Confidence in climate scientists plummets

public confidence survey

In the latest Rasmussen national telephone survey of American adults, 69% say it’s likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs. Only 6% say it is not at all likely.

This is a shocking result. Not long ago, scientists consistently polled as the most trusted profession of all. Now they are dismissed as cheats.

This is the outcome of several years of a globally-orchestrated PR campaign in which all government-funded scientists declared in unison “the science is settled” and “the debate is over.” Several years of filtering “non-mainstream” opinions, refusing debates and ad hominem attacks on sceptics.

Several years of endless mainstream media stories claiming it’s “worse than previously thought” accompanied by “might” and “could” flights of fancy. Several years of solemn assurances regarding “multiple lines of evidence”, but never a fingerprint or even a peer-reviewed paper – let alone a smoking gun.

This will become a case study for communications classes. That huge and famous New York PR firm grossly under-estimated and insulted the intelligence of its audience. They overlooked the wisdom of crowds. Surrounded by elitist group-think, they never tapped in to the discussions by the water-cooler, or in the pub, or over the barbecue.

Another surprise is the level of outright disbelief in the face of the never-changing mantra “there is a scientific consensus.” Sometimes spun as “90% (or even 97%) of scientists believe …”

The Rasmussen poll finds that one person in four believes that scientists agree on global warming – while 57% believe that there is significant disagreement within the scientific community.

Its ironic that these results came out in the very same week as the failed PR programme reached its apogee in New Zealand. The Rasmussen poll must surely deliver a very clear message to the Green Party, which pulled out of a Q&A debate against Lord Monckton on the grounds that “the debate is over.” And to Greenpeace, which persuaded Close-up to decline on similar grounds. And to the Auckland Council’s Treasury Department, which sent a 12-page letter to a private club defaming its guest and declaring “the science is settled.” And to the Herald, which found a Melbourne psychologist to heap insults on Lord Monckton and inveigh against coverage of “fringe” opinions.

This week also saw Science Media highlight a quote from the DomPost’s agricultural reporter, Jon Morgan:

“As reporters, we should not ignore [challenging views], but we should be careful of crossing the line into dangerous territory. We don’t want to put uncertainty into readers’ minds when the science is clear or make radical views appear to be mainstream.”

How patronising is this? Is this reporter peddling propaganda or news? Does he feel he has a Pravda-like mission to re-educate readers? Did it occur to him that adult readers just might want to form their own opinions about what is “clear” and what is questionable?

Mr Morgan’s level of iconoclasm is almost guaranteed to deliver perverse results. Nobody wants sermons from their daily paper. Editors don’t seem to realise how transparent (and boring) they are when they cleave relentlessly to the party line. Most readers lean against it and arrive at an opposite conclusion.

Repetitive reporting of perceived future horrors is particularly boring. Everybody knows the science is as chaotic as the weather. There are not just two viewpoints – for or against – as in politics. A Latin tag comes to mind (perhaps because I mentioned Lord Monckton) – quot homines, tot sententiae – there are as many opinions as there are people.

But political correctness has robbed the reportage of all nuance and depth. Pick up a three-year-old newspaper and you’ll read exactly the same head-banging as was served up last week.

And now two out of three Americans think climate scientists are “cooking the books.” Gallup polled people in 111 countries and found that most of the world did not “believe in” human-caused climate change.

All sides of the debate know that public opinion polls are important. In the final analysis, they will influence the politicians more than any scientific refinements (short of a paradigm shift). But the polls everywhere have been uni-directional for two years in a row. The well-funded campaign based on “we know best” paternalism has been exposed as a bankrupt failure.

Read more about the poll.

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62 Thoughts on “Confidence in climate scientists plummets

  1. Clarence on 07/08/2011 at 9:27 pm said:

    The funding hasn’t gone astray completely. The “party line” has completely taken over academia, recruited most of Hollywood, moved sceptics from MSM to new media, and has a big following amongst schoolchildren. The annual junkets have survived for 17 years, and climate science funding has multiplied tenfold.

