Monday, 27 February 2012

The Sceptic's Dictionary: Gleick

verb intransitive
1. To commit an act of unbelievable stupidity (see also Darwin Awards)
2. To lose your head when all about you are holding theirs.
2. To impersonate another, for financial or other gain.
4. To impersonate a climate scientist.
5. To perpetrate a transparent fraud.
6. To inflate one's own importance, esp. in writing (see also blogs, troll).
7. To speak from a position of false authority
8. To admit to holding the gun, but not to pulling the trigger.
9 To commit professional suicide in writing (see also Twitter, blogs).
10. To lose the approbation of one's peers (see also Monckton).
11. To become a hermit (see also Herman's Hermits song titles, esp. "The End Of The World". "What Is Wrong, What Is Right", "If I Fell", "Moonshine Man", "I'll Never Dance Again", "Don't Go Out Into The Rain", "The Story Of My Life", "I Understand (Just How You Feel)", "It's Nice To Be Out In The Morning", "My Reservation's Been Confirmed", "Where Were You When I Needed You" and others)
12. To come to an end; terminate

[from Old German gleick, a narcissistic egotist, from Middle German gleck, an act of self-immolation]

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Glaciers in Nepal - a Nepalling State of Affairs laments the fate of glaciers in Nepal "Himalayan Sherpas lament climate change devastation", "one hour ago", meaning on 26th Feb 2012:
GATI, Nepal: Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned.
Apa Sherpa, the Nepali climber who has conquered Mount Everest a record 21 times, said he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world’s highest peak, caused by rising temperatures.
"In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers", he told AFP.
"Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons but it’s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons"” Speaking after completing the first third of a gruelling 1,700-kilometre (1,100-mile) trek across the Himalayas, Apa Sherpa would not rule out the possibility of Everest being unclimbable in the coming years.
The "lack of snow", courtesy of Google Maps. I know it's a winter scene, but if Nature and (un-)Scientific American can show "melting glaciers" in summer, what's sauce for the goose....

View Larger Map

"’s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons"” Then don't do it. I'll stop there because I don't want to mock someone who's clearly very passionate about his country and his fellow citizens (yes he does - Ed.), no matter what (Ed.) might say. However, note the wording at the beginning "some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned". Presumably they inadvertently used the word "some", because we hear from just one climber, and no others are quoted. Nit-picking again, though nit-picking is often valid criticism, as you'll hear.

The article continues
Research published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year showed Nepal’s glaciers had shrunk by 21 per cent over 30 years.
A three-year research project led by ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005.
Scientists say the effects of climate change could be devastating, as the Himalayas provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins.
Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the "third pole" and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles.
By "Nepal's glaciers" they surely must mean all or most or even a significant proportion of Nepal's glaciers? No, they mean the ten glaciers surveyed over how long? The "30 years" over which they shrank by 21%? - no, between 2002 and 2005. Just four years, a period which ended 7 years ago. Soon after the mention of that period, the writer begins to lose the plot -"the Himalayas provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins". It's a strange and alien environment to site wheat fields and coal-fired power stations, but I think I know what he means. Nit-picking is fun.

Then we get to the real "message" in the missive - "Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the "third pole" and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles", potential maybe, actual  not quite. We now know that Himalayan glaciers have lost very little ice in recent decades. Glaciologists, or at least those who study the lower ends of very few glaciers and publish alarming reports about overall ice loss, which they know nothing whatsoever about, need a lesson in objectivity.

This bunch confidently assert that "Nepal's glaciers", by which they must mean all glaciers in Nepal, have "shrunk by 21% over 30 years". Whether they mean in mass, thickness or length I don't know, though I'm trying to find out.. This they base on a survey of 10 glaciers out of..... how many? Just this once (honest) I'll rely on a figure provided by the WWF "Monitoring the glaciers of the Himalayas", which is 3,252 glaciers, and at least gives the impression that someone's taken the trouble to count them, broadly agreeing with other figures I've seen. Have a look at that WWF article if you want, but it contains enough material for another blog post here, so beware. If you know much at all about the subject, be sure to put down any hot drinks, and don't read it with a mouthful of food. What we have then, is the equivalent of physicians examining just 17 of the 5,544 concert-goers in a full Royal Albert Hall, and assessing the health of the entire 5,544 from their data. This is modern science at its best. It's not investigation, it's extrapolation, and that's what's wrong with modern "climate science" (or at least the IPCC variety) in general.

Apa Sherpa (he must have a lot of relatives in the Sherpa family) made the news pages last year warning that Everest was becoming too dangerous and difficult even for experienced climbers. He's probably a nice sincere chap, but timing isn't his strong point - in the same reports we read that a 13 year-old boy had made it to the top with his father.
An estimated 200 people reached the summit on Saturday, the busiest day, when 13-year-old American Jordan Romero became the youngest person ever to climb Everest, tackling the mountain from the quieter north side.
The summer climbing season is a brief two weeks. Why so short?
Around 250 people scaled Mount Everest from the south side this year, Nepal's mountaineering department said Tuesday, as heavy snow brought the brief climbing season to an early close.
They said the weather on Everest had deteriorated since snow began falling on Sunday, ending a climbing season that has set a record for the youngest person ever to reach the top as well as the highest number of summits.
Don't reporters see that some claims are likely exaggerated or biased? Above base camp, air temperature drops by about 1°C for each 150 metres increase in height, meaning that five-or-so hundred metres higher it's never above zero. It's not "climate change" or "global warming" melting the snow and ice, it's very likely (>97% - I can use probabilities too)  it's a bit more sunshine , and possibly, just possibly, erosion cased by those 200 people who reached the summit. Even more (including sherpas) support these expeditions, and tramp the lower tracks.

