Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flim Flam Fred Crawls Out of Retirement

Of the two Freds, S. Fred Singer is still with us and selling flim flam.  His latest appears in the May 16 Wall Street Journal.  It's right out of the Encyclopedia of Scams.

Figuring out what the boys from SEPP are selling requires not paying attention to the set-up but watching for where the pea comes out of the shell, so, let's skip down there.

I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred.  I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.
Keep your eye on the cup.  S. Fred does not assess the sea level trend from 1915-45.  He paw waves.  Trupin & Wahr assessed the sea level from 1900 to 1973, twice the period

What the sea surface temperature has been doing since 1910 has been increasing with a blip around 1940.  Not smoothly, but increasing.  Without that blip not 0.5 C btw 1915 and 1945, dates chosen w. care.

OTOH, watch the pea, what is important for steric sea level rise is the heat content of the oceans, not the sea surface temperature.  S. Fred is a sharp oneFor this our best data only goes back to 1960 or so, and it really only is good after 1993 or later.  However, as Eli will show this is enough.

The mass increase component is driven by melt of ice on land which is a function of the temperature at the surface of the ice.  We know that the increases in surface temperature have been strongest in the Arctic, but we can also look directly at the decrease in land ice.  Satellites are useful.  That's been plunging.

So let's put all this together and look at the increase in global mean sea level.

The rise was slower between 1920 and 1990 back in the days when S. Fred was raising big bucks for his retirement fund, but has sped up since.   The Turpin and Wahr study shows an increase consistent with the figure to the left.

Now some, not Eli to be sure would tell you (Tamino will be coming around in a moment) more about analysis of the time series, but it is more interesting to Eli to note that, hey, we now have the tools to measure sea level rise from space, and also to measure mass gain in the oceans as well as land ice mass loss using the GRACE satellites  (well until recently) and the ARGO floats.  This provides a neat way of closing the budget on sea level rise, to separate the steric thermal expansion which S. Fred  pooh poohs from the mass gain components. 

You would think some bunny has done this. You would think right. Purkey, S. G., Johnson, G. C., Chambers, D. P. (2014). Relative contributions of ocean mass and deep steric changes to sea level rise between 1993 and 2013. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 119, 7509-7522 (2014) and Leuliette, E. W. (2015). The balancing of the sea-level budget. Current Climate Change Reports, 1(3), 185-191.  The later has a nice figure showing that the sum of the steric and ocean mass gain match (within reason) the observed increase in global mean sea level.

There are others.  Not perfect, but useful.  At this point, a healthy bunny would wrap his fish in the Wall Street Journal and go on his way, but one more quick point.  Fred goes on:
Melting of glaciers and ice sheets adds water to the ocean and causes sea levels to rise. (Recall though that the melting of floating sea ice adds no water to the oceans, and hence does not affect the sea level.) After the rapid melting away of northern ice sheets, the slow melting of Antarctic ice at the periphery of the continent may be the main cause of current sea-level rise. 
All this, because it is much warmer now than 12,000 years ago, at the end of the most recent glaciation. Yet there is little heat available in the Antarctic to support melting.
Eli would point the uninterested reader to a figure that Jos Hagalaars put together and the Bunny called "the wheelchair".

Eli is a generous beast, OK, S. Fred meant 16000 years ago, and we take his meaning, but the truth is that the Holocene climatic maximum was 12,000 years ago, and the Earth has been slowly cooling from that point (with bumps, especially local ones) until about a century ago when folk started pumping greenhouse gases, esp. CO2 into the atmosphere.

Singer is tying to leave the impression that melting started back in the year dot and been continuous and constant since.  The data and observation show that melting was slowing up until we started using fossil fuels. By ignoring the satellite and float data, he manages to "disappear" the steric component. 
It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).
Always look for the bent corner move when you play three card Fred.  But then it gets funny
The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed,expansion however evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.
As some players may recall, increasing water vapor feedback, which is Singer's answer to the puzzle, is a base prediction of what most think will happen when CO2 increases in the atmosphere and the sea surface temperature rises.  Thank you Fred.


