Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scientists Trying to outBEST One Another

Perhaps it's time climate scientists stopped answering emails from journalists and just focused on doing science again. At least for awhile.

Instead of bringing yet more consensus, the BEST papers seem to have thrown another log on the fire. Or maybe that's just the way some media are spinning it. Or maybe scientists are making contradictory claims. I honestly can't tell.

The Daily Mail has an article about BEST, Richard Muller, and whether their results show a "standstill" in warming since the last '90s. They quote him from a BBC radio program:
'We see no evidence of it [global warming] having slowed down,' he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. There was, he added, 'no levelling off'.
The Daily Mail then includes a picture of Judith Curry looking mean (instead of, say, this one) and quotes her:
‘There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’
Then she ramps it up by using the HTD phrase, in the process making it clear that, like Muller, she did not understand the context of the notorious email:
As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline.

‘To say this is the end of scepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused. It is also misleading to say, as he has, that the issue of heat islands has been settled.’
So the two leading BEST scientists can't even agree on what their papers say. To confuse matters even further, on her blog Curry denies this controversy is anything like Climategate, and says
'Because of substantial year to year and multidecadal variability, it is difficult to interpret trends, especially in the presence of the large warming spike in 1998 associated with El Nino. There has been much recent discussion on an apparent slow down or lag in the warming. The BEST data set shows less of a lag than CRU and GISS, but is comparable to NOAA. The rate of increase of global temperature for the past decade or so is smaller than that seen for the period 1980-2000. I don’t see how you can infer from these data that there has been no slow down in the warming over the past decade or so.' A 'slow down in warming', not no warming. If you're going to lecture others get your facts right.
Or, at least, that's what a commenter on the Daily Mail article said she wrote. And that's what Google's cache said she wrote. But I can't find it there anymore. But on her blog she did write:
There has been a lag/slowdown/whatever you want to call it in the rate of temperature increase since 1998. This is being widely discussed, see the greenwire article for various opinions on this

So, actually this is a “hide the slowdown” issue.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the BEST data that says there is no lag/slow down in the warming during the past decade or so.
Sheesh, who can keep up? (And why should we?) Gerald North had the best comment:
"After lots of work he found exactly what was already known and accepted in the climate community," said Jerry North, a Texas A&M University atmospheric sciences professor who headed a National Academy of Sciences climate science review in 2006. "I am hoping their study will have a positive impact. But some folks will never change."

1 comment:

Richard Mercer said...

Check out Tamino's post on this topic. He makes it pretty clear that Curry is lost at sea.

Judith Curry Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot