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Comments 1 to 50:

  1. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    NecktopPC - See Does cold weather disprove global warming? The answer is No. Short term weather is not climate, and if you are arguing that the variation of a cold week disproves long term trends, you are simply wrong. Rather, you are just repeating earlier red herrings.

  2. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    The general theme over the next few days will be for things to get a bit colder, more in keeping with the season - temperatures will drop to around six degrees over the next few days, with the prospect of London and the south east being struck by the occasional snow flurry.

    2010: Coldest December since 1890. Average UK temperature of -0.7°C, although parts of Scotland were far colder at -21.3°C URL

    London weather: Capital set for cold snap as Arctic blasts hit the UK

    The unseasonably warm winter will take a dramatic cold turn as maximum temperatures fall from 11 degrees to a maximum of 5 over the next week. URL

    And the temperature today is at 6 degrees C and it is forecast to be -1 on Tuesday - URL

    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Since this site is about climate not weather, papers about trends, comparisons of hot records versus cold records and so on are relevant. Weather reports are not, nor are they on topic. 

  3. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    JH@25. I am sorry for the sloganeering it was out of order.


    mancan18 @26 You comment "My main concern comes from observing Government cost cutting measures over the last 40 years. It seems that every time a Government saving has to be made, it seems that science always cops more than its fair share."


    Agreed. I think that many Australians and indeed many people in other countries, know very little about science, don't understand science and it doesn't play much of a part in their lives. For example, the comment "Oh. I'm hopeless at maths" is not uncommon. People seem quite OK with that but not with saying "Oh I'm hopeless at reading" as most are ashamed of not being able to read. That, I think, sums up the attitude of most to science, it is something they don't mind admitting they know little about. Governments therefore feel that as the populace, in the main, doesn't much care about science, chopping science budgets is a lot more politically acceptable than, say, increasing the GST or introducing a co-payment to the GP.

  4. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Further on staff levels in the two units, my reasonable conjecture that they had 140 staff (based on an approximate reasonable estimate of similar value plus the fact that the number came from somewhere) is confirmed in this article, which says:

    "In a letter that was also sent to the CSIRO's board and chief executive Larry Marshall, the 2900 researchers said the decision to cut 100 full-time positions out of about 140 staff from two units of the Oceans and Atmospheric division "alarmed the global research community"."

    (My emphasis)

    Again, Dr Marshall appears to be guilty of deliberate misdirection in discussing the staffing numbers of the Oceans and Atmosphere division, most of whose units will not experience cuts, rather than the staffing numbers of the two divisions which will experience 100 cuts and which focus on climate research.  That is a cut of approximately 70% of the climate reasearch staff of the CSIRO.

  5. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Further update:  I turns out that the savage cuts to research under Tony Abbott are just about to have their largest impact.  The impact was delayed because of the number of scientists on short term contracts.  This appears to be a case of the Liberal's war on science.

  6. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    ryland @25, if your charge is that Dr Marshall has not properly detailed his plans so that I lack essential knowledge on the issue, well then I agree.

    If your charge is that my 'speculation' was no more than that, you are wrong.  First, contrary to your implication, I have not speculated that RV Investigator will wind up climate research.  Or that the ARGO float program will continue its current rate of deployment.  I have merely pointed out that we have no specific assurance on these points, and that therefore Dr Marshall's "assurances" have not been to the point.  Second, even on that limited basis, my querying as to whether Dr Marshall's "assurances" have been sufficiently informative to actually reassure have been based on fact.

    Take the RV Investigator.  It was recently hired out to oil and gas companies because government funding of the ship was limited to 180 days of the year.  While concurrent research in addition to the oil exploration was conducted, that research was restricted to ecological research, as mentioned in the above article.  For a voyage commenced in November last year (possibly that above if delayed, or possibly a follow on voyage), research was again restricted to ecological research.  That RV Investigator conducts voyages in which climate research is not undertaken is a fact.  Not speculation.  Therefore Marshall's assurance that "The RV Investigator, operated by CSIRO for scientists from Australia and around the world as a state of the art research facility will continue to operate scientific voyages, gathering data every day at sea" provides no assurance of continued climate research by RV Investigator.  It may, under Marshall's plans - but the evidence for that has simply not been provided.

    Or consider the number of staff cut.  We are told that 100 of the 350 overall cuts will be from just two sections of Ocean and Atmosphere, the two most closely involved with climate research.  The sections of Ocean and Atmosphere are:

    • Coastal Development and Management
    • Earth System Assessment
    • Engineering and Technology
    • Ocean and Climate Dynamics
    • Marine Resources and Industries 

    Of these, Earth System Assessment and Ocean and Climate Dynamics are the most closely entwined with climate research.  I do not have direct figures for the number of staff in each, but across all five there are 420 staff.  If they are evenly divided, that means there are 168 staff in those two divisions, a calculation that ignores the number of administrative staff.  So on those figures, we are looking at a 60% cut in the climate related research, although it is probably higher than that.  That is a lot more than the 24% you would estimate from the figure actually given by Dr Marshall.

    Unless we think the other three divisions are mere cyphers, there is no shadow of a doubt that Dr Marshall has deliberately concealed the impact of the cuts by quoting the larger, irrelevant figure rather than the current staffing levels of the two divisions that will actually experience the cuts.

