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Discussion > Are Geological Paleo-Climate Records Relevant to The Climate Debate?

When you refer me to a peer reviewed paper with 293 citations which falsifies Marcott et Al (2013), then I will stop using it.
Mar 20, 2016 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man, would that be the same paper where Marcott et al admitted that the last part of the graphed results was "not statistically robust" (ie false) and for which the Met Office deleted the reference to it and the announcement from their "My climate and me" website?

QUOTE; "..the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes".

Mar 20, 2016 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Martin A: just noticed that it is the site of “Sou”, a lady whom even I can run rings round when it comes to debate. She cannot remember what she wrote in her last post, directly contradicting herself in the next.

Mar 20, 2016 at 10:17 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR, I nearly commented but decided it wasn't worth it. When Entropic Man is linking to Hot Flopper then he's scraping the barrel.

Mar 20, 2016 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Alan Kendall 6:34 Thank you!

Very interesting and helpful. It is good to know what can be done, and what can't be done, before someone claims to have achieved unimaginably good accuracy!

Mar 21, 2016 at 12:32 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Radical Rodent & michael hart,

Hot Whopper is one of the top sources for climate science experts. You can even get Hot Whopper with Rice.

Mar 21, 2016 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf Charlie. Memory's failing fast. Momentarily forgot that some people claim that, in certain circumstances, the RATE of sedimentation is climate controlled. But then to make said climate record fit preconceived notions they turn it (said record) upside down. You couldn't make it up could you?

Mar 21, 2016 at 6:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

I got quite excited when I dropped in for my first palæoclimatology lesson of the week to find Dung talking about St Trinians girls and their favourite weapons. I was quite disappointed to find he was still on about hockey sticks.
Dung, if you think hockey was what occupied the Trinian mind most of the time you should get out more!
I've made no contribution to this thread but learnt much.
My thanks to Alan Kendall and Paul Dennis. They (and Palæoclimate Buff) have opened up a whole new horizon by leading me into ice cores and the ocean depths! Pity some climate scientists don't bother to listen to people who clearly know more on the pluses and minuses of Palæoclimate proxies and the behaviour of different isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen than they do!

Mar 21, 2016 at 9:48 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

MJ: when you view what happened to Murry Salby when he raised this point, it is not difficult to see why so many prefer to give their opinions anonymously. Messrs K & D assure the public their opinion will be second to none (though of course Henry the horse stays out of it), as they appear to have retired, thus are not worried about the character assassins ruining their futures (or leaving them stranded on the other side of the world). For that, we can be grateful, as they have given us so many valuable insights into the processes we have been debating – my own reading of the situation is that, with a bit of imagination, you can get proxies to give you whatever information you want them to give you. Nu-science in action.

Mar 21, 2016 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I am finding this thread very informative. I had the impression that graphs of temperature vs. geological time were essentially "informed guesswork" rather than something of verifiable and quantifiable precision. Qualitative, at best. The discussion seems to me to confirm my impression.

A discussion at Realclimate provides references, I imagine covering most of what is out there. Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?

A paper, evidently transcript from an oral presentation, from around a dozen years ago that I happened across: The Geologic Record and Climate Change (Tim Patterson) He certainly seems to be a "CO2 is the global thermostat" sceptic. I don't know how valid what he presents is, but it all seems to hang together and would provide a partial answer to dung's question.

One interesting point he makes: The warming effect of a strong el nino is primarily due to additional greenhouse warming resulting from extra water vapour in the atmosphere, rather than direct warming due to heat released from the ocean.

He starts off:

I am a Quaternary geologist by profession. That is to say that my research interests are focused primarily on about the last 2 million years of Earth's history. An important aspect of my research is assessing past climate conditions. Thus I am also a paleoclimatologist. Earth's climate has varied considerably during the past 2 million years or so as indicated by the more than 33 glacial major advances and retreats that have occurred through this interval.
He concludes:
What I would like to draw your attention to is the level of CO2 levels, as preserved in prehistoric air bubbles, from very high quality ice core records from Antarctica. When researchers first looked at the results from these cores they observed a repeating correlation between CO2 and temperature through several glacial/interglacial cycles. However, when they began to look at higher resolution cycles they say something different. They observed that temperature would go up first comes up first, with CO2 coming up later. This correlation indicates that as one might expect as temperatures warm biological productivity increases resulting in more CO2 in the atmosphere. The lag between CO2 (sic. temperature?) and rising or falling CO2 levels is something like 800 years.

