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How reliable are climate models?

The skeptic argument...

Models are unreliable
"Models do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests. They are full of fudge factors so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe the same fudge factors would give the right behaviour in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2." (Freeman Dyson)

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate
Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.

Climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice – and the sun. This is clearly a very complex task, so models are built to estimate trends rather than events. For example, a climate model can tell you it will be cold in winter, but it can’t tell you what the temperature will be on a specific day – that’s weather forecasting. Climate trends are weather, averaged out over time - usually 30 years. Trends are important because they eliminate - or "smooth out" - single events that may be extreme, but quite rare.

Climate models have to be tested to find out if they work. We can’t wait for 30 years to see if a model is any good or not; models are tested against the past, against what we know happened. If a model can correctly predict trends from a starting point somewhere in the past, we could expect it to predict with reasonable certainty what might happen in the future.

So all models are first tested in a process called Hindcasting. The models used to predict future global warming can accurately map past climate changes. If they get the past right, there is no reason to think their predictions would be wrong. Testing models against the existing instrumental record suggested CO2 must cause global warming, because the models could not simulate what had already happened unless the extra CO2 was added to the model. Nothing else could account for the rise in temperatures over the last century.

Where models have been running for sufficient time, they have also been proved to make accurate predictions. For example, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo allowed modellers to test the accuracy of models by feeding in the data about the eruption. The models successfully predicted the climatic response after the eruption. Models also correctly predicted other effects subsequently confirmed by observation, including greater warming in the Arctic and over land, greater warming at night, and stratospheric cooling.

The climate models, far from being melodramatic, may be conservative in the predictions they produce. For example, here’s a graph of sea level rise:


Sea level change. Tide gauge data are indicated in red and satellite data in blue. The grey band shows the projections of the IPCC Third Assessment report (Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009).

Here, the models have understated the problem. In reality the events are all within the upper range of the model’s predictions. There are other examples of models being too conservative, rather than alarmist as some portray them. All models have limits - uncertainties - for they are modelling chaotic systems. However, all models improve over time, and with increasing sources of real-world information such as satellites, the output of climate models can be constantly refined to increase their power and usefulness.

Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

Rebuttal written by gpwayne. Last updated on 26 August 2010.

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Further reading

Comments

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 283:

  1. Look at plate 1 in Hansen's 88 paper, the model includes the oceans. Hansen's Scenario C is the one that most closely matches the "Land – Ocean" temperature.

    John Cook wrote:
    "A way to test the accuracy of models is through hindcasting - see whether they successfully predict what has been observed over the past century."

    Not true for any model. All that shows is they can fit the model to the history. That is beside the point as the IPCC does not claim that the models can predict anything.

    John Cook wrote:
    "The key point is that all the models fail to predict recent warming without taking rising CO2 levels into account."

    Given enough "tunable parameters" that should come as no surprise. The modelers also assume that there is some positive feedback, there is no proof that this is the case. Here is one for you straight from the IPCC, Chapter 8, page 596:

    "The number of degrees of freedom in the tuneable parameters is less than the number of degrees of freedom in the observational constraints used in model evaluation."

    IOW, the models are nothing more then sophisticated curve fits.

    Calling the models "predictions" does not instill confidence that you have done your homework.

    Kevin E. Trenberth
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2007/06/predictions_of_climate.html
    "In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios."

    And from the same letter:
    "Even if there were, the projections are based on model results that provide differences of the future climate relative to that today. None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate. In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of the IPCC models."

    John Cook wrote:
    "Satellite measurements show that the troposphere is warming"

    The models predict that the troposphere should warm faster then the surface, it isn't.
    Response: Re tropospheric warming, I recommend reading Satellite show little to no warming in the troposphere. The argument over "prediction" vs "projection" is semantics. Kevin Trenberth is merely saying we don't know with certainty what future emissions will be so we make predictions based on various emission scenarios. However, lest it be a stumbling block, I'll update the text. Thanks for the feedback!
  2. Wondering Aloud at 01:14 AM on 16 November, 2007
    Models are the biggest gun in the arsenal for AGW. What people like Dyson are telling us is that the models use assumptions that are not validated by observation and that cannot account for many known effects. The models might be right but they haven't got a good track record except in hind sight. (After they've been fudged to fit the past) Someday they will probably be good they are better than 20 years ago.
  3. I recommend this paper and it references for this section as well

    http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/2007%2005-03%20AusIMM%20corrected.pdf
  4. Will Nitschke (www.capitaloffice.com.au) at 21:50 PM on 20 December, 2007
    Leaving aside the silly notion that you can 'prove' a model's accuracy by checking it's fitting to the historical record--I mean honestly, you are aware that these models are tweaked *until* they fit the historical record, aren't you? The past is not the problem.

    The Hansen forecast sounded impressive, so I looked over the paper and did some googling. There is definitely a different spin on the accuracy of the forecast. Discussed here:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=796

    which demonstrates that scenario B is nowhere near the perfect fit implied by your article or Hansen. Hansen could be right, but he doesn't seem to explain where he is getting his data from. I can only find vague references to 'Station Data' and 'Land-Ocean'. What data is it he is using? How has it been adjusted? At least the sceptical article above is up front on where the data is coming from. This doesn't prove that Hansen is wrong. But it doesn't leave one with a high degree of confidence either.
  5. Well, here is NASA telling us there is no meaningful comparison of models to observed global temp change
    "The analysis by Hansen et al. (2005), as well as other
    recent studies (see, e.g., the reviews by Ramaswamy
    et al. 2001; Kopp et al. 2005b; Lean et al. 2005; Loeb
    and Manalo-Smith 2005; Lohmann and Feichter
    2005; Pilewskie et al. 2005; Bates et al. 2006; Penner
    et al. 2006), indicates that the current uncertainties
    in the TSI and aerosol forcings are so large that they
    preclude meaningful climate model evaluation by
    comparison with observed global temperature change.
    These uncertainties must be reduced significantly for
    uncertainty in climate sensitivity to be adequately con-
    strained (Schwartz 2004). Helping to address this chal-
    lenging objective is the main purpose of the National
    Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glory
    mission, a remote sensing Earth-orbiting observatory"

    http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/88/5/pdf/i1520-0477-88-5-677.pdf
  6. Will Nitschke (www.capitaloffice.com.au) at 12:13 PM on 9 January, 2008
    Here is an interesting quote from IPPC's AR4 found in chapter 1:

    "The strong emphasis placed on the realism of the simulated base state provided a rationale for introducing ‘flux adjustments’ or ‘flux corrections’ (Manabe and Stouffer, 1988; Sausen et al., 1988) in early simulations. These were essentially empirical corrections that could not be justified on physical principles, and that consisted of arbitrary additions of surface fluxes of heat and salinity in order to prevent the drift of the simulated climate away from a realistic state. The National Center for Atmospheric Research model may have been the first to realise non-flux-corrected coupled simulations systematically, and it was able to achieve simulations of climate change into the 21st century, in spite of a persistent drift that still affected many of its early simulations. Both the FAR and the SAR pointed out the apparent need for flux adjustments as a problematic feature of climate modelling (Cubasch et al., 1990; Gates et al., 1996).

