunday Times over the legal niceties. The ICO certainly seems pretty convinced that prosecution under the FoI Act is indeed time barred. This, for example, seems to be an internal email on the subject:

The six months is in the legislation so prosecution is not possible but we will see what action
can be taken once the inquiries report. The relevant section is Sec 77 of the Freedom of
Information Act.

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A new type of proxy

There's a fascinating article at Nature's website at the moment, reporting on a new paper in PNAS in which William Patterson of the University of Saskachewan in Canada reveals his new clam-based temperature reconstruction. 

The study used 26 shells obtained from sediment cores taken from an Icelandic bay. Because clams typically live from two to nine years, isotope ratios in each of these shells provided a two-to-nine-year window onto the environmental conditions in which they lived.

Patterson's team used a robotic sampling device to shave thin slices from each layer of the shells' growth bands. These were then fed into a mass spectrometer, which measured the isotopes in each layer. From those, the scientists could calculate the conditions under which each layer formed.

The resolution is remarkable, down to as little as a week and with Patterson holding out the possibility of daily resolution in future. As Patterson puts it, this opens the door to the study of paleoweather and the possibility of studying seasonal changes changes.

The reconstruction is pretty interesting too, with a hint of a little ice age, a clear medieval warm period and the turn of the first millennium appearing as warmer even than medieval times.

But what's really interesting is the modern era. Are current temperatures unprecedented or not? That's what we all want to know. Well, we don't know because Patterson's results seem to stop at 1800 AD.

Perhaps he explains in the full paper. 

Click for full size



The insanity of greenery

This from a correspondent:

A German aristocrat of my acquaintance has figured out that the price he will be paid for the output of a solar panel is so high compared with the price he will pay for his input of normal electricity, that he is thinking of rigging up powerful arc lamps to shine on solar panels on his extensive roof.



Josh 6

More cartoons by Josh here.



Public sector efficiency

On August 12, 2009 Nature reported on attempts by Climate Auditors to obtain Phil Jones data and Jones' response:

Although Jones agrees that the data should be made publicly available, he says that “it needs to be done in a systematic way”. He is now working to make the data publicly available online and will post a statement on the CRU website tomorrow to that effect, with any existing confidentiality agreements. “We’re trying to make them all available. We’re consulting with all the meteorological services – about 150 members of WMO – and will ask them if they are happy to release the data”, says Jones. But getting the all-clear from other nations could take several months and there may be objections. “Some countries don’t even have their own data available as they haven’t digitized it. We have done a lot of that ourselves”, he says.

The letter to SMHI requesting permission to release their data was dated December 2009.

I wonder what CRU were doing in the intervening five months?



Who's withholding what from whom?

There have been some interesting developments on the subject of which countries are preventing the release of their raw temperature data. You may remember that the Select Committee inquiry into CRU were told that several countries, among them Sweden, Canada and Poland, were refusing to allow him to publish these figures.

Anthony Watts is now reporting a press release by a Swedish pressure group called the Stockholm Initiative, who have obtained the correspondence between Jones and the Swedish Met Office, SMHI. The suggestion is that SMHI weren't in fact preventing release at all, but there has been a very long thread at Climate Audit where several people have disputed this. This posting is my attempt to make sense of it all.

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Climate cuttings 36

Here's a few more climate stories that I've come across in recent days:

A forthcoming review paper claims to have found the fingerprint of mankind on the global climate. Lubos picks over the entrails.

Richard Tol continues to find grey literature cited in the IPCC's WG3 report. Andreas Bjorstrom says that in the Third Assessment Report only 36% of references in WG3 came from the scientific literature.

Climate scientists are planning to take out attack ads in the New York Times. I wonder if they'll call us "deniers". Judith Curry thinks that maybe doing some sound science would be a better approach.

The interest in whether the "great dying of the thermometers" caused a bias in the global temperature average continues. Lucia has invited Chiefio to go a guest post explaining his thoughts.

Roy Spencer has come up with a new way of estimating the Urban Heat Island effect.

Warmist affluence, sceptic squalor? Richard North looks at the sea of money in which climatologists are swimming.



Met Office to scrap seasonal forecasts

A couple of days ago, Mrs Hill commented that she could no longer find the Met Office's seasonal forecast. We had a bit of a dig around the Met Office website and there indeed seemed to be no mention of a spring forecast.

In the rush of activity after the hearings on Monday, I neglected to follow this up, but the Met Office has now come clean anyway. The seasonal forecasts are to be scrapped.

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