The science is scuttled: Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth resort to libeling Spencer and Christy

NOTE: This will be a “sticky”  top post for awhile, new posts appear below this one. UPDATE: Josh weighs in with a new cartoon.

I was hoping to have a quiet holiday weekend away from WUWT doing some household chores. Apparently that isn’t in the cards.

Below, I have reposted an essay from Dr. Roger Pielke Senior regarding an opinion piece published in The Daily Climate attacking Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer for their ongoing work in satellite based measurement of the Earth’s temperature. Dr. Pielke does an excellent job of summarizing his rebuttal points, and I’ll point out that he’s used some very strong unconventional language in the title of his piece.

One point Dr. Pielke touches on related to an orbital decay correction applied to the UAH satellite measurement comes from his first hand experience, and I urge readers to read it fully to get the history. One line from the op-ed in The Daily Climate bothered me in particular:

Over the years, Spencer and Christy developed a reputation for making serial mistakes that other scientists have been forced to uncover.

This my friends, is breathtaking for its sheer arrogance,  agenda, and the scuttling of the scientific process in one sentence.

The entire process of science is about building on early incomplete knowledge with new knowledge, and discarding old knowledge in favor of new evidence that is better understood and supported by observational evidence. All scientists make mistakes, it is part of the learning process of science. Any scientist who believes he/she hasn’t made mistakes, has never made a correction, or hasn’t built upon the mistakes of others to improve the science is deluding themselves.

And that crack about “…mistakes that other scientists have been forced to uncover.” is ludicrous. By the very nature of the scientific process, scientists work to uncover flaws in the work of others, and when mistakes and irrelevancies are burned away by this process, what is left in the crucible of scientific inquiry is regarded as the pure product.

I could say the same thing about GISS related  to Hansen and Gavin’s Y2K temperature problem which required a correction, also something other scientists were “forced to uncover”.

Even Einstein made mistakes, from Physics Today in 2005 Einstein’s Mistakes by Steven Weinberg:

In thinking of Einstein’s mistakes, one immediately recalls what Einstein (in a conversation with George Gamow2) called the biggest blunder he had made in his life: the introduction of the cosmological constant. After Einstein had completed the formulation of his theory of space, time, and gravitation—the general theory of relativity—he turned in 1917 to a consideration of the spacetime structure of the whole universe. He then encountered a problem. Einstein was assuming that, when suitably averaged over many stars, the universe is uniform and essentially static, but the equations of general relativity did not seem to allow a time-independent solution for a universe with a uniform distribution of matter. So Einstein modified his equations, by including a new term involving a quantity that he called the cosmological constant. Then it was discovered that the universe is not static, but expanding. Einstein came to regret that he had needlessly mutilated his original theory. It may also have bothered him that he had missed predicting the expansion of the universe.

For those reading who are prone to eye rolling, I would never presume to compare anyone in climate science to Einstein, but there’s an important and germane science history lesson here worth noting that parallels what has happened with the Spencer and Braswell paper challenging climate models and climate sensitivity.

Consider Edwin Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe based on observational evidence. Einstein created a mathematical model of the universe, and as Wikipedia reportsEarlier, in 1917, Albert Einstein had found that his newly developed theory of general relativity indicated that the universe must be either expanding or contracting. Unable to believe what his own equations were telling him, Einstein introduced a cosmological constant (a “fudge factor“) to the equations to avoid this “problem”.

Einstein didn’t launch a tirade in the press. Instead, Einstein was humble enough to consider that he’d made a mistake and modified his mathematical model to fit the new observation. He later came to regret the cosmological constant, but it demonstrates his ability to assimilate new observational evidence.

Like Spencer and Braswell, Einstein too got his share of public drubbing for his work. Hitler commissioned a group of 100 top scientists in Germany write a book called “Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein” (Hundred authors against Einstein).

Einstein was asked: `Doesn’t it bother you Dr Einstein that you’ve got so many scientists against you?’

And he said: `It doesn’t take 100 scientists to prove me wrong, it takes a single fact’. Source

And that is the way of science. Opinions don’t matter, certificates, awards, and accolades don’t matter. Only the provable evidence matters. In the case of Spencer and Braswell, they too bring observational evidence to bear that may require adjustments to mathematical models. The difference here has been that rather than take the path of reconsideration, and arguing using the science following the peer review process, Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth ignore that process and resort to a diatribe of ad hominem attacks, which in my opinion with that one sentence referencing to “…serial mistakes that other scientists have been forced to uncover.”, crosses the threshold from argument to libel.

Apparently, it is impossible for them to consider observational evidence supporting a lower climate sensitivity, and thus they’ve scuttled the scientific process of correcting and building on new knowledge in favor of a tabloid style attack.

Clearly, Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth share none of the humble virtue demonstrated by Einstein.

