BBC hypes climate modelling scare again

In the last few days the issue of funding the BBC was recently discussed on Slashdot. There is a proposal to tax personal computers on the off-chance that they might use the BBC’s online resources and even watch streaming video rather than watch TV. I’m pretty sure that such a tax would fall foul of the European Union as a subsidy to a State-controlled corporation.

But what are they spending extra money on?

Well, the BBC propaganda unit certainly knows how to spend it by joining a climate modelling exercise in the form of a downloadable screensaver. Where does the climate model come from?

From climateprediction.net, a collaborative climate modelling project run by Dr David Stainforth

Now Stainforth and climateprediction.net have "previous" (as they say at Scotland Yard) in that they ran a previous climate modelling whose results were so ludicrous that even RealClimate criticisized it.

Not of course the BBC, which ran this result with the full scare treatment:

Alarm at new climate warning
By Richard Black
BBC environment correspondent

Temperatures around the world could rise by as much as 11C, according to one of the largest climate prediction projects ever run.

This figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested.

Scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it shows that a "safe" upper limit for carbon dioxide is impossible to define.

The results of the study, which used PCs around the world to produce data, are published in the journal Nature.

Why was it so ludicrous? Because the modelling run simulated what would happen to the temperature of the atmosphere if the CO2 concentration was instantaneously doubled. It certainly saves time modelling a linear increase in carbon dioxide over decades, and gets to the scary headlines that Stainforth clearly craved, and got. Stainforth effectively dropped a huge carbon dioxide bomb into the simulated atmosphere, and then stood back and watched the fun.

Warwick Hughes checked the modelling results and found that out of the hundreds of model runs, only 11 produced temperatures as high as 11C. You can count them here:

Results of modelling runs by climateprediction.net

The average of these runs for this ludicrous setup was 3C. Not exactly world-shattering is it?

Was Stainforth going for the Big Red Shiny Panic Button? Yes

Climateprediction.net
Natural Environment Research Council
Oxford University
Embargoed until 1800 hrs (GMT) 26 January, 2005
Bleak first results from the world s largest climate change experiment

Greenhouse gases could cause global temperatures to rise by more than double the maximum warming so far considered likely by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to results from the world s largest climate prediction experiment, published in the journal Nature this week.

The first results from climateprediction.net, a global experiment using computing time donated by the general public, show that average temperatures could eventually rise by up to 11°C – even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are limited to twice those found before the industrial revolution. Such levels are expected to be reached around the middle of this century unless deep cuts are made in greenhouse gas emissions.

Chief Scientist for climateprediction.net, David Stainforth, from Oxford University said: Our experiment shows that increased levels of greenhouse gases could have a much greater impact on climate than previously thought.

Climateprediction.net project coordinator, Dr. David Frame, said: the possibility of such high responses has profound implications. If the real world response were anywhere near the upper end of our range, even today s levels of greenhouse gases could already be dangerously high.

So now we have the BBC promoting a new "improved more sophisticated model" in a bold new experiment in science. And notice the weasel words used to describe the future scary headlines:

The scientists behind climateprediction.net believe their project is also a tool to spread awareness and understanding of climate change.

The link to BBC television may, they believe, help with this angle of their project as well as recruiting more users.

They hope to have initial results from the new model about three months after it is launched.

Frances McNamara, the BBC’s producer for the experiment, said the project would give people a chance to be part of efforts to tackle a warming world.

"We wanted to use the BBC’s web and interactive services to help the audience to make a personal contribution – not only to the climate change season of programming, but also to genuinely new science."

At the end of the BBC Four programme Meltdown, viewers will be asked to log in, download, and set their PCs to the task of predicting the climate of the future.

Meltdown, part of the Climate Chaos Season, will be broadcast on BBC Four on Monday 20 February 2006 at 21:00GMT.

"…to spread awareness and understanding of climate change". Yes, that’s one way to describe it.

Can 11C be bettered? Will the BBC get the scary headlines for its modestly titled "Climate Chaos Season"? It’s clearly money well spent by British TV license holders "to give people a chance to be part of efforts to tackle a warming world". Only a curmudgeon could see anything remotely sinister about it.

