Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ben Santer: This is what a scientist sounds like.

I came across a five star lecture that I feel like sharing.

{ I appear to be having technical issues with links in this post - you can find properly functioning links at the CFI Discussion Forum }
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PhD. Ben Santer and the climate debate -
“The General Public: Why Such Resistance?”

Ben Santer giving a hour long lecture at Stanford University, with nearly as much Q&A afterwards.

It begins with an introduction from the late great Stephen Schneider where he takes the time to explain what happened at the infamous IPCC plenary where-after Ben Santer was slandered with false charges of having manipulated Chapter 8 of the 1995 IPCC report. It's a fascinating, revealing story. Then its on to the main show...

... Presented in three stanzas:
~ Science ~
~ Non-science ~
~ Nonsense ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It begins with the UAH Satellite temperature records
and does a great job of explaining the science behind atmospheric data collection:
6:40 Satellite data... 1990... folks who did the original research suggest that the atmosphere was cooling... that was a huge problem, ... models... 7:10 how could the surface be warming and the air above it cooling?
7:30 This was a fundamental problem to the theory
15:25 UAH “recognized that, that this was a problem, that they had to account for this drift effect, but they got the sign wrong, they literally got the sign wrong. They made a sign error in correcting for the effects of satellite orbital drift.” {PS this "travesty" went on for years, and even continues to be propagated}
15:40 Three papers published in Science partially resolved the “great MSU debate.”
~ ~ ~ “The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature”
~ ~ ~ “Radiosonde Daytime Biases and Late-20th Century Warming”
~ ~ ~ “Amplification of Surface Temperature Trends and Variability in the Tropical Atmosphere”
~ ~ ~

Then Santer discusses the Douglass et al. 2007, a paper which claimed to statistically show that climate models where way off, along with his own paper of 2008 that spelled out the statistical errors of Douglass et al.
Ben does another excellent job of carefully explaining the statistical issue involved and why the Douglas et al. paper was ultimately shown to be bad science.
33:50 But, you can also see if you... if you applied their test to each of the individual models, then 11 of the 19 would be deemed not models. They’d be deemed inconsistent with the model average. Any test that says that half the things that you use to perform the test are actually inconsistent with the average is a really, really weird test. This is not even an undergraduate type of error that you would make in the first year of statistics.”
~ ~ ~

The nonsense saga involves the Canadian mining investment promoter turned self appointed climate science auditor Steven McIntyre. And the way he has manipulated the FOI requests into ideological political weapons, devoid of any genuine scientific curiosity:
43:30 “I basically told McIntyre replied if you wanted to audit our findings you are free to do so, the climate model data that we use are freely available, in fact, three and a half thousand researchers around the world use the climate model data that we have archived at Livermore, it’s an open data base... Mr. McIntyre had in his possession, or had the ability to access exactly the same data that we have used in our study. And indeed I should point out that the Douglass et al. paper used the same archive...”
44:20 The freedom of information requests
44:50 “He (McIntyre) then began to express moral outrage on his blog, ‘Santer was stonewalling him’. I began to get hate mail. I began to get threatening letters... etc...
48:00 The difference between the Douglass et al. and the Santer et al. paper was never in the intermediate calculations. It was in the statistical tests that the two groups had used. So McIntyre’s request was completely frivolous, because we had already been audited effectively on the first part of the problem, did we do the intermediate calculations correctly.
Did we apply the appropriate statistical tests?

Again, as I’ve showed you one doesn’t have to stand up there and say trust me... there are ways of adjudicating, you can look at how these tests perform with randomly generated data.”
There's much more interesting stuff, if'n the politics and reality of climate change interests you. ;)

Uploaded by StanfordUniversity on May 13, 2010

(February 25, 2010) Ben Santer, a research scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, discusses the recent problems with the use of the freedom of information act for non-US citizens to demand complete records, including emails, on scientific research projects. Santer posits that this is a dangerous dilemma that will ultimately inhibit scientific research.

This course was originally presented in Stanford's Continuing Studies program.

Stanford University: view it at YouTube


Peter said...

Recently I was asked if a transcript to this lecture was available. While there is no official transcript available through Stanford, Dr. Santer's lecture impressed me enough that I transcribed much of it, not all but a good 4500 words worth of the many highlights.

so I will be sharing that in the next comment.

Peter said...

