2011-03-09 17:02:54Christy's Unconvincing Testimony
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

I put together a rebuttal to Christy's congressional testimony today.  It's a bit rough, but I wanted to get something up for review so we can get it published while the iron is still hot.  Bring on the feedback!

2011-03-09 17:13:25
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
192.100.112.211

"Rather, it is the expected result of any global surface warming, and indeed there is evidence that the hot spot exists."

Perhaps global warming is not needed but tropical surface warming is enough?

2011-03-09 18:50:22
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.114.132

"The resulting average warming trend is approximately 0.17°C per decade, and 0.16°C per decade in Christy's UAH data, far larger than Christy's claimed 0.09°C per decade trend."

=>

"The resulting average warming trend is approximately 0.17°C per decade; embarrassingly enough, even Christy's own UAH data show 0.16°C per decade, far larger than 0.09°C per decade trend of his testimony."

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"warming is dominated by increases in nighttime temperatures, with little change in daytime temperatures. This pattern of warming is a classic signature of surface development (land cover and land use change) by human activities."

Actually, isn't this exactly backwards? Don't land-use changes generally lead to greater day-time warming, because they affect the local contribution to the albedo? If so, Christy deserves a sharper rebuke than:

"Actually, greater warming during the night than day is a key signature of an increased greenhouse effect.  Scientific organizations make great efforts to remove the urban heat island (UHI) influence, and according to Menne (2010), are very successful in doing so."

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"As we have previously discussed several times, and as Christy should very well know, the tropical troposphere hot spot is not an anthropogenic signature.  Rather, it is the expected result of any global surface warming, and indeed there is evidence that the hot spot exists."

- I suggest making this piece more "portable" by reducing its explicit dependence on the SkS setting: the reader should be able to get the point without feeling that s/he MUST look at the SkS reference.

- For the same reason, I suggest adding a couple more sentences to explain; I guess the point might be, does Christy seriously think that the adiabatic lapse rate is NOT in-effect? (Something clearer than that, of course.)

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"he'll have to do better than looking at temperature changes over very brief timeframes."

=>

"he'll have to do better than looking at temperature changes over inappropriately brief timeframes."

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"Christy is essentially espousing the Tragedy of the Commons here... the USA is a key lynchpin in international negotiations."

=>

"Christy is essentially promoting the Tragedy of the Commons here... the USA is a lynchpin in international negotiations."

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"The current rate of species extinctions far exceeds the natural background rate.  Positive benefits of higher CO2 concentrations for the biological world?  Hardly."

I would go beyond the extinction issue and address further his general point; a quick reference to the studies of the agricultural and economic impact.

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"This is simply not a compelling case that we should continue on the extremely high risk business-as-usual climate path that we're currently on."

Dana, what are you thinking of? This is positively limp-wristed. How about something more like:

"Christy's disappointing testimony is a litany of already disproven assertions - in one case, even ignoring the data gathered by his own group in the UAH observations. What is he thinking of?"

2011-03-09 19:11:45
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

Good and fast response

Section "Extreme Weather": "and that in at least in one instance,"
Section "Hot Spot", Christy says that the upper tropospher warming is "at least twice as fast as the surface rate of warming"; if i remember correctly in reality it's 1.3 (you'd better check my number). You could add this little bit to show he is not in good faith ...  lying ... intentionally misleading ... in error.

2011-03-09 20:14:04Dana the cyborg
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6
How'd you get this done so quick. You're a machine!

Re Christy removing the SST trend from the satellite record, I think that's classic and worth dwelling on in more detail. Stress that he's getting a low trend by removing much of the warming trend. Maybe throw in a "hide the incline" in the somewhere :-)

Christy's hot spot quote needs to be indented. What if you link "expected result of any global surface warming" to http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-causes-the-tropospheric-hot-spot.html

On an aside, we really have to do an extreme weather rebuttal one of these days.

2011-03-09 21:29:38
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.231.184

Yup another great post Dana. I think you should incorporate what Neal and Riccardo have suggested.  

2011-03-10 03:40:16thanks all
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

Cyborg?  Actually it took longer than I expected.  I spent 3 hours on it last night - most posts don't take more than 2.  I had to find a lot of links for this one though.

Ari - I think your statement is accurate, but it's accurate as currently written too.

neal - limp wristed?  Harsh!  Honestly I got to the end at around 10pm last night, so I just kind of slapped an ending together.  I had a feeling it was a bit too lenient too :-)  He didn't actually ignore UAH data though, he just applied a flawed method of removing the ENSO signal from it.

Regarding UHI warming nights, I have the same thought as you, but Christy has written some papers claiming otherwise (i.e. Christy et al 2009). I don't know enough about the subject to disagree with him here.

Riccardo - I think Christy is right that the tropical troposphere should warm twice as fast (or maybe it's 1.6 times as fast?).  The troposphere as a whole I believe is 1.2 times as fast.

