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Hot Air

By Anthony Lupo - June 19, 2006 12:00 AM

A recent study by Vecchi, et al titled "Weakening of tropical Pacific atmospheric circulation due to anthropogenic forcing"[1], states that there has been a discernable (approximately 3.5 percent) weakening in the Walker Circulation since the mid-1800's. The Walker Circulation is an atmospheric circulation germane to the tropical latitudes in the Pacific Region, whose strength is linked to El Niño. The researchers also suggest that the Walker Circulation will weaken by another 10 percent by 2100, and the attribute these changes to anthropogenic climate change.

This study also suggests that the climate is moving toward a more El-Niño-like state. The El Niño here refers to the warming of sea surface temperatures that occurs in the tropical central and eastern Pacific every 2 - 7 years, and the associated changes in the atmospheric circulation.

The researchers have used historical records dating back to the mid-1800s as well as using a general circulation model (GCM) to study the problem. A GCM is a dynamic model that uses basic physical principles and mathematical statements to simulate the atmosphere, and these can be used in a predictive or a diagnostic capacity. Thus, a GCM, or any model, is a statement of hypothesis about how a system works.

If the climate were moving toward a more El Niño-like state, then it would be reasonable to assume that the El Niño phenomenon would occur more often, and/or become stronger with time. This indeed seemed to be the case during the period 1977 - 1998 when three strong El Niños occurred and several years during the early 1990's were arguably in a prolonged El Niño-like state. By the year 2000, it certainly seemed that El Niño was becoming more common and stronger -- as a paper published by researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences [2] reveals.

However, since 1997-1998, for almost an entire decade, there has not been a strong El Niño. The El Niño of 2002-2003 was very weak, and the El Niño of 2004-2005 is not even classified as an El Niño using some definitions [3]. The Vecchi, et al paper does not even account for this fact, as their study only covers the 1861 to 1992 period. The Tropical Pacific has been characterized more by La Niña conditions since the Fall of 1998. La Niña is simply characterized by cooler than average waters occurring in the same regions where El Niño occurs. This recent period mimics the period of 1947-1977, when El Niños were weak and La Niña events were more prominent. This would confirm the results of studies [4], including some by our own research group [5,6,7], that have suggested that a longer-term Pacific Ocean-based cycle, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) modulates the occurrence and intensity of El Niño on a very long-term (50-70 year) timescale.

As for the GCMs, it is close to impossible to use them to deduce a small percentage change in the strength of tropical circulations such as the Hadley or Walker Circulations. Comparisons of the different General Circulation Models to observations [8] have consistently shown that the models tend to underestimate and/or overestimate the intensity of these circulations by as much as 33 percent. Since the models, in some cases, cannot even get close to replicating these circulations well, is it possible to discern a 3.5 percent change in the strength of these circulations?

One can even question the use of observational data for the tropics going back to the mid-1800's to deduce a 3.5 percent change in the circulation strength, since obviously, the farther back in time the records go, the fewer observations there are. This is especially true for the upper-air circulation, as upper-air observations were not viable before about the 1940's. Even if there were good and plentiful observations going back to the mid-1800 for tropical areas, it is well-known that atmospheric pressures and heights from balloon measurements have a 1-2 percent error-margin built in. This would then account for half or more of the purported change in the circulation intensity.

Thus, while recent studies [1] may claim to be able to quantify the anthropogenic climate change signal in the data and using the models, it would be wise to remember the limitations of the tools and data at our disposal. Suddenly, a 3.5 percent change in the strength in the Walker Circulation per 150 years seems not only irrelevant, but dubious as well.

Dr. Anthony R. Lupo is an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Missouri Columbia.

[1] Vecchi G.A., et al., 2006. Weakening of tropical Pacific atmospheric circulation due to anthropogenic forcing. Nature, 44, 73-76.

