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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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  • by CajunArson (465943) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:43PM (#36915358) Journal

    This is just a plot by Bush Cheney & Big Oil to destroy the world!! Now hurry up with the organic hempseed paint so I can finish my sign protesting Nuclear power plants and solar power plants that despoil Nature's beauty and wind turbines that spoil the views of multimillionares in Nantucket!! We won't save the world until China produces everything because there's no pollution in China!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BenJCarter (902199)
      I hate the way the NIMBYs have turned into BANANAS (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone). The good news is, the science is finally coming to light, and it doesn't look good for the man made global warming alarmists of the eco-industrial-complex. Hopefully we will be shut of this madness before it damages the credibility of legitimate environmental concerns. I'd hate to see us stop trusting legitimate environmental science to the point we end up dumping toxic substances into our air and water again
      • Well except for the quite recent study that showed the gap between projected warming and actual warming was likely do to the increased coal power plants in China which are polluting the atmosphere so much that light is being reflected out before it gets in.

        Eventually it will cause enough warming to be a serious problem. So we're dealing with which form of pollution is preferable...can't stop coal 'if' it's the only thing keep the planet slightly cooler [BIG if there], but can't keep doing it because it
        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          Well except for the quite recent study that showed the gap between projected warming and actual warming was likely do to the increased coal power plants in China which are polluting the atmosphere so much that light is being reflected out before it gets in.

          (Emphasis mine). Here's where part of the problem lies. None of these studies can prove it one way or the other.

          But its irrelevant. We probably should recognise that there are measurable ill-effects of polution and try to cut down on it anyway.

          Why does the world need to be near-ending before companies will do something about cleaning things up?

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

      by Genda (560240) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:59PM (#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 Temkin (112574) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:24PM (#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.

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

        by myurr (468709) on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:45AM (#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.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:35PM (#36917002) Homepage

      "Now hurry up with the organic hempseed paint"

      Wait, can I smoke it? I have Glaucoma... Cough Cough... Wait, Glaucoma has a cough right?

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

      by thomst (1640045) on Friday July 29, 2011 @04:14AM (#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,

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:45PM (#36915378)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:19PM (#36915800) Journal

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

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

          Or the algorithms used in the models were wrong. Or both.

        • GIGO, computer models assumed that mortgage derivatives would never crash and just make money.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

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

          Oh My GOD! This is a nerd site. Get your definitions correct!

          There is input, output and logic.
          Input, in this case was the collected data from weather stations, satellites, ice cores, tree rings, etc.
          The model is a computer simulation program. It is a set of logic rules (algorithms) we feed the input to produce the output.
          The output is the climate prediction.

          The output, or the global warming prediction is flawed because the logic (the model) is flawed.

          Of course, there are many that will challenge the data

          • by xav_jones (612754)

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

            There is input, output and logic. Input, in this case was the collected data from weather stations, satellites, ice cores, tree rings, etc. The model is a computer simulation program. It is a set of logic rules (algorithms) we feed the input to produce the output. The output is the climate prediction.

            The output, or the global warming prediction is flawed because the logic (the model) is flawed.

            Of course, there are many that will challenge the data (input) as well (weather stations located inside an active volcano, etc).

            It appears as though it is not so much the logic as the magnitude of one of the input variables of the model looks to be incorrect. In this case, the incorrect input is the size of the Earth's energy loss. I believe the new data will allow for a correction on this input magnitude.

          • Re:Follow the data! (Score:5, Informative)

            by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:00AM (#36917560) Journal

            Input, in this case was the collected data from weather stations, satellites, ice cores, tree rings, etc.

            The historical weather record is not used as input it is used to test the model via hind-casting. The inputs to the models are things such as the strength of gravity, the composition of the atmosphere, the absorption spectra of GHG's, the shape of the Earth's geode, etc. The 'logic" is the laws of physics and chemistry. The algothim that brings them together is called finite element analysis and is used on everything from designing casts for engine blocks to building bridges for them to drive across.

            As for TFA, the author of the paper, Roy Spencer [wikipedia.org], is a creationist quack who has expanded his quackery into AGW, his claims on anything scientific should be taken with a truckload of salt.

      • by caerwyn (38056)

        No. Data suggests that global warming is very real. Models suggest a certain future continued warming.