Sou said...

Thanks, Eli. That's a great summary. (The years have not been kind to Fred, but not as unkind to him as he is to everyone else.)

BTW = There's also this new discussion paper:

Global Sea Level Budget 1993–Present
WCRP Global Sea Level Budget Group
LEGOS, 18 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31401 Toulouse, Cedex 9, France

...The results presented in this paper are a synthesis of the first assessment performed during 2017–2018. We present estimates of the altimetry-based global mean sea level (average rate of 3.1 ± 0.3 mm/yr and acceleration of 0.1 mm/yr2 over 1993–present), as well as of the different components of the sea level budget (doi:10.17882/54854). We further examine closure of the sea level budget, comparing the observed global mean sea level with the sum of components. Ocean thermal expansion, glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica contribute by 42 %, 21 %, 15 % and 8 % to the global mean sea level over the 1993–present. We also study the sea level budget over 2005–present, using GRACE-based ocean mass estimates instead of sum of individual mass components. Results show closure of the sea level budget within 0.3 mm/yr. Substantial uncertainty remains for the land water storage component, as shown in examining individual mass contributions to sea level....

It also has some recent references.

Everett F Sargent said...

The damage has been done though via the WSJ. What is really weird though is that their is no new here, It is not newsworthy or opinion worthy as there is no new here, it is like that op-ed comes from 1990.

I hope the WSJ or some other MSM outlet tries to correct Fred's 'so called' 1990 paper era and ~1910-45 data era misconceptions.

Mother Jones has a reply but this 30 year old op-ed 'so called' news , but this needs a higher profile response IMHO ...

Are there any other responses in the MSM to Fred's nonsense? I would hope so.

I don't even have much faith in the GMST much before ~1950 given the apparent lack of marine data for the SH oceans (either that or my lack of understanding the data error bars for those times). I also don't truly appreciate the GMST 'so called' middle finger from ~1939-1945.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

I obtained Church and White’s time series for global mean sea level (GMSL) from 1880 to 2013 (N = 134). I regressed it on CO2 for the same period. R^2 was 92.1% and p was < 9.37 x 10^-75.

Anonymous said...

Fred Singer writing gibberish about climate change in the Wall Street Journal? What is this, 1990?

Between Singer and Rupert Murdoch, the world could use a couple fewer selfish old men. These two would gleefully burn down the world to warm their dying bones.

jon said...

Plus the fact that no person calling himself a physicist can seriously defend that there is no expansion if temperature increases (outside the 0-4 celsius well-known exception). Trying to discuss this is just embarrassing for himself.

Anonymous said...

(outside the 0-4 celsius well-known exception)

Actually, I think this isn't true for sea water. Given the salinity, sea water will expand for all temperatures above freezing.

Mark said...

I wonder if Singer agrees with Herr Professor Doktor Senator Mo Brooks that sea-level rise is caused by stones falling into the oceans?

E. Swanson said...

A search of google for ["The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change" singer], produced 4,840 hits. Replacing "singer" with "wall street journal" returned 9,550 hits. Sad to say, it's an election year in the US and the flood of politically motivated disinformation is just beginning.

EliRabett said...

Yeah, well then it's time to start linking to

as well as, of course,

all over the net!!

E. Swanson said...

Notice how these guys work their game. When I first looked at Singer's WSJ commentary, it was not paywalled, but when I later went back to read it, it was. Yet, other sites re-posted the piece word-for-word, even though it's copyrighted:

Google says there are almost 6,500 hits on the [title + singer]. These guys aren't interested in scientific truth (or the Rule of Law, for that matter).


When will Senator Brooks realize that reason and logic dictate that water displaced by stones falling into the ocean will be pushed over the edge of the Earth without impacting sea level ?