Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Physical Science behind Climate Change

Article abstract from : August 2007;Scientific American Magazine; by William Collins, Robert Colman, James Haywood, Martin R. Manning and Philip Mote; 10 Page(s)
For a scientist studying climate change, "eureka" moments are unusually rare. Instead progress is generally made by a painstaking piecing together of evidence from every new temperature measurement, satellite sounding or climate-model experiment. Data get checked and rechecked, ideas tested over and over again. Do the observations fit the predicted changes? Could there be some alternative explanation? Good climate scientists, like all good scientists, want to ensure that the highest standards of proof apply to everything they discover.

And the evidence of change has mounted as climate records have grown longer, as our understanding of the climate system has improved and as climate models have become ever more reliable. Over the past 20 years, evidence that humans are affecting the climate has accumulated inexorably, and with it has come ever greater certainty across the scientific community in the reality of recent climate change and the potential for much greater change in the future. This increased certainty is starkly reflected in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the fourth in a series of assessments of the state of knowledge on the topic, written and reviewed by hundreds of scientists worldwide.

From Climate Audit:
Pictures have been coming in to Surface Stations from many places. This one is from Fort Morgan, Colorado’s USHCN climate station of record. Fort Morgan is in the eastern plains of Colorado, about 100 miles northeast of Denver.

The good news is that more than 85% of the data collection points are better than Fort Morgan. There isn't much question that that humans are affecting the climate at this data collection point. The bad news is that climate scientists don't appear to be terribly concerned about which ones are which.


Knucklehead said...

It appears that the surface station data set is garbage. And, as any of us who have spent any time in the computer business know, Garbage In yields Garbage out. We even have a well worn acronym for it - GIGO.

According to Wikepedia (yeah, I know, but it is convenient and the number seems to roughly agree with what I recall reading over the past few years)...

Global average air temperature near the Earth's surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the past century.

That, as far as I am aware, is about the high end of what is claimed for the extent of global warming over the past 100 or so years.

I can also find sources that put the rise in global temp at roughly 0.5 and 0.6 degrees centigrade. Near as I can figure it, what those on the doom and gloom side of the global warming catfight are screaming about is a claim that global temps have risen something between 1.33 and 1.65 degrees fahrenheit over the past century (approximately) and that the increase is due to human activities (anthropogenic).

As far as I can discover "near surface" seems to mean precisely that with "near" being something similar to "just a few feet". In other words, just like the sensors in the temperature recording stations shown in the picture Rick gives us.

What this means, as far as I can tell, is that the data comes from surface monitoring stations. But we know, or should know, that that data set appears to be garbage. We've lost huge numbers of stations over the past roughly 17 years (and gee, if you look at the global warming graphs, they start shooting up over the past 20 or so years!)

BTW, if you track down this stuff I think you'll see, as I have, that there were few such stations (no more than a few hundred) as of 1850 and they, for whatever reason, the numbers grew into the thousands until roughly 1990 when thousands were lost.

Not only have we lost huge numbers of stations but the technology within the stations has changed. Once upon there were thermometers that humans went and looked at. Now they are sensors that humans never look at.

Not only has the number of stations risen and dropped radically over the past 150 years, and not only has the technology of recording changed radically over the years, but as the folks Rick points to note, the surroundings of those stations we have has changed radically over the past couple of decades or so. What were once somewhat remote stations now sit in parking lots, or near buildings, surrounded by air conditioners, BBQs, ashpalt, parked cars, etc and etc and etc. It's largely the rural stations that have been lost.

The painful fact of the matter is that we don't really have a freakin' clue what near surface temperatures have done over the past quarter century. The data set is complete trash. Garbage. G-A-R-B-A-G-E. Toss it and start over.

Knucklehead said...

Geeze, I forgot to mention. If you track down the guys who are looking at where stations are located you'll also discover that they are looking at the housings the sensors are placed in. How the housings are constructed and painted is a matter of specifications.

The type of structure spec'd in the US has changed over time.

Once upon a time the spec called for the housings to be whitewashed (made sense at the time). Once whitewash was no longer available the spec was swithed to more modern paints (latex, IIRC). Well, experiments suggest that the paint on the surface of the housings can matter to the temperature read inside the housings. IIRC, the number is something on the order of + 2 deg. F.

The "scientists" blathering about rising surface temps are charlatans and they know their data sucks, therefore they know they are charlatans. Round 'em up and burn 'em, that's what I say.

chuck said...

The Global War on Climate continues apace. I suspect it will cost even more than the Global War on Terror.

Barry Dauphin said...

And throw in some bristlecone pine proxies from times gone by (a la Mann et al.), and we have a lot of funny data.

Rick Ballard said...


It just don't matter:

#53: ”Can this be true? It appears that because satellite and radiosonde results don’t reflect the measured surface temperature data and GCM model output then it is acceptable to create adjustments so that the differences go away.”

Certainly adjustments have been made. They were probably made in good faith.

The adjustments were based upon the idea that the satellites sensors themselves were heated by the sun - apparently this had not been factored in before. Also satellite orbits drift so other adjustments were made to for that.

Both ideas seem reasonable to me, but good meals depend on how foods are prepared not upon how good the recipe is.

There have been papers on radiosonde adjustments too. At least one correction was made by assuming the satellite data was correct. Sounds circular but probably wasn’t.

Google ’satellite data adjustments’ and ‘radiosonde data adjustments’. In both cases the top article is useful."

See, the series adjustments reflect "good faith", no matter what series, no matter what divergence.

If we think this through carefully we will return to the Aristotelian model post haste - who can argue that his determinations were not made in the very best of faith?

Knucklehead said...

Here is another link to a picture of a surface station.

BTW, if you had trouble with Rick's link or mine from a few days ago, try this one for Surface Stations dot Org.

And do check out young Kristen Byrne's, Ponder the Maunder blog. Don't miss her takedown of An Inconvenient Truth.

buddy larsen said...

It just boggles the mind how easy it would be to use the folks who've thrown in (so quickly, emotionally & completely) with AGW, to fill that 1930s stadium in Nuremburg.