Pat Michaels – on the death of credibility in the journal Nature

Atmospheric Aerosols and the Death of Nature

Guest post by Dr. Patrick Michaels

Big news last week was that new findings published in Nature magazine showed that human emissions of aerosols (primarily from fossil fuel use) have been largely responsible for the multi-decadal patterns of sea surface temperature variability in the Atlantic ocean that have been observed over the past 150 years or so. This variability—commonly referred to as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO—has been linked to several socially significant climate phenomena including the ebb and flow of active Atlantic hurricane periods and drought in the African Sahel.

This paper marks, in my opinion, the death of credibility for Nature on global warming. The first symptoms showed up in 1996 when they published a paper by Ben Santer and 13 coauthors that was so obviously cherry-picked that it took me and my colleagues about three hours to completely destroy it. Things have gone steadily downhill, from a crazy screamer by Jonathan Patz on mortality from warming that didn’t even bother to examine whether fossil fuels were associated with extended lifespan (they are), to the recent Shakun debacle. But the latest whopper, by Ben Booth and his colleagues at the UK Met Office indeed signals the death of Nature in this field.

The U.K. Met Office issued a press release touting the findings by several of their researchers, and didn’t pull any punches as to the study’s significance. The headline read “Industrial pollution linked to ‘natural’ disasters” and included things like:

These shifts in ocean temperature, known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO, are believed to affect rainfall patterns in Africa, South America and India, as well as hurricane activity in the North Atlantic – in extreme cases leading to humanitarian disasters.

Ben Booth, a Met Office climate processes scientist and lead author of the research, said: “Until now, no-one has been able to demonstrate a physical link to what is causing these observed Atlantic Ocean fluctuations, so it was assumed they must be caused by natural variability.

“Our research implies that far from being natural, these changes could have been largely driven by dirty pollution and volcanoes. If so, this means a number of natural disasters linked to these ocean fluctuations, such as persistent African drought during the 1970’s and 80’s, may not be so natural after all.”

An accompanying “News and Views” piece in Nature put the findings of Booth and colleagues in climatological perspective:

If Booth and colleagues’ results can be corroborated, then they suggest that multidecadal temperature fluctuations of the North Atlantic are dominated by human activity, with natural variability taking a secondary role. This has many implications. Foremost among them is that the AMO does not exist, in the sense that the temperature variations concerned are neither intrinsically oscillatory nor purely multidecadal.

But not everyone was so impressed with the conclusions of Booth et al.

For instance, Judith Curry had this to say at her blog, “Climate Etc.,”

Color me unconvinced by this paper. I suspect that if this paper had been submitted to J. Geophysical Research or J. Climate, it would have been rejected. In any event, a much more lengthy manuscript would have been submitted with more details, allowing people to more critically assess this. By publishing this, Nature seems to be looking for headlines, rather than promoting good science.

And Curry has good reason to be skeptical.

“In press” at the journal Geophysical Research Letters is a paper titled “Greenland ice core evidence for spatial and temporal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation” by Petr Chylek and colleagues, including Chris Folland of the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office.

In this paper, Chylek et al. examine evidence of the AMO that is contained in several ice core records distributed across Greenland. The researchers were looking to see whether there were changes in the character of the AMO over different climatological periods in the past, such as the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period—periods that long preceded large-scale human aerosol emissions. And indeed they found some. The AMO during the Little Ice Age was characterized by a quasi-periodicity of about 20 years, while the during the Medieval Warm Period the AMO oscillated with a period of about 45 to 65 years.

And Chylek and colleagues had this to say about the mechanisms involved:

The observed intermittency of these modes over the last 4000 years supports the view that these are internal ocean-atmosphere modes, with little or no external forcing.

Better read that again. “…with little or no external forcing.”

Chylek’s conclusion is vastly different from the one reached by Booth et al., which in an Editorial, Nature touted as [emphasis added]:

[B]ecause the AMO has been implicated in global processes, such as the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes and drought in the Sahel region of Africa in the 1980s, the findings greatly extend the possible reach of human activity on global climate. Moreover, if correct, the study effectively does away with the AMO as it is currently posited, in that the multidecadal oscillation is neither truly oscillatory nor multidecadal.

