HAnsen and Schmidt: Predicting the Past – Continued

continuation of the thread here.

60 Comments

  1. Louis Hissink
    Posted Apr 29, 2006 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

    OK,

    John A, relying on memory, Yes I was wrong, not infinite mass but density.

    Let’s then move on since we are on the same side.

  2. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 29, 2006 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    I think that locking and continuing is a good idea – go here to continue with back-reference there. Now locked.

    Thanks Steve.

    OTOH, now that the deed is done, I realize the drawback of lock and reload. Namely that I can’t now be writing a message and go back to an old message to cut & paste without risking having this message erased when I came back to it. I suppose the proper answer is to pull the other thread segment up in a different window….

    Yep, that worked. I just added the blockquote above.

    Thanks again.

  3. Jeff Norman
    Posted Apr 29, 2006 at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Why can’t you just open a second browser window?

  4. Posted Apr 29, 2006 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Re #400 (in the previous discussion)

    Steve (Bloom), there still is discussion about the (relative small scale) Iris theory, in fact about the ability of the (older) satellites to distinguish between very thin (“subvisible”) cirrus clouds and clear skies. This affects the area (and the overall radiation balance) where positive and negative radiation balances cancel each other out, minus the Iris effect. This is not settled at all.

    But there is an observed change in low cloud cover over the whole tropics. See the work of Wielicki ea. and the accompanying paper by Chen ea.
    In the past 15 years or so, there is an decrease in low cloud cover, a decrease in upper tropospheric humidity and an increase of Hadley/Walker Cell circulation speed. This is accompanied by an increase of upper ocean SST (sea surface temperature) of some 0.08 degr. C/decade.
    The net effect is an increase in insolation of ~2 W/m2 (which warms the oceans, including the area where the Atlantic tropical storms are born) and an increase in IR (infrared, heat) loss to space of ~5 W/m2. The net extra loss of heat at the TOA (top of atmosphere) thus is ~3 W/m2 in 15 years in the tropics (halve of the earth’s surface). Compare that to the ~3 W/m2 which is the modelled influence of the increase of all GHGs since the start of the industrial revolution… This is not the same as the Iris hypothesis, but it is a similar, but much larger scale, mechanism which seems to be at work.

  5. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Apr 30, 2006 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

    I’m still waiting for Steve Bloom to back up his bluster about Lindzen being “Completely discredited” with some actual studies … but I’m not holding my breath.

    In any case, as Ferdinand says, “it is not settled at all”.

    w.

  6. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 30, 2006 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    Re #4: Ferdinand, didn’t we just recently have a go-round on this over at RC? I think the upshot was that the 2002 papers you just cited again are out of date.

    Re #5: Willis, I’m sure you’re well aware of the relevant papers, but what the hell:

    Here‘s the main up to date critique. Lindzen did get a reply to this published, notwithstanding his whining in the WSJ. (Note for Ferdinand — Bruce Wielicki is one of the co-authors.)

    There’s also a bunch of stuff like this study.

    My “completely discredited” characterization is because Lindzen has been given every chance to prove the Iris Effect, and before that his related cumulus drying idea, and has failed to convince more than a few scientists (although I should say I don’t know for a fact that any of his several co-authors are still on board). I suspect there won’t be anything more on this in the scientific press, although of course Lindzen will continue to entertain elesewhere.

  7. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 30, 2006 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    BTW, Willis, considering a) your failure to ever cop to intentionally conflating different sea ice metrics (which conflation was essential for your conclusion) in a “paper” that appeared over at Warwick Hughes’ site and b) your strange attack (on a recent thread here) on sea acidification studies on the basis that the use of lab studies to predict future effects of increasing acidification is a priori invalid, accusing anyone else of bluster is a bit pot-kettle-black, don’t you think?

  8. Posted May 1, 2006 at 1:41 AM | Permalink

    Re #6:

    Steve, a recent update (6 May 2005)confirms the 2002 Wielicki/Chen findings. From the full article:

    We investigated the tendencies of the surface solar radiation in the tropical belt of 20°S to 20°N (Fig. 4A) and at the top of the atmosphere (ToA) (Fig. 4B). It was found that at the surface, there is a positive linear increase of about 0.18 W m–2 year–1, which indicates an increase in the surface radiation. At the ToA, the situation is reversed and the decease is about –0.17 W m–2 year–1. The tendencies from the second-order fit are similar to the linear ones. A decreasing tendency is also reported at the ToA’s reflected solar radiation (27), which is observed by a combined data set based on observations from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) (28) and from the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBE) (29). It is claimed that the observed changes in radiation budget are caused by changes in the mean tropical cloudiness, which is detected in the satellite observations but fails to be predicted by several current climate models.

    The period of measurements was 1983-2002, but the increase in radiation at the surface, as good as the extra loss of heat to space was after 1989. Any errors detected in the satellite record after 2002 should have been corrected in this update.

    The article by Sohn and Schmetz you refer to in fact confirms the above findings, be it on a smaller scale (the Indian Ocean): if the cloudy area at the warm pool increases (due to higher SSTs), the upper tropospheric humidity decreases over the subtropics and the total balance is slightly negative for water vapor and there is more loss of heat to space.

    In summary, this looks like a negative feedback to higher SSTs, not included in current GCMs…

    I haven’t followed the Iris hypothesis debate in such detail (as it is less relevant, because of the foregoing all-tropics results), but as far as I remember, the main objection of Lindzen is where the border between (subvisible) cirrus clouds and clear sky is set to detect the different areas. This is done by looking at the radiation temperature, as seen by the satellites. This has a huge influence on the area which is considered as “clear” or “clouded” within the warm pool and on the overall radiation budget over the warm pool. One of the complaints of Lindzen is that he didn’t receive any funding to check this…

  9. Steve Bloom
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Re #8: Ferdinand, thanks for linking to some more updated material. What is an open question is whether the net cloud/aerosol feedback in the tropics is *slightly* positive or *slightly* negative. While I suppose one could term this an “iris” if the feedback is negative, it’s a far cry from the adaptive iris (in the sense of the effect scaling up to cancel increasing GHG warming) proposed by Lindzen (and for which there is absolutely no evidence). As was also discussed over at RC, there is some other material accompanying the paper you cited, including this perspective on the state of the science. This article also makes it clear that lots of people are having problems getting funded to collect and analyze satellite data. Given this circumstance, why give Lindzen a preference for funding if pretty much everyone thinks he’s wrong?

    The main point I want to make is that your characterization of the results of any of these studies as finding a “larger scale” effect capable of overwhelming GHG warming over the long term is incorrect.

  10. jae
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    The main point I want to make is that your characterization of the results of any of these studies as finding a “larger scale” effect capable of overwhelming GHG warming over the long term is incorrect.

    Just who are YOU to outright claim something like this is “incorrect?” Where are your credentials, references, etc.?

  11. Posted May 1, 2006 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    Re #9:

    Steve, I suppose that you are mixing tropical and global cloud cover/albedo and intermixing with aerosols (which probably have nothing to do of what happens with clouds in most of the tropics).