Here’s Dr. Pielke’s essay:

Hatchet Job On John Christy and Roy Spencer By Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick

There is an opinion article at Daily Climate that perpetuates serious misunderstandings regarding the research of Roy Spencer and John Christy. It also is an inappropriate (and unwarranted) person attack on their professional integrity. Since I have first hand information on this issue, I am using my weblog to document the lack of professional decorum by Keven Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick.

The inappropriate article I am referring to is

Opinion: The damaging impact of Roy Spencer’s science

published on the Daily Climate on September 2 2011. The article is by Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick.

Their headline reads

In his bid to cast doubts on the seriousness of climate change, University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer creates a media splash but claims a journal’s editor-in-chief.

The science doesn’t hold up.

I am reproducing the text of the article below with my comments inserted.

The text of their article starts with [highlights added]

The widely publicized paper by Roy Spencer and Danny Braswell, published in the journal Remote Sensing in July, has seen a number of follow-ups and repercussions.

Unfortunately this is not the first time the science conducted by Roy Spencer and colleagues has been found lacking. The latest came Friday in a remarkable development, when the journal’s editor-in-chief, Wolfgang Wagner, submitted his resignation and apologized for the paper.

As we noted on RealClimate.org when the paper was published, the hype surrounding Spencer’s and Braswell’s paper was impressive; unfortunately the paper itself was not. Remote Sensing is a fine journal for geographers, but it does not deal much with atmospheric and climate science, and it is evident that this paper did not get an adequate peer review. It should have received an honest vetting.

My Comment:

The claim that a journal on remote sensing, which publishes paper on the climate system “but…does not deal much with atmospheric and climate science”, is not climate science is obviously incorrect.  This trivialization of the journal in this manner illustrates the inappropriately narrow view of the climate system by the authors.  That the paper “should have received an honest vetting”, I assume means that they or their close colleagues should have reviewed it (and presumably recommended rejection).

The Trenberth et al text continues

Friday that truth became apparent. Kevin Trenberth received a personal note of apology from both the editor-in-chief and the publisher of Remote Sensing. Wagner took this unusual and admirable step after becoming aware of the paper’s serious flaws. By resigning publicly in an editorial posted online, Wagner hopes that at least some of this damage can be undone.

My Comment:

My son has posted on this (see). I agree; for Kevin Trenberth to receive an apology is quite bizarre.

Their text continues

Unfortunately this is not the first time the science conducted by Roy Spencer and colleagues has been found lacking.

Spencer, a University of Alabama, Huntsville, climatologist, and his colleagues have a history of making serious technical errors in their effort to cast doubt on the seriousness of climate change. Their errors date to the mid-1990s, when their satellite temperature record reportedly showed the lower atmosphere was cooling. As obvious and serious errors in that analysis were made public, Spencer and Christy were forced to revise their work several times and, not surprisingly, their findings agree better with those of other scientists around the world: the atmosphere is warming.

My Comment:

This statement of the history is a fabrication and is an ad hominem attack.  The errors in their analysis were all minor and were identified as soon as found. Such corrections are a normal part of the scientific process as exemplified recently in the finding of a substantial error in the ERA-40 reanalysis;

Screen, James A., Ian Simmonds, 2011: Erroneous Arctic Temperature Trends in the ERA-40 Reanalysis: A Closer Look. J. Climate, 24, 2620–2627. doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI4054.1.

My direct experience with the UAH-MSU data analysis has been over more than a decade. I will share two examples here of the rigor with which they assess and correct, when needed, their analyses.

First, at one of the  CCSP 1.1 committee meetings that I attended  [for the report Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences (in Chicago)],  an error was brought to the attention of Roy Spencer and John Christy by the lead investigators of the RSS MSU project (Mears and Wentz).

The venue at which this error was brought up (in our committee meeting) was a clear attempt to discredit John and Roy’s research as we sat around the table. Roy found a fix within a few minutes, and concluded it was minor. This fix was implemented when he returned to Alabama.

When I saw how this “exposure” of an error was presented (in front of all of us, instead of in private via e-mail or phone call), I became convinced that a major goal of this committee (under the leadership of Tom Karl) was to discredit them. I told John this at a break right after this occurred. At a later meeting (in December 2008),

Protecting The IPCC Turf – There Are No Independent Climate Assessments Of The IPCC WG1 Report Funded And Sanctioned By The NSF, NASA Or The NRC.

I explicitly saw Tom Karl disparage the Christy and Spencer research.

In order to further examine the robustness of the Christy and Spencer analyses, in 2006 I asked Professor Ben Herman, who is an internationally well-respect expert in atmospheric remote sensing, to examine the Christy and Spencer UAH MSU  and the Wentz and Mears RSS MSU data analyses.   He worked with a student to do this and completed the following study

Randall, R. M., and B. M. Herman (2007), Using Limited Time Period Trends as a Means to Determine Attribution of Discrepancies in Microwave Sounding Unit Derived Tropospheric Temperature Time Series, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2007JD008864

which includes the finding that

“Comparison of MSU data with the reduced Radiosonde Atmospheric Temperature Products for Assessing Climate radiosonde data set indicates that RSS’s method (use of climate model) of determining diurnal effects is likely overestimating the correction in the LT channel. Diurnal correction signatures still exist in the RSS LT time series and are likely affecting the long-term trend with a warm bias.”

The robustness of the UAH MSU [the Christy and Spencer analysis] is summarized in the text

“Figure 5 shows that 10-year trends center on the mid-1994’s through 10 year trends centered on the mid-1995’s indicates the RSS−Sonde trends are significantly different from zero where the Sonde−UAH trends are not. In addition, for 10-year trends centered on late-1999 through 10- years trend centered on early 2000 the RSS−Sonde trends are significantly different from zero where Sonde−UAH are marginally not. Another key feature in the RSS−Sonde series is the rapid departure in trend magnitude from trends centered on 1995 through trends centered on late-1999 where the Sonde−UAH magnitude in trends is nearly constant. These features are consistent with the diurnal correction signatures previously discussed. These findings [in] the RSS method for creating the diurnal correction (use of a climate model) is [the] cause for discrepancies between RSS and UAH databases in the LT channel.”

The latest Trenberth et al article is a continuation of this ad hominem effort to discredit John Christy and Roy Spencer.

The Trenberth et al article continues

Over the years, Spencer and Christy developed a reputation for making serial mistakes that other scientists have been forced to uncover. Last Thursday, for instance, the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres published a study led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist Ben Santer. Their findings showed that Christy erred in claiming that recent atmospheric temperature trends are not replicated in models.

This trend continues: On Tuesday the journal Geophysical Research Letters will publish a peer-reviewed study by Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler that undermines Spencer’s arguments about the role of clouds in the Earth’s energy budget.

We only wish the media would cover these scientific discoveries with similar vigor and enthusiasm that they displayed in tackling Spencer’s now-discredited findings.

My Comment:

Roy Spencer is hardly discredited because there are papers that disagree with his analysis and conclusions.  This will sort itself out in the peer-reviewed literature after he has an opportunity to respond with a follow on paper, and/or a Comment/Reply exchange.  Similarly, John Christy can respond to the Santer et al paper that is referred to in the Trenberth et al article.

What is disturbing, however, in the Trenberth et al article is its tone and disparagement of two outstanding scientists. Instead of addressing the science issues, they resort to statements such as Spencer and Christy making “serial mistakes”.  This is truly a hatchet job and will only further polarize the climate science debate

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TomRude

These people do protest too much… Looks like Spencer and Brasswell really asked the right questions!

Severian

When you see how they treat errors in the work of others it makes it apparent why The Team comes up with statements like why should we share our data with you when all you want to do is find something wrong with it. Talk about projection, and a completely disgusting approach to science. Scientific method it’s not, nor does it speak to a mature persons attitude towards self evaluation, it’s more like a petulant, spoiled child’s. Post normal indeed.

Dr Mo

Unfortunately, the hatchet falls on Climate Science itself as well…

Richard M

It appears that Trenberth is extremely angry. Now why would that be? If, as he says, Spencer has made obvious mistakes then you would think he would be happy. All he has to do is point them out in a comment to the journal and he would embarrass Spencer and all should be just fine. But, that’s not what happened.
In my experience when I see someone as angry as Trenberth it means he realizes that Spencer just may be right. It’s agonizing for him to consider that he may have been wrong all these years. His travesty of an energy budget and missing heat probably had him in a stressful condition. And now, the realization that he might be wrong is just too much for his ego to take. So, he reverts to his basic instincts and attacks.
Trenberth has made a huge mistake. He has let his emotion control him. He has essentially admitted that even he knows Spencer has good points.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Pielke for calling a spade a spade (or in this instance a hatchet a hatchet). Unfortunately, this is not the first instance in which Trenberth has mustered a team of truth-distorters in order to promulgate a fact-free “reconstruction” that is tantamount to a hatchet job.
I’m still waiting to see the retraction and apology from Trenberth, Mann, Schmidt, Mandia and Tobis for their January 2011 co-written “reconstruction” of Chris Landsea’s 2004 withdrawal from participation in AR4.
Details at Kevin Trenberth: false memory syndrome?

