Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Climate Wars, prequel......

An article in the Nude Scientist (Ms. Rabett buys it for the centerfold) sets the stage for the AR4 climate wars:

KEVIN TRENBERTH reckons he is a marked man. He has argued that last year's devastating Atlantic hurricane season, which spawned hurricane Katrina, was linked to global warming. For the many politicians and minority of scientists who insist there is no evidence for any such link, Trenberth's views are unacceptable and some have called for him step down from an international panel studying climate change. "The attacks on me are clearly designed to get me fired or to resign," says Trenberth.

The attacks fit a familiar pattern. Sceptics have also set their sights on scientists who have spoken out about the accelerating meltdown of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the thawing of the planet's permafrost.
Go read the article. Of particular interest to the crew at the fully funded Rabett Institute was

Another sensitive area is the concern that existing models of ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica massively underestimate future melting and consequent sea-level rise. "Our understanding of the dynamics of ice-sheet destruction has completely changed in the last five years," says Richard Alley of Penn State University, a lead author of the chapter on ice sheets who expects to find himself in the firing line over this issue. "We used to think it would take 10,000 years for melting to penetrate to the bottom of the ice sheet. But now we know it can take just 10 seconds," he says.

The rethink has come from the discovery that when surface water from melting ice drains down though crevasses it can lubricate the join between ice and bedrock. This mechanism appears to explain the faster discharge of ice from Greenland into the Atlantic, but it has yet to be incorporated into ice-sheet models, which still assume that the limiting factor is the rate at which heat penetrates through solid ice.

An issue on which we have had a few dozen chosen words.

6 comments:

Ken said...

Maybe the link should be http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn10445-climate-change-special-state-of-denial.html

EliRabett said...

Sorry, fixed. Many thanks

Mark Hadfield said...

I was particularly struck by the following statement, attributed to Michaels in the NS article:

To have any faith in the forecasts of climatologists, he argues, "we should expect that new research should have an equal probability of being better or worse [for Earth's climate] than previous research."

Say what?

Steve Bloom said...

What with ex-Climatologist Michaels having been thoroughly exposed, the elimination of the Barton/Inhofe denialist soapbox and the general trend in the media to give less and less attention to the denialists, I don't think PM's exercise in silliness is going to attract much attention. Consider, e.g., how much attention the Barton hearings and the Wegman report got relative to the NAS report. For similar reasons, I don't think KT has a lot to worry about.

Speaking of Congress, since the Dems won't really be able to produce much substantial climate legislation next year, I would expect them to instead place a major priority on raking both the septics and the Bush regime over the coals.

Semi-OT, notice how hardly anyone batted an eye when Rupert Murdoch himself abandoned the dark side a few weeks ago? The fact that this got so little attention is itself a pretty good indicator of the progress that's been made.

Steve Bloom said...

Apparently the AEI thinks Pat needs back-up and is willing to pay cold cash for it (via Rick Piltz):

"During this past summer Steven Hayward, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, wrote to selected climate researchers offering them $10,000 if they would produce essays critical of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Calling the IPCC “resistant to reasonable criticism” and “prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported,” Hayward stated AEI’s intention to publish the reviews by authors recruited on the basis of this slant concurrently with the release of the IPCC assessment. Participation by the authors in events in Washington and elsewhere designed to highlight the critique of the IPCC would earn additional honoraria.

"How, you might ask, can authors write critiques of a report that won’t be published until next year? Hayward tells them they can use the embargoed, not for citation or distribution, drafts of the report posted for review by governments and experts earlier this year."

This seems desperate.

Ian L. McQueen said...

The Climate Wars, prequel......

An article in the Nude Scientist (Ms. Rabett buys it for the centerfold) sets the stage for the AR4 climate wars:



KEVIN TRENBERTH reckons he is a marked man. He has argued that last year's devastating Atlantic hurricane season, which spawned hurricane Katrina, was linked to global warming. For the many politicians and minority of scientists who insist there is no evidence for any such link, Trenberth's views are unacceptable and some have called for him step down from an international panel studying climate change. "The attacks on me are clearly designed to get me fired or to resign," says Trenberth.

The attacks fit a familiar pattern. Sceptics have also set their sights on scientists who have spoken out about the accelerating meltdown of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the thawing of the planet's permafrost.
Go read the article.
*******************
PERHAPS YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FOLLOWING:
Letter from Chris Landsea



Dear colleagues,

After some prolonged deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from
participating in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC). I am withdrawing because I have come to view the
part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become
politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC
leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns.

With this open letter to the community, I wish to explain the basis for my
decision and bring awareness to what I view as a problem in the IPCC
process. The IPCC is a group of climate researchers from around the world
that every few years summarize how climate is changing and how it may be
altered in the future due to manmade global warming. I had served both as an
author for the Observations chapter and a Reviewer for the 2nd Assessment
Report in 1995 and the 3rd Assessment Report in 2001, primarily on the topic
of tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons). My work on hurricanes, and
tropical cyclo nes more generally, has been widely cited by the IPCC. For
the upcoming AR4, I was asked several weeks ago by the Observations chapter
Lead Author---Dr. Kevin Trenberth---to provide the writeup for Atlantic
hurricanes. As I had in the past, I agreed to assist the IPCC in what I
thought was to be an important, and politically-neutral determination of
what is happening with our climate.

