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Earth Science

BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes 355

riverat1 writes "The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature studies latest release finds that land surface temperature changes since 1750 are nearly completely explained by increases in greenhouse gases and large volcanic eruptions. They also said that including solar forcing did not significantly improve the fit. Unlike the other major temperature records BEST used nearly all available temperature records instead of just a representative sample. Yet to come is an analysis that includes ocean temperatures."
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BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes

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  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:15AM (#42644799) Journal

    If we just plug up the volcanos, everything will be fine!

  • Typical bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by PostPhil ( 739179 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:43AM (#42644861)

    The summary makes it sound like volcanoes are the explanation for greenhouse gases, which is completely false. It doesn't say that at all. Actually, it's the opposite.

    RTFA and you learn (as quoted from the .PDF supplied by the article): "According to a new Berkely Earth study released today, the average temperature of Earth's land has risen by 1.5 C over the past 250 years. The good match between the new temperature record and historical carbon dioxide records suggests that the most straightforward explanation for this warming is human greenhouse gas emissions." (Emphasis mine.)

    The .PDF article explains that human CO2 contribution, volcanic activity, and ocean activity (e.g. Gulf Stream and El Nino) are the biggest contributors that are needed to match the graph of temperatures over time. But volcanoes follow the drops in temperature on the graph, not the rises in temperature. Contributions from solar activity exist but were determined to be negligible. They explain that CO2 doesn't prove to be responsible for the warming, but is by far the best contender. As stated by the scientific director, "To be considered seriously, any alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as does carbon dioxide." So denialists can't simply supply "common sense" alternatives: the alternatives must match the data at least as well (or better) than CO2.

    • by B1oodAnge1 ( 1485419 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:18AM (#42645003)

      I pretty sure no serious (by which I mean logically sound) skeptical arguments deny that CO2 contributes to warming.
      The actual controversy is over how we can expect the warming to be exacerbated or alleviated by feedback loops.
      "Alarmists" tend to claim runaway positive feedback loops will cause a dramatic rise in temperature in the near future, while "denialists" tend to argue that these positive feedback loops are counteracted by negative feedback loops that tend to keep the temperature within a reasonable range.

      • by Dodgy G33za ( 1669772 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:48AM (#42645353)

        Measurements on the great barrier reef have shown a temperature increase of 2 degrees since the 60's, and they are expecting another 2 by 2050, which is largely regarded as the temperature needed to kill it off. Already outside a reasonable range for the fauna that live in the area, which are migrating down the coast. If this were to happen over millennia the reef would probably migrate south, but at this rate of change it can't propagate quickly enough.

        See http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-18/warming-to-put-oceans-and-reefs-in-hot-water/4470104 [abc.net.au]

        "Alarmists" are often climate scientists. "Denialists" seem frequently to be corporate funded loons with no expertise in the area. But even if both sides were equally populated by people of the same calibre I would still think it was worth trying to switch to alternatives ASAP to avoid the risk.

        Think about it - if someone said "do this, or there is a 50% chance your house will burn down" you would do 'this', even if 'this' was quite expensive. After all, most people do exactly 'this' when they buy home insurance, and the chance is way lower than 50%.

      • by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:07AM (#42645617)
        But responses to this very topic belie this statement:

        Here is a guy claiming that Global Warming doesn't exist: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3395415&cid=42645177 [slashdot.org]

        Here is a guy claiming that it is real but probably a good thing, he can't wait for more of it: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3395415&cid=42645015 [slashdot.org]

        Read any denialist website and you'll soon see that they hold several contradictory assertions to be simultaneously true. Why then, would we accept that any of these assertions are true?

        So what is your definition of "logically sound"? It sounds like it's equivalent to "the most plausible at any given time that doesn't involve admitting that we must take action to mitigate climate change" Qualifying what is allowed to be real doesn't sound like accepting reality - reality is not negotiating with us for a mutually acceptable outcome.

        Oh, and one final thing. If you want to know whether or not feedbacks are negative, neutral or positive, read just about any denialist website. They'll tell you that in the climate record, there are instances where CO2 has lagged a climate change. What does this mean? What it really means is that climate sensitivity is positive. These people are disproving themselves and they don't even realise it. Ironic, no?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by minogully ( 1855264 )

          It's been a while now that I've been hoping for a slashdot poll on this subject. For example...

          My views on AGW are:
          1) It doesn't exist
          2) It does exist, but it's not caused by us so why get all worked up about it?
          3) It does exist, but I think that change is a good thing (or the change will be neutral)
          4) It does exist, and it's going to kill off millions of plant and animal species
          5) It does exist, and it's going to kill off millions of humans

          I'm guessing that it's a few loudspoken people on slashdot he

      • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:50AM (#42645945)

        while "denialists" tend to argue that these positive feedback loops are counteracted by negative feedback loops that tend to keep the temperature within a reasonable range.

        Well, then these "denialists" should come with a sound proof for that statement, I would say. The "alarmists" have done their work.

    • Maybe you're right. I should have made it more clear that volcanic eruptions were responsible for temporary dips in temperatures in their findings and they said nothing about volcanoes having anything to do with the increase in GHGs.

  • Predictions? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:07AM (#42644955)

    Uh-huh, big whoop. We've had heaps of models that fit the historical data - that's the easy part. It's all there, you can tweak your model as you like until it fits the historicals just right. The value of a model isn't in how well it fits the historical data, but how well it predicts future data.

    So crank a prediction or two out of this puppy and get back to us in a decade.

    • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:30AM (#42645041) Homepage

      The point of this was that it wouldn't use complex models where they tweak to fit expectations. Instead it plots atmospheric CO2 against global temperature, specifically accounting for denier favorites like urban heat islands, volcanoes, poor station condition, data selection bias, and transparency. All the data is available at the site so anyone can run the numbers themselves. According to them, and by the looks of their graphs, it's a shockingly close match.

      The conclusion is that the temperature rise is from human greenhouse emissions. As always, everyone is free to try to come up with more convincing evidence to the contrary.

      • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

        by jcupitt65 ( 68879 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:37AM (#42645693)

        Exactly. Look at global temperature for the last 250 years plotted with CO2+volcanos and a simple fit:

        http://berkeleyearth.org/images/annual-with-forcing-small.png [berkeleyearth.org]

        There's almost no modelling there, it's just plotting two sets of measurements together.

        If you think CO2 is not the cause, you need to find two things: another warming effect that fits the data at least as well as CO2 (and it has to be a huge warming effect that no one's noticed before), plus an equally large cooling effect to cancel out all the heat that we know the CO2 will have added to the atmosphere. This is possible, of course, but not very likely.

    • Models that have been in use for more than a decade were actually conservative about the level of warming we've seen so far, but got it pretty much right.

      Please pull your head out of your ass and look at the facts. Or just shut the fuck up and quit interfering with adult conversations.

    • BEST doesn't do a climate model or try to predict the future, they're just reporting on historical data.

    • Hey, you have a model that says we are cycling towards a cliff, and are already gaining momentum. Prove to me that there is a cliff there before I think about putting on the breaks.

      How did you ever make it to adulthood.

    • Re:Predictions? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmail.cTIGERom minus cat> on Monday January 21, 2013 @06:02AM (#42645407)

      Uh-huh, big whoop. We've had heaps of models that fit the historical data - that's the easy part. It's all there, you can tweak your model as you like until it fits the historicals just right. The value of a model isn't in how well it fits the historical data, but how well it predicts future data.

      So crank a prediction or two out of this puppy and get back to us in a decade.

      They don't have to wait for a decade, they can just crop out the last decade of data and ask the model minus 10 years of data to predict it. Since they already have the answer, they'll know if it fits.

      The is routinely done with large timescale models like the atmosphere and the ocean.

    • It's all there, you can tweak your model as you like until it fits the historicals just right.

      The parameters of a climate model - a good climate model, that is - is constrained by physics. All parameters have experimental, physical estimates - the question isn't how well the model can be fitted to the past, but how well it can remain nicely in the middle of these estimates.

  • Not credible (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:07AM (#42644959) Homepage

    Yep, "peer reviewed". This is apparently volume 1, issue 1 of a new series of journals started by an Indian publisher that decided to simultaneously launch 53 new journals [scholarlyoa.com]. In order to fill them, they took pretty much anything that anyone wanted to publish.

    Taking a larger set of stations would seem to mean that this study includes stations that other studies eliminated as poor-quality. For example, stations with siting issues, stations that have moved over time between rural/urban locations, stations suffering UHI in unknown amounts.

    Given the need to work in corrections for all of these quality issues, and given a pre-stated conclusion, it is very easy to make the corrections in a way that supports your desired conclusion.

    In short: not credible.

    • So, you have no specific critiques of their methods? I see only a vague assumption that a larger set of data in one aspect of the study "would seem to mean" the whole study is worthless. You've clearly decided to ignore their conclusions without even bothering to read the paper, let alone understanding their methods.

      I find even SciTechnol's peer review to be more credible than yours.

