Friday, December 26, 2014

Annals of Derp: Global whacking

Storm blowing up! House troll duffandnonsense in comments has been touting a climate-science scandal that "eclipses even the so-called climategate event" according to its discoverer, a somewhat long-in-the-tooth graduate student (he got his BS in Plant and Soil Science in 1980) working on a PhD at the University of New Mexico, Mike Wallace, who is accusing Dr. Richard A. Feely of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) of fraud.

Though not, as far as I can tell, at his own website; he's leaving that to the experts at American Thinker and the Arizona Daily Independent and WattsUpWithThat, and Marita Noon at the climate change denial website CFACT.

Feely, it seems, is responsible for the following graph, purporting to illustrate the increasing acidification of the oceans in tandem with an increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, referenced a couple of weeks ago at the San Francisco PBS affiliate science website Quest:

Why, these inquiring minds want to know, does the measurement of oceanic CO2 and pH on this chart start only with 1988? (Note that Noon, in the screenshot below, is apparently unconsciously using the wrong picture, and judge her seriousness accordingly.)


...I'd say it's probably because 1988 is when they started measuring it at the Aloha Station, one of the four long-term time series observatories operated by the US Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) and the first to get going. The caption says they're from Aloha Station! They couldn't have gotten the data before they had taken any observations.

While there are earlier data on ocean acidification, going back to 1910 or so and available online from the NOAA, they do not come from long-term time series observations done under controlled conditions at consistent locations, and if Michael Wallace (who claims to have found that there has been no oceanic acidification at all over the past century) thinks he can somehow turn these millions of observations taken from essentially random stations into one global time series, well, he's not explaining his methodology clearly enough for me. Or at all. I'm pretty sure he found garbage.

Wallace's table of oceanic pH values from 1910 through 2010. You can pretty much see the randomness of the data through at least 1970 and their coherence in the fairly steady decline in pH = increasing acidity from around 1990 onwards, when the collection process became systematic.
Sabine, Feely et al. 2004 modeled the time scale of acidification, on the other hand, by comparing the amounts of dissolved inorganic carbon in the ocean water at different depths in a very large-scale survey, in what seems to me an entirely transparent methodology, to arrive at the following very loose curve in a brief published online in 2006:

This one was apparently upsetting to Michael Wallace, according to Mr. WattsUp:
Wallace sent Bard an email: “I’m looking in fact for the source references for the red curve in their plot which was labeled ‘Historical & Projected pH & Dissolved Co2.’ This plot is at the top of the second page. It covers the period of my interest.” Bard responded and suggested that Wallace communicate with Feely and Sabine—which he did over a period of several months. Wallace asked again for the “time series data (NOT MODELING) of ocean pH for 20th century.” Sabine responded by saying that it was inappropriate for Wallace to question their “motives or quality of our science,” adding that if he continued in this manner, “you will not last long in your career.”
I don't know, if I were Sabine, I probably would have said something like, "There is no time series data before 1988," and pointed him to the 2004 paper explaining the modeling technique (I found it in the bibliography that comes with the chart in the 2006 brief), but it probably wouldn't have done any good. The red curve mirrors the blue curve because that's what acidification is: more dissolved carbon equals lower pH.

Wallace tried FOIA-ing the NOAA for the missing "time series data"; he
received no reply, but the FOIA was closed in July 2013 with a “no document found” response.
Interestingly, in this same general timeframe, NOAA reissued its World Ocean Database. Wallace was then able to extract the instrumental records he sought and turned the GEPH data into a meaningful time series chart, which reveals that the oceans are not acidifying. (For another day, Wallace found that the levels coincide with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.) As Wallace emphasized: “there is no global acidification trend.”
It's not that interestingly (code for "because they're so afraid of Cand. Doc. Wallace"), they've been releasing updates of the World Ocean Database at five-year intervals since 2001. They closed the FOIA because there were no documents corresponding to his wacky request, and they released the WOD because they always do. It's probably in the contract. And you can't, for the last time, create a "time series chart", meaningful or otherwise, unless you have time series data. This case is already as senseless as the "hockey stick controversy" clearly became over the 12 years during which denialists kept flogging it. It's just the rightwing noise machine, pumped up with petrodollars and braying its eternal song.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Ken_L said...

