Thompson: "Remarkably Similar"

Thompson et al said that "their [Thompson’s four Tibetan ice core] dO18 histories or proxy temperature records, are remarkably similar at lower frequencies". They are not just similar – they are "remarkably similar" with correlations as high as one milllll-ion.

The top is a spaghetti graph of the four dO18 series (5 year averages as saved by Thompson); the bottom is the same with 5-point smoothing. As you can see, the similarity of the series is breath-taking; no wonder Thompson et al call it "remarkable". Unlike ordinary similarity where correlation cannot exceed, "remarkable" similarities are said by Dr Evil to have an r2 of one millllll-ion. (As I was watching the presentation of this information, No. 2 interrupted the telecast to mention that, for example, the correlations of Guliya to the other ice cores ranged from -0.05 to +0.05, in both cases. )

Top: Four Tibetan Plateau dO18 series (5-year averages), all centered. Bottom – Same with 5 point gaussian smooth


  1. Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

    I think what he meant is that the trends are similar, since they all seem to be on a gentle upwards slope to me.

    But, I’m wondering if that could be an artefact of the method used to process them, rather than anything coming from the underlying data. Is this data processed at all, other than smoothing?

  2. TCO
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

    How about decoding the snark and giving a numerical answer for the level of agreement. r squared and t test of signifiance and all that.

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    It’s hard to say what he does to the data. All that’s every been archived is smoothed dO18. I’m a bit dubious about some of the dating and it would be interesting to check.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Correlations of the 7 Thompson series as 5-year avg are:


    The strongest relationship is between Dasuopu in Asia and Quelccaya in the Andes. Dasuopu was originally said to be a precipitation proxy and Quelccaya has a relationship to El Nino.

    Shouldn’t Thompson do a little bit of the statistical analysis on his work?

  5. TCO
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    Is t test the relevant test to see if a correlation is statistically significant? What is a numerical test that adresses correlation at low frequencies?

  6. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 8:39 PM | Permalink

    A t-test is OK at a first pass. The Team likes to just report correlation r to gridcell temperature (decadal) – although out of the other side of their mouth they say that you couldn’t possibly use r for verification.

    The hard thing about low frequencies is that you don’t have many bins and it’s very hard to get significance. That’s why Hughes’ program wanted to use annual data to get to statistical significance.

  7. TCO
    Posted Jul 6, 2006 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    So t-test of the low freq data would show that low significance no? Would reflect the low degrees of freedom?

  8. Andre
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    It should be remarked that oxygen isotopes do behave completely different at tropical lattitudes than at higher lattides. North and South of +/-30 degrees, if there is a sufficient high correlation, the gradient between anual fluctuations of temperatures and oxygen isotope ratio is rather steady, fluctuating roughly between 0,25 and 0,45 permil d18O per degree K, however within the equinoxes, the gradient becomes highly erratic, progressively towards the equator. Most gradients become progressively more negative up to about -2 permil per degree but there are also few stations with a strong postive 2+ permil per degree.

    See these plots of gradients of about 25% of all stations in GNIP database showing a r2 of more than 0,5.

    This behavior may relate to the small annual temperature fluctuations in the tropics combined with strong monsoon patterns that may change the isotope signature. Consequently, a hockeystick shape of tropical ice core proxies can mean anything.

  9. TCO
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 7:32 AM | Permalink


    Of course, they should do analysis of their work. Starting their paper, I note that it is essentially a review article of previous work (with some new). The concern with that sort of thing (mixing lower and higher level analysis) is that you won’t do justice to the new lower level analysis (the bricks of the house). The other thing is that there is a middle ground of analysis (essentially meta-analysis–quantititative analysis of broad sets of studies). I’m not an expert and still reading the paper, but my impression was that their might be some gaps in the careful examination of the field. It is nice to draw together different peices of the puzzle and I thank Thompson for doing that. But I would want to know and make sure that they are doing so fairly and impartially. IOW, not just citing retreating glaciers when some are advancing. And if some are advancing, we need to know the amount retreating and amount advancing.

  10. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    Andre #8 or anyone-

    “oxygen isotope ratio is rather steady, fluctuating roughly between 0,25 and 0,45 permil d18O per degree K”

    These might be a stupid questions but I am curious:

    …what field of (physical?) science did that statement evolve from?

    I was just wondering, because of my edjumakation via husband on all this; the use of the ratios was to determine sea level high stands (ice age, or hot age) in the beginning.

    I understand how they can use the depleted O18 for the “idea” of temperatures, but where I wonder does the accuracy come from? Was there a standard set before climate models or GW frenzy interest?
    Or they developed from ice core research? Hope you understand what I am asking!

    And per degree K is a really really small number right? I think my husband laughed and said something like “That’s crazy! (in regards to error margins) and says “pretty tricky! (when he looks at graphs like these)


  11. Andre
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    Re #10

    In all kind of geologic branches isotopes are used for all kind of suppositions. The ice volume versus sea level is only (a very shaky) one of them. There are shiploads of other applications like this particular one.

    In the last two decades there was a big program of the Isotope Hydrology section to measure the monthly average water isotope ratio (dD and d18O) of the actual precipitation on hundreds of weather stations for several years. The resulting data have been issued in the GNIP-database (available at that site), giving a monthly average for temperature, precipition and isotope ratios.

    With those data it’s no problem to establish the average annual gradient between temps and isotope ratios and the correlation r and r2 for each of those stations. Whenever the r2 satisfied my significance standard of 0.5, I plotted the gradient value as a function of geographic lattitude of that particular station, resulting in those peculiar plots.

    Does that help?

  12. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    #11, I think so! Yes, I was wondering about the ‘real time” research was. I have to look at it (if I understand it) and see how it works over several years. Thanks!

    I don’t know if I agree with the “very shakey” comment though. (??)
    but maybe were’ out of the loop (husband been out of school and employed in environmental work about 6-7 yrs). He says it works pretty good with sites he’s seen.

    Anyway as an example, this NASA page indicates to me that it is all about ice and oceans first, though it talks about climate then temperature too:

    NASA page:
    (I’ve used this before in a post)

    Thanks for the info and reply!!! 🙂

  13. Andre
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    Re #12,

    Yes indeed I mean that the Shackleton hypothesis about the ice sheet volume, oceanic isotopes is rambling. Two reasons.

    First, To make up for the volume you would need about just two Antarctic Ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere during the last glacial maximum which would require a robust (East) Siberian Ice sheet. However, there wasn’t any, only mammoths, horses and woolly rhino’s

    Second, the oceanic inertia, waxing and waning ice sheet start interacting with the ocean surface first, it would take a millenium or so before the first isotopes would have reached the ocean bottom to be registered in the benthic foraminifera and several milleniums more before isotope equilibrium would have settled. However the OPD ocean cores are as crisp as the ice cores, no delay whatsoever. No millenia to account for oceanic inertia.

    About the isotopes in the graph, I can mail the GNIP database with calculations to Steve, he could link to that but that would be later.

  14. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Re: 10, 100 and 12

    This topic has cropped up before and there still seems to be a degree of confusion about how isotopes are used and how they are interpreted. The physics of isotope processes in the water cycle have been long established and the underlying principles well understood with pioneering papers by Harmon Craig and Dansgaard in the 1960’s. I’ll select a few key references and post them on this website for those who might be interested.

    In essence we can treat the atmosphere as a form of ‘distillation column’. Water evaporates from the oceans, and subsequently as the air mass moves polewards, or to higher elevation it cools, condensing the vapour and leading to precipitation. We need to put isotopes into this process to understand what is happening. To do this it is necessary to have some idea of isotope fractionation during evaporation and condensation. Basically water molecules containing 16-oxygen are preferentially evaporated compared to water molecules containing 18-oxygen. A similar preferential evaporation is observed for water molecules containing hydrogen compared to molecules containing deuterium. Thus the water vapour in physical equilibrium with the ocean is enriched in the lighter isotopes compared to the ocean. Because the ocean, by definition, is close to zero per mille in composition, the vapour is negative and close to -10 per mille.

    During an ice age this light vapour is precipitated as snow and locked up on a long term basis (several 10’s of thousands of years) in major continental ice sheets. The volume of water taken out of the global ocean is significant and enough to drive it to a significantly enriched isotope composition (+ sevral per mille) compared with the present day. This is the origin of the link between ocean isotope composition (as recorded in foraminifera) and ice volume. I’m not aware that anyone seriously disputes this link between isotope composition and ice volume, or thinks that the underlying physical explanation is shaky.

    We must distinguish between the isotope composition of the ocean and that of precipitation, either rain or snow. The ocean isotope composition is fixed by just a few processes – ice volume, and on the longer term geological time scale (millions to tens of millions of years) by the interaction between the ocean and hot rock as it is cycled through hot hydrothermal systems at mid ocean ridges.

    Back to precipitation. Remember we have a parcel of air saturated with water vapour at -10 per mille with repect to the ocean. Now lets condense some vapour out of this cloud. Physics shows the condensing liquid to be enriched in 18-oxygen with respect to the vapour. Typically the first rain to fall from water evaporating from the ocean is 0 to -2 per mille with respect to the ocean. We are now selectively taking heavy isotopes out of the vapour and dropping it out of the sytem as liquid water. The effect of this is to drive the residual vapour to even more depleted isotope compositions and also subsequent rain to more depleted compositions..that is to increasingly negative values. To continue to force rain, or snow fall out of the air mass we will need to continue to cool it.

    This process, known as Rayleigh type distillation, is the origin of the link between precipitation isotope composition and temperature. It is well understood physically and mathematically and works well for most mid to high latitude precipitation. As Andre has described you can access the GNIP (Global Network for Isotopes in Precipitation) database, and for a wide range of locations, extract the monthly data and plot oxygen isotope composition versus temperature. There is often a very high r^2 value in these plots. Similarly, and even more dramatically, you can take average annual data for a wide number of locations and plot the isotope composition of precipitation against average annual precipitation. The graph is striking, with a very high correlation between precipitation isotope composition and temperature. This was first published by Dansgaard (I believe!) with a gradient of 0.67 per mille per degree celsius (or K). I’m working from memory here and so my numbers might be slightly out.

    The point I’m trying to make is the relationship between the isotope composition of precipitation and temperature appears to be robust and is exactly what we might expect using a Rayleigh type distilaltion model for the atmosphere. I used to get my students to model this effect with a simple spreadsheet programme, a few bits of data on fractionation factors and the water vapour pressure-temperature relationship.

    Now, and here is the very BIG BUT that Andre has pointed out in his excellent graph. At sub-tropical and tropical latitudes the relationship breaks down. The link with temperature becomes difficult to define and appears rather erratic. We believe that rain-out effects during monsoon and intense tropical rain events are very important at these latitudes. Empirically we observe that the isotope composition of precipitation is strongly correlated with the amount of rainfall.

    Everything I have said applies to modern day precipitation. If we try and use the observed relationships between precipitation isotope composition and temperature to estimate past temperatures then there are some problems. A common observation is that we underestimate the magnitude of a temperature change. This has been observed in Greenland and temperate latitudes too. In Greenland, the temperature change estimated from the shift in oxygen isotope composition of the ice between the present and a period in the glacial past is lower than that estimated from borehole temperature profiles. In temperate latitudes, for example in the UK, temperature shifts estimated between the glacial and modern using groundwater isotopes are not as large as we estimate using dissolved noble gas mixing ratios. Clearly there are other processes that are important when using isotopes to estimate temperatures between the glacial and the present day interglacial. These may have something to do with changing atmospheric circulation, changes in the source regions of water vapour etc.

    What this tells us about the recent past, say the last two thousand years I don’t know. My hunch is that the precipitation isotope composition in mid-latitudes is probably a robust temperature indicator and one that is perhaps more robust than tree rings.

    Oops…sorry for the long, long note here!

    Keep up the discussion…I’m fascinated by it all.

  15. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 3:13 PM | Permalink


    it would take a millenium or so before the first isotopes would have reached the ocean bottom to be registered in the benthic foraminifera and several milleniums more before isotope equilibrium would have settled.

    Are you sure of this? I’m no expert, but as I understand it, forams trap particles from the surrounding water and use them to build their bodies. And the particles they trap would be organic material falling from the surface. This material reaches them quite quickly and shouldn’t need milleniums. We’d need to delve into the precise biochemisty used to produce their shells, but I expect that at least part of the carbonate in the shells would come from the food they digest rather than from carbonate in the water surrounding them, thus changing the isotope composition quite quickly.

  16. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    Re 13

    There are independent estimates of sea level curves and the rates of change of sea level during glacial to interglacial transitions provided by dated coral terraces. These are in excellent agreement with the ocean isotope record as recorded by foraminifera. Thus we have little wiggle room in discussing the volume of water removed from the oceans during an ice age. An average sea level drop on the order of 150m appears to be a pretty robust estimate.

    This water has to go somewhere and the only plausible reservoir is large continental ice sheets.

    Personally I’m happy with the Shackelton model of foraminifera isotope composition and ice volume. The question of ocean inertia is interesting Andre. The ventilation rate of many parts of the ocean, particularly close to sinking regions is pretty rapid. Of course, we don’t know how, or where these necessarily operated during a glacial period but there is palaooceanographic evidence to suggest that the thermohaline circulation was still operating.

    As for the crispness of the record. Yes it is astonishing..even more so that it is apparently pretty much synchronous over the global ocean. But beware there may be a circular argument operating here. Dating of these sediments is not easy and the foraminifea record has been ‘tuned’ to match the orbital parameters of the earth so that it can be used as a dating tool itself.

    There’s an interesting bit of science to be done here….just how crips and how synchronous is the ocean isotope record as recorded by foraminifera.

  17. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    re 15

    Dave, The isotope composition of foraminiferal exoskeletons is controlled by that of the dissolved inorganic carbon in sea water. This DIC is in oxygen isotopic equilibrium with the water. As far as I’m aware, foraminifera are photosynthesising organisms (at least pelagic species are), and I belive benthic ones have a life cycle that moves them up and down the water column to shallower, photic levels at periods. During photosynthesis the organism metabolises carbon dioxide from the seawater, this is accompanied by precipitation of calcium carbonate. There have been many experiments in which foraminifera have been cultured in the laboratory and their tests subsequently isotopically analysed. Aside from a small kinetic effect the oxygen isotope composition of the foraminifera are as expected from our knowledge of the water oxygen isotope composition.

  18. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    One final comment about the ice volume record and ice age record. From memory the early work was done on pelagic species: Globigerinoides rubra and Globigerinoides sacculifera on cores taken from the equatorial ocean (Pacific) and the Caribbean Sea. These would have responded quickly to changes in ocean isotope composition and temperature.

  19. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    re: #17 Paul,

    In the first place Andre mentioned benthic forams and they aren’t photosynthizers with rare exceptions, see the following on benthic foraminifera . But even if we were talking pelagic, photosynthizing foraminifera the experiments you’re speaking of don’t prove anything. The material photosynthized would naturally have the isotope composition of the seawater (plus whatever mark photosynthesis puts on things; I suppose it also uses the lighter isotopes to some extent.) But I believe that some of the forams have a special biochemistry which lets them increase the amount of photosynthesis by utilizing bicarbonate instead of just dissolved CO2 (there’s a discussion on this somewhere here not that long ago). This process then “excretes” carbonate into the foram’s shell. So such calcium carbonate will show the CO2 isotope composition of the upper sea water and some percentage of the tests will fall to the ocean floor where they’ll be used by their benthic cousins.

  20. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 4:47 PM | Permalink

    Dave, I’m not clear on the biochemistry of forams and benthic species in particular as you’ve correctly discerned from my posting!. The experiments I mentioned are aimed at understanding oxygen isotope fractionation between the calcium carbonate tests of photosynthesising and non-photosynthesising foraminifera.

    We have a pretty good handle on the equilibrium oxygen isotope fractionation between inorganic calcium carbonate (calcite, aragonite etc. precipitated inorganically, for example by CO2 degassing) and water. Calcium carbonate is enriched in 18-oxygen by about 31 per mille. We can do the same experiments for many marine organisms, including forams, and find that the oxygen isotope fractionation is the same as for inorganic carbonates. i.e. Many foram species precipitate calcium carbonate exoskeletons that are in oxygen isotope equilibrium with the water in which they live.

    What this shows is that the oxygen isotope composition of the forams is in equilibrium with the seawater. The exact mechanism by which this arrives might vary from species to species and possibly with water chemistry. It is however, mediated by the oxygen isotope chemistry of the dissolved inorganic carbon which repsonds rapidly to changes in water oxygen isotope chemistry.

    I’m not sure what is meant by forams having a special mechanism that lets them utilise bicarbonate during photosynthesis rather than carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide system in water is relatively straightforward. If an organism is utilising carbon dioxide and depressing the local pCO2 then bicarbonate will dissociate locally to release more CO2 into the water to maintain chemical equilibrium.

    However, as I said earlier the mechanism is irrelevant if the organism is precipitating calcium carbonate in isotopic equilibrium with the seawater. Equlibrium is defined by the energy of the final states and not the pathway.

    My comment to Andre wasn’t well phrased. I was trying to make the point that much of the original work by Emiliani and Shackelton was based on pelagic foraminifera and thus they would respond quickly to changes in ocean isotope composition and temperature. If I understand Andre’s comment..he was suggesting that with a rate of ocean overturning that borders on many centuries to millenial time scales then changes in the isotope composition of the water of surface ocean would take thousands of years to be transmitted through to the deep ocean. Is this correct Andre?

  21. Tim Ball
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    I remember being surprised that Ericson and Wollin’s book “The Deep and the Past” became a bestseller. I have seen 20 foot deep fossilized coral reefs in the high arctic. I am aware they could have formed at or near the equator and moved with continental drift. I am aware some sea creatures such as the Nautilus can remain essentially unchanged for millions of years, but they can move in three dimensions. Coral and most foraminifera are in one place and at the mercy of the changes in the surrounding environment. Why do we assume they do not change and the coral or foraminifera we are seeing and using today is the same as millions of years ago. It is possible they may look the same (phenotype) while internally they are diferent and constantly changing and adapting (genotype). I saw the recent research on coral as an example of the possible error in assumptions.
    What are we really measuring? Is this a part of the problem with uniformitarianism?

  22. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    re 21: Tim, I’m sure you are right and that we have to be careful about the way we often assume that a species in the past would behave in the same way as one in the present. It is a starting point and one that needs constant testing and re-assessing.

    Interesting article, and I’m not surprised. It is well known for aragonite to be precipitated from water with high Mg/Ca ratios and calcite to be precipitated where the ratio is decreased. Interesting though to find the same species precipitating different polymorphs of the same mineral under different water chemistries.

  23. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Hey I knew there was a bigger discussion here! Very cool! Thanks! Please keep it up!

    What you all brought up about uniformitarianism and asking what are we measuring?… is good . Maybe its intuition, maybe I am out of line ( LOL) but all these graphs churning out climate senerios can’t be so simple as they seem to be. It’s a big story to tell!


  24. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

    Paul Dennis,

    It was very nice of you to explain all that, take the time and type it out. It really helped and it was exactly what I was asking.

    I read it again just now, might have to read it a few more times! it will sink in at some point heh!

    I wanted to make sure I stopped to say thank you!

    PK, I don’t know if you’ll be deleted, it might do you well to make one point and wait to see if anyone understands instead of lecture.

    We have to look at isotopes as a way to “see” the past. Right? Like geologists do. Geologists love the past. I don’t think that’s like talking about “energy” exactly I think that’s more like looking at a snap shot isn’t it?

  25. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    Maybe this is a good place to post this.

    What do you guys think of this article that came out 7-6-06
    if you care to read it? It was all over the internet on the news wires.

    It sent my husband into a tizzy he disliked it so much;
    the “dropped one-tenth of a unit” in a 800 unit range/
    the science value/content of it etc. The fear factor about future made him angry-as if it was presented in the news just for that reason.