Mar 21, 2016 at 11:30 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Alan Kendall, again thank you for that helpful response, and EVERYONE else!

I am also finding the insight fascinating. Police forensics took a major leap forward, when they learnt from archaeologists how to 'dig up' a body carefully, knowing that clues lay in the excavated soil. Types of pollen etc can reveal the time of year, though not necessarily which year.

Sediments in mud/silt can reveal good/bad years for particular life forms, but not necessarily why.

We are all aware of amazing technological developments in sciences, but the limitations of any new technique or technologiy is never highlighted, until after it has been abused.

Carbon dating has revealed the likely age of the Turin Shroud, but not how it was produced with a negative image.

Mar 21, 2016 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

One method, not so far mentioned, to obtain an environmental signal is to use more than one proxy, compare the results and statistically tease out the environmental parameter being sought.

I once suggested this to the tree merchants at UEA, but no-one there tried it, nor could I get an undergraduate to bite. My suggestion was to investigate the variation in tree rings in several different types of tree from the same overall area, each species chosen for its different responses to different parameters. Thus using data from river bank willow trees should provide a record independent of water availability stress, which might be the dominant variable in a Scots Pine on a dry sandy soil. My thought was that by combining the responses of many tree species and combining that with information about average weather conditions it might be possible to get temperature or other climatic data.

It may well not have worked, but unless you try ......

Mar 21, 2016 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

They probably tried, and they didn't get the temperature signal they required.

Mar 21, 2016 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Your demon is working overtime tonight, EM. If nothing else, your link gives even greater credence to what Messrs K&D have been postulating, above. However, I doubt your love of Nu-Science will enable you to consider that.

Mar 21, 2016 at 10:28 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Alan Kendall, my understanding of dendro use in temperature records is that trees needed to be selected from near the treeline, ie trees only grow so far up a mountain, and that around the Arctic, trees only grow so close, so they are the most susceptible to a growing season of 2 months, being reduced by 50%.

I was still at school during the drought of 1976, but remember it well. I remember the drought and heat, I also remember how wet it was through the autumn and winter following Denis Howell's appointment as Minister of Drought.

A weeping willow growing next to the Thames would show a great growing season. A weeping willow growing on the edge of a bit of boggy ground, fed by a trivial stream off chalk, surfacing due to a clay layer, would have shown a bad growing season. The total rainfall for 1976 was about average (I am guessing in the absence of access to records)

Eucalyptus trees were grown by Victorians as colourful foliage shrubs, that were cut down by a hard frost but regrew. Eucalyptus gunii was introduced which was much more frost hardy in the 70s/80s? It grows rapidly, and has the ability to send its roots far and wide, and very deep, if necessary. It causes a lot of subsidence. Very few UK eucalyptus can be more than 40years old, but I would be interested in what they can tell us about known climate.

Similarly, Normandy (?) and similar areas, I remember for long straight tree lined roads, slightly raised above the fields, ending with a church and village. The roads were raised historically, above the wet fields, and the poplar trees provided shade for travellers, and helped take moisture out of the fields. Again, they would provide good dendro, but only whether it was a good/bad growing season, I think.

You are viewing dendro from your experience, and I am viewing it from mine, but the conclusion seems to remain the same!

Maybe the students you spoke to, knew other reasons to avoid dendro, or thought the technique had already been taken beyond its own level of reliability

Mar 21, 2016 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

EM - Anthropogenic carbon release rate unprecedented during the past 66 million years.

I do not know if you have read the paper you cite above - however I must assume you wish to raise alarm about the possible effects on global temperatures of the present rates of release of anthropogenic " carbon" by drawing attention to it in comparison to the estimated high release rate at the time of PETM.

However it may have escaped your notice that following the PETM ocean surface water temperature at sub Arctic sites fell almost continuously from PETM when it was close to 20ºC in the late Paleocene to around 2.5ºC by the late Pliocene. ( Kennett & Shackleton 1975). It does not appear that the Carbon release rate at the time of PETM had any effect in raising temperatures then and so one must ask why we should assume it would now .

Mar 21, 2016 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Actually, reading the article more carefully, the authors are dead right – today’s human release of CO2 IS unprecedented! Never before in history has so much CO2 been released by humans. Can’t argue with that. Whether it has any relevance to the climate change argument is questionable, though.

