In The Age this week, Stephen Sherwood explains how misleading skeptics have been for repeating obvious, incontestable results from millions of weather balloons. See, all along, Sherwood knew the weather balloons were wrong, and if only skeptics had his psychic powers, or connection to God, they would have too. Naughty skeptics,eh?
The article in The Age gives away a lot more than either Steven Sherwood (or Peter Hannam, the Fairfax journalist) probably meant to reveal. Sherwood’s still spruiking his latest study, which repeatedly adjusted and blended the weather balloon data and finally “found” the hot spot so effectively it even shows up in years when it’s not supposed to occur. I’m not talking about his technique, but about his slip of the tongue. Spot the conflicting messages. (As usual, the gullible Peter Hannam let him step right in it, by failing to ask the obvious questions.)
Stephen Sherwood effectively tells four points. Figure out how they can all be true at the same time:
- The hot spot is vital to the models, indeed to the current scientific understanding of our climate!
- This is the first time they have finally resolved the missing hot spot.
- Sherwood always knew the hot spot was there (some kind of “special” knowledge?)
- Skeptics were misleading, exploiting, and distorting things for saying that the hotspot was missing (despite point 2!).
If the hot spot is important and “was” missing and Sherwood has only just supposedly found it, that means he has hidden that failure from the paying public for years until now. He didn’t tell anyone it was missing, except in obscure paragraphs in papers announcing it was “found”. Isn’t that kinda deceptive and distorting in a debate where billions of dollars are at stake? Isn’t it a bit odd that a scientist could be “95% certain” that we were headed for a disaster, when the single most important feedback in climate models, a factor as large as the CO2 forcing itself, was known to be wrong?
Sherwood may argue that he has always believed the hot spot was there — but that’s my point. When the data shows otherwise, what kind of scientist “believes” — only an unskeptical one. What does that say about his scientific work? He’s been ignoring the data that doesn’t fit his preconceived belief and has never approached this research with an open mind. Homogenisation is a process that starts with assumptions, and Sherwood is effectively admitting he “knew” what the results of his research were going to turn up.
Is there any experiment Stephen Sherwood could do that would not “finally” find the hot spot?
The hot spot matters
Sherwood outlays what a disaster it would be if the 28 million radiosondes are correct and the hot spot is missing:
“The models predict that if, and only if, man is the cause of warming, the tropical upper air, six miles above the ground, should warm up to thrice as fast as the surface, but this tropical upper troposphere “hot spot” has not been observed in 50 years of measurement,” Christopher Monckton, a prominent British sceptic, wrote in 2010.
That the upper troposphere hadn’t warmed compared with the surface would be a major surprise for science, Professor Sherwood said.
Surface temperatures have been rising at about 0.15 degrees per decade. As air rises over the tropics, a lot of water vapour condenses, releasing latent heat, that warms up the air.
“It would have been truly astonishing if the temperatures in the upper troposphere hadn’t been going up faster than at the surface,” Professor Sherwood said.
“If it didn’t appear, it would have nothing to do with whether humans are causing climate change, but it would mean there is something about the way air mixes in the atmosphere that we didn’t know,” he said. “And the ramifications for climate change could go either way.”
Follow the reasoning. Sherwood says the hot spot must be there because if it wasn’t, it would mean they didn’t know something. The consensus is always right?
Sherwood, who knew what the result of his methods would be before he did them, thinks skeptics are the ones who “believe”?
Sceptics’ interest in “hot spots” they believed weren’t there and the fact they couldn’t account for the additional heat being trapped by the Earth from its increased greenhouse gases, pointed to a contrast in approaches, he said.
Hmm. Could it be Sherwood projecting his own flaws?
“They’re not aiming for a self-consistent and reasonably comprehensive description of the world. What they are aiming at is to discredit something,” he said.
Apart from skeptics who don’t. (Some are working to make an alternate climate model).
But then Peter Hannam is interviewing a man whose expertise on the subject of climate skeptics is summed up in the same interview:
“Professor Sherwood said he hadn’t bothered to follow how sceptics had responded to his paper”
Yes, we have different approaches to Stephen Sherwood. We follow the data, he “knows” what the data is supposed to say beforehand. He also knows what skeptics are saying without hearing them.
When scientists break all the rules,
Using dubious methods as tools,
To find as required,
The result they desired,
Then skeptics must take them for fools.
15 years of hunting the hot spot
The missing hot spot was always the crucial sign of water vapor feedback— the largest feedback in the climate models — but data from 28 million weather balloons showed that it wasn’t there. They had guessed the wrong way, and humidity wasn’t rising at 10km above the equator “thickening the water blanket”. Year after year teams of researchers have scoured the data for ways to adjust it to reveal the hotspot they are certain must be there. Stephen Sherwood was so keen to find it in 2008 he published a graph changing the color scales so that “zero degrees warming” was a hot orange red color — that produced a graph that looked like he’d found the hot spot. In another paper he “found” the hot spot by throwing away all the temperature readings from weather balloons and using wind shear data instead. As if measurements of the wind would somehow be more accurate in estimating temperature than the equipment designed and individually calibrated to do exactly that.
In the latest installment Sherwood has reiteratively homogenized (meaning blurred and smoothed) data for the nth time, adding in data from years when there should be no hot spot, and miraculously finally “found it”. I explained when it was released why it made no sense. The world hasn’t warmed since the late 1990s, so there shouldn’t be a hot spot since then — especially over land where most radiosondes are released. Sherwood found the hot spot in the years when it wasn’t meant to occur. Doesn’t it bother him that he’s massaged the data to “solve” one problem, but created another one just as large?