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How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations?

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the models-meta-models-and-mega-ultra-super-models dept.

Earth 560

bunratty writes "According to recent articles by Roy Spencer and John Christy, our climate models have done a poor job of predicting warming due to humans burning fossil fuels. They claim that we've observed only a fraction of the warming they predict. But when I look at the source they claim to use, the State of the Climate in 2012, I see that it shows a warming of 0.7 degrees Celsius worldwide since 1980, close to the 0.8 degrees Celsius warming predicted by the climate models. Take a look at the data for yourself. How well do our predictions match our observations?"

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Minor Fluctuation? (1)

tom229 (1640685) | about 9 months ago | (#46295377)

I've always wanted someone to explain to me why 0.7C matters. I know its a measure of average global temperatures. But still, isn't that a very minor fluctuation?

Since it only needs 2C (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295473)

Since it only needs 2C to drop and you get an ice age starting, I fail to see how you can claim 0.7C a minor fluctuation and wonder how it would matter.

Re:Since it only needs 2C (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295635)

Well, no, it doesn't just need a 2C drop to get an ice age. It needs a continuous temperature shift of 2C or more in higher-latitude temperate regions without any significant actions to remove the snow. After a couple years of that remaining true, the increased snow cover will become self-sustaining until acted on by a sufficient contrary change of some kind. Then you get an ice age.

Dramatic climate changes don't work off the global average temperature, they work off regional interactions across large enough scales to become resistant to the minor fluctuations.

Re:Since it only needs 2C (1)

ivano (584883) | about 9 months ago | (#46295783)

For an ice-age to occur you need three things: 0) Land masses near the poles (lets say in the northern hemisphere) 1) Earth's tilt needs to decrease (from it's present 23.5 degrees), 2) Earth's eccentricity increases, and 3) Summer in the northern hemisphere happens during Earth's aphelion When these 3 things happen. The summer is not powerful enough to melt all the ice created during winter. This allows the glaciers to grow. Ice-ages happen when we get cooler summers. NOT because it's getting colder.

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295489)

Ok, first we'll establish that a small change can make a big difference in certain systems. Put a thumbtack in the bottom of your shoe. Walk around. Did you notice it? No? Add another. Eventually you'll notice, despite the thumbtacks being a small fraction of your overall body weight.

Next, let's see the Earth. It's a big system. Changing the whole thing even a tiny bit is a lot of energy in the macro-scale.

Glad you asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295507)

Because minor global fluctuations have significant affects globally, leading to entire local climates changing. An ice age is only a small change in average global temperature. You're used to weather, this is climate. It's like if I raise your taxes 7% yearly but keep your expenses the same or higher, that doesn't seem like much until you realize that the affects of that compound on each other, but unlike taxes you're just losing it, not theoretically getting something back for it. Over the long term it's a major difference and is why there is significantly more drought and a massive species extinction going on right now.

Re:Glad you asked... (3, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 months ago | (#46295743)

And yet, tree ring data from California shows that region has been in drought for something like 1600 out of the last 2000 years.

Much of it significantly *before* modern technology and CO2 pollution.

Could it be the real problem is that we don't actually know what the average temperature was before 1700?

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (4, Informative)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | about 9 months ago | (#46295513)

As the old song goes, little things mean a lot. You couldn't see the difference between a little botulin toxin and a lethal dose without a microscope. And I'm sure you wouldn't notice a 0.7 C difference between one room in your house and another, but multiply that amount of energy to a global scale and it starts to add up. Consider what climatologist James Hansen said about the current rate of increase in global warming: “(it's) equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year. That’s how much extra energy Earth is gaining each day.”

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 9 months ago | (#46295751)

Sounds like one heck of an opportunity- start manufacturing thermocouples now, we can solve the energy crisis.

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (4, Informative)

x6060 (672364) | about 9 months ago | (#46295585)

Or the fact that we are still coming off of an Ice Age that lasted for more than 100,000 years, and ended less than 10,000 years ago (Or the little Ice Age that ended in 1850). Several models predict that the average temperature at the END of the last Ice Age was 15-20C lower than today.

Is global warming happening? Yes. Is the human race a contributing factor? Probably to some degree. Is the human race the only cause? No.

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (2, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#46295621)

Natural forcing actually add up to negative changes in temperatures(though at so small a value they wouldn't even show up on a graph of temperature forcing).

