Quote of the week #34: NASA doubts climate model certainty

qotw_cropped

Amazingly, this one is from NASA, citing doubt in the climate models that have become the mainstay of the AGW issue. This is from a NASA publication.

Global records of surface temperature over the last 100 years show a rise in global temperatures (about 0.5° C overall), but the rise is marked by periods when the temperature has dropped as well. If the models cannot explain these marked variations from the trend, then we cannot be completely certain that we can believe in their predictions of changes to come.

The cover page of the PDF is below. Click to read it.

Here’s the most interesting part. It is from April 1998. What happened then to make NASA give up their caution in climate models?

MBH98, IPCC’s NGO  fest?, Gore?

We don’t see such caution in publications today. Instead we see the word “robust” overused.

[ Added: This publication also states on p.3 that most of the 20th century warming occurred before 1940, but that was “revised” in the version 4 years later:  http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/04/nasas-changing-facts.html ]

Yet the dips of the 1940’s and the 1970’s still have not been explained by models. If there is a NASA publication that shows that they have such a model that explains the concern raised in 1998 that I’ve missed, readers feel free to point it out in comments.

http://www.climate-movie.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/slide53.jpg

Above: From Climate Skeptic.com we see one explanation,which looks much like what Girma Orssengo recently published on WUWT in

Predictions Of Global Mean Temperatures & IPCC Projections

This publication also states on p.3 that most of the 20th century warming occurred before 1940, but that was “revised” in the version 4 years later:

http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/04/nasas-changing-facts.html

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jim hogg

Apologies for this being off message, but couldn’t find another way to post it.
Interesting piece here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36788692/ns/technology_and_science-science/
It’s laced with the usual assumptions, but adds to the evidence confirming previous recent warm periods (from 340 years ago plus . .) with obvious implications for “unprecedented” warming.

They *have* tried. In a related area…
“But the Hadley Centre group took the next step, using climate modeling to try to quantify how unusual a 10-year warming pause might be. In 10 modeling runs of 21st century climate totaling 700 years worth of simulation, long-term warming proceeded about as expected: 2.0°C by the end of the century. But along the way in the 700 years of simulation, about 17 separate 10-year intervals had temperature trends resembling that of the past decade—that is, more or less flat.”
See
What Happened to Global Warming? Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit
Science 2 October 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5949, pp. 28 – 29

Henry chance

So now the doubts have become robust.

Paul

Well, I’ve found a graph, specifically one of NASA’s historical funding to 2000, I think that might help explain things. Specifically, NASA’s budget was in a decline starting in 1993 and that continued into 2000. Things didn’t start to look up until 2001, according to Wikipedia (I know, I know), and they haven’t looked back since. Isn’t that convenient?
I’m not just a sceptic, I’m a cynic! (BTW, what’s the differnence between an optimist and a cynic? Experience, my boy, experience.)
http://www.rain.org/~bmuniz/Space/nasa_budget_history_total_budget.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget#Annual_budget.2C_1958-2009

geo

The nice thing about the “sine wave” theory (and I admit I find it quite likely) is that unlike the AGWers with their claims of unfalsifiable models that in some voodoo fashion we are told will be correct in 30 years if we have a new ice age or Minnesota looks like the Sahara, at least the sine wave theory will be falsifiable over the next 10 years or so.

Wren

Quoting the 1998 NASA piece:
“If the models cannot explain these marked variations from the trend, then we cannot be completely certain that we can believe in their predictions of changes to come.”
===================
The key words here are “completely certain.”
Obviously, we can’t be completely certainty about the future.
Planning for the future is based on what’s likely.
REPLY: And trashing the future is a certainty when we rush to plan based on a science in it’s infancy -A

Wren

Quoting the 1998 NASA piece:
“If the models cannot explain these marked variations from the trend, then we cannot be completely certain that we can believe in their predictions of changes to come.”
===================
The key words here are “completely certain.”
Obviously, we can’t be completely certainty about the future.
Planning for the future is based on what’s likely.
REPLY: And trashing the future is a certainty when we rush to plan based on a science in it’s infancy -A
=======
Based on the certainty that the science is wrong about the future ?

