Sunday, February 26, 2017

The thing about spillways

San Jose evacuated 14,000 residents this week in the worst flooding in decades. I used to be on the board of the water district responsible for flood control in Silicon Valley. Somewhat restrained finger-pointing between the water district and the city has started over what went wrong, and we'll eventually get the facts.

The thing I wanted to talk about was spillways - what people may not realize when they hear that water is flowing from a dam's spillway is that means, with some exceptions, that the dam no longer serves a flood protection function. A spillway could be considered a directed-overtopping of the dam, an intentionally-cut notch in the top of the dam so that when the dam is just about to overtop, the water exits down the spillway rather than cascading randomly and destructively anywhere on the dam's face.

If water's flowing in the spillway in this kind of directed-overtopping, then the dam has used up all its storage function. Any increase in flow upstream of the dam results in increased flow below the dam. Some extremely large dams have multiple spillways, but the principle of lost flexibility in holding back floods still applies.

Coyote Creek which flooded San Jose could pass for a river by western United States standards. It has two dams along the main stem of the creek, one of them the biggest in the county. Both were spilling immediately prior to the flood, so both could do nothing when the heaviest rains came. It doesn't leave you defenseless, but it makes things a lot harder.

The obvious thing is to not build in a floodplain, but that's easier said than done. Another obvious thing is to not monkey around with climate change.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


In this time of travail a bunny must look to nicer things.  In his travel Eli has noted the spread of bagels now worldwide, but some things have not travelled well.  Now as a general rule Eli holds to the principle that when you are in a strange place, eat their strange bread, drink their strange wine.  Generally the bakers and vintners know what they are doing otherwise they would be not baking and vining.  Of course, there are exceptions, local bread in China and wine in the UK being two that spring to mouth, so bagels outside the NY metro area are always a chancy thing, but, there are exceptions and there are exiles.

The first thing is that bagels have to be boiled before they are baked.  It gives a delightful crust and makes the interior dense.  That means that if your bagel isn't really shiny and is really flat on the bottom and the torus is not very round, you have a baked bagel that never saw a tub of boiling water is really a lump of bread.  Do not bother.  Shun the bakery/bodega/scamwich shop/whatever.

Earlier this year Eli started baking his own under the supervision of Ms. Rabett, whose first job was working in a bagel bakery, but, as with home brewers, the problem is that you are always your own best customer and you always have more than a bunny could reasonably consume, but throwing away a good bagel is a sin.

However, the consumption of bagels is, by itself a fine art, much abused in the world today.  The first law is that bagels are not bread, but carriers of cream cheese.  Eli starts with the neufchatel cream cheese and whips air into it in the food processor.  Adding some soft goat cheese improves the taste even more, and, one can cut in scallions or carrots (yum) or even smoked salmon.

The second law is never to cut the bagel, but break it in half.  This exposes four rough edges.  Rough edges are much better for holding the cream cheese than cut edges and maximizing cream cheese loading is the first law.  Of course, after a bunny nibbles (bunnies are nibblers)  off the cream cheese loaded end with a bit of chewy dense bagel to boot, a new surface is exposed, ready for cream cheese loading.

The third law is that anybunny who toast a bagel really needs to find a decent bagel bakery, or make their own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Der Bates

OK, Eli is getting tired of the lies and distortions coming from John Bates and David Rose.  A bunny could throw Lamar Smith and Judith Curry into that patch, but let us be economical.

The more that one learns about this faux (spelled Fox) controversy the more the flavor of offal sneaks through.  There have been developments to curl one's ears and Eli, of course, has long curlies. Among them are a recent article by Hiroko Tabuchi in the New York Times Business section which gets into the interpersonal more deeply than anybunny who wished to delay bathing after playing in the offal might wish, but the lede is as good as it gets
A few weeks ago, on an obscure climate-change blog, a retired government scientist named John Bates blasted his former boss on an esoteric point having to do with archiving temperature data.  
It was little more than lingering workplace bad blood, said Dr. Bates’s former co-workers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Bates had felt he deserved his boss’s job at NOAA, they said, not the demotion he received. 
Tabuchi scored a quote from the data center administrator which confirmed Eli, and pretty much every other readers opinion of John Bates
“He was often heard saying that he, not Karl, should be running the center,” said Marjorie McGuirk, former chief of staff at the data center.
Ms. McGuirk said that one of her responsibilities had been to manage what she described as frequent complaints about Dr. Bates’s behavior in the workplace.  
Those complaints led to his demotion in 2012 from his post as head of the data center’s satellite and remote sensing division, where he supervised a dozen or so employees, to a position as principal scientist, which involved no managerial duties, she said. “This episode is consistent with his history of outbursts,” she said.  
Ms. McGuirk said that she herself had filed a complaint against Dr. Bates, based on his conduct at a staff meeting in 2009. At that meeting, Dr. Bates shouted that Ms. McGuirk was not trustworthy and belonged in jail, according to an internal log detailing complaints against the scientist that was viewed by The New York Times.
The first rule of organizations is never anger the staff, send them postcards, share your Halloween candy, and they get first bite at the chocolate rabbet's ears (ouch).  They know which bodies have been buried and where the metadata describing the graveyard are kept.  Tabuchi knows this or somebunny tipped her off on whom to ask.

Also sneaking through the missile shield is a February 8 article in Snopes by Alex Kasprak that adds a couple of bits to the fire.  One particular strange idea has been the claimed computer meltdown which supposedly took out a bunch of data never to be seen again
Bates made the claim that the use of the more experimental dataset by Karl et al contradicted NOAA policy because the new dataset had not undergone an “operational readiness review” (ORR). He also alleged that the use of this data set, and a computer failure, resulted in no record being created of what the paper’s authors did, putting that paper in conflict with both Science’s editorial standards and NOAA’s internal standards — a point Rose brought up multiple times
Zeke Hausfather called that out  (Eli, never one to mince words, is even less inclined after the last month)
In his [Daily Mail] article, David Rose relies on reports from a researcher at NOAA who was unhappy about the data archiving associated with the Karl et al paper. While I cannot speak to how well the authors followed internal protocols, they did release their temperature anomalies, spatially gridded data land and ocean data, and the land station data associated with their analysis. They put all of this up on NOAA’s FTP site in early June 2015, at the time that the Karl et al paper was published.
Science Magazine has said that it's editorial standards were met and, of course, Bates is simply making "standards" up
The Science paper would have been fine had it simply had a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures, Bates says.  
 But Mike Tanner, director of NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at NCEI, says there’s no NOAA policy that requires such a disclosure. “There's nothing. That doesn’t exist,” he says.
Oh yes, Tom Karl disputes that the computer melted
For what it’s worth, Karl told us that he has no knowledge of a computer failure that wiped out critical information, saying that “This allegedly happened after I retired, but I have been informed that is simply not true.”
In this blizzard of nonsense, the only thing that appears to be clear is that John Bates and/or David Rose have taken two semesters of truth embroidery classes and are now doing the lab work.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Two professors

Brad DeLong:

Statement for the BBC on the Disruption of Berkeley Speaker Event on February 1, 2017

Last night, February 1, while I was teaching, a number of people came to the Berkeley campus to hear a speaker invited by the Berkeley College Republicans. A larger number came to peacefully demonstrate against the speaker--to express their belief that the speaker was not invited because people thought that he had great and important insights about politics and moral philosophy, but rather because he is a specialist in making Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Muslim, and other minorities feel small and unsafe.

About 20 "anarchists" used violence to upset this peaceful civil society gathering, and the police decided that the danger to life and limb was too great to allow the talk to proceed. This is a great loss: a university is, first, a safe space for ideas, and if members of the university to whom it has delegated the power to invite speakers do invite a speaker, that speaker should speak. This is part of a pattern of protests in Berkeley being disrupted by "anarchists" with goals unrelated to those of the university and its community. This is a shame. You cannot learn anything except by listening to the great insights of people who think differently from you: that is what a university is for. The "anarchists" do not understand what a university is.

A university is both a safe space in which ideas are to be expressed and a space in which those ideas are to be evaluated. When one sets forth ideas or causes ideas to be set forth in a university, one is doing so because one believes that these ideas are--potentially, at least--great ones. In so doing, members of the university are accountable only to, as Berkeley Professor Ernst Kantorowicz said in the 1940s, "their conscience and their God".

If the members of the Berkeley Republican Club believe that their invited speaker has ideas about politics and moral philosophy that are--even potentially--great, I really wish that they would explain why they think they are great. They have a duty to the university to do so. But perhaps they invited their speaker because they hoped he would make African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim, and other minority members of the university feel small and unsafe. If so they need to examine their consciences and pray to their gods, and think hard about whether they understand the purpose of a university.

For a university is not just a safe space for ideas to be expressed, and a place where such ideas are then to be examined and assessed, but it is also a safe space for scholars. All members of the university have a duty to make all other members feel welcome, and feel that they belong. Violations of that basic courtesy also cast doubt on whether people understand the purpose of a university, and, indeed, whether their time ought to be spent outside one. 

For the contrary position, Erik Loomis' advice to his undergrads and others who read his blog:

....And then of course, this brilliance.

[Video of neo-Nazi getting sucker-punched by masked person who immediately runs away.]

Now, you might say that you don’t want to see a Nazi get punched. Nonviolence and all. That’s an incorrect stand to take. You should always punch a Nazi. That said, I do have a criticism. Couldn’t they have stuck around for a second and kicked Spencer in the ribs a couple of times?

Your mileage may vary, but I've read about anti-Trump supporters going to his moronic campaign event today, and they'll need to decide which philosophy they follow. For what it's worth, I'll side with Erik Loomis - that is, Loomis from several years' back:

On Metaphors and Violence

The last couple of days have been a bit challenging for me. Being attacked by a David Horowitz wannabe for saying I wanted to see Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick has led to a world of fun, ranging from a meeting with the Rhode Island State Police last night to people inundating the University of Rhode Island community with warnings of their murderous colleague in their midst.

So to clarify, I want to make it blindingly clear that I did not call for the assassination of Wayne LaPierre.....

But let’s also be clear–these people KNOW I am not calling for LaPierre’s assassination....The fact that my intemperate language helped give them a lever to try and turn that narrative is unfortunate and I apologize for it....

And look, if I used violent metaphors, that’s a bad thing. I will admit that at certain moments such language might become part of my vocabulary....I probably shouldn’t use that language and certainly will be a lot more conscious going forward of not using it again, particularly since it doesn’t help in the battle against actual violence. Violence is a huge societal problem that influences all of us in various ways. Some may use violent metaphors to express their frustrations....

And to be clear, Loomis wasn't being metaphorical when he more recently suggested that people acquire criminal records and seriously endanger both other people and themselves. I just hope he reconsiders.

I know that voice

You can tell someone is ubiquitous when you're listening to a climate change podcast featuring Steven Chu, an unidentified member of the audience asks him a question and you realize you know who the questioner is.

John Mashey's question about whether ARPA-E will survive Trump got a confident reply from Chu that it will survive because it's an excellent program that enjoys Republican support. This corresponds to an interesting post by Stoat basically predicting however delusional/deceptive Trump may be, his administration will likely be constrained into being just a normally-bad Republican administration.

Would that we were to be so lucky, to only lose four years of human endeavor in America. And maybe it will work out like that, that the normally-bad Republican outcome is what we end up with. That's the close to the best-case scenario though,* with everything else being worse.

Anyway, William made some optimistic bet offers at his post, I made my own pessimistic ones in the comments, but there's no sweet spot between our positions. And no one else looking like they want to take the bets.

*Very best case is some accidental twists of luck lead them into doing the right things, and they lie about their prior intent to do the wrong things. No- so-best is that environmental disasters push them that way, like another Katrina.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

RTFR No. 543

One of the watchwords here at Rabett Run has been RTFR, a derivative of RTFM but no less trenchant advice.  So with everybunny jumping up and down about the baselines and adjusting boats to buoys or whatever (Zeke has a nice summary at ATTP), Eli though he would take his own advice, and thanks to the kindness of Climate Peter, he found the article which introduced ERSSTv.4

On page 928 in the summary Eli finds

Buoy SSTs have been adjusted toward ship SSTs in ERSST.v4 to correct for a systematic difference of 0.12 C between ship and buoy observations. Although buoy SSTs are more homogeneous and reliable than ship observations, buoys were not widely available before around 1980. However, the selection will not affect the evolution of the SSTAs. Further studies are needed to consider the potential of including C-MAN SSTs and other near-surface ocean temperature measurements not presently incorporated in ERSST.v4 (e.g., from oceanographic profiling instruments).
Pleasingly pretty much saying what Rabett Run has been telling one and all.  Ocenographic profiling instruments Eli assumes includes the Argo float network which only went operational about five or six years before the HRSSTv4 data set was done.

