Gullible’s Island

Judging by this post at WUWT, one could easily get the impression that changes in ice breakup dates on the Tanana River in Alaska aren’t due to warming. Here’s the record:

Yes there’s a trend, ice breakup is occuring earlier. Yes it’s statistically significant.

But instead of facing what’s right in front of them, the WUWT take is that “…and since Willis mentioned it, there is a correlation between the Nenana break-up date and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation”.

Well yes there is. But not the way they imply. Here’s normalized ice breakup day compared to annual average PDO (instead of inverting the ice breakup data like WUWT, I’ve inverted the PDO index):

The correlation isn’t in the long-term behavior, it’s in the year-to-year fluctuations. Let’s emphasize that by adding smoothed curves for both:

Hey, let’s even fit ice breakup day to PDO, then look at the residuals:

Golly. The trend is still there. It’s still statistically significant.

What could be the cause? Hmmmmm… Here’s what WUWT has to say: “I think the warming recorded since the 1960s (with the trending of the breakup earlier in the year) might correlate with the growth of Fairbanks upstream.”

Could it also correlate with warming April temperature? Or are they suggesting that the “urban heat island” from the gigantic metropolis of Fairbanks, Alaska is causing earlier ice breakup 40 miles downriver?

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30 responses to “Gullible’s Island

  1. Actually, how far downstream the station is from Fairbanks isn’t the issue. Breakup occurs when the spring snowmelt starts so they must be arguing that the urban heat island effect of Fairbanks is causing snow to melt earlier throughout a 100,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi) basin.

    [Response: And what, I wonder, could cause a trend of earlier snowmelt? Hmmm...]

  2. If I’m not mistaken the great science blog has calculated the wrong days from start of year:
    ” (I calculated this to be day 124.683 in 2011, please check)”
    123.683 I (and Excel) believe is the correct number.

  3. This is obviously evidence for the strength of the urban heat island effect. If 50,000 people can cause snow to melt 1 week earlier over such a large area, imagine the effect of Tokyo.

  4. Tamino, sometimes I don’t like you. Your link made me go to WUWT, and in the process I ended up reading the guest commentary below this article where “Ira” valiantly tries to explain to the WUWT acolytes that greenhouse warming is a real phenomenon, albeit a misnomer, and is supported by the laws of physics and experimental observations, rather than violating any laws of physics.

    I read the standard WUWT fan responses and my head promptly exploded. Thanks a lot. ;)

    • I can’t really blame the WUWT readers/commentators for not believing in the greenhouse warming effect, because every time the ‘contributors’ of the best science blog tried to demonstrate it, they were as incompetent at the exercise as they are in their denial endeavors … that and most of the readers are idiots uncapable of critical thinking with over inflated egos.

      (note: I haven’t read the latest attempt by Ira, I am now too old to afford to waste that kind of time :) ).

    • TrueSceptic

      Mike,

      You made me go to WUWT, something I try to avoid for the very reasons you gave, but I just could not resist.

      The number of comments is pretty large so I just settled for reading Joel Shore’s to get a flavour. He always quotes who he’s replying to so it was a good sample IMO. Other than the astounding arrogance, stupidity, and delusion of many of the WUWT denizens (notice how the arrogance seems to be proportional to the stupidity and delusion?), once again I have to take my hat off to Joel. How he maintains that level of patience, persistence, and politeness in a forum where it is so clearly not appreciated, I’ll never know. He’s a hero!

      Ooh, here’s a good one from one that thread (Tim Folkerts this time, not Joel):-

      I think we need a “Snopes for Science”. Instead of looking into urban legends, it could look into scientific claims made on the internet. Then people could go there for info, rather than rehashing a topic every time it comes up in a discussion like this. :-)

      [Reply: WUWT is the 'Snopes for Science'.☺ ~dbs, mod.]

      Sorry about that if you’re eating or drinking. :(

  5. Woah Mike, you’re not wrong! Luckily these, ahem, misguided souls generally keep their insanity confined to the WUWT asylum. However, for comedic purposes, I enclose a sample below:

    “Find out how many pixels there are on your computer screen. Using basic math calculate the proportional size in pixels of an image that represents 380 and 400 ppm. For example if your screen had exactly 1million pixels the image would be exactly 380 or 400… …Show the images to people who Believe and ask them if they still think that CO2 is anything other than a trace gas and ask them if the eensy teensy baby image; 20 pixels (the increase in CO2) looks sufficient to destabilize the other 999,980 parts of the atmosphere!”

    Get off the stage! Next!

    “Greenhouse heating by back radiation is surely wrong because it says that if you put a frozen steak inside a vacuum flask with reflective interior that the steak would cook, that if you stand in front of a mirror you will heat up from the reflected rays or that you can save on your heating bills by filling the loft with CO2?”

    How’s the physics degree going?

    “It should also be pointed out that, as CO2 partitions 50 to 1 into the oceans, we would have to emit 50 times more CO2 that required to simply double atmospheric CO2. There is not enough carbon available to do this. If we really tried, we might be able to do 20%.”

    Giant WTF to that one. Logic fail much?