This publication also states on p.3 that most of the 20th century warming occurred before 1940, but that was “revised” in the version 4 years later:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/04/nasas-changing-facts.html
REPLY: Thanks, I’ll add this to the main article. – A

Enneagram

WATCH carefully, again that “Predictions Of Global Mean Temperatures & IPCC Projections” graph whole Y axis equals ONE DEGREE. Then if you change the scale to One degree by one degree scale, that curve turns into a straight line. NO CHANGE at all.
That graph is directed to fooling people. That is called demagogy:
Ancient Greek δημαγωγία, from δῆμος dēmos “people” and ἄγειν agein “to lead” TO LEAD PEOPLE ASTRAY. Period.

rbateman

The IPCC, and GISS are still trying to predict the behavior of a writhing snake grabbed by the tail. The MET gave up trying due to three snakestrikes, and decided it was time to warm the rehab bench.
Early success gave way to nasty bites as the snake lost it’s fear of prediction and decided to teach the modelers a lesson.
The modelers refused to learn, applying cosmetics to conceal the bite marks and swelling. Examination of the bitten hands confirmed the cover-up.
Yep, these climate-handlers put on a good act.
Crikey, that little yellow-snake has grown.

Enneagram

Hey! Congratulations for the new format!. You just made me jump when it suddenly changed. (Hope this is not a “post-normal format” ☺)

vigilantfish

Paul:
The uptick in funding for NASA I think has more to do with the election of George W. Bush than with NOAA’s newfound faith in the ‘science’ of AGW.
Something weird just happened to WUWT – when I left to sign into WordPress, and then returned, the entire interface changed, and all the links and widgets etc on the right side of the page have vanished. I assume this is just one of those temporary glitches, but it’s strange seeing a pastoral, tree-lined road at behind the WUWT link bar. Anthony is now feeling mellow?

T. Paul

“Shub Niggurath (08:22:37) :
They *have* tried. In a related area…”
Sure. And I tried to pay my bills, but my electricity got cut off anyway.
I’m also trying not to rob banks or commit acts of murder, rape, or arson.
I hope I have better luck than NASA.

My models say that NASA’s budget will increase 200% by the end of the century but I can’t be completely certain.

J. Bob

Now why do those 50-60 cycles look familiar? Similar to the set posted last summer.
http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/lt-temp-1650-2008-1-Rxrdy.gif
Amazing what the Fourier filtering can do.

Chris

Shub,
How common are 15 year cooling trends, which will be at in 2012?

John from CA

“Amazingly, this one is from NASA”
I ran across this the other day and was impressed by NASA’s candor:
UNCERTAINTIES
Unresolved questions about Earth’s climate

source: http://climate.nasa.gov/uncertainties/
Carbon cycle. Currently, natural processes remove about half of each year’s human carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere, although this varies a bit year to year. It isn’t well understood where this carbon dioxide goes, with some evidence that the oceans are the major repository and other evidence that land biota absorbs the majority. There is also some evidence that the ability of the Earth system to continue absorbing it may decline as the world warms, leading to faster accumulation in the atmosphere. But this possibility isn’t well understood either. The planned Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission will mark NASA’s first attempt to answer some of these questions via space observations.”
• So aerosol forcing is another substantial uncertainty in predictions of future climate.”
• Current climate models do not represent cloud physics well, so the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently rated clouds among its highest research priorities.”
• Global ocean data sets only extend back to the early 1990s, so there are large uncertainties in predictions of future ocean changes.”
• Scientists and policymakers would like to use climate models to assess regional changes, but the models currently show wide variation in their results.”
• …, so our inability to predict what sea level rise is likely over the next century has substantial human and economic ramifications.”

Gary

Winston Smith must be slacking off. The Ministry of Truth will have to look into it…

Dagfinn

Every climate scientist knows about the uncertainty. It’s just being downplayed. Here too: they say they cannot be completely certain, although they know very well they can’t even be reasonably certain. Still, the statement that they can’t be completely certain is truthful, in somewhat the same way as the statement that Jennifer Aniston is not yet 90 years old.

Enneagram

…and we doubt NASA ☺

Brian D

So at what point does the modulated upward trend become a modulated downward trend? (MWP to LIA to current MWP)
It’s not going to keep going up forever. We need to figure out what is causing the larger cycles that these smaller ones are riding on during the interglacial periods. And with all the monkey business concerning data, how can we even be sure of the true linear slope, anyway.
Climate is just like a 2,000 piece puzzle without the picture on the box for reference. GOOD LUCK!

