Friday, October 31, 2008

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - R. Feynman

Some time ago, Eli put up a comment about Number 6 of the Cohenite 10 in which Ferenc Miskolczi visits the haunted house of bad assumptions and math manglement to reach the promised land of never mind about climate change. It's enough to drive a bunny to drink (picture from kansaspraire.net). You could, if you were a masochist, follow the tracks at Niche Modeling or at Climate Audit, and a very long trail it is, but the current state of play was pretty well put by Alex Harvey

Alright, you’ve been absent from this debate because, as you stated publicly months ago, you lost interest in it. That’s fine, welcome back. But since then, it has been made quite clear that Miskolczi’s theory was, in the first instance, an empirical discovery. The mathematical theory of M2007 that you are objecting to here was adduced “after the fact” to explain a series of well-documented empirical observations, as Ferenc has made quite clear earlier in this thread.
All praise to Nick Stokes and Pat Classen who put considerable work into tearing the Miskolczi hocus mathepocus apart (look into their comments on the various threads). So now this waste of electrons is reduced to the claim that the optical depth of the atmosphere is held constant at 1.87 by compensating variations in the water vapor column density in the atmosphere. Well, at least for the Earth's atmosphere right now that is the value, but is it fixed and if it is what is the mechanism?

We know that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is rising which would increase the optical depth. The only way that the optical depth could then decrease is for the water vapor column density to decrease. Measurements show that the surface is warming. Since warmer temperatures will result in higher water vapor pressure, the only way that total water vapor would decrease would be for the excess water to rain out quickly. Although there is some data on water vapor column density from way back when, it is not of the highest quality, and the further back you go, the worse it gets. Is there another way to get at this?

Why yes young fella, if you had the right satellite instruments you could look at the water vapor concentration as a function of temperature on the surface over a relatively small area. And guess what we have the right satellite instrument, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Andrew Dessler and friends have used data from this instrument in a paper currently appearing in the Journal of Geophysical Research, and as you would expect if you were not Ferenc Miskolczi, the column density of water vapor increases as the surface temperature below increases.
The numbers refer to the water vapor content of the air at different levels in g water/kg air. Ts is the sea surface temperature below the satellite. As a sweetner, Dessler, et al., show that the compositional observations of AIRS can be used to calculate the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) from the earth and that those results match observations of OLR from another satellite instrument (CERES). Another study is described below


A complimentary paper published by Soden, Jackson, Ramaswamy, Schwarzkopf, and Huang in 2005 (sorry, it's behind a paywall) covers the same ground, showing that the column water vapor has been increasing and, as importantly showing that a GCM can match the observations. That alone is enough to cocked hat Miskolczi but as importantly Soden, et al., provide a concise and clear explanation of what the actual issues involved in studying water vapor concentrations are. In particular, while the increase of vapor pressure with temperature drives the water vapor pressure low in the atmosphere, and this dominates, the middle and upper troposphere are different cases
When forced with observed SSTs, this model successfully reproduces the observed column-integrated moistening changes over this period (Fig. 1). However, because the mass of water vapor decreases rapidly with height, the column integral is primarily weighted by the lower troposphere, and its largely thermodynamic behavior is unsurprising (21). Consequently, there is not much debate about the projected increase of column-integrated water vapor in response to global warming, and its agreement with models provides only limited reassurance in their simulation of water vapor feedback (9).