    But “the debate is over” doesn’t pass the sniff test for people who can’t remember when the debate was on. “The science is settled” also sits very awkwardly with the constant cries that “it’s different (worse) from what we thought yesterday”.

    And then there’s the inconvenient fact that the warming hasn’t happened, after all. Shades of Y2K and H1N1!

  2. Australis on 07/08/2011 at 10:48 pm said:

    Matt Ridley draws attention to the recent presentation by Prof Murray Salby which suggests that 80% of atmospheric CO2 might, after all, result from ocean out-gassing rather than fossil

    How can partly-educated reporters in the mainstream media justify assuring their readers that “the science is settled”. If it’s that easy, why don’t long-experienced professors of climate science know that they are wasting their time?

    • John in NZ on 09/08/2011 at 4:17 pm said:

      “Matt Ridley draws attention to the recent presentation by Prof Murray Salby which suggests that 80% of atmospheric CO2 might, after all, result from ocean out-gassing rather than fossil fuels”

      Actually it is not so much from Out-gassing. That was aready known about. The reason Prof Salby’s research is so amazing is he has found a anotherl source of the type of CO2 that was previously assumed to come only from burning fossil fuels. He has (assuming his observations are correct) shown that a fundamental assumption of the IPCC is false.

      By looking at the ratios of C12 to C13 the IPCC (and everyone else) has said the only explanation for the rise in atmospheric CO2 is because we are burning fossil fuels. That assumption seems to be wrong.

      Sorry for the overly simplistic explanation

      Listen to the podcast here
      See commentary at Judith Curry’s blog.

    • Mike Palin on 09/08/2011 at 5:55 pm said:

      Look up “Suess effect”. The tracing of sources takes 14C into account as well as 12C and 13C. Fossil fuels have no 14C, all living matter and the CO2 derived from it does. He’s wrong by a country mile.

    • Bob D on 09/08/2011 at 10:16 pm said:


      You say:

      He’s wrong by a country mile.

      Why is this? My understanding is that he is saying there are other sources of CO2 that are depleted in C13 and C14, other than fossil fuels. If so, this changes a lot, since it has been assumed to date that the only source of C13- and C14-depleted CO2 was fossil fuels.
      Why does his observation make him wrong?

    • John in NZ on 10/08/2011 at 4:02 am said:

      That;s what a lot of people have thought. I suspect his observations will not be so easily dismissed. This is a professional Ckinate scientist with a very good reputation. When the people at Real Climate understand what he is saying, they may be in need of new underwear.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:52 am said:

      Carbon with no measurable 14C must been out of active exchange with the atmosphere for at least 50,000 years. There are two sources of such carbon to the atmosphere: volcanic emissions and fossil fuels. The former has high 13C and the latter has low 13C. The additional CO2 in the atmosphere has no 14C and low 13C thus indicating a fossil fuel source.

    • Mike,

      The additional CO2 in the atmosphere has no 14C and low 13C thus indicating a fossil fuel source.

      When sampling the atmosphere, how is it known what has arrived since the last sampling?

    • Bob D on 10/08/2011 at 11:25 am said:


      The additional CO2 in the atmosphere has no 14C and low 13C thus indicating a fossil fuel source.

      Yes, you have just parroted the IPCC party line. But according to the author, his findings are more recent than AR4, so they may well have relevance.
      I listened to the podcast, and it seems he is pointing out that during two recent natural events, Pinatubo and the 1998 El Nino, there was a measured decrease in C13 proportion.
      In fact, by examining the satellite record, he found a reasonable inverse relationship between atmospheric temperature, soil moisture and C13 ratio, and low correlation with the known man-made emission history.
      Up to now the assumption has been that variations in the C13/C12 ratio (with declining C13, obviously) were due entirely to man-made emissions (greater proportion of C12). Apparently this assumption is not completely accurate. If in fact the driver is the other way around (climate drives CO2), then it will certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons.
      Of course, we’ll have to await his paper before we can find out more information.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:12 pm said:

      Now guys, let’s think about this for a minute. This fellow Salby presents a provocative analysis. It deserves to be critically examined , right?