    This one quote especially:

    “”You can duplicate this phenomenon by blowing into a straw in a glass of water and changing the water’s pH level,” Lovejoy said. “It’s basically undeniable.””

    Growing ocean acidity may threaten corals
    New report finds greenhouse gas CO2 can stunt reef growth

  26. David Smith
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I know you have more things to pursue than you have time to do so. But, I wonder if you’d add something to your backlog.

    The link discusses a recent JGR paper which tends to support a solar/cosmic ray tie to global temperature changes. That would, I believe, tend to put these scientists into an agnostic-GW camp and probably not into Mann’s camp. They analyze a lot of data for this paper, I believe.

    I’m wondering if their statistical handling of their data is robust and “good science”, with their data available and with their statistical approaches transparent, proper and above-board.

    I know this is just one paper, but if it turns out that these non-HS climate folks play loosey-goosey with the numbers, then I’d have to say shame on them and shame on the Mannites, and I’d be very sad about the current state of this infant science.

    If this is a poor paper to analyze, my apology and please ignore the request.


  27. Lee
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

    re 25,

    rocks, the discussion of ‘pH units’ in that paper is not good, but pH is also not an ‘800 unit’ scale. Its a logarithmic scale of hydrogen ion concentration (and for the chemists, dont get pedantic – I’m keeping this explanation basic. Yes, that was a very bad pun). The ‘blowing through a straw’ description is also accurate – this is a common general science deomontration – put a color pH indicator in water, blow through a straw, and watch the indicator color change as the increased CO2 acidifies the water.

    A change of one unit in pH means a 10-fold change in hydrogen ion concentration. A decrease in pH of 0.3 – 0.4 units translates to an increase in hydrogen ion concentration of 100% – 150%.

    The chemistry is pretty simple – here is what wikipedia has to say about it:
    When CO2 dissolves, it reacts with water to form a balance of ionic and non-ionic chemical species : dissolved free carbon dioxide (CO2 (aq)), carbonic acid (H2CO3), bicarbonate (HCO3 -) and carbonate (CO3 2-). The ratio of these species depends on factors such as seawater temperature and alkalinity (see the article on the ocean’s solubility pump for more detail).


    Dissolving CO2 also increases the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration in the ocean, and thus reduces ocean pH. The use of the term “ocean acidification” to describe this process was introduced in Caldeira and Wickett (2003). Since the industrial revolution began, ocean pH has dropped by approximately 0.1 units, and it is estimated that it will drop by a further 0.3 – 0.4 units by 2100 as the ocean absorbs more anthropogenic CO2 (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003; Orr et al., 2005).

    The potential impact on carbonate-shelled organizsms is real. The major controversy is over the amount of carbonate buffering in the oceans, and whether carbonate levels will actually drop below the threshold where calcium carbonate biological structes start dissolving, and les directly, whether there is a possible evolutionary response that will allow populatin s to deal with this change. We do see evidence of thriving carbonate-shelled organisms at geologically past times when we are pretty damn sure there were higher CO2 concnetrations, implying that it is possible for such organizsms to survive lower pH, but the localization, temeprature effects, local pH measurements and biological/genetic responses to them, are not known. Early experimental results imply this is a real threat: dissolution of carbonate structures has been observed at pH levels that are far from out of the question.

    Some key papers:

    Caldeira, K., and Wickett, M.E. (2003). Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH. Nature 425, 365-365.

    Orr, J. C. et al. (2005). Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms. Nature 437, 681-686.

  28. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 7, 2006 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

    This is Mr welikerocks,

    You somehow missed the point of my annoyance? The article clearly states a normal ocean PH range of from 1000 units to 1800 units, which gives me a total range over their scale of 800 units. They are whining over a percieved change somehow? of .1 units? WTF? That is easily within their margin of error, and appears to me to be insignificant. Any Experts out there? Also, the blowing bubbles in a cup is a rediculous example since the oceans are far from being a cup? Read the article, don’t you see the fear based thesis of it?

  29. TonyH
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

    Mr welikerocks, 1000 and 1800 are years, while the 0.1 is pH units.

  30. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 1:05 AM | Permalink

    Re: 26, 27 and 28. I’ve not followed as closely as I would have liked the ocean acidification debate. The chemistry is sound as Lee has explained very well. It is based on our understanding of the carbonate system.

    However, this then poses the question of what was happening during the Cretaceaous period. Towards the end of the Cretaceous period CO2 levels were higher than the present day, and possibly by as much as a factor of 2. Yet the Cretaceous is famous for chalk, vast expanses of the stuff. There’s no evidence in the exquisitely formed and preserved coccoliths that acidification of the ocean led to wide spread dissolution of calcium carbonate.

    Similarly there have been other periods of elevated CO2 in the geologic past during which time corals have thrived.

    Perhaps the experiment with the glass and straw are not too relevant for several reasons. First the water in the glass is unlike sea water with respect to it’s carbonate chemistry. Second blowing air through a straw is exhaling breath which is enriched in CO2 to several percent and not the 0.038 percent of the present day atmosphere. Third we should be wary of predicting the future levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and making predictions of future increases in ocean acidity. From our current inventories of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, cement manufacture etc. we already know that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have only risen by about half what we might expect had it all entered the atmosphere. One of the main sinks is dissolution in the ocean, but this only accounts for half of the difference. The other half is due to increased take up of CO2 by the land…probably large northern temperate forests. Who knows how the partitioning between the sinks will operate in the future.

    ps welikerocks…I couldn’t get the link to work but no matter. I too dislike a lot of the media presentation of the science as scare mongering. There is an exciting and mature scientific debate to be had here without using fear tactics, or treating the public with disdain.

  31. Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

    The attempt to create concern of acidification from regard to CO2/greenhouse issues has also dissipated, due to a lack of credibility in any reality of an existent issue. There is still it seems the confusion of Energy within the ‘greenhouse theatre’ and attempts to avoid Quantum concepts with instead (mis)use of ‘chemistry’ is again seen far too commonly.

    For example consideration of isotopical detail is irrelevant to the situation of CLIMATE and any warming process proposed within a ‘greenhouse concept’.

    The alteration to photonic remittance by isotopical variation is in the properties of the Photon due to alteration in the amplitude/wavelength of the discrete electro magnetic wave then produced. This is due to the alteration of internal molecular structural links, displaced by the extra neutrons, and whose placement is indeed seen represented in the reemitted photons properties.

    So isotopical variation can be seen by study of reemitted Photons, but the overall ENERGY presented is little different. The extra MASS will reduce the kinetic velocity induced by any retained energy, but this does not mean that LESS energy is retained either, or that ‘more’ energy is reemitted.

    The significance to ‘greenhouse concepts’ is that it is the REEMITTED energy that is attempted to be included as ‘trapped heat’ in ‘greenhouse based’ discussions, the error obvious when it is realised that the Energy being discussed is infact again within a discrete ‘Photon’ and is no longer ‘attached’ to any molecule.