Mar 22, 2016 at 12:02 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I noticed. Nice to see the use of the æ, Mike Jackson.

Mar 22, 2016 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Radical Rodent, what about if all babies born from 1st Jan 2017, are forced to wear rebreathing apparatus from birth, for life, with carbon dioxide scrubbers incorporated so this harmless gas can be buried in coal mines. We can do the same with cows, but doubling up with a methane scrubber fitted to the rear. Green Blob activists could all become methane scrubbers, and everyone would see them covered in glory.

Mar 22, 2016 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

michael hart
The iPad is a relatively new toy! Which also explains several typos since it thinks it knows better than me what I'm trying to say!
But holding down the 'a' key which gives me eight different possibilities is a lot easier than trying to remember ALT0230 on the PC,
Really, I'm just showing off!

Mar 22, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

This thread has become depressing ^.^
Even though the work of Alan and Paul would, if proven completely destroy the AGW argument (because there would be no evidence that periods in the past were any warmer of colder than today) still I find it hard to accept. I am sure that this is partly linked to my (existing/past) confidence that paleoclimate evidence already destroys the AGW case but also because if Alan and Paul are right then other cherished evidence is wrong.
Where would the following observers stand if A & P were right:

Steve McIntyre
Andrew Montford
Gavin Schmidt (tee hee)
Richard Lindzen

There are thousands of research papers by so far reputable scientists which are redundant if Alan and Paul are correct and I would wish to see more evidence before I could accept it. This most reminds me of Michael Mann disappearing the Medieval Warm Period with non existent or dodgy science. Sorry to be a party pooper and all that.

Mar 22, 2016 at 4:17 PM | Registered CommenterDung

You aren't supposed to have "cherished evidence".
This is precisely the accusation that we have been levelling against some (not all!) of the scientivists who are so determined to be right that they can't let go or even countenance the very minor disagreements that don't deny warming, don't deny a possible contribution from CO2, don't deny a human input but cannot go all the way with their catastrophe theories and their blatant activism.
Where the evidence is open to differing interpretations we are still learning. Where evidence is building up that tends to contradict your pet hypotheses, whichever, it's time to look critically at what you believe. In science it's just business; nothing personal!
Unless you're a fanatic when everything is personal.

Mar 22, 2016 at 4:34 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Then you are not reading the comments by Messrs K & D, then, Dung. What they are saying is that it is very difficult to get the data that many are claiming that they are getting with such ease – if you read my comment from Mar 21 at 10:20 AM, above, “…with a bit of imagination, you can get proxies to give you whatever information you want them to give you. Nu-science in action.” However, there are other sources of data which can enable assessment of past climates and/or temperatures, which may be supported or refined by palæoclimate data. This is why tree-rings are no longer used to assess present-day temperatures, with thermometers being preferred – indeed, when they have been, they have demonstrated that so many assumptions made about them are wrong: remember the phrase, “Hide the decline”? Ever wonder what it referred to?

MJ is right, evidence is, and cannot become cherished, protected or personal, unless you wish to join the ranks of the obsessed that you so readily deride.

Mar 22, 2016 at 6:20 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Cheer up Dung! Radical Rodent and Mike Jackson are pointing out quite correctly, that Geology can NOT provide the definitive evidence, either for or against Mann's Holiest of Hockey Sticks.

Our Learned Geologists have said so, in this thread, and that is a most honest assessment. When the next faux expert claims that analysis of Bolivian Belly Button Fluff confirms the average temperature at teatime, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, tell them to faux away.

Mar 22, 2016 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Dear Penfold fear not I know all about Hide The Decline, I happen to like books by his grace ^.^ What Andrew Montford had in common with Steve McIntyre was a desire for evidence and a disregard for authority. Andrew's book was a detective story and he went into great detail to 'detect' the truth. Likewise Uncle Steve started with "how do they know that" and proceeded to tear apart Mann's Lacrosse stick hehe.
So I am saying that the 'word' of Paul and Alan is not enough and that I need evidence, is this a crime? How many papers have been published showing this new paradigm? If it were true then our opponents would surely be shouting it to disappear the Ice Age evidence that T always rises before CO2.

Mar 22, 2016 at 9:05 PM | Registered CommenterDung