      Look up the Suess effect. Look up the isotopic compositions of various carbon sources. When you do, you’ll see that 2% is a huge difference and is a hundred times greater than the measurement uncertainty. So when he says the various sources of carbon differ ONLY by 2%, he apparently has no idea of the natural range of variation. That fact in an of itself should throw up a red flag. But no, you all rush immediately to his defense without once addressing my point of criticism. You obviously have an ideological predisposition to accept anyone who you perceive has come up with anything counter to the mainstream view.

      BTW, Salby’s presentation is so full of holes, that some are thinking it is a scam to embarrass the “skeptics”.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:42 pm said:

      Richard T at 9:02 am-

      Solving simultaneous equations for mass conservation of total CO2 and the 3 isotopes. It is a standard method in geochemistry, an example is provided in:

    • Bob D on 10/08/2011 at 9:38 pm said:

      You say:

      But no, you all rush immediately to his defense without once addressing my point of criticism. You obviously have an ideological predisposition to accept anyone who you perceive has come up with anything counter to the mainstream view.

      And yet I clearly stated:

      Of course, we’ll have to await his paper before we can find out more information.

      The fact is nobody knows yet whether he’s right or wrong. To declare, as you did, that he’s “wrong by a country mile” without seeing his paper is exactly the thing you’re accusing us of. You obviously have an ideological predisposition to reject anyone who you perceive has come up with anything counter to the mainstream view.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 10/08/2011 at 10:26 pm said:

      Who cares how much CO2 (of whatever isotope) is in the atmosphere if the overall greenhouse effect does not change (and it isn’t) due to offsetting water vapour levels?

    • Mike Palin on 11/08/2011 at 7:20 am said:

      I used the presentation link to by John in NZ. It contains more the specific information I am addressing here.

    • John in NZ on 11/08/2011 at 8:20 pm said:

      Richard C(NZ) you said “Who cares how much CO2 (of whatever isotope) is in the atmosphere if the overall greenhouse effect does not change (and it isn’t) due to offsetting water vapour levels?”

      The isotope ratio is very important. If the IPCC assumption about isotopes is correct then the rise in atmospheric CO2 is caused by humans. The IPCC then conclude that the observed warming must be caused by this. . However, Prof Salby’s observations, if confirmed, invalidate this assumption. Which means that the rise in CO2 is the result of the warming and not the cause of it. Which means that the CO2 is not causing the warming, or at least not much of it.

      Mike Palin. Professor Salby understands the Seuss effect. His conclusions depend on it.

      The other objection, that there would have been higher levels of CO2 in the ice core data, assumes that the CO2 in the ice cores accurately tells us what was in the atmosphere when the ice was laid down. But it does not. CO2 does diffuse through the ice over time so the ice core results are necessarily less variable than the original amounts.

  3. Mike Palin on 08/08/2011 at 5:10 am said:

    Yep, and 78% of the American public believe God created humans ( We can conclude from this that Americans are ___________ (fill in the blank).

    • Mike Jowsey on 08/08/2011 at 7:42 am said:

      Another straw man Mike! So early in the day, too. Must be hard to sleep when you’re on such a losing side of the debate.

    • Clarence on 08/08/2011 at 12:54 pm said:

      Because a large proportion of the populace believes in God, the politicians are very careful not to alienate that majority.

      We are beginning to see the same thing in climate issues. Cap ‘n Trade is dead in USA; it is a “third rail” in Australian politics; Canada, Japan and Russia have pulled out of Kyoto; EU decided against increasing its targets; chances of an international legal agreement are zilch.

      Although the Climategate whitewashes played a part, I think people are struck by the apparent zealotry of some scientists. They expect to hear that warming will have both helpful and harmful effects, but only hear the latter. Dr Pachauri doesn’t seem the least bit open-minded on TV. There’s a lot about decreasing Arctic sea ice but not much about increases in Antarctica. Polar bears seem to be doing okay, and local sea levels aren’t going anywhere. All in all, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

  4. Alexander K on 08/08/2011 at 8:21 am said:

    Don’t feed the troll. It has the same result as wrestling with a pig in a muddy paddock – you get covered in mud and the pig loves the attention.

