A rash of stunning turnarounds have vindicated years of effort by climate sceptics. The day after ClimateGate broke I made three predictions:

. Disband the entire Federal Department of Climate Change along with all the individual State Departments of Climate Change.

. Vote down the Emissions Trading Scheme Legislation.

. Cancel Copenhagen.

Australia’s Department of Climate Change has been ‘watered down’ to become the Department of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water. The ETS was voted down, and Copenhagen was such a net negative they are probably sorry they didn’t cancel it.

In another successful prediction, the end of drought in Australia came from a massive upswing in rainfall in 2010. This was done using the EMD algorithm and the assumption of stationarity of rainfall: i.e. long-term oscillations with zero trend, in contrast to a non-stationary drying trend as assumed by CSIRO climate models.

In another stunning vindication of Steve McIntyre, the Met Dept are proposing to take over global temperature data from the CRU. Steve has of course been railing for years about the sloppy, good old boys science in Jones’ department, and clearly the professionals agree with his assessment. Gladly the proposal includes a transparent verification process.

In efforts that are long overdue, Lucia reports that various people are attempting to verify the absence of bias in the CRU surface dataset in various ways. Whatever the result, this can only be a good thing, and I hope it becomes a habit.

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From Nature (see

“The precipitation anomaly of the past few decades in Law Dome is the largest in 750 years, and lies outside the range of variability for the record as a whole, suggesting that the drought in Western Australia may be similarly unusual.”

Climate science has a colorful history of hyperbole: hurricanes, droughts, floods, fires, famines. Old habits die hard and so do true believers. I want to turn attention to the highlighted phrase and what it really means.

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Review of Antarctic Snowfall

A recent Nature paper we have been reviewing, claims recent snowfall at Law Dome, Antarctica and the drought in Western Australia “lies outside the range of variability for the record as a whole”. Being about precipitation (often more important to us than temperature), and claims of evidence of AGW causing drought, its interesting.

I finally succeeded in replicating the results but only after resorting to viewing the code, due to omissions in the description of methods. Below I argue (at the end) that the precipitation in LD (and therefore in Western Australia) is not unusual, finding a better than 5% chance of an anomaly that size occurring in a record of that length.

To his credit, Tas van Ommen has been incredibly helpful, open with his code and data, and patient with my WTF moments.

The core presentation of the ice core anomalies is in Fig 3 from the paper, from which the method is described, shown below:

Antarctic snowfall

The focus of attention is on the size of the last anomaly that starts in 1970 (red far right), relative to the others. The supplementary information states:

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I try not to pen editorials. OK here goes. I respect the attention given to this blog, as there are plenty of other great blogs on climate change, politics, finance, etc to read. I try to stay an ‘on message’ advocate for numeracy. Everyone has something to offer from their experiences though. Right at this moment, there is something to say that is important about numeracy, but takes a bit to explain.

I would encourage y’all to read the discussion on New paper on mathematical analysis of GHG in relation to VS, not because I believe in it, or because I believe in balance of probabilities it is right, but because I believe it is the way scientific progress is made. Its what I have tried to do here. Check the numbers.

This is not another ‘me too’ paper inventing there own ‘novel’ approach to affirming the cause du jour in the name of ‘research’. Its about contesting methodology of other experts in the field. Boring? No. It’s what it’s all about. Jargon? No. Its no more complex than ‘regression’. Just unfamiliar. And I am not taking a dig at anyone, as I respect everyone who posts here. Peer reviewed? Uncertain.

When Steve McIntyre started his blog 5 years ago, and I did around the same time, I sent him a email saying to the effect that he would change the way science is done. He called the FOI’s and journal processes of peer review, comments etc ‘quasi-litigation’. I agree, and acknowledge that scientists should use the available processes more. It is a natural extension of the search for truth.

The main failing of the IPCC, IMHO, is in ignoring peer-reviewed papers and comments in favor of confirmatory dreck. What to do about that? The only answer I know is by contesting the logic, models, mathematics, and results using data. Don’t just check your assumptions, check your calculations. Check the stated results are justified.

What point is there in talking about philosophy of science, when the by all accounts, most science is wrong? The overwhelming reason is because:

Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.

Climbing into the stadium and dueling over the technical details is the only way, despite the personal cost.

Lots of Rain

While the US has had record snowfalls, Australia has had its own excesses of precipitation. Below is a 30 day loop of precipitation. The sequence starts with cyclone Olga crossing the coast in the far north east, moving into the Gulf, and tracking south with widespread rain down through the central east and south east.

The rain quickly moves to the east, with heavy rain and storms on the east coast, especially Sydney, but then appears to ‘bounce west’ and collide with a very large trough to bring more widespread rain to inland areas and sweeping to the east again.


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Miskolczi Revisited

Just posted on arXiv: The virial theorem and planetary atmospheres by Viktor T. Toth.

We derive a version of the virial theorem that is applicable to diatomic planetary atmospheres that are in approximate thermal equilibrium at moderate temperatures and pressures and are sufficiently thin such that the gravitational acceleration can be considered constant. We contrast a pedagogically inclined theoretical presentation with the actual measured properties of air.
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Polynomial Cointegration Rebuts AGW

Please discuss the new paper by Michael Beenstock and Yaniv Reingewertz here.

Way back in early 2006 I posted on an exchange with R. Kaufmann, whose cointegration modelling is referenced in the paper, entitled Peer censorship and fraud. He was complaining at RealClimate about the supression of these lines of inquiry by the general circulation modellers. The post gives a number of examples that were topical at the time. ClimateGate bears it out.

Steve McIntyre wrote a long post on the affair here.

[R]ealclimate’s commitment to their stated policy that “serious rebuttals and discussions are welcomed” in the context that they devoted a post to criticize Ross and me and then refused to post serious responses. In this case, they couldn’t get away with censoring Kaufmann, but it’s pretty clear that they didn’t want to have a “serious” discussion online.

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Antarctic Snowfall Wrap-up

The claim that “the precipitation anomaly of the past few decades in Law Dome is the largest in 750 years, and lies outside the range of variability for the record as a whole”, is a ‘Hockeystick-like’ claim. Such claims have a considerable literature, and the analysis I have been doing is reminiscent of Rybski on the temperature record.

Koutsoyiannis has a career of work grappling with non-normal statistics in hydrological data, using models with long-term-persistence, and the difficulty of prediction. These more advanced analysis attempt to account for the fact that precipitation has a long-term correlation structure, extreme events happen more frequently than expected, etc, and are well worth the study. That is, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here.

Below is the Law Dome snowfall data illustrating aggregation at the scales of 10, 20, 30 and 40 years where previous posts suggested the divergence of recent snowfall is significant.


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Lognormal Snowfall

Here is the distribution of annual snowfall in Law Dome Antarctica over the last 750 years (blue), compared to a normal (dashed red) and a lognormal (solid red) distribution.


Remember that in the finest Popperian tradition we are trying to disprove that the snowfall in the last few decades at Law Dome has been unusual. To do this, I have used a robust approach of aggregation (splitting the series into equal sized section), estimating the parameters of the lognormal distribution, then plotting the actual mean snowfall in the final aggregate against the calculated confidence limits.

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Normal's Overrated

Yes I watch “House”. I wanted to return to the issue of whether the snowfall in Antarctica is normally distributed, as it has bearing on the claim in van Ommen and Morgan from the abstract:

The precipitation anomaly of the past few decades in Law Dome is the largest in 750 years, and lies outside the range of variability for the record as a whole, suggesting that the drought in Western Australia may be similarly unusual.

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