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Climate Hustle

The BEST Kind of Skepticism

Posted on 22 October 2011 by dana1981

As Andy recently discussed, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study (BEST) results are in.  For those true skeptics among us, the BEST results are not the least bit surprising.  It's not a coincidence that the NASA GISS, HadCRU, and NOAA surface temperature datasets show approximately the same amount of warming.  Either they all effectively filter out extraneous effects such as from urban heat islands (UHI), or they all don't.  However, numerous studies have concluded that these groups do effectively remove the UHI effect, and we have known for a long time that the surface temperature record is reliable

Thus it's not the least bit surprising that the BEST results have confirmed their accuracy (Figure 1).  BEST also confirmed that HadCRUT is biased low, which we already knew.  Ironically, although we have known that HadCRUT has a cool bias, and "skeptics" attacked the record in the wake of Climategate, HadCRUT has become the surface temperature record of choice for the so-called "skeptics."


Figure 1: The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.

As Andy discussed, BEST also demonstrated that rural temperature stations show essentially the same, and in fact even a slightly larger warming trend as urban and more poorly-sited stations (Figure 2).  This is consistent with the findings of Menne et al. (2010).

Figure 2: The Berkeley Earth global temperature averages, normalized to zero mean for the period 1950 to 1980.

So for those who consider all the evidence - the true skeptics - the findings of Muller et al. are entirely expected and unsurprising.  Then there are those who call themselves 'skeptics', but really are not.  In March of 2011, Anthony Watts said (emphasis his):

"I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong....the method isn’t the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU....That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet. Dr. Fred Singer also gives a tentative endorsement of the methods....Climate related website owners, I give you carte blanche to repost this."

Not surprisingly, Watts has not adhered to his promise to accept the BEST result.  Quite the contrary, in fact:

"Both [Fall et al. 2011 and Menne et al. 2010] (and cited by Muller et al) do an analysis over a thirty year time period while the Muller et al paper uses data for comparison from 1950 – 2010....I see this as a basic failure in understanding the limitations of the siting survey we conducted on the USHCN, rendering the Muller et al paper conclusions highly uncertain, if not erroneous....I consider the paper fatally flawed as it now stands, and thus I recommend it be removed from publication consideration by JGR until such time that it can be appears they have circumvented the scientific process in favor of PR."

In short, Watts' complaints are that the BEST papers have been made public prior to undergoing the peer review process, and that their analysis extended 60 years into the past, rather than limiting themselves to the 30-year period during which Watts considers the surfacestation ratings reliable.

There is no validity to these criticisms.  Scientific papers are often made available prior to publication (i.e. see arXiv, and by Watts himself), and there's no reason to believe that limiting their analysis to the past 30 years will change the BEST results (though Watts is welcome to try and demonstrate otherwise); obviously the 60-year period includes the 30-year window.  To be blunt, Watts is clearly fishing for excuses to dispute the BEST conclusions and continue denying the accuracy of the surface temperature record.  Ironically, Watts is attacking a paper which is consistent the results of Fall et al. (2011), on which Watts was a co-author:

"None of our conclusions disagree with those of Fall et al. [2011] or those of Menne et al. [2010]."

Dr. Pielke has also weighed in with his comments  on the unsurprising BEST results:

"Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same."

Dr. Pielke has long disputed the accuracy of the surface temperature record (including with some unflattering caricatures).  His explanation for the various datasets being so similar is that they use the same raw data.  However, it is not the accuracy of the thermometers that is in question; rather, the question is whether the thermometer readings are influenced by effects other than global warming, like UHI.  Each dataset (including BEST) utilizes different methods to filter out those effects (see Glenn's excellent Of Averages and Anomalies series for details on how they do this), and in that sense they are independent.  It's also worth noting that if the surface temperature datasets aren't considered independent, then the satellite datasets (UAH and RSS) that Pielke favors aren't either. 

But as it so happens, BEST does utilize raw data which are not included in the analyses of the other groups, as Pielke would have learned had he actually read the papers (or articles about them) rather than automatically seeking a reason to criticize them.

The surface warming is also consistent with the many physical indicators, and the observed amount of warming is consistent with the expected range of climate sensitivity, which itself is based upon many different lines of evidence.

In short, all the evidence has consistently indicated that the surface temperature record is accurate.  To continue scrambling for reasons to believe otherwise is not skepticism; refusal to accept overwhelming evidence is denial. Of their paper, Muller said:

"My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical"

Unfortunately, proper skepticism appears to be in short supply amongst the self-proclaimed climate "skeptics."

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 112:

  1. Dale in #33: "...they say ... and that human involvement is most probably over estimated."

    Dale in #39: "Gee, so sorry for not getting the exact wording correct. ... And if it is natural variability then the human component may be over estimated."

    (emphasis added)

    As you somehow missed where you went wrong, it was in changing 'may be', which BEST actually said, to 'is most probably', which Watts and others have falsely claimed... though you 'strangely' refuse to 'condemn' this. It's a bit more than an 'exact wording' issue. Had they claimed 'is most probably' without evidence you can be sure people would be calling them on it.

    As to the 'may be';

    "What's interesting is they didn't automatically finger CO2 as the culprit."

    Not particularly. If you have really read as much as you claim you should be aware that mainstream climate science doesn't automatically finger CO2 as the sole culprit. Twenty years ago even it being the main culprit was seldom an 'automatic assumption' in the literature, though that has become less true as the evidence that it is the main culprit has become overwhelming.

    And again... the BEST study makes no effort whatsoever to refute any of that overwhelming evidence. Nor to provide any evidence whatsoever for an alternative explanation. That people who started out making all sorts of false and insupportable claims about AGW would continue to make a few such claims even after their own research has disproven their previous self-delusions is not surprising. At least this time they were more careful to say 'may', though even that is unjustified given literally zero evidence.
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  2. skywatcher @50:
    You point to SkS's Earth buildup of heat article, which shows ocean heat continuously rising to 2008 (end of graph). This is in direct contradiction to another SkS image showing OHC being flat from 2004 ( The flat period is also replicated in other locations, so it's hard to accept the Earth building up heat article on face value when it makes a mistake as obvious as that.

    CBDunkerson @51:
    "In the field of climate science, the consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change."
    Very much implies (the way it's written) that humans are THE cause of GW. The article automatically fingers CO2 as the culprit (when that article is read in the series as intended).

    BEST does not refute any argument (natural or human). However, just the fact that they even mention AMO shows to me that someone there thought it possible. That shows doubt about the AGW evidence. And guaranteed Muller would have proofed every paper before it left, so the fact it's still in shows Muller isn't so strong in "human caused GW" belief that he removed it.
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  3. 52 Dale

    BEST does not refute any argument (natural or human). However, just the fact that they even mention AMO shows to me that someone there thought it possible. That shows doubt about the AGW evidence. And guaranteed Muller would have proofed every paper before it left, so the fact it's still in shows Muller isn't so strong in "human caused GW" belief that he removed it.

    This is a recurring trope with the 'skeptics' just now. I really hope they [you] hold on to it and continue to post it up...
    ... Muller has sucker-punched the 'skeptics' once; I'm pretty sure he's setting them up to do it again.
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  4. Dale #52, the graphs do not show the contradiction you want to read in it. Apparently the one is taking more of a running mean than the other, big deal. Heat increases, end of message.

    By the way, humans are increasing the concentration of an important GHG dramatically. So temperature goes up. What is your problem with this simple fact?
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  5. Dale, it is unequivocal that human activities are causing some amount of climate change. I can't think of a single 'skeptic' scientist who disputes that. Not Muller, not Lindzen, not Pielke, not Spencer... heck, not even Singer. You've moved the goal posts again. Before you claimed that CO2 is promoted as the sole cause. Now, as 'proof' of that, you present evidence that SkS says human activities (including, but not limited to CO2) are >a< cause.

    As to Muller, see my first comment on this thread. He (like Curry) has a history of making unsubstantiated statements at odds with established reality from a place of ignorance. Again, at least this time he had the sense to include a 'may be' disclaimer. If he looks into this, as he eventually did with the temperature record, he will find that it is equally false... as many other researchers have already established, just as they had for his false claims on the temperature record before the BEST project even began.

    If, as les suggests, Muller is 'setting up' the skeptics I'd be both appalled and impressed. Impressed by his willingness to sacrifice his own credibility, but appalled by a strategy of 'revealing the truth through deception'.
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  6. "If the question is the later, then technically it hasn't according to HadCRUT, CRUTEM, NCDC, and the RSS, UAH satellite feeds since 2000 (GISS shows a slight warming)."

    Oh, that old chestnut, it really does make me laugh no matter how often I hear such a patently false comment.

    Even if you ignore the lack of statistical significance, the reality is that-for the period of 2000-2010-RSS shows a warming trend of +0.01 degrees per year, UAH shows a warming trend of +0.017 & GISS shows a warming trend of +0.014 degrees per year (as compared to a warming trend of +0.016 degrees per year for 1980-2010). Fact is that it wasn't just 2010 that was the hottest year on record-9 of the 10 hottest years on record have been since 2000-something which should not have occurred if the warming had stopped or if cooling had set in. Yet given the fact that we've had a significant increase in sulfate aerosols & a significant decrease in total solar irradiance, we should have started to see some kind of cooling by now-yet clearly we're not-not even a significant slow-down in the rate of warming.
    As to your claims regarding the AMO, you are aware that Ocean Oscillations can't create heat-that they merely shift it from place to place, or between the ocean & the atmosphere. Any changes in the AMO (or ENSO) must be therefore due to an external forcing-either solar radiance (unlikely given the 30 year downward trend) or increased warming via greenhouse gases.
    Also, a significant fingerprint for GHG-as opposed to natural-warming is the ongoing cooling of the stratosphere. Now, you got any more Denialist Propaganda to try & spread at this site, Dale?
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  7. Another thing, Dale. If human activity is not responsible for the warming of the last 60 years, then how do you explain that, in spite of a significant decline in the Sunspot trends for 1950-2010, we're seeing a warming trend of greater than +0.12 degrees per decade (with a warming trend of +0.16 degrees per decade for 1980-2010), yet the period of 1890-1950, the warming rate was less than 0.1 degrees per decade-in spite of a significant increase in sunspot numbers during that time period?
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  8. @ Dale, another thing to consider re post-2000 warming is that the rate of Arctic Ice decline has been much higher than predicted in the models, which suggests that at least some of the warming which should have gone into the atmosphere, is instead being lost to melting ice. Not a good thing for us btw.
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  9. les @53
    Muller hasn't "sucker-punched" anyone. He's confirmed what everyone knows and acknowledges: that the Earth has warmed.

    cRR @54
    I have no problem with the GHG's causes warming argument. They do. Just because I don't believe every argument from the AGW side doesn't mean I don't believe in how the greenhouse effect works. As for heat, the first graph implies that ocean heat content has risen steadily. It hasn't.

    CBDunkerson @55
    The SkS article does not say "some amount". It states that "human activities are causing climate change". There's no mention of natural cycles/influences at all. Basically, the SkS comment is misleading.

    Marcus @56
    Please read what I said above. Just because the decade was the hottest, does not imply the temperature kept rising. Yes, 9 of the top 10 hottest years on record were from that decade, but only once was the 1998 record broken: 2005. 2010 was hotter than 1998, but didn't break the record set in 2005.
    BTW, cooling of the stratosphere can also happen due to reduced inbound UV. Which has been dropping for quite a while. In fact, GHG warming should also develop a tropical hotspot, which doesn't exist. Yet UV reduction would result in cooler upper stratosphere and no tropical hotspot.
    Sunspot trends? Oh come on. There's many natural cycles, and sunspot trends is just one of them. TSI is a better trend to follow than sunspots anyways.
    Arctic ice can also (and has been) melt from below up. This could possibly indicate warmer waters out of the thermohaline. But since the world got warmer, the ice is gunna melt mate.
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    [DB] "Yet UV reduction would result in cooler upper stratosphere and no tropical hotspot."

    With the introduction of this well-known denialist meme Dale stands revealed.  The "hot spot" mentioned is known to be a signal of any warming, not AGW-specific warming.  Note the Gish Gallop introduced to shift goalposts.

    Can we all now return to the subject of this thread, The BEST Kind of Skepticism?

  10. Oh and Marcus, just on the UV thing. Not sure if you saw it but a couple weeks ago the arctic ozone hole was talked about around the traps. The drop in UV was attributed to cause a cooling in the stratosphere which induced stronger chlorine reaction with ozone, thus depleting it more and causing the arctic ozone hole.
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    [DB] You are aware, aren't you, that the enhanced GHE is responsible for said stratospheric cooling that is responsible for the increased Arctic ozone hole?  More confirmation of AGW.  Perhaps more reading of the science and less of the dissembling sites you mention is recommended.

  11. @ Dale.


    First of all, if the entire decade of 2000-2010 was warmer than the entire 1990's & 1980's, then this means that warming DIDN'T STOP-a simple fact that even a simpleton should be able to grasp. Using an outlying year like 1998 is a fairly typical tactic of the (-snip-), but one which doesn't change the fact that there was an additional 0.1 to 0.17 degrees of warming between 2000 & 2010-depending on which dataset you rely on.
    Second of all, if the stratospheric cooling were the result of falling UV radiation from the sun, then we should have seen a correlated fall in tropospheric temperatures as well-yet instead we see rising tropospheric temperatures at the same time as stratospheric temperatures are falling-very unusual & not consistent with any *natural* cause of climate change we know of. Also, contrary to your claims, the Tropospheric Hot Spot is meant to exist even in a non-warming atmosphere. It is *not* a fingerprint of GHG warming. Nor, indeed, has it been proven to not exist, its just been difficult to confirm its existence using existing technology.
    Thirdly, there is a strong correlation between Total Solar Irradiance & Sunspots-where both datasets exist. However, as TSI data has only been recorded since 1978, its difficult to use data we don't have. Also, climatologists have shown a very strong correlation between sunspot numbers & previous climate change. (-snip-).
    Fourthly, Muller *has* sucker punched Watts very nicely. Watts' meme for almost the last decade is that the planet hasn't been warming, but that its simply down to Urban Heat Island effect-Muller is the latest in a long line of researchers who've debunked this meme, but still Watts & his (-snip-) band of camp followers continue to cling to it-which I consider to the height of arrogance & rudeness.
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    [DB] Inflammatory snipped.

  12. Dale,

    Can I suggest you back up claims with references from the scientific literature. This adds scientific evidence to your argument and differentiates a sceptic from a denier.

    I would be interested if you have a source for this?

    "The drop in UV was attributed to cause a cooling in the stratosphere which induced stronger chlorine reaction with ozone, thus depleting it more and causing the arctic ozone hole."

    As DB has referenced an article that claims otherwise this adds doubt to your credibility.
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  13. Dale wrote: "The SkS article does not say "some amount". It states that 'human activities are causing climate change'."