  5. Andy on 08/08/2011 at 8:31 am said:

    Climategate dented the public’s perception of climate scientists.
    There was a lot of misreporting on this topic from all angles.

    However, the failure of the investigations, the scientific community and the media to admit that there was anything wrong whatsoever hasn’t exactly helped regain that confidence.

    • Mike Jowsey on 08/08/2011 at 12:18 pm said:

      The irony of it all. They call us deniers, yet they were the ones denying anything was amiss in the Climategate emails. They were also denying that there was any structural problems within CRU(UEA), IPCC, or climate science as a whole. In general, the public have very good bs metres and all the arm-waving, bluster and smoke from Pachauri, the Team, and the “investigations” simply reinforced the impression of a branch of science gone horribly wrong. Instead of fronting up and admitting mistakes and purposing to change the systemic problems, they bluster and deny till the cows come home.

      As long as scientists are earning salaries and reputations on the Climate Change gravy train, there will be an imbalance in the system and the general public will remain very swivelley-eyed when yet another headline proclaims that catastrophe (may) loom just around the corner.

    • Alexander K on 08/08/2011 at 11:06 pm said:

      I’m with you, Mike.
      Like, many, I have been around long enough and have been lied to frequently enough by smooth characters in suits to have developed an excellent BS alarm and I am not atypical. After the 80s crash, I was discussing the topic of trust with a hobby class of retired ‘Saturday artists’, many of whom were bitter that they had lost huge sums of their hard-earned retirement funds due to listening to smooth sales pitches for dodgy ‘investments’. There are very strong similarities between public attitudes to the financial industry after that historic financial crash and the current crash in the reputation of climate scientists, in that many ordinary people who once believed the smooth finance pitchmen have looked at the lack of warming in their own environment for the recent decade and are now applying the same critical faculties that they developed from their sad experiences of the 80s crash. The lies and nastiness that have emerged in Climategate, the failed predictions of the IPCC, the revelations of dodgy and alarmist pseudo-science that constitutes much of the output of the same IPCC, the apalling sham ‘enquiries the Brit establishment mounted that failed to properly investigate the events of Climategate, the rush of governments to subsidise unsound ‘green energy’ are but a few items that contribute to the growing lack of trust in climate scientists. I know that many honest scientists are being tarred with the same brush as the dishonest ones, but the honest ones have rarely stood up and called any fouls when they should have.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:46 am said:

      The fact that you can’t distinguish between investment salesmen and scientists explains a lot. If you buy anything that Monckton says, you better check the batteries in your BS meter.

  6. Gary on 08/08/2011 at 8:08 pm said:

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

    Abraham Lincoln.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:26 pm said:

      If people can believe that they were created by a supernatural all-powerful god – for which there is no physical evidence – in the face a rational scientific view, then they’re capable of believing anything – including climate change “skeptics”.

    • Gary on 12/08/2011 at 8:39 pm said:

      Unfortunately Mike, the Spin has been so great, the Al Gores of the world have over hyped it, normal people, you know those that actually work and pay tax and not trying to rent seek from tax payers, eventually start thinking, gee about now Al Gore says the Greenland Ice sheet should have melted…It Aint, and more and more people wont believe it, and the data will get harder to fudge to make it look bad.
      …Global warming Yeah Right .
      “but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. ”

      Abraham Lincoln.

  7. Andy on 09/08/2011 at 8:29 am said:

    They say a picture tells a thousand words

  8. Alexander K on 10/08/2011 at 7:33 pm said:

    Mike, did it ever occur to you that you just may have got a few things wrong? You were the poster who arrived on this site casting silly straw-man comments around. If you have a serious point, let us know what it is, but your continual negativity and general scornfulness about scientists you don’t approve of is very revealing of your essentially religious belief in AGW.

    • Mike Palin on 10/08/2011 at 8:16 pm said:

      A troll, a pig, and now a religious zealot! What next?

