Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Peter Gleick speaks with forked tongue

Peter Gleick (who he?) has a piece on Science Blogs (h/t Tom Nelson) - (Mis)Understanding Sea-Level Rise (SLR) and Climate Impacts which is a neat summary of what follows that title. I won't use his first name again - it implies some degree of respect on my part, and I have no respect for this excuse for a scientist. He starts
One of the most important and threatening risks of climate change is sea-level rise (SLR). The mechanisms are well understood, and the direction of changes in sea-level is highly certain – it is rising and the rate of rise will accelerate. There remain plenty of uncertainties (i.e., a range of possible outcomes) about the timing and rate of rise that have to do with how fast we continue to put greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the responses of (especially) ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, and the sensitivity of the climate.
Gleick is a self-confessed liar and thief, and here he's lying while stealing the truth. If it's certain that the direction (he feels he has to explain to his dummy readers that sea-level rise means that the level's going up - doh!) and rate of rise will accelerate. then how is it that there are simultaneous uncertainties about the timing and scale of that rise? He's saying here that the rate of rise depends on all the big climate uncertainties. He's right of course, but they're the big climate uncertainties, which means no-one actually knows what will happen, and over what precise timescale, least of all Gleick.

How soon before he mentions "superstorm Sandy"? All bets are off - straight away. The only thing that's predictable in this world today is the storyline of so-called climate "experts".
Even little changes can have big consequences. As we saw with Superstorm Sandy, where extremely severe weather was combined with a very high tide, on top of sea levels that have risen six to nine inches over the past century, even a little bit of sea-level rise around the world has the potential to cause hundreds of billions of dollars of damages and the displacement of millions of people.
The "little bit of sea-level rise" didn't cause "hundreds of billions of dollars of damages and the displacement of millions of people" - the storm surge did. Does anyone (including Gleick) really think that it was the "six to nine inches" that caused all the damage? There are a few things that he needs to get his head around, and it's a big head, so in theory he should have no difficulty. Sandy hit the shore at the time of a spring tide. These higher-than-normal tides occur twice a month, when the Earth, Sun and Moon are aligned, with the higher tide when there's a new Moon - the Sun and Moon are close together in the sky, and their combined pull on the oceans is maximised. luckily Sandy didn't strike at high tide, so the coast was spared the worst. When the surge and the tidal factors are taken into account, the "six to nine inches" matters hardly at all. He knows that, and if he doesn't know it, he's as confused mentally as when he created his fake email accounts. He drones on
The Pacific Institute, among many other organizations, has been working to understand and evaluate the nature of the threat of sea-level rise and the risks posed to coastal populations, property, and ecosystems. In 1990, a colleague and I published the first detailed mapping and economic assessment of the risks of sea-level rise to the San Francisco Bay Area, looking at populations at risk, the value of property in new flood zones, and the costs of building some kinds of coastal protection (“adaptation”) to protect higher valued assets. That early report can be found here.
Sea-level along the Pacific coast isn't rising, it hasn't risen appreciably anywhere in the last thirty years, and it's generally falling at the moment. See my posts here, here, here, here, and more recently (2 days ago)  here. Gleick isn't a sea-level expert, he's a hydrologist, and neither was or is his colleague and co-author Edwin P. Maurer, who's an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, and who says of his work
My research is directed at a variety of topics, related to large scale modeling of land surface processes. This includes investigations into forecasting and predictability, and effects of changes in land use and climate on the hydrologic response of regions.
Land surface processes - nuff said? Then follows a lot of waffle about misunderstanding simple terms and trends and risks. I like the first one however, which shows that sometimes there's a disconnect between his brain and his fingers (or vice-versa)
Misunderstanding #1: Predication versus Scenario. There is a big difference between a prediction and a scenario. Scenarios are tools for examining how changes in some kind of conditions (such as greenhouse gas concentrations) might affect something else (such as climatic conditions or sea-level). They are stories of possible futures based on a range of assumptions. Almost all studies of climate impacts evaluate scenarios to examine possible future conditions, risks, and threats.
There's a big difference between predication and prediction too. He's right about one thing - scenarios are stories in that they're science fiction. To frame a scenario, reasonably likely outcomes are needed, but he said himself, that
"There remain plenty of uncertainties (i.e., a range of possible outcomes)" and that scenarios are based on not just a set, but a range of assumptions. Some climate models predict project a cooling future. All models produce different results on each run, and so the individual runs have to be averaged for each. The various models also vary widely in those averaged results.

The final depiction of the results is a chart which looks like a spreading bunch of twigs. Then assumptions have to be made about the results, and a range of further assumptions made to produce a whole range of scenarios. Which of those scenarios are then chosen? You already knew the answer, as I do. It's a classic example of confirmation bias, choosing the results wanted while ignoring everything else.

There's only one valid prediction, and that's whatever happens won't have been predicted by models. Some runs by a few models may get close, but those runs will be lost in the averaging process, and the resulting averages rejected if they don't match the confirmation bias. Then, some time in the future, when the models are seen to have been wildly wrong, the Gleicks and the Manns and the Trenberths and the Schmidts will pop out of the woodwork, and assure us that we misunderstood what they'd been saying, that the models really got it right all along, and produce some smoothed-out piece of discarded printout from their waste-baskets to prove it. Wait a minute - they've been busy doing that to explain why the "warmer winters" turned into colder winters, and exactly why there's been a stasis in global temperature while they were busy telling us "warming is accelerating". They knew it might happen all along, but just didn't mention it.

"Bio-engineering" scientist hasn't a clue what he's talking about.

On the Green blog on the NY Times website , if you're interested, I just read Nature, Re-engineered to Meet Energy Needs.
Thousands of inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs gathered in a suburban Washington convention center on Monday for the annual three-day meeting of ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. It wasn’t quite the Oscars. At the registration desk, attendees received a goody bag that included a report on clean energy from the Pew Charitable Trusts and a refrigerator magnet that showed the periodic table of the elements.
Judging by what follows in the article, the goody bags should have included copies of "Metal Refining for Dummies", "Photosynthesis for Dummies" and "Greenhouse Gas Absorption for Dummies", and you'll soon learn why.
But the breakout sessions held true to ARPA-E’s tradition: there were lots of swing-for-the-fence ideas. These included finding a high-efficiency, low-cost way to turn surplus natural gas into liquid fuel for cars and trucks, and identifying something to burn other than hydrocarbons so that carbon dioxide is not one of the byproducts.
One researcher proposed burning aluminum instead. One challenge is that the “ashes,” or oxidized metal, would be hard to recycle back into aluminum without big releases of carbon dioxide.
That's a great combo - use natural gas, a hydrocarbon, as fuel for vehicles (it's already being done and is being refined), while at the same time "identifying something to burn other than hydrocarbons". That's just priceless. Even more priceless is the idea of burning aluminium, which uses (in comparison with other metals) a vast amount of electricity in the refining process. Turning the oxide back into aluminium would likely use even more. All this to achieve what? Getting a bit of heat out of it, at a vastly lower efficiency than in the refining process. It'd be much cheaper (and easier) to burn the dollar bills and sequester the CO2, but I've just had a brilliant idea - use just a little of the electricity instead of burning the aluminium. I'm not just a pretty face, you know,

Talking of CO2, there's a scientist who doesn't appear to know much about its effects on plants. In fact he doesn't appear to know much at all.
One particularly ambitious idea presented on Monday was to re-engineer plants so that their leaves reflect rather than absorb more light. In an age of global climate change, with shifting rainfall patterns, changing reflectivity holds appeal. The technology would save water, which means saving energy because the water that the plants need often must be pumped. It could prove a way to help crops grow with less rainfall. 
Some of those crops can be used to produce energy as well. And increasing the amount of light that bounces back into space would help to limit global warming.
The notion is that crops will absorb light in the visible spectrum yet reflect some of the infrared and ultraviolet light, which heats the leaves. “Plants have a maximum efficiency of about 6 percent,’’ said Robert Conrado, an agency scientist. And plants regulate their temperature much the way people do, by giving off water, which cools as it evaporates. “All energy that is not able to be captured is dissipated as heat,’’ he said. “And that’s a lot of water.’’
In a hot climate, a cornfield can give off the equivalent of eight inches of rainfall in a month, he said, and agricultural irrigation accounts for 81 percent of water use in this country. The proportion is even higher in poorer places, which have fewer dishwashers and washing machines.
And some of that energy would radiate back into space, reducing global warming, Dr. Conrado said.Whether butterfly wings or fruits, he said, “nature has already evolved mechanisms for tailored light reflection.”
Re-engineer plants so that the leaves reflect some of the infrared and ultraviolet? Pull out the copy of "Photosynthesis for Dummies" and turn to the page which explains that plant leaves absorb UV in photosynthesis. As far as plants and UV are concerned, more UV is better. Remind yourself that a number of studies have shown conclusively that higher levels of CO2 reduce the time that plant stomata (pores) are open, thus reducing evapotranspiration, which means that plants loose less water to the atmosphere.

