Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hegerl link to more controversy

Last week this blog looked at an ongoing dispute stemming from a cover article in nature which, it seems, was defective and misleading concerning the temperature in Antarctica.  The issue was the statistical algorithm used to engineer a warming of Antarctica beyond what the data justified.  The peer reviewed paper challenging the Nature article called into question the original Nature paper and itself encountered resistance and apparent obstruction which which called into question the peer-review system.

The peer review issues raised are remarkably similar to those which surfaced in the Climategate emails giving evidence on the same issue.

One of the things that saps confidence in establishment climate science is the demonstrated inability to admit errors, hence fostering a suspicion of improbity.   This has been the case with the 'hockey stick' representation of proxy temperatures over almost 1000 years.  It was certainly the case with the journal EOS as described here in January. (That case, however, was partly redeemed by the belated apology of Edinburgh climate scientist Tom Crowley).  EOS, however has failed to remedy their manifest injustice.

Edinburgh climate scientist Gabi Hegerl features in another recent paper in Nature which is currently coming under sustained scrutiny.  If some critiques turn out to be accurate this may well prove to be the next test of the probity of Nature and, indeeed, Hegerl.

The paper concerns weather extremes (actually rainfall in the northern hemisphere).  There is a current meme in public thought which seeks to attribute human emissions as a cause of weather extremes.  That is both unfortunate and, if many reputable scientists are to be believed, misleading in the extreme.  As one character in the film Inception observed, "The most resilient parasite is an idea planted in the unconscious mind."

Perhaps Hegerl and her fellow authors have a bias to finding and interpreting that data to fit the meme. Certainly the paper is under considerable attack by some formidable scientists and some, perhaps not so formidable. Curry (here and here), Pielke Snr, Pielke JnrEschenbach, Whitehouse and  Motl,

Then there is the problem of falsifiability.   What would it take to prove the meme wrong?  Is it drought?  Is it floods.  Is it snow.   Of course it is conceivable these could be mutually consistent with (man made) global warming.  Unlikely that but conceivable.  Yet it seems there are establishment apologists who attribute opposing evidence to man made climate change be that evidence snow, or rain, warmth or cold, more ice or less ice.

The vague term 'climate change' turns out to be unfalsifiable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Another climate wars battle

Nature features flawed paper
The battlefield is Antarctica.  Temperature and the peer review process are the key issues.  The weapons are statistics and logic and there are reputations to be won and lost.

Stubbornly, Antarctica has not followed the warming trend of world temperature figures.  But this grit in the global warming oyster has produced a pearl which encapsulates so much of what is wrong with climate science.

Eric Steig, in a paper along with Michael Mann, (of failed Hockey Stick reputation), produced a paper in 2009 in Nature which showed that a small part of Antarctica, known as the West Antarctic Peninsula is warming.  Using statistical analysis Steig et al purported to show that from this it could be deduced that the whole of Antarctica was rather warmer than hitherto thought. This was all afforded a cover feature in Nature which published the peer reviewed Steig et al 2009.

Ryan O'Donnell, backed by Steven McIntyre, (who had broken Mann's Hockey Stick claims), entered the debate with a short paper which claimed to show that, as with the Hockey Stick, the statistical method used  in Steig 09 was significantly flawed.  This was submitted to Journal of Climate who appointed three reviewers.

One of these was Steig, considered to be in a good position to critique O'Donnell's paper, though clearly with something of a conflict of interest.  O'Donnell's paper was 8 pages long but the reviewers and their responses generated a discussion back and forward which amounted to 88 pages.

O'Donnell avers that not only were most of the objections from Steig (Reviewer A - these things being done in secret) but they were all pushing the O'Donnell paper to accept a move towards results which would show Antarctica was warmer.

Eventually, after a lengthy delay, O'Donnell was published.   Steig then attacked it in the Real Climate blog for adopting a particular statistical procedure - which he, himself had encouraged as the secret Reviewer A.  O'Donnell et al had adopted this procedure in preference to their originally preferred statistical procedure in order to get their paper published through the peer review system.

O'Donnell, now aware that Steig was Reviewer A, cried foul and launched a post on Climate Audit which, albeit incorporating one or more minor inaccuracies, excoriated Steig for duplicity.

Then followed a heated series of blog exchanges mainly at Climate Audit and Real Climate.

This dispute may is not yet finished and there may be more information disclosed which calls into question these preliminary conclusions.

First, the temperature of Antarctica remains pretty cold and out of sync with the warming projections by the climate science establishment.

Second, we have just seen witnessed an attempt by a member of the climate science establishment to skew the peer review system in order to bias the science to show warmer temperatures than the evidence justifies.  This repeats the establishment response to counter evidence on the Hockey Stick.  It is also consistent with evidence from the Climategate emails indicating an intention to keep opponents out of peer review process.

