Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jason Box: "selective science = pseudo-science" [wrt the strange case of oddly well out of date paper accepted for publication by the Journal of Geophysical Research written by fossil-fuel denialist stooge, Patrick Michaels, which deliberately left out the available data from 2010 on the severe temperatures and melt of Greenland's ice sheet]

selective science = pseudo-science

misleading new paper presents a Greenland melt reconstruction. During the review process, the papers’ authors were urged to, but chose not to, include record-setting warm year 2010 temperatures. Their reconstruction ends year 2009. Had the authors considered all available data, their apparent message that ‘Greenland climate has not changed significantly’ would be impossible to make.

They write: “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 have chosen to share for the record a time line of important events associated with this article’s publication…
  • 27 August 2010, I was invited by Dr. Guosheng Liu – Associate Editor – Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR) – Atmospheres to review the article. Sara Pryor was the JGR chief editor ultimately responsible for this paper’s review.
  • 22 September 2010, I submitted my review, in which I wrote: “The paper may already be obsolete without considering the extreme melting in 2010. I would therefore not recommend accepting the paper without a revision that included 2010.” See my review posted verbatim here. At this time, I indicated to the editors that I did not wish to re-review the paper if the authors chose not to include 2010 temperatures. By this date, it was clear from the readily-available instrumental temperature records from the Danish Meteorological Institute and other sources such as US National Climate Data Center and NASA GISS that the previous months were exceptionally warm.
  • 16 October 2010, a NOAA press release publicized record-setting Greenland temperatures. The press release was linked to this Greenland climate of 2010 article, live beginning 21 October 2010.
  • 27 December 2010, I was invited to re-review the paper. I again stated that I did not wish to re-review the paper if the authors chose not to include 2010 temperatures. By this date, it was more clear that 2010 temperatures were exceptionally warm.
The Editor’s decision whether or not to accept the paper would have been made sometime early in 2011. The paper should not have been accepted for publication without taking into account important new data.
Greenland seasonal surface air temperature anomalies relative to the 1951-1980 base period*, update to Box et al. (2009). The data are smoothed with a 29-year Gaussian box-car smoothing. Color-coded dotted lines indicate linear fits to the data. The annual data in addition to individual station records are shown here. Color-coded dashed lines are drawn from the 2010 temperature value across to the left side of the chart. These lines are accompanied by the numeric value of the temperature difference between the 2010 value and the maximum value in the 20th century. The warmest year is indicated with a filled circle.* Note that the selection of the base period does not alter the relative magnitude of temperatures. The base period offset allows each season to be over-plotted on the same relative scale.

Greenland’s past temperatures

Including year 2010 data reveals, in contrast to the message of the Frauenfeld, Knappenberger, and Michaels, that recent Greenland temperatures are warmer than during the 20th century warmth for the summer, autumn, and annual periods. The spring season was warmer in 1930 than 2010, but not warm enough to make the 20th century annual average exceed that of the recent times.  Important for melt, what Frauenfeld, Knappenberger, and Michaels neglected to include, was summer. It is clear from the data, when year 2010 is not ignored, that summer 2010 temperatures are well above the 20th century values.

Why did Frauenfeld, Knappenberger, and Michaels not include year 2010 data when they were asked to and the data were readily available?

The Author’s Credentials

Examining the 2nd and 3rd authors’ credentials, a denialist pattern emerges. Oliver W. Frauenfeld, Assistant Professor of Geography at Texas A&M University,  has links to the fossil fuel funded George Marshall Institute., according Sourcewatch. He co-authored the book "Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming" and is on Inhofe’s list of skeptic scientists.  Knappenberger is an Administrator of the World Climate Report [1], a blog published by New Hope Environmental Services, “an advocacy science consulting firm” [2] run by oil-industry-funded, global warming skeptic and 3rd co-author of this paper,  Patrick J. Michaels. Michaels has also been a frequent speaker with leading coal and energy companies as well as coal and other industry lobby groups.

My Credentials

I, Jason E. Box, am a physical climatologist focusing on Greenland ice-climate interactions since 1993. My agenda is the philosophy (a.k.a. the search for truth) about Greenland’s climate variations. I am inspired by scientific denialism to counter pseudo-science on the important topic of climate change.

Climate Warming is Real

Multiple lines of evidence indicate climate warming. Climate warming is not in credible dispute. Further, I have found no credible science that proves that human activity does not significantly influence climate. An enormous and overwhelming body of science allows rational thinkers to make the conclusion that humans influence climate in important ways,

1 comment:

chris said...

Four things:

1. Your recommendation that the title be changed to incorporate the end year explicitly was quite correct. Any informed reader will see imediately that the work relates only to the period defined.

2. I don't know hw receptive JGR are to comments on published papers, but if the authors make interpretations in their paper (I haven't read it yet) that are invalid in the context of subsequent warming/melt, then a comment (or a new paper) would be warranted.

3.Personally I think you should have agreed to re-review the paper. By the end of December you were in a strong position to say: "My recommendation that up to date data be presented applies much more strongly now that we have the full 2010 data. My criticism from September is entirely validated by the full 2010 data, and the aurthors really don't have an excuse for not presenting this". The editors would have been less able to ignore your recomendation then...

4. Does JGR condone publication of what are usually confidential reviews? If the JGR review process is considered to be confidential, then I would think carefully before makig a habit of publishing your reviews in future...