John - we definitely need a good extreme weather rebuttal.  I had some trouble finding good references to rebut that section.  Fortunately Zwiers covered that well in his testimony.

I'm going to buff up the temperature trends section too, because ultimately Christy was using the Lindzen-style "we should have seen more warming" approach, which I'm quite familiar with!  Working on incorporating all the comments now...

I'd expand on Christy's removal of the SST trend, but I haven't read is paper and don't know enough about it to expand on that.  Can anybody give me a summary of exactly what he did?

2011-03-10 04:45:27revised
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

I've revised the post.  I tried looking up Christy's 1994 paper, but couldn't find a free version anywhere.  So if anybody can describe for me exactly what he's doing to remove the ENSO signal and why it's wrong, I'd be more than happy to add it to the post.  Is he really just subtracting off the tropical sea surface temperature trend?

I took a shot at updating that section:

Christy's method of filtering out the El Niño influence – by removing the tropical sea surface temperature (SST) trend – seems like a rather blunt and imprecise way to remove the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) signal.  After all, the tropical sea surface temperatures could have an upward trend for other reasons - for example, due to an increased greenhouse effect!  Christy's assumption that the tropical SST trend could only be due to ENSO seems unjustified.

2011-03-10 05:35:39Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
134.153.163.105

ENSO is an oscillating phenomenen and does not necessarily exert a so called "trend" on global temperatures. If you go to tamino's post where he removes exogenic factors then that might be a good resource.

I think his method is wrong just like you do. He's removing a trend that has an anthropogenic influence on it!

2011-03-10 05:45:44tamino
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

I actually referenced that tamino post in the article, and included a graph from it.  I also covered the fact that ENSO doesn't exert a long-term trend on global temps later in that section.  So maybe it's okay in its current state.  It's just that Christy isn't very explicit about exactly what he's doing, so I don't want to mischaracterize his methods.  But it does seems like he's just subtracting off the tropical SSTs, which definitely seems wrong and a really poor way to remove the ENSO signal, rather than say using the MEI like tamino does.

2011-03-10 06:07:27
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.255.153

Typos:

Last paragraph under heading "Hotspot" - adiabahtic lapse rate  

"More carbon is better" - latitutdes 

Yet another thumbs up, how predictable!.

2011-03-10 06:24:35thanks
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

Good catches, thanks Rob.  Getting pretty close to being ready for publication, I think.  I beefed up the ending a bit so neal will stop calling me limp wristed!

2011-03-10 07:29:57
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.114.132

Much improved; however:

 

"Urban Heat Island

"warming is dominated by increases in nighttime temperatures, with little change in daytime temperatures. This pattern of warming is a classic signature of surface development (land cover and land use change) by human activities."

Actually, greater warming during the night than day is a key signature of an increased greenhouse effect.  Scientific organizations make great efforts to remove the urban heat island (UHI) influence, and according to Menne (2010), are very successful in doing so."

 

You have classified this as a UHI claim. But he doesn't really talk about UHI: he claims that other land-use issues (I think something about burning brush, etc.) also has a night-time increase rather than a day-time increase. So I think the title should be changed to "Heating from Land-use changes".

What he's basically claiming is that the night-time/day-time dichotomy is not a CO2 signature but a land-use signature. I guess the best argument I can think of against that is, "How do you know?" I'm sure there are better arguments, because he seems to be ignoring the existence of the UHI; whereas we know there IS a UHI, it just doesn't create the warming trend.

============================================

"And if every country malkes the same argument, nobody reduces emissions."

=>

And if every country makes the same argument, nobody reduces emissions.

============================================

"Christy's Case

In attempting to argue that climate change is not dangerous and EPA regulation of carbon emissions is unnecessary, Christy has mainly relied on repeating several long-debunked myths:

He doesn't make the "UHI" argument.

============================================

"Christy's disappointing testimony is a litany of already disproven assertions.  "Skeptics" will have to do much better to justify continuing on the extremely high risk business-as-usual climate path that we're currently on.  The EPA's mandate to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is based on the conclusion that those emissions pose a threat to public health.  Christy's testimony utterly failed to overturn that conclusion.  Thus we can only conclude that the Congressional Republicans' efforts to revoke the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases is misguided and counterproductive."

This is better, but I would be a bit harsher:

"Christy's disappointing testimony is a litany of already disproven assertions. "Skeptics" should need to do much better to justify continuing on our current extremely high-risk business-as-usual climate path. The EPA's mandate to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is based on the understanding that these emissions pose a long-term threat to public health. Christy's testimony only served to facilitate the Congressional Republicans' ideologically driven efforts to revoke the EPA's authority to contribute towards the protection of our future. By his testimony, Christy did no service to his country."

