Sunday, February 28, 2010

If You Read Just One Article...

If you read just one article about where 'global warning' science stands, read this one.

More on the Snowicane

In the Comments section after the "Congratulations, AccuWeather" you will find a comment from one of our readers that raises a valid question comparing Snowicane (a term I supported coining) with a term, "Tornado Emergency," that I do not support.  I would like to elaborate on this and I could not do it justice as a brief comment, so I am making it a separate posting.

As the tornado headed for the southern part of the Oklahoma City Metro Area on May 3, 1999, the NWS office in Norman issued a message, "Tornado Emergency for South Oklahoma City." In the opinion of the NWS (even though this contention was not supported by independent published sociological studies after the fact), that message saved lives. It was quickly but informally adopted by NWS offices across the country and the number of "tornado emergencies" increased.

I viewed this as a dangerous trend because for one simple reason:  Meteorologists have no skill -- none -- at very short term tornado forecasting (i.e., will the tornado lift or continue across a city). Because we have no skill (we use extrapolation) in predicting short-term changes in tornado behavior (movement and intensity), I feared we would diminish the importance of the term "tornado warning" by conditioning people to wait to take cover until they heard the "tornado emergency." I believe this concern has been validated by the undisputed fact that the majority of "tornado emergency" messages turned out not to be "emergencies" at all.  That is, the tornado lifted or changed direction before reading its "target."

For all you will ever want to know about both sides of the "tornado emergency" debate, click here.

Now, why do I support Snowicane?  Here's why,

1.  We have considerable skill at forecasting this type of event as AccuWeather's accurate forecast three days in advance demonstrated.

2.  The term "blizzard" did not convey the threat of losing power which (I was in on some of the company internal discussions) was a major concern of the forecasters. For someone needing power for, say, medical equipment the ability to get to a hospital during a super-blizzard would be nil. So, we needed to get their attention. Snowicane was a way of doing that as the media quickly picked it up.

3.  The storm moved from east to west like a hurricane and had (when viewed on radar) both an "eye" and a "spiral banded" appearance like a hurricane.  The barometric pressure trace (see the 'Congratulations' post) looks like a hurricane and the drop in pressure was similar to a hurricane.

Of course, the Northeast storm had a different internal structure than a hurricane but that is a detail that I think is significant only to meteorologists. The term "blizzard" just does not convey 75+mph gusts with widespead loss of electricity, so I think the use of the term is valid in this case and would be in an identical storm in the future.

Now, there is a valid concern and that is that coining new storm terminology should be done infrequently and with great care.  There is the potential for confusion if this is done too often.  But, in this case, I thought it was done very well.

Congratulations, AccuWeather!

The "eye" of the Snowicane over western Long Island

My colleagues in State College did an amazing job on the "Snowicane" that struck the Northeast last week. They realized, in advance, how intense and destructive the storm would be.  Normally, a "blizzard" does not knock out power in significant numbers.  This storm, with 90+ mph gusts, caused power to be lost to 1,000,000 electric "customers" (homes and businesses) which is approximately 3,500,000 people. The storm also dumped more than 30" of snow in many areas that the wind whipped into 5+ ft. drifts.

AccuWeather's forecasters realized all this as the storm developed. Given that huge numbers of people who would be without power in the cold surrounded by deeply drifted snow, they coined the term Snowicane to differentiate it from an ordinary blizzard. Since it would have a tight circulation similar to a hurricane (note the "eye" in the radar image above) and barometric pressure similar to a Category 2 Hurricane the term was apt.
The graph of barometric pressures was just like a hurricane's

So, it was with dismay that I read this story in today's Wichita Eagle (pg. 6A) filled with criticism from the National Weather Service. Especially amusing was the criticism that AccuWeather put out the forecast when the storm "hadn't yet fully formed."  Guys, that is what a warning is supposed to do -- let people know what is going to happen.

I continued to read my Sunday paper and turned to page 12A and read this story about the power outages in the Northeast which states,

CONCORD, N.H. —Frustration turned to resignation Saturday for hundreds of thousands of people in the Northeast struggling to survive another day waiting for utility crews to restore electricity after powerful storms socked the region with heavy snow, rain and hurricane-force winds.

The highest wind reported from the storm was 91 mph off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H. —well above hurricane force of 74 mph. Gusts also hit 60 mph or more from the mountains of West Virginia to New York's Long Island and Massachusetts.  [Note, there were even stronger winds as my friend Jesse Ferrell documents in his blog]

Hmm.  "Hurricane force winds + heavy snow + westward moving storm + eye and banded structure" = "Snowicane" anyone?  By getting the word out, AccuWeather gave people the vital tool of information which they could use to buy a generator, stock up on food and medicine, top off the gasoline tank, etc., to mitigate the effects of the storm. 

