Scientific Misconduct

Montgomerie and Birkenhead have an interesting discussion of scientific misconduct here (scroll to page 16), starting with Mendel.

Bob Montgomerie and Tim Birkhead, 2005, A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Misconduct, ISBE Newsletter, Vol. 17(1) May 2005, 16ff. URL


  1. Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 2:04 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you might also have a look at John P. A. Ioannidis: "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False".

    Steve: Nice reference, highly recommended to everyone else.

  2. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    Steve, for those just passing through here, can you explain *why* it’s interesting enough to merit a post, perhaps with references to any other obvious clear examples of scientific misconduct you might have in mind…

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    I posted earlier this year on Full True and Plain Disclosure and Falsification You might look at that post as to why I’m interested in the topic.

  4. ET Sid Viscous
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    Concerning this is a reference that I’ve been meaning to post here.

    I’m currently reading (again) The Making of the atomic bomb by Richard Rhodes. Discussing the possibility of stopping the counting of seeds when the ratio was what is expected, in the above article, there is a story about Cavendish in the late 1920s. (pages 157-158 Making of the Atomic Bomb) Cavendish had done an experiment about light element disintegration, unfortunately the equipment of the time (Scintillation screen where the scintillations are counted by physical observation) had reached the limits of it’s usefulness. Human observers had problems with counts above 150 per minute, or below 3 per minute. When the Vienna Radium Institute tried to replicate Cavendish’s results they came out with different numbers, and blamed Cavendish’s sub-par equipment. Cavendish improved his equipment and got the same results. So Cavendish went to Vienna to see the experiment set-up. He found that the count was being done by assistants (young women who were thought to be better at performing the counts*), He determined that the assistants understood what was expected of them regarding the results, and were unconsciously counting non-existent scintillations.

    He gave them a separate experiment, did not explain it to them, and then the counts matched his own results.

    The important thing was that not only did the Vienna Radium institute give Cavendish access to their data, but gave him access to their experiments where he identified the flaw, and most importantly VRI apologized after he showed them to be incorrect.

    There is also an interesting discussion about science and “consensus” opinion on pages 34-38 that I think you will find interesting.

    *For some reasons that are obviously sexist but irrelevant.

  5. JerryB
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 4:00 PM | Permalink

    The Cavendish episode calls to mind Langmuir’s talk on pathological science:

    Which in turn has its critics:

  6. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

    Just so we’re clear on what we’re discussing, here’s the official view of the US Government. From the Federal Research Misconduct Policy:

    Federal Policy on Research Misconduct

    I. Research Misconduct Defined

    Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

    Research, as used herein, includes all basic, applied, and demonstration research in all fields of science, engineering, and mathematics. This includes, but is not limited to, research in economics, education, linguistics, medicine, psychology, social sciences, statistics, and research involving human subjects or animals.

    Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

    Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

    The research record is the record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from scientific inquiry, and includes, but is not limited to, research proposals, laboratory records, both physical and electronic, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, and journal articles.

    Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

    II. Findings of Research Misconduct

    A finding of research misconduct requires that:

    There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community; and

    The misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly; and

    The allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence.

    Do other countries have similar policies?


  7. Steve Latham
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

    Hi Steve,
    I made a comment about Mendel the other day at RealClimate without knowing you were talking about him here. The fact that you responded brought me to your website. I’m glad I visited. I read the behavioural ecology paper but haven’t yet read the Ioannidis (except for the summary). The idea of most results being wrong is very interesting. But how, then, does science normally progress? Being a scientist I like to think that we’re generally extracting truth from the natural world. And by generally I mean usually. I don’t think that progress is only made during paradigm shifts. Wanting to defend my profession, to what can I point? I suppose I could point to cases where replication supports original analyses, or I could point to cases where scientists are genuinely surprised by their findings, or I could point to cases where predictions from research can actually be found to work in the real world. But I don’t think that any of these would be sufficient because there are plenty of counter-examples.

    If we agree that science is still a worthwhile pursuit (we should be aware that not everyone agrees with that), … Let me start again: assuming that climate science is a worthwhile pursuit, and given the strong political implications of results mixed with the general inability of most people to understand them, how do we get away from this he said-she said state of affairs? I don’t believe it would end if MBH98 was fully and reasonably explained. I don’t know if it will ever end. Of course all new results should be subjected to due scrutiny. Keeping that in mind, my challenge is for each of us to consider how and when or under what circumstances we would change our minds about the consensus interim conclusion regarding AGW. If the answer is “never” (or so ridiculous as to be equivalent) then I think we have a problem.

  8. Michael Mayson
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    Steve, “The Beginners Guide…” is a nice reference. In a discussion of the Smith case they report the following;

    ….Smith (1991) did reply to Snell’s (1988, 1991) criticisms, admitting that some mistakes had been made (e.g., errors in transcribing data) but claiming that those mistakes did not affect his most important conclusions.

    Remind you of anyone?

  9. Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    The article posted by Wolfgang Flamme is pretty entertaining. On my blog I indicate, among other things, that the climate change research beautifully passes all six criteria by John Ioannidis that increase the probability that the published research findings are false.

  10. TCO
    Posted Nov 3, 2005 at 11:35 PM | Permalink

    The cool thing is that the whole kerfuffle brought some of the thinking and open to debate “opposition” over here. That doesn’t mean that they will fall all over and adopt Steve’s POV (but they might). It means that they will invigorate our discussions, will see that Steve is not some creationist, etc. In other words will engage in debate and consideration (even if on the “other side”), rather than haughty dismissal.

  11. Larry Huldén
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

    RE to 6 by Willis Eschenbach
    In Finland we have:
    ” National Advisory Board on Research Ethics was founded in 1991 to address ethical questions relating to research and to the advancement of research ethics in Finland (Decree 1347 of 15 November 1991). The Sectretary General of the Council is attached to the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies. ”
    Details can be found at:

  12. John A
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 3:06 AM | Permalink

    Steve, for those just passing through here, can you explain *why* it’s interesting enough to merit a post, perhaps with references to any other obvious clear examples of scientific misconduct you might have in mind…

    Because it’s *his* weblog, and he doesn’t have to ask *you* for permission for what *he* wants to talk about.

  13. TCO
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

    Or because some people actually care about ethics and the scientific method?

  14. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

    Gee, TCO, that’s pretty radical speculation …

  15. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 6:10 AM | Permalink

    Re #13, by which you seek to imply some don’t? Like who? Remember, it’s a very grave allegation to make.

    Re #12, ‘John’ I sense you boiling over from here. Calm down, read my post again, and please show me where I did anything other than ask the question. Actually, Steve answered it in post #3, and he clearly, since he didn’t give an example, doesn’t have anyone in mind. Good.

  16. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    I’m puzzled about #4. While I can understand that there was a problem between the Cavendish Laboratory results and the Vienna ones, I don’t remember ever reading about a person named Cavendish working at the Cavendish Lab in the 1920’s. Nor does such a name occur in the index of the book by Rhodes.
    While Amazon allowed me to read a few pages of the book as well as the index, I wasn’t able to read pages 157-158.
    The story is an interesting one and reflects well on the Vienna Institute of that time.
    Roger Bell

  17. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

    Re #15: Peter, if you want names of people that don’t care about the scientific method, well, I can’t name names on a family website, but we could start with the group whose initials are MBH … or perhaps your question was just rhetorical.

    But if the question was for real, here’s some clues to help you identify them. For example, people who care about the scientific method don’t call a legitimate request for data “intimidation”. Nor do they have folders on their computer called BACKTO1400_CENSORED which contain data that they claim they’ve never, ever seen …

    Here’s another key clue — anyone who has to be subpoena’d by Congress before he reveals his “scientific” methods doesn’t care about the scientific method.

    … but you knew those things already, I suspect.


  18. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 7:00 AM | Permalink

    Re #6.
    Where is the Federal Government’s Research Misconduct Policy publicised? I ask, because I don’t remember reading about it.
    Roger Bell

  19. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 7:29 AM | Permalink

    Re # 18, Roger, the FRMP is available at


  20. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 7:51 AM | Permalink

    #16. Roger, You’re correct, #4 is a bit garbled. The scientist was James Chadwick, working at the Cavendish labs. He was one of Rutherford’s “boys” and had a long and very distinguished career that was capped by the discovery of the neutron. He was chief of the British contingent in the US working on the Manhattan project.

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

    #7: Steve L., TCO who’s not unsympathetic to the points, sometimes gives me a hard time about business analogies, but sometimes it’s useful for people in one discipline to see how people in another discipline handle things. In clearing a prospectus, aside from issues like the promoters not being criminals, the most important thing is full, true and plain disclosure in the prospectus. You’re not promising that the deal is necessarily going to work out, but you are promising that the investors are being informed of all material adverse information. This doesn’t mean that it always happens, but people take it seriously when it doesn’t.

    In something contentious like climate science, I see no reason not to have disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. Full archiving, an open kimono. I’ve never seen such prima donnas. These guys create suspicions needlessly. For example, Phil Jones refuses to release his station data. What’s a civilian to think? Release the damn stuff and let the chips fall where they may. Same with Jacoby, same with Thompson etc. etc.

    As to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2, I think that it’s an important question. One of the defects of IPCC is that it’s never given a clear exposition of the mechanism of how additional CO2 will impact climate. For example, they say that the direct impact of CO2 is logarithmic – but this is based on pretty empirical
    arm-waving. The direct radiative impact depends on specific wings and far bands – but how do these interact with water vapor lines? I would love to see a magisterial analysis considering Clough [JGR 1995?]. Instead, the figure of 4 wm-2 is re-cycled in IPCC TAR,which is based on old Ramanathan studies in the early 1980s. I’m not arguing with any of this, but the most fundamental aspect of how AGW works is nowhere in IPCC.

    The other thing that I miss in IPCC is a close analysis of water vapor and cloud feedbacks. I know that these are hard. The climate response to 1.5xCO2 (whichis in hand) seems to be less than the modeled response of 2xCO2 in the upper limit models. If the impact of 2xCO2 is (say) 5.6 deg C, then, on the Doug Hoyt line of argument, we should be getting over a 3 deg C impact already. We obviously haven’t. I’m not saying that there isn’t a valid answer. But it’s a pretty obvious question: have you seen it answered in IPCC in a clear way?

  22. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    I opened a thread on climate sensitivity on ukweatherworld.
    Welcome to debate, it’s moderated, you can edit your contributions and even add pictures!

  23. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    #21,Steve: “As to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2, I think that it’s an important question. One of the defects of IPCC is that it’s never given a clear exposition of the mechanism of how additional CO2 will impact climate. For example, they say that the direct impact of CO2 is logarithmic – but this is based on pretty empirical arm-waving.” Actually this is a bit of atomic physics. The heat re-radiated by the earth roughly has a wavelength of 15 um, the central molecular absorption line of CO2. The earth emits the heat energy and CO2 absorbs it into the atmosphere. The problem is that there is enough Co2 in the atmosphere, even at pre-industrial levels, that the atmosphere is “black” at 15 um, i.e., it absorbs all the heat energy. Adding more CO2 doesn’t change anything since it’s impossible to absorb more than 100% of the heat. An atomic or molecular absorption line is not perfectly sharp, it typically has a shape known as Lorenztian, A/(B + x^2), that looks like a Gaussian in the middle but has very large long tails and infinite variance. So CO2 absorbs energy at wavelengths both longer and shorter than 15 um but with the decreased efficiency determined by the line shape. This means that at these off-center wavelengths the atmosphere is “grey” and adding more CO2 will result in soaking up more heat energy into the atmosphere. But since the absorption is in the tails the effect is only logarithmic in the concentration of CO2.

    The mechanism for AGW is that the increased absorption of heat by CO2 warms up the oceans, water vapor then rises into the atmosphere, and the extra H2O, which is the genuine green house gas, warms the atmosphere further. This is the multiplier effect that is supposed to be the source of AGW. I’ve seen claims of 2x to 10x.

    Problems with this. Just to get a linear increase in heating the concentration of CO2 has to increase exponentially to overcome the logarithmic increase in absorption. The data is otherwise. The CO2 concentration has only been increasing linearly since about 1975 giving at best a logarithmic increase in AGW.

    The effect is a form of positive feedback. It should run away. It hasn’t.

    Doug Hoyt has a devastating critique. He points out that it takes energy to lift all that water vapor into the troposphere, the physics is exactly the same as sending a rocket up. There just isn’t enough energy available to do that.

  24. ET Sid Viscous
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    Fair cop, My dyslexia got in the way as well as how Rhodes refers to the Cavendish. Yes it was Chadwik working at the Cavendish.

  25. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    RE #23: Paul, I know all that. The issue that intrigued me and I only skimmed it is this: if the far lines start overlapping with water vapor lines, then the impact could be less than logarithmic. In the big CO2 band, the far lines on the left of the 15 mu-m band definitely get into water vapor territory. I’m not asserting that this is the case, but it would be nice to see clear expositions of this stuff from IPCC.

  26. Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    I think what is at issue on this blog is not so much the science, seen
    as the nature of reality such as AGW, but the nature of the texts that
    communicate the science, their inconsistencies, errors, failings. And
    that is a great and valid object of investigation! 2xCO2 is a good example:
    as thoughout the world it is stated that 2xCO2 is the expected
    temperature increase by 2100 when the two have little to do with each
    other. It is futile to try to talk about science when the line is so garbled.
    I am starting to see Steve’s project not in terms of a potential litigation,
    but more as a methodology of the audit, with parallels in the ‘close reading’
    of the text found in literary criticism. The actions of the players more
    closely resemble ‘crimes of passion’ (attachment to the AGW theory)
    than ‘crimes of deviance’ (from the norms of scientific conduct).

  27. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    The actions of the players more
    closely resemble “crimes of passion’ (attachment to the AGW theory)
    than “crimes of deviance’ (from the norms of scientific conduct).

    I could live with this if you applied it to the both sides here. But, of course, you don’t…

    Why not ‘The actions of the players more closely resemble “crimes of passion’ (attachment to the AGW theory and HS is/recons in general are rubbish theory) than “crimes of deviance’ (from the norms of scientific conduct).’ The answer is obvious, you’re side knows it’s right, mine expresses the doubts re predictions, recons and the rest and that just convinces you more you’re right…

    OR do you (any of you) have doubt that Steve is right or the HS busted???

  28. oui
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    Yes, I am also the victim of the misconduct! The resuls which I refer before was completeley false. And why I disagree with this kind of misconduct is that it affect the another group so science could not develop far more. And they did not do retract about thier results. Recently, in Japan, the 15 papaers from the famous lab was misconduct. Because that university was top university in Japan, it would be a big problem. This is a really big and important topics. And it would be a common sense that we could not belive the result easily.

  29. Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    Peter, I think some people on both sides (AGW vs skeptics) are guilty of overlooking flaws to protect their beliefs. Crimes of Passion everywhere. We may be in agreement on that; don’t be so presumptuous about my views.
    You confuse the issue of whether Steve is right or not and whether
    the HS is right or not. To assert there that the HS is not justified is
    not the same as the HS does not exist.

  30. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    David, ooppss, OK, apologies due, but I can only go on what you write 🙂

    My view is that the proxies don’t show much (they’re flat) but the instruments do – a rapid rise. Flat then rapidly up, humm….

  31. Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    OK Peter, my view is the tree ring proxy method is deeply flawed. More on that soon I hope.