40 Comments

  1. jae
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    I can understand the media hype, but I don’t understand scientists publishing such alarmist information.

  2. Louis Hissink
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Re #1

    Jae,

    Scientists are human and emotionally driven as anyone else. In this case the emotional has swamped the scientific. And I might suspect many scientists today have been trained, rather than educated. Professor John Brignell has commented on this from time to time.

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    Can someone tell me what’s with the runs at the bottom end of the scale? What’s with the runs that look like they are going straight down?

  4. mark
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    isn’t this a case of “lack of robustness”? i.e. if the model is rerun over and over and produces different results every time, how robust can it be and as a scientist, shouldn’t stainworth be questioning those results?

    unethical to say the least.

    mark

  5. jae
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 5:37 PM | Permalink

    The straight-down runs must represent some kind of a crash (maybe the world turned to ice)? I certainly wouldn’t trust any model that shows that much variation. A simple guess is as good, or better than that.

  6. Jim Erlandson
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    From http://www.climateprediction.net/science/firstresults.php

    “Most of the runs we are getting back at the moment look fairly similar to this” followed by a chart which shows a roughly three degree (C, I assume) increase.

    If they are allowed to raise a hue and cry about the plus eleven degree outliers, I guess I’m allowed to be concerned about the negative outliers that presage an ice age. Brrrrr.

  7. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    Would be interesting to see what’s out beyond 40 years. Looks like a classic overshoot either by returning to where we are now or even falling off a bit. Something I’ve realized about the warmers. They have never played with oscilloscopes hooked up to complex systems. Or if they have, they do not want to share what they really know to be true because it conflicts with their agenda.

  8. David Stockwell
    Posted Feb 14, 2006 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    Re: #3 The runs that decline are claimed to be due to ‘known problems due to simplifications in the model of the ocean-atmospheric interface’ or some such and there is no further elaboration.

    Comment #4 is spot on. Only in global warming would a study to explore a larger parameter space of the Hadley model than previously explored, that resulted in a massive increase in variance, be interpreted as bleak results for earth – not bleak results for the Hadley model.

    As a final irony it should be noted that the only reason the upper limit of +11C is found is because the IPCC had apparently previously arbitrarily capped model results for sensitivity at +5C because they were through physically unrealistic. Read the paper early last year. Nature has outdone itself again.

    BTW I don’t think the distribution of the outcomes means anything. The parameter space was chosen such that all values used were within limits thought to be possible by experts in their fields. So there is no real prior probability on their likelihood. The high variance of the results either reflects the high uncertainty in the parameter values input to the models, or the high instability of the model simulation, take your pick. Certainly not that CO2X2 of 11C is anything like a plausible outcome.

    Reference: D. A. Stainforth, T. Aina, C. Christensen, M. Collins, N. Faull, D. J. Frame, J. A. Kettleborough, S. Knight, A. Martin, J. M. Murphy, C. Piani, D. Sexton, L. A. Smith, R. A. Spicer, A. J. Thorpe & M. R. Allen, Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases, Nature, 433, pp.403-406, January 2005.

  9. Thomas Bolger
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    The BBC in its report blamed coastal erosion on Global Warming instead of the true cause which is Longshore Drift and the failure to maintain the groins which prevent it.
    Some years ago the Government decided to let nature take it’s course.Coastal erosion is the result.

  10. John A
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 3:10 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre:

    Can someone tell me what’s with the runs at the bottom end of the scale? What’s with the runs that look like they are going straight down?

    It means that Toronto will be erased from the Earth by an expanding glacier moving south at the speed of an express train. ;-)

  11. kim
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    Those runs going straight down mysteriously predicted the academic reputations of the researchers, but they didn’t recognize that result from their data.
    ======================================================================

  12. J. Arbona
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    Re # 7. If the red strip (meaning normal temperature before the CO2 bomb exploded) is extended all the way to the end of the simulation period, a substantial amount of the simulation runs fall below this strip, indicating no change or cooling. If the simulation period were extended, say 40 more years, many of the runs that show an increase will end up with a cooling, since most of those at the end are already sloping down, even some that are near the higher temperature range.