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (4, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#46295691)

No scientist says humans are the only cause. There are other forcings, positive and negative. The very likely (95%-100%) in the IPCC is to the contention that "most" of the rise in temperature is caused by human forcings. Not "all".

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 9 months ago | (#46295593)

The difference between the depths of the Little Ice Age and the mid-20th century is only about 1.0C and look at how much of a difference that makes.

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (1)

MoronBob (574671) | about 9 months ago | (#46295633)

Just go to the website thelistofallscientistsintheworld.com and you can send an email that will allow you to get the opinion of 97% of them.

97% - bogus poll... (1, Informative)

cirby (2599) | about 9 months ago | (#46295777)

Just so you know: That "97 percent of all scientists in the world" silliness came from a rigged "poll."

Basically, an AGW-supporting scientist polled a number of his AGW-supporting scientist friends and co-workers - 30 or so - and asked them if they thought AGW was real.

That's where your number came from. Which should tell you something about the actual support for AGW among the scientific population at large...

They recently came up with another poll, where they cherry-picked a bunch of papers, and said "97% of scientific papers agree!" While not mentioning that only about a third of them actually addressed AGW, and they got their "new" 97% by only looking at 65 papers. Out of 12,000. Oops.

Re:Minor Fluctuation? (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 9 months ago | (#46295817)

If you gave everyone on the planet a penny, would that matter? The average amount you'll give globally is a penny. A penny is a very small amount, isn't it?

A rise of 0.7C of everything is a very large amount, just like over 700 million dollars is.

China? (1)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | about 9 months ago | (#46295383)

Their heat map has China as much cooler, yet they are one of the world's largest contributors to greenhouse gases.

Re:China? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295427)

It's almost as if there aren't big walls in the sky that keep emissions from leaving the countries that produce them.

Re:China? (5, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#46295623)

China are experts on big walls, though.

Re:China? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 9 months ago | (#46295649)

Wait, are you implying that some of these walls are missing and/or faulty?

Re:China? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 9 months ago | (#46295705)

That, and the fact that some forms of pollution change the albedo of the atmosphere and reflect more light back. The fog of pollution around Beijing probably reflects enough light to make it locally slightly cooler. But globally, the greenhouse gases contribute to an average higher temperature. In any case, I feel that the other effects of the pollution, consumption, and destruction of our environment will have more disastrous consequences sooner than the average change in global temperature will. Not denying global warming though, lest anyone misread me.

Re:China? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46295557)

almost like pollutants don't give a shit about borders.

BS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295387)

try selling your global warming bullsh!t to someone in Winnipeg ...

Re:BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295441)

Or anywhere in the continental US, really. It's been the coldest winter in 25 years. I just shoveled a shitload of global warming off my roof last night, and we're in for more tomorrow. If this doesn't drive the nail into the global warming coffin, I don't know what will short of a snowball earth scenario. Let's face it; this is the gravy train for the global warming boffins and if they don't continue hyping it they will have to find a new way to pay the mortgage. My fear is that it is doing irreparable harm to our economy and ability to compete and we're wasting our kids' futures.

Re:BS (2, Informative)

beatle42 (643102) | about 9 months ago | (#46295505)

Apparently the concept of making all weather more extreme has been lost here. That would mean winter storms will be more extreme as well. Perhaps it's hard to imagine why global warming would make more snow in some areas, but failures of some people's imagination doesn't make something less true.

Also, if we're talking about the gravy train, don't the people emitting greenhouse gasses have a much larger financial stake than the scientists researching it? I doubt all the climate research funding world wide was equal to even Exxon's profits last year.

Re:BS (2, Interesting)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 9 months ago | (#46295645)

And yet EVERYTHING is now caused by AGW. Heat Waves. Cold Spells, Floods. Droughts. Today, I saw a report linking Crime to Global Warming. Last year, it caused prostitution for impoverished women. About the ONLY thing not linked to AGW is the Heartbreak of Psoriasis and Waxy Yellow Buildup. But hey, it's only February. . . .

Re:BS (5, Insightful)

beatle42 (643102) | about 9 months ago | (#46295695)

I don't think it should be surprising if changes in climate affect the behavior of people in areas. If food becomes more plentiful I bet crime goes down. If food and water become more scarce I bet it goes up. If the weather patterns are changing surely some areas are going to get drier and some are going to get wetter. Also, as events become more extreme all the extreme weather events you sited are likely to happen more often too, don't you think? So you're right, global warming almost certainly is doing all those things.