Bill Illis

Trenberth has published papers saying more than half of the expected energy accumulation is missing – at least two papers and at least one Climategate email.
So he actually agrees with Dr. Spencer.
Kevin “missing energy” Trenberth and Roy “it clearly looks like the missing energy was never there” Spencer are on the same team. Its just that Kevin can’t admit it or he will not be invited to the all the great global warming parties any more (and there are lots of them).

timetochooseagain

Funny thing about Einstein, even when he made his “greatest blunder” he was still right. Well, not quite right, but it later turned out that the cosmological constant was useful for a describing a real behavior of the evolution of the Universe. Just not at all in the way Einstein intended. It turned out that the cosmological constant could actually usefully describe a universe which was not only expanding but accelerating in it’s expansion. So Einstein actually added an important term to the equations. He just gave it the wrong value, one which made the universe fixed, instead of expanding at an accelerating rate.
So mistakes in science aren’t just normal, they actually are quite important, as even your mistakes can turn out to open up important avenues of investigation. This has definitely been the case with the atmospheric temps, which while they do indeed now show warming, mostly as a consequence of the elevated temperatures post-98 El Nino (that is, the passage of time), not due to corrections made to them as implied by the Trenberth et al article, they have turned out to give strong indications that the surface temperature record is not translating into sufficient warming aloft according to models, thereby indicating that the models fit to surface temperatures almost certainly get their fit for the wrong physical reason, not because they reasonably represent the climate system.

4 eyes

Who is this Trenbeth, anyhow?

Frank K.

“This trend continues: On Tuesday the journal Geophysical Research Letters will publish a peer-reviewed study by Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler that undermines Spencer’s arguments about the role of clouds in the Earth’s energy budget.”
Is this how papers are announced in climate science?! I feel like I reading the promo for some TV wrestling cage match pay-per-view. Not only is this tacky, unseemly, and unprofessional, but it prejudges the conclusions of a paper that isn’t even published yet!
Of course, when someone like Trenberth wishes to make a total idiot of himself, I say – just get out of his way [LOL]…

Paul

Political tools the warmists use to scuttle scientific process are more consistent with a religious cult dealing with dissenters questioning the dogma.
They are not climate scientists, more like climate scientologists.

Anthony, this is excellently written and starkly exposes the machinations of the climate cabal. I had thought that climate issues were beginning to simmer down, and hoping that the scientific discourse was about to become more normal and civil (following the lead of Judith Curry).
Unfortunately, the Team and their hangers-on have been allowing their self-righteous grievances to fester, and this outburst (and I agree it is libelous) is caused by an eruption of their suppurating intellectual pus. That they have sunk to this level is outrageous.
Anyone who has, in following these issues for the last three years, visited various websites and been exposed to the past musings and rantings of Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth will recognize that at times they can be parsimonious with the truth, to put it charitably.

Trenberth and the others wrote a guest post at “Daily Climate”? Odd. I’ve never heard of that website.

I’m sure The Daily Climate will print anything from Dr. Pielke or Spencer to make sure all sides of the story are heard. After all, http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/about says in part:

The Daily Climate does not espouse a political point of view on the news but instead reports the truth to the best of our ability. Editorial integrity is the foundation of our mission.
Establishing the trust of our readers is a fundamental editorial objective; all of our reporting, editing and publishing adheres to the highest standards of journalism, including honesty, accuracy, balance and objectivity.
…the Daily Climate’s aggregation represents the news of the day, irrespective of the opinion or viewpoint expressed, or whether or not material in the article is consistent with our understanding of current science. We often publish several articles from different newspapers covering the same story, as well as multiple editorials and op-eds about the same subject. We take this approach based on the belief that readers who come to DailyClimate.org want to see a wide range of how issues are being covered by the mainstream press.

I haven’t paid much attention to them up to now, perhaps I should. Then again, perhaps I’ll be disappointed.
Why, oh why are Trenberth, Abraham, and Gleick so excited about Wagner’s resignation, and why are they gloating over receiving an apology from Wagner? Wagner cited the public attention directed towards Spencer’s paper as one reason he resigned, but the people he apologized to have gone way overboard with their ad hominem attacks.
There’s been some good insight here about what may be going on behind the scenes, but none of it explains something like the Daily Climate tirade.
Twenty years from now when someone writes the definite book, “The Climate Wars”, I think these events will take up a long chapter.

Rick Bradford

Maybe everyone will now accept that the “science” has been taken out of “climate” and that the whole field is just a vicious political battle, with the bitter, angry, narcissistic control freaks of the AGW movement prepared to do whatever it takes to ram their worldview down everyone else’s throats.
They will fail — they always do — but the damage they can cause in the meantime is immeasurable.

Chris

This reminds me of the interaction between John Abraham and Lord Monckton about a year ago. Abraham fired-off an internet-based response to a presentation given by Lord Monckton. This response (http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/) was heavily laced with sneering adhominum attacks, poorly cited references and highly unprofessional from a scientific standpoint. Monckton’s 84 page rebuttal largely demolished Abraham’s diatribe.
As JoNova said (http://joannenova.com.au/2010/07/abraham-surrenders-to-monckton-uni-of-st-thomas-endorses-untruths/:
“The only way to deal with bullies is to blitz them back with accuracy and logic, and if you are Christopher Monckton, load it with Latin barbs to make it so painful that they lift their game and are deterred from contributing to the wasteland of public disinformation.”
Perhaps a similar response is warrented

jim

de-nile is a river in Egypt
if you swim in it
you need not
admit to being
all wet

A perfect example of the state of climate science. It took three climate scientsits, Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick, to write a 400+word opinion for an obscure Climate Change alarmist website.
And that generates a couple of questions: Why did it take the three of them? Do they lack opinions individually, but have them collectively?. And what happened, did RealClimate with its much greater reach pass on posting their opinion?

Perhaps it is now time to take the final step and elect scientists. After all, isn’t this whole brouhaha about politics? Professor Pielke makes that argument most convincingly.
Of course, my comment is in jest. But I get the distinct feeling these climate-scientologists believe it is their duty to engage in politics. That is how far they have strayed.

mike g

Looks like character is in short supply where Tom Karl, Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth are concerned.

JRR Canada

Running true to form the Team just shot their feet off again.

gnomish

Frank K. says:
September 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm
“Is this how papers are announced in climate science?! I feel like I reading the promo for some TV wrestling cage match pay-per-view. Not only is this tacky, unseemly, and unprofessional, but it prejudges the conclusions of a paper that isn’t even published yet!”
sharp point.
and that letter of resignation was no an explanation. it was more like a plea of impotence to the team… trenbreth announces he received an apology? is he the queen?
there sure is something wolly going on. the null hypothesis of ‘stupid’ doesn’t seem enough to answer for this.
bravo to all who stand up and clearly say NO to the bs.
nasty won’t go away if it’s ignored or tolerated. instead it grows until it drives out the good.
i hate to admit it, but whenever i read ‘scientists say’, i now have a cringe response.
that’s just how badly they’ve done a hatchet job on my reverence for the sapiens part of our identity.

Graeme

Paul says:
September 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm
Political tools the warmists use to scuttle scientific process are more consistent with a religious cult dealing with dissenters questioning the dogma.
They are not climate scientists, more like climate scientologists.

Trenberths behaviour is a travesty, and I would like him to publically explain it.

Trenberth, Gliek, ABRAHAM, Karl, Santer.
With names like this, would anybody expect any better from The Machine??
Truly a sad, sad day in science. What is this, North Korea?
Let the science work itself out and Spencer and Christy will fare just fine.
The rest, bearing their fangs and leaving their frontal lobes at the front door, well…time will tell.
We’ll see if the mass cognitive dissonance and groupthink disorder, deceiving even the elect, will continue to infect the church of the CAGW.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

Cecil Coupe

Perhaps this is the Climate Response Team in action (or what ever that PR group of scientists call them selves). How do they know what next weeks Dressler paper says? A week is too little time to prepare a response to S&B. Perhaps one of them was a reviewer of Dressler’s paper? Or Dressler offered up his not published paper to the response team as a PR spin deflector just to calm the waters.
Too many strong words and phrases by scientists, offered up on the blogoshpere – who listens to bloggers, anyway? There is a lot more to this story than we know tonight.
Scientists with knives are roaming the streets of PR ville looking for a fight.

AJB

@Bob Tisdale September 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm
A quick whois would suggest you try this address instead:
http://environmentalhealthnews.com/about.html

Here you go Bob.
http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/about
Their mission statement:
“Mission: The Daily Climate works to increase public understanding of climate disruption, including its scope and scale, potential solutions and the political processes that impede or advance them. The Daily Climate does not espouse a political point of view on the news but instead reports the truth to the best of our ability. Editorial integrity is the foundation of our mission. Establishing the trust of our readers is a fundamental editorial objective; all of our reporting, editing and publishing adheres to the highest standards of journalism, including honesty, accuracy, balance and objectivity.”
EDITORIAL INTEGRITY?? YOU LIBELOUSLY INSULT TWO LEADING WORLD SCIENTISTS… REALLY??? ARE YOU ******KIDDING ME?
Here is their funding:
“Funding for the Daily Climate comes from the Sea Change Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Oak Foundation, the West Wind Foundation and the Overbrook Foundation. The Kendeda Fund provides core support to EHS. Software was developed in a collaboration with the Edgerton Foundation. EHS is a project of the Virginia Organizing Project (Charlottesville, Va). Gifts to VOP for EHS qualify as charitable contributions. If you are interested in helping EHS expand its coverage of climate news, please let us know.”
UHHH no thanks. I’ll pass on helping. Wouldn’t give you a dime or a minute of time.
Daily Climate dot org for all I care you take that ‘daily’ proverbial commuter trip to hell!
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

Jimmy Haigh

I hadn’t heard of The Daily Climate either. the following is from their “mission statement”:
Mission
The Daily Climate works to increase public understanding of climate disruption, including its scope and scale, potential solutions and the political processes that impede or advance them.
The Daily Climate does not espouse a political point of view on the news but instead reports the truth to the best of our ability. Editorial integrity is the foundation of our mission.
Establishing the trust of our readers is a fundamental editorial objective; all of our reporting, editing and publishing adheres to the highest standards of journalism, including honesty, accuracy, balance and objectivity.