Funny how the ice core records analyzed by Chylek (as opposed to the largely climate model exercise of Booth et al.) and show the AMO to be both oscillatory and multidecadal—and to be exhibiting such characteristics long before any possible human influence.

Judith Curry’s words “By publishing this, Nature seems to be looking for headlines, rather than promoting good science” seem to ring loud and true in light of further observation-based research.

May God rest the soul of Nature.

References:

Booth, B., et al., 2012. Aerosols implicated as a prime driver of twentieth-century North Atlantic climate variability. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10946, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10946.html

Chylek, P., et al., 2012. Greenland ice core evidence for spatial and temporal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Geophysical Research Letters, in press, http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/pip/2012GL051241.shtml

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edbarbar

We all know how unnatural those volcanos are.

oMan

Doesn’t the Nature paper also undermine the climate modelers’ argument? Namely, their models purport to show that X amount of CO2 produces Y amount of temperature change. And those models assume that such changes cannot be due to natural forcings such as albedo changes (due to volcanoes) or orbital/precessional changes. All that stuff has been accounted for, leaving only CO2 as the culprit. And yet, now, we are told that other human activities may swamp the system that was so delicately poised that just a little CO2 will drive it toward catastrophe.
Surely they can’t have it both ways? A system where all forcings, natural and otherwise, were already accounted for, leaving CO2 as the thing to worry about? And a system where all non-CO2 forcings are NOT so accounted for?

Kaboom

Looking to Nature for science on the climate is like looking to Mad Magazine for political commentary.

A corpse digging its own grave. Now, that’s a paragon of environmental responsibility.

Well said

braddles

This is a good reminder that sceptics are getting too pleased about “winning”. Just remember that the alarmists still have complete control of most mainstream media, important parts of academia, and the major journals.

John West

Dr. Patrick Michaels
“largely climate model exercise of Booth et al.”
I didn’t realize from the context that only ONE model was used, so I looked at the press release to see if it said which models or ensemble was used. To my amazement I find: “However, it’s important to note that these findings are based on only one model, so further research using other next-generation climate models is required to shed further light on the mechanisms at play.”
Nature, the Inquirer of Journals

noaaprogrammer

Like releasing chaff from an aircraft to confuse radar, everyone should write up bogus research studies touting all sorts of man-caused disasters, and submit them to Nature — it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Saaad

Nature appears to be following New Scientist down the rabbit hole. Climate pseudoscience looks more like alchemy every day.

Nature gives the media’s standard response to anyone deviating from its global warming alarmism narrative: Shut Up.

JackWayne

Nature = Scientific American.

Schitzree

I’m just waiting for the paper publised in Nature that shows the human influances on sunspot count. It’s only a matter of time.

pat

When I was a kid and subscribed, Nature was mostly soft science, but very good. Then it went hard, Then it drove off the cliff when it hired political environmentalists as editors. Now it is worthless.
Scientific American is the same way. From hard science to environmental nonsense. Sheer stupidity and alarmism slathered with a few graphs of dubious quality , a bit of specialized mathematics, and the use of obscure words to lend gravitas,

Schitzree

Kaboom says:
Looking to Nature for science on the climate is like looking to Mad Magazine for political commentary.
———————
Hey, I’ll have you know that many of my political beliefs have been shaped by MAD.

Bennett

@oMan
Wow, great catch! There’s nothing quite like a scare piece that clumsily invalidates its belief system. I wonder if the disciples will notice?

John West

The article is $18, but the “Supplementary figures and discussion” is free:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v484/n7393/extref/nature10946-s1.pdf

Gail Combs

Kaboom says:
April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Looking to Nature for science on the climate is like looking to Mad Magazine for political commentary.
___________________________
You are insulting Mad Magazine.

Gail Combs

To me it looks like Booth and colleagues have been reading WUWT and other skeptic sites and decided they needed to “capture the AMO” for “Their Side”
With the oceans changing phase and influencing weather they really had no choice except to come up with some way of showing Mankind was at fault or the entire “Cause” would go down the tubes.

dan johnston

It’s all in their Nature.