Anyone who has read this blog or who will read Warnings knows that I am a fan of the National Weather Service. They do vital work for the pubic and we in private-sector meteorology depend on their data infrastructure. But, the griping about AccuWeather's clever way to get people's attention in advance of an extremely dangerous storm should have earned kudos rather than criticism from our colleagues in the NWS.

This Week's Precipitation

Another coast-to-coast storm will occur this week.  

The storm is currently in the West, will dip down to the Gulf coast and then turn northeast.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hawaii Tsunami Warnings

As a result of the 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile a tsunami of unknown height is headed for the Hawaiian Islands and will arrive between 3 and 3:45pm Central time.

AccuWeather's coverage is here.

The Honolulu Advertiser's site is here.

I would post links to web cams, etc., but I cannot get to any of them (I'm sure due to overwhelming demand).

Kathleen's and my favorite resort, The Grand Hyatt at Poipu on Kauai is in the direct path of the tsunami. It was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and I am hoping it survives this relatively unscathed.
Yours truly at what is now ground zero for the tsunami on Kauai.

Barnes & Noble Online Carrying Warnings

In addition to our book signing at the KC Plaza B&N (see below), Greenleaf has told me that B&N has made a substantial wholesale purchase of Warnings. The link to Warnings on their web site is here.  

Kansas City Book Signing

We are having a book signing in Kansas City (my home town) at the Barnes & Noble, Country Club Plaza, on Tuesday, May 11, 7pm.

I talk about the Ruskin Heights Tornado in the book which is one of the two most important weather events in KC weather history (#1 would be the Great Flood of 1951 that affected my family, as well).

I hope to see you in KC or at one of our other signings.  We are keeping a schedule of signings at the home page of Mike Smith Enterprises.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Best of Meteorological Musings

Today is the 100th Day of the Meteorological Musings Blog.  There have been 335 postings, so far.

I am simply amazed how fast this blog has grown in just three months. Thank you very much!!

 Courtesy of Google, here are the top five posts (drum roll):

5. Getting Children Interested in Science.
4. Coverage of the Plains Ice and Snow Storm in January
3. Elvis's 75th Birthday and how he was nearly killed by a tornado as a baby
2. Wichita Winter Wonderland as hoarfrost flocked the city's trees
1. All New Meaning to Snail Mail.  USPS returns a piece of mail to WeatherData eleven years after it was mailed.

Take That, Dave Barry!!

I'm sure you have been reading about how Dave Barry has timed the May 4th release of his new book to coincide with the May 1st release of Warnings no doubt to piggy back on our publicity to get people into book stores.  Then you learned that Dave is following me to the American Society of Industrial Security Convention!

Tonight, Kathleen said, "I wonder how your book is selling compared to Dave's?"  So, I went to Amazon.  Right now Warnings is #94,824 and Dave's I'll Mature When I'm Dead is 198,355. In other words, Warnings is more than 100,000 places ahead of Dave!  Now, I understand why he is trying to "tag along." 

UPDATE, 8:52am Saturday:  Warnings Sales Rank: #82,222 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Dave Barry: Sales Rank: #210,746 in Books 

Note: I am NOT saying Warnings is 128,524 times better than Dave's book. It does increasingly look like I will be buying him bar-b-que at the Convention (see link above).

Step-by-Step Guide to Climategate

Steve McIntryre has submitted his testimony to the British authorities investigating Climategate. Click on the link and it will take you step-by-step through the scandal.  The document is reasonably brief and well-illustrated.

"I'll Believe Global Warming is a Crisis When the People Telling Me it's a Crisis Start Acting Like Its a Crisis"

Interesting news about Harrison Ford. Last year on "Good Morning America" he said,

"... it's the time to come together and, make an effort to, make people understand that we require - not just here in the United States but throughout the world - meaningful climate legislation..."

And, today we learn,

He recently revealed in an interview the extent of his love for piloting, telling Britain's Live magazine, "Learning to fly was a work of art. I'm so passionate about flying I often fly up the coast for a cheeseburger.

Now, far be it from me, a citizen of the Air Capital of the World, a city that frequently hosts Mr. Ford (see here, here, and here) for flight training, to condemn his love of flying.  I'd love to have a private jet.  

What I -- and so many others -- object to is being lectured to about 'global warming' and 'carbon footprints' from people who have carbon footprints the size of Greenland.  

Note: The title of this post is borrowed from Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds when he posts about global warming.  

Oversimplifying Oversimplification

The Wall Street Journal has a lengthy piece about the problems of the IPCC today (subscription may be required).  Here is one of its key paragraphs:

The problem stems from the IPCC's thorny mission: Take sophisticated and sometimes inconclusive science, and boil it down to usable advice for lawmakers. To meet that goal, scientists working with the IPCC say they sometimes faced institutional bias toward oversimplification, a Wall Street Journal examination shows.

