Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Part 7 of Debunking the Silliness of Global Warming Skeptics

Continuing my critique of http://xtronics.com/reference/globalwarming.htm starting where I left off...

"What is the difference between science and beliefs?"

Once again, Mr. Transtronics tries to establish that somehow global climate is so complex and unpredictable that it is "unknowable". This is hogwash. And he further tries to establish that since it is unknowable, any attempt to claim any knowledge of it is a "belief", not science. More hogwash. The section finishes up with a repeat of the raw satellite data he provided at the top of his page, which I discussed in the "Satellite data" section of Part 2 of this critique (in summary, there is the type of warming in the atmosphere that was predicted by the AGW theory, but it does not show in the raw data due to the way the satellites collect and record the raw data).

"Problems with ground station measurements"

This section moves into another area that is a favorite of the AGW skeptics - the "Urban Heat Island" (UHI) effect. Basically, this is the idea that the physical temperature record that shows significant warming over the past few decades is flawed because many of the land-based recording stations are located in urban settings near heat sources (the pictures he references show one next to an incinerator and another next to a chimney) and it is these heat sources that are causing the temperature record to go up, not global warming. There are several issues with this idea, the foremost of which is that the UHI effect is well understood and is accounted for in the analysis of the surface temperature record. The second problem is that even when accounted for, the UHI effect is very minimal (accounting for about 0.1 degree Celsius of warming). There have also been studies of rural vs. urban warming trends and windy vs. calm day warming trends, all of which indicate that the temperature record is affected very little by UHI's and what affect there is has been accounted for.

"Are the data and/or computer models tainted due to subconscious intentions?"

Here we again return to the idea of AGW being "unknowable" due to its complexity, but also Mr. Transtronics introduces the idea of bias into the discussion. He is insinuating that the scientists working on global warming computer models are subconsciously skewing the models in favor of the "right result". This is nonsense on numerous levels, but let's start with the most obvious one. What exactly is the "right result"? The models are supposed to be an accurate representation of the environment they are modeling - namely, global climate. "Skewing" the models to fit the observations of climate change is exactly what scientists ought to be doing! That is how you create and refine a model in the first place (as opposed to ignoring or skewing the facts to match the model, which is exactly what the skeptics have been doing to promote the idea that global warming is "natural" and/or based entirely on solar radiation).

The bottom line is that modern AGW computer models are based on scientific principles that model well-known Geophysical Fluid Dynamics that determine the basis on which energy flows through liquid and gas environments. The GFD models are built up into a General Circulation Model which describes how earth's atmosphere circulates energy based on its fluid principles. The GCMs are then built up into Atmosphere-Ocean GCM (AOGCM) that models interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. It is fair to state that these models are not perfect and can be improved. But evolving these models to be a more accurate reflection of the real-world environment they model is one of the primary goals of studying climate change, so once again Mr. Transtronics has proven he has no understanding of science whatsoever.

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