Mystery of the sailing stones of Death Valley solved – ‘climate change’ immediately blamed for no good reason

Photo by Scott Beckner via Flickr CC license

Photo by Scott Beckner via Flickr CC license

The discovery of the mechanism that causes “sailing stones” in Death Valley is actually a great example of observational science, it just too bad these scientists ruined the announcement by blaming “climate change” instead of the things that ACTUALLY drive the flooding of the playa, like regional weather patterns, the PDO, and ENSO. Watch the video.

Here are frames of that video, with annotations, click for a very large image:

sailing rocks2_plosoneHere is how they describe it, from the Scripps Oceanograpgy website:

Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a “playa,” are hundreds of rocks – some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) – that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters.

What powerful force could be moving them? Researchers have investigated this question since the 1940s, but no one has seen the process in action – until now.

In a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE on Aug. 27, a team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris reports on first-hand observations of the phenomenon.

Because the stones can sit for a decade or more without moving, the researchers did not originally expect to see motion in person. Instead, they decided to monitor the rocks remotely by installing a high-resolution weather station capable of measuring gusts to one-second intervals and fitting 15 rocks with custom-built, motion-activated GPS units. (The National Park Service would not let them use native rocks, so they brought in similar rocks from an outside source.) The experiment was set up in winter 2011 with permission of the Park Service. Then – in what Ralph Lorenz of the Applied Physics Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University, one of the paper’s authors, suspected would be  “the most boring experiment ever” – they waited for something to happen.

But in December 2013, Norris and co-author and cousin Jim Norris arrived in Death Valley to discover that the playa was covered with a pond of water seven centimeters (three inches) deep. Shortly after, the rocks began moving.

“Science sometimes has an element of luck,” Richard Norris said. “We expected to wait five or ten years without anything moving, but only two years into the project, we just happened to be there at the right time to see it happen in person.”

Their observations show that moving the rocks requires a rare combination of events. First, the playa fills with water, which must be deep enough to form floating ice during cold winter nights but shallow enough to expose the rocks. As nighttime temperatures plummet, the pond freezes to form thin sheets of “windowpane” ice, which must be thin enough to move freely but thick enough to maintain strength. On sunny days, the ice begins to melt and break up into large floating panels, which light winds drive across the playa, pushing rocks in front of them and leaving trails in the soft mud below the surface.

“On Dec. 21, 2013, ice breakup happened just around noon, with popping and cracking sounds coming from all over the frozen pond surface,” said Richard Norris. “I said to Jim, ‘This is it!’”

These observations upended previous theories that had proposed hurricane-force winds, dust devils, slick algal films, or thick sheets of ice as likely contributors to rock motion. Instead, rocks moved under light winds of about 3-5 meters per second (10 miles per hour) and were driven by ice less than 3-5 millimeters (0.25 inches) thick, a measure too thin to grip large rocks and lift them off the playa, which several papers had proposed as a mechanism to reduce friction. Further, the rocks moved only a few inches per second (2-6 meters per minute), a speed that is almost imperceptible at a distance and without stationary reference points.

“It’s possible that tourists have actually seen this happening without realizing it,” said Jim Norris of the engineering firm Interwoof in Santa Barbara. “It is really tough to gauge that a rock is in motion if all the rocks around it are also moving.”

Individual rocks remained in motion for anywhere from a few seconds to 16 minutes. In one event, the researchers observed rocks three football fields apart began moving simultaneously and traveled over 60 meters (200 feet) before stopping. Rocks often moved multiple times before reaching their final resting place. The researchers also observed rock-less trails formed by grounding ice panels – features that the Park Service had previously suspected were the result of tourists stealing rocks.

“The last suspected movement was in 2006, and so rocks may move only about one millionth of the time,” said Lorenz. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement, which seems to require cold nights to form ice, may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

Sigh. Surely they know better.

Here is the paper from PLOS One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0105948

Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion

Citation: Norris RD, Norris JM, Lorenz RD, Ray J, Jackson B (2014) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105948

Abstract

The engraved trails of rocks on the nearly flat, dry mud surface of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, have excited speculation about the movement mechanism since the 1940s. Rock movement has been variously attributed to high winds, liquid water, ice, or ice flotation, but has not been previously observed in action. We recorded the first direct scientific observation of rock movements using GPS-instrumented rocks and photography, in conjunction with a weather station and time-lapse cameras. The largest observed rock movement involved >60 rocks on December 20, 2013 and some instrumented rocks moved up to 224 m between December 2013 and January 2014 in multiple move events. In contrast with previous hypotheses of powerful winds or thick ice floating rocks off the playa surface, the process of rock movement that we have observed occurs when the thin, 3 to 6 mm, “windowpane” ice sheet covering the playa pool begins to melt in late morning sun and breaks up under light winds of ~4–5 m/s. Floating ice panels 10 s of meters in size push multiple rocks at low speeds of 2–5 m/min. along trajectories determined by the direction and velocity of the wind as well as that of the water flowing under the ice.

h/t to WUWT reader Joel O’Brien

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129 thoughts on “Mystery of the sailing stones of Death Valley solved – ‘climate change’ immediately blamed for no good reason

  1. “You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

  2. Hmm. Nasty ol’ global warming again. Odd thing is, it can rain heavily in the Death Valley area. The Racetrack is not in Death Valley, per se. It is to the north and is over 3500′ up. From personal experience over decades (1968 to 2013 off and on), it can get very chilly in the hills around those parts.

  3. The researchers also observed rock-less trails formed by grounding ice panels – features that the Park Service had previously suspected were the result of tourists stealing rocks.

    So is the NPS going to appologize to everyone it’s accused of collecting the rocks?

  4. How to turn a fascinating discovery into a platform for proselytizing. That’s just cheap crap. Makes their science seem completely accidental and worthless.

  5. I’m disappointed. In his own article on the subject, Dr. Roy Spencer foretold the ‘blame Climate Change for changes in the rock movement’ meme would arise.Presumably, he missed that those words were in the article itself.
    Still, it could be worse. If the rock’s movement increased, we’d be subject to prophecies from the faithful of all our homes going for Death-Valley style ‘walks’.

    • They had this in my local paper and the article there made no mention of climate change. I’m assuming the article Dr. Roy Spencer read also did not contain it. It looks like they got the idea from the good doctor and are now including it.

      • They had a translation of the article over here in Germany, complete with the CAGW meme. Scripps is the academic (? gotta wonder sometimes) answer to journalism’s
        “if it bleeds, it leads”. They’re way out left on the left coast of the US…..sad, they used to do really good work, and I think they’re associated with USC, who at least were a conservative University…sigh…

    • If they had found that in recent years the rocks had been moved further and more frequently, they would have blamed that on … climate change, of course.

  6. Actually there is a “good reason.” Blaming AGW helps get the next grant. I kid you not. Everyone wants to cash in on the big ATM that is the government (taxpayer) funding machine.

  7. Amateurs (not a negative connotation) looking to get their findings published and were told to enter the magic words.

  8. i read about this in scientific american or similar 30+ years ago. it was understood at the time that it was caused by ice. it is now recycled as global warming.

    • Years ago I thought I saw a video, shot at night, of floating ice pushing these rocks around. Not a new discovery.

      • Likewise George. I can’t remember what TV programme it cropped up on, but it was a few years ago.

  9. Climate change is the catch-all excuse for anything deemed inexplicable, or negative, in any way! What ever happens to be bothering you, guaranteed, climate change caused it….97% of morons said so.

  10. Well, they need their funding, so like “Carthago delenda es”, they have to slip in some mention of climate change.

  11. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement, which seems to require cold nights to form ice, may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

    Neither more nor less than a plea for funding. Part of making a living from science.

  12. Back in the day of “nuclear winter”, papers that used that phrase were accepted for publication where those that didn’t have the “phrase that pays” were not published. I believe one enterprising scientist tested the theory by creating a particularly bogus screed, but included the “phrase that pays” and got the paper published.

    • And there you have it, “the phrase that pays” and why climate science research has now become so corrupted.

  13. From the scrpps institution of oceanography website Mmmm i wonder if this charming lady had anything to do with nudging these stones in the consensus direction. Naomi Oreskes adjunct professor of geo sciences at Scripps institution of oceanography

    • I imagine everyone who works at Scripps Institution of Oceanography or at the home university of University of California, San Diego, knows they have to mention climate change in everything they do or Ms. Oreskes will be coming after your job.

  14. Well, climate change causes many things. Yes it does, furreal.

    The problem is the assumption in the writer and the readers that this is ‘man-made climate change’. This erroneous meme is a metastasized cancer.

    The only cure for this mass delusion is common cold. Sorry ’bout dat.
    ================

    • It also snows inDeath Valley. In 1988 I helped to make a snowman at Scotty’s Castle…global cooling?

  15. Sure, that’s what it was this time, with rocks under observation. But when no one else is looking and some kids from Caltech make a road trip with a few buckets of water and a flask of liquid nitrogen…

  16. They were doing so good, solving a decade’s old science mystery … and then they had to go and invoke that old-time AGW religion.

  17. “The National Park Service would not let them use native rocks…”
    Did the National Park Service personnel and / or leadership believe the rocks were magical?

  18. They should park Cook, Appell and Nuccitelli out there and track their movement.
    Something tells me the rock would out pace them.

  19. Interestingly I saw this first on the BBC website and they didn’t mention climate change as part of the report. It’s not like the BBC to miss that sort of opportunity!

  20. The title is a bit disingenuous. The title suggests that climate change is involved in the phenomenon of the moving rocks where as the quote you highlighted is talking about the frequency of such events decreasing possibly due to climate change. A better headline would have been something like “Sailing stone mystery solved however scientists say for no good reason that climate change could stop the rocks in their tracks”.

    In order to avoid people misinterpreting your motives, headlines that accurately reflect the content of the post would be a good policy.

    • Hmm…you actually read the article. Watts obviously didn’t, and appears to hope others won’t bother either.

      What you’ve revealed is the ‘wind up’ (as in old clockwork children’s toys). It’s a rhetorical device often used here, setting the desired tone for the thread. It’s meant to wind the Villagers up and set them off down the predetermined path. It’s similar to giving a pack of Dobermans a scent, then setting them loose to hunt the quarry. The ‘wind up’ doesn’t actually have to have any truth in it, it’s trigger words or phrases are that are the key.

      As you can see from the comments in this thread, it works admirably.

  21. I copied the following from the link provided with the story:
    ‘Funding: This work was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration NNX07AL32G and NNX12AI04G (to RDL, BJ); Contributions from Interwoof (JMN, JR) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (RDN) were self-funded. NASA provided support in the form of salaries for authors (RDL and BJ), but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.’

    Well, forgive me for being suspicious of that last sentence stating that “NASA…did not have any additional role in…analysis,…” And, this is the cause for my suspicion, “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement,…may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

    One thing we do know, however, is that the frequency of moon shots by NASA have indeed declined since the 1970s.

