Booker, North, and Willis on the IPCC Amazongate affair

In the news this week, lots of agitation over some questionable science from an NGO wrongly cited by the IPCC, and a newspaper that caved to pressure.

The two journalists who originally broke the story “Amazongate”, Booker and North, were covered on WUWT last January. See links here and here. Now with new developments and a retraction by The Sunday Times, the controversy erupts anew.

Richard North writes on his EU Referendum blog:

Booker has taken on board the “Amazongate” developments in this week’s column. Interestingly, rather than me, it was Booker who suggested “going big” on the issue this week, his motivation in part being the intervention by George Monbiot, who has been his usual charmless self, parading the ugly face of warmism in all its triumphant ghastliness.

It is indeed getting ugly these days. It will likely get uglier as November elections in the USA approach. There’s a sense of panic afoot as some people know their window of opportunity is closing. Copenhagen failed, Cap and Trade in the US looks to be failed, Australia’s ETS is put on hold, and many other political objectives that are the result of an oversold set of actions are also unraveling.

Yes, the panic driven ugliness will get worse before it gets better.

The warmist community has gone into serious overdrive this week following the apology and correction in last week’s Sunday Times over its reporting last January of the IPCC scandal known as Amazongate.

The reason for all this? WWF, (World Wildlife Fund) which all you need to know. WWF is not peer reviewed science, it’s a billion dollar business with an agenda. When that business and it’s opinionated agenda driven output gets used in place of peer reviewed science, then all hope is lost for the integrity of science everywhere.

Let me remind everyone of the  WWF sponsored report that led to the major 2035 glacier melt blunder by the IPCC. Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon was the original finder of the error.

I covered the fallout here.

Last Friday, the WWF website posted a humiliating statement recognising the claim as ‘unsound’, and saying it ‘regrets any confusion caused’.

Dr Lal said: ‘We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was “grey literature” [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal]. But it was never picked up by any of the authors in our working group, nor by any of the more than 500 external reviewers, by the governments to which it was sent, or by the final IPCC review editors.’

In fact, the 2035 melting date seems to have been plucked from thin air.

The WWF, in my view, is a poison pill for science. They should be avoided for any references in peer reviewed papers and in journalism.

In addition to the EuReferendum and Christopher Bookers column, we also have a fresh analysis by Willis Eschenbach on WUWT also well worth reading. This graph he produced sums up the entire issue succinctly: there’s no trend.

Booker at the Telegraph needs support now, more than ever before, please visit and comment on his article.

UPDATE: Shub Niggurath suggests that no peer reviewed science references existed in first and second order IPCC drafts:

More importantly, contrary to what many have suggested, it does not seem, that a statement was formulated assessing all available literature at the time. The sentence in question remained virtually unchanged through the drafts (except for the ‘drastic’ addition), it referred to the same WWF report through three different versions.

Well worth a visit to his site – Anthony

as you may well be aware, the warmist fraternity has gone into serious overdrive this week following the abject apology and ‘correction’ in last week’s the Sunday Times over its reporting last January of the IPCC scandal known as Amazongate.
Just why the Sunday Times caved in like this when there is not a shred of evidence for their claim that the IPCC’s scare story about the impact of climate change on the Amazon rainforest was supported by peer-reviewed science remains a mystery, But in light of the general chorus of crowing from the AGW lobby over what they view as a historic victory,  I decided to devote most of my column this week (with the aid of my colleague Dr Richard North, who originally uncovered the Amazongate scanda) to a detailed resume of the story, indicating in the nicest possible way that the Sunday Times’ hasn’t got a leg to stand on.
This has become such an important issue in the great propaganda battle that I hope some of your readers would be interested to read the background to this extremely murky story.
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108 thoughts on “Booker, North, and Willis on the IPCC Amazongate affair

  1. Is there any truth to the fact that the WWF stands to gain billions of dollars if carbon credits are traded?

    If it is, talk about your conflict of interest.

  2. The text of the Sunday Times apology:

    “The article “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” (News, Jan 31) stated that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had included an “unsubstantiated claim” that up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall. The IPCC had referenced the claim to a report prepared for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) by Andrew Rowell and Peter Moore, whom the article described as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise.” The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the impact of human activity rather than climate change.

    In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change. We also understand and accept that Mr Rowell is an experienced environmental journalist and that Dr Moore is an expert in forest management, and apologise for any suggestion to the contrary.

    The article also quoted criticism of the IPCC’s use of the WWF report by Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and leading specialist in tropical forest ecology. We accept that, in his quoted remarks, Dr Lewis was making the general point that both the IPCC and WWF should have cited the appropriate peer-reviewed scientific research literature. As he made clear to us at the time, including by sending us some of the research literature, Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports’ statements on the potential vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest to droughts caused by climate change.

    In addition, the article stated that Dr Lewis’ concern at the IPCC’s use of reports by environmental campaign groups related to the prospect of those reports being biased in their conclusions. We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view – rather, he was concerned that the use of non-peer-reviewed sources risks creating the perception of bias and unnecessary controversy, which is unhelpful in advancing the public’s understanding of the science of climate change. A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this. “


  3. Last Friday, the WWF website posted a humiliating statement recognising the claim as ‘unsound’, and saying it ‘regrets any confusion caused’.

    Dr Lal said: ‘We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was “grey literature” [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal]. But it was never picked up by any of the authors in our working group, nor by any of the more than 500 external reviewers, by the governments to which it was sent, or by the final IPCC review editors.’

    In fact, the 2035 melting date seems to have been plucked from thin air.

    Sure, no one was really paying any attention at that time, this Global Warming seemed but a normal UN joke as many other jokes coming over and over again during the trailing three decades of the 20th century, but now, most of the entire world is tuned in, oh yes, with megaphones to their ears and magnifying glasses in hand!

    United Nations & World Wildlife Fund et al., you will never be able to hide and deceive from anonymity again.

  4. the source of the 40% claim is Nepstad.

    and he has confirmed repeatedly, that the 40% claim is correct.

    http://www.whrc.org/resources/essays/pdf/2010-02-Nepstad_Amazon.pdf

    In sum, the IPCC statement on the Amazon was correct. The report that is cited in support of the IPCC statement (Rowell and Moore 2000) omitted some citations in support of the 40% value statement.

    the error was a tiny one. (quoting the WWF article, instead of the real source, and getting sources wrong)

    the term “……gate” is completely out of touch with reality.

    the Leaky article was demolished by the retraction.

  5. You know, whenever I run into the religiously inclined environmentalists, I tell them to try their arguments on these threads… I never see an attempt… Now I see why…
    When it comes to ‘Evil Bush’ and ‘Evil Oil’, one mention of the Jones Act and Dutch attempts at assistance pretty much shuts them up… The Obassiah is too sacred for the goals of the religiously inclined environmentalists to allow others to know how bad for the environment their savior has turned out to be.

    Stay cool…

  6. I’m a pessimist.

    I don’t think “the panic driven ugliness will get worse before it gets better”, I think it will get worse before it gets even more worse.

    At this point, there is far too much money at stake, there are far too many people aboard the AGW boat, and scientists/governments have taken this issue way too far to make an about face.

    AGW policies will go forward as planned… with skeptics kicking and screaming whilst they’re being dragged down the yellow brick road.

    Where oh where is George Carlin when you need him ?

  7. “sod says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm
    the source of the 40% claim is Nepstad.

    and he has confirmed repeatedly, that the 40% claim is correct.
    […]
    the error was a tiny one. (quoting the WWF article, instead of the real source, and getting sources wrong)

    The Nepstad who is paid for by the WWF? And whose “study” is translated and distributed worldwide by the WWF? Here’s a german version. Looks glossy.

    http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wwf.de%2Ffileadmin%2Ffm-wwf%2Fpdf_neu%2FTeufelskreis_am_Amazonas_-_Klimawandel_und_Waelder.pdf&rct=j&q=nepstad+wwf&ei=ab8nTMvULouaOOKV9NoC&usg=AFQjCNEV93ucRAaYk-0DR85vnH2oE5-5uw

  8. sod, you need to learn to read. Nepstad is talking about soil moisture and susceptibility to fire damage, not about susceptibility to climate change. Are you often this whack?
    ===========

  9. About the Nepstad report – it’s not a study, it’s a report FOR the WWF – i found the following statement on a swiss website calling itself “living naturally”:
    “Daniel Nepstad hat im Auftrag des WWF einen ausführlichen Bericht zur Lage des Regenwaldes am Amazonas verfasst. Dieser kann auf der Webseite des WWF heruntergeladen werden. ”
    Engl.(Google):”Daniel Nepstad has written on behalf of WWF, a detailed report on the situation in the Amazon rain forest. This can be downloaded from the website of the WWF.”
    Source:

    http://www.natuerlich-leben.ch/nc/magazin/einzelansicht/artikel/01/08/2008/regenwald-teufelskreis-abholzung/

    So there seem to be some connections between Nepstad and the WWF.

  10. “kim says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm
    sod, you need to learn to read. Nepstad is talking about soil moisture and susceptibility to fire damage, not about susceptibility to climate change. Are you often this whack?

    Read the report i linked to. Nepstad is not alarmist; he’s apocalyptic. I guess you have to be when your customer is the WWF.

  11. Anthony:

    > In the news this week, lots of agitation over some questionable science from an NGO wrongly cited by the IPCC, and a newspaper that caved to pressure.

    Who conducted the “questionable” science? Your wording seems to imply the NGO, but this is not the case.

    Why is the science “questionable”? The Sunday Times retraction accepts that it wasn’t.

    How do you know they “caved to pressure”? Do you have some inside knowledge? Why this spin? Why the desire to dismiss the possibility that a correction may in fact be more true and representative than the original story?

    Why the focus on Booker and North, when it was Jonathan Leake’s coverage specifically at issue?

    Why the switch to the completely separate glacier issue?

    Is this:

    > WWF, (World Wildlife Fund) which all you need to know.

    Not a textbook Ad Hominem?

  12. John Q – WWF potentially have a stake in a $60 billion pot from the REDD scheme, which involved monetizing the rainforests, using them to generate carbon credits. Nepstad is up to his armpits in it and Woods Hole Research Center and WWF are financial partners.

    The Amazon and climate change has become one huge money-making scam, with Nepstad at the center of events. Yet the only support the WWF can get for the 40 percent figure is to have Nepstad “confirm” that it is correct. That is an interesting development in science – a figure is correct because an advocate with a financial stake in the outcome says it is!

  13. kim
    Answer: always. Go and have a look at Lucia’s Blackboard, where sod is an ill-mannered exception to the civilised, though animated discussions that go on between people of very different viewpoints.

  14. Northern Exposure : I’m a pessimist.

    I don’t think “the panic driven ugliness will get worse before it gets better”, I think it will get worse before it gets even more worse.

    I generally agree – but the recent row-backs in Australia and Spain seem heartening. Of course, Monbiot’s ugliness can only get worse as anno domini proceeds!

  15. parading the ugly face of warmism in all its triumphant ghastliness

    What happens when the baby seal of truth is clubbed in plain sight.

  16. Northern Exposure says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    >I don’t think “the panic driven ugliness will get worse before it gets better”, I think it will get worse before it gets even more worse.

    It will get much worse, they are only getting warmed up. The only thing that will show a glimmer of hope is crashing world temperature.

  17. lol, I feel like a group hug is order. Very nice, A.

    Ammonite, thanks, that’s very helpful. On this site alone, it has been linked and quoted on almost every thread posted, at least the ones I’ve read. The story isn’t about the WWF study being correct, it is about mis-quoting a person.

    Anyone giving any credence to that sophomoric assertion about 40% whatever if something improbable happens has lost their ability to think for themselves. Who said the Amazon jungle was going to quit having rainfall? How did they come to that conclusion. Until someone explains that, all of this is just idiocy. We can say if the sun stops shining, then…… or if suddenly the moon loses its gravitational pull then….. if frogs has a glass a##, then they wouldn’t jump so high, but they don’t.

  18. norther exposure is correct..they will not listen..to many back-scratching deals already made..i know i live in mass. were i contact the left the response always is thank you for your concern….BUT THIS IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO….even if the dems loose big time in nov. they WILL push through all they planned???

  19. Sod
    Please re-read the Nepstad letter.

    He does *not* offer a citation for the 40% claim.

    “The authors of this report interviewed several researchers, including the author of this note, and had originally cited the IPAM website where the statement was made that 30 to 40% of the forests of the Amazon were susceptible to small changes in rainfall”

    Look down in his references and what do you see ? Nothing.