Pull out the copy of "Greenhouse Gas Absorption for Dummies" which explains that most of the shortwave infrared from the Sun is absorbed by water vapour in the atmosphere, and not much reaches the surface, so re-engineering plants to reflect some of that "not much" will have little effect. Remind yourself that most, if not all of that reflected infrared will be also absorbed by water vapour, and not that far above the surface either. Remind yourself that a short while ago, other scientists were pointing out that infrared absorbed by off-the-ground vegetation (trees to you and me) absorbed infrared and kept the ground below cool whereas grassland tended to reflect it and warm the atmosphere immediately above when it was absorbed by water vapour. Not a good thing as they saw it, just an interesting fact as I saw it.

Dr. Conrado should peruse both volumes and read a few more published  abstracts on topics he ought to know more about. For the final words, back to the article
So far the agency has invested $770 million in 285 projects, “and we’re proud of every single one of them,’’ said Cheryl Martin, the agency’s deputy director, in opening remarks to several thousand attendees. Although most will never be commercialized, the strikeouts are not as important as the home runs.
Most will never be commercialized because, judging on present evidence, most don't work, can't work, or if they do work, have negative cost benefits (if they actually have any benefits at all). Perhaps the "home runs" will also turn out to be "own goals". Crazy people with crazy ideas who can't see beyond the top row of their keyboards. Even idiots have the right ideas some of the time.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Act now to stop environmental destruction, while it's too soon

Here's another post on an alarmist claim about sea-level rise. I know, I know, but it's my bag an' you just gotta put up with it. Look at it from my point of view and sympathise. Now where was I? Oh yes - Mike Heral of the Daily Aztec (I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley, all that tearing out beating hearts and such) bemoans that America's seeming indifference to sea-level change is "pretending the monster isn't there". He obviously hasn't been reading what I see daily, reporters, bloggers, greenies and "sea-level coordinators" verbally spreading their arms like anglers "It'll be that high or maybe three times as much". Reporters need to get out more, or rather stay in and read more. Enough beating about the heart bush, read what he has to say in Act now to stop environmntal [sic] destruction.
America’s reaction to the rising sea level is even more disappointing than the San Diego State’s men’s basketball season. Or I should say, our non-reaction to rising sea levels. When we were young and scared of monsters under our beds, we’d close our eyes and pretend the monster wasn’t there. Our wishing made the monster go away. Pretending climate change and a rising sea level isn’t happening will not make it go away. Irrational denials have lasted too long. The time to prepare for rising sea levels is now. Too bad San Diego isn’t listening.
San Diego, in particular the ordinary citizens and those who actually know what's happening down on the beaches, isn't listening because there's currently nothing to listen to. There's no "rising sea level" on those sun-kissed beaches (I can wax quite lyrical at times), and there hasn't been for three decades. The long-term rate of rise has been dropping, and is now less than it was in 1983. Below I provide a couple of "irrational denials" to illustrate what I mean. They should make Mike's monsters go away, but Mike wouldn't listen anyway. he's quite at home with his monsters, but wouldn't admit it. Alarmists often (not to say usually) project their faults onto sceptics. One such projection is to claim that sceptics are "hiding their heads in the sand". Mike could have been hiding his head in the sand at San Diego since the early '80s, and wouldn't have got his hair wet, with the exception if the upward spikes caused by the '83/84 and '97/'98 El Niños.

San Diego, California - annual averages 1906-2011                 Data source: PSMSL
This is what Mike could see if he took his head outa the sand.

San Diego, California - 1980-2011                                  Data source: PSMSL
The trend evolution plots the trend from 1906 to the year on the bottom axis.

San Diego, California - trend evolution 1970-2011             Data source: PSMSL
There's your "monster", Mike - because the sea-level isn't rising, the long-term trend is still dropping, and there's no sign of it stopping (yet). There's no sign of ostrich-like alarmism stopping yet either. Mike finishes by saying
Protection costs. Imagine how much less the cost would’ve been if San Diego began preparing for sea level rise in the ‘90s. Imagine how much more it will cost if the city waits another decade to begin. The more cities wait to fortify threatened communities the more the taxpayer will pay.
Imagine how the taxpayers might have complained about having forked out for something unnecessary back then. There'll be plenty of time to act if and when the situation changes. Mike, you need a simple lesson in economics. Building back then wasn't cheaper, it just cost fewer dollars. It's called inflation, and building now or in the near future will be cheaper because of more efficient techniques and better materials and design.

UPDATE 1st March 2013

I left a comment on the Daily Aztec page, not using my blog handle, nor linking to this blog, politely pointing out a few facts about sea-level at San Diego, and linking to NOAA & PSMSL pages showing no net change in three decades. My comment remained "awaiting moderation" for 3 days. It has now disappeared. Inconvenient facts simply don't make a good story.

“Recycle everything you can" and save the planet - WUFT?

No, the WUFT in the title isn't due to my distorting the well-known mnemonic WTF, though it might as well be WTF. It refers an article on the the WUFT-FM, "News and Public Media for North Central Florida From the University of Florida" website - Whitney Gray discusses how endangered species may adapt to the climate change at the Public Interest Environmental Conference. Who she? She's
Sea level rise coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Sea Grant, spoke in a Friday morning session of an environmental conference on the University of Florida campus.
What does a "Sea level rise coordinator" actually do? Just how do you coordinate sea level rise? Coordinate it with what or whom? Does she coordinate rows of citizens on the beach commanding the sea to retreat, like latter-day Canutes? Never mind, I'm done wonderin', just as I've ceased wonderin' what a "Climate Change Officer" does for a local authority - anti-rain dances?
When asked about how species in Florida are affected, Gray said she believes they are at a uniquely high risk, due to the state’s sloping land and problems with rising sea levels.
“The average person can do so much,” she said. “Recycle everything you can; treat every bit of waste as if it was a resource to be used over again instead of creating new.”
Gray recommends restoring your yard with native species to help create a good environment for the species already there. She also said people who are more inclined toward activism can participate in different campaigns and donate money.
"Sloping land" creates a risk? It only creates a risk if you're on roller skates (no brakes). WRT sea-level, it only creates a risk if it's sloping downwards, away from the sea. Then you've got a real problem (unless you're Dutch of course). If it slopes upwards then you can watch the breakers in safety and comfort. “The average person can do so much,” she said - how many "average people" are there in Florida? Recycle that bag and save a frog - simple really. How does "restoring your yard with native species" help to "create a good environment for the species already there"? Extending the food chain maybe?
Gray said she feels it’s her mission to help people understand what rising sea levels could do to Florida.
“To me, it’s important that people understand that it’s not just going to effect their life, their little bubble that they live in, but it’s going to effect the lives of everything around them,” she said. “Our economy is intrinsically tied to our environment and our ecology, so we’re going to feel effects.”
That's the nub of the problem, then - "average people" living in "little bubbles". "Sea level rise coordinators" with empty minds and empty thoughts and a "mission". God help us all.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Climate Central scores grade F in geography

There's a lot of it about - sea I mean. There's also a lot of reports around just now in which alarmists appear almost to be gloating over a paper in Geophysical Research Letters titled The gravitationally consistent sea-level fingerprint of future terrestrial ice loss (Spada et al . 2013), [h/t Spiel Climate.] That bastion of truth and objectivity might not be said to be gloating, but there's an element of "See - told you so!" in their article Ice Melt Means Uneven Sea Level Rise Around the World. More of that and their "grade F" later.

What that paper says (in essence) comes as no surprise to me. Sea level rise around the globe is far from even. There are many reasons for that "lumpiness", two of them being thermal expansion and gravitational effects.
We solve the sea-level equation to investigate the pattern of the gravitationally self-consistent sea-level variations (fingerprints) corresponding to modeled scenarios of future terrestrial ice melt. These were obtained from separate ice dynamics and surface mass balance models for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and by a regionalized mass balance model for glaciers and ice caps. For our mid-range scenario, the ice melt component of total sea-level change attains its largest amplitude in the equatorial oceans, where we predict a cumulative sea-level rise of ~25 cm and rates of change close to 3 mm/yr from ice melt alone by 2100. According to our modeling, in low-elevation densely populated coastal zones, the gravitationally consistent sea-level variations due to continental ice loss will range between 50 and 150% of the global mean. This includes the effects of glacial-isostatic adjustment, which mostly contributes across the lateral forebulge regions in North America. While the mid range ocean-averaged elastic-gravitational sea-level variations compare with those associated with thermal expansion and ocean circulation, their combination shows a complex regional pattern, where the former component dominates in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean and the latter in the Arctic Ocean.
That mouthful is down to modelling, of course, and if you accept their estimates of ice melt, I see little wrong with their results. What I do see that's wrong, is all the alarmist pundits jumping on the bandwagon and extrapolating what the paper says about their little corner of the globe, or the "poster-children" of predicted sea-level rise, like Bangladesh, Tuvalu, etc. As my pet subject is the study of sea-level and changes thereof, I find myself often peering at maps while I sip my gin-and-tonic. Authors of articles like the one at Climate Central might find it beneficial to do the same - peering, that is, though sipping G&T would do them no harm either. Alex Kirby, their geographer in chief, says
Improved projections of the contribution of ice to sea level rise produced by Ice2sea will feed into the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In 2007, the IPCC’s fourth report highlighted ice-sheets as the most significant remaining uncertainty in projections of sea-level rise.
The researchers found that ice melt from glaciers and from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is likely to be critically important to regional sea-level change in the equatorial Pacific ocean
There the rise will be greater than the global average increase, affecting in particular western Australia, Oceania and the small atolls and islands in the region, including Hawaii. Another area which should expect an above-average increase is the east coast of South Africa and Madagascar.
The first paragraph is interesting - "will feed into the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" given that it's just undergone the review stage. Late entries anyone? However, the next paragraph states exactly what's in the abstract above; "regional sea-level change in the equatorial Pacific ocean", yet what Alex considers to be in the equatorial Pacific ocean is interesting. He thinks western Australia and Hawaii are included, and he also appears to think that the Hawaiian islands are "small islands".

Given that Honolulu is only a couple of degrees south of the Tropic of Cancer, and that only half of the western Australian coast is north of the Tropic of Capricorn, I think he's stretching the definition of "equatorial" just the teeniest bit. The biggest of the Hawaiian islands is about 250km north-south.  Still, why let a few inconvenient geographical facts stand in the way of a good story?

Perhaps he, other alarmists, and IPCC authors, might like to peruse the abstract of A synthesis of the Antarctic surface mass balance during the last 800 yrs (Frezzotti et al 2013) [h/t Greenie Watch]
Global climate models suggest that Antarctic snowfall should increase in a warming climate and mitigate rises in the sea level. Several processes affect surface mass balance (SMB), introducing large uncertainties in past, present and future ice sheet mass balance. To provide an extended perspective on the past SMB of Antarctica, we used 67 firn/ice core records to reconstruct the temporal variability in the SMB over the past 800 yr and, in greater detail, over the last 200 yr.
Our SMB reconstructions indicate that the SMB changes over most of Antarctica are statistically negligible and that the current SMB is not exceptionally high compared to the last 800 yr. High-accumulation periods have occurred in the past, specifically during the 1370s and 1610s. However, a clear increase in accumulation of more than 10% has occurred in high SMB coastal regions and over the highest part of the East Antarctic ice divide since the 1960s. To explain the differences in behaviour between the coastal/ice divide sites and the rest of Antarctica, we suggest that a higher frequency of blocking anticyclones increases the precipitation at coastal sites, leading to the advection of moist air in the highest areas, whereas blowing snow and/or erosion have significant negative impacts on the SMB at windy sites. Eight hundred years of stacked records of the SMB mimic the total solar irradiance during the 13th and 18th centuries. The link between those two variables is probably indirect and linked to a teleconnection in atmospheric circulation that forces complex feedback between the tropical Pacific and Antarctica via the generation and propagation of a large-scale atmospheric wave train.
Perhaps Spada et al should have waited a bit before publishing. Perhaps Alex should read more - an atlas maybe? Perhaps I'll have another G&T.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Pachauri - "record northern summer Arctic ice growth"

The Australian interviews "The UN's climate change chief" Rajendra Pachauri.
Rajendra Pachauri has acknowledged a 17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain's Met Office, but said it would need to last "30 to 40 years at least" to break the long-term global warming trend.
The "long-term global warming trend" is only just around 40 years long now. (My bold in any quotes following.)
In a wide-ranging interview on topics that included this year's record northern summer Arctic ice growth, the US shale-gas revolution, the collapse of renewable energy subsidies across Europe and the faltering European carbon market, Dr Pachauri said no issues should be off-limits for public discussion.
What? Say that again! Okay - "this year's record northern summer Arctic ice growth". I thought that was it. The northern hemisphere hasn't had a summer yet (or did I miss it? - I slept late last Sunday). Any more gems of climate insight from the world's leading retired railway engineer (I'm in the mood for a good laugh).
"People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning," Dr Pachauri said.
He said there was "no doubt about it" that it was good for controversial issues to be "thrashed out in the public arena".
Aaah - that's why the review process takes place in total secrecy, with reviewers and authors sworn never to divulge one word? That's the "public arena", admission by ticket only, public need not apply? All is now clear (I think).
Dr Pachauri said the record accumulation of Arctic ice this northern summer - following a record melt last winter - was consistent with the current understanding of climate change.
He said the IPCC had "clearly specified there are going to be extreme precipitation events".
"If in the Arctic, for example, we get a huge amount of snowfall this year, you will get ice formation," Dr Pachauri said.
"That again is something that doesn't deviate from the trend, which time and again has shown that ice cover in the Arctic is shrinking."
My goodness gracious, this man clearly has all the knowledge to make him a "top man" in climate science. Arctic ice melts in the winter and accumulates in the summer. Winters are clearly so warm the ice melts, and the summers so cold it freezes in a record accumulation. This is weather on steroids - weather so extreme it's reversed itself. Kneel at the feet of the great man and learn, minions, learn. Snow causes ice formation in the Arctic - you read it here first remember. It's all becoming clear now - huge amounts of snowfall were caused by global warming - ya know, warm air holds more moisture, more moisture forms more clouds, which will of course result in more snowfall in the balmy Arctic air. If that results in more ice why doesn't that ice melt in the balmy Arctic air?

I withdraw that question, it's one I'm not qualified to ask. Quite obviously, only climate experts who've never turned up for a single IPCC working party meeting, yet still get their names on the author list are so qualified. Only the great climate expert is qualified to answer it, the great climate expert whose name I'm not worthy to utter.

Remember - ice forms in the summer, melts in the winter. Pachauri knows his stuff alright.

h/t Tom Nelson

Ask Marylin about "Superstorm" Sandy - she knows!

By accident, I discovered an amazing piece on Parade magazine, of all places, in the Ask Marylin column written by Marylin vos Savant. Most readers' questions are of the "Should My Daughter Attend Her Prom or a Family Wedding?" variety. A reader asks her
Marilyn: Was superstorm Sandy so bad because of global warming?
she answers
In this case several factors not directly related to climate change converged to generate the event. On Sandy’s way north, it ran into a vast high-pressure system over Canada, which prevented it from continuing in that direction, as hurricanes normally do, and forced it to turn west. Then, because it traveled about 300 miles over open water before making landfall, it piled up an unusually large storm surge. An infrequent jet-stream reversal helped maintain and fuel the storm. As if all that weren’t bad enough, a full moon was occurring, so the moon, the earth, and the sun were in a straight line, increasing the moon’s and sun’s gravitational effects on the tides, thus lifting the high tide even higher. Add to this that the wind and water, though not quite at hurricane levels, struck an area rarely hit by storms of this magnitude so the structures were more vulnerable and a disaster occurred. One way global warming may have contributed is that the area’s sea level is somewhat higher than it was a century ago. A bit of good luck: Tides would have been even higher if the moon had been closer to us. Instead, it was just a few days from apogee, the point in its orbit where it’s farthest away.
Wow - just WOW! Later, another reader, clearly an alarmist (from Boulder, Colorado - not much threat from sea-level rise there), sticks his size-twelve boot in - check her response this time
Marilyn: While your comments about Sandy were informative, they didn't include the most significant link between the storm and global warming. (January 20, 2013) Sandy was the largest storm ever to make landfall in the U.S. in terms of size (1,000 miles in diameter) and total energy. The enormity of both measures was generated by a rise in sea surface temperatures, about 5 degrees F above normal over much of Sandy?s route. Sea level rise over the last century (about a foot) contributed to the storm's damage; by the year 2100, the sea level rise at New York City is forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be more than three feet. Our little blue ball is heating up; the consequences will be unpleasant.
Marilyn responds:
Thank you, Donald. I did mention the sea level rise, but I considered the warmer-than-average coastal waters to be a weather condition, not a global warming condition.
Full marks Marylin! I'll be emailing Marylin to congratulate her on her original concise and factually accurate answer, and her polite put-down on the supplementary question. I'll also ask her if she has a view on climate sensitivity, and if she knows anything of the role of cosmic rays in cloud formation - well, you never know, do you?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

For Sale - Boeing 787 "Dreamliner"

2,500 miles logged. One careful owner, who doesn't wish to be identified.
All operational, safety and maintenance manuals included (printed in Japanese).
Comes fitted with sushi bar and sake dispensers throughout (except flight-deck).
Works well when connected to 110 or 240-volt AC mains. (cable and plugs supplied).

Boeing 787 "Dreamliner"                                                                                Source: NLPC

Price to be negotiated. Contact your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate.
Buyer collects. Note: batteries not included.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Summit County Voice - "Ever warmer"

How does Bob Berwyn, the one-man choir of Summit County Voice, show conclusively that global temperatures to 2013 are "Ever warmer"? 'Seasy - just show them up to 2005.

"Ever warmer" - Bob Berwin
I was going to say "words fail me", but of course they never have, yet. The obvious way to prove something which can't be proved is simple - leave out the "inconvenient truth". Bob is no stranger to the truth, of course, he just never uses it. He's always on the level, so he omits it, the level bit that is. Quite astonishing.

UPDATE 0800 GMT 19th Feb 2013

In response to questions about the "missing 8 years", Bob Berwyn replies "Do you REALLY want to hang your hat on eight years?". We can't - they're not there.

UPDATE 2 1738 GMT 19th Feb 2013

Above graphic replaced with

Ever-warmer …

.... after some acid comments (pH 2.0 or greater) on the page, by
Bob Berwyn - Ever warmist. It's still displayed here though.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Scientists taking the piss?

The Grauniad, that unbiased and agenda-free source of "consensus science" tells us that
The dried urine of the African and Asiatic mammal is helping to reveal key markers in the planet's environmental past.
and
The hyrax (Procavia capensis) is a highly sociable, noisy creature the size of a guinea pig that is common throughout Africa and Asia. It makes homes in rock fissures, which it occupies continuously for long periods. In South Africa, one nest was found to have a urine layer that had been building up for the past 55,000 years.
"Hyraxes use the same place to pee every day," said project leader Brian Chase of Montpelier University in France. "The crucial point is that hyrax urine – which is thick and viscous and dries quickly – contains pollen, bits of leaves, grasses, and gas bubbles that provide a clear picture of the climate at the time.
"Once we have found a good layer of solid urine, we dig out samples and remove them for study. We are taking the piss, quite literally – and it is proving to be a highly effective way to study how climate changes have affected local environments."
No schidt? Do they mean that the gas bubbles in hyrax pee, which contains urea, many metabolites, hormones, a wide range of other organic compounds, inorganic compounds, and substances akin to the dreaded "under-stains", won't be affected in just the teeniest way by all those compounds? It seems they do. I can't accept that air bubbles in ice aren't affected by a long sojourn in contact with frozen water (CO2 reacts with ice, though very slowly, and there's a small amount of liquid  water in ice too), so you might imagine that I receive this "science" with just a pinch of salt. There'll be some of that in both hyrax pee and glacier ice too. I think in claiming that the bubbles help "provide a clear picture of the climate at the time", that they're a proxy for climate, or CO2 concentration, or something, they're falling into the trap of "confirmation bias" or in simpler language, taking the piss.

What's the Heartland Institute up to now?

A while ago we had Nils-Axel Mörner and Willy Soon making fools of themselves, claiming that crowds viewing horse-jumping on Atlantic City's Steel Pier had caused temporary subsidence of the pier, and therefore its tide-gauge, easily refuted by reference to other gauges along the north-east coast, which show similar variations. They were trying to show that tide-gauge sites are always unstable, by attempting to show that just one of the 2,000 or more sites worldwide might be unstable. For some reason unknown to me, the Heartland institute thinks that Mörner has something useful to say on sea-levels worldwide. Debunking his outrageous, always changing, and unscientific claims is easier than showing that Bill McKibben can't "do the math". I excoriate Mörner here, here. here, and here.

Now we have James H. Rust, who's
a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a retired professor of nuclear engineering, and an outspoken critic of unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming. He funds several scholarships for students majoring in chemical engineering at Purdue University. He currently is delivering a talk titled “America's Failed Energy Policies and The Reason Why.”
.... suggesting that NOAA has "something to explain" about his straw-measurement of sea-level at Fort Jefferson, Florida. What's a "straw-measurement"? It's like a "straw poll" - rough and ready, and you can't get much rougher than a brick, which is how James does his measuring.
Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas of Florida has an ocean-fed moat that surrounds the large fortress constructed from 1846 to 1875 and never finished. At the single entrance to the fort on its Southern side is an entrance surrounded by a border of marble. Around this border is a brick facade. Sea level height and changes can be measured by the number of bricks above the ocean water line beneath the marble border at the bottom of the entrance.
At 2:30 p.m. February 2, 2013, seven bricks were exposed beneath the fort entrance. These bricks appeared dry and this gave reason to believe the observation was made at high tide. Checking tide data for the Dry Tortugas confirmed 2:20 p.m. was high tide for February 2, 2013.
Checking books in the Fort Jefferson bookstore produced a picture of the fort entrance taken in January 1937. This picture showed all dry bricks above the water line and indicated about 7 and 3/4 bricks were above the water line. A brick and one layer of mortar has a height of about 85 mm and it was estimated the change in Gulf of Mexico water level for the 75-year period was 75 mm. This indicates an annual change in water level at Fort Jefferson of 1 mm per year.
Really? A change in the entire Gulf of Mexico water level estimated from a single observation on one day in 1937 compared with another made at high-tide on one day in 2013, and at a single location? Would temperature measurements made at those two moments be able to tell us whether the temperature there was rising, falling, or remaining much the same over that period? Of course not, whatever the trend, that trend doesn't predict what will occur, or indicate what had occurred, on any particular day. He continues
It may be argued the 1937 picture was not been taken at high tide. If this is true, then the change in sea level would have been less than 1 mm per year. It may be argued the fort is sinking due to its extreme weight. If this is occurring, the sea level rise would be smaller than 1 mm per year.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has a map of the world showing sea level changes at hundreds of locations around the world.
The closet [sic] NOAA sea level change data near Fort Jefferson is for Key West, Florida and Cabo San Antonio, Cuba. Both locations are about 70 miles from Fort Jefferson. For the period 1913-2012, Key West has a sea level rise of 2.24 mm per year. For the period 1971-2009, Cabo San Antonio has a sea level rise of 3.30 mm per year.
Sea level rises in both locations reported by NOAA data are considerably greater than rough measurements made at Fort Jefferson. It is left for NOAA to explain this discrepancy on sea level rise for locations so close to each other.
It's not for NOAA to explain anything, as we'll see, and here's a tip from me - don't ever accept an invitation to go sailing in the Gulf with the prof. My Google Maps tracing tool shows Fort Jefferson to be 225 miles NW of Cabo San Antonio, which is the extreme westernmost point on Cuba. His geographical knowledge might be said to be somewhat lacking, in common with Nils-Axel Mörner, as I'll show in a later post (v. soon). Not that geographical knowledge is a real issue here, but a sense of (scientific) direction is.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, it's often said, and James has even less than that on this subject. He might have been an excellent professor of nuclear engineering, and he might be "an outspoken critic of unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming", as I am, but he knows jack sh**, well, you know, about the tides or sea-level in general., and in the Gulf of Mexico in particular. Let's educate him a little.

There are two high tides a day (more accurately every 24h 25.2m), in this part of the Gulf of Mexico, and they follow what is, apparently unbeknown to James, the lunar tidal cycle, dominated by the gravitational pull of the Moon, modulated by that of the Sun. Not all places worldwide have two tides a day; some have only one, and some have two tides during part of the cycle, and one for the remainder. In a few areas, like the central Baltic, there are no tides whatsoever.