    – For the period of interest (1983-2002) the direct change in forcing (according to Modtran) by increased CO2 (~40 ppmv) over the tropics is some 0.313 W/m2.
    – The change in (low) cloud cover over the tropics over the same period gives a change in sunlight hitting the surface of 2-3 W/m2, that is one order of magnitude higher than the influence of the increase in CO2 (other GHGs have near no increase in this period). Even with water vapor feedback (and excluding aerosols), this is by far not as high as the change in direct insolation.
    – But the same change in (low) cloud cover gives an extra loss of heat (IR) to space which exceeds the insolation inflow with 2-3 W/m2 over the same period. To be noted that the extra insolation directly heats the surface (and especially the oceans), while the loss of heat to space is from higher altitudes, where water vapor is convected, resulting in a less heat dissipated to higher latitudes. Again the net (negative) effect is an order of magnitude larger than the (positive) effect of the increase of GHGs in the same period.
    – The secundary and tertiary effect of (sulfate) aerosols is supposed to make clouds more brilliant and longer lasting. This should increase the albedo (especially around SE-Asia, with largely increasing SO2 emissions). But the earth’s albedo is decreasing and less clouds are found in the (sub)tropics (even globally, see Wielicki for the last years).
    – The influence of aerosols is IMHO largely overestimated, see a comprehensive overview of my comments about that topic, on RC.
    According to Anderson ea., current models use aerosols in such a way that the model fits the negative 1945-1975 temperature record trend (the “inverse approach”):

    Unfortunately, virtually all climate model studies that have included anthropogenic aerosol forcing as a driver of climate change (diagnosis, attribution, and projection studies; denoted “applications” in the figure) have used only aerosol forcing values that are consistent with the inverse approach. If such studies were conducted with the larger range of aerosol forcings determined from the forward calculations, the results would differ greatly.

    The forward calculations raise the possibility that total forcing from preindustrial times to the present (right axis in the figure) has been small or even negative. If this is correct, it would imply that climate sensitivity and/or natural variability (that is, variability not forced by anthropogenic emissions) is much larger than climate models currently indicate.

    But even the “forward” calculations should be taken with a grain of salt. I don’t know of any difference in chemistry or physics between volcanic SO2 in the stratosphere and human-made SO2 emissions in the troposphere, except for the time of growth and residence (years vs. average 4 days). That means that the cooling effect of human induced (sulfate) aerosols (~0.025 K, based on a comparison with the Pinatubo eruption) in current models (~1 W/m2 or ~0.3 K in equilibrium) is largely overestimated.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    Ferdinand and others, do you mind referring to Steve B as Steve B here? Some of the posts otherwise seem a bit strange in the context of this blog.

  13. Posted May 1, 2006 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    Steve B (sorry for the confusion, Steve M!), some addition: Indeed many scientists are complaining about the lack of funding for new satellites, needed for more accurate measurements of cloud cover (type, toptemperature, thickness, layers of clouds, drop size distribution,…) and radiation balances. And the lack of funding for the calculations needed to convert the raw data. But that are the same satellites/data that Lindzen need to prove/disprove his Iris hypothesis… Once the data are known (and archived!), it is not too much work to do the final calculations…

  14. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    Re 7, Steve B, thanks for your comments. You say:

    BTW, Willis, considering a) your failure to ever cop to intentionally conflating different sea ice metrics (which conflation was essential for your conclusion) in a “paper” that appeared over at Warwick Hughes’ site and b) your strange attack (on a recent thread here) on sea acidification studies on the basis that the use of lab studies to predict future effects of increasing acidification is a priori invalid, accusing anyone else of bluster is a bit pot-kettle-black, don’t you think?

    1) I haven’t a clue what you are talking about regarding a paper at Warwick Hughes’s site, where you claim I “conflated” different sea ice metrics. Please provide more detail. For those interested, the paper (assuming we’re talking about the same one) is at http://www.warwickhughes.com/cool/cool13.htm

    2) I did not “attack” aquarium studies, nor did I say that “a priori” they were wrong. Instead, I provided citations showing that in the real ocean, calcification rates have increased despite increasing atmospheric CO2. Other people provided aquarium studies showing the opposite. Neither you, nor anyone else, provided a single study showing that what was happening in the aquariums had the slightest relationship to what’s really happening in the oceans. Nor did anyone provide any studies that contradicted the studies I cited.

    Unless we’re discussing what will happen in an aquarium, I’ll take real world studies over aquarium studies any day … but heck, Steve, if you want to believe aquarium data over data showing what’s actually happening in the ocean, go for it. Your point of view doesn’t surprise me, because what’s happening in models and aquariums seems to be much more important to AGW folks than actual studies of what’s happening in the real world atmosphere and oceans.

    As I said before, when you can show me an aquarium that has a lysocline, we’ll be getting somewhere … but that may take a while …

    w.

    PS – for those not into oceanic calcification, the “lysocline” is the layer in the ocean’s depths below which calcium carbonate dissolves due to the pressure. Among the many buffering effects present in the CO2 chemistry of the ocean is the changing depth of the lysocline.

    However, to get the CaCO3 to dissolve requires a pressure of many thousands of tonnes per square metre … so a lysocline not present, of course, in any aquarium that I know of. This is only one of many differences between aquaria and the ocean. These manifold differences mean that aquarium studies can be useful, but which also means that they can only supplement, but not replace or override, studies of what’s actually happening in the real world.

  15. ET SidViscous
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

    Bah real world is overated.

    Plus you get all messy if you have to go out and study it.

    And if your follicly challenged you could burn the top of your head. Trust me on this one.

  16. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 10:53 PM | Permalink

    You know, I hate to sound like TCO, but I see a bit of a inconsistancy here with us skeptics. When it suits us we’ll complain that warmers have failed, say, to do greenhouse checks on ring width growth, but here you are, Willis, complaining about doing aquarium studies. What’s the difference?

  17. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

    Dave, while I appreciate your posting, please re-read what I wrote. An aquarium is not the ocean, for a host of reasons including the lack of a lysocline in any aquarium that I know of.

    Plus, I just cited studies on another thread in this blog showing ring width growth in an arboretum in Australia, so I’m clearly not complaining about warmers failing to study trees in arboretums, or stating that arboretum studies are invalid.

    You and Steve Bloom are positing a false dichotomy, between all experiments on the one hand, and the real world on the other, and suggesting we should choose one, the other, or both. There is no need to make such a choice, and indeed, it would be wrong to do so.

    It would be wrong because each and every lab experiment must be evaluated on its own merits. Some involve every factor we know of in the real world, only in miniature, so we can study something in the lab. Others, like aquaria, are missing dozens of factors that are present in the real ocean. Obviously, we would place different weights on the results of the different experiments.

    I make no general statements about whether experiments in the lab are preferable, or not preferable, or even applicable, to the real world. Some are, some aren’t. I call the balls and strikes as I see them, based on each individual experiment.

    One difference is of note, however. Warmers often believe models and lab experiments have more weight than real world data. For example, in the recent study of tropical tropospheric temperatures reported in Science magazine, called Amplification of Surface Temperature Trends and Variability in the Tropical Atmosphere, B. D. Santer et. al., the authors came to the astonishing conclusion that when their model results disagreed with the observational data, the observational data was wrong. And Steve Bloom seems to think that when aquarium studies disagree with studies in the ocean, that the real world studies are wrong.

    Go figure …

    w.

  18. Jack
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    Neither you, nor anyone else, provided a single study showing that what was happening in the aquariums had the slightest relationship to what’s really happening in the oceans. Nor did anyone provide any studies that contradicted the studies I cited.

    Yes, Willis, I did. The data plots in Feely et al. 2004 show demonstrate the shoaling of the aragonite saturation horizons in the North Pacific and Indian Oceans, and also a reduction in the size of an undersaturated midwater zone in the southern Atlantic. This is REAL data, and it shows that the invasion of anthropogenic CO2 is doing exactly what is predicted; it is decreasing the saturation state of the oceans with respect to CaCO3. Furthermore, I also provided Andersson, Mackenzie, and Ver (you may have missed it in the long thread) which showed that shallow-water carbonates will not provide sufficent buffering of the decrease in saturation state caused by increasing atmospheric CO2. In Orr et al. 2005, the damaging effects of keeping a live pteropod in undersaturated water are shown in microphotographs.

    The increase in calcification rate that you cited is explained as primarily due to an increase in SST, due to increased coral metabolic rates. This is unlikely to be sufficient to counteract the decreasing saturation state with respect to CaCO3. To address something you said above to Steve Bloom, this isn’t wrong. But it’s not fully coupled with the concerns about how ocean acidification will ultimately affect the capability of calcifiers to calcify.

    However, to get the CaCO3 to dissolve requires a pressure of many thousands of tonnes per square metre … so a lysocline not present, of course, in any aquarium that I know of. This is only one of many differences between aquaria and the ocean.

    Either you are trying to gloss over complicated physical chemistry of seawater, or you’re being naive in the statement above. They lysocline is not the same as the CaCO3 saturation horizons (there are usually two referred to, because the two polymorphs of CaCO3, calcite and aragonite, have different solubilities in seawater). The lysocline was first noted in CaCO3 solubility studies using balls of calcite suspended in the water column as a region over which the rate of dissolution increased rapidly. It is determined by the saturation state of seawater with respect to CaCO3 (mainly the concentrations of calcium and carbonate ion). At depth in the water column these are affected by ocean pressure (which shifts the equilibrium between bicarbonate and carbonate). But… and this is critical… the exact seawater carbonate chemistry at any depth can be simulated in an “aquarium” because pressure is not necessary to dissolve CaCO3 — only undersaturated water is required. (There may actually be a small pressure-related effect at extreme depths well below the saturation horizons and lysocline, but this is secondary.) The primary determinant of CaCO3 dissolution rates is the solubility constant of CaCO3 in seawater.

  19. jae
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    Willis: Can you direct me to the thread you are referencing?

    Plus, I just cited studies on another thread in this blog showing ring width growth in an arboretum in Australia, so I’m clearly not complaining about warmers failing to study trees in arboretums, or stating that arboretum studies are invalid.

  20. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    Jack,

    Since we have your ear for a moment, let me throw something out just off the top of my head. I realize I should pull out my old thermodynamics textbook and figure it out but I’ll risk looking silly this time. Enzymes often increase the speed or equilibrium of an reaction by many orders of magnitude. The latter case arises because the desired reaction is linked to a exothermic reaction, usually release of pyrophosphate i.e. ATT + substrate => product + AMP +PPi [reversable]& PPi => 2 Pi + heat [irreversable]. In addition a lot of mildly unfavorable reactions are pushed in a useful direction by means of ion pumps, of which the calcium pump is perhaps the most important. Now given that we’re explicitly talking about producing high calcium concentrations in or near the cells in an organism, isn’t it the case that such pumps are how this is done? And isn’t it the case that if the ambient calcium concentration is low with respect to saturation, all that is necessary is to apply more energy to run the calcium pumps harder? In which case, unless the # of pumps and their rate of action is maxed out, I wouldn’t think there’s any big problem except making sure the organism can spare the extra energy. So what exactly is the energy cost for overcoming an increase in the pH of a tenth of a unit or so (in the pH area we’re discussing)?

    One reason I bring this up is that I suspect that within and among organisms which produce carbonate shells, there’s a range of calcium pumping abilities. Therefore, testing an individual organism in a tank as to its ability to withstand higher pH values may not be a good test of the ability of either a species or an ecosystem to do so.

  21. Jack
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Dave,

    As I said before, I’m an oceanographer. I’m not a marine biologist, though there is clearly an interplay between biology and chemistry in this realm of biogenic calcification.

    Some of the papers I have may get into this subject a little (I’ll have to take a closer look at Orr et al.); I will also have to do some more research. Your question is an excellent research topic — I just don’t know how much research has been done on it. So… give me a little time and feel free to see what you can find yourself.

  22. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    re:#21

    Fair enough. Though I’d think that getting a degree in oceanography would require you to take some courses in marine biology. But I suppose I was talking more biochemistry than biology anyway. Comes from having a degree in biochemistry. Still, I could argue the issue either way without any actual research to look at.

    I think it shows that both warmers and skeptics have to have a bit more humility that has generally been shown in pushing our positions. Nobody knows every field and sometimes what you don’t know is of vital importance in your results. I think Mann’s lack of deep statistics knowledge mixed with his lack of humility has produced a rather sad situation.

    You’ve stated you’re an oceanographer, but now admit you’re not certain on some of the biological components. Well, I make no grandiose pronouncements on whether your position vis-a-vis future shell calcification will prove correct or not, but by stating rather forcefully that it’s correct and then having to back off on an important aspect of the picture when challenged, you risk losing some degree of cachet in the field. Not that you’re wrong to so, you’re right not to bluster an answer when you run into something you’re not familiar with, but it should give you pause when thinking that being an oceanographer makes you an expert in an area you don’t know in great detail.

    Of course the same should be true of most skeptics, in spades. I cringe at some of the things written here and elsewhere by my supposed allies, but that’s the way it goes. I can’t correct both allies and opponents with equal fervor when that would be misleading as to where I think the truth lies. That’s partly why I posted my previous message. I’d been arguing with Willis lately and didn’t want to get it thought that he was farther off than the people we both disagree with. So it seemed useful to provide him some ammunition for his point.

  23. John A
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    re #22

    I don’t think it’s necessary to hold your tongue if someone “from your own side” is talking rubbish. So long as you’re not attacking people but instead examining arguments and presenting counter-arguments, then go for it.

    This isn’t a partisan blog, despite what some people may think.

    I talk nonsense occasionally (or more often) because I don’t know enough about everything to be an expert in everything. My primary interest is historical rather than statistical. Steve’s is mainly statistical with a view to history. I don’t mind being shown to be wrong and I’m sure that Steve is the same.

    There should be a ferment of different ideas going on, not just Steve in his pulpit, but lots of discussion about what is and is not real in climate science. I’m pretty sure that Willis doesn’t mind you asking pointed questions about what he’s written – he’s set himself up to be asked those questions by posting them.

  24. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

    R #22 and #23. A pair of honest and open posts, I applaude them. I’m sure I’ve said I don’t know everything, if I haven’t I’ll state it here. I also feel I might not get some kind of snarkyness in reply to that concession – there seems to be some sort of change here. Maturity perhaps (and that’s a compliment not snark).

  25. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    re: #23 & 24

    My complaint isn’t someone being wrong, it’s being over-confidiently wrong. Yes, John, you’re one of the ones I was thinking of when I made my remark. But sometimes you’re right on and I don’t want to waste brainpower making corrections which a warmer will come along and make anyway (or should). And Peter, your problem isn’t so much that you say things that are scientifically wrong, it’s that you don’t say things which have any scientific content. Your remarks are almost all either ad hom or ad authority.

  26. Jack
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    You’ve stated you’re an oceanographer, but now admit you’re not certain on some of the biological components. Well, I make no grandiose pronouncements on whether your position vis-a-vis future shell calcification will prove correct or not, but by stating rather forcefully that it’s correct and then having to back off on an important aspect of the picture when challenged, you risk losing some degree of cachet in the field.

    And here I thought that I was honestly demonstrating the limits of my knowledge by indicating that my training is focused on one particular part of the field. (And I did take courses in marine biology, covering the gamut of picoplankton to whales. My specialty was chemistry (but not biochemistry).

    Clearly the subject you brought up is one of marine biochemistry, and I was/am more concerned with the fate of the shells after they’re formed, which is pretty much straight chemistry, not how they’re formed. I’m not even sure that the cellular response of calcifiers to reduced saturation state has been studied — and that’s why I called it a good research topic.

    However, Google is marvelous at finding things. And I did. Here you go for starters:


    Suppression of skeletal growth in scleractinian corals by decreasing ambient carbonate-ion concentration: a cross-family comparison.
    (Abstract)

    Tell me if you can read this:


    Carbonate mysteries

    which has a nice summation of Zondervan et al.

    Here’s some more:


    Cell cycle of Emiliania huxleyi under enhanced
    atmospheric CO2 and its relation to calcification


    Effects of CO2 Enrichment on Marine Phytoplankton

    And here, ultimately, is an article that is so good that I have to print it. As a biochemist, you should really like this:


    Algal Calcification and Silification
    (it’s a PDF)

    Now, after you take a look at these, I’d be curious to see if you think the following is correct. It appears (on quick read) that calcification is rate-limited by phsiology within the organism (particularly the coccolithophorids). I can’t tell from these references why reduced (but still oversaturated) saturation states reduce calcification rates, but for corals this appears to be the case. It is probably related to a concentration gradient. If calcification is rate-limited by physiology, then when the organism is experiencing damage in undersaturated waters, it would have to compensate for the damage by increasing its calcification “output”. I suspect (based on some of these references) that the rate is temperature-determined, so that the organism really can’t “compensate” actively. Thus, if the organism’s shell is being damaged by dissolution, the organism can’t accelerate its physiology to fix it.

  27. John A
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    My complaint isn’t someone being wrong, it’s being over-confidiently wrong. Yes, John, you’re one of the ones I was thinking of when I made my remark.

    You backstabbing b******d! You’re banned!

    Only kidding.

  28. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    Please, I don’t want to turn this thread into a discussion of calcium carbonate and marine biochemistry.

    Jack, you are correct that I missed a couple of your references, and that I simplified the description of the lysocline … however, no aquarium has one that I know of. Yes, you can simulate a lysocline in an aquarium, as you point out … but the simulation will not work as a buffering system, like the real lysocline.

    You are also correct that you cited references that show that changing CO2 levels in the air affect oceanic chemistry … but then I never denied that. And, as you point out, the increase in calcification is likely temperature related, which is what I said in my previous citation, so there’s nothing new there either. So we may see a change in calcification rates if the CO2 levels go up, but only if the ocean temperature doesn’t rise … obviously, the temperature is a larger factor than the CO2.

    My point, however, was quite different, and had nothing to do with oceanic chemistry (which in turn has nothing to do with this thread). It was merely a response to Steve Bloom’s ad hominem attack.

    Steve Bloom, in his usual nasty and childish manner, devoted an entire posting to accusing me of “intentionally conflating” different sea ice metrics, and of saying that aquarium studies were “a priori” worthless. I was merely defending myself against his unprinicpled attacks … how on earth he thinks he can decide if some imaginary “conflation” is accidental or deliberate is beyond me, but Steve B. appears to have some congenital deficiency that requires that he has to attack my honesty and integrity every few postings.

    Yes, I may have conflated metrics in my paper, although I don’t see it even on a close re-reading of the paper. But I have assuredly made mistakes before, and no doubt will do so again, so conflation is possible.

    But to accuse me of doing it deliberately, and worse, to accuse me of “refusing to cop” to doing it intentionally, as though it had been proven and I wasn’t admitting to it, is an unprincipled and scurrilous lie that reveals Steve B’s true nature … and it’s not pretty.

    In any case, let’s leave oceanic biochemistry to its own thread, I won’t post on it again, and I only brought it up in reference to Steve’s attack. This thread is about the egregious claims made by Hansen et. al. in their “smoking gun” paper.

    w.

  29. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Well, Willis, I don’t know that you’re required to answer every point even in a thread ultimatly based, several hundred messages ago, on what you wrote. I found the biochemistry interesting and the results a bit different that I’d thought, though not contradictory to my basic assumptions. Unfortunately I could only read the encyclopedia article as the rest require subscriptions I don’t have.

    The thing is that for the coccolithophorids at least, the production of CaCO3 was at first more a side effect of photosynthesis than a thing that they really, really wanted to do. The thing is that the genetic machinery for photosynthesis requires CO2 gas, not HCO3-. But CO2 is pretty scarce so some organisms came up with a way to use the HCO3- anyway by the equation:

    2 HCO3- => CO3= +CO2 +H2O

    But in the process of getting there H+ was generated and this was used to help remove Ca2+ from inside the cells where it is a problem anyway, gunking up the works. So the net result is that these creatures use bicarbonate to generate the CO2 they need to photosynthesize and excrete CaCO3 as a waste product which they have found useful as a defense as well. This means that as long as CO2 gas is rare, they basically have to produce as much carbonate as they produce tissue. But when CO2 gas goes up, they can produce tissue without having to break up bicarbonate. This means that more carbon can be sequestered in the oceans than otherwise, not less, though that has to be weighed against the loss of shell mass. IOW the whole situation is more complicated that it’s often made out to be.

  30. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Re #29, Dave, thanks for your comments. I particularly enjoyed what you wrote:

    IOW the whole situation is more complicated that it’s often made out to be.

    which I suspect could serve as the watchword (or the epitaph) for the whole climate question …

    All the best to everyone,

    w.