    Finally, with regard to the computer model, if Dr Marshall was leaving a sufficient staff to appropriately update the model, it would have been irrelevant to his point that the model was open source.  That he thought it was, and defended the cuts on that basis makes it plain that he does not envisage more than a skeleton staff maintaining the software, and therefore more than staffing levels required to keep the model up to date.

  7. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Ryland thank you for your detailed response. My main concern comes from observing Government cost cutting measures over the last 40 years. It seems that every time a Government saving has to be made, it seems that science always cops more than its fair share. It also appears that due to the change in funding emphasis over the years, that Australia has difficulty retaining scientific expertise and attracting new expertise. I would like to see guaranteed science funding for independent scientific research based on a fixed percentage of GDP and the CPI, with scientists managing it and determine the science programs that are important and that need continued funding. I was a mathematics educator with qualifications in economics (albeit a long time ago), so I haven't had to apply for grants, but I have seen the impact that unilateral funding cuts can have where managers have had to cut important programs that they still see as important, just not as important as others deemed to be worthy of continued funding. Of course there is little point in Australia entirely duplicating everthing that is done overseas, it couldn't afford to anyway. However, it is important that Australia retains its standing within the international scientific community, but to me, it does not appear to be at the forefront like it used to be.

  8. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    mancan18@24.  I've been a practising laboratory based scientist for over 30 years running research programs, supervising PhD students and applying for grants, so I'm acutely aware of the problems with funding in science.  What I find amazing about the proposed changes at CSIRO is the attitude that if these changes occur the study of climate science as we know it will cease to exist.  

    You say "For our viability into the future, it is important for us to know what that scientific reality is."  

    Just because there will be a cut to the climate science research at CSIRO does not mean that Australia will not know what that scientific reality is.  For example it has been said that a reduction in CSIRO climate scientists will impinge on Australia's ability to monitor sea level change which in turn will mean developers won't have the information necessary for projects that are close to the sea.  As NOAA has just launched the Jason-3 satellite which according to  NOAA "will be able to detect changes in sea level height down to the millimeter" and "help us to track global sea level rise, an increasing threat to the resilience of coastal communities and to the health of our environment." it seems even if CSIRO no longer measures sea level change, developers can still get information appropriate for their needs.

    In the supplemental reading provided by John Hartz at 17 it is said:

    "Funding and job cuts at Australia's climate change research body could undermine the country's goal of dominating the Asian premium food market by placing farmers at a disadvantage to U.S. and European competitors.

    Australia's extreme weather means farmers rely heavily on climate change forecasts from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to mitigate the impact of bushfires, cyclones and droughts.

    "In the next 30 years we will need to alter our farming habits due to rainfall, heat, drought, soil moisture. Australian farmers need the best data and predictions," said former chief of CSIRO marine research Tony Haymet.

    Without such data, Haymet said Australia and its farmers will be "at a disadvantage in the long run". 

    Surely the prime need for farmers "to mitigate the impact of bushfires, cyclones and droughts" is information on short term weather forecasts from BoM not long term climate change forecasts from CSIRO.

    Isn't the alteration of farming habits in the next 30 years exactly what is proposed by Dr Marshall in looking at ways Australia can adapt to climate change?  As for information on rainfall, heat, drought soil moisture all this is obtainable from sources other than CSIRO.  

  9. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Tom Curtis @ 23.   Unlike mancan@18 I am surprised at the unusual amount of speculation and supposition in your discussion.  I too read the SMH but I also read the Australian and trust neither to give a totally unbiased report. You express reservations on the statements made by Dr Marshall on staff cuts, the RV, Argo and the climate models that have no basis in fact.  They are in fact pure speculation

    On RV Dr Marshall stated:"The second area of correction is our ability to support climate measurement in Australia. Cape Grim and RV Investigator are not under threat from these changes."Your interpretation is:"RV Investigator is a multi-function research vessel and can continue its voyages very easilly without any research on climate (focussing instead on ecology, for instance)". What evidence have you that any of this will occur?  As far as I can determine it is again speculation with no basis in fact

    On Argo, Dr Marshall: :We will also continue our contribution to the international Argo floats program which provides thousands of data points for temperature and salinity of our oceans; and we’ll be investing more in autonomous vehicles, using innovation to collect more data than ever before."

    Your comment is : "Nor does a continued contribution to the Argo floats program assure us that the level of contribution will remain the same."

    Any evidence that it won't? Marshall certainly gives no indication it will be changed. He specifically states "we'll be investing more".

    On climate models Dr Marshall states:"Our climate models have long been and will continue to be available to any researcher and we will work with our stakeholders to develop a transition plan to achieve this."

    You say "the phrasing of the assurance regarding the climate model suggests that it will not be used by CSIRO researchers, merely that it will be available to others (of which more later). More important, it contains no assurance of the continued development and testing of the model, without which it will be obsolete in 4-5 years."

    This is purely your interpretation of Marshall's phrasing.  Another interpretation could well be  "that as the statement says models will continue to be available etc, these models will be fit for purpose".  

    On the staff cutting to which you refer Dr Marshall said: "In our Oceans and Atmosphere business we have about 420 staff, not 140 as reported by some media, and after these changes we expect to have about 355, contrary to media reports."

