NASA’s James Hansen is just wrong: Proof that there is no increased drought in the USA tied to temperature

From the James Hansen is just wrong department comes some inconvenient data, data that Dr. Hansen or anyone in the media could have easily looked up for themselves before writing irresponsible stories like this one:

Former Virginia State Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels, in a guest opinion on WUWT said:

Hansen claims that global warming is associated with increased drought in the US. This is a testable hypothesis which he chose not to test, and, because PNAS isn’t truly peer-reviewed for Members like him, no one tested it for him.

I have [examined] drought data [that] are from NCDC, and the temperature record is Hansen’s own. His hypothesis is a complete and abject failure.

I’ve looked at the data too, and I agree, Hansen’s hypothesis is a dud, and in no way supported by NOAA’s own data to be “scientific fact”. But, because it has been spread by an irresponsible and incurious media, its is a dangerous “dud”.

Let’s go to the data… 

In my research regarding why I didn’t think the July 2012 USA Temperature of 77.6F  was a record (compared to July 1936 of 77.4F), I spent some time trying to understand how they computed the value, since NCDC offers no way to replicate it and so far has not responded to my query about how it is done.

In conjunction with a switchover to happen next year from simple division averages (TCDD) to gridded averages (GrDD, which they say will be more accurate) NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) offers a visualization tool to plot all sorts of data for the continental USA (CONUS). From NCDC’s U.S. Climate Divisions page:

A visualization toolkit was created to help users examine snapshots of both datasets for the comparison period (i.e., through December 2009). The tool allows the user to select criteria which are of interest and investigate the comparisons themselves. Parameters included in the toolkit are temperature, precipitation, and a variety of drought indices. Changes in monthly, seasonal and annual variability can be examined through the use of the interactive time series plots. In addition, slope (trend) values by decade and 30-year period may also be added to the output plots. This allows the user to take a closer look at the behavior of the data at a variety of smaller time scales throughout the record.

Unfortunately, they don’t have 2010-2012 data online, and I could go to the NCDC FTP site and get the remaining data and plot all of it, but since many people on the alarmist bandwagon don’t trust data plots from skeptics, I thought the fact that these are unmodified 100+ year plots from NCDC directly outweighed the 3 years of data they didn’t provide.

Here’s some screen caps output direct from that visualization toolkit. You can visit it and exactly replicate any of these for yourself.

First, CONUS temperature:

Contiguous U.S. Temperature – annual average – source NCDC – click for larger image

No surprise there. In my opinion, GHCN and all of its airport weather stations tends to make the present warmer than the past, with 1998 being warmer than 1934. But that’s another old story. My real interest in this essay is in precipitation trends and drought trends which don’t go through as many issues with equipment, siting, adjustments, as temperature does.

Here’s national precipitation:

Contiguous U.S. precipitation – annual average – source NCDC – click for larger image

Some people say the precip is down in the summer months due to “increasing drought”, that’s unsupported by the data:

Contiguous U.S. precipitation – summer months June, July, August – source NCDC – click for larger image

Like with CONUS temperature, there’s an upward trend annual precipitation, and essentially no trend in summer months. This is curious, because if as Dr. Hansen is quoted as saying regarding U.S. Droughts…

“This is not some scientific theory,” Hansen told The Associated Press in an interview. “We are now experiencing scientific fact.”

…you’d expect a downward trend in U.S. precipitation. Interestingly, as shown in the plot above, the driest period for precipitation in the USA is 1951-1956, followed by a big upswing.

But precipitation totals alone is not a measure of drought, soil moisture and other factors figure in too. Let’s look at some drought data. Using NCDC’s visualization toolkit, I’ve plotted the major drought indices based on the Palmer Drought Index. Here’s a description of these indices from NCDC’s page on the current Palmer Index:

The Palmer Z Index measures short-term drought on a monthly scale.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) (known operationally as the Palmer Drought Index (PDI)) attempts to measure the duration and intensity of the long-term drought-inducing circulation patterns. Long-term drought is cumulative, so the intensity of drought during the current month is dependent on the current weather patterns plus the cumulative patterns of previous months. Since weather patterns can change almost literally overnight from a long-term drought pattern to a long-term wet pattern, the PDSI (PDI) can respond fairly rapidly.

The hydrological impacts of drought (e.g., reservoir levels, groundwater levels, etc.) take longer to develop and it takes longer to recover from them. The Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI), another long-term drought index, was developed to quantify these hydrological effects. The PHDI responds more slowly to changing conditions than the PDSI (PDI).

Here’s the plots, note that for the Palmer Index, negative values correlate to drier conditions, and positive values show wetter conditions. First PDSI:

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index – annual average – source NCDC – click for larger image

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index – all months – source NCDC – click for larger image

And since some people will argue that summer months are the most affected:

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index – summer months June, July, August – source NCDC – click for larger image

The flatness of the Palmer Drought Severity Index, compared to the upward trends of temperature and precipitation, strongly suggest no correlation between CONUS temperature and CONUS drought severity.  But let’s not stop there, let’s examine the other PDI data types.

Here’s the Modified Palmer Drought Severity Index, the operational version of the PDSI, which was defined in Heddinghaus and Sabol (1991).

Contiguous U.S. Modified Palmer Drought Severity Index – annual average – source NCDC – click for larger image

Here’s the same data by months:

Contiguous U.S. Modified Palmer Drought Severity Index – all months – source NCDC – click for larger image

Contiguous U.S. Modified Palmer Drought Severity Index – summer months June, July, August – source NCDC – click for larger image

For summer months, the century scale trend is slightly down. But there is still no large century scale trend in drought.

How about the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index?

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Hydrological Drought Index – annual average – source NCDC – click for larger image

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Hydrological Drought Index – all months – source NCDC – click for larger image

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Hydrological Index – summer months June, July, August – source NCDC – click for larger image

Still essentially flat. Note that while there are slight upward trends in the divisional data plots (suggesting less drought), NCDC says this is erroneous, and will introduce the new gridded method in 2013. The GHCN values are flat.