Julian Flood

I was once on a squadron with a USAF Major who used to describe one of the silly things people do as ‘stomping on the p*ss ants while the elephants are running amok’. You can see what he meant — you have enormous problems, you’re up to your knees in alligators and you can do nothing, but you can decide that no one entering the swamp is allowed to wear budgie smugglers. Stomp, stomp…. It doesn’t solve the problem, which is alligators, but it makes you feel better.
Dr Trenberth seems to have reached the ant-stomping stage in his career. Where is the missing heat? Why the blip? If the heat has been radiated away into space, can we still call it ‘global warming’? Why has the Secretary of State for Climate Change stopped answering his calls.? So he searches around for an ant. Stomp stomp…
Except this time he’s chosen a bloody big ant.
JF
PS. If you don’t know what budgie smugglers are, be thankful and don’t ask.

TomRude

Ric Werme, a cursory stroll on Daily Climate is enough to see that they gather every alarmist article ever published… Scientific truth indeed LOL

Werner Brozek

So Spencer and Christy made minor errors and corrected them as soon as they were found. Contrast this with the whopper of an errror in the latest IPCC report on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 and Pachauri’s “voodoo science” comment.
Matthew 7: 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Luke Warm

This is temporary respite only for CAGW, the form of the ‘fightback’ is familiar and eerily echoes some of the Climategate emails. If Spencer and Christy are onto the cause of the “missing heat,” ad hominem attacks and leaning on journal editors by Big Green will hold out the truth only for so long (and not long at that). The desperate tone I seem to detect in their written response will in fact be a major nail in the CAGW coffin as Spencer’s and Christy’s analysis of the “missing heat” (and the implications for CAGW assumptions about climate sensitivity to CO2 increases) is replicated, explored further and refined by others. Maybe the “Team” will fly in heavyweights such as Gore and Bongo Big Footprint from U2.

Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth seem to be riding a train about to get derailed. Stay clear!

Bob Tisdale says:
September 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm
A perfect example of the state of climate science. It took three climate scientsits, Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick, to write a 400+word opinion for an obscure Climate Change alarmist website. And that generates a couple of questions: Why did it take the three of them? Do they lack opinions individually, but have them collectively?
====================================
You know Trenberth has his good moments as a scientist.
But it is almost like he has a split personality and when he gets drawn into The Matrix…he quickly becomes one of the carbon copies, the clones, the automatons, that the rest of them are.
He doesn’t have the consistent scientific staying power and courage as does someone, like, for example Judith Curry, who is not afraid to break away from the pack and stand for the scientific method…as opposed to some of the emotion-laced dogma of her “peers.”
Groupthink Disorder has redoubled its attacks. Galileo and Copernicus are turning in their graves.
How our species can build rockets to the moon and build skyscrapers that defy gravity and write musical masterpieces which are all sheer genius…yet still participate in Neanderthal grunts of Official Groupthink bullsh**speak without a remote apology with the words “I was wrong”…is beyond me.
Some behavioral scientist will figure out this sad chapter in science history down the road…that is IF our species is still around.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