    • Hmmm….NASA…National AERONAUTICS and SPACE Administration….they’re looking at the wrong rocks….I think the USGS (US Geological Survey) or a similar group should be looking at these earth-based rocks….

      As was mentioned above, this is recycled “science”….must have been a slow news day (erm, the volcanos worldwide beg to differ, but hey, it’s all in the name of funding…the bay of funding?)

  22. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement,…may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

    “May have” is not evidence, it is lack of evidence.

    • PS the paper does not even mention the word climate. This is just Lorentz adding his bit of GW spin in the Scripps article.

      • Lorentz’s comment was based on a study he performed last year titled “Declining rock movement at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: an indicator of climate change?” See manuscript marked “Accepted for publication 24 December 2013 in Geonmorphology” at http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rlorenz/climatechange_preprint.pdf. The problem is, the two key determinants of rock movement identified by that paper – thick ice and high wind – are contradicted by the latest study described above, in which thin ice and modest winds were observed moving rocks. I’m sure that’s why his previous study was not cited in the later paper.

    • I’ll bet global warming is speeding that pitch up.

      That is, of course, if it’s a bad thing for the pitch drop to be speeded up.

    • 9 drops in 83 years, that’s about 9y between each drip depending upon the date of the last drip event.

      UQ is in Brisbane, one of the most easterly points on Australia’s Pacific coast just below the tropic of Capricorn. It’s climate will be dominated by by surrounding sea temperatures.

      Global SST shows a circa 9y oscillation:

      http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=981

      Pitch drops “may be” linked to climate change !!

      Now we just need to see whether the drips have been happening more frequently in “the latter half of the 20th century” and test whether it correlates with human CO2 emissions.

  23. .
    Regards the moving stones, I did not immediately understand the mechanism here.

    The ice is not pushing stones in front of it. As the pics demonstrate, what appears to be happening is that a raft of ice surrounds a stone or a group of stones. As the ice-sheets break up, a light wind can now act upon that entire ice-raft, which may be 50 meters or more across. And so the wind acts upon all the stones within that raft simultaneously, so the stones all make parallel tracks as they move while trapped in the raft.

    So the ice-sheet is a force multiplier, providing a considerably increased surface area for the wind to act upon, and thus a considerably increased force upon the stones that are trapped within that thin ice-raft.

    Images of all the rocks moving together:

    Ralph

    • ralfellis, your explanation of the mechanism makes more sense than what I thought I read in the article.

    • Presumably the water will partially suspend the stones and the fine particulate mud will lower the coefficient of friction allowing the stones to slide while trapped in the ice sheet. It’s actually a pretty nifty solution to a strange phenomena.

      • Incredible photo! Now…if we could just find out if the winds over the Nazca Plains blow in extremely accurate pictorial directions…..

      • Good explanatin – think hydroplaning or driving on ice with bald tires (OK, think but don’t do…ouch…). I think ice skates do something similar (if memory serves me right…).

    • Looks like the best explanation.
      Unless it’s aliens ?? Where is Von Daniken when you need him? …;^D

  24. They weren’t allowed to use native rocks, so they had to import their own that were obviously polluted by climate change.

    • Unable to use actual sailing rocks, proxies were brought in by Mann, selected specifically for their propensity to “sail” in observable hockey stick patterns…

  25. Mystery of the sailing stones of Death Valley solved – ‘climate change’ immediately blamed for no good reason

    I can’t wait to see this headline.

    Mystery global warming solved – man was blamed for no good reason

  26. The add-on about Global Warming is like a genuflection. It is like Galileo bowing to the Pope. His private opinion remains unstated, except in cartoons that have those little balloons floating above people’s heads.

    If we survive this period of madness, and our papers are read by our great-grandchildren, they will roll their eyes when they read these genuflections.

  27. OMG

    “the frequency of rock movement….may have declined….due to climate change”

    We really are in trouble, rocks “may” be moving less, what on earth are we going to do? Think of the children.

  28. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement, … may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

    I agree, this is becoming an obligatory phrase in all research papers to assure continued funding. However, using the word “declined” was in itself a very gutsy call. In a post climate-gate world they need to be reminded to avoid any and all linkage between the phrase “climate change” and words such as decline or decrease.

    In this case it could have been better written as: “There is also evidence that the durations of rock inactivity, … may have increased since the 1970s due to climate change.”

  29. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement, which seems to require cold nights to form ice, may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”
    Ka-ching! Has anyone yet proposed Climate Change Bingo? Or some kind of axiom, like, “The probability of an Earth science-related ‘news’ article referencing climate change increases…

  30. If these are climate related rocks they should be homogenized immediately. I suggest teleconnecting them to Stonehenge to make them stand up and grow lintels

  31. The critical factor is the availability of surface water to freeze on cold nights. An extended drought is the more likely cause of less rock movement. They give no evidence for significantly fewer freezing cold nights when water is available. Death valley would be a good place to test the CO2 greenhouse hypothesis. Water freezes faster there at night because the air is dry (no clouds) and radiates to space. If CO2 concentrations are reducing that rate of radiation, one should be able to detect that effect with the seasonal and year to year changes in CO2 concentrations. The night time rate of freezing of water is a measure of radiation to space on dry, cloudless nights.

  32. I seem to remember reading questions of how the Egyptians were able to move huge stones from the quarries hundreds of miles away to their current sites. Might they have used this effect by watering the selected path for the stone, letting it freeze/remelt, and then pushing the stone?

  33. The mysterious sliding rocks of Death Valley have been known for 65 years. Here is what I wrote about them in “Surface Processes and Landforms,” 1999 (p.476-478) with photos and tracks of sliding stones.

