The Science Museum : Climate change

Yesterday’s post about the Spirit of Mawson Expedition caused more of a furore than I had anticipated. Rachel’s had her work cut out trying to moderate and I’m away on a research trip, so was hoping to avoid these rather contentious posts. I’m clearly failing dismally. In the interests of trying to get away from that, I thought I might write something a little more light-hearted (hope it works out that way).

I was in London with the family for a fews days before leaving them at Kings Cross to make their own way home while I headed to Gatwick to catch a plane to wherever I am now. On Friday we tried to go to the Natural History Museum, but the queue was so long that we decided to go around the corner to the Science Museum as I had heard it was also very good. Well, it didn’t disappoint and I discovered that there was an entire section on climate change which, again, was extremely good. There was a very good interactive display explaining how the Sun heats the Earth, why we have seasons, and why we have different climate zones.

It also had an original Keeling air sampling flask, which reminded me that there are problems with funding the continuation of the programme that collects the data for the Keeling curve (started by Charles Keeling and now run by Ralph Keeling). Eli Rabett has a post about Shaking the cup for science.
GasJar

There was also an ARGO float, everyone’s favourite. In case you don’t know, there are something like 3000 of those in the world’s oceans, some of which were recently deployed by the Spirit of Mawson expedition. They drop down to a depth of 2000m and take various measurements (temperature, salinity, …) on the way back up – or, maybe, down. They then transmit their data when they return to the surface – every 10 days, I think. It’s these ARGO floats that have helped to confirm that our climate continues to warm despite the slowdown in surface warming.
ArgoFloat

There was also an excellent interactive display in which you could turn pages on a table and the screen would then explain how various thing could influence our climate and what might be responsible for global warming. It considered the Sun (no, can’t be the Sun). It considered ENSO cycles (no, these can’t explain the overall warming, they just introduce short-term variability). It considered volcanoes which, again, produce short-term variations but can’t explain the long-term warming trend. The final page was about human activities and the conclusion is below (it’s us, in case you did’t know that already).
Human

Anyway, I thought the display was excellent. I think some would be disappointed that it didn’t (as far as I could see anyway) present any alternative views. Given that most (if not all) of these cannot explain how we’re warming, that would seem like the right thing for a world-class science museum to do. I tried to convince the family that they should write a guest post on my blog about what they learned – so far, they’ve declined (my family – collectively and individually – are typically wiser than I am). From the Science Museum we went to the Victoria and Albert, which was also excellent. I then forced them to traipse around more of London before any shopping was allowed.

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115 Responses to The Science Museum : Climate change

  1. Rachel says:

    This looks like a very safe post 🙂

    We had exactly the same experience in London: we went to the Natural History Museum, saw the enormous queue, and went to the Victoria and Albert and then the Science museum instead. Both were excellent and I thought the climate change section was also very good and was pleased to see that it was based on the science.

    We did eventually make it into the Natural History museum as we discovered the back entrance at a time much later in the day and the queue had completely gone by then. So we ducked inside briefly and I only say briefly because it was so hot and so crowded in there that we found it a bit unpleasant. But the building itself is an absolute delight to behold that I think just seeing it from the outside is an experience in itself.

  2. Barry Woods says:

    A belated Happy New Year!

    One Argo float per how many hundreds of thousand Cubic kilometres of ocean?

    Sorry for the cynicism but knowing what the ocean is doing in any sort of historical context, is i think a little premature.
    The ocean coverage before 2000 at depth ivery low, less than 95%, and then subject to error. The IPCC have a good section on this, as does the Met Office..
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/recent-pause-in-warming

    Report 1 (Oceans on pg 21)

    “There are much fewer observations below 700m, and the ocean below 2,000m has remained
    largely un-monitored. However, there is evidence of warming below 700m, and even below
    2,000m. Careful processing of the available deep ocean records shows that the heat content
    of the upper 2,000m increased by 24 x 1022J over the 1955–2010 period (Levitus, 2012),
    equivalent to 0.09°C warming of this layer.” – Report 1 – Met Office

    Now whether this is ‘normal’ or not ie what were the oceans doing, in 50 year chunks going back the last few hundred years as a baseline is unknown. Of the claimed warming, what portion was part of any natural cycle, vs and AGW influnce is not quantified.

    ARGO is much better science than previous measurements, (the Met Office mention the challenges) but it would seem to me far too early to draw conclusions, especially with the certainty some commentators put on ocean warming being the explanation for a surface temp hiatus, ie there are other hypothesis for the hiatus… Some of which were vigorously discussed at the Royal Society #RSclimate event last year..

    I recommend a listen to them, scientist sounding very much like scientist actively debating the competing hypothesis’

    This one may be of interest, which explains why the global surfcae temp hiatus, is NOT that important.
    Professor Jochem Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany
    [audio src="http://downloads.royalsociety.org/events/2013/climatescience-next-steps/marotzke.mp3" /]

    Prof Mike Hulme, has a very interesting question, in the Q/A (42 minutes in) ie surface warming WAS the major [publically communicated] indicator, and hard for public/etc to get head around a re framing of not that important? (Julia Slingo, Gavin Schmidt, Kevin Trenberth also ask questions in this Q/A)

    all the speakers are here,
    http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/climatescience-next-steps/
    click on each speaker for the audio.

  3. Barry Woods says:

    ref Natural History Museum, is there every a good time of day(or week) to go? I have taken my children a few times, and some galleries are always packed (dino’s obvioulsy) with massive queues. We typically end up in the science museum as well because of this..

  4. Barry,
    Happy new year to you too. I believe the US Navy would disagree with your suggestion that we know little about the era prior to 2000. There are multiple lines of evidence that suggest that the Earth is warming. The possibility that we will discover that there is a major problem with this data and that we have not been warming is extremely low.

    Prof Mike Hulme, has a very interesting question, in the Q/A (42 minutes in) ie surface warming WAS the major [publically communicated] indicator, and hard for public/etc to get head around a re framing of not that important? (Julia Slingo, Gavin Schmidt, Kevin Trenberth also ask questions in this Q/A)

    This may well be an issue with respect to communicating to the public but does not change that using the OHC to represent overall global warming is scientifically superior and less sensitive to short-term variations than only using the surface temperatures.