In contrast, water vapor in the free troposphere is not so directly constrained by thermodynamic arguments (21), and its response to global warming has been the subject of long-standing controversy (9, 15–17). Given the radiative importance of moisture changes in the upper troposphere (9, 10), it is important that humidity changes there are demonstrably consistent between models and observations. Although an international network of weather balloons has carried water vapor sensors for more than half a century, changes in instrumentation and poor calibration make such sensors unsuitable for detecting trends in upper tropospheric water vapor (27). Similarly, global reanalysis products also suffer from spurious variability and trends related to changes in data quality and data coverage (24).
which tells you to be wary of the global reanalysis product and if you follow the reference it will tell you why to be wary. The study shows that not only is relative humidity in the upper troposphere remaining roughly constant and the actual humidity increasing as the air warms, but the change is captured by GCMs
Climate models predict that the concentration of water vapor in the upper troposphere could double by the end of the century as a result of increases in greenhouse gases. Such moistening plays a key role in amplifying the rate at which the climate warms in response to anthropogenic activities, but has been difficult to detect because of deficiencies in conventional observing systems. We use satellite measurements to highlight a distinct radiative signature of upper tropospheric moistening over the period 1982 to 2004. The observed moistening is accurately captured by climate model simulations and lends further credence to model projections of future global warming.

Nature bites man

In a unique editorial, Nature has endorsed Barack Obama. They have some complimentary things to say about John McCain but when the rubber hits the road

"Some will find strengths in McCain that they value more highly than the commitment to reasoned assessment that appeals in Obama. But all the signs are that the former seeks a narrower range of advice. Equally worrying is that he fails to educate himself on crucial matters; the attitude he has taken to economic policy over many years is at issue here. Either as a result of poor advice, or of advice inadequately considered, he frequently makes decisions that seem capricious or erratic. The most notable of these is his ill-considered choice of Sarah Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska, as running mate. Palin lacks the experience, and any outward sign of the capacity, to face the rigours of the presidency.

The Oval Office is not a debating chamber, nor is it a faculty club. As anyone in academia will know, a thoughtful and professorial air is not in itself a recommendation for executive power. But a commitment to seeking good advice and taking seriously the findings of disinterested enquiry seems an attractive attribute for a chief executive. It certainly matters more than any specific pledge to fund some particular agency or initiative at a certain level — pledges of a sort now largely rendered moot by the unpredictable flux of the economy.

This journal does not have a vote, and does not claim any particular standing from which to instruct those who do. But if it did, it would cast its vote for Barack Obama.

Usually the bunny keeps politics out of the blog, but this is where policy meets the road. You can read Obama's and McCain's answers (well actually their advisors answers) to science policy questions. Popular Mechanics has a nice matrix of the policy positions of the candidates including those who dropped out of the primaries. You can find some of Biden's positions there and compare the primary season answers of the candidates to the election positions. Palin asked for a make-up.

UPDATE: Science reports on a debate between Daniel Kammen and representing Barack Obama and Kurt Yeager representing John McCain. Among the topics,

Cap and Trade Programs for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Both candidates reject a federal tax on carbon emissions of the sort that was advocated by former Vice President Al Gore. Both Yeager and Kammen said that the candidates see a cap and trade regime as being stronger and more sensitive in its ability to control carbon emissions.

Generally, a cap-and-trade program sets limits for greenhouse gas emissions. The government would sell the permits or give them away; utilities and industries that emit the gasses could buy them and sell them. Over time, fewer permits would be available, and the cost presumably would be higher. That would help reduce overall emissions.

Both campaigns have staked out their objectives: Obama would auction the permits to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. McCain's goal is a 60% reduction by 2050.

At the Stanford debate, Kammen said auctioning the permits would essentially set a price for polluting, and that proceeds could be used for a variety of purposes, including efforts to promote green development and green jobs in low-income urban and rural areas. He was critical of McCain's program, joining other analysts who have found that it would initially give some of the permits away. That approach that has been questioned by some critics who say that creates insufficient incentive for polluters to stop polluting.

Yeager insisted that McCain's plan would not give away permits. It would set firm objectives in five-year increments and hold polluters accountable for meeting them. That would be effective without bankrupting private industry, he said. A cap-and-trade regime has to be a "sustainable strategy that gets beyond the enthusiasm of the moment" so that it can endure long-term, he added.

Read the comments. . .

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Believing ten impossible things before breakfast

Eli, the evil bunny has been busy sowing derision on some denialist sites, in a most polite way of course. Among other revelations is that the red queen had nothing on your average denialist

Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said `one ca'n't believe impossible things.'

