Climate scientists and their excuses

Candid Comments From Climate Scientists

By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

There is  a news release by Paul Voosen on Greenwire titled

Provoked scientists try to explain lag in global warming (Tuesday, October 25, 2011)

There are some interesting quotes from climate scientists in this article that highlight a large degree of uncertainty with respect to the climate system, and the human role in it, even among scientists closely involved with the IPCC reports.  The long article focuses on the question

 ‘Why, despite steadily accumulating greenhouse gases, did the rise of the planet’s temperature stall for the past decade?”

Interesting quotes and text {rearranged to order the persons’ quoted; I highly recommend reading the entire article  include [highlight added]:

From John Barnes [Barnes’s specialty is measuring stratospheric aerosols].

If you look at the last decade of global temperature, it’s not increasing,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot of scatter to it. But the [climate] models go up. And that has to be explained. Why didn’t we warm up?”

Barnes has kept a lonely watch for 20 years [at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii]. Driving the winding, pothole-strewn road to this government-run lab, he has spent evening after evening waiting for the big one. His specialty is measuring stratospheric aerosols, reflective particles caused by volcanoes that are known to temporarily cool the planet. Only the most violent volcanic eruptions are able to loft emissions above the clouds, scientists thought, and so Barnes, after building the laser, waited for his time.

To this day, there hasn’t been a major volcanic eruption since 1991, when Mount Pinatubo scorched the Philippines, causing the Earth to cool by about a half degree for several years. But Barnes diligently monitored this radio silence, identifying the background level of particles in the stratosphere. And then, sitting in his prefab lab four years ago, not far from where Charles Keeling first made his historic measure of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, Barnes saw something odd in his aerosol records.

Barnes laments the boggling complexity of separating all the small forcings on the climate. It makes Charles Keeling’s careful work identifying rising CO2 levels seem downright simple.

“It’s really subtle,” he said. “It’s hard to track how much is going into the oceans, because the oceans are soaking up some of the heat. And in a lot of places the measurements just aren’t accurate enough. We do have satellites that can measure the energy budget, but there’s still assumptions there. There’s assumptions about the oceans, because we don’t have a whole lot of measurements in the ocean.”

From Jean-Paul  Vernier

Five years ago, a balloon released over Saharan sands changed Jean-Paul Vernier’s life.

Climbing above the baked sand of Niger, the balloon, rigged to catch aerosols, the melange of natural and man-made particles suspended in the atmosphere, soared above the clouds and into the stratosphere. There, Vernier expected to find clear skies; after all, there had been no eruption like Pinatubo for more than a decade. But he was wrong. Twelve miles up, the balloon discovered a lode of aerosols.

Vernier had found one slice of the trend identified by Barnes at Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It was astonishing. Where could these heat-reflecting aerosols be originating? Vernier was unsure, but Barnes and his team hazarded a guess when announcing their finding. It was, they suggested, a rapidly increasing activity in China that has drawn plenty of alarm.

A French scientist who moved to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia to study aerosols, Vernier, like Barnes, turned toward a laser to understand these rogue sulfates. But rather than using a laser lashed to the ground, he used a laser in space.

The same year as the Niger balloon campaign, NASA had launched a laser-equipped satellite aimed at observing aerosols among the clouds. Vernier and his peers suspected, with enough algorithmic ingenuity, that they could get the laser, CALIPSO, to speak clearly about the stratosphere. The avalanche of data streaming out of the satellite was chaotic — too noisy for Barnes’ taste, when he took a look — but several years on, Vernier had gotten a hold of it. He had found an answer.

Mostly, the aerosols didn’t seem to be China’s fault.

From Kevin Trenberth

The hiatus [in warming] was not unexpected. Variability in the climate can suppress rising temperatures temporarily, though before this decade scientists were uncertain how long such pauses could last. In any case, one decade is not long enough to say anything about human effects on climate; as one forthcoming paper lays out, 17 years is required.

For some scientists, chalking the hiatus up to the planet’s natural variability was enough. Temperatures would soon rise again, driven up inexorably by the ever-thickening blanket thrown on the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. People would forget about it.

But for others, this simple answer was a failure. If scientists were going to attribute the stall to natural variability, they faced a burden to explain, in a precise way, how this variation worked. Without evidence, their statements were no better than the unsubstantiated theories circulated by climate skeptics on the Internet.