  31. TCO
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    Enzymes change speed, not equilibrium. Reaction rate is a function of the energy barrier to reaction. Enzymes reduce that barrier. Equilibrium is a function of the energy of the endpoints of reaction. The size of the barriar is irrelevant.

  32. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    As I said, TCO, enzymes can change the equilbrium by linking reactions. Yes you can be picky and say, “But it doesn’t change the equilibrium of the ACTUAL reaction!” but why confuse people? When people speak of a REACTION they mean the thing they want to see occur, not that plus a breakup of ATP or NADPH.

  33. Jack
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    Please, I don’t want to turn this thread into a discussion of calcium carbonate and marine biochemistry.

    Fine. The reason this began in the first place was about the oceans as a sink for atmospheric CO2. This has a lot to do with the climate track of the 21st century. Dave Dardinger and Pat Frank asked some questions and made some statements about that and the role of calcifiers, and there was a discussion of pH measurements in seawater. Then there was your post 137 in the original thread, discussing calcification under high pCO2 conditions. This forced a focusing on the actual mechanisms. I value this; it forced me to revisit some foggy realms of memory and it also discovered some interesting new references. I really found Barnes and Lough interesting, it put a new light on Andersson, Mackenzie, and Ver 2003.

    Why do this? To make sure that misconceptions don’t get propagated. Whether or not people reading these threads will persevere all the way down, I don’t know. But in my mind it’s very important to correct obvious misconceptions. It’s important to determine where the boundaries of known science lie, even if the boundaries are fuzzy.

    Now, two quick comments.

    Jack, you are correct that I missed a couple of your references, and that I simplified the description of the lysocline … however, no aquarium has one that I know of. Yes, you can simulate a lysocline in an aquarium, as you point out … but the simulation will not work as a buffering system, like the real lysocline.

    I don’t understand the basis for your final statement. The lysocline is a physical observation of dissolution “intensity” that is correlated with the carbonate ion concentration and CaCO3 saturation state in seawater. You can calculate the carbonate equilibrium at any depth and generate the same values in a laboratory container.

    You are also correct that you cited references that show that changing CO2 levels in the air affect oceanic chemistry … but then I never denied that.

    Quote (post 196): “Feely et. al. is full of aquarium studies and models that show that the ocean will become less basic. Like Feely, the Orr et. al. paper says that models show the ocean will become less basic, and theorizes that this will reduce calcification … but so what?”

    That doesn’t sound to me like awareness that Feely et al. 2004 and Orr et al. had actual data showing the oceans becoming less basic and more undersaturaed with respect to CaCO3. And that’s why I felt it necessary to insure that you weren’t denying that.

    I don’t mind calling a halt here, unless Dave Dardinger has any other comments; it appears that the reference I found was a good one. Dave, I thought that you would be able to see the abstracts, though I wasn’t sure about the Science page. I will indulge the lenience of ClimateAudit and provide the abstracts and the volume reference to the Science article.

    Suppression of skeletal growth in scleractinian corals by decreasing ambient carbonate-ion concentration: a cross-family comparison.

    Marubini F, Ferrier-Pages C, Cuif JP.

    Biogenic calcification is influenced by the concentration of available carbonate ions. The recent confirmation of this for hermatypic corals has raised concern over the future of coral reefs because [CO(3)(2-)] is a decreasing function of increasing pCO(2) in the atmosphere. As one of the overriding features of coral reefs is their diversity, understanding the degree of variability between species in their ability to cope with a change in [CO(3)(2-)] is a priority. We cultured four phylogenetically and physiologically different species of hermatypic coral (Acropora verweyi, Galaxea fascicularis, Pavona cactus and Turbinaria reniformis) under ‘normal’ (280 micromol kg(-1)) and ‘low’ (140 micromol kg(-1)) carbonate-ion concentrations. The effect on skeletogenesis was investigated quantitatively (by calcification rate) and qualitatively (by microstructural appearance of growing crystalline fibres using scanning electron microscopy (SEM)). The ‘low carbonate’ treatment resulted in a significant suppression of calcification rate and a tendency for weaker crystallization at the distal tips of fibres. However, while the calcification rate was affected uniformly across species (13-18% reduction), the magnitude of the microstructural response was highly species specific: crystallization was most markedly affected in A. verweyi and least in T. reniformis. These results are discussed in relation to past records and future predictions of carbonate variability in the oceans.

    Carbonate Mysteries is authored by the eminent Henry Elderfield.
    Science 31 May 2002:
    Vol. 296. no. 5573, pp. 1618 – 1621
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1072079

    Cell cycle of Emiliania huxleyi under enhanced
    atmospheric CO2 and its relation to calcification

    M. N. MàƒÆ’à‚⻬ler, A. N. Antia, J. LaRoche and U. Riebesell
    Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, Kiel, Germany
    Calcification in coccolithophores is strongly influenced by the projected decrease of
    future ocean pH. The physiological pathway by which ocean acidification affects the
    process of biogenic calcification is still not clear. Here we investigate the process of
    calcification on a cellular level with respect to the cell cycle of the cosmopolitan coccolithophorid
    Emiliania huxleyi in controlled lab experiments. The cell cycle can be
    distinguished in three phases (G1, S and G2 + M). Using DNA staining and flow cytometry
    it is possible to follow each phase of the cell cycle in a synchronized E. huxleyi
    population during a light:dark cycle. In parallel with cell cycle analysis we measured
    calcification rates in two hour intervals. This data set indicates that calcification occurs
    predominantly in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Thus, changing environmental
    conditions, which alter the cell cycle, may also have an effect on the degree of calcification.
    In addition to the lab experiments, we studied the cell cycle under future
    CO2 conditions during the PeECE III mesocosm field study in a Norwegian fjord. A
    combination of lab and mesocosm experiments provides further insight to biogenic
    calcification of coccolithophores.

  34. Jack
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    One more:

    Effects of CO2 Enrichment on Marine Phytoplankton

    Ulf Riebesell*

    Leibniz Institut für Meereswissenschaften, IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany

    (Received 14 October 2003; in revised form 5 May 2004; accepted 5 May 2004)

    Abstract: Rising atmospheric CO2 and deliberate CO2 sequestration in the ocean change seawater carbonate chemistry in a similar way, lowering seawater pH, carbonate ion concentration and carbonate saturation state and increasing dissolved CO2 concentration. These changes affect marine plankton in various ways. On the organismal level, a moderate increase in CO2 facilitates photosynthetic carbon fixation of some phytoplankton groups. It also enhances the release of dissolved carbohydrates, most notably during the decline of nutrient-limited phytoplankton blooms. A decrease in the carbonate saturation state represses biogenic calcification of the predominant marine calcifying organisms, foraminifera and coccolithophorids. On the ecosystem level these responses influence phytoplankton species composition and succession, favouring algal species which predominantly rely on CO2 utilization. Increased phytoplankton exudation promotes particle aggregation and marine snow formation, enhancing the vertical flux of biogenic material. A decrease in calcification may affect the competitive advantage of calcifying organisms, with possible impacts on their distribution and abundance. On the biogeochemical level, biological responses to CO2 enrichment and the related changes in carbonate chemistry can strongly alter the cycling of carbon and other bio-active elements in the ocean. Both decreasing calcification and enhanced carbon overproduction due to release of extracellular carbohydrates have the potential to increase the CO2 storage capacity of the ocean. Although the significance of such biological responses to CO2 enrichment becomes increasingly evident, our ability to make reliable predictions of their future developments and to quantify their potential ecological and biogeochemical impacts is still in is infancy.

