Tanganyika Revisited

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

The new Nature Magazine article on Lake Tanganyika, “Late-twentieth-century warming in Lake Tanganyika unprecedented since AD 500”, discussed a couple days ago by Anthony Watts here, was quite interesting to me. In 2003 I had contributed a “Communications Arising” to Nature Magazine regarding earlier claims that AGW was causing productivity loss in the Lake. As a result, I am very familiar with the available records for the lake.

Figure 1. Rainbow over Lake Tanganyika

I was puzzled by the claims in the new article regarding the changes in Lake Tanganyika surface temperatures, because I knew that there was almost no historical data on lake surface temperature. I wondered how they determined the surface temperature of the lake over the past 1,500 years. So I sprung the $18 to purchase the Nature paper and find out …

It turns out that they used a proxy called TEX86, which has been used in other studies. But how did they calibrate the proxy to the lake surface temperature (which they call “LST”)?

Well … they didn’t calibrate it. In their theory, no calibration is needed. However, that seems like a very problematic assumption, as there are always confounding factors for proxies that mean that they need to be calibrated to the instrumental record. Some of these factors are listed in their Supplementary Information.

How well does their reconstruction correspond with air temperatures? Well … rather than compare the reconstruction to local temperatures over the last 50 years, and despite the fact that Lake Tanganyika is in the Southern Hemisphere, they compare the reconstruction to a famous Northern Hemisphere reconstruction …

Figure 2. A most ingenious way to hide the differences between two graphs, by redacting the front information so you can’t see the back information. Note that part (a) uses the discredited Hockeystick and various Hockeystick clones (the so-called “independent reconstructions”) as its basis for comparison.

Commenting on this figure, they say (emphasis mine):

Our LST reconstruction is qualitatively similar to Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstructions (Fig. 3a), implying that Tanganyika LST largely followed global trends in temperature during the past 1,500 years, much as it has in the past half-century. As LST closely tracks air temperatures over the instrumental period, we can also infer that air temperatures in this region of East Africa varied in concert with the global average and thus were controlled primarily by the major forcings influencing temperatures over this timescale, both natural (solar radiation, volcanism) and anthropogenic (greenhouse-gas emissions; refs 19, 20). The temporal resolution of our dataset precludes comparison between Tanganyika LST and volcanic events of the past, but we can compare our record with changes in solar irradiance (total solar irradiance (TSI) anomaly, estimated from 10Be in ice cores21; Fig. 3b). TSI and Tanganyika LST share some similar centennialscale features, including maxima near 1350 and minima at 1450, 1250 and 1000. However, TSI variability clearly does not explain the dramatic twentieth-century increase in LST, which, as with global temperatures, is probably a response to greenhouse-gas forcing.

Unfortunately, in their paper they neglected to show how the Lake Tanganyika LST “closely tracks air temperatures over the instrumental period” of the “past half-century”. To remedy this lacuna, I have plotted the only two longer-term temperature stations on the lake along with the MSU data and the proxy-derived LST:

Figure 3. Ground station temperatures, UAH MSU, and proxy lake surface temperature (LST), 1950-1996

As you can see, while their proxy LST generally agrees with the air temperature over the last half of the record, it does very poorly during the first half. So no, the LST proxy reconstruction does not “closely track air temperatures over the instrumental period.”

Finally, Tierney with some other co-authors have published previously in Science Magazine (subscription required) on the Tanganyika LST. In the current (2010) paper, they say (emphasis mine):

Before the twentieth century, LST varied between 22.5 C and 24.3 C (Fig. 2a). LSTs were relatively warm between ad 500 and 700, followed by an interval of cool LSTs that lasted until ad 1100. Lake Tanganyika then experienced a period of extended warmth between 1100 and 1400, followed by a return to cooler LSTs between 1400 and 1500 and more variable temperatures until 1900. Beginning around 1900, LSTs trend upwards, rising about 2 C in 100 years (see Fig. 2 inset). Our uppermost sample from core MC1 (identified using 210Pb dating as about ad 1996), calibrates to 25.7 C.

OK, so the current paper says that in the last 1,500 years the LST has varied between a low of 22.5 C to a high of 25.7 C. During the last 50 years of the record, their proxy LST value rises by 1.6 C.

And in the current paper, they also say:

Our records indicate that changes in the temperature of Lake Tanganyika in the past few decades exceed previous natural variability.

But in their previous (2008) paper, which used the same TEX86 proxy, they had said:

Holocene lake [Tanganyika] surface temperature (LST) fluctuated between 27° and 29°C …

And during the Holocene, their 2008 paper shows a change of 1.65 C in 50 years, which is larger than the recent change shown in the 2010 paper.

Despite citing the earlier paper in their current paper, they don’t mention these discrepancies … which does make me wonder just how good their proxy is. It also make me curious about what they mean by “previous natural variability”. During the Holocene, by their own figures, the Lake Tanganyika LST was 3 C warmer, and changed temperature faster, than in the last fifty years of their more recent proxy record.

[UPDATE] You know how sometimes you have this nagging feeling that you’ve left something out, and you can’t think of what it was? When I woke up this morning, I realized what I had wanted to say.

This is truly a watershed paper in that it purports to be a study of the changes in lake surface temperature (LST) over time, but they present no measurements of the changes in the LST over time. The only actual surface temperatures mentioned in the paper are the following, all from 2003:

Our uppermost sample from core MC1 (identified using 210Pb dating as about ad 1996), calibrates to 25.7 C. This is within the range of 2003 measurements of seasonal LST for the Kalya Slope area (25.5-26.3 C; see Fig. 2 inset) and is also similar to the annual average LST measured near Mpulungu, at the southern end of the lake (26.1 C; ref. 16).

Unfortunately, reference 16 is very vague. It is:

Descy, J-P. et al. Scientific Support Plan for a Sustainable Development Policy (SPSD II), Part II: Global Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity Atmosphere and Climate (Belgian Science Policy, 2003).

Research showed this is the Belgian CLIMLAKE project, which I had studied before, and which had some interesting results. Here’s one of them:

Figure 4. Satellite derived lake temperatures. SOURCE – CLIMLAKE FINAL REPORT.

As you can see, on a single day the surface temperature of the lake varies by 4° C from coldest to warmest. I couldn’t find their “2003 measurements of seasonal LST” or their “annual average LST”, although Figure 29 of that CLIMLAKE report does show a three year temperature record for two places on the lake, so I suppose they might have used those.

(As an aside, my high school science teacher would never have allowed such a vague citation as reference 16 above, I’d have gotten a “D” on the paper if not an “F”. “Make it easy to find”, he’d say, “point me right at it. Cite me chapter and verse.” But I digress …)

My point is, the Tierney 2010 report is a study of the change in Lake Tanganyika surface temperature over time, which contains no measurements of the change in LST over time, and which has exactly three actual surface temperature measurements, which are poorly cited, are from different parts of the lake, and are all from 2003 …

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
KenB

And this was published in Nature ?? just one more reason for publishing the names of the peer reviewers and eventually restoring some semblance of credibility to science, or is it already too late!!
They should refund your hard earned $18 Willis!!

I visited southern lake Tanganyika as a child in 1950 and remember looking at an empty shoreline in a very remote place. Google earth shows todays shorelines to be heavily populated and eroded. Lake Malawi has the same problems. These very long deep lakes are subject to frequent violent storms, strong winds, currents, seiche, seasonal overturning and hosts of other problems. Statistical studies are now added to the list.

Roger Carr

Definitions of lacuna on the Web: a blank gap or missing part.
Thank you, Willis; my education is coming on apace, though not as rapidly as my disenchantment with (post normal?) science.

I hope you have invited them to comment on this?

Joe

Thanks Willis!
You are a very informative and knowledgable resource.

Mac

In a study of Recent Trends of Minimum and Maximum Surface Temperatures over Eastern Africa, published JoC, 2000 the authors, King’uyu, S.M., L.A. Ogallo and E.K. Anyamba, concluded;
“The results from this study indicated a significant rise in the nighttime temperature at several locations over eastern Africa. The distribution of the warming trends were, however, not geographically uniform with many coastal locations and those near ‘large water bodies’ indicating significant opposite trends, especially to the north of 5 degrees S. Locations north of 5 degrees S indicated more organized decreasing or increasing diurnal trend in the daytime/nighttime temperature patterns.”
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake (3° 20′ to 8° 48′ South and from 29° 5′ to 31° 15′ East).
So why is Lake Tanganyika showing sudden warming of +3F while the surrounding region in this part of Africa has not?

Vincent

Interesting post Willis. Maybe you should write a rebuttal paper.

Andy

Nature is just a joke now.
Who the hell, looking at that, would consider it good enough for publication?

Yet another resuscitation for the Undead Mann Hockey Stick – the bad statistical nonsense that refuses to die!