“It has always bothered me,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Natural variability is not a cause. One has to say what aspect of natural variability.”

Until 2003, scientists had a reasonable understanding where the sun’s trapped heat was going; it was reflected in rising sea levels and temperatures. Since then, however, heat in the upper ocean has barely increased and the rate of sea level rise slowed, while data from a satellite monitoring incoming and outgoing heat — the Earth’s energy budget — found that an ever increasing amount of energy should be trapped on the planet. (Some scientists question relying on this satellite data too heavily, since the observed energy must be drastically revised downward, guided by climate models.) Given this budget ostensibly included the solar cycle and aerosols, something was missing.

Where was the heat going? Trenberth repeated the question time and again.

Recently, working with Gerald Meehl and others, Trenberth proposed one answer. In a paper published last month, they put forward a climate model showing that decade-long pauses in temperature rise, and its attendant missing energy, could arise by the heat sinking into the deep, frigid ocean waters, more than 2,000 feet down. The team used a new model, one prepared for the next U.N. climate assessment; unlike past models, it handles the Pacific’s variability well, which ”seems to be important,” Trenberth said.

“In La Niña, the colder sea surface temperatures in the Pacific mean there is less convective action there — fewer tropical storms, etc., and less clouds, but thus more sun,” he said. “The heat goes into the ocean but gets moved around by the ocean currents. So ironically colder conditions lead to more heat being sequestered.”

It is a compelling illustration of how natural variability, at least in this model, could overcome the influence of increasing greenhouse gases for a decade or more, several scientists said. However, according to one prominent researcher — NASA’s Hansen — it’s a search for an answer that doesn’t need to be solved.

That is because, according to Hansen, there is no missing energy.

Trenberth questions whether the Argo measurements are mature enough to tell as definite a story as Hansen lays out. He has seen many discrepancies among analyses of the data, and there are still “issues of missing and erroneous data and calibration,” he said. The Argo floats are valuable, he added, but “they’re not there yet.”

From Susan Solomon

“What’s really been exciting to me about this last 10-year period is that it has made people think about decadal variability much more carefully than they probably have before,” said Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist and former lead author of the United Nations’ climate change report, during a recent visit to MIT. “And that’s all good. There is no silver bullet. In this case, it’s four pieces or five pieces of silver buckshot.”

Already Solomon had shown that between 2000 and 2009, the amount of water vapor in the stratosphere declined by about 10 percent. This decline, caused either by natural variability — perhaps related to El Niño — or as a feedback to climate change, likely countered 25 percent of the warming that would have been caused by rising greenhouse gases. (Some scientists have found that estimate to be high.) Now, another dynamic seemed to be playing out above the clouds.

In a paper published this summer, Solomon, Vernier and others brought these discrete facts to their conclusion, estimating that these aerosols caused a cooling trend of 0.07 degrees Celsius over the past decade. Like the water vapor, it was not a single answer, but it was a small player. These are the type of low-grade influences that future climate models will have to incorporate, Livermore’s Santer said.

Solomon was surprised to see Vernier’s work. She remembered the Soufrière eruption, thinking “that one’s never going to make it into the stratosphere.” The received wisdom then quickly changed. ”You can actually see that all these little eruptions, which we thought didn’t matter, were mattering,” she said.

From Jim Hansen

These revelations are prompting the science’s biggest names to change their views.

Indeed, the most important outcome from the energy hunt may be that researchers are chronically underestimating air pollution’s reflective effect, said NASA’s James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Recent data has forced him to revise his views on how much of the sun’s energy is stored in the oceans, committing the planet to warming. Instead, he says, air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.

It was in no “way affected by the nonsensical statements of contrarians,” Hansen said. “These are fundamental matters that the science has always been focused on. The problem has been the absence of [scientific] observations.”

NASA’s Hansen disputes that worry about skeptics drove climate scientists to ignore the sun’s climate influence. His team, he said, has “always included solar forcing based on observations and Judith’s estimates for the period prior to accurate observations.”

“That makes the sun a bit more important, because the solar variability modulates the net planetary energy imbalance,” Hansen said. “But the solar forcing is too small to make the net imbalance negative, i.e., solar variations are not going to cause global cooling.”

