Monthly Archives: March 2012

Multi-Decadal Climate Model Testing Requirements – A Summary

In this post, I summarize two necessary requirements for multi-decadal global climate models to be met before multi-decadal projections for the coming decades should be communicated to stakeholders and policymakers.  I have discussed this in past posts (e.g. see), but am motivated to summarize here in light of the recognition (finally) of the inability of researchers to attribute changes in disasters to changes in climate statistics, as discussed in my son’s post

A Handy Bullshit Button on Disasters and Climate Change

In terms of testing the models, necessary conditions (but still not a sufficient condition) for the models to have any credibility to predict the future climate on decadal time scales are:

1. They must accurately simulate (hindcast) the statistics of major atmospheric and ocean circulation features over the last few decades (since real world data is available)

and

2. They must accurately simulate (hindcast) the statistics of the changes in the statistics of these major atmospheric and ocean circulation features over the last few decades.

If they cannot do both #1 and #2, they must be rejected as robust predictive (projection) tools for the coming decades.

A rationalization that the climate forcing in the coming decades could be outside of what has occurred in the past does not in any way remedy this deficiency. If they cannot skillfully predict #1 and #2, model predictions of the coming decades, published in journal articles, news reports, and climate assessments, are misinforming and misleading  stakeholders and policymakers.

In terms of #1, there is progress, as reported, for example, in

Guest Post Titled “Decadal Prediction Skill In A Multi-Model Ensemble” By Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Bert Wouters, Wilco Hazeleger.

but there is no evidence that I am aware of satisfying #2. Even with #1, we could use reanalyses and have no need for the climate hindcasts (other than to investigate climate processes).

The real barrier that must be overcome is #2.  To date, to my knowledge, this issue has not even been discussed as part of the current IPCC assessment. They clearly have more work to do.

If, however, the IPCC ignores the need to satisfy #1 and #2 but they present projections as part of the IPCC reports, policymakers, the public and impact scientists should be ready to press the “bullshit button”.

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Filed under Climate Models, Uncategorized

Follow Up On My Post “Funding Agency Bias – A Short Summary”

Don Bishop, in response to the post

Funding Agency Bias – A Short Summary

sent the informative e-mail below which I invited him to share with everyone. It is reproduced with his approval.

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 11:45:13 -0400 (EDT) From: Don Bishop Subject: Agency funding bias

Hi Roger

While reading today’s post [that of March 27 2012] about bias, and how models do not give useful regional weather/climate predictions, I was reminded of Judy Curry’s presentation in Boulder on August 31, 2011 – an example of what is needed.

The workshop was sponsored by NOAA on water cycle science challenges, and Curry’s presentation showed how lower 48 droughts relate to PDO and AMO, what  was predicted for those ocean cycles, and therefore what the drought predictions were: the analogue for the next decade or so was the 1950s.

_http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/31/water-too-little-too-much-part-ii/_ (http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/31/water-too-little-too-much-part-ii/)

Her slides:

_http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/events/2011/pdf/water-cycle-presentations/Curr y_noaaWaterClimate.pdf_ (http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/events/2011/pdf/water-cycle-presentations/Curry_noaaWaterClimate.pdf)

Don Bishop

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Filed under Climate Proposal Review Process

Amazing Disconnect From The Scientific Process

Recently, I reviewed a paper which had the following quote

“A global climate model that does not simulate current climate accurately does not necessarily imply that it cannot produce accurate projections”

I invite anyone to defend this perspective, and we will present as a guest weblog post. From my perspective, if a global climate model cannot simulate current climate, as well as changes in the climate system, accurately it cannot produce accurate projections of climate in the coming decades.

Papers that fail this test, or do not even make it, which then are still published, is a subversion of the scientific process.

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Filed under Climate Science Misconceptions

Funding Agency Bias – A Short Summary

The current focus and funding priorities of the NSF, NOAA, the Uk Met Office and other agencies can be succinctly summarized by the introductory sentence in the BAMS paper

Ho, Chun Kit , David B. Stephenson, Matthew Collins, Christopher A. T. Ferro, Simon J. Brown. 2012: Calibration Strategies: A Source of Additional Uncertainty in Climate Change Projections. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Volume 93, Issue 1 (January 2012) pp. 21-26. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011BAMS3110.1

which states

“Reliable projections of weather variables from climate models are required for the assessment of future climate change impacts (e.g., flooding, drought, temperature-related mortality, and crop yield).”

This is just one example of the top-down approach which we have shown in our papers (and with referral to other studies) to be a scientifically flawed methodology, but it is a mindset that permeates the funding agencies in the USA, UK and elsewhere.

In contrast, as I report in the post

The NSF CREATIV Initiative On Interdisciplinary Research – Another Example Of Thinking Inside The Box

the alternative  bottom-up, resource-based perspective, which we conclude is not only scientifically robust but is of direct and immediate benefit to stakeholders and policymakers, is cavalierly dismissed. As the NSF Program Officer wrote

“The notion that one can usefully look at the incremental threat to a sector from any particular hazard is not a great conceptual leap forward. “

Until these fundings agencies can become “honest brokers” of the issues in climate science, we are going to continue to be preventing from robust examination of many of the issues in climate science, and  more broadly, in environmental science.

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The NSF CREATIV Initiative On Interdisciplinary Research – Another Example Of Thinking Inside The Box

Several months ago, the NSF announced the CREATIV initiative in  a Dear Colleague letter.  Since we have proposed a broader, interdisciplinary  approach to the assessment of risks to key societal and environmental risks 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 submitted an application to submit based on two issues:

1. The assessment of the skill at the top-down global climate model predictions of changes in climate statistics that are relevant to stakeholders in terms of the metrics they need

and

2. The quantification of the climate and other threats to these metrics with respect to selected key resources in water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function.

My experience, that I have documented below, with the  program managers who handled this issue illustrates the problem with obtaining funding at the NSF in climate related studies unless you fit into their particular area of interest (i.e. there are “favored topics” despite what is announced in the Dear Colleague letter).

The CREATIV program itself is described as

CREATIV (Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures): a pilot grant mechanism under the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) initiative, to support bold interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research.

The CREATIV program has these claimed goals

  • Create new interdisciplinary opportunities that are not perceived to exist presently.
  • Attract unusually creative high-risk / high-reward interdisciplinary proposals.
  • Provide substantial funding, not limited to the exploratory stage of the pursuit of novel ideas.
  • Designate no favored topics; be open to all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research.

In terms of “no favored topics” they write

No. There are no  favored topics. In terms of review  criteria, unusual promise for societal benefit can contribute to the broader  impacts of a proposal.

In the following, I have reproduced the e-mails involved in my interaction with the program managers at the NSF.  I have redacted their names, since these individuals just illustrate a culture at the NSF in the area of climate science that is clearly biased to perpetuating a particular viewpoint on the climate issue.

My First E-mail

Dear sir/madam

Well over a month ago, I submitted the short write up at the NSF website (using your form – http://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/creativ/inquiry.cfm) on submitting a CREATIV proposal, but have not heard anything regarding my submission.

Please let me know who I should contact regarding its status. CREATIV is described at

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12011/nsf12011.jsp

and was announced by Professor (NSF Director) Suresh, who I have copied to on his MIT e-mail address.

I submitted my information as requested in the text

“Potential proposers are encouraged to begin the process by submitting the CREATIV Inquiry Data Form, as explained on the FAQ page. Before writing and submitting a CREATIV proposal, it is the principal investigator’s responsibility to obtain written authorization to submit a CREATIV proposal by NSF program directors from at least two intellectually distinct divisions or programs.”

I completed this step [from http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12012/nsf12012.jsp#tdcl]

“As a first step, you are encouraged to fill out and submit the CREATIV Inquiry Data Form, here. Before submitting the form, you must identify at least one appropriate NSF Program Director to consider your inquiry.”

We listed a number of NSF Program Directors to assess and based our request on our interdisciplinary paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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.

http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/r-365.pdf

However, so far, we have had no feedback from the NSF on our Inquiry submission.

Sincerely

Roger A. Pielke Sr.

My Response: Here is the first response which I received only after I copied the Director of the NSF.

Dear Dr. Pielke,

I am an NSF program officer.  I was not among the program officers that you listed on your CREATIV inquiry, but I am among those to whom your inquiry was routed.

It seems that perhaps the following NSF grants are already funding aspects of what you are proposing:

A. RESIN Grants from ENG/EFRI (RESIN = Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure).  One example:

EFRI-RESIN: Assessing and Managing Cascading Failure Vulnerabilities of Complex, Interdependent, Interactive, Adaptive Human-based Infrastructure Systems http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0836047

B. WSC Grants (WSC = Water Sustainability and Climate).  Some examples:

WSC-Category 2: Extreme events impacts on water quality in the Great Lakes: Prediction and management of nutrient loading in a changing climate http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1039043

Collaborative Research, WSC-Category 2: Regional Climate Variability and Patterns of Urban Development – Impacts on the Urban Water Cycle and Nutrient Export

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1058038

C. RCN-SEES Grants (RCN-SEES = Research Coordination Networks – Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability).  Some examples:

RCN-SEES: Climate, Energy, Environment, and Engagement in Semi-Arid Regions (CE3SAR)

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1140196

RCN – SEES: Sustainable Cities – People and the Energy-Climate-Water Nexus

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=1140384

So, I do not feel that the CREATIV path is a fit for your concept.  One path forward might be for you to put together an RCN-SEES proposal that would be built around your approach but would draw upon related ongoing NSF-funded research and researchers such as are described at the links above.  The next RCN-SEES deadline is already posted (Feb. 4, 2013).  Here is a link:

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11531/nsf11531.htm

Another option might be to pursue CaMRA, as described in NSF’s posted FY 2013 Budget Request: “Creating a More Disaster-Resilient America (CaMRA) aims to catalyze basic research and education efforts in hazard-related science, engineering, risk assessment and decision making in order to improve forecasting and prediction of natural and technological hazards, mitigate their effects, and prepare communities to respond to, and recover from disasters.”

Best wishes,

XXXX

My Reply

Hi XXXX

Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful reply.

These programs certainly would fit with out bottom-up focus, but a deadline of February 2013 for the next RCN-SEES deadline (Feb. 4, 2013) for just submitting, means it would be 1 1/2 years or more from now before we would have any funding, even if we were successful in a proposal.

Since our research; as presented in our papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/r-365.pdf

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum, 93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/r-361.pdf

shows that the current approach of regional and local downscaling of multi-decadal global model climate predictions for use to determine vulnerabilities to key societal and environmental resources is seriously flawed, we feel it is important to examine the value of the bottom up approach. The IPCC type scenarios are, at best, a subset of what climate threats that will be faced in the future.

The CREATIV option seems to be the only option to use in the near term. Please advise, however, if the programs such as

EFRI-RESIN: Assessing and Managing Cascading Failure Vulnerabilities of Complex, Interdependent, Interactive, Adaptive Human-based Infrastructure Systems

WSC Grants (WSC = Water Sustainability and Climate).

Collaborative Research, WSC-Category 2: Regional Climate Variability and Patterns of Urban Development – Impacts on the Urban Water Cycle and Nutrient Export

RCN-SEES: Climate, Energy, Environment, and Engagement in Semi-Arid Regions (CE3SAR)

RCN – SEES: Sustainable Cities – People and the Energy-Climate-Water Nexus

have any closer deadlines to submit [I assume the last two have a Feb 2013 date for new submissions).

Sincerely

Roger

The Response:

 Hello Roger,

My colleague YYYY has kindly provided information on WSC below.

There is some chance that EFRI-RESIN may have another solicitation, but that is not yet decided, and, at any rate, the deadline would be after the next RCN-SEES deadline of February 4, 2013.

In my message below (with relevant links), the following two are already existing NSF RCN-SEES grants that I was suggesting may have a relationship to your concept (they are not funding opportunities separate from RCN-SEES with the deadline of February 4, 2013):

RCN-SEES: Climate, Energy, Environment, and Engagement in Semi-Arid Regions (CE3SAR)

RCN - SEES: Sustainable Cities - People and the Energy-Climate-Water Nexus

The Response from the other NSF Program Officer:

Roger:

The Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) competition is likely to have its next deadline in around 18 months, although this is uncertain and the specific requirements for proposals may change. The current solicitation for large awards is funding research that focuses intensely on one watershed or that compares water sustainability issues in two or more watersheds. The solicitation requires that proposals integrate the work of experts from fields in engineering, geosciences, biosciences, and social sciences. Some of what you want to do may well fit with WSC.

Best wishes, YYYY

My Response

Hi YYYY

Thank you for your feedback. What I am interested in is not large funding, but about 1750K to 200K per year for three years to further examine:

i) shortcomings of the top-down (IPCC; CCSP) (outcome) vulnerability approach and,

ii) provide examples of the more holistic, inclusive assessment of vulnerabilities in our bottom-up (contextual) approach.

Since I am leading, as Editor-in-Chief, a 5 volume set of books which introduce this perspective (and provides examples), I would be able to leverage from the work that we are producing in this volume and to work with a number of those colleagues to assist in building on it. One issue with the set of 5 books is that there remains considerable existing emphasis on the narrower top-down, global climate model dominated view, and a focused study on the bottom-up approach is needed.

My Editors are Faisal Hossain on water resources (Tennessee Technological University); Jimmy Adegoke and Caradee Wright on human health (CIRS; South Africa); Tim Seasteadt and Katie Suding on ecosystem function (University of Colorado/ UC Berkeley); Dev Niyogi on food (Purdue); and George Kallos on energy (University of Athens, Greece).

My proposal is very straightforward. It is to determine the major threats to a selected examples of local and regional water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function resources to short term weather events (e.g. tornadoes), multi-weekly and seasonal long events (droughts) and multi-year and decadal variability and change (e.g. an increase or decrease in the 30 year warm season maximum temperatures), and also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risks from weather and climate issues can be compared with other risks in order to adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies.

The questions to be asked to a selected group of stakeholders (chosen by working with those who worked with me as Editors) are:

1. Why is this resource important? How is it used? To what stakeholders is    it valuable?

2. What are the key environmental and social variables that influence this    resource?

3. What is the sensitivity of this resource to changes in each of these    key variables? (This includes, but is not limited to, the sensitivity    of the resource to climate variations and change on short (days);    medium (seasons) and long (multi-decadal) time scales).

4. What changes (thresholds) in these key variables would have to    occur to result in a negative (or positive) outcome for this resource?

5. What are the best estimates of the probabilities for these changes to    occur? What tools are available to quantify the effect of these    changes? Can these estimates be skillfully predicted?

6. What actions (adaptation/mitigation) can be undertaken in order to    minimize or eliminate the negative consequences of these changes (or to    optimize a positive response)?

7. What are specific recommendations for policymakers and other    stakeholders?

I hope you can direct me to where I can seek funding for this effort prior to 2013.

Sincerely

Roger

The Response 

Roger:

To the extent that your project is descriptive and essentially a literature review, the project is probably not appropriate for NSF whose mission is to support basic research.

If elements of your project are likely to produce a theoretical or methodological advance, then the project is probably appropriate for the DRMS Program. The next target date is August 18 with funding decisions in November and December.

Best wishes,

YYYY

My Reply

Hi YYYY

The approach is quite a bit more than a literature survey, as stakeholders would need to be interviewed and data analyzed. It is a more robust approach the current top-down method, as we concluded in our AGU book chapter and the EOS article. The top-down approach is currently receiving quite large amounts of NSF funding, yet the basic science robustness of this approach has not been adequately vetted.  This would be part of our research.

I do see under list of activities for the Decision, Risk and Management Sciences (DRMS) -http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php

that you fund small grants that are high-risk and of a potentially transformative nature (EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research - EAGER).

Our approach would be to test if the current top-down global climate model multi-decadal prediction approach is fatally flawed as a major driver of impact studies(as we have found so far in our studies), and that funds are being wasted on this methodology. This would be a transformative finding if our finding is confirmed.

To my knowledge, there is no coherent NSF program that is looking into this issue.

Best Regards

Roger

Their Reply

Roger:

The DRMS proposal officers have concluded that your proposed project does not seem to be sufficiently risky and transformational to warrant DRMS encouraging you to submit an EAGER proposal. The notion that one can usefully look at the incremental threat to a sector from any particular hazard is not a great conceptual leap forward. There is no reason your proposed project should not undergo NSF's peer review procedures.

Best wishes,

YYYY

My Reply

YYYY

Where in the NSF (or elsewhere for that matter) is the assessment of the skill of the IPCC-type models in the prediction of changes in multi-decadal regional climate statistics being completed? It is these model results that are being given to the impacts communities. If our conclusions, as summarized in the peer reviewed articles I sent to you, are correct, NSF is wasting a lot of money. It would seem this is more than an incremental issue. There are two parts to what I have proposed, and this assessment of climate prediction skill is the first part. I am familiar, and support the assessment of the decadal predictability initiative of the NSF (as an initial condition), but this is distinct from the use of the multi-decadal climate change predictions. Best Regards Roger

My Second Reply since I was not getting a response

YYYY

Do you plan to reply to my request for information as to which NSF funded projects are assessing the skill of multi-decadal regional climate predictions?

The regional climate model predictions for the coming decades that are being provided to the impacts communities is not basic science unless their predictive skill can be determined.

To my knowledge, however [and as we summarized in the Pielke and Wilby, 2012 EOS article], they have not been shown to have skill even in a hindcast mode when compared with observed variations and long term changes in climate statistics.

This assessment is very much needed (unless you or others provide information that refutes my finding) and is one of the two pillars of my proposed study. This, as I have written, is hardly an incremental study, but underpins a large amount of spending by the NSF.

I also plan to post regarding this issue on my weblog in the coming days, but would like your feedback first on my question.

Best Regards

The Response:

Roger:

The appropriate responder to your question is in the Geological Sciences Directorate, not the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. I do not know if NSF is funding projects that are assessing the skill of multi-decadal regional climate predictions.

Best wishes,

YYYY

My Reply

YYYY

Thank you for the quick reply.

Please let me know who I should contact in the Geological Sciences  Directorate.

In terms of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Directorate, however, I am under the understanding that climate impact studies on society are funded  which use (and have their fundamental basis on) the regional climate model  projections. If my understanding is incorrect on this, please let me know.

Best Regards

Roger

Their Reply

Roger:

One good way to find out what NSF is funding is to check out abstracts of  awards listed on the NSF website (www.nsf.gov). You can search by keyword,  program, etc. The website also describes the different programs in the  atmospheric sciences division of the geosciences directorate.

Best wishes,

YYYY

My Reply

YYYY

We have already done that and there are no grants that we found that assess the model skill as I have outlined in our papers. They are quite well aware of the issues I have raised on this subject in the Geosciences Directorate and have chosen to ignore them. The only exception is their new focus on decadal predictability, which, however, is still distinct from the multi-decadal impact studies based on the IPCC type projections.

My point of seeking funding outside is

i) that programs that examine societal and environmental vulnerability are using the results from the multi-decadal global climate model predictions as an essential part of their studies. These results are then being used (misused in my view) by the policy and political communities.

and

ii) The Geosciences Directorate has chosen to arbitrarily accept the model predictions as applied to impact studies as robust. They have ignored, so far, attempts to get them to properly assess this issue.

My bottom-line conclusion is that there is really no basic science aspect to these NSF funded impact studies [which appear across the NSF funding spectrum], yet NSF continues to fund them.

Best Regards

Roger

Their Reply       None

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Filed under Climate Proposal Review Process

Interesting Climate Science Relevant Article “Temperature Steps In Salty Seas” By Carpenter and Timmermans 2012

source of image  - NOAA

In the March 2012 issue of Physics today, there is a very informative article titled

by  Carpenter Jeff R.and Mary-Louise Timmermans, 2012. Temperature steps in salty seas Physics Today. March 2012. Volume 65. Issue 3. pp. 66.

The article reports on findings with respect to the Arctic Ocean, and its vertical distribution of temperatures. It also presents information which indicates that the modeling of changes in this vertical distribution is quite a challenge.

The article includes the text [highlight added]

“Bodies of water tend to settle into a state in which the fluid density increases with depth. That tendency, called density stratification, is often a dominating influence on the physics of lakes and oceans. The phenomenon, however, is more complicated when the water contains dissolved salts. Along with heat, salts act to change the density of water—the higher the salinity, or concentration of dissolved salts, the denser the water. If salinity increases with depth, then a water body can maintain density stratification even as its temperature increases with depth. Likewise, density stratification is possible for the reverse situation in which temperature and salinity decrease with depth. But because salt and heat diffuse at different rates, those density-stratified states can become unstable.”

“…….the Arctic Ocean…..is similar to a lake in that it has a limited connection to the bordering Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Relatively warm and salty Atlantic waters enter the Arctic through narrow channels close to Greenland. Being slightly denser than the surface waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic water descends to a depth of a few hundred meters as it circulates. The surface waters of the Arctic are extremely cold and fresh due to water flowing into the ocean from rivers in the surrounding continents and contact with the cold Arctic air, among other things. That cold, fresh surface water overlies the warm, salty Atlantic inflow; thus the conditions needed for double diffusion are in place.”

Earlier in the article, the authors describe this “double diffusion” as

” [D]ouble diffusion…….requires at least two components that affect water density (usually temperature and salinity) and …. the components must have different molecular diffusion speeds. Double diffusion occurs over vast areas of the world’s oceans….the outcome is a staircase structure of the water column,….. The steps exist because vertical fluid motions are constrained by the stable density gradient. But neither how the staircases form nor what determines the thickness of the layers is entirely clear, and both constitute active areas of research.”

The article continues
“The strong salinity stratification of ….. the Arctic Ocean limits mixing and effectively isolates the deep waters from the surface…..”
“The Arctic contains enough heat in the deep ocean to entirely melt the sea-ice pack. However, across much of the central Arctic Ocean, the staircase structure indicates that upward transport of deep heat is minimal. Density stratification acts as a cap on the transport of heat from the deep Arctic, and oceanographers are carefully watching the staircase for indications of changing heat transport.”
“Instruments tethered year-round to drifting sea-ice floes have enabled scientists to obtain a detailed picture of the double-diffusive Arctic staircase, even in the most remote and hostile regions of the ocean. The results of those intensive measurements show that each individual step of the staircase extends across almost the entire ocean basin. That means mixed layers on the scale of 1 m in the vertical have horizontal extents on the order of 1000 km, an aspect ratio of 106! A sheet of paper the size of a football field would have a similar aspect ratio.”
“In addition to discovering the immense horizontal scales of the staircases, scientists have made advances in resolving the tiniest scales of variability. So-called microstructure profilers fall freely through the water column collecting measurements that can resolve turbulent fluctuations at a scale of just a couple of millimeters. Measurements …..in the Arctic Ocean have contributed to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the interfaces separating mixed layers are nonturbulent; transport across them is by molecular diffusion. Evidently, the individual staircase steps that stretch across vast regions of the Arctic Ocean are ultimately linked by the molecular collisions responsible for diffusion.”
This is quite a remarkable finding as:
1. Models must have vertical resolution of less than 1 meter to resolve the vertical stratification of temperatures at vertical spacings near the stratification interfaces!
2. The ocean component of the climate model equations must include molecular diffusion of temperature and salinity.
3. Until this feature of the Arctic Ocean is better understood, claims about how the Arctic will change in the future should be viewed with skepticism.

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Comment On The Article “Ad Hominem Arguments In The Service Of Boundary Work Among Climate Scientists” By Souder and Qureshi 2012

Judy Curry mentioned this article from BishopHill

Ad hominem arguments in the service of boundary work among climate scientists

by Lawrence Souder and Furrah Qureshi of Drexel University in the journal Journal of Science Communication 11(1), January 2012

in her post

Week in review 3/16/12

The Souder and Qureshi article uses quite a bit of jargon but it is worth reading. Here I want to just add to one of the examples presented in the Souder and Qureshi 2012 paper

In the header to the article, the authors identified one ad hominem comment about me; i.e.

“Pielke wouldn’t understand independence if it hit him in the face.” (Phil Jones, Climategate email, 1233249393.txt)

where “independence” is referring to the degree of overlap in the land surface temperature data used to construct the CRU, GISS and NCDC global surface temperature trend analyses.

The Souder and Qureshi article  has the introductory paragraph

“As scientists-in-training, Chris de Freitas and Roger Pielke, Sr., may have suffered appropriately the sting of such remarks from an overbearing advisor on their dissertation committees in a moment of impatience. However, once these scientists were certified by their authorizing institutions, they should no longer fear such ad hominem attacks. If science proceeds as a matter of empiricism, the first and only point of judgment should be the validity of the inquiry, not the character of the inquirer. In fact, when peer review is blinded, the resulting anonymity is intended to preclude personal attacks. Thus is one of the key norms of science enforced — disinterestedness. On the assumption that de Freitas and Pielke would not reasonably expect to hear such personal attacks in a public forum their private expression is at least disturbing for their revelation of the tone of some scientists’ discourse.”

In addition to this conclusion by Souder and Qureshi, Phil Jones’s comment is also disingenuous as well as being ad hominem. While I was on the CCSP 1.1 Committee, I contacted Phil to ask the degree of independence between his data set (CRU) and those of GISS and NCDC. He responded at the time and I later included this information in our paper

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

where we reported from Phil Jones that

“The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90–95% of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003).”

Phil Jones, of course, made his comment

“Pielke wouldn’t understand independence if it hit him in the face.”

in January 2009!

He chose not to remember that he actually answered my question on “independence” 6 years earlier. Instead he decided to make an ad hominem comment since, even though he was misrepresenting reality, the comment was made behind my back and would never have been seen by all of us except for the Climategate e-mails. Unfortunately, this is quite likely just a sample of what has been communicated by some of the major players in the IPCC community [and still continues].

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Comments On The BAMS Article “Calibration Strategies: A Source Of Additional Uncertainty In Climate Change Projections” By Ho Et al 2012

In the January 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, there is an article

Ho, Chun Kit , David B. Stephenson, Matthew Collins, Christopher A. T. Ferro, Simon J. Brown. 2012: Calibration Strategies: A Source of Additional Uncertainty in Climate Change Projections. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Volume 93, Issue 1 (January 2012) pp. 21-26. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2011BAMS3110.1

which has remarkable confessions regarding the level of skill of multi-decadal regional climate predictions; what we refer to as Type 4 downscaling as we discuss in

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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.

and

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum,  93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008.

The authors clearly thought they were working to solve this problem, but even a brief reading of the paper shows that implicit in their comments is the failure of the regional climate predictions to even skillfully reproduce the current climate much less be able to accurately predict changes in the regional climate statistics.

I extract text from their paper to illustrate [highlight added]

They start the paper with

Reliable projections of weather variables from climate models are required for the assessment of future climate change impacts (e.g., flooding, drought, temperature-related mortality, and crop yield).”

My Comment: This claim that stakeholders “require” their predictions is incorrect. While they certainly would use skillful forecasts, if they were available, they can still make informed decisions on the response to risks without definitive predictions. In fact, claiming predictive skill, when none exists, is not an honest way to communicate with stakeholders.

Their text has the other excerpts

“Assessments of such impacts are made by driving impact models with relevant weather variables from climate model simulations (e.g., daily temperature for temperature-related mortality assessment). However, it is generally necessary to adjust (calibrate) the variables to correct for climate model biases rather than to drive impact models with raw climate model output.

Various calibration methods have been used in climate change studies, but few of the published studies carefully investigate the sensitivity of their results to the choice of calibration method.

My Comment: Without a comparison of changes in regional climate statistics in the model results to those in the real world, there is absolutely no way they can calibrate (tune) the model predictions to obtain accurate predictions of changes in climate statistics in the coming decades.

They also make the remarkable statement that

The effect of trend over these short 30-yr time slice periods is negligible compared to natural day-to-day variability, and so the values may be assumed to be almost identically distributed with constant location and scale.

and

Although the spatial patterns of observed mean temperatures are generally well simulated by HadRM3…., the regional climate model has a warm bias of around 2°–4°C over southern Europe and has a small cold bias over parts of Scandinavia …. The model also overestimates the present-day variance over most parts of continental Europe, especially in the south, where the standard deviation of modeled daily mean temperatures is more than 50% greater than that of observed temperatures…. This comparison confirms the need for calibration of both location and scale before HadRM3 temperature projections are used for any impact assessments.

Because of the warm biases in the climate model simulations, the increases in the mean of daily mean temperatures in the period 2070–2099 relative to present- day observations estimated by the two calibration strategies are both lower than the raw model projections, especially in southern Europe…

My Comment: These findings are just for the current climate and not even for the changes in the climate statistics. Indeed, their admission that the “trend over these short 30-yr time slice periods is negligible compared to natural day-to-day variability” means that there was no statistically significant trend!  But they expect us to accept (believe) their changes for the 2070-2099 time period when “calibrated”.

The following excerpt is included in their conclusion

Given the importance of calibration in impact assessments, further research in this area is clearly required. For example, it can be argued that the simple assumptions underlying both bias correction and change-factor strategies are rather unrealistic, and so more rigorous statistical frameworks need to be developed and tested (e.g., Bayesian models that are capable of predicting true climate by properly accounting for model discrepancy and observational errors). Furthermore, the bias correction strategy presented here assumes no changes in climate model biases with time.

My Comment: This is just a call for more funding, in what is an inappropriately framed approach to assist stakeholders in developing approaches to make key resources more resilient to threats faced from weather and other aspects of the climate system in the coming decades.

As I have repeatedly reported on my weblog; e.g.

Two Further Examples Of The Overselling Of Multi-Decadal Climate Models Predictions For Regional Climate Impact Assessments

The Misuse Of The Scientific Method – A Nature Geoscienes Article “Changes In Hail And Flood Risk In High-Resolution Simulations Over Colorado’s Mountains” By Mahoney Et Al 2012

Misleading Climate Science – An Example Of Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Predictions With No Demonstrated Skill On That Time Scale

The Huge Waste Of Research Money In Providing Multi-Decadal Climate Projections For The New IPCC Report

these studies are not only a waste of money and time, but are misleading stakeholders and policymakers on our actual knowledge level of the climate system. In terms of the image that I posted at the top, this means that model runs used to create that figure (and others like it) are not scientifically robust.

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Presentation Titled Promoting “The Value Of Water Cycle Remote Sensing Missions And Climate Studies To Non-Traditional Consumers” By Faisal Hossain

I want to alert you to an excellent powerpoint slide presentation by Faisal Hossain of Tennessee Technological University titled

Promoting the Value of Water Cycle Remote Sensing Missions and Climate Studies to Non-Traditional Consumers

The talk was presented on March 12 2012 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

As written in the seminar announcement

Dr. Faisal Hossain is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department of Tennessee Technological University. He holds a B.S in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, an M.S. from the National University of Singapore and a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. His research interests lie in the field of water resources, remote sensing and education. He received a NASA New Investigator Program Award in 2008 and an American Society of Engineering Education Outstanding New Faculty Research Award in 2009. Currently, he is leading a capacity-building initiative to train staff in developing nations to better harness the potential of satellite remote-sensing missions.

The slides go through these three topics

Societal (Application) Value for Non-traditional Consumers.

Key findings of Recent Application-driven Research

Packaging the Research as a Product for Consumers: Lessons Learned and Way Forward

with a focus on

Water Cycle Remote Sensing: Tactical Scale of Decision Making (Transboundary Flood Management)

Climate Studies: Strategic Scale of Decision Making (Design and Operations of Large Dams)

With respect to water cycle remote sensing he writes that the consumer he is considering is the public community (transboundary flood management) who have time scales of decision making of days to weeks. For climate studies he is considering the engineering community in terms of the design and operation of large dams in which the time scale for decision making is years to decades.

His recommendations for a way forward on these issues are:

  • More Hands-on Education Effort involving (active learning) of consumers (stakeholders)
  • Co-design of Research Experiments with input from consumers.
  • Working with Philanthropic Institutions: Broaden the value of water cycle satellites (beyond water – health, food, poverty) to increase appeal to non traditional consumers. Is it possible to make massive amounts of satellite water data freely accessible on a daily basis to people around the world (much like Google Earth –intuitive design)?
  • Search Engine Optimization – Simple Issue involving social science (but can reach out to millions of web users)

I recommend viewing the entire talk as it fits with our bottom-up, resource-based focus that we discuss in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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.

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Climate Research Assessment And Recommendations In The “Report Of The 2004-2009 Research Review Of The Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut”

Last year, I was a member of a review committee at Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut [KNMI] in the Netherlands on their research program in weather and climate. The members of our committee were

Dr. John Marks (Chair)
Prof. Dr. Margot Weijnen (Delft University of Technology,
Member of the KNMI-Council)
Dr. Philippe Bougeault (Météo-France)
Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bungum (NORSAR)
Prof. Dr. Guy Brasseur (Climate Service Center, Hamburg)
Prof. Dr. Gordon McBean (University of Western Ontario)
Prof. Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. (University of Colorado)
Prof. Dr. Robert Sausen (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt)

I have contacted KNMI to determine if the report is publicly available, and they have confirmed that it is [a full copy of the report can be obtained from them]. In this post, I am reproducing the part of the report on the climate issue. I was (and am) very impressed by the scientific integrity and quality of this organization.

The goal of the research arm of KNMI is defined in the report as

The aim of KNMI’s research is to support KNMI’s mission.

More specifically, the aims of the four research groups in which KNMI’s research is carried out are:

  • Weather research and Product and Process Innovation: to support the knowledge base on weather monitoring and forecasting, and to implement weather research results into operational practice;
  • Climate research: to support the knowledge base on climate and climate change;
  • Seismology: to support the knowledge base on geophysics and seismological operations;
  • Information and observation technology: to develop projects in the fields of information and sensor technology.

With respect to climate, the recommendations were:

• The KNMI management is advised to provide long-term support for its world renowned space-based observations like OMI, including the appropriate base budget.
• An additional effort jointly between the Climate Observations and Chemistry and Climate Divisions should be made to analyze and interpret the observational data from space-based systems.
• The EC-Earth model should be used extensively to investigate the role of potentially important processes and to provide information needed to assess the vulnerability of ecosystems and human societies to climate including a range of possible changes in the climate system.
• Developing a chemistry module in the EC-Earth model is recommended.
• The CESAR observatory, being a world class facility, should be supported with the appropriate budgets and human resources.
• In the longer term, a strategy should be developed towards a common modeling framework for regional and global studies as well as for climate, weather and air quality studies.
• The Climate Services Division activities in bridging research and stakeholder needs should be further expanded but, due to the large demand, priority decisions are needed regarding the sectors and topics to be addressed.
• The generation of climate scenarios for plausible future risk needs to be significantly broadened beyond those generated by climate model projections. Contextual vulnerability should also be assessed from a bottom-up, resource-based perspective in order to assess risks from climate relative to risks from other environmental and social issues.

The evaluation of the climate science research part of KNMI had the following text

The Review Committee is impressed by the quality of the research conducted by the climate research group. The different divisions (Climate Observations, Global Climate, Regional Climate, Chemistry and Climate, Climate Services) have provided major accomplishments and the staff should be congratulated for their commitment and achievements.

The Climate Observations Division has developed a strong activity in the observation of chemical compounds from space-based systems. The OMI experiment is world-class and provides unique data on the NO2 column at the global scale. These observations help understand how industrial pollution affects the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the climate system. The treatment of data requires a sustained effort: It is recommended that the KNMI management will provide long-term support for space observations together with the appropriate base budget. It is also recommended that an additional effort jointly with the Chemistry and Climate Division be made to analyze and interpret these observational data. Links with environmental agencies that emphasize air quality and human health issues are recommended.

The recently established EC-Earth initiative lead by the Global Climate Division of KNMI is already successful. This new tool, based on the ECMWF modeling system, offers the possibility for KNMI to play an important role in global climate modeling and to develop a partnership with other research centers inEurope. It also provides the opportunity to integrate different aspects of earth system science into a single modeling framework and to assess the importance of complex feedbacks between the atmosphere, land and the ocean. Issues related to biophysical processes, biogeochemical cycles, atmospheric chemistry, cryospheric processes, and their relation to climate change could be addressed by such model. It is suggested that the model be used extensively to investigate the role of potentially important processes and to provide information needed to assess the vulnerability of ecosystems and human societies to possible changes in the climate system.

It is also important to assess the response of the climate system at the regional scale and specifically in the Netherlands. Recent studies have shown, for example, the influence of the sea surface temperature of the North Sea on the precipitation in coastal areas of the Netherlands, a phenomenon that cannot be represented in coarse resolution models. The use of observations provided at the Cabauw experimental site is essential to evaluate models and improve parameterizations, specifically energy, momentum and water exchanges in the boundary layer. It is therefore important to further support this site with the appropriate budgets and human resources. Finally, in the longer term, a strategy will have to be developed towards a common modeling framework for regional and global studies as well as for climate and weather studies.

The Chemistry and Climate Division has led the development of the TM-5 model, which is extensively used to simulate the evolution of the chemical composition at the global scale. This model is used within the successful European MACC Project. It is suggested to carefully consider developing a chemistry module to be included in the EC-Earth model. This module could also be used as the chemical code of the ECMWF IFS system. Regional modeling jointly with RIVM is also conducted as operational air quality forecasts for the Netherlands. The products developed by this division have a direct societal usefulness (UV forecast, air pollution, etc.).

The development of Climate Services is helping KNMI communicate information on complex climate issues to decision-makers and other societal actors. The task is challenging because the needs of the stakeholders have to be established and complex knowledge must be tailored so that the information is understandable and usable. Some outstanding examples of tailoring climate research results to specific user needs confirm the need for and the success of the Climate Services Division. A large effort to create a bridge between research and stakeholder’s needs has been made and should be further encouraged. Because of the large demand, the division will have to make priority decisions about the sectors and topics to be covered and about the types of communication products to be developed. Involving specific socio-economic expertise is recommended to ensure a deep understanding of the decision making context of the knowledge users.

With respect to climate, air quality and weather research, there has been excellent progress at merging their research activities. Efforts to further promote this should be encouraged including joint research proposals. The CESAR Observatory is a world class observational facility. Its use as a parameterization test bed for both weather and climate models is an excellent example of its value.

The generation of climate scenarios for plausible future risk, should be significantly broadened in approach as the current approach assesses only a limited subset of possible future climate conditions. To broaden the approach of estimating plausible changes in climate conditions in the framing of future risk, we recommend a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability assessment for the key resources of water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function for the Netherlands. This contextual vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the global climate model projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy. The global climate model projections, which are only a subset of possible climate conditions in the coming decades, are already being completed elsewhere in the EU and globally, and the limited resources available at KNMI to run global model projections could be used more effectively if used for investigating for example the sensitivity of the climate system to forcing other than only the emission of GHG.

This use of a bottom-up resource based assessment of risk to key resources is a way that KNMI can bring a new perspective into the climate debate. It will also permit an outreach to the university community for the expertise needed in the multi-disciplinary contextual vulnerability assessment.

In the weather part of KNMI, this climate comment was listed

One important area for collaboration of the weather and climate research groups is the development of prediction systems and assessing their predictability for extreme rainfall on the regional scale for daily, weekly, seasonal, yearly and decadal time periods.

The recent paper discussed on my weblog by Geet Jan van Oldenborgh and colleagues

Guest Post Titled “Decadal Prediction Skill In A Multi-Model Ensemble” By Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Bert Wouters, Wilco Hazeleger

is an example of the implementation of one of our recommendations.

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