What "climate change devastation" is being caused in Nepal? After all, the glaciers are disappearing before their very eyes in a shimmering heat-haze.
"Right from the beginning we saw the effects of climate change on tea plantations in Ilam district,” he said. "These areas would not normally get frost and it is destroying their entire crop. These are cash crops that employ thousands of people, even on one farm."
 Frost - you couldn't make it up.

No apologies for the Nepalling pun in the post title though. It's my blog, after all.

Updated 1st March with some details of the 2010 news article(s), and a little more of my devastating and incisive critique. It's St. David's Day, so iechyd da to all those who know what it means.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Vancouver, Canada - are "planners" trying to frighten residents?

The decidedly warmist  Vancouver Sun has the story "South Delta faces rising threat from floods":
South Delta will be vulnerable to disastrous flooding in the coming decades without wholesale adaptation to rising sea levels.
Speakers at a science symposium in Vancouver on Sunday said projections of a one-metre rise in sea level are too conservative – and that continuing international failure to deal with global warming likely means a “multi-metre” rise in ocean height by the end of this century.
For 21,000 residents of Ladner, a low-lying suburban community that fronts onto the south arm of the Fraser River near its confluence with the Strait of Georgia, that means an urgent need to protect the community from flooding.
Waterfront homes, inland suburban developments, roads and farmland are all vulnerable to a sea level rise of 1.2 metres, according to research presented by David Flanders of the University of B.C.
Flanders, along with Simon Fraser University professor of geology John Clague, were featured local speakers at a symposium for the annual convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which continues through today at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
So a "projected" rise, to be expected decades into the future means there's "an urgent need to protect the community from flooding"? Which disaster blockbusters have these "scientists" been watching? And there it is again, a global estimate for sea level rise is applied directly to a single location in Canada. As with "projected" future temperature, no allowance or adjustment is made for local conditions. Just what are the "local conditions" near Vancouver? I know that seal level rise along the Pacific coast of North America decreases with increasing latitude: the further north, the lower the rate of rise. It's due to "isostatic rebound" - land covered by ice sheets during the last ice age is slowly rising, and has been since the ice started to melt and generate much of the sea level rise since then.

What I found surprised even me; as far as I know it's almost unique.

Sea Level at Vancouver, BC 1910-2010   data source: PMSL
The trend over 100 years is just 0.31 mm year. We're repeatedly told that the global rate of rise has accelerated over the later decades of the 20th century; no sign of that here. The last three decades encompasses the "satellite era" towards the end of which satellites have been monitoring an apparently accelerating rise in sea level:

Sea Level at Vancouver, BC 1980-2010   data source: PMSL
That looks pretty flat to me - if I were Peter Gleick I might say that it was a downward trend, but then I doubt he would ever present and discuss a downward trend in anything other than rainfall. Statistically it's a slight fall, but too tiny to draw any conclusions. The 1982/3, 1997/8 and 2010 El Niños are clear on the first chart, less so on this one, but still distinguishable in the broad, tall upward spikes.

It seems that the worthy citizens of South Delta (a southern coastal suburb of Vancouver) are safe in their beds for a while yet. Did David Flanders and John Clague present this information at the AAAS symposium? I can find no record of them having done so, but then this was an American Association for the Advancement of Science event, not the American Association for the Advancement of Truth.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

San Diego - time to get worried?

The powers-that-be in San Diego, California are getting worried about sea-level rise.
Buildings, shoreline parks and recreational facilities, transportation systems, and energy and water facilities are at risk, regional groups said Thursday.
So says U-T San Diego "Plan for sea-level rise in San Diego Bay". The article begins
A coalition of local agencies on Thursday announced one of the nation’s first regional plans to prepare for sea-level rise. Focused on San Diego Bay, it’s designed to help the region adapt to one of the more visible aspects of climate change.
Sea level could rise by as much as 17 inches by 2050 and five feet by 2100, when many areas around the bay could be permanently inundated, according to a recent assessment. The greatest cause for concern is the likelihood of increased frequency and severity of flooding during storms or very high tides.
I notice the neither the current nor past rates of sea-level rise at San Diego are mentioned. The  "coalition of local agencies"  doesn't seem to think it matters,  in common with most such organisations worldwide. It's not clear where the "17 inches to 5 feet" comes from, it's not mentioned in any of the sources I've read. However, Google gives a source for that phrase on Wired, and that article links to Think Progress - where else? Our Joe says 
 Arctic Assessment bombshell: “Global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9“1.6 meter by 2100″. I don't know why there's a strange character (in the title, not our Joe) between the 9 and 1, should be a dash I assume. Anyway, the 5 feet would seem to be a global estimate, so here as elsewhere, planners assume a global prediction rather than get a local estimate.
The analysis was supported by Port of San Diego, San Diego County Airport Authority, The San Diego Foundation and ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA. Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and San Diego also helped develop the strategy.
So that's alright then - these august bodies can surely be trusted to use taxpayers' money in a timely and efficient manner to protect beaches and seafront dwellings, businesses and roads. Romm cites the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme's "Snow, Water, Ice and Permaforst in the Arctic" report. That's not my typo - it's copied from their website. Anyways, it's a global figure, as I said, and quite likely may over- or understate the situation for San Diego. So what is the situation for San Diego? The local tide gauge tells all, from 1906 too.

San Diego Sea-level from 1906-2010  Data Source: PMSL
 No spectacular acceleration evident there, in fact it looks like it's levelling off:

San Diego Sea-level from 1990-2010  Data Source: PMSL
 That seems pretty level to me, but of course I'm not Peter Gleick. He can see the horizon sloping upward from left to right. Those spiky graphs are hard to digest, so let's see if the annual average removes the noise.

San Diego Sea-level - annual average 1906-2010
 That's interesting, if my Mark One Eyeball doesn't deceive me, the 11-year moving average has levelled off after about 1987. One sure way of finding out is to plot the calculated trend over a period of years, for example from 1906-1970, then 1906-1971 and so on.. It's called asymptotic analysis, where the plot might move up and down, but settles at near the true rate as the finish year approaches the end year (here, 2010).

San Diego - evolution annual sea-level trends
 Now that's interesting too -the sharp rise from 1982 is a result of the sharp upward El Niño spike seen in the first chart. There were two large spikes in the El Niño years of 1992-3 and 1997, and these show in the rate change above. However, the rate declined after 1998, and still seems to be dropping. It's lower than it has been since 1983, the second year of the largest spike in the first chart. Bear in mind that a decreasing rate doesn't necessarily indicate declining sea-level, the overall rate is still positive to the end of the trend chart. But the rate is still decreasing, and we've seen that there's been no net rise since 1990.

Gazing into the future is pointless unless your feet are firmly anchored in the present. No bank would advance money solely on the basis of future projections of income. They want to see your current financial situation, and past figures too, in order to assess the validity of those projections and therefore the risk. Is the "coalition of local agencies" listed above even aware of the current "plateau" at San Diego? If not, why not?

Monday, 20 February 2012

South Pacific Sea Level 2011 - updated

The South Pacific Sea Level  reference page (top of sidebar) is now updated to the end of 2011. I've given the charts a new look, with a 13-month moving average added where appropriate to give a clearer view with the "spikiness" filtered out. Here's a sample for Nauru, where the red line shows a clear downward trend since 2001/2

Seal Level at Nauru, 1993-2011

If you've any comments, leave them here, as comments aren't active on fixed Blogger pages. I'm working on a similar page for Australia, which will include rather more stations than Australia's CSIRO seem to recognise exist (see here below), and will definitely include Hobart, Tasmania. You'll know why if you've read that post.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Peter Gleick Fools Himself

Peter Gleick, currently posited to be the author of the "fake" Heartland Institute briefing document, has an article on Forbes -"Global Warming Has Stopped"? How to Fool People Using "Cherry-Picked" Climate Data. He attacks one claim in particular, that “The last decade's 'rate of warming' is flat.” by showing this chart

Source: Forbes
He says
What about the last decade, as claimed above? The linear trend (the blue line) over the past decade is relatively flat, but in fact it still exhibited a warming trend, despite the temporary cooling forces that are masking the overall warming. As the British Met Office noted this week, in a reply to a misleading claim that the warming had stopped: “what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850.”
The blue line is "relatively flat", but "still exhibited a warming trend" he insists. That line looks pretty flat to me, but then I'm an evil denier with a Mark One eyeball and an aversion to incontrovertible facts, though with a picture editor in my arsenal of analytical tools. The interval (0.05°C) represented by the vertical ticks on the temperature axis is 18 pixels; the increase in height of the blue trend line is 1 pixel, therefore that line represents an increase of 1/18 * 0.05°C over 10 years, or a staggering 0.27°C in - wait for it - I love this - 1,000 years. Is this statistically significant? I hear you ask. It's a "warming trend" allright, just don't rush out and buy an air conditioner or move poleward just yet.

All of a Flutter in the Tropics

"Global warming threatens tropical birds" says Bob Berwyn, who's editor and apparently the only "journalist" on the Summit County Voice.
Global warming is likely to drive hundreds of bird species to extinction in coming decades, as more intense and frequent extreme weather events destroy habitat and make foraging impossible.
“Birds are perfect canaries in the coal mine – it’s hard to avoid that metaphor – for showing the effects of global change on the world’s ecosystems and the people who depend on those ecosystems,” said Çağan Şekercioğlu , an assistant professor of biology at the University of Utah.
Other sites used identical wording, with more or less detail, suggesting a press release, which none cited, or the version on EurekAlert, which is the most detailed:
Scenarios for Extinction
A 2008 study by Şekercioğlu and late climatologist Stephen Schneider calculated 60 scenarios of how tropical land bird extinction rates will be affected by various possible combinations of three variables: climate change, habitat loss and how easily birds can shift their range, meaning move to new habitat. Citing those estimates, the new review paper says that "depending on the amount of habitat loss, each degree of surface warming can lead to approximately 100 to 500 additional bird extinctions."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius (2 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming of the Earth's surface by the year 2100, which Şekercioğlu's study converted into a best case of about 100 land bird extinctions and a worst case of 2,500.
He says the most likely case now is considered to be 3.5 C (6.3 F) warming by 2100, resulting in about 600 to 900 land bird species going extinct. These estimates are conservative because they exclude water birds, which are 14 percent of all bird species.
Because they don't travel far, "sedentary" birds "are five times more likely to go extinct in the 21st century than are long-distance migratory birds," says Şekercioğlu.
My first observation is that the cited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also predicted that warming would be less in the tropics, so any climate modelling based on the tropics should take that into account. Apparently this modelling exercise (for that, of course, is what it is) did not, a significant error. I suggest you read the EurekAlert article, if you're interested in doom and gloom. My second observation is that these and many other articles equate "global warming" and "climate change", and use them interchangeably. They are not the same thing. Climate consists of a lot more than temperature.

I responded to Mr. Berwyn's article before I'd spotted the error with "projected" temperature increases, quoting and commenting on the article thus:
"Climate change already has caused some low-elevation birds to shift their ranges, either poleward or to higher elevations, causing problems for other species"
Wouldn't the "other species" have moved "either poleward or to higher elevations" also? Birds and other species have been moving poleward and to higher elevations since the end of the last ice age.
"Birds with slower metabolisms often live in cooler tropical environments with relatively little temperature variation. They can withstand a narrower range of temperature and are more vulnerable to climate change"
So? This paper says explicitly that birds relocate to suit the conditions. There's nothing to suggest the "cooler tropical environments" wouldn't move poleward somewhat and the birds with them, nor that the "little temperature variation" would alter.
"Tropical mountain birds are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Warmer temperatures at lower elevations force them to higher elevations where there is less or no habitat, so some highland species may go extinct"
We're frequently told that plants, including trees, are moving higher with increasing temperatures. I would equate "plants, including trees" and suitable temperatures with habitat.
"Climate change and accompanying sea-level rise pose problems for birds in tropical coastal and island ecosystems, “which are disappearing at a rapid rate,” Şekercioğlu and colleagues write"
What rapid rate? What island ecosystems?
"Birds in extensive lowland forests with few mountains – areas such as the Amazon and Congo basins – may have trouble relocating far or high enough to survive"
Birds worldwide migrate thousands of miles each year but can't manage to move their nesting sites a few miles a decade?
"Rising sea levels will threaten aquatic birds such as waders, ducks and geese, yet they often are hemmed in by cities and farms with no place to go for new habitat"
Most aquatic birds nest and feed far away from cities and farms. There aren't many of either on estuary mudflats. cliffs and rocky islands.
"Tropical birds in arid zones are assumed to be resilient to hot, dry conditions, yet climate change may test their resilience by drying out oases on which they depend"

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Australia's CSIRO - The Truth, (but not) The Whole Truth, and nothing but Cherry Picking

Bruce Mapstone, chief, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Tasmania (note Hobart, there's more) wrote to The Australian "Sea-level observations". February 9th, 2012
BOB Carter's references to sea level ("Scientific research drowning in a sea of alarmism", 7/2) require clarification.
Sea level observations come from measurement by satellites and, as Carter notes, a network of tide gauges around the Australian coastline operated by the Bureau of Meteorology and similar gauges internationally.
These observations show that rates of sea-level rise around Australia range from 2.6mm a year to 9.5mm a year since the early 1990s, compared with the global average rate over a similar period of about 3.2mm a year.
Variation in sea levels from region to region is to be expected, as Carter also notes, but continuing analysis indicates the dominant trend around Australia for the past 20 years is upward and above the global average.
The global average of observations is near the high end of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change model projections over the same period, indicating that the range of model projections encompass changes that have occurred, and indeed that the models may be underestimating observed changes.
Lets' jump right in and have a look at the Hobart tide gauge data - right on Bruce's doorstep at CSIRO Mansions on Castray Esplanade, overlooking the harbour, and probably within sight of the gauge -

View Larger Map

(click charts to enlarge)
Hobart, Tasmania - Sea Level 1987-2010

Oh dear, things are not looking too good for Bruce's "clarification", the rate from 1987 is -0.438 mm/year (0.67 from 1962). The odd 1987 start date is due to the fact that there are large gaps and anomalous readings prior to then. The gauge was displaced several times by ship's masters who couldn't park neatly, and had to be replaced (the gauge, not the masters, but who knows?).

He was referring to an opinion piece by Bob Carter two days previously, in which he attacked a "a science-fiction prediction of a 91cm rise in sea level in the district by 2100". Carter ridiculed Lake Macquarie City Council's new coastal planning regulations, which control new developments around the lake, mandating higher floor levels to "account for sea level rise and wave action". Yet the NSW Department of Planning has said there's "uncertainty surrounding the manner in which sea level will rise", which means whatever floor levels they enforce are likely to be either inadequate or excessive. The "91" figure (notice it's not a round 90 or "almost a metre") implies an estimate accuracy of +/- 1cm. The range is given as LOW: 18 cm. MEDIUM: 55 cm. HIGH: 91 cm. So the overall spread is 1:5, yet the figures are quoted to a single cm accuracy? Over a period of 90 years? That really is "science fiction". I could stick my neck out and say 50 +/-50 centimetres, which should cover most eventualities. Of course, I could be wrong. In fact I know I'll be wrong, which is why my neck will stay in.

