Monday, August 07, 2017

Making the Elephant Dance as Performed by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller

As John von Neuman put it
With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.
and, as fate would happen, along comes Ned Nikolov and Karl Zellner with "New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model".  It's basically 22 pages of word salad and Eli may later return to pointing out some of the more amusing light fingered moves, but here the Bunny will only provide a small amuse bouche with the "interesting" exercise in fitting five numbers with four free parameters, two unphysical constants and a free choice of fitting form.

So briefly, what goes on is to fit the five average surface temperatures of five plants or moons (Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Titan and Triton.  Wait you say, that's six, not five, but they leave Titan out of the mix because  (Eli told you this would be yummy) to an arbitrary functional form

y = a exp(bx) + c exp(dx)

Wait you say again, ok, that is four parameters and the functional form plucked out of thin air, but what is x and y.  That's kind of interesting and more than a bit light fingered but you have to watch the moving cup.  The independent variable is a ratio of pressures (Ps/Pr).  Ps is the pressure at the surface, Pr, well that's interesting, Pr starts out as the "minimum air pressure required for the existence of a liquid solvent at the surface, hereto called a reference pressure (Pr)" but about a page further on it morphs into 
For a reference pressure, we used the gas-liquid-solid triple point of water, i.e., Pr=611.73Pa [38] defining a baric threshold, below which water can only exists in a solid/vapor phase and not in a liquid form. The results of our analysis are not sensitive to the particular choice of a reference pressure value; hence, the selection of Pr is a matter of convention.
The alert out there have noticed that the minimum air pressure required for the existence of a liquid solvent at the surface kind of depends on the temperature of the surface, and would vary widely from planet to planet. Of course worry bunnies like Eli might ask:  What liquid?  Water exists as water on the surface of the Earth, if there was any as steam at Venus and as ice at all the others if it exists there at all.  For Venus maybe CO2, but at the surface of Venus CO2 is a supercritical fluid and you can't tell the difference between liquid and gas.  At Titan, there are oceans, but oceans of methane, so any useful Pr is going to be wildly different for all of these bodies and, in the case of the Mars, and Triton some pretty fancy liquids are going to be needed.

Selection of water as the solvent of choice is then both arbitrary and unphysical.  But why do Nikolov and Zeller insist on using it? Turns out their elephantine trunk waving depends on using dimensionless variables, but restricting Pr to an inappropriate value independent of the planet is equivalent to stripping the units off of the surface pressure Ps.

How about y.  y is defined as the ratio (Ts/Tr) with some really serious trickery buried in TrTr is defined as a reference temperature,
the planet's mean surface temperature in the absence of an atmosphere or an atmospheric greenhouse effect.
At this point no bunny should be surprised to find that that ain't quite that.  Whoa.  Where that come from.  Old timers may remember Eli's old friends Gerlich and Tscheuschner who were also in the business of trying to falsify the greenhouse effect, by as was pointed out, not understanding what the greenhouse effect was.  As Science of Doom put it
 Gerlich & Tscheuschner have written an amazing paper which had the appearance of physics yet failed to address any real climate science.
Eli and several distinguished bunnies had a run at G&T, but, of course, as such things go, the majicians never give up, and one may anticipate a visit from Nikolov and Zeller too.  Good times to be had.

Anyhow, one of the results was a nice arXiv article by Arthur Smith explaining how the surface temperature of a rotating planet varies with the rotational period and the heat content of the surface, which for the earth is basically that of water.

The parameter λ for the Earth is 0.04 and describes the ratio of the energy absorbed from the sun in a day to the heat capacity of the surface.  The effective temperature is the temperature determined by emission from  the surface on a non-rotating body needed to maintain thermal equilibrium.  Depending on your model Arthur showed, as was well known, that the average temperature of the surface of a rotating planet without greenhouse gases has to be less than the effective temperature.

Nikolov and Zeller reproduced Smith's results in another paper with one very strange twist.  In their model  they insist that every planet without an atmosphere will have the same surface as the moon.  (Basically λ =20 in the figure above.)  Using the bare moon Tr now Tna, is, again arbitrary, but let's go ahead and look at the fit which is all John von Neuman told you it would be

Further hand waving ensues.  Nikolov and Zellner will soon be here to entertain you.  Eli warns the bunnies they are indefatigable and will tell you to read the paper.  Eli's advice is if you want some laughs go ahead.  Scott Denning has been trapped into the endless circle, so be sure to take some survival rations for him.


@whut said...

