Monday, August 31, 2009

But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown

I'm amused to see Roger Pielke Jr playing the Galileo Gambit regarding his (Klotzbach et al) paper:
Had Michael been blogging around the time of Copernicus, he would have explained to his readers that the world is in fact flat, and that Copernicus guy must be wrong, because Michael and all of his Ptolemian friends said the world was flat, so those saying differently must be wrong because they do not jibe with his "coherence network."

Of course Roger wants to talk about politics and tribes, but I'd rather talk about science which is where this disagreement properly resides (IMO). Just to recap briefly:

Pielke and Matsui 2005 claims to have investigated the effect of temperature trends "such as due to increases in the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane" on the lapse rate at night. However, they do this by applying a heat flux to the bottom boundary of the atmosphere. This is not how GHGs (or indeed any of the main climate forcings) act. Thus, their result, cited by Klotzbach et al as: "Monitoring temperature at a single height will produce a significant warm bias when the atmosphere has warmed over time [Pielke and Matsui, 2005]" is simply not valid, and there is absolutely no basis for this belief.

Roger also adds:
"Will Michael's or James' critiques of our work appear in the peer reviewed literature? Of course not (because their critiques are off target and simply wrong)."
Well, that's a hostage to fortune if ever I saw one. I will simply remark here that Myles Allen said similar things not so long ago, and I'll have a blog post or two to add on that particular topic shortly :-)

Roger Pielke Sr has also weighed in again, although I really wonder how he expects to benefit by keeping on going on about this. His persistent appeals to his own authority are somewhat undermined by his error of confusing a downwelling forcing at the land surface with a direct warming of the base of the atmosphere. His self-published email to me contains the following:

The P&M paper just looked at the issue as to whether if there was less loss of heat at night out of the top of the boundary layer, even if the loss was the same, would the vertical distribution of the heat loss be uniform between strong and windy nights?

I can't make much sense of the apparent contradiction in less loss of heat at night out of the top of the boundary layer, even if the loss was the same, but a bigger issue is why he claims to have looked at changing the heat loss at the top of the boundary layer when he clearly changed it at the bottom. The distinction is absolutely crucial, and anyone with any sort of knowledge of geophysics knows that thermally stratified fluids can behave very differently when heated from the top versus the bottom. It's a surprising error for an expert in boundary layer meteorology to make. I have emailed him directly and look forward to his explanation on this point.

As for their complaints about tone, well motes and beams come to mind. Not to mention pots and kettles.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Election fever

So the most exciting election in, oh, for ever, is upon us. For the last 50 years, the Japanese interpretation of democracy has seemed to be "all the people vote for the Government" but this time it looks like a majority of them might actually vote for the Opposition! There was one brief period of less than a year when the Govt fell apart in the early nineties, but the opposition collapsed in a matter of months. It must be quite possible that the same will happen again this time, but there is also a real feeling that change is in the air.

This time, there is a genuine contest between two contrasting candidates:

One of the parties is led by an immensely wealthy grandson of a former conservative party prime minister, and the other is led by an immensely wealthy grandson of a former conservative party prime minister. One of these princelings’s tongue frequently gets tied in knots when he is trying to explain himself and the corruption of his colleagues, while the other’s tongue frequently gets tied in knots when he is trying to explain himself and the corruption of his colleagues.

(That last paragraph was shamelessly stolen from this blog post but I thought it was worth sharing with a smaller audience.)

One of the promises of the (current opposition) DPJ is that, if elected, they will cut back on the pork-barrel politics of gratuitous spending on worthless public projects such as dams to hold water no-one needs, and roads from nowhere to nowhere. Some people at work are worried about the future of the institute where we work. But of course we aren't merely a front for the Govt to pump money into the domestic computer industry, so there is nothing to worry about, oh no....

Friday, August 28, 2009

[jules' pics] photo.jpg

photo.jpg, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

o no! A mountain hut with only helicopter access but an open wifi
metwork. Greetings from 2500m deep in the haimatsu.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/27/2009 11:58:00 PM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

[jules' pics] 8/25/2009 05:47:00 AM

The Kamakura Gundam, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Gundam is an 18m tall "life-size" statue of a figure from Japanese anime that is 30 years old. He is located on Odaiba in Tokyo and so far no other of the old capital cities in Japan has one. This summer he has been visited by a gazillion pilgrims. It is possible to join a special queue to walk between his legs and touch his warm fibreglass feet and feel at one with the statue. If you gaze at Gundam long enough his eyes may light up, his head move and steam may come out of his backpack. They say Gundam will be dismantled at the end of August but I really think he ought to remain for, oh, at least 700 years.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/25/2009 05:47:00 AM

[jules' pics] 8/25/2009 05:46:00 AM

The Tokyo Daibutsu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

The Kamakura Daibutsu is, according to Wikipedia, an "approximately 13.35m" high bronze statue of Amida Buddha. He is located in one of the cities that has been capital of Japan over the last 1000 years and is more than 750 years old. The reason he is called The Kamakura Daibutsu is because there is another one (bigger but not as friendly looking) in one of the other old capitals, Nara. Every year lots and lots of people visit. It is possible to queue up to enter inside the statue where you can touch the cool metal and feel at one with the statue. If you gaze at the Daibutsu long enough you may become enlightened.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/25/2009 05:46:00 AM

A bizarre rewriting of history

I've got a lengthier post in the works, but since Roger Pielke Sr is demanding a response to this I will simply observe that for his new definition of "The Issue That James Annan and Gavin Schmidt Should Focus On With Respect To The Klotzbach Et Al 2009 Paper" he is quoting a paper on...impacts of land use cover change on climate! (the hint is in the title, folks)

However, Klotzbach et al repeatedly and emphatically talked about differences due to CO2 and other atmospheric factors:

The rate of heat loss to space is dependent on several factors, including cloudiness and the local atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and of water vapor (e.g., Pielke, 2002). Under cloudy conditions, cooling is much less. An atmosphere with higher concentrations of the greenhouse gases, CO2 and H2O, also reduces the cooling at night.

