Monday, September 04, 2006

North on the hockey stick

My colleague Jerry North was the chair of the National Academy panel that investigated the hockey stick. Last week he gave an interesting seminar to our department about the experience. You can view the seminar here.

[Techincal details: it's a 40 MB file, so it'll take some bandwidth. It's in mp4 format --- if you have a recent version of quicktime on your computer, you should be able to view this. It runs just over an hour, so grab some popcorn and enjoy!]

57 comments:

Dr. J said...

Typical, he obviously is caught up in the hoopla and celebrity of being asked to testify before Congress (very rare for a prof of his obscure specialty), but he never said if he was sworn in, wonder if he was?

EliRabett said...

What a nice little drive through the lane by Dr. J. To bad that he started walking from half court. To sweep that stinking ripe piece off the table the swearing in of Wegman and North can be found at ~1:01 of the hearing webcast.

North's statement can be found
here


Now, I wait eagerly to hear how that smarmy little Dr. J insinuation was merely his idle curiosity. And yes, Wegman was out of the shadows and out of his league. See, everyone can play.

Dr. J said...

I see, thanks for the info elirabett, good he was sworn in (I noticed at the time how careful he was with words like "plauseable", and "possible to improve our knowledge"), and he was certainly interesting with this explanation:

"The scientific consensus regarding human-induced global warming would not be substantively altered if, for example, the global mean surface temperature 1,000 years ago was found to be as warm as it is today. This is because reconstructions of surface temperature do not tell us why the climate is changing. To answer that question, one would need to examine the factors, or forcings, that influence the climate system. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the primary climate forcings were changes in volcanic activity and in the output of the Sun, but the strength of these forcings is not very well known. In contrast, the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the past century are consistent with both the magnitude and the geographic pattern of warming seen by thermometers."

So ridiculous as a scientific argument, before the Ind. Revol. it was all these other factors like sun output, volcanic activity, etc. causing huge climate changes, but the strength of these forcings are NOT WELL KNOWN? However, since that time we have CO2 and we KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT? Wow, now that is inconsistent. In other words it must be human CO2, because we are too intellectually lazy and uninterested to figure out if something else could be causing it??? After all, AGW brings in big bucks and keeps us in the spotlight rubbing elbows with Congressmen and politicians and movie stars, why kill the golden goose?


But in my opinion, North was out of his league as a statastician, and Wegman was as a paleoclimatologist. However, this hearing was primarily about statistics, and their misuse by Mann, et al, as well as the incredibly non-rigorous and misleading methods of sticking together coarse, inaccurate paleo-climate proxies with inaccurate thermometers, with highly accurate and reproduceable satellite temp measurements. I find that the most misleading and outrageous use of scientific data, for political visual(a picture is worth a 1000 words)effect obviously, I have ever seen. Even North said: "We also question some of the statistical choices made in the original papers by Dr. Mann and his colleagues.

Andrew Dessler said...

Dr. J-

North's point is that the forcing over the last few decades are well known (basically since satellites began orbiting). Since that time, there is no other explanation besides GHGs that can drive the warming. This was basically my point in this entry. That's why virtually all attribution studies focus on the last few decades. Thus, I think Jerry's point is a correct one, and one generally not appreciated ... that the temperature by itself doesn't tell you much, you also need the forcings.

Regards

Dr. J said...

True Dr. D, but how, as a scientists, can you ignore forcings, though not as well documented or researched as CO2 over the last few decades, are certainly and obviously responsible for much larger cyclical swings in temperatures over the last 4.5 billion years and could actually cause short term, decade to decade or century to century, patterns? And I would like for you to comment on the soon to be released research by a NOAA scientist that Dr. Michaels has reviewed where he said:

"In the next few weeks, John Lyman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will publish a paper in the refereed journal Geophysical Research Letters showing that, globally, the top 2,500 feet of the ocean lost a tremendous amount of heat between 2003 and 2005 -- in fact, about 20% of all the heat gained in the last half-century."

It seems to me more research is pointing to huge holes in the computer models and simplistic climatology dogma that single factor correlation proves attribution and thus AGW.

Mark UK said...

Dr J.

www.realclimate.org has an excellent article on the Oceans and their heat loss....

Anonymous said...

Mark UK, do you know that is a politically connected and biased blog that never allows any free discussion of the science?

Dr. J said...