How about the short-term Palmer Z Index? Maybe Hansen’s drought correlation is hiding there?

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Z Index – annual – source NCDC – click for larger image

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Z Index – all months – source NCDC – click for larger image

Still pretty much flat, though there’s a spike in the monthly plot for 2009 that beats 1915. As we know, a couple of months of dry conditions does not a long-term trend make.

How about the summer months for the short-term Z-index?

Contiguous U.S. Palmer Z Index – summer months, June, July, August – source NCDC – click for larger image

Short term summer months Z index is slightly down in the last 114 years. But not largely so, certainly nothing like the inverse correlation with CONUS temperature we’d expect to see if Hansen’s hypothesis was true.

Pat Michaels, in his previous WUWT opinion piece, noted that Hansen is making a claim that global temperatures are driving U.S drought, and did a scatterplot to gauge correlation between Hansen’s own GISS temperature data (GISTEMP) and the U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index with annual data through 2011:

Annual PDSI -vs- Annual Global GISTEMP – Source: Dr. Pat Michaels

There’s no correlation: zero, zip, nada. If there were, you’d see the dots align along a diagonal line, there’s not even a hint of that. Of course proponents might say that but, but, but, 2012 was a terrible drought. Yes, it was, it is, but a few months of a not yet complete year of data does not a long term trend make. And, we’ve seen worse in the past.

In a Tweet today, NYT reporter Andrew Revkin agrees, drawing attention to this Sunday essay Hundred Year Forecast – Drought (which he didn’t write), saying:

This 21 century reconstruction of rainfall for New Mexico, done by Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, University of Tennessee, in the paper “A 2,129-Year Reconstruction of Precipitation for Northwestern New Mexico, USA,” 1996; David M. Anderson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center. Full details here.

This paper suggests that what New Mexico experiences today, isn’t really any different from what it has been experiencing in the past, when CO2 levels were far lower. In fact, for the most recent period, New Mexico has had greater rainfall:

21 centuries of rainfall in New Mexico – click for larger image

Taken in toto these facts and data say to me that the “scientific fact” promoted by Dr. Hansen is pure political hogwash.

PNAS should withdraw the paper, and NASA should fire Dr. Hansen for promoting an opinion unsupported by data as “scientific fact”.

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72 Responses to NASA’s James Hansen is just wrong: Proof that there is no increased drought in the USA tied to temperature

  1. Juraj V says:

    In God we trust. All others show the data.

  2. Could this be a case of confirmation bias, eloquently described by Matthew Ridley in the WSJ recently?

    Kurt in Switzerland

  3. Matthew W says:

    Broken link?
    “From NCDC’s U.S. Climate Divisions page:”

    REPLY:
    Fixed thanks, A

  4. Luther Wu says:

    Andrew Revkin gets it right, sometimes, and Hansen hasn’t been right yet.

  5. Toto says:

    I clicked on the screenshot of that article and was shocked to see the photo of Hansen. He should take better care of himself. I’ve seen more flattering police mug shots. The article says he is a man often called the “godfather of global warming”. The Godfather, right.

    I notice in that news story that the story sticks closely to blaming “global warming” and hardly mentions greenhouse gases. Who knows, the next story may be that the earth has warmed since the Little Age! or that the earth has warmed since the last Ice Age. Shocking, we must act now!

  6. davidmhoffer says:

    Kurt in Switzerland says:
    August 12, 2012 at 11:44 am
    Could this be a case of confirmation bias, eloquently described by Matthew Ridley in the WSJ recently?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well yes, it could be.
    And Obama could be a closet conservative.

  7. David A. Evans says:

    So as the data don’t support their claims, they’re going to change the way we view it?

    DaveE.

  8. Bill H says:

    The Hansen Mann school of scientific bull **** continues. makes me wonder if science class for them was a bottle of Elmer’s glue, some charts, and mimeograph machine..

  9. Ian W says:

    As I said in the previous thread. All of Hansen’s output should be attributed to NASA as he is funded by them and repeatedly states that he is ‘a NASA Researcher’. The posting would have more effect if it was titled:
    NASA is just wrong: Proof that there is no increased drought in the USA tied to temperature”

  10. Gene Selkov says:

    “We are now experiencing scientific fact.”

    That’s the point I’m afraid you all missed, ladies and gents. Only properly trained and spiritually enlightened scientists can experience scientific facts; the rest of us have to make do with simple, lowly, plain-vanilla facts, like those shown in the graphs.

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    Droughts happen when there is no rain, and there is no rain because lack of evaporated water (clouds) which in turn it is due to a colder climate.
    If global warming were true we would have much more evaporation-more clouds- more rain….

  12. Smokey says:

    GISS under James Hansen routinely changes the past record. Very dishonest, no?

    REPLY:No, not exactly. To be fair, most of that happens at NCDC due to USHCN adjustments. GISS is a user of that data product, so adjustments propagate to their output products as well. – Anthony

  13. Chuck Nolan says:

    Ian W says:
    August 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm
    …………..The posting would have more effect if it was titled:
    “NASA is just wrong: Proof that there is no increased drought in the USA tied to temperature”
    ——————
    Ian, I like it.

  14. John West says:

    “You can visit it and exactly replicate any of these for yourself.”

    That’s science.

    Some highlights:
    “Inference does not lead infailibly to truth.”

    “Science is shared knowledge, knowledge whose discovery can be replicated by others”

    “the demarcation criterion between science and non-science is falsifiability”

  15. Dagfinn says:

    As I’ve pointed out earlier, Hansen is also in conflict with the IPCC on this point. As quoted by Roger Pielke Jr: “… in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America …” http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.no/2012/08/ipcc-lead-author-misleads-us-congress.html

  16. Chuck Nolan says:

    Wow they’re quick. It only took two months.
    In June James Lovelock was the “Godfather of global warming”
    http://www.torontosun.com/2012/06/22/green-drivel

    Since he changed his mind it looks like they’re re-writing history and quietly taking his title and giving it to James Hansen.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/08/04/climate-change-real-scientist.html

    Within six months people will have forgotten James Lovelock was the godfather of global warming. Dare I say 1984?