  32. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    re: #23

    Doug Hoyt has a devastating critique. He points out that it takes energy to lift all that water vapor into the troposphere, the physics is exactly the same as sending a rocket up. There just isn’t enough energy available to do that.

    This argument just doesn’t work.

    Water vapor is less dense than the atmosphere. The molecular weight of water is 18 while O2 is 32 and N2 is 28. So for every parcel of water that rises there’s an energy gain, not an energy loss (If you doubt me, think about whether or not you have to supply energy to allow a helium balloon to rise). Moreover, once water vapor gets high enough it turns to water droplets which after being in the clouds for a while join up and rain out. This is an escalator effect in essence and would allow water vapor to rise even if it weren’t energetically favorable.

    Finally, of course, water vapor doesn’t rise by itself. It mixes into the local atmosphere and the whole column of humid atmosphere rises. The decreased density of humid atmosphere, the fact that the lower atmosphere is warm, and the fact that an escalator in motion tends to stay in motion all contribute to the continuing movement of water vapor high up into the troposphere.

    It does skeptics no benefit to adopt seemingly useful arguments if they’re provably false.

  33. Spence_UK
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 11:14 AM | Permalink


    Your observation in #30 is just plain wrong. I don’t think you would even get a member of the hockey team to support the statement you made. Although, of course, you might not have meant it: but I can only go on what you write. 😉

    The proxies are not “flat”: the proxies show significant variation. This is not contested, even by the hockey team; it is easy to show. The “correct” hockey team response to this point is that those variations average out when using them in a global reconstruction, on the basis that they reflect regional variation, and the regional variations are not temporally coincident.

    If you are going to represent the hockey team over here, you could at least get “on message”!!! It is a sad day when the sceptics are having to tell hockey team supporters what their arguments are supposed to be! Twice in as many days…

  34. Jeff Norman
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    In post #9 Steve Latham said:

    Of course all new results should be subjected to due scrutiny.

    It is my impression that this was not the case in MBH98.

    Prior to MBH98 it was generally believed that the Little Ice Age and later the Medieval Warm Period were global climate effects. MBH98 and subsequent reconstructions seemed to relegate these to regional North Atlantic/Western European effects.

    To me this was a radically new result that should have been subjected to due scruting. Even a layperson (me) could see that the error margins/confidence limits originally published were questionable so I waited for the criticisms. As far as I know there was no due scruting until SteveM et al started their work. The work by Soon et al was not direct due scrutiny of the MBH work, more like parallel conflicting data.

    This is my impression. I welcome any attempts to disabuse me of this impression.

    If my impression is generally correct then the due scrutiny indicated by Steve Latham was did not come from the established climate science community. If not why not? Why did it roll over so easily?

  35. Jeff Norman
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    Dave, Re#32

    I don’t know, but I think it is more in reference to the energy needed to vapourize the water originally.

  36. Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    #34 I think later work by Esper (2002) did contradict, especially the LIA part, and you can read commenttary by Briffa and Mann on Esper in Science. Science moves slowly. The mistake was in the IPCC promoting a dalliance to the front page.

  37. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 12:45 PM | Permalink


    Huh? There is tons of energy available for evaporating water. Give me a bit to dig out the needed data and I’ll be back with another post.

  38. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

    In reading the article, I noted the following:

    Schàƒ⵮ was widely regarded as brilliant, publishing on average one paper every 8 days for more than two years, 15 of those in Science and Nature. Clearly, many reviewers liked his work.

    Clearly one paper every 8 days is a prodigous amount of work. There is a certain climate scientist who in the period 2000 to 2005 has:

    Taught a course at Penn State University and many courses at the Univeristy of Virginia
    advised 3 post doctoral students
    advised 14 graduate students
    10 funded proposals
    40 referreed journal articles
    19 reviewed contributions
    4 non-reviewed contributions
    58 invited lectures, workshops, or panels
    33 abstracts and talks

    The scientist wrote, participated in or organized a major scientific event on average once per month and advised 17 graduate and post docs, taught many courses and still had time to create RC. To say the least, such a work load seems exhausting in spite of having many grad students and post docs for assistance.

    Might this workload explain his use of unusual data recentering and unique uses of PCA?

  39. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    Re: #35

    The average insolation absorbed is 168 w/m^2.
    The heat of vaporization for water is 540 cal/g or 2268 watt-sec/g. Thus it takes 13.5 sec to evaporate a gram of water from a square meter of water or roughly 5500 grams per day. That’s about 5.5mm per day over the whole square meter or again roughly 2000 mm per year. Even given the fact that much of the land isn’t able to evaporate water and that a lot of the energy is lost to space (my usual graph shows only 78 w/m^2 actually used for evapo-transpiration), there’s still plenty of energy to evaporate water.

  40. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    #32, Dave “Water vapor is less dense than the atmosphere. The molecular weight of water is 18 while O2 is 32 and N2 is 28. So for every parcel of water that rises there’s an energy gain, not an energy loss (If you doubt me, think about whether or not you have to supply energy to allow a helium balloon to rise).” No, it costs energy. Whether it’s a ton of bricks or a ton of helium balloons it takes 10,000 Joules of energy to lift that much mass one meter against gravity. In the case of the bricks the energy comes from the gasoline in the crane engine. In the case of the balloons the atomsphere has to do that much work on the balloons to lift them. It’s exactly the same for a ton of liquid water or a ton of water vapor, it still costs 10,000 joules of energy to rise one meter against gravity.

  41. ET Sid Viscous
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Dave isn’t that 540 cal/g 2268 watt-sec/g temperature dependant. In other words that’s what it takes to vaporize water when the temperature of the liquid water is 100 C

  42. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 4, 2005 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    Paul L.

    No, you’re basically confused. The problem is that you’re only looking at what goes up, not what comes down. That’s why I threw in the escalator concept so that you’d do a little thinking about the physical situation. I’m willing to work through he difficulties of conceptulization if you like but I’m quite certain of the physics.

    Think of the atmosphere as consisting of little boxes with weightless walls. If you raise the entire atmosphere above a given square meter by one centimeter you’re doing work, to be sure, but if this is water that has evaporated, it’s built into the energy used to evaporate the water as it’s expressed in terms of some standard conditions, which is usually one atmosphere and something like 20 deg C.

    You’re not having to lift the entire amount of water vapor against gravity to the clouds, however, since as the water vapor ‘balloon’ rose, it would allow heavier atmosphere above it to be lowered and thus become warmer.

    To what extent the energy being exchanged as parcels of atmosphere rise and fall, and especially as rain falls, results in losing energy to heat is of course important, but that’s precisely why the water cycle is important in transfering heat from the earth’s surface to the clouds where from the top of the clouds this heat can be more readily radiated to space. Heat is energy after all.

    The point I’m trying to emphasize is that it’s not some external source of energy which is necessary to move water vapor to the clouds, it’s built in to the very nature of water vapor to rise and then condense. The energy input that propels this activity is done primarily at the ocean surface. And this energy comes from incoming solar energy and from back-radiation from the atmosphere.

  43. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for #19. I’d actually retired before this came out so don’t feel bad about it. Thank you also for #20.
    I find it pretty amazing that the IPCC, or rather the people working on the problem of how much changes in CO2 abundance in the terrestrial atmosphere affects climate. Saying that it is logarithmic looks like a wild guess (or “pretty empirical arm waving”).
    There’s a very similar problem in stellar astronomy. The outer atmosphere of a star forms the spectrum that we can see. For cool stars, this spectrum can be very complex – lots of atomic and molecular lines. In order to analyze the spectrum and find the chemical composition of a star, we have to model the stellar atmosphere – find the variation of temperature, gas pressure, electron pressure, density,…with depth – knowing that no energy is created in the atmosphere. The energy entering the atmosphere from below equals that radiated into space.
    In order to solve this problem, I created an extensive list of all the spectral lines expected to be seen in stars of a certain temperature range. This list consists of some millions of lines – many being molecular – TiO, CO, CN,… in their different isotopic forms. In order to calculate a model atmosphere, the absorption coefficients of these lines are averaged into 50 Angstrom bins to create Opacity Distribution Functions as a function of temperature and electron pressure. Of course, we allow for the different abundances of the elements and their isotopes as well as the broadening of the lines. The ODFs for the appropriate composition are then used to model a stellar atmosphere for a particular effective temperature and surface gravity (e.g. 5760K and log g =4.44 for the Sun). The model atmosphere and line list are then used to calculate the spectrum of the model.
    Note that this way of doing it solves the problem of overlapping lines mentioned by our host in #25.