Chris:
The BAMS authors (from Hadley Center who did the modeling) say
Pauses as long as 15 years are rare in the simulations, and “we expect that [real-world] warming will resume in the next few years,…”
They are rare, but they are there. Every base is covered.

rbateman

See that spike in the Historic Temperatures graph in the 1870’s?
I’m not sure where in the world the temperature exceeded that spike the last30 years, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that it wasn’t in California.

Robert Paglee, Sr.

Girma Orssengo’s analysis of a 60-year cycle is very impressive. His sinusoidal curve seems to fit the CRU’s data quite well when set atop the slowly-rising temperature trend due to the Earth’s slow recovery from the frigid torture of man and beast during the “little ice age”.
Another interesting feature of the 1998 NASA article is the concession that “feedbacks” or “secondary processes are important.” Indeed they are. That is the 800-pound gorilla being rousted about by the AGW alarmists whose computer programs are so heavily biased with positive cloud and water-vapor feedbacks.

David S

Wren 8.41
What do you mean by “the science”? Is that the monolithic line peddled by RealClimate, the “consensus” as enforced in the Climategate emails, or the wide range of models and analysis produced by real scientists, whether “warmist”, “lukewarmers” or “sceptics”? And if you show me your “peer-reviewed” I’ll raise you an IPCC4.

bob paglee

Girma Orssengo’s analysis of a 60-year cycle is very impressive. His sinusoidal curve seems to fit the CRU’s data quite well when set atop the slowly-rising temperature trend due to the Earth’s slow recovery from its tortures of man and beast during the “little ice age”.
Another interesting feature of the 1998 NASA article is the concession that “feedbacks” or “secondary processes are important.” Indeed they are. That is the 800-pound gorilla being rousted about by the AGW alarmists whose computer programs are so heavily biased with positive cloud and water-vapor feedbacks.

jorgekafkazar

“…trashing the future is a certainty when we rush to plan based on a science in it[del]s infancy -A”
=======
Wren says: April 27, 2010 at 8:41 am
Based on the certainty that the science is wrong about the future ?-Wren
= = = = = = =
Since the “science” was wrong about the past ten years, it’s unlikely to be right about the future. That IS a certainty.

Wren

Dagfinn says:
April 27, 2010 at 9:47 am
Every climate scientist knows about the uncertainty. It’s just being downplayed. Here too: they say they cannot be completely certain, although they know very well they can’t even be reasonably certain. Still, the statement that they can’t be completely certain is truthful, in somewhat the same way as the statement that Jennifer Aniston is not yet 90 years old.
===============
Most forecasts are uncertain, aside from the obvious certainty about such future occurrences as death. I don’t think the uncertainty about climate forecasts is downplayed. If not for uncertainty, what would be the point of having a range of scenarios about long-term climate change?
I’m not sure what “reasonably certain” means. I am either certain or not certain. I act on lots of things I’m not certain about, but believe are likely.

George E. Smith

Way way back on WUWT, there was much discussion about cycles, and a lot of talk about the 11 and 22 year solar cycles, and then up popped this cycle that seemed to be three of those 22 year solar cycles; but at the time, nobody could think why the sun would be doing something extra every three 22 year cycles. I remember distinctly looking at some solar innards pictures, and I suspect that there was some discussions with Leif about what such a cycle could be.
Well it’s all back in the archives there somewhere.

Wren

David S says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:15 am
Wren 8.41
What do you mean by “the science”? Is that the monolithic line peddled by RealClimate, the “consensus” as enforced in the Climategate emails, or the wide range of models and analysis produced by real scientists, whether “warmist”, “lukewarmers” or “sceptics”? And if you show me your “peer-reviewed” I’ll raise you an IPCC4.
=====
The science that shows CAGW has happened and is likely to continue to happen. If there is compelling evidence to the contrary, convincing the National Academy of Sciences shouldn’t be hard.

Wren

jorgekafkazar says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:18 am
“…trashing the future is a certainty when we rush to plan based on a science in it[del]s infancy -A”
=======
Wren says: April 27, 2010 at 8:41 am
Based on the certainty that the science is wrong about the future ?-Wren
= = = = = = =
Since the “science” was wrong about the past ten years, it’s unlikely to be right about the future. That IS a certainty.
====
It hasn’t been wrong. One of Hansen’s 1988-2010 global temperature projections is on target for March 2010.

timhulsey

Brian D says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:00 am
“Climate is just like a 2,000 piece puzzle without the picture on the box for reference.”
And the picture was taken without a flash in a light-tight room!

