Climate Science – STILL Plays Defense Worse Than The Cleveland Browns! Using The Same Old Trick!

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In this previous post, one of the papers I used to rebut Real Climate is the new Douglas / Knox paper of ARGO data showing a negative trend in ocean temps. I wrote:

Bell’s second point, also from the lead paragraph:

According to two separate NASA studies, one conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the other by the Langley Research Center, the oceans now appear to be heading into another natural periodic cooling phase within a typical 55- to 70-year dipolar warm/cool pattern.

We traced this claim to an internet article by Justin Berk that says:

Two separate studies through NASA confirm that since 2003, the world’s oceans have been losing heat. …

First black mark – Real Climate assumes this is where Bell got his info. Why not just call and ask “Hey Lar… what was your source on this”? Anyway, to rebut Bell, RC points to an article titled “Correcting Ocean Cooling” where they show the cooling was just an instrument error and, in fact, ARGO the oceans were still warming. The data refereed to in the study was published in 2006 by Josh Willis.

“First, I identified some new Argo floats that were giving bad data; they were too cool compared to other sources of data during the time period. It wasn’t a large number of floats, but the data were bad enough, so that when I tossed them, most of the cooling went away. But there was still a little bit, so I kept digging and digging.”…

…when [Willis] factored the too-warm XBT measurements into his ocean warming time series, the last of the ocean cooling went away.

So the new Argo data were too cold, and the older XBT data were too warm, and together, they made it seem like the ocean had cooled,” says Willis. The February evening he discovered the mistake, he says, is “burned into my memory.” He was supposed to fly to Colorado that weekend to give a talk on “ocean cooling” to prominent climate researchers. Instead, he’d be talking about how it was all a mistake.”

Please note that I am not criticizing either the scientists or the handling of the data in any way, but simply pointing out that great pains were taken to make sure they got things as right as possible. Real Climate goes on:

What’s more, the NASA article itself is from 2008, so even if the press had reported it as news as Larry Bell suggests, it would not have been in 2010. But in fact, the news was that the previous evidence of cooling was erroneous. Bell’s second point is simply wrong as well.

Uhm… Scratch that! The supposed “Non-Science” website “Watts Up With That” just this week linked to the updated ARGO measures… And guess Watt? Even with the adjustments mentioned in the “Correcting Ocean Cooling”, ARGO still shows a cooling trend in the oceans! Here is the abstract of the paper newest paper:

A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003–2008 data from Argo floats, we find by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2. These results fail to support the existence of a frequently-cited large positive computed radiative imbalance.

1. Introduction

Recently Lyman et al. [1] have estimated a robust global warming trend of 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2 for Earth during 1993–2008, calculated from ocean heat content anomaly (OHC) data. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003-2008 data, we find cooling, not warming.

That means from 2003 to 2008, the most current data available, The oceans have indeed cooled. The paper concludes:

In summary, we find that estimates of the recent (2003–2008) OHC rates of change are preponderantly negative. This does not support the existence of either a large positive radiative imbalance or a “missing energy.”

Note that they did not use the previously mentioned XBT data, used the newest availible, and that Josh Willis, the main scientist from the “Correcting” article, was consulted for this paper.

The Douglass / Knox paper rebuts a study by Climate Scientist Kevin Trenberth that showed through computer modeling that the lack of warming in this decade was due to the excess heat generated by global warming  being stored in the oceans. Trenberth has responded thusly:

“I have now read the paper and I dismiss it entirely. The authors do not describe what data they use. Argo data have undergone several major revisions. It also is varying in time in amount and coverage, and some floats were “bad” and some had calibration problems (the surface pressure was recorded as negative, indicating depth problems).
They also do not use the Lyman et al results, or our commentary on it:

Trenberth, K. E., 2010: The ocean is warming, isn’t it? Nature, 465, 304. [PDF]

They end up with a statement about their opinion. Well I will say emphatically that their opinion is wrong and we have evidence that it is so. This sort of paper should not have been published, and really it hasn’t been because this “journal” has no credibility. It is clear what the biases are of these authors.

Looking at the figure in the paper also reveals a clear problem: The values at the end are higher than any others yet they have a downward trend. Clearly any “trend” they get depends critically on how they get it and it highly dependent on the time period. By taking a 12 month running mean they discount the last 6 months.”

Knox and Douglas respond:

We take Trenberth at his word that he has read our paper. However, he does not appear to understand it. We take up all of his critical points.