    Which... they are. Note, it does not say 'human activities are the only factor involved in climate change' or 'human activities are responsible for all climate changes'.

    "Human activities are causing climate change". Accepted reality. Not one of the big 'skeptic' scientists will challenge it. Yet here you are holding it up as some kind of unreasonable statement.

    "Basically, the SkS comment is misleading."

    This from the guy who changed 'may be' to 'most probably is'?

    As to Watts. I find it fascinating that you can claim to read and understand all sides of the debate, specifically including Watts, AND that absolutely nobody claims the planet hasn't warmed significantly... even though that has been Watts central premise since day one. He is still claiming that the observed warming is an artifact of urban heat island biases and/or scientific malfeasance. Yet you simultaneously believe that he is a worthy source and that there is no one foolish enough to believe the things he says on a regular basis.

    That isn't skepticism. Heck, it isn't even denial. It's cognitive dissonance.
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    [DB] It is indeed difficult to get the full grasp of a complex discipline like climate science when one uses only half one's attention to studying it.

  14. Dale wrote : "You're kidding right? The sceptic goalpost for most of us is, and always has been, "sure, the world has warmed...... but WHY?"
    This applies to the BEST research. Sceptics don't care that they show global warming. We know that."

    Those "sceptics" obviously don't include A. Watts :

    Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century.
    SPPI Report co-authored by A. Watts

    And yet, you then followed that up with :

    "I read a lot of information, from here, WUWT, RC, CA and even scientist blogs.
    Doesn't matter how many times you say sea levels will rise 8 stories (Tim Flannery) or the surface records are corrupt due to siting (Watts), without proof that can hold up to process and due diligence it's just unvalidated waffling.
    So I read from SkS, RC and others, as well as WUWT, JoNova (more for an Aussie home flavor), CA and others."

    (My emphasis)

    So, you reckon "sceptics" have never doubted that the world has been warming, and yet one of those that you go to for 'information' is on record as doubting that it has. Do you think he is one of those "sceptics" you mentioned ? If so, why has he doubted the increase in temperature; if not, why are you going to him for information ?

    Also, with regard to Tim Flannery, where did you get your information from ? You claim to "...cover all bases, and [are] hopefully smart enough to dismiss alarmism and hype and get to that actual science (I avoid media releases for just that reason)" and yet you appear to have believed one thing and missed this :

    A great deal of misleading information about climate change is circulating in various media, making the commission's job a pertinent one. Contrary to the editorial in question, I have never said that we may see a sea-level rise of 80 metres by 2100. That's flatly contradicted in my book The Weather Makers.

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  15. And yet today Anthony continues with his inane position with a post titled: "Unadjusted data of long period stations in GISS show a virtually flat century scale trend"

    Here, guest poster Michael Palmer (from the department of chemistry at the University of Waterloo) purports to show a new method of analyzing the surface data in the U.S. only and concludes that there has been no warming at all.

    So a chemist [not a statistician or climate scientist] works on a problem of temperature observations and statistics [not atmospheric or ocean chemistry or atmospheric physics] studying the data from a single continent [not the globe] in which he single handedly [not as part of a working group like BEST or in concert with other scientists] produces a blog post [not a peer-reviewed paper] to demonstrate in the face of all evidence to the contrary that there is no warming trend.

    This is the site that Dale finds credible, where "skeptics" accept that there has been warming and work in a rational and balanced way to resolve the conundrum of what is causing that warming.
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  16. Just a few days ago, one of Dale's other sources of information, JoNova, hosted a blog post by none other than that highly respected and touted climate-scientist-economist-comedian the Lord Viscount Barry Cohen, mathematically proving that Canada shouldn't try to cut emissions because in the grand scheme of things it won't matter, and if Canada tried to cut emissions all by themselves, without the rest of the world doing anything, it would cost them $84 trillion per degree.

    Yup, skeptics that visit these sites are very well informed on the science.

    I'm quite sure that every time a true skeptic visits his doctor for a checkup, he also goes to a car mechanic or cashier at a nearby grocery store for a balanced second opinion on his health, especially if the doctor gave him any bad news.

    That would be the properly skeptical thing to do.
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  17. Oooh... I didn't get to the disclaimer that Micheal Palmer put at the end of his post on Watts' site. Get this:
    I am not a climate scientist and claim no expertise relevant to this subject other than basic arithmetics. In case I have overlooked equivalent previous work, this is due to my ignorance of the field, is not deliberate and will be amended upon request.
    What a wonderful source of information WUWT is! One can visit that site and feel truly and completely well informed and ready to pronounce judgment and take action on the most compelling issue of our day.
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  18. For the record, Muller's own apologia for the BEST study can be found in The Wall Street Journal.

    Personally, I think his 'there were lots of very compelling reasons to doubt global warming, but fortunately I have now come along and disproven them' position is a load of self-serving 'bovine waste product'. He has enough integrity not to produce falsified or heavily biased results, but not to admit that he shot his mouth off about 'problems' in the surface temperature record without first looking at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. All of the 'concerns' he raises had been shown to be nonsense before he ever got involved.