I don't see why it's controversial to think that. Even if you don't think people have anything to do with changing climate all those effects are obvious outcomes of it changing, and I don't think many people actually doubt that it is changing.

Re:BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295757)

A lot of people aren't so much against the problem of the climate changing as to the proposed solutions. You dislike the solutions, so rage against the climate change so the solutions don't have to be implemented.

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295809)

This reminds me of religious dogma. Come to think of it, the parallels are downright uncanny. Things going well? Praise the Lord! Things going poorly? We're being tested by the Lord!
Or the people that say they can make money when the stock market goes up and also make money when the stock market goes down.

You're dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295555)

The snow is due to the melting of the artic ice which sent down a blast. We've still had a warmer winter than in the past. Stop pretending you know how to science.

Re:You're dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295745)

So, if I heat my home, I should worry about it freezing over inside now? Please.. the alarmists are out of control, nobody disputes climate change, the climate is ALWAYS changing, some of us dispute the cause. But hey, I get it, if you don't follow AGW dogma then no funding for your stupid project studying the reproduction effects of snails on global warming for a million bucks at a pop.

Re:BS (-1, Flamebait)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | about 9 months ago | (#46295561)

Nicely done. I'd post AC too if I was so ignorant I didn't understand the distinction between climate and weather.

Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295653)

Really I just looked at the average temperatures in Massachusetts where I shoveled over 5 feet of snow this year and it seems right in line with average...maybe you're just wrong? in fact precipitation for the year might be right on the mark. It's like you don't understand averages...or maybe it's not like it and is that you don't understand how climate or temperature works.

Re:BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295727)

You have a fundamental lack of understanding about the concepts of global warming.

There is a monumental difference between *climate* and *weather*. "Global warming" doesn't mean "it won't get cold", in fact snowier winters are complete compatible with the predictions made by climate change models (more moisture in the air, more energy in the system pushing arctic air further south than normal, etc).

Global warming science speaks about *global* averages, not local weather anomalies. Once again, this doesn't mean it won't get cold anymore, instead it means the following:

1. weather patterns in general will be more intense (more heat = more energy).
2. record breaking heat waves will become more frequent. The past decade has seen a large increase in record breaking summers.
3. the arctic/antarctic will be effected first because it is most sensitive. We are seeing this with massive ice shelves melting into the see and glaciers simply disappearing.

Simply put, you can't use local weather to dispute global trends, it's just nonsense. That's like saying the drought in the south west is over because it rained a lot in NY.

My response to your statement: "If this doesn't drive the nail into the global warming coffin, I don't know what will short of a snowball earth scenario."

Given the mountain of evidence for global warming being real, what would it take to convince you? How many record breaking summers? How many stronger than usual storms? How much recession in ice shelves in at the poles? (The list goes on). Here's some indisputable facts:

1. CO2 quantities in the atmosphere have increased drastically since the industrial revolution. I don't think anyone doubts this, you can measure it yourself if you like.
2. The average global temperature has been steadily rising over the past few decades. Here's some data from NASA (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/).
3. The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
4. Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century.
5. The 20 warmest years on record having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.
6. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass.
7. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world
8. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. (Due to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere).
9. The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950.

The list goes on. Honestly asking the question here: How much evidence is enough? Even if we can't prove *conclusively* that these things are related, it would be damn foolish, perhaps even reckless to claim that they certainly are not just because you had a bunch of snow in your roof.

Re:BS (1, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#46295447)

Can you provide the citation in peer reviewed or primary literature where it says every spot on the planet will be warmer due to AGW...

Re:BS (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295531)

Oh yeah, right. Any observation that contradicts the religious creed of AGW doesn't count. A warm spell somewhere is evidence for AGW, but a cold spell across a region should be ignored.

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295799)

No, a "warm spell somewhere" is not considered evidence for AGW. No reputable source will claim so. What they will rightfully claim is that:

The increase in frequency of "warm spells" is evidence.
The increase in global average temperatures is evidence.

Do you have evidence which contradicts these?

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295625)

how about the word GLOBAL ... ?

Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (3, Informative)

Kohath (38547) | about 9 months ago | (#46295413)

It's pretty easy to "predict" temperature trends in years that have already gone by.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (1, Flamebait)

MoronBob (574671) | about 9 months ago | (#46295495)

I am puzzled how the 97% of scientists cant tell me what the weather will be in two months but they can accurately predict the temperature one hundred years from now. Can someone send me the link to the list of 100% of scientists in the world?

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 months ago | (#46295589)

Good thing that climate scientists aren't puzzled about that. If they were, they would have wigs (or breast implants these days) and be called weatherman (weather persons?).

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295793)

You're right. Meteorologists are stupid and Climate Scientists are smart. Want proof? Climate Scientists chose a discipline in which they can never be considered "Wrong"

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#46295599)

MoronBob,

No scientist has told you they can accurately predict the temperature in 100 years. But they can give a range of predictions for climate for various future time frames.

Because unlike you, they understand the difference between weather and climate.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (2)

MoronBob (574671) | about 9 months ago | (#46295689)

You sound like you know quite a bit about this subject. When was the decision made to change the term Global Warming to Climate Change? Who made the change and why?

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295807)

This is a lie. Check out Google scholar to see how both terms have been in use for about the same time.
Cf. http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=326

You should change your nickname to be less self-deprecating, apparently that nickname makes you feel entitled to asking strawman questions instead of doing a simple Google search (or Bing if you happen to prefer it)

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 9 months ago | (#46295613)

Small fluctuations in local weather are much, much, much, much more chaotic than large fluctuations in global climate. This is hardly unique to atmospheric sciences.

Lets us an IT analogy, lets say you manage a large data center and your head of IT comes up and says something like this:
"Over the next 5 years, 15% of the hard drives in this data center will fail. We need to take these basic precautions."

Your response would be like:
"Why on earth should I trust your estimate for 5 years from today when you can't tell me exactly which servers will fail within the next 6 months!?"

And then you'd get angry at him 5 years down the road when only 14% of the drives failed and be all like:
"See! I told you there was nothing to worry about!"

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (1)

Layzej (1976930) | about 9 months ago | (#46295647)

Predicting the weather 2 months from now is easy. Where I live it will be about 10C-15C warmer in April than in February. Predicting the temperature two weeks out - now that is tricky.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295655)

I can't tell you that you will not get sick tomorrow and die, or get hit by a bus, but I can say that on average what your life expectancy will be.

That's the difference between weather and climate.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295703)

Weather != Climate
Micro prediction methods != Macro prediction methods

Horse racing metaphor: there's a big difference between predicting the number of finishers and the order they'll finish in. Similarly, predicting yearly rainfall for a country is significantly easier than predicting weather for a small town.

Because you're confused, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295747)

Temperature is not climate. Scientists can tell you that for most people in the northern hemisphere temperatures will get warmer in two months. That's climate. They can't tell you that in June it will rain on the 6th but clear up just long enough to cross the English channel. That's weather.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#46295565)

Yes global warming predictions were made in the 1970s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 9 months ago | (#46295651)

How many of them predicted zero warming between 1998 and 2013?

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (2)

Bartles (1198017) | about 9 months ago | (#46295713)

Probably the one's that didn't "adjust" the data.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 9 months ago | (#46295717)

Not sure, but I think people were predicting many decades ago that statistics would be abused to show an absense of something that actually exists, simply by being selective with your samples. For example, you might choose to pick a 15 year time span of a pattern subject to noise when you know full well that a five, ten, twenty, twenty five, and fifty year time span doesn't show the same thing, and that the only reason that fifteen years shows what you want is because of the noise.

Re:Predictions were made in the 1970s then? (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 9 months ago | (#46295753)

When it comes to modeling, "predicting" old data is actually an invaluable technique for developing useful models. For instance, if you're working with machine learning algorithms, it's typical to segregate your data into a training set and a test set (sometimes an additional validation set as well). The training set is used to teach the machine learning algorithms, thus establishing a model. You then take that model and run it over the test set to see how well it matches.

Put differently, rather than creating a model from all of the old data (which, as you said, is trivial and not really that impressive), you put yourself in the shoes of a 1970s scientist and try to use the data from only up to that point to create a model that will work for the next 40 years. You then get to fast forward 40 years and see how you did. If you didn't get it right, you go back and try again.

