Monday, January 2, 2017

#5 Debating Republican Disconnect From Climate Science - Model Uncertainty

CC: I compliment E.M. for making the effort to explain himself and open himself up to critique.  That said, after reading his more detailed arguments, I don’t think I misunderstood at all.  I rather suspect E.M. isn’t aware of the memes he’s passing along like a destructive virus.

He has offered me the opportunity to describe the many games Republicans play with themselves in order to avoid facing our planet’s geophysical realities, for this opportunity I am grateful.
This will need to become a series if I’m going to do E.M.’s list justice.  For instance, the first paragraph offers me an opportunity to focus on the Republican PR machine’s unhinged dismissal of climate models and their accuracy.
E.M. writes:  I’m going to start this post by pointing out that you are taking the substance of my thoughts completely incorrectly. I put this on myself, as my thoughts were quickly written in a comment section and not articulated nearly as clearly as they could have been. 

My original statement came out poorly, and the questions I posed were intended not to critique the science of AGW, but to point out the limitations that arise from scientific modeling, easily the hardest task any research team is faced with.

CC: No doubt climate models are among the most difficult and exacting challenges climate scientists undertake.  

But I wonder, Why not begin this topic with a review of all that climate models have been nailing with amazing precision?  What is the point of laser focusing on model uncertainties that deal with fine details?  Why do Republicans ignore the fundamental well understood facts?  
Being obsessed with all you don't know, does not enable learning!

E.M., are you willing to consider all the things climate models have been getting correct?

‘Climate models are unproven’–Actually, GCM’s have many confirmed successes under their belts
By Coby Beck on Nov 20, 2006

In 1988, James Hansen of NASA GISS fame predicted [PDF] that temperature would climb over the next 12 years, with a possible brief episode of cooling in the event of a large volcanic eruption. He made this prediction in a landmark paper and before a Senate hearing, which marked the official “coming out” to the general public of anthropogenic global warming. 

Twelve years later, he was proven remarkably correct, requiring adjustment only for the timing difference between the simulated future volcanic eruption and the actual eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

And let’s face it, every year of increasing global mean temperature is one more year of success for the climate models. The acceleration of the rise is also playing out as predicted, though to be fair, decades will need to pass before such confirmation is inarguable.

Putting global surface temperatures aside, there are some other significant model predictions made and confirmed:

models predict that surface warming should be accompanied by cooling of the stratosphere, and this has indeed been observed;

models have long predicted warming of the lower, mid, and upper troposphere, even while satellite readings seemed to disagree — but it turns out the satellite analysis was full of errors and on correction, this warming has been observed;

models predict warming of ocean surface waters, as is now observed;

models predict an energy imbalance between incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared radiation, which has been detected;

models predict sharp and short-lived cooling of a few tenths of a degree in the event of large volcanic eruptions, and Mount Pinatubo confirmed this;

models predict an amplification of warming trends in the Arctic region, and this is indeed happening;

and finally, to get back to where we started, models predict continuing and accelerating warming of the surface, and so far they are correct. …

CC: Incidentally, E.M. another odd aspect of the Republican derision of “climate models” is that time and time again I read laypeople (like myself) who may have a basic overview, but who would be absolutely lost when confronted with a page of scientific details.  Yet, these same un-schooled individuals who know nothing of the fine details feel comfortable second guessing the work of experts.  What’s up with that?

I believe Climate Models have been disingenuously politicized and demonized by the Republican PR machine.  A couple of the greatest contributors to this general confusion and manipulated distrust are the duo Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Huntsville where they process NASA’s Aqua satellite AMSR-E data.  They may well be the two most prominent real climate scientist contrarians.  Their record at UAH is a telling story of mistakes, genuine deception and politicizing on a grand scale.

I bring this up because E.M. will shortly complain about politicizing climate science - I thought it would be good to make clear exactly who is doing the politicizing.

Roy Spencer: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.
Joe Room at Think Progress | July 6, 2011

… Tragically, Spencer himself thinks his job is something a little different.  Incomprehensibly, in the comments section of his post on his new book 

Fundanomics: The Free Market, Simplified, he admits:

Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
July 5, 2011 at 5:47 AM

Nicholas, I would wager that my job has helped save our economy from the economic ravages of out-of-control environmental extremism.
I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.

If I and others are ultimately successful, it may well be that my job is no longer needed. Well then, that is progress. There are other things I can do.


Amusingly, let’s set aside the fact that Spencer acknowledges his “research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies.”

Tellingly, David Appell notes Spencer doesn’t say “that his job is to provide the best science he can for the taxpayers who pay his salary.” Accurate science has never been a priority for Spencer or his fellow disinformers — they hate government more than they love science (see “Krauthammer, Part 2: The real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science”).

CC:  Here is a fascinating talk by the late great Stephen Schneider, a young Stanford climate scientist when I was in high school, besides becoming an outstanding scientist he also became a leading (and much demonized by the right wing, but then, who hasn’t been.) climate science communicator until his untimely death in 2010.  

At 18:40 min. Schneider talks about an incident where the UAH’s Satellite data processing team Spencer/Christy tactical miscommunicated, (cc: actually malicious dirty tricks might be more accurate), critically important data.  Their meme then saturated the Denial Press and onto the brainwashing of millions of under-informed and little interested citizens, who to this day believe the UAH data indicates climate models are incorrect.  It’s down right criminal.  But that’s my opinion, look into the facts for yourself, educate yourselves and decide based on understanding.