`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Denialism is reduced to throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping that something sticks which leads to claiming that every one of a set of mutually contradictory papers are just wonderful. This came out again recently (at least when the Rabett was in attendance) in comments Open Mind. Down towards the bottom of the thread Ray Ladbury started it with
Dave A., Don’t be daft. Of course I form my own opinion of research in my field. I read the paper. I do the math. I look for consistency and how it fits into the context of previous research.
Eli agreed
Now the hooty thing about denialists is that they believe three impossible and mutually contradictory things before breakfast. Look at the nonsense that they simultaneously accept. They don’t care as long as it casts doubt on our understanding of climate.
and Gavin's Pussycat added

Many non-scientists have no clear idea of how highly rated redundancy is in science. You don’t really believe anything seriously before it has come from several independent sources. And those sources themselves are often internally redundant, like surface temperatures, monthly averaged, correlate over long distances.

Same with replication: I can replicate with the best of them someone else’s coding errors by running their code. Independent replication, by different people, using their own code and methods, on different data (if you can get it) proves something.

and Barton gave an example from virtual life
I can testify from personal experience that that’s true. I’m in a long running dialogue over on landshape.org where people are defending Miskolczi’s crackpot paper. One of them insists that the surface temperature of the Earth being higher than the radiative equilibrium temperature is caused by “stored energy,” not by the greenhouse effect. I pointed out that this would mean he’s disagreeing with Miskolczi, who at least believes there’s a greenhouse effect. Nothing doing. He says he didn’t see any conflict, and neither Miskolczi, who is also present on the thread, nor any of his supporters, was willing to correct this guy. “No enemies on the left.”
Eli has been pointing this out for a while now, and the reaction has been, welll......amusing

Eli you ought to hang your head in shame and embarrassment as a result of quoting the deplorable Krugman on economic matters.

And by the way the nonsense you spouted about the superiority of mitigation was a crock of shit proving that if you know so little about economics you shouldn’t be talking about AGW as your judgment on any matter should not be trusted.

The sheer nonsense was deplorable. here:

http://alsblog.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/rabbets-and-carrots-without-the-stick/

As usual you peddle off at 50 MHP and won’t answer to all that stupidity you wrote.

We need an apology for your stupidity, Eli. Nothing less will do.

Of course we made sure that Krugman would win the Eco Nobel before replying, but what do you expect, the sucker can't spell Rabett either. The source of this exchange was cohenite playing Dave Letterman on Jen's rent a blog

The point here is not to show that cohenite's heart throbs are trash, you can read that elsewhere, but to point out that they contradict each other. You might believe one or two, but all ten at once is very red queen territory. The envelope please:
1. Steve McIntyre’s Ohio State University Address; How do we “know” that 1998 was the warmest year of the millennium? (May 16, 2008). http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/ohio.pdf. This is a seminal paper which synthesizes all the errors and obfuscations to do with the Hockey Stick. It also demonstrates McIntyre’s methodical, scientific and unadorned approach to the issue.

2. Craig Loehle’s paper; A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree ring proxies, Energy & Environment 18(7-8): 1049-1058. 2007 http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025 This paper was important because it was a counterpoise to Mann’s tree-ring data and provided good support for the Medieval Warming Period, a major obstacle to AGW.

3. Douglass, Christy et al; this is the first of the GCM critiques; A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. International Journal of Climatology, 2007 http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3058
http://www.scribd.com/doc/904914/A-comparison-of-tropical-temperature-trends-with-model-predictions?page=6 .
This paper really touched a nerve and the level of hostility leveled at it was astounding; it mostly boiled down to nit-picking about Raobcore data and whether a falsification was distinct from a bias. The second link is to an addendum to the paper; comments 69-74 are entertaining.

