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Discussion > Theory, law or fact

Evolution predicts that organisms adapt because of selection pressures in their environment. Climate science says the environment will adapt because of selection pressures imposed on it by one organism. There's a certain symmetry there.

Feb 8, 2016 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

"NiV, your interest in the hockey stick and bristlecone pines is greater than mine. As I understand it, if Mann said, "look, using PCA for these studies sucks, tree rings don't tell us squat and those MBH98/99 papers are amateur junk - hey, I was young", few would care very much and little in our understanding of climate would change."

Nothing in our understanding of climate change would change, true. Everyone on both sides of the debate already knows they're junk, and have done for years. The reason it persists is that they still won't openly admit it. It's implied, by their behaviour and by what they say in private, but they still toe the line in public.

Mann was a young, very recent (and late) postgraduate who did a badly done study with a conclusion that was very useful to the campaign for climate change action. His paper got published in the journal 'Nature', without the data and calculations being checked, and then Mann was catapulted to stardom as an author of an IPCC chapter in which he cited his own work, where it likewise passed all the "rigorous" IPCC checks thout anyone there noticing that it was so badly messed up.

That a new and young researcher messed up his calculations is not significant. That nobody noticed as the entire mainstream climate science community promoted it as a headline figure arguably is. The first point is that evidently nobody is actually checking these results. The second point is that even when the errors are pointed out, people are refusing to acknowledge it for fear of the admission being seized as an indictment of the entire climate science profession. Ironically, it's not the paper itself, but this defensive behaviour that indicts them, and attracts all the attention. The history of their evasions remains one of the most effective sticks for sceptics to beat them with.

And it's the fact that results are not being properly checked, and that we know they wouldn't admit it if critical errors were found, that casts the rest of climate science into doubt. What it says about climate in the 14th century is irrelevant - it's what it says about the integrity of climate science that is of interest.

"Mann did effectively reject PCA, as wiki says:"

Silently "moving on" isn't the same.

"On the other hand if McI rejected his body of criticism, skepticism would be badly wounded."

On the contrary. He's said in the past that if somebody demonstrates errors in what he writes on his blog, he'll correct it - it does happen from time to time. And it's because he's so rarely wrong, and so open about corrections when he is, that sceptics respect him so highly.

There are other prominent sceptics who don't, and they're less respected - at least by those sceptics with a lot of scientific training.

If you or somebody else can demonstrate McIntyre's work was substantially wrong, then it would indeed deal a blow to scepticism. Indeed, that's how the scientific method is supposed to work. It's the fact that so many genuine experts have put so much effort into attempting it, and so far failed, that gives it such great credibility.

"i don't know how to judge that. A lot of work is done by post-grads who are of course amateur. That wont change. A lot of work is done by people who have never done such things before because a lot of it has never been done by anyone before. Again, when studying a new field, that is inevitable. Expecting anything else seems unreasonable - even if it were subcontracted to some "professional" company, it would probably be the same, just more expensive."

You're talking about the way things are done in academia there. Quite a few of us come from industrial science backgrounds, where you're reporting on some scientific issue where millions or even hundreds of millions of other people's money is riding on you getting it right. Or people's lives, in many cases. If you're just mucking around indulging your curiosity in academia, it doesn't much matter if you take a few shortcuts - the primary purpose of academic reearch is to publish papers so you can get grants. If a paper turns out to be wrong, you can just write another paper next year correcting it. But if the primary purpose of your work is to tell whether there's enough gold-bearing ore to justify investing ten million dollars in a new mine, the former owner of that money isn't going to shrug it off when you say you gave the job to a post-grad so "of course" it was an amateur job.

A whole field of methods and principles has been developed around this problem. Results are subject to auditing, which means all data and calculations have to be archived, which means you use version control and backups. Instruments and processes are tested, and the tests documented for checking. Error analysis is used to put error bars on the results. Assumptions are documented. Sources are documented. Software has an entire discipline of software engineering giving guidance. The technology and tools to do all this has been around in many cases for decades. It's not perfect - nothing is. But it's pretty good at doing its job.

