Guest essay by Eric Worrall
NASA has appealed to the Australian CSIRO not to fire lots of climate scientists, because they are doing “important work”, resolving significant uncertainties in climate modelling.
‘Dismay’: NASA scientist appeals to CSIRO not to cut global climate efforts
A top scientist from US space agency NASA has appealed to CSIRO to abandon plans to cut a key monitoring program that it says will undermine Australia and the world’s ability to monitor and predict climate change.
Brent Holben, the project scientist in charge of NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network, urged CSIRO to reconsider any plans it had to cut or withdraw its contribution to the program, according to a letter obtained by Fairfax Media.
“I understand that CSIRO is undertaking a major restructuring that may lead to the closure of AeroSpan [CSIRO’s partner program],” Dr Holben wrote in the letter addressed to Alex Wonhas, a senior CSIRO executive, and dated May 1, 2016.
“The purpose of this letter is to express my dismay about this, on behalf of NASA and the global aerosol community,” he said.
Understanding aerosols – the distribution and character of airborne particles and clouds – “represent the single greatest source of uncertainty in climate simulations”, Dr Holben said.
The NASA letter said measurements of aerosols were “a fundamental component of climate predictions on both regional and global scales”.
In my opinion climate scientists can’t have it both ways.
If aerosols are an important but poorly understood component of the climate system, then climate modellers do not have the ability to forecast global climate – the science is not settled.
If poor understanding of aerosols does not have a significant impact on climate forecasts, then they are not that important.