    Now I wonder: did they do this in their simulation but chose to publish the first 40 years only? If so why? Could it be that they thought their model was not “robust” enough after the runs reached their maximum and started going down?

  13. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    Re #12.

    We must bear in mind that according to the test, there’s only a one-time addition to the CO2 in the atmosphere (as far as I can tell). Therefore one would expect the CO2 being added to gradually move into various sinks and so the atmospheric CO2 level would be constantly decreasing. So what this ‘experiment’ is doing is a bit unrealistic. Ideally they should have run the system for a few hundred years at the doubled atmospheric concentration and then let it decay.

    Of course that has the disadvantage that many of the test runs will absorb much more CO2 total than others.

    Ironically, I believe, it is the runs where the temperature rises the most that are the ones where the least CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, etc. per unit time, so those are the ones we know are the least likely since we know about half of the CO2 emitted at present is absorbed immediately. Contrawise, more realistic models will have a lot of CO2 absorbed in a few years moderating any temperature rise, but also buffering the decline eventually so that whatever temperature rise does occur will last a long time.

  14. Frank H. Scammell
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    The climate model is dynamic, and probably nonlinear and chaotic. Hitting any dynamic model with a step function will almost invariably cause spectacular (and meaningless) results. Minimizing the jerk (1st derivative of acceleration) is usually the best way to apply a perturbation. Additionally, applying the correction when it opposes the desired variable you wish to control helps. The tropospheric temperature is rising (at least according to Hansen (GISS)), but the climate sensitivity is falling (see decreased values in recent Hansen compared to originals). Even the mid 1900-2000 temperature dip required a negative climate sensitivity for a while. The whole premise of Monte Carlo runs assumes linearity, and this model clearly isn’t. How about some Monte Carlo runs with the value of each parameter halved? Apparently, there are no negative feedback elements included in the the model. How about reduced solar activity or (heaven protect me) Dr.Lindzen’s iris effect? Certainly looks like GIGO to me.

  15. Paul Linsay
    Posted Feb 15, 2006 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    This all reminds me of Merlin in Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Merlin maintains his power at Court by making apocalypic forecasts that naturally won’t come true if his advice is followed. Of course, the predictions are so far in the future no one will be alive to check them. The Boss brings Merlin down by asking him to predict something five minutes in the future.

    If only the people with the purse strings would force these “climate scientists” to make regional forecasts of the weather for each season for the next five years, all this nonsense would end. Now I’l go out on a limb and make a prediction: If asked they won’t do it and the excuse will be “that’s weather not climate.”

  16. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 16, 2006 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/getprod.php?wfo=mtr&sid=mtr&pil=afd

    NEW RECORD LOWS SET ACROSS THE SAN FRANCISCO AND MONTEREY BAY
    AREAS…

    SITE LOW THIS MORNING OLD RECORD HIGH

    SAN RAFAEL 32 34 IN 1966
    OAKLAND 38 43 IN 1975
    MOUNTAIN VIEW 32 35 IN 1946
    MONTEREY 35 37 IN 1949

    OAKLAND AIRPORT 34 TIE 34 IN 1938
    SAN JOSE 37 TIE 37 IN 1912
    SAN FRANCISCO 38 TIE 38 IN 1956

  17. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 16, 2006 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, rather than “Global Cooling” – given the current La Nina phase of the ENSO – this is not a surprise or anything truly unusual. La Nina gives us Central Californians a taste of snow at fairly low elevations. Speaking of the ENSO I wonder what if any correlation would be expected between frequency of occurence of El Ninos and La Ninas versus reputed AGW?