  44. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    Ooops, pressed the wrong button.
    I want to add that if the IPCC says that doubling the abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere doubles the temperature increase due to CO2 then they have to show that all the CO2 lines formed in the terrestrial atmosphere are weak ones. If the atmosphere is “black” at 15 microns due to CO2 lines (#23), this clearly isn’t the case.

  45. Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 7:23 AM | Permalink

    re 444
    Roger try Modtran3, you’ll see that the downwelling radiation is logarithmic in a between 100 an 1000 ppm, you can even experiment with water vapour.

  46. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

    #43: Just so I don’t give the wrong impression about the GCM models, they don’t simply use a logarithmic approximation, but will have radiation modules. Ellingson did an intercomparison of GCM radiation modules in the early 1990s and archly observed of them that the codes were mutually inconsistent, that many of them were wrong, but that they all agreed on the effect on the impact of 2xCO2, wondering whether some tuning might have taken place along the way. This is the type of area that later GCMs have undoubtedly improved. However, it would be an interesting project to examine the binning procedures.

    I posted up earlier this year on defects in the near IR parameters from water vapor, which exceeded the projected impact of 2xCO2. However, this obviously didn’t “matter” after tuning. Sometimes if one is looking at contrasts, this might actually be the case, but I didn’t examine it closely enough to be able to tell whether the contrasts eliminated the defect or there was spurious tuning.

    The issue that intrigues me is the overlap between the poorly parameterized water vapor lines and the far CO2 lines. For example, the main CO2 band is around 660 cm-1 which isn’t affected much by water vapor, but the far lines around 550 cm-1 might well be. So the binning issues matter a lot.

    There’s a really interesting paper by Shepard Clough [JGR – 1995 I think], which considers water vapor and CO2 together. As I read it, he doesn’t look to the big CO2 band as the locus of additional absorption, which is contrary to IPCC [1995] comments, but some of the hot bands do play a role. I really dislike the fact that what seems to me to be the most definitive treatment of the topic is not cited in IPCC TAR. I don’t presently know what Clough [1995] means to the price of eggs in all this, but it should have been discussed IMHO. There’s a graphic from this on the Internet which I’ll post up since it’s interesting.

  47. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:14 AM | Permalink

    Re #33


    Your observation in #30 is just plain wrong. I don’t think you would even get a member of the hockey team to support the statement you made. Although, of course, you might not have meant it: but I can only go on what you write.

    LOL, OK note ‘proxies’ (collectively) and I’ll say I could word it better. How about ‘the proxies, collectively, don’t show the clear warming trend the instrumental data does’?
    No, didn’t think so…

  48. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    No, no, Peter, let’s run with your statement. If the proxies, collectively don’t show the clear warming trend of the instrumental data does this mean the instrumental data is too contaminated by UHI to be useable in its present form or that the proxies aren’t actually proxies for temperature at all? Pick your poison.

  49. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    re 46:
    imho the far end of the spectrum doesn’t matter Modtran agrees H2O is dominant there:

  50. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:54 AM | Permalink

    The difference between science and armwaving.

    Yesterday on Belgian television oa broadcast in the series the most-famous-belgian-citizen competion was about Vesalius, famous for his revolutionary books on anatomy in the 16th century.

    Up until the 16th century everybody relied on Galenus. Vesalius did a novel thing he started to cut open corpses to verify Galenus.
    One dispute was higlighted in the broadcast: “But Dr Vesalius, Galenus said the lver has five lobes”. Vesalius held up a human liver in his hands: “see for yourselves, count, there are only two”.

    I think Steve is the Vesalius here.

  51. Andre Bijkerk
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    Re 46, 49

    If you accept that doubling CO2 causes a constant increase of Long Wave IR re-radiation then, per definition, the relationship is logarithmic. But indeed as is pointed out the relation is a bit more complicated.

    Using the Modtran 3 calculation tool (avoiding the contiminated word “model”) you could get this
    pCO2 versus reradiation relationship

    x-axis: CO2 concentration in ppmv
    y- axis: re-radiation in W/m^2

    point a: typical assumed Pleistocene “ice age value”: 180 ppmv CO2
    point b: typical assumed Holocene value: 280 ppmv CO2
    point C: current value ~380 ppmv CO2
    point D: double Holocene: 560 ppmv CO2
    Point E: Typical end Mesozoic – Tertiary value ~ 100 -50 Million years ago, 5 x times current level
    Point F: Possible end Paleozoic ~ 250 Million years ago some 20 times the current value

    The graph actually flattens out more quickly than logaritmic but it’s a fair approximation for the current values.

  52. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Re #48, no, it means I’m going to have to try again :(.

    The analysis of the proxies (MBH) show but little change until the instrumental era – but in some some recons (Moberg) the proxies show greater climate variabilty. None of the recons indicate it’s been as warm as it is now over the past 1 or 2 thousand years. We better hope the recons showing greater climater sensistivity are wrong becuase if the climate is more sensitive to forcings, more variable, were in for a more bumpy ride. Thus in some way’s MBH is the conservative recon and more recent ones of greater concern and more extreme. I guess it’s becuase you regard MBH as an icon it gets so much attention, but, as I say, in a way it’s message is less stark than more recent recons.

    Re UHI. It’s been an astonishingly mild autumn across europe (here, Scandinavia worth checking out

    indeed almost anywhere you choose to pick from here ).

    If you came over here and tried to claim it was all, or in major part, UHI frankly you’d be recieved with disbelief. It’s NOT UHI! But it is well on the way to being the warmest autumn on record.

  53. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    re:52, Dear Peter, you’d get more traction here if you actually read some of the work that Steve has done. You say:

    The analysis of the proxies (MBH) show but little change until the instrumental era – but in some some recons (Moberg) the proxies show greater climate variabilty. None of the recons indicate it’s been as warm as it is now over the past 1 or 2 thousand years.

    The analysis of the MBH data done by Steve shows that the early part of the MBH reconstruction is way low. The analysis of the other reconstructions shows that they contain the same faulty series and some of the bad math. A host of other studies show that the MWP and the RWP were as warm or warmer than the present. In addition, proxies by their nature tend to contain less variation than the instrumental record.

    Finally, many if nost of those reconstruction studies are, follow me closely new …


    In other words, dead. Kaput. No longer valid. If you have evidence to dispute that discreditation, then you are welcome to produce it, and this is the place to do that.

    Making blanket statements based on discredited studies, however, just brings your own credibility into question.


  54. TCO
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    For the lifting dispute. A useful analogy might be a tethered helium balloon. Clearly it has potential energy (which is converted to kinetic energy by cutting the cord). Or think about holding a ball under water.

  55. TCO
    Posted Nov 5, 2005 at 8:43 PM | Permalink


    Would you also look on Dick Feynman with suspision for his famous Cal Tech speech? Or wonder why he bothered? We are talking about human nature here and about work methods. Fascinating, if you have a thoughtful turn of mind (oh…and this time, for once, a subtle slam really was the main think meant…by that last sentence.)

