Death by Chartsmanship

Willard Tony has a new post by Willis Eschenbach accusing Chris Mooney of “chartsmanship” to achieve “raw, pure, visceral alarmism.” But it’s Willis who has turned sniper to show off his “chartsmanship.”


Mooney showed this chart, estimates of the reduction of area of Greenland marine-terminating glaciers, based on the research of Jason Box:

jason-box-chart

Willis interprets this as representing ice loss of the entire continent of Greenland. Of course it isn’t. In fact he even has to admit that, when none other than one of the fake-skeptic faithful points it out. Yet rather than just admit he’s wrong, he excuses his own fakery as a “way to get the point across.”

Eschenbach portrays the situation like this:

effect-of-massive-ice-loss-on-greenland

Gosh.

Of course area loss of marine-terminating glaciers is not the same thing as ice loss over all of Greenland. But the real “chartsmanship” is choosing a graph scale which is deliberately designed to make the change look small. Deliberately.

Eschenbach still disparages using the first chart, the data from Jason Box (the guy who actually researches ice loss in Greenland). He also seems to consider Mooney’s headline that “Humans Have Already Set in Motion 69 Feet of Sea Level Rise” to be lunacy.

Willis, Willis … you missed your chance.

With “chartsmanship” like yours, you should have shown everybody that 69 feet of sea level rise is no problem at all! After all, the average depth of the ocean is 3,682 meters. Even if we suffer 69 feet (21 meters) of sea level rise by the year 2100, it won’t mean a thing. After all, the graph will look like this:

sealevel

So why should we care if sea level rises 69 feet?

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70 responses to “Death by Chartsmanship

  1. Ahh, chartjunk, nice useless background image. Actually, it’s worse than that—the contrast of light vs. dark ice in the background looks like a line “up and to the right” so all must be well!

  2. Who knew Dr Inferno was giving private tutorials even now? This chart looks like yet another of his marvellous expositions. As in this classic.

    http://denialdepot.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/how-to-cook-graph-skepticalsciencecom.html

  3. At a certain point, the only conclusion you can draw about the denialists:

    DUMBER THAN OWLSHIT!

    • NB–Snarkrates’s definition of dumb includes the component of willful ignorance, which certainly applies in the present case.

      Blake: “…with false, self-deluding tears.” Or something like that.

  4. Over the last decade, surely there must be a hockey-stick increase in the uses of charts.

  5. I must say that the chart Mooney shows does have a feeling of losing almost all of “whatever” it is. It is importnat to make a clear contrast bewteen what a chart actually shows and whatever factors impact our understanding of the issue being discussed. I don’t think it is a big deal, but I like things to be as clear as possible. Eschenbach’s grapgh is of course meaningless except in the fantasy land of the denialosphere

    [Response: I quite disagree that the graph Mooney showed has “a feeling of losing almost all of ‘whatever’ it is.” It just shows the change that has taken place, which is what it’s meant to show. It comes from the “Arctic Report Card” of NOAA, section about Greenland ice, and can be found here. It is meant to convey the trend in area covered by marine-terminating glaciers, which it does, not the fraction remaining, and it is both clearly labelled and clearly elucidated in that report. Mooney just acquired the graph from the scientists who actually study this.]

  6. Well, I am unable to find it now, but I am sure I recall Lubos Motl some years ago showing a 150 year temperature trend using degrees Kelvin with the x-axis starting at 0! Needless to say, there was not much to learn from that (about temperature that is, it told you all you needed to know about Motl)

  7. Watts is praising one of his commenters for noting the following from the IPCC FAR

    Fancy a warmist not knowing that between lines 35 and 35 in the Richard Alley, chair, draft of the warmista bible one can find a table showing the sea level equivalent of Greenland ice is 7.3 meters (24.95 feet).

    Yet Mooney’s article points out

    Box also provided a large-scale perspective on how much sea level rise humanity has already probably set in motion from the burning of fossil fuels. The answer is staggering: 69 feet, including water from both Greenland and Antarctica, as well as other glaciers based on land from around the world.

    Apparently in Watts land reading what you are rebutting is not required.

  8. Chris O'Neill

    How does Willis know how much ice area there will be in 2100?

  9. Gavin's Pussycat

    Eh, ice area in cubic kilometres?

    • Those pesky details again…

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Looks like he also got the area wrong:

      Byrd Polar research Center gives

      Area of ice sheet: 1.801±0.016×10^6 km2 (Kargel et al. 2012). 1.785 x 10^6 km2 (Ohmura et al. 1999)

      Eschenbach’s chart shows about 1.9 million (certainly well more than 1.8 and outside the uncertainty)

      Maybe there’s a factor involved when you convert area in km^2 to “area” in km^3?