    There is apparently a secret IPAM document called “Fogo na Amazônia” or Fire in the Amazon. It is so secret, no one seems to be able to find it.

  20. Ammonite says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm
    The text of the Sunday Times apology:
    ………”We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view – rather, he was concerned that the use of non-peer-reviewed sources risks creating the perception of bias and unnecessary controversy, which is unhelpful in advancing the public’s understanding of the science of climate change.”………………
    ===============
    IMO, it would be “helpful” if the science of climate change was better understood, before it was “advanced” upon the public.

  21. Kim:

    sod, you need to learn to read. Nepstad is talking about soil moisture and susceptibility to fire damage, not about susceptibility to climate change. Are you often this whack?

    Unfortunately, yes.

  22. This Nepstad article is a load of crap.
    I couldn’t read more than 4 or 5 pages.
    Who takes that serious?

  23. They were writing in response to a slightly different challenge, however in this document

    http://ftp.whrc.org/assets/scientists_amazon_response.pdf

    18 active researchers into tropical rainforests assert that the IPCC statement is scientifically accurate and present the peer-reviewed references to support it. The now-vindicated Simon Lewis is one of the authors. They write:

    “The (IPCC) statement is not as carefully worded as it should be, and incorrectly referenced, but basically scientifically correct and defensible with recourse to the peer-reviewed literature available at the time. Rainforest persists above a threshold of rainfall, below which one finds savanna. If this threshold is crossed a landscape dominated by rainforest can ‘flip’ to savanna. Therefore a ’slight’ reduction can lead to a ‘dramatic’ reaction. Of course, evidence of a shift to a new lower rainfall climate regime is needed, and evidence of large areas of forest close to that rainfall threshold would be required for the IPCC statement to be reasonable; there is ample published evidence for both.”

    Now one could present oneself as better-informed than these guys, one could thrash around debating the point that nowhere in the literature is the exact phrase ‘up to 40%’ deployed. One would then look exceedingly foolish. Assessment Reports are like that, they are an assessment of the state of the science, which sometimes is nuanced, complex and unamenable to trite summarisation. The IPCC, amazingly, accurately conveyed the state of understanding in the thousands of pages it published. Obsessing about one instance where they got the science right – according to the actual scientists – but were a little sloppy in their referencing makes one look, well, obssessive.

  24. Floresta em Chamas: Origens, Impactos e Prevenção do Fogo na Amazônia
    Este livro apresenta uma análise do fogo na Amazônia com a finalidade de identificar os meios pelos quais seus efeitos negativos podem ser reduzidos.

    Burning Forest: Origins, Impact and Prevention of Fire on the Amazon
    This book presents an analysis of fire in the Amazon in order to identify the means by which negative effects may be reduced.

    ALENCAR, ANE; MOREIRA, ADRIANA; NEPSTAD, DANIEL. Floresta em Chamas: Origens, Impactos e Prevenção do Fogo na Amazônia. Brasília/DF. 2005.

    http://www.ipam.org.br/biblioteca/livro/Floresta-em-Chamas-Origens-Impactos-e-Prevencao-do-Fogo-na-Amazonia/334

  25. “sod says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm
    the source of the 40% claim is Nepstad.
    […]
    the term “……gate” is completely out of touch with reality.”

    Ok, i’m slowly coming to grips with the report, the study and how the IPCC and/or the WWF mixed them up. “sod” is right: the term “……gate” is completely out of touch with reality. The term that is appropriate is “stinking pile of sh!t”.

  26. sod, let’s hear more about Hepstad. Suddenly, I want the whole world to know all about your wonderful Hepstad.
    ============

  27. Kim,

    Out of soil moisture, and susceptibility to fire, which do you suppose would NOT change as climate changes? Just curious.

    And it’s Nepstad http://www.terrestrialcarbon.org/Who_we_are/Daniel_Nepstad.aspx


    He has published more than 75 scientific papers and several books on the Amazon. His received his doctorate in forest ecology from Yale University and in 1994 was named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment.”

  28. Phil Clarke said:

    The IPCC, amazingly, accurately conveyed the state of understanding in the thousands of pages it published. Obsessing about one instance where they got the science right – according to the actual scientists – but were a little sloppy in their referencing makes one look, well, obssessive.

    It seems you have a weird definition of science. It looks like money driven drivel to me, much like the WWF stuff.

    (I am currently at the tail end of a trip to China, Hong Kong and Thailand. The truth, in terms of vegetation, and thus life, is out there, not in any IPCC reports, and it is lush.)

  29. @Chuckles,

    I wish you hadn’t posted that Salon link! I read the article and then some of the comments following and felt my blood pressure steadily rising. Not only does the article conflate “amazongate” with “climategate”, but everyone on board appears to think a complete exoneration of both has occurred and no further examination is required – cue lots of choice words written about “evil deniers”.

    Is communication even possible at this point?

  30. So the IPCC can claim 40% of the Amazon rainforest is susceptible to “sudden transformation” based on a lack of rainfall …

    but can’t say how much of the rainfall is at risk (none – according tot he past graph of rainfall vs time and temperature) …

    and they can’t say what percent of the rainforest is in that “boundary” region where it C’puld” transform

    and they can’t say what the criteria is for sudden transformation, or how to even defeine what must actually occur for that transformation,

    and can’t cite ANY places where even 2% of a region has suddenly transformed by such a change (granted – man-caused change has occurred – but NOT from natural temperature changes) …

    But the Times issues such an apology and retraction based on … what? Unsubstantiated un-referenced statements from a group of fanatic ideologues dedicated to the world’s economic destruction. But, no, the Times wasn’t subjected to pressure or bad reporting was it?

  31. Also, just noticed a comment, by ‘catweazle’ on Booker’s piece over at the Telegraph, well worth repeating:

    “Curious how much store the Greenies set by the opinion of the Murdoch press all of a sudden…. “

    Indeed. Suddenly black is white and night is day because Team Murdoch suddenly appears to be “onside”.

  32. In practice, peer review does little more than enforce orthodoxy and the reigning paradigm. The Climategate emails clearly demonstrate that the idealistic assumption that it advances scientific understanding (in climate research, anyway) has been compromised. Without full disclosure about the biases of peer reviewers why should any research be trusted on the mere claim that it has been peer-reviewed. Until the guardians themselves are guarded we must be more careful about accepting any research findings.

  33. “Now one could present oneself as better-informed than these guys, one could thrash around debating the point that nowhere in the literature is the exact phrase ‘up to 40%’ deployed. One would then look exceedingly foolish. Assessment Reports are like that, they are an assessment of the state of the science, which sometimes is nuanced, complex and unamenable to trite summarisation.”

    I agree with you Phil.

    But,…but there are some problems. Please examine them with an open mind.

    Firstly, these guys came up with the press release, after the fact that errors were pointed out in the report. Secondly, these guys are not the IPCC. It could be a well-formulated opinion, but it is that of a single group.

    Isn’t that why we have the IPCC WG2 pronouncing on these matters – to represent a spectrum of well-evaluated research, which is peer-reviewed and vetted by national governments?

    Thirdly, and most importantly, there is evidence to suggest that a nuanced, complex assessment was *not* performed. Rather the evidence available, suggests that, from the get-go a crude copy-paste of sorts was performed to create the contentious statement, and somewhat baselessly altered to an even cruder statement at the stage of revision.

    And lastly, painting a simplistic picture that the Amazon system is exquisitely sensitive to precipitation levels alone acting as the primary driver – that is misleading. The Nepstad papers speak to this better than anything else. If the experts want us to believe in this, it is they who are losing the nuance.

  34. Its should be noted that the Amazon reduces in size during colder periods, eg Ice Ages, not warmer periods. Its also completely natural, and species have adapted to it over the last 2 million years. Extinction rates are slow in the Amazon partly for that reason.

  35. Phil Clarke says, June 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm:

    Rainforest persists above a threshold of rainfall, below which one finds savanna. If this threshold is crossed a landscape dominated by rainforest can ‘flip’ to savanna. Therefore a ’slight’ reduction can lead to a ‘dramatic’ reaction.

    That is pure and simple an incorrect, scientifically invalid statement. This is not “one instance where they got the science right” because they got the science wrong.

    It’s a testable hypothesis. They posit a rainfall threshold above which lies rainforest and below which lies savanna. However, one can easily point out cases where savanna exists above the hypothetical threshold adjacent to and intermixed with rainforest. It turns out that neither “savanna” nor “rainforest” are well defined, but they both can be found in the same locales. So the hypothetical threshold does not exist. Furthermore, it is human influences, not climate, that create savannas in the first place.

    Now if they posited a rainforest/desert dicotomy, maybe the hypothesis would hold up. But they didn’t and it doesn’t.

  36. At the risk of going from worse to worser, I’m holding out hope, ( I can assure you its a 40% chance) that the Europeans will blanch at what they have undertaken with green power/ carbon caps. A groundswell of practicality will cover the continent, choking off the extreme green movement.
    Basically it has to. Without reform Europe will dissolve. That alone would normally be enough to change peoples minds, regrettably there is a percentage that desires that outcome. That clan exists here in the USA too.

  37. John Q Public June 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm:
    Is there any truth to the fact that the WWF stands to gain billions of dollars if carbon credits are traded?

    WWF’s interest in the Amazon was alluded to in the article, with a link which went to http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/20/north-and-booker-on-amazongate-a-billion-dollar-cash-cow/

    The original information is found in Christopher Booker’s column at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7488629/WWF-hopes-to-find-60-billion-growing-on-trees.html

    WWF controls vast acreage in the Amazon, and by promising not to harvest it, is granted carbon credits (by protecting a carbon sink). These credits can then be sold to productive enterprises to offset their CO2 emissions. At a valuation of $12.50 per ton (tonne?) of CO2, Booker arrives at a putative value of $60 billion. (Current price is $.10 per tonne, or roughly a hundred times less.)

    I don’t think this (the carbon credit) bears directly on the reliability of the Amazon climate sensitivity claims, though. It does speak to the fact that WWF are not an impartial party, though; they stand to gain financially if cap-and-trade becomes accepted, as that would increase the demand for carbon credits and hence its price.

  38. @ Phil Clarke
    “…Obsessing about one instance where they got the science right – …”

    Phil, in what manner, or, how did you decide “they” got the science right? Now we can read all of the literature for ourselves: The IPCC report, the WWF psuedo-science, or the science? study done by many. As you aptly pointed out, we could obsess about the 40%, but why bother. As I see it, (and I could be wrong because the actual statement these 3 bodies seem to make is very convoluted,)the statement is in essence, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘Climate change may cause a slight decrease in rainfall in the Amazon and if that happens, a large portion of the Amazon jungle will cease to exist.’ Someone correct me if I’m wrong about the assertion.

    Firstly, as is pointed out often in many places, the climate is always in a state of flux or change, so, yes, I’d have to agree. A change in the amount of rainfall would indeed effect a land mass and all of the flora and fauna in it. It always does. That part is sophistry.

    Secondly, how much is “slight”? Let’s look at the graph at the top of the page. From the lowest value to the highest, it looks to me close to 700mm/yr difference. I’ve seen places where authors have correctly attributed the decrease of the size of the Amazon jungle as man caused. But, nowhere is the decrease in size attributed to decrease in rainfall, mainly because it hasn’t decreased. Still, from the high to the low, would be approx. 20%-25% swing in the rainfall. It didn’t kill it then, so maybe slight means greater than 25% but that’s an incredible stretch.

    Thirdly, who in their right mind believes that a warmer planet(right, I know climate change, but that’s code for global warming) would cause the Amazon less rainfall? That part is sheer lunacy or a brazen taunt to the world assuming they can make any assertion and parade a scientist of some sorts and call it a fact, or an assessment, if you will. A warmer earth means less ice. Less ice, in turn, means more H2O in liquid or gaseous form, which, further, means more rain. Of course, that’s more rain globally but Gaia would probably be mad and make it not rain on the Amazon.

    Personally, I don’t care if it was a collaborative work between the IPCC, the WWF, and that group of pinheads or not. They can peer-review that tripe until the cows come home. In this case, peer-review isn’t a synonym for validation. It is a condemnation of the peers’ ability to have a cognitive thought.

    Again, personally, my thoughts are this was all done with a wink and a nod for the sole purpose of adding more hysteria into the IPCC report, just as Stephen Schneider suggested. Just because a newspaper misquoted a “scientist” doesn’t mean any of the assertions are correct. This particular assertion should be questioned and questioned again.

  39. wayne says: June 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    “Last Friday, the WWF website posted a humiliating statement recognising the claim as ‘unsound’, and saying it ‘regrets any confusion caused’.”

    The regret is likely that it was uncovered. No one was supposed to be confused, all were to have believed it. It does not look like an accident.


    “The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

    Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245636/Glacier-scientists-says-knew-data-verified.html#ixzz0dUoPiTkG


    Dr Murari Lal
    From the WWF web site:
    Climate Witness Science Advisory Panel (SAP)

    Prof. Dr Murari Lal, specialises in global and regional climate variability, scenario development, regional environmental change, sectoral vulnerability assessment (water, biodiversity and agriculture), landscape ecology, biophysical remote sensing – GIS applications, ecosystem modeling, regional adaptation & mitigation potential, water resource management; Environment and Carbon Trading Group Halcrow Consulting India Ltd., India

    http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/people_at_risk/personal_stories/about_cw/cwscientists/

    About Prof. Murari Lal
    Lead or Co-ordinating Author on several chapters of IPCC Assessment Reports

    http://4dweb.proclim.ch/4dcgi/proclim/en/Detail_Person?lalm.newdelhi


    About Halcrow Consulting:

    “Environment and Carbon Trading Group Halcrow Consulting India Ltd., India”

    http://www.halcrow.com/html/documents/pdf/india/halcrow_india_environment_brochure.pdf

    Carbon Trading is part of the Environment Division, now that is a surprise.

    From the CRU website we see the WWF funds the CRU. I wonder where a charity gets the money to fund climate research?

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/

    The WWF funds the CRU
    Murari Lal->WWF->CRU
    Murari Lal-> Halcrow Consulting->Carbon Trading

    How about we skip the middle man:

    Carbon Trading-> Halcrow Consulting-> WWF->CRU->IPCC

    And simplify.
    Carbon Trading->WWF->CRU->IPCC
    Carbon Trading->CRU->IPCC
    Carbon Trading->IPCC

    Carbon Trading->IPCC->Carbon Trading

    Does that look like a mistake to you?

    An employee of a Carbon Trading department, working for the World Wildlife Fund, submitting bogus content to the IPCC, just to scare people into implementing Carbon Trading.

    It does not look like a mistake to me.

  40. “Rainforest persists above a threshold of rainfall, below which one finds savanna. If this threshold is crossed a landscape dominated by rainforest can ‘flip’ to savanna. Therefore a ’slight’ reduction can lead to a ‘dramatic’ reaction. Of course, evidence of a shift to a new lower rainfall climate regime is needed, and evidence of large areas of forest close to that rainfall threshold would be required for the IPCC statement to be reasonable; there is ample published evidence for both.” More evasions and mis-statements. “Can” this and “can” that and that last bit is particularly cute: published evidence = published work that may or may not be evidence, but none of you who oppose us have the time or interest to read through this entire citation list and read each paper and determine which, if any, might actually be something resembling “evidence”. There must be billions of dollars involved in this one as they seem to have brought out the big boys to defend. Well, it won’t matter, as the U.S. Congress will pass the Democrat’s “Cap and Trade” legislation after a marathon session at 0200 hours some Saturday or Sunday morning and we’ll all be deeper in it than we are now. None of this fussing will matter.

  41. Phil Clarke
    Of your eighteen supporters six were either members of the WHRC or an NGO Nepstad co-founded. What is more interesting is that recognized Amazon scholars such as Mahli, Marengo, Cox, Betts, Huntingford etc etc offered no support. I agree that Nepstad is well qualified to comment on the science but his motives in this instance are political not scientific. The IPCC was in error over the Amazon and their attempts to cover up rather admit the mistake and move on is a says much about the political nature of the IPCC.
    Sod
    You really are a consensus junkie, appeals to authority add nothing to the debate, but that’s not news is it.

  42. Of your eighteen supporters six were either members of the WHRC or an NGO Nepstad co-founded.

    Weak ad hominem argument. Unconvincing. a signature on a letter tells us a lot about someone’s views. The absence of a signature tells us almost nothing.

    Phil, in what manner, or, how did you decide “they” got the science right?

    I read the cited papers.

    Mike D. – Interesting hypothesis. A single supporting reference would be even more interesting.

    Fact is, it is demonstrably true that the IPCC claim, while sloppily referenced, is 100% supported by the literature.

  43. “A small reduction in rainfall could result in a 40 percent reduction in the rainforrest” is not supported by the literature. If it is, Phil, paste a couple of quotes. The operative word here is “small” and subject to large interpretation.

  44. Phil Clarke
    You should read Huntingford 2003 and Cox 2004 whee they detail the many uncertainties associated with the die back theory. Cox admits that the theory is controversial. Of 19GCMs the HAD3 is an orphan in predicting substantial die back as it underestimates current rainfall by 20%. To make matters worse they also overlay the TRIFFOD vegetation which hypothesizes an additional 30% reduction in rainfall. The problem is that recent studies show that biomass response to additional sunlight and elevated C02 levels is the opposite to the TRIFFOD scenario. Given that most of the models still underestimate rainfall yet forecast an increase in the 21st century the die back senario is most unlikely. There is general agreement among the models that dry season rainfall will decrease by 24% and while some scientists have suggested that the dry season response will negatively affect overall hydrology it is a difficult stance to support. The area considered to be most at risk is in Eastern Amazonia which has an average rainfall of 2000mm per year. As dry season rainfall is less than 1mm per day the overall effect is negligible.
    As I have said before it is politics not science that drives this issue the and IPCC response makes it difficult to have any faith in most of their statements. They should present all of the science rather than focusing on scary senarios.

  45. Phil Clarke
    Come on, stop quoting press releases to support your view.

    It is not just the 40% figure that’s problem here. It is the ‘entire 40%+drastic change+slight rainfall’ reduction story.

    Please read what the release has to say:

    “…-that Amazonian forests are very susceptible to reductions in rainfall -”

    This type of sentence has not meaning whatsoever. All plants are very susceptible to reduction in the water supply – who doesn’t know that?

    Pointing out that the experts in that press release work for Nepstad is ‘ad-hominem’? Since when did pointing out conflicts of interest become ad-hominem?

  46. Dr. Richard North has just threatened to sue Monbiot and the Guardian unless the libellious parts of the article is withdrawn. The Guardian is likely to delete Dr. North’s letter from the comments page, but here it shall live forever.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/jun/24/sunday-times-amazongate-ipcc?showallcomments=true#CommentKey:5c8ad707-5e71-4137-9aef-88a7d40d6902

    Dear Mr Monbiot

    Following the publication of your post here, I have written to your newspaper by e-mail, expressing my concerns about the piece, and inviting the newspaper to contact me to discuss it informally, to avoid the need to take expensive and (to you) potentially damaging action in order to protect my professional reputation.

    Since your newspaper has not troubled itself to contact me, I am forced to take the step of contacting you and the newspaper more formally, which I am in the process of so doing.

    In the meantime, however, I am writing here as the most direct means of contacting you, to ask you to remove from this post all references to myself, as being libellous and highly damaging – the precise details of which will be passed to your newspaper shortly.

    You may, of course, leave this message visible or remove it, but you may wish to note that the addition of further comments arising as a result of references to me remaining in your post, and which are also of a libellous or denigratory nature, may form part of any subsequent action which I choose to take.

    Commentators who choose to comment on this post may also wish to note that I would be happy to enjoin them in any legal action taken against Mr Monbiot or The Guardian newspaper if they too are of a libellous or denigratory nature. You have been warned.

    Yours sincerely,

    Richard North (Dr)

  47. Phil Clarke, you stated:
    ‘Weak ad hominem argument. Unconvincing. a signature on a letter tells us a lot about someone’s views. ‘
    So statements of fact equate to an ad hominem attack.
    ‘The absence of a signature tells us almost nothing.’
    In respect of Nepstad’s recent claim in a 2007 WWF publication that 55% could Brazilian forests could be destroyed within 20 years without factoring in climate change I would say:
    That an alarmist claim in gray literature tells us almost nothing. In a 2010 working paper Hector Maletta had this to say about the Nepstad claim:

    “These dire predictions (mostly inspired by the Amazon 2005 drought and recent El Niño episodes) emerge not from a global or regional model, but as a possible result of the hypothetical persistence of then-recent events (up to the early 2000s) plus the purely theoretical hypothesis of a ‘tipping point’ to be hypothetically reached if deforestation advances past some unknown percentage of tree cover, thus possibly triggering an ‘abrupt change’ process of unknown duration. The critical percentage of tree cover that would trigger the dieback process, if it exists, is unknown, though hypothesized to be 30%.
    These audacious predictions have little to offer in terms of evidence, and rely on hypothetical processes of abrupt change that are supposed to be triggered and completed within a very short time. Abrupt change dynamics, whereby systems undergo rapid change after passing a critical value of certain variables, do not always mean, however, that the ensuing change is either immediate, rapid, or catastrophic.”
    If Nepstad makes alarming claims on behalf of the WWF outside of the peer review process he can expect criticism.
    Care to offer the science to support his claim? If you find it let me know because I cannot find it and I have searched high and low. Nepstad has produced much good science and I am happy to acknowledge that fact but IMO this claim is blatant advocacy that deserves criticism.

  48. It seems to me Sunday Times was correct in retracting misquotes and distortions attributed to Simon Lewis and offering an apology to him. In doing so, however the ST also said something not directly relevant to Lewis’s complaint. It said, ” In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence.” It is this gratuitous statement, incorrect at many levels, that suddenly got the CAGW cultists up in arms in triumph.

  49. when you find yourself in contradiction to the authors, when performing an interpretation of his work, you will basically always be wrong.

  50. … is not supported by the literature. If it is, Phil, paste a couple of quotes

    Dave, the papers concerned add up to more than 100 pages of evidence, conclusions and discussions from the world’s foremost authorities. This was poorly and ambiguously summarised by the IPCC. So no – there is no ‘money quote’ – a fact which Eschenberg et al rely on – and no substitute for reading the science. You could start here:

    http://eebweb.arizona.edu/faculty/saleska/Ecol596L/Readings/Nepstad.07_Drought.mortality_Ecology.pdf

    where a three-year old period of simulated low rainfall – equivalent to an ENSo event lasting that long – produced ‘precipitous’ tree mortality in year three, but only after a threshold in soil water levels was reached. A tipping point.

    Or Philips et al 2009, discussed here http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305141625.htm

    “Visually, most of the forest appeared little affected, but our records prove tree death rates accelerated. Because the region is so vast, even small ecological effects can scale-up to a large impact on the planet’s carbon cycle,” explained Professor Phillips.” “But in 2005 this process was reversed. Tree death accelerated most where drought was strongest, and locations subject even to mild drying were affected. Because of the study, we now know the precise sensitivity of the Amazon to warming and drought.

    Or grit your teeth and read RC: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/up-is-down-brown-is-green-with-apologies-to-orwell/

  51. AGW, IPCC, WWF, et’al, are NOT “Save The Planet” oriented – this is all about “Make d’Money” & “Change d’World” & “World Socialism for All”. The key word in the title of WWF is F – Fund.

  52. Phil Clarke says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    And it’s Nepstad http://www.terrestrialcarbon.org/Who_we_are/Daniel_Nepstad.aspx


    He has published more than 75 scientific papers and several books on the Amazon. His received his doctorate in forest ecology from Yale University and in 1994 was named a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment.”

    And it seems, a considerable chunk of Nepstad’s scientific work and credibility -at least the most talked about bits- has been reduced to zilch thanks to a couple of fresh observations in the last three years.

    The first, in 2007, claims that contrary to expectations, “drought-stricken regions of the Amazon forest grew particularly vigorously during the 2005 drought”.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070923193644.htm

    However, the most recent study in March 2010 is probably even more accurate. It found that Amazon rain forests were “remarkably unaffected” by the once in a century drought that swept the region in 2005. Some choice quotes:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=43167

    “We found no big differences in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years, which suggests that these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought,” said Arindam Samanta, the study’s lead author from Boston University.

    The IPCC is under scrutiny for various data inaccuracies, including its claim – based on a flawed World Wildlife Fund study — that up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically and be replaced by savannas from even a slight reduction in rainfall.

    “The way that the WWF report calculated this 40% was totally wrong,…”

    Of course, we now know that WWF and affiliated scientists like Nepstad did no such calculations. They just reduced their uneducated guesses, published somewhere sometime, of ‘half the Amazon (or was it Brazilian Amazon) being under threat from a reduction in precipitation’ to something more educated, more precise, persuasive, consistent and ‘conservative’, say, “up to 40%.” Well, it is a number. And numbers make things look more scientific than halves and quarters. And if it is good enough for WWF, then it is good enough for the IPCC, as well.

    There is a lot to be said about the discrepancy between the GCM’s predictions for Amazon forests that was spruiked by Nepstad et al in 1994 and 2004, and the real world observations of the same region made by NASA in 2007 and 2010. But today I wish I could have the answer to these questions:

    Did Nepstad make or feel any obligation to make an apology for how horribly wrong and alarmist he was? What goes through the mind of a scientist who finds out more than half (or ‘up to 40%’) of his scientific life has been spent to produce and propagate falsehoods, now that the same falsehoods has become the topic of conversations again? Any guilt or indignation on Nepstad’s part? What does he have to say now, this Yale educated author of more than 75 papers and two books?

  53. Ian E says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Northern Exposure : I’m a pessimist.

    I generally agree – but the recent row-backs in Australia and Spain seem heartening.

    There’s also poodle-gate.

  54. @ Phil
    Me-“Phil, in what manner, or, how did you decide “they” got the science right?”

    You-“I read the cited papers.”

    Phil, I don’t know if you are willfully being a contrary or you really believe this garbage. I couldn’t help notice your very short reply to my query and totally ignored my paraphrase of their assertion and my points made after the paraphrasing. By your silence, I guess you agree with my interpretation of the assertions. I’ll repeat it for clarification.

    ‘Climate change may cause a slight decrease in rainfall in the Amazon and if that happens, a large portion of the Amazon jungle will cease to exist.’

    Phil, reading your postings here, you seem to be an intelligent fellow. I’m awestruck in how someone as sharp as you appear to be can simply accept flawed logic simply because people making the assertion are supposedly know more than you about the topic. Did you bother asking yourself how they came to the conclusion we could see a decrease in rainfall in the Amazon? Then of course there are the 3 points I made earlier that you either wouldn’t or couldn’t respond to other than “I read the cited papers.” Nice, so did I. I’ll try to make this clear for you. It doesn’t matter whether the IPCC accurately transcribed the WWF’s claim and whether the WWF’s claim accurately reflected the groups paper.(both the WWF and the IPCC twisted the assertions), because all are wrong or to simplistic to even be including in a elementary biology text. That’s the first assertion. “If there is a decrease in rainfall…..” Brilliant! In the plains states of the U.S., if there is a decrease in rainfall for an extended period of time, we, too, run the risk of fires. We should alert the presses! Wait! Don’t we see that in California every year?!? Should it be different in the southern hemisphere? The rest of the assertion is simply clap-trap pulled out of someone’s posterior for which the only purpose is scare the population of the world. As if a decrease in a jungle is somehow catastrophic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the Amazon to loss any of it “territory”, but on a global scale it won’t make one whit of difference in the way we live. Well, except for the alarmism and the subsequent blathering regarding it. You postings here remind me of an ad I used to see often on TV here in the states……..”A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

  55. It doesn’t matter how many time one re-reads a posting before posting the comment, one always finds an error afterwords. “Amazon to loss” should read Amazon to lose.

  56. And just as George Monbiot is reduced to regurgitating a Dirty Harry aphorism (“Go ahead, make my day”, he replied to Richard North), Dr Nepstad makes his entry to CiF. He is adamant that the science that made into the IPCC report is sound and the recent findings by NASA regarding Amazons (discussed above) are in error:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/jun/24/sunday-times-amazongate-ipcc?showallcomments=true#CommentKey:b1e9bc2f-98c4-4ba2-af99-ac405be07817

    George Monbiot’s article (on “Amazongate”) and the Sunday Times decision is an important victory for science and the public good. As the lead scientist on the research that underlies the IPCC statements about the sensitivity of the Amazon forest to reductions in rainfall, and after 25 years studying this question, I can say that the evidence has only grown stronger in support of this statement. I ran an enormous rainfall exclusion experiment in an Amazon forest that identified the rainfall threshold beyond which giant forest trees die quite suddenly (published in the journal Ecology in 2007). During the 2005 Amazon drought, tree mortality spiked up in permanent forest plots across the region (Philips et al. 2009 Science), providing further evidence of the drought threshold. The critics have latched onto two papers that seem to contradict our results, both using the same satellite sensor (MODIS). The forest canopy appears to get a bit greener in some Amazon regions during the dry season. Deeper analyses of the same data have found that these studies probably were seeing leaf-changing episodes and changes in cloudiness (which declines in the dry season) which are not evidence that the forests were not drought stressed. In a recent letter signed by 18 scientists including many of the world’s authorities on tropical forest response to climate change, we found the IPCC statement to be sound and the NASA study involving MODIS data to be irrelevent to the IPCC statement. I would be happy to explain the science behind the IPCC statement. Daniel Nepstad

    I know that there is a certain etiquette regarding duplication of comments made elsewhere on the web, but I hope WUWT moderators won’t mind the copy & paste of Nepstad’s comments here. They are fresh, pertinent and, and since his research has been subject of some discussion in this thread, his comments deserves to be heard here also. It is a pity that he has neither clarified how he arrived at the figure of 40% nor remarked on the evolution of the specific statement regarding Amazons in the IPCC report.

  57. So Phil, you say from the paper referenced that a simulated long El Nino lasting 3 years caused stress and strain on the Amazon. Interesting that the model study uses a natural event. El Nino’s are natural events, not caused by, prolonged by, nor caused to occur more frequently due to CO2 increase. If an El Nino were to last that long, we would indeed be under climate stress. File this one under duh. However, the chances of that occurring would be?

  58. sHx – You will recall I wrote that the ‘scientists response’ was to a different challenge? Well, if you read it closely you will discover it was a response to the Samanta et al paper (or more accurately the inventive Press Release) that you are now championing. These scientists seem not to find it quite as devastating as you representation. See here for an explanation of why a study of a three-month period does not change the implications of long-term climate change for the region.

    Now that Dan Nepstad has made his gracious offer over at the Guardian comments board, why not scoot over there and ask him in person?

  59. The Amazongate story is included in the Peabody Energy Company petition to the EPA on reconsideration of its endangerment finding about CO2. See page VII – 18 of their petition here

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/downloads/Petition_for_Reconsideration_Peabody_Energy_Company.pdf

    Steve McIntyre had linked to this petition

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/21/climategate-and-the-epa-endangerment-finding/

    The AGW edifice is crumbling thanks to Booker, North, Eschenbach, Watts, McIntyre and many others.

  60. To those following “Amazongate”:

    Let me add some more information to this exchange, based on a few decades spent trying to figure out the Amazon forest’s response to climate change and land use:

    1. Was there a peer-review citation in support of the IPCC statement on the Amazon at the time it was published?

    Yes. In a 1994 paper in the journal “Nature” (Nepstad et al. 1994), we reported that approximately half of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon were exposed to severe seasonal droughts, and that these forest were able to endure these droughts through deep root systems that absorb moisture stored in deep soil layers. These results were refined in Nepstad et al. in Global Change Biology (2004), where we found that, in 2001, half of the forests of the Amazon had depleted at least half of the moisture stored in the upper 10 meters of soil. We also presented evidence in this paper that 75% depletion of soil moisture (reached by 31% of the region’s forests in 2001) was a conservative threshold beyond which forest damage ensued. The 2004 paper, alone, provides plenty of support for the IPCC statement.

    2. Is there experimental evidence to support this early finding?

    Yes. The drought threshold is described in the 2004 GCB paper, before the IPCC fourth assessment, and was presented in full in Nepstad et al. Ecology, 2007.

    3. Is there direct observational evidence to support this finding?

    Yes. See Phillips et al. Science 2009, who found a spike of tree mortality following the 2005 drought in a few dozen permanent forest plots scattered across the region. (It is hard to think of more direct evidence than this. And, by the way, once a drought kills trees in a forest, its susceptibility to further disturbance through fire increases, as has been demonstrated experimentally (Ray et al 2005 Ecol Applic.) and observationally (Cochrane et al. 1999 Science)).

    4. Is the estimate that 55% of the Amazon forest will be cleared or degraded (by logging, fire, or drought) by 2030 if current trends continue (and without invoking any future changes in rainfall or greater evaporation that may occur through climate change) published in the peer review literature? (WWF published my initial report on this topic.)

    Yes. The peer-review article is Nepstad et al. 2008. Phil Transactions of the Royal Society.

    5. Is there any evidence that climate change will provoke drying in the Amazon?

    Yes. See Mali et al. 2007. Science. Most global circulation models predict a decline in rainfall in the eastern Amazon, which is where the forests are already most stressed.

    Note: These climate model runs do not include the inhibitory effect of dense smoke on rainfall, and only a few include the inhibitory effect of deforestation itself on rainfall.

    6. Do the findings, based on the MODIS satellite sensor, that the Amazon forest “greened up” during the 2005 drought contradict the evidence of forest vulnerability to drought?

    No. It now appears that the “greening up” seen with the MODIS data was probably ephemeral forest tree leaf-changing and a decrease in cloud cover (which usually accompanies the beginning of the dry season). (The article that explains this is under review.) 18 scientists signed a statement, released March 20, that the Boston University study in no way “debunked” the IPCC statement on Amazon forest sensitivity to drought, as it was claimed at the time. (Please, look up the credentials of those who signed this statement if you have any doubts.)

    7. A few closing comments.

    When fires escape into the Amazon forest, they burn low to the ground and usually go out at night. The burn slowly, and kill trees with thin bark. Once burned, the forest is more susceptible to repeated burning. In 2007, it was so hot that our 50-hectare experimental forest fire (in southeastern Amazonia) burned through the night, killing more than half of the adult trees. The rainy season was delayed three months that year. Indigenous groups of the Xingu River headwaters had to plant their cassava fields three times, and a large swath of their forest reserve burned accidentally. These tribes have very detailed descriptions of the ways in which rainfall has been changing. And the farmers and ranchers of the region are planting their crops more than a month later than they did in the 1990s. The paper that describes this freak drought has not yet been published.

    The point is, the Amazon forest is already changing in ways that we don’t understand. When the tropical north Atlantic heats up, the western Amazon is subjected to intense drought, as happened in 2005. When the tropical Pacific heats up (ENSO), the eastern Amazon heats up. Large-scale forest clearing and dense smoke also inhibit the rains. And high temperature, alone, can provoke drought by increasing evaporation.

    The best news that I can point to is that deforestation rates in the Brazilian have declined 2/3’s in the last four years (see Nepstad et al. 2009, “The end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon”). But, when I look hard at the evidence, I conclude that it will take more than slowing deforestation to prevent this ecosystem from widespread degradation through drought, fire, and logging–and the positive feedbacks between the three.

  61. Phil Clarke

    I read the Samanta bashing thread long back. Simon Lewis, in the comments section #27, offers two meanings for the IPCC statement.

    He then contends he believes in the second interpretation which Eric Steig agrees with. He thinks the the IPCC is talking about a climatic regime change.

    The Lewis RC comment is troublesome on many counts. How come he freely admits that many interpretations are possible of the IPCC statement and then goes on a tirade against Leake, saying that there is clear evidence for what the IPCC says? How do you explain that contradiction ?

    Secondly, how does he say that the IPCC is talking about regime change when the IPCC clearly is talking about rapid shifts?

    I quote the IPCC report, the very same paragraph:
    “…this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not
    necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and
    the future situation .”

    Observe his citation in his comment to Arindam Samanta (ellipsing out the “rapid shifts” part).

    Quoting Lewis (verbatim):

    “It seems clear to me that the sentence is about responses to a shift from one climate regime, the recent past and present day, to another, with less precipitation, in the future (it is the IPCC climate change impacts report after all, and they do say ‘… not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation’). ”

    Tell me: do you find this in any way convincing? In fact, it is misleading.

    The IPCC states that the *Amazon system* could shift to another state in rapid fashion, set off by initial slightly reduced precipitation (and ensuing local feedback loops, one has to assume).

    Lewis is claiming that the IPCC says the *Amazon forest* will respond (by savannization) to a climatic regime of reduced precipitation.

    There is a world of difference between the two statements – there is a cause-effect switch. At the least, there is a dilution of the IPCC stance that the Amazon will respond to ‘even a slight reduction in precipitation’ by conflating that to mean that the Amazon will respond to a ‘climate regime change’.

    If that is indeed the case, the IPCC statement should be rewritten accordingly, dont you think?