Thanks Mark UK, I had seen that, but as anon said, the source (Gavin) is of questionable objectivity and tends to bury his head in the denial sand anytime some new research questions his belief system. It is hard to be objective here, but if you read Gavin's explanation, he tends to say a few years (2-3) is not enough data and it could be just "weather". Well, this is the same group that rang alarm bells all over the world when 1998 was a temp record, then were silent as the next 7 years went by with lower temps and then had press releases (Hansen and Gavin's buds at NASA) last year about how 2005 was "almost" as hot, but somehow 3 years of sharply falling ocean temps should just be ignored. I see some inconsistent views here that don't seem to be motivated by science and the scientific method, but well, something else, you think?

Besides, I think Dr. D may be more objective about this than Gavin and would like his take on it.

David Graves said...

Over there at realclimate.org, where there seems to be lots of give and take, contrary to the canard of "anonymous", there was the expansion by Mann on his testimony, discussion of the relation between the statitical and climatology communities, and an interesting query posed by David Ritson of Wegman et al. Any comment, dr.j?

Dr. J said...

I don't participate much anymore over there, for obvious reasons, and the site is hard to navigate and search, so if you could supply the exact topic or page link I could comment.

But if there is one post critical of AGW from a scientist with some standing that is not immediately moderated out or rebutted by Gavin denying that the data is valid, too short term, the result of oil company stooges, etc. (the usual excuses)I would be surprised, but as the old saying goes, it's the exception that proves the rule, eh?

George Landis said...

Good points Dr. J. In fact the same gloom and doom scientists who were all over last year's record hurricane season saying it was just the start of something much bigger driven by SUVs, are now saying that this season's fizzle should be ignored, since one year doesn't tell you anything, can you say hypocrisy?

David Graves said...

dr. j:
Re: realclimate.org, they are the highlighted links in the topic third from the top called "Followup to the hockey stick hearings" dated Aug.31. Gee, I have never found their search engine to be so deficient....

Dr. J said...

Actually, it's the 4th from the top, but who counts? This is the standard blogosphere MO of realclimate to attack those who would question their heros and AGW dogma, like Mann et al. Ritson ( a physics prof, not a statistician)now claims he was refused data and ignored by Wegman, Wegman and McIntyre et al claim the same about Mann et al. Just like a bunch of little kids, we have a liars match here. Except, that Mann et al did this for years and stone walled to the point Congressional hearings had to be held. I don't know who's right here, but one thing is for sure, when Pig Nose Waxman is on your side, it's left, far left. But if you believe Dr. North, none of this makes any difference anyway, because the case is solved.

David Graves said...

If McIntyre and McKittrick were granted a hearing on their critique of Mann et al, how does Ritson's being a physicist somehow disqualify him from the right of a reply from Wegman? And I believe your ad hominem attack on Henry Waxman reaches a new low.

David Graves said...

Upon further reflection, I also wonder why there is a political right-left aspect of the issue of AGW in some people's minds.

Dr. J said...

Mr. Graves, I dislike Henry and have for many years, he is corrupt and a professional politician that panders to the base instincts of voters to be elected and engages in class warfare to divide people. Sorry if I offended you by referring to his appearance, that was a cheap shot, but he also brings out the worst in many people too. I also wonder why the left-right issue is so overwhelming in this scientific issue, it is just another very unique and unscientific part of this problem. But I can almost predict who you voted for if you believe in AGW or not, works 95% of the time, and it is not just a figment of your imagination. Go figure.

Dr. J said...

Also Mr. Graves, most of Mann's conclusions were based on statistics and his treatment using statistics of various proxy data sets. McIntyre et al are statisticians (Mann even admitted he wasn't), they saw flaws and wanted to question his data and process. The peer reviewers on his paper were not mathmaticians or statisticians, thus that part of his paper was not peer reviewed (remember this is the same publication that gave you the Korean stem cell scandal). I think it proper for experts in statistics to be able to ask questions of something so controversial and something used as a poster for AGW proof positive. However, Dr. Ritson is a physicist, so if there is a physics question, fine, he has some standing I guess, but really how many yahoos out there who want to write their congressmen and complain are you going to allow to question? If Ritson has the right, then I could also write to my congressman and complain about Mann not answering my questions. Would you think that to be proper too? Wegman and his team are very qualified statisticians, thus they are qualified to examine Mann's data, conclusions, and processes. But it appears only one conclusion is acceptable for the AGW believers here, questioning by anyone is not allowed it seems. That is not the scientific method.

David Graves said...

But why can't or won't they answer the question?

EliRabett said...

Actually David, Dr. J's attack on Jerry North was the new low. Waxman is just business as normal.

Dr. J. appears not to know that House committees swear in just about everyone except members of the administration on occasion and I guess judges who come to testify. They always have.

Dr. J., of course, objects when someone uses words like plausible about things that happens 400-1000 years ago, after all Dr. J. knows all.

Mark UK said...

