Embattled UK climate scientist steps down

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on December 03, 2009

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The embattled director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), Dr. Phil Jones, announced that he will be temporarily standing aside as director. An independent review of his conduct in light of the emails illegally hacked from his computers last month is in progress. In a press release, Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support".

The University and the police are investigating the break-in, and it is currently unknown if this was the act of an insider or an external break-in. I think it is highly unlikely this was the work of an insider in a whistle-blower type of action, since a computer at realclimate.org was hacked into the same week (via a computer in Turkey), and the criminal attempted to upload the emails stolen from CRU to the realclimate.org server. This is not the sort of action a whistleblower would do. Dr. Gavin Schmidt of realclimate.org said in a comment yesterday that the CRU break-in appeared to have been done from the outside, into a backup mail server. It is unlikely the hacker acted alone, since hackers aren't typically intimately familiar with the details of the climate change science debate. The emails and code stolen were selectively culled by someone who appeared to have considerable expertise in climate science.

What did Dr. Jones do wrong?
So, what did Dr. Jones do wrong? For starters, he should have confronted the allegations raised by his critics immediately and talked candidly to the press about some of the specific accusations being made. For example, one of the emails contained the statement that he would like to "redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is" to exclude two questionable papers from the IPCC report. Well, that's not something a good scientist should seriously advocate, and is an impossibility, in any case. No one can redefine the peer-reviewed literature, since the rules for this are well-established an not subject to change. When I read the comment in the context it was made, it reads as a joke. There is no discussion in the hacked emails about how to go about redefining the peer-reviewed literature. In the end, the two papers Jones was referring to with this comment, McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003), ended up being cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR4 report. Those intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming are spinning the comment differently, creating a controversy about something that is impossible to do, and was not being seriously suggested. Jones should have immediately spoken up to quash the hype on this comment.

The "trick" to "hide the decline"
Another area of concern is over a graph Dr. Jones helped construct in 1999 showing the "hockey stick" of Earth's surface temperature going back 1,000 years. This graph combined instrumental measurements made since the 1800s with older paleoclimate data (including data from tree rings) to show a continuous 1,000 year record of Earth's temperatures. The paleoclimate data after 1960 show a bogus decline in Earth's temperatures that does not agree with what modern thermometers have been measuring, due to a well-known variation in tree ring thickness as a function of time, referred to as "the decline". Thus, Jones elected to toss out the bogus paleoclimate data (using a "trick" to "hide the decline") rather than present it in the graph. The graph was not properly labeled to show this was done, so viewers of the graph would have had needed to be familiar with a 1998 paper published in Nature or the 1999 paper referenced in the caption on the graph, which explained this well-known data issue. The graph that Jones used his "trick" on was put into a 1999 report called the "WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate". The report was given to policy makers, but was never published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. No reputable climate scientist believes that the paleoclimate data since 1960 is of higher quality than the instrumental record (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC report). In order to make the "hokey stick" graph less confusing, removing "the decline" from the tree ring data is a reasonable thing to do--provided one labels the graph properly. The graph was not properly labeled. Does Jones' "trick" and failure to properly label the graph constitute data falsification, or was it merely sloppy science? The hacked emails contain no suggestions that the "trick" was done to intentionally fool people, and the "trick" never appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including the IPCC reports. In Dr. Jones' words, "This is well-known and is called the "decline" or "divergence". The use of the term "hiding the decline" was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure".




Figure 1. The WMO 1999 "hockey stick" figure (top) with climate reconstructions and instrumental temperatures merged, and a version (bottom) with the climate reconstructions (coloured) and instrumental temperatures (annual & summer in black) shown separately. Note "the decline" in the temperature obtained from tree ring data (green curve) in the bottom curve. Image credit: University of East Anglia.

Global warming contrarians are spinning the "trick" as reason to discredit the "hockey stick", claiming that the data was falsified to hide the fact that tree rings were telling the real story. Since the hockey stick was falsified, some claim, the entire science behind human-caused global warming needs to be questioned. This is plain ludicrous. The graph was never published in a scientific journal. Several updated versions of the "hockey stick" graph have been published in the ten years since the disputed graph was produced, and the "hockey stick" can be reproduced in essentially the same form excluding the controversial tree rings, using other paleoclimate data such as boreholes (See Mann et al., 2008, Figure 2). Furthermore, the peer-reviewed science supporting human-caused global warming is not based solely upon the "hockey stick" and the CRU data used for the last 150 years of the hockey stick graph. There are three separate data sets of global temperatures maintained by NASA, the CRU, and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, that all show essentially the same global warming. We also have evidence from nature herself in the form of plants and animals expanding their ranges poleward, the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007 and record loss of multi-year Arctic sea ice this year, the shrinking of mountain glaciers, reductions in the length of freeze season in many Northern Hemisphere lakes and rivers, the shifting of spring blooms earlier in most regions of the world, and on and on and on. Again, Jones should have spoken up immediately to kill the ridiculous hype being pushed by global warming contrarians about the importance of a 10-year old graph that is now scientifically irrelevant, and was never published.