    The Amazon fire scientists interpret Nepstad 2007 to mean that the Amazon was quite resistant to drought alone after all. See Barlow, 2008 paper in Phil Trans B

    In any case, Phil, Lewis and Nepstad are experts in this area no doubt but they are not the IPCC. On what basis are we supposed to accept their letters and press releases over the IPCC report itself?

  62. Sod,

    Are you every going to present a reasoned and logical post, or will you stick to pedantic lightweight comments?

  63. Dr Nepstad thank you for your response . I have a question relating to your comment:

    4. Is the estimate that 55% of the Amazon forest will be cleared or degraded (by logging, fire, or drought) by 2030 if current trends continue (and without invoking any future changes in rainfall or greater evaporation that may occur through climate change) published in the peer review literature? (WWF published my initial report on this topic.)
    Yes. The peer-review article is Nepstad et al. 2008. Phil Transactions of the Royal Society.

    In the report that you prepared for the REDD scheme your assumed deforestation to continue based on the average of the 1997 -2004 period a rate of 20,000 sq.kms. continuing into the future. Is it not the case that deforestation peaked at 27,423 sq kms in 2004 and then declined – 18846 sq kms in 2005, 14,109 in 2006, 11,532 in 2007 and in 2009 the figure had reduced to 7008 sq kms by 2009. As the FAO official figures up to 2007 were available for consideration for your 2008 paper why did you choose not revise your deforestation baseline.
    Given that the Brazilian government has reduced deforestation by more than 60% since it peaked in 2004, a fact you acknowledged in a 2009 press release, why do you still consider your projection for 2030 valid.

  64. Dr Nepstad I have some further comments on the points that you raised earlier.

    3. Is there direct observational evidence to support this finding?
    Yes. See Phillips et al. Science 2009, who found a spike of tree mortality following the 2005 drought in a few dozen permanent forest plots scattered across the region. (It is hard to think of more direct evidence than this. And, by the way, once a drought kills trees in a forest, its susceptibility to further disturbance through fire increases, as has been demonstrated experimentally (Ray et al 2005 Ecol Applic.) and observationally (Cochrane et al. 1999 Science)).

    The 2005 drought was described as a 100 year event, Zeng 2006, and this was undoubtedly a major factor in the spike in tree mortality. Under less extreme conditions over a variety of test plots, Phillips 2004, found that overall recruitment exceeded mortality.

    5. Is there any evidence that climate change will provoke drying in the Amazon?
    Yes. See Mali et al. 2007. Science. Most global circulation models predict a decline in rainfall in the eastern Amazon, which is where the forests are already most stressed.
    Note: These climate model runs do not include the inhibitory effect of dense smoke on rainfall, and only a few include the inhibitory effect of deforestation itself on rainfall.

    The IPCC in AR4 notes that while most GCMs predict a decrease in dry season rainfall they predict an increase in annual rainfall. AR4 also highlights that most models under-predict rainfall and the IPCC rightly regard this as an area of high uncertainty.

  65. @Nepstad

    Nice of you to drop by, it’s really appreciated. I’d really enjoy engaging in a conversation with regarding the various assertions in the IPCC and WWF regarding the Amazon jungle. Thanks for trying to clear some things up. However, as per usual, when someone tries to clear things up, I often have more questions than when I began on the journey. Here’s a couple for you.

    When you say “we reported that approximately half of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon were exposed to severe seasonal droughts,…” does that imply the Amazon is unique? Aren’t all places on this earth subject to sever seasonal droughts in one time or another? Given the history of the rainfall (it hasn’t changed much) in the Amazon, wouldn’t one consider this ‘normal’? Is there another dynamic in place that makes this unique? For instance, I live in the plains of the U.S. When we experience prolonged droughts, we, too, are subject to fires and burn off of the local flora. Other than locality, how does your scenario differentiate from mine?

    When you state, “once a drought kills trees in a forest, its susceptibility to further disturbance through fire increases, as has been demonstrated experimentally.”, isn’t this stating a rather obvious observation? Yes, dead trees tend to burn more readily than live ones. Dead trees no longer absorb moisture.

    Another question, when you use the term “climate change”, are you referring to the climate change most of us understand to be perpetually occurring or the “climate change” that connotates the IPCC’s inference of CAGW? If you are tying the changes in the Amazon to the IPCC’s inference, how so? I only ask because your above statements don’t seem to tie into the CO2 debate other than the reference to Mali et al. 2007 that uses a computer generated model which is only subject to the opinion of the modeler. What evidence is there which shows why there will be a decrease in precipitation in the Amazon as opposed to other places on this earth? Where will it precipitate instead?

    The above question were honest and forthright in an attempt to engage in a serious conversation regarding the assertions about the future of the Amazon jungle.

    A few closing comments. When you state, “(Please, look up the credentials of those who signed this statement if you have any doubts.)”, it automatically raises my awareness to the appeal to authority. It is as if you were saying, ‘don’t just believe me, this is endorsed by the apostles and Moses!’ It holds less than a little meaning to me. Given the fact climate is always in a state of change, how do you assign the change in rain patterns to an increase in CO2? Is it not true that if and when the earth warms, the increase in available H2O would necessitate increased precipitation? Please correct me if you can show me where I’m wrong. Another assumption you can feel free to correct me on is that my sense is your concern is on the Amazon itself and not the global weather environment. Truly, I sympathize with your concern. The Amazon is a world treasure and should be kept. However, outside the computer model you referenced, I see no tie to anthropological CO2 emissions to your study regarding the Amazon. Being a computer scientist, I can say, computer models aren’t worth very much. This is because of random and human interaction. Once you throw in the inevitable bias of the modeler, one doesn’t end up with much. This isn’t shown only in regards to climate, but in almost every computer generated model known to man.(There are a few exceptions.) The fact is, we don’t know all the factors involved in our climate, much less how to accurately measure the factors that we do know. Further, human interaction is given to error, be it a bias or out of misunderstanding, error we do. My last five sentences aren’t really subject to opinion, these are time tested, commonly known assertions. Again, being a computer scientist, given the expanse of the globe and the variances of the wind currents, coupled with the unknown quantity of potential precipitation added with the uncertainty of ocean currents and conditions, I find it incredulous that anyone in their right mind would state it would rain more or less in a very specific area of the globe over a period of several years, much less model it via computer, regardless of the immense specifications necessary for a computer to factor in all of the variables. I’ve more to say on computers and models, but that’s probably for another thread.

    Nepstad, I’m amusing you’re the Dr. Nepstad relevant to the Amazon study. I truly appreciate you taking the time to post here. A personal thanks. I understand some of my questions may appear pointed and even perhaps coarse, but the assertions beg the questions and stating a computer said so doesn’t cut it with me nor should it with anyone else. Thanks again, any response would be greatly welcomed.

    James Sexton

  66. Re Nepstad

    Sir, you say “we reported that approximately half of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon were exposed to severe seasonal droughts,…” and then go on to desribe the damage observed. I fail to understand how that relates to the “A small reduction in rainfall could result in a 40 percent reduction in the Amazon” Thw words,
    “Small reduction in rainfall” are neither scientific or harmonius with “severe drought”. So please explain to me how this supports the claim as backed by the literature.

    Thanks in advance.

  67. And so, with Dr Nepstad’s detailed exposition of the peer-reviewed evidence on which the IPCC report is based, AmazonGate comes to its natural conclusion.

    Signing off, TTFN.

  68. This really is the nub of the issue, isn’t it. I remarked in one of my own pieces that the warmists were coming on board, spraying citations like tom cats marking their territories, and here we have Nepstad doing it again.

    “Was there a peer-review citation in support of the IPCC statement on the Amazon at the time it was published?” he asks rhetorically … and it is rhetorical, for he goes on to cite the Nepstad et al. 1994 which he knows full well does not support the IPCC. He knows that his 1994 paper refers to “severe seasonal droughts”, whereas the IPCC claims an effect from “slight reduction in precipitation”.

    This is why, of course, his partner organisation, the WWF, cites Nepstad et al 1999 (IPAM/World Bank) – which interestingly Nepstad himself does not – presumably because it doesn’t support the IPCC either (neither in the English version nor in the Portuguese version), which is also, one assumes, why the English version is not published on the WHRC or IPAMs site.

    And having tried his black arts over on Monbiot’s site, supporting in passing Monbiot’s egregious libelling of me (and a sustained attempt to trash my reputation), Nepstad crawls over here to practice his dishonesty on WUWT readers. He knows his works does not support the IPCC, we know his work does not support the IPCC, and he must know by now that we know he knows. Yet still he persists … the reason, of course, being REDD … follow the money.

  69. Phil C
    With your argument to authority by simply referring those of us asking sensible questions to Dr Nepstad, your argument comes to an end.

    Dr Nepstad:
    Thanks for your comments. Firstly, I would like to say that many of us do understand the situation the IPCC puts scientists in (IMO). As a general statement concerning the sensitivity of the Amazon system to precipitation, the IPCC statement appears to rightly conveys the message that the system can be quite sensitive. This is novel especially considering that the opposite was believed by many in the scientific community.

    It appears therefore that you, and others have put the full weight of support behind this statement because calling it ‘unsubstantiated’ would have created the opposite impression – that the Amazon system is trouble-free and the scientists just made up stuff.

    But, the IPCC report is a scientific document and given that the contentious statement makes specific quantitative assessments, it is but natural that people go looking for the references, which by now has rather multiplied in number. All these references put together certainly support the IPCC statement *if* read in a generalized (or superficial ) sort of fashion, but the specific quantitative claim are not present.

    For example, what I take from the literature is 1) vast stretches of Amazon lose/deplete signficant quantities of moisture under drought conditions 2) At the end of a drought, there can be significant die-back which can come quite abruptly 3) this sensitivity added with fire and logging could set up a feedback loop.

    What I do not see is anything supporting the overarching influence of the Amazon system to small change in precipitation alone. As Leake said, that may be true or it may not be true, but the references to date do not support it. The references available the the IPCC at the time of its drafting do not support it.

    This leaves the experts defending a specific scientific claim for its general thrust. Since the experts closed ranks with a statement standing on weak legs, the conflict has since erupted in the journalist field. Jonathan Leake’s article has been withdrawn by the Times when the exact grounds for doing so is not clear.

    It would be better to defuse this by requesting the IPCC to revise this key passage; then the issue would truly come to its natural end.

    Regards

  70. Nepstad said: 1. Was there a peer-review citation in support of the IPCC statement on the Amazon at the time it was published?

    Yes. In a 1994 paper in the journal “Nature” (Nepstad et al. 1994), we reported that approximately half of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon were exposed to severe seasonal droughts, and that these forest were able to endure these droughts through deep root systems that absorb moisture stored in deep soil layers. These results were refined in Nepstad et al. in Global Change Biology (2004), where we found that, in 2001, half of the forests of the Amazon had depleted at least half of the moisture stored in the upper 10 meters of soil. We also presented evidence in this paper that 75% depletion of soil moisture (reached by 31% of the region’s forests in 2001) was a conservative threshold beyond which forest damage ensued. The 2004 paper, alone, provides plenty of support for the IPCC statement.

    If there was a peer reviewed citation why didn’t the IPCC cite it? Your work details the effects of droughts, logging and forest fires. The IPCC rolled the combined effect of all three into the devastating consequences of a slight reduction in precipitation. If your conservative threshold is true have the 31% of the region’s forests died since 2001?

    There is no way your experiment detailed in The Amazon’s Vicious Cycles: Drought and Fire in the Greenhouse where you took a sample site of forest, covered one third of the ground with plastic panels to reduce the rain reaching the ground and watched what happened could be considered a slight reduction in precipitation. And as has also been mentioned by others, the IPCC models do not predict a reduction in annual precipitation just dry season precipitation. Your experiment reduced rain by one third and did so in the rainy season as well.

    Nepstad said: 6. Do the findings, based on the MODIS satellite sensor, that the Amazon forest “greened up” during the 2005 drought contradict the evidence of forest vulnerability to drought?

    No. It now appears that the “greening up” seen with the MODIS data was probably ephemeral forest tree leaf-changing and a decrease in cloud cover (which usually accompanies the beginning of the dry season). (The article that explains this is under review.) 18 scientists signed a statement, released March 20, that the Boston University study in no way “debunked” the IPCC statement on Amazon forest sensitivity to drought, as it was claimed at the time. (Please, look up the credentials of those who signed this statement if you have any doubts.)

    Would this be based on the Samanta et al paper “Amazon forests did not green-up during the 2005 drought”? A close reading of the version available here reveals that for forests where reliable data was available greening increased by 50% or more (“We find that 11%–14% of Amazon forests show greening” compared to a previous 8%) while browning remained static (at 4%) during the drought. There was a substantial lack of data (60% of forests had no reliable data) and no obvious relationship between droughts and the condition of the forest.