[2] Mokhov, I.I., D.V. Khvorostyanov, and A.V. Eliseev, 2004. Decadal and Longer-term Changes in ENSO Characteristics. I. J. Climatol., 24, 401 - 414.

[3] The Center for Ocean and Atmospheric Prediction Studies (http://www.coaps.fsu.edu)

[4] Gershunov, A., and T.P. Barnett, 1998. Interdecadal modulation of ENSO teleconnections. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2715 - 2725.

[5] Lupo, A.R., and G. Johnston, 2000. The Interannual Variability of Atlantic Ocean Basin Hurricane Occurrence and Intensity. Nat. Wea. Dig., 24:1, 1-11.

[6] Berger, C.L., A.R. Lupo, P. Browning, M. Bodner, C.C. Rayburn, M.D. Chambers, 2003. A Climatology of Northwest Missouri Snowfall Events: Long Term Trends and Interannual Variability. Phys. Geog., 23, 427 - 448.

[7] Lupo, A.R., Kelsey, E.P., D.K. Weitlich, I.I. Mokhov, F.A. Akyuz, J.E. Woolard, 2006: Interannual and interdecadal variability in the predominant Pacific Region SST anomaly patterns and their impact on a local climate. Under review

[8] Gates, W.L., et al., 1999: An Overview of the Results of the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project (AMIP I). Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 80, 29-55.

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265 Comments

A scientific issue
This is a scientific issue that will be decided by scientific debate in scientific journals and meetings. People not trained in atmospheric science should not have any confidence that this post, which has not been refereed. To someone who has not had PhD level training in atmospheric science, it might as well be Star Trek style technobable. If there is a valid scientific point, the author should do what scientists do with controversial issues, write a letter to the editor of Nature, the journal that published the article he is disputing.

Readers of this blog who do not have PhD level training in the physical sciences should understand that even "creation scientists" can make their junk look scientific.

Mark & friends: If this sounds elitist, think of medicine. We ask top experts to figure out which studies hold water and which are full of holes. Also note that I'm not saying the author is wrong, only that this is not the venue for this kind of discussion, just as it is not a medical journal.

reffereed
How would you feel LiberalGood man if an article is referreed by guys with impecible Phds in the field, but all of whom have vested interests in scewing the argument one way or the other because of their own particular biases, e.g. their funding grants depend on it; their tenure depends on spouting the received litany, etc? Or do you believe that scientists are objective?

Scientific Issue
1) This article is written by a scientiest.

2) References are attached:

[1] Vecchi G.A., et al., 2006. Weakening of tropical Pacific atmospheric circulation due to anthropogenic forcing. Nature, 44, 73-76.

[2] Mokhov, I.I., D.V. Khvorostyanov, and A.V. Eliseev, 2004. Decadal and Longer-term Changes in ENSO Characteristics. I. J. Climatol., 24, 401 - 414.

[3] The Center for Ocean and Atmospheric Prediction Studies (http://www.coaps.fsu.edu)

[4] Gershunov, A., and T.P. Barnett, 1998. Interdecadal modulation of ENSO teleconnections. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2715 - 2725.

[5] Lupo, A.R., and G. Johnston, 2000. The Interannual Variability of Atlantic Ocean Basin Hurricane Occurrence and Intensity. Nat. Wea. Dig., 24:1, 1-11.

[6] Berger, C.L., A.R. Lupo, P. Browning, M. Bodner, C.C. Rayburn, M.D. Chambers, 2003. A Climatology of Northwest Missouri Snowfall Events: Long Term Trends and Interannual Variability. Phys. Geog., 23, 427 - 448.

[7] Lupo, A.R., Kelsey, E.P., D.K. Weitlich, I.I. Mokhov, F.A. Akyuz, J.E. Woolard, 2006: Interannual and interdecadal variability in the predominant Pacific Region SST anomaly patterns and their impact on a local climate. Under review

3) Reference 1 data ends in 1992.