    “The Mysterious Sliding Rocks of Death Valley National Monument”

    “For many years, geomorphologists have been intrigued by the mystery of the sliding boulders of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Monument (Figure 17—5). The mud- cracked surface of the playa is criss-crossed by shallow troughs trailing behind rocks (Figure 17—6) ranging from pebbles to boulders weighing more than 700 pounds. The playa surface is nearly flat, so the rocks are clearly not sliding downhill. At first, speculation of the cause of the sliding rocks centered around the possibility that the rocks had been pushed across the surface by humans, but the remoteness of the area argued against such an explanation. Few people brave the unpaved, 30-mile road that leads to Race- track playa. Tracks of sliding rocks have been reported on at least eight other playas in California and Nevada and in the Middle East. The sliding-rock trails vary both in length and direction. Some trails make straight, roughly parallel lines for several hundred meters (Figures 17—6A and 17—7B). Others curve gradually, criss-cross one another (Figure 17—6B) or change direction abruptly (Figures 17—6C and 17—7B). After traveling hundreds of meters along straight or gently curving paths, many trails end with a scribbled path (Figure 17—7B). The greatest concentration of sliding rocks occurs in the south- eastern portion of Racetrack playa where 28 sliding boulders have been counted in a one-half square mile (1.3 km2) area (Messina, 1997).
    The first scientific papers describing the sliding rocks appeared in 1948 (McAllister and Agnew, 1948), followed by several in the following decades (Shelton, 1953; Stanley, 1 Schumm, 1956, Sharp, 1960; Sharp and Carey, 1976). All suggested that high winds, preceded by wetting of the playa had pushed the rocks across the slippery surface. However, despite four decades of investigation of the sliding rock scientists and park rangers, no one has ever seen one move.
    Ice is known to occasionally form as thick as 10 centimeters on Racetrack playa, and some researchers have suggested that as wind pushes ice rafts, rocks in the ice are drag across the playa surface, leaving parallel trails. Stanley (1955) first suggested that ice floating in a shallow lake on the playa might be involved in moving the stones, based largely on parallel paths taken by the rocks. However, Sharp and C (1976) placed two small rocks within a circle of steel rods later found that one of them had escaped. They noted moving ice could not have accomplished this and, along their observation that tracks did not maintain constant separation, concluded that ice was not necessary to move the rocks. The ice-rafting hypothesis was recently revived by Reid et al. (1995) on the basis of mapping of similar, parallel paths of rocks sliding on the Racetrack Playa. They suggest rocks of different mass should not be propelled equally high winds without ice and that the wetted playa surface not as slippery as once thought. They explained the observed lack of parallel paths between some tracks as having been caused by breaking up of the ice into smaller individual blocks and concluded that ice was necessary for playa rocks to slide.

    FIGURE 17—6 (A.) Two sliding rocks leaving trails on Racetrack pla Death Valley National Monument, California. (Photo Messina) (B.) Trails of sliding rocks crossing one another, Racetrack playa, Death Valley National Monument, California. by P. Messina) (C.) Abrupt change in direction of sliding rock trail, Racetrack playa, Death Valley National Monument, California. (Photo by P. Messina)

    In a discussion of the conclusions of Reid et al., Sharp (1996) presented evidence that at least some of the rocks must have slid without the presence of ice. Messina (1997) monitored many sliding rocks on Racetrack playa with GPS (ground positioning system) and found that, although many of the trails were ap- proximately parallel (Figure 17—7), in detail they converged and diverged and in some cases appeared to be random, a situation inconsistent with movement of stones frozen in a sheet of ice.”

    What is new about this study is the first observation of stones moving under known conditions. As such, it is an important contribution.

  34. Forgive me, but the explanation by the good doctors of an earlier theory that the rocks were blown by big winds makes me hope no one was paid for that idea!!! One look at the photos of the dirt ridges on either side of the trails of the rocks would tell you that it wasn’t big winds on a dry plain. These would have been erased by the very winds in play. A good foundation engineer with samples of the side ‘moraines’ would be able to tell you if they were formed in saturated clay (some binding salt, caleche?…) or dry clay. Probably a cursory look would be enough. Several other things:

    a) a calculation of the wind force per square foot push surface would tell you what kind of a wind you would need. Some one reading this could do this calc. in a few minutes.
    b) the precise straight line directions for long stretches tells you they had to have made the move under a particularly exact wind direction or there would be many shallow zigs and zags depending on the variability of directions of wind events. These straight line stretches would be highly likely from one windy event – not a number of them spaced by years.
    c) Bouyancy would help the process if water flooding was a factor.

  35. Another thing I would have done is a level survey of the playa. Does it not have a very slight down slope from the margins in toward the middle? Simple observation is very valuable but an engineer would have gathered a lot of data beforehand.

  36. The reason these cousins were able to observe this horizontal rock slide is because Climate Change has made these events more rare.
    (They are less rare would be the obvious inference. But what do I know?)

  37. Since the climate always changes and climate change is the natural state of affairs, why not? But when you have to account for the fact this phenomenon was first documented in 1915, it’s kinda hard to tie it all together.

    This is only an issue if facts are a concern.

  38. So it’s the reporter who added the ‘climate change’ bit? He’s due for a conversation with the editor.

    Oops, that’s probably the one who made him put it in.
    ===================

  39. I can only say that now we will miss all the good stories that the scientist invented instead of observing.

  40. Is the climate change they are talking about that which turned the area into a playa (dry lake) from an approximatly 100 foot deep lake at the end of the Pleistocene? Lake Manly (at the bottom of nearby Death Valley) was approx. 600 feet deep that time and didn’t dry out until about 3000BC, and has only had ephemeral lakes since.
    That’s one of the problems with statistics based science. Any time there is an event that deviates from the perceived ‘average’, it is automatically considered to be an anomaly that could only have resulted from “unnautural” forces.

