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NASA Earth Science

New NASA Data Casts Doubt On Global Warming Models 954

Posted by timothy
from the but-scientists-love-models dept.
bonch writes "Satellite data from NASA covering 2000 through 2011 cast doubt on current computer models predicting global warming, according to a new study. The data shows that much less heat is retained by carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere than is assumed in current models. 'There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans,' said Dr. Roy Spencer, a co-author of the study and research scientist at the University of Alabama." Note: the press release about the study is somewhat less over the top.
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New NASA Data Casts Doubt On Global Warming Models

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  • Follow the data! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:45PM (#36915378)

    We should follow wherever the data leads. That's science. Up till now, the data has suggested that global warming is very real.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:50PM (#36915420)

    I really wish the people at the Heartland Institute are right. I really do. I'd hate to witness major migrations because farming conditions dramatically change across the globe. But I also really, really wish they'd drop the sensational language (alarmist models, etc), because I'd able to actually take them seriously. Not to mention that I also would like to see them actually properly quote the papers they reference. For example, the abstract in this particular paper is actually far less strong than what the venerable James Taylor says.

    Abstract:
    "The sensitivity of the climate system to an imposed radiative imbalance remains
    the largest source of uncertainty in projections of future anthropogenic climate change.
    Here we present further evidence that this uncertainty from an observational perspective is
    largely due to the masking of the radiative feedback signal by internal radiative forcing,
    probably due to natural cloud variations. That these internal radiative forcings exist and
    likely corrupt feedback diagnosis is demonstrated with lag regression analysis of satellite
    and coupled climate model data, interpreted with a simple forcing-feedback model. While
    the satellite-based metrics for the period 2000–2010 depart substantially in the direction of
    lower climate sensitivity from those similarly computed from coupled climate models, we
    find that, with traditional methods, it is not possible to accurately quantify this discrepancy
    in terms of the feedbacks which determine climate sensitivity. It is concluded that
    atmospheric feedback diagnosis of the climate system remains an unsolved problem, due
    primarily to the inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in
    satellite radiative budget observations. "

    James Taylor: "New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism"

    Go fuck yourself with a chainsaw, James Taylor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:55PM (#36915508)

    No it didn't. Computer models suggested that global warming was very real.

  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:58PM (#36915554)

    Look more noise from Dr. Roy Spencer [climatecrocks.com] intelligent design proponent global warming denier. I would feel guilty if I was using this person's history on the subject and ignore the science but it looks again like he's ignoring the science to push an agenda. Who gave us this wonderful article? Why our own timothy, Slashdot's barely literate "editor". We need to buy him more paste to eat so he'll stop posting this bullshit.

  • by NiceGeek (126629) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:00PM (#36915576)

    In other words, bullshit from a libertarian think-tank. Par for the course.

  • Re:hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:00PM (#36915580) Journal

    Why should they be conflicted?

    http://www.wmich.edu/corekids/Climate-Change.htm [wmich.edu]

    Any child in the audience for that webpage can take one look at the graph of temperature vs. CO2 and tell how well-correlated they are.

    http://www.koshland-science-museum.org/exhibitgcc/historical03.jsp [koshland-s...museum.org]

    The same child can tell from this graph that CO2 began rising sharply at the beginning of the 1900s and was followed by a very well-correlated rise in temperature.

    These aren't models, they're data. If modellers have any problems, it's with their ability to create a mathematical theory to predict temperature from CO2. The Earth does a rather fantastic job of it experimentally, and a non-formulaic, table-driven, statistical method of predicting temperature from CO2 falls out of the data. Using that, plus the rather easy deduction that fossil-fuel consumption created the rise in CO2 over the past century, anyone with any idea what science actually is can tell you that if we don't start to turn that curve flat or down, the temperature will continue to rise along with the CO2.