The regulations are based on that 91cm maximum predicted rise by 2100, and Carter says
This prediction comes from the NSW government, which in turn sourced it from a UN political body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As with its unnecessarily alarmist projections of global warming, the IPCC's estimate of future sea-level rise derives from speculative computer models.
He also lists what he terms "four facts"
First, that rates of sea-level change vary around the Australian coast. This means any new coastal planning regulations (if and where they are needed) should be based on the appropriate local sea-level measurements rather than a hypothetical global average.
Second, the longest east coast tide-gauge record, from Fort Denison (Sydney), records an average rate of rise over the past 100 years of about 1mm a year (10cm a century).
Third, that other tide gauges, scattered around Australia as part of the national tidal network, mostly record rates of long-term rise between about 0.5mm and 2.5mm a year with no change in behaviour in the late 20th century that might reflect a human (global warming) influence.
And, fourth, that the Sydney tide gauge, as well as other long tidal records from nearby (Fremantle, Auckland) and overseas, exhibits a slowing rate of sea-level rise over the past 40 years.
How do Carter's "facts" stack up? His first is common sense. A health service bases its policies on local , not world, nor even regional demographic statistics and forecasts. It's logical to expect local and state authorities to do the equivalent as regards local planning.

His second is indisputable (except by Bruce Mapstone and others, who just ignore it. "Post-normal" science doesn't need facts).

His third is correct if you accept his qualification of mostly, and I accept it, having analysed data from most of the 95 National Tidal Centre tide gauges (plus two privately owned) around Australia. How does it square with what Bruce Mapstone says? First note that Brucie (I feel I know him well already) doesn't actually refute what Carter wrote. In short, he can't - it's fact. Note also what Mapstone actually said - "from 2.6mm a year to 9.5mm a year since the early 1990s". "Early 1990s" is a bit vague, isn't it? Well no, it isn't, because the CSIRO have chosen to use a subset of 14 of those 97 gauges, installed and monitored by the ABSLMP project at the National Tidal Centre of the Bureau of Meteorology. In other words, they've chosen to use just one seventh of the data available to them. Cherry anyone?

The fourth is indeed fact. Data from most of the long-term records show a slowing rather than an acceleration, and most sites show a flat or declining trend since 1999. I've posted on the CSIRO's data selection bias and more recent, lower rates here.

Back to Bruce's last paragraph
The global average of observations is near the high end of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change model projections over the same period, indicating that the range of model projections encompass changes that have occurred, and indeed that the models may be underestimating observed changes.
Beat that for gobbledygook - if the model "projections" didn't "encompass changes that have occurred" then they can't be much use. If the models may be underestimating "observed changes" it doesn't automatically follow that they are also underestimating future "projections". I don't know, and he doesn't know what assumptions are made in those models.

Then there's a (partial but flawed) rebuttal of Mapstone's "non-rebuttal" the following day. "Levels all at sea" from one William Kininmonth:
THE clarification on Australian sea-level observations by Bruce Mapstone (Letters, 9/2) fails to reveal all of the uncertainties relating to the data.
Australian tide gauges accurately measure the relative movements of sea level with respect to the gauges. However, the vertical movement of individual tide gauges is uncertain.
The vertical movement isn't uncertain, at least not for some of the gauges. A global network of Continuous Global Positioning System (CGPS) stations is already established, designed to monitor land movement and/or gauge movement. There are 12 around Australia, near the ABSLMP stations. Here's the current plot for Sydney - appropriately the station's in Macquarie Park!

Latest ULR GPS position time series for Sydney
A note for those who've heard of the CGPS stations used by the NTC - the stations are remote from the gauges (up to several km inland), they monitor land movement, and do not "automatically adjust" the vertical position of the gauge. That's both impractical (the gauges are of necessity firmly fixed to their supports), and undesirable. It's not only the sea that rises and falls with the pull of the sun and moon, but the Earth's crust too (crustal tide), up to about 10cm range, depending on latitude, greatest near the point nearest to the sun and/or moon. If the gauge position was kept constant relative to the GPS satellites, the gauge would be dropping relative to the land as the tide and land rose, and would register a higher reading than it should, and a lower reading as tide and land fell.

And for the last word, from a body which even Bruce might take note of, The Tasmanian Planning Commission, in its sober but a trifle "consensus science" "State of the Environment (SoE) Tasmania 2009" report is precise and factual (my bold):
Sea-level rise for Australia is only slightly less than the global average (NTC 2007; Church and White 2006) and coastal observations confirm that sea-levels have been rising since at least 1920 by approximately 1.2 mm/yr (Church et al. 2006; IPCC 2001; see also Pittock and Wratt 2001; Lambeck 2002). A common feature in many model projections is a higher than the global average sea-level rise off the southeast coast of Australia and in a band stretching across the Indian and southern Pacific oceans at about 30°–45°S (CSIRO 2009). Sea-level rise is greatest (about 3 mm/yr) in the eastern equatorial Pacific and western equatorial Indian Ocean. Observed rates of rise are smallest (about 1 mm/yr) in the western equatorial Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean, particularly the northwest coast of Australia. Two of the longest continuous Australian tide gauge records are from Fremantle in Western Australia (92 years) and Fort Denison in New South Wales (83 years) indicate that the observed rate of sea-level rise relative to the land has been 1.38 mm/yr and 0.86 mm/yr respectively (DPIWE 2004). Regional variations in the rate of sea-level rise are weaker for much of the rest of the global oceans (AGO 2003). 
They haven't got the last word, though, I have. If the CSIRO chooses to use the state-of-the-art NTC SEAFRAME gauge data for (some of) Australia, why didn't they use data from similar NTC gauges across the Pacific islands for their "Climate Change in the Pacific" reports instead of spatially coarse satellite data? Why did they choose to use (coarse) gridded HADSST2 sea surface temperature data rather than localised in-situ measurements recorded by those same gauges? You answer the question, I already know the answer.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

I recently posted a chart of Los Angeles annual temperatures 1881-2011. Here it is again:

Los Angeles annual temperatures 1881-2011 GHCN via GISS
Looks like a fairly typical temperature chart - a warming trend into the 1930s, a dip in the 1940s, then a climb to a peak in the 1990s, followed by the un-typical dip to lower temperatures this century, the subject of that post. The data is GHCN (Global Historical Climatology Network) provided by the NOAA GISS website, and denoted as "unadjusted" which means no further adjustments by GISS. The GHCN data is most certainly adjusted however, as the following chart shows.

