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Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990

You’ll find this hard to believe but I get excited about the 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR). It’s very different from wading through the later ones, because it’s remarkably honest, and things are not hidden in double-speak (well, not so much). Scientists behave like scientists and talk of null hypothesis, and even of validating models. Indeed they had a whole chapter back then called “validation”. How times have changed.

This is the short summary of Chapter 8 “Attribution”

Thanks to Alan for sending me this link today (Chapter 8, IPCC FAR).

The “Attribution” Chapter is the part where they try to figure out what “caused” the warming. Chapter 8 says, essentially, “we don’t know, we might never know, our models don’t work, and we can conclude it might all be natural, but then again, it might not.” Got it?

This is in the same era that Al Gore was saying “the science is settled” and “there is no debate”.

What’s clear in 1990 from the FAR was that it was widely admitted that the models were bodgy, and that figuring out exactly what caused the recent warming was very difficult, indeed impossible at the time. There were too many variables, the signal to noise ratio was awful. There were almost no singularly unique points which the enhanced greenhouse effect would produce that we could use to definitively say “Gotcha!”.

Unlike today, when Professors of Climatism repeat “there is no doubt global warming is real” as if it meant something, back then they knew it didn’t.

“Global mean warming for example is not a particularly good signal in this sense because there are many possible causes of such warming.”

Mind you, even in 1990, they try it on anyway, just to see how it looks. They show model runs versus real temps, over a century. The end result of that (Fig 8.1), shows that all else being equal (meaning all the other forcings exactly cancel out) climate sensitivity would be 1 to 2°C. ie: the observational data, even then, was suggesting 1.5 °C and that’s if they were lucky and the Earth’s climate was essentially stable and not otherwise changing. To get a high 4 °C sensitivity, they have to assume some natural cooling effect is coincidentally at work (which is hiding the rampant warming of CO2). With surprising honesty, they also admit that “if the combined effect [of natural factors] was warming then the implied sensitivity was less than 1°C.” Imagine them saying that now… the “evidence is overwhelming”, and climate sensitivity is somewhere between… ah… zero and 5°C.

Sea levels, glaciers, stratospheric cooling: Not proof

These 1990 IPCC scientists also admitted that sea-level rise and melting glaciers didn’t prove a jot, because anything else that warmed the planet would have caused them to rise and melt too.

Both thermal expansion and the melting of small glaciers are consistent with global warming, but neither provides any independent information about the cause of the warming. [p251]

They further acknowledged that while finding stratospheric cooling was very gratifying, it could be due to ozone depletion and volcanic action, and the models could be right about that, but wrong about everything else as well. In a nutshell, “Don’t throw a party about stratospheric cooling”.

“Validation of the stratospheric component of a model while of scientific importance, may be of little relevance to the detection of an enhanced greenhouse effect”

Nowadays, with so little other evidence on the shelf, they’ll take what they can get. Stratospheric cooling has become more popular. (The Australian Academy of Science mentions it three times in the 2010 PR booklet “The Science of Climate Change”.)

Fingerprints

Having given up on finding one factor which gave the game away, they considered “fingerprints” of a bucket full of factors. Was there a pattern which could be uniquely “Greenhouse induced”? Alas, there wasn’t an obvious one, but they were hopeful and had a few candidates. The hot spot was of course, an important one, but sadly, not performing.

The hot spot was already missing

The air between 300hpa (high up) and 100hpa (even higher) ought to have been warming over the tropics. But dang, there was no noticeable trend in most of the tropics, and worse, between 10-30°N it was cooling“which appears to conflict with model results” as they said.” Yes, rather. It was supposed to warm faster than the surface. [page 251]

Humidity is the other marker of the “hot spot” found in the models, and it is supposed to cause a lot of the greenhouse warming above the tropics. It was also thought to be a good detection variable, because the signal to noise ratio is not so tragic. Even so, they concluded that the results were not an endorsement:

“the magnitude of the tropical trend is much larger than any expected greenhouse related change, and it is likely that natural variability is dominating the record.”

The models were known to be bad

Back then, no one was trying to pretend that they had it figured out:

“We know a priori that current models have numerous deficiencies and that even on a global scale the predicted signal is probably obscured by noise.”

“In all cases (different variables, different months) the observed and modelled fields were found to be significantly different. Ie for these tests the null hypothesis of no difference [between models and observations] was rejected and the model signal could not be identified in the observations.”

They hoped they’d get conclusive proof

Back then, the scientists wondered how long it would be before we could see the greenhouse influence. The answer depended on just how influential the greenhouse effect was: if James Hansen’s worst scenario was the “one”, the IPCC 1990 group figured they’d be able to tell by 2002. Things would have heated up enough that quickly. If his most conservative one was right it would be 2047. And if people actually cut their emissions (ha ha) then it might not be possible to figure it out until well into the 21st Century. (Then of course, there was the other scenario — if CO2 made almost no difference, the conclusive answer might take infinitely long.)

It’s obvious from reading the later versions of the IPCC team output, that the FAR stands alone. By 1996, the stakes were higher and the money so much larger that the tone of all the later reports changes and the stories of corruption and last minute changes, omissions, and twists, mark them as more products of politics than rational thought.

H/t to Alan and to Helen (from last year)

The IPCC’s First Assessment Report has been visible only to the “lucky” sods with a hard copy, or access to libraries and photocopiers. I had help from Helen last year to get me some key parts (thanks Helen), which I’ve been working on, and today Alan wrote with the link to Chapter 8 and more.

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PPS: Thanks also to the special helper in Cyprus. A very nice surprise in the mail! :-)

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43 comments to Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990

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    Mango

    contributors to FAR chapter 8:

    Hansen, Jones, Mitchell, Santer, Trenberth

    Nice work if you can get it

    /Mango

    I don’t deny climate change, I know climate changes

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    Bulldust

    Ahhh the good all days before climate science was popular and irrevocably twisted for political advantage.

    I was just thinking how frustrating it was to see supposedly learned economists spouting rubbish like Garnaut, or Ken Henry when he was forced to spruik the RSPT under Rudd. Before doctors were allowed to practice they swore the Hippocratic oath, which essentially says they should only wield their knowledge for the good of the patient.

    It’s a crying shame that there isn’t a similar code that economists in the public service should swear to… i.e. that they must give sound economic advice that is for the benefit of the economy and it’s citizens. Both Henry and Garnaut would have been struck off for the garbage they spewed in defence of their respective political leaders.

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    Rereke Whakaaro

    Bulldust: #3

    It would appear that all the chapters of FAR are available in pdf format at the IPCC now:

    Can I respectfully suggest that somebody with access to the hard copies, check them against these “newer” electronic versions?

    A statistical sample should be enough to confirm their veracity.

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    wes george

    Back in 1990 I was arguing that AGW caused by CO2 was real, although the logarithmic effect of CO2 limited CO2′s future effect on the climate.

    It was the usual Limit-to-Growth crowd who presciently foresaw the great ecological collapses of today. You know, the disappearance of the polar ice caps and the flooding of coastal cities by 2010 and the death of the Great Barrier Reef. Of course, these same moonbats believed we had reached Peak Oil in the 1980′s, so it was unclear to me how if we ran out of fossil fuels AGW wouldn’t simple solve itself. Logic was never the strong suit of the Greens.

    Anyway, the primary difference between 1990 and today is the rarely examined underlying assumption of the whole climate debate that big government has the power to control the Earth’s climate. Obviously, Canberra can simply legislate fine weather for our grandchildren. Regressive taxation and redistribution policy is like a magic cure for all that ails. After all our government does such a fine job managing orderly immigration policy and staffing hospitals and installing pink bats,etc., etc… why not assign parliament the task of controlling the Earth’s climate? What could go wrong?

    Back in 1990, this simple cure to AGW had only occurred to a very few. Most reckoned that only the naturally accelerating rate of technological innovation fostered by the emergent global free market of capital and ideas would solve the dilemma.
    Crazy, huh?

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    Binny

    If you want to corrupt anyone or anything, add huge amounts of unaudited money.

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    Ian Hill

    I remember reading in the ClimateGate emails that Michael Mann lamented the fact that the FAR showed the famous graph of the Medieval Warm Period (I think originally drawn by Professor Lamb) and implying that the IPCC were “fools” for publishing it. Mann certainly got his revenge!

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    Neville

    I still think that Phil Jone’s confession about the trends from the different periods of recent warming are very important.

    Just shows that when the chips are down and the heat is on the truth sometimes comes blurting out.

    His ” no statistically, significant warming from 1995 to 2010″ is important as well.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm

    Of course they expect us to spend billions and the world trillions on this con, but for what?

    Will it return the climate to some nirvana era that existed around 1850? Of course no one has the slightest clue what the climate will be like in another 20, 40, 100 years.

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    Ross

    Interesting timing with this thread Jo. Bishop Hill has highlighted a thread from Donna Laframboise’s site. It highlights one of the IPCC authors “career” in writing for the IPCC and clearly how it is not all wriiten by the experts in the field but really is just a “club for the boys and girls”.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/3/18/how-to-get-to-the-top.html

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    janama

    Professor Muller outlines Mann’s corrupt science.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BQpciw8suk

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    Mark

    Apologies for the O/T:

    Just heard on the news that a power cable has been reconnected at the Fukushima plant which will enable the some of the cooling cycle to be reactivated. Has to be good news.

    Interesting to note that not one fatality has yet been attributed to this aspect of the disaster. The plant withstood a ‘quake forty times its design limit. It has now been determined that the tidal wave was 20+ metres high and it was this which damaged the backup systems.

    Wonder if the Greenies will shed any tears for the unfortunate survivors who now have to face freezing temperatures. Oh, of course. Gaia will come to their rescue…won’t she?…(crickets).

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    [...] Nova on the rapid fall in the credibility of the warmenist ”climate scientists” since the First Assessment Report in 1990. That must have been before it became an ideology and a [...]

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    Another Ian

    Jo,

    Comment from WUWT re availability of report

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/17/the-ipcc-1992-detection-of-the-greenhouse-effect-in-observations-at-odds-with-the-1988-congressional-testimony-of-dr-james-hansen/#more-36125

    “Daniel H says:
    March 18, 2011 at 12:04 am
    There are all kinds of curious claims made in the IPCC First Assessment Report (FAR 1990) that contradict prior claims and (mostly) later claims made by climate scientists. Most people are unaware of this because the IPCC refuses to post a full unabridged PDF version of the FAR on their web site. This makes it difficult to contrast and compare the FAR with subsequent assessment reports unless you own a hard copy.

    Fortunately, a hard copy is easy to come by if you know where to look. Used copies are selling for $0.52 on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ipcc-far

    Interesting read also

    (Found it deep in the spam list) CTS

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    Siliggy

    More “SCIENCE?!?”

    Federally funded, rigged science behind Fish & Wildlife’s Mousegate
    “By the way, Ramey’s respect for the truth cost him his job, but he’s now an esteemed consultant and researcher with an impeccable reputation.”

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/03/ron-arnold-federally-funded-faked-science-behind-fish-wildlifes-mousegate

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    Eddy Aruda

    Great post, Jo. It makes you wonder, if they didn’t get it right initially, why should anyone assume that they got it right subsequently? Perhaps they followed the “Jimmy Hansen method”? You know, just keep “adjusting” the data until it conforms to the hypothesis! Certainly taxpayers would accede to their hard earned money being spent in a valiant effort to prevent the world from being incinerated by man’s introduction of a little extra plant food into the atmosphere? The graph in the IPCC First and Second Assessment Report http://www.americanthinker.com/McLaugh%201.jpg showed both the MWP and the LIA. In the reports that followed it was replaced with MBH98 (the hockey stick) and confirmed with Briffa’s Yamal data. Unfortunately for the warmists, the hockey stick was demolished and once the one outlier tree was removed from the sample Briffa used his work was thoroughly discredited, as well. I have yet to see the original graph reappear in the report. Gosh, I suppose that would create a problem in hiding the decline. After all, if it was warmer during the MWP and CO2 levels were lower then the CAGW hypothesis would be falsified, wouldn’t it? Heaven forbid that a little logic and common sense should get in the way of our betters saving us from ourselves! Imagine the imposition that would cause to so many hard working climate scientists? Why, many of them might have to wean themselves from the public teat and find real jobs in the private sector! Heck, there employers might even expect a return on their investment!