Am I missing something here? I understood that the statistics were reviewed and it was found that there were some errors made in statistical processing but that the end result (the graph) was basically correct?

Dr. J said...

Mark UK, it depends if you ask the NRC panel (emotionally vested in the outcome as long time believers in AGW, as is NAS)or Dr. Wegman and his team of statisticians. Obviously this is not black and white.

Dr. J said...

Mark UK, perhaps you would like to review Wegman's team conclusion about Mann's work:

"Mann et al., misused certain statistical methods in their studies, which inappropriately produce hockey stick
shapes in the temperature history. Wegman’s analysis concludes that Mann’s work cannot support claim that
the1990s were the warmest decade of the millennium.
Report: “Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest
decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported by
the MBH98/99 analysis. As mentioned earlier in our background section, tree ring proxies are
typically calibrated to remove low frequency variations. The cycle of Medieval Warm Period and
Little Ice Age that was widely recognized in 1990 has disappeared from the MBH98/99 analyses,
thus making possible the hottest decade/hottest year claim. However, the methodology of
MBH98/99 suppresses this low frequency information. The paucity of data in the more remote past
makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable.”"

Dr. J said...

Now elirabett, what attack on Dr. North was that? That he was caught up in the hoopla, etc. of testifying? Having testified before Congress a few times myself, I also admit to it. Until you remember that as you were sworn in (yes, I know most are, that was just a rhetorical question to gain some knee jerk reactions, success) that only one or two Senators/Congressmen are in their seats, and as you wait hours to speak a few more trickle in, others trickle out, staffers write and chat in the back, and the legislators rush back in the room for drive by questions, and ask stupid questions phrased like attacks(if of one party), or pablum condescending praise (if another party).

Or was it that I perceive Dr. North to have his mind made up on the importance and impending disaster of AGW? When he said: "The scientific consensus
regarding human-induced global warming would not be substantively altered if, for
example, the global mean surface temperature 1,000 years ago was found to be as warm
as it is today."
And: "In fact,
man-made climate change is quite real"

Since he was under oath, I somehow got that impression. I may be wrong and his mind may not be closed and he may well change it if new research and other data show, as I would. But in my opinion a scientist with his mind made up and an emotional attachment to a theory is not a good thing. I think scientists need to maintain intellectual and emotional distance from theories, as to not fall into belief and faith based reasoning, more the realm of religion and politics, and maintain total objectivity. But that's just me, and of course like any other person, I could be wrong and don't know everything about everything.

Anonymous said...

I've found the wegman report, unfortunately I cannot work out what he's on about, not knowing any statistics. Anyone care to explain in language comprehensible to a non statistician?
guthrie

Mark UK said...

But with all the changes as suggested in statistical methodology the end result would still be graph very similar to the original hockey stick...

Dr. J said...

Mark UK, you still don't get it, the hockey stick shape is PREDETERMINED from the choice of statistical methodology and data. In addition, the last century or so of the hockey stick shape (the primary upturn) is based on thermometer measures and satellite measures, both about 10X more accurate and reproduceable than the proxies (which are all thrown together willy nilly without any weighting). Thus you have grafted apples to oranges to get the last shaping enhanced by flawed statistical methods that produce the shape even with random data, which this dog's breakfast is in general.

EliRabett said...

To return to another topic before NO drowns again, there are sensible and not astronomically costly ways of protecting the city.

"But Hans Vrijling, a renowned authority on flood control who designed part of the Dutch system, says it should be possible to protect New Orleans—even low-lying sections—from storm surges more than 10 times Katrina's. The price tag: less than $10 billion."

EliRabett said...

To return to another topic before NO drowns again, there are sensible and not astronomically costly ways of protecting the city.

"But Hans Vrijling, a renowned authority on flood control who designed part of the Dutch system, says it should be possible to protect New Orleans—even low-lying sections—from storm surges more than 10 times Katrina's. The price tag: less than $10 billion."

George Landis said...

This certainly makes great sense elirabett, so when is your prediction of when the next catastrophic hurricane to devastate NO? This year or next, or maybe 100 years from now?

Ian Forrester said...

Dr. J. said:

"McIntyre et al are statisticians".

That has got to be one of the funniest lines posted in their support. McKitrick is an economist and we all know how they operate, 50% say one thing and 50% say the opposite so they can say that 50% of them are right all of the time.

McIntyre never seems to say exactly what he is but I doubt if statistics enters into the picture.

Ian Forrester

Mark UK said...

george,

Having been born in the netherlands I can't see anything wrong in taking measures to either prevent, avoid or mitigate an event you know will happen. Either in the next ten years or the next hundred years.