The problem is more complicated and insidious than just oversimplification: It is an institutional bias in favor of perpetuating the 'science' of 'global warming.'  What do I mean?  It is estimated that universities, think tanks, and federal labs have received more than $80 billion in funding with regard to the global warming 'problem.' Just last week, newspapers in Kansas were touting an eight-figure grant to four in-state universities to study the effects of global warming (it is just assumed that global warming is occurring and that we can do something about it, two questionable assumptions).

Think about it:  If global warming goes away, so does that funding along with the jobs, labs, etc., that have flourished the last dozen or so years to study this 'problem.'  So, there is no institutional incentive to disprove global warming. I have been told -- privately -- by multiple research meteorologists that if they spoke out against GW, they would see their (unrelated) funding cut off.

The Judith Curry piece (see link in posting below) continues the canard about evil "oil" companies corrupting science.  As President Eisenhower said in his farewell address,

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

These are important words. "Big Science" dollars can corrupt just as much as money from any other interest group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Went into the Wrong Scientific Field

Wish I got paid to do studies (with our tax dollars) on topics like this.  

Climategate = Enron?

I found this post at Steve McIntryre's blog fascinating. It compares climate science in the wake of Climategate to Enron once it started to unravel. I have read the book about Enron, Conspiracy of Fools, discussed in the post (note: for a time, WeatherData did business with Enron, long before it fell apart) and I find the comparison surprisingly apt.

In the now 28-year history of WeatherData, Enron was one of only three companies that I would not continue to do business with.  Something struck me as very wrong with them. Before going any further let me unequivocally state there are honest, excellent scientists in climate science.  That said, the IPCC-related climate enterprise reminds me, at times, of Enron's "creative" accounting. Enron set up hugely complicated "off balance sheet" transfers of assets that generated "profits."  They also creatively used "mark to market" asset valuations in ways that no outsider could understand. 

How does this relate to climate science? An example: Climate scientists putting their faith in small numbers of trees that can somehow accurately discern the climate 500 to 1,000 years ago but fail to accurately discern the climate of the last 75 years.  I have read several of the published papers and even though I have a degree in meteorology and a minor in mathematics, I don't understand either the data or the methodology.  That might be OK except believing the tree records takes a huge "act of faith." Why? There are written records of the settlements in Greenland and Newfoundland that contradict the climatic picture tree records paint. Second, believing the tree ring data means humans would have had to bore through tens of feet of ice in hopes of finding a cave in which to leave artifacts to be found if and when the glacier retreated. Isn't it far more likely the glacier didn't block the entrance to a cave in the year 1,200 when artifacts were left and that the tree data is wrong? 

The paleo-climatologists say, "trust us, we know what we are doing."  Well, consider this excerpt from "Time" magazine's coverage of Enron:

The questions that followed veered toward the trivial--the Christmas party, parking privileges--until one persistent energy trader started drilling for details about Enron's myriad, murky off-the-books enterprises.

The trader, Jim Schwieger, challenged Lay. Why, he asked, was chief financial officer Andrew Fastow sharing the stage--and gainfully employed--considering that he had just blown half a billion dollars mismanaging several Enron partnerships and earned $30 million doing it? [CEO Kenneth] Lay put his arm around Fastow and proclaimed his "unequivocal trust" in the CFO. The partnership accounting was complex stuff, Lay explained, but Fastow was on top of it...

Rob Bradley's post at McIntyre's blog is compelling and I highly recommend it.

The question is will climate science learn from Climategate and the related scandals and make the imperative changes in its mode of operation?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

That's Very Different.... Never Mind!

When I saw this headline,

ESPN Suspends Kornheiser for Comments About Storm

I wondered what someone could say about meteorology that would get them in trouble with ESPN.  Then, I read the article.  Never mind!

Words of Wisdom

No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”  Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.  There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.

A pro-GW post from Dr. Judith Curry, lifted from Watts Up with That. 

Recently, I received a comment that he was surprised that I, occasionally, post pro-GW pieces even though I am a "lukewarmer" (see Dr. Curry's piece for a definition). I am pleased to provide quality scientific information regardless of source or the author's political stances.

I usually post more on the skeptical side because so much of the pro-GW "science is settled" rhetoric is so over the top or outright misinformed (yes, Sen. Boxer, it is still summer in Brazil and will be for nearly another month), plus media coverage is quite biased toward the pro-GW side.

Another Presentation and Book Signing

Many of you have written wanting to see Miracle at Greensburg. I'll be presenting it at Wichita's wonderful Exploration Place on Saturday, May 22, at 1pm and 3pm. It will be held in the Creative Learning Studio.  Kim and I will have copies of Warnings available for purchase and autographing.

