Kevin Trenberth’s REAL travestyNovember 24, 2009
There has been a lot of talk about Kevin Trenberth’s “travesty” email.
Here is the REAL travesty: Trenberth has selected and presented data in a way that makes the epithet “alarmist” an objective evaluation of his behavior.
The “Travesty” email
Kevin Trenberth was a lead author of the 1995, 2001, and 2007 IPCC Scientific Assessment of Climate Change. So, he shares that Nobel Prize with Al Gore. On his day job he is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
One of the hacked Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails that is raising a few eyebrows is from October 12th of this year, from Kevin Trenberth to Micheal Mann (the original shamed author of the Hockey Stick). Trenberth is talking about the cold weather the world has seen lately, and in particular, the cold weather being experienced where he and NCAR reside, in Boulder, Colorado. He says it is a “travesty” that this “lack of warming at the moment” can’t be accounted for.
I live just down the road from Boulder, so I know what he is talking about. It has been a cold, snowy, rough fall so far.
Here is Trenberth’s email to Mann…
From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer
Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low. This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).
Trenberth, K. E., 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001. [PDF] (A PDF of the published version can be obtained from the author.)
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.
That said there is a LOT of nonsense about the PDO. People like CPC are tracking PDO on a monthly basis but it is highly correlated with ENSO. Most of what they are seeing is the change in ENSO not real PDO. It surely isn’t decadal. The PDO is already reversing with the switch to El Nino. The PDO index became positive in September for first time since Sept 2007.seehttp://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/GODAS/ocean_briefing_gif/global_ocean_monitoring_c urrent.ppt
Climate vs. Weather
Most folks are missing the real point when it comes to Trenberth’s “travesty” email. For a typical example, see this very short Glenn Beck video…
If you are an anthropogenic global warming skeptic, like I am, then it is dangerous to gloat over cold WEATHER, because it may be warm tomorrow. I do not think unusually cold weather for a season, or even a year, provides a very good counter-argument to global warming alarmism. It goes back to the old weather vs. climate thing. I accept that the recent (say, the last year) cold weather could (almost) be chalked up to weather, not climate.
The REAL travesty
The real travesty with Trenberth has been his long-term take on climate, not weather. Trenberth has loudly trumpeted climate alarmism by preaching hurricane panic. See his Scientific American article from 2007. He predicted a trend toward gigantic hurricanes which was depicted by an illustration of a “future hurricane,” which is shown at the left (click to enlarge).
Prior to that, in 2005 he wrote about the importance the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index. This is a measure of the amount of energy dissipated by cyclones over the entire planet, or some part of the planet. In the June 17th, 2005 issue of Science he said…
An important measure of regional storm activity is the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index…The ACE index reflects the collective intensity and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes during a given hurricane season.
At that time he used the ACE to bolster his argument that “Trends in human-influenced environmental changes are now evident in hurricane regions.” This is what the satellite derived ACE looked like in 2005, about the time of Katrina…
For some reason, he left the ACE data out of his 2007 Scientific American article. Maybe because when he wrote his article in 2007 it looked something like this…
I wonder if he includes the ACE index in his presentations today when he talks about the dangers of future hurricanes. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy index as derived from satellite data, for both the planet and the Northern Hemisphere are at historic lows. And that’s climate, not weather…
The bottom line
Trenberth and the rest of the gang are willing to sacrifice the tenets of scientific discourse and even common decency , and they are eager to evade the need for transparency, just to maintain their status as the scientific elite. They have selected and presented data in a way that makes the epithet “alarmist” an objective evaluation of their behavior.