Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nic Lewis Owes Resplandy et al an Apology

I'll assume you know by now the saga of the 10/31 Resplandy et al Nature paper that found a larger uptake of heat by the ocean.

Short story: Nic Lewis found an issue with the paper, but then couldn't refrain from acting unprofessionally.

Longer story via a timeline recap:

10/31 - Respandy et al publish a paper in Nature that uses a new method to calculate heat uptake by the ocean, finding that "the ocean gained 1.33 ± 0.20  × 1022 joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.83 ± 0.11 watts per square metre of Earth’s surface."

10/31 - Media coverage, such as WaPo's "Over the past quarter-century, Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought."

11/6 - Nic Lewis writes a blog post on Judith Curry's site with the title "A major problem with the Resplandy et al. ocean heat uptake paper" -- a big feather in his cap -- also saying he contacted Resplandy.

11/7 - Nic Lewis writes a second blog post, "Resplandy et al. Part 2: Regression in the presence of trend and scale systematic errors"

11/8 - An article in Reason magazine quotes Nic Lewis as saying,
Via email, Lewis responded: "I've had no substantive response from Professor Resplandy, just a non-committal reply saying that they were looking into the questions I had raised and if they found anything that needed correction they would address it. Unfortunately, they have every incentive to conclude that they don't need to take any action! So do Nature; journals don't like being made to look foolish."
(Emphasis mine.) This insult takes the feather out of Lewis's cap.

11/13 - media coverage of Resplandy et al's correction, for example, WaPo.

11/14 - a post on about their error and correction, by Ralph Keeling, a co-author on the paper, also writing "We would like to thank Nicholas Lewis for first bringing an apparent anomaly in the trend calculation to our attention."

So only two days after he pointed out what he thought was an error, Nic Lewis was already castigating Resplandy et al for not acknowledging his analysis. He gave them no-to-little time for analysis, no time to figure out what he was saying or to address the subtleties involved -- Lewis was mostly interested in scoring points.

That's unprofessional.

This paper went from publication to correction in two weeks. (BTW, their results didn't change much; see below.) But that wasn't good enough -- Nic Lewis wanted to do a victory lap on their faces just TWO DAYS after his blog post, when he had no idea if Resplendy et al were considering his argument or not. In fact, they were considering it, carefully.

Nic Lewis owes Respendy et al an apology.

PS: The Resplandy et al results didn't get much lower after this correction, but do now have a much larger error bar: they went from an oceanic heat uptake of (1.33 ± 0.20) x 1022 J/yr from 1961-2016 to (1.21 ± 0.72) x 1022 J/yr, a decrease of 9%.

PPS: Come on, how about using zettajoules (1 ZJ = 1021 J)? Odd units are why spacecraft crash.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Friday, November 02, 2018

Have CO2 Emissions Declined Under Trump?


Yesterday, or the day before, I can't remember, an NPR story that I can't find now, about plastics and, instead, making bottles from paper, said that US CO2 emissions have declined under Trump.

That's false.

Here are the 12-month increases in US CO2 emissions since Trump took office in Jan 2017:

The last six months have shown a clear month/12months-earlier increase in US CO2 emissions. At a rate of about half of economic growth.

Enough to matter? I don't know, how much matters?

As always, click the image for a clear picture, since Blogger renders these images for shit.

Currently US CO2 emissions data go up to July 2018 -- there's about a 4-month lag between now and the latest data -- but already it shows CO2 emissions increasing compared to 12-months before.

I don't know if this is due to policy changes, weather or what. According to my downloads -- which I do in an neverending effort to try to understand what the hell is going on -- the average temperature of USA48 was -1.07°F for March-May (meteorological spring) compared to the same period 1-year before, and +0.47°F for June-July, so far (2/3rds of meteorological summer, so far). Somewhat colder

There is actually a negative correlation between annual US CO2 emissions and the average annual USA48 temperature:

(Sorry, too much trouble to include Alaska and Hawaii. I'm sure they're used to being overlooked.)

So on the basis of temperature we would expect US CO2 emissions to be somewhat higher this year.

PS: That story, which was about replacing plastics with paper bottles (etc), was also sloppy with other parts of the science, I thought.

They noted that plastic was "made from fossil fuels." Yeah, sure. But that oil is sequestered in the plastic (though it might leak out over time. I'm not getting paid enough to figure out how much or how fast).

As well, making bottles of paper requires cutting down trees, and trees sequester carbon. How much carbon is lost after being sequestered in paper bottles? Like making plastic bottles, paper bottles require energy to manufacture. 

So what's the complete carbon budget here? Is it enough to matter, considering the US already emits about 5 Gt CO2? As I wrote, it's above my pay grade, which is $0 per whatever unit of time you wish to choose.

But I thought the NPR article slid over these issues much too slickly....