    The lack of differentiation in isotopical chemical behavior is also widely utilised in SCIENCE especially in Medicine.

    What is being highlighted so often, in attempted platforming of ‘greenhouse concepts’ with a ‘protection’ of censorship, is the lack of relevance in what IS being discussed to what is REAL in the world about us all and what is even possible, certainly the distortion of otherwise valid theory into the ‘greenhouse shape’ is invalidating the ‘greenhouse productions’, and citation of those other ‘theories’ as being themselves valid is not sufficient to make the ‘greenhouse (mis)use’ itself valid. Also the overplay within the ‘greenhouse theatre’ in the attempts of its ‘players’ to sound ‘scientific’, from behind enclosures of censorship, is no more a validation of what is being said within said enclosures.

    Peter K. Anderson a.k.a. Hartlod(tm)
    From the PC of Peter K Anderson

  32. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

    See here for a good summary of the acid ocean issue. As with so many aspects of the climate, the problem seems to be the rate of the current change:

    “The natural pH of the ocean is determined by a need to balance the deposition and burial of CaCO3 on the sea floor against the influx of Ca2+ and CO32- into the ocean from dissolving rocks on land, called weathering. These processes stabilize the pH of the ocean, by a mechanism called CaCO3 compensation. CaCO3 compensation works on time scales of thousands of years or so. Because of CaCO3 compensation, the oceans were probably at close to their present pH of around 8 even millions of years ago when atmospheric CO2 was 10 times the present value or whatever it was. The CaCO3 cycle was discussed briefly in regards to the uptake of fossil fuel by the ocean, here. The point of bringing it up again is to note that if the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere changes more slowly than this, as it always has throughout the Vostok record, the pH of the ocean will be relatively unaffected because CaCO3 compensation can keep up. The fossil fuel acidification is much faster than natural changes, and so the acid spike will be more intense than the earth has seen in at least 800,000 years.”

    If I liked rocks I would be appropriately frightened.

  33. Andre
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 4:16 AM | Permalink

    Re #20

    Paul, thanks for your elaboration. You got an E-mail (I hope).

  34. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    #30 Thank you!

    “I couldn’t get the link to work but no matter. I too dislike a lot of the media presentation of the science as scare mongering. There is an exciting and mature scientific debate to be had here without using fear tactics, or treating the public with disdain”

    Sorry about that! The MSN page that I linked seems to have disappeared, which is weird because all the other science stories of the week are still there. So I googled to find it hosted somewhere else and I couldn’t find the exact article. However, seems like this story has been released periodically over the last couple of years, so I suspect it was a scare mongering type deal. Time to put out a couple of more warming stories to keep the fear factor up! Recycle, Scare, Blame and Confuse… Eco-groovy rule number 1.

    #25, maybe this exact article I referred to, which my husband read, poorly explained something, to give my husband the impression he got. He works cleaning up the Earth every day. He also knows Nature has a way of bouncing back FAST all the time. He sees it and makes it happen. We come from a background that if you have all the information you need there’s nothing we can’t do to make things right, and tend to have a positive outlook about the future. Humans are a part of this Earth too, not some mistake or cancer. So he sees red whenever the fear factor comes up. He is still snoozing this morning, but I know he will admit the mistake if he made it.

    “Similarly there have been other periods of elevated CO2 in the geologic past during which time corals have thrived.”

    Exactly, and if you are just a regular Joe reading an article such as this one was, you aren’t going to get all the information. Thus you get comments like #31:

    “If I liked rocks I would be appropriately frightened”


    I am a daughter of a Marine awarded two Purple Hearts when he was 19 yrs old. Sorry, I can’t relate!

  35. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 8:35 AM | Permalink


    This comment was for you, my bad.
    “I know he will admit the mistake if he made it.”

    Thanks for pointing to it! 🙂

  36. Lee
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    re 28:

    Mr welikerocks. Sometimes reality has scary implications. We are rapidly altering the carbonate/acid chemistry of the oceans, to a significant degree. I personally dont find, “Well, maybe the bad stuff wont happen” to be all that comforting.

  37. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    #35, Well good morning to you too.
    I wrote those two comments Lee, not mr welikerocks.

    “Sometimes reality has scary implications. We are rapidly altering the carbonate/acid chemistry of the oceans, to a significant degree. I personally dont find, “Well, maybe the bad stuff wont happen” to be all that comforting”

    With all due respect that’s the difference between the way you read or viewed what I said and the way I do. You pulled that “quote” out of your own head, because in reality nobody said “Well, maybe the bad stuff wont happen”

    It’s a waste of energy to view the future on any level without hope or a positive outlook. I could say more but then we’d get into my area of expertise and you would not like it. I am a counselor; I do it only two times a week now. I have been doing this work for a long time. I talk to people who are “afraid” of all kinds of things and “need comfort”. My job is to guide them and show them how to become impowered. They have to find that “feeling” inside themselves and not from any outside influence; to become a happy, healthy person: there’s a consensus about this; in my field of expertise BTW.

    This is getting really off topic.

    I would prefer to just discuss the science without fear and without worrying about someone’s feelings thank you very much.

  38. Lee
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    re 36: so you argument against possible damaging future conseqences of present actions is that it is a waste of energy to worry about it?

    Comment 28 specifically said it was written by mr rocks. It specifically referred to a ‘fear-based thesis.’ My response was that sometimes it is appropriate to recognize and be scared by the potential consequences of one’s actions. Unwarranted “fear” is nonfunctional – so is unwarranted polyanna optimism.

    And drop the concern for my “feelings.” I am not here for emotional validation – if I were it’s for damn sure I would not still be here. Grin.

  39. TCO
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    We love you, Lee-ie! Love the sinner, not the sin. 😉

  40. Frank H. Scammell
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    Let’s complicate things a little bit further.

    Corals switch skeleton material as seawater changes
    6-Jul-2006 Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University post-doc Justin Ries and collaborators demonstrated that corals can build their skeletons out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them.

    Leopards may not be able to change their spots, but corals can change their skeletons, building them out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them. That’s the startling conclusion drawn by a Johns Hopkins University marine geologist, writing in the July issue of the journal Geology. Postdoctoral fellow Justin Ries and his collaborators say this is the first known case of an animal altering the composition of its skeleton in response to change in its physical environment.

    The aquatic animal’s sensitivity to such changes poses questions about its evolutionary history, as well as the future of the ecologically important coral reefs that it builds, Ries said, especially at a time when seawater is changing in response to global warming and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    A 2005 Ph.D. graduate of Johns Hopkins, Ries collaborated on the research with his dissertation advisors, Steven M. Stanley (now of the University of Hawaii) and Lawrence A. Hardie, professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins.

