the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Archive for July, 2009

RC Correctness Censors

Posted by Jeff Id on July 31, 2009

This morning I received a comment from Laymen Lurker calling my attention to a conversation about moderation on RC.  He indicated this post by Steve Fish discussing the non-response to Ryan’s post tAV to REALCLIMATE: YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. A significant number of questions and attempts to post on RC were deleted from the current thread at the time regarding this post.  It didn’t go unnoticed by those who regularly peruse blogland and is still being questioned by alert readers.

Steve Fish wrote:

Steve Reynolds #218. I checked out the Rank Exploits Blackboard link (same one I tried previously) and found your posts regarding censorship. You referred to a discussion on the Air Vent (tAV) as a worst case example entitled- “tAV to RealClimate, you can’t get there from here.” Several posters complained that posts on RC didn’t get through. These folks claimed that their posts were relatively simple and polite, and the discussion there was relatively low key so I have no reason to doubt them. On the other hand, some of their posts did get through and they, and examples of what didn’t, were so innocuous that I don’t see any reason to think RC would care, much less prevent them from appearing on their site.

What the whole issue was about was the RC article by Eric Steig, “On Overfitting,” and the following posts there by RyanO regarding his amateure (I didn’t see any credentials) reanalysis of Eric’s data that he presented on tAV. This was also a polite discussion and Eric gave RyanO a lot of help, encouragement, and advice regarding his desire to publish his version of the analysis. Eric’s inline responses were as comprehensive as many research article reviewers comments I have seen, so the actual topic under discussion was not controversial and comments were not heated. One of the posters complained in an Overfitting post about not getting through and Eric said he didn’t know why. Would this happen if there was censorship?

I have had one post to RC not make it and it was just a simple comment and question. I didn’t take this as censorship and just assumed that some of the glitchy behavior of the RC site (changes, spam filter, CAPTCHA) was responsible. When making a claim that information is being suppressed, one should consider what the information is and ask the question – to what aim? We all think that our own ideas are important and I suspect that some of the Air Vent guys were just hyperventilating a little. Steve Reynolds, like RyanO, post what you think is important and see what you get. Be persistent.

My bold.

Since I cannot respond to Steve’s post on RC with any degree of certainty, I chose to do it here.  Let’s start with the ‘credentials’ issue.  The math of this paper isn’t the simplest thing in the world but it isn’t that severely complex.  I’ve run into worse and typically do more complex math for my own job in optics.  Ryan’s background is in physics and he’s also been exposed to very complex forms of math which likely exceed the detail of this paper.  However, he, myself, SteveM, Ross M and Lucia are not climatologists so that may make us laypeople, however amateur is an unfair characterization of the level of work Ryan put forth.  I understand that non-technical individuals  cannot tell the difference in work quality of technical folk so it’s no offense for myself or I suspect Ryan, it just needs to be said.

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Baby Dendro’s

Posted by Jeff Id on July 30, 2009

How is dendroclimatology taught to the college kids?

This is from an on-line text for undergrad climatology students HERE.  It has some goodies in it which I found  interesting.  They discuss the mythical thermometer tree, statistical processing of data and assert the validity of the methods used.

It’s good to know that parents who put up the 15K/yr are getting their money’s worth.  I bolded the stuff which I take issue with.



The study of the annual growth of trees and the consequent assembling of long, continuous chronologies for use in dating wood is called dendrochronology. The study of the relationships between annual tree growth and climate is called dendroclimatology. Dendroclimatology offers a high resolution (annual) form of palaeoclimate reconstruction for most of the Holocene.

The annual growth of a tree is the net result of many complex and interrelated biochemical processes. Trees interact directly with the microenvironment of the leaf and the root surfaces. The fact that there exists a relationship between these extremely localised conditions and larger scale climatic parameters offers the potential for extracting some measure of the overall influence of climate on growth from year to year. Growth may be affected by many aspects of the microclimate: sunshine, precipitation, temperature, wind speed and humidity (Bradley, 1985; Fritts, 1976). Besides these, there are other non-climatic factors that may exert an influence, such as competition, defoliators and soil nutrient characteristics.

There are several subfields of dendroclimatology associated with the processing and interpretation of different tree-growth variables. Such variables include tree-ring width (the most commonly exploited information source, e.g. Briffa & Schweingruber, 1992), densitometric parameters (Schweingruber et al., 1978) and chemical or isotopic variables (e.g. Epstein et al., 1976).

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31 Years of July 27ths

Posted by Jeff Id on July 28, 2009

The Arctic ice is very dynamic, however this year looks to me like it could set the record for the lowest sea ice level recorded in the last 31 years. The continued shrinkage is getting pretty clear yet is still minor. I’m predicting a nice new batch of headlines this year.

19790727 Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Jeff Id on July 28, 2009

I’ve never learned to resist an easy target like this, they chose to be uninformed in public so why not. From the daily green Dan Shaply is using his considerable mind power to think our way to a brighter future.

4 Reasons Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Better

For the health of the animals, the environment and you (not to mention your taste buds) grass-fed beef is a good option for meat-eaters.

For meat – eaters? He must mean those fat evil bad breath humans which live on the edge of conservatism. After all real conservatives can’t read and don’t believe in science so therefore won’t read his highly scientific and well thought out post.

Anyone who’s seen Food Inc. or felt startled at the prospect of E. coli finding its way into your hamburger should care about the origins of your beef.

Beef, as we most often raise it today, is a high-impact food — about as high-impact as you can get. Food is one of the leading contributors to global warming, primarily because of livestock — the fossil fuels used to fertilize grain crops and make pesticides, the deforestation to make way for grazing or feedlots and everyone’s favorite: cow belches.

It took my slow conservative mind a couple of reads to figure out that High impact means ‘environmental impact’! The confusion arises after considering the biological reaction you get the morning after eating a 16 oz steak and 3 oz’s of your wife’s. All these horrors from a delicious cow, who knew! Potatoes didn’t help either…

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Methane Converted to Abiogenic Oil in Mantle-like Conditions

Posted by Jeff Id on July 27, 2009

We’ve heard it before, but this sounds like a bit of progress.  It makes you wonder.

The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth’s crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle —the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core.

Science Daily.

The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and Sweden, and is published in the July 26, advanced online issue of Nature Geoscience.

Now, a team led by Alexander Goncharov at the Carnegie Institute of Washington in the US, say they have provided solid experimental data that support these predictions. ‘What we found, for the first time, is the transformation of methane to heavy hydrocarbons like propane or butane, under upper mantle conditions,’ says Goncharov.

Chemistry World

Furthermore, the researchers recognise that this is just the first of many steps in building a case that supports an abiogenic origin of hydrocarbons. ‘We are in preparation for doing more experiments with more complex systems, including minerals which are relevant for the upper mantle earth,’ explains Goncharov. ‘An obvious consequence of our work could be that we might have more oil in the Earth than has been expected, but that’s highly speculative’ he adds.

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Nature of Consensus – Snowmen II

Posted by Jeff Id on July 23, 2009

There are actually a couple of really interesting stories in blogland these days.  From my snowman post, I’ve become interested in exposing how those in power have worked so hard to maintain consensus that people actually lost their jobs as state employees for discussing the DATA!  The stats for the Air Vent picked up an incoming link from this article written by George Taylor Climate scientist who previously held the official position of Oregon State climatologist for DECADES!

The row is over the determination of snow pack in the northwest of the United States, where George Taylor and Mark Albright (two state climatologists) dared present data which did not support the pre-determined conclusion that the ice is melting.  George has some amazingly strong words for the Real Climate scientists as well as Phil Mote, the man who took over his job when George was forced to take early retirement.

From an article presented at ICECAP.

Washington Governor Gregoire recently sent a letter to the Washington House delegation in which she stated that the snow pack has declined 20% over the past 30 years: “Last month, a study released by the University of Washington shows we’ve already lost 20% of our snow pack over the last 30 years.”

Actual snow pack numbers show a 22% INCREASE in snow pack over the past 33 years across the Washington and Oregon Cascade Mountains:

These boys are pissed, and from the outside it seems rightfully so.

Arguing this point made George Taylor, state climatologist for decades in Oregon a target (he took early retirement) and cost the assistant state climatologist in Washington, Mark Albright, his job. Phil Mote, the alarmist professor and author of a discredited work on the western snowpack for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society doesn’t accept criticism lightly. He ironically was appointed to the state climatologist position George Taylor held in Oregion. It was Phil who fired Mark for challenging his findings. That is the way it is in the university climate world today, real data doesn’t matter so don’t bother to look and if you need to pick and choose carefully. Anyone who disagrees publically and risks funding need look elsewhere for employment.

George shows the 1950 to 1997 trend and the longer term trend analysis for several stations with good records showing no discernible long term trends.

The biggest thing regarding what’s currently happening with these findings is that they are meeting some resistance to publication currently in the Journal of Climate where others apparently don’t want ‘Actual’ data published.  George continues with this blasting of Mann and Steig for their incorrect antarctic work, followed by the RC post which is linked along with the referenced graphs in the snowmen post:

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Ship the Water Wings

Posted by Jeff Id on July 22, 2009

I hope they’re shipping the polar bear water wings now.  This doesn’t look like it’s going to be a high extent summer.  Ice extent seems to be tracking the 2008 level reasonably well, but everything depends on the strength of the current weather pattern -not temperature.

AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent[1]It has a similar melt pattern to 2007 and 2008 on the video, pushing inward from the bearing strait (top left).  This was a pattern I noticed from the plots of greatest ice melt and have since read some of the pro’s making comments about the change in water currents.  Ice melt has more to do with water flow rate than slight warming of air or water temperature.  Current changes can bring a substantial jump in warm water delivery, but the melt rate of ice is non-linear with flow.  Combine that with the huge energy content of water in comparison to air and you can get substantial melt variance over time through changes in current.

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Posted by Jeff Id on July 21, 2009

File:Rainierreflect1.jpgRecently a graph of snow pack data from the NorthWest United States was brought to my attention. There has been much ado about the loss of this fresh water source due to nothing other than global warming.  Here’s a quote from a Real Climate article authored by Dr. Eric Steig Link HERE.

The Seattle city mayor, Greg Nickels (a well known advocate for city-based CO2 reduction initiatives) wrote in an Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times

The average snowpack in the Cascades has declined 50 percent since 1950 and will be cut in half again in 30 years if we don’t start addressing the problems of climate change now. That snow not only provides our drinking water, it powers the hydroelectric dams that keep our lights on.

The reply from Dr. Steig

The number “50 percent decline” apparently comes from a statement in an Oregon State University report in 2004 signed by many Northwest Scientists.  This is not actually the best estimate for average snowpack decline, according to published work by Phil Mote, of Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. Mote reviewed the Oregon report back in 2004 and pointed out that the 50% figure was erroneous. Mote’s 2003 paper in Geophysical Research Letters, highlighted in Science a few years ago, cited losses “as great as 60%” in some locations. Subsequent work (Mote et al., 2005) attempted to quantify change in total snowpack for the Cascades, and arrived at 15-30% for the period 1950-1997.  . This remains the best estimate, even when including the time period up to the present. Furthermore, this number represents measurements at many different elevations. If high elevation stations are excluded, the declines are generally larger, as would be expected if the chief culprit is increasing temperature, rather than declining snowfall.

The issue has grown ever larger due to disagreements between scientists over the actual trends.  Oregon State climatologist George Taylor was forced to resign and Washington State climatologist Mark Albright was actually fired for making a ‘stink’ about certain statements in contradiction with the data.  Phil Mote who was embroiled in the controversy and was recently appointed to Oregon State’s top climate position has been towing the global warming line.

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Green Energy

Posted by Jeff Id on July 20, 2009

Calling me a skeptic on biofuels is an understatement, I’m a denier.   If you’ve invested in biofuels, my opinion is that you need to do it with the understanding that the technology doesn’t really work.  There simply isn’t enough capture of sunlight to make the process operate to the claimed levels.

Super Algae Bio-Diesel Energy

I feel similarly about solar although in the case of solar, there is a reasonably good chance that in the future it can generate much of our needs.  Geothermal is interesting though.  I’ve not studied the costs which are said to be low but in today’s  geothermal plants, temperatures are required to be quite high in order to turn water into steam. In some plants two wells are drilled (typically very deep wells), the rock between them is shattered using explosives or other methods, water is sent down one pipe and steam returns up the other which then powers a series of turbines.


One of the big drawbacks of geothermal is that in many locations on earth the magma doesn’t come close enough to the surface to provide enough temperature at an achievable drilling depth.   The result is warm rock too cool to make steam but there is still a great deal of energy available.  The ability to use this lower heat efficiently could dramatically expand the use of geothermal energy by making it practical in  more areas.  From an engineering perspective, the answer to solve the problem is to use a different fluid which changes phase at a lower temperature, however finding a different fluid is a challenge.

Today on Science Daily, there  was an interesting article which used a phase changing fluid created from new materials.  They claim the efficiency of their method is similar to a steam based one using different materials at lower temperatures.

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Racial Energy by Boxer

Posted by Jeff Id on July 20, 2009

Barbera Boxer a politician with morals on the order of Nancy Pelosi, using race to argue energy policy got put in her place by Harry C. Alford.

boxer steppin init

Boxer Stepping in it - -CLICK TO WATCH

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Know Your Data — Antarctic Temperature Stations

Posted by Jeff Id on July 19, 2009

I’ve been working on an area weighted version of the Antarctic reconstruction, mostly unsuccessfully. In doing that, I needed to redo my previous work using Ryan’s software and data to insure everything matches. As part of a quality check, I had to make a video of the surface station availability per year which gives a good feel for when ground data is available. This video includes both manned (pre-1982) and automatic surface station data. Click to play.

The video is made by looking at the satellite grid points and finding the nearest active surface station data. The result is a set of polygons representing the closest distance to a surface station.

temp stations


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Where’s the Media?

Posted by Jeff Id on July 19, 2009

As an aeronautical engineer, I’m deeply interested in space travel and advances in space travel. Our media these days only seems interested in promoting a political agenda and is missing some of the biggest stories. A man… a FREE man, Elon Musk, who was a pay pal entrepreneur has invested his own money into redesigning rocketry. While I’m not certain of who did what, Elon has established himself as chief technology officer (or some such title) and directed a staff of several hundred people to build the simplest and safest possible rocket systems to reach space in an effort to reduce cost and risk. For an investment of a couple hundred million (about 1/5 of a single shuttle launch) space X has built an entire rocket company and put a satellite into orbit.

SpaceX - Successful Launch of Malaysian Satellite

Orbit is much different than Burt Rutan’s interesting yet technically boring space plane, which I would ride on at a moment’s notice. The idiotic media covered that adventure as though it was the most amazing thing in the world simultaneously missing the Space X home designed rockets which accelerate thousands of pounds of material to a kinetic energy 30 ish times greater than anything Burt Rutan’s rocket ever could achieve. THIRTY times!

With a couple hundred million, Space X in fact has exceeded the efforts of all but a few percent of the worlds nations and could fully deliver any several thousand pound object to any place on earth with minimal expense and notification(think about it!). It’s efforts put to shame every country’s space programs for cost, manpower and expense.

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Teen Charged a Years Wages to be Saved

Posted by Jeff Id on July 17, 2009

Sure the kid screwed up but what is the rubbish about being saved and then having your parents money stolen by the govt.

Eagle Scout Lost on Mountain Fined $25,000 for Rescue

CONCORD, N.H. — A Massachusetts teenager who spent three nights alone on Mount Washington in April after he sprained an ankle and veered off marked trails has been fined more than $25,000 for the cost of his rescue.

Scott Mason had been praised for utilizing his Eagle Scout skills — sleeping in the crevice of a boulder and jump-starting fires with hand sanitzer gel. But authorities say he wasn’t prepared for the conditions he encountered and shouldn’t have set out on such an ambitious hike.

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Deniers — Raise Your Hands

Posted by Jeff Id on July 16, 2009

I get mad at people in the media regularly these days but I’ve held my self back for about a week. — Good job Jeff. Of course all good things must come to an end, I found this dude on the web writing for money apparently. Someone needs to hold on to their checks, but I don’t care if their papers go bankrupt so they can spend as they wish.

John Moore: One world government and global warming/climate change/whatever

I knew I was poking the bear when I sent my most recent column (Climate skeptic arguments don’t hold ice, July 14) to my editor here at the National Post. The [Financial] Post publishes almost weekly columns about the fiction of climate change so understandably some readers are well persuaded that the whole global warming house of cards is already tumbling down. The torrent of e-mails and some 48 on-line comments later and I have a new appreciation of just how fiercely some hold on to their denier status.

I don’t think I can reply to John in a comment so I’ll do it here, the guy is an over the top warmer who has no concept that there may be a little gray area in science, or perhaps that even ‘super-weatherman certainty’ is overstated. Here’s what John’s selling.

A major talking point amongst the skeptics is a certain indignation over how “global warming” became “climate change”. Some people think this was a marketing move by the international forces of socialism to protect our Coke-like franchise. Actually, the terms are irrelevant. The general theory has been roughly the same for 150 years.

Reeallly. Global warming theory has been around for 150 years. I don’t recall reading that CO2 increases lead to moisture feedback in the system in any 150 year old papers? I don’t think we had the sensors or quantum math to determine the absorption spectra of CO2 either? Considering we’d barely started recording thermometers back then and we shipped them by horseback, perhaps he means someone conceived of the planet warming 150 years ago.

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Posted by Jeff Id on July 15, 2009

Another great guest post.  Ryan figured out a method to do a stable multivariate regression without over fitting with similar results to TPCA.  It’s comforting to see that even though the trend is slightly lower the results are very similar to the corrected EM reconstruction and the area weighted reconstruction.  The math here is pretty sharp stuff.


Ryan O:

One of the problems that Jeff Id has raised on numerous occasions is that none of the reconstruction methods we have examined and tried are truly reconstructions of surface air temperature.  They are all in some fashion a mix between surface air temperature and skin temperature.  Even the weighted eigenvector reconstructions only fully rotate the AVHRR PCs in the limit where the weight assigned to the AVHRR PCs approaches zero, and there are calculational limits on how low that weight can be set.

There are three different ways to resolve this problem that have been batted around.  One is to calibrate the AVHRR data to the ground data.  I had attempted to do this in the past without satisfactory results because the station data is so spatially incomplete.  A second way is to supplement the weighted eigenvector reconstruction by assigning the stations an area of influence and multiplying them by an additional weighting factor.  Jeff Id is currently working on this method.  A third way is to not use any AVHRR temperature information at all.  Instead of using the PCs (temporal EOFs), we will simply use the eigenvectors scaled by the eigenvalues (spatial EOFs).

To start, let us define our spatial EOFs as:


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