. . . actually that didn't work, too long and breaking it up and formatting hassles make it impractical to present the transcript this way.

Perhaps I'll just have to make it a new post of its own.

Peter said...

For those notes please see:

"Unauthorized notes, ~ Ben Santer ~ The General Public: Why Such Resistance?"

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Since the strategic attacks against science seems to be increasing rather than decreasing I believe it’s worth adding the following response from Dr. Ben Santer to Pat Michaels and CEI’s specious attack on Phil Jones; the temperature data; the climatological understanding.

For those interested in understanding the details, rather than just flogging a perceived enemy, the following is must reading.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Copied from:

Climate Science
“Phil Jones and Ben Santer respond to CEI and Pat Michaels attack on temperature data record”

Posted on October 13, 2009 by Rick Piltz
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Part One:

Comment by Benjamin D. Santer, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

As I see it, there are two key issues here.

First, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Pat Michaels are arguing that Phil Jones and colleagues at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU) willfully, intentionally, and suspiciously “destroyed” some of the raw surface temperature data used in the construction of the gridded surface temperature datasets.

Second, the CEI and Pat Michaels contend that the CRU surface temperature datasets provided the sole basis for IPCC “discernible human influence” conclusions.
Both of these arguments are incorrect.
~ ~ ~

First, there was no intentional destruction of the primary source data. I am sure that, over 20 years ago, the CRU could not have foreseen that the raw station data might be the subject of legal proceedings by the CEI and Pat Michaels.

Raw data were NOT secretly destroyed to avoid efforts by other scientists to replicate the CRU and Hadley Centre-based estimates of global-scale changes in near-surface temperature.

To be continued . . .

Peter said...

Copied from:

Climate Science
“Phil Jones and Ben Santer respond to CEI and Pat Michaels attack on temperature data record”

Posted on October 13, 2009 by Rick Piltz
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Part Two:
~ ~ ~

“... In fact, a key point here is that other groups—primarily at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), but also in Russia—WERE able to replicate the major findings of the CRU and UK Hadley Centre groups.

The NCDC and GISS groups performed this replication completely independently. They made different choices in the complex process of choosing input data, adjusting raw station data for known inhomogeneities (such as urbanization effects, changes in instrumentation, site location, and observation time), and gridding procedures. NCDC and GISS-based estimates of global surface temperature changes are in good accord with the HadCRUT data results.

The second argument—that “discernible human influence” findings are like a house of cards, resting solely on one observational dataset—is also invalid. The IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) considers MULTIPLE observational estimates of global-scale near-surface temperature changes.

It does not rely on HadCRUT data alone—as is immediately obvious from Figure 2.1b of the TAR, which shows CRU, NCDC, and GISS global-mean temperature changes.

As pointed out in numerous scientific assessments (e.g., the IPCC TAR and Fourth Assessment Reports, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1 (Temperature trends in the lower atmosphere: Steps for understanding and reconciling differences), and the state of knowledge report, Global Climate Change Impacts on the United States, rigorous statistical fingerprint studies have now been performed with a whole range of climate variables—and not with surface temperature only. Examples include variables like ocean heat content, atmospheric water vapor, surface specific humidity, continental river runoff, sea-level pressure patterns, stratospheric and tropospheric temperature, tropopause height, zonal-mean precipitation over land, and Arctic sea-ice extent.

The bottom-line message from this body of work is that natural causes alone CANNOT plausibly explain the climate changes we have actually observed. The climate system is telling us an internally- and physically-consistent story.

The integrity and reliability of this story does NOT rest on a single observational dataset, as Michaels and the CEI incorrectly claim.

I have known Phil for most of my scientific career. He is the antithesis of the secretive, “data destroying” character the CEI and Michaels are trying to portray to the outside world. Phil and Tom Wigley have devoted significant portions of their scientific careers to the construction of the land surface temperature component of the HadCRUT dataset.

They have conducted this research in a very open and transparent manner—examining sensitivities to different gridding algorithms, different ways of adjusting for urbanization effects, use of various subsets of data, different ways of dealing with changes in spatial coverage over time, etc. They have thoroughly and comprehensively documented all of their dataset construction choices.

They have done a tremendous service to the scientific community—and to the planet—by making gridded surface temperature datasets available for scientific research.

They deserve medals—not the kind of deliberately misleading treatment they are receiving from Pat Michaels and the CEI.”
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