D. J. Hawkins

Kaboom says:
April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Looking to Nature for science on the climate is like looking to Mad Magazine for political commentary.

You might be well served if you did, at least years ago. Clearly you never paid close attention. The commentary was there, and incisive, even if it was cloaked as “Mad’s snappy answers to…” or something similar. Check their send up “Fiddler Made a Goof” if you can find it. Biting commentary on modern mores, and I remember it nearly 40 years later.

RockyRoad

Nature must be getting big checks from “Big Oil”–they can’t possibly survive on subscription fees.

noaaprogrammer says:
April 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm
Like releasing chaff from an aircraft to confuse radar, everyone should write up bogus research studies touting all sorts of man-caused disasters, and submit them to Nature — it shouldn’t be too difficult.
================================================
lol, an excellent idea! But, here, we see man is to blame for temp increases and sea level rise! http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/this-isnt-about-the-climate/
Dr. Michaels, thanks for the links! We all try to stay current, but there’s so much garbage flying around it’s difficult to keep an eye on everything!

Ally E.

This whole global warming thing reminds me of one of those Bad Guys in a B-grade movie. You know, the type who keeps getting killed but comes back again and again and again. It’s dead on it’s feet, its brain just hasn’t registered the event yet. Maybe the Yellows/Greens/Reds are slow to get the message. Why not? The mainstream media certainly is.

R. Shearer

Why, these man-made aerosols are so powerful they can go back in time. For instance, here is proof. They went back in time and made hurricanes, as evidenced by the sinking of many Spanish galleons.

juanslayton

Kaboom:
Another vote here for Mad Magazine. Alfred E. Neuman had the good sense not to panic about Global Cooling.
“What, me worry?”

Ally E. says:
April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Maybe the Yellows/Greens/Reds are slow to get the message. Why not? The mainstream media certainly is.
========================================================
Isn’t that one and the same? Misanthropy….. it perpetuates itself while being self-defeating.

bones

pat says:
April 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm
When I was a kid and subscribed, Nature was mostly soft science, but very good. Then it went hard, Then it drove off the cliff when it hired political environmentalists as editors. Now it is worthless.
Scientific American is the same way. From hard science to environmental nonsense. Sheer stupidity and alarmism slathered with a few graphs of dubious quality , a bit of specialized mathematics, and the use of obscure words to lend gravitas,
So, have a look at Physics Today and tell me that it is any better? A lot of what once was respectable, credible science reporting has fallen into the hands of zealots.

Gilbert

Typical runup to ipcc 5. Mike Mann established the methodology.

“However, it’s important to note that these findings are based on only one model, so further research using other next-generation climate models is required to shed further light on the mechanisms at play.”
Note that they say NOTHING about empirical evidence – it’s models all the way down.

Richyroo

bones says:
April 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm
pat says:
April 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm
When I was a kid and subscribed, Nature was mostly soft science, but very good. Then it went hard, Then it drove off the cliff when it hired political environmentalists as editors. Now it is worthless.
Scientific American is the same way. From hard science to environmental nonsense. Sheer stupidity and alarmism slathered with a few graphs of dubious quality , a bit of specialized mathematics, and the use of obscure words to lend gravitas,
So, have a look at Physics Today and tell me that it is any better? A lot of what once was respectable, credible science reporting has fallen into the hands of zealots.
Its not just about zealotry, its about lack of science education. Modern \science journalists’ are scientifically illiterate and rely on sensationalised sound bites from press releases; press releases written by simmilarly uneducated post modern, post socialist, post normalists.
The problem is general ignorance.

Lancifer

Kaboom,

Looking to Nature for science on the climate is like looking to Mad Magazine for political commentary.

Hey watch it, I’ll take the word of Alfred E. Newman over Michael Mann any day.

wfrumkin

I would cancel my subscription to Nature but I already did that. It is clear that truth no longer matters with warmistas.