  17. NikFromNYC says:

    We need to send some of those Mars landers to Earth to get the honest Abes @ NASA into the loop. Rent is so $$$ up here down a couple blocks from Tom’s diner that I also wonder why NASA hasn’t developed floating city extensions with underwater workspace us entrepreneurs can sign up for? The reactor needed to power it could be safely buried in bedrock, down below. Who scuttled the Atomic Age? Jimmy did, @ NASA. Be careful whose space probe you cancel, next time, dear voters, lest you create more Venus envy in budding psychopaths with dear old tree hugger constructed personalities, safely sheltered by literal Muslim pride activism @ NASA.gov brought to you by oil money funding of political campaigns and lobbying, I suspect. Solution? Drain the swamp of funny money influence by drilling enough fossil fuel to export like crazy. Duh!

  18. Chuck Nolan says:

    This was from an article in June:
    “Two months ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, gave a startling interview to msnbc.com in which he acknowledged he had been unduly “alarmist” about climate change.”
    And now we have this:
    The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that, from the 1950s through the 1980s, the likelihood of such sweltering temperatures occurring was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by James Hansen.
    Proof
    If you don’t support the “Team” not only will you not get published, you will lose your “title”.

  19. Theodore White says:

    First, let’s remember our condolences to the Phelan family.

    Here we go again, more ‘statistical” lies from NASA’s James Hansen.

    For one, I forecasted this year’s drought in advance, in my Astromet Seasonal 2012 Climate Forecast, published in March and can say with 110% certainty that the drought is NOT caused by man-made global warming.”

    The cause?

    It’s the SUN, stupid.

    For years, that’s all I’ve been saying, that global warming is caused by the Sun. That follows the laws of physics.

    And, nothing has changed.

    The Sun warms and cools the Earth. The laws of physics, and no one – not even James Hansen – can change that. Ever.

    Last year as I was worked on my seasonal forecast for 2012 and was nearly ready to publish my public service forecast, I knew when the heat waves, lack of rains and then the resulting drought would arrive this year that people such as Hansen would use this drought to proclaim the following, as Hansen surely did in the CBC piece Anthony Watts highlighted, titled ‘DROUGHT SHOWS GLOBAL WARMING IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT, NASA researcher’s study ‘reframes the question,’ UVic professor says.’

    I fully expected to AGW ideologues state this in the media. After Hansen, you will then see the AGW dominoes fall right into line with pronouncements worldwide saying what Hansen has said. Expect to read more of these AGW lies in the media and the Internet over the coming months.

    But, everything that Hansen said in that article is not true. It simply is not and can never be.

    The misrepresentation of what drives our climate – the laws of physics – are completely ignored by Hansen, who obviously believes the fantasy of man-made global warming but not the Second Law Of Thermodynamics – active and in operation to this very day?

    Think of it. A scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York who is also a professor at Columbia University continues to be acclaimed for something that does not exist?

    Something that can never happen on Earth because the laws of physics say so?

    To publish such an article with any kind of objectivity, common sense and balance has been quite pervasive throughout mainstream media for years on the fallacy of ‘man-made global warming’ (aka “climate change”) though more news organizations are now waking up from their deep climate slumber.

    We all know that anthropogenic global warming ideology has been nothing more than a giant ponzi scheme hoisted onto upon the world – costing tens of billions that could have been put to much better use elsewhere.

    Careerist ideologues like James Hansen love to pounce on climate/weather events whenever they think that they can dupe the media and the public into believing their lies to support their ideologist agenda.

    James Hansen is the chief ideologue who attempts to teach this ideology at university where he can tell students what to think.

    Hansen is telling them NOT to believe in the laws of physics.

    Hansen is telling them not to believe their own eyes. Hansen is telling them lies.

    Curiously, Hansen did not forecast a drought for this season. Hansen does not prove that he knows how to forecast the climate and weather in the real world. He has never done this.

    But what Hansen has done before is to pontificate on ‘man-made global warming’ but he never produces a seasonal climate forecast – that’s 3 months of climate – in advance.

    Rather, what Hansen says he has done, here in his ‘study’ – is to obscure the true causes of the current drought based on his “statistics that are not your “typical climate modelling” and blames the heat waves purely on global warming?

    That’s what ideological climate modelers do, they base their ‘statistics’ chosen to fit their desired outcome, to then pronounce their desired ideology as fact when it is fiction.

    The true verifier of all climate and weather forecasts is Mother Nature. She has the last say on all forecasts.

    That’s what I call the laws of physics: Mother Nature.

    Moreover, how can Hansen even presume to apply his ‘statistics’ at this time when the drought is not over?

    The drought has started, yes, but it is not over. So just how can Hansen presume to then judge what will happen when we are not at the end of this current drought? That is when the ‘statistics’ are then formulated. To look back and count.

    But Hansen does not forecast seasonal climate weather, so how can he look ahead? He uses statistics on events like the ongoing drought which is not over?

    We are in the midst of the drought and still taking down all the numbers.

    So how is Hansen able to ascertain what says about this drought with statistics – that’s the numbers – when all the numbers are not yet in? How is that possible?

    I forecasted this drought, not using statistics, but by astronomical means, in advance. I wrote published my seasonal forecast in advance of the summer/fall 2012 seasons. That’s six months. See -> http://solarcycle24com.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=globalwarming&action=display&thread=1929

    This, after a good spring planting season where American farmers in the corn-belt had planted a record corn crop. Those who did not listen to the long-range climate forecast were then shocked to see the drought arrive this solar year, as forecasted.

    Moreover, the current spreading drought is caused by the lack of precipitation extending over regions of the United States. It was then acerbated by warmer-than-normal temperatures by means of heat waves as I forecasted would happen this year.

    The drought is ongoing at the time of writing in August 2012. It is not over; so we cannot apply statistics at this time, as Hansen has done, to say that ‘global warming’ – rather than the SUN – is the cause.