2011-03-10 08:03:41UHI
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.252

Boy I dunno, it's borderline UHI neal.  Here's the argument from Christy et al. 2009 (page 12):

"For example, changes in roughness can dramatically change surface temperatures in the stable boundary layer. As shown by McNider et al. (1995), as trees or buildings replace grass, increases in roughness can lead to substantially warmer temperatures. Also, for low and moderate wind speeds, increases in heat capacity arising from concrete replacing vegetative mulch or irrigation increasing soil water content (with accompanying increases in heat capacity and conductivity), can lead to perceived warming (Shi et al. 2005)."

He claims to see this same effect at local stations in the US and Africa, where local development (both urban and agricultural) lead to localized warming.  It's not quite UHI, but it seems to be pretty much the same argument.  And the "it's not UHI" rebuttal addresses this by comparing rural stations to urban and satellites to surface stations.

2011-03-10 11:44:08
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

It seems that the critical factor of the UHI that Christy is not calling upon is the waste heat from human activities.  Christy's arguments appear to orbit around physical changes in the landscape or surface, which to me seems more like land use change.

But we don't necessarily have to use cliches.  Perhaps "Heating from urban development?"  That is more of an umbrella idea and encapsulates the arguments he brings up without necessarily having to include waste heat.

2011-03-10 11:48:51Comments.... will update as I see 'em
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Here:

"Thus, even if it caused a short-term surface air warming trend, the oceans would cool correspondingly, which they are not."

Would it really be good to phrase it as a "short term surface air warming trend" (thus leading in with a focus on short term concepts) while ending with the rebuttal on long term ocean warming/cooling?  If ENSO was causing a long term warming trend (not short term) should we not see a long term cooling trend in the oceans?  Then go to the rebuttal.  However, it does not seem entirely clear that Christy means to argue that ENSO is causing a trend, so I think you may be going off on a tangent with the ocean heat content reference.

 

In the "Should Have Seen More Warming?" section, I think that you transitioned from global tropospheric warming to tropical without enough of a mention.  Drive home the point more about how global trends are coincident with model predictions, and then, with a more overt transition, address his possible "escape hole," as it were.  In other words, he says global, NOT tropical, and while there is already a thorough explanation to the former that you can reference, you spend too much time comparatively on the latter idea.  That wasn't his point, don't make it yours.

 

I agree with Neal, Christy's quote does not deal with UHI so the title should not be called UHI.  It doesn't matter what you know about his 2009 work, you're not refuting that and the audience may not have the info you do.  You may confuse some (perhaps a lot) of people by arguing a point that was not brought up, and you'll get called out on it.  On the other hand, if he actually *did* bring up UHI, have at it.

 

"If Christy wants to argue that the hot spot is an anthropogenic fingerpint"

I'll take a quart, thanks.

 

Christy mentions Spencer's work with clouds and negative feedback - would Dessler's paper be worth mentioning here?

 

Tragedy of the Commons deals more with public goods and how users tend to deplete them because nobody has a personal incentive to limit their usage with regard to future sustainability.  Prisoner's Dilemma is more appropriate, though I do realize you want to refer to the rebuttal you wrote.  Perhaps just say "Christy is essentially promoting the Prisoner's Dilemma, which we discussed recently in our 'Tragedy of the Commons' rebuttal to Monckton."

 

And that's it.  Fix the "It's UHI" link at the bottom, as Neal said.  Great job!

2011-03-10 12:06:25agreed
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Yeah on second thought I agree with neal's point.  Don't want to give the "skeptics" any reason to say I'm misrepresenting Christy's arguments.  I'll reword to say that it's similar to the UHI argument.  Going to publish soon, so if you have any more comments, make them quick!

2011-03-10 12:10:57
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Don't think I've given one of these yet :)

2011-03-10 12:21:47Jumping on the thumb bandwagon
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.229.6

This should go out today, very timely.

2011-03-10 12:29:11all set
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

Good comments Alex, particularly on adding a reference to Dessler.  I think we're in good shape, I'm going to publish now.

2011-03-10 12:33:51UHI still there
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.114.132

in the heading near the top, and in the summary list.

2011-03-10 12:37:43removed
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233

I took it out, just haven't saved the updated version yet.

2011-03-10 12:39:57
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.114.132

OK

2011-03-10 13:28:39
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I know it's after the fact, but I wonder where I got the impression that you were talking about tropical temperature trends in the Should be Warmer section.  My bad, I was reading for organizational tips, not necessarily science tips, and if I had bothered to do some closer reading at what sources your were using there I may have picked up on my misread.  Tch, tropical....

Anyways, again, in the hot spot section, there's a "fingerpint" that ought to be "fingerprint."

I like the changes and final version.  It will be interesting if Christy responds, and how far this article goes in terms of extended publication.

2011-03-10 13:54:43Tropics
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.107.233
The quotes from the papers I referenced were about the tropical troposphere. I changed them to global troposphere quotes. That's probably why.