BillD

Although Lake T. is not nearly as well studied as other large lakes, such as the North American Great Lakes, there probably are more than 50 peer reviewed publications, many of which are available as free downloads.
In the previous posting on this lake, many issues were raised about the recent warming, including the speculation that it is due to more turbid water or possibly geothermal warming at depth or that lake temperature cannot be precisely measured. These hypotheses are clearly falsified in published literature. The near shore (littoral) region has been affected by runoff, as noted in the paper cited by Anthony. However, the offshore waters have been getting clearer and less turbid over the 97 year historical record of actual in lake measurments. Consider that this is one of the largest lakes in the world, with a volume larger than Lake Superior due to its geat depth. A good place to start learning about the historical (since 1913) warming of Lake T is the recent paper by Verburg and Hecky (2009) in Limnology and Oceanography:
http://www.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_54/issue_6_part_2/2418.pdf
While the shallow, near shore waters of this lake have been impacted by runoff, the offshore waters have been clearer in the last 97 years, due to the effects of warming and thermal stratification on nutrient (phosphorus) regeneration. This results has been verified in a number of key papers that are cited in Verburg and Hecky (2009).
I am the first to say that this paper pertains mainly to Lake T and does not produce evidence for or against the hypothesis that recent warming is due to greeen house gases. It does do a thorough job of describing the physics of lake warming and showing its relationship to regional climate.
For people who have limited acess to academic journals, I will put in a plug for the special climate issue of Limnology and Oceanography published in late 2009 (“Lakes and Reserviors as sentinels, integrators and regulators of climate change”). Authors of L&O can pay an additional fee to make their publications permanently available on the http://www.also.org web site. This issue includes 23 articles on climate change and 18 are “unlocked.” If these papers cite an average of 50 unique papers each, this gives us another thousand paper to read to help understand the issue of lakes and climate change. These are mostly data rich papers, and do not provide new evidence about green house gases. They look at recent and paleo data and a few use modeling approaches. I note that one of the locked papers concerns research on the paleolimnology of other African ancient lakes.
Here is the contents of the special climate issue with many “unlocked” articles:
http://www.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_54/issue_6_part_2/index.html

dr.bill

Willis: Just for the hell of it, I saved figure 3 and replaced all the ‘hockey stick black’ in part (b) with their ‘error bar blue’. The result is essentially an unremarkable horizontal blue swath with some ups and downs. And you’re right about their putting that thick black stuff in the foreground with their own pale curve sitting demurely in the background. The whole thing is just a scandalous cheap trick to guide the reader’s eye into believing that there is something significant to be seen. Stupid [snip]ers.
/dr.bill

KimW

A very nice demolition of a paper that has no intellectual rigor, no viable internal logic and whose peer reviewers should have been ashamed to let this out on the public. I mean, jumping to the other side of the planet for a temperature reconstruction, instead of actually measuring the temperature gradient and using local sources and failing to consider and discuss local conditions. Oh, I forgot, this is climate science. How can they live with themselves ?.

Rich Matarese


Hm. On the earlier thread, BillD had rung in mention of Verburg & Heckey’s paper last year on ““The physics of the warming of Lake Tanganyika by climate change” (Limnol. Oceanogr. 2009, pp. 2418-2430 and online at http://tinyurl.com/26xbz5u ).
In this article (which appears to be reporting what I’d call a meta-analysis of previously collected and published data) there are all the hallmarks of yet another warmist propaganda piece.
I’d be interested in other readers” take on this pre-Climategate article and its validity. To my uneducated eye, there’s more than a little bit of reekage similar to what is found in Tierney et al.

PJB

They should get a 5 minute major for high-“sticking” even though it was Willis that drew blood…..
My amazement is quickly turning to dismay. I used to read New Scientist and Nature back in the 70’s and 80’s. To publish such rubbish shows how the mighty have fallen (prey to the CAGW political agenda).
Science must be freed from interference.

Pamela Gray

Large deep lakes get clear because of lack of wind. The incredibly tiny percentage of CO2 ppm going up or down is minutia compared to what causes wind to go up or down. What has been the weather pattern variation in this climate zone during this time period? Without that information, the link to CO2 greenhouse warming is a very, very long jump to a tenuous conclusion. It reminds me of the old fable about a mouse causing a herd of elephants to stampede. That explanation only works in children’s books.
My opinion? The authors of all of these articles about this lake, including the ones mentioned by BillD (and I appreciate your debate style by the way), are light on ruling out first encountered pathologies.

I am constantly amazed by Willis Eschenbach. I’ve seen him play piano, sketch cartoons, give presentations, and produce extraordinarily sensible rebuttals. I’ve heard of his exploits at sea, his engineering projects, and of his travels.
I am honored to count Willis Eschenbach among my friends.
I think a letter of comment to Nature would be appropriate.

Steve M. from TN

A SH lake compared to NH treemometers….makes perfect sense to me

Pamela Gray

When I mention weather pattern variation, I mean all the parameters of these variations. Types and frequency of storms, wind direction (not just speed), actual temperature range (not average and not anomaly), clouds (amount and TYPE) changes in pressure systems coming from different directions, oceanic conditions during the time period under consideration, etc, etc, etc. No one seems to want to do this kind of work as part of their study. Maybe because those doing the studies don’t know anything about weather?

Jimbo

Now this is how peer review is supposed to work and not like a rubber stamp.

Jimbo

Hey, barefootgirl! What is you take on Willis Eschenbach’s critical look at the Lake Tanganyika Study posted on WUWT on 18 May 2010?
This is why we sceptics exist here. Even though we had not read the paper we knew in our heart of hearts that some skulduggery was up and did our best to tear it down. Now it’s down?

Henry chance

It confirms my suspicions. The paper is a little sloppy. She makes assumptions based on very limited data. Very limited. She also assumes wind and other variables remain constant.
Have we ever seen fishing results to remain constant? If there is one fish in the pond, and i don’t catch the fish, he is proven to not exist.

I’ve sent a note along to Brown University and have received a reply:
=================================================
Dear Mr. Watts,
Thank you for your interest in research at Brown University. I have sent your concern to the principal researchers to consider.
Richard
On 5/20/10 9:14 AM, “Anthony Watts – mobile” wrote:
Hello Mr. Lewis,
I’d appreciate if you’d send this link below along to the authors of the recent Brown press release (here http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/05/tanganyika )
Brown Geologists Show Unprecedented Warming in Lake Tanganyika
It seems the proxy used by Tierny, TEX86, has some serious tracking issues, and there appears to be an error of omission in disclosure.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/20/tanganyika-revisited/
The authors are welcome to post comments to explain the discrepancy in tracking of air temperature and why it was implied that the TEX86 tracked the entire instrumental temperature record when in fact it does not.
Best regards
Anthony Watts
Editor
WattsUpWithThat.com

Richard C. Lewis
Physical Sciences Writer
Brown University
401-863-3766
401-527-2889, cell

Bill Illis

The temperature calibration formula used for the Tex86 proxy in this study is quite a bit different than the traditional calibrations in the literature.
Tierney used a formula of:
– Tex86 = 0.026*Temp + 0.10
when almost all the other calibrations are in the range of:
– Tex86 = (0.015->0.018)*Temp + (0.29->0.19)
Tierney had to use a different formula because some of the other lakes used in the study had very high Tex86 numbers and the traditional Tex86 formulae would have given lake surface temperatures that were much too high. Lake Towuti in Indonesia (which Tierny also studied) has Tex86 numbers of 0.888 which would point to surface temperatures of close to 40C using the traditional formulae when the actual surface temps are only about 28C.
In other words, this Tex86 proxy (which is being used very extensively in the warming alarmist literature now and is showing more warming in the past for example as a result of small changes in CO2), needs a lot more work in calibration and is probably mis-calibrated. I always had my doubts about some of the numbers Tex86 was pointing to in the paleoclimate studies.

BillD

Rich Matarese says:
May 20, 2010 at 4:52 am

Hm. On the earlier thread, BillD had rung in mention of Verburg & Heckey’s paper last year on ““The physics of the warming of Lake Tanganyika by climate change” (Limnol. Oceanogr. 2009, pp. 2418-2430 and online at http://tinyurl.com/26xbz5u ).
In this article (which appears to be reporting what I’d call a meta-analysis of previously collected and published data) there are all the hallmarks of yet another warmist propaganda piece.
Rich:
I was not a reviewer for this paper, but I have reviewed over 600 scientific papers in the 30 years before “climategate.” Quite a few of them were for Limnology and Oceanography. I can attest from being on both giving and receiving end of L&O reviews that they are quite critical, thoughful and rigorous. I take some umbrage at you insinuation that the reviews of millions of scientific papers before “climategate” were somehow dishonest or lacking in rigor. I also think that its silly to suggest a conspiracy among scientists from diverse fields and throughout the world, perhaps going back over more than one hundred years. In the case of this Verburg and Hecky paper, to be fair to the authors, you would need to critically review a good portion of the earlier studies that provide a basis for their analysis and then you would need to cite specific errors or misinterpretations.

Pat Moffitt

Pamela Gray says:
May 20, 2010 at 5:56 am
Large deep lakes get clear because of lack of wind. The incredibly tiny percentage of CO2 ppm going up or down is minutia compared to what causes wind to go up or down. What has been the weather pattern variation in this climate zone during this time period?
You may find the work of Sharon Nicholson of interest with respect to rainfall. Here is one-www.nile.uib.no/Events/Publ/chworkpres/SHARON%20NICHOLSON.pdf. Lake Tanganyika has also seen wide fluctuations of Lake level over this period as well.
For wind speed and some other meteorology see: ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/ltr/TD73.PDF
And for the modeling work done looking at wind mixing of the Lake waters see: http://www.fao.org/fi/oldsite/ltr/index.htm and go to the publications section

toby

More information on this paper may be obtained at:
http://www.geo.brown.edu/People/Grads/Tierney/Lake_Tanganyika_Warming.html

Enneagram

Is that proxy TEX86 the same used by Mann for his Hockey Stick? Because the resemblance of the graphs above with Mann´s is surprising.

Bruce Cobb

BillD says:
May 20, 2010 at 6:55 am
I also think that its silly to suggest a conspiracy among scientists from diverse fields and throughout the world, perhaps going back over more than one hundred years.
And yet, here you are suggesting just that. Interesting.

Enneagram

This is the origin of that Proxy :
Project: TEX86 paleothermometry: proxy validation and application in marine sediments
Titel Een nieuwe zeeoppervlaktetemperatuur proxy gebaseerd op membraanlipiden van plankton van Archaea: de TEX86
Abstract Determination of past sea surface temperatures (SST) is of primary importance for the reconstruction of natural climatic changes. The understanding of these changes is essential if we want to decipher human impact on current global change. Several geochemical proxies for SST reconstructions are used but all have problems and assumptions associated with them. Hence, there is a strong need for more and better SST proxies. We recently developed a new SST proxy (the TEX86) based on the relative distribution of tetraether membrane lipids derived from marine Crenarchaeota, a ubiquitous and omnipresent component of marine picoplankton. A preliminary core-top calibration shows a linear relationship of this proxy with SST in the range 0-30°C. Here we propose to further calibrate and validate this new proxy. Small-scale mesocosm experiments, where field populations of marine Crenarcheaota are adapted to different temperatures, will be used to further calibrate the TEX86-SST relationship. In addition, determination of the TEX86 in water filtrates and sedimenting particles from different depth and taken at different times of the annual cycle from several selected sites in the ocean will establish which depth interval and part of the annual cycle the temperature reconstructed from the TEX86 reflects. These data will be compared with an extended core-top calibration of the TEX86-SST relationship. The TEX86 will be further analysed in well-dated cores from the Holocene and Pleistocene and compared with other, previously determined, SST proxies such as the UK37′ and the d18O of planktonic foraminifera. This will yield information on SST during different parts of the annual cycle and depth intervals of the water column. These integrated data will likely result in a new, extensively calibrated SST proxy, which is widely applicable in marine sediments.

http://www.onderzoekinformatie.nl/en/oi/nod/onderzoek/OND1297859/

Justa Joe

BillD is claiming that warmth makes these types of lakes clearer. These researchers from UC Davis are saying that warmth will make Lake Tahoe less clear.
“Equally worrying, he said, is the likelihood that when the oxygen is gone, phosphorus that is currently locked up in the lake-floor sediments will get released. This phosphorus will eventually reach the lake’s surface, where it will fuel algal growth. Algae blooms can cause many problems, including reduced lake clarity, unpleasant odors and bad-tasting drinking water.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080325141202.htm
Interestingly these UC Davis ‘researchers’ unwisely gave 10 years from 2008 as Lake Tahoes’ demise deadline. I’m looking forward to 10 years hence when these guys are revealed as alarmist cranks.

Enneagram

The author of Tex86 proxy:Dr. Stefan Schouten
http://www.nioz.nl/nioz_nl/0e6cb09c5ee7ab62389853828ffa58ba.php

Anthony,
I just hit your tip jar for the cost of that paper – and for 5-6 more papers in the future – just in case, y’know! 🙂 . Its the least I could do…
Keep up the outstanding work!
REPLY: Thanks much!