    “Besides, prominent spatial patterns of greening and browning, unrelated to precipitation anomalies, are found in other non-drought years as well. Thus, we conclude that the spatial patterns of EVI changes seen in drought year 2005 are not unique in comparison to non-drought years.”

    The drought caused nothing out of the ordinary and greening and browning do not always correlate with precipitation anomalies. This may undermine the earlier claim of a drought induced greening but it does not support the IPCC claim that rain forests are extremely sensitive to slight drops in precipitation.

  71. Firstly, I would like to thank Dr Nepstad for being willing to engage on scientific topics. However, I respectfully disagree on one point in particular.

    From Dr. Nepstad’s comments:

    5. Is there any evidence that climate change will provoke drying in the Amazon?

    Yes. See Mali et al. 2007. Science. Most global circulation models predict a decline in rainfall in the eastern Amazon, which is where the forests are already most stressed.

    Note: These climate model runs do not include the inhibitory effect of dense smoke on rainfall, and only a few include the inhibitory effect of deforestation itself on rainfall.

    Professor Koutsoyiannis from the NTUA demonstrated that predictions of local changes in precipitation from GCMs are inconsistent with reality, even in hindcast; and model predictions are less accurate on larger time scales than shorter ones. See peer-reviewed reference below. This is from 2008 – like most of Dr Nepstad’s references, well after the AR4 document cut-off – but Dr Nepstad’s arguments hinge on this. Due to the Hurst phenomenon, precipitation levels are prone to substantial large scale changes without any human interaction. Add a further unpredictable element of human interaction and it is anyone’s guess what might happen. Indeed, I would go as far to say, based on the knowledge that we have, that human induced climate change is as likely to save the rainforests as it is to damage them.

    It shows that using the peer-reviewed literature, any conclusion can be justified; the science is too uncertain. The IPCC should be presenting an objective, balanced view and is failing in this. Of course, Dr Nepstad is entitled to put forward his views on the science. But the current IPCC structure allows advocates to narrowly present one viewpoint when there are many valid viewpoints underpinned by scientific research.

    On the credibility of climate predictions

    Koutsoyiannis, D., A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides, On the credibility of climate predictions, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 53 (4), 671–684, 2008.

  72. North’s comment reveals an important misinterpretation of the IPCC statement. He seems to be saying that IPCC is referring to droughts similar to those that have already taken place in the Amazon region. This is not true. The IPCC statement refers to reductions in precipitation BEYOND the historical pattern.

    We know that the Amazon today (and over the preceding centuries) experiences periodic severe drought. These droughts are super-imposed upon a dry season that ranges from 3 to 5 months across about half of the Amazon Basin during “normal” years. These episodic droughts are part of the Amazon rainfall regime. The severe droughts of 2005 and 2001 and 1998 and 1992 and 1983 are part of the CURRENT climate. When we think about a 450 or 500 or 600 ppm CO2 world, we must imagine more severe droughts than those observed historically, even if average rainfall turns out to be higher in some places. In 2001, half of the forests of the entire Amazon region depleted more than 50% of the soil moisture stored to ten meters depth in the soil. (our 2004 GCB paper). This is part of the existing rainfall regime. Add to this scenario another six to 12 months of greater water loss (evapotranspiration) than gain (rainfall), because of a persistent high pressure cell sitting on top of the Basin, and huge tracts of Amazon forest could suffer drought-induced death of canopy trees and increased vulnerability to fire. And damage from both drought and fire persists for many years, leaving the forest more vulnerable to fire.

    Amazon rainfall is influenced by sea surface temperature anomalies (ENSO and others), the forests themselves (which release a lot of water to the atmosphere compared to cattle pasture), aerosols/smoke (as condensation nucleii, or an excess thereof), and radiative forcing of the atmosphere. Right now, we (humans) are changing three of these (forest cover, smoke, radiative forcing) and we may actually be influencing sea surface temperatures.

    On our rainfall exclusion experiment (2007 Ecology), please note that we installed 6000 plastic panels in the forest understory for a portion of each year, excluding about 1/3 of annual incoming rain. During some El Ninho episodes, rainfall declines by 40-50%. In the second year of the experiment, it rained 3000 mm (about 1000 mm above the average), meaning the treatment effect was erased. Canopy trees began to die in year 3 as they depleted moisture in the upper ten meters of soil.

    Amazon forest fires: the principle control on Amazon forest fires is the moisture content of the fine fuel layer (the dead leaves and twigs that lie on the forest floor). This fuel layer absorbs moisture at night, when temperatures drop and relative humidity climbs, and dry out during the day. When trees die (through drought, logging, or fire), the deep shade cast by the forest canopy is broken, and more sunlight reaches the forest floor, heating up the air. The fuel layer dries sufficiently to carry a fire.

  73. @ Spence_UK says:
    June 29, 2010 at 6:45 am

    “Firstly, I would like to thank Dr Nepstad for being willing to engage on scientific topics.”

    Well, so far, I wouldn’t characterize his posting as an engagement, but rather something akin to a “drive by.” I saw very few questions on this thread which he answered. From my interpretation of his posting, I read ‘I’m the expert,(he even referenced his work as proof that his work was correct), myself and a computer model says I’m right, so just believe it and move on’. He couldn’t even be bothered to clear up the “slight reduction in rainfall” vs. “drought” question. Compared to other published scientists that have posted here, his explanations for his thoughts are lacking. It would seem to me, most would defend their work a little more fervently than this effort. With that in consideration, I’m wondering if it was the good doctor or not. Right now, I’m writing it off as a pretender in a lame attempt to close the conversation.

  74. Spence_Uk,

    Care to share with us the sample size – that is – the number of surface stations used in Koutsoyiannis et al? Out of how many thousand? And how many the researchers actually visited?

    Given that a theme around here is micrositing influences on such stations, d’ya really think this is conclusive?

    Maybe this is why this paper on climate models appeared in an obscure Hydrology journal rather than say, the Journal of Climate?

  75. Dr Nepstad,
    Thanks once again for your response.

    That episodic droughts are a part of the Amazon system is certainly understood, your Nature paper clearly demonstrates this fact. Therefore it follows logically, that for a “slight reduction in precipitation” to perturb the system, it has to be superimposed on a prexisting “significant reduction in precipitation” which the Amazon experiences with its droughts. Your paper explicitly makes this point clear.

    The IPCC statement absolutely does not make this clear.

    It is immediately obvious that the IPCC statement leaves out much crucial background and foundation for its claim, which your posts, press release and other experts have provided. By this mere virtue, it certainly verges on being “unsubstantiated”. Much of this substantiation has after all been provided, after the fact.

    So, yes, it may seem as a technical objection in your eyes. But for those who wish to learn of the Amazon from the IPCC report – the sentence conveys a wrong rhertorical impression. This wrong impression has certainly been foisted upon observers by the media on many occasions since 2007.

    Regards

  76. Phil Clarke –

    Koutsoyiannis specified very clearly an objective sampling criteria for the stations selected. As the comparisons were made to 20th century model runs, maximum overlap was required to ensure the most data were available for comparison. Therefore, stations were selected which were reporting from the same location continuously from 1900 to 2000. Koutsoyiannis also specified a minimum criteria for missing data points within that period.

    Your claim that there are “many thousand” of sites that meet these criteria seems highly unlikely. I would be grateful if you would evidence this claim, please. It is quite difficult to get accurate numbers on how many stations are available that meet this criteria; as an example, the CRUTEM database analysed by John Graham-Cumming here reports just under 400 reporting stations for the year 1900. Clearly, not all of these 400 stations will continue to report until the year 2000.

    In total, 63 stations have been analysed; 8 in the original paper, and a further 55 stations were analysed using identical methodology. The 55 subsequent stations were in complete agreement with the first 8 stations, so were reported in an EGU conference but as the results did not change the conclusions there was no need to publish them. Koutsoyiannis has claimed that the stations were randomly chosen; the chances of 63 of a few hundred stations all showing bad results seems pretty clear cut to me. However, Koutsoyiannis did lay down the challenge: if you think the stations were poorly chosen, then he welcomes people to find their own stations and demonstrate that these other stations yield different results.

    Even if we just take the first publication only, what is the likelihood that all eight would show terrible performance by chance alone? That every single station – without fail – exhibited worse accuracy at climatic (30-year) scales in comparison to shorter timescales – by sheer chance alone? I think the likelihood of this is extremely remote. However, it would not be difficult to evidence the opposite: simply find stations which match well, and show them to us. Prof. Koutsoyiannis has presented his evidence: you present yours.

    As for the publication journal, Koutsoyiannis was studying precipitation predictions by GCMs for use in the hydrological sciences. I think a hydrology journal is a perfectly appropriate destination for such a paper. “Hydrology” refers to the study of water, and precipitation is an important component in the hydrological cycle. Finally – and most importantly in my mind – the journal which published the paper is largely irrelevant, if the analysis is correct.

    James Sexton –

    I disagree. Climate change is a polemic debate. As we know, threats and unpleasant behaviour can be found in both sides of the debate. To be fair, Anthony Watts has gone to lengths to criticise such behaviour on both sides. Nevertheless, it shows some courage for Dr Nepstad to come here and respond to questions. I think we should respect that, whether we agree with his views or not.

  77. Spence … thanks for that. I was unaware of the followup study… it appears not to have gained much traction outside of Climate Audit where I go but rarely. If anything, the increased number of stations increases the mismatch between individual model runs and observations.

    However, it is not possible from a quick perusal of the poster presentation to determine whether the expanded study (which surely is as worthy of journal publication as the original – even as a comment) addressed the flaws identified by Gavin Schmidt… viz

    They are using single realisations of model runs, and so they are not testing the forced component of the response (which can only be determined using ensembles or very long simulations). By correlating at the annual and other short term periods they are effectively comparing the weather in the real world with that in a model. Even without looking at their results, it is obvious that this is not going to match (since weather is uncorrelated in one realisation to another, let alone in the real world). Furthermore, by using only one to four grid boxes for their comparisons, even the longer term (30 year) forced trends are not going to come out of the noise.

    Remember that the magnitude of annual, interannual and decadal variability increases substantially as spatial scales go from global, hemispheric, continental, regional to local. The IPCC report for instance is very clear in stating that the detection and attribution of climate changes is only clearly possible at continental scales and above. Note also that K et al compare absolute temperatures rather than anomalies. This isn’t a terrible idea, but single grid points have offsets to a co-located station for any number of reasons – mean altitude, un-resolved micro-climate effects, systematic but stable biases in planetary wave patterns etc. – and anomaly comparison are generally preferred since they can correct for these oft-times irrelevant effects. Finally (and surprisingly given the attention being paid to it in various circles), K et al do not consider whether any of their selected stations might have any artifacts within them that might effect their statistical properties.

    Therefore, it comes as no surprise at all that K and colleagues find poor matches in their comparisons. The answer to their effective question – are very local single realisations of weather coherent across observations and models? – is no, as anyone would have concluded from reading the IPCC report or the existing literature. This is why no one uses (or should be using) single grid points from single models in any kind of future impact study.

    The last point is germane – Nepstad was referring to ensemble projections for the East Amazon region, so a study showing that single model runs correlate poorly with small clusters of grid cells is apples and oranges – and does not invalidate his conclusions, seems to me.

  78. “When we think about a 450 or 500 or 600 ppm CO2 world, we must imagine more severe droughts than those observed historically”

    Sorry Nepstad, you’ve completely lost me at this point. Can you explain why this would be the case and what evidence you have for it as it seems the core of your position rests on this assertion.

  79. Nepstad’s confident assertion that my comment reveals “an important misinterpretation of the IPCC statement” actually reveals more about what could charitably be called the IPCC’s failure to communicate.

    This has been compounded by the supporters of the IPCC, including Nepstad, who have equally lacking in this department. They are in a poor position to lay down ex cathedra assertions on what might or might not be true, especially in offering a novel interpretation of the IPCC statement which cannot be adduced from any facts that it or its supporters have so far offered.

    Nepstad might reflect, therefore, that it is the duty of those who seek to communicate information to make themselves clear – it is no part of ours to puzzle out what they mean to say, in the absence of any coherent elucidation.

    In that context, if he wishes to posit an entirely new argument to the effect that that the “current” cycle of drought is one which has been super-imposed on the historical climate pattern, he might start by declaring that he is introducing a new argument, ex post facto, rather than complain that we have misinterpreted the previously opaque communications.

    If Nepstad then wishes to argue about variations in historical climate patterns, he might start by identifying those patterns. For instance, we see Coe et al 2002 who tells us that there is considerable climatic variability in the Amazon basin”, with “short (∼3–4 years) and long (∼28 years) modes of precipitation variability. Others write of different and longer cycles.

    Thus, in order to accept Nepstad’s assertion, we would need evidence (rather than speculation and the more typical ex cathedra pronouncements) that the droughts experienced over the relatively short timeframe of 1983-2005, to which he refers, differs significantly from climate patterns in the past. That information, so far, seems to have been notably lacking in his published work.

    Further, while he refers to droughts in 1983 and 2001 (with a reference to other short-lived episodes) he must also be aware of reports of “major flooding” in Amazon basin in the 1984-2001 period.

    And, although as far as his published record goes, history seems to stop in 2005, he will undoubtedly be aware episodes of major flooding in the region for every year since 2005, recorded here and here and currently in the drier northeast.

    Some might think that commentators should temper predictions of “severe drought” with at least a hat-tip to the reality, which at the moment is extremely soggy in parts.

  80. I spent 3 weeks doing some geological mapping in the Amazon jungle in August 1998. It’s an incredible place. Not a very nice place to live though. One village we stayed near, Isinuta, had a population of a couple of hundred. All ofhe men were permanently drunk and all of the women permanently pregnant. (A woman being any female of reproductive age…) They all looked the same thanks to the extremely small gene pool. When we were there 4 women had just arrived back from a week long trip on foot to the town of Trinidad. They go there to get salt. Hardly the idyllic back-to-nature lifestyle that some want us to return to.

  81. Phil,

    Whilst Gavin might be correct, his views are moot.

    Firstly, with regard to a single grid cell – what people experience is local climate, not global climate. What the Amazon rainforest will experience will be local climate, not global climate. If the results of four grid cells (which in a typical model run is an area of 500km x 500km or so – not trivial!) bears no relation to what is felt on the ground, then models are likely to be useless for assessing what happens on this kind of scale.

    OK, the Amazon rainforest is somewhat larger than 250000 sq km – but if you read the poster session carefully, you will see they expanded the study to the contiguous 48 states of the US, an area of (approx) 8 million sq km – some 32 times larger, or around 128 grid cells, and very similar in scale to the Amazon rainforest (at 5.5 million sq km, from wiki). The results got worse, not better – once again confirming that increasing scale and averaging makes GCM output less accurate, not more accurate.

    Asking whether the stations have problems is a valid question, but are you really suggesting that by selecting 63 stations at random, all 63 are likely to be severely affected by artefacts that will render their data so far incorrect? If you or Gavin really believe that, then climate science has some even more severe problems than the Koutsoyiannis paper! However, in the 48 contiguous states case, the 70 selected stations are a spot on match to the NOAA average temperature for the same area. Station quality may still be an issue, but if it is, the Koutsoyiannis paper is the last of the problems to worry about in climate science – the whole underpinnings of the present consensus would be flawed.

    With regard to failure to account for the fact that tests are performed against single model runs rather than ensembles, this shows Gavin does not understand Professor Koutsoyiannis’ appoach. In his paper, Koutsoyiannis outlines (and references papers in support) of his approach (stochastic and probabilistic modelling) against Gavin’s preference (ensemble modelling) and the paper includes references to explain these choices. Koutsoyiannis’ approach is based on a valid statistical approach using stochastic modelling techniques.

    Ensemble modelling is a popular alternative to stochastic modelling though, and it is important to underline some issues around this choice – if it were to be made instead.

    There are two substantial issues with Gavin’s claims regarding ensemble approaches. The first – and most obvious – is that Koutsoyiannis does include multiple model runs, and it is evident – particularly for precipitation – that there is a bias in the results (i.e., results from most model runs are in error on one side of the correct value). Ensembles do nothing to remove bias, and would certainly not solve the problem for rainfall estimates.

    The second problem is that what happens in the Amazon rainforest WILL be a single realisation of climate. If a single realisation of climate from a model is so far removed from an ensemble to turn Professor Koutsoyiannis’ work upside down, then an ensemble output is so far removed from a single realisation of the actual climate to be worthless.

    In summary, Gavin’s criticisms raise interesting points, some of which have since been addressed, and some misunderstandings about the approach. Ironically though, the most valid criticisms Gavin makes actually underline how irrelevant the models are for assessing (say) precipitation over a small part of the globe (say of the order of millions of sq km).

  82. Thanks, Spence, my next question for Nepstad was going to be: Show me that rising CO2 increases the severity of droughts, in the Amazon. He hasn’t gotten around to answering the first one, though, and as Katabasis points out, he’s hanging a lot on that belief.
    ==============

  83. So the follow-on study did not address the basic category error – using grid-cells from a global model to try and reproduce local climate. As Gavin wrote, he could tell that the results would not correlate before he even looked at them. An analogy would be tossing my Road Atlas because it cannot navigate me from my living room to the kitchen. Wrong tool, wrong scale.

    The reasons are many but simply: Climate models are sensitive to boundary conditions, and it is not possible to initialise these at grid cell level. Downscaling to continental and smaller scales has been done successfully, notably Chou et al., 2000; Nobre et al., 2001; Druyan et al., 2002 attempted to downscale to Brazil (with limited success) but downscaling to an individual station is just absurd. Global climate models cannot possibly reproduce local microsite features such as elevation, proximity to topographical features, [e.g. a mountain, a lake, an airport!]. This does not make the model useless, any more than it means the station is inaccurate.

    There are many examples of regional climate being successfully predicted, see for example Hurrell et at 2006 on CLIVAR, or the IPCC on regional projections, where you can see observed vs modelled hindcasts for continental-scale regions, including South America. Miraculously, these results are not contradicted by a study expecting to find exact correlation between a global climate model output (why not the regional climate models or the empirical-statistical downsizing studies? these might have been slightly more valid.) at the grid-cell scale.

  84. A closing comment on the IPCC statement about the Amazon.

    1. The IPCC statement is talking about future reductions in precipitation below the current variable rainfall regime. In other words, droughts more severe than 2005, 2001, 1998, or a century ago. This exchange has helped me to understand this fundamental misinterpretation.

    2. Not sure where North is going with his comment on flooding. We are discussing periods of intense drought that have occurred in the past and will occur in the future. If those future drought episodes are more severe than in the past, then lots of damage from drought and fire could ensure. This is the nub of the IPCC statement. Has the rainfall regime been variable in the past? Yes, as my Woods Hole colleague, Mike Coe, has reported in the literature. Could climate change lead to Amazon droughts more severe than we have seen during the last 50 years over much of the region? Yes. Dense smoke (excessive condensation nucleii) and deforestation itself (less vapor to the air, higher albedo) could move the region in the same direction–especially in the areas that are already subjected to seasonal drought.

    3. There seems to be a great deal of concern about the word “slight” and “severe” in the IPCC statement. These are not quantitative words.

    4. Our business-as-usual scenario for Amazon deforestation still holds given the conditions that were present in 2006, when we published the original deforestation projection in Nature (Soares-Filho et al. ). We also published, in the same paper, a “governance” scenario–which many said was unrealistically low at the time. New economic, policy, and governance conditions that have appeared since then have been reported by us in Science (Nepstad et al. “The end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon”), and suggest that the governance scenario is attainable. (Deforestation was down 2/3’s last year). But the profitability of deforestation is coming back, now, as the economy recovers. In sum, we report on the state of the Amazon, as our studies unfold.

    Many thanks for this stimulating exchange.

    DN

  85. Nepstad can offer a “closing comment” but the issue is far from closed. Nor is it appropriate or accurate to dismiss the controversy over the IPCC statement as a “misinterpretation”. That is the height of arrogance.

    There is no more evidence to support his novel (and equally unsupported) claim that the IPCC is “talking about future reductions in precipitation below the current variable rainfall regime” than there is to support the original assertion that 40% of the forest is at risk from a slight reduction in precipitation.

    Interestingly, in 2005, writing in an IPAM pamphlet headed: “Tropical Deforestation and Climate Change”, Nepstad and others (including one of his co-authors from the 1999 pamphlet, Ane Alencar) declare:

    Although the occurrence of logging or fire are perhaps the major determinants of human-induced forest biomass reduction, other variables influence the magnitude of these effects. The influence of logging on forest biomass and forest flammability, for example, depends on the intensity of the logging – the wood volume harvested per area and the type of damage reduction measures that were employed (Holdsworth and Uhl, 1997; Gerwing, 2002). Rainfall history and natural characteristics of the forest site as soil and vegetation type also influence the occurrence of fire on forests in the Amazon (Cochrane and Schulze, 1999; Cochrane et al., 1999; Barbosa and Fearnside, 1999; Haugaasen et al., 2003).

    All these studies demonstrate that fire provokes significant reductions in the total biomass (alive and dead) of Amazon forests – from 15% to 40% of mature forest – and that this reduction is directly related to the intensity of logging, the intensity of drought, and the occurrence of previous fire between an unburned forest (undisturbed) and a logged and burned or just burned forest.

    The suggestion by Nepstad in a 2005 IPAM document, stating that up to 40% of mature forest is at risk, is uncanny. Although, this time, fire is the proximate cause.

    Which is it to be? Nepstad can’t have it both ways. Either it is a “slight reduction in precipitation” or it is fire. His 40% figure points to the latter.

    Then, as to current climate patterns, Nepstad is working within the span of less than one 28-year cycle (yet there may be other longer, overlying cycles), on top of which different cycles prevail in different climatic zones, which do not necessarily relate. Thus, his use of the conditional “may” and “if” reflects the considerable uncertainty, which may also include an increase in precipitation in some or all of the zones – as suggested by other workers.

    That is where I am going with my comment on flooding. We are discussing periods of intense rainfall that have been occurring in the recent past and currently and could continue into the future. If those future flooding episodes are more severe than in the past, then lots of damage from flooding could ensure, although you might have a little difficulty keeping your matches dry.

  86. Nepstad –

    No answer to this then?

    “When we think about a 450 or 500 or 600 ppm CO2 world, we must imagine more severe droughts than those observed historically”

    Sorry Nepstad, you’ve completely lost me at this point. Can you explain why this would be the case and what evidence you have for it as it seems the core of your position rests on this assertion.

  87. Dr Nepstad:

    Many thanks for your comments

    You say in (1) “This exchange has helped me to understand this fundamental misinterpretation.” with respect to precipitation regimes.

    I am afraid it is not possible to say “slight reduction in precipitation” and mean “an even more severe drought”. Any defence of the “When the IPCC says X, they actually mean Y” kind, cannot be sustained for long.

    In any case, if that was indeed the case, (that severe droughts alone could radically flip the Amazon), there is enough available peer-reviewed literature that supports the opposite conclusion. Indeed Nepstad 2007 is cited as a reference in this regard.

    With your comments, a clearer view of what the experts such as yourself think about the Amazon system has no doubt emerged. But it is inescapable that this clear meaning is not what the IPCC statement conveys.

    Your point (3) says: There seems to be a great deal of concern about the word “slight” and “severe” in the IPCC statement. These are not quantitative words.

    This comment is misleading, at the least. All quantities do not have to be of a continious nature, to be measured by numericals, they can be ordinal too. In fact, it is surprising that such a question should be raised at all, because most climate change impacts are measured or quantified in such categories.

    The IPCC itself places great stress on its authors to be careful when choosing adjectives and terms to quantify impact and offers guidelines to this effect, and any end-user looking at the final report would assume that IPCC statements satisfy its criteria.

  88. [Much as I hate to snip you Richard, we frown on personal attacks against other commenters here, although the anagram was funny. ~ ctm]

    Well! At least I made someone smile!

  89. Phil Clarke, your comment below:

    So the follow-on study did not address the basic category error – using grid-cells from a global model to try and reproduce local climate.

    … is just astonishing. There are so many mistakes in that short sentence it is difficult to know how to answer them all without writing an essay. Firstly, you should try looking up the definition of a category error. Local and global climate are not different categories, they are the same categories on different scales. If you want to know what a category error really is – as opposed to your incorrect usage – wikipedia has an article describing it here. In short, a category error would only apply if GCM output bore no relation to climate whatsoever – a position which some sceptics may adhere to, but I would assume you do not.

    You then claim that the follow up study did not address the issue of spatial scale, which it clearly does when it creates a spatially averaged area of over 100 grid cells and assesses the performance of this region. Notably, this performs worse than the individual stations. This is an important point – spatial averaging makes the GCM output worse, not better. The example used by Koutsoyiannis is around 8 million sq km, larger than the rainforest example.