Students (outside of software engineering) are not taught this, so postgrads - and professors who used to be postgrads - will tend to make it up as they go along. When what you're studying doesn't really matter, this is tolerable. (It's a waste of taxpayers' money, but taxpayers' money is mostly wasted so it makes no difference.) But amateur hour is not tolerable for anything really important; and if there's anything more important than a potential trillion-dollar 'end-of-the-world' global catastrophe scenario, then I don't know what is. SO WHAT THE F ARE WE DOING LEAVING IT TO AMATEURS?! ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR MINDS?!

"Any failings they do admit to (like saying what a travesty it is that the missing heat can't be located) are pounced upon, twisted, sliced and diced to justify statements like your "out of their depth" - so there's a strong incentive to be quiet."

My statements aren't based on trivia Trenberth's 'travesty' comment. They're based on stuff like having no backups, losing data, editing original data and then forgetting what you did to it, adjusting the original record of historic data to 'correct' it and then forgetting what you did to adjust it, making up fake records just so that you can process a database containing corrupted data, failing to mention said corruption in the documentation, using code full of meaningless single-letter variable names and GOTOs with no comments, mis-transcribing record labels so that rain records from Spain are processed as temperature records in America, putting in data series upside-down, silently truncating outputs to cut off sections where they don't match other sources and then commenting on how consistent the results all are, drawing OLS trend lines through autocorrelated data, getting the date wrong on those Himalyan glaciers melting, predicting that Arctic ice would melt by 2013, claiming to rely only on "peer-reviewed" literature when only 84% of it (in the best case) was, not providing error bars, basing error bars on an AR(1) assumption when data is known not to follow AR(1), basing error bars on "expert judgement", and so on. I could go on for days...

I'd recommend you start with the 'HARRY_README' file if you want to see an example of what I'm talking about (and don't already know). Trenberth's 'travesty' is trivial in comparison.

"My impression is that politicians would prefer that climate change as an issue just went away. They are being dragged reluctantly towards seeming to do something while all the while ensuring that they don't really. The activists doing the dragging are diverse and are as unlikely to agree between themselves on an "agenda" beyond reducing carbon emissions as skeptics are of agreeing between themselves what they actually believe about climate science."

Much of the activist agenda can be found in this UN discussion paper from the Durban conference.

See in particular the bits about the developed nations ceasing all spending on defence and transferring the funds to the developing world (e.g. China), eliminating protections on intellectual property, paying for their infrastructure development, and only the developed nations having to cut back emissions. It's simply a wealth-transfer from rich nations to poor ones, combined with a selective handicap on the richer economies. Since of course developing nations would expand their industry to take up the slack wealthier nations would give up, global emissions wouldn't actually reduce - and nor were they ever intended to.

The American response to it was expressed in the Byrd-Hagel resolution, which *acknowledged* the dangers of climate change, and resolved to take part only when *effective* measures against it were proposed applicable to all nations, rather than measures that were both ineffective and damaging to the US economy. It's a remarkable document for it's demostration of just how early the politicians understood what was really going on. The Byrd-Hagel resolution expresses the policy followed by both ends of the American political spectrum ever since - Both Bush and Obama had exactly the same policy, which is why the international climate negotiations went nowhere.

Any engineer knows that if CO2 emissions were really seen as a global threat, the obvious, affordable, demonstrably practical, scalable solution would be to go nuclear in a massive way, like France did. Drop all the overbearing safety regulations, planning enquiries, bureaucratic delays, etc. The fact that they don't, but instead support any technology known not to work, speaks volumes.

"In what way? There are thousands of scientists working in climate related fields, how many are "mucking about" and who are they? Who is controlling or directing their efforts? Where does the buck stop?"