Winter Without Relief

For the first time ever, Wichita will have a meteorological winter (defined as December 1 through February 28th) without the temperature ever touching 60°F.

Enough, already!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barbara Boxer, Part II

If you go to the link below, you will hear Barbara Boxer talk about hurricanes. She says,

• In last 30 years, annual sea surface temperatures in the main Atlantic hurricane development region increased 2°F, coinciding with an increase in the destructive energy of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes. 

Here is the latest study on the subject of hurricanes and global warming.  You can read the highlights at Roger Pielke, Jr.'s blog.  It says the same thing as previous studies:  There is no increase in number or intensity of hurricanes. 

Senator Boxer was 0 for 2.

As previously stated, I dislike politics and I resist blogging about it. That said, it would be nice if politicians of both sides could get the elementary science correct or, if that is asking too much, refrain from pontificating about it. The global warming debate is difficult enough for the average person to follow without having to sort through politicians misstating elementary science and scientific studies.

Another Seaside Climate Meeting

For people who profess to fear warm temperatures, the climate community sure seems to love them in winter.  While the big news is that the British Met Office just called for a "do over" with regard to the world temperature record, I was amused to read in the news story,

At a meeting on Monday of about 150 climate scientists in the quiet Turkish seaside resort of Antalya, 

I did a little checking and here is what the tourist web sites say about this location.

This idyllic location results in the region basking in a glorious typical Mediterranean climate of long, hot summers and mild winters. Antalya is situated upon a cliff overlooking the sea, and due to its proximity to near by mountain ranges the region is protected from cold northerly winds.

If they are that concerned about our carbon footprints, why don't try video conferencing?

Would Someone Tell Barbara Boxer it is Summer in the Southern Hemisphere

I do not want to be political in this blog, politics is not a subject that interests me. But, Barbara Boxer's citing of hot weather this month in Brazil as demonstrating 'climate change' at a Senate hearing today is just too much.  As she should have learned in fourth grade, it is SUMMER in Brazil. February is the hottest month of the year in Rio. There is nothing unusual about three days above 100° in Brazil in February.

It is just embarrassing to hear this stated on Capitol Hill (the link will take you to the videotape so you can see/hear it for yourself). This debate needs to be carried on at a much higher level.

Congratulations, Phil!

Phil Smith at the award ceremony with Edsel Ford

I am blessed to be part of an incredible family.  The latest chapter is the honor just conveyed on my brother, Phil, by Ford Motor Company for public service. Phil was one of just four in the U.S. to receive this award. I'll let Ford explain,

Phil Smith, Executive Vice-President of Dick Smith Ford, has been chosen to receive the Ford ‘Salute to Dealers’ award based on his honorable volunteer and fund-raising efforts.

Smith is passionate about helping people who are less fortunate both locally and overseas. Here in Kansas City, he volunteers every week at the St. James Food Kitchen. For the last 6 years he has served as director of operations for the Wednesday night servings. Throughout his time, he has cared for and served more than 40,000 poor and homeless people.

Every Sunday afternoon and Monday evening Smith can be found in Kansas City’s Jackson County Jail, counseling inmates as a chaplain’s assistant.

Smith has also been leading trips to Guatemala to assist in humanitarian aid two to three times per year for the last decade. What started as a one time mission trip, turned into a philanthropic passion and international relationship. During a trip in 2005, in addition to hardships from great community needs, he learned that the men and women had to also walk 10 to 20 miles and wait in line for hours to receive dental care. If they could walk that far, Smith decided he could too.

In 2006, Smith created the Labor of Love Walk where each year, he walks 100 miles over the course of three days to raise money for Guatemalans. Over $150,000 has been raised which has provided for needs ranging from construction needs, to four water purification systems, and even an orphanage for physically and mentally challenged orphans.

These fundraising and volunteer efforts have not gone unnoticed which is why Ford is recognizing Smith with ‘Salute to Dealers’ award. Smith serves as a role model to his co-workers, family and friends and is proof that one person can truly make a world of difference.
From left, my brother Mark; his wife, Robin; Alan Mulally, Chairman, Ford Motor Company; Phil
 Congratulations, Phil!


Earlier today, I posted about how foreign newspapers are doing a far better job of covering the various climate scandals than the U.S. media. Here a followup from Germany delivered by a German climate scientist.

"Meanwhile, outlets in the UK, India, and Australia have been eating the American media’s lunch"

An analysis as to why Climategate and its progeny are "non-news" in the United States.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tom Fuller on Steve McIntyre

As many of you know, I have a high opinion of Tom Fuller as an environmental reporter.  I think his comments about Steve McIntyre are right on the money.

India's Developing Food Problem

A fascinating article about India's developing food problem from The Wall Street Journal. Subscription might be required to access article.  Turns out there can be too much of a good thing.

Another Field Trip to Bali

For folks terrified of warmer weather, the UN climate commissars sure do have a strange affinity for the balmy climes of Bali.

A humorous article about the UN's latest taxpayer-supported field trip to Bali -- with a serious point.  As Glenn Reynolds says, "I'll believe global warming is a serious problem when the people telling me its a problem start acting like it is a problem."

Article About Winter Lightning

I have an article in current newsletter for Stadium Managers.  It is about lightning during winter weather events.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review of "Warnings"

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society reviews books, so Kim sent them two advance copies of Warnings in hopes they would choose to review it. 

A few days later, I received this email from the executive director of the AMS, Keith Seitter:


A couple of pre-publication review copies of your book arrived yesterday.  We will be using one to get a review and I took the other one to read on my daily train ride as I find time.  I'm only a few chapters in but thoroughly enjoying it so far.


I wrote back telling Keith how pleased I was that he had a favorable first impression of the book.  Two days later, this email arrived: 


I took a vacation day today so I could stay home and finish your book.  Just put it down.  Just terrific!


Wow! I was humbled and thrilled to learn he enjoyed it.  So, I asked if he would write a short review that we could use and he graciously agreed:


"Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather"

This book chronicles the remarkable advances that have occurred in meteorology over the past 50 years -- not through dry statistics but through very personal stories.  Those advances, which have been the result of both increased scientific understanding and incredible technological advances, are largely underappreciated by the public.  While the author, Mike Smith, has researched the events in the book carefully, he was also there in the midst of most of them as they happened and so this is a very personal story, as well.

The book discusses the virtual elimination of airline crashes due to wind shear and the thousands of lives saved by hurricane warnings. Its primary focus is on severe storms in the Midwestern U.S., but the issues raised about the evolution of forecasting the weather, and the impact those forecasts have on the people and commerce, are much more universal.  The book especially highlights the role of the private sector in serving the weather forecasting needs of the nation, but clearly acknowledges the very important role of National Weather Service (and other government agencies) and the academic research community.  Some may feel that Smith was overly critical of some early policy decisions of government agencies, but he also gives praise and credit where due to government forecasters and for the observational systems deployed by the government that support all weather forecasting operations.

The narrative throughout the book is engaging and compelling, and I found it very hard to put down after reading just the first few pages.  In several places, Smith does an especially good job of capturing the mindset of the forecaster, particularly related to severe weather situations.  The drive to get the forecast and severe weather warnings perfect, the excitement of seeing the power of nature unfold in the form of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, the exhilaration of seeing that you were right and that the severe weather is occurring just as you forecast -- but simultaneously wishing you were wrong because you know the result will leave devastation and heartache in its wake.

This book is not just for hard-core weather enthusiasts or those who work in weather-related fields (though they will love it).  Anyone who has ever watched a stormy sky on warm afternoon or felt moved by the images on the news following the Greensburg tornado or Hurricane Katrina (both of which are covered in this book) will get pulled into the narrative of this book.

Keith L. Seitter, CCM
Executive Director
American Meteorological Society
45 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lightning Storms

AccuWeather radar at 9:25pm.  There is a lot of lighting in the thunderstorms near Amarillo and they are moving northeast.  With all of the cold weather, we have had relatively little lightning in the U.S. so far in 2010.

UPDATE:  9:41pm Saturday.  The chances of freezing rain with those thunderstorms seems to be increasing slightly.  The multi-colored area on this map indicate areas where glaze ice may accumulate. The temperatures which are marginal. If there is enough cold air, we could see enough ice to cause traffic problems.

Winter Grinds On

Here is an updated forecast for the current winter storm and a southern storm expected to strike early next week. Click to enlarge. It is important not to take the snow placement too literally, allow about two counties leeway.
Some freezing rain may occur in Kansas from around Harper to Wichita to around Kansas City late Saturday night through Sunday morning.

Tom Fuller's Latest

Tom Fuller has a great summary of where we are with Climategate and related scandals. I especially like his description of "lukewarmers" which is approximately where I fall on the scale of belief.

Greensburg's Solar Sign

Greensburg's City Hall gets a new sign driven by solar energy.

Dave Barry and the Wienermobile

So right away I knew it was a good idea. Your most important responsibility, as the parent of an adolescent, is to be a hideous embarrassment to your child. Fortunately, most of us parents have a natural flair for this.

Dave Barry is a man of great wisdom and I'll never forget reading Dave's column where he described driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile over to his son's school and getting on the PA system, "Rob Barry, please report to the Wienermobile." The original column is here.  