    The IPCC report was touted as being based on the best science available today and represented the views of the top 2,500 climate scientists in the world. The reality is that many members of the vaunted scientific pantheon were politicians, lawyers, NGO members with a vested interest and other “non scientists”. The only guy not on the list was the smartest guy in the building, the janitor! Nobody was asked to sign a document endorsing the IPCC’s conclusions and the one chapter that accused humans of being responsible for a measly .7 degree warming since the end of the LIA was authored by the same small group of rent seekers who stood to the gain the most from the perpetration of the greatest scientific fraud ever foisted upon the human race. Like the Grinch who stole Christmas they were so sly and so slick that they though up a lie and they thought it up quick! They peer reviewed each others work, conspired to subvert the peer reviewed process and conspired to prevent their crimes from being discovered by destroying evidence, obstructing justice and impeding legitimate FOIA requests. The IPCC reports themselves contained a large percentage, over thirty percent, of non peer reviewed literature. I can understand a few exceptions but including an article from a backpacker magazine?

    I would hate to fly in an airplane constructed with parts that met the IPCC “gold standard”!

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    Damian Allen

    This is just beyond belief!!

    Astonishing: how a mere student became an IPCC guru

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/astonishing_how_a_mere_student_became_an_ipcc_guru/

    How can this happen!!

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    Joe Lalonde

    Jo,

    IPCC has a political agenda of control and funding. To get this, you can’t be wishy-washy with science. It is not good for getting what you want.

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    John Brookes

    Neville@8:

    I still think that Phil Jone’s confession about the trends from the different periods of recent warming are very important.

    Just shows that when the chips are down and the heat is on the truth sometimes comes blurting out.

    His ” no statistically, significant warming from 1995 to 2010″ is important as well.

    Ho ho. Just goes to show that climate scientists should never be honest. People will grab a quote from them and pretend that it means something.

    Neville, why do you think that his ” no statistically, significant warming from 1995 to 2010″ is important?

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    Roy Hogue

    Mark @11,

    There has been one death and four injured so far — possibly all related to the explosions but no details are given. It’s also reported that one worker briefly received a higher than safe level of radiation.

    http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

    If you search around a bit you’ll find that the workers going into that “hot” reactor building believe they are on a suicide mission. How accurate that is remains to be seen. But it’s quite clear that radiation levels are higher than what is safe for continuous exposure. And the members of the work crew are being rotated in and out with a strict limit on time inside. Google on the phrase, Fukushima Daiichi, and require the word suicide.

    I can’t imagine this being settled any time soon.

    I just thought you’d like to know. ;)

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    Roy Hogue

    It isn’t very hard to understand that if the IPCC let it stand that there was no problem they would all soon be out of a job. Can’t have that now, can we?

    Does the term, mission creep, come to mind?

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    Roy Hogue

    John Brookes @21,

    Neville, why do you think that his ” no statistically, significant warming from 1995 to 2010″ is important?

    Why do you think Phil Jones’ admission is not important?

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    Mark

    Not to mention that there is also a slight cooling trend in the last few years. Jones would have jumped on it if it had been a warming trend, that’s for sure.

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    pattoh

    DA @ 19

    Looks like the CV of someone who knows they are sitting on a million dollars.

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    John Brookes

    Its bleeding obvious, Roy Hogue@24. If you choose a short enough time period, its easy to not get statistically significant results. Even shorter, (as mentioned by Mark@25), and its possible to get a cooling trend (although certainly not statistically significant) in the midst of a long warming trend.

    If you look at it in hindsight, the Dow Jones industrial average has gone up for the last 100 years – by a lot. However, you can pick periods up to around a decade where the trend is down, and no doubt longer periods where although its gone up, the rise was not statistically significant. Did these periods mean that the Dow had stopped rising? No, it didn’t. It might have, if there was an actual reason (such as an end to productivity improvements) to believe that growth was finished, but there wasn’t.

    Same with global warming. Do a few years of cooling mean its all over? Does a lack of statistically significant warming over 15 years mean the warming has stopped? No, because the underlying reason for a warming trend has not gone away.

    I will give the mandatory disclaimer. If you don’t believe that climate scientists are correct, then you have every reason to believe the warming will stop any day now. I remain a bit skeptical. I still find it hard to believe that it will be hotter this decade than it was for the last. But my skepticism is not enough to believe that we should not act. Like someone in a coastal city who has just felt a major earthquake, I think its time to head for the hills, just in case a tsunami follows.

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    Roy Hogue

    John Brookes @27

    You say

    Same with global warming. Do a few years of cooling mean its all over? Does a lack of statistically significant warming over 15 years mean the warming has stopped? No, because the underlying reason for a warming trend has not gone away.

    which tells me your faith is in a thoroughly discredited theory and not evidence based at all. But of course we all knew that already.

    I may not be up to the standard of the geologists who visit here. But believe it or not, I did pass both the course in physical and historical geology. This earth of ours has quite a history, John. I’m sure you’ve been told already that the Great Lakes (you have heard of them, yes?) were carved out by glaciers. But there’s no glacier there now. And in fact the whole thing was long over before humans ever reached the point where they could pollute your precious atmosphere with their carbon dioxide. What happened there, John? Things warmed up. Who did it?

    Why is there evidence that food crops were once grown in Greenland? And for that matter, why is a place that grows almost nothing because it’s covered with ice, called Greenland? Why are there reports of sailing the Northwest Passage free of ice from more than 100 years ago? Why are U.S. Navy Submariners able to post pictures on joannenova of our nuclear subs surfaced at the North Pole in open water in the 1960s? Think a bit, John. Just do a little critical thinking.

    The importance of Jones’ admission is simple. The most recent warming period was no more severe than those in the past that we know about. And since we know there has been warming since the LIA, what is there to be alarmed about in the last warming period? Nature does not proceed in nice linear fashion as your pet theory predicts. It has failed miserably and has had to be renamed how many times now in order to keep the alarm going? Global warming, climate change, climate disruption, AGW, CAGW — what’s next in line?

    Your Dow Jones analogy isn’t relevant. If you put a straight edge along the Dow it will always be up as you point out. That’s because people always work to create wealth. That’s what human societies have done for their entire history — unless, of course, their governments foul things up.

    If you had a graph of the climate history of this planet, just over the last roughly 4,000 years for which we have any written human history, it would be a roller coaster ride. Let’s not even mention the longer term for which we have good evidence.

    After all the years I’ve known about and been looking at the case for and against global warming, I will literally bet my life that it isn’t a problem.

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    Mark

    I’ve read that more than 9,000 of the last 10,500 years have been warmer than the last couple of decades. The warmth that the “warmista” complain about is a result of untreated nocturnal enuresis.

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    crakar24

    Hey Eddy long time no hear, how is your mum doing all good i hope.

    To the dumbest person in the room who said

    “Ho ho. Just goes to show that climate scientists should never be honest. People will grab a quote from them and pretend that it means something.

    Neville, why do you think that his ” no statistically, significant warming from 1995 to 2010″ is important?”

    My response, firstly i found his honesty refreshing and if his honesty means more questions being raised then so be it. Secondly it is important because the planet has not warmed for 15 years and yet we are told the rise in atmospheric CO2 is significant. You will not understand this John because as i said you are the dumbest person in the room.

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    Albert

    Mark @ 11
    The Greenies want the Japanese to use wind power and solar power.
    For the last week it has been snowing, so the Japanese would be freezing in the dark and unable to work and will experience “Earth Hour” every day.

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    [...] Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990 [...]

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    Mark

    Albert #31
    And for good measure, if the Greenie sludge had their way, the miserable, homeless survivors would have to attend (freezing) open air festivities to thank Gaia for liberating them from the yoke of the “evil nuclear energy demon”.