“Unfortunately, when we focus on volcanic aerosol forcing, solar forcing and stratospheric water vapor changes, it is a case of looking for our lost keys under the streetlight,” Hansen said. “What we need to look at is the tropospheric aerosol forcing, but it is not under the street light.”

“I suspect that there has been increased aerosols with the surge in coal use over the past half decade or so,” he said. “There is semi-quantitative evidence of that in the regions where it is expected. Unfortunately, the problem is that we are not measuring aerosols well enough to determine their forcing and how it is changing.”

More fundamentally, the Argo probe data has prompted Hansen to revise his understanding of how the climate works in a fundamental way, a change he lays out in a sure-to-be-controversial paper to be published later this year.

For decades, scientists have known that most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases was going into the ocean, not the atmosphere; as a result, even if emissions stopped tomorrow, they said, the atmosphere would continue to warm as it sought balance with the overheated oceans. In a term Hansen coined, this extra warming would be “in the pipeline,” its effects lingering for years and years. But exactly how much warming would be in the pipeline depended on how efficiently heat mixed down into the oceans.

Hansen now believes he has an answer: All the climate models, compared to the Argo data and a tracer study soon to be released by several NASA peers, exaggerate how efficiently the ocean mixes heat into its recesses. Their unanimity in this efficient mixing could be due to some shared ancestry in their code. Whatever the case, it means that climate models have been overestimating the amount of energy in the climate, seeking to match the surface warming that would occur with efficient oceans. They were solving a problem, Hansen says, that didn’t exist.

At first glance, this could easily sound like good news, if true. But it’s not.

“Less efficient mixing, other things being equal, would mean that there is less warming ‘in the pipeline,’” Hansen said. “But it also implies that the negative aerosol forcing is probably larger than most models assumed. So the Faustian aerosol bargain is probably more of a problem than had been assumed.”

From John Daniel [a researcher at the Earth System Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]

When the record came in 1998, though, scientists faltered. It’s a pattern often seen with high temperatures. They cut out too much nuance, said John Daniel, a researcher at the Earth System Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We make a mistake, anytime the temperature goes up, you imply this is due to global warming,” he said. “If you make a big deal about every time it goes up, it seems like you should make a big deal about every time it goes down.”

From Ben Santer

For a decade, that’s exactly what happened. Skeptics made exaggerated claims about “global cooling,” pointing to 1998. (For one representative example, two years ago columnist George Will referred to 1998 as warming’s “apogee.”) Scientists had to play defense, said Ben Santer, a climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“This no-warming-since-1998 discussion has prompted people to think about the why and try to understand the why,” Santer said. “But it’s also prompted people to correct these incorrect claims.”

“Susan’s stuff is particularly important,” Santer said. “Even if you have the hypothetical perfect model, if you leave out the wrong forcings, you will get the wrong answer.”

From Judith Lean

The answer to the hiatus, according to Judith Lean, is all in the stars. Or rather, one star.

Only recently have climate modelers followed how that 0.1 percent can influence the world’s climate over decade-long spans. (According to best estimates, it gooses temperatures by 0.1 degrees Celsius.) Before then, the sun, to quote the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, got no respect, according to Lean, a voluble solar scientist working out of the the space science division of the Naval Research Laboratory, a radar-bedecked facility tucked away down in the southwest tail of Washington, D.C.

Climate models failed to reflect the sun’s cyclical influence on the climate and “that has led to a sense that the sun isn’t a player,” Lean said. “And that they have to absolutely prove that it’s not a player.”

According to Lean, the combination of multiple La Niñas and the solar minimum, bottoming out for an unusually extended time in 2008 from its peak in 2001, are all that’s needed to cancel out the increased warming from rising greenhouse gases. Now that the sun has begun to gain in activity again, Lean suspects that temperatures will rise in parallel as the sun peaks around 2014.

This consistent trend has prompted Lean to take a rare step for a climate scientist: She’s made a short-term prediction. By 2014, she projects global surface temperatures to increase by 0.14 degrees Celsius, she says, driven by human warming and the sun.

From Graeme Stephens

Over the past decade, for the first time, scientists have had access to reliable measures of the ocean’s deep heat, down to 5,000 feet below sea level, through the Argo network, a collection of several thousand robotic probes that, every few days, float up and down through the water column. This led Hansen to conclude that net energy imbalance was, to be briefly technical, 0.6 watts per square meter, rather than more than 1 watt per square meter, as some had argued.