So, it was with a tug of nostalgia that I saw Dave post photos of Rob and, now, Sophie with their dad and two generations of Wienermobiles. (click to enlarge photos)

And, Dave, I think you should arrive at your book signings in the Wienermobile. It never hurts to class things up a bit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Climate Science Pettiness Continues

Steve McIntyre, the person who blew up the hockey stick, has been "de-invited" to present to a conference on dendro-climatology (the 'science' of reconstructing climate using tree cores).

The pettiness of climate scientists revealed in Climategate continues unabated.

Here Comes Another Winter Storm

This map depicts the probability of 4" or more of accumulation between 6pm Saturday and 6pm Sunday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Global Warming: Is There Anything It Can't Do?

Roger Pielke, Jr. has a great post on how global warming is being blamed for both more and less fog in northern California.

I'm #256,880, With A Bullet!

Earlier today, Warnings ranked in the three hundred thousands with Amazon.  Up to 256,880 now!

Considering you can find books ranked in the six millions, I'm very pleased.

Dave Barry, Stalker

An "alert reader" let me know that Dave is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 American Society of Industrial Security meeting and exposition in Dallas.

WeatherData has been an exhibitor at that convention every year since 1987.

It is one thing for Dave to be following me around on my book tour (see below), but tracking me down at a convention is just too much!

Dave, I don't want you hogging our booth, so that paying customers can't get in to sign up for our superb, lifesaving SkyGuard® service.

So, I'll make you a deal: I understand you like bar-b-que. Whoever sells the most books from release date (mine, May 1; yours May 4) to September 1st buys the other dinner at Sonny Bryan's. Deal?

Global Warming -- What Do I Believe?

I have been asked that question again. To save my new readers from having to go through the archives, the answer is here. None of my positions has changed in the wake of Climategate, so the posting is still valid.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weather ≠ Climate Meme

The "Science Is Settled" pro-GW crowd keeps trying to regain lost ground amongst the myriad of scandals and winter weather that keeps being uncooperative.

The last few days, we have been subjected to numerous "weather is not climate" stories. Example here, and, from blog follower Geri, here. I won't bother to list the other 151 articles that Google News says contain that phrase. Actually, they couldn't be more wrong.  Climate = weather.

Don't believe me?  I just pulled my trusty Oxford Dictionary of Current English off the shelf and found this definition:  Climate: Prevailing weather conditions of an area.  Not a technical enough source? Here is what the AMS's Glossary of Meteorology says:  Climate - the long-term manifestations of weather.

Of course, the 'weather' can be unusual and atypical of the climate of an area (i.e., the snow that accumulated in Florida last week), but that snow storm is still a part of Florida's "climate."

Besides, if climate is not "weather" what is it?  A hat, or a brooch or a pterodactlyl?
(My apologies to the movie, "Airplane!") 

And, from the NPR interview:  And Trenberth notes that you don't need very cold temperatures to get big snow. In fact, when the mercury drops too low, it may be too cold to snow. Too cold to snow? Looks like Dr. Trenberth needs to read this blog!

I'm Sure We'll Be Crossing Paths

I just learned that Dave Barry has a book coming out in "May, 2010." I immediately went to the link and found out that his book comes out May 4, three days after mine.

So, Dave, I look forward to meeting you face to face on our book tours, and I'm glad I can get people into the stores so they'll consider buying your book.

You're welcome.

The Phil Jones Interview, Wrap Up

If you read the entire interview, congratulations on your tenacity.

I have a few wrap-up comments.  Perhaps because of his suspension from his position at CRU, Dr. Jones has had three months of contemplation, which -- judging from his comments in the interview -- appear to have been helpful. While I disagree with a number of his specifics, the interview reveals a scientist I or any other scientist could sit down with, have a cup of coffee and a reasonable discussion regarding these important issues. I don't believe that would have been possible prior to Climategate.

I have previously stated that some good will likely come out of this mess. And that is that the "skeptics" (I dislike that term) have seen their concerns validated and will be more likely to engage in constructive dialog.  And, the "warmists" (I dislike that term) have learned that hubris is an especially distasteful character trait in a scientist and will be more likely to engage in constructive dialog.

If we can get both sides talking and working together, that could be a very good thing!

The one thing that this has again revealed is the self-censorship of the U.S. media on the topic of the various scandals involving the "settled science" of global warming since Climategate broke. When even the liberal London papers are running front page exposes, and the media in Canada, Australia, India, and other nations are providing extensive coverage, the silence of the U.S. media calls into question whether they wish to be conveyors of news or whether they wish to be advocates.

The Phil Jones Interview, Part III

Here is the conclusion of the interview with Dr. Phil Jones by the BBC.  