Los Angeles annual temperatures 1881-2011 GHCN vs Unadjusted (raw)
GHCN have lowered the raw data from 1881 to 1930 to produce a convincing upward trend. Note that the adjustment is progressively less, from a massive 1.9°C in 1881, smoothly to zero in 1930. There can be no justification for this "adjustment to fit an agenda", which is exactly what it is. Note the difference in the trend line slopes: from 0.08°C per century (raw), which is effectively zero trend, to 1.62°C per century. Instant global warming sans added heat. I've plotted data from the same sources for San Francisco:

San Francisco annual temperatures 1881-2011 GHCN vs Unadjusted (raw)
This is even more blatant jiggery-pokery, with a progressively increasing negative adjustment from zero for the present all the way back to 2.1°C in 1881. GHCN has turned a slightly negative (effectively zero) trend into a surprisingly (is it a surprise?) similar trend to that for Los Angeles of 1.62°C per century. The precise values are 0.016157 for LA and 0.016144 for San Francisco. Coincidence, perhaps, but I think not. I've seen some large GHCN adjustments, but the blatant fiddling here takes the prize.

As I said earlier, "instant global warming" without added heat. There are those who call sceptics "deniers". To those I say "explain or deny this if you can".

UPDATE 13th Feb 2011

I've just checked the GHCN data for both stations on the GISS site, and both have changed slightly since I downloaded the data on 7th Feb. I also had a dataset for SF from December last, and that's different too. Not just rewriting the past, but doing it regularly. I though only totalitarian regimes rewrote the past?

UPDATE 13th Feb 2011

Just a few minutes ago, I had displayed the GHCN temperature chart for Rochester, Minnesota, among others. With a dozen browser tabs open, I didn't realise that the chart was still displayed, so I reselected it from the GISS station selector, and displayed it again. Unbelievably, the data had changed by a few tenths of a degree (both for early and late years) within ten minutes! Some kind of official investigation is needed of this unjustifiable shenanigans.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Guardian shows its naked bias

The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows

"Meltwater from Asia's peaks is much less then previously estimated, but lead scientist says the loss of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern"

The Grauniad (an affectionate, or otherwise, nickname for the Guardian, which in the days of movable type was prone to side-splitting typos) may sometimes display an apparent lack of bias in its reporting of environmental and climate science, but a sceptical eye can often spot the face behind the mask. It's so with the above article. Those worried or even alarmed about apparent (I choose the word with care) ice-loss worldwide should rejoice in the news about Himalayan ice. I see no rejoicing here; indeed there's a whiff of disappointment throughout.

There's an obligatory picture of a an (apparently) melting glacier with this caption:
Hopar glacier in Pakistan. Melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less then previously estimated, the study has found.
That only interpretation I can put on that is that ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica is not "much less then previously estimated", but must be the same or more than previously estimated. However, the article, by omission, implies that the study didn't cover Greenland and Antarctica. The Grauniad agonises over melting icecaps, so why didn't they mention that the study was global? Perhaps it's that the study also revised estimates for Greenland and Antarctica - downwards from IPCC estimates, but similar to more recent estimates. Was the Grauniad disappointed?

Here's where their bias is revealed. We have what is being widely acknowledged as the most reliable estimates to date for the Himalayas
However, the scientist who led the new work is clear that while greater uncertainty has been discovered in Asia's highest mountains, the melting of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern.
Are they really saying that the study reveals "greater uncertainty"? Check it out -

Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise
Thomas Jacob John Wahr W. Tad Pfeffer Sean Swenson
Nature (2012)

Here's the abstract:
Glaciers and ice caps (GICs) are important contributors to present-day global mean sea level rise. Most previous global mass balance estimates for GICs rely on extrapolation of sparse mass balance measurements representing only a small fraction of the GIC area, leaving their overall contribution to sea level rise unclear. Here we show that GICs, excluding the Greenland and Antarctic peripheral GICs, lost mass at a rate of 148±30 Gt/yr from January 2003 to December 2010, contributing 0.41±0.08 mm/yr to sea level rise. Our results are based on a global, simultaneous inversion of monthly GRACE-derived satellite gravity fields, from which we calculate the mass change over all ice-covered regions greater in area than 100 km2. The GIC rate for 2003–2010 is about 30 per cent smaller than the previous mass balance estimate that most closely matches our study period. The high mountains of Asia, in particular, show a mass loss of only 4±20 Gt/yr for 2003–2010, compared with 47–55 Gt/yr in previously published estimates. For completeness, we also estimate that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, including their peripheral GICs, contributed 1.06±0.19 mm/yr to sea level rise over the same time period. The total contribution to sea level rise from all ice-covered regions is thus 1.48±0.26 mm/yr, which agrees well with independent estimates of sea level rise originating from land ice loss and other terrestrial sources.
"Most previous global mass balance estimates for GICs rely on extrapolation of sparse mass balance measurements representing only a small fraction of the GIC area, leaving their overall contribution to sea level rise unclear" - that's where the uncertainty was. I hope the Guardian writers' disappointment doesn't last - there's bound to be some natural disaster or extreme weather event soon soon to give an opportunity to wheel out and polish their now time-worn and expected phrase "while it's not possible to ascribe any particular event to [global warming|climate change|rising sea levels] (choose one)" ..... and go on to effectively do just that. Good old Grauniad - at least they're predictable, unlike climate or weather.

