2011-04-20 08:44:26A reconstruction of annual Greenland ice melt extent, 1784–2009: shouldn't this be skeptic?
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.72.92

Ari, noticed you just added this paper as proAGW:

A reconstruction of annual Greenland ice melt extent, 1784–2009

The total extent of ice melt on the Greenland ice sheet has been increasing during the last three decades. The melt extent observed in 2007 in particular was the greatest on record according to several satellite-derived records of total Greenland melt extent. Total annual observed melt extent across the Greenland ice sheet has been shown to be strongly related to summer temperature measurements from stations located along Greenland's coast, as well as to variations in atmospheric circulation across the North Atlantic. We make use of these relationships along with historical temperature and circulation observations to develop a near-continuous 226 year reconstructed history of annual Greenland melt extent dating from 2009 back into the late eighteenth century. We find that the recent period of high-melt extent is similar in magnitude but, thus far, shorter in duration, than a period of high melt lasting from the early 1920s through the early 1960s. The greatest melt extent over the last 2 1/4 centuries occurred in 2007; however, this value is not statistically significantly different from the reconstructed melt extent during 20 other melt seasons, primarily during 1923–1961.

I think, considering the authors (Pat Michaels!), you can consider this skeptic. It's essentially using the "past climate change" logical fallacy - Greenland ice sheet has changed in the past so current ice loss is nothing unusual and nothing to worry about. In fact, that should now be a new skeptic argument - will add it. I hope you don't mind, I've recategorised this one for you.

This probably isn't on Poptech's list yet, I imagine. I worry that we're handing all these skeptic papers to the denialosphere on a silver platter :-(

2011-04-20 08:54:25comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.191.164

Melt extent and overall ice loss are not necessarily synonymous considering most ice is being lost from calving fronts.

2011-04-20 10:15:44
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I would agree with skeptic, but perhaps neutral as well.  I would need to see the paper to see if they discuss AGW at all - what do they attribute the recent three-decade melting to?

As Robert says too, calving and melting are not the same.  Things Break, I think, had an article on this topic RE a paper about decreased snow melting in Antarctica... if I remember correctly.  I'll try to see if I can find it again.

I agree with the skeptic classification, unless in-text support can be provided for movement to neutral.  It's a rather weak skeptic point, but nonetheless.

Edit: Well Aha, here it is, right on the front page.  OK, so it's an article about updated decay of the ice sheets, but he links to a previous discussion on this topic.

2011-04-20 12:58:06Significance of paper
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.72.92

It's possibly an attempt to distract from the extreme 2010 Greenland melt but if so, it will backfire because the paper intentionally excludes 2010 melt - rebutting it merely requires showing their data with 2010 appended which instantly invalidates their conclusion that recent melt is nothing unusual. Glaciologist Jason Box already blogged a rebuttal and I'm asking if we can use it as an SkS rebuttal.

All 3 authors are linked to fossil fuel funded think tanks.

2011-04-20 14:15:42
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.102.190

I added this paper to the argument "Greenland is gaining ice". This is pro-AGW paper for that argument because it says there is a period of high melt going on (and even that highest melt occurred in 2007). There are of course different arguments to which this is not pro-AGW paper. For the argument "Greenland was warmer in 1940" this should be a neutral paper because the paper is not about temperatures. For the argument "Greenland has lost ice before" this could be skeptic paper but that depends on if we want to address straw-man argumentation in paper classification because AGW doesn't say that Greenland shouldn't have lost ice before, so this paper should in that sense be either neutral or pro-AGW unless it says "Greenland has lost ice before so it can't be human fault now".

It seems to me that paper bias should be determined by argument. Other option would be to add papers several times for each argument they address. Other option would be to create a pre-determined bias (which would then be highlighted publicly), so that we would classify papers preferably to skeptic bin for example, if they would contain even a hint of skeptic argumentation. This would result in lot of skeptic papers.

At any case, I don't see much point in recreating poptech's work, but to do it properly. This would mean that we wouldn't just go by the face value of skeptic arguments but we would also address the meaningfulness of the arguments at the same time as we classify the papers. In this case we probably should explain how we have approached each of the arguments and how we have determined the biases (and why we did so).