  10. Horatio Algeranon

    “Crock-o-denial Blog”
    — Horatio Algeranon’s parody of Crocodile Rock (apologies to Elton John, ones of Horatio’s all time favorites)

    I remember when the blog was young, me and Tony had so much fun
    Scolding Manns and sliming Jones
    Had a No-warm Theory and a blog of my own
    But the biggest kick I ever got was doing a thing called the Crock-o-denial Blog
    While the other kids were bloggin’ ‘round the clock, we were denyin’ and lyin’ on the Crock-o-denial Blog
    Well, Crock-o-denial Blogging is really fogging when the heat just can’t keep still
    I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
    Oh lawdy mama, those Denyday heights when Tony snitched addresses right and the Crock-o-denial Bloggin’ was out of sight

    But the years went by and the Blog just died
    Tony went and left us with some American Pi**
    Long nights crying by the Denial Machine
    Dreaming of the Theory and my cold new schemes
    But they’ll never kill the thrills we got lyin’ it up at the Crock-o-denial Blog
    Denying facts as the weeks went past
    We really thought the Crock-o-denial Blog would last
    Well, Crock-o-denial Blogging is really fogging when the heat just can’t keep still
    I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
    Oh lawdy mama, those Denyday heights when Tony snitched addresses right and the Crock-o-denial Bloggin’ was out of sight

    I remember when crock was young, me and Tony had so much fun
    Scolding Manns and sliming Jones
    Had a No-warm Theory and a blog of my own
    But the biggest kick I ever got was doing a thing called the Crock-o-denial Blog
    While the other kids were bloggin’ ‘round The clock, we were denyin’ and lyin’ on the Crock-o-denial Blog
    Well, Crock-o-denial Blogging is really fogging when the heat just can’t keep still
    I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will
    Oh lawdy mama, those Denyday heights when Tony snitched addresses right and the Crock-o-denial Bloggin’ was out of sight

  11. Willis shows ice area in cubic km? He must be living in another dimension.

  12. Playing dumb is a common tactic the deniers use to deny. When some concept gets in the way of a good denier talking point, they’ll act dumb and pretend they don’t understand that concept.

    I know this to be deliberate because they are intelligent enough at other times. Unfortunately I can’t prove it on paper as I do not keep a record and do not have the time to pull all the scattered evidence on blogs together, so all I have to go on is my recollection of their behavior over time. But it’s good enough for me. The pattern has been very clear.

    I’ll see deniers who are perfectly intelligent at other times demand the y-axis on a graph should always start at zero when faced with, eg the JAXA or NSIDC ice extent graphs. It’s a response they dredge up in their knee-jerk desire to deny these graphs that show something they don’t like. They have the intelligence to realize that religiously starting the y-axis from zero produces stupid results. They have the intelligence to grasp the concept of using all the available space. But they play dumb, because it’s convenient.

    When they pull out weak evidence that of Sun/global temperature link, eg the Laut solar cycle length/temperature correlation graph, they have the intelligence to realize the evidence is rubbish. They can see on the Laut graph that the correlation is only plotted up to the 90s. They *know* cycle 23 was very long and they *know* global temperatures are recently very high and they have the intelligence to therefore realize the correlation totally collapses. But instead they play dumb because it’s convenient.

    They have the intelligence to grasp the concept that global temperature spiking upwards temporarily during El Ninos and downwards during La Ninas, and that therefore short-term trends can be unduely affected by the chance sequence of ENSO events. But instead they play dumb, because it’s convenient.

    When someone like Burt Rutan pulls out a load of nonsense in a powerpoint presentation on WUWT, they have the intelligence to spot the logical fallacies and flawed data being presented. But instead they play dumb, because it’s convenient.

    They have the intelligence to grasp the concept of extrapolating the 1979-1997 trend to 2013 and seeing if warming really did “stop in 1997″. But instead they play dumb.

    They have the intelligence to consider the lack of global cooling in light of recent low solar activity and contrast this with their exaggerations of the Sun’s impact on global temperature. But instead they play dumb.

    • I used to see the same thing with creationists. I think part of it was that they wanted to see just how stupid they could play things and get you to respond, making you the fool. They would also repeat arguments that they had made only a few days before that you had responded to and where they had responded to your response. They wanted to see how much they could make you work, and would count on your not being able to dig up the quotes to prove you had covered this ground before. A certain Laurie A. and his associates from Australia come to mind. That was just before I got involved in what was to become the British Centre for Science Education.

    • Spot on, ianh. And when you post a comment on WUWT where the peanut gallery detect that you are actually right, no one responds to it. Because they can’t. They wait for one of the toxic regulars to come along like Smokey or Richard Courtney to essentially say: “You’re wrong, idiot! Why? Um… because I say so. Now go away and be a good little warmista.” :-)

  13. Horatio–Lovely! One of my favorite Elton John songs, with perfect lyrics for Tony et al.

  14. Over at Technology Review, commenter zdzisiekm cites Beenstock, et al. (2012) for using polynomial cointegration tests to disconfirm a correlation between anthropogenic emissions and surface temperature: Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming.

    Then he goes on to cite Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) by saying this paper “doesn’t find any change in the seasonally frozen ground of Eurasia in the past 20 years”.

    He finishes by blaming the sun: “Clearly, the observed climate drift is perfectly natural, in response to unusually high solar activity, the highest in the past 9000 years, according to Vieira, et al. (2011).”

    • H/T to Rabett Run, a reply to the polynomial cointegration paper has been published – Comment on “Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming” by Beenstock et al. (2012) – Some fallacies in econometric modelling of climate change, http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/4/219/2013/esdd-4-219-2013.html.

      Interestingly enough, they split the forcing data in to pre/post 1958, where the gas data changes from ice core to direct sampling – they found that the statistical characteristics of the forcings changes at that point. They also used as underlying trends for CO2 a constant until 1958 and a linear trend for forcing afterwards.

      “Incorrectly modelled relations arise when the wrong functional form is imposed, say linear rather than non-linear, inadequate dynamics are allowed for, inducing residual autocorrelation, or heteroskedastic errors are not handled, all of which entail that estimated standard errors (on which tests are based) are far from the correct sampling uncertainty standard deviations.”
      […]
      “Given these time series properties, the starting point of the analysis in Beenstock et al. (2012) is incorrect, and their findings appear to be an artefact of pooling data with very different measurement systems and behaviour in the two sub-samples.”

      The paper was nonsense from the start – concluding that methane forcing was negative, that CO2 forcing declined over time at a constant concentration.

      The best quote IMO is: “…greater concentrations of greenhouse gases
      increase the amount of absorption and hence re-radiation. To “establish” otherwise merely prompts the question “where are the errors in the Beenstock et al. analysis?”.”

      Time for that nonsense to fade away…

  15. Mr. Eschenbach’s physician should make a similar plot of body temperature to demonstrate to Mr. Eschenbach that his 105 fever is not a matter of concern.

  16. Actually, if a “skeptic” looked at your final graph, they would ask what was special about 2025 & 2075, because there was a sudden change in sea level in those years…

  17. I can’t say I’m too impressed by Mooney’s use of that diagram. It’s perfectly fine in a scientific journal, but how many of the reader’s on his blog will read, much less understand, the caption? Mooney doesn’t explain anything, it’s just a scary curve pointing straight down.

    Eschenbach’s diagram may be “chartsmanship”, but at least it is so in an obvious way to make the point that so far a negligible part of the Greenland ice sheet has melted.

    Since it is so hard for non-specialists to relate to area or volumes for ice sheets, it’s just a bunch of large numbers, I think it would be most helpful to label graphs of ice loss in mm of sea level they represent. After all, that is the main concern.

    [Resopnse: Evidently you missed the point entirely.

    Which is: that Greenland ice is melting as fast or faster than expected, and that the rate is increasing (i.e., melt is accelerating). The graph shown by Mooney is one of many in the scientific literature which illustrates this.

    1. Choosing a scale which makes the change look as small as possible isn’t the only deceptive tactic that Eschenbach used (although he took that one to the limit). He also 2. compared area reduction of marine-terminating glaciers to the entire area of Greenland, which is ludicrous except for fitting in with his deceptive plan, namely to make everything seem insignificant. He further 3. extrapolated the present rate of area loss all the way to the year 2100, which is the most sleazy tactic because the whole problem is the anticipated acceleration of Greenland melt, an acceleration which is being observed right now.

    When you extrapolate acceleration into the future it is seriously dangerous. The whole point of showing that graph — and others like it — to the public is to illustrate that Greenland melt is literally on track to be worse than scientists were predicting just a few years ago. If you ask me, Mooney understated his case by showing the reduction of Marine-terminating glaciers, he should have shown ice mass loss data from GRACE, which shows unambiguously how the loss of Greenland ice has been getting so much worse, in such a short time, that yes we really really need to worry about it.

    Mooney did nothing but present the current scientific opinion: Greenland ice melt is proceeding faster than expected and is a real danger. As for Willis Eschenbach, doubt is his product.]

  18. Tamino, I was discussing the use of those two specific diagrams, not whether Mooney or Eschenbach is right in the larger issue of whether or not we shoud worry about the development on Greenland. I agree with you that there are lots of worrying signs and that Eschenbach is trying to downplay the issue, but nevertheless I found Mooneys use of that diagram misleading given the likely audience.

    You claim “that Greenland ice is melting as fast or faster than expected, and that the rate is increasing (i.e., melt is accelerating). The graph shown by Mooney is one of many in the scientific literature which illustrates this.”

    Now, to an expert on Greenland this may be obvious, but pretend to be a layman who don’t have a lot of background knowledge and explain how that graph illustrates all that. This is what Mooney should have expained if he wanted to use the diagram since it isn’t self evident.

    Or he could have used a figure like 5.19 on this page which is a lot easier to understand:

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/greenland_ice_sheet.html

    (which does includs the use of sea level for labelling the axis)

    [Response: I quite agree that’s a better figure for making the point, and it’s probably the one I would have used. I don’t find the graph Mooney used (which is on the same web page) misleading.]

  19. Horatio Algeranon

    A large fraction (~75%) of the total Greenland ice loss over the past decade is directly due to the outflow glaciers , so the graph that Mooney shows is actually a pretty good indicator of the acceleration of the melt of the ice sheet as a whole.

    In effect, the marine terminating glaciers act as “gates” that hold back the inland ice and are actually responsible for much of the recent acceleration in melt.

    Mooney might have mentioned this to make the point clear, but his graph is certainly not ‘misleading” because what is happening to the terminating glaciers is one of the things that worries scientists like Box most.

  20. The area loss chart from Jason Box and the Arctic Report card is for the 40 largest outlet glaciers. These have in general experienced the greatest of outlet glaciers, and most non-outlet glaciers have experienced much less retreat. However, most of the volume loss comes from thinning of the ice sheet in and around the outlet glacier termini. Some glaciers that are retreating that do not make the list for Box are Narssap Sermia and Thyrm Glacier.