(Recently, the satellite group measuring the energy imbalance has revised its figure, which now sits at 0.6 watts, matching Hansen’s estimate, according to Graeme Stephens, the head of NASA’s Cloudsat mission. It suggests there isn’t a missing energy. Trenberth disagrees with this analysis, and it’s likely to be a question of ongoing debate.)

From Robert Kaufmann

This past summer, Robert Kaufmann, the BU geographer, made waves when he released a modeling study suggesting that the hiatus in warming could be due entirely to El Niño and increased sulfates from China’s coal burning. While the figures Kaufmann used for the study were based on the country’s coal combustion, and not actual emissions — a big point of uncertainty — many scientists saw some truth in his assertions.

From Martin Wild

During the 1980s and ’90s, the rapid decline of air pollution in the United States and Europe dominated the world’s aerosol trends. While those emissions have continued to decline in the West, returns, from a brightening standpoint, have diminished, just as coal combustion ramped up in Asia. It’s not that the world is getting dimmer again; it’s that it’s no longer getting brighter.

“It’s not an obvious overall trend anymore,” said Martin Wild, a lead author of the United Nations’ next climate assessment at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich. But, he added, “it fits quite well with [coal power] generation. For me, it’s quite striking that it seems to fit quite nicely. But it could still be by chance.”

From Daniel Jacobs

Kaufmann’s findings may only be relevant for so long. Since 2006, China has begun to mandate scrubbers for its coal-fired power plants, though it is uncertain how often the scrubbers, even when installed, are operated. But change is coming, said Daniel Jacob, an atmospheric chemist at Harvard University.

“The sulfate sources have been leveling off, because they’ve been starting to put serious emission controls on their power plants,” Jacob said. “It’s interesting. When you look at the future emission scenarios from the [next U.N. climate report], you see SO2 emissions dropping like a rock, even in the coming decades. Because basically China is going to have to do something about its public health problem.”

The end of the article highlights the developing debate among even these scientists.

“….many of the scientists sorting out the warming hiatus disagree with one another – in a chummy, scholarly way. Judith Lean, the solar scientist, finds Kaufmann’s work unpersuasive and unnecessarily critical of China. Kaufmann finds Solomon’s stratosphere studies lacking in evidence. Hansen and Trenberth can’t agree on a budget.

It seems staggering, then, that in a few years’ time a new consensus will form for the next U.N. climate change report. But it will, and lurking beneath it will remain, as always, the churning theories and rivalries, the questions, the grist of scientific life.

So, in the end, can anyone say explicitly what caused the warming hiatus?

“All of these things contribute to the relative muted warming,” Livermore’s Santer said. “The difficultly is figuring out the relative contribution of these things. You can’t do that without systematic modeling and experimentation. I would hope someone will do that.”

Barnes, for his part, would love to separate whether any background aerosols he found tucked away in the stratosphere came from Chinese coal burning. It is difficult to figure out, but he has some hope it could happen.

“Maybe when coal burning triples,” he said, “then we might sort it out.”

These extracts from the Greenwire article illustrate why the climate system is not yet well understood. The science is NOT solved.


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Has surface tension been thought of. The atmosphere at normal temperatures does not have a high enough temperature to overcome surface tension, therefore there is no transfer of “excess heat” from the atmosphere into the ocean. The ocean heats only by sun’s radiation which can penetrate surface tension. The ocean follows the sun and the sun is down at the moment.

Interestingly, the “settled” meme seems to be undergoing an hiatus…or, at least, a de-shrilling. The AdHom, however seems to be rising loudly. Funny.


OK, after reading this all, I have one question.
Is it really so difficult to even consider that the entire premise of rising CO2 causing rising temperatures could be wrong? Really? Can these climate scientists honestly tell us that they don’t go home some nights and say to themselves, “what if we’re wrong?”
As many (most?) regulars at WUWT can attest, the AGW hypothesis is sexily attractive, and at first glance appears self-evident. But… some of us moved on. Seeking evidence and finding none, we’re moving on. Too bad “mainstream” climate science is still stuck in an essentially disproved 80s hypothesis… wasting funding and valuable time investigating a complete dead-end…

My hypothesis: CO2 is both harmless and beneficial. More is better for the biosphere.
If anyone can falsify that, please do.
In the mean time: IPCC Exposed


If asked for an editorial overview of the post( which is highly unlikely) I would say…
“Scientists agree the climate has not warmed as it should have ( according to their models) but cannot agree on why”
What is absolutely galling is that, based on incomplete, assumption ridden models, rife with tortured data, these people have caused possibly the biggest setback to human progress ever.
Their arrogance is bretahtaking. Or even breathtaking.