So predictable, in fact, that they have to wheel out a Bristol University glaciologist, Prof Jonathan Bamber:
"I believe this data is the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date," said Bamber. He noted that 1.4 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau: "That is a compelling reason to try to understand what is happening there better."
He added: "The new data does not mean that concerns about climate change are overblown in any way. It means there is a much larger uncertainty in high mountain Asia than we thought. Taken globally all the observations of the Earth's ice – permafrost, Arctic sea ice, snow cover and glaciers – are going in the same direction."
Notice that? He says that "the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date" means that "there is a much larger uncertainty in high mountain Asia than we thought". Silly me thought that reliable estimates reduced uncertainty. It just proves that I'm not cut out to be a glaciologist, especially one who clearly thinks that the "rivers that flow from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau" rely almost exclusively on glacier melt. See the end of my post A Cool Look at Glaciers for a published refutation of that myth.

The study clearly supports what many have been saying for years - that studies of (at most) a few hundred of the estimated 150,000 glaciers worldwide are almost worthless, like attempting to assess population health by visiting hospitals. Few glaciologists (at least the vocal kind) seem to be interested in other than "sick" glaciers. That's what's wrong with so-called "mainstream" environmental and climate science (and reporting) - accentuate the unusual and ignore the normal.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bill McKibben - 100% wetter than he was forty years ago

I generally pay little attention to Bill McKibben's seemingly daily rants; however, he seems to have excelled himself in pseudo-facts and self-contradictory logic in the last couple of days. Mckibben was invited to testify before the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee in Vermont on Tuesday (7th. Feb. 2012). Among his many exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims outlined here was this gem:
From the beginning to the end of his testimony, McKibben voiced his frustration with the lack of action out of Washington DC, capital of the country that historically has contributed one third of the greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere.
Really? Silly me thought it was around one third of what was emitted into the atmosphere. Bill seems to have difficulty getting his (huge) head around even the basics. After his usual stuff about "climate deterioration"  and the wonderful "Everything frozen on earth is melting" (did you shut the freezer door dear?) comes this:
“Most remarkable, and certainly for Vermont most dangerous, are changes in hydrology. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold. What that means is that with this one-degree increase in temperature [that has occurred so far], the atmosphere is about 4% wetter than it was forty years ago. That is a staggeringly large change in a basic physical parameter, one that we assume has held basically steady for ten thousand years. What it does is load the dice for two things: drought and flood. We get more evaporation in arid areas. The flip side of this is that once that water vapor has evaporated into the atmosphere, it’s going to come down. This means that we load the dice again for deluge and downpour and flood, and we have seen it all over the world.”
Magic stuff, water - it can be in two places at once, both in the atmosphere as increased water vapour, and falling as rain. I really like that "one that we assume has held basically steady for ten thousand years" bit - who is "we", and how would "we" know that? "We get more evaporation in arid areas" - let's see, water vapour content in the air rises, which means that more evaporates from the ground in "arid" areas? I think he must mean less - it's "settled science", Bill.

"The flip side of this is that once that water vapor has evaporated into the atmosphere, it’s going to come down" - see? Two places at once - told you so. "This means that we load the dice again for deluge and downpour and flood, and we have seen it all over the world" - does that include your "arid areas" Bill? Of course that extra water vapour has to form clouds (which are water droplets, not vapour) before it becomes "deluge and downpour and flood", so it must be in three places at once. There must have been a significant corresponding increase in cloud, then, eh Bill? Even Wikipedia reckons that's where rain comes from. The only increase in cloudiness is in Bill's brain.

Just a mo - Bill also witters on elsewhere about feet or yards or metres (or was it tens of those units? I forget- I need to forget) of sea level rise "in the pipeline". The XL pipeline, is it Bill? (Sorry -couldn't resist that little dig. Bill is resisting the big dig). Where does that "4% wetter" come from - someone leave the tap on? (Note my kitchen theme today - I'm warming to it) I read somewhere once, could have been the back of a cereal packet (he won't leave the kitchen out of it - Ed.) that the oceans covered a bit more than two-thirds of the Earth's surface, and were the source of most of the water in the atmosphere. Oh - I forgot Bill's "arid areas". Must be a lot of water in them "arid areas" to affect rainfall in the "non-arid areas".

Sorry - I've lost the thread - I found myself thinking of a foaming pint in a cosy hostelry with a real "killer-coal" fire not ten minutes walk away. That barmaid, the one with the tight black skirt... I  never get a cloudy pint from her. Ahem! Back to the kitchen once more. Where was I - oh yes - the source of all that "extra" water must be the oceans (don't forget the "arid areas" - Ed.). So there must be less water in the oceans, right? No - on 350,org Bill says that "Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century". "Begun to rise" - I should do some research, and find out when that "begun" began. I could even make it my special subject - who knows - even start a blog with graphs and stuff!