    Koutsoyiannis et al corrects for issues such as elevation in the analysis, contrary to your statement above.

    So your claims are – unfortunately – glaring false with even a brief perusal of the Koutsoyiannis work. And having spent several posts attempting to pick holes in the paper, you then shift tactic and claim the result is blindingly obvious (which is a bit bizarre given that just a couple of sentences earlier you claim it to be a category error). You seem to argue that the AR4 GCM runs are inappropriate for this kind of grid cell scale analysis. You even try to justify this with a strange statement about initialisation of boundary conditions (tip: boundary conditions don’t need initialisation – that is why they are boundary conditions, and not initial conditions).

    The problem with this – the claim that the IPCC AR4 runs are completely inappropriate for this kind of grid cell analysis – is that this is exactly what Mahli et al do in the 2007 Science article that Dr Nepstad refers to. They look at grid cell results from IPCC AR4 model runs – the same models, the same set up as Koutsoyiannis et al looked at, just run forward into prediction rather than hindcast. They look at data from grid cell levels up to 5.5 million sq km – right in the type of scales Koutsoyiannis et al looked at.

    So your statement – “Wrong tool, wrong scale” – completely undermines Dr Nepstad’s claims regarding Mahli et al 2007. As they have used the IPCC AR4 GCM runs at the same scales as the Koutsoyiannis work to make predictions that you note do not correlate with reality.

    At the end of your post, you ask why we don’t look at regional climate models which would be more appropriate for this type of activity. Clearly, your question should be directed at Dr Nepstad and Dr Mahli. They are the ones who have used IPCC AR4 GCM runs to analyse local climatic changes; not the rest of us. The rest of us just observed (much like you did) that this is the not the correct thing to do.

  90. Kim,

    I think it is reasonable to assume that Dr Nepstad does not have an answer to these questions. He is reliant on Dr Mahli’s 2007 article which relies on model runs that even Phil Clarke considers to be the “wrong tool, wrong scale”.

    I think we can safely say that the science isn’t settled here, even based on papers two years after the AR4 document deadline passed.

  91. Spence – A global climate model is clearly in the categories ‘climate models’. It is not in the category ‘local things’.

    Koutsoyiannis et al (2008) compared the real-world weather at a total of 8 stations with the weather in colocated clusters of one to four grid cells. This resolution, even over a period of 30 years is simply insifficient to extract the signal for the noise and I am not aware that anyone attampts to use single grid boxes in this way. I refer readers to Koutsoyiannis’s fellow Hydrologist, Z.W. Kundezewicz, writing in the Journal of Hydrology

    “Koutsoyiannis et al. (2008, 2009) showed that the current generation of climate models
    reproduced aspects of past climate (at the local scale) poorly, and concluded that “predictions”
    based on these models are therefore unreliable. There are two flaws with this argument. First,
    climate models are not designed to reproduce accurately local variations in climate from year to
    year; they are designed to simulate broad features of the climate system and its variability. They
    will not reproduce exactly observed past variability if they are not guided with accurate, timevarying
    boundary conditions (such as time series of observed sea-surface temperatures), or if they
    do not represent exactly all the processes influencing year-to-year variability. Climate models
    which are driven with realistic sets of variable boundary conditions, such as observed sea-surface
    temperatures, are much more able to reproduce observed patterns of climatic variability (Hurrell et
    al., 2006). The second flaw, however, is more fundamental …..”

    Next they expanded the study by adding more grid stations, presenting the results at the EGU (Poster presentations are not usually in the category ‘peer-reviewed’). Some may find this upscaling compelling evidence that models are useless for regional or even global projections (upscaling and downscaling are in the category ‘scaling’, however they …. oh never mind), and the extensive literature on the subject is now invalid. I reserve judgement. If K et are correct, then the Climate Model chapters of AR5 will be a lot shorter ;-).

    Assuming Malhi et al [note the spelling] means this study, it does indeed state that

    “Taking the ensemble of 23 IPCC models as a crude metric of probabilities, some intensification of dry seasons is about 80% probable in the southeast Amazon and Guyanas […etc ]. However I can find nowhere where this study or Nepstad rely on the results from a few runs or individual grid cells or small clusters, which would make Koutsoyiannis et al relevant. Perhaps Kim or Spence could point it out?

    I do Kim the courtesy of assuming she has read the article she pronounces on.

    Kim I think it is reasonable to assume that Dr Nepstad does not have an answer to these questions.

    Your opinion is noted.

    PC.

  92. Brief Apology – I attributed the last post by Spence to Kim in error. My mistake.

  93. Phil,

    GCMs produce output of local climate through gridcells. It is clearly not a category error to ask whether they are meaningful. Changing the word “local climate” to “local things” does not a category change make.

    I understand there is a disagreement over many of these aspects between scientists. That’s fine. But nevertheless the question: are these outputs meaningful? is still a valid, scientific question to ask. And these questions and their answers are published. As such they should not be ignored by the IPCC.

    You say that climate models must be bounded by accurate sea surface temperatures to get local variations. (Dr Kundezewicz makes the same mistake here: sea surface temperatures are initial conditions, not boundary conditions, in the standard nomenclature of numerical modelling) But the results used by *Malhi 2007, cited by Dr Nepstad above to justify his views, have the same type of initialisation as the results used by Dr Koutsoyiannis. Dr Malhi does not use the global data but selects gridcells over the Amazon and comments on them. As noted, an ensemble cannot “fix” the problems with precipitation as the results are not “noisy”, but biased.

    Dr Kundezewicz also notes that climate models are not well suited to producing local climate: yet another scientist who outlines (just as you have above) that the methodology by Malhi 2007 is fundamentally flawed. Thank you for continuing to find people who show that you cannot derive local (or regional) climate from the IPCC AR4 runs in the way Malhi did. You underline my point very clearly.

    As for the analysis of the US 48 contiguous states, it has not been published at this time. Neither, of course, have Gavin’s criticisms of the work. This does not make either of them wrong. As noted, they decided not to submit some of the results (as they showed nothing new, and were not interesting enough to publish). However, it is a part of an ongoing project and I understand there are intentions to submit further articles to journals in the future on this topic.

    As for IPCC AR5, it is structured in the same way as AR4, so I fully expect it to present a narrow viewpoint, rather than a representation of a wide range of scientific views. I may be wrong: time will tell.

    I do not understand your commentary on the Malhi study though. Clearly, Malhi has looked at groups of individual grid cells selected over the Amazon region. There are diagrams of them in the article (which I have read, thank you). How else do you think the conclusions were reached? These are local climate variations. The ensemble does not help precipitation issues, as Koutsoyiannis et al clearly showed the precipitation results are biased, and averaging cannot remove bias (although it can confer a false sense of security by reducing variability).

    In summary: Dr Nepstad relies on Malhi 2007 to justify his claims that the IPCC is correct. Malhi 2007 selects gridcells over the Amazon rainforest from IPCC AR4 model runs to determine future rainfall characteristics – the same runs that Dr Koutsoyiannis has demonstrated do not reflect local climate. In addition, many other scientists – including Dr Schmidt and Dr Kundezewicz – agree that these model runs cannot accurately capture local climate, as you have noted.

    * thanks for catching the spelling error. I noted Dr Nepstad had an incorrect spelling above, and knew there should be a letter “h” in it – I put it in the wrong place. Now, hopefully, corrected.

  94. Last try then I give up:

    Koutsoyiannis (is he a Professor or a Doctor of Hydrology?) ‘demonstrated’ something that was already well-known: viz.

    Can GCMs predict the temperature and precipitation for my home?

    No. There are often large variation in the temperature and precipitation statistics over short distances because the local climatic characteristics are affected by the local geography. The GCMs are designed to describe the most important large-scale features of the climate, such as the energy flow, the circulation, and the temperature in a grid-box volume (through physical laws of thermodynamics, the dynamics, and the ideal gas laws). A typical grid-box may have a horizontal area of ~100×100 km2, but the size has tended to reduce over the years as computers have increased in speed. The shape of the landscape (the details of mountains, coastline etc.) used in the models reflect the spatial resolution, hence the model will not have sufficient detail to describe local climate variation associated with local geographical features (e.g. mountains, valleys, lakes, etc.).

    So GCMs do not correlate well with observations at the local level. Woop-de-doo. Let’s define ‘local’ as 1-4 grid cells or (generously) < 250x250km. Such discrepencies are irrelevant to and unmentioned by Malhi or Nepstad, despite claims above. (Of course they looked at 'groups of individual gridcells', the whole planet is 'some gridcells'!). They used regional projections. Any sensible definition of 'regional' in this context must mean millions of km2. The Amazon rainforest covers about 8,000,000 km2. I am simply not convinced that K's local findings can be extrapolated up to the regional scale referred to by Nepstad and Malhi.

    TTFN.

  95. Phil,

    I can see why you’re giving up. I’ve told you many, many times that the Koutsoyiannis work was extended to a region of 8 million sq km. And each time you bring back the same criticism: that the analysis only applies to single gridcells. Unfortunately, closing your eyes will not make this inconvenient fact go away for you.

    Your initial comments and criticisms were quite constructive, but they are now becoming a mixture of repeated criticisms that have been addressed (such as the single gridcell criticism) and new questions which are simply odd:

    Koutsoyiannis (is he a Professor or a Doctor of Hydrology?)

    He is a professor and a doctor. At least, last time I checked, having tenure did not result in the retraction of a previously earned doctorate.

    So GCMs do not correlate well with observations at the local level. Woop-de-doo.

    Yes, we have discussed this. This is *one* of the results of Koutsoyiannis’ work. One that you have provided considerable evidence to support.

    But this is not the only result. And your decision to wilfully ignore the second result – that spatial averaging to regional analysis makes the results worse – means that you miss the point.

    Imagine this conversation:
    Spence. “I have a study showing clouds are white and the sky is blue”
    Phil. “No, the sky is pink.”
    Spence. “My study shows that the sky is blue. You are wrong.”
    Phil. “No, your study shows the clouds are white. This is irrelevant to my observation that the sky is pink”
    Spence. “…”

    Back to your post:

    I am simply not convinced that K’s local findings can be extrapolated up to the regional scale referred to by Nepstad and Malhi.

    Firstly: Koutsoyiannis’ study covered both single points and a complete region of 8 million sq km.

    Malhi 2007 states.. “the forest of Amazonia covers 5.4 million sq km”. Somehow you have inflated that to 8 million sq km. Because we are referring to the Malhi study, I will use Dr Malhi’s figures.

    As you can see, 5.4 million square km lies between the data points of Koutsoyiannis study, from single grid cells to 8 million sq km. Therefore, we are extrapolating nothing. Indeed, in numerical analysis we refer to this as “interpolation”.

    And you are deeply unfair to Dr. Malhi. The analysis by Koutsoyiannis was completed some time after the Malhi paper was published. Of course it is unmentioned!!! Unless they have a time machine, I can’t see how it could be mentioned. Because the Koutsoyiannis work post dates the Malhi work, we must assess the implications for ourselves.

    Unsurprisingly, we may make different interpretations and come to different conclusions. However, to simply pretend the regional analysis conducted by the Itia group does not exist, after being told so many times, is an astonishingly weak viewpoint.

    I can’t stop you from holding it though. That’s your choice.

  96. I must comment one thing that Nepstad writes, even if it doesn’t seem like he will be return to this thread:
    “If those future drought episodes are more severe than in the past, then lots of damage from drought and fire could ensure.”
    Is anyone really questioning this?
    It would be like questioning a statement like: “If the world explodes, we all die.”, or: “If the Amazon burns to the ground, then there is no more Amazon.”

    This is clearly not what Booker, North etc. have been questioning.
    The above comment, and much of the other comments from AGW-proponents on this subject, are mere smoke screens.
    Since good science is made up of carefully gathered details, reports about science (like the IPCC reports, but also those in the mainstream media) should be true to those details and criticism concerning these details should NOT be met by sweeping, non quantative, loosely related replies that only serve to obscure these details further.

    AGW-proponents seem to be fond of using the “Would you risk standing in the middle of a highway?”-analogy, what they don’t seem to grasp is that first you must know that where you’re standing really is a highway, that it actually is up and running and that there actually is a risk of being hit by a vehicle.
    What they’re, including Nepstad, actually saying is:
    “Because there exist highways that are populated by potentially lethal vehicles in motion, you should not stand, sit or walk anywhere on this earth, because the place where you choose to tread could be a highway!”

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