    • Re:Not credible (Score:5, Informative)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:29AM (#42645035) Journal
      They're planning on submitting it to a journal, but haven't yet. From the link:

      The Berkeley Earth team is making these preliminary results public, together with the analysis programs and data set in order to invite additional scrutiny as part of the peer review process.

    • Phew. For a moment I thought global warming was my fault.

    • Re:Not credible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:19AM (#42645237)

      Scientists use a subset of temperature stations to exclude bad ones, denialists cry: "They ignored the other stations because it didn't fit their desired outcome".

      Scientists use all available data. Denialists cry: "They didn't exclude the bad ones, so the results are unreliable".

      Science cannot win against politics and that is all denial is - politics, it has no scientific basis or support, no evidence whatsoever in it's favour, all it has is a very large, well-funded and heavily-subsidized incumbent industry that is quite desperate to prevent the rise of any competition - especially competition that is far more efficient and cheaper to consumers over the medium term.

  • Spark notes (Score:5, Informative)

    by a_n_d_e_r_s ( 136412 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:10AM (#42644971) Homepage Journal

    1. Temperarature rise for the last 250 years of 1.5 degree C is entirely because of increased CO2 emissions.
    2. Vulcanic activity can seriously lower the earths temperature and affects the curve with downward spikes.

    No other activity shows any significant colleration towards earth temperature. They have checked against solar flares and other activites and all they compared against has had no impact. CO2 rise looks to be the major cause behind it all.

    Basically they are saying: Critics of AGW are wrong.

    The data will be fully available on their webplacce form 30 july with abilities for visitors to test the data themselves and to toy with how the temperature rise has affected their local temperature.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @04:42AM (#42645083) Homepage

    Every major industrial force on the planet will continue as they are so long as their quartlerly reports show 'growth.' It's a system we can't change or undo. The major industrial forces will not allow it to change. They can't see or don't believe in a future that exists beyond the next year. When was the last time you heard "5 year plan"? And they are playing chicken with the future of humanity whether they realize it or not. Whoever hesitates or turns back will 'lose' as market forces will crush anyone into insignificance who isn't pushing forward.

    They don't "lead" the markets let alone control them. With such short vision, how can they? The market is still in the hands of the consumer... sheeple consumers mostly. If anyone has been paying attention to the increase in guns and ammo and especially the market effect the government's billions in ammunition purchases, then it should be pretty clear. This gun control talk and scarcity of supply isn't only causing a rise in prices, it's causing a rise in interest. People who had no interest in buying guns and ammo are now interested.

    Consumers can shape the next quarter. And the quarters to follow. Keep buying green. Keep buying things that do as little harm as possible. *I* don't make a difference. *You* don't make a difference. But *we* do. Talk to people, but don't argue or preach. Short, simple statements and move on. They won't think you're a crazy person if you don't come off that way.

    If you're thinking about moving, I would consider moving away from major weather areas... you know, like the coasts, or places where mountains have significant impact. That's what all this climate change is about anyway--the weather, the redistribution of water, the content of the air and what it does with the sun's energy. Take up a hobby like gardening. It could be useful. (Just don't grow things indoors too much... UV lamps attact cops.)

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@@@got...net> on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:56AM (#42645387) Journal

    Australia still burned down in December. We've had more fires, worse droughts, bigger storms, worse heat waves, more floods and unheard of winter storms all predicted by climate change models. At what point do you finally concede? When the planet is the twin of Venus? Physical reality first, ideology second. You can nit pick all day long, but y'all are picking nits. You're complaining about issues that impact the 5th or 6th places after the decimal point in the analysis results, while ignoring the whole numbers. That would indicate y'all are less deniers and more in denial. Sorry that climate change is messing with your "Atlas Shrugged" world view but we need to come up with smarter answers. By the way, if the Germans make solar work, then from this day forward, we all get to call bull shit on those folks who've been stone walling renewables, just because Chevron can't figure out a way to create an artificial sun shortage to jack up prices.

    • Australia burns down every December. We always have fires, droughts, storms, heatwaves and floods, and most of them caused far less damage than comparable events in the past. Sorry to disappoint your shrill alarmism, but every storm, flood, tsunami or volcanic eruption (yes, I've seen tectonic events blamed on climate change) isn't a point in favour of AGW - not unless you can show how they significantly differ in degree or quantity from previous events. Climate change science has predicted everything from

      • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@@@got...net> on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:14AM (#42646477) Journal

        The event in Australia broke more records than you could possible shake a stick at. Go here [climatecentral.org] for just the briefest scientific review of the incident. Here's a quote: "A relatively small change in the average temperature can easily double the frequency of extreme heat events. Australia has warmed steadily since the 1940s, and the probability of extreme heat has now increased almost five-fold compared with 50 years ago." What part of this do you not get. Globally, spring comes 3 weeks earlier than 50 years ago. The clear and unmistakable results of climate change measure in the ten of thousands of unique individual events and phenomena. Taken as a body of evidence you'd have a better chance of arguing against evolution (and the body of evidence doesn't stop ideologues from doing that either.) Why is it that I'm yelling "Hey, dummy your arse is burning!" and instead of putting it out and thanking me for saving your life, you choose instead get insulting and indignant.

