The publisher of Environmental Research Letters today took the bizarre position that expecting consistency between models and observations is an “error”.
The publisher stated that the rejected Bengtsson manuscript (which, as I understand it) had discussed the important problem of the discrepancy between models and observations had “contained errors”.
But what were the supposed “errors”? Bengtsson’s “error” appears to be the idea that models should be consistent with observations, an idea that the reviewer disputed.
The reviewer stated that IPCC ranges in AR4 and AR5 are “not directly comparable to observation based intervals”:
One cannot and should not simply interpret the IPCCs ranges for AR4 or 5 as confidence intervals or pdfs and hence they are not directly comparable to observation based intervals (as e.g. in Otto et al).
Later he re-iterated that “no consistency was to be expected in the first place”:
I have rated the potential impact in the field as high, but I have to emphasise that this would be a strongly negative impact, as it does not clarify anything but puts up the (false) claim of some big inconsistency, where no consistency was to be expected in the first place.
Read Steve’s entire post here: http://climateaudit.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/iop-expecting-consistency-between-models-and-observations-is-an-error/
Wow, he’s basically saying “models have no inconsistency with reality”. Damn, I guess we just aren’t as qualified as members of the sacred order to read graphs like these:
Ross McKittrick writes in comments at CA:
I have no idea if Bengtsson et al. is a good paper, not having seen it. But the topic itself is an important one, and notwithstanding those attempts at gatekeeping mentioned above, there’s no stopping the flow at this point because the model/observational discrepancies are so large and growing. A few recent examples in print include:
- Fyfe, J.C., N.P. Gillett and F.W. Zwiers, 2013: Overestimated global warming over the past 20 years. Nature Climate Change, 3, 767-769, doi:10.1038/nclimate1972
- Swanson, K.L., 2013: Emerging selection bias in large-scale climate change simulations. Geophysical Research Letters, 40, DOI: 10.1002/grl.50562.
- McKitrick, Ross R. and Lise Tole (2012) Evaluating Explanatory Models of the Spatial Pattern of Surface Climate Trends using Model Selection and Bayesian Averaging Methods. Climate Dynamics DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1418-9.
- Fildes, Robert and Nikolaos Kourentzes (2011) “Validation and Forecasting Accuracy in Models of Climate Change International Journal of Forecasting 27 968-995.
- Anagnostopoulos, G. G., D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis & N. Mamassis (2010). “A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data.” Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55(7) 2010.
- McKitrick, Ross R., Stephen McIntyre and Chad Herman (2010) “Panel and Multivariate Methods for Tests of Trend Equivalence in Climate Data Sets”. Atmospheric Science Letters, DOI: 10.1002/asl.290
And I know of another one nearly accepted that continues the theme. It may be that Bengtsson et al. had some flaws, though I agree that the reviewer didn’t point to any. Instead the reviewer tries to argue that models and observations are not meant to be compared, and the editor swallowed this nonsensical argument, no doubt happy for a straw to clutch at.
But nobody should be surprised that ERL has the slant that it does: This is a journal with Peter Gleick, Stefan Rhamstorf and Myles Allen on its editorial board:
You can’t advertise a hard-line editorial stance any better than that. Well, maybe they could: they list as their #1 Highlight publication of 2013… Cook, Nucitelli et al.
Strangely, they really seem to be objecting that the Times had the nerve to run the story after all the work that’s been done to convince the press about the supposed dangers of “false balance”:
With current debate around the dangers of providing a false sense of ‘balance’ on a topic as societally important as climate change, we’re quite astonished that The Times has taken the decision to put such a non-story on its front page.
Evidently they too subscribe to that editorial position: don’t print anything that might give the impression there’s actually a range of scientific views out there.