Here is one explanation why Wagner resigned but the S&B paper was not retracted.
As a piece of science considered out of any context the paper is simplistic and its conclusions mundane, but not wrong. I posted when it first appeared and after a quick skim –
“izen says: July 29, 2011 at 3:52 am Shorter Spencer and Braswell.
We could not match ten years of real world data with significant ENSO events with model data that makes the assumption that over longer timescales the ENSO effect is neutral.
Over a ten year period ENSO variations were larger than AGW forcings so it was impossible to measure the positive feedback effects that might amplify the radiative forcing from higher CO2.”
Undoubtedly it is a summary that could be improved, but I still think it stands as a defensible version of the extent of the claims made in the published PAPER.
The problem for Wagner as editor of Remote Sensing was that while the paper was relatively innocuous, subsequent publicity made it looked like Wagner and RS were credulous fools who had been scammed.
They had accepted a paper somewhat off-topic for their journal which did not appear to make any dramatic claims, but then found that publicity, the unkind might call it hype, and commentary about the paper went FAR further in its claims than is justified by the contents or conclusions of the paper. –
Wagner-“With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011 [2], the main author’s personal homepage …”
It is this massive discrepancy between the content of the published paper and the claims made for it that resulted in Wagner concluding that the RS journal had damaged its reputation because of his decision to publish a paper that was then exploited to make claims beyond its range or remit. Either the journal and editor are complicit in this campaign of misrepresentation, or by resigning and directly referring to this campaign the editor can make clear his and the journals uninvolvement in this episode. Although fingering the MANAGING editor….?!
The fault he identifies that caused this error is that when ‘peer reviewing’ this paper that attacked the accuracy of models, little effort was made to see what the modelers might respond to the comparisons made between some satellite data and some models.
And whether the subject ALREADY had a literature – a scientific context – in which the S&B paper could be judged.
In a way this matches Dr Roy Spencer’s speculations about the IPCC/Team pressure, how many phone calls and emails would it take from the leading names in the field telling Wagner he had been made to look like an idiot by accepting a superficially mundane paper from known skeptics that was then used to make outlandish claims for the overthrow of a century of science on the climate ?
A ‘big name’ in climate science was publishing in his new and obscure (for climate science) journal, but like the Trojans he had accepted a horse from the Greeks which was not all it seemed….

J Christy

Some clarifications are needed. The orbital decay effect was discovered by Wentz around 1997 which induced a spurious cooling effect on one of our microwave satellite products (lower troposphere) but not the others. However, most people forget that at the same time Roy and I discovered an “instrument body effect” in which the observed Earth-view temperature is affected by the temperature of the instrument itself, leading to spurious warming (Christy et al. 1998, 2000). This effect counteracted about 75 percent of the orbital decay cooling effect – so the net effect of the two together was almost a wash (a point rarely acknowledged.)
In 2005, Wentz and Mears discovered an error in the equation we used for the diurnal correction in one of our products (again, lower troposphere) which we quickly corrected and then published a “thank you” to Wentz and Mears in Science for their cleverness in spotting the error with an update on what the magnitude of the error was. Again, the magnitude of this error was small, being well within our previously published error estimates for the global trend. (Note that we were first to discover the diurnal drift problem back in the 1990s and initiated various corrections for it through the years.)
Roy and I were the first to build climate-type global temperature datasets from satellite microwave sensors, so we learned as we went – and were aided by others who read our papers and checked our methods. My latest papers continue to investigate error issues of our products and of the products of others.
The review of my one publication in Remote Sensing last year was done quite professionally and it was clear to me and my co-authors that the referees chosen to review the paper were specifically knowledgeable of the various satellite, radiosonde and statistical issues, leading to some substantial and useful revisions.
Kevin Trenberth was my MS and PhD graduate adviser at Univ. of Illinois.

Doug in Seattle

It was precisely this kind of treatment of McIntyre in the early 2000’s that got me to start paying attention to the climate “debate”.
This will not end well for the team.

Roy Clark

Radiative forcing is a purely fictional concept that was introduced in its current form by Manabe and Wetherald in 1967.
Manabe, S. & R. T. Wetherald, J. Atmos. Sci. 24 241-249 (1967), ‘Thermal equilibrium of the atmosphere with a given distribution of relative humidity’
The paper is available at:
http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/sm6701.pdf
Here are the modeling assumptions taken directly from the second page of that paper. They are still used explicitly in the large scale climate models. [This is the input garbage before the gospel gets created.]
The radiative convective equilibrium of the atmosphere with a given distribution
of relative humidity should satisfy the following requirements:
1) At the top of the atmosphere, the net incoming solar radiation should be equal to the net outgoing long wave radiation.
2) No temperature discontinuity should exist.
3) Free and forced convection, and mixing by the large scale eddies, prevent the lapse rate from exceeding a critical lapse rate equal to 6.5 C.km-1.
4) Whenever the lapse rate is subcritical, the condition of local radiative equilibrium is satisfied.
5) The heat capacity of the Earth’s surface is zero.
6) The atmosphere maintains the given vertical distribution of relative humidity (new requirements).
There is no such thing as climate equilibrium.
The short term net flux is never in balance.
There is no ‘local radiative equilibrium’ anywhere in the troposphere.
The heat capacity of a real surface is never zero.
The ‘equilibrium surface temperature’ calculated by the climate models is not a measurable climate variable.
Also, the empirical ‘radiative forcing constants’ are ‘calibrated’ using the meteorological surface air temperature (MSAT) not the real surface temperature.
Every single result derived from the use of radiative forcing since 1967 is nothing more than climate astrology.

