Saturday, January 05, 2019

A Professional Scientist Actually Cited This Graph

Who? Roy Spencer. I'm not sure where it comes from, but it doesn't matter -- he needs to retake an undergraduate course in the proper presentation of data, because this graph is scientific malpractice. The proper response can only be this.

Of course, a proper graph -- recall from 5th grade that the point of a graph is to convey as much information as possible -- looks something like this:

and it would have error bars which I'm not going to bother with here. But you get the point. (Note 1/7: I replaced the original graph with one that includes the 1-year (4-quarter) moving average.)

And the 0.04°C on Roy's graph? (I get 0.05°C, but it makes little difference here except that it's just a little tiny additional 25%.) A real scientist would understand (as I'm sure Roy does; he's just more interested in propaganda) that: 

(a) it's really about heat gained, not temperature change, which for these data I find to be 1.4 x 1023 J. All that heat will not necessarily stay in the ocean, but much will come out to the atmosphere over millennia. The ocean is vast, and has a higher specific heat than air; if this amount of heat were in the atmosphere instead, the temperature change would be ~1000 times larger.

(b) for living things, the problem with ocean warming is that many of them live near the surface, for which the temperature change is much larger. (I wanted to plot the 0-100 m change in the ocean, but NOAA's site is down now because of Trump's moronic government shutdown.) So I have to go with this:

Comparatively, the temperature change of the top 700 m of the ocean is, over the same time period, 0.08°C, and the temperature change of the global sea surface is (HadSST3) 0.26°C. 

Ironically, Roy's post is about Chuck Todd's decision not to allow "climate deniers" on his television show, and how Roy claims there really aren't any climate scientists who deny that the climate isn't warming and man isn't partly responsible. (Except Fred Singer.) So Roy isn't a full-blown climate denier, but then he use the standard dumb denier trick graph that's the most climate denying graph of all. 

One more point. Roy ignores the entire professional literature and cites just one paper by Lewis and Curry, as if it's the final word. And he cheats on that, too, citing the CO2 climate sensitivity they found to be 1.0°C, when that's only the lowest value of their range (added 1/6: and anyway it's the range for the transient climate response -- the warming at the moment CO2 doubles, not ECS), which is 1.0-1.9 C (5%-95% confidence limits). 
Spencer: "...the lastest (sic) analyses (Lewis & Curry, 2018) of what this would mean leads to an eventual warming of only 1 deg. C from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (we are currently about halfway to that doubling)...."
Now how can Roy think CO2's climate sensitivity is as low as 1.0 C, when 

(a) we've already had 1.0°C of warming.
(b) polluting aerosols are holding warming down by about 0.5°C, and
(c) CO2's share of manmade radiative forcing is, for 1990-2017, 66%.  

These would imply CO2's warming so far is (assuming CO2's radiative forcing fraction is the same since the pre-industrial era) 0.66*1.5°C = 1.0°C, when CO2 hasn't even increased by 50% yet, let alone doubled. 

And Roy is upset that Chuck Todd doesn't want to have the likes of Roy Spencer on his show, and in writing about it shows exactly why Todd doesn't.


Layzej said...

What is meant by "...equivalent to a global energy imbalance of 1 part in 260"?

Marco said...

Note also that the 1 degree is the lower limit for the TCR, not the ECS.

David Appell said...

Thanks Marco, I noted that. But my argument still stands -- Spencer cited it as the "eventual warming," that is, ECS.

David Appell said...

I'm not exactly sure what "1 part in 260" means, but I think it's something using the current energy imbalance of 0.7 W/m2 given some energy as input to the climate system -- which I'm thinking might be the 161 W/m2 striking the Earth's surface (see Trenberth et al's energy balance diagram, Fig 1 in That gives an "energy imbalance" of 1 part per 230. I guess it comes down to exactly what numbers Roy is using.

Layzej said...

Interesting. Thanks.

Ned said...

This is all quite infuriating. We've seen this again and again:

(1) Anti-science cranks gin up some fake criticisms of some piece of climate science, and rile up an angry mob on the internet.

(2) Scientists are baffled and confused over how to deal with the criticism because they're not trained in responding to bad-faith attacks.

(3) The criticism becomes mainstreamed in popular consciousness, so that even genteel pseudo-skeptics (like our own David in Cal) just say "where there's smoke, there's fire" and take it for granted that something was dodgy about the original science.

(4) Years later, an authoritative paper or report thoroughly debunks the criticism and validates the original science, but it's too late -- the beliefs that "skeptics showed X was wrong" are thoroughly embedded in people's minds, and anyway the debate has moved on to some other shiny object.

Layzej said...

Spencer ought to have baselined his graph at 0K. Opportunity missed.

Ned said...

Got my wires crossed on that previous comment. It was referring to the newly released MITRE report on the Karl et al paper from NOAA ... nothing to do with this thread. Sorry.

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