    Your comment "This, however, seems like misdirection to me. Specifically, the 100 full time positions lost from the Oceans and Atmosphere section will be lost from just two out of five units. The question is, how many staff are their in the two units that will sustain the losses? Larry Marshall does not answer, and the answer is probably 140". "

    "Seems like misdirection to me" is a purely subjective assessment with no apparent basis in fact Why is there "probably 140"? That number is specifically referred to by Dr Marshall as being incorrect.  

    In conclusion, why is the climate science community, of which SkS is certainly a member, so vehemently hostile to any actions it considers a threat to its beliefs and activities?  The furore  the appointment of Bjorn  Lomborg generated and the current hand wringing and prophecies of doom about proposed cuts at CSIRO epitomise the "to the ramparts" attitude of the climate science community at anything it perceives a threat to its beliefs and importance.  To the unbiased observer this could appear to be more like knee jerk paranoia than anything else.

    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Slogannering is prohibited by the SkS Comments Policy.

  10. No climate conspiracy: NOAA temperature adjustments bring data closer to pristine

    The graph below shows two interesting things:

    1. Nearby weather stations usually have an almost identical temperature trend, which is very useful when homogenizing temperature records.
    2. The Norwegian meteorological institute (DNMI) has obviously done a good job when adjusting the Oslo record to remove the effect from UHI. If not, it would show a stronger warming trend than the two other stations.

    Climate trend in south-eastern Norway

    Færder is a lighthouse located in the outer Oslofjord, about 100 km south of Oslo. Nesbyen is a village in the Hallingdalen valley, about 120 km northwest of Oslo. It’s known for its high summer temperatures, but has much colder winters than Oslo and Færder.
    I considered including Stockholm in Sweden too (about 400 km east of Oslo), but it would make the graph seem quite cluttered since Stockholm’s absolute temperature and trend is almost identical to Oslo’s.

  11. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Tom Curtis, thanks for your extensive comments. They are illuminating as your comments always are. I was not aware of how the CSIRO is managed. I am well aware that Labor, as well as the LNP, do not always see science as a funding priority and are happy to make funding cuts whenever they feel it is necessary. Personally, I think that independent scientific research should be funded as a fixed percentage of GDP and it should be related to the CPI to guarantee that funding. What level that the funding should be is, of course, an open question. However, it should be at least comparable to our OECD partners. Also, I don't think that independent science research can be easily privatised in Australia without the integrity of the science being compromised at times. This is because Australia does not have a history of the extensive philanthropic funding of science that some other countries have. Nor does it have the extensive high tech arms industry of our allies which attracts some of their Government funded scientific research. This is and has always been the problem of properly funding science in Australia. Certain appropriate funding would ensure that our best minds are attracted to science in Australia, remain in Australia and are gainfully employed, after all, science, while the short term dividend is not always clear, is the great multiplier that has driven the evolution of our high tech modern society and is needed to protect it.

    Ryland, accounting and scientific reality are always fair for comparison. It is the money provided that determines the science that is studied. The scientific reality will stay the same whether it is studied or not. It's just that we may not know what it is. For our viability into the future, it is important for us to know what that scientific reality is. Ultimately, the money for science is usually allocated by people who have qualifications in business administration, economics, finance, the law or in marketing. While our scientific organisations are normally managed by people with a scientific background, not many outside these scientific organisations, such as our politicians and Treasury, who are the ultimate arbiters of funding science, do not have a scientific background and necessarily understand its needs and nature. So when they decide on a funding cut, it is the managers of scientific organisations who have to curtail scientific programs, not the people who have decided to cut funding. Not many people go into science for the money. They go into it because they are curious and just want to know what is happening and how it happens. If they happen to make a lot of money out of it, is merely coincidental. Science does not always pay a short term dividend in the economic sense, but it does tend to pay a huge long term dividend from which the whole of society benefits. Climate science is about the long term dividend of protecting our world and should be properly funded. It is not about either-or it is about doing both.

  12. The new age of climate exploration

    Thank you for the article. I even went to the "optomist/pessimist" cite that you linked. And....this may put me in the pessimist camp but - as far as I am aware there are abosultely none - zero - financial sanctions or penalties connected to NOT honoring the commitments made in Paris. Without agreed upon and 'hammered out in iron' economic penalties for nations opting out, I see this entire 'accord' as simply fantasy. I dearly hope that events on the ground prove me wrong. If they do, I shall be quite surprised. (see, for example, the U.S. Supreme court just blocking the one and only climate policy with some actual teeth that Obama put out - and the obstructionists in Congress and the courts are not going away anytime soon).  

  13. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    NecktopPC - A Guilt by Association fallacy (perhaps better described as Poisoning the Well) is your response to Abu-Asab et al 2001? That's no argument at all. And linking only the current bloom schedule is a red herring - the opening post is about climate trends.

    If you have genuine issues with that Abu-Asad et al's methodology (which is quite simple, really) or their conclusions (difficult to see how, simple statistics), preferrably supported by some published literature, great, it might be interesting to discuss. The same goes for growth regions published by the USDA - I'm sure farmers would love to avoid changing crops due to shifting hardiness zones, and would eagerly await actual evidence for climate stability. 

    However, throwing out nothing but logical fallacies seems to indicate you have no actual evidence backing your posts. 

     

  14. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    KR - There are some in the scientific community that do not hold Springer in high esteem; claiming that the "journal has published some real gems."

    RE: "The times, and the plant zones, they are a-changing."

    Here is a Blooming schedule: http://www.nps.gov/chbl/cherry-blossom-bloom.htm

  15. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Further information, and comments.

    First, Larry Marshall clarified the restructure on Monday 8th here.  Amongst other things he said:

    "In our Oceans and Atmosphere business we have about 420 staff, not 140 as reported by some media, and after these changes we expect to have about 355, contrary to media reports. We asked business unit leaders to focus their operational plans on growth, and growth within finite resources will always initially lead to making choices about what to exit. However, as painful as any redundancy is, for the majority of the 5,200 CSIRO employees there will be no change to their current circumstances as a result of these plans, and we will also recruit new people with new skills."

    This, however, seems like misdirection to me.  Specifically, the 100 full time positions lost from the Oceans and Atmosphere section will be lost from just two out of five units.  Both are heavilly focussed on climate research.  The question is, how many staff are their in the two units that will sustain the losses?  Larry Marshall does not answer, and the answer it probably 140.  Marshall merely distracts us by inflating the denominator.

    Marshall goes on:

    "The second area of correction is our ability to support climate measurement in Australia. Cape Grim and RV Investigator are not under threat from these changes. The Cape Grim air pollution monitoring station which is a source of much of our greenhouse gas information will continue to be that source. Our climate models have long been and will continue to be available to any researcher and we will work with our stakeholders to develop a transition plan to achieve this. The RV Investigator, operated by CSIRO for scientists from Australia and around the world as a state of the art research facility will continue to operate scientific voyages, gathering data every day at sea. We also have an air archive which is a resource available to any researcher to investigate air changes over time. We will also continue our contribution to the international Argo floats program which provides thousands of datapoints for temperature and salinity of our oceans; and we’ll be investing more in autonomous vehicles, using innovation to collect more data than ever before."

    While happy to hear that Cape Grim will survive, I am less than sanguine about the other reassurances.  RV Investigator is a multi-function research vessel and can continue its voyages very easilly without any research on climate (focussing instead on ecology, for instance).  Nor does a continued contribution to the Argo floats program assure us that the level of contribution will remain the same.  Finally, the phrasing of the assurance regarding the climate model suggests that it will not be used by CSIRO researchers, merely that it will be available to others (of which more later).  More important, it contains no assurance of the continued development and testing of the model, without which it will be obsolete in 4-5 years.

    Ryland above reffers us to the Senate Estimates hearings, for which (unfortunately) a transcript is not yet available.  The SMH, however, reported on the hearings.  From them we learn that:

    1)  An original document planning this restructuring indicated the need for the loss of only 35 positions from Ocean and Atmosphere, which can reasonably be taken as the number of cuts necessary to impliment the restructure without loss of significant, relevant capacity.  Apparently the increase from 35 to 100 positions was a top down position made without familiarity with the research being cut.

    '"Those numbers of 100 are very round," said one senior researcher, who had watched the live stream of the hearing and whose work may face the chop. "What was the rationale for coming up with them? We still don't know."'

    2)  The board was told of the level of cuts involved in the restructure just two days before the public announcement.  From that it is clear that this was not a decision made in consultation with the board, and ergo also not a decision whose rational has been tested by independent scrutiny.

    3)  The executives making the decision had not adequately informed themselves of the details of the operations and research they were cutting.  This is evident in their having made several errors about that research in responding to Senate Estimates.  In particular:

    "For instance, they initially said the key Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model jointly worked on by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO was "open-sourced", allowing for wide-ranging contributions that might offer the opportunity for savings."

    A belief that the software was open access may well have contributed to a belief that the CSIRO "climate models have long been and will continue to be available to any researcher" even while cutting the staff that operate those models (see Marshall's clarrification, and discussion above).

    This is fairly crucial in that Senate Estimates is the only indepedant scrutiny of the suitability of the restructure, and for the exectives to not have the basic facts underlying the restructure at their fingertips for Senate Estimates shows the numbers were chosen independent of an actual analysis of the number of staff needed to be retained for the capability Marshall claims will be maintained.  His clarrification is therefore revealed more as a statement of faith than something of which he can genuinely reassure us based on analysis.  Worse, his faith inflated by a factor of three the number of cuts an actual analysis showed to be appropriate.

  16. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    mancan18@18  Your comment "It seems that the economic rationalist LNP Australian Government wants to embrace fund cutting policies that reduce the level of scientific expertise in Australia while at the same time beating the mantra of innovation."  The cuts to the CSIRO were under the aegis of Tony Abbott.  The "mantra of innovation"  is from Turnbull.  

    Compare like with like?

    Your obsdervation "But then again, it's all about the accounting, not the scientific reality."is equally applicable to the personnel changes at CSIRO. However at today's Senate hearing the CEO of CSIRO said ""that CSIRO would ensure "vital" modelling and monitoring of climate change would continue.".

    Is all this angst premature?

  17. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    On the same topic, funglestrumpet @16, it is very dubious that the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer has much direct influence on the Treasury Department of the Commonwealth of Australia, or the Treasurer in the Australian Government.  Given the details @19, the idea that this redeployment of CSIRO resources results from the undue influence of Lawson in UK politics is not credible.