    That is essentially what Hansen is saying here. He is denying the laws of physics.

    This drought is caused by the conditions in space. That is where our Earth lives and the Sun is the cause of all global warming. Why? Because the laws of physics say so.

    For scientists like James Hansen to reject the laws of physics is not a issue of climate science, or skepticism, nor even ideology – but more a matter of mental health.

    - Theodore White, astrometeorologist.Sci

  20. Theodore White says:

    First, let’s remember our condolences to the Phelan family.

    Here we go again, more ‘statistical” lies from NASA’s James Hansen.

    For one, I forecasted this year’s drought in advance, in my Astromet Seasonal 2012 Climate Forecast, published in March and can say with 110% certainty that the drought is NOT caused by man-made global warming.”

    The cause?

    It’s the SUN, stupid.

    For years, that’s all I’ve been saying, that global warming is caused by the Sun. That follows the laws of physics.

    And, nothing has changed.

    The Sun warms and cools the Earth. The laws of physics, and no one – not even James Hansen – can change that. Ever.

    Last year as I was worked on my seasonal forecast for 2012 and was nearly ready to publish my public service forecast, I knew when the heat waves, lack of rains and then the resulting drought would arrive this year that people such as Hansen would use this drought to proclaim the following, as Hansen surely did in the CBC piece Anthony Watts highlighted, titled ‘DROUGHT SHOWS GLOBAL WARMING IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT, NASA researcher’s study ‘reframes the question,’ UVic professor says.’

    I fully expected AGW ideologues to say this in the media during the drought that was coming. After Hansen’s statements, you will see the AGW ideologues fall right into line with pronouncements worldwide saying what Hansen has said. Expect to read more of these AGW lies in the media and the Internet over the coming months.

    But, everything that Hansen said in that article is not true. It simply is not and can never be.

    The misrepresentation of what drives our climate – the laws of physics – are completely ignored by Hansen, who obviously believes the fantasy of man-made global warming but not the Second Law Of Thermodynamics – active and in operation to this very day?

    Think of it. A scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York who is also a professor at Columbia University continues to be acclaimed for something that does not exist?

    Something that can never happen on Earth because the laws of physics say so?

    To publish such an article with any kind of objectivity, common sense and balance has been quite pervasive throughout mainstream media for years on the fallacy of ‘man-made global warming’ (aka “climate change”) though more news organizations are now waking up from their deep climate slumber.

    We all know that anthropogenic global warming ideology has been nothing more than a giant ponzi scheme hoisted onto upon the world – costing tens of billions that could have been put to much better use elsewhere.

    Careerist ideologues like James Hansen love to pounce on climate/weather events whenever they think that they can dupe the media and the public into believing their lies to support their ideologist agenda.

    James Hansen is the chief ideologue who attempts to teach this ideology at university where he can tell students what to think.

    Hansen is telling them NOT to believe in the laws of physics.

    Hansen is telling them not to believe their own eyes. Hansen is telling them lies.

    Curiously, Hansen did not forecast a drought for this season. Hansen does not prove that he knows how to forecast the climate and weather in the real world. He has never done this.

    But what Hansen has done before is to pontificate on ‘man-made global warming’ but he never produces a seasonal climate forecast – that’s 3 months of climate – in advance.

    Rather, what Hansen says he has done, here in his ‘study’ – is to obscure the true causes of the current drought based on his “statistics that are not your “typical climate modelling” and blames the heat waves purely on global warming?

    That’s what ideological climate modelers do, they base their ‘statistics’ chosen to fit their desired outcome, to then pronounce their desired ideology as fact when it is fiction.

    The true verifier of all climate and weather forecasts is Mother Nature. She has the last say on all forecasts.

    That’s what I call the laws of physics: Mother Nature.

    Moreover, how can Hansen even presume to apply his ‘statistics’ at this time when the drought is not over?

    The drought has started, yes, but it is not over. So just how can Hansen presume to then judge what will happen when we are not at the end of this current drought? That is when the ‘statistics’ are then formulated. To look back and count.

    But Hansen does not forecast seasonal climate weather, so how can he look ahead? He uses statistics on events like the ongoing drought which is not over?

    We are in the midst of the drought and still taking down all the numbers.

    So how is Hansen able to ascertain what says about this drought with statistics – that’s the numbers – when all the numbers are not yet in? How is that possible?

    I forecasted this drought, not using statistics, but by astronomical means, in advance. I wrote published my seasonal forecast in advance of the summer/fall 2012 seasons. That’s six months. See -> http://solarcycle24com.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=globalwarming&action=display&thread=1929

    This, after a good spring planting season where American farmers in the corn-belt had planted a record corn crop. Those who did not listen to the long-range climate forecast were then shocked to see the drought arrive this solar year, as forecasted.

    Moreover, the current spreading drought is caused by the lack of precipitation extending over regions of the United States. It was then acerbated by warmer-than-normal temperatures by means of heat waves as I forecasted would happen this year.

    The drought is ongoing at the time of writing in August 2012. It is not over; so we cannot apply statistics at this time, as Hansen has done, to say that ‘global warming’ – rather than the SUN – is the cause.

    That is essentially what Hansen is saying here. He is denying the laws of physics.

    This drought is caused by the conditions in space. That is where our Earth lives and the Sun is the cause of all global warming. Why? Because the laws of physics say so.

    For scientists like James Hansen to reject the laws of physics is not a issue of climate science, or skepticism, nor even ideology – but more a matter of mental health.

    - Theodore White, astrometeorologist.Sci

  21. michaelspj says:

    I am reposting this comment that I entered in near the end of the comments on my original piece. One reader, SRJ, had suggested it would be better for me to have compared US temperatures to the Palmer Index. Here it is:

    SRJ–

    I’ll go you one better. What we are really interested in is how much US drought behavior is explained by global warming, [as Hansen clearly is stating that US droughts are being enhanced by GLOBAL warming]. [The problem is the PE term in the PDSI is partially determined by temperature, so it is a truism that warmer than normal readings will lower the normalized PDSI]. So, first let’s regress GLOBAL temperature anomalies and US temperature anomalies. The r-squared is .33 (adjusted).