Reputations have been won and lost.  And observers like me trust so called 'climate science' even less.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Game Changer?

BGS Edinburgh
Jack H Barnes gives his take on the shale gas bonanza.

Shale gas is quite simply changing the whole energy paradigm in real time.  The unlocking of source rock, has altered the future history of mankind.  The world has discovered and unlocked its newest true world changing source of stored energy.
Read his article in Business Insider article here.

Edinburgh based British Geological Survey notes:

The UK has abundant shales at depth, although their distribution is not well known. The BGS is investigating the location, depth and properties of the shale as well as the processes that lead to economic accumulations of gas.
The 2010 BGS/DECC Shale Gas report identified significant potential areas in northern England, including the Widmerpool Gulf near  Nottingham and a large area centred on the Elswick Gasfield, near Blackpool.
The recently published UK data and analysis for shale gas prospectivity covers work up to March 2009 and identifies high prospect areas.
Is this a game changer?   Or is it overblown?

Peer review in action. Is it completely broke?

 Corruption of Science
This second post today contains ingredients (in the links) only for the dedicated.  Here are the cardinal points of this story.   It continues the theme in the sub title of Andrew Montford's devastating book.
  1. Critics of the 'establishment' climate science are lambasted for criticising -  and not doing original peer reviewed work of their own.
  2. Establishment scientist Eric Steig produces a peer reviewed paper showing East Antartica is warming at a greater rate than previously shown.
  3. Ryan O'Donnell produces paper challenging Steig's calculations.  It scrapes through to publication only after intensive scrutiny and a lengthy challenges from the peer review.
  4. Steig criticises the methods used in O'Donnell's paper in Realclimate blog.  The post is technical and downplays the significance of O'Donnell's criticisms.
  5. O'Donnell replies to Steig's criticisms at Climate Audit blog.  He avers that the arguments in Steig's post are largely false and then reveals that the key anonymous peer reviewer of his much challenged paper was . . . guess who?   Steig.  The claims (you need to read right to the end of the Climate Audit post) are astonishing.
If O'Donnell's allegations are true we have another nail in the 'establishment' lauded peer review.

Climategate 2.0?

Donna Laframboise
3 shortish posts today, all questions.

It is 15 months since since the devastating release of emails focused on the habits and standards of the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia and their colleagues.  That year has seen the empire strike back in a range of ways.  These have included a series of 'official' enquiries (characterised by friendly and superficial scrutiny by sympathetic, fellow travellers) and the Horizon programme last week by the Sir Paul Nurse of the Royal Society (characterised by its bias and preconceived position).

This will have shored up those who are strong supporters of the 'establishment' narrative and may have retained many of those supporters who, for a variety of reasons have accepted the argument from authority.  Support has, nonetheless, hemorrhaged at a steady drip.  The field seems to have polarised further.

In October 2010 the Interacademy Council's Review of the processes and procedures of the IPCC reported.  In December, the Council published the evidence the report had received from 232 insiders to the IPCC process.  Redacted to maintain anonymity, one investigator now considers that efforts to put the comments in context will result in this document amounting to Climategate 2.0.

Look first at what Donna Laframboise says in this post:
The bottom line? Nearly every dark deed I’ve suspected the IPCC of is confirmed by this remarkable PDF.
Then look at the series of posts which open up the document.  They are here with a few more still to come.

Climategate 2.0?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Met Office mess

There is a bit of a furore going on around the Met Office.  Blogs round the world are buzzing as they try and make sense of the announcements, press releases and forecasts.

The bottom line is that there is what appears to be growing mistrust of the  Met Office as a whole.

One of the issues late last year was the bias of their annual forecasts of global temperature.  I posted in December, noting that the end of 2010 would see 11 out of their last 12 annual predictions coming in above the actual recorded temperature.   (Note in that post that the final figure for 2010 is now recorded as an anomaly of  0.50) Unbiased forecasts would tend to have a scatter of predictions above and below the final figure.

And it didn't help that the Met Office, having predicted with a flourish of publicity at the time of the Copenhagen conference that 2010 was going to be the hottest year ever, strained language and the facts to put their failed prediction in the most  favourable light possible.

Of course, this debate depends on reliable temperature readings.   And many question whether the data with which the Met Office works is reliable because CRU keep changing the figures.  Here is one such analysis in the last few days.

Accusations of lying are also not helping the reputation of the Met Office.  But there is so much material, this post could not do justice to it.  Here are a few links which flesh out some of the issues which stem from the  failure to forecast the recent cold spell and how the Met Office have dealt with the criticism: