Does Rain Call GISS Liars?

I ran into an interesting web site. This happens a lot when I’m doing a “Google Train” and taking an idea step by step though various questions. This time, it was a question stimulated by Adrian Vance. He had challenged the notion of “cold wet” in the record of the USA West with a “cold dry” Europe Dark Ages model. OK, I wondered, does anyone have a “temp vs precip” graph from those kinds of times?

Several creative google terms later, I found this wonderful place:

http://www.longrangeweather.com/300bc.htm

That graph will give you temperature and precipitation for 300 BC to 250 BC. From a dropdown you can pick any 50 year period you like from 600 BC to 2000 AD. Which I did. ALL of them.

The interesting thing to me was that they all looked rather the same. Mostly precipitation is in sync with temperatures. Sometimes leading a bit, sometimes lagging. Until you get to 1900. Then it suddenly goes screwy. First temperatures plunge, while precipitation does not. Then it rockets up, while precipitation does not.

I can think of no rational mechanism for the sudden departure of precipitation from it’s relationship to temperature that would work of opposite sign in just such a cycle.

Interestingly enough, that is the point when the temperature data swaps over to using GISS data… Just saying…

With that, I’m going to just include a batch of the graphs here and you can decide if they call GISS liars or not. I’m not going to put them ALL in, but I’ll start with a random sample of 250 BC and a ‘cherry picked’ 1100 AD that has an interesting temperature excursion on it, just to show what the most outrageous outlier from the pre 1900 record looks like.

The Graphs

Temperature vs Precipitation from 250 BC

Temperature vs Precipitation from 250 BC

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1100 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1100 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1700 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1700 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1750 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1750 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1800 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1800 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1850 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1850 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1900 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1900 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1950 AD

Temperature vs Precipitation from 1950 AD

So what do you think? Does that GISS temperature data look kind of ‘odd’ or ‘cooked’? Or can CO2 have an opposite sign in different halves of a century?

In Conclusion

OK, there’s a lot of work to do here, too. I’ve no idea who runs this site or if they have an agenda. I’ve no idea what the data source is for things NOT labeled as “GISS”. Is the early data subject to a location bias and the GISS data global (so suddenly past relationships don’t hold… but that, too, means GISS ‘has issues’, just different issues). And it just cries out for a “same source of temps” graph for 1900 to date.

So there is, IMHO, a bit more work to do before it’s proof of “Liar!” instead of just proof of splice artifacts. But it does point to a very interesting line of Forensic Investigation ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to Does Rain Call GISS Liars?

  1. Baa Humbug says:

    It’s 5:45am here in Brisbane, I was half asleep, thought I’d check chiefio and BOOOM I’m wide awake.

    Hmmmmm now I can’t wait for your forensic work.

    da da, da da pants on fire (to be completed)

  2. Adrian Vance says:

    GISS is a bureau of liars.

    Never forget: Colder is drier. Warmer is wetter. It is just that simple just as CO2 is a poor absorber of IR. Water vapor is responsible for 99.8% of all atmospheric heating. See: http://globalwarmingnotes.i8.com

    For more conservative ideas, science and politics please see http://adrianvance.blogspot.co… “The Two Minute Conservative” produced for radio and TV talk hosts, opinion page editors and dinner table conversationalists who like to “throw virtual gasoline on the candelabra.” If you have a liberal hostess friend we can see to it you will never be invited back or have to reciprocate with a few of our more muscular 300 word, two minute pieces.

  3. Jason Calley says:

    While prudence dictates that I not be so dogmatic as to call the GISS folk “liars!”, it would not be wrong to say that “they certainly APPEAR to be liars!”

    I suspect that for those of us who place great importance in science as a tool for finding what is true, one of the most disturbing things about CAGW, and GISS in particular, is the uncomfortable admission that scientists — SCIENTISTS, of all people — would cook the books. I understand how devout Catholics must feel when they finally admit that yes, the local priest, the man they trusted, has been molesting children.

    As for the relationship between temperature and precipitation, I am trying to be clear about cause and effect. Warm oceans cause massive evaporation. Massive evaporation causes large clouds (which reflect sunlight away) and storms which lift warm air high enough to radiate heat out to space. The actual rain or snow also transports heat to higher latitudes where it can be radiated away. Eventually, the increased precipitation has, through increased albedo, transport and radiation, cooled the oceans enough to “clear the air” somewhat and the cycle starts over.

    Here are what seem to me like two worthwhile points. First, there is not really an association of increased precipitation with either a warm globe or a cool one, but rather with a cooling one, a globe that was warm but is now changing to a cooler one. Lower precipitation (and the clearer skies) are associated with the warming transition. Of course the process is a very large scale one, and individual times or places may well buck the trend. By looking at the graphs you included, and the others at the web site, it is clear that there is some sort of correlation, but it is not easy to see. My guess is that the resolution and error bars of the data is just not good enough to tell.

    Secondly, we need to have something that drives the cooling slightly past the equilibrium point in order to get a true cycle going here. Otherwise we would simply cool to the point that incoming radiation is balanced with a specific precipitation and radiation level. You have made the point before that warm surface water tends to stay on the surface. Makes sense. As the global oceans surface water cools from evaporation, there will come a point where even though the surface is somewhat warmer than the lower water, it is no longer bouyant enough to prevent it from being sucked down by the downwelling parts of the oceanic conveyor belt, the curents mandated by the huge cold resevoir around Antarctica. At that point we have the surface waters become rapidly cooler and overshoot the equilibrium point. Hence the climate cycles and not just a moderate steady state.