Yup, those two are delusional Tallbloke Talkshop material.

They should have tried something challenging like fitting 140 years of monthly ENSO data to two lunar tidal parameters.


They might place their analytical skills at Trump's disposal - he needs a new Deputy Assistant Mahout

Arthur said...

So I was wondering where they'd managed to get a rehashed G&T paper published - have you checked out the other articles published by "Environment Pollution and Climate Change" (an OMICS journal)?

Volume 1, issue 1: "Climate Change: Is the Science Settled?" by Arthur Viterito, which appears to be an opinion piece, laced with pejorative and political terms, and concluding "each of the ideas proposed by the skeptics must be fully assessed through careful, exhaustive research"...

and then in issue 2 along with the paper from these two, we have "The Refutation of the Climate Greenhouse Theory and a Proposal for a Hopeful Alternative" by Thomas Allmendinger - with the claim in the abstract that "at least twenty crucial errors are revealed which suggest abandoning the theory as a whole" - yes, this one thinks the errors go back all the way to Tyndall...

and then in issue 3 we have 4 (four!) more articles from Arthur Viterito, clearly polishing his CV here... with the titles:
"Shifting Plates, Shifting Poles, Shifting Paradigms" - global warming is caused by seismicity!
"Perspectives on Clexit" - another opinion piece, mainly attacking Jim Hansen
"A Note on Contemporary Publication Ethics" - defending against accusations that EPCC is a "sham journal" (from ATTP and desmogblog)
"Information, Misinformation and the Climate Change Debate" - complaining that one of his papers (in OMICS) has been "delisted" by Google Scholar...

I hadn't been keeping track of this stuff, but OMICS really seems to be running a quality journal there :)

JohnMashey said...

People may recall January 2016 , Will Happer sent a letter to Lamar SMith, having collected names.

One of these months, I fill finish the detailed analysis of this, since I collect name, but interrupts happen.

Following is dump of current writeup's notes on signers Nikolov and Viterrito.

D. NIKOLOV, Ned, Ph.D., Physical Scientist (with expertise in atmosphere- ecosystem interactions, vegetation remote sensing, fire-weather forecasting and climate dynamics), USDA Forest Service.
‘According to our new theory, the climate change over the past 100-300 years is due to variations of global cloud albedo that are not related to GHE/ATE.’ Nikolov adds many comments.
‘David Appell says:
March 14, 2014 at 3:14 am
So did this Zeller and Nikolov paper ever get published, or not?
I have asked them a couple of times over the years, but now they have stopped responding. I take that to mean, no, it hasn’t gotten published, and that, yes, the knowledgeable critics above were right after all — N&Z’s idea is wrong.
[Reply] There are many ideas in N&Z’s work, not just one. They are still developing and refining them. they still respond to me. I’m not surprised they’ve stopped responding to you.’ critique, many comments

F. VITERITO, Arthur, Ph. D. Professor of Geography, College of Southern Maryland. Member of the Association of American Geographers, the International Association for Urban Climate, and the National Association of Scholars. College of S. MD
OISM1998; NAS See signer Wood, long climate anti-science in NAS

I'll have to add the items Arthur mentioned.

Unknown said...

Desmog says "Environment Pollution and Climate Change" is a shame journal.

Anonymous said...

Arthur, it's OMICS.

You should read how the journal describes itself:

It's hilarious.

Bernard J. said...

OMICs was a fairly early denizen of Beall's list, IIRC:

We warn our international and younger colleagues about it, but they still sometimes succumb. Somewhere I had a collection of some of the more extraordinary articles that came out of that stable - I think that it's evaporated in a USB drive failure, but I should ask around. It's extraordinary what can be put to print under the banner of 'peer review'...

Phil said...

If you are going to have a circus, you better have elephants.

gallopingcamel said...

Ned Nikolov and Scott Denning live in the same town but don't see eye to eye. Both of them are real scientists who deserve our respect. No matter what you hear in the lying media there is no "Consensus" about CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) driven by rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Temperature and [CO2] are in almost perfect correlation over the past 850,000 years but [CO2] lags temperature by 500 +/- 200 years. Thus Al Gore got the cart before the horse in his award winning movie (An Inconvenient Truth).

Russell Seitz is brilliant but he would starve if he was a cartoonist.

If you want to understand celestial bodies with significant atmospheres I recommend Robinson & Catling:

Unknown said...


It is not often I see someone attempt climate change denier talking points and a Gish Gallop in this blog.

Bernard J. said...