John F. Hultquist

There is so much here that it is difficult to think of how best to reply. However, here is my thought:
Having been students and lecturers at universities for many years my wife and I have known many academics. She frequently carries a camera and took a picture of a Professor in a large open field of grasses. That one she titled “A Professor Out-standing in his field.” Many years later she took a photo of two university types in the back of a pickup truck, with pitchforks, pitching horse manure out of the truck into a garden. That one she titled “Two scholars getting their sh-t together.”
These collected “Candid Comments” suggest there is still a lot of stuff not yet gotten together.


To this day, there hasn’t been a major volcanic eruption since 1991, when Mount Pinatubo scorched the Philippines, causing the Earth to cool by about a half degree for several years
A 1/2 degree…for several years?
Why doesn’t that show up in the temperature record?

This link to the article in E&E worked better for me: (Note: …/public/…)
(This is the one given in the article above:

Jimmy Haigh

From Ben Santer; “Even if you have the hypothetical perfect model…’
So how do you get that then Ben? Beat the crap out of it?

Arfur Bryant

Or, B), the original theory was crap…


Thanks, Roger Sr., for scraping all this together in one place.
Perhaps a corner is quietly being turned because they’ve actually acknowledged the warming has stalled. One or two have even had the temerity to admit solar influence.
But, as you conclude, the science is most certainly NOT settled

Arfur Bryant

Apologies to Code Tech and Smokey – you got there first while I was typing!


CodeTech Said:
“Can these climate scientists honestly tell us that they don’t go home some nights and say to themselves, “what if we’re wrong?””
Most people arn’t willing to acknowledge that:
I might not be a rock star
Maybe I am Not saving the world
Without the hysteria, my cushy job may not get funded by the people who produce
I am smart, therefore I should decide how people live – regardless the means
Power, I like it.
It’s really hard being so much smarter than everyone else, luckily for them, I am looking out for them
Before the world got frieghtened about runaway temperatures, I was just another scientist, now I get quoted in the paper all the time
Nobody will give me a communications (Re)award if AGW isn’t serious
I don’t care if it is real, I like going to climate conferences on someone else’s dime
So, they will go all in, with ever fiber of their being to preserve their positions.

Jimmy Haigh

CodeTech says:
October 27, 2011 at 9:01 am
” Can these climate scientists honestly tell us that they don’t go home some nights and say to themselves, “what if we’re wrong?” ”
I’m sure that some of them may ask themselves that question. But then they may then ask themselves: “Where will the next pay cheque come from?”
CO2 is (or it has been…) a luvverley little earner…

Laurie Bowen (trolling yet again)

Smokey says:
October 27, 2011 at 9:05 am
“My hypothesis: CO2 is both harmless . . . . ”
My hypothosis: CO2 is absolutely essential to the life of those that use it . . . . No CO2 those that use it die . . . and the only thing left for them (trees/forests) to do is burn up because of 20% O2 . . .
Actually, it is not any hypothosis it is an assertion . . . .
Hey, Let’s just throw the baby in the lake . . . either it will swim or it will drown . . . one way or the other I will be right . . .
And then the sure fire . . . excuse . . . wrong . . . wrong???? I was just testing you!

Tim Spence

I don’t know exactly what qualifies as a ‘major’ volcanic eruption since Pinatubo, but the one in Iceland (not going to attempt the spelling) shut down European airspace, in Ecuador, Turunguagua (local spelling) has erupted twice and Etna has just erupted.

The post reads under the discussion of Trenberth, “The team [Meehl et al] used a new model, one prepared for the next U.N. climate assessment; unlike past models, it handles the Pacific’s variability well, which ‘seems to be important,’ Trenberth said.”
In reality, it handles the Pacific quite poorly. Much of the data from the CCSM4 used by Meehl et al is available through the KNMI Climate Explorer. The emsemble mean and individual ensemble members for the CCSM4’s hindcast of the 20th Century do not resemble the Pacific Ocean on the planet Earth, third rock from the Sun, which I believe is the topic of discussion.
I guess I’ve got a new topic for an upcoming post.