        I'm point at trends, when data point after data point in one direction you get a trend. The system is incredibly complex, melting in the arctic messes with the haline cycle (and recent changes in the Gulf Stream suggest global current changes may be imminent.) These changes would have profound effects on global climate particularly cutting warm currents to the extreme latitudes causing dramatically colder winters. So there are a number of possible outcomes, when you perturb a system as complex as global weather, it's like throwing dice, many possible things can happen because there are many competing feedback loops and we still can't produce predictive models with the subtlety to give us long term predictions of complex chaotic systems.

        That said, we can look at more general possibilities and compare them against what has already happened, in other words if I create a model starting in 1850 and successfully predict general large scale climate features and event up until now, I have a reasonable probability of predicting some of the large scale events coming. As for pulling out a single anything, that's crap no single data point informs you of anything. Again, the only thing that matters are trends, and we have those, we have a whole bunch of trends.

        And I wish for the love of Jebus you guys could have one of these conversation without blowing all kinds personal FUD, you can stick your presumptions where the sun don't shine. You haven't the foggiest idea what my political opinions are but its clear that if your as good at guessing politics as you are about noticing its getting hotter every year that it explains why you can't seem to make a cogent observation about physical reality. In the flagellating department I believe its better to give than to receive. Guilt is what nice people do to assuage their consciences for being irresponsible or committing unkind acts. I don't practice either, therefore no guilt. I never said the world was ending, not today or a week from Tuesday or in a thousand years. Humanity is extincting about a 1000 species a day now. Most are insects and various invertebrates. Still, in your and my lifetime, we'll see the last of all the big mammals in Africa, most in Asia, and nearly half of the world's rain forest will go away. The impact of the change we're perpetrating on the environment will come back to haunt us because our biology is intimately tied to the global biology... nature of ecosystems. Every human being is a river of biota, moving through us every moment are ten times as many cells without a human genome as with. Plow the ecosphere under and we're committing slow motion suicide. Life has ben here nearly 4 billion years and suffered far worse than us, it will get along fine without us. We're an apex predator, we'll be one of the first things to go. Or, we'll pull our collective heads out of our rear ends and design a global technology that supports human advance without turning the world into a toilet. Why is that

  • It currently reads "GHG Emissions and volcanoes".

    However, the Slashdot Groupthink has clearly decided that what they meant to say was "GHG Emissions from volcanoes", because obviously anything published about climate must be assumed to be denialist propaganda from filthy big oil shills.

    It's far easier simply 'correct' reality than to turn aside an ecowarrior in full battle frenzy, is what I'm saying. Why fight it?

  • AH BEST. The original paper was rejected by the journal JGR Atmospheres but finally they have passed "peer review". The BRAND NEW heretofore unheard of Journal Geoinformatics and Geostatistics [scitechnol.com] will now feature the BEST paper. Yes ladies and gentlemen, issue 1 volume 1 will have this study as its centrepiece.

    In other earth shattering news - NOAA has discovered that the further away from the structures you put the thermometer, the recorded night time temperatures are colder. This is known as the "theory of duh" in physics circles, but required experimental verification [wattsupwiththat.com] by climate scientists.

    There is still much science to be done and much politics to extricate from climate science

  • So now what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:49AM (#42647393)

    You can argue all you want about whether global warming is real or not, and if so, man-made or not. But those who believe it is real (and I am cautiously one of those) deploy a long array of data, scientific studies, models, peer-reviews and global consensus.

    BUT, when it comes to deciding what action is needed, if any, then the solutions are based on nothing at all. Where are the scientific studies that prove that renewables, carbon capture and storage, fossil fuel phase-out or carbon taxation, etc. leave us globally with a better standard of living? There are other alternatives, but the hysterics only promote the ones that inflict maximum misery by returning us to caves. And the unintended consequences are rarely evaluated.

    As Hippocrates would have it regarding a sick patient, "First, do no harm". I believe that doing nothing is the best strategy.

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