M Morris

The inherent unpredictability of nature at both the quantum and classical scales has always been a problem for scientists because it could be “perceived” to make them and their profession appear redundant. For instance; notice that chaos theory is normally labelled “determinstic chaos” when there is nothing determinstic about it. Saying one could make perfectly accurate predictions about a given (non idealised) system if only one could measure intitial conditions to infitinte accuracy; is an illogical condition. Its like the answer one expects from a politican lying through his teeth. We suspect that infinite numbers demonstrate a mismatch between human mathematics and whatever raw maths the universe operates on, if its even computable, which should be in serious doubt – knowing what we know about quantum and classical uncertainties, singularities etc…
So problem is scientists loathe to admit uncertainty. It would be a bit like the Police admitting they cant stop crime.

Ian W

While it must be nice to find a model that shows an occasional flat period in temperatures (rather than temperature _drop_ as in the 70’s) surely all the other aspects of the model should match what happened too? This would provide some indication of where the heat that was presumably still being trapped by the atmospheric CO2 actually sequestered itself for the cooling period as we have been assured the Sun cannot be responsible.

Steve Oregon

I read the opening paragraph, glanced at the rest and thought,
But the “debate was over” some years ago.
It’s hard to imagine where we would be today had the Skepetic’s Team, with the rapid enabling of the internet, had not been taking this on.

RockyRoad

M Morris says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:41 am
(….)
So problem is scientists loathe to admit uncertainty. It would be a bit like the Police admitting they cant stop crime.
———-
Reply: And yet therein lies job security. Science becomes a life-long, nay, an infinite pursuit. But the fruits of the journey are well worth it.

Paul

@vigilantfish “The uptick in funding for NASA I think has more to do with the election of George W. Bush than with NOAA’s newfound faith in the ‘science’ of AGW.”
Yes, but that doesn’t mean AGW had nothing to do with it, as a very quick search yields the following:
“In 2004, NASA’s spending on climate science exceeded all other Federal agencies, combined. NASA spent $1.3 billion on climate science that year, out of a $1.9 billion total”
“By 2007, NASA had 17 missions contributing space-borne data to climate science, and its Earth science budget varied between $1.2 and $1.4 billion per year. It had active programs to obtain and convert data from Defense Department and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites as well as from certain European, Japanese, and Russian satellites.”
And from the final paragraph:
“Nearly thirty years of satellite-based solar irradiance and atmospheric temperature data helped enable the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 statement that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” But while there’s little doubt that humans are making the world warmer, there’s still a lot to learn about what the consequences will be. How much warmer will it get.”
I have little doubt that absent predictions of catastrophic AGW NASA’s funding would have been what it was, and they are hardly unique from that perspective. You get what you pay for, and some people were paid an awful lot.
http://climate.nasa.gov/NasaRole/

rbateman

Wren says:
The science that shows CAGW has happened and is likely to continue to happen. If there is compelling evidence to the contrary, convincing the National Academy of Sciences shouldn’t be hard.
________________________
The model shows that it cannot predict the past beyond the chosen startline.
It also shows that it has poorly recontructed the past.
Therefore the model is neither destined to success nor is the outcome likely to be correct.
The NAS paddles it’s own boat, correctly or incorrectly.

björn

Interesting, now that they are opening their minds, maybe I will finally get this issue resolved, which has puzzled me for quite some time.
I found this neat map of the world, showing temperature anomaly globally, and I realized that I recognized the pattern of hotspots, (naturally it is not at all clear this month, but it usually is, at least I imagine so.) seemed to correlate with those “earth at night” photos that NASA sometimes compile.
Choose anomaly:
http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/products/climate/synop.html
Earth at night:
http://www.masterresource.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/earth_night.jpg

But looking at it now, I am not convinced that there is anything interesting.
Perhaps there is a similar world-anomaly-plotting on a yearly basis that would suffice to settle the lights vs heat issue.
If there is significant UHI, one would expext it to happen in the bright areas?

A C Osborn

Wren says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:35 am
The science that shows CAGW has happened and is likely to continue to happen.
No you show us that science.
No one else has managed it yet, because it doesn’t exist.
Everything in in IPCC AR4 has been refuted, both scientifically and more importantly Statistically. Did you bother to read the thread “Global average temperature increase GISS HadCRU and NCDC compared” on Bart Verheggen’s Site?