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/warnings.php?wfo=mtr&zone=CAZ508&pil=XXXSPSMTR&productType=SPECIAL%20WEATHER%20STATEMENT

    A COLD STORM WILL BRING THE CHANCE OF SNOW TO THE HILLS OF THE SAN
    FRANCISCO AND MONTEREY BAY AREAS ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. THE FIRST
    STORM IS EXPECTED ON FRIDAY WITH SNOW LEVELS AROUND 2000 FEET. THE
    BEST CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION WILL BE ACROSS THE SANTA CRUZ AND
    SANTA LUCIA MOUNTAINS ALTHOUGH THE HILLS OF THE NORTH AND EAST BAY
    WILL SEE THE CHANCE OF SHOWERS AS WELL. WITH SNOW LEVELS AROUND 2000
    FEET LIGHT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE POSSIBLE ON FRIDAY.

    ON SATURDAY A COLDER AND MORE ORGANIZED SYSTEM IS FORECAST TO
    ARRIVE BRINGING ANOTHER CHANCE OF SNOW TO ALL OF THE BAY AREA HILLS.
    SNOW LEVELS WILL BE AROUND 1500 FEET IN THE NORTH BAY AND 2000 FEET
    ACROSS SANTA CRUZ AND MONTEREY COUNTIES. ACCUMULATING SNOWS WILL BE
    POSSIBLE ONCE AGAIN. STAY TUNED FOR UPDATED FORECASTS REGARDING
    THIS DEVELOPING WINTER WEATHER SITUATION.

    IN PARTICULAR PEOPLE PLANNING OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN THE HILLS SUCH
    AS HIKES AND CAMPING SHOULD PLAN FOR WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS. PLAN
    ACCORDINGLY AND CHECK THE LATEST WEATHER FORECASTS BEFORE VENTURING
    OUT.

    ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL COULD IMPACT HIGHER ELEVATION ROADWAYS
    ACROSS THE SAN FRANCISCO AND MONTEREY BAY AREA. ROADWAYS SUCH AS
    HIGHWAY 29 IN NORTHERN NAPA COUNTY…THE SUMMIT OF HIGHWAY 17. ..AND
    SKYLINE BOULEVARD IN SAN MATEO COUNTY COULD BE IMPACTED…ESPECIALLY
    SATURDAY AND SATURDAY EVENING. WITH THIS UNUSUALLY COLD AIRMASS IN
    PLACE…A FEW SNOWFLAKES WILL NOT BE OUT OF THE QUESTION CLOSER TO
    SEA LEVEL.

    THOSE TRAVELING ACROSS CALIFORNIA FRIDAY AND INTO THE WEEKEND SHOULD
    BE PREPARED FOR RAPIDLY CHANGING WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS. STAY
    TUNED TO YOUR LOCAL MEDIA OUTLET OR NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR FURTHER
    UPDATES ON THE WINTRY WEATHER.

  18. kim
    Posted Feb 16, 2006 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    They had snow there just a third of a century ago.
    =================================================

  19. jae
    Posted Feb 17, 2006 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    Come on, guys, you know that the record lows are due to pertubations caused by AGW.

  20. Jim Mangles
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    Come on, guys, you know that the record lows are due to pertubations caused by AGW.

    Of course. Don’t we know yet that AGW is unfalsifiable? It is religion, not science.

    What will eventually finish the kooky idea off will be the resolute failure of the climate to warm up as advertised over the next few decades…

    Oh, I’m sorry, that’ll be due to the success of Kyoto. Silly me.

  21. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Feb 18, 2006 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    Jim,

    You’ve got that right. And that’s why the eco-echos are so desperate to have a system in place and them in control. If they do then any failure to see the warming can be credited to the just-in-time system which is put in place and they’ll be happy, at that point, to admit that they’d hyped things a bit to get it created, but obviously we can’t let the system now be degraded or all the things they’d predicted will still come true after all. Contrawise, if things actually start getting too cold they can blame AGW and proclaim what it is that they’re now in charge of most of the world’s economy as someone has to ration the rare energy sources so people don’t freeze to death; and to order the movement of the much reduced population to the tropics.

