10 August 2008

More from Icecap

Ah well. Still more errors from Icecap; I'll comment first about the ones aimed at me personally. The article opens

"Alarmist Blog Blocks Comments ala Real Climate
By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, Fellow
Fashioning itself after Real Climate, Grumbine Science blog posted a blog on the recent Washington Examiner story I authored ..."

Alarmist? It would have been good if the author had pointed out what I said that was alarming.

Fashioning itself after Real Climate? Hardly. If I wanted that, I'd simply have joined up Real Climate. Check out Real Climate and see for yourself whether this is the same sort of site. (And if you think it is, please point out where, beyond an interest in science communication, you feel I'm copying.)

The name of the blog is also wrong. Grumbinescience is my sister's, for her jr. high science class. This is MoreGrumbineScience. (If my other sister starts one, I've told her she has to name it 'Even More Grumbine Science' or some such.)

I attempted to respond several times on the blog to the blogger and commenters questions or complaints but the moderator refused to post my responses so here they are.
I've received zero comment submissions from D'Aleo. I did get two from 'Anonymous' on that thread. One I published, the other I didn't. The one I didn't was not regarding icecap, rather my comment about it being a red flag of mine (regarding the guest article at Pielke's site) when an article calls for open debate where there is a no comment policy.

He comments in his (self-described) rant that: By the way we have been asked why we at Icecap don’t allow comments. I assure you if I were retired or we were getting huge contributions like Real Climate with their blank checks from Fenton Communications and I could devote full time to Icecap we would. It is a full-time job policing and monitoring and responding on an open blog. I have to make a living mainly from other consulting and forecasting jobs. What I get from Icecap is supplemental.

Dang! You mean I could get paid for this!? I'm getting zero dollars from anywhere, certainly not a 'supplemental' income. How about this Fenton bunch? Are they giving out checks of any size, much less blank? Can I get some? Well, if they are, it appears that it isn't to Real Climate -- a fact they mentioned more than 3 years ago.

More to the point, though, D'Aleo complains about being unable to get his comments posted here, while at the same time not allowing comments at his blog. He complains about being unable to allow comments while getting income for his blog, while I get paid nothing by anybody. He complains about being a one man show making it impossible to allow comments, while I am a one many show, and do allow comments.

It also strikes me that if someone wants to complain about not being able to get comments posted, he really should use his own name. An 'anonymous' had one post rejected, and an 'anonymous' had one get through despite being resource free. I'm more lenient with the posts that disagree with me than those which agree.

If his posts never reached me through blogger, I've also given, a few times, an email address for contacting me -- plutarchspam at aim dot com. I've received zero mail there.

But he did spell my name correctly and give a correct link here, so he wasn't wrong in every mention.

For the science, he ultimately says very little, I think. But, of course, check it out yourself:

He says the newspaper made him take away the UAH label from the MSU on the figure. It could have been in the text (and should, irrespective of the graph's label).

He never addresses my complaint about the misleading axis on CO2, instead saying that my complaint was about the smoothness of the curve.

On the ARGO observations of heat content he cites (after and NPR story and Pielke's blog -- neither being a scientific source):
Willis J. K., D. P. Chambers, R. S. Nerem (2008), Assessing the globally averaged sea level budget on seasonal to interannual timescales, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C06015, doi:10.1029/2007JC004517.

I'd searched on web (as scientists often have their papers listed, and even full content on their web site), Google scholar, Web of Science, and Meteorological and Geophysical Abstracts without turning up any newer Willis papers regarding ARGO than the 2007 correction. It turns out that this paper in its entirity is available (which surprised me as AGU is usually fairly restrictive) so I've put the link to the article and you can read it yourself. The abstract is:

Analysis of ocean temperature and salinity data from profiling floats along with satellite measurements of sea surface height and the time variable gravity field are used to investigate the causes of global mean sea level rise between mid-2003 and mid-2007. The observed interannual and seasonal fluctuations in sea level can be explained as the sum of a mass component and a steric (or density related) component to within the error bounds of each observing system. During most of 2005, seasonally adjusted sea level was approximately 5 mm higher than in 2004 owing primarily to a sudden increase in ocean mass in late 2004 and early 2005, with a negligible contribution from steric variability. Despite excellent agreement of seasonal and interannual sea level variability, the 4-year trends do not agree, suggesting that systematic long-period errors remain in one or more of these observing systems.

Now, remember that D'Aleo's original claim was that ARGO showed cooling. Does that abstract support his claim? It undermines it twice. The latter is obvious in the last sentence whether you're an oceanographer or not ...suggesting that systematic long-period errors remain in one or more of these observing systems. At least one of the systems -- satellite or ARGO -- has a systematic problem. It's therefore hard to say that ARGO shows, necessarily, either a warming or cooling since it could be the one that's got a systematic error.

That aside, though, there's the first undermining. You need to be enough of an oceanographer that steric refers to sea level change due to expansion or contraction of the water itself whether because of warming or cooling (respectively, thermosteric in the paper) or removal or addition of salt (ditto, halosteric). D'Aleo's claim is that ARGO shows a cooling -- that should show up as a drop in sea level (a negative steric contribution). In the abstract it only mentions that there was no contribution during 2 of the years -- no net steric change. No support for D'Aleo there either. In the paper itself, the text gives the steric component trend as -0.5 plus or minus 0.5 mm/year, as a net between the temperature and salinity contributions. The two are mentioned individually in the paper, but no error bar is given. Assuming they gave the 1 standard deviation bars, as usual, then there's about a 1 in 6 chance that the steric contribution is positive. And that's if we assume that the ARGO buoys are not the one (of the) source with a systematic problem.

This paper mentions a paper submitted by Willis in 2007 regarding ARGO and heat content. That's an important term, 'submitted'. If it had been published, it would be cited that way. If it had been accepted for publication (passed the peer review), it would have been described as 'in press'. At the time this paper was accepted, though (22 February 2008), the other had not been. It will be interesting to see what the other paper has to say. As I said before, I do hope they can work out the problems with the ARGO data for this purpose. (It's already very useful for other purposes.) But it's that other paper that D'Aleo needs, not this one.

As I'd suggested early on, you don't need to be a professional scientist to recognize many of the errors from some sources. Once you do, it's time to move elsewhere, I think. It's hard enough to understand the world when you're reading good sources (or at least, good enough that they're not making errors my sister's jr. high class could recognize).


Anonymous said...

Don't worry too much about D'Aleo, or waste too much time on him. It was worthwhile to give readers a warning of the unreliability of his "analysis," but don't let him draw you into an argument. There are plenty of blogs that cater to that; what the blogosphere needs is a family-friendly site that has substantive and correct information about climate science. You're it.

To readers: you'll learn a lot more from his sister's blog, than from D'Aleo.

Robert Grumbine said...

Thanks for the reminder. My sister's blog is good for what it does, but that's to keep her students and parents informed about class work and activities.

Hank Roberts said...

I just recommended your threads on Icecap on dotearth, because someone in the recent Arctic ice thread there pastes at inordinate length stuff copied from there. I hope readers there who want to learn about science become readers for you here.