    By the time of the TAR, however, the situation had evolved, and about half the coupled GCMs assessed in the TAR did not employ flux adjustments. That report noted that ‘some non-flux adjusted models are now able to maintain stable climatologies of comparable quality to flux-adjusted models’ (McAvaney et al., 2001). Since that time, evolution away from flux correction (or flux adjustment) has continued at some modelling centres, although a number of state-of-the-art models continue to rely on it."

    A 'flux adjustment' is where you discover that the model's predictions start to vary so much from the historical record that you have to go in and change the values inside the software to re-fit the model to what's actually happening. Very confidence inspiring. And what does 'a number of' mean? 50%? 20%? 80%? How many of these models are manually fiddled with to get them to continue to work...?
  7. Will Nitschke (www.capitaloffice.com.au) at 08:32 AM on 18 January, 2008
    Here is another posting assessing Hansen's model work in a not very favourable way:

    Whether these alternate assessments of Hansen's work stand up is a separate issue. I would point out we should not accept them blindly any more than we should blindly accept Hansen's paper on how brilliant Hansen's previous work was, as this naive article does...
  8. "The models might be right but they haven't got a good track record except in hind sight. (After they've been fudged to fit the past)"

    "Leaving aside the silly notion that you can 'prove' a model's accuracy by checking it's fitting to the historical record--I mean honestly, you are aware that these models are tweaked *until* they fit the historical record, aren't you?"

    Nonsense. Are you saying that Hansen, way back in 1988, was able to travel in a time machine to 2006 and back, so that he could make the adjustments to his 1988 models to make them agree all the way to the present?

    The denialists have nothing but nonsense.
  9. Oh, and ClimateAudit is a barrel of laughs:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/01/climate_audit_comedy_of_errors.php
  10. And besides, if models can be "fudged" to fit anything -- as our `skeptics' claim -- why are the _same_ `skeptics' saying that they can't get Hansen's model to fit the data?

    Can it be because our `skeptics' are simply full of junk?
  11. Wondering Aloud at 10:25 AM on 8 February, 2008
    No, we are saying that Hanson's model from 1988 does not fit the present, even his conservative projections are significantly high of actual observation at this point. (High relative to the ground based measurements and wildly high compared to satellite and balloon measurements to be more specific)

    If a model can't take past conditions and produce results that fit current reality it would be obviously useless.

    However since modelers are not simpletons that isn't the problem that was being discussed! The problem is just because current models have been changed so they can somewhat be used to fit past observations that doesn't mean those changes were the correct changes, therefore it doesn't mean that they are making correct predictions. The models still contain assumptions for various parameters that have not or perhaps can not presently be varified.

    Freeman Dyson is correct here, Models are improving but they have a long way to go before they are better than educated guesses.

    You should read Dyson's entire statement this is a bit out of context.
  12. Wondering Aloud:

    "because current models have been changed"

    You're clearly off spouting rubbish you don't know a thing about.

    Look at the temperature predictions in Hansen et al. (2006) and Hansen et al. (1998). They are _exactly_ _the_ _same_. The 1998 model has _not_ been changed at all, and it still agrees all the way to 2006. All your talk about "fudge factors" can't explain that.
  13. Wondering Aloud at 03:15 AM on 26 February, 2008
    And you say I'm the one who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about!
  14. Models are as reliable as the data put into them.
  15. stevecarsonr at 15:54 PM on 5 April, 2008
    I thought this comment was interesting and relevant.

    It is taken from the US Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works - http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport#report

    Physicist Dr. Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. Dyson called himself a "heretic" on global warming.

    "Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.," Dyson said in an April 10, 2007 interview. Dyson is also a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London.
  16. stevecarsonr at 16:02 PM on 5 April, 2008
    I'll also raise the question whether anyone really believes this extract (from above) which appears to be a basic premise for the page:

    "This betrays a misunderstanding of the difference between weather, which is chaotic and unpredictable and climate which is weather averaged out over time. While you can't predict with certainty whether a coin will land heads or tails, you can predict the statistical results of a large number of coin tosses. Or expressing that in weather terms, you can't predict the exact route a storm will take but the average temperature and precipitation will result the same for the region over a period of time."

    It's a false analogy. Random *independent" events provide statistical certainty over a period of time. The climate does not fit this description.

    Can anyone provide some evidence -peer reviewed citations - that long range climate forecasting is more accurate than weather forecasting? I know the IPCC claimed it in their report but they didn't backup the claim.
    Response: That's the problem with using analogies - the comparison always breaks down at some point when you compare it directly. The main point is the contrast between short term, random unpredictability and long term, statistical summations. While weather is chaotic and non-linear, long term climate trends are discernable and predictable. As is seen in these peer reviewed studies analysing the success of climate forecasts.
  17. Dan Pangburn at 12:03 PM on 13 April, 2008
    A common comment regarding GCMs is that they do not account for clouds very well. This is a substantial weakness. There have been assertions that warming increases atmospheric water vapor which, through a feedback mechanism, increases warming. Certainly increased atmospheric water vapor would produce more, lower-level clouds. How do the GCMs account for this? A simple cloudy-planet point model where standard atmosphere tables are used to get average cloud temperature vs altitude shows that a change of average cloud altitude of 305 meters would result in an eventual average earth temperature change of 0.75C. Many other factors known to influence cloud formation are not accounted for in the GCMs.
  18. Frankbi said:
    "And besides, if models can be "fudged" to fit anything -- as our `skeptics' claim -- why are the _same_ `skeptics' saying that they can't get Hansen's model to fit the data?

    Can it be because our `skeptics' are simply full of junk?"

    I am surprised that John did not reply to this, but I assume he does not have the time to respond to every nonsensical claim that appears on his board.

