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January 17th 2017 print

Walter Starck

The Climate Confabulators’ Sinking Ships

Global temperatures' refusal to rise has obliged warmism's comfortably settled scientists  to once again fiddle the data, something they do always with aplomb and no coherent explanation. Ah, but not so fast! One of the fulcrums on which they spin their latest legerdemain is absolutely worthless

titanic4In the late 1990s, as the idea of global warming began to attract widespread public attention and research funding, the claim that recent warming was unprecedented and dangerous was conflicted by extensive evidence of a preceding Little Ice Age (LIA) and, before that, a Medieval Warm Period (MWP) that was as warm or warmer than the present. As later revealed in the Climategate email leak, leading proponents of the warming threat privately discussed a need to get rid of the LIA and MWP.  Soon thereafter this was achieved by publication of what became known as the Hockey Stick graph (Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1998), which purported to show no statistically significant trend in average global temperature over the previous millennium until a sudden steeply increasing rise over the 20th century.  In the accompanying study the LIA and MWP were dismissed as only unimportant local fluctuations limited to north-western Europe.

The Hockey Stick was based primarily on estimates of temperature from variations in growth rings from a few dozen pine trees in two very localised and extreme environments. This data, presented as representing the global pattern, was analysed using a statistical treatment which has been shown to result in a hockey-stick shape even with random input data.  In addition, a lack of any indication of ongoing warming in the 20th century part of the tree ring record was hidden by overwriting this portion with selected data from the instrument record. The whole hokey confection was published in a leading journal, received banner treatment by the news media and was subsequently adopted by the IPCC as the iconic image for their Third Assessment Report in 2001.

All this blatant chicanery has been thoroughly exposed, the infamous Hockey Stick graph being refuted by hundreds of peer reviewed studies, as well as numerous historical records which confirm the LIA and the MWP as having been real, distinct and global in scope. Even so, rather than just let the Hockey Stick graph die and be forgotten, the alarmists have chosen to make fools of themselves by vigorously, even viciously, defending it. They still argue for its validity, despite it having been no less discredited than Piltdown Man or phlogiston.

Now, having learned nothing from the Hockey Stick debacle, the alarmists are setting out to further their discredit by attempting to refute the so-called hiatus or pause in warming marked by no statistically significant trend in global temperatures for the past two decades.  This new hokey hockey stick is being fabricated by “adjusting” the temperature record of the past century.  It started with unannounced and unexplained “adjustments” to the records from weather stations. When noticed and questioned, the only explanation offered has been generic and hypothetical reasons for needing to make adjustments with no specific details as to what or why anything was done in any particular instance!

Although this approach has forestalled critical examination, an ongoing lack of warming is making it impossible to maintain any pretense of scientific credibility by continuing to adjust the temperature record from weather stations.

Desperate times require desperate measures, and with credibility running thin on changes to the weather station records, attention has been turned to the two-thirds of the planet covered by oceans. For most of the past century the ocean temperature record comes primarily from the cooling water intake of ships, and, then over the past two decades, a much more accurate measurement from a global network of instrumented buoys, both anchored and free floating. Adding to the complexity has been a further mix of records from satellites, expendable bathythermographs dropped from ships and earlier records using thermometers in buckets of water scooped from the surface. All these have their own differing errors and biases, making comparisons highly uncertain at the levels of accuracy required to assess climate trends.

In June, 2015, a group of NOAA researchers published a study (Karl et al., 2015) applying “adjustments” to the ocean surface temperature record with the result that the ocean data which previously had shown no statistically significant trend now exhibited an ongoing warming.  This study has met with considerable criticism and controversy. Then on January 4, 2017, another group of researchers published still another study (Hausfather et al., 2017) reassessing the ocean data and making more adjustments which further increases the purported warming trend.

However, in addition to all of the uncertainties in measurements by the different methods there also exists a major variable in Sea Surface Temperature the existence of which appears to not even be recognised by the climate “experts” and which is the key point of this essay. In referring to the surface temperature of the ocean it is generally assumed to refer to the temperature of the upper hundred metres or thereabouts where mixing by wave action results in a more or less uniform temperature down to a thermocline, where the deep sea suddenly starts to become much colder. Although this is normally the case, in periods of extended calm another layering develops with major effects on both surface temperatures and their measurement as well as the whole ocean/atmosphere energy exchange.

In calm conditions, when wave-driven mixing ceases, a distinctly warmer layer forms at the surface. After a week or more of calm this layer can be a metre or two in depth and as much as 3-4ºC warmer than the water immediately underneath. When the wind comes up and wave-mixing resumes this layer disappears in a matter of hours. When it is present it not only enhances the ocean/atmosphere exchange it also blocks the heat flow into what is normally the much larger upper mixed layer and results in cooler than normal surface water when mixing resumes.

Normally, periods of extended calm are restricted to a relatively narrow, seasonally shifting equatorial zone known to meteorologists as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ, and to mariners as the Doldrums. However, when the trade winds weaken and El Niño conditions arise the doldrums expand in latitude and the region of extended calms can affect millions of square kilometres of ocean. The region primarily affected in this regard is the equatorial Pacific. This is also an area that in the past was outside the major shipping routes so the temperature record from ships is relatively sparse.  In addition, the cooling water intakes of ships are normally 5 metres or more below the surface — well below the surface warm layer which results from calms.  However, Sea Surface Temperatures from satellites and the more accurate recent data from buoys do sample this warm layer.

The result of this difference in sampling depth is that the recent SST data from buoys and satellites has been measuring the upper surface warm layer when it is present while the ship intake water data has been from the cooler water beneath.  Averaged into the SST record this difference in sampling can account for most or all of the purported warming claimed to have been found in the reassessment of SST data.

All along, this particular 800 pound gorilla has been sitting all over the SST data. This has not just gone unnoticed but also has hopelessly polluted a large but indeterminate portion of the past temperature record. It is probably going to be impossible to determine and adjust for it with any reasonable certainty.

The only reliable SST trend must come from the much more recent satellite and buoy data which at this point shows no statistically significant direction. Unfortunately, another impossibility will almost certainly be in getting the “experts” to even admit this problem exists. We are probably going to be stuck with their latest shoddy confection until its credibility also collapses under the necessity of repeated adjustments to maintain a warming trend.

Although this important surface layering effect has been obscured by its short-term variability and the muddle of different sampling methods, it is strong, widespread and quite apparent in the real world, even if not so in the sampling record and entirely missing in the climate modelling. Continuing to claim “the science is settled” is going to require a rather daunting level of both ignorance and arrogance. However, having freed itself from the onerous constraints of scientific integrity, one can be confident the alarmist “settled science” community will be up to the challenge.

A marine biologist, Walter Starck has spent much of his career studying coral reef and marine fishery ecosystems

Comments [36]

  1. Dallas Beaufort says:

    Next winter will sandwich the lefts warming agenda between colder winters, failing crops and hot spots caught between long-term cycles. Inigo Jones rip.

  2. Peter OBrien says:

    Thank you, Walter, for a valuable and succinct account of the SST fudging.

  3. ianl says:

    Thank you for this lucid, concise summary. I particularly enjoyed the precision of your essay when dealing with the mendacious Hockey Stick episode.

    One caveat, however:

    > “… having learned nothing from the Hockey Stick debacle, the alarmists are setting out …”

    Activists did learn something: the MSM can be absolutely counted on to support any CAGW lunacy. That hasn’t changed at all.

  4. Keith Kennelly says:

    It has been claimed the Coral sea has warmed this year to above 26.5 degrees(The temp required to form cyclones). This essay shows that the warming might well be the case in the surface layer. But still no cyclones are appearing. This essay helps explain that occurrence. As the surface warms the winds increase and as they increase the wave and surface turbulence occur so according to the article warmer surface water mixes with the deeper cooler waters thereby reducing the surface temp ‘in a matter of hours’.
    That would prefent the formation of cyclones.

    The bom predicted at least 6 cyclones affecting the east coast of Aust this summer. No doubt they had no idea of the info in this article and relied on the warming surface temps as the basis for their forecasts.

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    Thanks for your article Walter.

    I had no idea why cyclones were not forming this year even though the surface was above 26.5 degree. (For the first time since Yasi.

    Now I think I understand why. Thanks.

  6. en passant says:

    Walter,
    The possibility you raise would invalidate all the past and current methods of sea temperature data collection, thus reducing a century or more of records to the dustbin. They might as well be random numbers. Oh, actually, they are, thanks to ‘statistical’ adjustments’.

    There have been many previous pseudo-scientific data sets that had no validity, so I suspect you are right as I have long noted that in the morning news in any capital city they report the temperature in the city and around the suburbs regularly showing a variation of 2C-4C – all within a radius of 40km. Which one is the ‘right’ temperature?

    These climate parasites have no sound foundation of reliable data on which to base their predictions of catastrophe, but they will anyway for 30 shekels of silver.

    I will file this with about 30+ other papers I thought were so clear that no intelligent life could continue to believe in this cult of climate catastrophe.

    At about this point, cue the inevitable entry of Ian MacDougall to point out that we are all doomed. It is too late as the CO2 ppm is rising and we will pass the tipping point he cannot name and fry & die at a temperature he does not know.

  7. Don A. Veitch says:

    So why was everyone worried?
    It was always a lie, easily exposed.
    The ‘left’ udoes itself.
    Its ephemera
    Conservatives, largely irrelevant for the last 40 years, should get on with the real agenda: wealth creation, physical economics, re-industrialisation!

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    En, I think Ian has so discredited himself with his assertion that ‘cold is caused by warming and his explanation that ‘it is effected in parts of the atmosphere where weather doesn’t occur’ that we will hear very little from him when fact, reason and logic are presented.
    Hell not dare respond with his made up science and fallacy based explanations.

    He’s among the tail end acolytes of a dying dynasty of doomsayers

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Keith:
      With all due respect, where have I ever said that “cold is caused by warming”?
      What I did say was that increased energy in the atmosphere can result in more energy for cyclonic winds (and anticyclones too of course) which can result in more cold air being dragged up from Antarctica than would otherwise occur, causing local cooling in Australia.
      As I recall, I did point out the existence of kero and gas fridges, in which a counter-intuitive situation exists of heat apparently resulting in (very local – ie only inside the fridge) cooling. Needless to add: overall, a gas or kero fridge has a heating effect overall on its surroundings.

  9. Jody says:

    Don’t rely on Donald Trump to make leadership decisions about climate change. I mostly agree with this, though not the thoughts of the political opponent cited here from the Democrats:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-presidency-is-doomed/2017/01/16/961763fc-dc1e-11e6-ad42-f3375f271c9c_story.html?utm_term=.3e02c00b246c

    • ianl says:

      Sorry Jody, but there is no hope of the Washington Post ever getting hold of my email address as long as I can prevent it.

      • Jody says:

        You need to read what the man says; the similarities are frightening. However, one ray of hope; when you’re already on the bottom there is only one way to go.

        • Peter OBrien says:

          Jody, the similarities are superficial. The article you cite is just a collation of bile. In particular, the suggestion that Trump is an illegitimate President is not only patently untrue it is also extremely dangerous. It is designed to ‘legitimise’ any excess or hyperbole in opposing Trump. Whatever Rep Lewis’s virtues and track record, when he took this line he must expect to get it back in spades.

          • Jody says:

            Well, I do hope you’re right. The welfare of the developed world depends on it.

          • en passant says:

            Jody,
            As I am overseas I only occasionally watch international news outlets. I have to minimise my watching to stave off morbidly suicidal thoughts.
            Today, one day before his inauguration CNN was still arguing/fantasising that Trump was an illegitimate President and would fail. They support your views and pessimism, just like all the predictions you made about his never being elected. This is the same stuff they have peddled every other day. Yesterday they had a 15-minute segment by Ahmad Al-Zahri(?) on ‘The Decline of Liberal Democracy’. I could only take the first 5-minutes. See if you can spot the irony that if you do not vote for the Left then this PROVES democracy is in decline and maybe the answer is that it should be replaced by Rosie O’Donnell’s martial law and Prezzie for life Obama. That would fix those wrong-thinking deplorables.

            The BBC is still questioning (and lamenting) the result of the BREXIT vote and finding more and more reasons why it is all too hard and will turn the UK into a 3rd world country, if that. They even say (as with the ‘celebrity appeal to the Electoral College) that the UK Parliament should refuse to ratify the DEMOCRATIC will of the voters who turned out to vote. Of course, that is their trump card: as only 52% of 72% of eligible voters cast their exit vote, that means only 38% supported BREXIT. They fail to mention that by that logic no MP would have been elected as none made 50% of the eligible registered voters.