  41. It is curious and I don’t think it’s just me, who every time we see an article on some aspect of the environment, expect with a slight sense of dread, to see the “climate change” or “global warming” tie in. I was reading a piece in my local newspaper this morning:

    Aspen trees disappearing in eastern Idaho, elsewhere

    I KNEW the attribution was coming! But was pleasantly surprised when I came to this section:

    “Experts agree that the decline of aspen, locally and around the West, largely is the result of two things: lack of fire and encroachment of conifers and juniper.

    Because the root system of aspens runs deeper below the ground than most trees, aspens can survive forest fires that competing trees can’t. But as wildfire fighting becomes more prevalent, aspen benefit less.”

    Not a single mention of climate change or warming in the whole thing!

    This is a copy of the AP article from another source:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/08/aspen_trees_disappearing_in_ea.html

  42. It is very pleasing that one of life’s little mysteries has been explained. Kudos to the scientists who set up the experiment, knowing that it was boring and “unsexy.” They deserve future funding much more than most of the useful idiots who currently get most of it.

    Hint: most hard work is boring.

  43. Q. Without 24/7/365 monitoring by specialised stop-motion cameras, how can anyone assign cause to this event?

    A. Those who wish to benefit from assigning a cause.

  44. I do believe I mentioned this article some time ago on an earlier thread.

    Never got a peep out of anybody.

    I once took a 30, one liner, questionnaire exam. At the top of the single page, it said boldly:

    “Read everything, before doing anything.”.

    The results in a class of 30 persons, was totally astonishing. People were yelling out their names, calling out the time, counting from one to ten backwards.

    The first line, #1, said to write your name at the top of the page.

    The last line, #30, said to do ONLY line #1.

  45. What the heck are Watts and the rest of you talking about? READ the comment again:
    “The last suspected movement was in 2006, and so rocks may move only about one millionth of the time,” said Lorenz. “There is also evidence that the frequency of rock movement, which seems to require cold nights to form ice, may have declined since the 1970s due to climate change.”

    A perfectly reasonable statement, unless you deny his implicit assumption that nights in the desert have warmed since 1970 -as have most nights around the world.

    You guys spent all this time and energy ridiculing this one statement? If this is any indication of the gravitas with which you approach the science of AGW, the Scientific Community has little reason to pay attention to you.

  46. warrenlib,

    Don’t be silly.

    First, this is a local phenomenon! It is not ‘global’ anything. It is not even regional.

    Next, “climate change”?? Are you actually saying that in this one tiny location on the globe, a 0.7ºC global temperature fluctuation over the past century and a half makes a measurable difference?

    Finally, I spent no time ridiculing that one statement, as you claim. But I am sure ridiculing where you seem to be coming from, from a ‘climate change’ perspective.

    • 1) I note ‘warrenlib’. No, I’m a life long Conservative Republican. Does your subtle name calling mean you reject AGW Science just BECAUSE you think liberals accept it? By that standard, you’d have to reject nearly all Science. Or maybe you do…?

      2) You miss my point entirely. I lost patience with the ridicule displayed against the scientist for his statement — which I reposted from the article. Most such postings seem misaimed nitpicks.

      • And I’d remind that the headline on this section of WUWT is “Mystery of the sailing stones of Death Valley solved – ‘climate change’ immediately blamed for no good reason”.

        This headline is a straw man. Instead, Ault put forth a cautious and reasonable statement about the possibility of AGW responsible, not for the stone’s movement, but for a reduction in the frequency of such moves.
        Such furor on WUWT as exemplified by the headline and subsequent posts, over such a cautious statement, is indeed a self-indictment of the gravitas of WUWT and its prowlers.

  47. warrenlb, sorry, my 66-year old eyes read that as “warrenlib”. I don’t think I have lyin’ eyes, though.

    Now, as to your ‘conservative republican’ claim, let’s just say I’m skeptical. You’ve made other comments here, such as:

    Checking to see if you’re still in Denial.

    We’re denialists?

    And:

    The Scientific Consensus: Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree…&blah, blah,etc.

    And:

    …the famous “hockey stick” graph… graph shows the extraordinarily rapid warming of the twentieth century compared to the previous 1000 years. The graph and analysis have been upheld by subsequent researchers and numerous scientific assessments, including one from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences… it is long past time your B.S. is recognized for what it is – Bad Science… The 2010 Climate Bad Science (B.S.) Detection and Correction Team: Peter Gleick, Kevin Trenberth, Tenney Naumer, Michael Ashley, Lou Grinzo, Gareth Renowden, Paul Douglas, Jan W. Dash, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Brian Angliss, Joe Romm, Peter Sinclair, Michael Tobis, Gavin Schmidt, John Cook, plus several anonymous nominators, reviewers, and voters.

    I see where you’re coming from. You are a typical climate alarmist.

    So, may I deconstruct? Thank you:

    First, Mann’s Hokey Stick chart has been thoroughly debunked by McIntyre & McKittrick, among many others. It is not credible. The IPCC won’t even use it any more. It erased the MWP and the LIA, and it falsely showed a preposterous straight-up rise in global temperatures — when the truth is that global T has risen by only about 0.7ºC, over a century and a half.