    No conflict there at all, except one manufactured by an industry that pays scientists to pretend they're telling the truth when in fact they're working for the industry.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:00PM (#36915584) Journal

    So this is supposed to cast doubt on his credentials as a climate scientist... how, exactly?

    Someone can give all the contrary (and unliked) opinions they want on subjects they have no credential or authority in. Hell, we do it all the time on ./

    OTOH, the man had to have posted his hypotheses and proofs somewhere... why not attack those, instead of attacking him?

  • by IICV (652597) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:06PM (#36915656)

    Exactly!

    The NASA data says our models are wrong. Big fucking deal. We know that!

    What this data doesn't change is the more important graph, this one [wikipedia.org] right here. This is the graph that says "We're screwed"; we use models to calculate the magnitude of the screwedness. If it turns out we're not that screwed, then great! We should still make changes, but we've got time to do it in. If it turns out that we are screwed, then we need to speed it up.

    Fundamentally, models predict the future. We know about AGW because of data that has been gathered in the present, about the past. Yes, the models are imperfect and incorrect, but that doesn't change the solid foundation of data that AGW rests on - and hey, as this article shows, we're continually improving the models too.

  • by nefus (952656) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:09PM (#36915688)

    So this is supposed to cast doubt on his credentials as a climate scientist... how, exactly?

    Someone can give all the contrary (and unliked) opinions they want on subjects they have no credential or authority in. Hell, we do it all the time on ./

    OTOH, the man had to have posted his hypotheses and proofs somewhere... why not attack those, instead of attacking him?

    I agree with you, the several postings criticizing him about intelligent design is like saying you can't agree with his opinions on good muffins because he eats steaks too.

  • Re:hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:10PM (#36915694)

    I'm not looking at your data, just need to say that correlation does not mean causation.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:13PM (#36915740)

    I don't have the scientific background to assess his work on climate change.

    But I do have the scientific background to assess his work on evolution, and from that I know he is some combination of a) a really crappy scientist, and/or b) someone willing to lie/misrepresent science to further their own beliefs.

    Either criteria gives me ample reason to doubt any article he's published. If some qualified and credible scientists investigate and vouch for his paper than I may be willing to give it a second thought. But until then I'm not going to take the word of a known quack just because I'm not trained to disprove his particular brand of quackery.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:13PM (#36915746)
    No it didn't. If you look at a very limited portion of the data (ie the time since the last ice age) do you see only the warming trend. If you look at ALL the data (like the Vostok ice core), like you should, then you'd know that sea level has been higher than today, the planet has been hotter than today, and that these cyclical trends are normal for our planet. But looking only at the subset of the data that supports your hypothesis and ignoring the rest is not science at all.
  • by PRMan (959735) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:15PM (#36915758)
    So? Did anyone check his facts? Is he right? I'm so sick of ad hominem attacks from people who can't even write coherent sentences...
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:19PM (#36915800) Journal

    Computer models were based on the data. Apparently, they were based on insufficient data.

  • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:23PM (#36915848) Homepage

    So this is supposed to cast doubt on his credentials as a climate scientist... how, exactly?

    It casts doubt on his ability to reason. We're not talking about some abstract religious notions, he's opposing what is globally accepted in the scientific community, and is backed up by countless, independent research initiatives. These days, it's on par with being geocentric.

    I agree that the right thing to do is "attack" the research, and not the author, but in some cases it's relevant to be aware of where the data is coming from.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:23PM (#36915854) Journal

    That data indicates that Earth is warming up, for a particular period of time. It does not directly indicate that the world is going to continue warming up, nor does it by itself tell why it's warming up (which you need to know to answer the first question).

    Hence why you take the data and build a predictive model. Of course, if you have insufficient or incorrect data, then your model is also incorrect, and so are its predictions. Of course, there are varying degrees of "wrong" - it may be that a model based on this new data would simply show a lower rate of warming, for example; or it may be that it completely demolishes the warming positive feedback loop. We'll see.

