05 December 2009

Spinning the Literature

The Washington Post today has a front page story on the CRU email hacking and its fall out. The story has an interesting quote from Tom Karl, of NOAA NCDC, related to my fathers work that continues to reflects the myopic perspective of leading climate scientists who seek to present their own views over other legitimate scientific perspectives. Here is an excerpt from the Post story (emphasis added):
For a few, however, the stolen files were confirmation that the climate establishment was trying to keep them out of the debate.

These include the familiar kind of climate skeptics, those who think that the climate isn't changing or that it isn't a crisis. But they also include a handful of researchers who think climate change is happening, but -- for various reasons -- are skeptical that mainstream science fully understands the phenomenon.

"To me, it's unambiguous . . . humans are altering the climate system," said Roger Pielke Sr., a research scientist at the University of Colorado. "It's just that, it's much more than CO2."

Pielke said his research shows that, in addition to carbon dioxide and other factors, Earth's warming is affected by how people alter the land. When a forest becomes a farm, or a farm becomes a suburb, that changes the amount of heat and moisture coming off the ground, he said.

But Pielke said he has seen some papers rejected and has felt so marginalized that he quit a U.S. panel summing up climate change a few years ago. One of the stolen e-mails seems to confirm the idea that he was being excluded: In 2005, Jones wrote to colleagues about some of Pielke's complaints, "Maybe you'll be able to ignore them?"

"These individuals, who are very sincere in their beliefs, have presumed that that gives them permission to exclude viewpoints that are different from their own," Pielke said.

Mainstream climate scientists say they have kept an open mind but have rejected papers that lack proper evidence. In Pielke's case, "the literature doesn't show" his ideas about the importance of land use are correct, said Tom Karl, head of the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

Karl chose to represent what the scientific literature says. This is a different point that whether he believes that land use change affects climate , or what science will eventually stand the test of time. So I asked my father if there is anything in the literature that shows " in addition to carbon dioxide and other factors, Earth's warming is affected by how people alter the land."

The answer is unequivocally yes. Here are a few citations that my father sent to me showing that Tom Karl is just wrong in his assertion about what then literature shows:

Carleton, A.M., D.L. Arnold, D.J. Travis, S. Curran, and J.O. Adegoke, 2008a: Synoptic circulation and land surface influences on convection in the Midwest U.S. "Corn Belt" during the summers of 1999 and 2000. Part I: Composite synoptic environments. J. Climate, 21, 3389-3414.

Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, K. Redmond, and K.P. Gallo, 2006: Methodology and results of calculating central california surface temperature trends: Evidence of human-induced climate change? J. Climate, 19, 548–563.

Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.1996.

Feddema, J. J., K.W. Oleson, G.B. Bonan, L.O. Mearns, L.E. Buja, G.A. Meehl, and W.M. Washington, 2005: The Importance of land-cover change in simulating future climates. Science, 310, 1674-1678.

Hale, R.C., K.P. Gallo, and T.R. Loveland, 2008: Influences of specific land use/land cover conversions on climatological normals of near-surface temperature. J. Geophys. Res., 113, D14113, doi:10.1029/2007JD009548.

Kalnay, E., and M. Cai, 2003: Impact of urbanization and land use on climate change. Nature, 423, 528–531.

Mahmood, R., S.A. Foster, T. Keeling, K.G. Hubbard, C. Carlson, and R. Leeper, 2006b: Impacts of irrigation on 20th-century temperatures in the Northern Great Plains. Glob. Planet. Change, 54,1-18.

Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., L.T. Steyaert, and D.A. Willard, 2004: The impact of anthropogenic land-cover change on the Florida peninsula sea breezes and warm season sensible weather. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 28-52.

Mote, T.L., M.C. Lacke, and J.M. Shepherd, 2007: Radar signatures of the urban effect on precipitation distribution: A case study for Atlanta, Georgia. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L20710, doi:10.1029/2007GL031903.

Niyogi, D., T. Holt, S. Zhong, P. C. Pyle, and J. Basara, 2006: Urban and land surface effects on the 30 July 2003 mesoscale convective system event observed in the Southern Great Plains, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D19107, doi:10.1029/2005JD006746.

Nuñez, M.N, H.H. Ciapessoni, A. Rolla, E. Kalnay, and M. Cai, 2008: Impact of land use and precipitation changes on surface temperature trends in Argentina. J. Geophys. Res., 113, D06111, doi:10.1029/2007JD008638.

Pitman, A.J., G. T. Narisma, R. Pielke, and N. J. Holbrook, 2004: The impact of land cover change on the climate of south west Western Australia. J. Geophys. Res., 109, D18109, doi:10.1029/2003JD004347.

Pitman, A.J., N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, F.T. Cruz, E.L. Davin, G.B. Bonan, V. Brovkin, M. Claussen, C. Delire, L. Ganzeveld, V. Gayler, B.J.J.M. van den Hurk, P.J. Lawrence, M.K. van der Molen, C. Müller, C.H. Reick, S.I. Seneviratne, B. J. Strengers, and A. Voldoire, 2009: Uncertainties in climate responses to past land cover change: first results from the LUCID intercomparison study, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL039076, in press.

Shepherd, J.M., 2006: Evidence of urban-induced precipitation variability in arid climate regimes. J. Arid Environ., 67, 607-628.

Shepherd, J.M., H. Pierce, and A.J. Negri, 2002: Rainfall modification by major urban areas: Observations from spaceborne rain radar on the TRMM Satellite. J. Appl. Meteor., 41(7), 689-701.

Stone, B. Jr., 2009: Land Use as Climate Change Mitigation. Environmental Science & Technology.(in press)

Kumiko Takata, Kazuyuki Saitoa and Tetsuzo Yasunari, 2009: Changes in the Asian monsoon climate during 1700–1850 induced by preindustrial cultivation PNAS published online June 1, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0807346106.

The point being made here has nothing to do with what policies make sense in response to accumulating greenhouse gases. The point here is that a leading figure in the scientific community is publicly misrepresenting what the scientific literature actually says in exactly the same manner as was shown to be occurring in the CRU emails. It would be perfectly legitimate for Tom Karl to say that his evaluation of the evidence leads him to different conclusions than what many peer reviewed studies have argued. It is not legitimate to imply that certain science does not exist, when it clearly does. In a situation where there are competing views in the peer reviewed literature, it seems fairly obvious that the appropriate thing to do is to acknowledge that they exist, and admit that the scientific community speaks with multiple voices on this particular topic. Scientists who spin lose credibility.

My father posted on this as well on his blog.