4 thoughts on “IPCC Champion whines that – “Too many researchers spoil climate studies””

  1. He believes some specific uncertainties in some of the climate change models scientists rely upon is being falsely inflated as a general uncertainty about the status of climate change science. ”With the links between weather and climate, for instance – we know they are there, but the specific numbers need work,” Professor Trenberth said.
    ”Human influences are overlaid on normal ranges of weather extremes. There’s more precipitation, and the rain’s a bit harder. There is more heat and water over the oceans. The question is how much is a ‘bit’.
    ”An example would be Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where there was about 11 inches [28 centimetres] of rain. About one inch of that was due to human influence. Maybe that extra inch was enough to cause the levee to break.”

    Anthropogenic aerosols are known to both increase precipitation from hurricanes, while at the same time decreasing hurricane intensity. Since people care rather more about the strength of a hurricane than about the precipitation. Trenbeth is being misleading to say the least. But as McIntyre says, ‘ With climate science, you always have look for where they have hidden the pea’.


  2. On Katrina, I don’t whether Trenberth is referring to aerosols increasing precipitation, or to warmer oceans increasing precipitation, or what. He is not clear and the reporter doesn’t seem to know enough to ask.

    That’s pretty much the story with the whole article.

    For example – “Some specific uncertainties in some of the climate change models” – what on earth does this mean? The models are grossly oversimplified representations of the climate. They are all wrong by a mile, having little or no representation of the small-scale processes that make up the weather and climate. So speaking of “uncertainties” in the models’ structure or functioning is silly. Could Trenberth mean uncertainties in the “parameterisations” (guesses) in the models? Possible. Uncertainty ranges in their outputs? Possible. The reporter does not seem to know enough about the subject to even start pinning it down.

    He would have done well to focus on the issue of climate sensitivity. You would think that after 25 years of global panic on this issue, there might be a little more focus on the basic question of how much effect CO2 actually has. If there was twice as much of it, would the temperature be 1 degree warmer, or 4, or 5? The models have not helped resolve this question, and describing it as an “uncertainty” is a joke, since one end of the “uncertainty range” makes extra CO2 a boon and other, a disaster.

    But that’s what Trenberth is trying to do, and Cubby helps. “The science is solid”, there “is some superb work”, “updates every six years are just too slow” Basically, he says we know what’s happening, the question is only “how much is a bit”? What twaddle. 33 years after the Charney report said “we believe” that climate sensitivity “will be in the range 1.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees C”, we are still none the wiser. The last IPCC report tried to up the bottom end of this range to 2 degrees, but since it came out in 2007, six of thirteen published studies of climate sensitivity have a central estimate below 2 degrees, and four of them are below 1.5.

    One slightly encouraging sign in Trenberth’s article is his admittedly rather arrogant dismissal of “second-tier” science “diluting the report’s quality”. Again, you have to guess what he is referring to. But it’s a fairly good bet that “second tier” is code for IPCC Working Group 2, which is chock-a-block with bureaucrats and hangers-on producing sheer rubbish about “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability”.

  3. After 4 weeks of the dreaded Lurgi I am a bit irritable, so take that into account.

    My view is rather that he feels that with too many researchers around, there is more scrutiny on output. The cosy little club that used to (try and) control everything cannot rely on many newcomers. All those little tricks have to be explained, and can be disputed. So reducing the numbers is code for getting back to “the good old days”.

    This would also prevent a mad scramble for the declining amount of research funding. With every country save Australia heading for the exit there will soon be a deal of apathy about funding people who haven’t come up with an answer in 40 years, and who’ve got every prediction wrong.

    Whether I am right or wrong I believe that Trenberth really is concerned about the future.

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