    Then we can use the temperatures fit by the regression and compare them to the national PDSI. The explained variance is ZERO.

    Now, let’s regress the residual from the global-US fit–i.e., the NON-global warming component of the US record, on the national PDSI values. While the r-squared is low–.045–because of the sample size, that is signficant, indicating that it is the NON-global warming component of the global GISS temperatures that is related to drought here, and NOT the global warming component.

    I caution you that the regression statistics are very smarmy due to obvious intercorrelation in the temperature history, and that the residual degrees of freedom are surely less than n-1-1.

  22. GeologyJim says:

    After 40+ years as a field geologist, I think I have a pretty clear (and humbling) idea of the scientific method: Observation, Hypothesis, Verification/Validation, and Revision. There is no Final Answer, no Consensus, no Settled Science.

    The historical record is incomplete, the processes are only partially known, and the best explanation of all facts at any point in time is just that – nothing more – subject to further testing.

    Egomaniacs like Hansen drive me nuts because they fundamentally corrupt the title/concept of Scientist for political/personal reasons to claim special authority in public debate.

    There is phenomenal arrogance behind the presumption that, because some small part of a highly chaotic system can be reduced to a mathematical expression, only scientists can understand and interpret the results and state implications for public policy. When so-called scientists cross this line and presume to claim moral/intellectual authority in policy discussions, they cease to be scientists. They become political hacks.

    The money and fame that have accrued to “climate science” have largely corrupted the investigative sciences in the field.

    This is so, so, so deeply sad.

    Years, probably decades, will be needed to reverse these perversions of the scientific method.

  23. Pat Frank says:

    I’d like to read what Demetris Koutsoyiannis has to offer about the current drought and precipitation records. No matter what his message, we could be sure that it’s strictly honest and rigorous. If he agreed with Jim Hansen, so be it.

  24. Curiousgeorge says:

    Juraj V says:
    August 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    In God we trust. All others show the data.
    **********************************************

    I realize your comment is a take-off of an old cliche’ , but nonetheless; who’s god are you placing your trust in? There are literally hundreds to choose from. All of them invented by people. I would demand data from any of them.

  25. commieBob says:

    This morning I forced myself to listen to an interview on the CBC with Richard Muller. Very interesting.
    I think I understand why people are paying so much attention to him.

    Many people and institutions have a lot invested in the ‘fact’ that anthropogenic CO2 is causing global warming. They will have a hard time admitting otherwise. On the other hand, almost nobody wants to commit economic suicide by making energy prohibitively expensive.

    Muller gives folks a way to throw Hansen under the bus while they continue to believe in AGW. Absolutely brilliant! I got two things from the interview:

    Hansen & co. are unduly alarmist and should not be listened to.
    The best way to reduce CO2 is to assist China (and India presumably) to get off coal and onto natural gas. Fracking is good and gives us time to develop the technologies we need for a long time solution.

    I take this as a sign that the-powers-that-be are looking for a way to back away from CAGW dogma. The problem for them is to get rid of Hansen without self-inflicted damage. Muller could be the solution.

  26. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    Geology Jim:

    Thank you. Your comment hit the nail squarely on the head.
    Geologists rock! (pun intended).

  27. Fred says:

    Hansen plumbs new depths of desperation to satisfy his Attention Seeking Disorder.

    Have to feel sorry for NASA – their reputation is soiled as Hansen goes so far off the reservation.

  28. kim2ooo says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings and commented:
    Thanks for this

  29. Jeff Alberts says:

    Typo: “Here’s the plots”…

    REPLY: Jeff, I realize your are trying to be helpful, playing typo cop. Your constant objection to this is noted, but I’m not going to change. Here’s why:

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/here%27s

    Thank you for your consideration in exercising restraint in the future.

    -Anthony

  30. Kev-in-UK says:

    Hansen isn’t just wrong – He’s just a complete ………….continue ad infinitum……

  31. Kev-in-UK says:

    GeologyJim says:
    August 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm
    absofeckinglutely – but then again, as I’m also a geologist, I guess I am a bit biased….but more seriously, there are not many folk more dedicated to the scientific method than real earth scientists, simply because their work is readily available for review and question – it’s there for all to see! (unlike Mr Hansens made up mumbo jumbo media BS)

  32. richardscourtney says:

    Curiousgeorge:

    re. your comment at August 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm.

    Stop it! This is not the place for you to flog your atheism or any other religion. It merely clogs up threads.

    Richard

    PS In case you think my admonition is an attempt to duck your question, I will answer it. There is only one God but people experience and interpret Him in many ways. Now, you have an answer so you do not have any excuse to not stop it.

  33. matt v. says:

    A significant factor influencing US drought patterns is not temperature but the sign of AMO or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation . When it is postive [warmer Atlantic SST]] there is less rain in many parts of US and a spatial pattern of drought for the Midwest , Southwest and Rocky Mountains/GreatBasin. A positive AMO existed 1860-1880,1926-1964, and again currently since 1995. One can see that much of the significant negative Palmer Drought index took place when AMO was positive . The warm Atlantic alters the rain fall pattern for the area s noted above.

  34. Robert of Ottawa says:

    It’s not confirmation bias – it is fraud and lies.

  35. Here in UK we have a fantastic climate, not too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. We have enough rain to avoid drought and enough sunshine to grow our crops. But the weather is awful!!
    When an alleged scientist confuses climate with weather, then the allegations are correct; he/she is not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination!

  36. Political Junkie says:

    The story is from the CBC, sadly a government funded Canadian broadcaster that has paid for decades to have David Suzuki preach pseudo-science to the scientifically innumerate.

