Business as Usual
Posted by Jeff Condon on December 12, 2011
Despite its now obvious flaws, Steig et al. (S09) appears destined for a prominent role in the upcoming AR5 report. We are told a lot of things by climate scientists, one being publish your results because blogs are not peer reviewed. It turns out that even when you publish your results, they go unnoticed. S09 is cited in at least 3 different chapters of AR5 initial drafts. The O’Donnell refutation (O10) of S09 was orders of magnitude more thorough than S09 and various stages of it were reviewed in blogland. Therefore our work had accurate results. Apparently, accuracy counts for little in climate science™ as S09 is a mess and nobody seems to care. Instead of recognizing these widely discussed issues, IPCC authors have taken little notice of our unexciting blue/red plots (that match ALL previous work) and have gone instead to the pretty red colors of S09.
Apparently, the way to get noticed in climate science is to publish unreasonable hockey stick style warming trends written in such a confusing manner that even other scientists can’t work out how you succeeded in communicating the AGW message. If others notice some problems, you refuse to release your messy code and tease their skepticism. If they write in blogs, well that’s not credible because it hasn’t gone through peer review. If they fight back in print, count on your friends to allow you to review the critique. You can recommend to the journal editor that the work be changed to agree with yours and if they won’t, you can recommend it not see the light of day. If the skeptics of your work still manage to publish, you can count on the media to ignore it. Your friends in charge of the institutions will then pretend not to notice the problems and accept your original pretty warming plots with an uncritical eye.
Chapter 10 has some quotes which are relevant:
A final comment is due with regard to the paradox of only minor sea ice changes near Antarctica in previous decades versus the substantial changes in the Arctic. Sea ice extent across the Southern Hemisphere over the year as a whole increased 1.0% per decade from 1978–2006 with the largest increase in the Ross Sea during the autumn (Comiso and Nishio, 2008; Turner et al., 2009). The bulk of the Antarctic has experienced little change in surface temperature over the last 50 years, although a slight cooling has been evident around the coast of East Antarctica since about 1980. The exception is the Antarctic Peninsula, where there has been warming (Steig et al., 2009; Turner and Overland, 2009). Many of the different changes observed between the two polar regions can be attributed to topographic factors and land/sea distribution. The Antarctic ozone hole may have had an influence on the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere, isolating the continent and increasing the westerly winds over the Southern Ocean, especially during the summer and winter. Because of a southward shift in the tropospheric jet, the ozone hole has been proposed a possible contributor to warming over the Antarctic Peninsula, cooling over the high plateau, increases in sea ice area averaged around Antarctica, and warming of the subsurface Southern Ocean at depths up to several hundred meters (Goosse et al., 2009). However, recent work (Sigmond and Fyfe, 2010; Steig et al., 1 2009) take issue with the links between Antarctic ozone, circulation, and sea ice changes. Instead, in these works, regional changes in atmospheric circulation and associated changes in sea surface temperature are required to explain the enhanced warming in West Antarctica. Sigmond and Fyfe (2010) simulate an increase in Antarctic sea ice in response to stratospheric ozone depletion.
Amazingly, Steig et al. showed very little warming in the peninsula in comparison to the actual trend having smeared it across the entire continent. This is particularly true for West Antarctica where the paper had a ridiculous 0.20C/Decade. Another odd thing is they mention cooling in the East Antarctic despite Steig09 being a contradictory reference. Later in the same chapter they point that out:
Antarctica also has long terms trends in its surface temperature with significant variations in these trends depending on the strength of the SAM and the impacts of ozone depletion in the stratosphere (Steig et al., 2009; Thompson and Solomon, 2002; Turner and Overland, 2009). Simulations using atmospheric general circulation models with observed surface boundary conditions over the last 50 years suggest that the contributions of from both ozone and rising greenhouse gases. It was concluded that the pattern of mean surface temperature trends in both West and East Antarctica are positive for 1957–2006, and this warming trend is difficult to explain without the radiative forcing associated with increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations (Steig et al., 2009).
That last sentence is too much for me. The positive trends are very easy to explain – bad math!! What isn’t easy to explain is why the entire corpus of authors doesn’t seem to know that the famous south pole data hasn’t shown any warming. A simple thermometer contradicting S09. You might think that this is because they aren’t aware of O10 (I’m sure some aren’t) but that is far from the case. Comiso, Steig’s coauthor and a coordinating lead author (big dog) of the IPCC cryosphere chapter, has this reference from the ZOD:
Studies of surface temperature conclude on widespread warming of Antarctica since 1957 (Barrett et al.,54 2009; Comiso, 2010; Steig et al., 2009).
Three references are given to support “widespread warming”. Surprisingly, Barrett et al. says not one thing about widespread warming and is in fact a borehole-proxy study of a very small region of the Antarctic adjacent to the peninsula. The next reference ,Comiso 2010, is a reference to a book he wrote which addresses only satellite data since 1980′s, it is not peer reviewed AND it contains factual inaccuracies about trends in the Antarctic. For instance he makes the claim that 0.1C/Decade from the satellite data is actually less than station data for the same period.
We are left with a single paper supporting the warming nonsense – you guessed it – S09. The truth is that the ground trends from station data after 1981 is between 0.03 and 0.05 C/Decade. So in short, Comiso, who is a coauthor of S09, and is very aware of our correct critique, has ignored reality in favor of false warming results.
When S09 came out, the Authors tried to discuss the Western continent warming only at Real Climate – the continental plot was entirely red though. Crack cocaine for advocates. A huge media blitz ensued proclaiming the warming of the entire continent. Questions arose in the Real Climate thread about the warming pole right away and were dismissed as not important. Objective people knew the now blindingly obvious truth that the red continent had to be an artifact of flawed math. No scientist can accept that plot without question and our initial skepticism was proven out in a prominent journal. True to climategate form, as the IPCC chapters continue to be leaked out, we can see the widespread attempt to ignore O10 and use the incorrect warming caused by math errors of S09 to claim that the Antarctic is in danger of melting – even though it is not.
Jeff – you might say – it’s just a draft and they haven’t even started getting comments. You would have a point but I have experience. So since I am not an official IPCC reviewer, the above comment is mine.