Gail Combs

Mac says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:44 am
“….So why is Lake Tanganyika showing sudden warming of +3F while the surrounding region in this part of Africa has not?”
________________________________________________________________________
In the original article
Tim Clark says:
May 19, 2010 at 8:24 am
“There are numerous studies, including below, that differ with this paper…..
Temperature wise, it is not only the large water mass, but another factor that makes Lake Tanganyika so stable – even more stable and homogenous than the ocean in most places. This factor is volcanic activity near the bottom of the lake…..
____

dr.bill

BillD: May 20, 2010 at 6:55 am
re Rich Matarese: May 20, 2010 at 4:52 am
and BillD: May 20, 2010 at 4:04 am

I’m sure that Rich can speak for himself if he wishes to bother, but he certainly didn’t mention ‘millions of papers’ – that was your offering – but I have, myself, read thousands of supposedly well-reviewed papers in the ‘climate’ area that I wouldn’t use to wrap garbage. Umbrage, by the way, doesn’t have much of a market value, but it is often a very good ‘proxy’ for ‘degree to which criticism is on target’. Rich also didn’t use the words ‘conspiracy’ nor ‘one hundred years’ – those were your offerings as well – and we all know, as been demonstrated endlessly, that there is no need for an active conspiracy when mutual self-interests converge under the aegis of a prevailing paradigm. It would seem that Rich’s targeting skill is much to be complimented.
/dr.bill

Al Gored

More excellent peer review… the way it is supposed to be done.
In the meantime, someone got a Brown PhD for this, didn’t they?

Enneagram

Gail Combs says:
May 20, 2010 at 9:03 am
It seems to be the case:
Temperature wise, it is not only the large water mass, but another factor that makes Lake Tanganyika so stable – even more stable and homogenous than the ocean in most places. This factor is volcanic activity near the bottom of the lake. The temperature at the bottom of Lake Tanganyika has been measured and turned out to differ no more than 5 degrees F from the surface temperature. The stable temperature has however created sharp changes in oxygen content as you proceed down into the lake. Since there are virtually no temperature changes in Lake Tanganyika, there are no driving forces for vertical currents. Without any vertical currents and water exchange with the surface, the deep soon becomes oxygen depleted. Animals that need oxygen to survive, including of course all the Tanganyika cichlids, can therefore only be found at the top 300 meters of the lake
http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/cichlid/tang2.php

Rich Matarese


BillD laments my mention of Verburg & Heckey (“The physics of the warming of Lake Tanganyika by climate change” Limnol. Oceanogr. 2009, pp. 2418-2430; online at http://tinyurl.com/26xbz5u ), which I’d composed while his slightly earlier recommendation of this publication was apparently awaiting moderation. I’d noted that in this article “there are all the hallmarks of yet another warmist propaganda piece.”
BillD states that “…from being on both giving and receiving end of [Limnology and Oceanography] reviews that they are quite critical, thoughtful and rigorous, and this I do not discredit.
In both my personal experience of peer review and in discussions with medical colleagues on this subject, I know – and, boy, BillD really ought to know – how the peer review process can get screwed up by the sorts of concerted and deliberately deceptive measures practiced by the anthropogenic global warming cabal that was cataclysmically de-pantsed by the Climategate revelations, particularly with regard to the insights provided by the e-mails of the C.R.U. correspondents.
In clinical medicine, we have been subjected for decades to the influences of the pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturers, who not only fund a great deal of innovative research – which they have to undertake as the result of FDA and other regulatory bodies’ requirements to gain permission to market their products – but who must target the greatest part of their advertising to physicians and other health care practitioners.
What this means is that almost all research-minded doctors must deal with the PhRMA and MDMA member companies when seeking funding, and pecuniary relationships have developed with clinical investigators and “key opinion leaders” in the medical profession which have been recognized for a helluva long time to be conducive to what we’ll call – for politeness’ sake – a certain lack of objectivity in the academic work conducted by these particular in-the-manufacturers’-pockets medicos.
A whole lot of my professional colleagues, Bill, make a bunch more money for being on pharma companies’ “speakers’ bureaus” and serving as lead investigators in proprietary Phase III and Phase IV clinical trials than they do by playing musical exam rooms and actually treating patients.
So with the understanding that I sure as hell know what pervasive influence peddling can do to the process of peer review – because the pharma companies do actively recruit their “key opinion leaders” on the basis of things like editorial clout and that prominence within their specialty which gives them to hold responsibilities in peer review for “high impact” medical journals – you might appreciate why, when I got to read those e-mails in the FOI2009.zip archive last November, my immediate desire was for something brutally Sicilian to happen immediately and with spatter marks on the surrounding walls to the C.R.U. correspondents who had been concerting to infest and pervert the peer review process throughout the physical sciences wherever anything critical of the AGW hypothesis might be brought into publication.
As you, Bill, should realize, it is difficult for an honest peer review officer – even one who does not have a personal pecuniary or professional interest in the support of a particular point of view – to contest an assertion in a manuscript which is clearly supported by a previously peer-reviewed article, a copy of which has come to said review officer along with the manuscript in question, all highlighted and redlined “with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.
So what does this mean? Simple. In the physical sciences as in clinical medicine, the effects of perverting the peer review process reverberate.
Bad science – once allowed into the literature – is pretty much in the literature forever. It takes exceptional steps on the part of journal editors and the officers of the professional societies to extirpate a bogus clinical study report, and I’ve seen it take years to correct such concerted frauds. Get a look at the 1998 VIGOR trial for an insight into just one of these stinking episodes.
Okay, I’m not in your field. But you’ll have to concede that as a medical man, I’m hyperalert to what “undue influence” in the peer review process can and does mean to the quality of subsequent work in any area. It makes and breaks grant applications, it pervades continuing professional education, it channels subsequent research away from work that truly tests (rather than seeks to validate) a worthless hypothesis….
…like anthropogenic global warming…
…it destroys the careers of young graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, it colors policymaking decisions in industry and government, it does a boatload of damage.
Check again that Verburg & Heckey article and much of the rest of the stuff you’re still extolling, Bill. You’re going to find AGW cabal fingerprints all to hellangone over ’em, directly or indirectly.
This is why I described Verburg & Heckey’s paper as “pre-Climategate,” just I would tend to describe any paper on the COX-2 specific NSAIDS in the context of what we suddenly learned about rofecoxib (Vioxx, Merck) in late 2004.

