Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ben Santer's ClimateGate email April 25, 2007

In my search for "skeptical" objective particulars, I've been tossed a list of Climategate emails.  It seems like a waste of precious time because invariably the full text paints a picture of professionals communicating with one another.  It isn't always pretty, but none of it rises to attempted deception or fraud.  And there are surprisingly many informative nuggets that "skeptics" willfully ignore.  Dear Republican, here... think about what this scientist is trying to explain.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Wed, 25 Apr 2007 Ben Santer to Phil Jones'...  the damning quote:

  • 1177534709.txt  "I looked at some of the stuff on the Climate Audit web site. I'd really like to talk to a few of these "Auditors" in a dark alley." says Ben Santer
Isn't this really grasping? These guys are practically under attack and Ben makes a rhetorical crack about some hostile person.  Skeptics love using such a holier-than-thou approach, but it don't wash.  Talk between colloquies during a stressful period.  Come on, aren't we concerned with evaluating climatological understanding?  All this stuff just keeps drawing us further away for the discussion we need to be having.

Interestingly in this particular set of emails I found a wonderful couple paragraphs, where Santer sums up the situation from a scientist's perspective.  I wish some skeptics could bring yourselves to read it and think about it.  Give the guy a chance:

             1177534709.txt Ben Santer - 4/25/07:
"Keenan's allegations of research misconduct, although malicious and completely unfounded, clearly require some response. The bottom line is that there are uncertainties inherent in measuring ANY properties of the real-world climate system.  

You've (Phil Jones) probably delved deeper than anyone else on the planet into uncertainties in observed surface temperature records. This would be well worth pointing out to Mr. Keenan.  

The whole tenor of the web-site stuff and Keenan's garbage is that these folks are scrupulously careful data analysts, and you are not. They conveniently ignore all the pioneering work that you've done on identification of inhomogeneities in surface temperature records.  

The response should mention that you've spent much of your scientific career trying to quantify the effects of such inhomogeneities, changing spatial coverage, etc. on observed estimates of global-scale surface temperature change.

~ ~ ~

The bottom line here is that observational data are frequently "messy". They are not the neat, tidy beasts Mr. Keenan would like them to be. This holds not only for surface temperature measurements. It also holds - in spades - for measurements of tropospheric temperature from MSU and radiosondes, and for measurements of ocean temperatures from XBTs, profiling floats, etc.  

We would like observing systems to be more accurate, more stable, and better-suited for monitoring decadal-scale changes in climate. You and Kevin and many other are actively working towards that goal.  

The key message here is that, despite uncertainties in the surface temperature record - uncertainties which you and others in the field are well aware of, and have worked hard to quantify - it is now unequivocal that surface temperatures have warmed markedly over the past 100 years. Uncertainties in the station histories do not negate this basic message."

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