Consequently if, for instance, there is a long-term positive trend in greenhouse gas concentrations or cloudiness over the observing site, it may introduce an upward bias in the observational record of minimum temperatures that necessarily will result in an upward bias in the long-term surface temperature record.

Because of changes to the atmosphere over the past century, there are several reasons why we should expect the nighttime cooling in the lower atmosphere to have been reduced. One reason for this is that carbon dioxide concentrations have increased, such that the effect of well-mixed greenhouse gas concentrations on near-surface temperature measurements has also increased. This increase is also expected to be higher for growing urban and industrial locations where carbon dioxide can locally accumulate when the large-scale wind flow is weak. An increase of water vapor over time would have the same effect. Also, an increase of cloudiness has been reported which has the effect of reducing nighttime cooling [Karl et al., 1997].
The term "greenhouse" makes 10 appearances in the Klotzbach paper: "land use" a mere 3. For the much shorter Pielke and Matsui paper, the score is 2:0 in favour of "greenhouse". That's right, the main "issue" of land use is never once mentioned in that paper, which provides the entire theoretical underpinning for Klotzbach et al. (I'll note in passing that the arguments I have made in relation to CO2 and other GHGs also applies equally to cloudiness: clouds do not impose a forcing of the type applied by PM05, so those results are equally inapplicable in that case.)

RPJr adds some emphasis, with It is important to underscore that our hypothesis depends upon (a) the presence of a real warming trend, and (b) (to some extent) an increase in greenhouse gases. So if you accept our arguments, then you necessarily are accepting the presence of a warming trend and corresponding increases in greenhouse gases.

I wonder if anyone is fooled by Pielke Sr's lame attempt to distract from the fatal error of PM05 (and therefore Klotzbach et al 2009 which rests on it)? I'd love to hear from anyone who can argue with a straight face that the real "issue" of Klotzbach et al 2009 (and Pielke and Matsui 2005 on which it rests) was impacts of land use cover change on climate.

For the record, I agree that land use cover change may impact on the climate. But unless Roger Pielke can find some way of arguing that this has changed the net average surface flux by the order of 1Wm-2 at night, his whole theory is still a bust. And even if he did, it would not rescue his erroneous claims that the trends in temperature due to GHG or the other most significant forcings induce a significant change in the lapse rate in the boundary layer.

[jules' pics] 8/24/2009 06:34:00 PM

new Trevor, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Many grasshoppers and three moultings later Trevor emerged all grown up on Sunday. Turns out he's a "ko-kamakiri", meaning little mantis (statilia maculata), so is not particularly large (there is also the large oo-kamakiri). He is very elegant and has some interesting markings on his neck and claws, and I think he also might be a girl. Here she is viewing the world from the vantage of James' shoulder.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/24/2009 06:34:00 PM

Monday, August 24, 2009

Living in a box

For those who think that the Japanese lifestyle must be cramped and uncomfortable, here are some figures that may make slightly uncomfortable reading.

Exhibit A: Here is some new data on new build house sizes in the UK and comparisons with some other countries. The UK average is 76 m2 per house.

Exhibit B: Japanese new build housing: 1.2 million houses with a total area of 105 million square meters = 88 m2 per house.

To be fair, though, the UK data is for the London area, and houses in the Tokyo area are a lot smaller than the national average, so I'm sure the UK wins out overall. But not by as much as one night have expected, in comparison to the country that invented the capsule hotel. And the Japanese are pretty adept at making efficient use of space. It's actually quite handy to be able to cook dinner, get a book to read off the bookshelf and a beer out of the fridge all while staying sitting on the sofa :-)

And finally:

[jules' pics] 8/23/2009 10:08:00 PM

a local business, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

I have twice previously remarked that where we work, home of the once famous Earth Simulator supercomputer, is in the toxic waste part of town, but presented no evidence in support of my claim. The main feeling of toxicity actually comes the solvent smell that necessitates the windows always be kept closed. But this is difficult to capture, even with a digital camera. Then there things like this elegant unfenced local business nestled in the densely housed residential neighbourhood just over the road. No way it is remotely earthquake proof so can only represent a hazard to the neighbourhood. Perhaps it is supposed to be art; the junk heap is meticulously arranged and since this photo was taken has been further adorned by the addition of a number of bicycles (not ours, luckily).

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/23/2009 10:08:00 PM

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh dear

This is getting a bit silly.

Roger now says (quoting me):

"UPDATE: James made this new claim on his weblog titled PM05 resolved (see his comment linked to one of my weblogs in the last paragraph of his post).