        The two should not be confused. The historical record is not a model.

    • by jcr (53032)

      Up till now, the data has suggested that global warming is very real.

      Not the data. The models.

      -jcr

    • by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:13PM (#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.
      • Re:Follow the data! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by spazdor (902907) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:25PM (#36915878)

        Imagine you're standing in front of a big paper graph, depicting temperature variations over a timeline. The timeline is about 400 thousand years in length, and there is a dramatic spike in the graph every 100 thousand years or so.

        Now, you're holding a dart, and that dart is labeled "industrial revolution." You close your eyes, your friends spin you around a couple times, and you throw the dart at the graph.

        Now, what are the odds that your dart lands less than 200 years away from one of the aforementioned graph spikes? Go on, make a guesstimate.

        • Do you get to pull out the dart and throw it again every time you hit an ice age or other industrial revolution suppressing factor? Changes the odds.

          • Re:Follow the data! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by spazdor (902907) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:46PM (#36916116)

            Not by that much. Go ahead and double or triple your guesstimate if it'll make you feel better, but global warming deniers are still asking us to believe in a several-hundred-to-one coincidence by positing that the Earth would pick this particular century to warm up, almost immediately(in geoclimatic scales) after we began an unprecedented worldwide project of mass fossil energy extraction.

        • by tmosley (996283)
          Yeah, and what are the odds that humans would evolve from primordial ooze on this very planet, with all the other planets in our solar system?

          Humans must have created the Earth!
    • Up till now, the data has suggested that global warming is very real.

      Data can show anything you want, based on what you want to "prove". This is called Confirmation Bias [wikipedia.org] ("a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true").

      It's sorta like the parable about the blind men and the elephant:

      In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. The

    • Global warming probably is real... it's just not cause by the carbon dioxide. Which means there's nothing we can do, we're doomed to burn. :(

    • The large body of existing data is unaffected and still strongly suggests that anthropogenic climate change is at work.

      This new data suggests that one proposed mechanism to explain the changes may not be correct. That does not somehow magically reverse sea level rise, glacial retreats, decreases in permafrost, more extreme weather, and so on.

      A car analogy: the mechanic has just reported that the carburetor (remember those?) is probably okay. But the car is not fixed; it still does not run right.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:50PM (#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 tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:46PM (#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 next_ghost (1868792) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:50PM (#36915428)
    I'll wait for some peer review to decide whether this guy is on to something or whether his findings are nothing but hot air (pun intended).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:50PM (#36915430)

    A few notes about TFA:
    1) The data comes from satellites put into space by NASA, but NASA is in no way involved in this study.
    2) If this study actually significantly contradicts our knowledge of global heating, why has it been published in Remote Sensing, and not a more reputable journal?
    3) They only interviewed the guy from the University of Alabama who lead the study
    4) The author works for The Heartland Institute
    5) They seem to have replaced the words "accurate" and "accepted by the scientific community" with "alarmist"
    6) Source on UN's involvement? Seems like they threw that one in just to go for the "UN = bad" reaction that a lot of people have

    • I'm guessing it ended up on slashdot because climate change deniers, like evolution deniers, throw a royal tantrum when they're "suppressed." Better to put their dribble up for public commentary, where it will take the beating it deserves.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:50PM (#36915438) Journal

    Alarmist marklar!

    Alarmist alarmist alarmist alarmist, marklar alarmist alarmist alarmist.

    Marklar.

  • the actual paper (Score:4, Informative)

    by AxemRed (755470) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:53PM (#36915478)
    The guy who wrote this article is a little biased. The original paper is available online for those who want to see what it really has to say.
    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf [mdpi.com]
  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:58PM (#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 mbone (558574) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:00PM (#36915582)

    Anyone who is inclined to give a lot of weight to this "alarmist" press release should first read this [realclimate.org], on a previous paper from Roy Spencer. Note this

    what he gets through peer-review is far less threatening to the mainstream picture of anthropogenic global warming than you’d think from the spin he puts on it in press releases, presentations and the blogosphere.

    Now, also read the paper [mdpi.com], and note this

    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.

    Hmm, doesn't sound like the press release or the Forbes article much, does it ?