Figure 2. The "hockey stick" of global temperature anomalies since 300 A.D., as published in a 2008 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Mann et al.. Even if one excludes tree rings (blue curve), the hockey stick looks the same.

Resistance to releasing data to other researchers
The hacked emails also show that Dr. Jones resisted releasing his data to contrarians and urged others to delete emails regarding Freedom Of Information (FOI) related requests. Many countries protect their weather data under an international agreement called World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40, which prohibits the data from being made public (this is why wunderground can't give out the UKMET model forecasts on our web site, for example). About 5% of the CRU data fell in that category, making release illegal. However, deleting emails related to FOI requests is inadvisable and implies one has something to hide. The investigation should certainly pursue the issue of whether Dr. Jones properly handled the requests to turn over his data to outside researchers. Ideally, weather data documenting Earth's climate history should be free to everyone on the planet (I am not a big fan of WMO Resolution 40). However, another aspect to this issue is the time it takes for the scientists involved to prepare the data for release. Large, complicated data sets require extensive documentation and access to related computer codes in order to process them, and making the data available to every amateur investigator interested in the data puts an unfair burden on the scientists who maintain the data sets. In particular, an amateur climate science investigator named Stephen McIntyre, who runs the web site Climate Audit, has created such an issue. McIntyre, a retired mining executive and an investor, is not a professional scientist, but has been successful identifying several technical errors made in the published literature. He has also generated a huge amount of misleading and incorrect information over the years, and has done a tremendous amount of damage to the understanding of climate science. McIntyre is intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming--presumably for ideological reasons, since he has no obvious ties to the fossil fuel industry--and has generated a large number of Freedom of Information requests to further his cause. One of the hacked emails, from Dr. Ben Santer, complained that McIntyre's FOI requests were intrusive and unreasonable with no scientific justification or explanation given, and appeared to be a calculated strategy to divert Santer's attention and focus away from research. It's worth reading Santer's reaction to the hacked email affair to learn more. Given such tactics by McIntyre, Dr. Jones' resistance to FOI requests from McIntyre is understandable, but appears to have been poorly handled.

The science of human-caused global warming remains unaffected
None of the hacked emails reveal any conspiracy to publish falsified or "fudged" material in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The science of human-caused global warming will require no revision as a result of this affair. Baseless accusations of fraud, data manipulation, and conspiracy against climate change scientists stemming from the hacked emails are being massively hyped by the Manufactured Doubt industry in an effort to discredit climate scientists, since no flaw with the science can be found. Most of the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad, so if you can create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion, you can win--or at least buy time, lots of it. The hacked email affair is all about politics, not science. Dr. Jones is an excellent scientist, but unfortunately was over-matched as a politician. It was hardly a fair fight--one scientist against the political might of the mightiest PR campaign against science ever waged, armed with some selectively culled stolen emails taken out of context.

Other posts in this series
The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy
Is more CO2 beneficial for Earth's ecosystems?

Next post
I'm working on a post called, "Don't shoot the messenger", and plan to run this Sunday or Monday.

Our Climate Change expert, Dr. Ricky Rood, will be in Copenhagen for Monday's start to the crucial COP15 climate change treaty negotiations. Be sure to tune into his blog for updates on the talks. Wunderground has provided financial support for several University of Michigan students to attend the talks, and I may be featuring portions of their blogs over the coming weeks.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Except for one thing. They use indgen and create a hypothetical "floating point array". "findgen" does that. "indgen" creates a integer array.


So, they twisted the code to accept an input value.
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Quoting SouthALWX:
i live in north mobile county ... it needs to drop dramatically in temp or else we'll be seeing another day of cold rain in south alabama


Its 39 degrees here as of right now and falling slowly so I think we might get just a little here in west mobile but as for you there could be more because you are north of I-10 and west of I-65
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Quoting quakeman55:


But places further west at the same latitude have seen snow already or are expecting it tonight. So how do you explain that?


The cold air is entrenched to the west of you. The cold air will lift up and out behind the storm, from MS, C AL, W TN, W NC, W VA. the areas from the FL Panhandle, GA, SC, E NC have warmer air lifting in from the ATL & GOM.

I understand you want to see snow, however, the air from ground level to 20,000 FT is too mild to support snow.

Please review an earlier "Forecast Discussion" from the NWS Talahassee, FL meteorologists:

WITH WINTRY PRECIPITATION FALLING WITH THIS SYSTEM OVER IN THE
HOUSTON TX AREA THIS AFTERNOON...THERE HAS BEEN ALOT OF QUESTIONS AS
TO THE SNOW/MIX POTENTIAL FOR OUR NECK OF THE WOODS. NO MATTER WHAT
GUIDANCE PACKAGE YOU LOOK AT...IT APPEARS THE CHANCES FOR ANY
WINTRY PRECIP IN OUR AREA IS VERY LOW. PARTIAL THICKNESSES HOLD
ABOVE TYPICAL VALUES UNTIL AFTER THE PRECIP HAS EXITED TO THE EAST.
THESE VALUES GET CLOSE TO WHAT WOULD BE LOOKED AT FOR A RAIN/SNOW
MIX TO THE NORTHWEST OF DOTHAN LATE TONIGHT...HOWEVER NAM/GFS
SOUNDINGS BOTH SHOW AT LEAST A 1200 FOOT ABOVE FREEZING LAYER UNTIL
AFTER THE PRECIP ENDS. THIS LAYER WILL BE PLENTY ENOUGH TO MELT ANY
FLAKES. THEREFORE...LOOKS LIKE JUST A COLD RAIN EVENT FOR ALL WITH
TEMPS IN THE 30S AND 40S.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
i live in north mobile county ... it needs to drop dramatically in temp or else we'll be seeing another day of cold rain in south alabama
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1421. Grothar
Quoting atmoaggie:

Except for one thing. They use indgen and create a hypothetical "floating point array". "findgen" does that. "indgen" creates a integer array.


I always wanted to ask someone that. Spent many a night trying to figure that out. How you doing atmoaggie?
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Boy, that was quick. Just went back over to 90% drizzle, 10% snow, here. Need to take a picture soon simply to prove to myself that it did snow.

We did not get a 1/2 inch...

I would not hold my breath if I were you.


No I want be holding my breath either..... But it sure would be fun just to have a lite dusting anyway....
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Quoting taco2me61:


Mobile AL

We are getting some sleet mixed in with rain....

So we will see

Taco :0)

Boy, that was quick. Just went back over to 90% drizzle, 10% snow, here. Need to take a picture soon simply to prove to myself that it did snow.

We did not get a 1/2 inch...

I would not hold my breath if I were you.
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Quoting atmoaggie:


I write IDL code on a daily basis and have been for about 6 years. That description of the nuts and bolts in the function is accurate...

Except for one thing. They use indgen and create a hypothetical "floating point array". "findgen" does that. "indgen" creates a integer array.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Where y'at?


Mobile AL

We are getting some sleet mixed in with rain....

So we will see

Taco :0)
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Quoting atmoaggie:

On shore flow over warm water will be undoing some of the cold air advection...

Well I'm in the very western part, so the situation here may be different...
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Quoting taco2me61:
well Hammond has approx: 2" now and that has been about 2 hrs now

I sure hope we get some of that..... That would cool....

Taco :0)

Where y'at?
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1414. VTG
Ok, maybe someone else in Pensacola can verify this for me, but I'm fairly certain we're getting a rain/sleet mix here now. I'm at Davis and Langley.

I live around the airport- it's just light rain here.
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Quoting xcool:
lacombe la have snow

We have a moderate all-snow going on now, but alas, our precip will be running out very soon. I doubt seriously there would be anything at all to see by daylight.
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well Hammond has approx: 2" now and that has been about 2 hrs now

I sure hope we get some of that..... That would cool....

Taco :0)
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1411. GBguy88
Ok, maybe someone else in Pensacola can verify this for me, but I'm fairly certain we're getting a rain/sleet mix here now. I'm at Davis and Langley.
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Quoting Ossqss:


Hummm, that is a bit of interesting code if legit.


I write IDL code on a daily basis and have been for about 6 years. That description of the nuts and bolts in the function is accurate...
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Link

Ok, did I do it right this time?
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Again, because we started a new page. The Mamhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3GbF9Bx6Emas and the Pappas.