Predictive Power (4, Insightful)

simonbp (412489) | about 9 months ago | (#46295415)

That's because you are looking at climate models calibrated against that data that you are comparing to. Circular logic.

If you look at the predictions from past IPCC reports, very few of their predicted temperature profiles match the later observed conditions. That is a failure of the models' predictive power. That doesn't mean there isn't warming, just that the Earth's climate is a more complex system than can be accurately simulated with modern computing hardware.

Re:Predictive Power (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | about 9 months ago | (#46295467)

Maybe you could help us out by showing us where we can find predictions from past IPCC reports.

Re:Predictive Power (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46295533)

That is false.
WARNING: I have read many previous reports so you citation have better be rock solid*.

*Rock Solid was my porn name!

Re:Predictive Power (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 9 months ago | (#46295587)

That's because you are looking at climate models calibrated against that data that you are comparing to. Circular logic.

If you look at the predictions from past IPCC reports, very few of their predicted temperature profiles match the later observed conditions. That is a failure of the models' predictive power. That doesn't mean there isn't warming, just that the Earth's climate is a more complex system than can be accurately simulated with modern computing hardware.

I would have said that the models are fundamentally flawed rather than blaming computer hardware. Processing power has followed Moore's Law for the entire time these temperature predictions have been made, so that really isn't the issue.

The single biggest problem is clouds: accurate cloud modelling isn't happening; cloud activity is averaged to the grid size in the model. This leads to assumptions about planetary albedo. Look at the story the other day about the reduction in albedo in the Arctic: as the ice cover has shrunk the albedo has also shrunk. But polar albedo isn't where the action is; it's tropical albedo that is the world's thermostat, and tropical albedo is controlled by cloud formation.

Re:Predictive Power (4, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | about 9 months ago | (#46295629)

Following your advice, I looked at the overview from the first IPCC report [www.ipcc.ch] , and in section 2 it lists one prediction as about a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature between the time of that report (1990) and 2025. It's not 2025 yet, but based on an observed warming of about 0.16 degree Celsius per decade, we should see a warming of about 0.8 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2025. It falls a bit short of one full degree, but the prediction was literally "about 1 degree Celsius," and 0.8 degrees Celsius is in fact about 1 degree Celsius.

Re:Predictive Power (3, Insightful)

EvilSS (557649) | about 9 months ago | (#46295767)

0.8 degrees Celsius is in fact about 1 degree Celsius.

Well, +/- 20%

Re:Predictive Power (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295789)

Check your math--1990-2025 is 35 years, or 3.5 decades. At 0.16 degree C per decade, that's 0.56, not 0.8. And it's a lot harder to argue that 0.56 is "about 1"; most people would say that it's "about one half".

Re:Predictive Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295803)

one prediction

The McNider/Christy link you provided plots the average of several predictions. What's your point?

I'm cold! (0)

nospam007 (722110) | about 9 months ago | (#46295431)

Ergo, there is no Global Warming.

But seriously, California is drying up and the South has to buy more snowplows.
That's one observation.

Re:I'm cold! (2)

MoronBob (574671) | about 9 months ago | (#46295539)

Where you aware the current drought in California happened after millions of acres of farmland were denied water and the water was released to save a tiny fish in the Delta?

Re:I'm cold! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295665)

California is half desert. It always has been. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071315 This whole movie (written in the 50 made in the 60s) one of the major plot points is water. This is not new. They have a desert there called *DEATH VALLEY* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Valley. Meaning go in with plenty of water or die. The flooding from rainfall is well known. So they built lakes to control it. They then build industries around those lakes. The industries outgrew the lakes (as predicted in the 40's and 50's).

South has to buy more snowplows
"I wish it would snow more like when I was a kid". That is what many of the people I work with say. In the south. So the cities in their long term logic saw little to no snow for a few years decided to SELL said snowplows. The literally sold them because of 1-2 inches a year for a few years.

We are in a drought. They happen. To blame 'global warming' is grasping for straws. The models are wrong because they are basically splines. Any 10th grade algebra teacher can tell you what they think of results of splines when you get off the edges no matter how many input items you have. They may be close or wildly wrong. But that will be pure chance.