The change in heating rate in those plots is much less than 0.05K/day near the surface, probably 0.01K/day (green curve = relevant to the real world). How do you reconcile this with the change in heating rate of about 0.1K PER HOUR that you used in your calculations?

The classic book The Climate Near the Ground by Geiger et al (reprinted most recently in 2009) illustrates the error in James’s statement. On page 124, for example, they report changes of at least 0.1C PER HOUR, and often more, as a result of changes in vertical stratification and surface characteristics. The sensitivity of the 2m temperatures to the overlying thermodynamic stability, intensity of turbulent mixing, and surface fluxes is illustrated even in this early study. The authors discuss atmospheric moisture and cloud cover effects elsewhere in their excellent book. I recommend that James read this text to update himself on the surface boundary layer and for an explanation of the physics of minimum temperatures that occur overnight."

However, the confusion here is elementary. The referenced book is talking about the cooling rate during the diurnal cycle - evidently this may vary by O(0.1K) or even O(1K) per hour, for a range of magnitudes of the diurnal cycles. But this has nothing to do with GHG forcing.

The 1Wm-2 or 0.1K per hour that I am complaining about, is not the range of cooling rates due to having gross diferences in the underlying atmospheric state or land surface type, but rather the change in cooling rate that RPSr explicitly claimed would be directly caused at the lower boundary of the atmosphere by a change in GHGs (such as from pre-industrial to present day concentrations). As is plain from the graphs that both of us have shown, the real warming rate due to GHG forcing is a couple of orders of magnitude lower than the value RPSr uses. As importantly, the warming is reasonably uniform with height (near enough for the purposes of this disagreement).

There is (at least potentially) a 1Wm-2 forcing at the ground which may arise from a change in GHGs, but it is abundantly clear that this applies to the land surface and RPSr has made a simple conceptual error in incorrectly applying this flux to the lower boundary of the atmosphere.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PM05 resolved?

OK, a little extra thought about this early on a Sunday morning may have identified the source of all the troubles. This post may make more sense if you've already read not only that above linked post, but also this post and this one by Roger Pielke Sr.

The issue seems to be in what this 1Wm-2 forcing "at the surface" actually means. Roger is sucking this out of the bottom of his atmosphere, which results in a huge localised cooling (due to low heat capacity and limited mixing).

Actually, this value appears to represent the radiative forcing of the land surface, not the atmospheric (lower) surface. Note that the land radiates differently from the atmosphere, and some of this radiation does indeed pass directly into space.

Temperature inversions (such as those underlying the PM05 paper, see their Figure 1) arise not by the bottom layer of molecules of the atmosphere pumping out extra heat directly out to space - there is no way for this to happen, the atmosphere is basically just as opaque (or not) at the 10m level as it is at 0m. Temperature inversions arise though the land cooling to space (it can do this, it radiates differently) and only then cooling the lower boundary of the atmosphere.

So if the surface (land) forcing changes by 1Wm-2, this does not directly suck this amount of heat out of the lower atmosphere, and instead only affects the atmosphere in a second-order manner depending on how much less land cooling this results in. (Given that the land sees a typical diurnal range of ~250Wm-2, the answer is going to be "not a lot".) I think it would be a straightforward process to add a simple land surface to the model Roger used (making some assumptions about typical land type), and check the results of 1Wm-2 of surface forcing. I predict the implications for inversion strengths would be completely negligible.

The direct radiative forcing of the atmosphere itself is, as confirmed directly by the pictures Roger helpfully provided, very small indeed near the surface and if anything increasing with height (this depends on the details of atmospheric profile).

Yokohama in 1859

This pic, via Japan Probe, is one of the oldest photos of Yokohama:

I'm not 100% sure of the orientation of the picture, but it seems to be from up on the Bluff overlooking what is now Kannai/Naka-ku and the coast. For those who don't know the history, Yokohama was a bit of a worthless swamp back then, and was chosen for the use of immigrants (being safely isolated from Tokyo) when Japan opened up to foreign trade.

The rest of Japan was not so undeveloped compared to today - Tokyo had a population of a million at this time, for example, and Kamakura was the 4th largest city in the world with a population of 200,000 way back in 1250 in its heyday as the capital.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pielke and Matsui (2005) revisited

So, a whole lot of hot air has passed, and maybe the dust is starting to settle. Mt noted that the Klotzbach et al work is "Pielkes all the way down", and several references have been made to the Pielke and Matsui 2005 paper which underpins a lot of this work. Mention of this prompted a distant memory, so I checked my mailbox (amazing the power of computers to recover old memories these days). I also re-read the PM05 paper more critically, in light of its current relevance and the previous emailed comment.

Well, well. That was...enlightening.

PM05 examines the near-surface lapse rate that arises on calm and windy nights, with a simple one-dimensional analytical model. They further calculate the changes in lapse rate as the cooling rate varies.

In all this work, they apply the radiative cooling at the surface, even though they explicitly portray this forcing as being representative of the effect that arises from a change in GHG concentrations. Standard climate theory holds that the radiative forcing is applied the top of the atmosphere - indeed this is the level at which the forcing is defined. It is simply wrong to claim that a doubling of CO2 will generate a forcing of 3.7Wm-2 at the surface, for example.