A C Osborn

Wren says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:35 am
The science that shows CAGW has happened and is likely to continue to happen.
By the way what Catastophic AGW has happened?

harrywr2

George E. Smith says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:27 am
“and then up popped this cycle that seemed to be three of those 22 year solar cycles; but at the time, nobody could think why the sun would be doing something extra every three 22 year cycles.”
http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/geo/ju-sa/ju000sa.html
Saturn and Jupiter align every 20 years. Every 60 years they align with-in 9 degrees of their starting point. Every 800 years they align within 1 degree of the starting point.

For more on the ~60-70 year climate and ocean oscillation cycle, P Gosselin has posted a ppt presentation from the Russian scientist Dr Oleg Pokrovsky who was widely quoted on newswires a few days ago for his statement that the Arctic is cooling, not warming:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/04/more-on-60-year-climate-cycle.html

John from CA

This is probably a very silly question.
One of the charts is titled “Global Yearly Mean Temperature…” [= Surface Temperature by Year]
I’m assuming this means land based ground level surface temperature from weather stations which are subject to weather patterns.
Is “Global Mean Temperature” relevant to anything other then glacial vs interglacial ages?

CRS, Dr.P.H.

The US Government is already hedging its bets on warming, so watch for ocean acidification to be the “disaster of the month.” EPA is already working on it, using the Clean Water Act as the template for a way towards regulating CO2:
http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl/oceanfrMarch_2010/pdf/qa_ocean_acid_frn.pdf
Those in the government who still believe in warming (Hansen, Holdren etc.) haven’t changed their minds, but I think they are just now realizing that they are facing some serious public relations problems, post-Climategate, post-cold winter etc.

George E. Smith says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:27 am
Way way back on WUWT, there was much discussion about cycles, and a lot of talk about the 11 and 22 year solar cycles, and then up popped this cycle that seemed to be three of those 22 year solar cycles; but at the time, nobody could think why the sun would be doing something extra every three 22 year cycles>>
I didn’t see that thread, but I note that the variations in the moon’s orbit have an 18.6 year major cycle and several minor cycles. I note also that native folk lore relayed to settlers as recorded in Laura Ingles Wilder’s “The Long Winter” talked about a harsh winter every 7 years and and an extreme harsh winter on the 3rd of the seven… 21 years. There’s just an awful lot of stuff that roughly fits that cycle and it would be nice if some focus was put on understanding those clues in terms of determining the primary drivers of climate instead of trying to make CO2 fit everything that happens.

Tom_R

>> Wren says:
It hasn’t been wrong. One of Hansen’s 1988-2010 global temperature projections is on target for March 2010. <<
The one that supposes no additional CO2 since 2000? That's hardly a correct projection, and one might say that the fact that the real-world temperature fits a no CO2 increase proves that the model's temperature dependence on CO2 is completely wrong.

Interesting change of perspective by NASA. Some of the more certain of the warmists on the Guardian CiF blog and in other places quote Arrhenious’ theory as absolute gospel but they obviously didn’t see the cautions NASA expressed here.

a dood

“Wren says:
April 27, 2010 at 10:35 am
The science that shows CAGW has happened and is likely to continue to happen.”
Yeah that catastrophic warming was wild! I thought our goose was cooked for sure.
I couldn’t believe it when Al Gore swooped down from the sky and sucked away all the hot air with his super-suction powers. I mean… I knew he sucked, but I had no idea of the magnitude.

When you are a science based organization, or one that is supposed to be, and one of the hypotheses you have been using is falsified, you have no choice. Lets give a little credit here for following the scientific method and intellectual integrity. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect an org. like NASA to just do a complete about face. They, like everyone else has a need to save face. At this point I think it important to say good on you for admitting that you don’t know something. In the political climate of the US, as I see it from Canada, change is slow to come. It will be very hard for the hard liners, on any side, of any debate, to admit their advocacy was even remotely correct. Harder still, since that correctness was probably more do to dumb luck then good science.
I must confess I have been and will remain a scientific skeptic and a political cynic. I have never been comfortable in any kind of alignment with the demigods and propagandists from any part of the political spectrum. Let us now work to find that rational middle ground of sweet reason.