Climate change modellers vindicated

Via Jennifer Marohasy, I found a report on three articles in Science Express that put the closing seal on the most significant issue in the debate about the reality of human-caused climate change: the disagreement between climate models and data from satellites and radiosonde balloons. Now as Real Climate observes “the discrepancy has been mostly resolved – in favour of the models.”

There aren’t many scientifically literate sceptics (that is, people open to being persuaded by evidence, but not yet convinced) left on the global warming issue, and this evidence, along with the continued warming being observed at all levels, should convince most of those who remain. There’s a bit more history over the fold.

The big expert on satellite measurements of climate is John R. Christy of the University of Alabama, who has worked with Roy Spencer. His data, which started in 1979, initially appeared to show a cooling trend in the troposphere. Since satellite data seemed free of many of the errors that affect surface measurements, these results were seized on by global warming ‘sceptics�.

However, it was discovered in 1998 that the satellite data had problems of their own, arising from a failure to correct for the gradual decay in their orbits. Correcting for this, and adding more data, the satellite data now showed a slight warming trend, but not as much as the surface data. More data and alternative analysed reduced the discrepancy somewhat, but it remained a problematic issue. Sceptics also pointed to studies of radiosondes carried on weather balloons. These were much patchier, but also failed to match model predictions.

The latest studies correct errors in the procedures used to derive both satellite and radiosonde time trends, largely eliminating the discrepancy. The most conservative estimates of tropospheric warming, those of Christy and Spencer now show warming of 0.12 C per decade, compared to a surface trend of 0.19 C per decade. Other estimates show tropospheric warming equal to or greater than that at the surface, as predicted by the models.

In view of the predictive success of the models, in which climate change is driven by human-caused accumulation of greenhouse gases, and the repeated failure of empirical challenges, it’s hard to see how anyone without strong preconceptions on the topic can reject the conclusion that, in all probability, we are experiencing human-caused climate change. Most of the models predict that the warming is likely to accelerate in the future.

125 thoughts on “Climate change modellers vindicated

  1. Hmmm – the last 11 posts here were a (fairly boring) conversation between Stroppy and Fido. Get together over a beer and slog it out guys. I would pay to see that – although the hot air generated may noticably increase global warming (or is that AGW).

  2. Fyodor Says: August 29th, 2005 at 10:25 pm

    Arguing with Fyodor is tiring and trying. One has to constantly engage in the tedious business of proving (empirically) that water flows down hill and (logically) “that if p then q”. My apologies to long suffering observers.

    I’m sorry, Jack.

    Firstly, one should never apologise, just fix it up. Didnt Fyodor learn anything in school and the Army?

    I didn’t mean to imply that the world’s long-term meterological modellers are mostly woolly minded suckers.

    Secondly, [wearily], Fyodor’s psychological intentions are irrelevant – it is his logical values that are twisted. If he says that someone who bets on the reality of AGW is “credulous” then he is implying that such person is a “woolly minded sucker”.

    James Annan is a world class meterological modeller and has indeed bet on the reality of AGW. (If Fyodor had any sense he would check out JA’s work – which is a model of intellectual competency and cogency in both meterological and methodological analyses. But Fyodor’s ego appears to be a pretty heavy spanner in his mental works.) Therefore, according to his argument, JA must be a “woolly minded sucker”. QED.

    I do not wish to engage in any correspondence with Fyodor about my personal relations (which is why I relate to his comments in the third person – this is also good intellectual hygienic practice). I merely note that, in my acquaintance, competent scientists are quite modest about their intellectual achievements and accomplished traders tend to be quiet about their financial prowess.

    When Fyodor’s cacophany of raucous horn-blowing and violent drum-beating begins the casual observer is not immediately struck dumb with wonder at the virtues of his intellectual modesty and financial discretion. One is left to draw the obvious conclusions about his achievements in these areas.

  3. * blows horn, beats drums…violently *

    Shorter Stroppy: I know important people, and I’m really very modest about it.

    You have a lot to be modest about, Auntie Jack. “Woolly-minded sucker” were your words, BTW. I can’t help it if they describe you so perfectly.

    I don’t think you’re really believable when you say that you find arguing with me “tiring and trying”. It’s obvious that you derive a masochistic pleasure from having your extensive shortcomings demonstrated so comprehensively. For my part, I enjoy giving you a stage to parade your clownish gift for pompous self-abasement. The only unfortunate aspect is that you don’t seem to enjoy your own embarassment quite as much as the audience.

    On one subject you are correct, however: I, too, do not wish you to “correspond” with me on your “personal relations”. For one thing, it’s pathetic to trot out supposed anecdotes from third parties of your acquaintance as arguments. For another you’re not entirely credible as someone who has friends.

  4. That’s OK, Andrew. You’re just a spectator – this stuff is best left to the professionals. Now, please stand back as Jack delivers another blast of breath-takingly erudite repartee…

  5. Fyodor Says: August 30th, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Shorter Stroppy: I know important people, and I’m really very modest about it.

    My general criticism of Fyodor was based on the assumption that competent and credible perfomers were modest and quiet about their own personal affairs and professional achievements. These are virtues that Fyodor conspicously lacks, going by his off-hand treatment of his intellectual betters and coy references to big money matters.

    For one thing, it’s pathetic to trot out supposed anecdotes from third parties of your acquaintance as arguments.

    The reference to traders was not just an anecdote, it was whats called a brute fact – a notion somewhat foreign to Fyodors solipsistic mind. And that single fact was refutational of Fyodor’s initial claim that persons who were prepared to bet on climate change were “financially incompetent” (black swans and all the rest).

    It is typical of Fyodor’s obsessive self-regard that he confuses and then conflates my criticism of his immodesty (regarding his own most-likely worthless financial and intellectual actions) to turn it into a snipe about my purported immodesty (regarding my associates worthwhile actions).

    I don’t think you’re really believable when you say that you find arguing with me “tiring and tryingâ€?. It’s obvious that you derive a masochistic pleasure…[Blah X 3]

    The concept of a civic-minded defence of truth is obviously alien to Fyodor’s petty mind. I think that he is an intellectual con-artists whose most impressive mark has been himself. Refuting Fyodor’s arguments is not a pleasure in itself, it is more akin to intellectual garbage disposal. But it does relive pain since they reek of bad faith and I cant stand the smell. It is not always a pleasant duty to hold up the mirror to Caliban’s raging face.

    The only unfortunate aspect is that you don’t seem to enjoy your own embarassment quite as much as the audience.

    This comment is diagnostic of Fydor’s delusional state. For the record it looks like the run of comments – and pretty derisive ones at that – are flowing pretty much all against Fyodor, which implies that they are not-against Jack. It follows that if anyone is getting the crowds rasberry it is Fyodor. But his self-knowledge is so limited, and his ego so fragile (which explains the constant attempts to upholster it by bloating), that I dont expect to hear that particular penny drop anytime soon.

  6. Fyodor Says: August 30th, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    This bloke’s an intellectual colossus.

    I really cannot accept this accolade all myself since much of the change in my intellectual stature as this debate has progressed is more of a tromp d’oleil I owe to Fyodor. It seems that, to paraphrase Norma Desmond, Jack has not so much grown into an “intellectual colossus” as Fyodor has been reduced to an intellectual midget.

  7. Me too, Jase, though I think I’ve demonstrated that it’s funnier when I do both sides of the argument. I also find that Auntie Jack is less predictable when I’m working the strings. Witness:

    Shorter Fyodor: a midget!

    Oh, what verve! Quel esprit! The fun is neverending chez Stroppy.

    Ma tante Jacquasse, si tu vas écrire en Français, je te prie de consulter un dictionnaire. Ton Français est dégueulasse.

  8. Fyodor Says: September 1st, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    I think I’ve demonstrated that it’s funnier when I do both sides of the argument.

    Commenters have stated that it is the Fyodor-Jack interactivity which provides the humourous frisson. But what would they know? Being indepedent observers they dont get a vote in Fyodor’s solipsistic universe.

    PS Self-praise is no praise at all, and laughing at ones own jokes is reputed to be a sign of madness.

    Ton Français est dégueulasse.

    You know that our opponent is on the ropes, if not down and out, when he resorts to the petty victories of typo flaming. As the usenet convention states a typo flame is the “last gasp of the net.nerd”.

    Typo flaming in a foreign tongue squares the rhetorical vice by being both petty and obscure.

    Typo flaming done in accented French is rhetorical viciousness cubed: petty, obscure and pretentious.

    It seems my bête noir’s attempt at overcoming l’esprit de l’escalier has turned into yet another faux pas.

  9. The lady doth protest too much!

    I didn’t criticise your spelling, Auntie Jack. I said your French was lousy. “Typo flame” indeed! Don’t be such a pussy. If you’re going to switch to a different language, have the good sense to pick one that you’re actually competent in using. Of course, that also leaves out English, but I’m sure there’s one language out there you can’t mangle. Sign language, perhaps.

    And I’m not your bête noire [N.B. typo flame! Naughty Fyodor!]. You’re the one who hangs on my every word.

  10. Fyodor Says: September 1st, 2005 at 8:04 pm

    I didn’t criticise your spelling, Auntie Jack. I said your French was lousy.

    Jack only used, and typo-ed, a single French phrase so Fyodor is fabricating a distinction (spelling v usage) without a difference. More “directionless quibble” from the master of the art.

    You’re the one who hangs on my every word.

    Actually, it is Fyodor who is held taut in verbal self-suspension. His comments have given us a gruesome insight into the perverted practice of auto-erotic self-asphyxiation. With a tongue that doubles as a noose, his “gasping” words have hung himself.

  11. Shorter Strocchi: Ref, Fyodor flamed me again! Re-ef!!! Fyodor’s a pervert, too. He very bad-bad man. Very bad indeed!

    Well, I’m not going to deny that I’m deeply disappointed, Auntie Jack. I keep throwing you pearls of advice, and yet you refuse to see reason. Even using hackneyed French cliches you couldn’t spell [Whoah! Typo flame…again! Call the Tiddlywinks Referee!] you were more eloquent than in your native tongue. I suppose a simpleton’s gotta play the hand he’s dealt, even if he is a coupla cards short of a deck.

    I don’t know where your diversion onto sexual practices came from. I thought your Stove fixation was bad enough, but now you’ve taken us to a whole new level of Strocchi-perversion. OK, maybe torturing the English language isn’t enough for you, but do you have to tell us about your sordid fantasies? Leave it for your imaginary-friend conversations, Auntie Jack.

  12. Fyodor Says: September 2nd, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    maybe torturing the English language isn’t enough for you,

    The author of the following 67-word stream of pretentious and incoherent gobbledygook is in no position to lecture Jack on his special wickedness in mishandling the English language:

    The risk in the model building and testing process is that the model builder works through so many iterations to “fit� the model to the historical data, that they lose the rigour of the science used in determining the key variables and the structure of the model, thereby producing a model that works really well at predicting the past, but may be lousy at predicting the future.

    Re-reading passages like this, often uttered with bravura of the bar-room know-it-all, leaves one with the lurking suspicion that Fyodor is way out of his depth. My only fear is that his wild thrashings will take others down with him.

  13. Guys, seriously… take a deep breath… This has gone WAY beyond a joke. If I want to see people who I previously respected thrash the cr*p through each other, I’ll watch the Australian cricket team.

  14. WTF?!! Are you serious, Alpaca? Did you really respect Jack?

    Seeing you becoming boring next time, Auntie.

  15. Hmm. I always thought I prefered honest arrogance to dishonest modesty. I may have to revise.

  16. You can talk, quitter. You can’t even follow through.

    It was a harmless enough question. Comme d’habitude, you’re reading too much into it.

  17. This is off topic, but perhaps you can help me with a language question. The expression “dingo’s kidneys” (as in “it really does not matter a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys”): Was that popular in Australia BEFORE it showed up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? I suspect it was, but would love to have proof. (This is for use in editing a new dictionary of slang.) Please tell me what you know or recall. Thanks! Marian Bock, New York

  18. I’ve heard it used occasionally since but I’m fairly sure it originated with the Late Douglas Adams.

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