The buck stops with every scientist who knows what's going on and declines to say so for fear of what use sceptics might make of it, and with every scientist who supports it with their own authority as a scientist without personally checking the science themselves.

The number of scientists in the core group who generate most of the results is probably less than a couple of hundred. Everyone else just cites them.

People without sufficient scientific training have no choice but to take the word of scientists for it. Scientists, unfortunately, often do the same. The entire herd follows blindly, each and every one of them assuming that such a big crowd must surely know where they're going.

"Well it makes for an interesting discussion :-)"

True! Thank you for that. It has been interesting.

Feb 8, 2016 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Nullis in Verba

People without sufficient scientific training have no choice but to take the word of scientists for it.

I disagree. With no more than 40 year old A level physics I have been able to check the internal consistency of the climate data.

Calculate the gain in heat content of the ocean from the temperature increase or independently from thermal expansion and you get the same figure, 3*10^22joules/year. Work the other way from the satellite derived energy imbalance and you get the same energy input to the system. Check the theory of CO2 radiative forcing and feedbacks and you get the same change in radiative forcing observed by the monitors, and the long term temperature change to go with it.

I've put various parts of these calculations on BH over the last few years. The responses has largely been rude, but nobody has shown that they are wrong.

That leaves me two choices.

1) The science correctly describes the increase in energy content and temperatures of the climate system and the mechanisms involved are valid.

2) The oceanographers, satellite engineers, weather services, ice observers,, glaciologists, downwelling radiation monitors and everyone else have got together to generate a fictional science and then generate fictional ocean and air temperature, ice volume, OLR, DLR and sea level datasets to support it. Of necessity Dr Spencer, Dr Christy and Dr Corbett would be part of the conspiracy.

Being a cockup theorist rather than a conspiracy theorist I do not regard 2) as feasible, let alone probable. That leaves me with 1) Climate is changing approximately as described.

Feb 8, 2016 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Work the other way from the satellite derived energy imbalance and you get the same energy input to the system. (...)
Feb 8, 2016 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

The precision achieved by the most advanced generation of radiation budget satellites is indicated by the planetary energy imbalance measured by the ongoing CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) instrument (Loeb et al., 2009), which finds a measured 5-year-mean imbalance of 6.5 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). Because this result is implausible, instrumentation calibration factors were introduced to reduce the imbalance to the imbalance suggested by climate models, 0.85 W/m2 (Loeb et al. 2009).
K E Trenberth et al

The instrument measurements are calibrated using the output of unvalidated models. Another facet of climate science that differentiates it from other fields.

Somebody or other (when I had pointed out that GCMs are programmed to simulate increased warming by increased CO₂) said

Are you seriously suggesting that the output of thousands of scientists over 200 years is a deliberate plot by "them" to control the world?

Groupthink by people whose desire is to find the evidence for what they believe to be true is an adequate explanation.

Feb 9, 2016 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Compare records :
- Richard Dawkins' SCIENCE theories
- George Monbiots FACTS


BTW - One gets banned from stuff cos of challenging things he tweets
- The other gets his own key to the BBC offices..but I think anyone in the North London Media Clique gets a key to the BBC office if they are "on-message"

Monbiot = "Green Prophet" for the "Green Profits"

Feb 9, 2016 at 5:33 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Well after my last post I said I wouldn't look again when or if it reached a 100 comments. And oh and look...

BinYin and Rhoda, the "Shhhh... be quiet the neighbours will hear us", never had much traction with me. And I sure it doesn't with many of the people reading these comments.

And I haven't got my head around commenters on climate hiding behind nicknames, worrying about attribution. I will leave Dung and Richard and BigYin to flesh that one out.

But as it is me "Paying the rent on the room" (starting the topic), I have more of right than most try to stop debate suppression through "shame". Shout as as loud as you want, if it has some relevance. The community will moderate you. Or keep quiet.

This is a dysfunctional family, all the most interesting ones are. Raff and EM think there are at the window looking in, but the neighbours just see strange "guests" (the neighbours view not mine) shouting across the window ledge.