    • Gary on 13/08/2011 at 10:45 am said:

      Sorry Mike you are on the wrong train with me if you think I am religious…I am not and dont give a damn about religion, but I am not impressed with the Corruption of Global warming, and especially those who promote it for there own personnel wealth…Al Gore especially. and scientists rent seeking.

    • Mike Palin on 16/08/2011 at 1:24 am said:

      I wasn’t accusing you of being religious. My point was simply that this article is based on a recent survey of the opinions of the American public who are wrong about a great many things – religion, politics, science and taxes are 4 that come to mind.

  9. Alexander K on 10/08/2011 at 10:32 pm said:

    Mike P, I have no idea of what you will say next, but nothing you write surprises me now. I am sure you understand the point I was making about the similarities between climate science snake-oil salesmen and financial product snake-oil salesman and the effects they have and had on the general public, but you, I suspect, quite deliberately misunderstood my statement in your usual fashion.
    As Bob D stated, we have not seen the paper on CO2 yet, so perhaps we shouldn’t rush to make judgements of it, but you have condemned it, sight unseen. You are so keen to parade your superior knowledge and indulge yourself in insulting behaviour that you cannot recognise your own silliness. You are being juvenile and I for one find your antics wearing.

    • Mike Palin on 11/08/2011 at 7:22 am said:

      A troll, a pig, a religious zealot, and now a juvenile!

    • Alexander K on 11/08/2011 at 8:14 am said:

      Not a list to be proud of, Mike.

    • Nick on 11/08/2011 at 1:04 pm said:

      Name calling generally says more about the people being rude rather than the person being insulted. If this is a site devoted to conversation and skepticism why are you so hostile to people presenting a differing view point?

      Don’t you find it a little hypocritical to be demanding that Monckton be heard and then in the next breath deriding someone who makes what appear to me to be valid points?

  10. Anthropogenic Global Cooling on 11/08/2011 at 8:14 am said:

    ‘If people can believe that they were created by a supernatural all-powerful god – for which there is no physical evidence – in the face a rational scientific view, then they’re capable of believing anything – including climate change “skeptics”.’

    Well using that rational you must be able to prove AGW by showing us evidence of the tropospheric hot spot, and the positive feedbacks associated with it. If you can’t, and CO2 without positive feedbacks is the central theme of your belief of AGW, in what way are your beliefs any different to faith in God? The only difference that I can see is a possibility that God might exist, but without the positive feedbacks of water vapour to amplify CO2’s warming effects there is absolutely no possibility of problematic warming. So come on Mike, where’s this overwhelming evidence we keep hearing about?

    • Mike Palin on 11/08/2011 at 1:47 pm said:

      The peer-reviewed scientific literature. Good links are provided at and And don’t complain about the commentary, you can skip it. Both sites provide URL links directly to peer-reviewed scientific articles.

      If you ever have a specific reference that you want to read that is protected behind a paywall, then let me know and I will provide a PDF.

    • That’s a damned kind offer. I’ve been stymied by a paywall many times when following up references. Thanks, Mike.

  11. Anthropogenic Global Cooling on 11/08/2011 at 2:36 pm said:

    Is that the best you can do Mike? I’ve previously examined these sites numerous times in an attempt to find some definitive proof of the atmospheric hot spot and both point to the same outdated papers. Have a bit of a read of the latest peer reviewed papers confirming the lack of a hot spot so you won’t fall into the trap that RC & skepticalscience set by neglecting the latest peer reviewed work on the subject. The hot links lead to the papers themselves.

    Now Mike, where exactly was that hot spot again? If you can’t find it (& you can’t because nobody else has due to the fact it doesn’t exist), then perhaps you’d like to explain how the temperature can rise to the predicted levels without the amplification from water vapour at 12km?

    No hot spot, no AGW. Without it there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for AGW, and from my understanding a doubling of atmospheric CO2 can only lead to a temperature rise of between 0.5 & 1.5C maximum. RC & skepticalscience fight tooth & nail in vain attempts to show the non existent because they both know there’s no AGW without it.

    Let’s summarise what is accepted as observable, verifiable scientific evidence:

    1/ Water vapour at 12km height is necessary to amplify the warming attributable CO2, so as to complete the AGW hypothesis.