  37. NikFromNYC says:

    Oh wow…lamer Romney’s VP is a serious AGW skeptic! Too bad for budding science students he’s also a likely creationist. I can’t vote for reason, only cycle between Earth and Sky religions. It was here in New York state that Jesus handed out now lost golden tablets, according to the future president. I wonder why he didn’t go to China?

    John Ray scooped you on this one, Tony, via the No Tricks Zone blog:

    http://antigreen.blogspot.com/2012/08/vp-candidate-paul-ryan-climatologists.html

  38. old engineer says:

    I was convinced by Pat Michaels’ scatter plot that there was no relationship between temperature and drought in the U.S. This is just icing on the cake.

    While Hansen does say in his paper, in the first paragraph under the heading “Broader Implications” the following:

    ”With the temperature amplified by global warming and ubiquitous surface heating from elevated greenhouse gas amounts, extreme drought conditions can develop.”

    His paper is not about proving that statement (which he doesn’t), but it is rather about, as he says in his introductory paragraph:

    “The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period.”

    Rather than having another Hansen bashing session, it would be refreshing to see some discussion of whether his analysis of the the temperature distributions proves what he say or not.

    My initial take is that, of course the current hot extremes are more than 3 sigma warmer than the base period. The extremes were more 3 sigma in the 1951-1980 base period too. That’s how the extremes are defined.

    How about it, any takers on a discussion of the paper?.

  39. JJ says:

    David A. Evans says:

    So as the data don’t support their claims, they’re going to change the way we view it?

    Yes, that is precisely the point and purpose of Hansen’s paper. Nothing wrt global surface temp has changed in favor of the CAGW position in the last several years. Predicted to be steeply rising, it is flat (or slowly falling, depending on the temp reconstruction you look at). So, what do you do when you have a naked Emperor? You pretend him some new clothes, and tell everyone that they should be able to see them. Thus the theme of Hansen’s paper.

    This business of droughts is really a sideshow, and detracts from an effective critique of the paper. Increased droughts isn’t even a finding of the paper – it’s just one of the throw away ‘everything you see is global warming’ conjectures. Annoying and certainly wrong, but a small drop in this particular bucket of propaganda.

    Cliff Mass’s critique is more on point, but even he missed some of the statistical shennigans and he didn’t touch on the rest of the misleading propaganda, which is directed entirely at getting people to see anthropogenic global warming in everything they see.

  40. clipe says:

    Just in case I missed the “post comment” button.

    All we ask is you cut off the horns and wipe it’s bum please

  41. David says:

    OMG What about this hundred year drought we are in now as per: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/opinion/sunday/extreme-weather-and-drought-are-here-to-stay.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all
    We are all doomed! /sarc off

  42. David Ball says:

    Jeff Alberts says:
    August 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm
    Good luck Anthony. A pedant cannot help himself. Adds nothing to the discussion and I have always been able to figure out what someone is trying to say, even if they have made a typo or grammatical error. Hello again jeff !!!!

  43. Curiousgeorge says:

    @ richardscourtney says:
    August 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    *******************************************
    Wow! Pretty thin skinned aintcha? Not exactly what I would call tolerant of others.

  44. Ric Werme says:

    Jeff Alberts says:
    August 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    > Typo: “Here’s the plots”…

    > REPLY: Jeff, I realize your are trying to be helpful, playing typo cop ….

    Gentle suggestion, if I may.

    There are plenty of proofreaders here, not too many typos get missed. I’ve taken to commenting on typos only when I have something worthwhile to say about the post, then just note it at the bottom of my comment.

    My apologies for not having something useful to say here.

  45. matt v. says:
    August 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm
    A significant factor influencing US drought patterns is not temperature but the sign of AMO or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation . When it is postive [warmer Atlantic SST]] there is less rain in many parts of US and a spatial pattern of drought for the Midwest , Southwest and Rocky Mountains/GreatBasin. A positive AMO existed 1860-1880,1926-1964, and again currently since 1995. One can see that much of the significant negative Palmer Drought index took place when AMO was positive . The warm Atlantic alters the rain fall pattern for the area s noted above.

    While AMO and US drought may well be correlated, I can’t see how there could be a causative mechanism for a warmer North Atlantic causing US drought. Air from over the North Atlantic rarely reaches any distance into the CONUS, certainly not as far as the US Southwest. Which makes me conclude there is some common cause (or causes).

  46. scizzorbill says:

    Regional drought does not confirm global warming. Nor does regional flooding confirm global warming.

  47. I’d add. Any correlation between AMO and US drought would point to US drought as the cause of a positive (warmer) AMO, through the mechanism of decreased CONUS evaporation, less cloud over the N Atlantic, increased solar insolation, increased SSTs.

  48. James Sexton says:

    PNAS should withdraw the paper, and NASA should fire Dr. Hansen for promoting an opinion unsupported by data as “scientific fact”.
    ==========================================
    I don’t know. I mean sure the paper should be withdrawn, but the fact that it was rubberstamped like that should be a daily post in once skeptic blog or another on a daily basis. And, if Hansen gets fired, we would have a dearth of new material!

  49. Travis Landsman says:

    It does’nt matter that Hansen is wrong. It has been reported as fact in the media and the majority of people will never see anything else.

  50. old engineer says:

    Hansen also states in his paper, in the second paragraph under the heading “Broader Implications” the following:

    “A warmer world is expected to have more extreme rainfall occurrences because the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere holds increases rapidly with temperature,…”

    So next year if we have floods instead of drought, Hansen can still quote his paper, and the MSM headlines will be “Scientist says Global Warming Causes Floods.”

  51. Maybe some political economy will be useful. James Hansen is wrong and lacks empirical evidence. What if Hansen knows you know he lacks empirical evidence, but that is not his aim?

    Informational cascades may well be his aim. Prior to climate-gate much of the global cooling, warming, change or what have you was based upon the ability to disseminate incorrect information through informational cascades.

    Climate-gate was one of those informational cascade stoppers for all but those that began the cascade and/or those that live by mysticism.

