“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” Richard Feynman
Ken Haapala | Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Scientific Theory and the Importance of Hypothesis
“It’s Wrong”: Nobel Laureate in Physics Richard Feynman (1965) was a brilliant scientist with a passion for teaching.
In some of his writing, and videos of his lectures, he clearly articulates the difficulties in formulating a scientific theory and the importance of hypothesis testing (experiment), see above quote. Feynman left a lasting impression on many students of science.
In his written testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on February 2, John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville submitted the results of 102 IPCC CIMP-5 Climate Model runs for the Global Bulk Atmospheric Temperature. (Surface to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters). (CIMP-5 is the latest version global climate models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC))
Christy tested the results of these model runs against temperature observations by four different datasets of weather balloon measurements with one type of instruments and by satellites with another type of instruments as calculated by 3 different entities. Christy shows a 0.98 correlation between the types of observational datasets, which is very high for such types of measurements. Not only is there significant disparity between the average of model runs and observations; but also, since 1995 the disparity is increasing significantly. The models greatly overestimate the warming of the bulk atmosphere.
Applying Feynman’s rule, the models are wrong!
By this empirical testing, the certainty expressed by the IPCC that human emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily responsible for late 20th century warming is wrong.
EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases, chiefly CO2, endanger public health and welfare is wrong. And the justification for the US Administration’s power plan is wrong.
Since Christy’s testimony undermines the foundation the government’s energy and environmental policy, including international efforts, it will be the primary focus of this TWTW.
See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, DOWNLOAD THIS FULL WEEKLY REPORT.
Natural or Human? Christy’s evidence does not mean that there is no greenhouse effect, or that human emissions do not contribute to a warming. But it certainly indicates that the human emissions of a cause are overstated, and that the primary cause(s) of late 20th century warming is likely to be natural influences. This is directly contrary to probability of nature-only influence calculations by Mann et al. discussed in the January 30, 2016 TWTW. The artificial truncation of the data to the past 150 years can lead to incorrect conclusions, even assuming the calculations are correct.
Extension of Prior Testimony: On December 8, 2015 Christy give strong written testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness questioning claims of human-induced climate change impacts on extreme events such as wildfires (no evidence), droughts & floods (little or no evidence) with increasing grain production.
In that testimony, Christy expressed concern over the political influence on climate science, including the IPCC.
Subsequently, a grouped called Yale Climate Connections released a video attacking Christy’s December 8 testimony. The video featured statements by Climate scientists Michael Mann, Kevin Trenberth, Andrew Dessler, Carl Mears, and Ben Santer, and David Titley.
The title of the article accompanying the video is a dead giveaway of its purpose: “Experts Fault Reliance on Satellite Data Alone.” Carl Mears of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) should know that Christy and his group have used RSS satellite data for years in addition to UAH data and NOAA data. Further, he should know that balloon data is distinctly different from satellite data. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.
Four Criticisms of Satellite Measurements
Four Points: In his February 2 testimony, Christy addresses four criticisms of satellite measurements, the first three of which are brought up in the video. The first is that satellites do not measure temperatures. Christy counters that they actually measure microwave radiation from oxygen, the intensity of which is directly proportional to the temperature of the oxygen. This is similar to modern doctors using ear probes measuring emitted radiation to measure a patient’s temperature – a great improvement to various types of older thermometers.
The second criticism is orbital decay, which was pointed out by RSS about 20 years ago and corrected. The third criticism is east-west drift (diurnal drift) of the satellites. This influences measurements of the lower troposphere, but not the middle troposphere, the data used in the hypothesis testing. Further, the error was corrected about 10 years ago.
A fourth criticism not brought up in the video, but discussed by Christy, is that some scientists have expressed that the satellite data hides the power and validity of the models. To prevent misinterpretation, Christy adjusts the data to the same starting point similar to a foot race starting at the same starting line. The starting point is1979 when satellite data became available rather than an artificially contrived one. No one has produced evidence Christy’s adjustments are in error.
Adjusting for errors in hypotheses when they are revealed is how science works to improve hypotheses. Improving hypotheses is one of the purposes of hypothesis testing. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, especially pp 4-5
Many Scientists Don’t Put Data into Linear Form
Linear Approach: Many scientists do not care for the tendency to put time-series data into linear form, or even constructing a regression trend between two points in the time-series, because it often disguises other trends that may only be observed in the rich data. However, a linear approach can be effective. Christy uses one to eliminate the influence of volcanoes, etc. and to better demonstrate the departure of the climate models from observations. Using the 36-year period from 1979 to 2015, Christy shows a linear trend of +0.079ºC/decade for balloon data, and +0.091 ºC/decade for satellite data. The average of 102 ICCC CMIP-5 Climate Model runs over the same period is +0.214 ºC/decade. Globally, the models overestimate bulk atmospheric warming (surface to 50,000 feet) by 2.5 times. From the data presented Christy states:
“Thus, the evidence here strongly suggests the theory, as embodied in models, goes much too far in forcing the atmosphere to retain heat when in reality the atmosphere has a means to relinquish heat and thus warms at a much slower rate.” See Christy, Challenging the Orthodoxy, pp 4-6
How Well Do We Understand Climate Change?
After addressing surface temperature data and the data quality issues involve (which have been discussed in TWTW), Christy goes to the key question: How Well Do We Understand Climate Change? After discussing the complexity of the modeling, he asserts that if we understand this complex system, we should be able of predict its behavior. This is a start; but, accurate prediction does not guarantee that the fundamental physics is understood. Based on the 102 climate model simulations of the troposphere Christy was able to access, our understanding is far from complete and does not inspire confidence. See Christy, Challenging the Orthodoxy, pp 6-11
Only One: To give a demonstration of the variation among the models Christy plots the 102 CMIPS Model Runs in 32 Groupings against Observations. Only one model comes close to the observations – the Russian INM-CM4. For those who like to calculate a low probability of 20th century warming being natural variability, there is a new challenge. What is the random probability of 101 out of 102 CMIP5 global climate model runs greatly overestimating global mid-tropospheric temperature observations? See Christy, Challenging the Orthodoxy, p 12.
Conclusion: Christy concluded with calculations of what would be the impact on global warming if the US ceased emissions totally – the US simply vanished. Using an IPCC model with a low end assumption of the influence of CO2 (not the much lower influence indicated by his research) after 50 years the effect would be less than monthly variations in global temperatures.
If the video by Yale Climate Connections, mentioned above, prompted Christy to prepare this rigorous, terse summary of the problems in IPCC models and science, perhaps those responsible for the video should be thanked. It would be difficult to create a better evaluation of the quality of the IPCC’s models.
Treaty – No Treaty: Smoke OR Mirrors, You Pick
Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote an interesting article on the issue of what was agreed upon at the end of the Paris UNFCCC December Conference of Parties (COP-21). Is it a treaty or not? As stated in TWTW, the concluding effort appeared to be all smoke and mirrors on the part of the US delegates and the Administration. Ebell suggests that the UN is proceeding with full flourishes that it is a treaty.
According to Ebell it fits the conditions of a treaty as defined by the UN. As a treaty it requires consideration by the US Senate and concurrence of two-thirds of the senators present. It remains to be seen what this all-so-clever Administration will announce and do. See link under Analyzing Paris!
Number of the Week: 2.5 & 3 times.
How John Christy calculated that the global climate models overestimate global atmospheric warming by 2.5 times that of observations is explained under Linear Approach, above. Christy also calculated that the models overestimate atmospheric warming over the tropics by 3 times. This is the area in which the storied “hot spot” should be occurring. Even though it was not part of the literature, Ben Santer inserted the “hot spot” in the 2005 IPCC report, after it underwent peer review. No one has been able to physically find it. Perhaps, this is why Santer participated in the video criticizing atmospheric satellite and balloon measurements.
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