  56. ET Sid Viscous
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    Okay someone tell me where my math is wrong.

    Post# 39 “540 cal/g or 2268 watt-sec/g. Thus it takes 13.5 sec to evaporate a gram of water from a square meter of water”

    906,000 grams in a ton.

    906,000 * 540 Calories = 489,240,000 Calories to vaporize one ton

    Post # 40 “it takes 10,000 Joules of energy to lift that much mass (1 ton) one meter against gravity.”

    10,000 joules = 2,390.05736 calories

  57. beng
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    ***** Peter says:
    It’s been an astonishingly mild autumn across europe (here, Scandinavia worth checking out:

    The North-Atlantic thermocline effect on Europe must be going full blast…

  58. TCO
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    But if it were a cold one, you would also blame that on GW. Remember, GW is supposed to stop the Gulf Stream and make Europe freeze. Either way, you win. Like blaming every double-yolked egg on the nuclear power plant up the road…

  59. Spence_UK
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Re #57: The proxies indicate that in Europe, temperatures were warmer during the Medieval Warm Period, but if you say that then the RealClimate crowd would smack you down for looking at regional variation (which apparently isn’t “climate”) as opposed to global variation.

    Of course if you quote the fact that Europe has had a very mild autumn this year, and claim that is proof of global warming, the silence is likely to be deafening (or rather, if you claim it is, the RealClimate crowd probably wouldn’t agree if really pressed but won’t go out of their way to voice disagreement). Real double standards at play.

    Re: #58: I’ve seen a funny argument on Stoat along these lines lately. Just look at William C’s response to Roger Pielke Jr’s question here. Talk about hedging your bets! Apparently, if the global reconstructions are flat in the 10th-19th centuries, that is proof of AGW (as the 20th century is clearly anomalous). If the global reconstructions are variable, that is indicative that climate is more responsive to forcings, therefore AGW will be *even worse*. Talk about “heads I win, tails you lose”. You can see why William C plays the budding politician more than the rigorous scientist.

  60. John A
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Talk about hedging your bets! Apparently, if the global reconstructions are flat in the 10th-19th centuries, that is proof of AGW (as the 20th century is clearly anomalous). If the global reconstructions are variable, that is indicative that climate is more responsive to forcings, therefore AGW will be *even worse*.

    This sounds familiar. Every form of extreme weather that you can think of (including extreme cold) has been presented as “proof” of AGW. Apparently there’s nothing to disprove significant AGW so it must be true…

  61. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 2:09 PM | Permalink

    #56. You’re confusing two issues. You computed what’s known as the latent heat of vaporization for water. It’s the amount of energy it takes to turn a gram of liquid H2O into a gram of water vapor. It has nothing to do with lifting a gram of water against gravity. In order to lift a mass, m, a height, h, it requires energy in the amount m*g*h where g is the acceleration due to gravity. For m = 1 tonne = 10^3 kg, g = 10 m/s^2, h = 1 m, the total energy is 10^4 Joules.

    #42 Dave. “The point I’m trying to emphasize is that it’s not some external source of energy which is necessary to move water vapor to the clouds, it’s built in to the very nature of water vapor to rise and then condense. The energy input that propels this activity is done primarily at the ocean surface. And this energy comes from incoming solar energy and from back-radiation from the atmosphere.” This sounds like an essentialist explanation, a la Aristotle, things fall because it’s their nature. The physics of the two processes are different. 1. Newtonian mechanics. The balloon goes up because there is a small atmospheric pressure differential across it. It wouldn’t go up in a vacuum. 2. Statistical mechanics. The water vapor goes up because it is heated by thermal radiation, the molecules form a Maxwellian velocity distribution and diffuse in every direction but are limited by gravity in how they diffuse upwards. This would happen even in a vacuum and is how an atmosphere is formed.

  62. John A
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    Re: 61

    3. Fluid dynamics and atmospheric buoyancy etc

  63. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    Paul unless someone can point out where my math is wrong in post 56 (for some reason it doesn’t look right to me, but I’ve done it from three different directions) then the amount of energy required to lift the water vapor is insignifigant compared to the amount of energy required to vaporize it.

    If the energy is there for vaporizing it, the energy is also there for lifting it by whatever means.

  64. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 8:58 PM | Permalink

    Re: #63 Sid,

    I hadn’t looked at the energy needed to raise the water vapor (in a vacuum), but your math does indeed check out. A Joule is about 10,200 gm cm. So since a ton is roughly 1000 kg, we’re talking 100 Joules to raise a ton a cm or 10,000 to raise it a meter. Likewise a Joule is about a quarter calorie so 10,000 Joules is indeed about 2500 calories (Note all this is just BOE calculation meant to make sure no digits have been missed. Therefore, as you say, it’s trivial to raise a ton of water a foot compared to what it takes to evaporate it. Even raising it 10 kilometers, i.e. to the clouds is only 23,900,000 calories compared to the 490,000,000 to evaporate it, that is 5%. Since we were just fighting over greater amounts (i.e. 10% vs 18%), I have to agree that it’s trivial.

    But of course my point, that even such a small amount (relatively) of energy doesn’t have to be input into the system to get the water to the clouds, is still valid.

  65. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 6, 2005 at 9:11 PM | Permalink


    It’s obvious that it takes less energy to move X water vapor Y distance than to vaporize it. Easily enough proven, how much energy does it take to move a pot of water from the floor onto the stove, then compare with how much it takes to boil said water.

    I’d argue the buoyancy comments, but it’s irrelevant, simple mechanical forces (winds) are more than enough. Thermal effects only help things along. Again somewhat irrelevant, the mere existence of humidity proves it’s possible.

    My point with the numbers was to show that Paul’s argument about 10,000 Joules was arguing over pennies of interest in Bill Gate’s checking account. It looks large on the face because your looking at two different units of measurements, you need to equalize them to make sense. Harkens back to comparing the thermal efficiency of windmills, or tilting as the case may be.

  66. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

    ET Sid and Dave, Everybody got the numbers right. I’ve gone back to Hoyt’s web page and studied it. The way I understand it is the following: the mean water vapor content in the air is 14,000 ppm. The energy for this is provided by the solar flux of about 1300 W/m^2. Increasing CO2 by 300 ppm increases the radiation by 1 W/m^2. This is claimed to cause an increase of the water vapor to 14,600 ppm and result in an enhancement of the green house effect. Notice this is asking that a 0.08% increase in radiation cause a 4% increase in the amount of water vapor in the air. Quite a multiplier.

  67. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 9:30 PM | Permalink

    There’s a little diagram in the paper by Maurellis and Tennyson (Physics World May 2003 – can be found via Google) showing the spectrum of the outgoing radiation from the Earth. The CO2 band(s) at about 15 microns are very prominent. The bands are not black at the centre but this may be due to the wavelength resolution of the plot. However, as a general question, does anyone know if calculations such as this include the effects of the carbon 13 isotopes? Note that Tennyson has commented to me that “a fudge factor has been put into the models to mop up extra atmospheric absorption which cannot be properly accounted for by known absorptions”
    Maurellis and Tennyson say that H2O is responsible for ~60% of the greenhouse effect, CO2 26%, O3 8% and CH4 and nitrous oxide 8%.

  68. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    More importantly does anyone factor in the thermal inertia of water vapor.

  69. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    Roger, have you looked at the paper by Clough and Iacono in JGR 1995 on IR absorption by water vapor and CO2? It looks like a terrifc paper, but I’m not quite certain as to its meaning.

  70. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

    Sid, what do you mean exactly by “thermal inertia of water vapor?” Is this something different than the heat capacity or the thermal conductivity?

  71. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 7, 2005 at 11:35 PM | Permalink

    Water doesn’t heat instantly. It takes times As you showed in post 39 , it is a negative feedback, and I wonder how often it is taken into account.

