the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Charlatans of Science Zhao and Running

Posted by Jeff Id on August 21, 2010

Ok, this is the latest in global warming propaganda:

MISSOULA, Mont., Aug. 20 (UPI) — Plant productivity around the world, once on the rise with warming temperatures and a longer growing season, is declining because of droughts, researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Montana analyzed NASA satellite data to discover the global turnaround of productivity, a NASA release said Friday.

Followed by this quote:

After a 6 percent increase in the 1980s and 1990s, plant productivity declined 1 percent in the last 10 years.

“We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world,” Running said. “This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth.”

Skeptics of extremist advocacy AGW are often called for being funded by big oil.  Consider just how much of an advocate of AGW policy you have to be to make ignorant claims to the extet demostrated by  these charlatans Drs Maosheng Zhao and Steve Running.  Like you really can detect that plant productivity has decreased – due to drought – by 1 percent amongst all the noise in the data and then you attribute it to a few tenths of a degree C, bovine scatology.

This is absolutely NOT incompetence, it’s deliberate disinformation to put fear into the gullible public and increase personal funding. Link to the article quoted is on the period here for your safety. It will cost IQ points if you bother to click it.

And no I didn’t read the paper.  Who cares, I’ve wasted enough time on these two already but it makes you wonder just who the hell were the peers that reviewed this!

The above is my opinion only as is everything else here.  Thank god for free speech.

23 Responses to “Charlatans of Science Zhao and Running”

  1. co2fan said

    I agree. This is BS.
    These numbskulls feed off the warming trough, NASA funding, indeed.


    PS Jeff, you are right, you get me to respond much easier when you tweak my emotions. Your SNR paper was interesting, but kept me in my usual passive viewing mode.


  2. Brian H said

    The Real Greenhouse Effect: increased CO2 and warmth means multiplied plant growth with reduced demand for water.


  3. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    I’m wondering if their work would have made it to Science if it had simply confirmed earlier measurements of increased land plant growth rates? The observation that a reduction in plant growth is caused by drought would not seem to justify publication in Science.

    What makes the work get into Science is the implication that droughts in the Southern hemisphere are being caused by AGW. But the article does not even address the issue of whether or not this is the case…. they flat out state that global warming will cause more droughts.

    Serious questions:
    1. How do we know a 1% trend in total plant growth over 10 years is statistically meaningful?

    2. Why would you not consider the entire satellite record of ~30 years, which showed an increase in plant growth of about 19%?

    3. Does a 1% decline (in very noisy data) over 10 years really represent a “reveral” in the long term trend of increasing plant growth from higher CO2 levels?

    4. Why is drought only impacting the Southern Hemisphere?

    5. How is more drought in the Southern Hemisphere consistent with higher total rainfall, except by pure random chance?

    It looks like more scare stories to me: take in innocuous research finding and change it into an ‘alarming’ result with ‘serious’ future consequences. Just nonsense.

  4. David S said

    Looks like the trend in plant growth has a strong negative correlation with global temperatures, given that these people claim it was 6% during the 1980s and 1990s, when the temperature trend was about .2% per decade if you believe GISS, Hadcrut etc, and has apparently fallen during the last decade when the temperature trend has been close to zero. Perhaps we have to cross our fingers and hope the warming trend picks up again.

  5. David S said

    D’Oh. I mean direct correlation. What was I thinking?

  6. Mark said

    “to the extet demostrated”
    Should that be “to the extent demonstrated”?

    Sorry, but in my rum and coke induced euphoric state, that was the only problem I could find with this posting.

  7. Brian H said

    does that work better than rye and ice? Or Gin and crack? Or beer and speed? Inquiring minds want to know! 😀

  8. M. Simon said

    I worry about the demon strata. If I can get the invoking principle right….

  9. JAE said

    Oh, yeah…let’s see you PROVE them wrong, JeffID!

    It seems it is now extremely easy to get tenure in a university system, if you are involved in anything connected with “environmental science.” All you have to do to obtain the requisite peer-reviewed publications is to write illogical “fear” articles like this one and submit them to the mainstream “scientific” journals. It appears that these journals will accept ANYTHING that bemoans the harm that mankind is inflicting on Planet Earth and on each other. Hell, you can give talks to the libs, and be famous, too!

  10. Kenneth Fritsch said

    After a 6 percent increase in the 1980s and 1990s, plant productivity declined 1 percent in the last 10 years.

    I did not see a link to the article, but if food production has actually declined in recent years (and I assume that productivity is measured by crop yields) what is to say that total food production has increased by using more land to produce it, but that land added may be marginally poorer land and no doubt would be since the best land would be planted to crops first.

    It should be interesting if we can come up some of those data to analyze. Also do not droughts tend to be cyclical and even on wide ranging regional areas.

  11. Kenneth Fritsch said

    In the link below, I did find some good data for corn – and corn is sensitive to drought – but I’ll need to look at wheat, soybeans and rice later.

    Look at Figure 2 showing US and global corn yields and area planted to recent years . It appears that yields and areas planted have been increasing at a nearly linear rate up to present time for both the US and the globe.

    Look at Figure 7 showing that agronomics (land use) is not going to be the major factor in the anticipated greatly improving future corn yields.

    Full article is linked here:

  12. Peter Dunford said

    There have been some screwy papers of late. Having been made to look silly over AR4, I think the CAGW establishment is getting it’s peer-review ducks in a row ready for outrageous claims in AR5.