Roy Spencer has other motivation. (5, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 9 months ago | (#46295435)

Spencer has contributed specific work in peer reviewed journals that is part of the scientific discussion, but his overall opinion on climate change is motivated more by his own religion than anything else. He's both sympathetic to intelligent design and signed a statement which said among other things ""Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Spencer_(scientist)#Climate_change [wikipedia.org] Essentially he believes that climate change isn't happening because his religion won't let him. Note how that statement wasn't even just about climate, but about ecosystems as a whole. Christy doesn't seem to have that same sort of underlying motivation and might make more sense to pay attention to, but in this context, the vast majority of experts disagree with both of them, and when dealing with complicated scientific issues, using expert consensus is a useful heuristic, that's before we get to the serious issue that not only is the expert consensus clear, it is a consensus about some very bad results, not just a consensus about an issue which doesn't have substantial impact.

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#46295499)

Very little if any of Spencer's attitude on AGW ever makes it to his published work. He's the Michael Behe of climatology.

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 9 months ago | (#46295763)

The keyboard moved but nothing came out

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 9 months ago | (#46295511)

The temperature data doesn't have a motive.

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 months ago | (#46295603)

The cherry picking and slanted explanation of the data most assuredly does.

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295543)

Spencer has contributed specific work in peer reviewed journals that is part of the scientific discussion, but his overall opinion on climate change is motivated more by his own religion than anything else. He's both sympathetic to intelligent design and signed a statement which said among other things ""Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Spencer_(scientist)#Climate_change [wikipedia.org] Essentially he believes that climate change isn't happening because his religion won't let him. Note how that statement wasn't even just about climate, but about ecosystems as a whole. Christy doesn't seem to have that same sort of underlying motivation and might make more sense to pay attention to, but in this context, the vast majority of experts disagree with both of them, and when dealing with complicated scientific issues, using expert consensus is a useful heuristic, that's before we get to the serious issue that not only is the expert consensus clear, it is a consensus about some very bad results, not just a consensus about an issue which doesn't have substantial impact.

As opposed to climate change being a religion unto itself

Guess you must have missed this from TFA:

Messrs. McNider and Christy are professors of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and fellows of the American Meteorological Society. Mr. Christy was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

Got anything to say about Mr. Christy?

No?

Take your ad hominem tripe elsewhere.

Then we should discount other studies too? (2)

nefus (952656) | about 9 months ago | (#46295581)

Using your comments. We should also cancel out avid atheists too then? I'd be curious to see if there are any REAL people in the middle when it comes to scientists in either way. In same same vein, we should cancel out studies by scientist who get paid to do studies by any person, organization or government that wants to prove global warming is man made. Try to find some real neutrality by honestly curious scientist, I'm wondering if you really could.

Re:Then we should discount other studies too? (0)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 9 months ago | (#46295617)

Not really. There's no intrinsic reason an atheist should think that climate change is happening. For that matter, there are Christians who are scientists who don't think that their religion forces an answer to these questions one way or another. The point isn't an atheism v. Christianity issue, but about Spencer's specific religious belief. And yes, funding issues are a problem, and they are worth paying attention to, but there's very little funding that only goes to specific goals, but rather simply to stud climate issues in general. When funding is more motivationally directed that's a definite problem, but that's only a small fraction of total funding.

Re:Roy Spencer has other motivation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295615)

his overall opinion on climate change is motivated more by his own religion than anything else

The exact same statement could be made about Michael Mann, James Hansen, Al Gore and all the other high clergy of the Church of Climate Change. There really is no difference. It's all about the benjamins.

A More INteresting Question (2, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#46295439)

A more interesting question is why Spencer never publishes any of his alleged massive critiques of AGW in peer reviewed journals. He seems to be quick to a check from the Koch Brothers and various other pro-oil interests, but oddly never seems to actually publish these resounding rebuttals in any kind of scientific venue.

Re: A More INteresting Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295559)

+1

A very interesting answer (1, Insightful)

cirby (2599) | about 9 months ago | (#46295719)

A big reason you won't see any critiques of that sort is that the influential folks in the AGW alarmist camp made a big effort to block any critical papers from even being considered. Threats to blacklist journals for publishing "anti-AGW" papers, for example, or to take behind-the-scenes action against anyone who tried to submit such papers.

This all came out in the Climategate emails. But you never heard about those, did you?

They also admit in those emails that most of the actual criticisms of "mainstream" AGW were valid, and discussed ways to cover it up.

"Hide the decline" ring a bell?