    As Patrick Michaels mentioned, there are many Equotrial areas that have high humidty, but don’t get warmer than 85F-90F, in fact the warmest of areas on Earth are the deserts, with the least amount of humidity.

    Water vapor performs a limtiing as well as a warming function. Thanks to the length of our days.

  72. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    re 67

    Would it matter to include Carbon 13 isotopes?
    Here you can calculate outgoing spectra.
    The central spike in the CO2 band is stratosphere emission, which is warmer than the tropopause, hence relative emission and not absorption.

  73. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 1:34 AM | Permalink

    re 67
    Is this the paper you are referring to?

  74. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    Re #53 Wills read this carefully: t-h-a-t i-s y-o-u-r o-p-i-n-i-o-n.

    Re#58, TCO I made no such re claim re GW, please don’t put words into my mouth. Indeed, if it turns cold globally, IF, people like me will take note – OK? THC changes are unlikely, if it happens we’ll see them before it gets cold. My own view, my opinion, is that warming will overwhealm any thc changes. Besides, you acknowledge there is some AGW, how can change to the whole atmosphere not have effects on the whole atmosphere?

    Re #59 Please explain what’s wrong with WC’s reasoning rather than ad homming him. Oh, and I DIDN’T claim it was proof of GW!

    Re #60, examples please, otherwise that’s just a prejudice and claptrap verbal sandwich, mmmm, but the more extreme punters like them 🙂

  75. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 4:36 AM | Permalink


    Show me one multiproxystudy with a complete set of source data and a fully described method.

    Just one.

  76. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 5:59 AM | Permalink

    Re #75, Hans, interesting comment, more for what it doesn’t contain (a refutation of the amazing mildness of autumn ’05 – you know it to be fact) that what it does.

    OK, what are you suggesting? That none of the recons are to be trusted? Do you, indeed, go further and head towards CAish level of accusing people of being dishonest and/or of scientific misconduct? I doubt it. You’re just casting aspersions at the recons I rekon.

    Oh, and I wonder if you think Steve McIntrye is honest and utterly and totally fee of scientific misconduct? I see no one has answered that question yet – perhaps there are suspicions (and remember, Steve started that line of questioning – not me)?

  77. TCO
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    Peter, ok you didn’t say that. You ever heard it? And when those who do say it (and it’s unfair to tag you with that, bla bla, but let’s consider it), say it: they’re not arguing that worldwide coldness is from AGW. They’re saying that local coldness is. So if we have a bad winter, one can’t make the same argument that you are making with the bad autumn (which by the way, you’ve never argued to be global either).

  78. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:16 AM | Permalink


    Of course Steve is free of scientific misconduct – and honest to boot – he is in the mining business, as I am, and from experience, develop acute BS radars.

    Equally Steve and I are subject to very stringent regulations as to what we can and cannot report in prospectuses, quarterly reports and what other reporting the stock exchanges and corporate regulators place in front of us.

    We are not allowed to withold data period. No ifs or buts, and the lame excuse that it is commercially sensitive is neither here nor there – you publish it and make damn sure it is backed with solid fact.

    The fact is that Jones still has not released the raw station temperature data, not Mann et al the code. In the mining game you could go to gaol/jail for witholding material evidence, and in West Australia we often gaol/jail entrepreneurs who salted samples – the infamous Karpa Sptrings gold project being the last one that comes to mind.

  79. Jo Calder
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:30 AM | Permalink

    re #74: Peter: I’d say that your objections to 59 are pretty ill-founded. The WMC position clearly wants jam today and tomorrow. Comparing the substantive comment in #59 to this piece of … reasoned analysis from yer man, well, what needs to be said?

    As an aside, Lindzen’s testimony does a good job of pinioning John Houghton on his claim that 1K warming would be catastrophic.

    Cheers, — Jo Calder

  80. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    One important lesson from mineral exploration is anomaly bashing: Tear all anomalies apart until you are left with a real one, then and only then you can say: “drill here”.

  81. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:43 AM | Permalink


    I would humbly aver that exploration geologists have probably the most experience in the scientific method – our pays depends totally on it. No Findee, no Monee.

    When I saw the Hockey Stick graph, looked at the vertical scale, then looked at the error bars and immediately my BS radar went into overload. So did Steve’s.

  82. fFreddy
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    Re #76 , Peter

    the amazing mildness of autumn “05

    Peter, a few weeks ago, the Met Office was all over the news saying that this is going to be a very cold winter. If they prove to be correct, will you treat this as disproof of your AGW ?

  83. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    Re 74: Peter, thank you for your thoughtful and complete response to the evidence I presented. In response to my presenting a variety of evidence and explanation in my post, you completely blew my argument out of the water by saying (in totality):

    Re #53 Wills [sic] read this carefully: t-h-a-t i-s y-o-u-r o-p-i-n-i-o-n.

    In post #53 you referred to, I had said that the proxies you cited were discredited. I then said:

    If you have evidence to dispute that discreditation, then you are welcome to produce it, and this is the place to do that.

    Making blanket statements based on discredited studies, however, just brings your own credibility into question.

    I appreciate your finally bringing to the table the requested evidence to dispute my claim that the proxies you cited are discredited, along with your carefully reasoned, scientific argument as to why the studies are correct. I’m now totally convinced you were right, due to the strength of your evidence, the scientific weight of your posting, and the clear logic of your argument.

    Thanks for the assistance in resolving this question,

  84. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Why wait for this winter. Wasn’t last winter abnormally cold enough to count? And the Spring for that matter.

  85. fFreddy
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    Re #84, Sid

    Wasn’t last winter abnormally cold enough to count?

    Not here (southern UK) that I noticed. Was it really unusually cold anywhere ?

  86. Paul
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Not last winter, but the winter before, was a cold one…coupled with very little snow. We had frost down 7′ (2.13 m). Of course, this is all anecdotal, and evidence of nothing except a cold winter and low snow precipitation.

  87. Paul
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:22 AM | Permalink


    Forgot to mention that I’m in north central Minnesota, USA.

  88. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    #67, Roger. My “Infrared Wall Chart” by Raytheon shows the atmospheric transmittance as 0% from about 14.2 to 15.9 um through 1 km of air at sea level and entirely due to CO2.

  89. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    Re #82, “If they prove to be correct, will you treat this as disproof of your AGW ?

    Ff, if it is I’ll be amazed, and my response will be, ‘well, that’s put the cat amongst the pigeons’ – OK? But, remember it A*G*W – think about it.

    rE #83,

  90. Paul Gosling
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    I continue to be amazed by those who go on at great length and in great detail about why the proxies cannot be trusted to give us an accurate measure of temperature in the past and then go on to say that the medieval period was warmer. Based entirely it seems on the fact that there was a vineyard in northern England!

  91. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    Well, I dunno how I posted that part post some tyop key combo I think…

    to continue…

    Wills, this is a *blog*. As such I can post here. I don’t *think* you are right. That’s *my opinion*. I’ve looked at the evidence, I don’t agree with you that UHI is a big problem, I do see warming in line with predictions, I think the recons give a good idea of past conditions, I see warmth *more or less globally* this year. I accept the body of evidence you don’t, OK, then one of us is wrong – only time will truly tell.

    Only you, Steve, John ‘A’, most posters here and a few odd other scientists accept the premise of this site, most climate scientists don’t – that’s just the way it is. That said I’ve been reading this place for a year, and will contiue to do so. If I think you’re onto something you’ll be the first to hear 🙂

    Now you can try to sarcastically dismiss me again, but that is all you can do. For your views to go uncriticised you’ll have to censor such people like me (oh, and bury your head over the next few decades I rekon…).

    For the views of this place to change things you’ve got to win people around. Calling people dishonest, or accusing them of scientific misconduct wont do that. Red meat science would, but you don’t have it.