  35. jae
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

    Although the significance of such biological responses to CO2 enrichment becomes increasingly evident, our ability to make reliable predictions of their future developments and to quantify their potential ecological and biogeochemical impacts is still in is infancy.

    Looks to me like this sums it all up. Awful lot of “may” and “can” and “potential” phrases in these abstracts!

  36. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    Jack, thank you for the additional abstracts in #33. Unfortunately most of the links you gave earlier require a sign-in even to see the abstracts. The abstract in #34, if I recall right, does appear without signing in. I say that because I remember:

    Both decreasing calcification and enhanced carbon overproduction due to release of extracellular carbohydrates have the potential to increase the CO2 storage capacity of the ocean.

    This is a rather important fact, don’t you think, when it comes to looking at the ability of the oceans to sequester CO2?

    And let’s look at a quote from the first abstract you give:

    the calcification rate was affected uniformly across species (13-18% reduction)

    Certainly 13-18% is of some significance, but we are talking cutting the carbonate ion concentration in half which is quite a lot. Also, the abstract doesn’t show whether or not they tried this experiment at different temperatures or not. Since CO2 rises in the atmosphere are supposed to result in SST rises, we need to know what the combined effect will be on calcification.

    Further none of the abstracts you give, or the encyclopedia article, indicate that there’s going to be any actual real harm to the ecosystem, just a change in species ratios as they adjust to the new conditions. But that isn’t what we hear about when we listen to the claxon calls of Big Science; “THE SKY IS FALLING” or the coral reefs in this case.

    Yes, I too want to “make sure that misconceptions don’t get propagated” but I just disagree about who’s spreading misconceptions.

  37. Pat Frank
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    #33-36, Aren’t all of those are also short-term studies? I’d wonder what happens over time as the population-distribution varies under the environmental stress of altered CO2 concentration. Might we see, for example, the emergence to dominance of now-minority strains of coccolithophores or corals, which are favored by slightly acidified conditions? There have been multiple rises and falls of atmospheric CO2 over the last million years. Calcifying organisms must have been exposed to this stress before, and given their survival into the present, must have adapted successfully. There must therefore, be some genetic diversity in calcifiers that allows the species to adapt to changes in CO2 and the accompanying changes in pH, by way of selections within the genetic pool.

    Is there any way to test for this with a longer term experiment? It’s hard for me to believe that the relatively modest change in CO2 we’re seeing can cause large-scale population crashes. I’d expect, instead, that it would cause redistributions of genetic strains within populations. That might occur as a die-off followed by a re-growth, which could be alarming for awhile if we didn’t know what was happening.

  38. ET SidViscous
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    “Calcifying organisms must have been exposed to this stress before, and given their survival into the present, must have adapted successfully. ”

    The one constant that we always see to Quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park “Life always finds a way”

    To think that the relative minor change in CO2 (On a millennial scale) will “wipe out coral reefs” is just plain hogwash. We see time and time again where life adapts to changes in it’s climate and eco-system. For sure there have been periodic mass extinctions, to date so far as I know, no one has a good explanation for these. But it is basically irrelevant Because even after these extinctions, life finds a way. So long as the earth doesn’t change drastically in climate (by that I mean tens of degrees, 30, 40 50 degrees, not 2 or 3) We have liquid water and sunlight, the Earth will always be teeming with life. Of this there will be certain basics that will always exist. So long as we have tropical and sub tropical areas with oceans, we will have corals, and even if the Globe Freezes up like a giant popsicle, as soon as it thaws corals will re-emerge.

    In some situations they will expand, both in population and in diversity, in others diminish, but for the next 10 million years they will always find a way.

  39. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    re: #37 That’s basically what I was telling Jack as to why Willis has a point in defending real-world measurements vs aquarium studies. The limited studies can’t test the entire spectra of variation either within or between competing species. Actually, because of the Hardy-Weinburg (or is it Weinstein) equilibrium, the competition between species is often quicker in exploiting a new niche.

    For an individual species either the selective pressure has to be very high or the population numbers reduced to a very low number (often, but not always, as a result of high selection pressure) in order for a rare or novel trait to get a chance to spread rapidly. You’re only going to see this in an aquarium experiment if you explicitly have identified a trait you want to test and then set up circumstances where you can do so. But checking out whether one species outperforms another in new circumstances is easier to do.

  40. Jack
    Posted May 4, 2006 at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    From #36:

    Regarding increased storage capacity of the oceans for CO2:
    This is a rather important fact, don’t you think, when it comes to looking at the ability of the oceans to sequester CO2?

    The ocean’s sequestration of CO2 hasn’t ever been in doubt; the increased capacity referred to above comes partly due to decreased calcification. There’s a price to pay.

    Certainly 13-18% is of some significance, but we are talking cutting the carbonate ion concentration in half which is quite a lot. Also, the abstract doesn’t show whether or not they tried this experiment at different temperatures or not. Since CO2 rises in the atmosphere are supposed to result in SST rises, we need to know what the combined effect will be on calcification.

    Agreed; I would also like to know if they actually simulated undersaturated conditions or only closer-to-saturation conditions. If I get a chance I’ll do the calculation.

    Further none of the abstracts you give, or the encyclopedia article, indicate that there’s going to be any actual real harm to the ecosystem, just a change in species ratios as they adjust to the new conditions.

    I will appeal to authority on this one by quoting:

    From Andersson, Mackenzie and Ver 2003. They estimated a 20% reduction in the saturation state of surface marine waters by 2100. “Decreased saturation state of the surface waters led to a reduction in biogenic carbonate production by 7%-44%, depending on whether a linear or curvilinear saturation-state relationship was used in the calculations.” Other groups have found 14-44% reduction by 2065. 7-14% is probably tolerable, 40-44% would be substantial. These results are for surface waters that mainly affect coral reefs.

    Orr et al. predicts that the Southern Ocean will become undersaturated with respect to aragonite by 2050-2065, noting that slower growth trajectories for CO2 will postpone that threshold. Not good news for Southern Ocean pteropods — which are an important (albeit crunchy) food source for higher trophic levels. They don’t give timelines for the northern Pacific, but I’d suspect it’s about the same.

