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Excuse Files: Arctic treemometers measure sunlight too

The Satirical Times

Mother Nature has issued a disguised voluntary recall notice for Arctic Treemometers. Sold as a way of measuring temperatures over the last two millennium, they turned out to fail frequently, even going against trends in most other thermometers in the last half century. The flaw has been quietly recognized for years, but is rarely mentioned in polite circles.

Critics wonder why it took Mother Nature so long to issue the recall and why it is so qualified and partial. They point out that these safety warnings only seem to appear when product salesmen are also offering a repair kit for sale too.

In this case Stine and Huybers tell us they can fix the “divergence” problem with treemometers by considering incoming light. Treemometers are failing, they say, because of global dimming and inconvenient volcanoes. As long as sunlight reaches trees the treemometers work. (Critics dryly reply that it’s hardly news that sunlight affects tree growth, and that they never bought the tree-ring data in any case.)

Meanwhile Mann-made Treemometers Inc issued a statement in 4-point Roman Half-Uncial script at 3am saying that their Treemometers are as accurate as ever in all locations where cloud cover, dust and rainfall doesn’t deviate more than 5% from the seasonal mean. They unconditionally guarantee their reliability “in all situations and centuries where cloud cover data is available, and emails about data are not”.

One stock analyst predicted that “One day, most of the Western World will want a refund”.

Arctic study sheds light on tree-ring divergence problem: Changes in light intensity may impact density of tree rings

[Science Daily]
New research has found that changes in tree-ring density in the Arctic may be evidence of changes in light intensity during the trees’ growth. The finding has direct implications for the tree-ring ‘divergence problem,’ in which the density of tree rings in recent decades has not kept pace with increases in temperature, as expected.

The finding has direct implications for the tree-ring “divergence problem,” a phenomenon that has received considerable media attention but has been widely misinterpreted, said Stine, an assistant professor of Earth & climate sciences.

Tree rings consist of a low density ring, which forms early in the growing season, and a high density ring that forms late in the growing season. In colder parts of the world, the dense latewood rings tend to be denser during warm years. Temperature records inferred from Arctic tree rings do a good job of tracking temperature up until the 1960s, but subsequent Arctic tree-ring densities did not keep pace with increases in temperature, a discrepancy that is called the divergence problem.

The divergence issue was the reason given for “hiding the decline”. If 1980 model treemometers don’t work, the consumer is left to wonder why 1480 treemometers would be any better.

REFERENCES

A. R. Stine  & P. Huybers (2014) Arctic tree rings as recorders of variations in light availability, Nature Communications, 5, Article number: 3836 doi:10.1038/ncomms4836

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Excuse Files: Arctic treemometers measure sunlight too, 9.1 out of 10 based on 22 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/mv7gcuc

49 comments to Excuse Files: Arctic treemometers measure sunlight too

  • #
    crakar24

    I have a tremometer in the backyard but the bloody thing has not worked for years i think it was because the dog used to piss on it.

    161

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Even without the dog, if you just failed to water it the same amount from year to year I suspect you’d be in trouble. Or maybe it depends on rain, which is also inconsistent from year to year. Either way, big trouble.

      50

  • #
    Lank

    carbon dioxide probably had a significant say in tree growth as well.

    50

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Gosh! How could CO2 have had any effect? Trees should be good thermometers despite anything. Just ask the climate change people if you don’t believe me.

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        I should stop here. But there’s so much that is so comical in this little climate change fiasco that I could go on and on. :-)

        30

  • #
    StuartMcL

    “tree-ring densities did not keep pace with increases in temperature”

    or more accurately – went in an entirely different direction.

    Talk about “hiding the decline” – they just can’t help themselves.

    90

  • #
    ROM

    They could have asked any farmer over the last 5000 years who has tried to grow some sort of plant for a living and he would have been able to tell them that when the weather gets constantly cloudy and overcast his crops don’t grow or grow much more slowly than when there is bright sunshine every day.

    It’s called photosynthesizing.

    In photosynthesis, the plant uses water and nutrients from the soil, and carbon dioxide from the air with the sun’s energy to create photosynthates. Oxygen is released as a byproduct.