Feb 9, 2016 at 6:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

To answer Raff and Simon, in the simplest way I could reduce it to. This is Tuesday morning, I do not feel great. Please respect the spirit of what I say in an attempt to explain (said to any Object Orientated programmers out there who feel in pedantic moods).

An object orientated program is in existence. it is waiting, call it dormant. Some set of circumstances cause it to start (voltage fluctuation from a lightning strike? ;-) )

Object instances start to be created.

The classes as written and fixed within the program determine,

- how strict is encapsulation (genetic mutation),
- the object inheritance (inheritence).
- the object life span (environmental effect)

The classes do not change. After a period of time we have a pool of object instances.

So Evolution Theory is fine. The intelligent design was at the beginning when the program was written (but dormant) - just like all the other laws of the Universe.

I do not care if it is Dawkin's selfish gene, survival of the fittest, or not. We are we we are and basically we can see how we got there. More or less.

We have reached a state (a fluid state as object instances are created and die) but a state.


Some of the object instances realise they are inside a program.


Some of the object instances reverse engineer themselves.


Some of the object instances work out how to amend the original classes or add classes. Inheritance, encapsulation and object life span are changed. Those super-instances have control over ALL object instances (including live ones, because they have the KILL OBJECT INSTANCE class.)

And simply It is not possible to know what code changes they will make. And despite their wonderfully written Functional and Technical Specs for those changes, and some limited integration testing, they do not know what the live production run will bring. No idea at all. Dawkins, Darwin? The classes dealing with those areas is legacy code.

No one, not Dawkins, no AI expert have anyway of knowing what happens after this state change. After this program change. The program has changed.

Now of course it can be claimed that this state change is still a consequence of the initial laws, or initial classes. But nowhere does it appear in those classes. The original spec doesn't mention it.
Is there a higher level spec somewhere? A more Universal one?

And that was it. Where I was coming from.

We could say it is like moving to another dimension and those from the lower dimension have no way of understanding the one above. But I am just writing that to tease people. Or maybe not.

Feb 9, 2016 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Media Hoar, respecting that you're not feeling good, I'm happy to revisit this when you're feeling better. I'm rushing out the door, so my reply may also lack coherence.

The OOP scenario is not a good fit, in my opinion. In evolution, nothing is dormant and everything is subject to potential mutation from generation to generation. The mutation is not triggered by an external event or need to change, it happens anyway, and its lineage is managed by the resulting good or poor fit (fittest) to its environment. If the environment shifts, a different mutation might be more successful than previously and what *did* work might no longer work so well, but that mutation was going to happen whether the environment changed or not, because mutations happen.

Feb 9, 2016 at 8:56 AM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Simon, I only used the word dormant in the sense that life was waiting to start. The first object instance. From that point there is no dormancy,

As to the details you mention I have no argument, none of us have any knowledge of what the are the classes.

Object instances create other object instances. How many and how much a duplicate is all defined by the classes and how the instance uses them.

Feb 9, 2016 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

NiV, as I see it, the situation that upsets you and others so much was created by you (not personally, but collectively). There are accepted ways of responding to work that is contentious or doubtful within academia. I won't pretend to have an y experience of them but they obviously include writing letters to journals, repeating the work with different analysis methods, collecting new data and trying to replicate the work etc. These methods work competitively but cooperatively and everyone gains from them. Climate science skeptics took a different route, that of loud accusation, demonization, etc and should be unsurprised that faced with this assault the community collectively gave their accusers the middle finger and brought up the barricades. If you expect anything else, you perhaps don't know human nature.

You said yourself that McI never claimed to be trying to replicate Mann's analysis (in MM05). In all these years of obsessing about bristlecone pines and Yamal and whatever, he never did the obvious, straightforward thing and produced a "correct" analysis of the data! Is he still writing blogs about it even now?. There are obviously different ways of analyzing the data (as Mann's subsequent method shows), so why didn't McI just do a "proper" analysis and show there was no hockey stick, that temperatures in the last thousand years were not what Mann claimed? Some, not me to be sure, might say that it beggars believe that he didn't and that he did - and it produced a hockey stick


Who is WE and who are THEY? Is it the amateurs who might be out of their minds? I don't understand your exclamation. I asked you this before about where the buck stops. When Phil Jones or Michael Mann 20 years ago were interested in working with tree rings and decided to try to make global reconstructions of temperatures, was it their supervisors who should have said, well hold on Phil/Mike, this is going to be groundbreaking and controversial and could have huge consequences. Before you do this we need to get you trained up on all of the state of the art quality control technologies. Or was it the director of their universities who should have volunteered extra spending on revision control and computing and storage facilities and staff. Or should John Major or Tony Blair and Bill Clinton have been made aware: Phil and Mike are going to work on tree rings. This could be big; Stop Them! We need to bring in the Big Dollars Industrial Science Corporation to do it PROPERLY! Okay, I'm teasing, but perhaps you see the point.

Your litany of errors by climate scientists sounds bad but I would be amazed (or actually I just wouldn't believe you) if you told me that such a history couldn't be produced for the Big Dollars Industrial Science Corporation and every other organization. All of the quality control techniques, checks and balances that you probably take for granted now didn't arise because everything was going swimmingly and quality was great - people just thought maybe they could write some tools and procedures for the fun of it. They arose because quality is difficult and people do screw up. If anything constructive has come out of all the destructive criticism of science over the years, then maybe it is better attention to quality.

Much of the activist agenda can be found in this UN discussion paper from the Durban conference.

That paper seems to be a work in progress with various things saying there is no agreement or that parts should be deleted or giving a selection of opions, such as

(h) Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere should stabilize [well] below [300][350][450] ppm CO2eq ...
So what is the aim of their "agenda" in this respect? 300, 350 or 450? The paper seems just hot air, not something to draw any conclusions from. As I said, the activists are as unlikely to agree between themselves on an "agenda" beyond reducing carbon emissions as skeptics are of agreeing between themselves what they actually believe about climate science.

See in particular the bits about the developed nations ceasing all spending on defence and transferring the funds to the developing world ...

Where does it say that? There are a few references to defense, one indicating that a court should be set up to stop wars (yeah, right) but the nearest I find to your statement is:

47. The provision of the amount of funds to be made available annually to developing country Parties, which shall be equivalent to the budget that developed countries spend on defence, security, and warfare. Fifty per cent of that amount shall be for adaptation, 20 per cent for mitigation, 15 per cent for technology development and transfer and 15 per cent for forest-related actions in developing country Parties;
That says nothing about ceasing spending on defense. Does it say so elsewhere, or is this just an urban legend?

The fact that they don't [go nuclear], but instead support any technology known not to work, speaks volumes.

Does it? It tells me that they don't understand the engineering challenges of their preferred route. What volumes does it tell you?

Feb 9, 2016 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I would not regard a 6.5W/m2 as entirely implausible.

My figure of 0.7W/m2 is based on the average 3.3mm/year long term trend in sea levlel.

The latest Aviso sea level data shows an increase of 25mm in the year between late 2014 and late 2015. This would require an annual energy gain of 2.3*10^23W , corresponding to an imbalance of 5.15W/m2.j

Feb 9, 2016 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I would not regard a 6.5W/m2 as entirely implausible.
.... increase of 25mm in the year between late 2014 and late 2015.

EM - an inch per year increase is about ten times what is often quoted as the annual rise in sea level (2mm - 3 mm). Don't you think they have probably screwed up by an order of magnitude?

"Not entirely implausible" amounts to "plausible" in my book.

Before you decided that 6.5 W/m2 is "not entirely implausible", did you ask if it fails a basic sanity test?
I wonder in what way the reasoning of Trenberth et al, in concluding it was implausible, differed from yours.