  22. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Feb 20, 2006 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    In the last few days there have been articles citing a NASA study suggesting thet the Greenland Ice sheet has been melting at an increasing rate. However the article does not seem to indicate anything about changes in thickness. Is is melting faster because it is also accumulating at a more rapid rate??
    I found the following when I searched for Greenland Ice Thickness. Does anyone know if it was published as indicated??
    ***Greenland’s Ice Sheet is Growing***
    Fri, 04 Nov 2005 – After gathering data on Greenland for more than a decade, ESA scientists have reported that the island’s ice sheet is actually growing at its interior. Data collection began in 1991 with the radar altimeter instrument on board ESA’s ERS-1, followed by ERS-2, and most recently Envisat, which has 10 instruments to measure various properties of the Earth from orbit. Greenland’s ice sheet seems to be thickening at a rate of 6.4 cm (2.6 inches) a year above altitudes of 1,500 metres (5000 feet). Below that altitude, the ice sheets are decreasing in thickness.
    Full article

    Map of Greenland with temperature changes. Image credit: ESA. Click to enlarge.
    Researchers have utilised more than a decade’s worth of data from radar altimeters on ESA’s ERS satellites to produce the most detailed picture yet of thickness changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    A Norwegian-led team used the ERS data to measure elevation changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2003, finding recent growth in the interior sections estimated at around six centimetres per year during the study period. The research is due to be published by Science Magazine in November, having been published in the online Science Express on 20 October.

  23. IL
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 1:36 AM | Permalink

    Well, I watched Meltdown on BBC4 last night. The presenter looked like an honest sort of bloke with lots of experience of Greenland and the Antarctic and for about 30 minutes presented all sorts of reasonable questions about natural variability and asked if climate could be (as he presented evidence for) have been warm in the Bronze Age and MWP and cold (nice contemporary prints and paintings of thick – really thick – ice on the Thames), then couldn’t the present warming just be another part of the natural cycle? Yes, he was told, that smaller variability was due to sun and volcanoes but then he got mugged by the hockey stick – albeit one which there was about a 0.1C average rise 1000-1400AD and about a 0.1C fall below average 1600-1800. Then from ~1850 the line rose almost vertically. How much is sun and volcanoes? he asked. Well some, but the coup de grace was the computer model of AGW that added on to that natural variability and made the hockey blade shoot up almost vertically. It did look very alarming the way it was presented if you knew nothing of the controversy about UHI effects, proxy uncertainties etc. He commented on the detail and accuracy of all the wiggles in the graph too as very impressive knowing all about such detail in climate over the past 1000 years. (LOL)
    Consultant credited at the end was Prof Tom Crowley, so looks like the MWP and LIA were accepted, the hickey stick does show MWP and LIA but apparently the all these global changes ranging from high altitude and latitude environments being habitable in the MWP to the Thames freezing with pack ice in the LIA could be caused by an average change of only about 0.2-0.3C.
    The rationale for the many PCs running the climate models was presented on the golf course where if you hit hundreds of balls, the clustering and average could tell you what was really going on with high accuracy even if there was a lot of scatter. I think these guys need to understand the difference between precision and accuracy!

    Very well done from an alarmist point of view, viewer mugged by the independent and critical nature of the first half then wham, hit between the eyes with the hockey stick.

  24. IL
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 1:37 AM | Permalink

    Ha! Oops my bad. Must have been a Freudian slip, meant hockey not hickey stick

  25. Dave Frame
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 4:36 AM | Permalink

    Very amusing article. I’d like to clarify a few things, though, because you appear to have missed the point of the climateprediction.net experiments. Regarding the Stainforth paper:
    (1) Instantaneous doubling of CO2 and then waiting for (or in our case inferring) the equilibrium warming is a standard way of looking at climate sensitivity.
    (2) The real news in the nature paper is that some of the parameters in the climate model add non-linearly, implying that it’s not always to work out the sensitivity of a given multiply-perturbed model from several single perturbation models.
    (3) The non-linear combination of parameters can result in models with much higher climate sensitivities than we had previously seen.
    (4) Some of these high sensitivity models aren’t appreciably worse at simulating climate than regular off-the-shelf climate models.
    (5) So given that we can find high sensitivity models (greater than about 6K, say) that seem credible climate models, we can’t really rule out a high sensitivity climate system.