    Philosophically (and addressing Pat Frank’s comment about longer-term studies), one has to define when a “change in species ratios” constitutes “harm” to an ecosystem. Coral reef communities are still surviving (in a diminished state) despite widespread losses of staghorn coral, so there has been a change in coral species ratios and the reef environment is a lot different (the staghorn losses are not due to decreased calcification, of course). The problem with ecosystems is that they need time to adapt to changing conditions, and many predicted changes for the next 100 years (both land and sea) are much more rapid than changes over “geologic” time. Coral can’t just pull up stakes and move to a more benign area. I’m somewhat amused and a bit disheartened by the long-term view expressed by ETSidViscous.

    You are all asking good questions, but the lesson of biology under stressful conditions and rapid change is that ecosystems and organisms don’t adapt, they go extinct and get replaced. Ask any dinosaur of your acquaintance.

    A Web site for Pat Frank, if you haven’t seen it before:


    Blast from the Past

    especially

    Tiny creatures tell a big story

  41. ET SidViscous
    Posted May 4, 2006 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    Your disheartned by the fact that “Life will find a way” ?

    No Coral doesn’t have legs, because it doesn’t need them. Climate change, locally or globally, doesn’t change overnight. Coral reefs can “move” more than quick enough to make up for the changes.

    They’ve been here for millions of years, they’ll be here for millions more.

  42. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 4, 2006 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    re: #40

    The ocean’s sequestration of CO2 hasn’t ever been in doubt

    Well, I think it has been in terms of what’s published in the popular media. Yes, the media admits that deep sequestration is possible, over hundreds or thousands of years, but they imply that the upper ocean is running out of ability to sequester more CO2 and this article basically denies it. The basic story, it seems to me, is that more dissolved CO2 will result in more primary production in the oceans since there will be less need to rely on getting CO2 from bicarbonate (i.e. excreting calcium Carbonate). And it appears that to a large extent this will be fast and permanent sequestration since it will result in the carbon falling through the ocean rather than having to wait for ocean currents to move it.

  43. Pat Frank
    Posted May 5, 2006 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    #6, Lindzen and Chou have published a complete refutation of the study you linked, Steve B. It’s published here, but doesn’t have an abstract and access may be limited to subscribers.

    However, here is the (slightly edited) opening paragraph in a paper filled with detailed climate physics: “Lin et al. (2004, hereafter LWWH) examined the Iris hypothesis of Lindzen et al. (2001, hereafter LCH) using the variations of the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) radiation fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and the sea surface temperature (SST)… They concluded that there was no evidence for the strong negative feedback of the Iris effect and that the strong variation of the high-level clouds with the SST (taken from LCH’s observations of the Iris effect) was likely a major factor for causing the deviation between the predicted and observed shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) variations at TOA. We find that the conclusions of LWWH are contradictory to the data given in their tables and figures, which actually suggest a strong negative feedback between TOA radiation and the surface temperature, consistent with the Iris hypothesis. (bolding added)”

    And near the end of the paper, “[Lin and others] fail to distinguish changes in cloud cover because of increased or decreased cumulus convection from changes that are a result of increased or decreased detrainment from cumulus towers. As emphasized by LCH, only the latter is relevant to the Iris effect. The failure to distinguish these changes can even result in getting the opposite (and totally fallacious) sign of the Iris effect.

    It appears your dismissal in #9 was grossly premature.

    And finally, “[The] conclusion that there is no observational evidence supporting the strong negative climate feedback is unfounded. Given that dynamics cannot, on average, significantly change the amount of cumulonimbus activity, papers such as LWWH, Chen et al. (2002), and Wielicki et al. (2002), in fact, provide confirmation for the Iris hypothesis. For those concerned with global warming, this should be welcome news. (emphasis in original)”

    There you are, Steve B. Welcome news for you. Be happier.

    I have this paper in pdf. If anyone wants it, you can contact me here.

  44. Steve Bloom
    Posted May 7, 2006 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

    Pat, you should have a look at Lin et al’s short but thorough demolition of the Lindzen at al comment you quote. While we’re on the subject, you might also want to have a look at the iris effect mention on page 16 of this new paper. BTW, what’s happened here is that Lindzen has picked a fight with some of NASA’s own experts on the satellites that measure radiative flux. It’s no particular surprise that he turned out to be wrong. That said, you’re absolutely right to imply that I would be happier if Lindzen had been proved right.

  45. Pat Frank
    Posted May 7, 2006 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    #44 – I’ve seen that paper and it wasn’t a demolition, Steve. It was the most recent rebuttal in an on-going debate.

    As a scientist myself, I note with bemusement the replies and counters that regularly appear in climate science journals. Such debates are almost absent in the fields of chemistry where I work. I’d be interested to hear from other scientists who post here whether these sorts of debates, claims, counter-claims, rebuttals, reiterations, and reformulations are common or rare in their own fields. I would guess they’re pretty rare almost everywhere.

    The point is though, that sort of tempo and culture indicates the theory is not sufficiently well defined and the data are insufficiently precise and/or insufficiently direct (i.e, too tangential to the theoretical point) to resolve the issues under debate.

    To me, this all indicates that climate physics is not sufficiently well-developed to produce projections that are precise enough to warrant confidence. If it were so, these debates would rarely occur and would not persist when they did occur. Luboà…⟠can correct me here, but in high-energy physics, for example, error bars for observed resonances are generally reported as 3-sigma and the resonances must be that far above noise before anyone really believes them. If that sort of standard were applied to climate physics (and they should be, really) there would be nothing to dispute about AGW from A-CO2. Likewise proxy reconstructions.

    The fact there is this vigorous back-and-forth in climate physics just reiterates the point I and others have made here, that the physical theory of climate is not well developed, its predictions are not well-constrained, and it cannot support the burden of the AGW claim.

    Lindzen has not “turned out to be wrong,” Steve. He’s just turned out to be disputed. There is no magic to “NASA’s own experts.” Others, including Lindzen, are as expert as they.

    I’ll pay attention to your new paper when it’s published, but not as a pre-print.

  46. Jean S
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 3:46 AM | Permalink

    #45:

    As a scientist myself, I note with bemusement the replies and counters that regularly appear in climate science journals. Such debates are almost absent in the fields of chemistry where I work. I’d be interested to hear from other scientists who post here whether these sorts of debates, claims, counter-claims, rebuttals, reiterations, and reformulations are common or rare in their own fields. I would guess they’re pretty rare almost everywhere

    I completely agree here. In my field (statistical *), they are almost non-existent. It is not to say that “rubbish” is not published, it is the way things work. Roughly all results are ignored at first (not cited), until other people find merit in them and can replicate them. If something “stupid” gets published (in a major journal, others are simply ignored), it usually goes the way that someone else publishes a paper where the problem is “fixed”, i.e., the thing is done correctly, and usually it is explained what was wrong in the original paper. There is really no need of these kind of “rebuttal-rerebuttal” things.