What you're saying is you don't believe in science
The exact same argument about 'vested interest...funding grants' can be made about science in every subject from astronomy to zoology. For some reason, it's only raised about atmospheric physics, and raised here on a bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece site.

>do you believe that scientists are objective?

compared to, say, publicists, lawyers and lobbyists for oil companies? What's your alternative model for science? Or do you think we should just junk the entire idea of science and go back to astrology and religion?

do so believe...
I do indeed believe in the scientific method. But one must take it all with a grain of salt; this branch and the others you mentioned too. If something is 'controversial' then the various biases can come into play. I'm always sceptical about purported claims, and fads, or styles claiming to be scientific. Nowadays GW is a kind of 'fad' happening; thus, a phoney issue.

Translation:
Translation: Ignore tha man behind the curtain! Nothing to see here! Do not stop listening to the Great Wizard! Move along, move along.


So, I guess what you are implying is that we should just pretend we don't even see these things by actual scientists, especially when they apparently do not toe the 'consensus' viewpoint of anthropogenic caused warming, because we, not being climate scientists ourselves, would be hopelessly unable to fathom its true nuances. And that it would be far better if we left such things to our betters, such as Al Gore and John Kerry (who never met a nuance he didn't love), so that kindergarten-grade deception and outright lies like AlGorezeera's slide show of drowning bears and *gasp*!! melting ice!! should serve to convince us without a doubt that we are the evil cause of.. umm.. something that has already happened numerous times before Man ever walked the earth.. but still.. we're Capitalists who drive SUV's, so we are the cause of the dead bears and the melting ice.

Sorry, Mr. Barnum, but I'll take my facts straight, without a twist of infantile stupidity. You leftists can keep drinking all that koolaid you want, in fact please do - you'll never get back in power as long as you all continue to live in these little fantasy worlds you have built for yourselves.

So you're the expert on science fads???
> I'm always sceptical about purported claims, and fads, or styles claiming to be scientific.

Articles published in Nature and Science, and resolutions by the National Academy of Sciences or the American Geophysical Union don't "claim to be scientific," they are scientific. But here's Dietmar and he's "sceptical." Is there some reason why we should believe your instinct about what you think is a "fad" rather than what the scientists say?

Translation: Wesley's mind is made up
Wesley, you'd be really surprised, but the science is simply science, not left or right but just true, and the way to sort it out is not to engage in political sloganeering, but have the people who know the stuff -- and it is rocket science, is technically challenging -- sort it out. Which they've been doing for years, carefully, systematically and (despite what you think) apolitically.

Sure, what to do about the conclusions is a political qustion. But the politics should be informed by real science, not wishful thinking.

> we, not being climate scientists ourselves, would be hopelessly unable to fathom its true nuances. And that it would be far better if we left such things to our betters, such as Al Gore and John Kerry

Nobody is suggesting leaving it to Gore -- or Imhofe, for that matter. What's being suggested is leaving science to the scientists.

Here is a good article about the views of some climatologists.
http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm

Sidenote:
>"Wesley, you'd be really surprised, but the science is simply science, not left or right but just true, and the way to sort it out is not to engage in political sloganeering, but have the people who know the stuff -- and it is rocket science, is technically challenging -- sort it out. Which they've been doing for years, carefully, systematically and (despite what you think) apolitically."

Gulliver forgot to add the distinction that this only applies to those scientists who agree with his POV. All others can be written off as kooks, crooks, and shills for Big Oil(!).

Not to mention that his, and LG's, level-headed approach of never questioning the almighty, apolitical scientist is a stupid tactic. Politics is so heavily injected into the AGW debate that it is quite clear that a good number of scientists have swayed and manipulated their models (since that is all they have) to prove the disasterous outcomes that wish to see. Not to mention that governments are making policy based on these theories and models so it does greatly affect me. The alarmist scenarios will have quite an impact on my economic well-being.

So, much to Gulible and LiberalTalkingPointMan's chagrin, I will continue to comment on this topic until that changes. Perhaps if they tire of the debate they can retire from it.

A note on articles...
Articles and resolutions by the NAS have been shown to be quite political.

The NAS has made several resolutions that are not based on the science but that are specifically made to support governmental policy. As an organ of the government I cannot see how they could not be considered political.

As for an article in Science I would have to point out the political hit they pulled on Lomborg.

Perhaps if Gulliver admitted that science is a discipline run by humans he would see that humans are fallible and capable of mistakes and prejudice.

This is fiction
Some interests who don't like the NAS's stance have cried foul. This does not make the NAS "political." Please back up your charges.

>Perhaps if Gulliver admitted that science is a discipline run by humans he would see that humans are fallible and capable of mistakes and prejudice.

Perhaps Tlaloc might admit the same about himself.

Smoke
"Teich, Albert H., and Mark S. Frankel. Good Science and Responsible Scientists: Meeting the Challenge of Fraud and Misconduct in Science. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1991.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Bar Association have jointly issued several publications on issues of scientific ethics."

"http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Writing-and-Humanistic-Studies/21W-732-2Intro-to-Tech-CommunicationFall2002/Readings/index.htm"

From readings suggested by MIT, there appears to be sufficient material to warrant study into scientific fads and mis-conduct.

Reagan was right: Trust, but verify.

Noisemaking, not argument
It's not me who is setting my judgement up as superior to the experts in the field.

>Gulliver forgot to add the distinction that this only applies to those scientists who agree with his POV. All others can be written off as kooks, crooks, and shills for Big Oil(!).

I'm doing no such thing. Science is based on continually testing and attempting to disprove theories, with the truth coming out of the sifting process. I'm not prejudging this process. I am only pointing out what the overwhelming consensus of experts in the subject now believe. I'm not calling the author of this piece names. I do think that the place for him to publish it is in a peer-reviewed journal, where peope who know the subject can pose questions, rather than here. I note in his notes that this piece seems to be under submission: let's see what happens.

>So, much to Gulible and LiberalTalkingPointMan's chagrin, I will continue to comment on this topic until that changes. Perhaps if they tire of the debate they can retire from it.

Go ahead and make your noise. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

No Politics?
"A conclusion that can clearly be drawn from this and many subsequent environmental controversies is that politics, public pressure and economic considerations all take precedence over scientific evidence in determining the outcome. Another aspect of the Love Canal case that is characteristic of such events is that the victims, although hostile to Hooker Chemical, directed most of their rage at an indecisive, aloof, often secretive and inconsistent public health establishment."

http://www.wmich.edu/ethics/ESC/cs6.html

Why should courses in scietific ethics be required if all scientists were always ethical?

Gee: so Gore was just making it all up
And the scientists quoted in the film are just actors or pretenders. Sure.

This has what to do with the case in point?
Unless you're saying that the scientists who have established the case for human-caused climate change are all part of an evil conspiracy.

Blowing smoke, you mean
Sure: scientists can make mistakes. In this case, however, you'd be talking about thousands of scientists making the same mistakes, over years and years.

Conformity
I recall listening to a presentation by a Harvard physicist about the issue of global warming. At the reception before the presentation she mentioned that at Harvard her peers and superiors are applying pressure to conform to the views of other scientists. I believe that funding was mentioned.

I think that Al Gore is selectively choosing facts and hyping the issue as a political weapon.

And what about the NAS?
That's the institution specifically chartered to give unbiased scientific advice based on the best science to government. Are they "selectively choosing facts and hyping the issue as a political weapon?"

When the refree process fails, you can expect non-experts to loose faith in the system
As is typical of LG, he stands athwart history yelling, ignore that man behind the curtain.

You must understand the liberal mind. To them, the core definition of an expert, is anyone who agrees with them.

Gulliver also wants us to ignore the man behind the curtain.
To him and LG, bias can only be a factor, when considering the work of AGW sceptics.

It's been shown time and time again
that the NAS has never stated what Gulliver believes them to have stated.

you don't understand
Real scientists all agree with Gulliver.
Those other, fake scientists must be ignored.

Yes you are
You are declaring that your opinion trumps every scientist who disagrees with the alarmist position.

Or read what scientists have to say about Gore's film on a science w
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/al-gores-movie/

What man behind what curtain?
Please be specific: who's running the conspiracy? Who recruited all those scientists?

evil, maybe; conspiracy, probably
The case for AGW is extremely weak. Perhaps even non-existant, yet some "scientists" continue to tell us that unless we destroy the world's economy, we are all going to die.

For the most part, yes
....

The NAS stated that there is no solid proof
and more study is needed.

Another no-point, no-information offering
thank you for your opinion which is based, as usual for you, on nothing at all but your extremist ideology.

And time after time, this poster never has backup for what he says
If i've mistated the NAS position, please show how.

And time after time, this poster never has backup for what he says
If i've mistated the NAS position, please show how.

More study, sure
But they also say the evidence that humans are changing climate is actionable. Please state your backup for "the NAS has stated that there is no solid proof."

Funny: that's not what the scientists say.
see posted references to, for example, National Geographic.

Sorry, no. I'm not an expert.
I'm simply pointing out that most scientists believe humans are causing climate change. This is not an "alarmist" position, it is a scientific position.

When you live in a fantasy of your own making...
anything that disagrees with the fantasy can be easily blown off as "fiction".

But here, look into these little gems:

- The NAS' Institute of Medicine 2004 recommendation that healthy adults should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. This was thoroughly debunked by many doctors as the NAS attempting to support the NIH since many on the IOM panel received funding from the NIH.

- NAS' labeling of Flouride as a "nutrient". Now you can yell about the "whackos" who fight against flouride in drinking water but that does not mean that the NAS screwed up by attempting to give Flouride a label it does not scientifically deserve. Many doctors who support Flouride shake there heads at this obvious political statement.

- NAS' declaration that there is no safe level of radiation exposure. Here the panel simply assumed that because high-level exposures to radiation increase risk of health effects, like the slightly elevated cancer risk observed in the atomic bomb survivors, then any level of radiation exposure is a cancer risk. The panel employs this assumption even if the radiation is naturally occurring, that is from the ground or universe. This assumption is called the “no-threshold” model of cancer development, meaning the only radiation exposure with zero risk is absolutely no exposure. A state that is obviously impossible to achieve. Why would they be so obviously unscientific? To support governmental regulations to allow the government to regulate anything that even remotely gives off radiation.

- NAS' support of AGW. Sorry, had to throw this in here since AGW is not supported by any physical evidence outside of computer models and screams of consensus.

- NAS' report on the effects of gun laws. Started by Clinton and stacked with only one member who didn't advocate gun control, this little get together spent alot of money and time. After researching 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work, the panel couldn’t identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents. Conclusion? Inconclusive. They needed more time and money to study the problem. Kind of like counting votes under you get the desired result.

So yes, I would say the NAS can be moved to act in unscientific ways through prejudice, self-interest, and promises of funding. They are not the end-all, be-all of science. Far from it as a matter of fact.

>"Perhaps Tlaloc might admit the same about himself."

I can and have as you well know Fortunato. However, you seemed very determined to have me discredit your new persona as I did the last one.

Only a small fraction of the scientists say that
....

as if nat geo was a science magazine
At best it's a travel magazine, with a few politically motivated psuedo science articles thrown in to try and maintain respectability.

Consensus Science
"As a mass phenomenon, repeated appeals to consensus to support a scientific claim are relatively new. But it is not new to science. For more than a century, various philosophical troublemakers have been trying to undermine science and the scientific method. These range from Marxists who saw science as a product of class warfare and historical materialism -- Newton was a lackey of the ruling classes and pawn of history -- to scores of sociological theorists and philosophers who spent much of the 20th century attempting to subvert the first principles of modern, Enlightenment science."

"Global warming science by consensus, with appeals to United Nations panels and other agencies as authorities, is the apotheosis of the century-long crusade to overthrow the foundations of modern science and replace them with collectivist social theories of science. "Where a specific body of knowledge is recognized and accepted by a body of scientists, there would seem to be a need to regard that acceptance as a matter of contingent fact," writes Barnes. This means that knowledge is "undetermined by experience." It takes us "away from an individualistic rationalist account of evaluation towards a collectivist conventionalist account."

In short, under the new authoritarian science based on consensus, science doesn't matter much any more. If one scientist's 1,000-year chart showing rising global temperatures is based on bad data, it doesn't matter because we still otherwise have a consensus. If a polar bear expert says polar bears appear to be thriving, thus disproving a popular climate theory, the expert and his numbers are dismissed as being outside the consensus. If studies show solar fluctuations rather than carbon emissions may be causing climate change, these are damned as relics of the old scientific method. If ice caps are not all melting, with some even getting larger, the evidence is ridiculed and condemned. We have a consensus, and this contradictory science is just noise from the skeptical fringe.

Jasper McKee, professor of physics at the University of Manitoba and editor of Physics in Canada, asked recently: "Is scientific fact no longer necessary?" Apparently it's not. "In the absence of hard scientific fact or causal relationships, a majority vote of scientists can determine scientific truth."

http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=d35ca1eb-50b8-4546-8950-ca9ad18eb252

It is not surprising that those who most vigorously advocate for the consensus approach for AGW also actively oppose free markets.

Noise and counter-Noise
>"It's not me who is setting my judgement up as superior to the experts in the field."

You mistake the supplying of counter-evidence, given my other experts in the field, to actually lording my judgement over other experts.

I am doing no such thing.

Your claims of consensus are lies. If you mislead by attributing the counter-evidence to my opinions instead of to the ones who are debunking your notions.

>"I'm not calling the author of this piece names. I do think that the place for him to publish it is in a peer-reviewed journal, where peope who know the subject can pose questions, rather than here."

It has also been shown that those who critique AGW are labeled crackpots and discredited, without proof, for their views. Their views that never see the inside of Science or Nature or Nation Geographic. This bias can be firmly debated by insigificant mortals such as us.

While you can rest securely in the comfort of your own delusions, the rest of us would question why we are being denied the whole story.

>"Go ahead and make your noise. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

Sometimes a barking dog is the herald of an approaching enemy. They may not understand the exact nature of the threat but they know one when they smell one. An your arguments definitely give off quite an odor.

That's all you got?
Does this not show evidence of the holes in you and Gore's argument? That the science is settled?

And yes, Gore is making it all up.

That's why they quoted an expert
Which you are not.

more zeros
come back when you have an argument

"Pathetic"
"Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention.""

"In April sixty of the world's leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what's at stake - either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents - it seems like a reasonable request."

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm

I wonder if the United State has conducted a thorough public review of the science of climate change? When one Congressman ordered NAS to do so, they had a hissy fit.

Ah...
(real biased) realclimate.org. A proud recipient of Tides Foundation funding. If you were really into pointing out bias through funding you wouldn't post this site. As it stands you are just hypocritically ignorant.

In terms of an attempt to overthrow science
The efforts to cast doubt on the evidence for human caused climate change is front and center. It's not the scientists who are doing this: it's the political extremists and ideologs.

Between you and me...
I am the only one presenting one. "Leave it to the experts" is not a very strong position. Experts can be questioned and should be. This is not religion. Well, I should say: this is not religion for me. Since it is obvious dogma for you.

So...
all the scientists we quote who say that the results are inconclusive or disprove AGW are political extremeists and ideologs? A very convenient "truth" for your position.

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