The Hansen quote is a winner: “air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.”
I though he was all about how air pollution from fossil fuel burning was causing global warming. Now it’s masking it?
I’m confused.

Michael Palmer

Fascinating. So after this rather uncoordinated retreat, where exactly is the new front line between True Climate Scientists and misguided skeptics?


This reminds me of the 12 Rabbis in the Rabbinical Council who were considering the weighty issue before them. Out of the discussions came 18 different opinions–


“These extracts from the Greenwire article illustrate why the climate system is not yet well understood. The science is NOT solved.”
It also illustrates why Trenberth is a biased loon.

More Soylent Green!

If not CO2 or other greenhouse gases, what caused warming in the late 20th century? We will never know until climate scientists get off the CO2/AGW bandwagon and start looking for other answers.
Science is supposed to work like this: Make an hypothesis, test it. Compare results with expectations. If results don’t match expectations, restart. Much is learned that way.
BTW: That’s a simplified model of how science works. No supercomputer needed.

…could swear I read here that CO2 has a cooling affect. Maybe it is the CO2 that is causing the ice age and lack of that produces the interglacial periods. Could be that simple???

doug s

No one answered my question yesterday, so with this I’ll try again. Why is this just a question of “energy budgets” and radiation. Doesn’t a great deal of the energy get turned into work? The moving of the air, ocean currents, evaporation, more clouds, rain, lighting etc. It is work that picks up great quantities of water over an ocean and deposits it on land. Just a little extra radiative forcing, equals just a little extra (convection) movement of water or wind each day. Why does it supposedly accumulate in (missing) heat?
Even consider the metaphysical implications of this energy, doesn’t it get utilized for life itself?

Dave Springer

When you have the right answer all these things fall into place and you are no longer surprised by new findinds as these new findings just serve as more confirmation.
Jim Hansen says “Air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.”
Wrong. Your greenhouse gas theory is dead, Jim.
Presume, as I’ve been telling everyone for many moons, that greenhouse gases have very little effect over the ocean. That’s because the global ocean cools primarily via evaporation and greenhouse gases work by retarding radiative cooling. Well sir, if there ain’t much radiative cooling to begin with there ain’t retarding that GHGs can do, now is there?
So how does that relate to aerosols? Well, aerosols work by shading the ocean surface. They block sunlight from reaching the ocean and instead reflect it right back out into outer space. So we end up with the situation where greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning aren’t doing much to keep the ocean warm the aerosol emissions from same are doing a bang-up job at keeping it cooler.
So it’s not that aerosols are doing much more cooling than anyone expected it’s they aren’t being offset as much as anyone (except people like me) expected by the accompanying greenhouse gases.
When you get it right everything starts making sense. Write that down.

Theo Goodwin

“Hansen now believes he has an answer: All the climate models, compared to the Argo data and a tracer study soon to be released by several NASA peers, exaggerate how efficiently the ocean mixes heat into its recesses. Their unanimity in this efficient mixing could be due to some shared ancestry in their code. Whatever the case, it means that climate models have been overestimating the amount of energy in the climate, seeking to match the surface warming that would occur with efficient oceans. They were solving a problem, Hansen says, that didn’t exist.”
“exaggerate how efficiently the ocean mixes heat into its recesses.”
Yep, the empirical nature of science scorns even the best theorist or computer modeler. Wonderful that Hansen could undergo such an epiphany.
“Their unanimity in this efficient mixing could be due to some shared ancestry in their code.”
Yep, computer code has its own peculiar characteristics and no matter how hard scientists try to work around them, those peculiar characteristics will assert themselves sooner or later. No computer model can substitute for scientific theory.
Another huge epiphany for Hansen. Maybe now he will lead the way in explaining to climate scientists that physical theory must be formulated in the traditional way, the way followed by Newton and Einstein. Rigorously formulated in the language of physics, itself a specialized part of some natural language, physical hypotheses have cognitive content of their own and become falsifiable, in some cases individually and in other cases as groups of physical hypotheses. Then they can be used for prediction and explanation of natural phenomena.
To those who do not understand that physical hypotheses must not only yield successful predictions but explain the phenomena predicted, look up Kepler’s Three Laws and learn how they were used by Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and everyone short of Einstein to explain predictions of observable phenomena such as phases of Venus. No computer model has cognitive content and, for that reason, no model can offer explanations of natural phenomena. For that reason alone, no model can substitute for physical theory. However, models can be highly useful analytic tools that theorists use to investigate the nooks and crannies of their theories.
Bravo for you, Dr. Hansen, and the spirit that brought you the epiphanies.