[a] We describe exactly the data we use. It comes from J. Willis.

[b] Willis is the acknowledged expert on Argo data and provides the scientific world with “official” OHC estimates. He attests to the robustness of the data. As recently as September 21, which post-dates the submission of our paper, he states in an email to Roger Pielke, Sr. “… In fact, corrections of the Argo pressure data may result in a small but significant systematic change in the early years of that curve. However, from 2005 on, the answer will not change much. So, yes it is now possible to test the 5-year warming rate from Argo. …” [The Willis statement is abstracted from an email exchange published on Roger Pielke Sr.’s web site with Willis’ permission.]

[c] We were aware of the Lyman et al. paper and Trenberth’s comments. In fact our paper not only mentioned the Lyman paper (our ref 1), our paper was written to show that their estimate of the global warming trend was misleading, as they averaged the data across an event that they described as a “flattening” that occurred in 2001-2002. That event is almost certainly an abrupt
climate phase transition previously reported in other studies [Tsonis et al, GRL 34, L13705 (2007), Douglass and Knox, Phys. Lett. A. 373, 3296 (2009)]. The conclusions of the Lyman paper also relied heavily on theoretical estimates of FTOA by Trenberth et al. See next point.

[d] What we said was “In our opinion, the missing energy problem is caused by a serious overestimate by TF of FTOA, which, they state, is most accurately determined by modeling.” This is based upon the following statement by Trenberth, Fasullo, and Kiehl [“Earth’s global energy budget” Bull Amer Meteorol Soc 90, 311-323 (2009), page 313]

“… The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from climate models and is estimated to be 0.85 ±0.15 W m-2 by Hansen et al. (2005)”.

The later Trenberth papers then use this “probable best” source as the basis of their conclusions about large energy imbalance and “missing energy.” Thus “missing energy” is inferred from models. Had the results been based on the observational CERES data, large error bars would have prevented any such conclusions.

[e] In regard to the last 6 months of data, our method 1 which uses a 12 month symmetric running mean does in fact use the last 12 months.

Robert S. Knox
David H. Douglass

I wrote my blog post several days before this e-mail exchange came to the fore. Note that I pointed out that the ARGO / Willis data used was the corrected up to date data, and that Douglass and Knox had consulted with Josh Willis on the results of this paper, the same points made by the more recent DK reply. If I can figure out the data sets they used, why can’t Trenberth?

Trenberth writes “They also do not use the Lyman et al results”

Well duh! There disputing the results of that paper! Trenberths latent heat / “missing heat” hypothesis is based entirely on models and simulations, which asserts, in order for anthropogenic global warming to be accurate, the temp increase that was supposed to happen in the last decade (remember the temp trend is flat) has been stored in the ocean just waiting to get out! The Douglass Knox paper consists of actual, real time, real world error corrected data which shows THERE SEEMS TO BE NO LATENT HEAT BUILD-UP IN THE OCEANS!. Trenberth demands that we ignore actual scientific observation and put out faith in a climate model that doesn’t seem to be predicting what is happening in the real world.

The question is: Which do you trust more – computer models, which are based of numerous assumptions, or actual real world data? And remember, even if a computer model paper has been peer reviewed, that doesn’t negate the fact that the assumptions as still assumptions.

But that is beside the point. What Trenberth is revving up to do is to bully a paper out of circulation. It is a tactic that has been successful in the past! This statement by Trenberth “This sort of paper should not have been published, and really it hasn’t been because this “journal” has no credibility. It is clear what the biases are of these authors.” fits nicely in context with this one by Phill Jones a few years ago ““I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report, Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

The problem is, thanks to the revelations contained in the Climategate e-mails, we now know how this strategy has been used to stifle dissent, and with the eyes of the world and scientific community upon them, it’s doubtful they can succeed. But I don’t doubt they’ll try it regardless.

PS. Dr Roger Pielke Sr blog, he responds to the foolishness of Trenberth’s outburst;

Kevin has apparently learned nothing from the released East Anglia e-mails. To refer to a published paper as “rubbish” without substantiating that claim is arrogant. This behaviour is what has gotten us to the politicization of climate science. A constructive way for Kevin Trenberth to respond would be to post a comment on Judy’s weblog that could then be debated, while he simultaneously prepares a rebuttal paper to the scientifically sound paper by Knox and Douglass.

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