UPDATE 8th Feb 2012 2310

Just in from the scientific literture, and not from the "Gospel according to Bill McKibben":

Surface Water Vapor Pressure and Temperature Trends in North America during 1948-2010
V. Isaac and W. A. van Wijngaarden
Journal of Climate 2012

Over 1/4 billion hourly values of temperature and relative humidity observed at 309 stations located across North America during 1948-2010 were studied. The water vapor pressure was determined and seasonal averages were computed. Data were first examined for inhomogeneities using a statistical test to determine whether the data was fit better to a straight line or a straight line plus an abrupt step which may arise from changes in instruments and/or procedure. Trends were then found for data not having discontinuities. Statistically significant warming trends affecting the Midwestern U.S., Canadian prairies and the western Arctic are evident in winter and to a lesser extent in spring while statistically significant increases in water vapor pressure occur primarily in summer for some stations in the eastern half of the U.S. The temperature (water vapor pressure) trends averaged over all stations were 0.30 (0.07), 0.24 (0.06), 0.13 (0.11), 0.11 (0.07) C/decade (hPa/decade) in the winter, spring, summer and autumn seasons, respectively. The averages of these seasonal trends are 0.20 C/decade and 0.07 hPa/decade which correspond to a specific humidity increase of 0.04 g/kg per decade and a relative humidity reduction of 0.5%/decade.
A "specific humidity increase of 0.04 g/kg per decade" - that's 40 milligrams per kilogram or 0.004% per decade. Those "arid areas" are sure giving up their water fast.

Global Warming through the eyes of a True Believer

I was looking for something totally unrelated to global warming, climate change, blind meteorologists etc., when I stumbled upon "Golden State Heating Up, Study Finds" from 2007 on PhysOrg - not a site I've ever spent any time on in the past. I have seen a few links on Google News, but the brief summaries usually put me off - the site seems to be the haunt of dyed-in-the-wool believers in "settled science".
Average temperatures in California rose almost one degree Celsius (nearly two degrees Fahrenheit) during the second half of the 20th century, with urban areas blazing the way to warmer conditions, according to a new study by scientists at NASA and California State University, Los Angeles.
Of course, those who don't acknowledge the significance of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect wouldn't see the irony in that "urban areas blazing the way to warmer conditions".
The scientists found great variations in temperature patterns throughout the state. Average temperatures increased significantly in nearly 54 percent of the stations studied, with human-produced changes in land use seen as the most likely cause. The largest temperature increases were seen in the state's urban areas, led by Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area, particularly for minimum temperatures. Minimum temperatures at some agricultural sites showed increases comparable to some urban areas. Rural, non-agricultural regions warmed the least. The Central Valley warmed slowest, while coastal areas warmed faster, and the southeast desert warmed fastest.
Note "particularly for minimum temperatures" and "Rural, non-agricultural regions warmed the least" - the signature of UHI. No mention of that here, of course.

The paper (no title nor date mentioned - very useful) would seem to be LaDochy, S., R. Medina, W. Patzert (2007): Recent climate variability in California: Spatial and temporal variations in temperature trends, Climate Research CR 33:159–169. The trio seem to be unaware of UHI - in fact in their paper they say (thanks, CO2 Science)
"the small increases seen in rural stations can be an estimate of this general warming pattern over land," which implies that "larger increases," such as those found in areas of intensive urbanization, "must then be due to local or regional surface changes."
However, the thrust of this post is not directed at Medina, but at the original NASA/JPL author of the article, for below my last quote from that is this graphic:

In Los Angeles, average annual temperatures have increased steadily over the past 130 years. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cal State L.A.
Notice "increased steadily over the past 130 years". The author clearly is looking at the chart with the eyes of a "True Believer". He appears to be looking at the red trend line, not the (unsteady) blue running average, not the fact that temperatures after the 1997 peak dropped to lower than the late 1960s/early 1970s. The blue running average shows that clearly. The nearest I can get to that chart is this one from GISS, but it's very similar, except for the missing early 80s peaks.

Los Angeles annual temperatures 1881-2011 GHCN via GISS

The red running mean has dropped to the 1955/6 level, similar to that for 1976. Of course, if I were a "True Believer" I'd just not see that. Perhaps "True Believers" look at temperature graphs with a right tilt to the head, which always produces a "steady increase", and snowfall graphs with a tilt to the left, which produces a vague childhood memory of what snow looked like.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Blogger Strikes Again

Apologies to those who viewed the South Pacific Sea Level to September 2011 post recently. I corrected a chart heading a while ago, and Blogger decided (yet again) it didn't like my HTML for the interactive map feature, and simply removed the relevant code. Luckily the sidebar reference page (top right on the sidebar) was unaffected, though I'd made an identical correction to it. The feature's now reinstated.

That reference page will be updated soon with charts to December 2011, in the new style I've been using recently with a 13-month centred running mean. I think that gives a much clearer indication of "what's been happening" on charts which show much greater variation in levels than is usual worldwide. If anyone has any constructive comments on presentation I'd be glad to receive them. To anyone who thought this post's heading would lead to an exposé dealing the dirt on some other blogger, I apologise.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

US Winter Temperatures 1990-2011, by state

Here are winter temperatures for the 48 contiguous states from 1990 to 2011, plotted from NCDC (alphabetical order). Draw your own conclusions. Click to see full-size images (as with all my posts).