The startling impact of this odd application of "bottom of the atmosphere" forcing is apparent from their Table 1. A change in this "forcing" of a mere 1Wm-2 leads to a temperature difference of a whopping 1.5C (at the 2m level) over a single calm night! This is the simple result of applying 1Wm-2 of cooling to the fairly shallow layer at the bottom of the atmosphere, which has relatively low heat capacity due to its shallowness.

Consider a simple thought experiment. Start with a pre-industrial atmosphere, wait for a calm night, and instantaneously double the CO2 level. According to PM05's interpretation of GHG forcing, this will result in a temperature rise of about 6C (compared to the unforced case) in the space of 12 hours. This simply doesn't pass the sniff test, not by a million miles. It's not just wrong, it's several orders of magnitude wrong!

Remember, PM05 is the celebrated theoretical underpinning for this entire night-time warming edifice.

For the standard approach, check out this article which compares various radiation models. Here's their plot of depth-varying warming rate due to an increase in GHGs (from 1860 to 2000 values) holding everything else constant:
Note the warming rate is basically uniform in the bottom 200hPa of the atmosphere, in stark contrast to the PM05 assumption that the forcing acts at ground level. Thus, a large increase in GHGs generates a warming rate of about 0.04K per day across the boundary layer, as compared to the Pielkian ~1K over a single night (depending on wind speed).

This paper (pdf here), co-authored by all the big names in the field, ("The radiative effects from increased concentrations of well-mixed greenhouse gases (WMGHGs) represent the most significant and best understood anthropogenic forcing of the climate system.") has essentially the same plot in their Figure 12. There does not appear to be the slightest bit of debate over this subject.

So I don't think that the PM05 calculations can have any relevance to the response of the lower part of the atmosphere to changes in GHG forcing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Comment (not mine!) on Roe and Baker

This Papers in Press thing is quite interesting. Here's another one:

"Hannart, A., J.-L. Dufresne, and P. Naveau (2009), Why climate sensitivity may not be so unpredictable, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL039640, in press."

This I recognise as a write-up of the talk I mentioned here. It basically shows that the much trumpeted Roe and Baker result is purely an artefact of their odd definition of "uncertainty". Use a standard definition (like standard deviation, or interquartile range...) and they've nothing left to talk about. Of course we will learn about climate sensitivity through new observations (some would say we have already learnt quite a lot) and this will reduce uncertainty.

So, I assume this was originally sent to Science but rejected, however GRL is happy to publish it. Similarly, GRL couldn't be bothered with our Chylek and Lohmann comment but it sailed through review at CP. Personally, I think the original journals in question should consider themselves morally obliged to clear up their own messes. I'd also like to see R&B's defence in this case (I already saw C&L's attempt, no comment necessary).

Talking of comments, this is doing the rounds at SB. I haven't had it quite that bad myself, but do think the system could do with a bit of a shake-up. From the second link:
Indeed, Trebino expresses the central concern pretty calmly:
Nearly everyone I've encountered who has written a Comment has found the system to be heavily biased against well intentioned correcting of errors--often serious ones--in the archival literature. I find this quite disturbing.
The idea that the journal here seems to be missing is that they have a duty to their readers, not just to the authors whose papers they publish.

[jules' pics] 8/19/2009 11:10:00 PM

a flower and a butterfly, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

See how the butter fly has sucked out so much yellow from the daisy that its wings are turning the same colour... That's how it works, right?

[taken near our house in Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/19/2009 11:10:00 PM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A quick comment on Lindzen and Choi

Was alerted to this recently (Lindzen, R. S., and Y.-S. Choi (2009), On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL039628, in press, and no doubt available at sceptic blogs everywhere).

The paper claims that the feedback of the real climate system, as indicated by analysis of ERBE data and SST, differ substantially from the feedback of all models, as indicated by the model radiation budget and SST. Details of radiation and feedbacks are not really my thing, so I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but one thing really jumped out at me (once I had noticed it).

The real climate data is, of course, derived from a fully coupled system where the SST and atmosphere evolve simultaneously.

However, the model simulations they chose to use were those from the AMIP project, which is a comparison of atmospheric models forced by historical SSTs.

Now, I don't know exactly what effect this will have, but it is easy to see that it might be different. In the model case, a change in SST is being directly imposed as a forcing at the lower boundary. However, in the natural case, the change in SST is part of the natural variability of the system (and may even be considered a response to a spot of natural variability in the atmosphere).

So, the two systems are not at all equivalent. Can anyone explain why Lindzen would not want to look at a dynamically equivalent model system (ie a fully coupled AOGCM) to see how well his diagnosis works? Like this paper did, for example. The data for these model results are freely available.

See also this nice pair of papers which discusses how forcing a system may change the dynamical behaviour.

Curiouser and curiouser

Down and down into the Pielkeian rabbit hole we go...

Recall that Klotzbach et al observe that the expected (model-based) tropospherical amplification factor of 1.2 is not easily found in a comparison of land surface observations and satellite measurements. They suggest that this is due to a change in lapse rate on calm nights, such that the surface (1.5-2m) temp is warmer than expected, relative to the satellites. There is an underlying series of papers (eg Lin et al 2007, Pielke and Matsui 2005) which discuss boundary layer effects over land at night.

