GRACE’s warts – new peer reviewed paper suggests errors and adjustments may be large

That's a spicy meatball! Credit: U of Texas Center for Space Research

GRACE’s warts – new peer reviewed paper suggests errors and adjustments may be large“. Anthony Watts copies-and-pastes a post from CO2 Science (the website for those tired of “alarmist global warming propaganda”). They report that denialists can safely ignore any troubling conclusions based on the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, because there are “errors and biases” and “the GRACE data time series is still very short”. And of course any adjustments to correct these things are simply ‘tricks’.

Actually, that’s what the GRACE scientists themselves are saying in their 2010 Geophysical Journal International article, Uncertainty in ocean mass trends from GRACE. CO2 Science is taking routine scientific discussion about how to improve data analysis out of context and trying to use it to discredit that very effort. Here’s Quinn & Ponte’s abstract:

Ocean mass, together with steric sea level, are the key components of total observed sea level change. Monthly observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) can provide estimates of the ocean mass component of the sea level budget, but full use of the data requires a detailed understanding of its errors and biases. We have examined trends in ocean mass calculated from 6 yr of GRACE data and found differences of up to 1 mm yr−1 between estimates derived from different GRACE processing centre solutions. In addition, variations in post-processing masking and filtering procedures required to convert the GRACE data into ocean mass lead to trend differences of up to 0.5 mm yr−1. Necessary external model adjustments add to these uncertainties, with reported post-glacial rebound corrections differing by as much as 1 mm yr−1. Disagreement in the regional trends between the GRACE processing centres is most noticeably in areas south of Greenland, and in the southeast and northwest Pacific Ocean. Non-ocean signals, such as in the Indian Ocean due to the 2004 Sumatran-Andean earthquake, and near Greenland and West Antarctica due to land signal leakage, can also corrupt the ocean trend estimates. Based on our analyses, formal errors may not capture the true uncertainty in either regional or global ocean mass trends derived from GRACE.

So the controversy is… what exactly? That is a cool warty globe though.

Comment of the week

Comment of the week: Anthony Watts thinks a goofy comment about the vileness of “academia” is worth making special note of. Note the incorrect punctuation and embrace of stereotype when Alexander Feht says:

I completely understand, why Christopher Monckton felt a need to make an example of a typical reprehensible representative of modern Academia.

So Watts Up With That is now officially anti-academic? An odd perspective for a “science” website.

Funny though, it’s Monckton’s response to Prof. Abraham’s analysis that is full of arm-waving bluster.

Condensed Monckton

Condensed Monckton: Anthony Watts takes a break from managing Steven McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog to help fellow denialists support “Lord” Monckton’s call for e-mail harassment of Prof. John Abraham of St. Thomas University (which Monckton calls a “half-assed Catholic Bible college”). Condensed in the sense of “no need to think, just click on the handy e-mail links and start ranting!”

So what’s triggered this? Prof. Abraham released a devastating analysis of Monckton’s intentionally misleading arguments against Global Warming. Monckton’s wounded ego has led to a two-pronged response:

  1. A call for denialists to pester St. Thomas University to remove Prof. Abraham’s analysis. So ironic! I thought denialists were in a state of constant lividity over perceived suppression of their arguments and ‘ground-breaking research’…
  2. Releasing a ‘response’ that consists of 84 pages and 466 idiotic questions (5 mb PDF) on that scientific clearinghouse the denialist Science and Public Policy Institute. Yes, 466 of them. Monckton’s massive rant is getting plenty of hilarious dissection. Here are a few:

The University of St. Thomas’ final response to Monckton, after a short e-mail exchange?

We received your email response to our June 25, 2010 letter. The University of St Thomas respects your right to disagree with Professor Abraham, just as the University respects Professor Abraham’s right to disagree with you. What we object to are your personal attacks against Father Dease, and Professor Abraham, your inflammatory language, and your decision to disparage Professor Abraham, Father Dease and The University of St Thomas.

Please be advised that neither we nor the University of St Thomas will communicate with you any further about your decision to sully the University of St. Thomas, Professor Abraham, and others rather than to focus on the scholarly differences between you and Professor Abraham.

Signed: Phyllis Karasov, Moore Costellow and Hart, P.L.L.P.

Denialists are actually casting this as proof that Monckton’s “rebuttal” has won the day!

Anthony; you’re out of your scientific depth (think playground splash pad) and you’re tying yourself to a boat anchor…

Then and now, Europe, US to see snowy, cold winters: expert

Then and now, Europe, US to see snowy, cold winters: expert“. Charles Rotter thinks that Dr. James Overland re-evaluating predictions in a story on physorg.com means that he’s just making it up as he goes along. So Charles does some making it up of his own with some pretend quotes.

Who said this? Not Dr. Overland.

We used to think that a warming Arctic with melting ice would be part of a warming trend, but instead, we got a lot of snow and cold weather, so the warming Arctic kinda messed with all those, you know, patterns and stuff like that we expected like.

But is the Arctic warming? Yes. Don’t give up the day job, Charles.

Lessons from the Gulf blowout

Lessons from the Gulf blowout“. Anthony Watts posts an article by right-wing pundit Paul Driessen (from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise). What can he teach us about the Deepwater Horizon blowout?