    Frank, if you do not know that GCMs (and many other models) are "tweaked" to fit past data, then you have no place attacking others. It is common practice, and there is little that is nefarious about it, though it may appear as such. You probably know that there are many uncertainties and complexities in the climate system, and in attempting to model such a system, you must used what has already been observed to better your understanding and accuracy. If models were based purely upon theory for such a complex system, they would appear wildly inaccurate and worthy of no utilization.

    -Robert
  19. I'm repeating here what I've said in another place on your blog:

    The IPCC summary of computer simulations you link above only go back to 1850 and blurs out problems with individual models by replacing the spaghetti curve with a grayed out region. (Errors in the simulations are highly correlated from year to year, the figure makes it seem they are not, which is false and misleading.)

    Also did you notice the huge 0.3°C anomaly around 1940-1950 that the models, even with the fuzzing provided by IPCC, are unable to explain?

    Where did that warming come from? I would conclude from that, that we aren't at the place yet, even for a 150-year period with a lot of fudge factors thrown in, where we can accurately describe past climate, let alone accurately predict future climate.

    Secondly did you notice that there was very little anthropogenic forcing before 1970, according to the models? Have you ever considered how disingenuous it is, given this fact, to compare glaciers from e.g. 100 years ago to current, when the models say that almost all warming prior to 1970 was natural?
  20. Robert S:

    Yes, I do know that model parameters are usually adjusted according to some past data, _and_ the resulting model has to be validated with data that are _not_ used to configure the models in the first place. If I didn't make this clear enough, my apologies.

    From my understanding, this approach of tweaking and holdout validation is what climate scientists have been doing. And it's perfectly good science, of course.
  21. FACT: Only Computer Illiterates believe in "Man-Made" Global Warming.

    What people do not understand is that there is no proof of "Man-Made" Global Warming without using irrelevant computer models. Yes computer models have a place in engineering but are utterly useless at fortune telling, I mean "climate prediction". With engineering you can build and test in the real world to confirm the computer model's accuracy. You can do not such thing with the planet Earth and it's climate. You cannot build a planet and it's atmosphere to "test" your computer climate model.

    I am a computer analyst and can make a computer model do whatever I want by "tuning it" (adjusting variables by guessing until I get the answer I want or think is right). If you program a computer model so that X amount of CO2 increase "forces" X amount of temperature increase then it will happen, this does not make this true in the real world.

    GIGO: Garbage in = Garbage out

    Computers need exact information and the exact procedures to process that information to get accurate answers, without that you get useless results, period. There is no way around this. Computers cannot fill in the blanks for you like nature does when you do an experiment in the real world. With computers everything must be programmed into them from the begining and everything that is programmed into them must be 100% understood and 100% accurate. Even the most advanced and expensive computer climate models include various "aproximations", unproven theories, biased methods and data.

    Computing incomplete, biased or flat out wrong data (guesses and assumptions) based on poorly understood climate physics in a "model" will give you useless output. But since these models have been "tuned" (guesstimated or deliberately altered to get the results they want) they get results that "seem" likely or even convincing to the average computer illiterate, yet they are absolutely meaningless for prediction.

    Alarmist scientists presenting their predictions as fancy graphs or nicely colored renderings does nothing for the accuracy of the prediction. They like to color small variances in temperatures using yellow, orange and red to exaggerate them. This is to have an obvious emotional effect for a relatively meaningless change.

    Nothing is emotional about computers they are pure logical machines, 1 + 1 must = 2. Imagine trying to use random numbers to get a right answer on a calculator but you do not know if you are to add or multiply those numbers and you have no way to confirm that "right answer" except to wait 50-100 years. Sound crazy? Welcome to Global Climate Modeling.

    What the modelers do is they keep playing with the numbers until they think they guess right, a useless exercise. Technically they are mathematically adjusting various climate related equations based on theoretical assumptions. These same climate model computers are used to predict your weather and you know how accurate they are. But damn! Al Gore and Gavin Schmidt can certainly tell your what the climate will be 50-100 years from now! Give me a break. Don't be fooled that modeling climate is different than the weather or one is more accurate than the other long term. The difference is simply a matter of resolution and scale.

    Testing a model against past climate is an advanced exercise in curve fitting, nothing more and proves absolutely nothing. What this means is you are attempting to have your model's output match the existing historical output that has been recorded. For example matching the global mean temperature curve over 100 years. Even if you match this temperature curve with your model it is meaningless. Your model could be using some irrelevant calculation that simply matches the curve but does not relate to the real world. With a computer model there are an infinite number of ways to match the temperature curve but only one way that represents the real world. It is impossible for computer models to prove which combination of climate physics correctly matches the real world. Do not be fooled this logic is irrefutable by anyone who understands computer science and computer modeling.

    Question: Why is 100% of the computer code for every computer climate model not made publicly available?

    To make matters worse it is not computer scientists creating these models but natural scientists coding them using Fortran. These natural scientists do not even begin to have the basic understanding of computer science or proper coding practices. Their code is not 100% available publicly and you do not have independent auditing or code validation. Sloppy and buggy code is very likely littered inside these climate model programs yet there is next to no accountability for any of this. How do you separate a programming error from a temperature anomaly? How can you replace observational data with a complex mathematical equation? You can't.

    FØRTRAN: "Write all your code in FORTRAN. If your boss ask why, you can reply that there are lots of very useful libraries that you can use thus saving time. However the chances of writing maintainable code in FORTRAN are zero, and therefore following the unmaintainable coding guidelines is a lot easier."

    "If your boss thinks that his or her 20 year old FORTRAN experience is an excellent guide to contemporary programming, rigidly follow all his or her recommendations. As a result, the boss will trust you. That may help you in your career. You will learn many new methods to obfuscate program code."

    How many of the models used by the IPCC have had ANY bug fixes or code changes since the most recent IPCC report? If they have had ANY - all previous model run results become null and void based on simple logic thus easily invalidating the ridiculous conclusions of the IPCC report.

    All the computer illiterates are convinced that because something is done on a "super computer" that costs "millions of dollars" it is infallible. The more complex the model, the more "mysterious" it seems to the average person. The public gives computer climate models this mystical aura because they are largely computer illiterate about how they actually work and when they hear the term "computer" they do not want to sound or feel stupid, so they nod their heads and go along with it.

    Why are we not turning to models to predict the future for everything? Because they can't, not even remotely. Some of them work "sort of" for the weather in very, very short term results (1-3 days) until all the data they are processing that is wrong combined with all the data they are missing and the millions of variables they are not accounting for start to kick in and grow exponentially the farther out the model runs and wham - the model is wrong. No kidding, there are simply way too many variables that they cannot account for and the computer power necessary to even start to take these variables into account does not exist.

    You are expected to believe that they can "model" the climate 50-100 years in the future when they cannot even give you accurate weather 3 days out? Don't be fools, I do this for a living, Computer Models cannot predict the future with anything as complex as the Earth's climate.
  22. Poptech
    When I was in college we were taguht Fortan IV, even though it had already been supplanted by Fortan 77. I did not realize that anyone was still using it. My own last experience was in SAS and that was in the 90s. Are you saying that these climate models are being coded in Fortran?
  23. Wow Poptech, what a rousing, impassioned, statesman-like speech.

    Unfortunately, it contains no verifiable concrete facts.
  24. Poptech, nice job of trying to help people understand what computer modeling is and what it can do.

    Folks, if a climate model doesn't predict past data 100% perfectly then it's useless. You can create an infinite number of different mathematical models that will predict any data series 100% perfectly. To deserve any respect these climate models must predict the previous data perfectly as a start, none should even be thought about unless it does that, and then it has to predict the future better than a simple polynomial fit that also perfectly predicts past data.

    Frankbi, all the facts in Poptech's post are verifiable. I learned them in school. His analysis is spot on.
  25. "all the facts in Poptech's post are verifiable. I learned them in school."

    I don't think that's what "verifiable" means.

    As always, the "criticisms" of climate models are devoid of any concrete, testable facts.

    -- bi, International Journal of Inactivism, http://frankbi.wordpress.com/
  26. Will Nitschke (www.capitaloffice.com.au) at 19:23 PM on 15 May, 2008
    Here is a new study that evaluates the accuracy of climate models:

    D.Kutsoyiannis,N.Mamassis,A.Christofides,A.Efstratiadis,􀈱S.M.􀈱Papalexiou
    Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering National Technical University of Athens
    (www.itia.ntua.gr)

    http://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/850/3/documents/2008EGU_ClimatePredictionPrSm.pdf

    Or to sum up the study:

    "Climatic models generally fail to reproduce the long term changes on temperature and precipitation."
  27. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say/#comment-87205
    on the Skeptic article, by the other author on the same issue.

    Koutsoyiannis mentioned here:

    "Cohn and Koutsoyiannis, one of them the author of the very paper that I had criticized, sat down next to me. We nevertheless had a very civilized and friendly chat, deciding to disagree on the matter of natural trends.

    But Dr. Koutsoyiannis commended us for being respectful in our reply to his comments. I think this is a very important issue – we have to be respectful, sincere, and show courtesy in our criticism, even when we argue why we think that a paper has flaws. ..."
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/04/egu-2008/

    Use the Search box at the top of the RC page, paste in:
    Koutsoyiannis
    Dr. Koutsoyiannis posts there in two of the discussions.
  28. "on the Skeptic article, by the other author on the same issue."

    I didn't think Koutsoyiannis was writing up a "skeptic article", but rather an assessment of climate models.

    "'Cohn and Koutsoyiannis, one of them the author of the very paper that I had criticized, sat down next to me. We nevertheless had a very civilized and friendly chat, deciding to disagree on the matter of natural trends.

    But Dr. Koutsoyiannis commended us for being respectful in our reply to his comments. I think this is a very important issue – we have to be respectful, sincere, and show courtesy in our criticism, even when we argue why we think that a paper has flaws. ...'"

    I don't see how this is relevant-- the paper that Rasmus criticized was a paper titled "Nature's style: Naturally trendy" by Timothy Cohn and
    Harry Lins. The "But Dr. Koutsoyiannis commended us for being respectful in our reply to his comments" part of it involved comments made by Koutsoyiannis on a 2006 realclimate thread.

    So hank, I am not exactly sure where you are getting at with your comment here. Just a little background information on Koutsoyiannis?
  29. Fundamental Computer Science, if a Computer Model includes merely one approximation for what latter dependant calculations or data are derived from then the output of the model is useless. This is Computer Science 101.

    Hansen's 1988 "Predictions" have been proven wrong thus further evidence that the models cannot predict the future:

    Evaluating Jim Hansen’s 1988 Climate Forecast
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000836evaluating_jim_hanse.html

    "...all of our models have errors which mean that they will inevitably fail to track reality within a few days irrespective of how well they are initialised." - James Annan, William Connolley, RealClimate.org

    "These codes are what they are - the result of 30 years and more effort by dozens of different scientists (note, not professional software engineers), around a dozen different software platforms and a transition from punch-cards of Fortran 66, to fortran 95 on massively parallel systems. [...] No complex code can ever be proven 'true' (let alone demonstrated to be bug free). Thus publications reporting GCM results can only be suggestive." - Gavin Schmidt, RealClimate.org

    This site is a cruel joke for Computer Illiterates. Yes the models have to be exact to give any sort of relevant results. That is like saying a calculator does not have to be based on accurate Arithmetic to be a useful tool in mathematics. Utter Propaganda.
  30. Just saw this article referenced on another climate blog:

    http://www.atypon-link.com/IAHS/doi/abs/10.1623/hysj.53.4.671

    It studies the accuracy of climate models. Basically compares the model's predictions vs what happened. The conclusion was that climate models don't predict forward very well. I don't have the background to judge whether this article is credible but it did go through a peer reveiw process.
  31. Oh - and in my research on this subject I found the chart you had above 'Average Mean Global Temperature Change' had been updated over on ClimateAudit:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3354#more-3354

    Can I trust the updated charts posted there? They seem to show actual temperature date significantly diverging from Hansen C (ie: lower). Again - I'm not the expert so I'm here asking questions of those who are :-). Thanks.
  32. Dan Pangburn at 09:01 AM on 3 August, 2008
    To put the Global Warming issue in context, consider:
    1. That average global temperature has decreased since 1998. The anomalies from NOAA data are:
    1998 0.5763
    1999 0.3947
    2000 0.3629
    2001 0.4934
    2002 0.5573
    2003 0.5565
    2004 0.5336
    2005 0.6044
    2006 0.5428
    2007 0.5458
    Jan to June 2008 average 0.44
    2. That GCMs (Global Climate Models) do not yet adequately account for the absorbed infrared radiation energy that is transported up by atmospheric convection currents.
    3. That GCMs are not yet capable of dealing objectively with clouds so they are accounted for with subjective parameterization.
    4. That currently used GCMs invoke water vapor positive feedback that climate history shows to be not valid.
    5. That the GCM users/creators won’t divulge to competent evaluators some of the details of their computer programs.
    6. That the only indicators that human activity causes global warming are these GCMs.
    7. That the multi-billion dollar government grants for ‘climate research’ depend on ominous prediction of looming catastrophe.
    8. That over 30,000 qualified scientists and engineers have signed a document stating that human activity has had no significant influence on climate.
  33. 1. probability and possibility are two different things.
    You may show statistically that something is probable and therefore, sooner or later will happen. This is only true mathematically and not necessarily works in the real world. Any computer model that includes assumptions, 'tweaked' data, or excludes any factors relevent to the model will give a rubbish result.

    2. Remember the Chaos Effect. Small things through iterative action can have BIG consequencies, so the apparently small and irrelevent must be accounted for.
    Worse yet, we don't even know if we know ALL the factors influencing the climate....so any model will be suspect.
  34. Poptech
    Re: comment 29
    Please correct me if I am wrong but was not Fortran 66 (1966) not machine dependent as well as structure dependent? I am not familiar with Fortran 95 as I stopped using Fortran 77 around 1983 and switched to Pascal so my code would be transportable.
  35. Just read an interesting abstract on the effect of the moon on the monthly GMT.
    "Over the past fifty years, the Diurnal Temp Range has decreased by about half a degree.Conventional wisdom blames this on the greenhouse effect. But this decrease is just a trend observed in data that vary over shorter
    timescales. Cerveny and Balling show that for the period between 1950 and 1995, the DTR fluctuates with the phases of the Moon. It tends to increase towards Full Moon, and tends to be lowest at New Moon. Simple
    monthly differences in DTR between New Moon and Full Moon may be as much as 0.309 ºC -- in other words, 60% of the entire 50-year decrease. The message should be clear: all possible sources of variation should be
    investigated before blaming human activity alone for observed changes in climatic parameters."

    There is a correlation between full moon and monthly DTR variations most of which is ascribed to the changing earth/moon barycentre. This has prompted a look at the effects of a shifting sun/earth/moon barycentre on earth climate.
    Another piece in the puzzle?
  36. Mizimi

    I would imagine that the difference between full and new is reflected sunlight and whatever radiation it may contain. This would have an effect on GHGs (I am thinking water vapor and methane which a recent article at LiveScience talks about.

    Re: "This has prompted a look at the effects of a shifting sun/earth/moon barycentre on earth climate."

    Have you ever read The Solar Jerk by Dr. Rhodes Fairbridge?
  37. QM: Yes, just recently, which prompted me to look for further info on how a shifting barycentre could affect climate.
    One thought which I am currently pursuing is adiabatic cooling of the upper atmoshere caused by the tidal effect of sun/moon. As the barycentre moves it causes the shape of the atmospheric envelope to alter, effectively expanding the volume, which should cause a cooling effect.
  38. The models did a pretty good job stating where hurricane Gustav would end up. Should the people of New Orleans have ignored them as well - because they couldn't be 100% certain of their accuracy?
  39. Sandy Winder:
    Gustav was weather, not climate. Gustav was the end product of the climate process.
    Weather can be predicted over VERY short periods with a reasonable level of accuracy; at present, climate cannot. This is a good chunk of what the argument is all about. The uncertainty with Gustav was not that it would hit, but exactly where and at what level ( eventually I think downgraded to Cat2) so it would have been foolish to ignore it.
    A side benefit of the dispute is that we are learning a lot more about climate,history,the biosphere etc.
  40. QM:
    The earth-moon barycentre is around 1700km BENEATH our crust..so the tidal effect of the moon/sun would 'stir up' the lower mantle...presumably a very low frequency effect....and increase surface volcanic activity??
  41. Apparently climatologists do not have much grounding in how feedback works. Unaware of their ignorance, they invoke net positive feedback in their GCMs. This mistake causes the GCMs to predict significant ‘enhanced global warming’. Anyone who has the ability and interest to look at the NOAA data from Vostok Ice Cores for the last glaciation (and prior glaciations) will discover that, repeatedly, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend with the carbon dioxide level higher than it had been when the temperature was increasing. Graphs of NOAA and other credible data, all fully sourced so they can be verified, can be seen at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/pangburn.html. (The web site is controlled by Middlebury, not me.) Those who understand how feedback works will know that this temperature trend reversal is not possible with significant net positive feedback. Thus, as far as global climate is concerned and contrary to the assumption in the GCMs, significant net positive feedback does not exist. Other assessments from entirely different perspectives also determine that there is no significant net positive feedback. They can be seen at http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/01/index.html and http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm
  42. "In addition phytoplankton emit Dimethyl Sulphide (DMS), which reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere to produce sulphur dioxide. This acidic gas forms tiny droplets which help to seed clouds over the ocean, and these reflect sunlight thus cooling the planet. Measurements of methane sulphonic acid (MSA, which is derived from DMS) in ice core bubbles indicate that there were more phytoplankton in the polar oceans during the ice ages, as expected from the theory above. Therefore as the climate gets warmer there will be less seeding of clouds over the ocean - clearly a positive feedback."

    http://www.chooseclimate.org/climatetrain/scipolcc.html
  43. Atmospheric water vapor is also clearly a positive feedback. There are also negative feedbacks. Dr. Richard Lindzen has identified one, his iris effect. Response of the climate system depends on the combined effect of all feedbacks, known or not. When all are combined, the NET feedback can not be significantly positive. This is mandated by the temperature trend reversals of the last and previous glaciations.
  44. Dan:
    Depends what you take as significant. The time span is important,as well as the net feedback quantity.
    A very small change over a very long period ( like glacial periods) can eventually have a profound effect, This is the basis of Chaos Theory.
    One of our major problems is that we do not have enough hard data to quantify these matters to sufficient degree to allow a reasonable model to be constructed.
    We have a lot of information, knowledge and some data, but mostly we have guesstimates derived by various means ( some quite dubious), and that isn't good enough for a system of this complexity.
  45. There is only one complete and exact computer of global climate and that is the planet itself. By definition it complies with all laws of nature including physics and quantum mechanics. Einstein said “no number of tests can prove I’m right but only one is needed to prove I’m wrong”. That one test that proves to be wrong the theory that added atmospheric carbon dioxide causes global warming was run on the planet computer and the results are archived in the Vostok ice cores. They show that, repeatedly, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend with the carbon dioxide level higher than it had been when the temperature was increasing. Those who understand how feedback works will know that this temperature trend reversal is not possible with significant net positive feedback. Thus, as far as global climate is concerned and contrary to the assumption in the GCMs, significant net positive feedback does not exist.
  46. Re #41 & etc. Dan Pangburn

    Dan, you certainly do talk a lot of nonsense, and you seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths on your webpage to put together a deliciously incorrect view of the science!

    Let's look at just a couple of things:

    (1) ["The planet plunged in to the Andean-Saharan ice age 440 million years ago10 when the carbon dioxide level was over ten times higher than now."]

    No.....there certainly does seem to have been significant glaciation dated to around 445.6 mya - 443.7 mya, but the atmospheric CO2 levels for this period are simply not known. You seem to have fallen for the trick of some dubious character who has drawn straight lines across vast ranges (10’s to 100's of millions of years) of geological time based on some unspecified temperature estimates (your posts on this thread are displaying that odd habit of denigrating pukka science by misrepresentation while at the same time embracing stuff that is very obviously ludicrous rubbish!).

    I would expect everyone can understand the problem that if there are one or two paleo proxies (temp or CO2, for example) known for some periods in the past, that one can only say that that's what the temperatures/CO2 levels were AT THOSE PARTICULAR TIMES. One can't draw a line between the points and consider that the temperature/CO2 levels over vast intervening periods is thus established. Imagine an equally dumb geologist from the far future dating atmospheric CO2 level estimates from 430,000 years ago and 1000 years ago. "Goodness", he might say, extrapolating massively between limited data points in gay Scotese style, "highish CO2 levels right through this period. And yet there is evidence for multiple ice cap incursions right down to the South of England and deep into North America. Clearly there can't be any relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature"

    Doh!

    You need to go back and look at the relevant science, rather than trawling for dodgy “information” on websites[***]! The science has been compiled, for example, in a recent review by Royer:

    D.L. Royer (2006) "CO2-forced climate thresholds during the Phanerozoic" Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 70, 5665-5675.

    Or see:

    R.E. Carne, J.M. Eiler, J. Veizer et al (2007) "Coupling of surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Palaeozoic era" Nature 449, 198-202

    Or:

    W. M. Kurschner et al (2008) “The impact of Miocene atmospheric carbon dioxide fluctuations on climate and the evolution of the terrestrial ecosystem” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 499-453.

    And so on….

    Sadly there isn't a proxy CO2 measure for the late Ordovician glacial period. So we don't know if there is a mismatch between atmospheric CO2 levels and evidence for a cold spell then. It's rather clear (see Royer review, for example, and the masses of cited data therein, or the other articles cited just above) that where paleoproxies for atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and cold/warm spells are dated contemporaneously, that there is a rather good match (high CO2 associated with warm periods/low atmospheric CO2 with cold periods).

    (ii) Surely by now everyone can understand the rather simple contributions to ice age cycles and the fundamental differences between solar driven effects (with CO2/water vapour/albedo feedbacks) and greenhouse gas driven effects of the sort that we are now seeing. I find it hard to believe that you consider that you’ve found something worth making such a fuss over, as if there’s something about the lag between temperature and CO2 levels in the Vostock core that is not obvious, rather well-understood and pretty consistent with what we know about greenhouse gases and their effects.

    Let’s look at what happens during the ice age cycles driven by the small, painfully slow variations in the Earth’s orbital properties (Milankovitch cycles). As the pattern of insolation changes through these cycles the Earth warms (in a glacial to interglacial transition), ice sheets recede, albedo effects amplify the warming, the warming oceans release CO2 into the atmosphere resulting in further warming, atmospheric water vapour levels rise, and so on. Obviously, since the primary inducer of the warming is increased solar radiation, and the atmospheric CO2 rise is a result largely of the release of CO2 from the oceans, the temperature rises in advance of the atmospheric CO2 levels. That’s pretty obvious and uncontroversial (part of the lag is apparently also due to interhemispherical effects).

    Going the other way (your example of events 112,000 years ago), it’s not surprising that decreased polar insolation resulted in cooling in advance of the lowering of atmospheric CO2 levels. It takes rather a long time for atmospheric CO2 to be absorbed from the atmosphere, and there’s nothing surprising about the fact that as one “lowers the heater” that the Earth cools while CO2 levels remain relatively high, as CO2 is very slowly reabsorbed by the oceans and terrestrial environment..

    And of course the CO2 level changes are small and the rates of change are tiny compared to present day, where the warming we are seeing is the result of enhanced greenhouse effects with a relatively constant solar insolation. So whereas during the last glacial to interglacial period, for example, atmospheric CO2 rose by around 80 ppm over 5000 years (1.6 ppm per 100 years averaged over the transition), now atmospheric CO2 levels are rising at well over 100 times faster (2-2.5 ppm per year).

    Everyone that takes the smallest effort to inform themselves is aware of the essential differences between ice age transitions (Milankovitch cycles drive extremely slow variations in atmospheric CO2 with very slow feedbacks) and present day warming (extremely rapid increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations resulting in rapid temperature increases). During ice age transitions the processes were sufficiently slow that the Earth’s temperature likely was near-equilibrium with the forcings (varying insolation, greenhouse gas levels and associated feedbacks). Now atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are rising far more quickly than the Earth’s temperature is able to keep pace with (the inertia from the massive ocean) and so we still have rather a lot of warming “in the pipeline” from current levels of atmospheric CO2, not to mention the amount of warming yet to be unmasked, as a result of man-made aerosolic countering of enhanced greenhouse-induced warming:

    e.g. V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng (2008) “On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA in press.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/09/16/0803838105.abstract

    (iii) Your data on temperature/CO2 relationships are laughable. Just to choose one jaw-dropping example, there is one single data point in the Vostock core (1999 data set) that shows an anomalous temperature, and from this you conclude that “the average global temperature 400 years ago was significantly higher than now”! One data point from one location does not an “average global temperature” give. The pukka science carefully collects a range of proxy data from multiple sources using many different methodologies, taken from as many places on Earth as possible to assess careful paleoproxy temperature data that is truly globally (or at least hemispherically) averaged. You (having other fish to fry one suspects than assessing the best possible understanding from the available data) base your entire analysis on one data point, from one data set from one location on Earth. Oh dear!

    And so on. Happily the individuals and organizations that address these issues maturely and seriously don't fall for that sort of nonsense....


    [***] In fairness to Christopher Scotese, his site is quite good. He does need to update his paleotemperature graph though!
  47. Chris:
    Your assertion “…talk a lot of nonsense…” may reveal that you simply do not understand how feedback works. The graphs in the Middlebury link are plots of data from NOAA and other credible sources. They speak for themselves and are as correct as the data sources.

    Apparently you accept Scotese’s temperatures. The carbon dioxide level at that time is from GEOCARB III as published in the American Journal of Science. The graph at http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide_png shows a lot of illogical scatter in Royer’s compilation but fair agreement between 30Myr filtered Royer, Copse and GEOCARB III. I have found no rational argument as to why the atmospheric carbon dioxide level should dramatically change prior to the temperature dropping into that ice age. The assertion remains that the temperature dropped while the carbon dioxide level was several times higher than now.

    The graph of CO2 and average global temperature during the Phanerozoic (all of the time that there have been complex life forms, the last 550 million or so years) at http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html is as good as any. A lot of imagination is needed to see any correlation there between atmospheric carbon dioxide and average global temperature.

    You say “the warming oceans release CO2 into the atmosphere resulting in further warming”. That would be a ramp up in temperature. But then the ramp up changed direction and became a ramp down. And this direction change in temperature trend happened repeatedly during the last and previous glaciations. That could not happen if there was significant net positive feedback.

    For those who understand how feedback works, this temperature trend direction change proves that there is no significant net positive feedback. All that is needed to determine if there is net positive feedback is a temperature trace for a long enough time to average out cyclic variation from random noise and other factors. The temperature trace does not even need to be correct in absolute terms just reasonably accurate in relative terms time-wise. Without significant net positive feedback added atmospheric carbon dioxide does not produce significant increase in average global temperature. Even the flawed GCMs give that result. Those who think they “…know about greenhouse gases and their effects…” apparently do not recognize the significance of this observation.

    While determination of the magnitude and even the sign of net feedback in climate may be difficult using climatology (Spencer at a link in 41 above and also Monckton at http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm have done it), it is trivial, as described above, for someone who understands feedback, to deduce from the temperature record that net positive feedback does not exist. Many climatologists apparently don't know how feedback works so they don't realize this. Unaware of their ignorance, they impose significant net positive feedback in their GCMs which causes them to predict substantial warming from carbon dioxide increase. Without significant net positive feedback, the GCMs do not predict significant Global Warming. From Monckton’s paper “The IPCC overstates temperature feedbacks to such an extent that the sum of the high-end values that it has now, for the first time, quantified would cross the instability threshold in the Bode feedback equation and induce a runaway greenhouse effect that has not occurred even in geological times despite CO2 concentrations almost 20 times today’s, and temperatures up to 7 ºC higher than today’s.”
    Do you realize how many times you said in 46 that the sun started it? These were extracted from your text: “…insolation changes…”, “…primary inducer of the warming is increased solar radiation…”, “…decreased [s]olar insolation resulted in cooling…”, “…one “lowers the heater” that the Earth cools…” Solar variation is certainly a major part of it. Of the list of other possible contributors to climate change, some ignored, some subjectively parameterized; solar wind, clouds, vertical convection, cosmic rays, Milankovitch cycles, etc. and factors not yet discovered, only significant net positive feedback is readily ruled out. Influencing any of the others doesn’t look promising. Humanity needs to adapt to climate change. Warming is not a problem. If it gets too hot or wet or dry where you are at, move. There are currently places that lack permanent occupancy because they are too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. Half of humanity may starve in the coming glaciation, however, because rice does not grow on ice.

    The high rate of change of the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide today is not relevant to climate change since the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has no significant influence on climate. Eventually, excess atmospheric carbon dioxide will dissolve in the ocean which already holds over 50 times as much as the atmosphere. Interestingly, I have read that the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about half of what is calculated based on the amount added by humanity.

    In your lawyer-like advocacy and nitpicking of the scarcity of paleo data you appear to have completely missed the point of temperature trend reversals ruling out net positive feedback. I suggest that you break out of the box that you are in, adopt engineer/scientist-like objectivity and learn about feedback.

    There are legitimate reasons to constrain the use of fossil fuels. As the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase, and it will, humans may find enclosed places becoming ‘stuffy’ sooner than previously. The consumer price rise of liquid fuels as a result of ‘peak oil’ will curtail their use and stimulate alternate fuels such as algae produced biodiesel. I have been antagonistic to coal for decades and am suspicious of claims that mercury, soot and acid can be effectively removed from the exhaust. When humanity gets past their unjustified paranoia regarding nuclear power and start building breeder reactors they will have all of the energy needed for millions of years. Enough to recharge their hybrids and even synthesize liquid fuel to go beyond battery range.
  48. Re #47

    No Scotese's temperatures are horribly incorrect (that's obvious surely). It's not clear where they came from (can you enlighten us?), and they clearly bear little relation to reality or to the paleotemperature data that is compiled extensively in the recent scientific literature (see citations at bottom of post for example).

    Try using Google Scholar or visit .edu sites (or your local University library - there are a number of relevant papers at the bottom of this post). In addressing scientific issues, one should address the science.


    ["The graph of CO2 and average global temperature during the Phanerozoic (all of the time that there have been complex life forms, the last 550 million or so years) at http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html is as good as any."]

    No it isn't. Sadly it's a laughable parody of the data that has been complied in a large number of studies, and it's surprising that someone with an apparent interest in this subject would consider it to be so in the light of the abundant scientific data on this subject (see citations at bottom of this post). Obviously if one puts together a completely false representation of the scientific data on paleoCO2 and paleotemperature one shouldn't be surprised if one is led to fallacious interpretations.

    And suggesting that pointing out gross misrepresentation of the science based on ludicrously inadequate graphs using unspecified data on dubious websites with contrived misinterpretation, is "Lawyerlike advocacy and nit-picking", is a delightful lu-lu!

    As for feedbacks, I suspect you've managed to be misinformed through poor analysis or the perusal of dodgy sources (Christopher Monckton? isn't this supposed to be about science?). There's no question that raising atmospheric CO2 levels results in a re-equilbration of the Earth's temperature such that internal variations fluctuate around a higher equilibrium temperature (assuming volcanic/solar contributions are flattish), and that this involves feedbacks (e.g. a warmer atmosphere caused by enhanced atmospheric CO2 results in a higher concentration of water vapour.....enhanced warming results in enhanced ice melt and reduced albedo and so on)... The science indicates that the Earth responds to raised CO2 with a raised equilibrium surface temperature near 3 oC (+/- a bit).

    I'm not sure why you have a problem with this and feedbacks in general. Clearly during ice age cycles the dominant driver is cyclic variations in insolation due to slow variations in the Earth's orbital properties. It only requires that the insolation cycles dominate over the effects of CO2 (feedbacks included) to observe the relationships between temperature and CO2 levels in the Vostock core that you are so exercised over. If CO2 levels rise from 180-280 ppm over thousands of years(due to very slow solar induced warming) resulting in enhanced direct CO2 (greenhouse) warming with fast positive water vapour feedbacks and slower albedo feedbacks, and then the solar contribution diminishes, much of the atmospheric CO2 will still be there (for hundreds of years) as the temperature cools in the early stages of the next Milankovitch cooling cycle. And as the temperature cools due to decreased insolation, so the water vapour levels drop, even as CO2 levels remain high. That's not difficult to understand at all..

    You make some other very odd comments. Yes, high levels of atmospheric CO2 will eventually be drawn out of the atmosphere. This is a very slow process (your own Vostock data show this). And of course "the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about half of what is calculated based on the amount added by humanity." Half of the CO2 we've released into the atmosphere has been absorbed by the oceans with a very measurable drop in pH (increased acidity).....already the absorption of our emissions by the oceans is decreasing due to the saturation of the upper oceanic waters. Each of these is problematic.

    All in all, you've chosen to use ludicrous data from some website to pursue the unsupported notion that there isn't a relationship between atmospheric CO2 lelvels and the earth's global temperature. And yet the science clearly shows otherwise (e.g. papers cited below). No one disputes the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm above its black body temperature (by around 30 oC worth of warming on Earth). Or do you consider that CO2 stops being a greenhouse gas above some concentration or other?

    Anyway, here's some of the science that one would hope you might access in place of dodgy websites:



    D.L. Royer (2006) "CO2-forced climate thresholds during the Phanerozoic" Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 70, 5665-5675.
    (this is a review compiles much of the published data)

    Even more recent studies supplement the information in Royers compilation and cover additional periods with new data sets right through the past several hundreds of millions of years:

    R.E. Carne, J.M. Eiler, J. Veizer et al (2007) "Coupling of surface temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the Palaeozoic era" Nature 449, 198-202

    W. M. Kurschner et al (2008) “The impact of Miocene atmospheric carbon dioxide fluctuations on climate and the evolution of the terrestrial ecosystem” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 499-453.

    D. L. Royer (2008) “Linkages between CO2, climate, and evolution in deep time” Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 407-408

    Zachos JC (2008) “An early Cenozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics” Nature 451, 279-283.

    Doney SC et al (2007) “Carbon and climate system coupling on timescales from the Precambrian to the Anthropocene” Ann. Rev. Environ. Resources 32, 31-66.

    Horton DE et al (2007) “Orbital and CO2 forcing of late Paleozoic continental ice sheets” Geophys. Res. Lett. L19708 (Oct. 11 2007).

    B. J. Fletcher et al. (2008) “Atmospheric carbon dioxide linked with Mesozoic and early Cenozoic climate change” Nature Geoscience 1, 43-48.
  49. The Andean-Saharan issue is simple. The ice age happened and the carbon dioxide level was much higher than now when it started. The chart uses data compiled by Christopher R. Scotese, Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1985, currently an Associate Professor geologist at the University of Texas at Arlington. Research interests include plate tectonics, paleogeography, and paleoclimatology and R. A. Berner, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University. Contrary to your implication, they are university scientists.

    My understanding of feedback in a complex system comes from having an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering and many years of engineering practice including rocketry, nuclear power, and meteorological satellites. Many engineers understand and successfully apply feedback in complex systems and have for many decades. Although climatologists use a somewhat different formulation, the end result is the same.

    Your discussion of feedback verifies that you don’t understand feedback very well. That explains why you don’t recognize that the temperature trend reversals during the previous glaciation (not talking about 100,000 year ice age cycles here) prove that significant net positive feedback does not exist in climate.

    If you use the same argument regarding the temperature trend reversals as you use for changes from glacial to interglacial then all temperature trends would be reversed by unpredictable solar changes which would make GCMs useless as climate predictors.

    I am puzzled as to why you call some of my comments “very odd” and then proceed to agree with them.

    The data that you disparagingly refer to as ludicrous is well referenced and came from NOAA as you could have easily discovered.

    I say that there is no significant net positive feedback and you claim that I said “there isn't a relationship between atmospheric CO2 lelvels and the earth's global temperature”. Some scientists express their interpretations and you say “science says”. More scientists and engineers are on record declaring that atmospheric carbon dioxide level has no significant influence on climate than there are saying that it does (Not that it matters).
  50. Oh dear...


    You don't seem to get it:

    (1) There is unfortuantely no paleoCO2 proxy that coincides in time with the late Ordovician paleoevidence for glaciation. Therefore we don't know the relationship between paleoCO2 and paleotemperature for that particular event. There's no point in pretending otherwise.

    (ii) Pretty much every case where we do have contemporaneous paleoCO2 and paleotemperature temperature proxies, the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature is rather clear. See the list of scientific papers in my post #48.

    (iii) If one want's to assess scientific issues, one goes to the published science, not to dodgy outdated, and unattributed pictures on websites.


    (iv) Christopher Scotese seems a perfectly excellent chap. However his website was last updated around 2002, and his site is principally to illustrate tectonic effects on continental movement. Sadly his site happens to contain a completely incorrect graph of paleotemperature data. It's more of a child-like crude sketch. I've no idea where it comes from...(can you enlighten us?)

    (v) I've shown you a long list of papers, including a recent review that compiles all of the data up to around 2005/6. Unfortunately, rather than taking the effort to explore the science on this subject, you prefer to argue over a crude unattributed graph that is clearly incorrect....go figure!

    (vi) You have an advanced degree on Mechanical Engineering and so on...and yet you have spent an apparently significant eforrt in putting together a web page full of the most blatant misrepresentations. While real scientists assess multipile paleotemperature data sets obtained with many different methods from as many places on the earth as possible to obtain truly global (or at least hemispheric) paleotemperature estimates, you choose ONE data point, in ONE data set, from ONE place on Earth and presume to aseet that 400 years ago the globally averaged temperature was higher than now...

    (vii) Even though that's a dismal piece of misrepresentation, and Scotese's temperature data is clearly incorrect, and your arguments about feedbacks have no basis in science......

    ..you are still asserting that you are right on these matters whereas all the climate, meterological, ocean, paleoenvironmental scientisits and so on are all incorrect....

    I don't think so Dan.....why not make an effort to access the science on these issues. I've given you a wealth of sources that bear exactly on the subjuect of issue that containis the most up to date data.

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