4.Koutsoyiannis et al; http://www.itia.ntua.gr/en/docinfo/850 Assessment of the reliability of climate predictions based on comparisons with historical time series. Geophysical Research Abstracts, 2008. This link is to the first presentation. This was a crucial paper; it covered the 18 year predictive history of the GCM’s on a regional basis; regionalism is the Achilles Heel of AGW.

5.Stockwell; http://landshape.org/stats/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/article.pdf Tests of Regional Climate Model Validity in the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report. 2008 This paper did the job on CSIRO and demonstrated the political imput into the AGW science.

6. Misckolczi; Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary Atmospheres. Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service, Vol. 111, No. 1, January–March 2007, pp. 1–40.http://met.hu/doc/idojaras/vol111001_01.pdf This is my favourite. It has everything; the dead hand of AGW censorship, and the demolition of the AGW’s semi-infinite opaque layered atmosphere. People have quibbled about the Kirchhoff equations but Miskolczian –ve feedbacks have been established.

7. Essex, McKitrick, Andresen; Does a Global Temperature Exist? Journal of Non-EquilibriumThermodynamics, 32 (1) 1-27.http://www.reference-global.com/doi/abs/10.1515/JNETDY.2007.001?cookieSet=1 The fallacy of a global average temperature was taken to task in this paper, and, again, the reaction was hostile. This paper wittily compared averaging temperature to averaging the phone book; an important addition to the regionalism lexicon.

8. Spencer and Braswell; Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A simple Model Demonstration, Journal of Climate. http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2008JCLI2253.1 No list would be complete without Mr Cloud and –ve feedback. As well, Spencer has been a bastion of reliable temperature data. This was still a close call. Minschwaner and Dessler’s paper on RH decline as a response to increasing CO2 is a crucial paper, conforming to Miskolczi’s feedbacks.

9. Chilingar; Cooling of Atmosphere Due to CO2 Emission, Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects. Volume 30, Issue 1, January 2008 , pages 1 - 9 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15567030701568727 An important paper about convective heat transfer which relegates CO2 radiative heating to its proper subordinate position; and incorporates atmospheric pressure as a heating factor. Thanks to Louis for alerting me to the paper. An honourable mention to the Gerlich and Tscheuschner paper on the fallacy of the greenhouse concept and a host of other errors AGW science makes.

10. Pielke Sr et al; Unresolved issues with the assessment of multidecadal global land surface temperature trends. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 112. 2007. http://climatesci.colorado.edu/publications/pdf/R-321.pdf
An elegant paper which uses Stefan-Boltzman to support regionalism and show that the notion of a radiative imbalance is defeated by regional temperature based energy differentials. Somewhat superfluous since AR4, FIG 1 shows no global radiative imbalance.
Eli torched this off by pointing out that Miskolczi and Chillingar are not even on the same planet. The former does some theoretical hocus pocus on radiative equilibrium in the atmosphere, the later claims that radiation plays only a small role and that almost all heat transport in the atmosphere takes place by convection.

Essex et al. claim that there is no meaningful global (or by the same arguments regional) temperature while almost all of the others calculate such metrics. Some of the papers claim there is no greenhouse effect, others claim there is a little bit, still others claim there is a greenhouse effect but it cannot increase (Miskolczi), and so on.

NT summed it up
You have missed the point. On this post(by Cohenite) he has used contradictory science to demonstrate that AGW is not real. You cannot use one paper to falsify one aspect, and then another paper to falsify another, when the two papers are mutually exclusive.

He attempted to show that the Greenhouse effect is negligable. He posted a paper he said showed why (Minschwaner), it contradicts earlier an earlier paper he posted (Miskolczi). one claims there is a greenhouse effect due to greenhouse gases, tthe other claims it is due to optical depth. You can’t have it both ways.

Skeptics use a scatter shot approach, using one kind of physics to ‘disprove’ one aspect and an opposing kind of physics to ‘disprove’ another. You need to have an internally consistent argument.
and SJT disagreed

“Skeptics use a scatter shot approach, using one kind of physics to ‘disprove’ one aspect and an opposing kind of physics to ‘disprove’ another. You need to have an internally consistent argument.”