  92. Spence_UK
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    Re #74

    Re #59 Please explain what’s wrong with WC’s reasoning rather than ad homming him. Oh, and I DIDN’T claim it was proof of GW!

    I thought my explanation made it pretty clear what was wrong with his reasoning. Is “heads I win, tails you lose” not obvious enough? I can look up the correct logical fallacy if you want the Latin version. I have left some dots to be joined but I figured it was pretty plain to see.

    Also I’m not so clear on which bit of my post is Ad Hom. I believe WMC is both a budding politician and a scientist – I’m just observing his argument makes a better political argument than a scientific argument, and that is how I perceive the majority of his views on his blog. Perhaps my wording wasn’t clear enough – and I know you can only go on what I write! The only thing that perhaps isn’t completely clear is that is my view of his blog, not necessarily his scientific work. But since I wasn’t discussing his published scientific work, I hoped that was also fairly obvious.

    If you read my reference to the mild autumn quotes, you will see I did not suggest that you implied it was proof of global warming, I was just using it as an example of how I perceive bias is included on the RealClimate board, and how the arguments tend to be skewed by the AGW side of the debate. And indeed it is a very weak way to “disprove” a global long term trend (either AGW or UHI fall into this category) : to use a spatially and temporally isolated event that does not even appear to be related to the effect you are trying to analyse.

  93. Spence_UK
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    Re #90

    It is not just about the “vineyards”. Northern Europe has been extensively studied – due to the dense population, considerable scientific interests etc. etc. – and shows a strong warming trend. As far as I can tell, this isn’t denied by the hockey team, but let’s discuss the background a bit further to help understand.

    When MBH98 was published, and the medieval climate history re-written, Soon and Baliunas published a paper showing that most papers measuring long term historical temperature trends through proxies observed a warming trend during the MWP. MBH were quick to criticise this study because, as noted above, most papers are published about a fairly small percentage of the globe – Northern Europe and Northern America in particular, as much research is done there. A simple paper count is therefore heavily biased by these regions.

    To carry out a global reconstruction, you have to include all of the earth, including remote areas and places which have not been studied in anywhere near the detail of places like the US or Europe. This is why complex statistical methodologies are required, because “simple” statistical methodologies cannot cope with the limitations of the sampling etc.

    The problem with complex statistical methodologies, is whilst they have many advantages, they are often rarely studied in great detail and may also have significant drawbacks. Of course, the MBH98 paper discussed the great advantages of their methodology. Steve has focussed more on the problems and limitations of the methodology. But it only takes one major problem to make the entire study meaningless, irrespective of how many great advantages the techniques have.

    Nobody is claiming global reconstructions are easy to do; they aren’t, for good reason. But then, just because they are difficult, does not mean we should not be critical of flawed methods. And the fact they are difficult, and complex, is even more reason to take a critical view of “new” methodologies; very little research has been carried out into the robustness of these techniques. And that is doubly difficult when the methodology is not accurately described, or data is withheld.

    Hopefully this explains why it is possible to make a stab at Northern European temperatures, but more difficult to get a global reconstruction.

  94. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    re 88:

    Here is a nice graph for the transmission of the entire atmosphere.

  95. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    Here’s my response to comments 69, 73 and 88 plus general remarks.
    As I’ve said earlier, I’m an astronomer (retired) and I was calculating the spectra of cool stars, some of which contain water vapour bands. I was also interested in the extinction of starlight by the earth’s atmosphere, since we have to distinguish between stellar lines and telluric lines. Jonathan Tennyson was recommended to me as the best person doing calculations of water vapour wavelengths, oscillator strengths and excitation potentials. Whoever recommended him knew what they were doing since his current resume has 385 papers, some of which are about stellar work.
    Steve (#69) no, sorry, I havn’t read the Clough and Iacono paper.
    Hans (#73) – the paper you ask about is not the Maurellis and Tennyson paper but the diagram I referred to can be seen in it (on a very small scale). The one I quoted from is:
    Figure 3, Atmospheric absorption, does have the emission feature in the centre of the 15 micron CO band that you mention.
    Paul (#88) – I should have phrased my comment about CO2 a bit differently. I was a bit surprised about the strength of the CO2 15 micron absorption feature in the emission from the Earth. However, obviously, Raytheon knows very well what are the absorbers of light in the atmosphere in the infrared. Another question I have about this particular diagram in the Maurellis and Tennyson paper (3, Atmospheric absorption) is that there is no mention of whether it changes with latitude or longitude while the abmount of water vapour in the atmosphere changes so much with latitude.
    Following on from your post 23, do know you if the pressure in the terrestrial atmosphere is such that it must be included in the line broadening calculations along with the natural broadening?

  96. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 4:23 PM | Permalink


    Somebody here (or possibly RC) posted a link to a site which discussed absorption by GHGs. What interested me is that it mentioned that in the lower troposphere the pressue was high enough that H2O bands were broadened to overlap with CO2 bands (or vice versa) but that at higher altitudes the CO2 bands were sharp and there wasn’t much overlap with what H20 there was. This may be the pressure broadening you’re talking about. Could you elaborate on how it works?

  97. per
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Peter Hearnden wrote:

    “Red meat science would, but you don’t have it.”

    You have a strange understanding of science, Peter. As you know, science is about putting up testable hypotheses, and finding the experimental evidence which either breaks or concurs with the hypothesis. In short, showing that a particular experiment is inadequate is a key and central part of science; without that proof, you would continue to think that the particular experiment is right, when it is wrong.

    I notice your oration on what you *think*. However, I also note that when it comes to any discussion of the detail, you shut your eyes, and stick your fingers in your ears. MBH did a statistical test (R2) that shows their reconstruction fails, and withheld this information; you don’t want to know. MBH’s preferred statistical test (RE) fails when you do the test more thoroughly, as M&M 2005; you don’t want to know. MBH’98 relies absolutely on the presence of bristlecone pines, which are not a temperature measure; you don’t want to know. MBH used an undisclosed method which mines for hockey-stick shapes, which has a material effect on the outcome; you don’t want to know.

    Even then, it causes you no concern if one of the founding papers of the hockey-stick movement vanishes in a puff of smoke. There is a whole spaghetti of other reconstructions. Well, it would make me nervous if I was standing in a building, and someone told me that one of the foundations was no longer there.


  98. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    #95, Roger. CO2 seems to be very well mixed in the atmosphere. The measurements from Hawaii and Antarctica are the same. Try the Modtran guys for a possible answer to your question about line broadening, that’s well outside my physics experience.

  99. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    #98 – Doesn’t the much smaller seasonal variation of CO2 in the Southern hemisphere indicate that CO2 is NOT well mixed in the atmosphere, at least on shorter time scales?

  100. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

    re #95
    the figure 3 in [sic]
    is the same as

    is essentially the same as this figure

    calculated using modtran3. As I said, the 15 micron peak is stratosphere emission of CO2.

  101. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 10:50 PM | Permalink


    If there is no or little data in the “remote” areas, all the statistics on the planet cannot cope with that, despite the beliefs that it can.

    No data, no theory, and until data is measured and collected one cannot say one way or the other what is happening.

  102. ET SidViscous
    Posted Nov 8, 2005 at 11:34 PM | Permalink

    Well I could be wrong, maybe it wasn’t that cold last winter. I seemed to recall a freak accumulation of snow in Vegas.

    Snow in Vegas Jan. 7, 2005

    But that could just have been an isolated incident.

    I didn’t spend too much time traveling last winter (Thankfully) but I deal with large parts of the U.S. in my business and talk to many people…

    Cold front snaps record December 1, 2004

    I’m sure it wasn’t bad in Minnesota

    Record cold in chilly Minnesota, frost in the Gulf of Mexico

    Brrrrr — Another Night Of Record Lows Throughout State December 1, 2004 (Helllloooooo Frisco)

    I seem to recall a lot of people talking about how cold it was.