A simple question. On the basis that there are multiple reasons why atmospheric CO₂ concentration might change, what happens when CO₂ increase precedes any alterations in non-CO₂ forcings?

Please show your working. With actual numbers, and reference to peer reviewed physics.

Jim Eager said...

gallopingbullshitter wrote: "but [CO2] lags temperature by 500 +/- 200 years”

As well it should when a change in CO2 was *not* the initial forcing, as we’ve known since Milutin Milankovic worked it out a hundred years ago.

I can’t believe you lot are so dense as to continually trot out this illogical fallacy time and time again with a straight face, but then I suppose that is the best you can muster.

Matter said...

They took their travelling shell game to Tallbloke's place. There was a conversation about Venus: its surface is hot and radiates ~16,500 Watts per square metre. It only gets ~100 W/m2 from sunlight because of Venus' thick clouds. So where does the heat come from to keep the surface warm? If it's pressure, then gravity-driven compression would squash the atmosphere to nothing within months. Either that, or they don't believe their idea has to conserve energy.

A scientist should be interested in whether their ideas work in reality but they were completely incurious. It's like when Flat Earthers are asked about geometry, which destroys their wacky beliefs, the "theory's" defenders try just try to avoid the question and change the subject.

It went something like this:
MS) "what about 16.5 kW/m2 from Venus?"
Nikolov) "Did you read our paper? We used real data from NASA!"
MS) "what about 16.5 kW/m2 from Venus?"
Nikolov) "The answer's in our paper, read it carefully!"
MS) "no it isn't, page and line number? What about 16.5 kW/m2 from Venus?"

Then other defenders jumped in and time after time they desperately tried to change the subject and refused to answer.


Another camel gallops into the sunset, pursued by a man with a broom.

John Farley said...

Thanks, Eli, for alerting the world to the latest lunacy from the deniers.

I learned something also: "amuse bouche".

Yes, I had to look it up.

With my recently enlarged and improved vocabulary, I can stride boldly in to the future!!

Bob Loblaw said...

I have a feeling I know why the man that is chasing the camel in Russell's comment needs a broom.

barry said...

I looked up one of their conferences in my country and found a wiki article on predatory conferencing.

"Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor in information technology at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, was invited to attend a conference, organised under OMICS' ConferenceSeries banner, on atomic and nuclear physics to be held in late 2016. Having little knowledge of this subject as an IT professor, Bartneck used iOS's autocomplete function to write a submission, choosing randomly from its suggestions after starting each sentence using words like "atomic" and "nuclear", and submitted it under the name Iris Pear (a reference to Siri and Apple). The 516-word abstract contained the words "good" and "great" a combined total of 28 times. Despite being obvious nonsense, the work was accepted within three hours of submission and a conference registration fee of US$1099 requested. Bartneck commented that he was "reasonably certain that this is a money-making conference with little to no commitment to science," a comment he based on the poor "quality of the review process" and the high cost of attendance, and consistent with Beall's criticisms.

Characteristics of predatory meetings which are similar to those attracting criticism in predatory publishing include: Rapid acceptance of submissions with poor quality control and little or no true peer review; acceptance of submissions consisting of nonsense and/or hoaxed content; notification of high attendance fees and charges only after acceptance; claiming involvement of academics in conference organising committees without their agreement, and not allowing them to resign; mimicry of the names or website styles of more established conferences, including holding a similarly named conference in the same city; and promoting meetings with unrelated images lifted from the internet."

Kevin O'Neill said...

The number of free parameters and the ability using them to get any result you want is one of the core criticisms Paul Romer had about the whole conservative/libertarian-leaning/micro-foundations economic models crowd.

"The Keynesians tended to say "Assume P is true. Then the model is identified." Relying on a micro-foundation lets an author can say, "Assume A, assume B, ... blah blah blah.... And so we have proven that P is true. Then the model is identified.""

He also goes on at some length to talk about their choice of priors nad why econometricians (Tol anyone ??) liked strict priors - they gave the results they wanted. Of course none of this had any relevance to 'truth' ....

Some background here ...

Zenchuck said...

Science died years ago. History is being re-written. Truth has left the building but will return, as she always does.

Hank Roberts said...

But remember the Xtian fundies tell us the Earth is continually expanding since it was created 6000 years ago -- that explains those funny parallel ridges in the mid-Atlantic.

And we know the blinkenlights in the sky are held on a solid crystalline sphere.

So as the Earth expands it compresses and heats the atmosphere, right?

Simple, when you make the right assumptions.