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Great Debate Part III & IV – Glikson accidentally vindicates the skeptics!

UPDATED Part IV: Andrew Glikson replies below.

I am impressed that Glikson replied politely, rose above any ad hominem or authority based arguments, and focused on the science and the evidence. This kind of exchange is exceedingly rare, and it made it well worth continuing. Links to Part I and II are at the end. Round 4 was copied from comments up to the post.

Depending on flawed models

by Joanne Nova

May 11, 2010

For a sentence, I almost think Dr Glikson gets it. Yes, it’s a quantitative question: Will we warm by half a measly degree or 3.5 degrees? It’s not about the direct CO2 effect (all of one paltry degree by itself), it’s the feedbacks—the humidity, clouds, lapse rates and other factors that amplify (or not) the initial minor effect of carbon.

Decades ago, the catastrophe-crowd made guesses about the feedbacks—but they were wrong. Instead of amplifying carbon’s effect two-fold (or more!) the feedbacks dampen it.

Dr Glikson has no reply. He makes no comment at all about Lindzen [1], Spencer[2] or Douglass[3] and their three peer reviewed, independent, empirical papers showing that the climate models are exaggerating the warming by a factor of six. (Six!) He’s probably unaware that the assumptions about positive feedback are wrong, and all the portents of disaster were built upon those guesses. Everything else is just an error cascade flowing from a base assumption that is implicit and essential (and wrong). Don’t expect the IPCC to explain it in an easy-to-read brochure though.

In Figure 2 of Glikson’s piece, he actually inadvertently demonstrates the missing hot spot. There’s the vindication. Glikson apparently doesn’t understand that the upper tropospheric graph is supposed to show a higher rate of warming than the surface graph. Instead it’s about the same. This is yet another way of showing there is no hotspot, no “thickening” of the global-greenhouse-gas-blanket, and thus that the surface warming is predominantly not caused by an increase in greenhouse gases.

Glikson Figure 2. Global anomalies 1960 -2006

Glikson’s Figure 2. Observed surface and upper-air temperature anomalies (°C). (A) Lower stratosphere T4, (B) Troposphere T2, (C) Lower troposphere T2LT from UAH, RSS and VG2 MSU satellite analyses, and UKMO HadAT2 and NOAA RATPAC radiosonde records, and (D) surface records from NOAA, NASA-GISS and UKMO/CRU (HadCRUT2v). All time series are monthly mean anomalies relative to the period 1979 to 1997 smoothed with a seven month running mean filter. Major volcanic eruptions are indicated by vertical orange dashed lines.

As usual, everything else offered by Glikson depends on the flawed models, on cringe-worthy hockey sticks, or on studies from millions of years ago that don’t have the resolution to tell us much about cause and effect.

Who is confused here?

Glikson tries to paint me as confused and quotes me out of context. When I ask for evidence that sheds light on a cause, I’m talking about all the evidence he was offering on sea ice, or ice sheets, or sea levels, which tell us nothing about what caused the warming. Glikson at least seems to agree with me, as this time (finally) he’s stopped repeating those irrelevant points.

Then he wonders about my statement about the cause and effect link being reversed in the ice cores, and asks if I question whether it is CO2 that drives temperatures. Absolutely! Hasn’t he heard of Le Chateliers Principle? It’s basic chemistry. The vast oceans have 50 times as much CO2 as the sky does, and the oceans release carbon as they warm and suck it back as they cool. This explains the tight correlation in the famous ice-core graph, and the 800 year lag (which is how long the deepest oceans currents take to circulate). The Vostok Ice cores definitively confirm that temperatures drive carbon. Carbon probably amplifies this warming somewhat, but there is no clear evidence in the ice cores that carbon does much at all. If there was, why would the Big Scare Campaign keep it a secret?

Figure 1. Vostok Ice Cores

Carbon clearly follows temperature in ice cores. There is an 800 year lag[10] on the rise, and several thousand years of lag on the fall. Temperatures drive carbon. Carbon probably amplifies this, but the effect is minor, and the amount can’t be calculated with any certainty from the Vostok data. See all the other Vostok Graphs.


Digging up ancient evidence

This is Dr Glikson’s bread and butter topic. He claims the geologic record displays episodes of primary forcing from carbon, but where is the evidence? All Keller[4] shows is that big volcanoes seem to cause big extinctions. Is he serious? Volcanoes pump out massive CO2 (which warms the planet a bit) but they also pour out volumes of ash (think “nuclear winter”). Super volcano Toba was only 70,000 years ago, but if the effect was net warming, it doesn’t show in the ice core records. Indeed researchers argue about how cold it got and how long it lasted. Was it just a 3 °C fall over 1000 years or was it a 15 °C drop over just a few decades?

Zachos 2008[5] talks about the PETM 55 million years ago. Glikson claims this shows methane warmed the planet, but Zacho’s hardly refers to methane. It’s a paper about CO2. Awkwardly, other researchers find that the carbon spike appears to have followed the temperature spike with a lag of around 3000 years[6].

With Ward 2005,[7] the problem is that we can’t tell whether the carbon rose before the extinctions or after. The odd 1000-year lag gets rather lost in the 250,000,000 year record. With this and the Geocarb graph,[8] Glikson assumes carbon causes the glaciation during the last 500 million years. But golly, we know that when temperatures are low, glaciers form and the oceans suck up all the CO2 they can find. It is no coincidence that low temperatures and low CO2 go together. It’s entirely expected and it tells us nothing about whether CO2 amplifies the temperature. At least one study suggests it was solar insolation that forced the ice sheets to melt, not CO2.[9] This is not just a his-vs-hers assumption tit for tat. There’s a big difference: we know temperature definitely affects CO2 (as I mentioned previously), and we’re pretty sure (thanks to empirical evidence, see above) that CO2 only amplifies that warming by a minor amount. When in doubt, go with the known evidence, rather than the flawed models.

The big question is that if CO2 drives the climate, how come the only papers that supposedly support a major forcing come from eras so long ago that no one can say which factor rose first? Since temperature drives carbon we know there will be a correlation in the past (it’d be shocking if there weren’t). But, why-o-why is there no concrete evidence from the last million years?

Hokey hockey sticks

Dr Glikson still thinks the hockey sticks are worth mentioning—but they’ll go down in history as a rank embarrassment to climate science, and to Nature and GRL (for publishing them). MBH 1999, as I mentioned in my last reply to Glikson, is so poor analytically that his technique generates hockey sticks even with random data. It’s a joke.

The IPCC graph Glikson provides “appears” to have independent studies, but 7 of the 10 studies include Mann, Briffa or Jones (each name is listed four times across these papers). Its not what the rest of the world calls “independent.”

“this is a tree that might have grown extra fast because, say, a bear died and rotted on its roots”

Three studies depend on Bristlecones (which grow faster when CO2 is higher, making them totally unsuitable). Two rely on the Yamal series (which boils down to one tree in northern Russia being a freak 8-standard deviation tree in the 1990’s to give it a hockey stick—this is a tree that might have grown extra fast because, say, a bear died and rotted on its roots). Two other studies use both Bristlecones and Yamal. Eight of the studies are so flawed they are worthless.

The remaining two studies use different series with their own flaws: One old Briffa series is out of date, another has a large manual adjustment; Moberg et al, hides data, making it hard to replicate, and also depends on uncalibrated data. The Moberg graph is nothing like a hockey stick, in any case.

When I say “warming started a century before our carbon emission rose” and point out that the warming trend hasn’t changed with all that extra CO2, Gliksons only response is debunked Hockey Sticks, and guesstimates from faulty climate models. Is that it?

Figure 2a. Evidence for the Medieval Warm Period (Originally from this post on Hockey Sticks)


Hundreds of peer reviewed studies show it was warmer over most of the globe during medieval times. Over 6,000 boreholes from all over the world agree[11]. Craig Loehle[12] also combined 18 different proxies to arrive at a similar curve. The Hockey Stick is wrong.

Figure 2b. Boreholes show it was warmer 700 years ago


Where’s the evidence?

The totality of “evidence” comes down to climate models that don’t agree with the observations and ever more ancient geological studies that may or may not show an effect, but are simply unable to resolve details that we need. This is why the Michael Manns, Gavin Schmidts and Al Gores of the world won’t debate publicly. They know they’d get caned.

If Andrew Glikson thinks he serves the taxpayer by promoting the unproved hypothesis of AGW, he must first examine the models he refers too, and give the public a balanced view of the uncertainties. It’s time for the propaganda of half-truths to stop. It’s time for universities to be called to order, and shamed for their pathetic standards of logic and reason.

Thanks again to Baa Humbug and DE for advice and research

The Full Debate:

Part I: Glikson The Case for Climate Change
Jo Nova No Dr Glikson;

Part II: Glikson Credibility lies with experienced authorities
Jo Nova Credibility lies on Evidence;

Part III: Glikson The Effects of CO2 on Climate
Jo Nova Glikson accidentally vindicates the skeptics.

Part IV: Glikson suggests evidence for the hot spot.
I point out how weak it is. (See the UPDATE below Part III).

Part V: Glikson The planetary atmosphere and climate change
Jo Nova Ignore the main point, repeat the irrelevant.

Part VI: Dr Glikson asked to respond again. I said “please do”. So far, he has no reply.


[1] Lindzen, R. S., and Y.-S. Choi (2009), On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L16705, doi:10.1029/2009GL039628. Updated in pre-press for 2010.

[2] Spencer, R.W., Braswell, W.D., Christy, J.R., Hnilo, J., 2007. Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations. Geophysical Research Letters, 34.

[3] Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, B.D. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. 2007. A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. International Journal of Climatology,

[4] Keller, G. (2005). Impacts, volcanism and mass extinction: random coincidence or cause and effect? Australian Journal of Earth Science, 52/4, 725-757. [abstract] http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tandf/aes/2005/00000052/F0020004/art00020

[5] Zachos, J.C. 2008. “An early Cenozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics” Nature 451, 279-283.

[6] Sluijs 2007, Environmental precursors to rapid light carbon injection at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary, Nature 450, 1218-1221 (20 December 2007) doi:10.1038/nature06400 [Abstract]

[7] Ward 2005, Abrupt and Gradual Extinction Among Late Permian Land Vertebrates in the Karoo Basin, South Africa, Science Vol 307 4 February 2005

[8] Graph of last 500 million years GEOCARB III ttp://www.quadrant.org.au/img/content/April%202010/Glikson%20Fig%202.bmp

[9] Clark et al 2009 The Last Glacial Maximum, Science 7 August 2009:
Vol. 325. no. 5941, pp. 710 – 714

[10] Caillon, N., Severinghaus, J.P., Jouzel, J., Barnola, J.-M., Kang, J. and Lipenkov, V.Y. 2003. Timing of atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature changes across Termination III. Science 299: 1728-1731.

[11] Huang, S., H. N. Pollack, and P. Y. Shen (1997), Late Quaternary temperature changes seen in world-wide continental heat flow measurements, Geophys. Res. Lett., 24(15), 1947–1950.

[12] Loehle, C. and J.H. McCulloch. 2008. Correction to: A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree ring proxies. Energy and Environment, 19, 93-100.

UPDATE Part IV: Andrew Glikson replied in comment #64 (copied here)

Andrew Glikson: May 14th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Dear Joanne Nova,

Thank you for acknowedging the sincerity of climate scientists. As I wrote, I believe I can state on behalf of my colleagues – nothing would delight us more than if direct evidence existed global warming is not occurring or, at the very least, warming is not anthropogenic in origin.