NOAA, who he says has "something to explain", has convenient tide data pages for their gauge sites. Here's the one for Feb 2-3 2013 at Key West.

Water level for 2-3rd Feb 2013 at Key West, Florida                                 Source: NOAA
Note that the actual tide was a little over 6" or about 16cm above that predicted. Brick-centric observations by James indicate that there was a rise of some 7.5cm over the 76-year period (2013-1937 = 76, not 75). That means of course, that had the tide followed orders, the 2013 level would have been less than the 1937 picture showed. How so? Is the sea-level here, and at Key West, an excellent proxy, not rising? Indeed it is, as the NOAA plot (thoughtfully not provided in the blog post for our edification) shows
Key West, Florida 1913-2012                                                                     Source:NOAA
This gives the impression that It's not possible for any average monthly level in 2013 to be less than that in 1937, but that's because this chart has had the "average seasonal cycle" removed (top left). It's not raw data, and it's done to make the overall picture clearer. Here's the raw plot

Key West, Florida 1913-2011                                                                Data source: PSMSL
Now it's obvious that many months in the middle-thirties had higher averages than many months in the entire period since. Here's how the data for February varied. I've highlighted Feb. 1937.

Key West, Florida; February average 1913-2011                                Data source: PSMSL
January 1937 was lower at 7055mm, but that's still higher than many months since, January 2009 for example at 7029 mm.

Here's a NOAA plot from 2nd Feb to yesterday, 17th Feb.

Water level for 2nd-17th Feb 2013 at Key West, Florida                            Source :NOAA
It should be clear by now that any single observation is just that, even when compared with another single observation, whether measured in metres, feet and inches or bricks. Rusts's post was titled "A New Sea Level Rise Data Point: Not Too Serious", and it's just that, a data point, but it reveals he's missing the point. He's right - it isn't too serious, but he's not right because of any observations or deductions he's made. He's right because the trend of sea-level rise at Key West, which he's unaware of, but which I already had in my spreadsheet for Key West (as in most others I maintain) shows this

Key West: trend in mm/year from 1913 to year on lower axis           Data source: PSMSL
..... that there's been no change in trend over the last four decades. Also, GPS at Key West Naval Air Station shows that the site is subsiding at about 0.63 mm/year, which means that true sea-level there is rising at about 1.5 mm/year. Subsiding due to crowds flocking to see the 'planes take off and land, maybe? Heavier modern 'planes? The fact that this area of the Gulf eastward including Florida is subsiding? Need any more hints?

I'm "an outspoken critic of unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming" too, but I make observations on what I know something about, and when I see an erroneous or unscientific analysis or conclusion by anyone I'll make it my business to point out any flaws. Sea-level at any spot is modified by rate of change, wind direction, barometric pressure, and sea temperature. Conclusions by retired professors of nuclear engineering on topics outside their sphere of expertise are clearly modified by preconceived notions, and a total lack of knowledge of what they're writing about.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Carbon Sequestration - Obama officially launches new scheme in second term

Carbon sequestration in action - US style.

Boston sea-level rising at almost four times the global rate?

"Boston preparing for higher seas, more flooding from climate change", Beth Daley of the Boston Globe tells her readers.
Researchers say Boston and its densely developed shoreline are extremely vulnerable to more frequent and intense storms projected from global warming. The sea level is rising here at almost four times the global rate, adding to the urgency to protect properties soon.
Four times the global rate? Where did Beth, whose Globe profile states
Daley has covered the environment for the Globe since 2001 and has won numerous national journalism awards for reports on fishing, climate change, and environmental health, including being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2008. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year at Stanford University on a John S. Knight fellowship. She has been with the Globe since 1994 and previously covered urban education.
.... get that startling information? Her twitter page gives us a few clues, especially this one
Beth Daley ‏@GlobeBethDaley            Oct 30 
Climate change's impact on Sandy http://b.globe.com/SqZQzh
#bosandy
.... which takes us to Effects of climate change increase risk of storms’ impacts.
Climate change is probably part of Sandy’s story, scientists and environmentalists say, but there are also short-term weather forces conspiring to create the sprawling, powerful storm.
 and later
For example, rising sea levels in the Northeast, which are increasing three to four times faster than global rates, according to federal statistics, will bring more flooding and damaging storm surges that ride atop high seas. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, meaning storms could drop more precipitation.
That link is to the USGS (Salenger, et. al) paper whose abstract begins
Rates of sea level rise are increasing three-to-four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in Nature Climate Change. 
All is now clear; Daley, who "previously covered urban education" can't understand plain (American) english. It's not sea-levels rising "three to four times faster than global rates", it's the rates which are (claimed to be) increasing "three-to-four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast", the so-called "North-east hotspot", and that's nothing like so big a deal, by a long wave [not a typo]. I poked a few statistical and logical holes in their narrative in Between a Rock and a Wet Place - The USGS Creates a Hockey-stick.

When I recently updated my "Glossary of Global Warming and Climate Terms", little did I realise how close my satirical description of an environmental reporter (Reject from the fashion desk) might come to reality in just a few days. I was a bit off the mark though, she's a reject from the urban education desk. I'd have thought her year-long John S. Knight fellowship might have honed her journalistic skills more than a little, especially in reading and comprehension, as well as factual reporting, but of course it didn't cover very elementary statistical concepts. She's not alone though, many rejects from various departmental desks have been drawing the wrong (but alarmingly convenient) conclusion ever since Salenger, et al hit the webosphere last June. I just couldn't be bothered to waste blog-space on ceaseless twittering by know-nothings about nothing much to get worried about.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Whither the World's Climate?

I might just answer "I don't now", and leave it at that. That would be boring, and a waste of my time and yours, so let's put some flesh on the bones of an answer.

"97% of scientists" don't know.
"97% of climate scientists" don't know.
97% of scientists can't do statistics, so don't know what the other 4% are doing.
A coupla hundred IPCC leading, contributing, and review authors don't know.
1,200 IPCC cited authors don't know.
2,500 IPCC reviewers don't know.
Rajendra K. Pachauri doesn't know, though he might know the time of the next train to Mumbai from Delhi - for his staff of course, he travels by limo or jet.
Barack Hussein Obama II doesn't know. (ya mean there's more than one?)
Al (green thru an' thru) Gore doesn't know, he's too busy selling out to the enemy.
Topnotch bloggers don't know.
The remainder of the world's population, 7,066,423,873 7,066,426,074 7,066,426,237 don't know.

So why all the fuss, when nobody knows precisely what weather they'll see tomorrow? Because the Great and the Good, and the climate modellers, and Gavin Schmidt, and Kevin Trenberth, think they've got it pretty well pinned down, which is a word they rarely use of course. Michael ("two-graphs", to use his Sioux name) Mann thinks he knows, because he's sawn a few logs in his time, don'tcha know? Bill "Cry me a river" Mckibben thinks he knows because he saw the digits 350 in the flames of a burning bush, or something. Joe Romm thinks he knows, 'cos he's posted so many posts there must be a grain of truth in there somewhere. Obama doesn't know, and he really doesn't care, as long as he can tee-up on the 1st as usual next Tuesday.

Those who think they know are guessing. They're guessing because they're trying to out-guess natural processes which contribute to a chaotic climate system. "Contribute to"? - indeed, not all the processes which are known are known with any degree of certainty, and there must be many unknown contributing processes of equally unknown effect.

It's a bit like trying to build a television set from scratch. You stick the screen at the front, and the power supply at the back. You have a large box of components, but without a circuit board or manual you don't know which order the components have to be connected, nor in which order, nor the values of the components needed, nor which connections must be looped back to make the whole kit-and-caboodle work. You have a go anyway, using hints from the worlds greatest electronic experts. You twiddle the knobs, using your left hand 'cos your right's bandaged after multiple electric shocks. The screen flickers - a picture! The digits "42" appear - "42 what?" you yell. The answer is of course contained (or is it?) in "The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy - a trilogy in four parts", which is the source of my blog "handle" - MostlyHarmless. If you haven't read it, do so - it's a great antidote to life, the universe, and everything.