    . Simple chemical equation for photosynthesis.

    Carbon Dioxide + water + Light energy = Glucose + Oxygen

    6CO2 + 6H2O + Light energy = C6 H12 O6 + 6O2

    ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT AFFECT PLANT GROWTH

    LIGHT

    Light has three principal characteristics that affect plant growth: quantity, quality, and duration.

    Light quantity refers to the intensity or concentration of sunlight and varies with the season of the year. The maximum is present in the summer and the minimum in winter. The more sunlight a plant receives (up to a point), the better capacity it has to produce plant food through photosynthesis. As the sunlight quantity decreases the photosynthetic process decreases. Light quantity can be decreased in a garden or greenhouse by using shade-cloth or shading paint above the plants. It can be increased by surrounding plants with white or reflective material or supplemental lights.

    Light quality refers to the color or wavelength reaching the plant surface. Sunlight can be broken up by a prism into respective colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. On a rainy day, raindrops act as tiny prisms and break the sunlight into these colors producing a rainbow. Red and blue light have the greatest effect on plant growth. Green light is least effective to plants as most plants reflect green light and absorb very little. It is this reflected light that makes them appear green.[ / ]

    Could somebody now tell me where I can collect my munificent funding ?

    100

    • #
      Annie

      ROM, that’s a good lesson in the basics which every child used to be taught. That was in the days when school children were called just that and not ‘students’. In my day (says this grumpy old woman) students were those who were in tertiary education, not in kindergarten!

      60

      • #

        The seven colours of the rainbow is a pet hate of mine. Newton’s reasons for seven colours was because there are seven notes in an octave, God took seven days to make the world, there were seven planets (known then) and other reasons more to do with humans than physics, so he added orange and indigo to the original five bands. He did appreciate that we sensed colours rather than the bands of colours were physical.

        Still, the ROYGBIV belongs in the history class and not science.

        00

        • #
          Truthseeker

          Vic,

          Newton’s reasons for seven colours was because there are seven notes in an octave

          Umm … there are 8 full tones in an octave, that is why it is called and octave and not a septave.

          If you look at any rainbow, or at any spectrum created by a prism, you will see seven colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Now all visible colours can be expressed in terms of red, green and blue in various proportions (when we are talking about light and not paint).

          10

          • #
            Jimmy Haigh

            I have never been convinced that there is any Indigo in a rainbow…

            00

          • #
            vic g gallus

            abcdefg- you’ll see how many colours that you wish to see (and hear how many notes you wish to hear). The number of colours is the range frequencies of visible light divided by the smallest difference that you can discern with an instrument. I think that Newton might have appreciated that and the seven was something to do with human perceptions of the world.

            00

            • #
              Truthseeker

              Vic,

              Even though there are seven notes, an octave goes from note to the same note – doh ra me fah so lah te doh.

              00

              • #
                vic g gallus

                Newton originally (1672) divided the spectrum into five main colours; red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo, giving seven main colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale.

                Wikipedia but I did hear about it in an lecture 20 years ago.

                00

              • #
                the Griss

                Gees, they are just names.

                There are an infinite number of frequencies of EM radiation in the colour spectrum.

                32 bit colour only allows 4.3 billion of them.. (minus five million of so) :-)

                00

              • #
                the Griss

                ps, and if you alter even one bit in the last digit of any of the four octets.. SWMBO will know !!! :-)

                00

    • #
      tom0mason

      ROM -

      Funding?
      Not funded.

      Horror of horrors, you’ve used actual data!
      This institution relies on data torturing and computerized models because of they’re fun, and resistance to criticism it gives.

      40

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      It’s the sun after all? How could that be? For years they’ve been putting down skeptic’s claims that it’s the sun. And they just now discover the hidden joker in their deck of cards — only that joker wasn’t really hidden, was it?

      Incredible!

      50

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Breaking news: Michael Mann has declared they are so close to resolving the “divergence problem” and is quoted,
    “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
    One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
    The IPCC greatly impressed by Mann’s writing have nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature stating “Mann’s prize is in the bag, the brown paper ones slipped into the committiees’ briefcases.”

    110

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Michael Mann has declared they are so close to resolving the “divergence problem” and is quoted,
      “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
      One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
      The IPCC greatly impressed by Mann’s writing have nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature stating “Mann’s prize is in the bag, the brown paper ones slipped into the committiees’ briefcases.”

      Yonni,

      If there was a Jo Nova prize for creative joking you’d be a good candidate for it.

      30

  • #
    Annie

    Trees react to differing light levels? Who’d a’ thunk it?!

    50

    • #
      Annie

      I’m sorry! That wasn’t desperately original of me was it?

      20

      • #
        ROM

        Annie, you don’t have to be sorry or apoligise around here for comments like that .
        We are all try to learn, to gain knowledge and to have a bit of fun sometimes while doing so.
        Sometimes those casual comments carry some very relevant grains of truth and offer other deep perspectives as seen by others.

        Sadly the whole darn craziness of so much of what now passes for climate science is nothing but the constant screeching, jarring, loathsome fear mongering driven echoes of a badly broken record on which there is nothing but deep despair and a shuddering, sweating, elitist science created fear for what the future is predicted to supposedly bring.

        There is no thought or attempt by the dogma and fear and ideology driven adventists of their loathsome human created fear driven vision of a climate catastrophe to look at the future and the science with hope and confidence and with an uplifting and happy confident outlook on life and with the very good prospects and expectation that what is still to come will be even better than life is now for most of human kind on this planet.

        40

        • #
          Annie

          I started a reply ROM but it has disappeared. I always find your posts interesting and very much agree with them. I get very depressed by the prostitution of science to activist-led political scams. I sometimes need to be a bit flippant or sarcastic to cope with it. The rest of the time I am angry.

          Since returning to live in Australia (Victoria)last November I have been struck by the fact that we have used the stove more than the AC! I hate the heat but I haven’t found the summer just gone unusually hot. Where’s all this extra warming we are meant to have? The house we are in is poorly insulated but I didn’t expect to need two quilts and a blanket on the bed in autumn…I couldn’t stand as much as one quilt even in most of the winter in England…we didn’t heat the bedroom but I guess the house was better built. I get so sick of all the stupid AGW/CC rubbish pushed down our throats when we can see and feel that it is wrong.

          My trees are enjoying the sunny afternoons we’ve just had after some good rain (and fog/cloud/frost early in the day. The grass today was being appreciated by the horses and cattle and the latter didn’t bother calling for hay today! Three cheers for photosynthesis!

          I think I’ve cluttered up Jo’s blog enough for today…Goodnight All. Annie.

          50

  • #
    tom0mason

    The lowdown

    Dig some data out of the trees.
    Estimate a whole bunch of things about temperatures and light-levels. And make some ‘synthetic’ data.
    Test many decades of data against 2 volcano light-dimming effects to sort of calibrate tree data (modeled).
    Compare to Briffa’s results (more estimates and models) to ‘synthetic’ data assist in -
    Generating better ‘synthetic’ data by which the global effect of solar dimming over many centuries can be quantified.

    Umm, and some said it would never work!

    80

    • #
      tom0mason

      From the paper –

      Light and temperature-limitation estimates

      Gridded values of relative light and temperature limitation on photosynthesis….
      ….The collection of light- and temperature-limitation values associated with tree-ring density records are rescaled to values between 0 and 1 over the collection of 15° × 15° gridded chronologies. .. Gridded temperature and light limitations are estimated in ref. 18 from climatological temperature and cloud cover. Light limitation is estimated as linearly proportional to cloud cover above a minimum threshold of 10%, and temperature limitation is estimated as linearly proportional to minimum temperature rescaled to zero below −5 °C, linearly increasing from −5 °C to +5 °C, and equal to one above 5 °C.

      And that’s just the start. Estimate, estimate, and guess…

      40

    • #
      tom0mason

      These estimations are tested against the effects of 2 volcano events (to test the dimming) and the values are extrapolated out using some very ‘imaginative’ statistical methods.
      And

      Factoring out temperature

      Identification of divergence between temperature and tree-ring records was accomplished through a scaling and differencing approach in previous studies15. Our experiments with synthetic records (described below), however, indicate that a regression-based approach for removing the temperature component is superior….