    Either way, that's how science works. It starts with data, and a hypothesis based on that data; but you have to continue with predictions based on your hypothesis, and experimentally verify them. And, of course, you should always verify the data as well.

  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:26PM (#36915892)
    Even when looking at graphs that "any child" should be able to interpret, you've got it backwards. If you look critically [wordpress.com], you'll find that CO2 increases trail temperature increases.
  • by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:26PM (#36915894)

    We don't live in an ideal world where all scientists treat data objectively. We live in a world where some scientists have a religious and political agenda. In this real world, not all ad hominem arguments are ad hominem fallacies.

    When someone has a history of publishing peer reviewed articles that do not make very bold or striking claims, and then making press releases that do make bold and unsubstantiated claims, it is necessary to point that history out, lest uninformed readers conclude that the unsubstantiated claims are what has been peer reviewed.

    Any claim that CO2 is not causing global temperature increase is an unsubstantiated claim and is not what has been peer reviewed here.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:31PM (#36915950)
    Evolution is much more obvious than climate change. If he's a creationist, he's rejected overwhelming evidence in favor of his own beliefs. That does call into question his abilities to interpret data.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx. b c .ca> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:34PM (#36915990) Journal

    If the model is flawed, then one should show the flaw in the model... casting doubt on his ability to reason intelligently by referring to the man's beliefs, believing them to be those of a person not capable of clear and cogent thought, as a means of creating doubt for his presentation is not a genuinely valid logical refutation for his conclusions.

    I'm not saying the guy's right... I'm just saying it's not a valid argument to attempt to discredit him by referring to his other beliefs. If he's wrong, then evidence should discredit his model... not him.

  • by ThePackager (562279) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:40PM (#36916064)
    Look closely Slashdot readers - the author of that FORBES article: "James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute. All you have to do is wiki 'The Heartland Institute.' and you'll see what a sham of an organization they are! By no means should this posting on /. give any credence to the debate! In fact if this kind of posting continues, I'll have to conclude that our beloved /. has been overrun by the well-heeled unqualified purveyors of snake oil typically heard on conservative talk radio. Now we don't want that to happen....RIGHT?
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:46PM (#36916114)

    the Tea Party is wrong

    Yes.

    the trillion of new debt spent on "stimulus" was actually very effective

    It created millions of jobs, as intended. So yes. It just wasn't big enough to stem the rising tide of unemployment entirely.

    the key to economic growth actually is to hugely increase deficit spending

    Yup. The government can borrow at lower rates than the rest of us, and use the money to provide us with a safety net so that we can take risks in spending more, helping to break the self-sustaining cycle of a recession. Just look at how poorly austerity plans have worked out when used.

    to raise the rate at which we tax the economy

    Not until the recession is over, ideally, but yes. You need to raise money in the good times to pay for the bad times.

    then this guy will also be wrong

    He's a creationist (i.e. prone to believing what he wants to believe) and on the payroll of people who have a pre-existing interest in casting doubt on global warming. So yeah, he's probably wrong.

    NASA's data will show the exact opposite of what he says it does

    Quite possibly. We'll have to wait for other, more trustworthy scientists to evaluate it. But we'd be fools to take this guy at his word.

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:46PM (#36916120)
    The greatest change of farming conditions around the world today, is the absurd willingness of industrialized countries to burn huge quantities of food. 140mio tons of maize are burned as ethanol in the USA alone - that's one quarter of the world maize harvest or 5% of the world coarse grain harvest. In order to provide less than 5% of the world population with about 1% of their primary energy needs.

    Europe is burning similar amounts of "biofuels", so we're burning something on the order of 10% of the world's grain harvest - and people wonder why Somalians don't have enough money to buy food. More artificial demand through biofuels means higher prices, because when you burn food, food is getting scarce.

    Basic economics.