  21. Richard Alley has 45 minutes on the Greenland, and Antarctic ice sheets given at Stanford near the end of October that I found most interesting. And it’s Alley who reliably gives good video:

  22. I think the problem with polar ice melt and sea level rise is that they are a secondary problem, and — in general — far too much attention is paid to them in the press. Sea level rise is easy to sensationalize. Eventually, yes, it will be a serious issue for most of us and — before that — it will be a grave issue for some of the poorest people on the planet. Like the inhabitants of Bangladesh.

    For me, AGW has always been an agricultural and security issue. Pakistan, for example, has had its agricultural production all but wiped out in 2 of the last years by flood and had its production seriously diminished by drought last year. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a large, committed Islamist minority. The Arab Spring (such as it is) was spawned by rises in food prices. We spent a trillion bucks to insure that Iraq didn’t acquire nukes. To mitigate AGW? Not so much.

    • So true. This is the thing one could never be too ‘alarmist’ about. It also proves the Nobel prize for Peace to IPCC/Al Gore might never have been so rightly given. What I find quite shocking is the lack of attention this problem is still receiving – even by those many in the absolute know about AGW.
      Let’s see how the US desertification progresses. That should bring the message to any home like from a rocket launcher in mere years. Arctic sea ice is but a symbol. Sandy was nothing (and Irene forgotten, of course).

      /cRR

  23. “Greenland ice is melting as fast or faster than expected, and that the rate is increasing.”

    No, what it is saying is that the marine terminating glaciers studied (a sub-set of all marine terminating glaciers in Greenland) lost ice at a rate of 131.5 km2 of ice area a year between 2000 and 2012. It is a graph of the cumulative loss of ice from the glaciers not the annual loss (as far as I can tell as it is not made clear in the notes with the graph).

    Unfortunately the Mother Jones article made no effort to place this loss in context, and precipitates a question in the inquiring mind “so what?” Glaciers the world over have been getting smaller since the end of the little ice age so is this loss worrying or is it just the continuation of a 200 year trend?

    To make sense of the chart I would like to know:
    1. What is the total extent of marine terminating glaciers studied in 2000?
    2. What proportion of all marine terminating glaciers do those that were studied represent?
    3. Is the rate of loss of ice of all marine terminating glaciers likely to be similar across all marine terminating glaciers?
    4. Do we have any idea of the loss of ice from these glaciers prior to 2000?

    Without this necessary context it is impossible to know whether to be alarmed or not. Is 131.5km2 a lot or little? It is impossible to tell from either the chart or the MJ article.

    The slope of the graph seems pretty linear, with a bit of noise, and it would be very difficult to prove acceleration from the data included here seeing as it is just the 12 most recent years in what has been, in the rest of the world, a 200 year process.

    I agree that Eschenbach’s criticism was clumsy, but the Mother Jones explanation of the chart was misleading and left me with more questions than answers.

    • David B. Benson

      The Little Ice Age was ended by the anthropogenic influences upon climate, principally excess CO2. The upward trend is solely due to humans.

    • “Glaciers the world over have been getting smaller since the end of the little ice age so is this loss worrying or is it just the continuation of a 200 year trend?”

      That should be “100 year trend”. The little ice age didn’t end until around 100 years ago. Also, why the false dichotomy?

      • There is lots of debate about the LIA, whether it was global or regional. The latest science seems to suggest it was at least more widespread than just a European event – probably northern hemisphere and almost certainly including Greenland. I will dig around and post the cites when I find them.

        The only continuous instrumental record covering any of the LIA is the Hadley Central England Temperature series (HadCET) which runs from 1659.

        Look at the literature here:

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/data/download.html

        and plot it using Excel.

        Using a climatic moving average of 30 years plotted at the central date (year 15) the bottom of the temperature range was an annual average temperature of 8.5c around 1685 after which it quickly warmed to around 9.4c by 1725, a temperature not seen again (on a 30 year moving average basis) until the 1930s. So my memory failed me, the end of the Little Ice Age was actually 287 years ago.

        That is an upward swing in temperature of +0.9c well before any significant release of CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels.

        Temperatures in England declined by around 0.4c between 1725 and 1760 and then bounced along at between 9.0c to -9.2c until the early 1900s. Currently HadCET is around 10c (average of the last 30 years),

        Now of course there are anthropogenic influences other than CO2, such as deforestation and extensive agriculture, but neither of these had got off the ground by 1725. Remember at that time the USA was a few states on the Eastern seaboard and buffalo still roamed the prairies.

        I will post a chart of HadCET when I get home as my employer blocks photo sharing sites!

      • “the LIA, whether it was global or regional”

        Why do you respond with a non-sequitur? Still no excuse for your false dichotomy, I see.

    • Kevin MacDonald

      TLM
      February 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Unfortunately the Mother Jones article made no effort to place this loss in context, and precipitates a question in the inquiring mind “so what?” Glaciers the world over have been getting smaller since the end of the little ice age so is this loss worrying or is it just the continuation of a 200 year trend?

      With all due respect, any mind that expects to find a concise summation of the last 200 years evolution of all the Earth’s glaciers in a single blog article is not an inquiring one. The article left you with questions; great, look at the literature, but don’t use it as an excuse to post apologist guff for Eschenbach’s vapid hokum.

      • I am not apologizing for Eschenbach’s piece, as my final sentence makes clear.

        Of course you could not expect to get all the answers from a single blog post, but the MJ article says nothing about the chart and certainly does not put it into any kind of useful context.

        As it stands it is likely to incite one of two responses depending on the suggestibility of the audience, either:

        “Oh my god! A chart going sharply downwards from 0 to -1800!! We are all doomed!!”

        or

        “Er… what?

        Call me a rotten old cynic if you like, but I think I can guess which reaction the writer was trying to elicit. That is the nature of the MJ blog.

        If you are going to drop this kind of thing into a blog post the least you can do for the reader is provide a citation or a link so that they can “look at the literature”.

  24. Sorry, correction to my point 3:
    3. Is the rate of loss of ice in this study likely to be similar across all marine terminating glaciers?

  25. Link to chart as promised:

  26. Chris O’Neill
    “Why do you respond with a non-sequitur? Still no excuse for your false dichotomy, I see.”

    I would be more impressed with your criticism of my rhetorical style if you bothered to comment on the substance of my post as well. Do you have anything constructive to say?

    Re the “False dichotomy”. A very minor infringement that was not really worth explaining as the answer was self evident.

    But seeing as you insist, we all know that climate change is all about grey areas and gradual change. I raised this to point out that glaciers were retreating long before the sharp increase in greenhouse gases by man that occurred from the middle of the 20th Century and asking how the current rate of loss compares with the losses in the period prior to that time. Can you answer or point me to a source? That would be a useful contribution.

    As we are being picky, there is no hyphen in “non sequitur”.

    On that point, do you think my raising the point that there is an ongoing discussion of the extent of the LIA was:a humourous introduction, an irrelevant statement or a logical fallacy where a stated conclusion is not supported by its premise? I presume you mean it was irrelevant. The reason I included it is that in many discussions of the LIA somebody argues that it was only regional and therefore not important. I was heading that off. However, if you think it was irrelevant then please feel free to ignore it and my sincere apologies.

    • I would be more impressed with your criticism of my rhetorical style

      I didn’t criticise your style, I criticised your substance. Whether the LIA was global or regional was not the issue. The issue was the timing of it end.

      Re the “False dichotomy”. A very minor infringement that was not really worth explaining as the answer was self evident.

      So your false dichotomy: “Glaciers the world over have been getting smaller since the end of the little ice age so is this loss worrying or is it just the continuation of a 200 year trend?” was a mistake and glacial shrinkage since the end of the Little Ice Age 100 years ago is worrying.

      • Whether the LIA was global or regional was not the issue. The issue was the timing of its end.
        That would have been a more useful comment than the one you actually made. I agree that opinions differ on the precise timing of its end, but certainly its coldest phase was over by 1740 and I have never read a date for the end of the LIA any later than 1850, 162 years ago.

        Your “false dichotomy” is a matter of opinion. I contend that if a large portion of the retreat of the glaciers occurred prior to the major growth in AGW (the 90 years from 1850-1940) then that retreat was part of a natural cycle and therefore less worrying because natural cycles have tendency to, er, cycle.

        Also if the rate of the retreat is no faster now than it was then it would suggest that we are still in the “ice retreat” phase of a natural cycle rather than the run-away melt phase of an AGW catastrophe.

        Personally I would say the evidence favours a middle scenario that we are seeing a largely natural process that is being reinforced by AGW rather than a solely AGW process and hence it is likely to be mitigated by a reverse of the natural cycle at some point.

      • TLM,
        Really? A natural process? And what energy source do you propose as the driver of that process? Or are you like a teenager standing over a broken vase saying, “It just happened!”?

        And keep in mind that warming is not the only trend occurring. There is also cooling in the stratosphere–that’s a really neat one to try to explain without ghgs. There is the latitudinal, seasonal, diurnal signature of the warming. There is the fact that all of these trends are just what models incorporating ghgs predict.

        Science is not about opinion. It is about evidence. Got any?

      • Snarkrates,
        What energy source do you propose as the driver of the warming that started the glacier melt as we came out of the LIA between 1725 and 1850? Or the end of the last proper ice age 10,000 or so years ago?

        Our current climate is the result of AGW overlain on natural climatic processes. These natural processes have led to the creation and destruction of ice sheets and glaciers many times in the past as well as causing climate fluctuations of a more modest kind such as the LIA, the MWP or the RWP.

        [Response: Please don’t play that card, you make yourself look pathetic. Not only do we know a great deal about what triggers ice ages and drives them so far, you’d probably be surprised how well past climate forcings account for those pre-1940 changes. Maybe it’s time for you to visit that library.]

        Did those natural processes stop dead in 1940 and only AGW take over?

        Although you would like to paint me as one, I am not a denier. I understand and appreciate that AGW is happening, that our emissions of GHG are contributing to the warming of the Earth and that is not a good thing.

        But denying there are natural forces at work as well as anthropogenic ones is a denial just as much as denying AGW and saying there are only natural forces at work.

        [Response: Please don’t play that card, you only make yourself look dishonest.]