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1407. Ossqss
Quoting bear55:
The Proof Behind the CRU Climategate Debacle: Because Computers Do Lie When Humans Tell Them To


Hummm, that is a bit of interesting code if legit.
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1406. Skyepony (Mod)
Astro~ No surprise Nida had some wicked remnants. The way that storm's eye would fluctuate, change size & reform was wild.
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Quoting Skyepony:
The president of the Maldives, an island nation likely to be underwater by the end of the century due to climate change, has become the first country to become carbon neutral. For that act, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was named one of Time's “Heroes of the Environment 2009.”


Doing a research paper on that due next Friday. E-mail me with your info, if you don't mind. It's a political geography class, so I need info on how governments of countries such as the Maldives are preparing and what may happen to them. natrwalkn@yahoo.com Thanks!!
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1404. xcool
lacombe la have snow
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If the FL panhandle misses this time.. hope we can get sum soon.. I love watching snow and playing with snow.. just a beautiful sight to c.. Im glad ya'll r enjoying it!
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Quoting quakeman55:


But places further west at the same latitude have seen snow already or are expecting it tonight. So how do you explain that?

On shore flow over warm water will be undoing some of the cold air advection...
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1401. xcool
slidell la next .
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Just turning to snow here in Covington.

Look at a radar loop...most of our rain is passing over the NW corner of Lake P and Lake Maurepas...water at about 60 F does not a SE LA snowstorm make.
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Quoting alaina1085:


Thanks! Ill try my best. Its ashame, I think everyone should get to experience a few snow days a winter.


I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. I've had my fair share, that's for sure. I've been in Florida 7 years now, it's a love hate thing, lol.
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1398. Skyepony (Mod)
The president of the Maldives, an island nation likely to be underwater by the end of the century due to climate change, has become the first country to become carbon neutral. For that act, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was named one of Time's “Heroes of the Environment 2009.”
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN3GbF9Bx6E

Have fun with your winter's day, south!
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Quoting Bordonaro:


The atmospheric dynamics over the FL Panhandle region is NOT tapping the colder, Artic air over the Midwest, S Plains and parts of the MS valley. Milder air from the GOM is overriding the cool surface airmass in place over FL, GA, SC, and most of NC. Temps are several degrees too WARM to support any frozen precip.

This happens over a large portion of the S US, especially below 34N latitude. Sorry!


But places further west at the same latitude have seen snow already or are expecting it tonight. So how do you explain that?
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Quoting iluvjess:


where?

Im in Ascension Parish just south east of Baton Rouge.

Slidell, your snow is coming... we had sleet for 4 hours before we finally got our snow.
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Quoting alaina1085:
WE HAVE SNOOOOOWWW!!!! Im taking pictures. My 2 yr old son discovered the snow. :)


very nice... enjoy it.. it doesnt look like the cold temperatures will make it in time for us in the FL panhandle.. tomorrow night supposed to b cold..but u never know
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Quoting alaina1085:
WE HAVE SNOOOOOWWW!!!! Im taking pictures. My 2 yr old son discovered the snow. :)


where?
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


Congrats. Now, just figure out how to get some to West Palm?

Thanks! Ill try my best. Its ashame, I think everyone should get to experience a few snow days a winter.
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Quoting alaina1085:
WE HAVE SNOOOOOWWW!!!! Im taking pictures. My 2 yr old son discovered the snow. :)


Congrats. Now, just figure out how to get some to West Palm?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
WE HAVE SNOOOOOWWW!!!! Im taking pictures. My 2 yr old son discovered the snow. :)
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


It's one of the three pieces in the North Central and East Pacific that Nida has injected into the Subtropical Jet/front.


Check cyclonephase (Link) and you'll see that each of the three north Pacific systems either has, has had, or will have pressures lower than 950 hPa (category three strength and stronger).
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1388. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


It's one of the three pieces in the North Central and East Pacific that Nida has injected into the Subtropical Jet/front.


That's what I was thinking.
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Quoting Patrap:


That's the tail end of the front that the Gulf Low left behind from Wednesday and Thursday, and now it seems to be forming its own large system with the centre of the low south of NOLA (and dropping snow on Texas and Louisiana).
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Quoting Skyepony:
Off of Alaska



It's one of the three pieces in the North Central and East Pacific that Nida has injected into the Subtropical Jet/front.
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Quoting Patrap:


That's a "BIG" butt sittin down on the US
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1384. Patrap
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The boundary layer is keeping all the severe WX in the far southern peninsula.
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hi guys! looks like our mountain ranges are in for some snow, last time was about 4 years ago.

