2010-09-05 07:02:27How to request a refresh of an intermediate rebuttal
Jim Meador


For those of us who are writing 'basic' rebuttals, the most valuable starting point is an clear (but not necessarily simple) up-to-date intermediate rebuttal.

I have been trying to write the "No Tropospheric Hot Spot" basic rebuttal. To me the most relevant skeptic version of the argument is the "http://sciencespeak.com/MissingSignature.pdf", which has been updated very recently, along with it's companion "simple" version. The current intermediate rebuttal does not seem to totally address the skeptics. I found a publication by Santer et al, 2008, which is not referenced at all in the rebuttal, but which appears to be the definitive answer to the skeptics?

Is  there a good way to request (not to mention prioritize) a refresh on an intermediate rebuttal?



2010-09-05 11:49:33How to update an intermediate rebuttal
John Cook

If you think an intermediate rebuttal needs updating (or correcting), do what you're doing here - start a thread. I'm not precious about my rebuttals - if I had infinite hours in the day, I'd love to go back and refine, tweak, improve and update all the existing rebuttals ad nauseum. There are two possible approaches here and I'm happy with either. Either you could offer suggestions on how the text could be updated and whoever wrote the original rebuttal can update their text. Or if you think it needs a more drastic overhaul, you're more than welcome to start from scratch and write a new one (in the case of my rebuttals - probably should ask other authors before you overhaul their work). I'm more than happy to chuck out my old rebuttal and replace it with a shiny new replacement. It really depends on the degree to which you think it needs refreshing. Either way, I suggest posting your content in this thread and we go from there.
2010-09-07 15:06:35Intermediate Rebuttal 47: There is no tropospheric hot spot
Jim Meador


OK, in the last week or so I have learned much more about this topic.

 I've found this link at RealClimate to be very helpful.  In particular you can download the full Santer paper for free, and the fact sheet was very helpful for me to get the big picture on what is going on.

I think the intermediate rebuttal on this one could use some changes, broadly following the talking points from the Santer paper:

1) The basic issue has to do with error bars. The skeptic argument centers on the picture of the hot spot, and on the radiosonde data picture from the CRSS report in 2006 (which made it's way into the AR4) These pictures have dramatic colors, and represent three dimensions of data...latitude, altitude, and temperature change. They ran out of dimensions to represent a very important parameter, which is the uncertainty. These diagrams have no error bars, and the skeptics have seized on them as gospel truth. The reality is that you have a) some uncertaintly among the various models b) lots of uncertainty in the observations, and c) major "noise" from El Nino/La Nina masking the long term trend. The Santer 2008 paper seems to finally clarify that with all the uncertainty there is no SIGNIFICANT (my emphasis) difference between models and observations. Figure 6 from the Santer paper would  be a nice addition to the rebuttal IMHO.

2)  The skeptics focus on the radiosondes, and tout their accuracy and ability to measure small temperature changes, which is true on any given day. (I take the "MissingSignature.pdf" and "SimpleHotSpot.pdf" documents as the canonical skeptic positions.) In reality, these are designed for the purpose of forecasting short term weather trends, and there was not much concern for holding the instruments, methods, locations, etc constant over decades. So the record needs hundreds of "adjustments" before the data can really be useful for longer term trends. Also the radiosonde databases don't have very good coverage in the tropics. Most of the data comes from wealthier nations, generally in temperate zones.

3) The satellite data has it's own set of challenges. Basically they measure microwaves emitted by oxygen molecules, which vary with temperature, and somehow by measuring different frequencies they can get a measurement from 4 different layers of the atmosphere. Not nearly as detailed as the radiosondes, but a lot better coverage. Here again the emphasis has been on weather forecasting, so various sources of error creep into the satellite records which must be adjusted.

4) The troposphere temperature data is dominated by El Nino/La Nina events, with a few volcano eruptions for good measure. Pulling the much smaller long term trend out of this "noise" gives rise to a lot of uncertainty in the trend. 

Given all of the above, the lack of significant difference comes not from the differences, but from the lack of significance!

I currently feel that I should start over on the basic rebuttal, and focus on the "error bar" story... 

2010-09-07 15:18:50I can take a crack at it if no one else has time.
Jim Meador

Although I have a new contract starting tomorrow, so will not have much time until next weekend...
2010-09-07 17:26:52with the level of detail

you describe, it might make sense to write an Advanced exposition first (so you're not limited), and then re-do it for Intermediate.