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Some of you may have heard of a pack of paid shills called The Heartland Institute.

These are the people whom Walmart paid to publish articles supporting Walmart's treatment of workers, and whom Philip Morris paid to bring into question any link between second hand smoking and health risks.

They are also being paid by Exxon Mobile, so it is not a surprise that one of their number, Roy Spencer, has just published a paper:

Spencer, R.W.; Braswell, W.D. On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 1603-1613 (link to full PDF)

which he is heralding in press releases as disproving Global Climate Change.

Those of you who remember polynomial graphs from school will know that the more variables you're allowed to change in an equation, the easier it is to make your equation fit closely to a set of data points.  In fact, if you have the same number of variables as datapoints, you can always get an exact fit.  This is why legitimate scientists, if they use regression analysis upon a bunch of data to come up with a curve that fits it, then carry out a confirmatory analysis using different data, to double check that the fit wasn't just coincidence.

Spencer, apparently, is fond of skipping this step.  He specialises in taking the inputs he wants to be the cause of temperature records (for instance: cloud cover), then using lots and lots of free variables to combine these inputs to produce a a result that is something similar to what's been observed.

To quote one reviewer:

”Well, give me more than 30 parameters, and I can fit a trans-dimensional lizard-goat and make rainbow monkeys shoot out its rear end.”

For those who enjoy reading incredulous scientists writing in full spate, I heartily recommend reading any of the following destructions of Roy's work:

by on Jul. 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Replies (21-30):
Donna6503
by Platinum Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM
Didn't NASA just last week published a report that put some doubt in regards to global climate change.

On mobile so I maybe wrong.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Jane161
by Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Yes, the trend they present is close, however, you need to look at the last updates from GISS verses DMI.  DMI uses thermomiters to extrapolate the data, GISS uses a model.  IN the near past GISS has had an extreme uptrend which is not born out by DMI observations.  This points out that GISS is in error.  Even tho GISS uses an anomoly, one must respect the basis of the anomoly and the data input to achieve said anomoly.

GISS  has become the global outlier on increases in temp because of the way they handle the Arctic Data.  I do think it will be corrected in the near future as it is so glaringly obvious that it is in error. 

 

Jane161
by Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Actually, Dr. Hansen just presented a paper trying to understand the slowdown in the warming trend.  He feels it is because of sulfates.  Prof Trenbeth also presented a paper.  He feels the slowdown is because the heat is in the deep oceans.  However, the physics of LW radiation show that the photon can only penetrate the ocean a few mm.  The evaporation quickly removes any effect of CO2 based warming.  The SW radiation from the sun penetrates approx 100 meters into the ocean and does cause the top to warm.

ARGO buoy data shows a flat ocean heat content in the 0-700 meter range.  There is a cooling bias to the trend, but the trend is short so is only a look at type of thing.

Kaufman also wrote a paper asserting that the slowdown in warming is from China burning more coal.  However, the measurements of sulfates in the atmosphere has declined since 2003, which should have resulted in a warming bias instead of the cooling trend since 1998 that is being observed.

There have been papers published by geo physisits that show the strength of the solar wind is very important to our climate.  We do have a solar wind that has lost speed, and hence the atmosphere has decreased in size by approx 150 miles.  This is quit dramatic.  We also know from satillite measurements that radiation leaving the earth...heat...has increased since 1998.  This corespondes with the slowing of the solar winds.

As I have said, there is a lot to be learned in climate science.  The parameters of the models need to be adjusted to the current learning curve, which they have not been.  The variations in sensativity in models in the IPCC is from 1.2C to 6.5C.  This is what I mean by error bars.  When you look at data with the error bars intact so that you can make an adequate analysis of the information, rather than the spoon fed stuff that shows up in the popular press, the results are quit different.

With my posts tho, I want everyone to understand that we should insulate, conserve, etc as much as possible.  It is the right thing to do for our planet, it is the right thing to do for our children. 

From a woman's perspective, I would recommend anyone interested in this subject to read Judith Curry's web site.  It is very informative, and she is a climate research person with a PHD.  She is as hard on the skeptics as she is on the promoters of AGW if they put forth information that is not credible.

Lucia also does a fair job.  Ok......I will admit it, I admire intelligent women and think they should be commended and followed.  (I have not only one daughter, but two.  And there is not a thing that they can't do.)

Jane161
by Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I don't know how to post the pictures and hope that a link will work.

I note that you use an 11 year average as the basis for some of your graphs.

Here is the linear trend provided by HadCrut data since 1998.

http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2012/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2012/trend:1.0

I also notice that your sea level is not up to date nor does it show the long term.  The sea level has been rising for over 10,000 years.  The short term trend right now is down, the long term trend is still up which one would expect to happen as the Holocene continues.  The short term trend matches the flat level of the OHC as measured by ARGO.

All the current trends confirm the increased radiation (heat) leaving the earth as measured by ERBE.

The cause of the increased heat leaving are not confidently explained by anyone at this time.

All we know for sure is that radiation is leaving faster than modeled projections indicate it should.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 3:51 PM
Quoting Donna6503:

Didn't NASA just last week published a report that put some doubt in regards to global climate change.

On mobile so I maybe wrong.

No, NASA didn't.  You're thinking of the report I mentioned in the original post which is NOT by NASA (but which does reference data from NASA, among other sources).

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 3:57 PM
Quoting Jane161:

I would recommend anyone interested in this subject to read Judith Curry's web site.  It is very informative, and she is a climate research person with a PHD.  She is as hard on the skeptics as she is on the promoters of AGW if they put forth information that is not credible.

Thank you for the link.

Here's what Judith Curry has to say about Spencer's paper:

The paper itself makes the following point, which is reiterated in the press release: “The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations.”   This point has been made by others, including myself. Our understanding of feedbacks comes primarily from theory and models; diagnosing feedbacks from observations requires many simplifying assumptions.

The paper is of interest primarily in the context of comparing models with observations in terms of certain metrics, such as the lagged relationship between monthly surface temperature anomalies and net radiative flux anomalies.  The models clearly show discrepancies with the observed relationships.

Also, it needs to be understood that given the short period of their data set, Spencer and Braswell are looking only at fast feedback processes associated with clouds (not the longer feedbacks associated with oceans and ice sheets). How to translate all of this into a conclusion that climate models are producing incorrect sensitivity to greenhouse warming is not at all clear.

The paper makes a useful contribution, but in the end they make the same error in interpretation that they accuse others of making. In my opinion it is not correct to infer from their analysis that global temperature variations were largely radiatively forced.

The complexity of the interaction between natural internal variability, surface temperature, clouds and radiative forcing are not adequately sorted out in terms of causal mechanisms to justify such a conclusion, in my opinion.

JC conclusions

Challenging climate models with observations is extremely important.  I disagree with Gavin Schmidt that paloeclimate data is more robust than the satellite data., but both data sets are essential in this endeavor.  So the line of research undertaken by Spencer and Braswell and Lindzen and Choi is an important one, and the issue of better understanding the role of clouds in climate is one of the highest priorities in climate research.  But drawing inferences from such studies regarding feedbacks and sensitivity invariably leads to disputes because of the simplicity of the models and assumptions that are used and the fundamental fact that diagnosing feedbacks in the complex climate system can’t really be done.  At best you can identify metrics such as the change of radiative flux with surface temperature, and compare observations and models.

TF’s analysis points out some significant flaws in S&B’s paper, and my analysis puts into perspective the relatively limited kinds of conclusions that can be drawn from such an analysis.

So should the paper have been published?  I would say yes, although the reviewers and editors should have insisted on more information regarding the climate model simulations that were actually used in their analysis.  Was the journal Remote Sensing remiss here?  Well no more so than PNAS has been in some recent publications. Remote Sensing is a new open access journal; the only climatologist that I spotted on their editorial board is Toby Carlson.  Remote Sensing is a plausible journal to have published this paper, and it seems that Spencer wanted to avoid the possibility of reviews by Dressler and Trenberth.  If Roy Spencer didn’t make provocative political statements, this paper would not receive MSM attention and Dessler and Trenberth would probably be less motivated to spend time criticizing his research and wouldn’t be invited by the media to comment on it.

(her full comments)

Jane161
by Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 3:58 PM
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 4:06 PM
Quoting Jane161:

Prof Trenbeth also presented a paper.  He feels the slowdown is because the heat is in the deep oceans.  However, the physics of LW radiation show that the photon can only penetrate the ocean a few mm.  The evaporation quickly removes any effect of CO2 based warming.  The SW radiation from the sun penetrates approx 100 meters into the ocean and does cause the top to warm.

ARGO buoy data shows a flat ocean heat content in the 0-700 meter range.  There is a cooling bias to the trend, but the trend is short so is only a look at type of thing.

Wouldn't ocean currents be a factor, with some of the water being heated on the surface being swept down into depths below the ARGO measurement range?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 4:11 PM
Quoting Jane161:

Yes, NASA just did do a report:

http://wiki.nasa.gov/cm/blog/whatonearth/posts/post_1309955964133.html

That report doesn't cast "some doubt in regards to global climate change".

On the contrary, it says things are worse than they appear.  That the background warming effect due to additional CO2 in the atmosphere has been going full strength, and we have not realised just how dire the effect is because it has been temporarily masked by the cooling effect of the sulphur from the coal burnt by China's booming economy.

But, now China is installing sulphur scrubbers in their coal fired power stations, that cooling effect is going to diminish rapidly, leaving us with the unmasked full force of the problem we've been building up in the mean time.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 30, 2011 at 4:16 PM
Quoting Jane161:

Kaufman also wrote a paper asserting that the slowdown in warming is from China burning more coal.  However, the measurements of sulfates in the atmosphere has declined since 2003, which should have resulted in a warming bias instead of the cooling trend since 1998 that is being observed.

*laughs and dives back into the data*

This discussion is fun!

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