K - How much faith do you have - and should we have - in the Yamal tree ring data from Siberia? Should we trust the science behind the palaeoclimate record?
First, we would all accept that palaeoclimatic data are considerably less certain than the instrumental data. However, we must use what data are available in order to look at the last 1,000 years.
I believe that our current interpretation of the Yamal tree-ring data in Siberia is sound. Yamal is just one series that enters some of the millennial long reconstructions that are available.
Nonsense.  In order to believe the MWP is as minor or non-existent as contended by Dr. Jones in the IPCC "hockey stick" one would have to believe that the Vikings bore through tens of feet of ice to leave artifacts to be discovered if the glaciers ever retreated along with lying in their written records. While I agree we do not know whether the MWP was a worldwide phenomena (as opposed to northern hemisphere only) it is ridiculous to contend the MWP never existed as Jones, Mann and others previously contended. 
My colleague Keith Briffa has responded to suggestions that there is something amiss with the Yamal tree-ring data. Here is his response:
N - When scientists say "the debate on climate change is over", what exactly do they mean - and what don't they mean?
It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don't believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.
“I don’t believe the majority of climate scientists believe ‘the debate is over’.”  I agree. Unfortunately, the U.S. media has taken that phrase over as if it is a mantra.
O - Can you tell us about your working life over the past decades in climate science. Paint a picture about the debate with your allies and scientific rivals etc.
I have been at CRU since November 1976. Up until 1994, my working life was almost totally in research. Since 1994, I have become more involved in teaching and student supervision both at the postgraduate and undergraduate level. I became a Professor in 1998 and the director of the Climatic Research Unit in 2004 (I was joint director from 1998).
I am most well known for being involved in the publication of a series of papers (from 1982 to 2006) that have developed a gridded dataset of land-based temperature records. These are only a part of the work I do, as I have been involved in about 270 peer-reviewed publications on many different aspects of climate research.
Over the years at scientific meetings, I've met many people and had numerous discussions with them. I work with a number of different groups of people on different subjects, and some of these groups come together to undertake collaborative pieces of work. We have lively debates about the work we're doing together.

P - The "Climategate" stolen emails were published in November. How has your life been since then?
My life has been awful since that time, but I have discussed this once (in the Sunday Times) and have no wish to go over it again. I am trying to continue my research and supervise the CRU staff and students who I am responsible for.
Q - Let's talk about the e-mails now: In the e-mails you refer to a "trick" which your critics say suggests you conspired to trick the public? You also mentioned "hiding the decline" (in temperatures). Why did you say these things?
This remark has nothing to do with any "decline" in observed instrumental temperatures. The remark referred to a well-known observation, in a particular set of tree-ring data, that I had used in a figure to represent large-scale summer temperature changes over the last 600 years.
The phrase 'hide the decline' was shorthand for providing a composite representation of long-term temperature changes made up of recent instrumental data and earlier tree-ring based evidence, where it was absolutely necessary to remove the incorrect impression given by the tree rings that temperatures between about 1960 and 1999 (when the email was written) were not rising, as our instrumental data clearly showed they were.
This "divergence" is well known in the tree-ring literature and "trick" did not refer to any intention to deceive - but rather "a convenient way of achieving something", in this case joining the earlier valid part of the tree-ring record with the recent, more reliable instrumental record.
I was justified in curtailing the tree-ring reconstruction in the mid-20th Century because these particular data were not valid after that time - an issue which was later directly discussed in the 2007 IPCC AR4 Report.
See Part II of the interview for my commentary on this point. 
The misinterpretation of the remark stems from its being quoted out of context. The 1999 WMO report wanted just the three curves, without the split between the proxy part of the reconstruction and the last few years of instrumental data that brought the series up to the end of 1999. Only one of the three curves was based solely on tree-ring data.
An astonishing admission. The World Meteorological Organization report wanted what was a misleading depiction of the data. 

The e-mail was sent to a few colleagues pointing out their data was being used in the WMO Annual Statement in 1999. I was pointing out to them how the lines were physically drawn. This e-mail was not written for a general audience. If it had been I would have explained what I had done in much more detail.
R - Why did you ask a colleague to delete all e-mails relating to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC?
This was an e-mail sent out of frustration at one FOI request that was asking for the e-mail correspondence between the lead authors on chapter six of the Working Group One Report of the IPCC. This is one of the issues which the Independent Review will look at.
That is a very charitable interpretation of the "deletion" request. 
S - The e-mails suggest you were trying to subvert the process of peer review and to influence editors in their decisions about which papers to publish. Do you accept that?
I do not accept that I was trying to subvert the peer-review process and unfairly influence editors in their decisions. I undertook all the reviews I made in good faith and sent them back to the editors. In some e-mails I questioned the peer-review process with respect to what I believed were poor papers that had appeared. Isn't this called freedom of speech? On some occasions I joined with others to submit a response to some of these papers. Since the beginning of 2005 I have reviewed 43 papers. I take my reviewing seriously and in 2006 I was given an editor's award from Geophysical Research Letters for conscientious and constructive reviewing.
The Climategate emails speak for themselves in this regard.

