Monthly Archives: September 2011

My 1995 Resignation Letter From The IPCC

In 1995 I was invited to serve as a contributing author to their Chapter which dealt with regional climate modeling. I sent in recommended text and papers. All of this material was ignored (as it was in 1992 when I was asked to review several chapters in the IPCC supplement report). Subsequently, in 1995 I sent the letter below in which I resigned fromm the IPCC. I recently again came across this letter and, in rereading, it still accurately expresses my 2011 views on the IPCC perspective.

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Can Climate Model Predictions Be Tested And Rejected As Providing Skillful Predictions? Of Course!

As usual Judy Curry has a very informative weblog post

Climate models as ink blots 

In it, she writes the following

“What exactly does falsification of a prediction mean?  For an ensemble prediction, the prediction is said to have no skill if the actual realization falls outside of the bounding box of the ensembles (or whatever skill score for whatever variable has been decided in advance).   A prediction with no skill does not imply falsification or rejection of a model. Falsification of a climate model is precluded by the complexity of a climate model”

I agree with her that one cannot falsify models. However, one can falsify model predictions. With respect to climate, multi-decadal model predictions can be falsified as models themselves are hypotheses and can be tested. They are, after all, engineering code, as large parts of the physics, chemistry and biology are parametrized using tunable parameters.  Only the dynamic core of these models (i.e. advection, the pressure gradient force, gravity) are expressed in terms of fundamental physics.

Thus, while models cannot be verified,  they can be rejected (i.e. those that fall outside of a selected envelope around the observations).  Climate models are just hypotheses like any other hypothesis and need to be tested against real world data.

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Set #6 Of The Photographs Of Surface Climate Observing Sites

This post presents the final two photographs of surface climate observing sites that I introduced in my post on August 11 2011

Quality Of Global Climate Surface Observing Sites

Some of these sites are reasonably well-sited while others are not. There is, however, a clear need to document each of those sites that are used in the Global Climate Reference Network.

1. Guanajuato, Mexico

2. Chihuahua, Mexico

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Photographs Of Cap Madeleine on the Gaspesie In Quebec, Canada in 2008 By Russell Steele

Russell Steele, host of the weblog The Next Grand Minimum sent me photographs of a GHCN site in Canada. They are reproduced below. I asked Russ to introduce himself, and I have provided this below.

I was one of Anthony’s first volunteers and surveyed weather stations across the US with my wife Ellen for the Surface Stations Project. We really enjoyed making a contribution to global warming science. I am also a blogger and recently launched The Next Grand Minimum a blog to track the climate changes that might lead to significant changes in the way we live over the next 20-30 years. I am a former Air Force Navigation and systems concepts developer for an aerospace company, and now a freelance writer living in the Sierra foothills.

If there is any way we can help with your project, please let us know.

The information he provided for the site is

The station ID information in the NCDC data base is: 40307051160 49.23 -65.31 2 CAP MADELEINE
My GPS Coordinates were:
N 49.25063
W 065.32966
Elevation 47 feet

Here are the photos

1. Looking north

2. looking west

3. looking south

4. looking east

5. generally east

6. generally north

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Alan Robock On Geoengineering

There is an interesting seminar scheduled for September 27 2011. The announcement is reproduced below. Alan Robock and I differ on a number of climate issues, but he and I seem to agree on the risks of geoengineering. Alan told me that his papers on geoengineering can be obtained from

I have highlighted text in the announcement in which he and I agree.  His concern on geoengineering, which involves deliberate alterations in regional climate forcings, in addition to any effect on the global average radiative forcing, should also make him a proponent of the important role of land use/land cover change (i.e. a regional climate forcing) as a first-order climate forcing.

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2011 08:55:42 -0600

From: Baylor Fox-Kemper

Subject: FYI

…. Tuesday, September 27, 2011 – 3:30pm

…. Smoke and mirrors: Is geoengineering a solution to global warming? [7]

In response to the global warming problem, there has been a recent renewed interest in geoengineering solutions involving solar radiation management by injecting particles into the stratosphere, brightening clouds, or blocking sunlight with satellites between the Sun and Earth. While volcanic eruptions have been suggested as innocuous examples of stratospheric aerosols cooling the planet, the volcano analog actually argues against geoengineering because of ozone depletion and regional hydrologic responses.

 In this talk, I describe different proposed geoengineering designs, and then show climate model calculations that evaluate both their efficacy and their possible adverse consequences. No such systems to conduct geoengineering now exist, but a comparison of different proposed stratospheric injection schemes, using airplanes, balloons, and artillery, shows that using airplanes to put sulfur gases into the stratosphere would not be expensive.

Nevertheless, it would be very difficult to create stratospheric sulfate particles with a desirable size distribution. We have just started a GeoMIP project to conduct standard stratospheric aerosol injection scenarios in the context of CMIP5, so as to examine the robustness of the few experiments conducted so far.

If there were a way to continuously inject SO2 into the lower stratosphere, it would produce global cooling, stopping melting of the ice caps, and increasing the uptake of CO2 by plants.  But there are at least 25 reasons why geoengineering may be a bad idea.These include disruption of the Asian and African summer monsoons, reducing precipitation to the food supply for billions of people; ozone depletion; no more blue skies; reduction of solar power; and rapid global warming if it stops. Furthermore, the prospect of geoengineering working may reduce the current drive toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there are concerns about commercial or military control, and it may seriously degrade terrestrial astronomy and satellite remote sensing. Global efforts to reduce anthropogenic emissions and to adapt to climate change are a much better way to channel our resources to address anthropogenic global warming.

Building: Mesa Lab, Room/Location: ML-132
Presenter(s): Alan Robock
Rutgers University

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September 23 2011 Update On The Real Climate Post “More Bubkes” Of July 1 2009

Today, I want to update the information regarding three climate metrics that Real Climate presented in response to my post

Real Climate’s Misinformation

on July 1 2009  in their post More Bubkes (h/t to Skeptical Science). 

 For those not familiar with the word “bubkes”, it is defined as (from)

“the least amount : beans <won’t win bubkes this year — Ivan Maisel>; also : nothing <received bubkes for their efforts>

with its history

Origin of bubkes

Yiddish (probably short for kozebubkes, literally, goat droppings), plural of bubke, bobke, diminutive of bub, bob bean, of Slavic origin; akin to Polish bóbbean

First Known Use: 1942

Real Climate writes in their post (referring to the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress)

1. Sea level. The Synthesis Report shows the graph below and concludes:

Since 2007, reports comparing the IPCC projections of 1990 with observations show that some climate indicators are changing near the upper end of the range indicated by the projections or, as in the case of sea level rise (Figure 1), at even greater rates than indicated by IPCC projections.

The September 2011 update:

The latest sea level data from the University of Colorado is reproduced below.

It certainly looks like the models are not skillfully predicting the current changes in sea level. The rate is certainly not greater than the IPCC projections.

2. Ocean heat content. The Synthesis Report states:

Current estimates indicate that ocean warming is about 50% greater than had been previously reported by the IPCC.

The September 2011 update:

The 2011 update documents the absence of substantial upper ocean heating since 2003. This lack of heating is much less than the IPCC reported.

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present

This heat may be deeper in the ocean as hypothesized by Meehl and colleagues (e.g. see), but the observed trend in the upper ocean heat content is not consistent with the claim in the Synthesis Report.

3. Arctic Sea Ice. The Synthesis Report states:

One of the most dramatic developments since the last IPCC Report is the rapid reduction in the area of Arctic sea ice in summer. In 2007, the minimum area covered decreased by about 2 million square kilometres as compared to previous years. In 2008, the decrease was almost as dramatic.

September 2011 update: The Synthesis report is correct regarding this trend

Thus Real Climate in their post More Bubkes was correct in only one out of three of their examples to support the claim that

“Some aspects of climate change are progressing faster than was expected a few years ago – such as rising sea levels, the increase of heat stored in the ocean and the shrinking Arctic sea ice.”

Seems like the “bubkes” belong to Real Climate. :-)

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NSF’s Narrow View Of The Climate Issue – Climate Is Much More Than “Climate Change”

I received a notice of opportunity from the National Science Foundation. There is much in there that could fit with the bott0m-up, resource-based perspective that we present in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press. 

 I was quite disappointed, however, to see this NSF e-mail identify climate change rather than climate generally as a focus point. NSF is too fixated on changes in climate statistics rather than the threats that already exist from observed historical and recent paleo- climatic events.  If the NSF would just delete the word “change” from “climate change” in their text, it would be a much more inclusive and scientifically better posded document.

I have highlighted their use of “climate change” in the e-mail that is reproduced below.

Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:51:53 -0400
From: NSF Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Science
To: AS email list
Subject: Announcements from NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences

Dear Colleague,

I hope that you are well.

I am sending you this message because it contains announcements of opportunity from the National Science Foundation that I think you may find of interest.

Best Regards,

Dr. Michael C. Morgan

Director, Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences

National Science Foundation


Subject: NSF-USAID Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research

Dear Colleagues:
In July, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Agency for
International Development launched the Partnerships for Enhanced
Engagement in Research (PEER) program: .

PEER is a competitive grants program that will allow developing country scientists to apply for funds to support research and capacity building activities in partnership with their NSF-funded U.S. collaborators. Areas targeted for support include:

*         Food security topics such as agricultural development, fisheries, and plant genomics

*         Global health issues such as ecology of infectious disease, biomedical engineering, and natural/human system interactions

*         Climate change impacts such as water sustainability, hydrology, ocean acidification, climate process and modeling, and environmental engineering

*         Other development topics including disaster mitigation,biodiversity, water, and renewable energy

The National Academies has been contracted by USAID to administer PEER, and has recently put program details on their website: .

NSF and USAID Jointly Launch International, Interagency PEER Program to Advance Science Collaboration With the Developing World

July 7, 2011

View videos showing the six PEER pilot projects and soundbites and talks by the keynote speakers at the “PEER” event.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today launched an international joint initiative to address global development challenges.

PEER, “Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research,” capitalizes on competitively-awarded investments to support and build scientific and technical capacity in the developing world.

NSF Director Subra Suresh, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John P. Holdren spoke at an event held at the National Science Foundation this morning to celebrate this innovative partnership and to roll out the PEER program.

“I am delighted to see these two agencies collaborating to further President Obama’s goals of strengthening America’s science and technology enterprise and applying its outputs to challenges both domestic and global,” said Holdren, assistant to President Obama for science and technology. “This partnership will help particularly with the application of science, technology and innovation to accelerate global development, with huge benefits for industrialized and developing countries alike.”

“This is a win-win partnership,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh, “The U.S. scientific community benefits from more robust international partnerships and an increased awareness of how research can be used to address global development challenges. Our foreign partners benefit from the expertise and enthusiasm of the U.S. scientific community, the engagement of U.S. universities, and an understanding that science can build bridges.”

Six USAID-funded pilot projects through PEER explore research challenges related to ecosystems, climate change, seismology, hydrology and biodiversity in Tanzania, Bagladesh, Mali, Kenya and Burkina Faso and are linked with NSF investments.

The principal investigators of one project–Michael Steckler from Columbia University and his international collaborator Syed Humayun Akhter from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh–attended the program launch and described their project, which explores life on a tectonically-active delta employing a convergence of earth science and geohazard research.

The attached video slideshow spotlights all six PEER pilot projects.

PEER will employ a merit review process similar to the one used to evaluate proposals by NSF when it chooses among proposals to fund extraordinary science and engineering. USAID announced that it has selected the National Academy of Sciences to administer the PEER program and has allocated $7 million for the initiative.  This will be strategically coupled with merit-reviewed, NSF-funded research at U.S. institutions to address challenges at the interface of water, renewable energy, food security, climate change and disaster mitigation with an expected leveraging of $25 to $50 million.

“We’re trying to actually change the way people think about what development is, what it could be and how we can create the kinds of solutions that inspire others to care and to address the needs of the billions of people who live without the benefits of two centuries of science and technology,” said Shah. “And with the success and lessons learned from our six pilot projects, and the strength and expertise of those assembled here today, one can be sure, we’re well on our way.”


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Filed under Academic Departments, Climate Science Misconceptions, Uncategorized, Vulnerability Paradigm

Final Comments On My Interaction With Skeptical Science

I have been commenting for the last several days on Skeptical Science in their post

SkS Responses to Pielke Sr. Questions

While there have a few constructive interactions, many of the comments are not only not constructive, but demeaning.  I also spend considerable time repeating myself in answering their questions. I am disappointed as I was hoping that Skeptical Science was a weblog where a diversity of views can be discussed constructively. However, the moderators on that weblog failed to adequately police the comments.

My last post on their weblog reads

John Hartz -

“Perhaps he’s had a long day and is just tired”

[in response to a commenter named Albatross]

“Please let me remind you that it was you who chose to misrepresent my position and my statement on citations in your post @105, and at the same time belittle it. Now you are trying to take offense to the fact that I was annoyed/offended by you misrepresenting me and are trying to accuse me of being discourteous?”

This type of exchange occurs too much on your weblog. These types of non-constructive comments are a major reason I stopped accepting comments on my weblog.

Therefore, I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to express my views. Readers on your weblog who have not commented can make up their own minds on the exchange of views that have already occurred. However, I require a courteous exchange of viewpoints, even when there is disagreement, and, unfortunately, except for several excellent open-minded and cordial comments by your readers, a large fraction of the comments are not of that type. Much of my effort is going in circles and repeating myself.

Thus, this is my last comment on your weblog.

With the negative tone of their weblog, only those who are committed to the perspective promoted on their weblog will likely regularly read it.  Its an opportunty lost, unfortunately.

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New Paper “Climatic Trends In Major U.S. Urban Areas, 1950–2009″ By Mishra and Lettenmaier

There is a new paper

Mishra, V., and D. P. Lettenmaier (2011), Climatic trends in major U.S. urban areas, 1950–2009, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L16401, doi:10.1029/ 2011GL048255

which reports on the effect of urban areas on multi-decadal surface temperature trends.

 The abstract reads [highlight added]

We evaluate changes in climatic indices for the 100 largest U.S. urban areas and paired surrounding non‐urban areas. During the period 1950–2009, we find that there were statistically significant changes in as many as half of the urban areas in temperature‐related indices, such as heating and cooling degree‐days and number of warm and cool nights, almost all of which are reflective of a general warming. Similarly, statistically significant changes (mostly increases) in indices related to extreme precipitation, such as daily maximum intensities and number of days with heavy precipitation, were detected in as many of 30% of the urban areas. A paired analysis of urban and surrounding non‐urban areas suggests that most temperature‐related trends are attributable to regional climate change, rather than to local effects of urbanization, although the picture is more mixed for precipitation.

Among the conclusions

Consistent with previous studies [Easterling et al., 2000; Kalnay and Cai, 2003], trends related to temperature minima in the urban areas are generally stronger than those related to temperature maxima.

For both minimum daily temperature based climate indices and precipitation‐related trends, changes in urban and non‐urban areas are generally consistent; suggesting that the trends are dominantly a response to climate [Parker, 2004; Peterson, 2003], rather than local land cover changes during the period of analysis. However, there is somewhat less consistency in urban vs. non‐urban trends in climate indices related to daily maximum temperature, which suggests that land cover change may be at least partially responsible for those trends.

An important cavaet to their study is that they have not factored in the role of microclimate changes at the observing sites which we have started to explore, as reported on in our paper

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D14120, doi:10.1029/2010JD015146.Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

Their finding of leass of an effect on minimum temperature trends on whether they are located in urban or rural areas is, however, puzzling, as the urban heat island effect on minimum temperatures is very well know (e.g. see EPA heat island effect). Since the spatial scale, density of build-up and type of constructoins on urban areas continues to change over the time, the failure to find a difference between rural and urban areas needs more investigation as to whay this was found in the Mishra and  Lettenmaier analysis.

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Skeptical Science Responses To My Questions And My Reply

I have reposted a blog post from Skeptical Science along with my responses below.

SkS Responses to Pielke Sr. Questions

Posted on 21 September 2011 by dana1981

On his blog in response to our post One-Sided ‘Skepticism, Roger Pielke Sr. asked SkS to respond to some questions.  We would like to note that these questions are totally unrelated to the initial discussion initiated by Dr. Pielke’s unsubstantiated criticism of SkS (see Chasing Pielke’s Goodyear Blimp).  However, in the interest of establishing what we hope will be a productive discourse, we have agreed to answer Dr. Pielke’s questions.

Dr. Pielke’s questions are underlined in the text below, and the answers from SkS follow.

Continue reading

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