    Reefs are large underwater structures of coral skeletons, made from calcium carbonate secreted by generation after generation of tiny coral polyps over sometimes millions of years of coral growth in the same location. The team showed that corals can switch from using aragonite to another mineral, calcite, in making the calcium carbonate. They make that switch in response to decreases in the ratio of magnesium to calcium in seawater, Ries said. That ratio has changed dramatically over geologic time. "This is intriguing because, until now, it was generally believed that the skeletal composition of corals was fixed," he said.

    Ries spent two months growing three species of modern scleractinian corals (the major reef-building corals in today’s seas) in seawater formulated at six different chemical ratios that have existed throughout the 480-million-year history of corals. He concocted this "artificial seawater" using "recipes" provided by Hardie, who several years ago discovered that the magnesium-calcium ratio in seawater has vacillated throughout geologic history between a low of 1.0 and today’s 5.2, changing due to chemical reactions between seawater brine and rising magma along the ocean floor.

    Johns Hopkins University post-doc Justin Ries and collaborators demonstrated that corals can build their skeletons out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them. Ries placed his artificial seawaters in 10-gallon glass tanks, then added fragments of the three species of Caribbean reef-building corals. These were replete with colonies of polyps, which had spent the previous month in "equilibration tanks." Ries adjusted the chemistry of those tanks over 30 days, until their magnesium-to-calcium ratios were in line with the prescribed "ancient seawater" chemistries.

    Two months later, Ries removed the coral skeletons and used X-ray diffraction to analyze their mineral composition. He was surprised to find that corals grown in the artificial seawater with a magnesium-to-calcium ratio less than 2-to-1 began producing a large portion of their skeleton with the calcite mineral, while those grown in unmodified modern seawater produced exclusively the aragonite mineral.

    Though most scientists believed that corals were programmed to produce only the aragonitic form of calcium carbonate, he said, the team’s work reveals that corals are far more flexible and able to vary at least a portion of their skeleton to growth favored by seawater chemistry. He postulates that this "mineralogical flexibility" provides corals with an "evolutionary advantage," as it would take more energy for corals to produce skeletons that are not favored by the chemistry of the seawater surrounding them. The calcite-producing corals grown in artificial ancient water grew significantly slower than did the aragonite-producing corals grown in modern water.

    "The reduction in the corals’ rate of growth that accompanied their exposure to the chemically modified seawaters is further evidence of corals’ extreme sensitivity to environmental change," Ries said.

    Johns Hopkins University post-doc Justin Ries and collaborators demonstrated that corals can build their skeletons out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them. "This is particularly significant given recently observed and predicted future changes in the temperature and acidity of our oceans — via global warming and rising atmospheric CO2 , respectively — that will presumably have a significant impact on corals’ ability to build their skeletons and construct their magnificent reefs," he said.

    Corals are crucial to nearshore tropical ecosystems because the reefs they build are inhabited by tens of thousands of marine animals, plants, algae and bacteria that make up the coral reef ecosystem, which is one of the planet’s most diverse, Ries said. But coral reefs also serve a more practical purpose: They absorb wave energy generated by hurricanes and other severe tropical storms.

    "Ironically, the same factor that is likely causing such storms to increase in intensity — global warming — is also causing the corals to bleach (lose their symbiotic algae) and die, ultimately leading to the destruction of the coral reefs, which protect the coasts from these storms," Ries said. "All that being said, it is also important to note that the magnesium-calcium ratio of seawater changes only over millions of years and has no direct relationship to recent global warming and ocean acidification, which are believed to be at least partly human caused."

    His team’s experiments do, however, have significance with respect to global warming and ocean acidification, Ries said, because they reveal that although corals can adapt mineralogically to altered seawater chemistry, doing so slowed the corals’ rate of growth by nearly 65 percent.

    "This provides us with further evidence that corals are extremely sensitive to rapid environmental change, such as global warming," he said.

    Sorry, I’ve lost the link.

  41. Lee
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    re 39: interesting – cool stuff.

    Note the last three sentences. This is a different phenomenon than carbonate carbonate from acidification, and it apparently imposed substantial costs on the corals and slowed grwoth rates by 65%.

    We know that if we experminetally simulate acificidation and consequent carbonate depletion, we see damage to carbonate skeletons of at least some organisms. That’s a different phenomenon.

  42. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    One of the standard millennial proxies is the Mg/Ca ratio for sediments in Chesapeake Bay. Mg/Cs ratios are used as a temperature proxy for some coral reconstructions. I wonder what this means for them.

  43. TCO
    Posted Jul 8, 2006 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

    Good catch.

  44. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 7:04 AM | Permalink

    I think we need to take a close look at the coral story and the use of Mg/Ca ratios as a palaeothermometer carefully. The coral story is interesting, but in my opinion nothing very surprising. In conditions of relatively high Mg/Ca ratios, like those of the present day ocean, many organisms, including coral precipitate aragonite. This mineral is a polymorph of calcium carbonate, as is calcite. Both have identical major ion chemistry (CaCO3) but different structures: calcite is trigonal whilst aragonite is orthorhombic. However the structures are very similar, so similar in fact that it is relatively easy for aragonite to transform to calcite at room temperatures. Aragonite is slightly more dense than calcite and its precipitation seems to be favoured by high Mg/Ca ratios in water.

    Reducing the Mg/Ca ratio by a large amount, as in this experiment, results in calcite being precipitated. It is still CaCO3, just a slightly different crystal structure. I personally don’t like terms used in the report such as…’Though most scientists believed that corals were programmed to produce only the aragonitic form of calcium carbonate, he said, the team’s work reveals that corals are far more flexible and able to vary at least a portion of their skeleton to growth favored by seawater chemistry.’ This implies a role of genetics in controlling the precipitation of coralline carbonate. We may equally be looking at an inorganic process whereby photosynthesis results in precipitation of carbonate…the polymorph depending on the water Mg/Ca ratio.

    We should also note that the Mg/Ca ratio in the oceans varies slowly and only on time scales of many millions of years as driven by varying rates of sea floor spreading, weathering etc. On the short time scale of ‘recent’ climate variability the Mg/Ca ratio is thought to be constant.

    Under these conditions we can think of using the Mg/Ca ratio as measured in biogenic carbonates as a palaeothermometer. It is based on the temperature dependent equilibrium partitioning of Mg between the solid and solvent phases. Simply, the Mg/Ca ratio as measured in biogenic aragonite, for example, is a function of the precipitation temperature. Provided we are always dealing with the same polymorph then the thermometer can be applied.

