Saturday, November 05, 2011

Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy...Richard?

I confess that I haven't been following the details of the dust up between climate study co-authors Richard Muller and Judith Curry. Their study, summarized in several papers submitted to Journals and released in preprint form was partially funded by some key climate skeptics. The results have been widely interpreted as confirming the climate consensus on several key points.

Curry is now challenging lead author Muller in at least one crucial respect, however:

A study published last week reveals the conclusions of a study led by Richard Muller from the University of Berkeley. The study claimed, with irrefutable evidences, that Earth’s average temperature has been raising with about 1 degree Celsius from 1950.
Today, however, one of Muller’s main team members accused him of trying to manipulate the public opinion by concealing the study’s true conclusion: the global warming has stopped.
Curry claims their studies have revealed that the average temperature hasn’t been rising since the end of the nineties. ‘There is no scientific basis for saying global warming hasn’t stopped. Of course this isn’t the end of scepticism. To say that is the biggest mistake he has made,” she said.

In reply, Muller said: “I was saying you can no longer be sceptical about the fact global temperatures have risen over the past 50 years. There are other aspects of climate change which are still uncertain as I have made clear.”

About that, though. It does seem clear that the last dozen or so years have been warmer than any other comparable period since detailed measurements began, but there is that bothersome fact of no real warming since the late nineties. We can call it a fluctuation, but that's hardly an explanation. CO2 has been rising very rapidly during that period, so the solar forcing ought to have been increasing.

It seems to me that this is an important fact that deserves explanation, at least.

I can't say that it persuades me of much except that there are still effects to be explained, but I can understand why others might differ. I personally think that radiative transfer looks pretty darn ineluctable, but right now the data is saying don't be too damn sure.