    Rather than going back and producing empirical evidence, what if the aim is to merely restart the informational cascade? Hansen is doing his part, along with other doing their part, to begin the cascade once gain. Why bother producing empirical evidence when the cascade was working so well before climate-gate.

    As Thomas Sowell has stated on many occasions, [paraphrasing]: fallacies never die, they are merely recycled.

  52. anticlimactic says:

    Climate science is unusual in that the work of ‘professionals’ can often be amateur, and the work of ‘amateurs’ can often be professional!

  53. David says:

    old engineer says:
    August 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    Hansen also states in his paper, in the second paragraph under the heading “Broader Implications” the following:
    “A warmer world is expected to have more extreme rainfall occurrences because the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere holds increases rapidly with temperature,…”
    =====================================================================
    So next year if we have floods instead of drought, Hansen can still quote his paper, and the MSM headlines will be “Scientist says Global Warming Causes Floods.”
    ===================================
    Yes Sir, you catch on right quick. Until climate science, catch 22 was not part and parcel of the “scientific method”

  54. Leslie says:

    Regarding 1950s-1980s, the CBC article says:

    “But Derek Arndt, director of climate monitoring for the U.S. government’s National Climatic Data Center, said that range is a fair one and often used because it is the “golden era” for good statistics.”

    What does that even mean — golden era for good statistics? What era are we in now?

  55. E.M.Smith says:

    Looking at graphs of proxy data for droughts from 500, 2000, and up to 10,000 year intervals it is very clear that this drought is a pipsqueak in comparison with past historical droughts. From about 1 A.D. to about 1200 A.D. things were way way drier. In about 1550 ish A.D. as well. Also, the 1950s way worse drought shows up nicely. (Though much smaller than the droughts of the first millennium).

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/drought-is-not-a-global-warming-sign/

    Charts and graphs from NCDC / NOAA publications that makes it all just the sweeter…

    Hansen is now just making up political spin that is demonstrably wrong by the data from his own buddies / agencies. Sad to see someone go that far around the bend…

  56. Gail Combs says:

    According to the drought map mid North Carolina is sitting in moderate drought.

    Well you could not prove it by the amount of rain we have been getting the last month (25 rainy days out of the last 45 days) or by the Jordan Lake Reservoir that is stuff to the gills. The water level is high up on the trunks of the trees lining the lake shore as of 3:00 pm when I drove past and has been all summer. Actually this summer has been rather soggy.

  57. vukcevic says:

    Whenever something is not ‘normal’ first thing I look at are the ocean currents. According to
    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif
    California current appears to be ‘cooler’ than normal (less evaporation), and by the current’s loop appearance that was the case for some time. Many reasons why that could happen, I would suspect the Kuroshio-Oyashio and Alaskan currents system. By next summer it should be OK since that side looks to be warmer than usual. If this drought is ‘unusual’ it may be that the current systems have been temporarily disturbed by tectonic movements of Honshu in March of 2011.
    Just speculating.

  58. Roger says:

    Seen it all before.
    Australia has just come out of a 10yr drought – which is normal – but during which it was never gonna rain again, according to the warmistas. Right now we’re waterlogged!
    If only these clowns would look out the window

  59. vukcevic says:

    Further to my post above:
    In wikipedia list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Japan of M8+ earthquakes are at
    01 September 1, 1923 M8.3
    March 2, 1933 M8.4 Major drought 1934
    December 20, 1946 M8.1
    March 4, 1952 M8.1 Major drought 1953-4
    May 16, 1968 M8.2
    September 25, 2003 M8.3
    March 11, 2011 M9.0 Major drought 2012

    Month of March (spring equinox time) Japan’s major earthquake could have a high probability of causing major drought in the USA (3 of 7 all in March). Two September quakes (autumn equinox) were followed by minor droughts, but minor droughts are regular occurrence, so no correlation is established.
    Speculative ?

  60. vukcevic says:

    Toto says: August 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm
    I clicked on the screenshot of that article and was shocked to see the photo of Hansen.

    They are all ‘climate clones’ (or is it climate clowns) .
    Photo gallery:
    James Hansen
    Michael Mann
    Gavin Schmidt
    Richard Black

  61. Bloke down the pub says:

    Whenever I hear Hansen discribed as a NASA scientist I always think of this guy though he was ‘formerly of NASA.

  62. Chris Wright says:

    Many thanks, this is an excellent piece.
    But it’s also extremely depressing. It shows, once again, how unbelievably easy it is to show what nonsense much of this stuff is. And yet what difference does it make? My guess is that 99% of the people who read that article quoted at the top would simply assume that it’s true. How many would actually go to the trouble of looking up the data?
    .
    Still, there is hope. Opinion polls show fairly consistently that people in general are becoming more sceptical. I am actually quite sure that science, which has always been self-correcting, will regain its integrity, and that people like Gore, Mann and Hansen will occupy their rightful places in history.
    .
    This will happen. The depressing thing is that it probably won’t happen in my lifetime.
    Chris

  63. matt v. says:

    Philip Bradley

    You said ” ..would point to US drought as the cause of a positive AMO” . I suggest you are saying that it is the tail that may wag the dog .? Read the resarch papers by Gregory J. Mcabe and et al on the influence of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the multidecadal drought frequency in the United States .

  64. David Ball says:

    I laugh at the “weather weirding” theme they are working on. If you know even a little about climate history, you know that it can get REALLY weird, and have NOTHING to do with mankind or Co2. If you put on the warmist glasses, you cannot see that we view the climate from a relatively stable time in our climate history.

  65. matt v. says:

    Philip Bradley

    You may also want to read a more recent 2011 research paper by Sumant Nigam et al in the Geophysical Research Letters called KEY ROLE OF THE ATALANTIC MULTIDECADAL OSCILLATION IN THE 20 TH CENTURY DROUGT AND WET PERIODS OVER THE GREAT PLAINS.

  66. Pamela Gray says:

    I visit AIRS occasionally to stay caught up on spin quality (but not scientific inquiry quality). Sure enough, AIRS reports that when sea surface temperature rises, so does water vapor. Can you imagine the amount of funding used to confirm this cough-cough poorly understood connection so that we could all learn something? This makes complete sense of course and is something we all knew back in 5th grade. So what happens over land when moisture is not available to evaporate? Do we have humidity creating water vapor to hold in the heat??? Any water vapor out there over the corn fields??? Bueller?? Bueller?? Ferris Bueller??

    On the other hand, AIRS’ vertical water vapor observations led to the odd occasion when they had to tell modelers, they got it wrong. Modelers use an absolute WAG, keeping water vapor layering dry, then wet, in order to get their required outgoing long-wave radiation results they way they want them. AIRS had to state on the website that this is wrong and does not match observations.

    Spend some time reading. They even have observations that contradict one another. Say it isn’t so. Mother Nature would NEVER contradict herself.

    http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/climate/

  67. because PNAS isn’t truly peer-reviewed for Members like him, no one tested it for him.

    Lotsa rope!

  68. Don Keiller says:

    James Hansen is a liar. Yes that’s right a liar.
    Please, please Dr. Hansen, sue me for this libel.

  69. Don says:

    “PNAS isn’t truly peer-reviewed for Members like him”
    Looks like PNAS membership = Priesthood, Not Authentic Science

  70. JJ says:

    old engineer says:

    How about it, any takers on a discussion of the paper?

    Sure.

    Among the fundamental failings of Hansen’s paper:

    1) Asserts that individuals can percieve statistical shifts in the global surface temperature field. No, they can’t. That is why we spend billions of daolars on thermometer networks, radiosondes, and weather satellites. And why we spend even more applying various statistical analyses (legitimate and otherwise) to the data that these systems provide. But if have something that you want people to believe that is based on sensor networks and statistics, you have a problem. Most people don’t operate on that level. If you want most people to believe it, you have to make them believe they have seen it, and that requires first making them believe that they can see it.

    2) “Finds” that when it is warm, it is … uh … warm. That is the fundamental “finding” of this paper. Hansen “investigates” a period over which the average temp has gone up, and “finds” that … the mean temperature has gone up. Then he “finds” that when you graph a mean temperature that has gone up, it … uh … shifts to the right on the page. And if you plot a distribution around the mean, well it also shifts to the right. This is not a scientific result. NAS should be ashamed to publish this tripe as if it were some sort of finding. But NAS is the organization that had Peter Gleick as it’s ethics watchdog. Shame isn’t something they understand.

    3) Jiggers the stats to exaggerate their faux “findings”. Wholey apart from Hansen’s penchant for fiddling with the data, are the misleading methods they admit to in the paper. They quantify variation using a base period that they admit they chose because it does not vary much. And when they compare to data outside of that period they find that those data are at the extremes of the cherry picked and restricted variation. Really? How surprising!

    Criticism here of their choice of base periods has been misplaced. The problem isn’t that they didn’t include the present. The problem is they eliminated the past. Eliminating the data prior to 1950 gets rid of lots of temps that were much cooler and well as some as warm as now. Including those data would not only substantially increases the variability that the current period would be measured against, it would also invite people to ask questions like: Hmmmm … if 1980-2010 is extreme vs the mean and variability of 1950-1980, how does 1950-1980 compare against the mean and variabilty of, say 1920-1950. Or 1850-1880? Do things like that, and Hansen’s “new category of extreme events” is shown to be the lie that it is.

    4) Having asserted the impossible, “found” the obvious, and exaggerated the results, all that remains is to toss in a bunch of assertions and insinuations that lead the reader to believe that everything they see, no matter what it is, is proof of ‘global warming.’ Hansen covers all the warmist bases here. Included among the numerours unsupported, non-scientific statements (shame on you, NAS) are: ‘global warming ‘ causes extreme droughts, ‘global warming’ increases the water capacity of the atmosphere causing unusually heavy rainfall and floods, ‘gobal warming’ causes warmer winters, ‘global warming’ causes heavier snow falls, etc.

    Included is the bald assertion of the piece’s propaganda theme: that statistical changes in the global temperature field are readily and reliably perceptible to individuals, and will become more so. The proof for this nuttiness cited by Hansen is not some physiological or psychological research which demonstrates that humans can quantifyably sense the entirety of the climate system from their very limited personal (or even social) experience of it. No, the citation is for another of Hansen’s own political essays, in which he attempts to effect such perception! This is “science” to NAS.

    Scurrilous!

    And that is just a start.

  71. tjfolkerts says:

    Here are the only two places Hansen mentions drought in his scientific paper. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109.full.pdf

    “Some researchers suggest that high summer temperatures and
    drought in the United States in the 1930s can be accounted for by
    natural variability of sea surface temperature patterns.”

    “With the temperature
    amplified by global warming and ubiquitous surface heating
    from elevated greenhouse gas amounts, extreme drought conditions
    can develop.
    The other extreme of the water cycle, unusually heavy rainfall
    and floods, is also amplified by global warming.”

    Here is what is claimed in the news article
    “In a blunt departure from most climate research, Hansen’s study — based on statistics, not the more typical climate modelling — blames three heat waves purely on global warming:”
    and
    “The increase in the chance of extreme heat, drought and heavy downpours in certain regions is so huge that scientists should stop hemming and hawing,”

    So the claim:
    Former Virginia State Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels, in a guest opinion on WUWT said:

    Hansen claims that global warming is associated with increased drought in the US.
    seems to be a strawman. In fact, the whole blog entry and much of the discussion seems to be a strawman.

    All Hanson claims is:
    1) increases in TEMPERATURE
    2) increased VARIABILITY in rainfall (as an expected but otherwise unexamined side-effect).

    Did I miss it? Can someone point me to a section in his paper (or even the news article!) where Hansen is claiming anything about a general increase in drought associated with warming? It seems to be more than a bit silly to blame Hansen for not testing a hypothesis he never stated!

    I’m with the “old engineer” — the discussion should focus on Hansen’s paper and what he said, not what everyone else imagines he said or wishes he said.

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