    Use the above and your judgement to figure out just how much weight to give the above.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:15PM (#36915768) Homepage

    It must be the heat from the armies of the Dark Lord Sauron building their underground weapons factories.

    Pay no attention to the droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and scorching summers the agency that couldn't plan a new heavy lift rocket program says everything is hinky dinky.

  • It is strange that neo-cons are desperate to kill R&D on this, when in reality, most of the climatologist would love to DISPROVE GW. The reason is that they would be a HUGE name .
  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:58PM (#36916248)
    Made me laugh. Pielke is the guy who argues - essentially - that since the neighborhood is burning and that is a larger problem, you shouldn't do anything about the fact that your house is on fire. http://motherjones.com/environment/2008/10/qa-roger-pielke-sr [motherjones.com]

    Very useful guy if you're making a fortune generating greenhouse gases...you can use him to argue that you should be left alone until such time as slash-and-burn agriculture is outlawed.
  • by Xyrus (755017) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:58PM (#36916250) Journal

    The paper doesn't do anything close to what the summary suggests, nor what either story suggests. The submitter is basically trolling it up.

    The paper is available for all to read here: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf [mdpi.com]

    Basically, they are talking about lack of model sensitivity for non-radiative feedback, which is something that was already known. The models on a MONTHLY basis don't go high enough on the maximums and don't go low enough on the minimums (and there is a lag). Or in other words, the models get the general predictions right (warmer temperatures) but don't capture shorter term variability as well (heat waves, cold snaps).

    Of course, it's already well known that climate models don't capture short term variability very well. However, this paper helps quantify that and provides some insights on how to better improve that aspect of modeling.

    Or if you don't want to read the whole paper just skip to the conclusions sections, which mention nothing about invalidating global warming or the science thereof.

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

  • by uncadonna (85026) <mtobis AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:18PM (#36916430) Homepage Journal
    Prof Bickmore of BYU has been working hard at debunking Spencer's endless efforts to find nothing where there is something (after all, an easier task than the other way around). The latest is here [wordpress.com], and a catalog of Bickmore's readings of Spencer is here [wordpress.com].

    Here's more: Climate Change Debunked? Not So Fast [livescience.com]

    The paper was mostly unnoticed in the public sphere until the Forbes blogger declared it "extremely important."

    Dessler, the A&M climatologist said that he doubted the research would shift the political debate around global warming.

    "It makes the skeptics feel good, it irritates the mainstream climate science community, but by this point, the debate over climate policy has nothing to do with science," Dessler said. "It's essentially a debate over the role of government," surrounding issues of freedom versus regulation.

    Spencer himself is up front about the politics surrounding his work. In July, he wrote on his blog that his job "has helped save our economy from the economic ravages of out-of-control environmental extremism," and said he viewed his role as protecting "the interests of the taxpayer."

    Slashdot editors, please try to remember that a single paper normally doesn't overturn scientific understanding, and try to avoid habitual hype sources. Thanks.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:41PM (#36916612)

    We'll see your climate model and raise you one. And while both sides are busy bluffing, maybe an actual useful model can be developed. In the mean time, its all a stalling tactic.

    This is a serious issue about which we really haven't got much of a clue. There are those who don't want anything done. There are those who have invested in various investment scams and are waiting for them to begin paying off. And there are those who would like to get something locked down in law and treaty that we'll be stuck with for generations after we realize it was all based on bad, or poorly informed science.

    The economic consequences of whatever we do will be major. So the last thing we need is to make irreversible laws based on incomplete science. On the other hand, we can take steps to evaluate some of the possible fixes now, keeping in mind that the work done might have to be thrown out if refined models suggest that we really need to regulate something else.

  • by JavaBear (9872) on Friday July 29, 2011 @12:56AM (#36917836)

    when the press release would have done quite nicely.

    That is the problem with climate "journalism", the truth is not enough, it has to be tweaked by an agenda, just a little. Then the next "Journalist" picks up the story, and tweaks it a little more. In the end it's picked up by a Murdoch paper in an illegal phone tab, and once it hits Fox news, it's a whole new story.
    No one bothers to go back and check the sources any more.

    It is sad that truth have to take a back seat to sensationalism. If the truth is even allowed in at all.

  • Check the sources (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Friday July 29, 2011 @01:53AM (#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.

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