As Jen's site demonstrates so well, you don’t need anything of the sort.

UPDATE: Michael Tobis has found the right words, the incoherence of denialism

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No No Nierenberg or the wabid wabbit attacks


Here begins a new chapter for the William Nierenberg Book Club. If you have not been paying attention, places to catch up include Stoat, Stoat, Stoat, Atmoz, Nierenberg Central, and yr. humble hare here, here and especially here for the background to this post.

To make a long and a short of it, William Nierenberg was a founder of the George Marshall Institution with Robert Jastrow and Fred Seitz, president of the Scripps Institute, a member of the National Academy, etc. He is not especially a favorite of Naomi Oreskes, who has assigned him considerable responsibility for blocking early action on climate change (read the links damn it!!).

While those other characters have been looking at Jason and NAS reports (read the links damn it), Eli has acquired at considerable cost ($0.41 + postage) a copy of Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem, by Robert Jastrow, William Nierenberg and Fredrick Seitz (nice to see that they followed the mathematicians practice for author lists) published by the Marshall Institute in 1990.

The first 61 pages are by the JNS team, and Eli assumes for convenience that perhaps with some small changes, they are the same as the manuscript circulating in 1991 which was described by Jerry Mahlman as "noisy junk".

The book is being read by the bunny book club but Eli thought he would give you a taste of the thing starting with Figure 1.

Fig. 1 Comparison between observed global average temperature and calculations by Hansen, et al. (2) based on a computer simulations of the greenhouse effect. the dashed line indicates the calculated temperature increase caused by carbon dioxide increases since 1880. The solid line indicates the observed temperatures for the same period. The zero point in the calculated curve has been adjusted to agree with observations for the 1880s, since nearly all the anthropogenic greenhouse warming occurred subsequent to that time. both curves show a 0.5 C rise over the 100 year interval, However, the observed temperatures, unlike the calculations, show a rapid rise in the first 50 years followed by a decrease from 1940-1970.

Young and innocent readers, let us see why this is a fitting entry into the 1990 Golden Horseshoe Award.

Of course, Eli will not be able to find all the goodies and welcomes participation. Now the first thing you ask, (and it is but a small thing as pointed out in the comments but indicative-added) this book was published in 1990, why does the x-axis end about 1983 (a relatively cool year. Why glad you asked, the temperature went up from there as you can see in the figure from global warming art opposite. Further

The zero point in the calculated curve has been adjusted to agree with observations for the 1880s, since nearly all the anthropogenic greenhouse warming occurred subsequent
So JNS increased the calculated effect of CO2, assigning all of the change in global temperature since 1880 to increases in CO2 concentration. Eli wonders, is that what Hansen, et al (2) did? Well no, but glad you asked so let us look at Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind and G. Russell. 28 August 1981, Volume 213, Number 4511
Summary. The global temperature rose by 0.2 °C between the middle 1960's and 1980, yielding a warming of 0.4°C in the past century. This temperature increase is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect due to measured increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean trend of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980's. Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.
The NW Passage has indeed opened in the last two years, but didn't you get the idea from Bob, Bill and Fred that Jim and his buddies assigned all the the change since 1880 to CO2? Guess again, what Hansen et al. actually tried to do was to constrain the climate sensitivity and changes in the solar constant to obtain the best fit to observations This WAS published in 1981 and the models were considerably less sophisticated, almost as unsophisticated as the denialists claim now.
Radiative forcing by CO2 plus volcanoes and forcing by CO2 plus volcanoes plus the sun both yield a temperature trend with a strong similarity to the observed trend of the past century (Fig. 5), which we quantify below. If only the heat capacity of the mixed layer is included, the amplitude of the computed temperature variations is larger than observed. However, mixing of heat into the deeper ocean with k = 1 cm2 sec-1 brings both calculated trends into rough agreement with observations.