    We're killing people to save them from the "deadly effects" of global warming (and shove billions of dollars into farmers pockets who benefit a whole lot from the huge increase in food prices). And you'll wonder where the next Jihad came from ...
  • by spazdor (902907) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:52PM (#36916178)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atmospheric_CO2_with_glaciers_cycles.gif [wikipedia.org]

    Ice age durations and the breaks between them have varied by as much as 50% over the Pleistocene period. This kind of periodicity is not even close to periodic enough to make predictions with accuracy on the order of a decade or a century.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:52PM (#36916180)

    Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292), an open access journal about the science and application of remote sensing technology, is published by MDPI online monthly. [mdpi.com]

    Were the reviewers qualified to review this paper? I don't know.

    Is this a high quality journal? I don't know.

    Did he submit this to a zillion journals until he got lucky and one finally accepted it? I don't know.

    What I do know is that if it is a crank paper, it wouldn't be the first one to get into a peer reviewed journal. Peer-review doesn't automatically make something "science", standing up to continued scrutiny by critical and qualified people makes something science. Peer-review is just one of many filters.

  • I didn't say that. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:58PM (#36916258)

    Being religious does not make you a bad scientist.

    And I did not say that it did.
    Gregor Mendel was a monk in a monastery.

    Claiming that ID is a valid scientific theory *does* make you a bad scientist - and reduces your credibility across the board.

    I wouldn't say "reduces".
    If a scientist cannot tell that an unfalsifiable claim is not science then he is not to be trusted with any other "scientific claims" he makes.

    Certainly this new data should be examined, and I'm not saying Dr Spencer should be dismissed out-of-hand, but clearly he's not the sort of guy who's conclusions we should be taking on faith (pun not intended).

    I'm saying that both should be done.

    His "science" should be dismissed because he's demonstrated that he either does not understand it or is willing to sell his "professional" claims.

    And there is nothing wrong with any data being reviewed by any scientist at any time.

    The problem with dealing with fake science is that it is useless. The practitioners keep "moving the goal posts" and will mis-quote anyone who critiques their work.

    The Intelligent Design "debate" is a great example of that.

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet.got@net> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:59PM (#36916726) Journal

    I agree that alarmists need to put a lid on it. Running around like your hair is on fire certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the logic of anothers arguments, and it's the thoughtful objective response that intelligent people are more often swayed by. By the way, you should notice the source of the first link in this article is from the leading conservative think-tank opposing the existence of Global Warming. Not exactly the first place I would have gone to for an unbiased opinion.

    The wise person looks a scientific consensus (and yes, makes some accounting for political leanings in either direction.) One looks at many disciplines, meteorology and long term climatology, chemistry, oceanography, biology, ecology, geology. One investigates all the signs, looking for impacts in hydrology and everything from frequency of drought, flood, and changing global micro-climates to large scale animal migrations and the changing timing of spring and fall do the shorter, warmer, wetter winters. You can't argue the ice in the Arctic is vanishing. You can't argue that the chemistry of the ocean is changing (decreased salinity from fresh water melt and rising acid levels from carbonic acid due to rising CO2 levels.) Heat trapping and reflection is incredibly complex. A a single large volcanic eruption (like Mt. Pinatubo) can emit enough SO2 to completely skew the results for any specific decade. That's why you need to look at long term trends over decades and centuries to see where the planet is heading.

    I continue to hear critics of "global weather change" cherry pick items to rail against. I see nobody from that camp providing a cohesive response to tens of thousands of different phenomena all pointing in the same direction. There is sadly little informed debate to the contrary, more and more those arguing against the existence of something serious happening to our environment sound like relics from the flat earth society. I won't apologize for people's shoddy work on either side of the issue. When you deal with people there will always be clowns. I will say that folks with personal axes to grind on this topic simply can't address tens of thousands of intelligent, professional, scientists all over the world who've created a consistent, cohesive body of theory and information that concludes with near certainty that we are dangerously close to destroying our environment through the wanton burning of fossil fuels.