    Next, your Appeal To Authority fallacy is the same one faced by Albert Einstein, when 100 scientists wrote an open letter to him stating that his Theory of Relativity was bunk. Einstein replied, “It does not take 100 scientists, but only one fact.” Same-same.

    Finally, you could not have chosen a more representative group of reprehensible scientists than Peter Gleick and the rest. Gleick is a self-admitted fraud, and the others are rent-seeking riders on the climate grant gravy train, who have a self-serving motive in keeping the “carbon” scare alive.

    So who do you think you’re kidding? Those chumps are all afraid to engage in a fair, moderated debate with well known skeptics. Why? Because when they have debated in the past, they lost every debate. Now, they tuck tail and run for the hills whenever a debate is proposed. But if they believed in what they’re selling, they would debate anyway.

    I would have credited you with standing up for your beliefs — if you had not prevaricated by claiming to be a ‘conservative Republican’. Speaking of “B.S.”, that was total BS. [And IANAR].

    If you’re going to come here and pitch your CAGW nonsense, at least do it without dissembling.

    • @DBStealey: Just as you do on Climate Change, you assert claims based on no evidence, or on ‘evidence’ you invent:
      a) I’m a Conservative Republican who’s never voted for a Democrat in my life. And yet you assert I’m not, with no evidence whatsoever – and that I’m a liar. Such are the logic and accusations of conspiracy theorists.
      b) You claim I used the argument about ‘97% of scientists”. I made no such claim. I stated a fact – that ALL the Academies conclude Earth is Warming and Man is the Cause.” For which your implication is that their members disagree! So by your logic, ALL 200 are now in a conspiracy to defraud their members as well as the public!

      I find your arguments on Climate without merit. They may standup on a website of the like-minded, but not in the Court of Reason and peer-reviewed Science.

  48. @warrenlb,

    Where did I say you are a liar? The only place I said ‘lyin’ was referring to my eyesight. Maybe you’re just a tad sensitive. Excuse me for being skeptical, but you sure don’t sound like what you claim. Not that I know much about republicans, because I am not one.

    Next, you say:

    I find your arguments on Climate without merit.

    Care to be more specific? Climate what? Not that it matters what you ‘find’. But that is a pretty vague, content-free statement.

    Finally, you say:

    I stated a fact – that ALL the Academies conclude Earth is Warming and Man is the Cause.

    I think with that, we can disregard your comments as complete nonsense.

    • @Stealey.

      You now DENY accusing me of being a liar? Here’s your post: “I would have credited you with standing up for your beliefs — if you had not prevaricated by claiming to be a ‘conservative Republican’. Speaking of “B.S.”, that was total BS. [And IANAR].” Certainly not content free.

  49. warrenlb,

    If I wanted to label you a liar, I would have simply said “you’re a liar.” But you are looking for anything to avoid discussing facts. The fact is: global warming has stopped. That creates tremendous consternation among the alarmist contingent. If you were a stand-up guy you would just admit that global warming has stopped. But your ego won’t let you. So you go off on other tangents.

    You also claim to be a “conservative Republican”. I doubt that. That’s like Herr Schicklgruber saying he loves and supports Jews. It just doesn’t make sense, based on what you’ve written here in the past. As I understand it, neither conservatives, nor Republicans buy into the runaway global warming / climate catastrophe scare, or demonize the harmless trace gas CO2. That is pretty much liberal Democrats’ territory. They own that meme.

    You say:

    I’m a Conservative Republican who’s never voted for a Democrat in my life.

    So? Lots of folks have never voted. You’re not alone.

    You’re doing the typical climate alarmist shuffle here: you try to misdirect the thread into whining about yourself, instead of debating science. You constantly fall back on the Appeal to Authority fallacy as the basis for your belief in runaway global warming. But really, none of that matters. It is just a baseless opinion. Only facts matter.

    As I’ve stated repeatedly, I’m not interested in discussing anything except facts based on empirical scientific evidence, and verifiable real world observations. But the alarmist crowd always moves the goal posts to other things. Let’s discuss facts, instead.

    But I doubt if you will. The alarmist clique is on thin ice when it comes to verifiable facts. And every alarmist prediction has tuned out to be wrong. Why should anyone listen to someone who is always wrong?

    The easy way out for you is to simply admit that there are no verifiable real world measurements quantifying the fraction of a degree of global warming directly attributable to the rise in human-emitted CO2. Because there are no such measurements. That would give us a common starting point for rationally discussing the global warming issue.

    But I don’t think you will do that, because unlike scientific skeptics, you do not take facts into consideration. You have your Belief, so you hunt for confirmation bias. That is not science; that is how witch doctors claim the world works.

    You’re out of luck here at the internet’s Best Science & Technology website. Here, we don’t put up with witch doctor juju. We need real world facts. But the alarmist crowd lacks adequate facts, so they fall back on hurt feelings, and nitpicking apart statements.

    No wonder the climate alarmist crowd is losing the debate. Facts will do that to a bad argument.

    • So you continue to deny calling me a ‘prevaricator’, a synonym for ‘liar’? Is that how YOU treat facts — by ignoring them? And then using the classic Argumentum ad ignorantiam to boot. Remarkable.

      You say “.. there are no verifiable real world measurements quantifying the fraction of a degree of global warming directly attributable to the rise in human-emitted CO2. ”
      In that one statement, you display your narrow view of Science as Metrology– presumably learned as a Metrology lab technician — ignoring the multiple lines of evidence: Global Temperatures rising at a rate unprecedented in 1400 years, atmospheric CO2 increasing 40% in 200 years, rapidly declining ice packs around the world, migration of species to northern latitudes and higher altitudes, warming oceans with increasing acidity, rising sea levels, cooling of the stratosphere, and the underlying Physics of the Greenhouse Effect, explaining the driving force behind the evidence.