  5. BBD says:

    Of the claimed warming, what portion was part of any natural cycle, vs and AGW influnce is not quantified.

    Natural cycles move energy around within the climate system. Levitus 12 shows *simultaneous* increase in OHC in all major basins. Natural cycles can’t do this because the do not create energy, only move it around.

  6. When I was in Tokyo (tax payer funded jolly), I visited the excellent Miraikan ‘museum’. Amongst such things as a full size working mechwarrior style robot, and a public display of ASIMO, there was some great interactive screens showing animated global historic and projected temperatures, Artic sea ice, CO2 levels, etc. I took a bunch of video of them as I thought it was really impressive, but there’s a slick official video here: Miraikan YouTube vid. A great way to engage with a young generation used to touch screens and tech in their lives, and the 6 metre/10 Mpixel globe was fantastic!

  7. omnologos says:

    If I may try to interpret Barry’s point, the issue is not if the planet has been warming for more than a century. The issue is if the ARGOs have ‘helped to confirm’ anything.

    Given the number of years they’ve been around, that is unlikely. I believe the scientific community …warmed up to them around 2010.

    We’d definitely need many more years and data points from ARGOs before being able to add them to the ‘world is warming’ pile of evidence.

  8. A does not confirm anything.
    B does not confirm anything.

    N does not confirm anything.

    Ergo scientists ought to stay behind their keyboards.

    That conclusion has not been confirmed.

  9. BBD says:

    We’d definitely need many more years and data points from ARGOs before being able to add them to the ‘world is warming’ pile of evidence.

    Why? ARGO has helped to confirm the increase in OHC below 700m. Very useful to know about that.

  10. Barry Woods says:

    When I said of the ‘claimed warming’, I was referring to oceans, not whether earth had warmed. Had thought that was clear, because of context.

    All the RSclimate presentation aee interesting, especially Q/A sessions as all the scientists sound like scientists, discussing even arguing their point’s, vs the party line we see in the media

  11. jsam says:

    I think Omnologos just put forward a suggestion for more taxpayer money to be spent on floats.

  12. BBD says:

    I know you were, Barry, which is why I pointed out that natural cycles cannot be responsible for a simultaneous OHC increase in all major basins. You are unresponsive to the point. Shall we try again?

  13. BBD says:

    jsam

    A jolly good idea. Seconded.

  14. Rachel says:

    Good lord. I thought this was going to be a safe post.

  15. Concerns are more important than posts, Rachel.

  16. omnologos says:

    Am no fan of the didactic sections of the science museum. They try to tell people what to think, so children will be either bored or uninterested. Open questions ought to be everywhere.

  17. omnologos says:

    Rachel – I see that there are polemics but they are from the usual suspects. Far from it on my side.

    1. It should be obvious that with so few years of data, even if the ARGO probes had recorded ocean cooling, there would still be plenty of evidence that the planet is warming. That’s why the ARGO data cannot as yet be used to ‘confirm’ anything.

    This doesn’t mean they aren’t good, or invaluable, or useful, or better than anything we’ve ever got in the past. They are.

    2. I’m all for deploying as many ARGOs as possible – the whole enterprise only make sense when a certain density is reached and then mantained over many years.

    Now for anybody trying to eviscerate the above words as an attack on climate science, please report to the nearest psychiatric unit.

  18. Joshua says:

    “Concerns are more important than posts, Rachel.”

    Further, a post in and of itself cannot be safe or unsafe – that determination is in the hands of the commenters.

    I’d say that safety in a climate blogophere post is pretty much a non-starter – the reasoning being that posts are inkblots where everyone gets to see their favorite images. When there are many who are concerned about unsafe issues (such as women and children being put in harm’s way), they undoubtedly will see their concerns in practically any inkblot, no matter its original shape.

  19. jsam says:

    Party line. Media. Daily Mail. Daily Express. Delingpole. Booker.

    I’m concerned.

  20. BBD says:

    That’s why the ARGO data cannot as yet be used to ‘confirm’ anything.

    The ARGO data confirm that OHC 0 – 2000 meter layer is increasing.

  21. omnologos says:

    BBD – we are talking climate, not weather.

    Answer this please…if ARGO said the oceans were cooling, would that convince you that the planet isn’t warming?

  22. BBD says:

    Yes. So long as it was occurring simultaneously in all major ocean basins.

  23. omnologos says:

    Thanks. Not sure any scientist would agree with that.

  24. BBD says:

    I couldn’t care less.

  25. jsam says:

    Answer this please…if ARGO said the oceans were warming, would that convince you that the planet isn’t cooling?

  26. Joshua says:

    ” there would still be plenty of evidence that the planet is warming.”

    Interesting that you state that with no ambiguity or uncertainty.

    Which other kinds of evidence of warming do you consider uncontroversial – in that they are agreed upon as unambiguous and certain, by “skeptics?”

  27. BBD says:

    You do realise, don’t you, that scientists are already incorporating ARGO data into published studies – eg Levitus et al. 2012?

  28. BBD says:

    Sorry, that was @omnologos

  29. > Party line. Media. Daily Mail. Daily Express. Delingpole. Booker. I’m concerned.

    Seems that Barry keeps wondering, jsam:

    Let’s hope for Mr. Meanie that such wondering does not become a smear.

  30. AnOilMan says:

    Using sparse data sets (temporal and geographical) for ocean temperatures is old school science, and proven to be reliable and accurate. This is exactly how Anti Submarine Warfare works. Without this information, submarines couldn’t hide.

  31. omnologos says:

    Interestingly, we know now that for BBD a few years of data is all it takes to talk climate. We also know that some commenters here are trying to stir up polemics without any basis whatsoever, and at least one of them asked me to show the planet isn’t cooling despite my earlier comment about the fact that the planet is warming.

    Regarding AnOilMan’s point, the issue is not even the sparsity of the ARGO data per se. The issue is how to use it to _confirm_ other data sets.