    Now subsequent work (by Reto Knutti and Claudio Piani, using more sophistcated data constraints than Stainforth)) has dropped the top end of our estimate of sensitivity back to around 6-7K. That’s still kinda high.

    The new climateprediction.net experiment takes a range of physically-perturbed atmospheric models and couples them to a range of physically-perturbed ocean models and runs under realistic historical (and various future) forcing scenarios for the period 1920-2080. We account for forcing uncertainty by makeing a forcing ensemble that spans estimates of uncertainty in solar, volcanic and sulphate forcing. The plan is to use the ensemble that “predicts” 1920-2000 adequately to predict 2000-2080 (subject to observational constraints, sensible weighting strategies, etc). Obviously we won’t see anything like an 11K warming in this new expt.

  26. John A
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 5:43 AM | Permalink

    Re #25

    Dear Dave

    Thanks for responding. This will be a long reply, so that I don’t miss any salient points that you have made.

    (1) Instantaneous doubling of CO2 and then waiting for (or in our case inferring) the equilibrium warming is a standard way of looking at climate sensitivity.

    No it isn’t. In science, you calibrate the model to the real world first, by looking at the climate sensitivity due to measured inputs. This constrains the model to physical reality. You do not drop carbon dioxide bombs into a simulated atmosphere and report the outlier.

    If you actually did that, as posters further in other threads have done, an equilibrium warming due to a doubling of carbon dioxide would be less than 1C.

    (2) The real news in the nature paper is that some of the parameters in the climate model add non-linearly, implying that it’s not always to work out the sensitivity of a given multiply-perturbed model from several single perturbation models.

    Tell me honestly, was that the result that Dr Stainforth was emphasizing?

    Meanwhile, you emphasize unlikely outliers and fail to mention the range of possible outcomes. You make the mistake of assuming that any of your results are physically meaningful, applying as they do to a virtual Earth with negative feedbacks which are nearly saturated, a constant solar flux with no short or long term variation, and a climate in as unstable an equilirium as the climate modellers think.

    (3) The non-linear combination of parameters can result in models with much higher climate sensitivities than we had previously seen.

    …in other climate models. Is there any chance that you’ll check your results against the real world? Those equilibrium conditions only exist as assumptions in your model, not in the real climate which is constantly changing on all timescales.

    (4) Some of these high sensitivity models aren’t appreciably worse at simulating climate than regular off-the-shelf climate models.

    I’ll try not to laugh at this. Does this mean anything? Do you want to take this statement back?

    (5) So given that we can find high sensitivity models (greater than about 6K, say) that seem credible climate models, we can’t really rule out a high sensitivity climate system.

    Let me put a question to you. Would you bet your house, savings, future career and pension on this model predicting the next ten years? Really?

    Now subsequent work (by Reto Knutti and Claudio Piani, using more sophistcated data constraints than Stainforth)) has dropped the top end of our estimate of sensitivity back to around 6-7K. That’s still kinda high.

    Questions:
    Why are you still talking about the unlikely top end rather than the middle?

    Why was this result not passed to the BBC in the same breathless tones as the first?

    The new climateprediction.net experiment takes a range of physically-perturbed atmospheric models and couples them to a range of physically-perturbed ocean models and runs under realistic historical (and various future) forcing scenarios for the period 1920-2080. We account for forcing uncertainty by makeing a forcing ensemble that spans estimates of uncertainty in solar, volcanic and sulphate forcing. The plan is to use the ensemble that “predicts” 1920-2000 adequately to predict 2000-2080 (subject to observational constraints, sensible weighting strategies, etc). Obviously we won’t see anything like an 11K warming in this new expt.

    Let me translate that: “our previous experiment was an unphysical and unethical exercise in scary headlines and publicity that enabled us to get funding and BBC sponsorship for a more reasonably done model with proper constraints. We are not apologetic about doing so”

    Obviously you will see an 11K warming at least once. That’s the fun of climate modelling. But will you be reporting a) the scary top of the range b) the excluded middle or c) the “unphysical cooling caused by instabilities in the climate model which are inherent in non-linear mathematics”

    I’ll donate 50 quid if Stainforth doesn’t manage to write “much worse/more sensitive/dangerous than previously thought” or similar, “more detailed modelling of forcings will be required” or similar, “more extreme weather events” or similar (even though your model doesn’t have any weather in it) or doesn’t try to paint a picture of Northern Europe being inundated by the sea, parched like a desert, walloped by hurricanes and/or tornadoes, beset by tropical diseases like malaria or similar.