A STRONG COLD FRONT WILL DROP SOUTH OUT OF CANADA BY THE END OF THE WEEKEND. THIS COLD FRONT WILL BRING SHOWERS TO THE SAN FRANCISCO AND MONTEREY BAY AREAS SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY. A MUCH COLDER AIRMASS WILL ACCOMPANY THE COLD FRONT DROPPING SNOW LEVELS...DOWN TO AS LOW AS 1000 FEET IN THE NORTH BAY...2000 FEET ACROSS THE HEART OF THE BAY AREA...AND 2500 FEET SOUTH OF SAN JOSE. IT IS STILL TOO EARLY TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH SNOW WILL FALL IN THE HILLS...OR WHAT ROADS WILL BE IMPACTED. BY TUESDAY MILDER AIR FROM THE WEST AND SOUTHWEST WILL LIFT FREEZING LEVELS.

A STRONGER STORM WILL ARRIVE WEDNESDAY WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF HEAVY RAIN AND GUSTY WINDS. STORMY WEATHER CONDITIONS COULD LAST INTO THURSDAY. ADDITIONALLY EXPECT LARGE WAVES NEAR THE COAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY.

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1380. Skyepony (Mod)
Off of Alaska

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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 2199
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0924 PM CST FRI DEC 04 2009

AREAS AFFECTED...FAR SRN FL

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 050324Z - 050500Z

THE SEVERE THREAT WILL INCREASE AS CELLS MOVE INLAND ACROSS FAR SRN
FL LATE THIS EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT PERIOD. AN ISOLATED TORNADO
THREAT ALONG WITH A POTENTIAL FOR DAMAGING WIND GUSTS WILL EXIST. A
WW CAN NOT BE RULED OUT LATE THIS EVENING BUT ISSUANCE IS MOST
LIKELY DURING THE OVERNIGHT PERIOD WHEN THE LOW-LEVEL SHEAR
ENVIRONMENT WILL BECOME MORE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADOES.

AT THE SFC...A QUASI-STATIONARY FRONT EXTENDS ACROSS SRN FL FROM
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK ENEWD TO THE MIAMI AREA. A CLUSTER OF
STORMS IS ONGOING ALONG AND JUST SOUTH OF THE BOUNDARY WHERE
LOW-LEVEL CONVERGENCE IS QUITE STRONG. THIS ACTIVITY SHOULD MOVE
ACROSS THE SRN TIP OF FL WHERE WSR-88D VWPS SUGGEST ENOUGH DEEP
LAYER SHEAR AND LOW-LEVEL SHEAR EXIST FOR ROTATING STORMS. AN
ISOLATED TORNADO THREAT COULD EXIST ACROSS THE EVERGLADES LATE THIS
EVENING AND SHOULD INCREASE WITH TIME DURING THE OVERNIGHT PERIOD AS
A WELL-DEFINED 45 TO 55 KT LOW-LEVEL JET APPROACHES SRN FL FROM THE
WEST SOUTHWEST. WIND DAMAGE WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE WITH WET
DOWNBURSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE MORE INTENSE LINE-SEGMENTS.

..BROYLES.. 12/05/2009


ATTN...WFO...MFL...KEY...

LAT...LON 25018062 25038113 25308131 25478141 25698160 25898174
26028175 26178143 26338101 26648050 26718013 26158005
25468026 25018062

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If you are not a man made GW supporter.. you are a "Global warming contrarian"? (I appear to have a title that I will have to look up on google to see if I have been Insulted)

One of the hacked emails, from Dr. Ben Santer, complained that McIntyre's FOI requests were intrusive and unreasonable with no scientific justification or explanation given, and appeared to be a calculated strategy to divert Santer's attention and focus away from research

There is no requirement to have any "scientific justification or explanation given" for an FOI request.... and I have yet to recieve an FOI request that I did not find to be "intrusive and unreasonable"

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That's the same layer that was plaguing the tropical systems this year. Seems a focal point for analysis in the off season. It's put the breaks on many of forecast's this season.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


The atmospheric dynamics over the FL Panhandle region is NOT tapping the colder, Artic air over the Midwest, S Plains and parts of the MS valley. Milder air from the GOM is overriding the cool surface airmass in place over FL, GA, SC, and most of NC. Temps are several degrees too WARM to support any frozen precip.

This happens over a large portion of the S US, especially below 34N latitude. Sorry!


Yeah but the western panhandle it's different(especially tomorrow).
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.