    What is a more interesting question is: are biogenic carbonates, in corals, ostracods, forams etc., precipitated in equilibrium with respect to the source fluid or are metabolic effects important? A hard question and I don’t know the answer. All I can say is that the freshwater snail Lymnaea peregra precipitates aragonite in isotopic equilibrium with the water in which it lives and that data I have seen for wide ranging marine and freshwater species (some (not all) foraminifera, molluscs, fish otoliths etc.) also suggest these precipitate carbonate in isotopic equilibrium with the water. As for trace elements (Mg, Cd etc) then it might be a different story.

  45. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    we can’t find the exact article; so my husband can’t argue the specifics of it. He just says forget it.

    You know not too long ago we had to have commercials on TV just to get people not to litter. Now we have them perdicting catastrophy.

    We see “fear based” articles in the NEWS.

    I don’t want to argue. We’ve experienced teachers bringing these articles into class and handing them out to the kids.

    You never hear about bio-genetic bacterica or “bugs” being used (using things like jellyfish DNA) that glow when they find contamination: that are genetically programed to eat or “clean up” the specific pollution. Do you ever hear how places like lakes, rivers, forests, completely recover from whatever “we did to it” in short periods of time? We don’t. You could say it would be anomalous to find an article like that about environmental issues in the mainstream media. They are rare, but I would bet there is equally positive news to be told as there is negative.

    New studies,(new horrors) predict. Coming our way by 2199 or whatever that usually means… “no one seems to have considered” (especially during this administration eh?”) “until these concerned scientists ” “wrote this new paper” predicting it might happen.

    I do see your point of view Lee, and understand it somewhat.
    We just don’t agree with it.


  46. David Smith
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    It won’t be admitted, but a good number of science scare stories are designed to scare money from taxpayers into researchers’ coffers.

  47. Jim Barrett
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

    David Smith,

    “It won’t be admitted, but a good number of science scare stories are designed to scare money from taxpayers into researchers’ coffers.”

    Rather a sweeping statement don’t you think? Do you have any evidence for it? Do you have evidence that these “scare stories” were “designed” for this purpose? And what do you mean by “researchers’ coffers” — their personal bank accounts, or the banks of the institutions which actually do the research?

  48. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    # 47 I do, my husband worked for California EPA before he quit and went to the private sector because he was so disgusted. Which one do you want to hear?

  49. TCO
    Posted Jul 9, 2006 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    Ever shilled in a grant proposal? It happens. A lot. If you have some sophistication and subtlety, you’ll notice it.

  50. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

    Re #48: Some concrete examples would be nice.

    Re #49: Human beings are rather well-known for having egos, so does this this kind of thing influence climate science and science in general? Sure. Is it enough to influence results over the long term? I very much doubt it given the strong motivation of junior scientists to make their reputations via new results and/or overturning old results. As for purely financial motivations, I don’t see a lot of people going into climate science for the money; other fields are far more lucrative. In contrast, the amount of financial benefit that may flow to climate scientists based on puffing up their results pales into insignificance when compared to the vast profits of the fossil fuel industry and the money that flows from it to apologists and politicians. Whenever I see someone emphasizing the former while ignoring the latter, I do tend to think of shilling.

  51. jae
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    LOL. There is just no reasoning with the hard-core “warmers,” like Lee and Mr. Sierra Club Bloom. If you point out a possible flaw in their religion, they change the subject. If you show that CO2 levels were once higher, and yet life went on, they switch to the “rate of change” argument, I guess assuming that the rate of change in the past was slower. If you talk about the politics of money behind research, they switch to the bad old oil company diatribe. I know damn well that the Sierra Club would not even exist unless they could find new environmental “problems” and use scare tactics to keep the money rolling in. Talk about scare tactics and dishonest ways of getting money.

  52. Mark T.
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    In contrast, the amount of financial benefit that may flow to climate scientists based on puffing up their results pales into insignificance when compared to the vast profits of the fossil fuel industry and the money that flows from it to apologists and politicians.

    Why don’t you try comparing the amount of money spent by the government supporting GW alarmism to the amount of money the fossil fuel industry has supposedly spent on “skepticism”. Ad-hominems are a poor debate tactic, Mr. Bloom.


  53. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    jae, if you are going to be describing positions and attributing them to me, would you please try to first check to see if they correspond to anything I’ve said here.

    I don’t beleive Ive ever made the "rate of change" agrument – at most Iver referred to it in pasing, I beleivve. Rate of change is worth looking at, but I’m not sure we have enough qulaitative or quantative data (yet) and I’m not even sure it matters to the main points.

    I intentially staya way from the polktiics of funding arguments. I don’t thingk they are productive, absent compelling direct evidence of a link. I *do* think that if you are going to open the subject, you have to admit discussion of political influence on funding BOTH ways, of you are cherrypicking. To point at potential political issues in funding theissue, but attack anyone who similarly points at industry influence on the issue, is hypocritical, IMO. And as I said, counterproductive to the real issues.

  54. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    MarkT – so when people attack the research as being flawed in response to funding oportunities, why is that not an ad hominem worth dismissing?

  55. Mark T.
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    MarkT – so when people attack the research as being flawed in response to funding oportunities, why is that not an ad hominem worth dismissing?

    I did not dismiss any argument based on funding. I merely pointed out that funding works both ways, and dismissing the skeptics argument due to said funding is disingenuous, and an ad-hominem. I could care less what other people say, I only commented on Steve Bloom’s use of an ad-hominem. Which, supposedly, he is educated enough to know not to do.


  56. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Steve Blooms post was a direct response to an argument the other way. IN fact, to an extended seriso of posts ascribing funding presures and a suposed link to “shkilling.”

    As I said, if the topic is open, it is open to being addressed BOTH directions. One direction had been placed on the table, Steve placed the other direction on the table.

  57. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    re 46 and onwards: I can’t speak for the funding opportunities for research in the USA and elsewhere, but can for the UK where I compete regularly for research grants. I don’t have any evidence at all to back any contention that scare stories in the press are designed to scare money from taxpayers into research coffers.

    Most scientists, with a few exceptions, are not very media aware where headlines are concerned. The headline ‘Large earthquake in Chile none injured’ is hardly a newsworthy item as is ‘Global climate change: scientists unsure if they can detect an anthropogenic signal or variability is within the range of natural cycles’. The press would like everything to be black and white. To be fair to our venerable BBC they have run a radio programme looking at this issue.

    Back to funding of research. In the UK the NERC is the major source of taxpayers money. Funding is competitive, with proposals peer reviewed by 5 or 6 international scientists then considered by a panel. I’m not always successful but accept the process as being open and fair. Proposers are given copies of reviewers comments and invited to respond. If not successful they are also offered a debriefing by the panel. I’m not sure we can expect much more from the system. Out of interest my last proposal aimed at developing a new palaeothermometer wasn’t successful!

  58. Bruce
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    re: #52, #54, #56: It would indeed be interesting to see the results of the analysis suggested by Mark T in #52. And that would be a fact based analysis, not ad hominems, which would be refreshing.