Climate Change: Is the Science “Settled"?
Stephen Schneider  |  Stanford

Uploaded on May 13, 2010
(February 4, 2010) Stephen Schneider, professor of biology at Stanford and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, unpacks the political and scientific debates surrounding climate change.

UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong ~~~  

Climate Myth Claims that - UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong the satellite sensors show less warming in the lower troposphere (approximately 10,000 feet above the earth’s surface) than is reported by surface temperature readings. Global warming theory holds that one of the fingerprints of human-induced global warming is more rapid warming in the lower troposphere than at the surface (James Taylor)

What the science says:  The most likely explanation for why the UAH data set shows less warming of the lower atmosphere than expected is that UAH is biased low.  (cc: That’s putting it politely, for a long time they couldn’t even get + and - straight.)

On the contrary, TLT as computed by Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH)is warming about 20% more slowly than the surface, as measured by groups like NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

There are three possible explanations for this model-data discrepancy:

The models are wrong and the lower atmosphere should not warm faster than the surface.
The surface temperature estimates are biased high, showing more warming than is actually occurring.
The TLT estimates are biased low, showing less warming than is actually occurring.

The answer may also involve a combination of these three possibilities.  But which is most likely?

The climate model expectation of greater warming in the lower atmosphere is based on fundamental atmospheric physics, so this may be the least likely explanation for the discrepancy.  There are also several surface temperature data sets which are all in very close agreement, and whose accuracy was recently independently confirmed by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, so the second possible explanation also appears rather unlikely. …
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28 December 2011 by dana1981

27 December 2011 by dana1981

Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?
Joe Romm | May 22, 2008

I don’t. But should you?

You can’t read everything or listen to everybody. Life is just too short. I debated Christy years ago so I know he tries to peddle unscientific nonsense when he thinks he can get away with it.

But some of the more than 360 (!) comments in my recent post “The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP” can’t seem to get enough of the analyses by these two scientists University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) who famously screwed up the satellite temperature measurements of the troposphere. …
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Quoting John Christy On Climate Change Is Like Quoting Dick Cheney On Iraq
Joe Romm | July 17, 2014

“… Here’s why Christy is someone you can program your mental DVR to fast forward through, as I’ve written before. First off, he (and Spencer) were wrong — dead wrong — for a very long time, which created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did. 

As RealClimate explained a few years ago:
We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming, and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. 

They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide.

Climatologist Michael Mann wrote me about Christy’s temperature analysis, “There was no scientific validity to their claims at all. 

And what makes matters worse, other scientists have stated that Christy seemed to do everything in his power to prevent other scientists from figuring out how they got such a strange result. These scientists were forced to deduce Christy and Spencer’s errors through reverse engineering.”
(There’s much more check it out, link)

… Every year, John Christy finds new ways of being wrong. If one were to go by data, as Christy says we must, then the presumption should now be that whatever Christy says on climate change is most likely wrong. Perhaps it is time to stop listening to him.”

Bringing it back to accurate Climate Models.
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Posted on 18 December 2012 by dana1981

Just a few weeks ago, a paper in Environmental Research Letters by Rahmstorf, Foster, and Cazenave (2012) confirmed the accuracy of the global surface warming projections made by climate models used in the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports (the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports).  Now a new paper published in Nature Climate Change, Frame and Stone (2012) has confirmed the accuracy of the temperature projections made by the climate models in the 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report through 2011 (Figure 1). …

How a 1967 study greatly influenced climate change science
Prof John Mitchell | 7 July 2015

Yesterday, Carbon Brief published the results of our survey of climate scientists asking them to name the most influential studies of all time. The clear winner was a paper published in 1967 written by Syukuro Manabe and Richard. T. Wetherald.

Today, we published an interview with Manabe. Here, Prof John Mitchell, the Met Office Hadley Centre’s chief scientist from 2002 to 2008, explains why the paper has proved to be so significant.
The history of the atmospheric greenhouse effect started almost two centuries ago. …

If anyone wants to dive into this for real, here’s a good start.  I suggest unless you can follow along with this short concise paper you have no business second guessing climate models on someone else’s say.
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Manabe and Wetherald (1975): The Effects of 2xCO2 on the Climate of a GCM

Walter Hannah. |  NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow
North Carolina State University
E.M., Until you absorb all that information up there, you aren't in any position to put model uncertainties into any sort of realistic perspective !


For a look at the more down to Earth basics:

Eight Pseudoscientific Climate Claims Debunked by Real Scientists
by Joshua Holland  |  May 16, 2014

1. No, the Earth Hasn’t Stopped Warming Since 1998 (or 1996 or 1997)
2. No, the IPCC Makes Projections, Not Predictions
3. Yes, the Temperature Readings Are Reliable
4. Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus
5. It’s Not the Sun’s Fault
6. Doubling Down With “Global Cooling”
7. Yes, It’s Been Warm Before
8. No, Antarctic Ice Isn’t Increasing

(for details link)

Roy Spencer's TPPI Mishmash of Myths, Nonsense and Fraud

E.M. contrarian arguments have been looked at ad infinitum, and people have gone through much effort to try and explain why each contrarian argument to date doesn’t hole water when it comes to reflecting what’s actually happening upon our planet.
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Pick an argument, any argument . . . 

Climate Myths sorted by taxonomy

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