Now I hadn't noticed on my first reading, but the claim that the 1.2 factor applies over land is actually attributed to analysis of the GISS model output by one Ross McKittrick, who one might consider a curious if not altogether dubious authority for this statement.

Up pops Gavin Schmidt a couple of days ago, pointing out that in fact the GISS model output, when correctly analysed, has an amplification factor of just under 1 over land. This result appears to be supported by simple physical understanding and thus probably holds for other models too.

This correction immediately knocks off half of the missing amplification effect that Klotzbach et al was explaining. In the original paper, the difference in trend over land (assuming a 1.2 amplification factor) was estimated as 0.07-0.21C/decade (mean of 0.14), for the 4 combinations of {HadCRU,NHDC} vs {UAH,RSS}. With the correct "amplification" of 1 (it should more precisely be 0.95 according to Gavin's figures) the difference is 0.01-0.13 (mean of 0.07).

Of course in Pielke-speak this "confirm the robustness of our findings to model uncertainties". Actually, in numerical terms it halves the magnitude of the effect, but perhaps this interpretation is just me playing semantic games. It has been interesting to see how much of their result has collapsed, and how rapidly it did so, once their paper saw the light of day. RPSr's original "conservative estimate" of this boundary layer effect being worth 0.21C/decade over land (meaning 0.06C/decade in the global trend, about a third of the overall observed value) now appears to be an overstatement by a factor of three, according to these updated results. Nevertheless, if the remainder of their analysis is valid, this would still be a worthwhile contribution towards improving the compliance of the satellite and ground-based observations, which would bring them more comfortably within each others' respective error bounds.

(I'm still half-expecting someone to pop up and say the whole idea is wrong from start to finish, though.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The World’s Worst Economy grows

The recession has certainly brought a lot of interesting analyses of the Japanese economy out of the woodwork. It seems to me like a bit of a Rorshach - pundits project their own prejudices onto the facts, and Japan has such a plethora of contradictory facts that just about any theory can be supported.

Most impressive, perhaps, was this Newsweek article arguing that Japan has the world’s worst economy. Compared to Bhutan or Zimbabwe, I can see her

In common with France and Germany and Hong Kong, but not the UK or USA, the Japanese economy is now growing again. Of course it's all smoke and mirrors stuff with most of the growth directly attributable to Govt spending, but that's the way the Japanese economy has always run anyway. Recently it has got a bit out of hand - everyone, even foreigners, got ¥12,000 dropped from helicopters as spending money, and our institute seems to have more money than we can spend. Maybe the gravy train will hit the buffers some time, but people have been saying that for years. and it is not clear that the day of reckoning is really any closer.

[jules' pics] 8/18/2009 01:28:00 AM

cicada carapace, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Cicada live in the earth for years, then climb up something, rip open their skins and flap away, make as much noise as possible for a bit, until one day they fall out of the sky dead, usually on James' head. Perhaps one should wear a cycling helmet after all.

This picture is of a discarded carapace, which means that the macro lens was allowed to be purchased well before the end of bug-season!! hurrah! As a result, Japan is out of recession for about the first time in a decade.

Posted By jules to
jules' pics at 8/18/2009 01:28:00 AM

Monday, August 17, 2009

Evidence for bias in atmospheric temperature trends

Klotzbach et al (including two Pielkes and a Christy) have recently written an interesting paper which, if correct, helps to align the satellite and surface temperature trends. Now I know that the IPCC claimed that these were already consistent "within their respective uncertainties" but it seems to me that the warming ratio of surface to altitude observations is a little on the low side. Recall that climate models suggest a ratio of about 1:1.2 for this, but the observations are close to 1:1. Maybe there is enough uncertainty for the 1:1.2 value to be correct, but it seems to be stretching things a little. I'm not an expert on this, but have been aware of RPSnr's papers on this topic for some time now and I can see the logic in his argument. Although I frequently disagree with the spin they put on things (and there are some red herrings in their work, like the Eastman paper that mt mentions here), I do not reject all that the Pielkes say out of hand. I do, however, note that others have recently objected to some of the work which is cited in this new paper.

So, Klotzbach et al argue that the night time minimum temperature at the surface have, at least on still nights over land, warmed up more than expected (ie compared to a normal lapse rate) due to various radiation-blocking effects. So what does this actually mean?

Well, one thing it does not mean is the main title of RPJnr's post, that the surface temperature trend is overstated. There is nothing in the paper (despite three gratuitous plugs of Watt's photography site) that actually argues for the measured temperature trend being wrong in any way. Rather, the paper explains why the measured trend is a bit greater than would be expected (according to mainstream theory) in comparison to the satellite measurements.

In other words, the satellite measurements are biased low, if one attempts to interpret them as an estimate of the surface temperature trend via the standard 1:1.2 warming ratio. Not that I expect the Pielkes to like that particular interpretation, which is why I put it in bold :-)

Instead, RPSnr is presenting the claim that the surface temperature trend "overstates the magnitude of climate system heat changes". Since it was primarily RPSnr who was pushing the meme of defining global warming through heat content rather than temperature, I don't think the rest of us need to lose much sleep over that one, but I can see why he might be perturbed. Basically all of the downstream impacts-related application of climate modelling is calibrated on temperature rather than integrated atmospheric heat content (tropical storms may be one exception) so all he seems to have shown is that his preferred metric is even less useful than it at first appeared.