Modelling bits of the climate system to understand those bits better is science. The models can be refined to give something close to the "right" answer. Trying to connect the partial models together to make a climate model is a waste of time, as now the problem of the interactions and feedbacks between the "bits" rears its head, that's insurmountable, and it's not science. It's not science because the models need to have artificial constraints built in at various levels and in various places, to stop them "running away" and producing chaotic and nonsensical results. The artificial constraints (bounds) are just limits - mustn't go higher than X, mustn't go lower than Y. The modellers know that the limits are necessary, but they don't know what negative feedbacks they represent, and so the models don't recreate the entire climate system. The best might seem to get close, but they've still got those fixed constraints. The climate has no fixed constraints.

Now you know even less than you thought you knew before you read through this post, take away my final message - it's not what you know that counts, it's what you know you don't know.

Poster-child Update - Kiribati & Tuvalu

Australia's National Tidal centre (BOM) finally got its act together and released data for December 2012 and January 2013 yesterday, for all South Pacific stations they maintain, and for ABSLMP stations in Australia. I'll be updating my reference pages on South Pacific and Australia (sidebar, top right) soon. In the meantime, I thought those who're interested might like to see the updated plots for the "poster children" of the CAGW fraternity - Kiribati (glug-glug!) and Tuvalu (gurgle!) both seemingly destined to disappear beneath the waves of an uncaring Pacific Ocean, like a latter-day Atlantis.

I avoid posting charts for either which end part way through the current year. Monthly averages vary widely over a year, and just a single unusually high (or low) month can change calculated trends quite dramatically. First Kiribati (pronounced Kiribass)

...... and Tuvalu

Despite the alarming-looking linear trends, in both cases "pulled down" on the left by the effect of the 1997/8 El Niño there's a great deal of "not much happening" here. The 37-month centred moving average (3-year) lines give a good indication of trend. SITREP - "nothing much going on, over and out".

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nils-Axel Mörner and his Cuxhaven Curve

In a previous post, I closely examined Nils-Axel Mörner's claims about sea-level in the North Sea, highlighting his "curve" which was based on a flawed "modelling" of the record for Cuxhaven on the North Sea coast of Germany,  I posed a question about satellite altimetry; "Does anyone really think that altimetry maps would be produced that could be easily refuted by data from a few tide gauges?". I now pose another; why would anyone produce a curve purported to represent North Sea sea-level changes over more than a century and a half, when reference to tide gauge records, even that for the single station used would prove it to be totally incorrect over its latter half? A certain Stockholm professor (retired) would. A certain Stockholm professor (retired) has.  Here's his curve again:

The Cuxhaven Curve, with a guest appearance by Amsterdam (d. 1930, R.I.P.)

It doesn't show "eustatic sea level". The term "eustatic" refers to a global change in ocean volume. The North Sea is not global, and Cuxhaven, used to produce the curve, ain't the North Sea. The abstract of his 1973 paper Eustatic changes during the last 300 years, which immediately contradicted the title (my bold), states
Tide gauges in rising and subsiding areas show a major change in the shore-level displacement at about A.D. 1840, caused by the onset of a rapid eustatic rise. Comparisons between information from Amsterdam, Stockholm and Warnemünde provide material for the reconstruction of the eustatic changes during the last 290 years. Relative uplift data from the Swedish west coast, corrected according to the eustatic curve established here, give the same location of the isostatic zero isobase as does the geological material for the last 7,000 years. The eustatic changes closely follow climatic changes. A rapid eustatic rise started about 1840, slowed down about 1930 and ended about 1950. Knowing the eustatic factor, the isostatic (or tectonic) factor is calculated for different areas of importance in the discussion of Holocene eustatic sea-level changes.
It's impossible to determine eustatic changes from a few tide-gauges and over a relatively small region. There's no way to separate the eustatic component from the local true sea-level change. Just to establish that local or regional rate, data from a number of gauges is needed and over the entire area of study. A couple in the Baltic and one truncated series on the North sea coast just ain't gonna cut it, but the "world's leading sea-level expert" has convinced himself he can.

 Warnemünde? It's in the southern Baltic on the German north coast. How does its record bear out the statement " A rapid eustatic rise started about 1840, slowed down about 1930 and ended about 1950"?

Warnemünde 2, GER 1855-2011                                                            Data Source: PSMSL

There's a little downward dip from 1930 to 1942 then it's "onward and upward", business as usual, and no sign of "ended about 1950". If Mörner had stuck to his previous theme of "No alarming sea-level rise", which I agree with, I'd have simply ignored his flawed methodology, blatant cherry-picking, gross over-simplification and misrepresentation. I'd have ignored him altogether. He'd have been singing the right song, and despite singing the wrong notes in the wrong order, and some very dubious words, it still would have been the right song. However I can't stand aside and ignore what is clearly a fabrication.

What about Stockholm, which I'm sure has a famous university, which must have produced many notable alumni? The situation there isn't clear cut at first.

Stockholm, SWE 1889-2011                                                                   Data source: PSMSL
Stockholm, and the gauge site along with it of course, is uplifting (post-glacial rebound) at almost 5 mm/year. However, GPS stations abound in Europe, and Scandinavia particularly. That for Stockholm shows 4.9 mm/year uplift (see chart below), and it's an easy matter to adjust the record upward by that amount.
Fig. 3 Interpolated surface of crustal uplift rates (in mm/y) according to BIFROST permanent GPS network data (Lidberg et al. 2007). From Postglacial rebound and relative sea level changes in the Baltic Sea since the Litorina transgression, Rosentau et al., BALTICA Volume 25 Number 2 December 2012 : 113–120
Stockholm has the "4.9" figure against it, second purple circle along the transect line from A at the bottom left (click to enlarge, as with all images which show that message on mouseover). Here's the annual average plot.

Stockholm, SWE 1889-2011, adjusted up by 4.9 mm/year                  Data source: PSMSL
This doesn't follow the Mörner model either. There's a big dip 1926-1948, then a slow decline (almost horizontal) to 1978, then an irregular upward trend to 2011. I could show the record prior to 1889, from the older gauges, but it's irrelevant here.

Gauges? There have been several; the first was a simple scale cut in the seaward wall of the Sluice, the sea-lock between the Baltic and lake Mälaren, marked in feet and inches (pre-metric, and Swedish feet). this was superseded by several wooden posts also marked in feet and inches, which had to occasionally be moved, vertically or laterally with construction work in progress, and replaced as they rotted. This shifting about created a veritable jigsaw puzzle for future researchers, who had to spot discontinuities in the records and consult ancient documents in order to create an (almost) continuous record up to the installation of a mareograph (float-gauge with pen recorder, similar to a barograph in operation) in 1889 at yet another site. That site is where the current (modern) gauge is located. (ref, The Changing Level of the Baltic Sea during 300 Years: A Clue to Understanding the Earth, Martin Ekman, 2009)

Mörner has said in several articles
Tide gauges were installed at harbor constructions to measure changes in tidal level and long-term sea-level changes. The Amsterdam tide gauge is the oldest, installed in 1682; the Stockholm tide gauge is the second-oldest, installed in 1724/1774; and the Liverpool tide gauge is the third-oldest, installed in 1768. Most tide gauges are installed on unstable harbor constructions or landing piers. Therefore, records from tide gauges are bound to exaggerate sea-level rise.
None of those statements is strictly true. In the 17th/18th centuries, no-one was worried about sea-level rise, indeed it was generally falling. Falling sea-level is a headache for port operators as it means expensive dredging may be necessary. Saying any tide-gauge is "the oldest" is rather like saying "my broom is 100 years old", when it's had 12 heads and 6 handles. The first Amsterdam tide gauge was the oldest; a simple wooden scale (in feet and inches, but Dutch feet!) it was superseded by several more as the Dutch built and improved canals and locks in and around Amsterdam and its port. I've outlined the history of the Stockholm gauges above. The Liverpool tide gauge was installed in 1991, preceded by a number of different types, and in different locations, the first being a wooden scale graduated in Imperial feet and inches. As Michael Caine would say "Not many people know that".

Most tide gauges were and still are are being installed on piers and jetties - it's where they're needed most, and they have to be installed over reasonably deep water where the lowest tide won't uncover the gauge. Anyone who thinks that these constructions are inherently unstable ought to consider that they were built to facilitate trade. No-one builds an expensive pier or jetty if poor construction would mean a costly interruption of that trade caused by equally costly extensive repairs or rebuilding. Records from tide-gauges are not "bound to exaggerate sea-level rise"; many do, but we've seen one example from Stockholm (do I know of someone who lives there?), and there are many more in the Baltic, Norway, northern UK, Canada, Alaska, China, Russia, and the Southern Ocean that show just the opposite, due to post-glacial rebound, and many more because of tectonic movement.