Or "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on ... shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

Re:A More INteresting Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295723)

I don't want to ruin an otherwise interesting post but publishing against mainstream knowledge is hard. Especially in peer-reviewed journals. My example: Piltdown Man. 40 years have passed and any argument against the fossil was disregarded.

Confusing article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295459)

"since 1980, close to the 0.8 degrees Celsius warming predicted by the climate models" - Where does that pre-1980 prediction come from??

How many pre-1980 predictions failed, and why did you pick that particular one?

Oh boy! (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | about 9 months ago | (#46295525)

An invitation to speculate and draw our own conclusions based on a model that everyone will pick apart?

Bring in some pre-conceived ideas from Slashdot readers and we have a real festive discussion ahead of us today! Popcorn time.

I'm taking wagers on how many posts this one gets within the next 2 days. My computer model puts the number at about 535.

We don't have enough processing power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295527)

True "3D" climate modeling is still out of the reach of a majority of scientists. We're still calibrating the proportional influence of various factors, and we're finding new ones all the time, like the full extent of the methane deposits on the ocean floor. Really, the biggest factor in climate change is the ocean and we're still struggling to come to grips with how variable it is. Most of the talk these days revolves around causal forces that have huge impacts beyond their comparative size: exotic GHGs like the CFCs we've mostly banned, cloud albedo, high latitude ice melt, ocean temperature, pH and salinity, plankton growth rate (the Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" has a significant impact), and yes, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Businesses, especially resource extraction outfits, hate discussing climate change, from oil and coal magnates making climate studies a pariah (see what the Harper government is doing in Canada and the coal lobby has done to West Virginia) to mining concerns putting profits above pollution worldwide.

Not terribly well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295537)

...which is why support for this alarmist guff is decreasing, worldwide.

Calling all Slashdot climate experts... (1, Funny)

mspohr (589790) | about 9 months ago | (#46295569)

I'm sure this will be an intelligent discussion since we have so many people visiting here who are solid scientific thinkers, are experts in the field and will be able to intelligently discuss the nuances of this subject. I doubt we will see personal bias. I'm sure the discussion will be well reasoned and without hyperbole.
I personally don't feel I have to check back on the discussion since I have already made up my mind.
  (for the impaired)

Re:Calling all Slashdot climate experts... (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 9 months ago | (#46295797)

You win this thread. Slashdot is not a scientific forum for anything.

The Worst Offender (5, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 9 months ago | (#46295591)

I can't speak to the accuracy of historic weather data or modern weather models, but I can say this:

Global Warming / Climate Change (pick one, please) alarmists do themselves an incredible amount of damage when they do the following:

1. Grossly exaggerate predictions and base everything on the worst case they can find.
2. Manipulate charts to make changes look far more significant than they really are.
3. Instantly ridicule anyone who disagrees with them on anything, even if that disagreement is valid.

Let's say for the sake of argument that all of the predictions from these weather models are 100% accurate, all of the research and data is correct, and that the climate is indeed warming because of CO2 emissions, and that the climate will warm 5 Celsius degrees in the next 200 years. Let's pretend that the science is completely perfect.

Even if all of that is true, you will find a lot of people who won't even bother listening because they remember crazy predictions like "New York city will be underwater in 20 years! [forbes.com] " and "We're all going to be cannibals! Cannibals, I say!" [newsbusters.org]

Do you see why so many people don't listen to those who are trying to push human-caused climate change?

Politics needs to be taken out of the equation. Completely. Everything needs to be 100% transparent. The science needs to be broken down in ways the average person can understand. Even if that happens, it will be decades before the damage the global warming alarmists have caused can be reversed.

Re:The Worst Offender (3, Insightful)

Grantbridge (1377621) | about 9 months ago | (#46295681)

How long do you think it'll take for you to bleed to death if I shoot you with a pistol? Its not an easy problem to predict. You don't know precisely where you will be shot, if the bullet will go straight through or lodge in bone, or ricochet. You don't know how long your blood will take to clot. You can be pretty sure that, left unattended, you will die from being shot. But predicting exactly how long you will have is rather hard. CO2 levels cause global warming by basic physics, just as a greenhouse is warmer inside than outside. You trap the heat in, but let the visible light through. What the exact consequences of a certain CO2 level are is hard to say preciously, but if CO2 levels keep going up and up and up you can be sure that the polar ice caps are going to melt and sealevels are going to rise dramatically. Precisely when this will happen is as hard to predict as how long it'll take you to bleed out from a gunshot wound, but you wouldn't argue that because its hard to determine how long you have, it's not worth trying to avoid getting shot!