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    John Brookes

    crakar24@30:

    Talking to yourself again?

    Roy Hogue@28:

    Take what I said, misinterpret it, or fail to understand it, the choice is yours.

    I think our atmosphere is warming because of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. But unlike you, I’m not certain. I have lingering doubts, simply because I find it hard to believe. However, the fact that each decade is hotter than the one before makes me think that the greenhouse effect is causing warming.

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    crakar24

    John let me get this straight, you THINK our atmosphere is warming due to increasing CO2, you are not CERTAIN of this in fact so much so that you have LINGERING DOUBTS you also find it HARD TO BELIEVE.

    You believe that each decade is hotter than the one before so therefore it must be CO2………………………

    This is known as a conflict of ideas John, do you believe CO2 is causing the warming or not?

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    Roy Hogue

    John Brookes,

    You’re not certain yet you’re willing to take action fraught with unintended consequences, all of which will be bad!? Have you completely forgotten that little thing called reality?

    Oh! Excuse me, John, of course you have — permanently. Sorry to have bothered you.

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    wes george

    John Brookes,

    I think our atmosphere is warming because of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I was an environmental worker in the 1980′s when we first heard about the AGW hypothesis. Sounded reasonable at the time. But we knew even then that if catastrophic warming, or the “tipping points” were coming, they would have to occur within the next 25 years because it was physically impossible for CO2 to be a significant climate forcing agent beyond then. Why?

    Because even way back then it was well understood that warming caused by CO2 was limited by CO2′s logarithmic effect—that is CO2 inability to add significant warming to the atmosphere beyond about 340ppmv.

    We’re at about 385 ppmv now. CO2 is virtually done as a greenhouse gas. This is the sort of science you’d like. Totally mainstream. Totally orthodox and a complete consensus. No one debates this fact of nature.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/08/the-logarithmic-effect-of-carbon-dioxide/

    Until you can explain why you “think” CO2 is likely to cause significant further warming to our atmosphere your comments are at best uninformed opinion and at worse truly damaging to your “cause” for what they reveal about the level of evidence Warmists require to support their faith.

    So far you have offered exactly Zero in support of your opinion.

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    MattB

    Of course there is debate about that WEs, as it is crap. Logarithmic does not mean “reaches a point where any increase does nothing”. a doubling is a doubling.

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    wes george

    Well, by all means, MattB, please explain just how this “doubling is a doubling” effect works then?

    Please try to keep your reply to less than 1,000 words, and remember not to get too scientific with us as we are mostly a lay audience.

    Thanks in Advance.
    ;-)

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    Mark D.

    JohnB @27 and beyond.

    What you describe is HIND-CASTING!

    Describe ANY scientific prediction that FORECASTS the stock market collapse in 1929?

    I’ll forecast you’ll be proven to be terribly naive!!!!!!

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    [...] JoNova har gått tillbaka 20 år i tiden, till IPCC:s första rapport, och skrivit ett inlägg på sin blogg med den något provokativa titeln ”Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990″.  [...]

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    BLouis79

    From what I have read, “climate science” is out of step with other scientific endeavours:
    * the best computer model on earth does not have the power to accurately represent clouds, which are a substantial component of land cooling
    * using computer models to make long-term projections or predictions is not measurably more reliable than a straight line regression analysis
    * using 30 years of temperature data to make predictions for decades defies common sense and a scientific method when we have data from millions and billions of years in geology and paleoclimatology
    * energy/heat/temperature analysis (Nordell) suggests all causes of heat liberation on earth are sufficient to explain a majority of the currently observed warming effect (which really means than anything we do that generates heat will make the earth warmer – burning fuels or splitting atoms)
    * that a trace gas (CO2) can significantly alter heat transfer and change the resulting equilibrium has not been experimentally verified on any scale
    * the existence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect based in theoretical physics in particular the laws of thermodynamics has been challenged by Gerlich and Tscheuschner

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    [...] JO NOVA BLOG Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990 Posted on March 19th, 2011 http://joannenova.com.au/2011/03/way-back-when-climate-scientists-were-scientists-chapter-8-far/ [...]

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