  13. Brian H said

    M. Simon said
    August 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I worry about the demon strata. If I can get the invoking principle right….

    Demon strata? Quid est?

  14. Ann said

    Comments are funny!

    It’s almost as if the commentators were right there at the U of Montana working with data Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running gathered and know what they’re talking about! Ha, ha, ha!

    Grow up, kids, sometimes life (biological life) is not what you like it to be.

  15. Kenneth Fritsch said

    It’s almost as if the commentators were right there at the U of Montana working with data Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running gathered and know what they’re talking about! Ha, ha, ha!

    Like the lady, Ann, says guys let us show a bit more deference to these two gentlemen scientists. I apologize to them for showing conflicting data, but I cannot help myself. And like Ann says we should grow-up. Questioning scientists and advocates and politicians makes me sometimes feel like a kid questioning my parents and older folks and heaven knows they were never wrong. Ann, you go girl.

  16. Kenneth Fritsch said

    From the article linked below it is apparent that the UM scientists looked at a measure of IR from satellites as a proxy for plant growth and then connected that to estimate the CO2 uptake by global vegetation. The differences between the NH and SH are apparently very significant and dramatic with NH increasing and SH decreasing due evidently to increased occurrences of droughts.

    Here in the article are, of course, many caveats for concluding anything based on this study and something that I doubt the MSM will heed. Interesting also of a major disconnect of the plant data these scientists studied with crop acreage and yields. Have crops become immune to factors that might affect plants in the wild? I need to look at differences between NH and SH crop productivity.

    The capacity of plants to act as a carbon sink could be on the decline.

    As global temperatures have risen in recent decades, the amount of atmospheric carbon being converted into plant biomass has increased in step. However, in a paper published today in Science, ecologists Maosheng Zhao and Steve Running at the University of Montana in Missoula report a surprising reversal of this trend over the last decade, despite its having been the warmest on record1.

    In 2003, a study on which Running was a co-author, led by Ramakrishna Nemani, who is also at the University of Montana, reported an increase in plant productivity between 1982 and 1999. The researchers attributed that trend to a warmer climate and increased solar radiation2. Zhao and Running expected to find a similar increase for 2000-2009 — an expectation that was not met…

    ..The duo analysed visible and infra-red spectrum data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite to distinguish different plant ecosystems and to measure the density of the vegetation. They then examined factors that influence plant growth, such as water availability and day length, to estimate the amount of atmospheric carbon accumulated as plant biomass — the Net Primary Production (NPP)…
    The results show that carbon uptake by plants did increase in some areas — primarily in the Northern Hemisphere — including parts of North America, western Europe, India and China. But in areas where carbon uptake decreased, the drop was sharp. In the Southern Hemisphere, 70% of plant-covered land, including regions of South America, Africa and Australia, showed a decrease in NPP.
    “On balance,” Running says of carbon uptake by plants, “when you add up all the pluses and minuses, there is a decrease”.

    ..However, Bill Munger, an ecologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is critical of the methods used in the paper. “The type of modelling they used is good at highlighting spatial patterns in vegetation processes, but very dependent on assumed influence of moisture and temperature,” he says.

    Running agrees that they had to make some assumptions. “I fully acknowledge that when you’re making global-level calculations you’re seeing only a very small part of the activity of the ecosystem and inferring the rest,” he says.

    “Until we see another 10–20 years of data, it would be premature to guarantee that this is a permanent trend, but it certainly means that we’d better be watching this really carefully,” he adds.

  17. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Kenneth Fritsch (Aug 23 11:24),

    There’s also the question of how much of the total CO2 biological sink is terrestrial and how much is oceanic. It looks like they were only measuring the terrestrial sink. The land area in the SH is a much smaller percentage of the total area than in the NH, so a drop in terrestrial NPP in the SH probably doesn’t mean all that much.

  18. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I was looking at the uncertainty in measurements with the remote sensing satellite devices used to estimate plant biomass and it would appear to me to be much too high to confidently see a change of a few percent. I may have to devy up the $15 to see how the authors handled this problem and whether they provide a probabilty and CIs for that change. I would suspect that the sensing instruments have improved over the time period of the studies, but the authors would still be stuck with the older less sensitive readings from the early part of their study and used as a baseline.

  19. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I have concluded that when a plant biomass measure is required for a study that a relatively small area terrain is used to make field measurements/estimates of biomass that is in turn used to calibrate the sensing device output, e.g. using NOAA’s AVHRR. Recall it was AVHRR from the paper on the Antarctica temperature trends that extensive analyses of those measurements were made at TAV. If one wanted to measure the whole globe how readily would these small area calibrations be available? Or does measuring changes (ratios) somehow mitigate these apparent problems?

    Does anyone reading here have any references to the CIs that could be put on the remote sensing of plant biomass?

  20. Neil said

    I worked for a hydro generation company in New Zealand (its in the Southern Hemisphere). We have experienced a series of droughts in the last 10 years. We also have only 73 years of records for inflows and storage for the hydro reserviors. Some of the inflow sequences have set new “records” for low inflows, but only just. That there have been a number of low inflow periods within 10 years is probably not statistically significant. There are a number of apparent cycles in the data, driven by el nino etc. There is also a cycle that seems to be correlated with the sun’s cycle (this has also been observed in South Africa). I do not beleive you can draw any connection between “climate change” and the frequency of the low inflows.

  21. isis solar said

    isis solar…

    Charlatans of Science Zhao and Running « the Air Vent…

  22. […] Jeff Id called that work “Bovine Scatology” at that time […]

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