  • The oil company workers were “heroic”.
  • There is “cause for optimism” about the oil spill.
  • “We still need to drill” offshore.

Thanks Paul! Glad that’s cleared up. Lesson learned, back to work everyone!

Spencer: strong negative feedback found in radiation budget

Spencer: strong negative feedback found in radiation budget“. Sometimes denialists proclaim that there is NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT, sometimes they admit that it is REAL BUT SMALL. Dr. Roy Spencer takes the latter approach here. He’s been “slicing and dicing the [Earth’s radiation budget data] different ways” trying to find a value of CO2 sensitivity that lets him claim the climate impact is small. Guess what? He found one.

Dr. Spencer's usual blob of data without chronological context.

Spencer does it “without going into the detailed justification” by:

  • Ignoring data from polar areas, where most of the climate change has occurred.
  • Comparing global radiation data to ocean temperatures.
  • Pretending that 7 years of satellite data is a sufficient time span for climate analysis (try 30 years).
  • Restricting his plot to just month-to-month variation.
  • Using only monthly temperature changes that were greater than 0.03°C.
  • Ignoring decades of independent empirical studies that conclude that climate sensitivity must be somewhere between 2.3 to 4.1°C.
  • Sweeping away the 0.6°C warming over last 100 years as natural (therefore a similar estimated rise for this century must also be natural).
  • Ignoring the reality check that ice ages are impossible if CO2 sensitivity is as low as he declares.

What does Dr. Spencer end up with? I mean besides the WUWT comments declaring him a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize. He ends up with an artificial statistical correlation with no physical explanation to support it.

Pielke Sr. on Revkin’s question

Pielke Sr. on Revkin’s question“. In spite of abundant evidence to the contrary, Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. is more convinced than ever that NO! is his answer to a question posed in 2005 by journalist Andy Revkin: “Is most of the observed warming over the last 50 years likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations?”

He now says that Dr. Spencer’s assertion that it’s all because of a reduction in cloud cover, in a somehow on-going 50 year pattern, explains it. Especially since he still thinks the “missing heat” statement by Kevin Trenberth last month was an admission that the heat “wasn’t there” rather than that it can’t be identified by current instrumentation.

Dr. Pielke backs his assertion with a collection of references to debunked denialist fellow-travelers and right-wing “conferences”. Confirmation bias in three, two, one, now.

[Note: In the comments Dr. Pielke thanks the WUWT readers for editorial corrections. My god, sloppy typing as well as sloppy thinking!]

Singer on Climategate Parliamentary Inquiry

Singer's denialist project.

Singer on Climategate Parliamentary Inquiry“. I love it when Anthony Watts quotes Fred Singer. Trained as an electrical engineer, this guy has spent the last thirty years collecting contrarian, anti-regulation causes. CFC’s and UV damage, DDT risks, second-hand smoke, etc, etc. He’s associated with fourteen different anti-regulation “foundations”, he was behind the debunked Leipzig Declaration, and he or his organizations receive significant financing from oil interests and far-right ‘libertarian’ benefactors. When Fred opens his mouth you know that nothing but beautifully constructed bullshit will flow out. He loves the sound of his own voice.

This post is an ‘editorial’ titled “ClimateGate Whitewash” tries to inject some energy into the denialist chant about the British House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee’s ‘Climategate’ Inquiry. The Inquiry was pretty conclusive that the fabricated accusations against Dr. Phil Jones and the Climate Research Unit were groundless. This leaves the denialists with only the tactic of waving their hands wildly and talking loudly about things that the Inquiry didn’t talk about because they weren’t relevant. A pretty low-percentage play if your audience is paying attention.

Singer flails away enthusiastically and completely without evidence:

Only a thorough scientific investigation will be able to document that there was no strong warming after 1979, that the instrumented warming record is based on data manipulation, involving the selection of certain weather stations, [and the de-selection of others that showed no warming], plus applying insufficient corrections for local heating.

Thirty years and he still hasn’t proven a thing.

Spiegel does 8 part series on current state of climate research

Spiegel does 8 part series on current state of climate research“. Anthony Watts tells us about this Spiegel Online article series that ” features Steve McIntyre prominently, and [is] well worth the read.”

The series starts with an already out-dated credulous rehash of the Climategate “scandal”. I guess it is a “worth the read” if you want to return to the time when wishful thinking could allow denialists to think that Climategate was merely a baseless political attack and not a completely rejected baseless political attack.

The remaining articles are a weakly argued denialist gruel of innuendo and mischaracterization (“alarmists” and the “levelheaded”) that heavily and uncritically quotes denialist pundits and “researchers”. Entertaining perhaps, but neither accurate nor insightful. Too bad.

Energy Star-t Your Engines

Energy Star-t Your Engines“. Anthony Watts reports that the US Energy Star certification process can be manipulated! There is “massive fraud in the EPA/DOE Energy Star Program“! The New York Times says so!

Actually no, just Anthony says so. In fact, Congressional investigators found that they could apply for Energy Star certifications for 15 fictitious devices (5 others were rejected), but have no evidence that widespread misrepresentation has occurred. See the difference?

This of course means that there is no global warming. And if there is, its hopeless trying to do anything about it so lets oppose oppressive governmental regulation.