      We all have a right to be heard, but have to earn the right to be listened to. When All the Academies, the IPCC, all major Universities, and nearly all peer-reviewed papers conclude you’re wrong, as I do, it’s well past the time for you and your website to disappear and for your audience to hear from real scientists, and real science.

      • I consider my self a real scientist, having done graduate work at five leading universitys and having done research for over 20 years at EPA’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Laboritory. I know how to analyze data and have authored and coauthored many technical papers, some receiving awards. Click on my name to go to http://www.retiredresearcher.wordpress.com and give me a “peer” review in the comments there.

  50. @fhhaynie: Have you compared your data analysis with that of the IPCC , NOAA, or NASA, identified the differences, and written the scientific explanations for those differences, if any?

    • Yes, I have. The IPCC uses flawed assumptions in thier mass balance calculations and claim that “all” the long term rise in atmospheric CO2 is caused by anthropogenic emissions. The data indicate that most of the rise is natural. So you are admitting that you are not qualified to do a “peer” review by appealing to the authority of the IPPC (a political organization).

  51. I don’t appeal to anyone. I do suggest that if you believe you are right, and the other sources which I cited are wrong, you should publish your research in a Science Journal paper. With your authoritative credentials, you should have no trouble doing so.

    • @warrenlb:

      Now that Fred Haynie has posted his education and experience, let’s see yours.

      I would never ask, but it gets tiresome watching you derail the conversation into your irrelevant ad-homs. Mr. Haynie’s work is posted for everyone to see. Where is yours? Do you even have any work that you’ve done? Or are you just a nitpicking voice from the peanut gallery? If so, we can disregard you as inconsequential.

      Post your work. Post your education. Then we will judge whether you are someone worth listening to.

  52. @warrenlb,

    You need to get up to speed on the English language. “Prevaricate” does not mean to lie. It means that I thought you were being evasive. As I wrote above:

    If I wanted to label you a liar, I would have simply said “you’re a liar.”

    I found it almost chameleonlike to read that you claimed to be a “consevative Republican”. I doubt that. That’s like David Duke claiming to belong to the NAACP. I suppose you can claim to be anything you want. But your comments and that designation are as inexplicable as Kim Kardashian’s popularity.

    From my handy desktop dictionary:

    prevaricate: v.
    To speak or write evasively; equivocate.
    To utter or say in an evasive manner.

    It seems that for some strange reason you crave being labeled a liar. Why would that be? But there is a lot about your posts that is hard for regular folks to understand.

    Such as your insistence that someone must be a published, peer reviewed author in order to have an opinion. That is nonsense. You did that most recently with Fred Haynie, who has posted here for years — and who obviously knows more about the subject than you have ever learned:

    http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf

    • I crave being a liar? That’s as disgusting a comment as your previous accusation using the technique of ‘argumentum ad ignorantium’ but I’m learning to expect such from you. Btw, I’ve voted in every Federal and in most state elections for the last 54 years — always Republican.

      What’s more, you seem to exhibit strong symptoms of ‘confirmation bias’ –i.e. the idea of a Conservative agreeing AGW threatens your naive worldview that Conservatives MUST be anti-AGW, and presumably that Liberals MUST be AGW believers. You claim Objectivity, but don’t practice it.

      Finally I suggested Haynie publish for good reason: Anyone who makes a moral claim that their research, contradicting most others, is THE TRUTH, has a moral obligation to publish and inform the Scientific community and the public of their findings.

      If they don’t, then the Scientific Community and the public have every right to conclude either their work couldn’t withstand scrutiny of their peers, or they’re too lazy.

      Which is it, guys?

      • WWW has opened up scientific research for every body to see and judge. When I worked at EPA, it was part of my job to get the results published in scientific journals. I averaged about three articles a year plus writing chapters in air pollution criteria documents that were mandated by congress as well as EPA technical reports. When I retired, I gave up membership in three societies and stopped giving papers at symposia. I have a comfortable retirement and do not need to publish or perish. However, around eight or nine years ago, I felt a moral obligation to study available data and see if all the dire predictions about anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are valid. My wife thinks I spend too much time looking at numbers. I have committed a lot on this blog because it is open for discussion. I’ve been moderated out of some AGW blogs by gate keepers. Another study I did is at http://www.kidswincom.net/CO2OLR.pdf. You can google “Fred H. Haynie” and find some of my publications. It is your moral responsibility to sort out the truth. Which is it? Are you not qualified to constructively comment on my blog site or is it that you are too lazy.

      • warrenlb, YOU brought up the politics. Now you accuse others of doing what you started.

        And yes, I think you want to be called a liar. Why else would you dwell on it? You want to be a martyr, because that deflects from the real issue: the climate alarmist crowd was wrong in their incessant predictions that runaway global warming will lead to climate catastrophe. But that isn’t happening. Global warming has stopped. The predictions were wrong. All of them.

        Finally, you do not speak for the scientific community. You do not speak for the public. You only speak for yourself. And it is nobody’s business, least of all yours, whether someone else is a climate pal-reviewed published author or not. You are just being a busybody, telling people what they should and shouldn’t do. No wonder you’re losing the ‘global warming’ debate. Everything you write deflects from the fact that global warming has stopped. You were wrong. But you can’t admit that you were wrong about the global warming scare.

  53. It is the moral duty of qualified PhD Scientists to publish and to sort out the truth, not amateurs. You’d like to think you are an arbiter, but your convictions matter only to you and your fellow deniers, not to to the world of science, and certainly not to me.

