Comments On The Economist Article “Green View: Could Temperature Be Less Intemperate?”

I was queried on Monday of this week by the Economist regarding the September Exeter meeting regarding the project surfacetemperatures.org which I posted on in

Meeting September 7-9 2010 “Surface Temperature Datasets For The 21st Century” Chaired By Peter Thorne

My comment to the Economist when asked

I wondered what you thought of the surfacetemperatures.org project/plan of action. I know you objected to some of what Peters Thorne and Stott said in their piece in nature about current surface temperature records, but I wondered what you thought of their ideas for making things better in the future.

My response was

 In terms of monitoring global warming, the successful installation of an upper ocean heat monitoring system which has been in place since earlier this decade (Argo as complemented with satellite measurements of the ocean) supersedes the need to use the surface air temperature data as the primary metric for this purpose [as I summarize in my article

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-334.pdf].

We can obtain a much more robust measure of global warming (and cooling) by monitoring the upper ocean heat changes.

In terms of improving the surface temperature data (which is, of course, needed for a variety of other purposes such as agriculture, recreation, etc), the goal to improve the access and audit of the data is commendable.

However, they seem to be ignoring known (i.e peer reviewed published) problems with this data. There is, for example, a need to photograph the sites and to seek past photos of these locations in order to see how well they are sited.

They also appear not to be considering other issues that we raised in the papers that I posted on this morning. This includes the warm bias we have found in the minimum land surface temperatures that are used in their construction of a land average temperature trend, and the need to include the effect of concurrent surface air, water vapor trends on the surface air heat (i.e. its moist enthalpy).

There are also issues with the “homogenization” of the data which they use to create grid area averages. When poor- and well-site locations are blended together, for instance, the result appears to be biasing the results [a subject we will be presenting in a paper that is almost complete]. The quantitative steps in their homogenization adjustment needs further scrutiny and it is not clear they will be doing this.

Please let me know if you need further feedback.

Best Regards

The article has now appeared [August 25 2010]

Green View: Could Temperature Be Less Intemperate?

 and my response to it is given below.

 Thank you for sending. With respect to adding comments on their weblog surfacetemperatures.org, Peter Thorne and colleagues already have seen the issues that we have raised in the set of peer reviewed papers that we have published on this topic; e.g. e.g.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.
http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-321.pdf

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on .Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105,
doi:10.1029/2008JD010938.
http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-321a.pdf

[and see the reviews of the above Comment/Reply of Parker et al where the referees agreed with our Reply – http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/reply-by-pielke-et-al-to-the-comment-by-parker-et-al-on-our-2007-jgr-paper-unresolved-issues-with-the-assessment-of-multi-decadal-global-land-surface-temperature-trends/.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655
 

Indeed, Peter Thorne has a documented history of suppressing other viewpoints as I have documented with e-mails and in a Public Comment; i.e

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/e-mail-documentation-of-the-successful-attempt-by-thomas-karl-director-of-the-u-s-national-climate-data-center-to-suppress-biases-and-uncertainties-in-the-assessment-surface-temperature-trends/

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. 88 pp including appendices.
http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/nr-143.pdf

I agree with Anthony Watts that “[a]pprised of it, he says that while ‘a noble effort, it is a reaction to a series of data transparency blunders rather than a proactive approach to open replication.’”

I would also add, that despite the significant involvement of myself and my colleagues in assessing uncertainties and biases with respect to the land surface temperature record in the peer reviewed literature, we were not invited to the Exeter meeting.

For these reasons, I disagree with your statement

“So, while Dr Thorne and his colleagues try to do something that is both difficult and worthwhile in a way that increases transparency, critics outside the community have to date more or less ignored the opportunity to get involved.”

We have very much been involved and Peter Thorne and his associates continue to fail at being inclusive. This meeting looks like “business as usual.

Best Regards

Roger Sr.

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