            Get over your mourning and in your next post provide us with a short list of five good things Trump will achieve.

            I hope this is not as futile as asking the MacDougall to list five benefits of a doubling of CO2 and a 2C increase in global average temperatures. After all, surely you do not want to be in the same basket as the MacDougall?

    • en passant says:

      Jody,
      “Don’t rely on Donald Trump to make leadership decisions about climate change.”

      Day-0 of his Presidency and he has taken down the White House Climate Change website.

      Time to give us your next penetrating insight …

  10. Keith Kennelly says:

    Fudging Ian. Your convoluted explanationexplaining the cool events was clearly and unambiguously interpreted as warming caused the cold events. You then used the inane comparison with refrigeration. Then you said high in the atmosphere the cold air moves and that there is energy in the high atmosphere.

    Well Ian I pointed out the impossibility of those things occurring, but here you are doggedly and blindly sticking to the impossible without even the slightest questioning of your disproven beliefs.

    Mate as I said you ‘among the last acolytes of the dying dynasty of doomsayers’.

    And yes I am laughing at you.

    Jody but Donald is giving leadership. It just he’s leading the way away from the elite’s clauses. And you elitists don’t like that and none of you can understand how we deplorables could possibly be right and achieve what we set out to do.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      “Fudging Ian. Your convoluted explanation explaining the cool events was clearly and unambiguously interpreted as warming caused the cold events.”
      Interpreted? ‘Interpreted’ by whom – apart from yourself? (Yawn.)

  11. Jody says:

    @en passant: I’m hedging my bets about The Donald. Of course, I want him to succeed if only to apply the sledgehammer to the Left. But the signs are not encouraging while-ever he sends mindless Tweets.

  12. Keith Kennelly says:

    Ian when we write words and people interpret those words they convey meaning.
    That’s interpretation. It’s quite a normal process.

    Now much as you would now like to change the meaning …. uhmmmm you can’t.

    Now tell us exactly how cold air rises and is dragged up from the southern ocean and what energy in the atmosphere generates cyclones and anti cyclones …

    Yep still laughing at you.

  13. Keith Kennelly says:

    Jody

    Donald’s tweets are only mindless to the elites. I find his tweets highly targeted and effective.

    His latest about the human rights activist was apt and accurate and it really did undermine the activist and the criticism of his Presidency as illegitimate by undermining the activist. The tweet basically called into question the local representation provided by activist. The job he was elected to do obviously wasn’t being done very well.

    I thought that tweet very clever. Now anybody questioning Trumps legitimacy will simply lead people to ask whether the questioners local representation is effective. You will see Democrats think twice about making that criticism in future.

  14. en passant says:

    As expected, no list from probable Trump successes from Jody.

    I think it is the first anniversary of when she promised never to post again (and move to Canada?)

  15. Ian MacDougall says:

    The subtext of all this climate ‘scepticism’ is quite clear and simple: nothing must be allowed to inhibit the fossil carbon industry in its rush to dig up the coal and convert it into dollars.
    Their economic imperatives drive their ‘science’.

    • en passant says:

      Ian,
      We realistic sceptics are more than happy to go nuclear. At the moment it is more expensive than hydrocarbon fuels, but a LOT cheaper than greenfoolery ‘renewables’.
      Now there is a ridiculous term as the Sun shines (sometimes)and the wind blows (sometimes), but the means of turning that into grid damaging, unreliable, usable (sometimes) electric power is expensive, polluting, environmentally damaging and a waste of resources.
      So, I accept coal, oil & gas because the benefit the world and the environment by producing reliable power, transportation and (as a side benefit) CO2 plant food. What a wonderful resource we have been gifted.

      Oh, and so I can pay Keith’s Quadrant subscription, don’t forget to tell us the destination for your personal flight of fancy:

      1. What is the IDEAl concentration of CO2; and
      2. What is the ideal global average temperature.

      If you do not know where you are going, then any road will take you there … (The brainless scarecrow in Wizard of Oz)

    • PT says:

      Hmm. And Australian democracy was “established” at the “Eureka Stockade” even though the “responsible self government” Constitutions of NSW and Victoria had already been passed. But hey, this doesn’t “mesh” with Marxist thought about “revolution”! That is one of the failings of Marxism! Marx was German and apparently failed to understand such principles as “compromise”. Perhaps I should mention “moderation” which, sadly, seems outside the German mind if Merkel is any guide!