    This editorial and the 'maybe some magical other force, for which we have no evidence at all, is causing the warming' bit in the study show that he's still not to be taken seriously unless he shows his math.
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  19. 59 - Dale (gosh, haven't you got a lot of replies!)

    Muller hasn't "sucker-punched" anyone. He's confirmed what everyone knows and acknowledges: that the Earth has warmed.

    via tamino it appears, at least, that Mr. Watts didn't know that. To deny that a huge part of the 'debate' hasn't revolved around accusations of malpractice, corruption and poor science by very professional scientists is disingenuous.
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  20. From reading some of the bemusing justifications over at WUWT, it appears that the so-called skeptics are presently congregating around the "Of course we all accept that it has warmed since the LIA/beginning of the Interglacial, but it's natural. And we still can't trust the temperature record. And Muller has gone native and is now part of that ever-increasing conspiracy..."
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  21. Anthony Watts is now, as apparent in his recent (today) "Unadjusted data of long period stations in GISS show a virtually flat century scale trend" post, clipping any links to SkS.

    He's attempting to justify it with "SkS doesn't treat people with any sense of fairness - for Example Dr. Peilke Sr."

    It's quite clear that Watts is maintaining his denial, dumping the BEST results even though they agree with his sole peer-reviewed article, in addition to avoiding any linkage to useful information here.

    The Watts post, incidentally, consists of dropping all GISS stations with breaks in the record, averaging temperatures rather than anomalies (anomalies only calculated on the average temperatures), no area weighting, etc. Cherry picking and bad statistics in the extreme.
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  22. A followup to my previous post: a quick read of the WUWT posting I referred to appears to have taken the intro section of Of Averages and Anomalies - Part 1A. A Primer on how to measure surface temperature change (by Glenn Tamblyn), read the "How NOT to calculate the Surface Temperature" section, and done absolutely everything wrong possible.

    How to (mis)cook your data, redux.
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  23. Dale @49,

    This thread is becoming another splendid diplay of denial and one-sided skepticism by apologists for WUWT.

    "I cover all bases, and hopefully smart enough to dismiss alarmism and hype and get to that actual science (I avoid media releases for just that reason)."
    That is not true, you go and read propaganda and misinformation from web sites like WUWT, CA and Jo Nova. You seem to have very interesting idea as to what constitutes a source of credible, vetted and reliable science. The latter three do not qualify.

    "It's the same with BEST, until their papers go through process and due diligence, it's unvalidated. "
    Note Hansen's and Phil Jones' measured responses to the paper in contrast that with the hyperventilating of Watts et al. Jones has said that he looks forward to reading the papers once they have been though peer review. Yes, we will see how the BEST papers holds up to peer review and whether or not their primary conclusions hold. But here is the beautiful irony Dale, "skeptics" have been claiming for a while now that peer-review is corrupted, unreliable and guilty of gate keeping etc.. Now they seem to be appealing to it and fully endorsing it as an excuse to dismiss the BEST research.

    Note too that very loud claims made by Watts prior to undertaking research were completely refuted by a peer-reviewed paper that he was a co-author on. I doubt very much that will be the case for the BEST research, but we will see soon enough. But if the papers do appear in print and their conclusions hold, then Watts cannot then try and claim that peer-review was corrupted or something along those lines, he is now saying that peer-review is required and the gold standard.

    "If the question is the later, then technically it hasn't according to HadCRUT, CRUTEM, NCDC, and the RSS, UAH satellite feeds since 2000 (GISS shows a slight warming)."
    Another demonstrably false statement by you, and a red herring and a shifting of the goal posts. This issue of "skeptics" cherry-picking short term trends that have no statistical significance has been dealt with ad nauseum before. Most recently here. Additionally, the climate system continues to accumulate energy.

    When invited to join us in condemning the actions of Watts you have declined citing it as "bad manners". What a ridiculous excuse. I suppose then that it is "bad manners" for the law to hold people accountable for their actions. And since when did calling someone on their bad behaviour and their bad manners become rude? That you cannot bring yourself to condemn the nonsense that has been going on at WUWT the last few days or such fine and upstanding actions like this (from WUWT) is very telling. So it seems then that we can assume then that you support his innuendo, vitriol etc.

    "I am my own sceptic."
    I have no idea what that is meant to mean. We do not decide to be our own 'skeptics' Dale. You do not seem to know what is means to be a real skeptic. Please save us the claim that you consider evidence from both sides. Well, that may be, but that does not mean you cannot fall in the trap of exercising one-sided skepticism, or fall in the trap of confirmation bias, or be suffer cognitive dissonance.
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  24. Albatross#73: "Watts cannot then try and claim that peer-review was corrupted"

    Of course, he can and will make those claims. He's already taken mutually contradictory positions: 'I will accept BEST, even if it opposes my position;' 'BEST can't be right because it opposes my position.'

    This form of 'skepticism' is based the fixed belief that 'the other side is always wrong' and 'I am therefore always right.'
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  25. Before getting back to the subject of this post, please allow me to dismiss the misinformation that Dale is perpetuating about oceanic heat content (OHC).