      • TLM,
        The LIA? Largely volcanism, decreased solar output during a grand solar minimum and probably some changes in the flow of the gulfstream. The end of the last ice age–subtle changes in insolation in Northern Summer due to minor fluctuations in Earths orientation and orbit. And we know all that for a world that had no satellites bristling with instruments and antennae, no dense network of weather stations, etc. as we have today

        Now your turn. What natural forcings and how do they give rise to a 35 year rising trend along with a declining stratospheric temperature.

        Do you have any idea how tired the old “I know nothing about climate, so I’ll assume the scientists know even less,” routine gets? Your ignorance is NOT universal.

      • Please don’t play that card, you make yourself look pathetic… Please don’t play that card, you only make yourself look dishonest
        Wow. Strong stuff. I appear to have stepped on a land mine.

        [Response: No, you pulled the pin out of a grenade and it blew up in your own face.]

        I honestly have no idea why you think this is so controversial. The climate is after all a product of natural processes and as subject to natural variability and cycles as it is to greenhouse gas warming.

        [Response: First you feel compelled to ask “those natural processes stop dead in 1940 and only AGW take over?” As if anybody here even hinted at that ridiculous idea. Then you protest that it’s not controversial. The only one who mentioned the idea is you, and this implication of yours is the very card which makes you look pathetic. Since it’s also one of the most common idiocies to come from deniers I suspect that’s where you got it.]

        After such a response I am not really inclined to continue this discussion but clearly my presence here will not be missed. I will away to bait a few nutters on WUWT.

        [Response: My opinion: you are a denier. Maybe you deftly avoided stage 1 (it’s not happening) and stage 2 (it’s not because of us) but you bought stage 3 (it’s not that bad) hook, line, and sinker.]

      • When danger reared its ugly head
        he bravely turned his tail and fled
        Yes, brave Sir TLM turned about
        and gallantly, he chickened out…

        Denier? Pudknocker? Either way, the learning curve doesn’t have a positive slope.

      • Snarkrates
        “Now your turn. What natural forcings and how do they give rise to a 35 year rising trend along with a declining stratospheric temperature?”

        The natural ones are, of course, the ones that mean we are not in a little ice age, namely:
        – a lot less volcanism
        – increased solar output during a grand solar maximum
        – small changes in the Gulf Stream ( as manifested in a warm phase of the North Atlantic Multidecadal oscillation)

        Add GHG forcings on top of these and you get the last 35 years of warming.

        As you say, the stratospheric cooling is an indication of GHG forcing, as is a warming Arctic and increased night time temperatures. I know the mechanisms and the symptoms.

      • Tamino Response: “My opinion: you are a denier. Maybe you deftly avoided stage 1 (it’s not happening) and stage 2 (it’s not because of us) but you bought stage 3 (it’s not that bad) hook, line, and sinker.

        i would not phrase it in quite such negative terms as you, of course, but not far off. Rather than “buying a line” so to speak, I would say I read the science differently.

        I would finesse my “Stage 3 denial” by saying it is not that bad now but probably will be at some uncertain time in the future. You can create a new pigeonhole for me now. Stage 4. It will be bad, but not yet!

      • “– increased solar output during a grand solar maximum”

        How odd that you’d claim that over the last 35 years.

        The last decade in particular being noticeably decreasing …

      • TLM reads the science differently. Well, TLM, since it is clear you aren’t a scientist, perhaps you would care to explain to us why we should not simply laugh at your scientific dyslexia.

  27. Kevin MacDonald

    Weird, much of that went mental. Try again:

    TLM
    February 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    If you are going to drop this kind of thing into a blog post the least you can do for the reader is provide a citation or a link so that they can “look at the literature”.

    You mean like a label that explains what it is and from whence it came? I think that’s covered by the label that explains what it is and from whence it came:

    Box, J.E. and D. T. Decker, 2011: Analysis of Greenland marine-terminating glacier area changes: 2000-2010, Annals of Glaciology, 52(59) 91-98.

    • I tried that. Google directed me to a few 404’s before I eventually bumped into a pay wall. If a blogger wants people to take this stuff seriously he needs to do better than that. Actually I still contend that a bit of explanation of the graph in the article was called for.
      Tamino was a lot more helpful with his link in an earlier comment – see my next note in this thread.

    • Anyone wishing to make comments on climate science who doesn’t have access to, or won’t physically go to (it’s allowed, you know, at most), a proper research library really has little business either commenting or complaining.

      Scientific sources exist in, er, scientific repositories.

      • :-0
        …gobsmacked…

        Sorry, did I read that correctly? Only scientists with access to, and time to attend, a proper research library are allowed to post comments on this site?

        Tamino?

        I thought blogs were where the scientific community went to interface with the general public. If I am wrong then pardon me for interrupting this doctoral seminar.

        I’ll get my coat…

        [Response: Apparently you want to do more than just get some information and discuss ideas. You want to maintain contrary opinions (which I happen to think have little or no credibility). If you’re going to do that, the onus is on you to get information to back it up. But you won’t go to a library?

        A “proper research library” isn’t some undergound vault guarded by elite troops with M-16s who only admit “scientists.”]

      • A “proper research library” isn’t some undergound vault guarded by elite troops with M-16s who only admit “scientists.”
        :-)
        The “access” bit is not really the problem. It is the “time” bit. I have a career, a wife and three teenage kids. I only have the time to post here because work is a little quiet today.

        I think you know where I stand on this, so I have said enough. Not as far from your views as it might seem, just trying to keep a sense of perspective and time scale. My concern is that the scientific community is in danger of creating an impression of imminent and certain catastrophe when the problem is really one of distant and uncertain catastrophe.

        When that “imminent” catastrophe takes too long to happen people will stop believing the scientists – which will be a big shame.

      • TLM:

        the problem is really one of distant

        So you think we should ignore problems we’re creating for our grandchildren and beyond. Fine.

        and uncertain catastrophe

        So you would fly on a plane that had a 10% chance of crashing because it’s “uncertain” it will crash?

        people will stop believing the scientists – which will be a big shame

        So you’re a concern troll.

      • Chris O’Neil
        ME: “the problem is really one of distant”
        YOU: So you think we should ignore problems we’re creating for our grandchildren and beyond. Fine.

        Where did I say we should ignore the problem?

        There is a problem, and it needs sorting out. The issue is a PR one. Nobody alive today will see very much difference. You have to convince people to invest hugely in alternative energy sources now to sort out a problem that will not become apparent for many decades, if not centuries. I have no answer, sorry. I just think that Apocalypticism isn’t it.

        ME: “and uncertain catastrophe”
        YOU: So you would fly on a plane that had a 10% chance of crashing because it’s “uncertain” it will crash?

        Totally meaningless analogy. A closer one would be would I buy a house 2m above sea level that only has a 10% chance of being 1m underwater when my grandchild inherits it but a 90% chance of being 1m underwater when my great, great grandchild inherits it?

        So you’re a concern troll.
        Well, I am concerned, that is true, and I think this stuff needs debating. If that makes me a troll well so be it. If Tamino thinks so he will ban me, if he hasn’t already!

      • TLM, I think that there are some pretty good indications that climate change is hurting us now. Not all are firmly attributable, but that doesn’t mean that complacency about the prospects of those of us who are not so young escaping GW

        For instance: this years’ US drought–it has not been formally attributed, though it certainly occurred in conjunction with some record high temps, but is very much what is expected to occur under the sort of warming regime we are discussing. I seem to recall that you dismissed any ‘connection’ between Sandy and GW, but a number of scientists–informally, admittedly–stated that warming had probably ‘juiced it,’ as one of them phrased it. And its curious track into NY may well have been related to jet stream changes related to warming via sea ice loss.

        The drought killed 123, according to NOAA, with another 8 dying in the wildfires, while the US death toll for Sandy was 131. Monetary costs are still not finalized (of course) but will certainly exceed $71 billion.

        And that’s one season in the USA.

        Sure, it’s not attributed formally. Do I have to go back to, say 2003, for the heatwave there and its 20,000-40,000 fatalities, which was?

        Come on, get real. A quick informal tally suggests tens of thousands of deaths to date (not even getting into the study finding (IIRC) 154,000 additional deaths to disease yearly–in 2006!)–not to mention economic losses in the hundreds of billions. Now. Not in our grandkid’s primes.

        That’d be tolerable if that were as bad as it is going to get. But you very well know that that is not the case. The ‘natural forcings’ right now are favoring us a bit with a quiet sun and an absence of El Nino events. It won’t last–but the 2+ ppm CO2 each year will, for the near term at least.

        Plus we’re doing an excellent job of swinging the albedo feedback into action, and seem in the process to be liberating a pretty fair dollop of methane.

        Complacency is the last thing that makes a lick of sense in today’s situation.

  28. I have now had the chance to look a the original site from which this chart in the Mother Jones web site comes courtesy of one of Tamino’s earlier replies:

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/greenland_ice_sheet.html

    To be honest, although it is explained better than on MJ, the original chart does not really illuminate the problem of loss of ice on Greenland very well.
    What is rather more worrying is this graph showing the Greenland ice loss as measured by Grace.

    Again the scale is simplistic with the first point top left and the last point bottom right. On a square format that gives the line a 45 degree angle and tends to make it look rather alarming. In this case the height of the graph is actually greater than the width, which is totally unnecessary and further exaggerates the slope of the graph.
    I sometimes think that scientists do this because they think their audience is stupid and will fall for cheap visual tricks, when actually the kind of person that reads this stuff is usually cleverer than average and understands about scaling charts in an informative way and therefore finds it patronising. If scientists want us to take this research seriously they need to treat us as educated adults.
    But at least it makes it easier to read numbers off it!
    I did some simple maths to try and get a handle on the scale of the issue.
    On the assumption that Gigatons is an imperial measure, and taking the most recent (accelerated) rate of loss of ice at 367 Gigatons a year then assuming the oceans have a surface area 361,000,000 square kilometres (from Wikipedia) then the loss of sea ice from Greenland is adding ~0.92mm to the Earth’s oceans each year.
    At the current rate of loss that would mean a rise by the year 2100 of 0.081 metres (3.2 inches) as a result of loss of ice from Greenland.
    Should we be panicking yet? I would suggest it is a bit early to do so and that there is nothing to suggest that sea level rise is accelerating to any significant extent.
    Chris Mooney at Mother Jones suggests that we have “set in motion 69 feet [21 metres] of sea level rise”.
    So exactly how long will that rise take?
    At the current rate, about 7,000 years. And a 1m rise will take over 300 years.
    I have read speculation that we should expect a rise of up to 3m by the end of the century, but for that to happen we would need to see a very, very rapid acceleration in the rate of melting not only of Greenland but also of Antarctica.
    I think a big problem with this kind of research is that we have only just started measuring this stuff. Without a long time series it is very difficult to put it into historical context. Extrapolating 100 years into the future from the last 10 years of data is likely to lead to some big errors.