    For deniers as for supporters of science, this came as a bolt of lightning out of the blue.  The only difference is that they while they celebrate the loss of fundamental research on climate, supporters of science regret it.

  18. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Tom Curtis @19 I'm in the process of replying to your earlier comments but I was so taken with your comprehensive and even handed  reply to mancan18, to whom I am also crafting a reply,  that I had to send this immediately 

  19. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    mancan @18, your comment is excellent all round.  However, it does seem to attribute the current changes to the CSIRO to the government.

    As it happen, the chief executive of the CSIRO is not appointed directly by government, but by the board of the CSIRO.  The Chairman of the Board at the time this was done was, Simon McKeon, was appointed by a Labor government.  He raised ire among deniers by his attitude towards Climate Change:

    "Despite admitting he has "no scientific pedigree", Mr McKeon says he wants to see the issue of climate change elevated to the top of the political and public agenda.

    "We may not have all the answers to what is occurring, we may not have certainly all the solutions to how to fix it," he said.

    "But the point is, why wouldn't one take out very strong insurance to at least do what we can to future-proof our well-being? I think it's a no-brainer.""

    Even today, nearly half of the board are Labor appointees, and at the time of appointment of Larry Marshall, the majority would have been.

    As tempting as it might be to suppose this is an act of the government, it is not.  It is the act of an independent manager of the CSIRO, of whom there is no reason to think that he is a denier or influenced by deniers.

    There is a contradiction between Prime Minister Turnbull's supposed commitment to innovation and his not reversing Abbott's cuts to the CSIRO - but this decision is not a direct reflection of that contradiction.

  20. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Because of these cuts, there will also be a loss of corporate knowledge at the CSIRO. This loss of knowledge and expertise is, justifiably, of concern. Science is a collegiate profession which grows through interaction between scientists, not from scientists just working independent of each other. Change and renewal in collegiate professions should be a gradual process that occurs from the bottom upwards, not from the top downwards otherwise there will be a loss of corporate knowledge. New people coming to the organisation bring new knowledge and those already there bring experience that can best utilise that new knowledge. The modern management practices that have evolved in an age of economic rationalism and neoconservative politics don't seem to account for the nature of collegiate professions. I am a retired educator and have seen the impact and loss of expertise that can occur from gutting from the top rather than renewing from the bottom.

    Another factor is that not all the climate scientists who have been at the forefront of climate reasearch in Australia can be necessarily redeployed elsewhere. Their expertise may not easily translate to a different discipline or emphasis. While the CSIRO should not be a welfare agency for scientists who no longer have experise that is relevant to their research, it is not as if the nature of the climate system and the Earth as a global ecosystem is fully understood yet. While the debate has been essentially won in scientific circles, it is not as if the debate has been fully won with the wider community. Reducing the climate science expertise of the CSIRO may also make it easier for climate deniers to continue to cast doubt because as the integrity of independent science is being undermined by reduced funding, corporate funding of vested interest "science" will most likely rise in response to a wider public acceptance of the science. After all funding climate science denial is more a delaying tactic to continue to exploit, what is now, a dwindling dirty resource for a technologically outdated industry. 

    Also, it seems strange that the Australia Government is happy to fund laboratories to assess whether products meet Australian safety and health standards, even though there are many other assessment laboratories in other countries. I would have thought that studying the climate would be a similar, unless of course the Government doesn't think there are safety and health issues related to a changing climate.

    It seems that the economic rationalist LNP Australian Government wants to embrace fund cutting policies that reduce the level of scientific expertise in Australia while at the same time beating the mantra of innovation. It's a bit like their Direct Action climate change policy, funding to reduce emissions while allowing increased emissions. But then again, it's all about the accounting, not the scientific reality.

  21. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    Howard Lee

    The current thinking is that the PETM is not likely an orbitally forced event even if some of the subsequent hyperthermals may have been.

    Yes, and I should have been clear about this. I mentioned DeConto because I'd implied that the PETM wasn't orbitally triggered and didn't want to create the impression that nobody had argued otherwise.

  22. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    NecktopPC - Yes, there is yearly and even decadal variation in flowering times everywhere. However, there is also a distinct and statistically significant trend in earlier and earlier blooming, in pole-ward shifting of plant hardiness zones, and claiming it's all due to short term variation is quite frankly nonsense. 

    Just from my region, see Abu-Asab et al 2001, "Earlier plant flowering in spring as a response to global warming in the Washington, DC, area", noting that those times "...show a significant advance of 2.4 days over a 30-year period [...] Advances of first-flowering in these 89 species are directly correlated with local increase in minimum temperature."

    Also see Chung et al 2011, "Predicting the Timing of Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic States in Response to Climate Change", noting that "Our results indicate that PBD [Peak Bloom Dates] at the Tidal Basin are likely to be accelerated by an average of five days by 2050 and 10 days by 2080 for these cultivars under a mid-range (A1B) emissions scenario."

    The times, and the plant zones, they are a-changing. Handwaving like yours doesn't change that. 

  23. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    To be clear Both Zeebe's and the Kirtland Turner & Ridgwell study are talking about the initial warming of the PETM and the initial pulse of carbon that caused it.

    The current thinking is that the PETM is not likely an orbitally forced event even if some of the subsequent hyperthermals may have been. I covered that in an article in 2014 here.

    There's very strong evidence for intense volcanic activity associated with the North Atlantic Igneous Province (yes yet another Large Igneous Province associated with a warming event) ocurring at exactly the time of the PETM, See:

    Zircon dating ties NE Atlantic sill emplacement to initial Eocene global warming

    These papers are also relevant:

    Two LIPs and two Earth-system crises: the impact of the North Atlantic Igneous Province and the Siberian Traps on the Earth-surface carbon cycle

    Evidence for weathering and volcanism during the PETM from Arctic Ocean and Peri-Tethys osmium isotope records

    Large igneous provinces and mass extinctions: An update

    Development of intra-basaltic lava-field drainage systems within the Faroe–Shetland Basin

    Diachronous sub-volcanic intrusion along deep-water margins: insights from the Irish Rockall Basin

    Kimberlite eruptions as triggers for early Cenozoic hyperthermals

     

    However, from an isotope signature point of view the methane hydrate source works according to Zeebe, who told me: " I’m still convinced that this methane hydrate hypothesis is working very well in terms of total amount of carbon and in terms of the isotopic signature that we see. I think there is evidence that there could be mud volcanoes in the North Atlantic that could have contributed exactly to methane release during the PETM."

    Whereas Ridgwell told me: " It seems it’s all around the time of a lot of enhanced volcanism going on in the North Atlantic and people have suggested, and I’m coming around to the importance of this, of a particular episode of quite extensive volcanism happening in the North Atlantic just at the time of the PETM. So it seems that maybe [the PETM] is a little bit like some of these older events."

  24. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    Sorry, DeConto et al. (2012).

  25. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    I should have added that there is a hypothesis (DeConto et al. 2010) that orbital forcing triggered the PETM. There is an SkS article about the DeConto study here.

  26. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    #1 SteveFunk

    I think it's true that CO2 (and CH4) are considered to be feedbacks to orbitally-forced warming (Milankovitch forcing) that is widely regarded as the trigger for Pleistocene deglaciations. In the case of the PETM and other Cenozoic hyperthermals, the CO2 may be the initial cause, so it would be treated as a forcing rather than a feedback. If there was a subsequent large release of CH4 from clathrates, it would be reasonable to treat that as a feedback to the original increase in CO2 forcing.

  27. Onset of Eocene Warming Event took 3-4 millennia (so what we’re doing is unprecedented in 66 million years)

    What I have always read is that previous warmings were originally caused by other factors but were amplified over time by CO2 as a feedback mechanism.  So Zeebe's study does not appear to answer the question of how long it took to establish the original warming  or what the magnitude of the original warming was relative to the CO2 feedback. 

  28. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Supplemental reading:

    Funding and job cuts at Australia's climate change research body could undermine the country's goal of dominating the Asian premium food market by placing farmers at a disadvantage to U.S. and European competitors.

    Australia's extreme weather means farmers rely heavily on climate change forecasts from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to mitigate the impact of bushfires, cyclones and droughts.

    "In the next 30 years we will need to alter our farming habits due to rainfall, heat, drought, soil moisture. Australian farmers need the best data and predictions," said former chief of CSIRO marine research Tony Haymet.

    Without such data, Haymet said Australia and its farmers will be "at a disadvantage in the long run".

    Thousands of international climate scientists signed a protest letter over the job losses, saying: "If these climate science research cuts at CSIRO proceed without being filled elsewhere, then Australia will not develop its capability to assess the accelerating risks associated with climate change".

    Australian cuts to climate change research may hit drive into Asia by Jarni Blakkarly, Reuters, Feb 10, 2016

  29. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    I would not be in the least surprised if a certain Nigel Lawson were not to be found at, or very nearby, the root of all this. He is, after all, the nost experienced Conservative ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer whom inexperienced Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, has access to.

  30. One Planet Only Forever at 00:55 AM on 12 February 2016
    No climate conspiracy: NOAA temperature adjustments bring data closer to pristine

    @23,

    What is despicable is all the smart fortunate people willing to develop and pitch the deliberately misleading marketing.

    The misuse of the powerful science of marketing has been far more damaging than the misuse of nuclear science to make weapons (misleading marketing can even be seen to have contribted to the efforts to justify the 'live testing' of the two different types of nuclear bombs the US had developed).

    Misleading marketing creating and appealing to personal desires, winning over thoughtful conscientious responsible thinking, is the reason for the growth and prolonging of every pursuit of profit that was able to be made popular in spite of it not having been proven to be providing a lasting benefit for all of humanity. It is also the (lack of ) reason behind almost every violent conflict (most of which can clearly be seen to be illigitimate grabs at wealth and power for the benefit of only a portion of humanity, sold as things like "Defense of Freedom, or Defense of Religion" ... when in reality the promoters of the conflicts are fully aware that they are Offensive).

    The greatest threat to humanity is "Misleading Marketing".

  31. Daffodils in bloom, the warmest ever December: how worrying is the world’s strange weather?

    "Daffodils in Bloom"

    This has happened before, and especially before all the noteriety regarding global warming. Quite often there may be a warm spell and trees start to bud early, and it gets cold again and the buds die and the tree will bud again, when the buds will sustain.