    "This is in direct contradiction to another SkS image showing OHC being flat from 2004 "


    "As for heat, the first graph implies that ocean heat content has risen steadily. It hasn't."

    Now to be fair to Dale it is not immediately obvious what OHC or energy in the system is being shown in the graphs. The graph he cites is the Levitus analysis for 0-700 OHC. The graph from Church et al. (2011) that he was directed to is determined by very carefully closing the sea level budget by considering all the data (including data from Argo floats), and those data do show a continued escalation in OHC.

    Two important points: 1) analysis by SkS of the 0-700 m OHC determined by different groups shows a wide range of trends between 2004-2010, but the trends for that period are all positive, some of them strongly so; 2) The OHC is known to display marked decadal and inter-annual variability, so one should be very careful about making gross generalizations based on a <10 year trend, and one should not expect a "steady" rise, and a perusal of the graphs indeed shows that to be the case.

    If one considers all of the Argo data since 2005, one gets"A global ocean heat content change (OHC) trend of 0.55±0.1Wm−2 is estimated over the time period 2005–2010" [von Shuckmann and Le Traon 2011].

    Now we can hopefully get back to the subject at hand.
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  26. Muoncounter @74,

    You are correct of course. What I should have said is that he cannot do so and still claim to maintain any sort of credibility or without looking downright hypocritical.

    And yes, that will not be the first time they have done so. In fact, the incoherent, internally inconsistent and contradictory nature of the "skeptic" arguments is their signature, and at the same time their downfall. Surprisingly (but sadly), alleged "skeptic" seem to find such flawed reasoning enticing.

    Right now we have (and there are probably more):
    1) We have a self-professed "auditor" nit picking at the BEST data, he will no doubt go on to grossly inflate the importance of any issues identified.
    2) We have Watts et al. misrepresenting at least one of the BEST papers on the AMO.
    3) We have Watts et al. making defamatory and ad hominem attacks on the BEST group and authors (and in doing so that includes their former BFF Judith Curry).
    4) We have ideological mathematicians posting at WUWT trying to undermine the credibility of the BEST research and refute the paper about decadal variability-- ironically they are trying to refute the very same research that suggests that the AMO may be playing a role in modulating global temperatures and which "skeptics" are spinning to claim that the observed warming is because of natural variability!
    5) We have Watts et al. now claiming that the BEST papers are meaningless until they have been through peer-review.
    6) We have Watts et al. claiming that BEST are using too large a sample size and considering too long a time frame.
    7) We have Watts et al. complaining about a BEST paper which corroborates the findings of Fall et l. (2011), a paper on which he was a co-author.

    And on and on the panic, hypocrisy and logical fallacies go. It is quite the flagrant display of hypocrisy and denial by WUWT and their affiliates.

    BUT, the "skeptics" and those in denial about AGW assure us that they have never doubted that the planet is warming ;)
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  27. Albatross@76
    I want to ask about your 6th point. I have seen (too)many comments at WUWT decrying the use of the 60 years of data instead of the 30 years that Mr Watts championed. The denizens of WUWT seem to think that this extended data constitutes a bait-and-switch by BEST. I do not understand the 'logic' of this argument and would love for someone to explain it to me. Since Watts and Co think it such a big deal could they not take the BEST data and perform the 30 year analysis themselves?

    WRT peer review, WUWT is already setting up their readers for the acceptance and publication of BEST by referring to is as Pal Review. That way for now they can claim it is not meaningful because it is not reviewed and in a few weeks they can claim that the review was corrupt and therefor meaningless anyhow.
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  28. Albatross#76:

    Add to point 5 that 'peer-review' itself is said to be corrupt and meaningless. Despite that, peer-review is vital and important, unless you need to 'Wow' a non peer-reviewed work like Salby or trumpet the press release of CERN CLOUD results, rather than the paper itself.

    I hadn't seen the attacks you mention in point #3. Weren't we told that AW had the highest ethical standards?
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  29. pbjamm - Watts issue with 30 vs. 60 years is based on his surfacestations data, as supplied to Muller, only going back 30 years. The claim is that for the previous 30 years there is no data (collected by Watts) on how good the stations are, and hence conclusions on station quality versus trends are meaningless.

    This, of course, requires that Watt's data be the only relevant points in ranking station quality - not true, and furthermore that BEST used quality rankings in this paper - completely false, they ranked rural/urban using MODIS data, not by 'quality', a word that does not even appear in the "Influence of Urban Heating..." paper.

    In short, it's a completely bogus complaint.
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  30. Hi pbjamm @77,

    Re the time period, I must confess, their argument makes no sense to me, and it is something that can very easily be resolved, even by themselves-- they too have access to the data. And maybe the reviewers will ask BEST to expand their research to consider different windows.

    Re peer review. That doesn't surprise me, but Watts overplayed his hand by insisting that the papers mean nothing until being peer reviewed. If he thinks "peer review" = "pal review" why then did he initially insist the papers be subject to it before he would accept their conclusions? Also going by this comment by Eric Steig and what Tamio said in response, the BEST decadal variability paper in particular may have some issues-- so so much for "pal review". There is simply no logic to his argument, he is arguing an untenable position. Ironically, the ones engaging in PR, insincere PR, are WUWT et al., not BEST.