T - Where do you draw the line on the handling of data? What is at odds with acceptable scientific practice? Do you accept that you crossed the line?
This is a matter for the independent review.
U - Now, on to the fallout from "Climategate", as it has become known. You had a leading role in a part of the IPCC, Working Group I. Do you accept that credibility in the IPCC has been damaged - partly as a result of your actions? Does the IPCC need reform to gain public trust?
Some have said that the credibility in the IPCC has been damaged, partly due to the misleading and selective release of particular e-mails. I wish people would spend as much time reading my scientific papers as they do reading my e-mails. The IPCC does need to reassure people about the quality of its assessments.
As we have learned in the “Son of Climategate” scandal, the quality of IPCC assessments has been shaky, to put it charitably.

The Phil Jones Interview, Part II

Here is the second part of the BBC's interview with Dr. Phil Jones, one of the world's leading pro-GW scientists-advocates who has been at the center of the Climategate controversy.

F - Sceptics of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) suggest that the official surface record paints a different story from the actual station records. To restore trust, should we start again with new quality control on input data in total transparency?
First, I am assuming again that you are referring to the surface record from both land and marine regions of the world, although in this answer as you specifically say "station" records, I will emphasise the land regions.
There is more than one "official" surface temperature record, based on actual land station records. There is the one we have developed in CRU, but there are also the series developed at NCDC and GISS. Although we all use very similar station datasets, we each employ different ways of assessing the quality of the individual series and different ways of developing gridded products. The GISS data and their program are freely available for people to experiment with. The agreement between the three series is very good.
Given the web-based availability of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), which is used by both NCDC and GISS, anyone else can develop their own global temperature record from land stations.
Through the Met Office we have released (as of 29 January 2010) 80% of the station data that enters the CRU analysis (CRUTEM3).
The graphic in the link below shows that the global land temperature series from these 80% of stations (red line) replicates the analysis based on all 100% of stations (black line).
The locations of the 80% of stations are shown on the next link in red. The stations we have yet to get agreement to release are shown in grey.
I accept that some have had their trust in science shaken and this needs the Met Office to release more of the data beyond the 80% released so far. Before all the furore broke we had begun discussions with the Met Office for an updated set of station temperatures. With any new station dataset we will make sure we will be able to release all the station temperature data and give source details for all the series.
For years, Dr. Jones stonewalled (and, it has been determined by a UK investigation, illegally stonewalled requests for the raw data, but cannot be prosecuted due to Britian’s equlivalent to the statue-of-limitations running out) multiple requests to provide this data. It is still is not completely available as indicated above.
Part of the reason, according to news reports, is that some data was faked and others “adjusted” in a questionable manner. Note, there is much more on these topics, the latter of which is the "Daughter of Climategate" (manipulation of the temperature record about which I still have one more post to make).

G - There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th Century were unprecedented?
There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.
This is one of the core issues revealed by Climategate. Remember, “hide the decline” and “the trick”? Some media reports incorrectly equated “the decline” with the recent cooler worldwide temperatures. This was incorrect.
The “decline” referred to the Mann “Hockey Stick” that purported to show no MWP via climate reconstructions from tree cores and other “proxy” data. The last 60 years of this data showed temperatures declining while the instrumental record (see F above) showed warming.
So, they had to “hide the decline.” That was done via “the trick.” In the illustration, the yellow line is the original temperature reconstruction, the red is the instrumental record. Note the reconstruction shows cooling (declining) temperatures while the instrumental record show warming.  “The trick” is shown in the blown up image from the which was to stop the reconstruction temperature line (in this case shown in green) before the decline started and hope that, in the spaghetti of the lines, no one noticed. It was Steve McIntyre who uncovered this scandal.  
Not only was this a mockery of science, it calls into question these 1000 year climate reconstructions.  If they don’t agree with the instrumental record in recent years, why would they produce accurate results 800 years ago?
Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.
There is no doubt there was a Medieval Warm Period, the evidence is overwhelming. We don’t know, for sure, whether the MWP was in the Northern Hemisphere (only) or the entire world. 
We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.
I agree, we just don’t know.
For more, see the answer to question Q.

H - If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?
The fact that we can't explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing - see my answer to your question D.
But, we can’t explain the cause of the MWP.  If we can’t explain the past, how can we explain the present and future?

I - Would it be reasonable looking at the same scientific evidence to take the view that recent warming is not predominantly manmade?
No - see again my answer to D.
His “evidence” that the answer is “no” are the same computer models that utterly failed to forecast the flat to lower temperatures of the last dozen years. If they can’t get twelve years right, why believe they can get 120 years correct?
Part III still to come.