Theo Goodwin

Bob Tisdale says:
October 27, 2011 at 9:22 am
Bravo! Yes, a new post, please.

Al Gored

The parrot is alive. But Chinese aerosols make it appear dead.


Susan’s stuff is particularly important,” Santer said. “Even if you have the hypothetical perfect model, if you leave out the wrong forcings, you will get the wrong answer.”
“The wrong forcings”, “the hypothetical perfect model“? Ya think maybe if they just left out CO2, that would help? Nah. And “the physics” of the “perfect model”? Nah.
So always getting it wrong must mean you’re onto something, eh? Either falsification or just an infinite amount of more garbage. Your choice, noble Climate Scientists, “Perception is reality,” and all.


I knew it! CO2 is no longer the target. It has outplayed its role as a milking cow for the warmistas. Soot is up next! Not long before Mr. Solheim, the smiling minister of Norway is donating a billion or two to a new Soot Reseach lab in Norway. Norwegian Soot Lab. NoSoL.

Tom in indy

The Hansen quote is a winner: “air pollution from fossil fuel burning, directly and indirectly, has been masking greenhouse warming more than anyone knew.”
Hansen is hedging so that he can maintain his fossil fuel attacks if/when we start to experience global cooling.

Well… Clearly the answer to Global Warming is to burn more coal.
If coal burning has stopped it for a decade, well, let’s just keep on doing it. Oh, and put the sulfur back in Diesel while we’re at it. Looks like all those sulphate particulates are good after all…
Well, maybe only 1/2 sarcoff…
Poor lost souls, wandering in the fog of ‘Greenhouse Gas Mythology’. Someone needs to point out that it’s the clouds and perhaps a bit of solar modulation of them. That whole water cycle thing that weather folks have known about for decades (centuries?).
Ocean gets warm, a hurricane sprouts and dumps the heat to space.
Land gets warm, a line of thunderstorms sprout and dumps the heat to space.
Evaporation, convection, condensation. Repeat.
It really IS that simple.


Their unanimity in this efficient mixing could be due to some shared ancestry in their code.
Yeah, their genetic code. Maybe they should stop with the inbreeding?

Jimmy Haigh

E.M.Smith says:
‘It really IS that simple.”
It’s looking like it. Must be embarassing for the climate galacticos to be finally figuring out what we all knew all along by common sense.

Models are good for modeling, but a kick in the teeth with reality does more for science than any amount of models. In time, they will learn. After the excuses run out.


It is interesting that a couple of years ago, NOAA ran a study based on simulations that 15 years flatlining would be inconsistent with our understanding of AGW. (More details here)
Now, two years on with no sign of the flatline ending, Santer publishes a paper that moves the goalpost out to 17 years. Best 2 out of 3, anyone? Who wants to bet on it being extended to 19 years by 2013?


There appear to be two primary schools of thought. The Earth is going through a cold spell that would be a lot colder without AGW. Or the Earth would warm, but has not because of various aerosols.The obvious is missing: If there is a cold spell, could there not have been a natural warm spell? Could not those aerosols been there the whole time?


Doug S:
Energy cannot be destroyed. If energy is put into work, it will later emerge as heat at some point.


Re: Laurie Bowen (trolling yet again)
Hey, Let’s just throw the baby in the lake . . . either it will swim or it will drown . . .
It depends upon how old the baby is:

445 observations were made of the swimming movements of 42 infants varying in age from 11 days to 2½ years. All exhibited disorganized movements when placed in the supine position in the water. Response in the prone position, however, shows a definite developmental sequence, corresponding closely to that of such atavistic reflexes as the Moro and the suspension grasp. In the first few weeks “reflex swimming movements” are observed: rhythmical, coordinated movements, with inhibition of breathing. After about four months the behavior becomes disorganized with difficulty in respiration. Toward the beginning of the second year appear “deliberate or voluntary” swimming movements, less automatic than the original reflex activity, but “purposeful.” That the pattern of the newborn resembles the behavior of other young mammals “suggests functional evidence of the phylogenesis of man.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Swimming behavior of the human infant. McGraw, M. B. The Journal of Pediatrics, Vol 15, 1939, 485-490


Why all these comments
Al Gore told me the science was settled.