    But with all that said, I will consider the BEST findings much more robust once they have been through peer-review. Their methodology will not be perfect, but we are at the point now of dealing with nuances, and not glaring errors or biases in the data.
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  31. KR @79,

    Mr. Watts is upset about the findings in this paper titled "Earth Atmospheric Land Surface Temperature and Station Quality in the United States", not so much the UHI paper in which they used the MODIS data. There is also the problem with the classification by Watts that they have not, to my knowledge been independently verified (the self-professed "auditor" decided to give their analysis a free pass), and that they only strictly apply at the time the site survey's were recently made, so using Anthony's logic, their classification doesn't necessarily apply for the entire 1979-2008 period used in Fall et al. (2011) either.

    Regardless, Anthony's complaint is unsubstantiated and at this point mere assertion rather than anything based on data analysis or facts.
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  32. Dale @ 59 - "As for heat, the first graph implies that ocean heat content has risen steadily. It hasn't.

    Wrong. Note the following:

    And this from the SkS post: Ocean Cooling Corrected, Again

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  33. Muoncounter @78,

    "I hadn't seen the attacks you mention in point #3. Weren't we told that AW had the highest ethical standards? "

    I can't repeat the language used by a Watts affiliate on here without breaking the house rules, well let me try, Eschenbach at WUWT stated that BEST team are "media wh#res."

    And then Anthony posted this defamatory cartoon of Muller.

    For more vitriol and ridicule, hyperbole and conspiracy theories read the threads at WUWT if you can stomach it.

    But, as Dr. Pielke Sr. assures us "First, I have worked with Anthony and he is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness. Second, he does not have boxes with derogatory labels on them identifying individual scientists."

    No, Watts just regularly posts defamatory opinion pieces and cartoons of scientists who don't share his beliefs and ideology. Is a cartoon mocking Dr. Judith Curry next on his list I wonder?
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  34. Watts has built himself up a nice system of denial. Papers are worthless until they're peer-reviewed (unless he likes them), and once it's peer-reviwed, it's just "pal review", so he can still reject any paper he doesn't want to believe.

    Dale @52 - as Albatross has noted, the graph you link is only of the upper 700 meters of OHC. It also does show an increase over the past several years, albeit a small one, but graphs which include the upper 1500 meters or more show a much larger increase in OHC. As we told Dr. Pielke several times, the oceans are greater than 700 meters in depth.

    As for AMO, tamino has a very good post on the paper in question. He shows that AMO actually lags behind temp changes slightly, whereas ENSO leads, and concludes
    "it seems more likely to me that the correlation of AMO with land-only temperature reflects a common cause rather than causality from AMO to temperature."
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  35. James Delingpole with his view on the BEST research. No pretty, usual collection of misinformation and not surprisingly the line; we knew the planet was warming.

    Interestingly he did a blog post last year referencing D'Aleo and Watts claiming the opposite.
    Global Warming: is it even happening?
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  36. Albatross@83

    The only thing accurate in that cartoon is the Sour Grapes.
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  37. Albatross - Mea culpa, I was looking at the wrong paper.

    That said, you are quite right about the Watts surface station data not being continuous even over the last 30 years, and the fact that he's offered nothing but unsupported assertions.

    He certainly could use the data made available by BEST to run his own analysis, but based on past history I consider it quite unlikely that he'll make that effort.
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  38. 84 - Dana 1981

    Regarding AMO Tino says (edited bits):

    M2011 specifically examine variations on time scales from 2 to 15 years.
    Subtracting the low-order polynomial effectively acts as a high-pass filter, removing the very slow fluctuations.
    Eliminating slow fluctuations was motivated by a desire to remove the long-term trend due to global warming or other influences.

    So this is just about medium term fluctuations and not about the causes of global warming; is that right? Then the appeal to this work as BEST saying "it's not us" by the 'skeptics' is some other paper? I'm confused.
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  39. les - see my comment #47. Yes, the BEST paper only looked at decadal variations in de-trended data, meaning that their analysis could not say anything about long-term global warming causes (same as the McLean and Carter ENSO paper).

    Basically they found a good correlation between AMO and land surface temp variations on decadal timescales and then said "hmm maybe this means AMO could be contributing to global warming", but they didn't actually investigate that supposition. Nor did they think about it very hard, since as I noted in comment #46, oceanic cycles like AMO and ENSO don't create heat or cause long-term warming trends. Though over a few decades it could be more positive than negative, and thus could marginally contribute to a warming trend over a few decades, so that's probably what Muller et al. were suggesting. But they didn't actually investigate that possibility in their paper. Frankly the line in question was kind of a throw-away that the "skeptics" have latched onto in desperation.
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  40. 89 Dana
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  41. As a retired physicist who was taught to look for internal consistency with ALL the evidence for any hypothesis. I find the posts on WUWT merely an exercise in partitioning the bits of evidence that fit their preconceived beliefs. I must admit my bias as I have read this (SkS) site in totality before posting and found it completely self consistent. I read as much as I could stomach at WUWT and concluded it was a waste of time. It is all over the place with no coherence scientifically. It seems to be trying to be the devil's advocate that pulls evidence out of thin air. They seem to be looking for counterfeit dollar bills to prove that all the other bills are counterfeit. Conversely I have learned a lot that I had not even considered from SkS that fills in all the missing bits as I am not a climatologist. Thank you to all here for clearing up quite a few of my misconceptions. When I get fully up to speed may be able to contribute more. Bert
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  42. @Bert writes: "It seems to be trying to be the devil's advocate that pulls evidence out of thin air."