I suppose it is a moral choice to make. Do you let people drown or do you try to do something about it? Preparing yourself for disaster is a good thing.

David Graves said...

Thanks, Ian, and McIntyre is a hard-rock geologist for the Canadian mining industry (admittedly with an undergraduate degree in mathematics.) So Mann et al. owe them a hearing but Wegman doesn't owe a physicist a reply? Unless it's because Canadians have a special expertise in hockeysticks, I say sauce for the (Canada) goose is sauce for the gander....

Dr. J said...

If McIntyre, et al had no standing or expertise in this field, how were they able to publish this peer reviewed paper?


http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/20

05/2004GL021750.shtml

And I would also ask where Dr. Ritson's publications on this subject are documeneted to make him an expert who should be involved in the questioning and thus given equal consideration.

Ian Forrester said...

Dr. J. said:

"If McIntyre, et al had no standing or expertise in this field, how were they able to publish this peer reviewed paper?"

Check out:

http://tinyurl.co.uk/hkq1

Dano said...

And I would also ask where Dr. Ritson's publications on this subject are documeneted to make him an expert who should be involved in the questioning and thus given equal consideration.

Funny how Dr J can google when it's convenient but is unable to find basic info when it runs counter to his assertions.

I wonder, also, why the same italicized standard isn't applied to, oh, the "scientists" on the Heritage Victory Tour.

Odd...

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Dr J, can you explain what Wegman et al were on about? I've been reading around it all, and still can't see exactly what they are complaining about.
guthrie

David Graves said...

And dr. j, (this is not a trick question) can you explain why Mann believes the Wegman analysis to be faulty?

David Graves said...

and, dr. j, can you explain the reasons why Mann believes the Wegman et al. anaysis to be faulty? (This is not meant as a trick question....)

Dr. J said...

Yes, Dr. Mann thinks Wegman and his team is not qualified to even clean his boots, much less actually question his pontifications. How's that?

Dano said...

And dr. j, (this is not a trick question) can you explain why Mann believes the Wegman analysis to be faulty?

Shorter Dr J:

No.

Best,

D

Dr. J said...

Aih, book 'em Dano.

David Graves said...

Yo dr.j, one basic aspect of clear logical critical thinking is to be able to understand an argument someone makes and to evaluate the evidence that has been used. By the way, a plural subject("Wegman and his team") takes the plural form of the third person of the verb "to be" (ARE), not the singular (IS). But who's counting?

Dr. J said...

I can see you must have been an English major Mr. Graves, but that does not impress me, nor does it lend credibility to your scientific prowess and experience.

David Graves said...

I actually have a honors bachelors degree in biology and I pursued a doctoral degree, was admitted and studied evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago before deciding to pursue another career. You wanna match GRE scores? As usual, you have not answered the fundamental question, but have taken the low road of ad hominem attack. To paraphrase Joseph Welch,"Have you no shame?"

David Graves said...

I looked up the Joseph Welch quote. (Isn't the Web wonderful?) He actually said, "Have you no sense of decency sir? Have you left no sense of decency?" Next witness, dr. j. You are in many ways your own worst enemy. If you have to ask who Joseph Welch was, or what the Army-McCarthy hearings were, I am not willing to help you.

Dr. J said...

You seize upon grammatical errors to attack me and then accuse me of ad hom attacks? Perhaps you should read this Welch guy yourself (I have never heard of him and don't care to google him). Maybe I should also mispell some things so you can launch another ad hom on my.

Have ot it dude.

David Graves said...

And we still wait for answers to the queries posed to j ABOUT CLIMATE SCIENCE over the last few days.......

David Graves said...

The line from Cool Hand Luke comes to mind:what we've got here is failure to communicate. Stephen Colbert coined the term "truthiness" about discourse (or diatribe) that does not rely on facts but what we "feel" to be true. No point of view in the debate is immune. That's why I posed the questions I did about the hockeystick analysis. Or, in the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but everyone is not entitled to his own facts.

Ian Forrester said...

Dr. J. why are you so against MBH? From your postings it is safe to assume that your only knowledge about "hockey sticks" is the MBH data. What about the glacier data which shows the same shape of curve?

Why are some people so distracted by the stories of farming in Greenland and grapes in northern Labrador? There is very little evidence for either. The farming carried out in Greenland was feeding cattle on seaweed and whatever coarse grasses grew there. Somehow the deniers would like people to imagine fields of wheat, barley (got to make beer you know) etc when in fact it was a very poor form of subsistence farming that existed there. What probably forced them out was a combination of reduced support from the home country (nothing to trade for when they replenished their supplies) and the lack of fuel having probably burned everything that would burn.