The main uncertainties in the climate model-that is, its "tuning knobs"-are (i) the equilibrium sensitivity and (ii) the rate of heat exchange with the ocean beneath the mixed layer. The general correlation of radiative forcings with global temperatures suggests that model uncertainties be constrained by requiring agreement with the observed temperature trend. Therefore, we examined a range of model sensitivities, choosing a diffusion coefficient for each to minimize the residual variance between computed and observed temperature trends. Equilibrium sensitivities of 1.4°, 2.80, and 5.6°C required k = 0, 1.2, and 2.2 cm2 sec-1, respectively. All models with sensitivities of 1.4° to 5.6°C provide a good fit to the observations. The smallest acceptable sensitivity is - 1.4°C, because it requires zero heat exchange with the deeper ocean. Sensitivities much higher than 5.60C would require greater heat exchange with the deep ocean than is believed to be realistic (21, 22). Radiative forcing by CO2 plus volcanoes accounts for 75 percent of the variance in the 5-year smoothed global temperature, with correlation coefficient 0.9.
and they get a pretty fair agreement. They go on to discuss
The predicted CO2 warming rises out of the lσ noise level in the 1980's and the 2σ level in the 1990's (Fig. 7). . . Nominal confidence in the CO2 theory will reach - 85 percent when the temperature rises through the lσ level and - 98 percent when it exceeds 2σ. However, a portion of a may be accounted for in the future from accurate knowledge of some radiative forcings and more precise knowledge of global temperature. We conclude that CO2 warming should rise above the noise level of natural climate variability in this century.
Is that a slinky little beast raising his hand in the audience? Well what say you: "Look Hansen, et al. only went out to 1980, just like Jastrow, Nierenberg and Seitz. Well sadly no. JNS went to 1982-3, just when the cooling trend from the El Chichon eruption kicked in and they published in 1990. Hansen, et al. published in 1981. Somehow the Marshall gang managed to avoid almost a decades worth of improvements in the models since 1981.

Will someone please reassert Eli's faith in the innocent as melting snow Bill Nierenberg.

From the Wikipedia

Thomas Midgley, Jr. (May 18, 1889November 2, 1944), was an American mechanical engineer turned chemist. He developed both the tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) additive to gasoline and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and held over a hundred patents. While lauded at the time for his discoveries, today his legacy is seen as far more mixed considering the serious negative environmental impacts of these innovations. One historian remarked that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth history." [1]


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Users

A note from Joel Shore to the Forum on Physics and Society

Frankly, I think that we, in the Forum, have basically been “used” in what is not really a scientific debate but rather a propaganda war. I would ask you, in the strongest possible way, to prevent future misrepresentations of Monckton’s paper and its appearance in our newsletter.

Thank you for your time.

Joel D. Shore

Editor’s response: The newsletter of the Forum on Physics & Society is not, and never has been, peer-reviewed.

Tim Lambert has Moncton's bleat

and the Editors of the Forum rejoin the Reality Based Community explain themselves, much as those who bought mortgage derivtives

Our editorial comments in the July 2008 issue include the following statement: “There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.” In fact, we have not polled any scientific community(e.g., the climate research community, the physics community, or the general science community) as to the extent of its consensus regarding human-activity-caused global warming, and we apologize for making such a remark for which we do not have supporting data. We now do know that, in addition to the American Physical Society, the following scientific organizations have issued statements and/or reports in support of the IPCC’s main conclusion concerning the role of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in global warming: The National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

They would have done better to read Logical Science which has a fairly complete list of learned societies world wide who point out that we are in trouble with climate change. These guys are babes in the woods.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Science and van Gogh

Via Female Science Professor, and apropos of something entirely different comes this insight from Peter Medwar

If a scientist were to cut his ear off, no one would take it as evidence of a heightened sensibility.
Peter B. Medawar (zoologist, 1915-1987)

who has quite a way with words as can be gathered from Wikiquotes. But Eli thinks this is not so true. The bunny knows quite a few scientists who have sacrificed body parts and function to their art, the colors seen only once when a laser beam gets dumped in your eye, frostbite and loss of toes and fingers on arctic/antarctic expeditions, the many early descriptions of organic chemicals that include "tastes like" and more.

