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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Does it Teleconnect or not?

While the progress of climate science blazes along at its usual snail's pace it is pretty hard to find any real science worth discussing.  The political and "Nobel (noble) Cause" side of things has also been done to death.  Once and a while though something interesting pops up :)

Professor J. Ray Bates has published a new paper on lower estimates of climate sensitivity, Bates 2016, which appears to be an update of his 2014 paper that was supposedly "debunked" by Andrew "Balloons" Dessler.  My Balloons/Balloonacy/Balloonatic nicknames for prof Dessler are based on his valiant attempt to prove that there was tropical tropospheric warming by using the rise and drift rates of radiosonde balloons instead of the on board temperature sensing equipment.  Andy did one remarkable job of finding what he wanted in a sea of noisy nonsense.  Andy seems to like noisy and is a bit noisy himself.

The issue raise by Balloonacy was that Bates used data produced by Lindzen and Choi 2011 (LC11) which was used to support the Lindzen "Iris" theory which is basically that increased water vapor should tend to cause more surface radiant heat loss because water vapor tends to behave a bit contrary to the expectation of climate modelers.  Since LC11 was concerned only with the tropics they used data restricted to the tropics.  Bates proposed that the tropics are a pretty good proxy for global and using the tropics produced a lower estimate of climate sensitivity and that thanks to better satellite data, the uncertainty in the estimates was much smaller than "global" estimates.

This chart of Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) tends to support Bates.  The "global" ORL interpolation by NOAA has a 68% correlation with 20S-20N and an 80% correlation with 30S-30N.  If you consider that the 30S-30N band represents about 50% of the surface and about 75% of the surface energy, this "high" correlation for climate science at least makes perfectly good sense if you happen to be using energy balance models.  Balloonacy models not so much, but for energy related modeling using the majority of the available energy is pretty standard.

What Bates did with his latest was use two models, Model A with the 20S-20N "tropics" and model B which used the "extra-tropical" region or everything other than 20S-20N, to try and illustration to Balloonacy that majority energy regions in energy balance models tend to rule the roost.

The Ballonatics btw have no problem "discovering" Teleconnections should the teleconnects "prove" their point, but seem to be a bit baffled by reasons that certain teleconnections might be more "robust" than others.

Unfortunately, data massaging (spell check recommended massacring which might be a better choice) methods can tend to impact the validity of teleconnect correlations.  "Interpolation" required to create "global" data sets tend to smear regions which artificial increases calculated correlations.  So no matter how much you try to determine error ranges, there is likely some amount of unknown or unknowable uncertainty that is a product of natural and man made "smoothing".  Nit picking someone else's difficulties with uncertain after you have pushed every limit to "find" your result is a bit comical.

The general "follow the tropics", in particular the tropical warm pools is growing in popularity with the younger set of climate scientists just like follow the money and follow the energy are popular if you want to simply rather complex problems.  Looking for answers in the noisiest and most uncertain data is a bit like P-Hacking which is popular with the published more than 200 paper set.  Real science should take a bit of time I imagine.

In any case, Professor Bates has reaffirmed his low estimate of climate sensitivity which will either prove somewhat right or not over the next decade or so.  Stay tuned :)

Here is the link to J. Ray Bates' paper.

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