Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

2012 Global Warming Report Card

Note: There are updates to this post at Really Sciency.

Mr Goddard has posted a ‘Global Warming report Card’ that lists no less than 19 metrics he believes contradict anthropogenic climate change. A massive Gish gallop in true denier style which Monckton would be proud off and which asserts that there is nothing wrong and that ‘Hansen, Mann and the rest of the hockey team are not being honest with us.  Which when read one must assume that Mr Goddard himself is honest and completely trustworthy.

This is followed by a list of cherry picked charts and graphs as ‘evidence’. Who knew the annual mean temperature trend in Nuuk, Greenland actually decreased by about 0.1C from 1940? This has happened even while the whole Arctic region has undergone an overall warming trend twice the global average. Something our Mr Goddard must have been aware of to be able to cherry pick a place that bucked that trend.

So what of this Gish gallop of 19 metrics? As well as cherry picking, some of them are just silly; Where has the science ever suggested a metric for measuring Climate Change would be the number of hurricane strikes that hit the US and only the US? And even one of Goddard's charts appears to be doctored.

Metric 1: Temperatures are below Hansen’s zero emissions after 2000 Scenario C

Actually Mr Goddard is quite correct. Scenario C from Hansen’s 24 year old research does diverge from observed data. But the problem with Goddard is that he thinks that this was a prediction from Hansen not just one possible scenario. He appears not to know the difference.

Several scenarios were chosen to demonstrate possible futures depending on various levels of green house gasses. But it was not a prediction. No one, least of all Hansen, could know exactly what emissions would be in the coming decades as these depended very much on future global energy needs and industrial development, manufacturing, economics and even volcanic activity.

We now know that Hansen slightly overestimated how much the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would increase, particularly methane and CFCs, and he chose high climate sensitivity for a doubling of atmospheric CO2, something that had a greater uncertainty over two decades ago.The only way to gauge Hansen’s work is to use actual data we now know in his calculations. This has been done and there is a good overview of it at Skeptical Science where they found that;
If we take into account the slightly lower atmospheric greenhouse gas increases and compare the observed versus projected global temperature warming rates, we find that in order to accurately predict the global warming of the past 22 years, Hansen's climate model would have needed a climate sensitivity of about 3.4°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2.  This is within the likely range of climate sensitivity values listed as 2-4.5°C by the IPCC for a doubling of CO2, and even a bit higher than the most likely value currently widely accepted as 3°C.
In short, the main reason Hansen's 1988 warming projections were too high is that he used a climate model with a high climate sensitivity, and his results are actually evidence that the true climate sensitivity parameter is within the range accepted by the IPCC.”
But the most important thing for me was that Hansen predicted that increasing GHGs would cause warming in the future. If he and his science had been as wrong a couple of decades ago as Goddard and other science deniers would like us to believe then was this was just a lucky guess?

Metric 2: Global temperatures are declining this century

This is clearly illogical nonsense. The first decade of this century was the warmest recorded. How by any sense of logic could the warmest portion on the record indicate declining temperatures other than by ignoring trends and cherry picking a start point? And that is just what Goddard does.

Cherry picked graph of this century but starting in 2001!

His supporting graph does show slight cooling of about 0.05C but starts in 2001 NOT 2000 when most people would agree this century actually started. Plot it from 2000 and the results show a slight increase in temperature, but it is essentially flat over such a short time scale. What it definitely does NOT show is ‘Global temperatures are declining this century’.

Temperatures this century

Metric 3: Sea level has been declining for several years, and is lower now than it was in 2003

Any real sceptic would have alarm bells ringing at this statement. Why 2003? Is there anything significant about 2003 with regards to sea levels other than that is only as far as Goddard can go back to make such a claim? Apparently not.

But even using Goddard’s own graph it is clear that he isn’t being very honest because sea level in every year since 2003 has been higher than 2003 so where is his claimed 'decline'? The seasonal value he claims is lower in 2011 hasn’t even peaked yet! This is the same as saying 2003 was brighter than 2011 by picking a summer month in 2003 and winter in 2011.

 I suspect that is why he choose Unadjusted data – so seasonal signals were still present – that was the only way he could fudge it to make such a claim. The true state of sea level rise can be found at the CU Sea Level Research Group University of Colorado where it can be summarised on this graph;

Metric 4: Arctic ice extent and area is the highest for the date since 2005

I’m not sure this is actually sensible English but again why pick 2005? Does Goddard really expect any truly sceptical person to accept that significance in scientific terms can be determined over just a few years? But his own submitted graphs don’t even show 2005!

However his own graphs do give away his nonsense yet again, sea ice extent and area for 2011 was below all the years 2007 – 2010 at some time or other during the year, so a similar but opposite claim could be made by cherry picking a particular month. Of course, unlike Goddard, I’m not silly or desperate enough to even suggest that is a valid thing to do as Goddard has done here.

Metric 5: Temperatures in western Greenland last year were the coldest since 1996

This is back to Nuuk Greenland again. As mentioned at the start of this post, the whole Arctic region has undergone an overall warming trend twice the global average, so kudos to Mr Goddard for cherry picking somewhere that apparently goes against the global trend. I’m sure there are other areas but it is GLOBAL Warming that he claims to be reporting on, so why isn’t he? 

 Metric 6: Temperatures in Antarctica have been declining for 30 years

The graph Mr Goddard presents to support this is essentially flat lined but does have a very slight decline that he will want people to believe has the greatest significance because it supports his bias. His actual statement is a half truth. There has been cooling over eastern Antarctica and the Antarctic plateau but warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia. The reasons for this are quite well understood and are covered in research by Thompson and Solomon; Interpretation of Recent Southern Hemisphere Climate Change; and is due to;
the lower stratospheric polar vortex, which are due largely to photochemical ozone losses. During the summer-fall season, the trend toward stronger circumpolar flow has contributed substantially to the observed warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia and to the cooling over eastern Antarctica and the Antarctic plateau’.

Metric 7: Antarctic ice has been increasing for 30 years

Again, Mr Goddard gives us a half truth and fails to provide the context or mention the difference between land and sea ice. Antarctica sea ice IS increasing. The most accepted explanations for this gain are summarised on Skeptical Science and are that Ozone levels over Antarctica have dropped causing stratospheric cooling and increasing winds which lead to more areas of open water that can be frozen (Gillet 2003, Thompson 2002, Turner 2009),  and the Southern Ocean is receiving increased rain, glacial run-off and snowfall, exactly what is expected in a warming world. This changes the composition of the different layers in the ocean there causing less mixing between warm and cold layers and thus less melted sea ice (Zhang 2007).

But Antarctic Land Ice is decreasing and over all ice mass is falling. Not only is Antarctica losing land ice, the ice loss is and every year, the rate of ice loss is increasing by 26 Gigatonnes per year. (Chen 2009)
So no Mr Goddard, Antarctica as a continent has not been increasing in ice mass for 30 years, it is losing it at an accelerating rate.

Metric 8: Winter snow extent is increasing, and has been near record highs in recent years

According Mr Goddard’s graph the trend line does show a slight increase after last years snow. But why cherry pick the winter? Why not the summer? More importantly, why not over all? Well probably because overall it is decreasing not increasing. These graphs are available from Goddard’s same source, Rutgers University Climate lab, and are shown for each season and more importantly overall, below;
snow extent
Graphic from Skeptical Science

Metric 9: Temperatures in Texas show no increase since 1895

If Mr Goddard is talking about Global Warming then why cherry pick Texas? No scientist claimed all areas would show an increase in temperature. Choosing any of the very many places that do show an increase in temperature could be just a valid according to Goddard’s logic, and since globally temperatures have and are increasing there are a lot more of those to choose from. But when I say just as valid, there is no validity in choosing the only locations that confirm what you feverously believe.

Metric 10: Drought in Australia is at historic lows

Here Goddard shows a map of the drought status to make his claim. But showing that current drought conditions are low and after one of the countries wettest years (remember the flooding?) says absolutely nothing about ongoing trends.

The latest statement from the Australian government issued on 5th Jan 2012 says;
“Rainfall in recent months in southwestern Australia has provided some relief to long-term rainfall deficiencies in the area. Whilst there has not been enough rainfall to totally clear long-term deficiencies as reported in the September Drought Statement, rainfall that has been received means that there are currently no short-term deficiencies.”

Metric 11: Drought in the US is well below the mean

Again Goddard cherry picks an image of drought in the US from December last year.

Why not choose a summer month? Why not the whole year?;

Map courtesy of NOAA
 And again this shows nothing of trends. But this also suggests that Goddard expects there should be droughts across the whole United States.
So the whole country isn’t expected to be in drought just the southern, western areas. Guess where the drought is in the chart supplied by Goddard?
The United States Global Research Program also goes on to say;
Those are the trends that Goddard’s Report Card avoid looking at.

Metric 12: Severe tornadoes are on the decline in the US

Again why cherry pick severe tornadoes? Could it be that overall tornadoes are actually increasing?

But even so, the science is still uncertain as to how global warming will affect tornadoes. The IPCC state;
“Since 1920, the number of tornadoes reported annually in the United States has increased by an order of magnitude, but this increase reflects greater effectiveness in collecting tornado reports”
So it is hardly credible for Goddard to use the number of tornadoes as a metric against climate change when there is no scientific consensus on how tornadoes will respond.

Metric 13: US hurricane strikes are on the decline

This as a metric is almost funny except that Mr Goddard really does seem to think that only extreme weather events affecting the US count toward analysis when it comes to global warming. Its a waste of time actually linking to the fact that Hurricanes have increased in number even if that could be down to better reporting. As with tornadoes, there still is no scientific consensus on how Hurricanes will be affected by global warming. The best science suggests that there will not be an increase in hurricane numbers but there could be an increase in stronger ones.  

What the science definitely does not say is that more Hurricanes will strike the United States of America.

This brings me to Goddard next metric.

Metric 14: Intense hurricanes are on the decline

Goddard gives an odd graph apparently plotting some Hurricanes against CO2 levels. Clearly he thinks this is scientifically significant but a real sceptic wouldn’t be so easily convinced because his claim is incorrect by any credible measure I can find. As the link above says, “Several peer-reviewed studies show a clear global trend toward increased intensity of the strongest hurricanes over the past two or three decades”.

Metric 15: Polar Bear​ populations have tripled

On no they haven’t! And some  recent research that Goddard is well aware of says different;
Reviewing the latest information available the PBSG concluded that 1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining.  For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend.”
A breakdown of Polar Bear populations and their status can be found here.

Interestingly, Goddard gives no charts or links as evidence for this claim, but what this research is clear about is that there is no evidence that Polar Bear populations have tripled – or are even increasing.

Metric 16: Yellowstone Grizzly Bear populations have tripled

I can’t remember seeing anywhere on the news that climate change scientists claimed Grizzly Bear populations would decline (or stay stable) by now, and this would be proof of man made climate change. Although Goddard gives no reference for his claim,  bear numbers have increased over the last 20years or so to over 500, hardly the largest gene pool, and this has been due to management based on intensive monitoring of the population. Call me a silly sceptic but I’d like to know why Goddard thinks this disproves climate change.

Googling does reveal that there are concerns for the future Grizzlies and their ongoing habitat changes;
Grizzlies gorge on highly nutritious seeds in the cones of whitebark pines. Studies show the nutlike edibles are important in producing healthier, fatter bears and larger numbers of cubs. In addition, because whitebark grow on remote mountain ridgelines, their location draws foraging bears away from places where people live.
However, within the past decade, an outbreak of mountain pine beetles and a disease called blister rust have decimated the whitebark pine forest. Aerial surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of whitebark trees are now dead or dying.
Experts blame warmer temperatures with hastening the spread of beetles that otherwise would be beaten back by cold winters. They say the die-off is unprecedented, prompting an effort to have whitebark itself put on the federal protected list.”

But no where does anything suggest the damage to whitebark trees would have reversed the effects of the intensive management of these bears in Yellowstone park by this year.

Metric 17: USHCN raw thermometer data shows that the US has been cooling since 1895

This is clearly a very specific and obviously cherry picked claim. Strangely the US chart Goddard gives is strikingly different from the one in the link he claims it comes from.

Spot the difference!  - The left chart appears on Real Science to prove the US has been cooling. The Right chart is the actual one it claims to be!
Here it looks like Goddard has shamelessly and dishonestly doctored it (or got it from someone else without checking) by colouring every thing not showing a temperature increase bright blue.
Nowhere in the text of the link supplied can I find any evidence to support Goddard’s claim that ‘the US has been cooling since 1895’.

Metric 18: The ten deadliest floods in history all occurred with CO2 below 350 ppm

This is another silly metric, and a claim not supported with any evidence. Goddard may be correct but no one with any scientific understanding would try to directly correlate the two values unless they were deliberately trying to insinuate something that isn’t credibly supported by the data. A real sceptic would need to understand how flood defence management and modern prediction and warning systems could be factored in. The simple fact is that rising sea levels and increased moisture in the atmosphere must increase the risk of flooding regardless of how deadly historical floods have been.
Just silly!

Metric 19: The deadliest US hurricane, the most powerful US hurricane, and the deadliest US tornado all occurred with CO2 below 350 ppm

The silliness is repeated again with this ‘metric along with the idea that only the United States matters. Have modern prediction, detection and warning saved no lives?

Report Card on Steven Goddard
Steven Goddard’s Global Warming Report gets a ‘C’ for effort. It would have been higher if his cherry picking and silly metrics hadn’t been so obviously trying to mislead. By choosing his own measures, that no one in the scientific community uses to track climate change, shows either a personal ignorance of science or an attempt to mislead his readership. Unfortunately by the looks of his comments most of his readership are gullible enough not to be sceptical when it sound like something they want to hear. Overall he has to get an ‘F’ for  EPIC FAIL.
Note: I make no claims to have any great scientific understanding; I just accept the scientific evidence and consensus. So I would encourage anyone to improve this post by commenting with possible edits to correct, clarify or use better sources than I have, particularly If I have not been fair with Steven Goddard’s post. Consider this an open document which I will correct or improve if required.

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