Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Russian Heatwave Due To CO2?

Having covered the Heartland affair early on, Richard Black of the BBC has been notcieably silent on the follow up. No news of the Gleick confession or the fact that Gleick's career is imploding - for example he's been dropped from the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) task Force on Scientific Integrity. Black is resolutely looking the other way, even when he's been directly challenged on it on his Twitter feed.

It was while checking on Black's Twitter feed that I saw mention of a story that says the Russian heatwave can be explained as part natural and part global warming. Or in Black's Tweet:
Latest on Russian heatwave - natural or human-driven? New AGU paper says a bit of both - extreme temp risk x3 from AGW
Follow the link and you get a story on the AGU website:
Russian heat wave had both manmade and natural causes
Now that's a fairly definite headline - and it's in contrast to previous studies that explained the heatwave as being due to natural weather phenomena and not AGW. Attribution - assigning causes to specific weather events - is a big deal. If scientists can pin the blame on climate disasters to CO2 then that's a major step forward in convincing the unconvinced masses that the AGW hyopthesis is not just a massive scam.

So how have they untangled the complex mix of factors that can partially pin the blame for the heatwave on human CO2 emissions?

Well, the short answer is that they haven't. What they've done is run a series of simulations and compared results. In one set of simulations they used data said to represent the 1990s, in the other they ran data said to represent the 2000s. The results showed that the chances of a comparable heatwave occuring were three times greater in the later set of simulations.

Yes, that's all there is to it. You run a model one way, tweak the inputs and run it again and then compare the results. You don't actually look in detail at the specifics of the real heatwave that happened. You don't look at the weather patterns or anything like that. You run two sets of simulations and just note that in the second set you can get some of the characteristics of a heat wave occuring more often.

I don't need to labour the obvious inadequacies of this. I don't need to point out the inherent uncertainties involved in such a process.

But where is the hint of this uncertainty in that headline or in Richard Black's Tweet? Where is there anything to indicate that this is all based on software and models?


Edward Spalton said...

I recently saw an apparently serious article which claimed that the unusually cold conditions in Europe and elsewhere were due to warming!

It was claimed to be something to do with greater areas of ice free water in the Arctic.

Incidents like the Russian heatwave and accompanying forest fires have recurred throughout history.

The warming trend having stalled, the buzz words are now "extreme weather events" and "climate disruption". Any unusual atmospheric occurrence - hot, cold,dry wet, windy or calm can be blamed on the demon CO2.

I heard a lecture by the world-renowned sea level expert, Professor Nils Avxel Morner, demonstrating (inter alia) that the Maldives were higher out of the water than they were years ago.

But, as he said, he works at a disadvantage because he uses observations and measurements rather than computer simulations.

Contrarian said...

I know what you mean - it was why I was moved to to write a post entitled Weather Is Consistent With Climate Change