    I suspect if ARGO showed cooling in all oceans, the data would be treated suspiciously and most likely disregarded as too sparse to be comparable to other data sets.

    The alternative would be to throw away all those previous data sets, if anybody’s got the will to do that.

  32. Rachel says:

    omnologos,
    There are no polemics here. I’m happy for people to disagree and to actively discuss their disagreements, provided they stick to the moderation policy.

  33. verytallguy says:

    I’ll break with tradition and stay on topic

    The best way for a family to tour the Science Museum is, obviously, dressed as giant cockroaches. We tried it and I’d highly recommend it. I’ll never forget the look of the unsuspecting couple in the restaurant as the lead cockroach described the behaviour of the alpha male. Priceless.

    http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/cockroachtour

  34. chris says:

    Well yes omnologos, if ARGO showed cooling in all oceans the data would be treated suspiciously. But the data doesn’t show cooling. It shows warming.

    Remember that during the very long (near 15 year) period when Christy and Spencer were presenting horribly flawed analysis of Microwave Sounding Unit data and coming up with the false conclusion that the atmosphere was (initially) not warming and or (latterly) warming much more slowly than expectations, that their data was quite rightly “treated suspiciously”. After all the world does actually make sense in respect of physical phenomena.

    And why on earth would one “throw away all those previous data sets”? In understanding any phenomenon in the natural world one wants to assess and incorporate ALL the evidence.

  35. verytallguy says:

    And at risk of doing the opposite of what I’m about to say, I’d like to offer Rachel my sympathy for the task of moderating and observe that the best way to keep discussion interesting and on topic might not be to follow concerns off piste, but rather to ignore them.

    Belated Happy New Year all!

  36. omnologos says:

    Chris – data isn’t good just because it goes the ‘right’ way. So if ARGO cannot show the planet is cooling, they cannot confirm it is warming either. We know it is warming because of other evidence, not ARGO data.

    The suggestion about throwing away all other data sets was to show the absurdity of declaring ARGO as the data set to go for global warming evidence. If it were, the non-ARGO data would be far less important than they ought to be.

  37. Omnologos,

    Yes. So long as it was occurring simultaneously in all major ocean basins.

    BBD is entirely correct. When we undergo warming (as we are) most of the energy goes into the oceans. Similarly, if were oceans were to show cooling, then it is extremely likely that we would be undergoing global cooling. The only way we wouldn’t be would be if other parts of the climate system were warming faster than the oceans were cooling – or gaining more energy than the oceans were losing.. Given that the oceans dominate the energy budget, that would seem unlikely. It kind of defines global warming or cooling (in an overall sense of course).

    I’m referring of course to a long period of cooling (decades) not to short-term variability.

  38. Rachel says:

    VTG,

    The cockroach tour looks great and reminded me of an article I saw recently about sleep-overs at the Natural History Museum. It looked like great fun. There are only three rules:
    1) no stag parties
    2) easy on the booze
    3) no sex

  39. Omnologos,
    Firstly, can we please avoid semantic-like discussions.

    Secondly,

    The suggestion about throwing away all other data sets was to show the absurdity of declaring ARGO as the data set to go for global warming evidence. If it were, the non-ARGO data would be far less important than they ought to be.

    No one is suggesting that the ARGO data is the be-all and end-all of global warming. However, it is consistent with the radiative physics that suggests that we should be warming. We also have surface temperature datasets that show long-term warming. We Arctic sea-ice that has a long-term downward trend in both extent and volume. There are multiple lines of evidence that indicate that we are warming. ARGO is just one of them. An important one maybe, but not the only one.

  40. chris says:

    omnologos ARGO data shows warming throughout the ocean basins. That’s what it shows.

    The only way that the data would show cooling is if there was a malfunction in the systems or the analyses were incorrect, rather like the horribly flawed Spencer/Christy MSU analyses. The latter was assumed to be flawed well before the 2005 coup de gras in Science since the analyses were completely at odds with other observations and physical understanding. The same would apply if the ARGO data showed cooling; i.e. there would be considerable cause for suspicion because it would be at odds with other data and physical understanding. But the Argo data doesn’t show cooling it shows warming.

    Your suggestion of throwing away data is absurd. The reason we knew early on that the Spencer/Christy MSU data must be wrong is because of all the other data. Our understanding of natural phenomenon is built from an aggregate of numerous types and sets of data. ARGO isn’t the only one…however it obviously constitutes a particularly important set of data.

  41. Louise says:

    I have spent the night in the science museum with about 300 Cub Scouts. Great fun. I finally got some sleep under the large models of ships but not until about 3am.

  42. Joshua says:

    “We know it is warming because of other evidence, not ARGO data.”

    I notice that omnologos repeats this statement without answering my question – I am guessing because s/he feels my question only merits being ignored.

    Still, I have seen many “skeptics” question the validity of any evidence of warming – as is the case with ARGO data. Yet, many of those same “skeptics” claim that they don’t question that the Earth is warming or that ACO2 contributes to the warming. Thus, I am curious as to what evidence omnologos feels supports his certainty about warming? Does s/he stand apart in opinion from many other “skeptics?” What evidence shows warming in contrast to just natural variability? Can natural variability be considered warming?

    Or, does omnologos reverse logic so as to confirm a particular bias at a particular time? Perhaps, since omnologos seems to be ignoring my question – someone else can tell me what evidence of warming is considered certain by “skeptics,” or is it that all evidence is typically treated in the same fashion as how omnologos treats ARGO data.

  43. > Your suggestion of throwing away data is absurd.

    Not if one implements some kind of divide-and-conquer strategy for games of RHETORICS ™.

  44. Rachel says:

    Louise,
    I think with 300 cub scouts there you were probably lucky to get to sleep at all!

  45. omnologos says:

    Chris – I said that my suggestion was absurd, and you reply that it was absurd. Fine. I said that ARGO data showing cooling would be treated with suspicion, and you reply that it would be treated with suspicion. Fine again. Happy now?

  46. JamieB says:

    “ref Natural History Museum, is there every a good time of day(or week) to go?”

    Not sure about day to day but for parents with kids, this is definitely the best time to go:

    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/dino-snores

    Not cheap but doubtless memorable!

  47. JamieB says:

    Dammit, didn’t read all the way through the previous posts…!

  48. omnologos says:

    ATTP – BBD is entirely wrong. We weren’t talking long term measurements, we were talking specifically about the ARGO data. Since we only have a few years of that, it still fails your “long period” test.

    So once again whatever ARGO would be showing, considering all available long term evidence (surface temps, previous OHC estimates first and foremost) we would still be convinced the world is warming.

    I cannot understand why this unassailable fact doesn’t imply that we cannot (yet) use ARGO as evidence of warming.

  49. chris says:

    excellent omnologos – one wonders what point you were trying to make in that case!

    I think I made my points rather clearly. In essence I’m addressing something rather fundamental about the nature of science and the assessment of evidence.

  50. BBD says:

    Omnologos

    Interestingly, we know now that for BBD a few years of data is all it takes to talk climate.

    You are misrepresenting me. See below.

    I suspect if ARGO showed cooling in all oceans, the data would be treated suspiciously and most likely disregarded as too sparse to be comparable to other data sets.

    In a transparent and clumsy attempt to undermine the ARGO data confirming OHC increase down to 2000m in all major basins, Omnologos gets a few things wrong.

    First, the ARGO data are *not* considered in a vacuum. They are part of a continuum with earlier XBT data, which ARGO confirms as being at least broadly correct. This attempt to say that we can’t rely on ARGO because it is a short time series is a particularly contrived and crude misrepresentation of the actual situation with OHC reconstructions.

    Second, this stuff about sparsity is irritating. ARGO is by far the most dense sampling of the ocean at depth ever carried out, with a 3 x 3 degree grid sampling density.

    Fake sceptics are always trying to cast doubt on ARGO because ARGO is telling them exactly the opposite of what they want to hear.

    This exchange is getting increasingly tiresome, not least because Omnologos is ignorant of the topic.

  51. Omnologos,

    I cannot understand why this unassailable fact doesn’t imply that we cannot (yet) use ARGO as evidence of warming.

    We have 13 years (roughly) of ARGO data. We have other data extending back another 30 – 40 years. We have sea-level rise measurements that are consistent with a long-term ocean warming trend. We have surface temperature record. We have declining Arctic sea-ice (both in extent an volume). We have satellite measurements of the outgoing spectrum and of the outgoing flux (admittedly with large uncertainties). We have radiative physics. We have the Antarctic and Greenland losing ice mass.

    Of course, we can use ARGO as evidence of warming. If all we had was 13 years of ARGO data, maybe I’d agree with you, but we don’t. It is one bit of evidence amongst a lot of other evidence, all of which (or virtually all) indicate that we are warming. Basic physics largely excludes all other mechanisms other than anthropogenic forcings (plus associated feedbacks).

  52. chris says:

    omnologos the ARGO data provides a profile of ocean heat uptake since the early 2000’s. Obviously the ARGO data in itself doesn’t give us empirical data about pre-ARGO heat uptake nor about heat uptake in the furure. It provides an ~ 12-13 year temporal slice. This slice is consistent with other data and broadly (but not completely) with theoretical understanding of the Earth system response to enhanced greenhouse forcing.

    ARGO is evidence of a radiative imbalance which is evidence of warming. Your odd logic that ARGO data can’t be taken as evidence of warming because all the other evidence provides indicators of warming is difficult to understand. Perhaps it would be easier to accept the realities of evidence rather than to attempt to semanticize or logicicize it away! 🙂

  53. BBD says:

    ATTP – BBD is entirely wrong.

    No he isn’t.

  54. BBD,
    Indeed. I meant to add that to my comment, but forgot 🙂

  55. omnologos says:

    On a purely epistemological level there are issues in the use of this ‘slice’ and this was my original point.

    We all agree that on the basis of long term evidence the ARGO data (since when dense enough IMHO, that is 2008 IIRC) can be taken as ‘good’ in the sense of ‘consistent with known processes and trends’.

    What I don’t get is how we can turn around and say that the ARGO data be confirming those same known processes and trends.

    I hope this is clear enough. If A is ok because it follows B, A is not evidence of B.

    When we will have 30y of ARGO data then they will be able to stand by themselves and together with previous and concurrent data will contribute to our understanding of the world.

  56. BBD says:

    Not to worry 😉 And sorry about this, ATTP, but I dislike being misrepresented – couldn’t let it pass. All this word-twisting is so tedious.

  57. BBD says:

    ARGO achieved target density of >3000 floats in 2007. The data post-2005 are considered usable.

  58. BBD says:

    What I don’t get is how we can turn around and say that the ARGO data be confirming those same known processes and trends.

    Then think harder.

  59. chris says:

    omnologous, epistomologically-speaking the ARGO data provides evidence of ocean warming that is strongly consistent with previous empirical evidence and broadly consistent with physical and theoretical understanding. It provides strong support for evidence from empirical measures and theoretical understanding of an increase in thermal energy in the climate system in response to enhanced greenhouse forcing.

    In fact the ARGO data does in itself constitute a stand alone confirmation of global warming since the fact that the heat content of the oceans is increasing throughout the ocean basins means that there is a nett accumulation of thermal energy in the climate system which can only come from a radiative forcing.

    To suggest that ARGO data doesn’t yet “contribute to our understanding of the world” is yet another absurdity!

  60. Ian Forrester says:

    omnologos is typical of those deniers who have no idea how science works. No one observation will confirm a theory. However, lots of different pieces of information can all point in the same direction and taken together give more certainty that the theory is correct. I wonder if omnologos has ever completed a jigsaw. You can look at individual pieces and come up with a number of ideas as to what the final picture will look like. As you fit more and more together you can be more and more certain that you have discovered what the final picture will look like. I’m assuming that you just look at the pieces and not the picture on the box.

  61. Omnologos,

    What I don’t get is how we can turn around and say that the ARGO data be

    Once again semantics. Okay, ARGO data is consistent with other evidence and provides additional evidence. How’s that?

  62. jsam says:

    Off topic. Those who track deniardom will recall the summer’s meme of “the DMI shows the Arctic is colder than usual”. Have a look now. http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

  63. Epistemologically speaking, “confirmation” doesn’t work at the level of single indicators:

    W. V. Quine usually gets credit for initiating the contemporary wave of naturalistic epistemology with his essay, “Epistemology Naturalized.” In that essay, he argues for conceiving epistemology as a “chapter of psychology,” and for seeing epistemology and empirical science as containing and constraining one another.

    Quine’s argument depends on three potentially controversial assumptions. First is confirmation holism – the view that only substantial bodies of theory, rather than individual claims, are empirically testable. Second, Quine assumes epistemology’s main problem is to explain the relationship between theories and their observational evidence. Third, he assumes there are only two ways to approach that problem. One is the psychological study of how people produce theoretical “output” from sensory “input,” and the other is the logical reconstruction of our theoretical vocabulary in sensory terms. In Quine’s view, the second approach cannot succeed, and so we are left with psychology.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/nat-epis/

    According to this naturalistic viewpoint, nothing is “purely epistemological”.

  64. Windchaser says:

    In science, it’s pretty much always true that conflicting results are more “interesting” than results that agree. If ARGO showed global cooling, it’d provoke discussion, controversy, and highlight areas for further study, even if that just meant that denser sampling was needed. But seeing as ARGO pretty much shows what we’d expect, then yes, its results can be used as tacit confirmation of global warming.

    So at the very least, the ARGO data currently represents a failed falsification test for global warming — since it could have indicated that the AGW theory was wrong, but it didn’t — and we know that failed falsification tests always provide tacit support for the hypothesis they’re being tested against.

  65. chris says:

    yes fair-enough Willard. When one uses “confirmation” one really means “strong support”.

  66. omnologos says:

    thanks Windchaser – nice to know that in this refuge of lost souls looking for fights and mutual support, there is at least one person who doesn’t just try to rationalise to succour the blog host.

  67. Omnologos,
    As far as I can tell, Windchaser made a very sensible comment that clarified the position without playing semantic games. If I’d understood what your issue was in the first place, this may have gone better from the beginning. Given that I was unaware that your issue was that I’d used confirmed rather than some more appropriate terminology, I was unclear as to the point you were trying to make.

  68. BBD says:

    Playing twisty little games right down to the last comment, Omnologos. True to form.

  69. AnOilMan says:

    He’s arguing that because this data set is short term that all of it must be tossed from our logic. I’m not really sure why.

    He also has yet to make an argument in any direction. There are no citations. Until I see a citation showing the Argo data was not verified or tested, I’ll go with the prevailing opinion that it was. (I’m not going to waste my time for some armchair opinion.)

    The ARGO is important to see overall system energy balance to see that we A) can see that the physics models are correct, and B) determine that our understanding of the energy imbalance is correct. It is highlighting many questions, about thermal transfer in the oceans which will lead to a better understanding.

    Proving any concept from multiple points of view is what ensures the science is rigorous. We could have ignored the oceans, but that would have left a huge (97%?) gap in the energy system.

    In the past many pieces of the puzzle have presented odd issues that were reviewed clarified, and of course included. Global Dimming comes to mind. Some of the original work there contradicted Global Warming.

  70. chris says:

    Your resort to insult is a little sad omnologos.

    I agree with Windchaser, who like most of us here considers that the ARGO data provides a valuable contribution to our understanding of the world, and you seem to as well. However just a few minutes ago you asserted that ARGO data doesn’t yet “contribute to our understanding of the world”.

    So we’re left again wondering what it is you are arguing about. I wonder whether it might be you that is “looking for a fight” 🙂

  71. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, as soon as I saw your first paragraph, I knew you were in trouble. There was nothing contentious about your preceding post. There has not yet been presented by anyone a rational case the expedition. Therefore there were no grounds for contention. Opponents of good climate policy contend anyway because in that way they can muddy the waters. A straightforward report of misadventure in the antarctic presented them with the opportunity of a PR coup which they were going to push without first bothering to establish whether or not their PR fairly represents what happened, as clearly shown by the “rookeries in the ocean” comment, and transparent mudslinging by Tol.

    There is nothing contentious in your current post either. 68 comments on it is clear that opponents of good climate policy will contend anyway.

  72. > So at the very least, the ARGO data currently represents a failed falsification test for global warming […]

    I don’t see how the ARGO data alone could ever represent a successful falsification of AGW.

    In the end, holism wins:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/holismwins

  73. Tom Curtis says:

    Further to my preceding comment, the manufactured contention in this case comes down to Omnologos not noting that when something “helps confirm” a hypothesis, it does not confirm, and is not claimed to confirm, the hypothesis by itself.

  74. Arthur Smith says:

    I’d just like to note that the requirement for a long time period to determine whether something informs us about climate change is not so much about the time period itself (though covering less than a decade does mean you are likely to have ENSO and solar cycle issues) but about statistical significance. Since many climate variables (like surface temperature) have significant apparently random year-to-year fluctuations, it takes averaging over many years to see the current trend emerge with statistical significance from the noise. And the weaker the trend, the longer the time period required. Other climate variables (sea level rise, ocean heat content) have less noise vs signal, and so can see significant trends over shorter time periods. But for any of these I believe you still need at least a few years given natural variability on the short time scale.

  75. chris says:

    Yes I was going to make a similar point Arthur but then went and had supper instead!

    You can take your point somewhat further in the case of ocean heat content. If one considers Earth surface temperature, there is considerable natural variability due to the fact that the surface constitutes a small proportion of the entire climate system, and variability in heat flows to and from the surface can cause significant and potentially prolonged surface temperature variation during warming episodes in response to a forcing.

    Ocean heat is quite different. Assuming that the ARGO coverage of ocean basins is sufficient to give a good global assessment of heat content, then the nett accumulation of heat is very strong evidence for a TOA radiative imbalance. Even if we only consider ocean heat data from 2000, the accumulation of 1-1.5 x 10^23 joules of thermal energy in that period can only have arisen from a radiative imbalance. A radiative imbalance (assuming this is persistent) is an indication of a world undergoing global warming. So even a short term nett accumulation of ocean heat is pretty much a rock solid indication of radiative imbalance and a warming world.