      The data is compared to that paragon of tree-ring virtue, Briffa -
      Comparison with method of Briffa et al
      The statistical power of a test to identify a spatial pattern associated with global dimming…

      And guess what Briffa is stacked full of estimation and modeled data.
      Sounds like a winner?

      30

    • #
      ROM

      tomOmason @ #7

      “some ‘synthetic’ data”.

      “made to look like the natural product”

      I like that description . Sums it up perfectly.
      Might borrow it myself.

      00

  • #
    Radical Rodent

    I seem to recall that the son of one of the earlier scientists in this cult was so inspired by his father’s work that he did similar work on the rings of a shrub cut down in the garden. He found that none of the data he collected gave anything like the results his Dad had managed to surmise from the his samples. Of course, being but a boy, he was ignored.

    40

    • #
      JLC

      He compared real world data with the predictions of a theory? That boy has the makings of a *real* scientist.

      40

  • #
    Newport_Mac

    I’ve never understood why anyone would study tree growth in the Arctic circle.

    The tree line in the Arctic is influenced by currents and abnormal climate conditions. Norway has a tree line in the Arctic because of the North Atlantic current which makes this region warmer. Greenland is useless as the trees have been recently introduced. Mountains block cold air from the Arctic in Alaska which allows tree growth. Canada has typical summer temps above normal which allows tree growth in the Northwest Territories.

    What’s the point of tree ring growth data in the Arctic Circle?

    40

    • #
      tom0mason

      Newport_Mac

      Thats OK their version of the Arctic circle is a little more generous than most. If you have a look at Jo’s linked document I think you may be surprised at how far south it extends. Southern England, France, the Russian Caucasus, and what is probably northern states of the USA. Not exactly polar.

      30

      • #
        Newport_Mac

        “…over the area north of 50°N (hereafter the Arctic).”

        map of the sample locations:
        http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140507/ncomms4836/fig_tab/ncomms4836_F1.html

        “Each circle represents one of the tree-ring chronologies used in this study. Chronologies are distinguished according to being from sectors that are cloudy and cool (dark green), cloudy and warm (light green), clear and cool (dark brown), and clear and warm (light brown).”

        Interesting definition of the Arctic. I guess the title is misleading.

        20

        • #
          Newport_Mac

          So after spending a bit of time it appears they are referring to Arctic like climate in relation to the Taiga biome (boreal or snow forest) which accounts for the Larch, Spruce, and Pine samples. Use of the term Arctic is very misleading as it also appears to relate to sample elevation.

          20

  • #
    Newport_Mac

    tom0mason,

    Thanks, I’ll take a look.

    30

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Treemometers now? What next? But good that there’s a recall, even if not exactly on the up-and-up.

    If you want to know the truth about temperature measurements, the old fashioned glass tube with mercury in it was and if you still have one, still is the most accurate measurement instrument for temperature. I had a little experience with digital temperature sensors which taught me something when I discovered rather large differences between successive measurements made one after the other in rapid succession. Even calibrated they were not good for better than .1 C accuracy.

    Then there are trees, those stately things we all treasure for their beauty, their shade and many of them for their fantastic flowers — like the Crepe Myrtle in my front yard, which when in full bloom is so loaded with blossoms that you can scarcely see any green and looks more like a big gob of ice cream on a stick than a tree. But I never bought a tree for it’s temperature measuring ability. I expect they range in accuracy about + – several dozen degrees C. And there’s another problem. I can’t find the place on any of my trees where you can read the temperature.

    It seems that I was right about what a tree is useful for and not useful for.

    40

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      And again, what do you expect with such a subject to talk about? It gets to be more and more fun by the day. Climate change truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

      30

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Even calibrated they were not good for better than .1 C accuracy.

      I should clarify that. The largest part of the variation comes from inability of analog to digital converters to measure the 2 or 3 least significant bits the same twice in a row, making it difficult to measure low voltages very accurately. And temperature sensors are run on the lowest voltage you can because the power consumed in the device raises its temperature, affecting the reading of the sensor’s surroundings which is what you want to measure. Sensors are calibrated in-situ for this reason.

      30

  • #
    Owen Morgan

    If plants are going all sceptical on us, Prince Charles will have to stop talking to them.

    50

  • #
    RoHa

    “Changes in light intensity may impact density of tree rings”

    That sounds highly unlikely to me. I think changes in light intensity may affect the density, though.

    20

  • #
    handjive

    Here is some recent ancient wood discoveries:

    13 May 2014
    Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria

    But, scroll down to 11 amazing archeological discoveries -

    1. Ancient forest, discovered in February 2014
    Ancient forest revealed by storms.
    “The recent huge storms and gale force winds that have battered the coast of West Wales have stripped away much of the sand from stretches of the beach between Borth and Ynyslas.
    The disappearing sands have revealed ancients forests, with the remains of oak trees dating back to the Bronze Age, 6,000 years ago.
    The ancient remains are said by some to be the origins of the legend of ‚Cantre‚r Gwealod‚ , a mythical kingdom now submerged under the waters pif Cardigan Bay
    . . .
    Did someone mention dangerous sea level rise?

    20

  • #
    Safetyguy66

    I think the main “lessons learned” from this is. As a scientist, don’t go saying things are 100% beyond doubt as data sources, only to have yourself backpedaling on contradictions 12 months later. Life and nature are almost infinitely complex yet we kid ourselves we can draw a flowchart of 10 boxes that perfectly models entire eco systems. Or worse yet we can use a computer model to simulate climate and weather so accurately, it becomes a premise that is beyond question.

    Im a pretty big player of computer games. Most of the games I play have development budgets that see a single game with more money spent on it’s AI than the entire amount of money spent on all climate computer models since modeling began. Despite all that money, you still see AI opponenets getting stuck on walls and shooting each other. The simple fact is we are about 1/100th as good at modeling things on computers as we think we are.

    The day someone accurately models the behavior of the stock market to a degree it can be used as a predictive investment tool with a success rate better than chance, I will start listening to computer modelers regarding climate. Im not holding my breath.

    10

    • #
      James the Elder

      How did the giants of the past prove anything without a model. They only observed and thought. How quaint.

      00

  • #
    NikFromNYC

    Steven Goddard points out that if you retrieve pre-alarm era official temperature plots, there *is* no divergence problem, and in other words, the rabbit hole is perhaps a very deep one:

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/motherlode-part-iii/

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/an-entire-science-wrecked-by-data-tampering/

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/the-tree-ring-divergence-problem-after-1960-is-indeed-caused-by-man/

    30

  • #
    Leonard Lane

    When I was first introduced to tree ring studies over 40 years ago, they were used to estimate annual precipitation and when the results were not so good, variations in temperature were cited as the likely cause. Now they have done a 180 degree switch and use tree rings estimate temperature and precipitation and light?, yes, light has been discovered to influence plant growth. Amazing.
    In grade school we conducted growth on bean sprouts and another plant type or two and the experimental design was control group, one with changing water, and one with changing light. We learned in grade school science that photosynthesis depended on light, and water. And by golly, we were told how good plants are because they used carbon dioxide and produced life giving oxygen. Now they are paying “climate scientists” to discover that light influences plant growth? How do you get a job doing pre-grade school science for over $100,000 per year? Gosh the lines must be long!

    30

  • #
    Don Gaddes

    What Tree Rings and Deep Ice Cores do very accurately is provide a record of precipitation. To the extent that temperature change depends on precipitation, we can make assumptions about temperature changes over time, using Tree Rings And Deep Ice Cores. Alex S. Gaddes found that Tree Ring And Deep Ice Core records correlated well with his discovered and documented Solar induced ‘Dry’ Cycles. (‘Tomorrow’s Weather’. 1990.)

    00

  • #
    Bruiser-101

    The Danish Meteorological institute has temperature charts for latitudes above 80N that go back to 1958. They clearly demonstrate that the warming in the high Arctic has occurred in the winter months and that Summer months in recent years have been slightly below average. Although 80N is above the tree line, if the same temperature trend holds true for the lower Arctic; most of the warming has occurred in the relatively colder low light Winter months when you would expect little or no tree growth. The treemometer would fail on this account alone.

    10