    Want to cover the Climate Audit wager?

  27. fFreddy
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    Re #25

    (5) So given that we can find high sensitivity models (greater than about 6K, say) that seem credible climate models, we can’t really rule out a high sensitivity climate system.

    Ah, the heart of a good conspiracy theory. “We can make a theory that can’t be disproved, therefore it must be true …”

  28. fFreddy
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    Re #23, IL
    Thank you for this. I can’t get BBC4 at the moment; if you get a chance to see tonight’s program titled “Climate Conspiracy”, I’d really appreciate another quick review.

  29. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    RE: “In the last few days there have been articles citing a NASA study suggesting thet the Greenland Ice sheet has been melting at an increasing rate.”

    Over at RC there was quite a “storm” of discussion regarding the notion that an apparent surge in certain Greenlandic glaciers meant that said glaciers were actually melting (I’ll reserve my own critique of THAT notion for the moment ….). So, not only might there be thickening, but there may also be overall glacial surge. In reality, most glacial surges correspond to bona fide overall volumetric increase and overall extent increase.

  30. kim
    Posted Feb 21, 2006 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    So this apparent increase might just be a late surge from build up in the Little Ice Age? Marvelous.
    ============================================

  31. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    FYI:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=244

    Often times, the commentary of a researcher provides invaluable clues about his or her overall ways of viewing and processing information. Comments?

  32. jae
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

    Yup, that’s what we climate “scientists” do: we decide what outcome we would like and we then select the data and procedures that prove our hypothesis.

  33. IL
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    #28 fFreddy. Ok, I watched it. Some balance, showed Fred Singer. Unfortunately though in presenting skeptical points of view, also made a meal of David Bellamy and his blooper over the number of glaciers melting. Felt that the implication was that if you were skeptical, you were basing your arguments on very dodgy evidence. Final conclusion was that the climate system is so complex that nobody really understands it yet. Perhaps not a bad conclusion.

    Stayed with the ‘Climate in Chaos’ season to watch the program following on Tuvalu since wanted to see what evidence was of sea level rise and the threat to these islands. The previous program was 30 minutes, this one an hour. Twice saw people claim that the sea was higher than in their youth ‘used to be able to go onto the beach here’ and ‘waves washing up to base of trees here’ (no discussion of any evidence this due to rising sea level or whether due to other factors). 10 minutes in, crunch line on potential rising sea levels caused by putative AGW, ‘if it is as bad as they say it is going to be, it will be disasterous for us’. And that was the total and complete substance of the argument! Rest of the time devoted to island life such as the manager of the one hotel spending ages personally sampling each dish as it was being cooked with the same spoon (highly offputting!) and I gave up on it.

  34. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    RE: #33 (and others). Much of the scare perpetrated by the “climate science” orthodoxy revolves around:
    * Mass liquidation of Greenlandic and Antarctic Continental Glaciers
    * Positive feedbacks adding to rather than damping the responses to CO2 / reputed atmosphering warming
    * Increasingly energetic and chaotic dynamics
    * Etc
    Here is a real worry of my own. The world continues to fall hook, line and sinker for the IPCC / orthodox program. Major efforts are set forth to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere in dramatic fashion. Additional “countermeasures” (e.g. programs to manipulate albedo, manufacture aerosol layers, make high clouds, kill off soil microbes, drastically reduce the populations of livestock, mess with geochemistries of natural waters, etc) are undertaken to cool the surface and reduce the amount of solar flux making it through. Then, the law of unintented conseuquences exerts its revenge. The Earth is prematurely plunged into a new Pleistocene-like period. No one left to sue, they are all either dead or have become “lost souls” due to all the uprooting. Plus, they are pennyless even if you could find them. See, I have my own doom and gloom scenarios but unlike those of the orthodoxy, mine revolved around what has actually been demonstrated time and again. As so brilliantly pointed out by Paul Johnson in his book “Intellectuals,” historically, whenever utopian intellectuals with designs to “better manage” or “improve” humanity are allowed anywhere near the levers of power, disaster may well strike!