Mörner has to discredit satellite altimetry (despite having used it in several papers - will he withdraw them?), tide-gauges (but uses records without comment when it suits him), other scientists and their papers, and accepted and proven principles of steric (thermal, temperature-related) ocean expansion, because all of these refute his claims. Hence his silly stunt with Willy Soon, who should know better, claiming that horse-jumping, and the attendant crowds, had disturbed the Atlantic City pier and therefore the gauge installed there. Even if they were right, horse-jumping never caught on anywhere else in the world, and a 1904 storm that destroyed the seaward third of the massive "Steel Pier" left the gauge installation half-way along intact and virtually undisturbed. A claimed disturbance to one gauge out of almost 2,000 worldwide doth not an hypothesis prove, but one publicity-seeking stunt can reveal a lot about those who try it on.

That Washington Post piece was titled "SOON AND MORNER: Sea-level rise data based on shoddy science" and ends "Not surprisingly, objective sea level research should be based on observational facts in nature itself and not on computer models". Mörner considers other scientists who analyse sea-level data to be "modelling on the computers". I've shown he should have done a bit more of what he misleadingly calls "modelling" and "shoddy science" himself. By not doing so, he's making a fool of himself, and producing what is really "shoddy science"; not science at all in fact. Any scientist, and I count myself an amateur scientist as much as a blogger, should test their own hypothesis to destruction; look for evidence to disprove it as much, if not more, than evidence to support it. The "null hypothesis" should be a starting point. Mörner didn't look beyond a few gauges, and he didn't even look beyond 2000, calling that "current". He has an axe to grind, and the faithful should realise that he'll play any card, and from more than one deck, to grind it. He has shown no objectivity whatsoever - in anyone that's bad, in a scientist it's the road to advocacy and not the path of science.

I've had a NW Europe reference page in preparation for a while, and I'll get my act together and post it soon. It'll have rather more than a few charts for all countries bordering the Nort Sea and English channel, and several for the Baltic too.

Glossary of Global Warming and Climate Terms (updated)

A light-hearted but satirical translation of terms and phrases in scientific papers, internet articles and news reports. Don't take it too seriously but remember that satire is best when a thread of truth (however thin) runs through it. The list is not in alphabetical order because it follows a tenuous narrative - at least, that's my excuse. It's not complete - I just jotted things down as they occurred to me. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free, you know what to do. I had a lot of fun compiling the list; I hope you have some reading it.

Term or phraseTranslation
   
See Bloggs et al. 2003One day we might read it too
Bloggs et al. 2009We hoped you wouldn't mention that
GlobalBits of the Northern Hemisphere studied
RegionalThe area covered by our map
Ocean acidityOcean alkalinity
Increasing acidityReducing alkalinity
Low pH sea-waterSea-water with hydrochloric acid added
High pH sea-waterSea-water with no hydrochloric acid added
High morbidityLittle buggers don't like hydrochloric acid
W/m²Watts per square metre
WattOne joule per second
WattsThat damn blogger
ProxyTree rings, ice cores or sediments
Tree ringsThe "lonesome pine"
YamalA few "lonesome pines"
The Hockey StickTwo graphs for the price of one
"Nature trick"A surreptitious grafting operation
Statistical techniqueSmooth the hell out of it
Uniform priorsDunno, just smooth the hell out of it
Mediaeval Warm PeriodWe got rid of that (see Statistical technique)
Little Ice AgeAn urban myth (see Statistical technique)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Boston Blizzard caused by Global Warming

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) knows everything there is to know.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Wiggly Lines

Visitors to this blog may wonder what my underlying motives and views are. I have only one motive; telling the truth. My views vary with time - anyone whose views on any subject don't vary, even a little with time, have a fixed mindset, which is not a good thing. My views change as I learn, and they change as I get a better viewpoint on the "bigger picture" . Anyone who tells you, or leads you to believe, that they know "pretty much all there is to know" on any subject whatever apart from the size of Algore's bank balance, is either a liar or an egotist, or both.

I chose to study the aspects of sea-level change some years ago. One reason was that I perceived that very few people, whether bloggers, their respondents, columnists or news reporters (whatever their title), know anything much at all on the subject. Many think it's pretty straightforward; just measuring the height of the sea at any one point, and plotting a few graphs and trends. How little they know.

Another reason was that I thought that even with a little knowledge, I might be able to shed a little light in an area of low understanding - which shows what little I knew. Sea level varies all around the globe; it varies from day to day, month to month, year to year, decadally and on longer time scales, and it varies from place to place. It varies for a variety of reasons; a change in the mass of water in the oceans, a change in the volume of that mass, with ocean basin volume due to tectonic movements, with temperature, wind strength, wind direction, barometric pressure and ocean currents, and even local gravity. If you think that changes in weather and climate are complex, but changes in sea level are not, think again.

Hurricane Sandy was a child of the ocean, and not of the atmosphere. Some climate scientists and climate modellers appear (and there's plenty of evidence to support my view) to think that the atmosphere controls the climate, and the climate modifies the oceans. How wrong they all are.

A seemingly trivial yet important fact is that the tides generated by the Moon, modified by the Sun, shift more water from place to place over a single tidal cycle of just over 12 hours than all the ocean currents combined do in a year. That tidal  shifting is an oscillation of course, but because the globe isn't covered completely in water, the continents and large islands "get in the way", and the tides modify currents at continental margins quite significantly, creating "eddies" which disrupt, spread, and even temporarily reverse the flow.

The oceans cover about 2/3 of the Earth's surface which gets most sunlight. The oceans also absorb more of the Sun's energy than does the land, and they absorb it to a far greater depth. The land surface warms and conducts to just a few centimetres depth during the daytime. The oceans absorbs visible light and short-wave infrared (about 50% of incident solar radiation, a fact known to few it seems), to a depth of tens of metres. The oceans have a heat capacity thousands of times that of the atmosphere. Physicist Lord Rutherford is reported to have said, in an argument about whether electrons orbited the relatively massive atomic nucleus, or vice versa, "When you've got a flea on an elephant, it's the flea that jumps". The oceans are the elephant, and the atmosphere is the flea.

Studying all aspects of the physics of the oceans is the key to understanding weather and climate. To ignore, marginalise or trivialise the role of the oceans is indeed to "ignore the elephant in the room". The oceans drive and control all the climate oscillations from ENSO to the AMO. Note that climate scientists and modellers study "atmospheric sciences". Draw your own conclusions from that - I already have.

Where is all this leading? Why my post title? I could show you 20 charts for tide gauges which show alarmingly high rates of sea-level rise, to prove something catastrophic is just over the horizon (apt metaphor?). I do not. I could show you 20 charts which show virtually no change for half-a-century, "nothing much is happening", yet I do not. I could show you 20 charts which show a fairly steady decrease over a century, to prove that "sea-level is not rising", and I do not. None of these collections would illustrate the truth, though many people would have you believe that their little collection does. Ignore them - their little collection of wiggly lines and "revealing" trends are only a "cherry-picked" and biased version of the truth; there's a very thin line between bias and lies.

Those of whatever persuasion who cherry-pick are guilty of misrepresentation at best, lying at worst. Those who cherry-pick should remember that their "evidence" may reveal more about them than their "hypothesis" does about the true situation. That their evidence may contain at least one "hidden message" which is visible to anyone who has a truly sceptical eye and a little knowledge, and which may be used to disprove their claims. Those who cherry-pick should remember that they may choke on the stones.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Democrat Senator wants to see the end of mankind?

From the Washington Examiner (h/t Tom Nelson), my bold
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said that his colleagues want to pass a carbon tax in order to fight global warming and provide extra revenue as lawmakers debate debt and spending issues.
“We’re looking for revenue sources that are positive that we could get bipartisan support [for] such as a carbon tax to help finance the next transportation bill,” Cardin said during a National Institutes of Health town hall meeting today. He was responding to an NIH employing [sic] who suggested Congress “increase public health by eliminating carbon in our atmosphere and then also raise needed revenues to help stabilize the budget” in a question after during the town hall.
I agree with your point,” he said. His office explained that the carbon tax “is connected to the public health impacts of climate change,” adding that “reducing carbon in the air would reduce the pollutants that are typically emitted at the same time, also reducing health costs.”
Does this loon (and his loony questioner) not realise that we're "carbon-based life-forms"? Do they not understand that plants, including the weed they must be smoking, get all their carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide? That at the bottom of all food chains there are plants, whether it's grass for cattle or algae for fish or berries for birds?