Hu Duck Xing

I used to consider proxy data as equal to facts. No longer! I view proxy data with a great deal of skepticism now. Thanks for the education!

JB

Why wouldn’t the last “half century” be the last 50 years? Hence 1960-2010? Shouldn’t the trend lines in figure 3 be from 1960-1985?

1DandyTroll

Peculiar things tend to creep up, but mostly for propaganda or complete fake studies.
Numbers never lie and internet remembers.
Here’s what I find peculiar with the surrounding of Lake T. and its whole basin, it must be one of those mythological static environments, because for 15 years nothing have changed, the numbers are just the same year after year after, even, after more ‘an a decade. Maybe the fish makes the people in the lake T. basin sterile, but what do I know, except that they never have fished more an 200K ton per year of certain fish’. The one million in 95 and the ten million in the basin have become all the ten million. And the surface temperature during tourist season at least is around 25 C, apparently still. And the lake apparently only empty itself during heavy rain periods only since it’s a “closed” basin.
In Nature 14 Aug 2003 there’s a global crap article about Lake T. too. Pretty interesting numbers. Hah, UN also archives everything. :-()

Justa Joe

We’re in the midst of a CAGW propaganda counter offensive doubtlessly to aid the passage of Kerry-Lieberman.

Zeke

Speaking of proxies, does anyone remember this?
Lucy Skywalker (15:05:46) :
hoxy proxy, pinecones foxy,
records bloxy, treerings poxy,
fire burn and cauldron bubble.
tallbloke (16:14:00) :
Britlecones and hockey sticks all in a row
spark the tinder and watch them glow
the ray of light through the lens of Hubble
lightening the load of toil and trouble

Willis Eschenbach

Don’cha hate it when you realize the next morning what you wanted to say the night before? See my [UPDATE] at the end of the head post above …
w.

Willis Eschenbach

JB says:
May 20, 2010 at 10:50 am (Edit)

Why wouldn’t the last “half century” be the last 50 years? Hence 1960-2010? Shouldn’t the trend lines in figure 3 be from 1960-1985?

Sorry for the confusion, I meant the last half century of their proxy data.

BillD

Gail Combs says:
May 20, 2010 at 9:03 am
It seems to be the case:
Temperature wise, it is not only the large water mass, but another factor that makes Lake Tanganyika so stable – even more stable and homogenous than the ocean in most places. This factor is volcanic activity near the bottom of the lake.
Gail;
Your comments about the stable water column, low oxygen and small change in temperature with depth are all correct according to my understanding. However, there is no evidence at all for geothermal (volcanic warming) of the deeper waters of the lake. The deeper waters are only a few oC cooler than the surface waters because in the tropics, the weather does not get cool enought for long enough to cool such a deep lake.
The change in water density per degree temperature is greater at high temperatures than at lower temperatures. This contributes to the greater resistance to mixing by wind in the tropics and the stability of stratification in Lake T and other tropical lakes. If volcanoes or some other form of geothermal heat affected lake temperature, this would be seen in the depth-temperature thermal profiles. This is how and why geothermal heating was explicitly ruled out in the Vergburg and Hecky (2009) paper.

dr.bill

Willis Eschenbach: May 20, 2010 at 11:41 am
See my [UPDATE] at the end of the head post above …

My point is, the Tierney 2010 report is a study of the change in Lake Tanganyika surface temperature over time, which contains no measurements of the change in LST over time, and which has exactly three actual surface temperature measurements, which are poorly cited, are from different parts of the lake, and are all from 2003 …

And that got published. Oh my….
/dr.bill

I swam in the lake late last year. I noticed that the top few feet were warmish and below that it was *extremely* cold. I understand that the lake is about 1/2 mile deep. So wouldn’t you expect that this be taken into account in such a “study” as this? What exactly is the “surface temperature” and why is that more important than the total heat content of the lake?