This isn’t an attempt at science. This is a barrage designed to be picked up by the MSM, another peer-reviewed study that can be quoted that “supports” the warmist view, but NOT to be considered seriously by scientists. It is part of the fighting back of CAGW: if they won’t agree, if they won’t stay silent, then we’ll overwhelm them with paper.
Never have I seen a paper so far out since Veilokovsky: at least he believed what he wrote.

Allan MacRae

What exactly is the source of the aerosol data in the Booth et al paper?
A caution:
Global warming alarmists have typically FABRICATED the aerosol data they use in their climate models to fudge the desired results.
Please see the communications below regarding D. V. Hoyt and aerosols:
http://climateaudit.org/2006/07/19/whitfield-subcommittee-witnesses-to-be-questioned/
http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=755
Douglas Hoyt:
July 22nd, 2006 at 5:37 am
Measurements of aerosols did not begin in the 1970s. There were measurements before then, but not so well organized. However, there were a number of pyrheliometric measurements made and it is possible to extract aerosol information from them by the method described in:
Hoyt, D. V., 1979. The apparent atmospheric transmission using the pyrheliometric ratioing techniques. Appl. Optics, 18, 2530-2531.
The pyrheliometric ratioing technique is very insensitive to any changes in calibration of the instruments and very sensitive to aerosol changes.
Here are three papers using the technique:
Hoyt, D. V. and C. Frohlich, 1983. Atmospheric transmission at Davos, Switzerland, 1909-1979. Climatic Change, 5, 61-72.
Hoyt, D. V., C. P. Turner, and R. D. Evans, 1980. Trends in atmospheric transmission at three locations in the United States from 1940 to 1977. Mon. Wea. Rev., 108, 1430-1439.
Hoyt, D. V., 1979. Pyrheliometric and circumsolar sky radiation measurements by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory from 1923 to 1954. Tellus, 31, 217-229.
In none of these studies were any long-term trends found in aerosols, although volcanic events show up quite clearly. There are other studies from Belgium, Ireland, and Hawaii that reach the same conclusions. It is significant that Davos shows no trend whereas the IPCC models show it in the area where the greatest changes in aerosols were occurring.
There are earlier aerosol studies by Hand and Marvin in Monthly Weather Review going back to the 1880s and these studies also show no trends.
So when MacRae (#321) says: “I suspect that both the climate computer models and the input assumptions are not only inadequate, but in some cases key data is completely fabricated – for example, the alleged aerosol data that forces models to show cooling from ~1940 to ~1975. Isn’t it true that there was little or no quality aerosol data collected during 1940-1975, and the modelers simply invented data to force their models to history-match; then they claimed that their models actually reproduced past climate change quite well; and then they claimed they could therefore understand climate systems well enough to confidently predict future catastrophic warming?”, he close to the truth.
_____________________________________________________________________
Douglas Hoyt:
July 22nd, 2006 at 10:37 am
Re #328
“Are you the same D. V. Hoyt who wrote the referenced papers?” Answer: Yes.
_____________________________________________________________________

Brian H

wfrumkin says:
April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm
I would cancel my subscription to Nature but I already did that. I

Send them a letter re-cancelling?
😉

Mike

So, controversial papers that go against the consensus should not be published? Interesting. Maybe we can start a on line poll to get these bad people fired because that is how science should be done!
When researches had evidence that they had observed neutrinos going faster than than speed of light they published this. That was the right thing to do. It now looks like they were wrong. That’s how science is done.

Mac the Knife

“Our research implies that far from being natural, these changes could have been largely driven by dirty pollution and volcanoes. If so, this means a number of natural disasters linked to these ocean fluctuations, such as persistent African drought during the 1970’s and 80’s, may not be so natural after all.”
‘Our research implies…. changes could have been…. dirty pollution. If so,….. natural disasters…..may not be so natural at all.’
All paranoid climate conjecture. No substance. This drivel is beyond lame. It’s pathetic. It’s shameful and a real embarrassment to the hundreds of thousands of honest scientists and engineers pushing the bona fide boundaries of science with data driven research and analyses.
Nature: Oh, how very low the once respected have fallen!
MtK

thingadonta

Nothing can be natural, because then we can’t control it.
Why are ape descendants so obsessed with controling everything, or is that a rhetorical question?.

