Eli has often talked about how a major strength of astronomy, ornithology and just plain botanizing as a friend puts it (didn't know lagomorphs had friends, did you), is their amateur communities. While there have always been those obsessed with the weather who operated weather stations, the emergence of digital communications and the web has integrated large numbers of stations into at least the networks of TV weathercasters, if only because the later saw it as a low cost opportunity to broaden their appeal to the local community. With significant computing power and expertise available ground truth is moving away from the professionals and toward amateurs, and even some computational work is moving in that direction.
Climate science today is showing stress from this effort. Because of politicization it will not be a smooth road. In the discussion about weather station records needing to be reduced to bits, it is obvious that there is a large crowd of folks who would take pleasure in doing this, but it is also obvious that quality control would be a horror, as some, far be it from Eli to say whom, would also like to shift the numbers up and down a bit.
The two best examples to date of participatory climate science are the Clear Climate Code Project which is attacking the cost and time issues associated with heritage code (grandfather wrote it back in the days of streaming tape and core memory) by involving volunteers (nice powerpoint presentation at the link for bunnies who would learn more), and the Oxford Climate Prediction.net, offering folk the opportunity to participate in using a simple GPS (e.g. today something that was state of the art maybe 15 years ago) to build a large ensemble of global simulations.
About a year ago, Eli gathered some readers up to produce a publishable refutation to a rather amateurish and ill tempered effort by Gehard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner. The RR paper was finally accepted about three months ago, and has now appeared,
Comment on Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics, JB Halpern, CM Colose, C Ho-Stuart, JD Shore, AP Smith and J Zimmermann,, International Journal of Modern Physics B, 24 (2010) 1309-1332 doi 10.1142/S021797921005555Xand damn it, Stoat saw it first although all the parents were waiting for it. As far as Eli knows, this is the first time a scientific paper was written out in the open on a blog, with multiple participants who volunteered their time. You can follow the saga by searching Rabett Run using the keyword "Gerlich" although you will also have the pleasure of reading comments upon the original comments, including a comment by the EPA. While our comment is behind a paywall, feel free to look at an earlier version (it went through 15 drafts) and two rounds of reviews (Hi Gerhard) at Rabett Run Labs.
Of course, there is a reply by Ralf Tscheuschner and perhaps Eli will get to that. He anticipates a visit from the good Dr. Kramm trying to break his lance on the bunny, etc.
Finally, a good word for a new effort by one of the authors, Chris Ho-Stuart to establish a discussion form on the physics of climate,
Our aim is to support substantive discussion of the science of climate, especially the underlying physics. We focus on ideas that have been published in the mainstream scientific literature. This still allows for all kinds of competing ideas to be considered, while hopefully avoiding distraction from ideas that have no credible basis.which starts with a discussion, of what else, our discussion of the Gerlich and Tscheusner paper. Chris' ambition is to replace the late (it became too controversial for them) physicsforum climate discussions. Eli has added a link on the blogroll.