Perhaps you can refer doubters to this:

'In the past 200 years, it is estimated that the ocean has absorbed more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by human activity, increasing ocean acidity (hydrogen ion concentration) by a similar proportion.'

They can find it in 'Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2014). An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity (Eds: S. Hennige, J.M. Roberts & P. Williamson). Montreal, Technical Series No. 75'. It's a 100 page report with 27 lead authors, none of whom was named Feely or Sabine. Feely is credited as an expert who provided comments prior to the report's release. See

People like your idiot troll, who obviously haven't the faintest idea how scientific research is carried out and its results published, don't realise how stupid and ignorant they look when they write this kind of tripe. The tragedy is that professional trolls like Marita Noon shamelessly exploit the same ignorance amongst politicians and the general public.

BTW I hope Feely sues whoever called his results fraudulent for every cent he can get.

Ten Bears said...

Thank you. I fear I no longer harbor the inclination to banter with baboons, the crisis we face is far too great to waste what time I have left in the boondoggle of explaining what amounts to relatively simple physics. None of this is rocket science, and I know a bit about rocket science. While my near life-long relationship may leave me bias, the OSU (Oregon State University) cited downstream is probably the best, the most readily understood, report on these phenomenon, one any high school graduate can understand as that was the target audience: Your "average" shmoe on the street American.

A thorough reading will leave the reader understanding why acidifaction is greater threat to the survival of the species than the actual temperature rise.

Anonymous said...

Too, too delicious! These sorts of discussions with 'Warmers' reminds me of how useful the 'Kremlinologists' were, back in the day, when they subjected all Russian statements to intensely close textual analysis in order to ascertain what they were saying and what they were not.

David Duff

Thus, our genial host uses this sort of language:

"a somewhat long-in-the-tooth graduate student (he got his BS in Plant and Soil Science in 1980)" - isn't that blatant age-ism? Summon the Language Commissars and the Thought Police NOW!

"While there are earlier data on ocean acidification, going back to 1910 or so and available online from the NOAA, they do not come from long-term time series observations done under controlled conditions at consistent locations," [my emphasis]" Ah, yes, 'controlled conditions', so important, you know!

"Sabine, Feely et al. 2004 modelled the time scale of acidification" [my emphasis]. Ah yes, that titchy little word that means so much!

"a very large-scale survey" conducted at ONE!!! location since 1988!!! as opposed to millions of measurements taken around the globe over the last hundred years.

The question remains: "Who determined that the directly measured ocean pH data was not of “sufficient quality” and if it wasn’t, why then did NOAA make the data available on their website as part of other ocean data in their World Ocean Database without a caveat?"

Apparently, a "search on NOAA’s NODC database for ocean pH data showed plenty of data and no caveats on use".

I think you should be attacking NOAA not me for gross dereliction of duty, I mean, putting out dodgy stats with no warning - I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, don't quite know why my signature appeared in the middle of the text, it's 9.30 'over here', far too early for me!

David Duff

Victor said...

You can lead a horses-ass to scientific water research, but you can't make him think.

Anonymous said...

Delighted to agree with you, Victor!

David Duff

Dark Avenger said...

You're a mindless git, Duff. A true representation of conservatism, the ultimate fulfillment of Thatcherism.

Steve M. said...

I'm still on vacation, but I just want to point out that simpering assertions of the inadequacy of opposing arguments are not the same as rebuttals, Duffy.

Anonymous said...

"the ultimate fulfilment of Thatcherism."
I shiver, Sir, I shiver! I tell you that because no-one ever said anything so nice to me before - thank you - thank you!

Steve, just relax and enjoy your hols, "this one will run and run" and if it does run out of puff then no doubt there will be something else for us to debate. Enjoy a liquid New Year!

David Duff

Yastreblyansky said...

@Ten Bears, absolutely. It's more interesting for me because I have so much to learn about it myself, and feel a bit guilty for focusing so much on other things when this is clearly the most important. For all, see the website for the Oregon State project, the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel.

Ken and Steve, thanks. Duff, I shouldn't bother responding to you since you still haven't given me your evidence about Saul Alinsky and race war, which obviously doesn't exist, but I will put up a post in a moment.