The ‘science is settled’ was mad and bad claim to make in the in first place if for no other reason that is seldom true in any area of science. And when you have so many unknowns and poorly knows you have no chance of this idea standing the test to time . What it really reflects is not the state of the science, but the way climate science has become about political advocacy were this types of silly claim is the norm.
While this area continues to consider that the ‘models ‘ give better data than physical reality becasue they support the ‘views’ being pushed its simply not going to advance.


This is beautiful! In the past those clowns could get away with their pseudoscience… Simply Mainstream Media (MSM) and Academia used to “forget” their ridiculous “predictions”.
Now it is “game over” for those clowns, intenet is showing people what their “science” actually is. Internet is not “forgetting” as MSM and Academia used to do, Thanks internet! Thanks WUWT! SUPERB JOB!

Dave Springer

The ocean not sequestering GHG-returned downwelling FIR is something many climate boffins didn’t expect but I did. I’ll tell you what *I* didn’t expect. I didn’t expect Hansen to be this candid or willing to modify his beliefs about the ocean heat budget. Remarkably Hansen seems far more amenable to the hypothesis that GHGs don’t insulate the ocean surface very well than a lot of folks here. It seems Hansen is more reasonable than Eschenbach who just keeps denying the plain and growing evidence that GHGs don’t work very well over the ocean.

David Corcoran

Let me get this straight… the self-anointed elite experts were wrong, have made many new guesses that proved wrong, quarrel among themselves, and are still confounded. Yet we’re pariahs because we’re skeptical about the accuracy of their current guesses? Isn’t skepticism the ONLY mental attitude that makes sense in this circumstance?

K Denison

Dave Springer says:
October 27, 2011 at 9:56 am
Wrong. Your greenhouse gas theory is dead, Jim.
Great post… and I particularly like the back-door Star Trek reference “It’s dead Jim”
Can’t add much but to ask can we now all agree the science isn’t settled?


Is it time to stop calling climate “scientists” scientist?. Perhaps climate shamans? Since they belong to the land of “make believe”. where they can pretend to know what they are talking about and live out their life of delusion quite happily. Hence they would no longer harassed by those evil anti-science skeptics

Dave Springer

Jit says:
October 27, 2011 at 10:39 am
“Energy cannot be destroyed. If energy is put into work, it will later emerge as heat at some point.”
Yeah, but it can take a bloody long time depending on what the work is doing. Say the work is evaporating and lifting water thousands of feet up in the air where it comes down as snow on a glacier. It’s stored indefinitely as gravitational potential energy. Or say the work being accomplished is shoving atoms together into hydrocarbons where it’s stored as potential energy in chemical bonds which might stay stored for a hundred million years or more.


I too noted the reference to “fossil fuel burning”.
Well, at least they striving to improve performance with regard to the chutzpah contained in their arguments. From “warm weather is a sign of global warming and so is cold weather” to “using fossil fuel is a problem because it leads to global warming and global cooling at the same time”.


When you start off with a graph like that, it’s simply dishonest. Here are the approximate temperature changes from various records derived from linear fits since 2001: UAH: +0.07C. GISS: +0.05C. BEST:+0.03C. RSS:-0.04C. HADCRUT: -0.05C. Which one did you decide to show. Why that one?
Besides which, the trends over such a short period of time have huge uncertainties and are essentially meaningless in climate studies. Only the most enthusiastic cherry pickers find any significance in them.

Dave Springer

“Hansen now believes he has an answer: All the climate models, compared to the Argo data and a tracer study soon to be released by several NASA peers, exaggerate how efficiently the ocean mixes heat into its recesses.”
Exactly. As I was trying to drum into Willis Eschenbach’s thick skull, until I was blue in the face, to no avail about how downwelling longwave infrared from greenhouse gases is absorbed by the first few microns of the ocean’s surface AND DOES NOT MIX DOWNWARD. Evidently Hansen’s skull isn’t nearly as impenetrable as Eschenbach’s. Can you believe Eschenbach went so far as threatening to delete my comments if I so much as brought this up in comments on any of his articles? Have you ever seen the picture of the three monkeys labeled “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil”? They’re describing Willis…