  35. fFreddy
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Re #33, thanks IL.
    I guess just presenting any sceptic point of view is an improvement on what we have had over the last year or so, so at least we are moving in the right direction. Let’s hope Steve’s work penetrates down to the media some time soon.

  36. ET SidViscous
    Posted Feb 22, 2006 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    re: #34

    An analogy for you.

    Your standing in the middle of a road, bearing down on you is a tractor-trailer truck.

    Do you move out of the way or petition your congresman to have the lane moved three feet to the left.

  37. John Lish
    Posted Feb 24, 2006 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    #23 IL, I have to agree with your comments about the nature of the programme Meltdown. Paul Rose (the presenter) presented himself as a skeptic but when faced with the “Hockey Stick”, roll over and had his stomach tickled. No questioning whatsoever of the graph! The more I have read over the last few days just defies my understanding of how science is supposed to work. As a layperson, I rely on my philosophy lectures at college to help me reason through the claims – so I have plenty of questions and no answers… But the lack of ethics I’ve seen frightened me.

  38. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Feb 24, 2006 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    RE: #37. It is indeed frightening. Over at Warwick Hughes I was debating Steve Bloom and some other person who goes by Anders. The essence of the debate was more or less surrounding the fact that modulation of incident solar radiation in the tropics (as one would of course expect due to the ENSO) by cloud cover could be exerting significant impacts. The warmer argument was that somehow conduction of heat from the air into the water was some how really important (which it is not) and that we (the “vile deniers”) were overplaying incident solar radiation. I learned all this stuff in my undergrad Quantum Mechanics course, and beyond esoteric and unimportant subleties at the atomic and subatomic level, it’s really not up for debate. Sort of in the category of “E=MC^2.” Nonetheless, the debate raged and actually continues to. What it demonstrated to me was that in some (but I’ll not claim all) aspects of debate the warmers either elect to “forget” all of their standard undergrad basics in Physics, Chemistry, Geochemistry, etc or, they never learnt it when they ought to have. That, I find truly frightening.

    Disclosure – I am an ex warmer myself. I am not a so called “climate scientist” but I was a warmer in the sense of lending support to their agenda in the past. Why I fell for it in the past was that I assumed that they had the physics, the geochemistry and other basic aspects of all this worked out. But now I see it is not so. I am not a PhD but yet, my sub PhD training in the physical sciences has allowed me to drill down on the warmer arguments. I find basic gaps and issues. When I raise them they obfuscate, make excuses, hit me with ad hominem, change the subject and other irresponsible behaviors. I would be the first to say “I was wrong, you are right” if my own, modest set of objections could be answered directly. But they have not been. These objections I raise are not esoteric things which PhDs ought to debate. These are things I worked in problem sets in undergrad textbooks! One good thing in it all is it has actually allowed me to dust off some of the stuff I learned both as an undergrad and in graduate coursework.

  39. Paul Linsay
    Posted Feb 24, 2006 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    #38: Yes, Enders and his friend Bloom are impervious to even the most basic science. It’s been quite an interesting discussion.

    With regard to being an ex-warmer and your personal experiences with them, you’ll notice that Mann and company never come over here to debate and censor the scientific criticisms from here that are posted at RealClimate.

  40. Thomas Bolger
    Posted Apr 9, 2006 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    Some years ago the British government decided to stop protectecting the coastline as an economy measure.(Presumably the thought that rising sea levels would make it increasingly expensive in future)
    The East coast of England suffers from Longshore Drift and groynes (walls usually of wood at right angles to the shoreline) are used to prevent coastal erosion.
    The groynes deteriorated the coast eroded and we got the usual lecture on the BBC TV of how disastrous Global Warming is.

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