AnonyMoose

What kind of aerosols? What were the effects of the pre-1970s industrial pollution (the first Coal Age), and the preceding thousands of years of burning North America? Ships could detect the continent by the smoke smell and haze.

Andrew30

The idea that the minute human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide is a driving force for the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is lunacy. That the idea has been programmed in to a single climate model and when run the model produces the pre-programmed output is par for the course, so nothing new there.
Perhaps this is a test of the global panic-alarm system, to see how many media transmitters are still working. Only the most committed media outlets will run this, so it will serve as a gauge of support in advance of the next meeting of the global warning kleptocracy.

HR

There is a video of a presentation of the Chylek work on Youtude

Enjoy

John F. Hultquist

Are we to assume hurricanes in the Atlantic and drought in Africa began with the use of wood for fuel or coal for steam engines? It is hard to see how those European beginnings influenced the North Atlantic Ocean. Or perhaps, the peopling of North American and the accompanying use of fire can be the culprit. However, I recall reading or hearing of drought in Africa going back centuries. Yes! Here is one such:
http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/drought-brought-end-to-egypt%E2%80%99s-old-kingdom/

Mike Wryley

Like the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” movies, and uncomfortably close to reality, journalism schools must have been pumping CAGW pods out for years without much notice, because even electronic and mechanical engineering mags are full of the same drivel. I cancelled Aviation Week in disgust several years ago because it had evolved into a bipolar screed embracing global warming, cap and trade and carbon markets juxtaposed with commercial aviation, which generates thousands of tons of co2 per minute.
These people have insinuated themselves into every available media niche, and they will not go silently into the night.

RayG

Nature, the Journal of Irreproducible Results for Climate “Science.” Actually, the JIR is a better read than Nature.
http://www.jir.com/

RayG

RockyRoad says:
April 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm
“Nature must be getting big checks from “Big Oil”–they can’t possibly survive on subscription fees.”
Speaking of “Big Oil,” Shell was the founding donor of the WWF and Shell’s president for 15 years, John Loudon, was the president of the WWF for 4 years. Go to Donna Laframboise for sourcing and details:
http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2012/04/11/the-wwfs-vast-pool-of-oil-money/

RobW

Yet another example of how far away from real science climate “science” has gone. Now Nature believes real data from ice cores are secondary to a single computer model. Wow such a downfall for a once proud journal.

Andrew30

Was this ‘adjustment’ made to support the computer model?
“Sea Level Data Corruption – Worse Than It Seems
Posted on April 11, 2012 by Steven Goddard”
“The graph below shows changes in Envisat Northern Hemisphere sea level made this week. Previously, sea level was decreasing -0.241 mm/year, and now it is increasing by 2.37 mm/year. The most recent data magically went from lowest on record – to highest on record.”
http://www.real-science.com/sea-level-data-corruption-worse-than-it-seems

Ally E.

James Sexton says:
April 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm
Ally E. says:
April 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Maybe the Yellows/Greens/Reds are slow to get the message. Why not? The mainstream media certainly is.
========================================================
Isn’t that one and the same? Misanthropy….. it perpetuates itself while being self-defeating.
*
True. I realized after I had posted that they know very well it’s all over but, by holding the reins of the MSM, they hope nevertheless to convince the masses and bring humankind down first, or with them. They are never going to let go, are they? What a sad, pathetic bunch they are.
I take great delight in this swing around that is happening, they must be getting quite angry about it by now. That shouldn’t tickle me but it does. I’ve always loved to see bullies frustrated – wrong of me, I know, I should strive to be better than that.

EJ

I have been advocating for a decade now for a repository of any raw data. Temps, Precip, Yields,
Will someone archive the raw data?

Bruce of Newcastle

Since the AMO has quite a pronounced sinusoidal 65 year signal I suppose we carefully puff just the right amount of aerosols into the atmosphere every 65 years?
Do they think we’re stupid?