    One needs to realize, that there are several regions of the United Kingdom, which exist, and have done so for many, many, years, in a Sub Tropical Cimate. There are Palm Trees, and other such 'flora', which is endemic to the United Kingdom - thanks in part to the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift.

    There will be more daddodils to come; in March or April, they will bloom again, just as they have before.

  32. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    ryland @13, John Church and Neil White (both with the CSIRO) are among the foremost experts on sea level rise, which is a very closely related field to that of ocean heat content.  The CSIRO's observatory at Cape Grim is probably the leading southern hemisphere observatory of CO2 and other trace gas concentrations.  It is certainly used by NOAA in developing its global average from measurements in a range of latitudes.

    Both groups are in the area lined up for the most cuts, and have work very closely identified with the criteria of what the CSIRO will apparently no longer do.  Further, given cuts to US research, that (for example) has meant even Mauna Loa has had to resort to crowd funding to maintain its CO2 observations, the assumption that we can casually dispose of Cape Grim is absurd.

    That raises the additional point that the willingness of conservative governments in the US and Canada to shoot the messenger on global warming be defunding science (and in Canada's case, defunding the keeping of scientific data), the assumption that Australian's contribution is now redundant is absurd.

  33. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    bozza @various, I will not go into details because it is off topic, and politics to boot; but I agree with Ryland that Abbots 'captain's pick' of a new Lomborg center in Australia had no bearing on his dismissal.

    ryland @12, as it happens, research into the link between smoking and cancer continues apace.  That is because, the link between smoking and lung cancer is statistically well established, but there are less obvious links with other forms of cancer, but also, because the link between smoking and cancer was established statistically, the exact causal relationship between smoking and cancer has not been established.  Therefore crucial research remains to be done which will help in the treating of smoking caused cancers.

    In climate science, although the causal link between anthropogenic emissions and global warming is settled science, the exact value of climate sensitivity, the specific effect of clouds as a feedback, and in interaction with aerosols, are only roughly constrained.  Further, the process of downscaling model predictions so that predictions at a resolution useful to planners is still in its infancy.  Finally, until we have super computers several thousand times faster than the current crop, single model large ensemble experiments are not realistic.  Until we can do those, however, we cannot make significant progress in determining which are the more accurate models, and rely on an ensemble of model predictions to determine error ranges on predictions.  The CSIRO runs a key model in that ensemble, and its loss would significantly impact the quality of model predictions.

    These are issues quite apart from the obvious point that you cannot assess effectiveness of mitigation without the observational measures that were used to discover that mitigation is necessary.  I am sure experts in the various fields could think of more relevant factors.

    Please note that I do not object to the CSIRO changing its focus.  Had an announcement been made that 30 positions would be lost from current climate research to start increasing CSIRO research on mitigation (which already exists), nobody would have batted an eyelid.  What has me outraged is the blind managerialism that first determines on vague mantras "we need renewal" how many cuts will be made without, in the first instance, determining which particular research activities are currently productive, and will be into the future; and which are not.

  34. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    BeerbelW@11.  Sorry but I didn't see your post before I posted at 12.  With regards to measurements of CO2 concentration and ocean heat, I don't think CSIRO climate scientists were to the fore in either.  

  35. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    After a scan of the internet I can't find much coverage of the CSIRO decision to dismiss/redeploy/give teduncancy to 350 climate scientists. apart from a piece in The Guardian reporting that 600+ scientists from around the worldd have signed a circulatiing letter of protest.  Is the fuss in Australia just a storm in a parochial teacup?  Just what is it that climate scientists at CSIRO do that isn't or can't be peplicated elsewhere in the world? The link between smoking and cancer is unequivocally proven and there is little if any research focussed on proving that link so is there need to focus on the association between CO2 and climate change as that link icnsidered settled?  It seems sensible to say well climate change is here its not going to go away let's see what we can do to mitigate/ameliorate/adapt our lifestyles to its effects.  The focus now isn't on the link between smoking and cancer but on how to better diagnose and traet cancer caused by smoking or due to other causes.  Why not for climate change ?

  36. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Doing work on mitigation & adaptation is neccessary but it needs to be done in addition to and not instead of basic climate research. If you no longer collect the basic data like CO2 concentrations or ocean heat how will you ever be able to know that what you do for mitigation actually has the desired effect or that any adaptation will really help?

  37. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Put the the Bjorn Lomberg episode into context.  Nowshere near the level of knghting Prince Philip and  it doesn't figure in any of the lists sof his gaffes and blunders.  

  38. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    (@ ryland, I claim poetic liscence: sorry! No, but seriously...)

    I find the truth to be: he had no moral authority as perceived from multiple angles. He was told to change, yes, but I do declare that the seemingly overly-authoritative promotion of propaganda to the detriment UWA's, ...let alone that of the proud anzac legacy and Australia itself, ...name is more than a footnote in that exact story.

  39. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    bozzza@7  "Abbott just got booted for trying to dedicate hard-fought-for global-university-status to a climate change denier with tax dollars..."

    That is just  nonsense he got booted because his colleagues told him in February 2015 he had 6 months to change or he'sd berolled.  He didn't change and he was rolled

  40. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Ok, yes, I do see that you are saying measurement of applied solutions are important.