Get over it, the hockey stick graphs are an accurate picture of temperatures over the past 1000 years or so. The MWP and LIA are just minor bumps in the baseline compared to what has happened over the past 100 years.

Ian Forrester

Bill F said...

Eli,

I am not going to hijack this any more than you have already tried to WRT NO, but one quote in that story stood out and made me question the whole thing:

"Hans Vrijling, a renowned authority on flood control who designed part of the Dutch system, says it should be possible to protect New Orleans—even low-lying sections—from storm surges more than 10 times Katrina's. The price tag: less than $10 billion."

Katrina had a 14-19 foot storm surge near New Orleans. So is he really claiming he can prevent a 140 to 190 foot storm surge from damaging New Orleans for 10 billion dollars? And exactly why would you do such a thing, when storm surges over 25-30 feet are virtually unheard of?

I have great respect for the Dutch engineers who built their system, but the containment of the entire Mississippi within levees for much of its southern length and the tremendous flow volume and sediment load are unlike anything faced in the Netherlands. In addition, as I pointed out on another thread, North Sea storm surges are not the same as tropical storm surges in any way shape or form. A key component of the Dutch system is a dam system that is capable of completely isolating the bay from the North Sea. To do the same in New Orleans would mean constructing a means to completing shut off the flow of the Mississippi River. Damming the Mississippi even for a couple of days would have calamitous effects hundreds of miles upstream from New Orleans. While the Dutch engineers are terrific and have done great things, the problems faced by NO are far more complex than alluded to in the article.

Mark UK said...

Bill F,

Your understanding of the situation in both the Netherlands and NO is totally wrong. If you really would like description of all that is wrong with your statements, let me know. it will take some time to write it all down...

Bill F said...

Mark,

I don't know that I have even said enough that you could get any opinion of what my "understanding of the situation" in either of those places is. I haven't gone into the gory details necessary to show you that I understand both systems perfectly well, because it wasn't needed to point out the reasons why comparisons of the Netherlands to NO are inaapropriate. I welcome you to correct any errors you see in the primary statements I have made regarding why two flood problems can't be corrected using similar systems.

1) The North Sea storm surge in the 1950s flood that brought about the construction of the new dutch systems (and is considered the worst modern flood there) was 3.36 meters. That is less than half of the storm surge that has hit the Louisiana/Mississippi coast near NO twice in the last 50 years.

2) The inland lake/bay that sits east and southeast of Amsterdam and is isolated from the sea during storms by the Dutch system doesn't have a fraction of the flow volume or flow velocity of the Mississippi passing NO.

3) The article clearly states that the Dutch engineer says he can prevent a storm surge "10 times Katrina's" with 10 billion dollars. I suspect that he means to protect against a "1000 year storm" instead of a "100 year storm", but the lack of clarity regarding that in the article makes the entire article very confusing. Just as an FYI, I live in Houston, and have for over 30 years. In those 3 decades, we have had at least 3 500 year floods and 7 100 year floods. So forgive me if I don't see using a statistically derived and historically highly inaccurate measure of storm intensity as the basis for spending billions of tax payer dollars to protect a city that has been doomed for a century.

4) The situation in NO is VERY different from the Dutch situation, because of the hundreds of miles of levees upstream from NO on the Mississippi that concentrate flow, increase velocity and sediment load, and prevent us from sealing off the mouth to prevent storm surge from coming into the river.

5) I haven't even addressed the other bayous, Lake Ponchartrain, etc., because they are just additional complications added on top of the ones listed above that make NO unlike the Dutch situation in any way shape or form.

The reality is that the long term solution is to let the Mississippi return to a natural flow course it wants to take down the Atchafalaya, move the critical port infrastructure to Morgan City, and then we can easily place storm surge barriers on the mouth of the Mississippi that will be adequate to protect NO if we want to still hold Mardi Gras in the quarter.

Feel free to post more info if you want, but nothing you can say will validate trying to compare a system designed to protect a country against a 12 foot storm surge to the situation presented by trying to prevent a 25 foot storm surge while maintaining the flow of the largest river on the continent.

Mark UK said...

Bill,

Fair enough. If nothing I say will change your opinion we'll leave it. Nevetheless, from a hydro-engineering perspective the situation is really not that different. It would be easy to protect NO and relatively inexpensive.

Anonymous said...

Dr J, it is spelled "plausible", not "plauseable".

David Graves said...

Next thing you know he'll call you an English major, and that's gotta hurt....

Anonymous said...

I´m German... Amazing, those spalining problems of Americans, even Drs...

Anonymous said...

well ahh.. i dnt really care bout this whole situation lol