    2/ The confirmation of the tropospheric hot spot would be empirical evidence of this process.

    3/ In over 30 years of searching by approximately 28,000,000 highly calibrated weather balloons the hot spot has failed to eventuate.

    Sorry, but unless the hot spot eventuates there is no foundation for AGW and everyone knows it. This isn’t my opinion, the hot spot was predicted by the IPCC and it’s absence is observed scientific fact. Those who are aware of the truth but still cling to AGW are not even running on faith due to the fact that their faith is easily disproven. They’re either ignorant of the truth or they are dishonest – before taking offense, if you have another excuse I’d love to hear it. All you have to do is show the hot spot, just not from the papers that have been thoroughly debunked in the peer reviewed literature please.

    All other debates & arguments for or against AGW are irrelevant, the absence of the hot spot is enough to disprove AGW as the cycle can’t be completed. Anything you can say to try to prove AGW is trumped by this fatal flaw – it proves beyond a doubt that the CAGW hypothesis doesn’t work.

  12. Nick on 11/08/2011 at 3:11 pm said:

    Sobel (2010) and Johnson (2010) in Nature both detect the troposhereic hot spot

    • Bob D on 11/08/2011 at 4:10 pm said:

      Both Sobel (2010) and Johnson (2010) involved trying to work out upper tropospheric temperatures by claiming that models of SSTs and rainfall support the notion that the hot spot exists (hardly convincing). They did not “both detect the troposhereic hot spot”.

  13. Nick on 11/08/2011 at 4:22 pm said:

    Bob you misrepresent the papers. SST and rainfall were not modeled. They were measured. In any case I find your two sentence rebuttal somewhat less convincing than two peer reviewed papers in one of the worlds most prestigious journals.

    • Bob D on 11/08/2011 at 7:47 pm said:

      I didn’t say they didn’t measure the SSTs and rainfalls. I said that their models of SSTs and rainfalls simply support the notion that there is a tropospheric hotspot. In other words, if their models are correct, then the observed SST and rainfall history implies a hotspot.
      However, they have only observed the SSTs and the rainfall, not the hotspot itself.
      Is that clearer?

    • Bob D on 11/08/2011 at 7:52 pm said:


      …in one of the worlds most prestigious journals.

      Don’t be fooled. Nature isn’t what they once were. Don’t forget, they published MBH98 and 99, and the Steig paper.

  14. Alexander K on 11/08/2011 at 7:43 pm said:

    Mike P, you have missed the point again…free speech is just that, it is not a licence to insult or indulge in silly and illogical arguments just to score points.

  15. Andy on 11/08/2011 at 8:01 pm said:

    ACM has a timely reminder on why we have lost respect in climate scientists

    Personally, I find this all a bit sad.
    I was brought up in London, a city that is in meltdown, and I was in awe of science and scientists as a kid. I went to Uni and got to PhD level. Can’t say I am proud of it.

    What an absolutely tragic outcome for everyone.

  16. Nick on 12/08/2011 at 11:54 am said:

    Bob, Anthro claimed that nobody has found the hotspot “If you can’t find it (& you can’t because nobody else has”. This is clearly untrue as Sobel and Johnson have both found evidence for it.

    • Anthropogenic Global Cooling on 12/08/2011 at 12:01 pm said:

      They’ve found evidence that it should exist, but have failed to measure or observe it directly. What is more convincing, millions of temperature measurements by highly calibrated radiosondes that show it’s not there, or speculation that it exists based on proxies that isn’t supported by observation (temperature measurements)?

  17. Nick on 12/08/2011 at 2:03 pm said:

    Well Allen and Sherwood (2008) also find empirical evidence for the hotspot using independent methods (calculated from wind shear).

    Have you considered the possibility that the radiosonde temperature data might not be as reliable as you believe?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/08/2011 at 4:34 pm said:

      A wind-shear proxy for temperature – yeah right. Why didn’t they just use temperature?