Oh yes, the timeline first submitted 20 December 2013, accepted 3 October 2014 and appeared on line 4 February 2015, so as they say, out there well before the Karl et al paper appeared in June.  ERSST.v4.

Friday, February 10, 2017

If We Had Buoy Data From the Past We Would Use That

Much, just about all of David Roses claims in his hit piece on Tom Karl has been walked back, not the least by Rose's source, John Bates.  Among the statements which Bates has disowned and which now must be considered fabrications was the paragraph

Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’
but there was actually more both following and afterwards
But Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings.

Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’

ERSSTv4 ‘adjusted’ buoy readings up by 0.12C. It also ignored data from satellites that measure the temperature of the lower atmosphere, which are also considered reliable. Dr Bates said he gave the paper’s co-authors ‘a hard time’ about this, ‘and they never really justified what they were doing.’
Bunnies can read why this is wrong many places including articles by Kendra Pierre Louis in Popular Science, Zeke Hausfather and lots more.  John Bates can comment on whether it is Rose's fabrication or his.  AFAEK the question has never been put directly to either or answered.
In any case, this has given rise to several including John Bates claiming that NOAA made a dishonest choice when it moved combined the buoy and ship readings by joining the buoy to the ship readings.  In his response to Zeke Hausfather he writes (italics from ZH)
  1. ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out […]’ 
v4 actually makes preferential use of buoys over ships (they are weighted almost 7 times in favour) as documented in the ERSSTv4 paper. The assertion that buoy data were thrown away as made in the article is demonstrably incorrect.
Response:  Verbiage used by David Rose is not the key issue here. The issue is the substantial adjustment of the buoy temperatures to match the erroneous ship values, and neglect of data from the Argo buoys.
Well actually it was a direct quote, so Bates is being very slippery here.  But this has given rise to the blathering point that the ship data should have been adjusted to the buoy data.  Much twitting has been wasted on that.  If there is a constant adjustment in either direction it makes no difference in determining the anomaly.  The fact that the size of adjustment is minimally different in v3, v4, v5 and on into the 22nd century is no never mind.

However, there is a significant reason to adjust the buoy data to the ship data.  Peter Thorne has done a service by explaining why NOAA and others update their records.  In his article, Prof. Thorne reproduces a figure from the recent IPCC AR5 report

Changing contribution of different measurement techniques (top panel) and their timeseries relative to the average of all sources at any given time (bottom panel). Note large and systematic offsets between distinct sources that vary through time. Source: IPCC

Ship measurements were the first, actually they go back well before 1920 and buoy measurements only kick in late in the twentieth century.  Earlier (and this would be pretty much anything published before 2000) would only, or massively depend on the ship measurements.  Thus offsetting the buoy to the ship data would cause the least confusion for anybunny looking at older publications. 

Makes sense to do it that way.


Eli has been slumming, but there is nothing new under the sun.  Roger Pielke Sr. demands, nay demands that people pay attention to him

Most of the issues raised in our papers have NOT been scrutinized. Where are the “many times?
There is a control on challenging information that given to us, the media and others that is not healthy to scientific objectivity. This extends to a range of other issues in climate science such as Judy Curry discussed in her most recent interview.

Some beg to differ
  • Roger,
    Most of the issues raised in our papers have NOT been scrutinized. Where are the “many times?
    So what? Again, just because YOU highlight some issues, doesn’t mean that they’re issues that others should scrutinise. Either – as you seem to be suggesting – there is some kind of conspiracy to not scrutinise these extremely important issues that you’re highlighting, or they’re not nearly as important as you seem to think they are.

    …and Then There’s Physics, I believe people with the credentials of Roger Pielke deserve responses on substantive scientific issues. NOAA/NASA ignoring scientific questions by responsible scientists is an indication of “circling the wagons,” in violation of the principle of open government.
    How in the world can you trust a secretive government?
  • Look, Eli is not exactly Roger’s friend, but this is simply an observation.
    People spent a lot of time looking at issues that Roger or, for example Peter Wadham raised and people thought after a while that a lot of that time was wasted and didn’t appreciate the responses they got
  • eli I have wasted years looking at roger’s issues.
    there is no there there.

Facts Matter - Inoculation Edition

This got a fair amount of attention a few weeks back:

National outbreaks of fake news and partisan “disinformation” have convinced many Americans to doubt scientific consensus—such as the near-unanimous agreement among experts that human-caused climate change is real....a group of researchers, led by a psychologist at Cambridge, think they can stamp out the viral spread of fake news and lies just like we stamp out every other infectious disease—with vaccinations.