Andrew30

Rick Bradford says: September 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm
[They will fail — they always do — but the damage they can cause in the meantime is immeasurable.]
Yes, but it will be able to be modeled. 🙂

Excellent intro, Anthony. And I agree with savethesharks most recent comment.
.
Dr Christy says:
“Kevin Trenberth was my MS and PhD graduate adviser at Univ. of Illinois.”
Dr Christy, that pain in your back is from Trenberth’s knife…

Bob Koss

Trenberth is the only one of the three authors that can claim to be a climate scientist.
Abraham has an engineering degree and Gleick has a degree in energy and resources.
Evidently the rest of Trenberth’s buddies refused to sign on to the article or maybe they don’t take his calls anymore.

CRS, Dr.P.H.

Things are NOT going well for the Team, and this unprofessional character assault lends credence to that.
Public opinion worldwide is turning against carbon schemes, green economies and other machinations….political will to take on AGW is disappearing faster than the Arctic Sea Ice….and their funding streams are under serious attack. They are losing this fight and know it.
Prof. Christy, I am a PhD graduate advisor at University of Illinois in Urbana, and I am appalled at this treatment of you and Prof. Spencer.

jae

“This my friends, is breathtaking for its sheer arrogance, agenda, and the scuttling of the scientific process in one sentence.”
LOL. Desperate people do and say really, really stupid things. The skeptics have clearly won the narrative, no matter what happens now. But it will be fun to watch the snakes slither….

Theo Goodwin

“Any scientist who believes he/she hasn’t made mistakes, has never made a correction, or hasn’t built upon the mistakes of others to improve the science is deluding themselves.”
I seems to me that all “mainstream climate scientists” (MCS) believe that none of them has ever made a mistake. Apparently, all of them will argue that Mann has not made a mistake, that Briffa has not made a mistake,and the same for all the rest.
Excellent article. Thanks.

RockyRoad

Paul says:
September 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Political tools the warmists use to scuttle scientific process are more consistent with a religious cult dealing with dissenters questioning the dogma.
They are not climate scientists, more like climate scientologists.

That’s why I’ve been calling them “climsci” for the past several years. They don’t deserve to be called anything better.
This big brouhaha will simply strengthen that definition.

mark t

Dr. Christy… That last line is a wow. I am glad my work is not controversial. My advisor, though retired, still encourages me. 🙂
Mark

4 eyes says:
September 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm
> Who is this Trenbeth, anyhow?
I assume this is a serious question, and that you’re new enough here to not know how to learn more on your own. Wikipedia doesn’t have much at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_E._Trenberth, the most useful points are that he’s at NCAR and worked on two IPCC reports.
He’s best know here for his Climategate comment “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”, see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/13/trenberths-upcoming-ams-meeting-talk-climategate-thoughts/
His CV is at http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth-cv.html
He is not know for being as hot-headed as he is here.

Ian H

savethesharks says:
September 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm
Trenberth, Gliek, ABRAHAM, Karl, Santer.
With names like this, would anybody expect any better from The Machine??

WTF – why have you capitalized ABRAHAM. Is this
some kind of antisemitic comment!?
EXPLAIN YOURSELF!!!!

Roger Knights

Bob Tisdale says:
September 4, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Trenberth and the others wrote a guest post at “Daily Climate”? Odd. I’ve never heard of that website.

I guess Anthony should add it to the blogroll in the sidebar.

mark t

Bob Koss: i do not think it wise to disparage anybody’s training as a reason to doubt their expertise, particularly if it is at least based upon science and/or mathematics. Engineers in particular being heavily trained in data analysis techniques. Sadly, the latter is a skill sorely lacking in the hoi palloi, elevating those in the know to positions of abuse.
Mark

Theo Goodwin

izen says:
September 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm
“They had accepted a paper somewhat off-topic for their journal which did not appear to make any dramatic claims, but then found that publicity, the unkind might call it hype, and commentary about the paper went FAR further in its claims than is justified by the contents or conclusions of the paper.”
These considerations are irrelevant to the duties of a journal editor. These duties extend to his employees, the authors of the paper in question, the journal, and the scientific community. To take seriously these considerations is simply to make an excuse for an editor who violated his genuine duties to his staff, the authors, the journal, and the scientific community. As Pielke, Sr., has pointed out so very eloquently, Wagner’s duties as editor were clear. He could have initiated a formal process of retraction or, preferably, he could have encouraged critics to submit criticisms to peer review. To do anything else is both immoral and unprofessional, not to mention immature at the level of a panicked undergraduate.
“The fault he identifies that caused this error is that when ‘peer reviewing’ this paper that attacked the accuracy of models, little effort was made to see what the modelers might respond to the comparisons made between some satellite data and some models.”
This simply states that the modelers must pre-approve presentations of data that conflict with the models. This is a policy of suppressing criticism of the modelers and is the most blatantly immoral and destructive proposal that I have seen in modern science. All criticism is to be encouraged and the tears of those criticized are never to be wiped. Or in the words of a famous scientist from Missouri, “If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.” That is the way science must be practiced.