      Nick, what has caused the data from 28,000,000 independent (i.e.non-interconnected) soundings over 60+ years to trend in a negative direction when (by your reasoning) the trend should be in a positive direction?

      Is it the calibration?

      What will you be advising the NCEP scientists to do to rectify what to you is such an obvious failing in their technology and methodology?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/08/2011 at 7:05 pm said:

      I’ve considered the possibility that the radiosonde temperature data might not be as reliable as I believe and have come up with some reasons for it not to be:-

      1) They’re inadvertently plotting the reciprocal of the data.

      2) They should be employing Micheal Mann style data inversion techniques.

      3) Sceptic controlled nanobots have infiltrated the electronics for the last 60 years and are mischievously and systematically manipulating electron polarities.

      Your reasons Nick?

  18. Anthropogenic Global Cooling on 12/08/2011 at 4:44 pm said:

    Sherwood (2008) was exposed as a fraud with regard to this issue, he changed the colour coding so that red was the colour of 0.0C, and as a result his paper showed next to no warming but gave the impression it did. Read the following starting at ‘The Response of the Climate Establishment’:

    As a result Sherwood failed to show the hot spot, but tried to give the impression he had. RC & skepticalscience use this paper to try to justify the hot spot but fail to point out how it is intentionally misleading.

    Radiosondes, when correctly calibrated, are supposed to be correct to within 0.1C, whilst the IPCC’s hot spot is supposed to be between 0.6-0.8C. Not all the weather balloons can be wrong. If you’d like a good read on the subject I suggest the following:

  19. Nick on 13/08/2011 at 9:29 pm said:

    Anthro, the result Sherwood (2008) found is that

    “Our 1979–2005 trends for 850–300 hPa in the tropics are 0.15° +/- 0.07°C decade. This is within uncertainty of the roughly 0.17°–0.22° expected on the basis of surface trends of 0.12°–0.14°C decade”

    If you only look at the pictures in the paper then I admit the colour coding might be confusing but since it was clearly labelled accusations of fraud are a little over the top.

    You also confuse random error (+/- 0.1 as you say) with systematic error (which could be much larger). A systematic error is possibly what is causing the divergence between the radiosonde measurements and the multiple indirect measurements I have mentioned.

    As for causes of the systematic errors let me quote the abstract from Randel and Wu (2006)

    “Temperature trends derived from historical radiosonde data often show substantial differences compared to satellite measurements. These differences are especially large for stratospheric levels, and for data in the Tropics, where results are based on relatively few stations. Detailed comparisons of one radiosonde dataset with collocated satellite measurements from the Microwave Sounding Unit reveal time series differences that occur as step functions or jumps at many stations. These jumps occur at different times for different stations, suggesting that the differences are primarily related to problems in the radiosonde data, rather than in the satellite record. As a result of these jumps, the radiosondes exhibit systematic cooling biases relative to the satellites. A large number of the radiosonde stations in the Tropics are influenced by these biases, suggesting that cooling in the tropical lower stratosphere is substantially overestimated in these radiosonde data. Comparison of trends from stations with larger and smaller biases suggests the cooling bias extends into the tropical upper troposphere. Significant biases are observed in both daytime and nighttime radiosonde measurements.”

    I would also like to add that direct satellite measurements also find the hot spot, Mears et al. (2005)

    So we have multiple lines of evidence from a variety of direct and indirect sources for the hot spot on the one hand and a single data set containing known errors and biases on the other.

    • Mike Jowsey on 14/08/2011 at 1:24 pm said:

      Randel & Wu (published May 2006) says the radiosonde data has a cooling bias, yet in Randel’s paper published in June of 2006 he concludes this:

      Analysis of longer-term records show decadal-scale decreases in temperature and ozone near the tropical tropopause that are similar to, and in fact strongly influenced by, the changes observed since 2001. We note that the 25- or 20-year records in Figures 12 and 13 are relatively short and strongly influenced by end values, and it is unclear if the recent changes reflect low-frequency natural variability or an accentuation and continuation of monotonic trends.

      So even though there may be the cooling bias he claims (although NOAA have not made any adjustments to their data as a result), he still concludes that the troposphere is cooling.