  54. warrenlb says:

    Global Temperatures rising at a rate unprecedented in 1400 years, atmospheric CO2 increasing 40% in 200 years, rapidly declining ice packs around the world, migration of species to northern latitudes and higher altitudes, warming oceans with increasing acidity, rising sea levels, cooling of the stratosphere, and the underlying Physics of the Greenhouse Effect, explaining the driving force behind the evidence.

    Yes, let’s discuss facts for a change. May I deconstruct those scares, one by one? Why, thank you:

    Global Temperatures rising at a rate unprecedented in 1400 years

    Therefore, 1401 years ago temperatures rose faster. That is exactly what your statement means. And 1400 years is nothing. It is a small fraction of the current Holocene, where global temperatures have been well above current temperatures. And 1400 years ago was the MWP, when temperatures were rising as fast or faster than now. Before that, other warming events pushed global temperatures even higher — without rising CO2. So that scare fails.

    Next:

    …atmospheric CO2 increasing 40% in 200 years…

    CO2 levels have beem more than sixteen times (16X) higher in the past than now. Two hundred years is nothing. The biosphere is starved of CO2. More is better, at current and projected concentrations.

    Next:

    …rapidly declining ice packs around the world…

    But of course you disregard the rapidly increasing ice cover. If it were not for cherry-picking, the alarmist clique would lose most of its arguments.

    Next:

    …migration of species to northern latitudes and higher altitudes…

    Nonsense. Species are not migrating to higher latitudes and up mountainsides because of a rise in global temperature of only 0.7ºC, over the past century and a half. That scare story has been repeatedly debunked. There is no empirically verified connection between species movement and minor global temperature fluctuations.

    Next:

    …warming oceans…

    Wrong, as usual. The ARGO submersible buoys show flat to declining deep ocean temperatures.

    Next:

    …increasing acidity…

    Wrong again. The ‘acidification’ scare is baseless. The ocean intake pipe for the Monterey Bay aquarium, from a mile out, shows no pH change for many years.

    Next:

    …rising sea levels…

    Wrong yet again. The prediction/scare was always that sea level rise would accelerate. But sea levels are rising no faster than usual since the LIA. The current small rise is entirely natural. There is no acceleration, as had been universally predicted by the climate cult.

    Next:

    …cooling of the stratosphere…

    That scare has replaced the ‘tropospheric hot spot’ prediction, which was also falsified when no ‘hot spot’ appeared. So the goal posts were moved to the sratosphere. Sad to say, there is no stratospheric cooling: that has gone flat.

    Next:

    …the underlying Physics of the Greenhouse Effect…

    If you had paid attention here, you would know that the earth is not a greenhouse, so that does not apply.

    Next… well, there is no ‘next’. Note that if any one of the above claims are falsified, the whole conjecture fails. That’s how science works. You cannot claim to be half right, in a few instances.

    The fact of the matter is this: the global climate has been in a “Goldilocks” period for the past century and a half. We are fortunate to be in an era when there are no wild swings in temperature. The climate has been especially benign. Looking at it from a rational perspective [degrees, instead of tenths or hundreths of a degree, which are both within the error bars], we see how fortunate we are.

    Thus, the climate scares fail. All of them. There is nothing either unusual or unprecedented happening. Just prior to our current Holocene global temperatures changed by TENS of degrees — within a decade or two. That is scary. But now? There is nothing to be frightened about.

  55. warrenlb
    September 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    It is the moral duty of qualified PhD Scientists to publish and to sort out the truth, not amateurs. You’d like to think you are an arbiter, but your convictions matter only to you and your fellow deniers, not to to the world of science, and certainly not to me.

    But it is our measured observations over the past 18 years that today’s self-claimed “qualified PhD” so-called “scientists” have no morals, have exhibited no responsibilities and no duties except to maintain their power and their prestige and their funding and their publications by promoting and defending the government’s CAGW propaganda. NO facts have supported their government-funded agenda of government-promoted doctrine.

  56. RACookPE1978,

    Not only that, warrenlb is plainly nuts when he says that “It is the moral duty of qualified PhD Scientists to publish and to sort out the truth, not amateurs.”

    The history of science is replete with “amateurs” who ‘sort out the truth’. I would prefer E.M. Smith or Willis Eschenbach to “qualified PhD scientists” any day. If not for the contributions of scientific amateurs, we would still be going to witch doctor equivalents to cure diseases. warrenlb is just falling back on his tired old appeal to authority fallacy. He believes that if a pronouncement from on high is issued, no mater how lacking in confirmation, then we must all bow down and worship it as established Truth. That is nonsense, as the rest of us know.

    And of course warrenlb can never resist labeling anyone who disagrees with him as a ‘denier’. [He does it constantly at his favorite place, Forbes magazine’s blog, which he had suggested a while back [click on "Comment Now", then "Expand All Comments" to see them]. The handful of alarmists posting there appear to be clinically insane. If it were not for ad-homs and insults, they would have almost nothing to say.]

    I wonder if warrenlb knows how stupid he sounds when he labels other folks ‘deniers’? What, exactly, are folks denying? I have asked that question a lot, when I see someone like warrenlb using ‘denier’, ‘denialist’, etc. But they never explain. How can they? It is Michael Mann himself who denies that global T ever changed prior to the industrial revolution. His acolytes can hardly call Mann a denier. So they ignore my question.

    Anyway, it’s good that warrenlb has vanished. With any luck it is permanent. We have enough name-callers here, and he’s a new one. We don’t need more of that here. Forbes can have him.

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