    I have an open mind, show me a body of work with even 10% of the depth, breadth, and diversity, and I will gladly concede that there is good reason the worlds experts on the topics (many topics) touched by this issue.

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:02PM (#36916764) Journal

    Very good skewering of all of those electricity-hating, pro-Chinese hippies I've never seen or heard of. If they are real, and are somehow reading that (maybe pedal-powered computers?) they must feel pretty stupid.

    He was probably talking about those Apple products hippies like so much.

  • Re:hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:23PM (#36916902)

    1) climate has always changed - you've got to show that this *particular* change is going to cause your *particular* harms
    2) you've got to deal with the particular benefits that come with this *particular* change in order to do a proper analysis (more flooding might be bad here and there, but increased food production and crop yields could easily provide more benefit than the cost of occasional floods)
    3) you've got to deal with the evidence that shows that while global temperature has increased, natural disasters have either had no change in incidence, or a positive change in incidence.

    So what do you do when the risk assessment that is being made is in fact 100% backwards?

    Tangential question - if you became thoroughly convinced that the data showed a safer, more benign planet when things were warmer, would you then begin encouraging CO2 emissions as a mandatory responsibility of world governments?

  • by choongiri (840652) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:46PM (#36917092) Homepage Journal

    How that gets translated into "New Study Trashes Global Warming" is beyond me.

    Simple: The author of the article is a well-funded climate denier working for the Heartland Institute. Same folks who tried to convince people that there was no link between second hand smoke exposure and cancer.

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Temkin (112574) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:24PM (#36917360)

    I have an open mind, show me a body of work with even 10% of the depth, breadth, and diversity, and I will gladly concede that there is good reason the worlds experts on the topics (many topics) touched by this issue.

    The body of work has some holes in it. The debate is far from over, as this paper demonstrates.... But... The real problem is the proposed solutions. The proposals create a global framework that is so strict and so rigid that it requires the creation of a global government to enforce it. In order to be effective, such a government would require teeth. No regional or national government is willing to place themselves under such a regime, and individual people are often horrified at the thought of having yet another government they can run afoul of. One that is completely antagonistic, necessarily undemocratic, and unresponsive to their wishes.

    Which is why nothing is going to get done about it. Learn to swim.

  • Check the sources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:53AM (#36918102) Homepage

    The article in Forbes is written by a fellow for the Heartland Institute, one of the numerous front organizations for the coal and oil industries alongside other such groups as "CO2 is Green". The study is not peer reviewed, it has been published *for* peer review, there is a dramatic difference between the two. Beyond that, you have the issue that the study argues 180 degrees opposite to the articles claims. In short, the article is complete bunk, written by a fraud with an attempt to reinforce the positions of those who wish to kill scientific progress and research.

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:42AM (#36918332)

    "The proposals create a global framework that is so strict and so rigid that it requires the creation of a global government to enforce it."

    Ahem... quite a coincidence, don't you think?

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by myurr (468709) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:45AM (#36918352)

    The wise person looks a scientific consensus

    The wise person looks objectively at the evidence, not merely following the herd. Scientific consensus has been proven both right and wrong many times throughout history and shouldn't be considered an effective measure of how true or not a theory is.

  • Re:It's all a lie! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thomst (1640045) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:14AM (#36918738) Homepage

    Actually, a lie is exactly what it is. Or, more accurately, it's hysterical propaganda (originally published in that prestigious scientific journal Forbes Magazine) by a pretend scientist [sourcewatch.org] (who uses the term "alarmist" no fewer than 14 times in this 567-word, 9-paragraph pile of fresh, steaming nonsense) who quacks on environmental issues for the Heartland Institute (an organization whose "work" has been funded [sourcewatch.org] by an array of right-wing billionaire's foundations, tobacco companies, and Exxon Mobil), based on junk science [livescience.com] by a well-known climate skeptic and "intelligent design" advocate [wikipedia.org] who has made a fundamental scientific error by confusing correlation with causation.

    Nothing to see here. Move along,

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