Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Climate Weirdness on NPR

NPR's Diane Rehm show has an hour on climate driven weather weirdness. Guests are

Captain Tim Gallaudet -Deputy Director of the Navy's Task Force Climate Change.

Heidi Cullen -senior research scientist with Climate Central, a nonprofit research organization through which she reports on climate change for news outlets, including PBS NewsHour, Time.com and the Weather Channel.

Gavin Smith - Executive Director, Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters and Associate Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Might pay to listen in and put some comments out there


Michael Tobis said...

Thanks, I caught the last few minutes. It was, I think, dire.

This isn't the way to use audio media to communicate. Rather, we should be doing a Terry Gross type get-to-know-the-scientist thing. There's no way any of those details could be absorbed by someone who didn't know them already.

Anonymous said...

OT, but Eli should hop over to John Cook's place.....Pielke Snr is at it again.

David B. Benson said...

Off-topic, but would Eli care to comment on STEP Carbon capture?

Anonymous said...


Pielke Snr says:

"There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary, and indeed can be misleading when the signal is substantially nonlinear. Moreover, if global annual average cooling occurs, such as from a major volcanic eruption, the global warming "clock" is reset regardless of the long term trend."

What does Eli think?

Steve Bloom said...

I don't know about Eli, but I say it's classic RP Sr. I leave as an an exercise for others any attempt to make sense of it.

EliRabett said...

It's very simple, RPSr. wants a pony. His son wants to do research to find the pony.

EliRabett said...

On STEP, don't plants do that??

Steve Bloom said...

Yes, a pony.

Anonymous said...


Thanks. But once more in english please...sorry to make you spell it out, but not all of us are not fantastically bright bunnies and/or are not privy to the history and goals etc. of the people involved here.

guthrie said...

I think I'll have a stab - not paying attention to trends is meaningless, whatever you are measuring. Full stop. End of story. No argument. (At least from any rational person who is actually interested in knowing what is happening. Pielke senior went emeritus a few years ago, I don't know why.)
It might be better to classify the above quote as confused. The way I see it, if you get various data points of ocean heat content, you then have to plot a trend to see how that is changing with the other changes in incoming and outgoing radiation and greenhouse gases andland use etc. Pielke seniors thing is that land use changes leadto albedo changes which lead to more heat absorbed, so actually the warming isn't much to do with CO2 and so there isn't much of a problem. Hence his expectation for oceanic heat content to go down, since all thats warming it just now is the sun, or so I believe he understands it. Meanwhile, in the real world, warming is happening as expected due to CO2 etc. Pielke snr also plays the classic political game ofcomplaining that the current measurements are inadequate and thus wrong and therefore there is no evidence for dangerous warming and so everything in hunky dory, just wait for it to cool down since the sun has lower activity and everything will be fine, so there's no need to pay attention to greenies etc.

I'msure more seasoned Pielke watcherscan elaborate, if they can be bothered. It isn't that important.

9/9/10 5:55 AM

Horatio Algeranon said...

"Emeritus" means "lots of time to be confused and incoherent"

You can be confused and incoherent at your leisure.

Anonymous said...

Diane Rehm is still on the radio? I have to say that I find her essentially unbearable to listen to, regardless of topic.

Anonymous said...

Maybe so guthrie, but Pielke Sr is one of the few who have actually made significant climate science contributions, and he does understand better than most the mesoscale relationships between various climate factors, including things like albedo and evaporation. Why he hobnobs with an idiot like Watts I have no idea, and he has said some dumb things, but you can't ignore his legitimate contributions. He's not in the same class, by any means, as the typical climate change denier.

guthrie said...

Anonymous who forgot to add a name - indeed, it is always sad to see someone who has contributed a great deal fall by the wayside. Its kind of tricky to deal with, culturally. If you continue to laud their past successes you run the risk of making their current obsessions sound more worthy than they actually are which doesn't help matters. If you slag them off you run the risk of dissing their entire output and also appearing mean to someone who has been of help previously.
It is a bit like the Dyson storm in a teacup.

chek said...

RP Sr. must know that trends can be masked, but if the background drivers of those trends haven't changed, then short term foreground variations that may or may not arise mean diddly-squat (in layman's terms).

Why he's pretending otherwise is another question, just as why he backs monkeys like Monty Watt's Flying Circus is a similar if not more pertinent question.

I'm speaking as a layman, of course.

Anonymous said...

"If you continue to laud their past successes you run the risk of making their current obsessions sound more worthy than they actually are which doesn't help matters."

Don't worry about stuff like that. Give credit when it's due and criticize when it's called for, and just leave it at that. If others want to spin it certain ways, let 'em.

No One said...

Wow, you have developed a following. One that a Woody Allen movie would describe as "Piccolo".


No One

EliRabett said...

Yes, Mother Rehm is not Eli's favorite.

EliRabett said...

Carrot Eater can sell you a terrific Rabettese translator, but somewhat more clearly, as Eli said over at Skeptical Science:

Assume Eli accepts Roger and Humanity's (see comment 1) argument. What happened between 2000 and 2004 when the ocean temperature jumped about 5 x 10^22 J, which is an absolutely crazy amount, esp given that every other measure (surface T, MSU, etc) was pretty well behaved?

Either there is something rotten with the measurements, or weird stuff is happening in Captn Neptune's locker.

Cocked hat, Pielke's argument meet.

If you make RPSr's argument, you have to deal with all of the record, not just the bits and pieces that you like. You have to explain all the wiggles.

Adrian said...

Maybe some of the more mathematically and physically competent (by which I don't mean ability to do countless sit-ups) can explain something to me? Or maybe it's just I don't understand science-ese.

Following Professor Pielke's analogy (on his pages, I think) of heating a pan of water, he seems to be saying that you don't need multiple measurements to understand a trend as long as you have enough spacial resolution, and that somehow 'heat' is more important than 'temperature'.

Does this mean that if I place say 400 (or even an infinite number of) thermocouple devices at various positions within his heating pan of water and take measurements to determine 'heat' at say 3 time points a couple of picoseconds apart, I will understand the trend regardless of the timing of my experiment (i.e. at what point after application of the heat source I took my first measurement) and regardless of the intensity of the heat source?

Would such an experiment indicate that the pan of water would reach boiling point, again, regardless of the heat source and the timing of my 'very, very, very, spacially-resolved' measurements?

Is this really what he is saying? Or am I missing something?

I understand the difference between 'temperature' and 'heat', but aren't we talking about global 'warming' (i.e. an increase in temperature) as opposed to global 'delta-heat'?

I thought I was keeping up with this topic, but this is making me feel quite inadequate!

EliRabett said...

His point, such as it is, that you can absolutely determine the heat content of a system if you can measure the temperature and composition (he neglects that) at a fine enough resolution. Unfortunately, you can't do that for the ocean. At best you might do that for the upper ocean, but there is a lot of heat content in the lower ocean which is not measured.

At that point you try and measure changes in heat content of the upper ocean, more precisely, the flow of energy into and out of the upper ocean by measuring the change in heat content over time. Not a walk in the park either.

dhogaza said...

Personally I think he landed on the ocean heat argument as being the only reasonable way to measure global warming because he thinks he can make a stronger measurement uncertainty-based action-delaying argument on this tack...

Who, me? Cynical?

Deech56 said...

I always like Derek McGinty as an interviewer. And Terry Gross. But I am now hooked on SciFri podcasts.

With the recent GRACE adjustment, I wonder how the possible larger contribution of SLR due to thermal expansion fits in with measured sea ocean heat content?

EliRabett said...

McGinty has a great voice and looks, well, not so good. He jumped to one of the networks but is now back in DC on one of the locat TV stations as a news reader. His successor at NPR, Kojo Nambi is pretty good.

J Bowers said...

Deech56 -- "With the recent GRACE adjustment, I wonder how the possible larger contribution of SLR due to thermal expansion fits in with measured sea ocean heat content?"

Yes, I think it's raised a question about SLR and possibly where a chunk of it comes from if only half of the ice melt is happening than previously thought. It takes heat, and what's been missing for a while now? Others would have a far better idea than I, and I'd love to be corrected.

Robert said...

I would not make too many assumptions about the adjustments to grace data. This rabbit follower thinks that we should wait till author authors respond before making proclamations. Also there are a number of inconsistencies with the new paper that should be addressed...

"My impression with respect to the Grace estimates is that there was already considerable uncertainty with the estimates. The paper you are referring to does show half the losses for Greenland and Antarctica compared to previous studies but I think there are some aspects which I find a little bit interesting about the paper. Firstly, the paper still concludes that the EAIS is losing ice at somewhere near 25-30 Gt per year. This to me is a very pertinent conclusion as previous studies were lambasted at WUWT for showing those losses (and subsequently responded to by me over at Skeptical science)

So even with the uncertainties lowered it is still clear that the submarine portions of EAIS are losing more ice than the center part is gaining in snowfall. Another interesting conclusion is how the WAIS is seen to be losing half of previous estimates with Grace, Radar Interferometry and some Altimetry methods. I think that this result is likely missing some of the dynamicness of a lot of these regions grounded below sea level such as Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier. There has been numerous studies (most recently Rignot et al. 2008b) which have quantified very accurately the contribution of the WAIS to sea level rise and I find it a bit presumptuous to make assumptions that we can half the previous estimates with other techniques. This could go the same for the Greenland losses in dynamic regions also. Lets remember too that some studies used GRACE to just detect accelerations in loss which would not be affected by GIA.

We all must remember the lesson from radar altimetry studies such as Wingham et al. 2006. At the time it was a paradigm shifter which gave the impression that Greenland was not losing as much ice and that Antarctica was likely gaining. Now after the fact we know from studies like Thomas et al. 2008 that this method completely overestimated gains and underestimated losses in dynamic regions. With time we will know whether the new study validates but I do find it a bit suspicious when a study seems to show that the only areas significantly losing ice are Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska… What about the canadian high arctic, svalbard, himilayas, switzerland, patagonia…."

Steve Bloom said...

Thanks, Robert. The commentary accompanying the paper made it perfectly clear that further adjustments are to be expected. The ice sheet GPS networks simply haven't been in place long enough for definitive results. Re your last comment, I think the paper was focused entirely on the three ice sheets, and didn't purport to draw any conclusions about the small glaciers or the overall melt/SLR budget.

Steve Bloom said...

This from Watts (at WTF) on 8/31:

"For those of you wondering about the upcoming surfacestations project paper, let me say that it is now mostly out of my hands and will not be impacted by item 1. I have a team of co-authors with far greater skills than I working on it. I’m pleased with the current draft having survived a critical review designed to strengthen it. When I have more, I’ll pass it along and of course at the appropriate time the surfacestations main page will get an update."

So, RP Sr. stays busy. (Item 1 refers to a temporary reduction in Watts' blogging due to a family medical issue.)

Reading between the lines, we can hope that this paper is being put through the wringer much as Spencer and Braswell's latest was, the better to keep the authors from engaging in the endless Lindzen/Christy/Spencer/RP Sr. hall-of-mirrors of "OK, that's not quite right but really it's just a misunderstanding since we'll be able to make our thinking clear in the next paper, so as far as we're concerned we're still right." Reading through S+B, the spots where they were forced to carefully explain their reasoning are pretty obvious. One can hope it's a trend.

Speaking of S+B, does anyone know about any comments in the works?

(wv suggests a location for RP Sr. to stick his latest: "inose". Eli probably thinks wv is too familiy-oriented.)