    “You state that the back radiation has been measured. Well it might, or at least some long wave IR that is more probably short wave IR that has lost energy traveling through the atmosphere. “

    That’s the last one, I promise. My comment: one might want to investigate the distinction between intensity and wavelength. Cheers.

    • BEST SCIENCE BLOG!

    • Bernard J.

      Stu N.

      Although I am never one to want to clutter Open Mind with Denialati drivel, I do appreciate your sampling of WTFUWT.

      It saves me having to squelch through the morass myself, whilst still keeping up with the appalling lack of understanding that infests the backwater.

  6. arch stanton

    The weather started getting rough,
    The tiny ship was tossed,
    If not for the courage of the fearless crew
    the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.

  7. that if you stand in front of a mirror you will heat up from the reflected rays

    Survival space blanket alert! Glad this dude pointed out that they don’t work, so all those people who’ve survived a night in the wild with their space blankets will now die, immediately, in payment for their sin in believing basic physics …

  8. “Greenhouse heating by back radiation is surely wrong because it says that if you put a frozen steak inside a vacuum flask with reflective interior that the steak would cook”

    I guess this is even funnier, because really it merely says the steak would thaw more slowly.

    If this idiot is right, then the Mike thermonuclear shot didn’t work, and the explosion was filmed on the same stage as the moon landings…

  9. More quickly, not more slowly …

    if you stand in front of a mirror you will heat up from the reflected rays

    Obviously, this:

    doesn’t work …

    • I hope I don’t get food poisoning from all that food I thought I was cooking with my solar oven…

  10. Marion Delgado

    As a Fairbanksan, I assure you that our strong environmentalist community does, indeed, melt the ice around Fairbanks earlier every year precisely in order to usher in a command-and-control economy such as North Korea, Cuba, or New Zealand are subject to. As the population has grown (ironically, because our no-growth policies were thwarted so long), we’ve managed to use the university system to recruit new watermelons to carry on the breakup charade. The sensible science people didn’t think to monitor us, so we’ve been able to heat up ice, pour soot on the frozen Tanana, Chena and Nenana rivers, etc. unimpeded, and unobserved.

    Earth First! For Stalin, Nader, Ehrlich and Carson!

  11. Some WUWT moron, quoted by Stu: “You state that the back radiation has been measured. Well it might, or at least some long wave IR that is more probably short wave IR that has lost energy traveling through the atmosphere. “

    Wow! The old “tired light” theory of the cosmic red shift applied to climatology!

  12. Ray Ladbury

    You know, maybe some intrepid soul should collect the choicest nuggets from WTFUWT and collect them a la Fundies Say The Darnedest Things. It won’t be me. I can’t stomach the place. That much stupidity concentrated in one place scares the f**k out of me.

    Any chance we could convince them the rapture is coming on the 21st?

    • Now that Watts’ surfacestations project paper has been accepted (and he pleaded for donations to pay for it, suckers!), I imagine a supernova of stupidity over at WFTWT will take place once he puts it up there. ‘Course, my suspicion is that RPSr wrote it, and Tony is just along for the ride…

    • arch stanton

      Waaay to hazardous to the mental health. The collection process would require some kind of yet-to-be-invented haz-mat suit for the brain, along with short shifts monitored by “accumulated stupid exposure” meters.

    • Has anybody calculated the critical mass?

    • TrueSceptic

      I’m sure Tamino wouldn’t want that here but what about Ben’s site ?

      I nearly suggested Denial Depot but it be hard to tell it apart from the spoofs …

  13. Don Gisselbeck

    Someone in a comment on a Yahoo story about isostatic rebound in Greenland said it was ice free when the Vikings arrived.

  14. Ray …collect the choicest nuggets from WTFUWT and collect them a la Fundies Say The Darnedest Things.

    Although not specifically from WTFUWT you might enjoy these…

    http://shewonk.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/the-climate-denier-dunce-cap/

  15. “That much stupidity concentrated in one place scares the f**k out of me”
    ROFLMAO
    I love it

  16. Can someone please buy Joel Shore a drink? After diving into the muck and mire @WUWT, he must need refreshment.

    • TrueSceptic

      Too right! How does he do it, not just in that thread but on a continuing basis?

  17. Argh, oh no, look I know I said no more but this one is just too juicy. So good it deserves linkage and everything.

    “To radiate all directions the matter all around must be colder than the source that is radiating.”

    And from then on the comments reach a whole new realm of stupidity. Hockey Schtick argues that compression of descending air accounts for how ‘adiabatic warming’ results in the higher surface temperature, completely ignoring the 1st law of thermodynamics and mass continuity. God, it’s just painful…

  18. JCH reminds us “best science blog!”

    Well, yes, WTFUWT is the best science blog….
    for clueless morons.

  19. arch stanton

    Tamino- Another great statistical analysis of the tripe at some blogs that passes for “science”.

    OT but had to be mentioned somewhere…

    Glad to see that the long awaited Watts et al paper acknowledging that US surface temperatures are rising and are more more, than less, accurate has seen the light of day.

    On Topic, meaningless, but perhaps entertaining for some (that might have missed it first time around): Kinda makes you wonder.