Re:The Worst Offender (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46295685)

"Global Warming / Climate Change (pick one, please)"

Why? A global warming climate is going to change the climate.

"1. Grossly exaggerate predictions and base everything on the worst case they can find."

Nope, absolutely wrong.

"2. Manipulate charts to make changes look far more significant than they really are."

Absolutely false.

"3. Instantly ridicule anyone who disagrees with them on anything, even if that disagreement is valid."

Never has happened. Show me a disagreement both valid and ridiculed. TIA. Then show you're not grossly exaggerating and basing everything on the worst case you can find. Right..?

"Even if all of that is true, you will find a lot of people who won't even bother listening because they remember crazy predictions like "New York city will be underwater in 20 years! "

Nope, not my problem the crazies remember fakes and therefore will not believe in truths. That makes THEM crazies too, dearie.

"Do you see why so many people don't listen to those who are trying to push human-caused climate change?"

Yes: blind refusal to face an uncomfortable truth.

"The science needs to be broken down in ways the average person can understand"

It has been. IPCC reports do that. You've never read them, though, so how would you know?

One small problem... (4, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | about 9 months ago | (#46295631)

The State of the Climate 2012 paper is... get this... from two years ago. After they had to start "adjusting" their models to reflect reality.

When you look at the actual historical AGW models, we're below their "optimistic" model (the one where we cut CO2 drastically over the last couple of decades - which didn't happen). And a good 0.2 C below their "probable" models.

If you're looking at predictions, go back and look at the climate models from the late 1980s and early 1990s. They're off, by a ridiculous amount.

Out of 90 models (yes, ninety), a grand total of TWO managed to predict the current temperature.

Roy Spencer? Really Slashdot? (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 9 months ago | (#46295667)

FU editors

Roy Spencer is a religious fanatic (3, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 9 months ago | (#46295677)

Spencer's scientific views are being affected by his religious beliefs. He is a signatory to a document called An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which holds that Earth was created by "God's intelligent design" and that ecosystems are therefore "robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting". Whatever you might think of this, it is definitely not a scientific statement. Basically, he refuses to accept, for religious reasons, that humans can have an effect on the Earth's climate – in his theology, only God can do that.

Spencer is also a major proponent of the "intelligent design" scam. And both he and John Christy are based out of Alabama, one of the most backward and scientifically illiterate states in the U.S.

Comparison from a real climate modeler (4, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 9 months ago | (#46295699)

For several years Gavin Schmidt, one of the principals of the NASA/GISS Model/E climate model, has been doing a comparison of model output to observations. There isn't an update for 2013 yet but the comparison through 2012 is available here. [realclimate.org]

These guys are deniers (1, Informative)

nmrtian (984245) | about 9 months ago | (#46295701)

These guys are well known climate change deniers with links to the petroleum industry. Their goal is not to enlighten but to sow doubt.

Submitter can't read a bloody graph... (3, Informative)

Onymous Hero (910664) | about 9 months ago | (#46295721)

Where does the 0.7C warming since 1980 figure come from exactly? I make it roughly 0.7F (note: FAHRENHEIT) from 1980 until the last point in 2012. That's an anomaly of around 0.4C, which seems to tie in with the graph on the R Spencer page.

Since 1980? Give me a break (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#46295741)

Look back before that, the period from 1950-1974 (approximately). How well do the models match there?

Cherry picking is bad science. You have to look at the whole record from the start of the Industrial Age... and the models haven't been particularly good.

That's not an anti anthropogenic global warming statement, by the way. It's a "science is hard and you can't understand a subject after ten minutes of reading" statement.

Looking out the window... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 9 months ago | (#46295761)

My prediction for a warm day is now shot to hell.

Climate models, the ocean, the sun, magnetic field (1)

Danathar (267989) | about 9 months ago | (#46295821)

Most of the well sited models don't take into account very well deep ocean dynamics, or even consider things like the magnetic field (might be nothing but who has really looked into it?). Also interdecadal oscillation in the Pacific is not really factored in that much either.

Are humans affecting the planet? I'd say yes. Do we know well enough to trust climate models? I'd say we need more data and more work.

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