    IMHO the problem in the “climate science” is the fact that some scientist have let their political agenda to get in the front of science. All papers published are accompanied with press-releases with some dubious statements, and then “science-journalists” and Steve B-alikes are parroting these as “final truths” and “smoking guns” whatever. If something “harmful” to their political agenda gets published, then they have needs for these “rebuttals”. In this case the procedure is a kind of inverse “Mythbusters”: first they shout loudly “Busted”, then they proceed with a “proof” which usually does not even touch the main claims, and then this is cited widely along the internet and popular journals as if the original claims were “totally demolished” (the handling of von Storch et al 2004 paper is a prime recent example). A new urban myth is therefore created.
    Lubos put it a nice way (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=645#comment-21094 ), so I quote him:

    [I]f a statement gets through peer review and is published, then it’s not only proved but it becomes a proof itself.

  47. Spence_UK
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 5:40 AM | Permalink

    In my field (remote sensing) I also see relatively little of this kind of ping-ponging of claims. Generally, low value research, or flawed research, will just fade into obscurity.

    However, the effect of such rebuttals is well known within science, and is known as the “Proteus Phenomenon”. Again I would refer to John Ioannidis’ paper, which I’ve probably overquoted a little in the past, but I’m sure once more won’t matter…

    Corollary 6: The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true.

    With many teams working on the same field and with massive experimental data being produced, timing is of the essence in beating competition. Thus, each team may prioritize on pursuing and disseminating its most impressive “positive” results. “Negative” results may become attractive for dissemination only if some other team has found a “positive” association on the same question. In that case, it may be attractive to refute a claim made in some prestigious journal. The term Proteus phenomenon has been coined to describe this phenomenon of rapidly alternating extreme research claims and extremely opposite refutations

    John is viewing this in a medical context, which has some differences; the race is usually financially motivated (for example, drugs companies developing new treatments). In the climate context, the motivation is political. If anything, the pursuance of political power can be a far greater motivation than the pursuance of financial gain.

    Ref. Ioannidis JPA (2005) Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med 2(8): e124

  48. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    Re #47. Ok, James Lovelock works on his own, allways has. You therefore agree with him about ‘Gaia’ and the seriousness of AGW?

    I guess we can be assured your motives are as pure as the driven snow? And that anyone else thinking anything else is political? Well, it’s a good catch all I suppose.

  49. Spence_UK
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

    Re #48

    Do I really need to spell out the logical fallacy you are making here? I suppose I probably do.

    It isn’t whether scientists work on their own, or whatever, it is about working in a “hot” field. Try understanding the argument before responding to it.

    Every dispute has two sides, and I’m more than happy to admit both sides have political motivations; I never said they didn’t. But the resulting science is at serious risk of bias, which is the basis of John’s Corollary, backed up by observational evidence as well. The existence of the Proteus Phenomenon in climate science (you surely aren’t claiming this isn’t present…) strongly supports the notion that this branch of science is likely to be more of a measure of the prevailing bias than a useful measure of the truth.

  50. Jean S
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    Re #48: Although that was not for me, but could you restate your comment again, I could not follow its logic. Spence_UK argues that “the hottest fields” are most likely to produce bad research, and then you assert that James Lovelock works alone, and from that you make an implication that Spence_UK should agree with James?!?!

    And finally the ending paragraph is a pure ad-hominem style straw man argument, which has nothing to do with Spence_UK’s post. That’s more realclimate style, and from my part, I hope it stays there.

  51. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    Do I really need to spell out the logical fallacy you are making here? I suppose I probably do.

    It isn’t whether scientists work on their own, or whatever, it is about working in a “hot” field. Try understanding the argument before responding to it.

    You got your ad hom in…

    WRT to your last paragraph, why doesn’t it apply to you contrarians? Why aren’t you biased? Why are you any more a source of truth? You’ve admitted you’re political, admit you’re biased and then we can get back to looking at the evidence and data (or not) for AGW (or rather, this being ClimateAudit, the avoiding of that and the getting back to the maths, statistics and belittling those you dislike).

  52. Peter Hearnden
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:21 AM | Permalink

    Re #50

    Although that was not for me, but could you restate your comment again, I could not follow its logic. Spence_UK argues that “the hottest fields” are most likely to produce bad research, and then you assert that James Lovelock works alone, and from that you make an implication that Spence_UK should agree with James?!?!

    Yes. If (IF!) it’s simply a case of The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true (as Spence seems to be claiming) then why isn’t it a case of the opposite? I didn’t make the claim btw, I’m testing it to see if it’s worthless or marginally better. Oh, and if you want to insult my intelligence again this would be an appropriate point!

    Wrt RC, well you managed to get straw man, ad hom and RC in one sentence so well done…

  53. Jean S
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    re #52: You can not reverse an implication. Especially since Spence did not even hint that there might be an equivalence. But I guess you don’t really care, you seem to be on a mission here.

  54. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    PLEASE DON’T FEED THE TROLLS

    Spence says that the hotter a field is, the less likely it is that any given paper is true.

    Peter replies to this, or at least claims he is replying to this, by saying James Lovelock works alone, so Spence should agree with James … a brilliant non-sequitur if I’ve ever seen one, actually one of Peter’s better lures …

    This, folks, is not a discussion. It is a troll. Peter is trolling. Please don’t feed the trolls. Let Peter have his say, and we can all laugh at him in private, but please don’t respond to his nonsense.

    w.

  55. John Lish
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    Peter, you’re not following the argument. A ‘hot’ field is one which generates debate and arguments. You cannot extrapolate that those papers not being debated equates to approval. As pointed out by Jean in #46, bad papers are often ignored.

    The raison detre of Climate Audit is the statistical analysis & the maths. That’s the reason why I read the blog. I find the arguments stretching occasionally to the point of headaches but nevertheless, I attempt to follow the debate. Its a complex area of discussion and one worth musing over.

  56. Paul
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    RE #52 –

    Peter, YOU ARE NOT COMPREHENDING, are you? Spence_UK’s point was that BOTH sides experience it. The science isn’t settled in either direction.

    Having said that, one can look at the arguments and evidence presented by both sides and come to some sort of conclusion. Of course, it’s based on what we have so far. Rational people will allow for the possiblity that what they’ve concluded so far might be completely wrong.

    Right now, it appears that “warmer” side is convinced of the evidence (and uses language to support that position) while the “skeptic” side isn’t so sure of 1) the evidence presented and 2) what that evidence is showing might happen. When it gets political on the “skeptic” side, they use language similar, but opposite, from the “warmers.”

    At least from Steve M. we get a very direct explaination of where he stands. Everything else on this blog are other people’s opinions. Take them for what you think they’re worth. Of course others will take your opinion for what they think it’s worth.

  57. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

    Jean, Spence.

    I hope you can now see why there’s a general agreement here to ignore Peter (Hearnden that is; there’s another, sensible, Peter H here which makes things really confusing). He (Peter Hearnden) makes tar-baby arguments. I.e. once you touch them, you get stuck, making it harder and harder to withdraw, no matter how much you want to.

  58. jae
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Please join the IPCC (Ignore Peter’s Crap Club)

  59. Paul
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    RE#57,58:

    Agreed.

  60. Spence_UK
    Posted May 8, 2006 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

    Fair point. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. Currently biting lip…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,205 other followers

%d bloggers like this: