UPDATE: 8/18 10:30AM I spoke with Dr. Judith Curry by telephone today, and she graciously offered the link to the full paper here, and has added this graphic to help clarify the discussion. I have reformatted it to fit this presentation format (side by side rather than top-bottom) While this is a controversial issue, I ask you please treat Dr. Curry with respect in discussions since she is bending over backwards to be accommodating. – Anthony
[Update] My thanks to Dr. Curry for showing the graphic above, as well as for her comment below and her general honesty and willingness to engage on these and other issues. She should be a role model for AGW supporters. I agree totally with Anthony’s call for respect and politeness in our dealings with her (as well as with all other honest scientists who are brave enough to debate their ideas in the blogosphere). I also commend the other author of the study, Jiping Liu, for his comments below.
However, as my Figure 2 below clearly shows, any analysis of the HadISST data going back to 1950 is meaningless for the higher Southern latitudes. The HadISST data before about 1980 is nonexistent or badly corrupted for all latitude bands from 40°S to 70°S. As a result, although the HAdISST graphic above looks authoritative, it is just a pretty picture. There are five decades in the study (1950-1999). The first three of the decades contain badly corrupted or nonexistent data. You can’t make claims about overall trends and present authoritative looking graphics when the first three-fifths of your data is missing or useless. – willis
Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Anthony has posted here on a new paper co-authored by Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, entitled “Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice”. The Georgia Tech press release is here. Having obtained the paper courtesy of my undersea conduit (h/t to WS once again), I can now comment on the study. My first comment is, “show us the data”. Instead of data, here’s what they start with:
Kinda looks like temperature data, doesn’t it? But it is not. It is the first Empirical Orthogonal Function of the temperature data … the original caption from the paper says:
Figure 1. Spatial patterns of the first EOF mode of the area-weighted annual mean SST south of 40 °S. Observations: (A) HadISST and (B) ERSST for the period 1950–1999. Simulations of CCSM3 (Left) and GFDL-CM2.1 (Right): (C, D) 50-year PIcntrl experiment (natural forcing only),
Given the title of “Accelerated warming”, one would be forgiven for assuming that (A) represents an actual measurement of a warming Southern Ocean. I mean, most of (A) is in colors of pink, orange, or red. What’s not to like?
When I look at something like this, I first look at the data itself. Not the first EOF. The data. The paper says they are using the Hadley Centre Sea Ice and Sea Surface Temperature (HadISST) data. Here’s what that data looks like, by 5° latitude band:
Figure 2. HadISST temperature record for the Southern Ocean, by 5° latitude band. Data Source.
My first conclusion after looking at that data is that it is mostly useless prior to about 1978. Before that, the data simply doesn’t exist in much of the Southern Ocean, it has just been shown as a single representative value.
So if I had been a referee on the paper my first question would be, why do the authors think that any analysis based on that HadISST data from 1950 to 1999 has any meaning at all?
Next, where is the advertised “Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean”? If we look at the period from 1978 onwards (the only time period with reasonable data over the entire Southern Ocean), there is a slight cooling trend nearest Antarctica, and no trend in the rest of the Southern Ocean. In other words, no warming, accelerated or otherwise.
Finally, I haven’t even touched on the other part of the equation, the precipitation. If you think temperature data is lacking over the Southern Ocean, precipitation data is much worse. The various satellite products (TRMM, SSM/i, GPCC) give widely varying numbers for precipitation in that region, with no significant correlation between any pair (maximum pairwise r^2 is 0.06).
My conclusion? There is nowhere near enough Southern Ocean data on either side of the temperature/precipitation equation to draw any conclusions. In particular, we can say nothing about the period pre-1978, and various precipitation datasets are very contradictory after 1978. Garbage in, you know what comes out …