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Gerald North on Climate Modeling Revisited (re Climategate 2.0)

 “If the models are as flawed as critics say … you have to ask yourself, ‘How come they work?’”

- Gavin Schmidt [NASA], quoted in David Fahrenhold, “Scientists’ Use of Computer Models to Predict Climate Change is Under Attack,” Washington Post, April 6, 2010.

 “[Model results] could also be sociological: getting the socially acceptable answer.”

 - Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), June 20, 1998.

 The above quotation by NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt suggests that quite remarkable progress has been made with climate models in recent years. Such must be the case given the verdict by leading climate scientists that climate models were not nearly ready for prime time just a decade ago.

But what do climate scientists really believe behind closed doors? Will they no longer express their innermost thoughts in emails or in fear that ‘the cause’ of climate alarm/forced energy transformation will be compromised?

Climategate 2.0: Model Quotations

<0850> [Tim] Barnett:  “[IPCC AR5 models] clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved.  I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer.”

<5066> [Gabriele] Hegerl:[IPCC AR5 models] So using the 20th c for tuning is just doing what some people have long suspected us of doing [...] and what the nonpublished diagram from NCAR showing correlation between aerosol forcing and sensitivity also suggested.”

<4443> [Phil] Jones:Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low level clouds.”

<1982> [Ben] Santer:  “There is no individual model that does well in all of the SST and water vapor tests we’ve applied.”

[Jagadish] Shukla/IGES: ["Future of the IPCC", 2008] It is inconceivable that policymakers will be  willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.

Gerald North Quotations

Here are some quotations from Dr. Gerald North of Texas A&M, certainly a distinguished climate scientist, made during his consulting era with Enron Corp.

“We do not know much about modeling climate. It is as though we are modeling a human being. Models are in position at last to tell us the creature has two arms and two legs, but we are being asked to cure cancer.”

     – Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999.

“[Model results] could also be sociological: getting the socially acceptable answer.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), June 20, 1998.

“There is a good reason for a lack of consensus on the science. It is simply too early. The problem is difficult, and there are pitifully few ways to test climate models.”

     – Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), July 13, 1998.

“One has to fill in what goes on between 5 km and the surface. The standard way is through atmospheric models. I cannot make a better excuse.”

     – Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), October 2, 1998.

“The ocean lag effect can always be used to explain the ‘underwarming’….

The different models couple to the oceans differently. There is quite a bit of slack here (undetermined fudge factors). If a model is too sensitive, one can just couple in a little more ocean to make it agree with the record. This is why models with different sensitivities all seem to mock the record about equally well. (Modelers would be insulted by my explanation, but I think it is correct.)”

    – Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), August 17, 1998.

Yet climate models are being taken seriously as guides to public policy. Some humility is in order when coercion and massive wealth redistribution/destruction is needed on Day 1 (forward) for a hypothetical problem calculated for some distant year.

6 comments

1 VB { 11.30.11 at 9:03 am }

Therefore, as we lack the ability to accurately predict how much oil there is in a reservoir, we should avoid drilling, just in case there is none?

2 rbradley { 11.30.11 at 9:42 am }

VB

The problem with models is that they seem to be inherently high sensitivity. In other words there are no ‘skeptic’ models. North explained to me that the simplicity that models require to run has equations that produce very strong positive feedback effects. In other words, the complexity of the system that is more realistic (and would produce less warming) is sub-grid-scale.

Many years ago, Richard Lindzen said something on camera that I have never forgotten: that if the models predicted cooling, he would not believe them.

3 Science at work: “Tuning may be a way to fudge the physics” | Watts Up With That? { 11.30.11 at 12:07 pm }

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4 Sundance { 11.30.11 at 12:23 pm }

It is disturbing to me that the people that create and tune the models are the same people that are adjusting the temperature record. The AMS published a report “State of Climate 2008″ which included the testing of IPCC climate models for accuracy on decadal scale temperature prediction for the period of 1999 to 2008 by the MET Office in the UK. Here are key excepts”

“Observations indicate that global temperature rise has slowed in the last decade (Fig. 2.8a). The least squares trend for January 1999 to December 2008 calculated from the HadCRUT3 dataset (Brohan et al. 2006) is +0.07±0.07°C decade–1—much less than the 0.18°C decade–1 recorded between 1979 and 2005 and the 0.2°C decade–1 expected in the next decade (IPCC; Solomon et al. 2007). This is despite a steady increase in radiative forcing as a result of human activities and has led some to question climate predictions of substantial twenty-first century warming (Lawson 2008; Carter 2008).”

“Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”

This is important because the public is never informed of any parameters of falsification for any aspect of climate change science and here we have one for the climate models as presented by the MET Office. Pleas note that the parameter is ANY 15 consecutive year period with little to no warming in order to falsify the climate models at thre 95% level. Using MET Office temperature data here is a graph of the last 14.5 years of global surface temperature anomaly with trend line:

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.42/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997.42/trend

As you can see there is a slight decline in temperature trend which means that by May 2012 if we do not see significant temperature increase (.18 degC) the IPCC models will have been falsified at the 95% level.

The just released pre-Durban IPCC summary of climate specified that the IPCC could not detect the climate sign +/- for the next two decades which indicates to me that they no longer trust the models.

I find it shameful that there has been no independent group testing the veracity of models that are the basis of future climate claims. I would not trust Gavin Schmidt as far as I could throw him as a source for honest evaluation of the climate model accuracy as he is biased just by being a paid climate modeler. An analogy is that we don’t allow cops to also be judge and jury with regard to law so why do we allow climate modelers to be judge and jury with regard to science?

5 Science at work: “Tuning may be a way to fudge the physics” | TaJnB | TheAverageJoeNewsBlogg { 12.01.11 at 4:55 am }

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6 john { 12.01.11 at 3:48 pm }

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