Out of interest, when doing your calculations, what proportions of sea level rise do you assume are due to:

[A] thermal expansion of the ocean
[B] sediment deposition
[C] land ice melting
[D] icebergs melting
[E] other factors eg descent/spreading of continental masses

.... ?

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

EM - looking at the graph you linked to, I can't make it more than about 1.5cm rise between late 2014 and late 2015. (increasing from about 7.0 to about 8.5)

Feb 9, 2016 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

I'm getting too old for this.☺

15mm would make the energy gain 1.3*10^^23W/year and the imbalance 3.1W/m2

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Martin A

Based on satellite and other data I worked with annual ocean volume increases of 500 cubic kilometres from land ice sheet melt, 200 cubic kilometres from glacier melt, aquifer extraction etc and 500 cubic kilometres from thermal expansion, giving a total of ~1200 cubic kilometres/year and an average increase in sea level of 3.3mm/year.

IIRC volume of the oceans is 1.3*10^9 cubic kilometres, surface area is 3.6*10^6 square kilometres and 1mm sea level rise corresponds to a volume increase of 360 cubic kilometres.

I used thermal expansion coefficient and specic heat for seawater at 700m dexpth. I forget the values, but they are available online.

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Thanks EM.

Feb 9, 2016 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

No problem.

"Sanity check""

That's why I like to play with the numbers. ☺

Trenberth, Loeb or whoever has presumably done a similar calculation to mine and decided that the ocean heat content gain is a more reliable measure than the total outgoing radiation as measured by the satellites.

Insolation is generally quoted around 342W/m2. Since the planet is gaining heat, the outgoing radiation should be slightly smaller. The ocean figures give an imbalance if 0.7W/m2 and the satellites 6.5W/m2. My best guess is that the satellites are underestimating total outgoing radiation by about 1.7%.

Whether the error is in albedo, OLR or in the analysis algorithms is a question for those involved.

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

My figure of 0.7W/m2 is based on the average 3.3mm/year long term trend in sea levlel.

Circular reference then.

Feb 9, 2016 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Circular reference then.


My figure of 0.7W/m2 is based on the average 3.3mm/year long term trend in sea levlel.
...and decided that the ocean heat content gain is a more reliable measure than the total outgoing radiation as measured by the satellites.
Work the other way from the satellite derived energy imbalance and you get the same energy input to the system. (...)
Feb 8, 2016 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

... -> [sea level rise] -> [ocean energy input] -> satellite fiddle factor calibration] -> [Earth's energy imbalance] -> [ocean energy input] -> [ sea level rise] ->...

Feb 10, 2016 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Rhoda, Martin A

Actually it is called iteration.

Also called successive approximation. a problem-solving or computational method in which a succession of approximations, each building on the one preceding, is used to achieve a desired degree of accuracy.

Feb 10, 2016 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


Calculating the rise in ocean upper layer heat content is one thing, and fair play for doing so. Saying that it is due to forcing is another. What about ocean dynamics themselves? Can the rise in heat be something natural that the ocean does all by itself and it's just because we only observe changes in decades rather than centuries?

Luckily I'm not in any way the first to think there may be more to it. From Robert Stevenson in 2005 (the last bit);

I was rather eager to read the article by Syd Levitus, and his colleagues. I was somewhat put-off by the headlines about “missing warming,” but I figured that was just the usual hype by the media.