      I would be interested to look at the work of Mears et al, which you say finds the hot spot. Please provide a link as I could not determine which paper you were referencing.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/08/2011 at 11:58 pm said:

      More on radiosondes, satellites and problems with both in respect to specific humidity here:-

    • Richard C (NZ) on 16/08/2011 at 1:48 pm said:

      Turns out that the MERRA reanalysis (the main satellite input based plank of Dessler and Davis) has problems of its own. See:-

      A Comparison of MERRA and NARR Reanalyses with the DOE ARM SGP data

      Aaron D. Kennedy, Xiquan Dong, and Baike Xi

      Shaocheng Xie and Yunyan Zhang

      Junye Chen


      257 Near the level of non-divergence (~400-500hPa), all biases change in sign from negative to positive. The MERRA bias has a peak of 8% near 300 hPa and then decreases towards 0% at 100 hPa,

      6% is approximately 1 g kg-1 so MERRA is more than 1 g kg-1 too moist at 300hPa RH in the study location.

      262 The MERRA moist bias in the upper troposphere is also larger during the summer months and doubles during time periods of precipitation.

      264 To better understand these humidity biases, histograms were calculated at 925 hPa and 200 hPa (Fig. 2) which represent the boundary layer and near the tropopause, respectively. […] Fig. 2a clearly shows that MERRA is dry [below 300hPa] as its distribution is shifted approximately 5-10% to the left of the other datasets.

      306 MERRA captures the general shape of RH at the ARM SGP site (Fig. 4c), but with a ~5% negative bias throughout the year in the upper troposphere except during the late spring and early summer when convection is most common at the ARM SGP site. compared to ARM and NARR. Seasonal RMSE plots (not shown) demonstrate that the largest disagreement between MERRA and ARM continuous forcing for mixing ratio occur during the spring (MAM) and summer seasons (JJA) in the boundary layer and upper troposphere. The maximum RH for MERRA occurs during June when boundary layer humidity is highest. As will be shown later, cloud fraction in MERRA also peaks in June, suggesting that this may be a byproduct of the convective parameterization used in the AGCM. This is also supported by the fact that the RH bias in the upper troposphere doubles during periods of precipitation in the summer months. Like ARM and NARR, additional peaks occur during January and March. It is concluded that the seasonal cycle of RH from three different datasets generally agree during this 319 3-yr period except for the upper troposphere during the summer months. During this time period, MERRA has a considerable positive bias (~10-15%)

      This effects radiation.

      488 MERRA has larger biases than NARR for LW-down under both clear-sky and all-sky conditions (-20 and -19 w m-2). Compared to ARM and NARR, these negative biases are consistent with the drier conditions in MERRA as demonstrated in Figs. 1, 2, and 4 and the seasonal variations of precipitable water vapor (not shown). Atmospheric water vapor is extremely important for LW-down fluxes under both clear-sky and all-sky conditions (Dong et al. 2006) and is supported by the fact these biases are largest during the warm season.

      Figure 1. Biases of ARM continuous forcing (black), NARR (red), and MERRA (blue) relative to the ARM Cloud Modeling Best Estimate (CMBE) sounding profiles during the period 1999-2001 for (a) temperature, (b) zonal wind, (c) meridional wind, and (d) relative humidity. (e)-(h) are the same as (a)-(d) except for the RMSE.

      MERRA bias @ 300hPa in the study location

      Temperature: 0.25 K (positive and warm)

      Relative Humidity: 5% (positive and moist)

      Figure 8. Monthly total precipitation measured over the ARM SGP domain by ARM (black), NARR (red) and MERRA (blue) during the period 1999-2001.

      MERRA is the outlier, not enough precipitation in the study location.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 16/08/2011 at 3:44 pm said:

      If “Mears et al 2005” is Mears and Wentz 2005, they study LOWER troposphere temperature. The hotspot should be in the UPPER troposphere (300 hPa). See this article that takes RC to task by referencing the IPCC diagrams of the predicted hotspot:-

      The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature

      Carl A. Mears and Frank J. Wentz 2005

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