Their ‘mental inoculation’ works under the same principal as actual inoculations—that is, exposure to a weakened version or fragment of some nasty contagion can allow a person to recognize and develop immunity to future threats. In their study, the researchers found that they could effectively ‘vaccinate’ Americans from climate change misinformation by presenting them with information on the scientific consensus alongside a pre-emptive caution that some politically motivated groups are spreading lies about that consensus.

The inoculation method, published Monday in the journal Global Challenges, was effective regardless of participants’ political leanings; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents were equally likely to reject the misinformation when it was subsequently presented to them. And among those predisposed to believe climate misinformation, the researchers saw no evidence that the inoculation could backfire, making them more resistant to scientific facts.

The usual rule that new-study-needs-replication applies, but this is a hopeful contrast to the Backfire Effect, that refuting deeply held misinformation can end up reinforcing those beliefs. Getting the truth out to people before the lies burrow into their self-identity seems to be the trick.

More reason to announce that 2017 will be a hot year but not as hot as 2016, and that the denialists are going to pretend this is meaningful.

More speculatively, I can't help but notice that we all don't live in caves that often, most people believe in some (screwy) version of evolution, and that truth and science seem to make halting progress over time. We're not complete prisoners of our psychology - not sure the studies have captured that yet.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A Public Service Announcement

There are times when some comment is so wrong no bunny wastes any time explaining to the hard of learning why it is wrong, and this, as bunnies in the US are learning, is a mistake and, of course, this lets the foolish person claim that they are the discoverers of revelation, which can be annoying.  Twitter, of course, is an annoyance amplifier and as ATTP is finding out, vigilance against inanity is a never ending fight.

Eli is a creature of good will and habits, so he had let one Dr. Mark Imisides an industrial chemist rattle on and on, but everybunny has limits and the well stuffed Dr. Imisides** finally reached Eli's.  Thus this public service announcement which may be tweeted at the well stuffed Dr. Imisides when needed.  To pick a point where to start, let Eli pick this one

Imisides is quite impressed by this argument, which simply calculates the heat content of the oceans vs. the heat content of the atmosphere and concludes
That is, if we wanted to heat the entire ocean by 1˚C, and wanted to do it by heating the air above it, we’d have to heat the air to about 4,000˚C hotter than the water.
The well stuffed Dr. Imisides of course, is confusing heat content with heat flow, which, to be truthful is a common mistake, but there is something about Dr. Imisides' attitude that withdraws the milk of bunny kindness from Eli's furry breast, sort of the Pielke effect as it were.

Allow Eli to state the obvious.  Energy flows in from the sun.  Most of it is absorbed in the oceans, cause the oceans are most of the surface, and increasing at that.  Energy flows out through the atmosphere.  That means that the energy flow in must be balanced by the energy flow out or the whole ball would melt and all of that energy passes through the atmosphere, because, at no place on Earth does the land or sea touch space.  The only way off planet for energy is by radiation to space.

Since the energy lost from the surface of the oceans passes through the atmosphere and is radiated to space, the energy FLOW must be balanced and absent some change in the atmosphere such as increased greenhouse gases, atmospheric temperatures will not change.

True, if you increased the rate at which the sun heated the oceans they would warm, but we know by direct measurement that that is not happening.  We also know that the heat content of the oceans is increasing and the oceans are warming.  If solar irradiation is NOT increasing, and we KNOW it is not, Eli points out that
heating the ocean requires limiting the net rate at which it loses heat.  That's what increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere does.
 So to return to Twitter with an analogy for Mom

However, Eli would not be Eli were he not to pass comment on other Dr. Mark Imisides bon mots.  For example
And another problem is that air sits on top of water – how would hot air heat deep into the ocean? Even if the surface warmed, the warm water would just sit on top of the cold water.
Well, yeah, Mark.  The ocean IS stratified, and the exchange between the deep ocean and the surface does take a long time, like a thousand years and occurs at places where there is upwelling driven by thermohaline circulation.  You could look it up

** A long time ago a friendly analytiker once described to Eli the final ceremony after a certain class of chemists passes their oral exam, that the candidate stands at attention and the examiner stuffs his shirt.