    [Response: You really seem to miss the point. Extrapolating the present rate of ice melt throughout this century assumes it will remain steady, which is contradicted by both theory and observation. Greenland ice melt is accelerating. So too, for that matter, is sea level on a century time scale. And, the acceleration of Greenland’s melt is quite a lot faster than expected.

    I’d also say that your impression of the graphs as misleading is only that and nothing more — your impression.]

  29. You really seem to miss the point.
    I absolutely get the point! I just disagree with it.

    Greenland ice melt is accelerating.
    Well, I think a more accurate way of putting it would be “Greenland ice melt has accelerated”.

    I have read the NOAA Arctic Report Card (thanks for the link btw, bookmarked for future reference) and it is clear that 2012 was anomalous – driven by a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a “weather” event which led to severely high summer temperatures over Greenland. A negative NAO has been seen every year since 2007. It is highly likely positive NAO years will happen leading to colder summer temps over Greenland and a reduction in the rate of melt.

    We simply have not been measuring these things for long enough to come to any firm long term conclusion as to what the future holds. We do not know how much of this change is natural and how much is AGW. I repeat, the glaciers were retreating long before AGW could have been a factor.

    I agree that projecting the current rate of sea level rise forward to the end of the century is not ideal, but the rate has been pretty consistently around 3mm a year since satellite records began which is over a third of a century now so it is unlikely to be that far out.

    Even if you assume a quadrupling of the melt in Greenland tomorrow that still only leads to an extra 0.24m (9.5 inches) extra sea level rise by 2100. If we ever do see a 21m rise in sea levels it is unlikely to be for several hundreds of years.

    I will be dead in 2100 and my children will be in their very late ’90s, if they survive that long. My grand children will be using electricity generated through a combination of fusion and solar cells. They will be driving cars that do over 100 mpg, and living in efficient insulated homes that generate as much power as they use. This will happen not because of AGW panic, but because it will be cheaper.

    Scare stories of 21m sea level rise are misleading, inflammatory and counter productive.

    I’d also say that your impression of the graphs as misleading is only that and nothing more — your impression.
    Impressions matter. I use charts in my business to convey information. If I did one this misleading I would be fired.

  30. I’ve a couple of issues with this “Mooney chartmanship”, too.

    First, it doesn’t appear to be Mooney’s chart. It appears to have been supplied by Box (“Chart courtesy of Jason Box” would seem to be a dead giveaway), and it’s style is consistent with this being so, as can be seen by referring to the paper itself (link below). I just presume that JB helpfully provided a more up-to-date chart than the one given in the paper (which obviously only went to 2010).

    So, anyone discussing Mooney’s “chartmanship” is actually discussing Box’s (and Decker’s) “chartmanship” as passed as acceptable by the Ann Glaciol editors/referees.

    Then anyone wishing to know about the thinking behind the sampling need only have Googled “Greenland marine-terminating glacier area changes” (with or without those quote marks) and up pops a pdf as first in the list (granted, this might not have been so 2 or 3 days ago).

    And therein one finds this:

    All glaciers in the survey are marine-terminating. Our annual survey contains 30% (421 km) of total glacier width (1417 km) or 39 of the 261 (15%) marine-terminating glaciers of at least 1 kmwidth. The relatively small fraction of the total count results from the fact that we select the widest glaciers where relatively large area changes are resolvable; essentially where the signal-to-noise ratio is highest and where calving rates are greatest (Weidick and Bennike, 2007). We find no correlation (R = 0.05) between glacier width and the effective glacier length change (area change divided by width). We may therefore conclude that we do not incur a sampling bias by preferentially measuring the widest glaciers.

    Then, as regards choice of scale for this supposed “chartmanship exercise”, I was taught from an early age that it was good practice to choose a scale that was convenient and easy to read and that the plot should cover most of the page/graph.

    Given those guidelines, a plot that traversed (or nearly so) the page/graph from bottom/top left to top/bottom right was considered good (others less so, on a sliding scale from not so good to poor). The geometry of such a plot (given a linear relationship of some variable over a given interval) might well be close to a 45-degree line.

    There’s a good reason for this when you wish, say, to calculate the slope reasonably accurately from someone else’s plots; indeed, it enabled me to check their (presumably mathematically derived) trend per year reasonably easily. So, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the Box plot [pun intended]: they were not picking any Prunus fruit or intending any other form of deceit, unlike some that could be mentioned.

  31. I believe the “69 feet” of sea level rise claim comes from this kind of chart, showing past SL as a function of global temperature throughout geologic time:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/category/english/sea-level-rise-english-2/

  32. Now that we’ve apparently got past allegations of ‘chartmanship’ in Dr. Box’s graph, it occurs to me that it’s remarkably monotonic for a climate graph. You get annual-scale ‘coolings’ and ‘sea ice recoveries’ but not, apparently, MTG ‘recoveries.’ 2003-4 was a wash, but that was the best outcome this record shows.