BillD

Rich Matarese says:
May 20, 2010 at 10:10 am
Rich;
I fully agree with you about the conflict of interests in many medical and pharmacuetical studies. One of my brothers was involved in that field and found much evidence of bias and fraud. In such cases, only very rigorous double blind studies have any credibility. Probably the best that can be done is to fully disclose sources of funding and potential conflicts.
Fortunately, researchers involved in environmental studies don’t usually have a direct monetary interest in the outcome, although they are benefited by publishable results. I’ve had a number of NSF grants and can say, in retrospect, that some of my best results have been those that have gone against my expectations and those of most of my colleagues. The most exciting point in research is when I have results that give me confidence that my next experiments will strongly challenge the scientific status quo.
Thus, my experience leads me to a different conclusion than most posters here. Researchers who submit grants with strong tests of and challenges to the prevailing theory are most likely to get funded and published. If most peer reviewed publications support a particular hypothesis or theory, this is because the theory is very solid.
I have often called for rejection of scientific papers where the expermental design and/or data were weak, even though the broader conclusions agreed with my expectations. I have also recommended publication for manuscripts that contradicted my own work and seemed unlikely, when I could not find fault with the design, data and analysis. Peer review is far from perfect, but most scientific research is judged on its scientific merits and not on whether it supports a popular or unpopular hypothesis.

Willis Eschenbach

BillD says:

… The change in water density per degree temperature is greater at high temperatures than at lower temperatures. This contributes to the greater resistance to mixing by wind in the tropics and the stability of stratification in Lake T and other tropical lakes. If volcanoes or some other form of geothermal heat affected lake temperature, this would be seen in the depth-temperature thermal profiles. This is how and why geothermal heating was explicitly ruled out in the Vergburg and Hecky (2009) paper.

BillD, thanks for the information. The lake is huge, about 350 miles long. In the Vergburg and Hecky (2009) paper, they list a total of only six vertical temperature profiles done over a century … hardly an exhaustive survey. Two of these show warmer water near the bottom, a temperature inversion indicating the possibility of geothermal warming. So I don’t see how that “explicitly rules out” geothermal warming as you (and Vergburg and Hecky) state.
You seem to think that geothermal warming is only a theoretical possibility. See here and here, one of which says:

Sublacustrine hydrothermal vents with associated massive sulfides were discovered during April 1987 at Pemba and Cape Banza on the Zaire side of the northern basin of Lake Tanganyika, East African Rift system. New investigations by a team of ten scuba divers during the multinational (France, Zaire, Germany, and Burundi) TANGANYDRO expedition (August-October 1991) found hydrothermal vents down to a depth of 46 m along north-trending active faults bounding the Tanganyika rift on the western side. Temperatures from 53 to 103 °C were measured in hydrothermal fluids and sediments.

So when boiling water is known to be entering the lake from hydrothermal vents, and when we only have very inadequate surveying, I’d say it was a bit early to be “explicitly ruling out” anything …

BillD

Justa Joe says:
May 20, 2010 at 8:53 am
BillD is claiming that warmth makes these types of lakes clearer. These researchers from UC Davis are saying that warmth will make Lake Tahoe less clear.
In the tropics there is very little seasonal change in temperature and thus, very little mixing. Lake Tahoe does not get cool enough to mix to the bottom, but it does mix as deep as 500 m during winter. The effects of mixing depth and temperature are complex and sometimes subtle. It’s not surprising if the effects of warming differ between tropical and temperate systems. My understanding is that Lake Tahoe is becoming more eutrophic (less clear) and my expectation is that it will remain one of the clearest lakes in North America. It’s a matter of perspective if now or in the future you say ‘great, Lake Tahoe is a very clear lake,” or “too bad, water quality is much degraded from earlier times.” Now and over the next century, both of these perspectives will have some validity. Environmentalists often prefer to look at degredation over time, rather than being satisfied that a particular place (or lake) is better than most others.