Of course being the political scientist that he is, RPJnr is dropping the crucial rider and simply presenting the claim that the trend has a high bias. That transforms the claim from irrelevant to wrong. The warming trend is what it is, and even if part of this is due to heat moving around rather than accumulating, it is still a warming at the surface.


This is getting rather surreal, which unfortunately seems to be a feature of many exchanges with RPJnr. He is now claiming that his use of the phrase "Global Temperature Trends" was not actually referring to surface measurements at all, in his comment here:
It is fun to play semantic games, especially on blogs. You write:

"The topic of your post is the "temperature trend" and specifically you claim that the surface temperature trend has been overstated."

No. The title of the post is "Evidence that Global Temperature Trends Have Been Overstated". It might have been more accurate to write "global atmospheric temperature trends" but it clearly does not say "surface temperature trend" as you allege. So enogh with the word games, OK?.
Huh? If the supposedly "overstated" "Global Temperature Trends" are not specifically those based on the surface measurements, then at this point I have absolutely no idea what he thinks he is referring to. Unlike Roger, I don't think that it is particularly fun to play semantic games on blogs, so I won't continue further.

Oh, and xkcd, via thingsbreak at init.

Apocalpse then

We've recently had three big quakes and a typhoon, all in the space of less than a week. Fortunately they were all centred some way off the coast, and only managed some limited damage (quake 1, 2, 3 and typhoon). An expressway was partially collapsed by the second one, but it was repaired in 2 days! It obviously takes a lot more than a piddling earthquake to get between a Japanese salaryman and his annual Obon holiday.

It's just as well we don't have too many religious nutters round here (at least not vocal ones) or we'd be hearing how it was all the fault of sinners (random link).

Whoops, there's another one.

[jules' pics] 8/17/2009 12:50:00 AM

kaikomagatake summit, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

On reaching the summit of the mountain around 3000m, the wind drops, the rain stops, the clouds lift, and one finally finds out what's on the other side of the mountain. Drop off the summit, eat the last of your three day old marmalade sandwiches, and prepare to destroy your legs with a 1000-1500m descent. Of course if you are more sensible, having gained this ridiculous height you will make the most of it and spend a few more days walking along the ridge before descending.

The full story.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/17/2009 12:50:00 AM

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another comment on McLean et al

It's been said before, that there is one way of getting things right, but an unlimited number of ways of getting things wrong. Thus, it is not entirely surprising that there is another comment on the McLean et al paper apparently submitted to JGR (found here on the arxiv). However, this appears to be a rather ham-fisted attempt at rescuing the main conclusion of the original paper (that ENSO, and in particular the SOI time series, can explain a large part of the global climate change signal over the last century) while contradicting the analysis on which it was based.

The manuscript is based on a linear regression in which various forcing time series are regressed against global temperature. The novelty here is that the authors propose to use the cumulative SOI series as well as the ordinary one. Nowhere do they justify this specific choice, (ie using two versions of SOI but only one of each other forcing), but I'll let that pass for now. Here are the relevant results, based on their "T2" equation for the full model (where all forcings are considered):

All I have done here is taken some of the forcing time series that S+C used, and multiplied them by the regression coefficients that they obtained. SOI and cSOI are the plain vanilla and cumulative Southern Oscillation Index data respectively, both with a 12 month smooth. AF is all anthropogenic forcings, which as well as the major contributions from GHGs and tropospheric aerosols, also includes more minor things like land use. Since S+C's paper explicitly discusses the the influence of GHGs alone, I have also separated out the well-mixed GHGs from the other anthropogenic forcings (which they did not show). The numerical values printed beside each line refer to the linear trend of each series over this interval 1960-2008 (which was their choice).

So, their results as plotted above suggest that GHGs are responsible for about 2/3 of the trend, with cSOI contributing about half that much (1/3 of the total trend). I don't believe for a minute that the cumulative SOI is that important, and the authors admit that the formal confidence intervals for their regression coefficients are much too small "due to collinearity" (I'd expect autocorrelation is the real problem here, the regression should already account for collinearity, but I have not checked their calculation). But regardless of that, what I'm really interested in is the bizarre way in which they try to interpret these results. They start by observing that their regression coefficient (of about 0.2) for the instantaneous response to anthropogenic forcing is much smaller than the typical equilibrium response (of about 0.8) of climate models which reproduce the recent warming. Then they speculate that this "difference" might be explained by a response to ENSO, which would mean that ENSO would have to be responsible for most of the warming. Of course, this flies in the face of their own results that reproduce the recent warming with ENSO contributing about 1/3 of the total (and clearly less than the anthropogenic effect). They finally conclude that
these results are clearly inconsistent with the claim that ”[M]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is most likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” [IPCC , 2007]
Well, there's no accounting for arbitrary numerology and make-believe. Their own estimate, presented right there in the paper, is that despite giving the SOI two bites at the cherry by including two version of it in their regression, GHGs still account for about 2/3 of the total warming (and double the total contribution from ENSO). They might as well have said "we did a regression, but didn't like the results, so here are some conclusions we made up earlier".

I guess that McLean et al will welcome this "proof" that their conclusion was right even though their research was wrong (this new paper attributes a mere 0.02C of warming to the SOI itself). It seems that some people start with the answers they want and then try to find arguments to support them (as mt says "very not the IPCC" is really the ultimate aim).

Friday, August 14, 2009

[jules' pics] 8/13/2009 10:18:00 PM

slippery when wet, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Up above 2700-2800m it should become all ropes, rocks, ladders and chains. More so in the Kita Alps than the Minami Alps, but last week's Kaikomagatake has some on its north side. Luckily, all the mountain hardware is designed to be passable by even the tiny legs of the older generation of Japanese, which is reassuring, although I have to admit to being nervous of the abunai (dangerous) marks on the map and having been terrified, mostly by the penalty for failure (ie let go of that chain and its a sheer drop to nowhere fast), on several occasions over the past 8 years.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/13/2009 10:18:00 PM

Thursday, August 13, 2009

[jules' pics] 8/12/2009 09:50:00 PM

obstacles on the path, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Inching up the mountain, precariously unbalanced on at least two walking poles each, mountain walking has become very popular with the older Japanese, who like to travel in groups. Consequently we find we are generally very close to the the fastest walkers on the hills, and it is very rare that we come across a woman faster than me. Of course I do cunningly get James to carry almost everything, which speeds us up a great deal compared to those foolish girls who insist on carrying their own stuff.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/12/2009 09:50:00 PM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

[jules' pics] 8/12/2009 05:31:00 AM

haimatsu, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

By popular request... a bonus photo today! In my previous post I discussed haimatsu but showed none. So here it is. This is pretty high up, around 2800m, so it is getting very short. Even I can see over the top of this!

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/12/2009 05:31:00 AM

AGU open review trial

The AGU has announced (EOS: sub required) that it is half-heartedly trialling an open review system. Similar to what Nature did some time ago, participation is completely voluntary on the part of the authors, it is only the volunteered reviews that will be published (the "real" reviews will be private as usual) and the authors will be under no obligation to even read, still less respond to, any comments offered. The AGU even take pains to emphasise that comments will not be considered part of the permanent record and the article itself will be removed when the final decision to publish (or not) is taken. So even assuming the comments themselves are kept up, they will be "hanging" with no context - even when the paper is published, it will generally be rather different from the one that the comments refer to.

Oh, as if that isn't enough, the web-sites where the manuscripts and comments are published will be open to AGU members only. Of course it is hard to marry the concept of open review with a paywall, which is just one more nail in the coffin of the latter.

So that will be a hit. Not. I wonder if they really think they are doing something useful, or whether they actually set out to design a "trial" that is guaranteed to fail so they can claim the status quo is just fine?

I predict they will conclude that there is little support for such a system, just like Nature did. I further predict the continuing expansion of the EGU publication empire where an open review system is carried out properly (if not perfectly IMO)! "Popular" or not, I think many scientists can see that such a system enhances the credibility of the peer review process. CP and ACP are very young but already two of the leading journals in their respective fields.

The list of journals included in this trial doesn't include much of interest to me: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems; Global Biogeochemical Cycles; JGR–Earth Surface; JGR–Planets; and Radio Science.

[jules' pics] 8/12/2009 12:27:00 AM

flowers, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

As the trees thin out a bit, some where above 2000m the minami alps get flowery. At first they go for drama, as in the photo. As you get higher the flowers get more delicate, until right on the tops (3000m) you are in dinky alpine flower territory. The trees also shrink with altitude. Around 2600-2700m the maps are marked with "haimatsu", which, according to the interwebs, is Japanese for the dwarf siberian pine, pinus pumila. However, the haimatsu region is more special than that name implies, being alive with birds and insects, and many different dwarfy trees and shrubs all intermingling, with not much growing to more than 2m (giving James great views). It is like a garden paradise - for 2 months of the year...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/12/2009 12:27:00 AM

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A year with no summer

Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency announces the start and end of rainy season across Japan. Rainy season is a meteorological phenomenon (basically a front between air masses of different characteristics which sits across the middle of the country), not merely a state of weather, so it doesn't necessarily directly relate to rain stopping and starting, but the period does usually consist of a wet few weeks.

The end of rainy season was announced here (everywhere south and west of Tokyo inclusive) several weeks ago, but this year it didn't actually stop raining. They never got round to announcing the end of rainy season in the northern regions, and now they are saying that autumn is coming without any summer at all! We managed to sneak in a quick three-day walking trip recently, two days of which were largely rain, and now the first typhoon of the year is dumping a load of rain as it passes by.

So much for the famous 4 seasons of Japan (which are uniquely unique and don't exist anywhere else in the world, apparently)!

At least they didn't predict a hot summer...although with temperatures ranging from 24-30C it is still quite warm enough for me.

[jules' pics] 8/10/2009 08:56:00 PM

trees, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

A Japanese mountain walk should begin in the trees. In summer it is usually too hot, very sweaty, and very very noisy, because of all the semi (cicada). Not so hot or noisy last week as it was rainy. The mountains are very steep, so no boring trudge before the climb starts. Right from the bus stop the only way is up.

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/10/2009 08:56:00 PM

Monday, August 10, 2009

More on that ENSO nonsense

It is rumoured on the blogosphere that a manuscript by Foster, Annan et al :-) has been submitted concerning that silly ENSO paper that was recently published in JGR.

Climate Progress asks: Is this the fastest rebuttal of a denier study in history? We actually submitted the comment on Schwartz before that paper was even published (I think: we were certainly writing it prior to the paper appearing).

Of course, that's assuming that the Schwartz paper counts as a "denier study", which is not really clear. It was used in that way, but perhaps Schwartz was merely misguided and stubborn (the main problems had been pointed out to him prior to publication), whereas this lot was certainly mischievous and deceptive in the way they misrepresented their results.

Anyway, the most glaring problem in the McLean et al paper is that their analysis automatically rubs out any trend a priori, and thus they can deduce precisely nothing about the presence or cause of any trends in any of the data sets. The offence is aggravated by the fact that the differencing operation was justified in the paper as eliminating noise, which is clearly not the case. They also spliced together two data sets which have different zero levels without correcting this offset - the more modern one just happening to be biased cooler. There's also the point I made previously that their facile analysis of the statistics of the time series in no way supports their claim of a step change rather than a trend. In short, just about everything they said was wrong, apart from the vague generalities that were well known (eg that ENSO affects global temperature).

There's an interesting official statement from JGR in the comments to Tamino's post. Not that the contents of the comment are particularly interesting, but the fact that they felt that they needed to say it at all...

Will be amusing to see how serious a defence anyone can muster for the original paper.

[jules' pics] 8/09/2009 11:52:00 PM

rainbow sunset, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

We climbed some mountains, in the minami (south) alps. My impression is that this range is more full of life than the rockier kita (northern) alps. The route was obtained in the usual way, by placing a map and a beer in front of James and seeing what shapes his mountain genius made of the paths. The result involved about 2700m up and 2700m down in 3 days, two new hyakumeizan (one of them twice). The most ingenious part was, however, the high-season overnight stop at a mountain hut shared only with about 10 others, and it wasn't James' fault that the helicopter hadn't visited for a while meaning meaning there was no dinner (although the cat was curiously fat and sleek). In addition, someone organised this spectacular sunset specially for those who ventured so far into the wilderness.

Ow, my legs hurt.

[all mtn pics taken with James' diddy lx3]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/09/2009 11:52:00 PM

Saturday, August 08, 2009

"World will warm faster than predicted in next five years"

Warmer! Cooler! Cooler! Warmer! Let's call the whole decadal prediction thing off!

No, I don't really think people should stop trying to make these sorts of predictions - they are a great way to actually demonstrate and test the scientific principles that underly their creation - but I do think that plenty of scepticism is warranted in their claims. As for myself, I'm sticking with "about the same as before" for my prediction of the future trend - with some as-yet unspecified uncertainty bounds :-)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On statistical significance

Saw this nice little essay by Tim Harford some time ago, I don't have much to say about it but others might like to read it too. One thing I've long been aware of is how much of statistics has been driven not through the "trickle-down" theory of ivory-tower analysis eventually permeating practical applications, but rather by a ground-up process where people are driven to develop methods primarily to address specific practical problems that they are dealing with. As well as "Student" Gosset at Guinness (that Tim mentions), Fisher himself did most of his important work at Rothamstead, a sister lab to the place I worked some years ago. It did occur to me a few years ago that some certain climate scientists might have been developing important breakthroughs in their methods for probabilistic prediction, but unfortunately it soon became clear that they were just reinventing well-established fallacies.

Meanwhile, here is Andrew Gelman on things being significantly non-zero or not...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cool biz equals bad biz?

On the one hand, this article is a real statement of the obvious - put people in a hot and humid office and they won't work as effectively. On the other hand, the trend towards lighter and less formal clothing is certainly sensible and worth encouraging. So I'm rather in two minds about what to think of Cool Biz overall. Relevant also is this Climatic Change article about brains and stuff ("Assuming a spherical brain") which gives me a great excuse for not thinking too hard on hot days.

We have our air-con generally set about 27C, with occasional battles where one person turns it down to a more comfortable 26C and another eco-nazi turns it up to 28C. I find 27C ok so long as I don't think too hard, but I can live with that for a couple of months over the summer :-) Of course the concept of "productivity" is pretty much alien to us parasites on the public purse - we only exist to provide an excuse for the Govt to funnel money at the computing industry and perhaps to give it a bit more clout in international climate-related negotiations. We don't have to actually do anything.

Can you tell I feel the need for a holiday? Still few overt signs of summer here, but I can feel it in my bones.

[jules' pics] 8/03/2009 08:42:00 PM

We found Trevor in James' precious herb "garden" (=2 plant pots) on Saturday. Back then he was small and brown. Then he moulted, got much bigger, ate two grasshoppers and has now turned grasshopper-green.

I'm not so sure about keeping predators as house pets, but he is certainly cute...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/03/2009 08:42:00 PM

Monday, August 03, 2009

[jules' pics] 8/02/2009 11:28:00 PM

yawning terrapin, originally uploaded by julesberry2001.

Despite mud baths alternating with sunbathing, some find the whole Zen thing a bit of a yawn.

[Kosokuji, SW Kamakura]

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/02/2009 11:28:00 PM

Sunday, August 02, 2009

[jules' pics] Street fighting gangs in Kamakura

Or... tales of pigeon love...

From previous observation, I believe the brown pigeon is female. Hopefully you can work out the rest of the story...

Posted By jules to jules' pics at 8/02/2009 04:25:00 AM