I restrict my response here to the troposphere hot spot, as below. In case you are interested in further detailed response to your article “Depending on flawed models” (11.5.10) I will be pleased to contribute such reply to your website in the form of an 800-1000 words-long article.

Regarding the troposphere hot spot, I refer to the paper: “Consistency of modelled and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere” by 17 climate scientists (B.D. Santer, P.W. Thorne, L. Haimberger, K.E. Taylor, T.M. L. Wigley, J.R. Lanzante, S. Solomon, M. Free, P.J. Gleckler, P.D. Jones, T.R. Karl, S.A. Klein, C. Mears, D. Nychka, G.A. Schmidt, S.C. Sherwood, and F.J. Wentz), Int. J. Climatol. (2008).

Where the summary reads:

“A recent report of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) identified a ‘potentially serious inconsistency’ between modelled and observed trends in tropical lapse rates (Karl et al., 2006). Early versions of satellite and radiosonde datasets suggested that the tropical surface had warmed more than the troposphere, while climate models consistently showed tropospheric amplification of surface warming in response to human-caused increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHGs). We revisit such comparisons here using new observational estimates of surface and tropospheric temperature changes. We find that there is no longer a serious discrepancy between modelled and observed trends in tropical lapse rates. This emerging reconciliation of models and observations has two primary explanations. First, because of changes in the treatment of buoy and satellite information, new surface temperature datasets yield slightly reduced tropical warming relative to earlier versions. Second, recently developed satellite and radiosonde datasets show larger warming of the tropical lower troposphere. In the case of a new satellite dataset from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), enhanced warming is due to an improved procedure of adjusting for inter-satellite biases. When the RSS-derived tropospheric temperature trend is compared with four different observed estimates of surface temperature change, the surface warming is invariably amplified in the tropical troposphere, consistent with model results. Even if we use data from a second satellite dataset with smaller tropospheric warming than in RSS, observed tropical lapse rate trends are not significantly different from those in all other model simulations. Our results contradict a recent claim that all simulated temperature trends in the tropical troposphere and in tropical lapse rates are inconsistent with observations. This claim was based on use of older radiosonde and satellite datasets, and on two methodological errors: the neglect of observational trend uncertainties introduced by interannual climate variability, and application of an inappropriate statistical ‘consistency test’.

The observation of climate change is not model-dependent but is based on direct observations and measurements, from ground stations, weather baloons and satellites, of basic physical and chemical parameters. The role of models is to help resolve the various climate drivers (forcings) and processes, as well as project future trends.

I will add at this point that disproving the reality of anthropogenic climate change requires:

A. Negation of basic laws related to infrared resonance/greenhouse gas modulation of atmospheric temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann law, Kirchhoff’s law of thermal radiation, Planck’s law etc.) (For a review of the relations between CO2 and climate refer to http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm).

B. In terms of these laws, accounting for the effect of some 370 billion ton of carbon emitted by human industry since 1750 (plus land clearing) on the atmosphere, less than half of which was absorbed by the oceans, where it results in decreased pH.

Yours Respectfully
(Dr) Andrew Glikson
Earth and paleo-climate science


My Reply Part IV

Thank you Andrew,

I am happy to discuss this further, and would most welcome a contribution from you. Feel free to include graphs, there is no word restriction, though more people will read a 1000 word post than a very long one.

Anything that furthers our understanding of the climate is useful. If someone can produce convincing evidence or reasoning I would, of course, change my mind (again). Having said that, I have briefly discussed Santer et al 2008 earlier. Nine years after all the data was collected a team of scientists found some “uncertainties” in both models and radiosondes that expanded the error bars, after which they overlap. There was no new evidence, just a reanalysis, and while technically, they reconciled things, they did so without finding the hot spot, instead they found “noise”.

There are responses from quite a few people in comments below #64.



Kudos to Dr Glikson for being willing to follow this up.

Please commentors note: good manners from both sides will be enforced more so than usual. I want polite discussion of how the climate works, and it’s rare in any forum to get a quality exchange.

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