    INSOMNIAC Kiosks Plow Through Record Cold Winter
    “OpenTech Alliance, Inc. today announced that despite this year’s record setting cold fronts, rain and snowstorms, INSOMNIACàƒ⣃¢’‚¬Å¾à‚⠠kiosks across the United States continue to work flawlessly” February 4, 2005

    1-month snowfall a 113-year high January 27, 2005

    Record cold hits 40 below in N.D. 01/06/05

    I remember one storm that did a number on much of Eastern U.S. and closed down the U.P.S Hub in Kentucky. I seem to remember it because of the unhappy customers.


    Record snowfall may cause many mule deer to perish 1/11/2005

    Governor Requests Federal Assistance for February Storm February 15, 2005

    Record cold grips Findlay December 26, 2004

    But then again that’s mostly just the U.S.

    European scientists confirmed that Arctic high atmosphere is reaching the lowest ever temperatures this winter, January 31, 2005

    It’s possible it wasn’t as cold in other parts of the world.

    Spain in record cold snap as cold grips Europe 1/28/2005

    Record cold snap continues in Europe, several dead Mar 04, 2005

    “Europe shivers in severe winter cold snap” Jan 27, 2005

    Record lows have Europe in icy grip Mar 2, 2005

    Europe under snow
    25-Mar-2005 “this Envisat image from last week shows the continent covered by snow all the way down from Sweden down to Italy.”

    Bitter cold snap continues by Kirsty McCabe 02//03/2005

    I mean Europe would be expected to have more English articles so I don’t know how it was in places like Asia.

    Record cold winter kills hundreds in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan November 09, 2005

    Record snowfall likely to result in significant flooding 03/18/05 (Afghanistan)

    Manali receives record snowfall:- February 10, 2005

    Record snowfall, rains kill 42 across country 2/10/2005

    And who knows what went on in the Southern Hemisphere

    Record cold snap over SA (South Australia) 1 March 2005

    Farmers Recovering From Record Cold, Heavy Snows (Peru)
    “During this unusually cold period temperatures fell as low as 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and the average low temperatures were almost 60 degrees lower than normal” 2004 though

    I mean a real tell would be something rally odd like a snowstorm in the Sahara dessert or something.

    Snow over Northern Africa January 28, 2005
    “In this image, the snow extends from the Mediterranean Coast in the north to the northern reaches of the Sahara Desert in the south.”

    But I mean this Fall probably is much more mild than normal

    New England Town Already Gets Record Snowfall Oct. 19, 2005

    It’s not like it hasn’t already snowed or anything.

    Early Snow Surprises Colorado10/10/2005

    Record Snowfall on Mount Washington 1/11/2005

    this statement also combines yesterdays snow event for
    southeastern New England… October 30, 2005

  103. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 9, 2005 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

    There is a US Gov’t funded program for climate research. It has been decided that the best metric for climate is satellite collected, long and shortwave, spectrally resolved radiances. This will allow for, among other things, direct comparison of models with global data. A number of US universities and government agencies are developing hardware and software for the project. A start has been made with the Aqua and Terra satellites, and more are in the plans.

    Born too soon … it will take at least ten years of data collection for extremely preliminary results, 25 years for early analysis, 100 years to include PDO swings … sigh …


  104. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 9, 2005 at 5:25 AM | Permalink



    A week ago I was chatting with a colleague (geochemist) who curtly stated that to measure the temperature of the earth in a global sense requires instrumentation, say 5000 km, out in space, and then to collect the radiation spectra etc etc over time. I won’t repeat publicly what he thought of the current hub-bub over AGW.

    The on-surface computations and errors made therefrom are quite recognisable and the mining industry sorted these problems out decades ago via geostatistics. Pity so few understand the difference between intensive and extensive variables – if they did this wonderful blog would not exist.

  105. Roger Bell
    Posted Nov 9, 2005 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    Re #96,
    Spectral lines from atoms and molecules in the atmospheres of stars are broadened because:
    1. The energy levels of atoms and molecules are not infinitely sharp;
    2. The atoms/molecules are moving with velocities of km/sec so that the radiation they emit is shifted in wavelength by the Doppler effect;
    3. The Stark effect – in the lab an electric field of sufficient strength causes the spectral lines of hydrogen, for example, to split into a number of separate companents. In a stellar atmosphere the electric field experienced by a hydrogen atom fluctuates and so the lines are broadened;
    4. The Zeeman effect causes lines to broaden/split when a magnetic field is present;
    5. Collisional broadening- radiating atoms collide with neutral atoms thereby changing the wavelengths of the lines.
    6. Isotopic effects – different isotopes of, say, silver produce lines at slightly different wavelengths.
    7 The spectral lines of molecules containing different isotopes e.g. C13N14, C12N14 will occur at different wavelengths
    The above are the atomic/molecular effects – vertical motions of “blobs” of gas in the atmosphere can also cause line broadening by the Doppler effect.
    The line spectrum of many stars is very rich, at least at some wavelengths, which is why it is necessary to allow for the absorption of a number of lines of different elements when calculating the absorption of starlight at a particular wavelength.
    This must be true, for some extent. for water vapour in the terrestrial atmosphere because there are simply so many lines. By the way, Tennyson talks about calculating billions of water vapour lines for use in stellar calculations.
    I don’t know enough about the details of CO2 and water vapour to comment about effects in the earth’s atmosphere.

  106. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 9, 2005 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    re # 104

    Well, I’m aware of all of those effects, but I don’t think that many of them would be pressure sensitive except for #5. But even there I’m not sure how it differs from #2 (or #3 or #4). Of course when a collision is going on, transient electromagnetic fields are set up which I believe is the primary mechanism for black-body radiation in gasses, though I’d be happy to be corrected if that is wrong. Anyway, these transcient fields could easy produce Stark or Zeeman effects.

  107. Jeff Norman
    Posted Nov 9, 2005 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    Re #97, per said:

    Even then, it causes you no concern if one of the founding papers of the hockey-stick movement vanishes in a puff of smoke. There is a whole spaghetti of other reconstructions. Well, it would make me nervous if I was standing in a building, and someone told me that one of the foundations was no longer there.

    Are we witnessing the birth of a perfect analogy? Spaghetti diagrams show the hockey stick unravelling.

  108. Michael Mayson
    Posted Nov 10, 2005 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon – post 107 would attest to that.

  109. Posted Nov 10, 2005 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

    re 107
    here is the url all dry facts, indeed, very boring, and the layout is HTML2 compliant.

  110. John A
    Posted Nov 10, 2005 at 3:48 AM | Permalink

    Just in case anyone wonders where five of Methane Mike’s latest comments have gone, they are in the moderation queue for Steve to look at when he gets back.

    Oh, and if MM posts any more in the meantime, then they will get put in the moderation queue as well.

  111. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 10, 2005 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    I am not getting too involved in the ideas Methane Mike has presented as I don’t have the time right now (apart from rising early to quickly post one or two items on my crazy world), but he has a point – the little known role electricity plays in the scheme of things including weather.

    I suggest visting the site for more links etc. The guys behind this are anonymous but are regular mainstream types who fear funding loss if they are identified – such are the politics of science.

    Even in geology I have started to realise the role that electricity plays in in erosion and all sorts of areas that before were problematical. Only problem is that it requires a paradigm shift, and of course there will be strenous “cognitive dissonance” in mainstream geoscience, so one treads carefully.

  112. James Lane
    Posted Nov 11, 2005 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for clearing that up, Mike.

  113. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 13, 2006 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

    Transfer – housekeeping only:

    Feds investigate research grant accounting at Yale; not the research, just the accounting.

    This may be of some interest, but does not seem to fit any particular thread that I recall.

    Article at:

    Comment by JerryB “¢’‚¬? 4 July 2006 @ 5:14 am | Edit This

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