  59. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

    Lee, one thing I’ve figured out about some of the regulars here is that they seem constitutionally unable to admit that there’s a problem. Particularly revealing is Rocksy’s response at the end of #34 to the effect that as the offspring of a primate of (implied) proven bravery she is *unable* to respond with fear at the prospect of a widespread collapse of ocean ecosystems due to the impending acidity spike. This would seem to explain why. I would add to the argument the observation that those pointing out the problem come to be seen as the threat.

  60. Mark T.
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

    Steve placed the other direction on the table.

    Actually, Steve merely reiterated the common theme to the AGW adherent argument: we are all corporate shills (odd that none of us receive any money…).


  61. jae
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink


    Lee, one thing I’ve figured out about some of the regulars here is that they seem constitutionally unable to admit that there’s a problem.

    Mr. Bloom, you are losing it. I will admit there is a problem when you PROVE that it is hotter now than during the Medieval Warming Period. You and your ilk’s press releases, scare movies, etc. can’t do it for me. Maybe there is some real solid science behind AGW, but I haven’t seen it (I don’t have full time to look, like you do, though). I’m not even sure it is getting warmer, since the “global temperature” calculations have not been audited (the “scientists” won’t release their data–a very common theme in “climate science”). Also, according to the untestable (and unscientific) theory of AGW, the troposphere is supposed to be showing something, no?

  62. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 4:46 PM | Permalink


  63. Dave B
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    Earth’s Atmospheric Layers and Temperature Variations

    depends on where you look

  64. John M
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

    Re Steve Bloom #58

    Also particularly revealing is your very careful choice of words. Earlier, in the context of researchers gilding the lily a little for the purpose of grant proposals, you’re comment started: “Human beings are rather well-known for having egos…” Yet in reference to a marine who was awarded 2 Purple Hearts, we have “…a primate of (implied) proven bravery…” I presume this sort of reference doesn’t find its way into many Sierra Club fund-raising letters.

    Then the article you linked to has these gems:

    The odds of this [global warming causing Manhatten to flood] happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb.

    Global warming isn’t trying to kill us, and that’s a shame.

    Environmentalists despair that global warming is happening so fast. In fact, it isn’t happening fast enough.

    No need to respond, I just wanted to put your points of view in one place so that I could marvel at them.

  65. Paul Dennis
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    re 61: What does this graph show. I’m not sure I could say for sure it is warming. We can say a few things about lower tropospheric temperature from this data set. 1) The record extends from 1979 through to 2006. 2) The period 1998 to 2006 is a little warmer than the period 1979 to 1998. 3) There is a short term periodicity to the data. 4) There may be a longer term periodicity associated with troposheric temperatures, or 1998 marks the onset of a long period of warming. Unfortunately the data set isn’t long enough to distinguish either of these two hypotheses.

    Have you looked at the date with respect to the NAO index Lee? I haven’t and just wonder if there is any similarity?

  66. jae
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Lee: there was a hell of a lot of CO2 added to the air between 1979 and 1998. Where is the effect on your graph? Also, there was a lot added between 1988 and the present, yet 1988 was the hottest year. How do you explain this?

  67. Mark T.
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    The fact that it has also leveled since about 2000 is apparently irrelevant. This, of course, also ignores the fact that the earth spent 40 years cooling prior to 1979. Good choice of graphics to prove long-term warming trends, Lee.


  68. welikerocks
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    In regards to the ocean and corals. I wasn’t home all day BTW.

    Bloom says : “If I liked rocks I would be appropriately frightened”

    Lee says : so you argument against possible damaging future conseqences of present actions is that it is a waste of energy to worry about it?

    This is what I actually said: “It’s a waste of energy to view the future on any level without hope or a positive outlook”

    The two of you mentioned both fear and worry.
    Re-read what I said again.

    As for an EPA examples of scare tactics:
    How about scaring city/government officials/and citizens on behalf of the State working with Unified School District, to “clean-up” soils that have been covered by blacktops, parking lots and asphalt school yards for twenty years or more. All because substances in very low low low non-worrisome levels are detected in the ground. Amounts so small (unless you eat dirt for lunch every day) with scarey sounding names like arsenic; which occurs naturally in nature; are blown up to sound life threatening and a health risk. Costing tax payers ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars on just one site.

    How about spending huge amounts of money for UXO clean-up (left over from WWII training) in the California deserts were no human hardly ever goes, and it is not a threat to any wild life, over let say other important environmental issues? Funding for it comes every year, and grumbles about the military, scary weapons, chemicals etc run commen as well as the fear factor touch does. Don’t get me wrong, don’t pick one up. Yet, when a developer wants to, he or she can some how by-pass this one step and build housing developments and golf courses over ground zero of an impact range like in the coastal cities I know of with much more prestine living conditions…and somehow… all is well.

  69. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    Re #62: Check the date and source material. Don’t embarrass yourself like this next time.

  70. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    What, the climate doesnt respond monotonically to single effects?

    Who knew?

  71. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    re 62:
    “Last Updated: July 31, 1997”

  72. MrPete
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    Re #68,#70 — A little more humility is called for, particularly when standing on interpretation of (web) data you don’t understand.

    Clearly, the 7/31/97 date is the date the **page text** was last updated.

    Didn’t you at least wonder how a graphic could show June 2006 data in a page not updated since 1997?

    There’s a simple answer: the graphics are updated frequently; the text need not be.

    In FireFox you can view just the image, then do Tools->Page Info to get the last update timestamp on the graphic.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006 9:49:44 AM

    Sounds appropriate for a graphic giving data through June 2006, don’t you think?

  73. Lee
    Posted Jul 10, 2006 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

    If that graphic has been recently updated, then has not bothered to read the data in several years. The troposphere is NOT cooling.

    In fact, if you click on his “lower troposphere’ link, you get the graph I just posted, which is clearly NOT showing “slight cooling,” no matter what words he puts in his image. Apparenlty he hasnt even looked at the supporting data he links to.

  74. Steve Bloom
    Posted Jul 11, 2006 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    Re #71: If you had followed the science on this, it would have been instantly obvious to you that the graphic on the main page is very out of date. Equally obviously the links are to pages that are up to date. My advice to Dave B applies to you as well.

  75. ET SidViscous
    Posted Jul 25, 2006 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    And the up to fate fate says? Link

  76. ET SidViscous
    Posted Jul 25, 2006 at 1:16 AM | Permalink

    John thanks for fixing the link. But I didn’t really say fate fate did I?

  77. John Hekman
    Posted Jul 25, 2006 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    The weather balloon data is only judged to be “global” since 1958 or later. Yet there were over 100 sites launching weather balloons back to almost 1940. Does anyone know where the balloon data going back to 1940 can be found?


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