Of course, the only reason for doing any of this is to get a grant.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

News

Eli and Ethon have been enjoying the liver and beer at Oktoberfest and chewing over developments. Blurry as we are, there are some interesting things afoot in the world of climate.

Ethon thought it would be a good idea to move to London, so he suggested a new posting for Snack:

**Modelling extreme weather risk at RMS London**

Risk Management Solutions (RMS) is the world's leading provider of mathematical models and information related to the financial impact of natural catastrophes, under both present and future climates. We have a
team of twenty-five PhD scientists in London building mathematical models that predict the distributions of possible damage due to tropical storms, extra-tropical storms, thunderstorms, storm-surges and fluvial
floods. We use a combination of observed data, reanalysis data, numerical models and statistical models. Our clients include several hundred insurance and reinsurance companies, brokers, banks, hedge funds, regional and local governments, and multilateral agencies.

We have a number of open positions in this group, to work in areas related to tropical storms, extra-tropical storms and storm-surge. The ideal candidate would have (a) a strong background in physics, applied
mathematics or statistics, (b) a Doctorate in oceanic or atmospheric science, or related discipline and (c) Unix-based computing experience, including programming. Strong candidates with a different but equivalent
profile would also be considered. Industrial experience is not necessary.

To submit an application, please email a CV and covering letter to with the title '09Q1 climate hazards'. Appropriate candidates will be invited for interview in London.
An interesting conference on the issues of mitigation and adaptation

Lennart Olsson (Lund University, lennart.olsson@lucsus.lu.se) and I are organizing Session C-2 on Modelling Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies to Cope with Climate Change at the conference on Integrated Assessment of Agriculture and Sustainable Development: Setting the Agenda for Science and Policy (AgSAP), 10-12 March 2009, Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands .

Holger Meinke (Wageningen University) will give a keynote presentation, "Will Global Mitigation Policy Enhance or Undermine Local Adaptation?" We want to showcase innovations in system modelling to inform decisions that can reduce the vulnerability of agriculture to a changing climate, reduce the contribution of agriculture to climate change, or manage the tradeoffs and exploit the synergies between adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation. Examples of topics that we would like to see represented include:

* modelling approaches that span spatial scales and system levels;
* interventions that consider tradeoffs and synergies between immediate development goals and long-term sustainability or between environment and livelihood goals within agriculture;
* innovations for managing the uncertainty associated with climate change; and
* studies that consider climate change in the context of other global drivers of change.

If you are doing relevant work with a strong agricultural system modeling focus, we invite you to submit an abstract to this session. Please note that abstracts are due 15 October.
and for Stoat an urgent appeal from the BBC

Dear All,

I’m working on a major new BBC science project, a follow up to 2007’s "Earth: Power of the Planet". The aim of the new series is to reveal the influence of planetary forces (geology, climate, geomorphology) in shaping human history over the last 10,000 years. Like "Power of the Planet", the series needs to be visually spectacular, full of great ocations, and featuring cutting edge science.

As part of the planning for the series I'd like to ask for your help.

- We're looking for exciting science projects underway in remote or visually stunning parts of the world.

- Do you know of any major projects or expeditions of a geological / historical nature that might be happening over the next 12 months?

- And can you think of any spectacular locations that have been rarely or never filmed that we should be looking to visit?

If you know of anything and would be happy to share it with me or discuss it with me further I would be delighted to hear from you. My contact details are given below.

Any advice will be gratefully received.

Best wishes,

Alex Hemingway
Series Associate Producer
How Earth Made Us / BBC
And so to bed

Comments below