Yet, here I sit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by papers (peer-reviewed, I guess I should add) which conclude:

(1) For the past two decades at least, and possibly for the past seven decades, the Earth’s true surface air temperature has likely experienced no net change;

(2) there should have been a sizable CO2-induced increase in atmospheric radiative forcing during that time, but there wasn’t. That must mean that a suite of compensatory feedbacks overwhelmed the “greenhouse” impetus for warming; implying, therefore,

(3) that the planet will not warm from any man-produced increases in CO2; indicating

(4) any increases in temperature will likely fit the global trend of +0.048°C/decade, that is, about 0.5°C this century— the rate of warming that has existed since the Little Ice Age, centered around 1750 in Europe, South America, and China; suggesting

(5) that the heat storage in the upper ocean takes place in the upper 100 meters, and the magnitude provides a rise in temperature at those depths of 0.5°C in the past 50 years (in those parts of the ocean for which we have data);

(6) this global warming (and cooling) of the ocean occurs on biennial, ENSO, decadal and interdecadal period scales; thence,

(7) the ocean thermal changes on centennial-period scales, which appear as the warming trend through the past 50 to 100 years, can be explained by means of intrinsic internal modes of the Earth going through their normal cycle of warming and cooling, independent of both radiative and anthropogenic influences.

I guess what I’m really wondering is “Why did Syd Levitus, and his associates, write their paper in the first place?”

Feb 10, 2016 at 12:46 PM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Actually it is called iteration.Feb 10, 2016 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Well iterative methods are standard in solving systems of equations. I remember as a school kid being astounded at the rate of convergence of Newton's iteration method.

But as a way of improving physical measurements whose errors are too large for them to be of any use, so that the improved measurements can then be used to re-estimate the data that was used to improve them? A novel idea. Just one snag - will the result it converges to have any relation to reality?

Feb 10, 2016 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

There has to be more to it than survival of the fittest and random changes, which is mere obviousology.
Feb 4, 2016 at 9:07 PM rhoda

Over the years I've skimmed through various books on evolution and you got me trying to recollect in what ways it was more than obviousology.

Two things, I think:

- It is only obviousology, like Columbus's egg, after you have seen it or had it explained. There are lots of people to whom it is far from obvious.

- There is a lot more to today's theory of evolution than simply "survival of the fittest and random changes". One book points out the key elements.

* The idea itself of genetic change over time.

* That changes take place at a slow rate, individual changes being minuscule and conferring a survival probability increased by a minuscule proportion. It's not obvious (to me anyway) that totally minuscule increases in survival probability would not be swamped by other random effects.

* The mechanisms by which one species splits into two or more.

* The principle of common ancestry - that different species share a common ancestor. My cat and I share an ancestor with the potato I have just eaten. Not obvious to everybody?

* The principle of adaptation/natural selection ("survival of the fittest").

* That changes also take place for reasons other than natural selection. I think this last one may cover MH's questions, inasfar as I understand his questions.

Feb 10, 2016 at 2:11 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

"Internal intrinsic modes"

Robert Stevensons points seem weak on one point. A change in temperature is a change in the energy content of the environment being measured.

Whether you talk about trends or cycles you need to be able to describe them in terms of changes in the amount and/or distribution of energy. If you cannot do so, you are waffling. For example, what are "internal intrinsic modes"? I have never heard of them. How are they measured? What mechanisms are involved? How much energy? Where can I find examples described?

" iteration"

Read Allen et al on terrestrial imbalance determination and the CERES database.

The terrestrial measurements give an average imbance of -0.62W+/-0.43W. Year on year variations go as high as -1.5W and as low as 0.25W. (- is net heat uptake for the pedantic)

The CERES data is currently giving -4.02W. I had a bit of trouble deciphering the uncertainty from the table. +/- 2.0?

This is where iteration comes in.

Having several different independent methods giving different values for the same variable. allows what you referred to as a sanity check. When one stands out from the others, that is probably the one with the largest errors.

For the energy imbalance, N, that is the satellites. It occurred to me that a satellite orbiting 1000km above TOA would only need to be 2km higher than estimated to underread OLR by 2%. That would wipe out the disagreement with the surface data.

I would be looking at the satellite methodology at this point, looking at the accuracy and calibration of the sensors and checking the algorithms converting the raw scans into total outward radiation.

Feb 10, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM - thanks I printed off the Allen paper with the intention of at least giving it a scan.

Feb 10, 2016 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A