     I suppose I'm simply keenly waiting for more details on this change: we are supposedly the clever country afterall and Abbott just got booted for trying to dedicate hard-fought-for global-university-status to a climate change denier with tax dollars... there are many biting at the bit on this!! 

  41. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    Tom, isn't it time to move to applied science on the matter at hand: that being the problem that is global warming?

    (Most things are a communication problem...)

  42. No climate conspiracy: NOAA temperature adjustments bring data closer to pristine

    @27, I have found the most fun to be making deniers refuse to acknowledge the term 'multi-year sea-ice'.... they keep trying to dismiss you with a time series of sea ice!

     

    I love spilling coffee....what can I say!

  43. No climate conspiracy: NOAA temperature adjustments bring data closer to pristine

    Adjustment is not allowed, ever. Nothing vibrates and stagnation is not close to death.... the industrial revolution just happened mannnnnnnnnnnnnnn!! Yay, i can do i-phone graphic design and am not standing on the shoulders of any giants: no mum, promise etc..... 

     

    ~;^>',,,,<

  44. Hansen's 1988 prediction was wrong

    planet8788: Accoding to Meinhausen et al, the Montreal gas forcing (CFCs etc) peaked at about 0.32 W/m2 and is projected to drop to about 0.2 W/m2 by 2050. Do you disagree with those figures?

  45. Hansen's 1988 prediction was wrong

    planet8788 @41, based on Gavin Schmidt's calculation, the Hansen 88 GHG concentration trajectories would have resulted in a net forcing increase relative to 1983 of 3.35 W/m^2 for Scenario A, 2.33 W/m^2 for Scenario B, and 1.41 W/m^2 for Scenario C.  The actual increase was 2.2 W/m^2, or just below Scenario B and 56% greater than scenario C.  More importantly, Scenario C has a slightly declining forcing from 2000, while anthropogenic forcings have continued to rise at an approximately linear rate:

    Therefore it is seriously misleading to say "we're still at Scenario C".

    Further, and importantly, we are in our present position of a forcing increase slightly below Scenario C in part because of a significant, and ongoing effort to reduce GHG emissions.  The correct conclusion, therefore, is not that everything will be fine, but that we need to continue, and indeed strengthen substantially those efforts.  In the medium term (30 to 50 odd years), we need to bring net emissions to effectively zero.  BAU will not do that.  Even a continuation of current mitigation efforts will not do that.

    Finally, even if we do that we will reach a mean global temperature close to 2 C above the preindustrial average.  Likely even that increase will be significantly harmful, and certainly it will be catastrophic for some.  It is just a much better scenario than genuine BAU which, if pursued in the long term would see the tropics become seasonally uninhabitable for large mammals (ie, humans, sheep, cattle, and dogs would die of heat prostation within a few days of unairconditioned exposure to 'normal' heatwaves under that scenario for more than a day or so).

    That we are doing very slightly better than what Hansen considered the most likely scenario in 1988 is hardly a great comfort.

  46. Hansen's 1988 prediction was wrong

    In fact, CFC concentrations are still going down and it looks like they have a long way to go. So that is still going to continue offsetting warming by CO2. 

    The ocean is absorbing more CO2 than expected. We probably don't have much to worry about. The main wildcard is methane. 

  47. Hansen's 1988 prediction was wrong

    Okay, So, we've increased CO2 emissions and we're still at Scenario C.  So we have little to worry about. Becauses CFC emissions aren't going to go back up. CO2 emissions will probably peak by 2030... 

     

    The only wildcard is methane. And that is evolving much much slower than expected. 

  48. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    A response by the head of the CSIRO.

    I think his view is wrong headed.  I agree we should ramp up studies on mitigation, but:

    1)  The key policy on mitigation, introducing a carbon price, is already well known, and is more a matter of economics than science; and

    2)  The impact of more technical fixes (geoengineering) cannot be assessed without the sort of knowledge generated by the division of the CSIRO he is in the process of gutting.

    Perhaps he has in mind more specific studies such as research into how to reduce methane emissions from cattle, or rice agriculture; or research into improving renewable energy sources.  However, while such research is welcome, with a carbon price it will be driven rapidly by the private sector wheras the basic climate research currently being conducted by the CSIRO will not be.

    This is like the reasons he gave in his original statement.  Then the cuts were justified, apparently, because staff turnover at the CSIRO was less than in commercial organizations (which is not a reason at all), and because it would create a career path (but apparently in an organization in which careers will be terminated early with little prospect of alternative funding).  His belief appears to be that the 9 odd years spent becoming a scientist should be rewarded with careers of a little less than that in order to encourage new students to dedicate that time for a truncated career.

    It appears to me that he considers 'renewal' a good thing, without understanding that renewal must be for a reason, and too a purpose.  Instead he has put renewal first as a management mantra, made massive changes on that basis with only post hoc justification at best.

  49. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    "Posted on 10 February 2016 by [blank]"


    The author's name, underneath the title of this article was omitted.

  50. The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake

    The most important part of this article are the links to the petitions in the final paragraph of the Guardian version.  They are with Youth Climate Coallition, and Proud to be public.  Please sign one. 

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