  16. Keith Kennelly says:

    Ian

    And your supporting proof is?

    Whereas I see third world governments rushing to build coal fired power stations so as to provide the cheapest electricity to their industries and populations. This results in lifting massive numbers of ordinary PEOPLE out of poverty.

    But no you prefer to see poverty perpretrated and a conspiracy of industrialists snaffling wealth.

    You are a black arm band visionary.

    • PT says:

      But but but, “developing world” CO2 isn’t global warming. British coal is evil (but Thatcher closing mines was way, way worse). Australia is “responsible” for the emissions of exported coal. The US, UK, Europe et al are “responsible” for any emissions used to produce goods imported from China et al. Yet somehow transplanting factories from the US/UK to China is a positive good – just ask “heroes” like Al Gore. This insanity is current logic in the AGW community!

  17. en passant says:

    Et Al,
    Boring I know, but the trolls must be challenged and made to continually look ridiculous.

    Keith,
    Sorry, but it would appear that I will not have to pay for your Quadrant subscription (I always thought my bet was safe) as I recognised the Ian/Jody approach long ago.
    It is:
    1. Make a definite statement with apparent authority.
    2. When it is shown to be false or ridiculous, ignore the refutation and charge ahead to the next fake authoritative prediction and ridiculous statement: never look back, never answer genuine questions that expose your ignorance or errors.
    3. Repeat the process.

    Example?
    Jody,
    You got everything about the rise and success of Trump wrong, but now he IS the 45th President of the Great Again USA. You now wish him success, but predict he will Twitter his way to failure. If you really are objective, then list five unqualified successes you expect from the Trump Administration.

    Ian MacD (Yawn),
    You have regaled us with your extensive denial of reality and railed against the very source of power that lights your home and allows you to communicate and plague us all. Like every totalitarian cultist, you have the renewable answer to save the planet and, if we do not heed your warnings (given with 97% certainty), the seas will rise, the planet will fry and we will all die in a Venusian holocaust.
    To save us from this we must sacrifice our livelihoods, our national sovereignty, our security and our children to Gaia (or Greenfoolery).

    Oh Guru, what is the Holy Grail you seek that will save us from our Venusian fate if we heed you?

    1. What is the IDEAL average temperature we must achieve to save the planet; and
    2. What is the ideal concentration of CO2 that we must achieve by taking a vow of unreliable renewable poverty for all Australians.
    Let me add:
    3. Can we save the world by giving up hydrocarbons and going nuclear?

    Two simple numbers and I will begin my search for poverty by the cost of Keith’s subscription to the magazine you troll.

    For everyone else, if YOU cannot answer either, then surely this leads you to the inevitable and logical conclusion that the climate con is the true reality. It is and always has been a false god that can now join alchemy, phrenology, astrology, Tulipmania, the South Sea Bubble, Jim Jones and every alarmist scam in the dustbin of history. Oh, I forgot, not in Oz with our current crop of political hacks who have staked our sovereignty on this altar.

    Truly the Extraordinary Madness of Crowds of MacDougalls.

  18. Keith Kennelly says:

    I thought I paid my own sub. Did we have a bet somewhere or have you had a bet with someone else?

    You’re right about the trolls (Ian) and the elitists (Jody).

    Sadly the trolls will never change but the elitists, if they dare try a little risk instead of trying to make everything safe, might.

    • en passant says:

      Keith,
      I offered to pay your subscription if:
      Ian MacD could enlighten us as to the Holy Grail of the ideal global average temperature he seeks and the ideal concentration of CO2. Secondly, I challenged the sage of failed predictions, Jody to just list five things she expected Trump to succeed in achieving.
      Neither did so, as expected.

      Sorry, but you will have to pay your own subscription to read the MacDougallism and Jody ‘wisdom’. I mentioned Tulipmania as a scam not unlike the Climate Con.

  19. Keith Kennelly says:

    Oh you forgot the Dutch Tulip scam.

  20. Keith Kennelly says:

    And wasnt Donald Trump PRESIDENTIAL

  21. Jody says:

    I don’t know where else to post this, and it’s a bit late, but it will be of interest in the climate debate:

    https://youtu.be/Gh-DNNIUjKU