    An apt summary, Bert! I find I can't look at that site for more than a few minutes without my blood pressure rising to unsustainable levels. I have to visit SkS just to calm down and remind myself that there is logic to the world.
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  43. Thanks Bert, and I also agree with your assessment. The counterfeit dollar bill analogy is a good one.
    0 0
  44. Inconsistency, that's the word. Watts Up With That Inconsistency?
    Straight to the point, Bert.
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  45. A couple of issues struck me while reading through the BEST reports;

    They note that HadCRU results are lower than the other temperature series and express surprise that this hasn't been remarked on before (though, of course, it has been - extensively). They then speculate that perhaps HadCRU averages ocean temperature readings 'over' adjacent land forms (e.g. coasts and islands) and would thus be incorrectly averaging cooler ocean surface temperatures in with land temperatures in these regions. Offhand, I don't know if that is the case, but the usual explanation I've seen for the difference has been that HadCRU doesn't adjust for poor coverage in the Arctic and thus isn't reflecting the full impact of Arctic amplification.

    Also, they express confidence in their 'global land surface temperature anomaly' reconstruction with fairly narrow uncertainty bands all the way back to 1800... but the first several decades are based on data from only the eastern US and northwestern Europe. Given what we know about the 'hemispheric see-saw' effect with global temperatures (c.f. the hemispheric warming study just released by Svante Björck), AND that Europe was going through the 'little ice age' at the time, I have to wonder whether they might have a significant 'cold' bias in that early data. The Björck study looked at the LIA specifically and found (like many previous studies) that while Europe showed significant cooling around 1800 there was no evidence of anything similar in the Southern hemisphere.
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  46. How long will the BEST papers clear peer review?
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  47. Why do the BEST results seem to stop at the start of 2010 instead of going up to the present like all the other data sets? That makes the graph end on a cold month instead of the hottest year. Since GISS and NCDC both have 2010 as the hottest year, this ending month biases the BEST graph low, especially to lay people using their eyecrometers. Since everyone else has the data presumably BEST had it also.
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  48. Elsewhere Camburn is trying to maintain that BEST shows that temperatures have not risen in the contiguous states of the United States (CONUS). Unfortunately for him the BEST program includes a paper analyzing the difference in trends between OK and Poor climate stations as rated by Anthony Watts'Surface Station Project:

    As can be clearly seen, CONUS shows a warming trend over the 20th century. There are three statistically significant phases - a warming trend from 1900 to the 1930's, a cooling trend from 1940's to the 1970's, and a warming trend since then. The three warmest periods all fall within the last 15 years.

    What is not so clearly seen, because their patterns are so close, is that the poor stations as rated by Watts show a smaller warming trend than do the OK stations. That is something worth noting.

    Also worth noting is that Camburn's discussion of CONUS was a distraction after he was shown to incorrectly describe the BEST results for the entire world. On that point he defends himself by saying:

    "GISSTEMP tells us that the number of sites used is not important.

    The BEST data in the reconstruction that you are talking about should match fairly closely the other sites used."

    Of course, what GIStemp shows us is that reasonably sized spatially homogenous sub-samples of the data will show the same pattern. The BEST data set on which Camburn based his claims (a randomly chosen sample of 2000 stations excluding all stations used by GHCN, Hadley/CRU, or GISS) is not a spatially homogenous sub-sample. On the contrary, it shows significant spatial bias because of the very heavy bias in the station quantities towards North America and Western Europe, a bias exacerbated by the exclusion of the overlapping stations.
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  49. BEST's FAQ page tackles the meme we've heard a lot lately:

    Has Global Warming Stopped?

    The graph shows the results of our analysis with 1-year averaging (to smooth it) for the last 6 decades

    Their conclusion: the decadal fluctuations are too large to allow us to make decisive conclusions about long term trends based on close examination of periods as short as 13 to 15 years.
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  50. A small SkS shoutout appears in this Weather Underground blog post, dated 11/3.

    The result was a new land surface temperature series to be added to the well-cited records of NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU, in addition to some truly independent, amateur compilations.


    The author engages in a bit of wishful thinking:

    The addition of another (eventually) peer-reviewed temperature series is good, and more eyes looking at the data is good, but the result is not surprising. However, it might have changed the minds of some skeptics who have been wanting to see an analysis from scientists that they find trustworthy. -- emphasis added

    Yeah, it might have changed some minds, but not the folks that live by this motto.
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