There are certain things that need to be eliminated from this shining blue globe of ours, but carbon dioxide is most certainly not one of them. I have a short list of candidates however.

Nils-Axel Mörner - winner of the 2012 prize for science fiction

On 1st. December 2012, Nils-Axel Mörner showed the following slide (pdf at EIKE here) to attendees at a talk he gave (video here) during the seventh Heartland climate conference in Munich, entitled "Sea Level Rise - Fact and Fiction". Click to enlarge graphics.
Some of the "evidence" he produced, including this diagram, was fiction, and that which was not pure fiction was generally a misrepresentation of fact - not even the text on this slide is correct. He referred to it as "the current situation"; even those who are visually impaired can see it ends in 2000 - hardly "current" at the end of 2012. It's also a fiction because it doesn't include anything from Stockholm, as the text states, and as the following slide (below) shows; if it had it would be even more of a fiction, as Stockholm is pretty much in the middle of the Baltic, and far from the North Sea. It seems his geography is far from perfect, a failing he reveals elsewhere in his talk - a strange trait in a geologist.

"Amsterdam and Cuxhaven" - wot, no Stockholm?
I know that there were no satellites orbiting in 1840, apart from the moon of course. The satellite altimetry record started in October 1992, and applying a global rate to Cuxhaven is sleight of hand.

To be fair to Mörner, I think he allows himself to be totally seduced by his own views and controlled by his mindset, and so lacks objectivity. It's behaviour exhibited by conspiracy theorists, and Mörner demonstrates it clearly with his claims of "personal adjustments" of satellite altimetry. All adjustments are published on the 'net, and there are technical forums where they're discussed. The unadjusted data, and adjustment algorithms and relevant data are all available for public access. Does anyone really think that altimetry maps would be produced that could be easily refuted by data from a few tide gauges? From the many tide gauges that are in fact used to check their accuracy? Claims to have shown map inaccuracy invariably have a fatal flaw - they don't compare apples and apples; they don't compare identical periods from the maps and gauges. Comparing apples with apples is to compare the exact rate at the location with the gauge record over the exact same period. Those who seek to debunk the satellite maps are not just comparing apples with oranges, they're setting up a fruit market. More (much more) in a later post on this topic.

The "North Sea" slide may show the only sea-level "chart" you've seen that Mörner's produced himself. I've found no evidence whatever he's ever downloaded and charted a gauge dataset. It's clearly hand drawn, and the main curve is taken directly from his previous slide which represented Cuxhaven ("Coxhaven" on the slide), on the North Sea coast of Germany, the "German Bight".

Even this graphic contains a slight fiction - note the "2003" in the bottom RH corner; it's in a different font size, and there's no corresponding "tick mark" on the axis. That corner represents 2000, not 2003, as the distance to the previous tick mark shows, and the PSMSL annual chart for Cuxhaven confirms.
Cuxhaven 2 annual                                                                            Source:PSMSL
The 2000 tick mark at the top right is over what is the final broad spike on Mörner's graphic.

The red (subsidence rate) line is reproduced on the first slide as the zero line, which explains why it doesn't represent the mean, as is the convention with anomaly-type charts and diagrams. Both lines cross the polynomial curve at 1933, and this graphic shows that the curve diverges from the sea-level line after that point; it merely clips some of the spikes. Up to 1973 or so Mörner's plot matches the PSMSL plot very well; from then on it diverges suspiciously.

Cuxhaven annual (to 2010) adjusted down by 1.4 mm/year from 1844. Data source PSMSL
In "Sea Level is not rising" (SPPI), Mörner says he established the subsidence rate for the Cuxhaven gauge as 1.4 mm/year, so I've used it to adjust (downward) the annual plot for Cuxhaven. Published estimates for the subsidence rates along the Dutch and German coasts range from 0.6 to 0.9 mm/year. The chart is necessarily a little busy because I've added a polynomial curve (blue) to contrast with the curve in the first slide shown above; there's little similarity, and it's worth reproducing the diagram here for convenient comparison.
The text on the slide says "It fits the Earth's rotation (LOD) very well", but it doesn't represent any facts very well. Even if what is shown was true, it would say nothing of sea-level change elsewhere, not even in the North Sea. When land uplift or subsidence (from GPS monitoring stations) are taken into account, long-term North Sea sea-level change rates vary quite widely; some show an upturn in the last decade, some show a downturn, and some show no major variation in rate over the last few decades. Delfzijl is the next station to the west of Cuxhaven, and is just over the German border with Holland.

Delfzijl, Netherlands  Data source: PSMSL
It shows little similarity with the chart for Cuxhaven, shows little variation over the 20th century, and shows no slowdown after 1950.

Giving Mörner the benefit of the doubt, he's been seduced into believing that a polynomial curve supplied by someone else (see "Sea Level is not rising") reflects reality, and has based his sea-level "curve" on that. If he'd actually charted the record himself, with the most up-to-date data available, he couldn't have produced his curve. Data beats hypothesis hands down every time.

The previous slide to his "North Sea" curve (Cuxhaven curve, not quite the same thing) showed the PSMSL chart for Fremantle, Western Australia. Mörner never cites his sources for charts and diagrams and doesn't here; not a very polite nor ethical way of presenting such data.
Ignore that the title says 1897-2011 - it's 1897-2010. Ignore the "1893-2011" mean - Mörner's very bad with start and end dates, as we've seen earlier. Ignore his blatant "cherry-picking" of 1913-1956. Ignore that his "global eustasy" (absolute rise) was derived from just 2 1/2 gauge records in NW Europe (Amsterdam again!). Ignore that there's no source cited, he got it here, and I got the data for my Fremantle chart from the Australian BOM site.

This one's a real cracker though - Mörner commits what might be called evidential suicide. He's telling us that his absolute rate of 1.1 mm/year applies here, calculating a subsidence rate, then he's telling us that there was "little or no absolute sea level rise" which of course means that his rate of 1.1 mm/year doesn't apply here. It also shows no downturn after 2000. Nice one Prof.

I'll also tackle Mörner's famous (or infamous, depending on the point of view) Maldives paper later, which is flawed to the point of being worthless, but here's a taster from its third page (my bold)
The mean sea level seems closely to approximate the surface of a beach rock cut into a flat surface (a rock cut platform). The HTL is at + 0.45 m, the storm level at + 0.9–0.8 m, the sub-recent level is at + 1.2 m, and the old island surface at + 1.45 m. This seems to indicate that the island surface was built up at a 60 cm higher sea level and that the sub-recent level was formed at a 30 cm higher sea level.
A higher sea level of about + 60 cm in Late Holocene times is recorded in sandy environment (e.g. Hulhudhoo in the Baa Atoll) as well as in beach-rock environment (e.g. Fulhudhoo in the Guidhoo Atoll). The sub-recent level seems, in general, to have been at about + 30 cm (in sandy section of the Hulhodhoo as well as in the beach-rock coast of Fulhudhoo).
The most important and interesting fact is the sea level fall of about 20–30 cm between the sub-recent level and the present level. The morphology is clear.......
Beautiful logic chain here; seems.....seems....seems.....it's clear! I love that "seems closely to approximate" - how can something "closely approximate" something else? The language and logic "seems to closely approximate" that in IPCC AR4 "Summary for Policymakers", where a number of factors which are "likely" lead to a conclusion which is "very likely". How did he know what the "mean sea level" was, standing on a sandy beach with the waves lapping? All will be revealed in a later (but soon) post.

I'll also discuss his flawed methodology in general in a future post, along with examining more of his gaffes and sleight-of-hand. I thought (silly me!) that being sceptical meant demanding  "show me your evidence and your sources". Why has no-one on the sceptical side thought proper to actually examine his claimed evidence and his arguments in detail? Is he immune from such scrutiny? Is he to be believed no matter what he says? Is he infallible in some way, like the Pope? If the answer to any or all of these is yes, then his supporters are guilty of at best double standards and at worst religious adoration.

The audiences at his talks, and readers of his articles lap it all up. "Good old Prof" they chortle "He's sticking it to 'em!". "They" aren't impressed; "they" ignore and ridicule him alternately. He's sticking it to us, sceptics working to call into question shaky science and excoriate alarmists and alarmism. He's pissing into the wind trying to prove the unprovable, and it's sceptics in general getting the spray.