2011-04-20 15:45:43The key point of this paper
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.72.92

The key "result" of this paper is to say "Greenland's current ice melt is less than recent ice melt so it's within natural variability and nothing to worry about". That's how it will be used by the denialosphere. That's the intent of the authors.

It may be this paper was written to distract from the massive 2010 ice melt - well, probably not as the paper was begun before the 2010 melt season. Okay, I'll take the tin foil hat off! :-)

Yes, the "Greenland lost ice before" is a strawman argument. But there are many strawmen arguments in our list of climate myths. In this case, if you want to be really technical about it, I'd make "Greenland lost ice before" the sole argument and leave off the other 2 arguments. But it's not that big a deal. The main thing is it's obviously a skeptic paper and will be used by skeptics so needs countering.

2011-04-20 19:46:24
Hoskibui

hoskibui@gmail...
194.144.161.27

I agree with John, it will be used as a skeptical paper (by "skeptics") - and I don't think anyone will use it as pro AGW. Therefore it is skeptical article.

It would be good to have a rebuttal of this article - as I'm sure that deniers here in Iceland will use it relentlessly.

2011-04-20 19:59:18
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.102.190

"The key "result" of this paper is to say "Greenland's current ice melt is less than recent ice melt so it's within natural variability and nothing to worry about". That's how it will be used by the denialosphere."

Yes, sure, but they don't seem to say that explicitly in the paper (at least in the abstract). If there's some skeptic blogposts or other documents making this claim based on this paper, then those documents should be labeled as "skeptic". But the paper itself might be best to put in "neutral" bin, if pro-AGW seems too much for you. That's what I think, anyway.

If you want to classify these papers like that, I can start adding papers describing past climate changes to "climate's changed before" as skeptic papers and you'll soon end up with a database with thousands of skeptic papers. ;)

2011-04-20 20:04:55
Hoskibui

hoskibui@gmail...
194.144.161.27

A review of the paper on Meltfactor

2011-04-20 20:45:07
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

As per Ari's point, and going back to what I said before, that is my one reservation on labeling it - what do the authors attribute the melt to?

It appears that from Hoskibui's link, while Box said "Yet, the paper does include this important dimension. Therefore, to increase the depth or impact of the work, the paper should elaborate causal factors that explain the ups and downs in the reconstruction." I think he meant to say that the paper *doesn't* include such discussion (contextually that makes a lot more sense - pretty egregious typo in a way).  If this is the same with the present melt (i.e. the authors provide again no discussion), then the paper belongs in neutral because it makes no statement toward AGW or its effects.  It's commenting on similarities and differences in past and present trends, but that doesn't mean anything for our database if they don't form a conclusion off of it.  That conclusion is critical to the bias of the paper.  They can make all the obsolete observations they want, it's irrelevant to that fact.

It's using outdated data, but that doesn't make it a "skeptic" paper ;)

My vote for neutral.

2011-04-20 20:48:48
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I would also like to warn against the idea that we should base the bias of the paper off of how sqeptics would use it.  We have extensive experience with selective attention from their side.  Pinker's satellite paper comes to mind.  Or practically any other source Monckton uses.

2011-04-20 21:10:11
Hoskibui

hoskibui@gmail...
194.144.161.27

Should it be classified according to:

a) what it says   -  Skeptic, neutral and proAGW

b) what it intented to be used for - Skeptic

c) how it will be used - Skeptic

d) how it will not be used - it will not be used by Pro AGW nor Neutrals - therefore Skeptic

 

So, my vote is Skeptic - but maybe it is best to put it in the database as Neutral, as it can be argued both way?

 

Edit: here is another blog post from Meltfactor - interesting, as he is one of the reviewer.

2011-04-20 21:37:41Jason Box's rebuttal
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.187.72.92
I asked Jason if we could use his blog posts or adapt them into a SkS rebuttal of "Greenland lost ice before therefore current ice loss is not unusual or of concern". He said we could use it in any way. We would need to edit it to remove the fossil fuel associations and probably make it less of a first person account (as Jason is one of the paper's reviewers). I haven't had time to attempt an myself yet so if anyone wants to have a go at it, be my guest.