Shortly after Dr. Trenberth requested that I draft the Atlantic hurricane
section for the AR4's Observations chapter, Dr. Trenberth participated in a
press conference organized by scientists at Harvard on the topic "Experts to
warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense
hurricane activity" along with other media interviews on the topic. The
result of this media interaction was widespread coverage that directly
connected the very busy 2004 Atlantic hurricane season as being caused by
anthropogenic greenhouse gas warming occurring today. Listening to and
reading trans cripts of this press conference and media interviews, it is
apparent that Dr. Trenberth was being accurately quoted and summarized in
such statements and was not being misrepresented in the media. These media
sessions have potential to result in a widespread perception that global
warming has made recent hurricane activity much more severe.

I found it a bit perplexing that the participants in the Harvard press
conference had come to the conclusion that global warming was impacting
hurricane activity today. To my knowledge, none of the participants in that
press conference had performed any research on hurricane variability, nor
were they reporting on any new work in the field. All previous and current
research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable,
long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones,
either in the Atlantic or any other basin. The IPCC assessments in 1995 and
2001 also concluded that there was no global warming signal found in the
hurricane record.

Moreover, the evidence is quite strong and supported by the most recent
credible studies that any impact in the future from global warming upon
hurricane will likely be quite small. The latest results from the
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (Knutson and Tuleya, Journal of
Climate, 2004) suggest that by around 2080, hurricanes may have winds and
rainfall about 5% more intense than today. It has been proposed that even
this tiny change may be an exaggeration as to what may happen by the end of
the 21st Century (Michaels, Knappenberger, and Landsea, Journal of Climate,
2005, submitted).

It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an
unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global
warming. Given Dr. Trenberth's role as the IPCC's Lead Author responsible
for preparing the text on hurricanes, his public statements so far outside
of current scientific understanding led me to concern that it would be very
difficult for the IPCC process to proceed objectively with regards to the
assessment on hurricane activity. My view is that when people identify
themselves as being associated with the IPCC and then make pronouncements
far outside current sc ientific understandings that this will harm the
credibility of climate change science and will in the longer term diminish
our role in public policy.

My concerns go beyond the actions of Dr. Trenberth and his colleagues to how
he and other IPCC officials responded to my concerns. I did caution Dr.
Trenberth before the media event and provided him a summary of the current
understanding within the hurricane research community. I was disappointed
when the IPCC leadership dismissed my concerns when I brought up the
misrepresentation of climate science while invoking the authority of the
IPCC. Specifically, the IPCC leadership said that Dr. Trenberth was speaking
as an individual even though he was introduced in the press conference as an
IPCC lead auth or; I was told that that the media was exaggerating or
misrepresenting his words, even though the audio from the press conference
and interview tells a different story (available on the web directly); and
that Dr. Trenberth was accurately reflecting conclusions from the TAR, even
though it is quite clear that the TAR stated that there was no connection
between global warming and hurricane activity. The IPCC leadership saw
nothing to be concerned with in Dr. Trenberth's unfounded pronouncements to
the media, despite his supposedly impartial important role that he must
undertake as a Lead Author on the upcoming AR4.

It is certainly true that "individual scientists can do what they wish in
their own rights", as one of the folks in the IPCC leadership suggested.
Differing conclusions and robust debates are certainly crucial to progress
in climate science. However, this case is not an honest scientific
discussion conducted at a meeting of climate researchers. Instead, a
scientist with an important role in the IPCC represented himself as a Lead
Author for the IPCC has used that position to promulgate to the media and
general public his own opinion that the busy 2004 hurricane season was
caused by global warming, whic h is in direct opposition to research written
in the field and is counter to conclusions in the TAR. This becomes
problematic when I am then asked to provide the draft about observed
hurricane activity variations for the AR4 with, ironically, Dr. Trenberth as
the Lead Author for this chapter. Because of Dr. Trenberth's pronouncements,
the IPCC process on our assessment of these crucial extreme events in our
climate system has been subverted and compromised, its neutrality lost.
While no one can "tell" scientists what to say or not say (nor am I
suggesting that), the IPCC did select Dr. Trenberth as a Lead Author and
entrusted to him to carry out this duty in a non-biased, neutral point of
view. When scientists hold press conferences and speak with the media, much
care is needed not to reflect poorly upon the IPCC. It is of more than
passing interest to note that Dr. Trenberth, while eager to share his views
on global warming and hurricanes with the media, declined to do so at the Cl
imate Variability and Change Conference in January where he made several
presentations. Perhaps he was concerned that such speculation---though
worthy in his mind of public pronouncements---would not stand up to the
scrutiny of fellow climate scientists.

I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I
view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being
scientifically unsound. As the IPCC leadership has seen no wrong in Dr.
Trenberth's actions and have retained him as a Lead Author for the AR4, I
have decided to no longer participate in the IPCC AR4.

Sincerely,

Chris Landsea

17 January 2005



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



For a biography of Dr Landsea and for further correspondence he conducted
with IPCC, please visit,
http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/science_policy_general/000318chris_landsea_leaves.html