    Is the radiative imbalance persistent (i.e. might it be caused by a transient increase in forcing, e.g. from the sun)? No. we know pretty categorically that that’s not the case – we know pretty well what the sun is doing. Other potential contributions to enhanced radiative forcing (large reduction in man made or natural aerosol forcing) don’t fit the bill either since these don’t seem to have happened either.

    So the ARGO-monitored large increase in ocean heat since around 2000 is very strong evidence indeed of a warming world. Since the Earth surface hasn’t joined in the warming so strongly during this period, the magnitude of the TOA forcing can’t have been significantly attenuated, and so we still have to “pay” for that imbalance in the future….

  76. Chris,

    Since the Earth surface hasn’t joined in the warming so strongly during this period, the magnitude of the TOA forcing can’t have been significantly attenuated, and so we still have to “pay” for that imbalance in the future….

    Yes, that’s a great way to put that.

  77. omnologos says:

    ok ok I give up. Six years of ARGO data is not climate by any stretch of imagination, but if everybody likes to think it is, so be it. Carry on to seventeen years of surface temperatures, that as we all know, is not climate. Or it is. Or it isn’t. Well, it depends if one likes the way it is going.

    ps I find the applicaiton of the moderation policy mistifying to say the least. Ian Forrester is there calling me a “denier”. Joshua uses “skeptic” in quotes as an obvious insult. The previous thread is a free-for-all shouting and insulting at Tol. This ain’t civil discussion (presumably, the original intent of this blog), but then again, six years of ARGO data isn’t climate either. As I said, since everyone is happy about it, and so supportive of each other, I am afraid I have accidentally stepped inside the protective bubble of a bunch of debate-challenged people who just can’t wait to have a fight with the occasional passer-by. Bye bye.

  78. Ian Forrester is there calling me a “denier”. Joshua uses “skeptic” in quotes as an obvious insult. The previous thread is a free-for-all shouting and insulting at Tol. This ain’t civil discussion (presumably, the original intent of this blog),

    That may be true but, if I’ve learned something in the last year Trying to keep the discussion civil is remarkably difficult. It’s also quite ironic that those who seem to comment most on my failure to do so, seem quite comfortable throwing around snide little insults. Maybe if everyone tried to actually be civil for a few days, it would actually succeed. Also, maybe pigs will fly.

  79. chris says:

    come on omnologos. No one has asserted that ARGO data “is climate”! Please don’t keep misinterpreting what people say.

    Why not read my most recent post and state what you disagree with and why. I made the exact point about the fundamental difference between surface temperature measurement times necessary to assess warming/climate change, and the fundamental nature of ocean heat sink as a robust assessment of a TOA radiative forcing, that you show confusion about in your last post. I have no problem in having a flaw in my post pointed out, but you seem unwilling to make careful explanations of the nature of your disagreement. If you have a point that relates to science surely you can formulate this into an understandable explanation.

  80. > Six years of ARGO data is not climate by any stretch of imagination, but if everybody likes to think it is […]

    Only someone who believes that we could construct an experimentum crucis out of the ARGO data should be warranted to believe it “is” climate, whatever omnologos really means by that.

    We have yet to find a commenter who believes that.

    Which might indicate that only strawmen and their brothers like to think six years of ARGO data “is climate”.

    ***

    Since I have a link to spare:

  81. AnOilMan says:

    omnologos: I’ve been aggressively edited by Rachel. Yet I’m in their camp, not yours.

    You have yet to even begin making a cogent argument. You haven’t passed step zero. You haven’t said anything of material value.

    Don’t skip to your final conclusions… Start simple and be specific. [If this was a technical support forum, you’ve done the equivalent of showing up and saying your computer doesn’t work if you click the mouse. No one can aid you with such a vacuous approach.]

    What exactly did you read, and where? Provide a citation. Be specific. What page, what paragraph?

    What exactly is your concern about what you read? (I cannot possibly form an opinion without any exact and specific knowledge about what is confusing you.)

  82. > What exactly is your concern about what you read?

    Finding #climate winners, epistemologically speaking:

    His heuristics may work by self-fulfilling prophecy.

  83. Willard, at least he had the decency to prove the point I was making in my last comment.

  84. AnOilMan says:

    Another ‘seagull scientist’ flies away…

    (Flaps around, squawks, craps everywhere, and leaves.)

  85. Seems that the #climate winner to whom omnologos seeked consolation corroborates his impression:

    This corroboration also corroborates Anders’ comment about snide comments.

  86. AnOilMan says:

    willard: I’m snide too. 🙂

    Anyways Maurizio, I’ll just go console myself with my 6 figure oil and gas salary. You keep trying to make me rich, OK bud?

  87. BBD and Anders are right to say that ARGO’s measurements of simultaneous warming in all ocean basins are consistent with global warming. If ARGO in a hypothetical alternate universe showed simultaneous cooling in all ocean basins, that would be powerful evidence considering that ~90% of the added heat goes into the oceans. But we’re not in that universe. We’re in the universe where ARGO shows simultaneous warming in all ocean basins. (Most of us are…)

    Arthur Smith is right to say that ARGO’s time series is less noisy than the surface temperature time series, so ARGO achieves statistical significance in less time than the ~17 years that are necessary for surface temperatures. Tamino’s shown this, and I’ve posted open source code on this blog that any real skeptic could use to analyze the ARGO timeseries for themselves to verify that ARGO shows statistically significant warming.

    But interacting with omnologos is likely pointless. In my brief stint at Climate Audit, omnologos taught me the first (and last) actual fact I’d ever learned there. Steve McIntyre snipped his comment for some bizarre reason, leaving omnologos to complain on his own blog that the scientist he was punching didn’t specifically object to having his behaviour compared to that of Albert Speer.

    So watch out. If omnologos compares your behaviour to that of several despicable people, you have to specifically object to all of them. Otherwise he’ll say “For some reason, Way didn’t find issues regarding the mention of Speer”.

    Ask yourself if this kind of interaction could possibly lead anywhere productive. Then walk away from the keyboard. Just… walk… away.

  88. Ian Forrester says:

    As I have said previously omnologos doesn’t have a clue about science. He does not understand the difference between heat content (energy) and temperature. Is it any wonder that scientists and others who have a good understanding of science get so frustrated when he and his cohorts criticize and smear science and scientists?

    And what is wrong with calling a spade a spade, if he doesn’t like the word denier there is a simple way to avoid it either stop commenting rubbish and misinformation on science blogs or stop showing up on denier blogs and applauding the nonsense found there.

  89. My earlier comment about the possibility of pigs flying, reminded my of a Monty Python sketch that may provide some light-hearted relief (which was really the intention of this post in the first place).

  90. guthrie says:

    So, what are climate losers? People who disagree with Richard Tol? People who disagree with Omnologos about everything, or only about specific subjects?

  91. Ian Forrester says:

    Guthrie, unfortunately “climate losers” are people like you and I and the many millions more who will be adversely affected by climate change. It is sad but true that corrupt politicians believe and act on the misinformation spread by the likes of Tol and omnologos.

  92. jsam says:

    Omnologos may well say he’s leaving. He’s been providing the climate comedy value at climatecrocks for a few years. His usual tactic is to produce a statement – and then declare ir was ironic. Ironic really. See http://climatecrocks.com/2013/02/07/climate-deniers-youre-not-paranoid-we-really-are-out-to-get-you/comment-page-1/

    He’ll be back.

  93. guthrie says:

    Thanks for the link, I now realise I’ve seen their very weird and mad website before, years ago. Perhaps it needs linked to after every post they make, so that anyone reading can see where they are coming from.

  94. > what is wrong with calling a spade a spade

    Nothing, except when the spade is say a diamond. Even then one could argue that we did not really called a spade a spade, since it was a diamond. Namecalling can only lead to labeling when without a modicum style:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/aboutlabeling

    Language is a social art. Let’s thread gently, please.

  95. KR says:

    With respect to the ARGO contribution, Levitus et al 2012 uses that high density sampling to put limits on the standard deviation of ocean temperature over distance (see the Appendix: Error Estimates). That estimate of temperature variation can be and is applied to all of the data, including earlier XBT samples. I personally consider that error bound computation one of the major contributions of the paper.

    So in addition to providing high quality data over the last decade or so, ARGO has provided sufficient data to tighten the error bars around the last 60 years of temperature estimates, allowing a clearer sense of where OHC is going. Thus the answer to omnologos’ statement/query “The issue is if the ARGOs have ‘helped to confirm’ anything” is a solid Yes, they have.

    Omnologos’ attempts to dismiss that data are quite absurd, but I will note entirely in character with his track record.

  96. > live and learn

    At any rate, live:

  97. AnOilMan says:

    Seagulls…

  98. John Mashey says:

    I missed most of this, thankfully, but back to good museums.
    The Science Museum is indeed dandy (my wife went to nearby IC, so we’ve visited a few times.)
    I love the steam engines, since:
    a) We have nothing comparable in US, since the first I.R.. wasn’t here.
    b) It offers a nice parallel with our Computer History Museum: early in any technology leap, people try *everything* and a few of them work.

    Also, the CHM has the only other working Babbage Engine besides the one at the Science Museum. (They built it for Microsoft’s ex-CTO, Nathan Myrhvold, and he’s lent it to us, thankfully.)
    Babbage was a pioneer computing startup guy, akin to some seen here in Silicon Valley: got a lot of money, never shipped working product. Still, his design actually worked.

    But visit the Greenwich museums as well, if you haven’t.

  99. Joshua says:

    omnbologos –

    ” Joshua uses “skeptic” in quotes as an obvious insult.”

    If I see careless arguments being made based on weak logic, logic that doesn’t pass due skeptical diligence, is an insult to point that out?

    For example:

    If I use “realist” in quotes (which I do frequently), is it an insult?

  100. That's MR. Ball to you. says:

    Babbage was a pioneer computing startup guy, akin to some seen here in Silicon Valley: got a lot of money, never shipped working product. Still, his design actually worked.

    John Mashey, the claim I heard many years ago was that the machinists of the day (1890's ?) couldn't machine to the tolerances required to make Babbage's engine, and by the time those tolerances were practically achievable in big shops after WWII, funding had moved to electrically-switched computer work. According to the same radio interview, Babbage's drafted plans were the most complex drafts created until the 1960's, which is saying something.

    The Greenwich Museum would indeed be fascinating!

  101. BBD says:

    Six years of ARGO data is not climate by any stretch of imagination, but if everybody likes to think it is, so be it.

    This is a misrepresentation – of me in particular – which I have already specifically objected to and corrected. So stop repeating it. You have crossed over into blatant and provocative dishonesty now.

  102. verytallguy says:

    John Mashey,

    there’s a great power hall incl many steam engines at the Manchester Museum of science and industry. Also if you like pioneering computers you could see a demo of Baby

    http://www.mosi.org.uk/whats-on/meet-baby.aspx

    [note to all – it is possible to stay on topic!]

  103. Joshua says:

    Are comments about staying on topic, on topic? 🙂

  104. John Mashey says:

    That’s MR. Ball to you:
    ‘John Mashey, the claim I heard many years ago was that the machinists of the day (1890’s ?) couldn’t machine to the tolerances required to make Babbage’s engine,’

    Indeed, that *was* the belief. See or CHM writeup. I don’t know how often the Science Museum runs theirs. CHM demoes once a day, using specially trained crankers, since it jams if you turn it too fast.
    Science Museum article gives some of the history of its construction, with a picture of Doron Swade, the curator who got the idea to build one of these from the plans.
    See The modern sequel for a longer explanation: they used modern machine tools, but set the tolerances back to those achievable in Babbage’s era and generally tried to make it a fair test of whether or not it was possible then (it was). The Science Museum may have a similar writeup, but I didn’t see it. Doron came out to California and consulted with us for months in arranging for the one we have which is “on loan” from Nathan.

    ‘The project confirms Babbage’s standing as a designer of formidable ingenuity. It also demonstrates that achievable precision was not a limiting consideration in Babbage’s failures. It appears that the 19th century outcome had as much to do with politics, economics, and personalities, as with technology. We can say with some confidence that had Babbage built his engine, it would have worked. ‘

    There might be a lesson there for the 21st century.

    Verytallguy:
    Thanks, yes, I’ve visited that one also. I was supposed to give a talk for the 50th anniversary of the Baby, and was still listed in the program … but got derailed by having a quad heart bypass instead. I recovered fast, but not enough to make that trip. My wife and I visited that later, and indeed, I second the recommendation. Not only is their collection good, and well-presented, but it’s in a repurposed building of great historical significance to the first Industrial revolution, i.e., the Manchester end of the first passenger railroad line, from there to Liverpool. Although not as large as the Science Museum, it’s another very fine science/tech museum.

    In some ways, I found the large exhibit in the cellar to be the most fascinating. That shows the development of the water/sewage systems of Manchester from the Roman days onward, again, not something one can find in the USA, since we have no Roman towns, especially here in CA. That actually has lessons for the 21st century as well: how do you keep crucial infrastructure in operation while making major upgrades? As in other areas, path dependence matters.

    The underground exhibit is a little reminiscent of the coal mine exhibit underground at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, yet another science/technology museum of the highest calibre.

    Finally, although not exactly a science museum, in Stockholm, the Vasa Museum is very instructive, along the same lines as “spent a lot of money, never shipped.” In this case, the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus commissioned a big ship, but he was a great general, not an admiral. It was top-heavy, and on its maiden voyage, it flipped over and sank before it could get out of the harbor area. Apparently, some engineers were nervous about it, but warnings failed to propagate to decision-makers. There might be a lesson there, as well.

    ~300 years later, they raised it, and turned it into a museum.

  105. AnOilMan says:

    Being an engineer I’m more of a fan of military technology. I have the engineer’s manual for a WW2 cruiser. Did you know they used a two dimensional power grid on those ships? That way areas that need power still get it even after multiple hits. WW2 also saw the first deployment of gigahertz communications.

    I do want to get to naval museum in the UK. They have lots of interesting stuff.

    Here’s a great video on the history of Silicon Valley. (Its Military.)

  106. John Mashey says:

    AnOilMan:
    Yes, I second the recommendation of that video, not just because the speaker Steve Blank is an old, old friend and colleague, but because it also illustrates something relevant.
    Silicon Valley prides itself on being the world-center of high-tech enterpreneurship, and probably is, and Steve is a very good one, who did half a dozen startups before making it big with ePiphany. But the talk shows that in fact, all this would have happened without significant Federal funding at the right times. Fortunately, unlike the thinktankers who babble away about free market, magic technology and innovation (without participating usefully in doing any), most senior executives around here actually understand that governments actually are relevant, and some mix of public/private partnerships is often a very, very good idea.
    In the diminished presence of industrial R&D of the long-term sort we did @ Bell Labs, R1/R2, etc, it is especially important for government to:
    a) Fund education
    b) Fund research (R1, R2, maybe D1 in the framework above), which these days has moved more to universities
    c) NOT play venture capitalist
    d) DO provide early big markets, to get manufacturing costs down … i.e., they way the ened for transistors for Minuteman missiles boosted the computer business.
    e) DO Minimize the red tape of starting/stopping busnesses.

    Creating advanced technology isn’t easy, but cost-effective deployment processes are nontrivial.

  107. Eli Rabett says:

    As Donald Rumsfieldbunny would say, you do science with the data you have, not the data you want to have. Many years ago, Roger Pielke Sr. was bitching that everyone should use ocean heat content rather than surface temperature anomalies. Eli pointed out that in the Ghandian sense, that would be a good thing, but unfortunately we did not have a time machine to go back and gather the necessary data. After Argo started deploying and was in the usual start up confused state, RP Sr. hailed the initial indications, and Eli’s response was – wait, remember UAH.

    However, as has been pointed out above, when you finally shake the bugs out of a new method you can use it to calibrate earlier measurements by comparison over a fairly short period of time. That is the trick that Tom Karl is using with the Climate Reference Network

  108. AnOilMan says:

    John Mashey: I keep thinking that about renewable technology. Every year that we aren’t jumping on reneables like Solar, is reinforcing the decision to buy the technology from foreigners.

    Effectively North America is outsourcing its future. We’ll drop or ween ourselves from oil and gas, but hey… we’ll get no jobs or technology in the process. We’re planning to give all that money away.

    China is buying a lot of environmental gear from the West. This is technology they didn’t bother developing decades ago. Now they are net importers.

    In the future I predict that we will be the ones importing advanced technology if we can’t get our heads screwed on right.

  109. In the future I predict that we will be the ones importing advanced technology if we can’t get our heads screwed on right.

    I’ve wondered the same about the UK. We currently import something like 30% of our oil and gas. About 10 years ago, we were a net exporter. So, it’s changing fast. Also, we seem to be contracting overseas companies to build and run the wind farms and nuclear stations, which again seems economically odd. There will presumably be some local employment, but quite why we don’t try to develop local companies seems somewhat short-sighted.

  110. Eli,

    Many years ago, Roger Pielke Sr. was bitching that everyone should use ocean heat content rather than surface temperature anomalies.

    I discovered that Roger Pielke Sr had said this, but now that everyone’s doing so, he doesn’t really seem to have changed his position much. I can’t quite work that out.

  111. John Mashey says:

    AnOIlMan:
    If you ever get a chance to hear Steve Chu in person, do it.

  112. Eli Rabett says:

    Simple, now Roger Pielke Sr. doesn’t like how it is being done. Poster grandpa for old man yells at cloud

  113. That's MR Ball to you. says:

    John Mashey thanks for that. I bet Doron was the one interviewed, in the early stages of his work with Babbage. It’s a fascinating story, Mr. Gibson’s novel notwithstanding.

  114. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News, January 12, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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