This discussion on how to rate a paper is interesting as we never really have firmly defined how a paper is to be classified. And that really needs to be done before we launch Ville's visualization as that page will describe how we've classified our thousands of papers and the methodology may attract some attention. So let's codify it, shall we?

Let me throw out an initial suggested guideline - a paper is classified by what it says, not by what it's intended to be used for or how it will be used. Specifically, it's classified by whether the paper supports a climate myth, rebuts it or is neutral. So it's not about whether a paper supports AGW in general but whether it supports or rebuts specific climate myths.

2011-04-20 23:38:51
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Yes, this is being used by at least one of it's authors as a reason to do nothing and try and infer that current ice melt is within natural variability.

 

Beach House nonsense by Pat "CATO" Michaels!

2011-04-20 23:51:24
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.102.190

John: "This discussion on how to rate a paper is interesting as we never really have firmly defined how a paper is to be classified. And that really needs to be done before we launch Ville's visualization as that page will describe how we've classified our thousands of papers and the methodology may attract some attention. So let's codify it, shall we?

Let me throw out an initial suggested guideline - a paper is classified by what it says, not by what it's intended to be used for or how it will be used. Specifically, it's classified by whether the paper supports a climate myth, rebuts it or is neutral. So it's not about whether a paper supports AGW in general but whether it supports or rebuts specific climate myths."

Furthermore we need to decide how to handle papers with many arguments. Should we classify them so that there's one primary argument by which we decide the bias and other arguments are just supplemental information?

I also think we need to look classification argument by argument. I have been thinking that it might be good if each argument had 1) a description how AGW sees the argument (here we can identify the straw-man arguments for example and link to rebuttals), 2) a description of what is pro-AGW paper for that argument, 3) a description of what is neutral paper for that argument, and 4) a description of what is skeptic paper for that argument.

2011-04-21 01:50:50my 2 cents
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I agree with John on the classification criteria - should be what the paper says about the myth in our database.

This particular paper could be skeptic for 'Greenland has lost ice before' (we don't have a rebuttal to that one), or it could be pro-AGW to Greenland is gaining ice.  Since it says Greenland is losing ice but seems to suggest the loss may be natural, I would suggest a neutral classification, personally.

2011-04-21 03:43:56
Alex C

coultera@umich...
64.88.86.200

This seems to become an issue of logical fallacies and whether or not we should allow a paper to be catagorized based on how it supports them.  I am inclined to think we shouldn't throw bones for irrational thought.

If we want to go with position based on science, then this paper doesn't qualify as being a skeptical paper in any way because it has 1) not demonstrated a non-anthropogenic cause for the melting, and 2) demonstrated multidecadal melting that appears from the abstract to be the most extensive, or second-most (in other words, no decreasing melting or small amount of melting).

If we want to go with how this fits in with the arguments (which is actually how we classify papers presently), then this paper could very well fit as a skeptical paper.  Do we classify based on arguments it PERTAINS to, or arguments that it SUPPORTS?

It could support skeptical fallacies, but we need to remember that those are fallacies.  Unless of course that is our intent, to throw them bones.

This certainly is an important issue to clarify - what criteria are we using?

Due to lack of discussion in this paper toward cause, it best fits with neutral in my opinion.  That is because I think we should base papers off of what science they support.

2011-04-21 04:30:28good point
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Good point Alex.  If we're classifying based on their applicability to the myths in the database, this paper could be classified all 3 ways.  But if we're classifying just in general whether it's pro-AGW, neutral, or "skeptic", I think you have to classify it as neutral because like Alex says, it doesn't address the mechanism causing Greenland ice melt.  But it does seem to suggest the melt could be natural, otherwise I think it would be pro-AGW.

Ari made a good point that we could classify lots of papers as "skeptic" for "climate has changed before", even though they're clearly not skeptic papers, because the argument itself is a logical fallacy.

So I guess you first need to evaluate whether a paper is fundamentally supporting some aspect of "skepticism", and then look for an argument to associate with it.  In which case, despite the authors of this paper and their intent, I still think it's neutral, because the skeptic argument (it melted in the past so current melt could be natural) is a logical fallacy.  I almost think it's closer to pro-AGW, but neutral seems most appropriate.