    Is that a pretty good summary of your ideas on this?

    I think you are on to something here. As you say, “dig here,” and someone please take the shovel away from the GISS people.

    GISS…. Jeez! I used to respect NASA. :(

  4. Jason Calley says:

    Adrian Vance says: “Never forget: Colder is drier. Warmer is wetter. It is just that simple just as CO2 is a poor absorber of IR. Water vapor is responsible for 99.8% of all atmospheric heating. ”

    True… but albedo is a VERY large counter force. Certainly during the day, cloudy skies force cooling, clear skies force warming.

    Water vapor may be an invisible greenhouse gas, but it does not stay as vapor. It turns into clouds. I seen ’em! :)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Baa Humbug:

    Glad I could give your morning coffee a booster charge ;-)

    “Step 2” will likely take a while as I need to sort out the potential for spice artifacts issue…

    @Adrian Vance:

    But do remember that there are regional effects that go counter to that. The “desert band” can be moved further north or south by a temperature change. One place wins, the other loses. From the same temperature change…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara_pump_theory

    (yes, it’s the wiki… but it’s the text I’m familar with…)

    During periods of a wet or “Green Sahara”, the Sahara and Arabia become a savanna grassland and African flora and fauna become common. Following inter-pluvial arid periods, the Sahara area then reverts to desert conditions, usually as a result of the retreat of the West African Monsoon southwards. Evaporation exceeds precipitation, the level of water in lakes like Lake Chad falls, and rivers become dry wadis. Flora and fauna previously widespread as a result retreat northwards to the Atlas Mountains, southwards into West Africa, or eastwards into the Nile Valley and thence either south-east to the Ethiopian Highlands and Kenya or north-east across the Sinai into Asia. This separates populations of some of the species in areas with different climates, forcing them to adapt, possibly giving rise to allopatric speciation.

    Note that the monsoon changes latitude. Sahara loses and the southern area gains. The driver for this is when the Sahara gets too LITTLE heating. So in this case, a cooler climate makes for a wetter ‘south of the Sahara’.

    So while overall, the “cooler is drier” is true (in this case, Sahara is a very spectacular example as it is only a desert when Too Cool to pull in rain… it needs more heat to make more convection to pull in more rain to become wet.) there are zones that are counter trend. Identify that pattern in detail and you get a very nice cross check on global heating and cooling.

    @Jason Calley:

    Yes, you’ve got it. The only bit of “finesse” that needs to be added is that ‘zonal drift’ issue in the comment to Adrian above. So for Western USA “cooler is wetter” (though that implies for somewhere else “cooler will be a LOT drier” – but it may take an ‘ocean cooling’ lag time to show up.)

    Oh, and there may be some feedback / control loop via the Southern Ocean currents and winds modulating the overturning current and that global water circulation.

    @all:

    Isn’t it wonderful what a few little pictures can communicate? Aren’t I a stinker for doing it that way? ;-)

  6. Luís says:

    Hi Michael,

    What proxies where used to build those precipitation time-series? Aren’t these usually inferred from temperature proxies?

    I can think of no rational mechanism for the sudden departure of precipitation from it’s relationship to temperature that would work of opposite sign in just such a cycle.

    This is all to be expected if you’re shifting from a different space and time resolution series to another, plus achieved with completely different methods. This is what Mann & Co. did to dramatize their HS.

    At the regional level the correlation between temperature and precipitation can be weak and sometimes even negative (e.g. Wester Europe). When circulation speeds up some regions get more rain for they come to be in the path of major updrafts.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Luis: What you are calling a “different space and time resolution” I’m calling a “splice artifact”.

    Per “Mann & Co.”: That’s again what I’m saying with “splice artifact”.

    I think we’re in “violent agreement” here…. It’s intriguing as it stands, but the splice artifact issue needs resolving. Though that fact that the precipitation stays pretty consistent while the temps go all low in 1900 / high in 1999 does raise some issues about the construction of the GISS temperature data set too: without the prior temps there is no splice artifact here… just the fact that we have a disconnect between temps and precip even though there is a lot of literature showing connections all over the planet. That’s a simple “doesn’t add up” and not a splice artifact. And to me, that argues for ‘change of instruments over time’ as a contaminant of the temp data; which is why I point up the “opposite sign” question. Either there is a splice artifact or something has opposite sign of correlation from the prior data in 1900 and overly positive sign in 1990, which would argue for a change of regional bias in the GISS data picking up different wet/temp relationships (which then implies region bias changes over time).

    That’s the point I was making with the “needs more work to sort it out” comments and the statement that it cries out for a ‘same temp source’ 1900 to date.

    So again I’m left with our being in basic agreement, but saying it in different words. And I’m happy to admire the GISS “issues” while I figure out how to sort out those things that need doing.

    In all cases, it’s pretty clear that the GISS data do not agree with the hydological data very well at all. And the hydrological trend says “not much out of the ordinary happened”; temp data be damned.

  8. David says:

    We had a abnormally cold November and now this:

    Issued by The National Weather Service
    Seattle/Tacoma, WA
    4:11 pm PST, Thu., Dec. 9, 2010

    … FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON…

    THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SEATTLE HAS ISSUED A

    * FLOOD WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF WA AND NORTHWEST WASHINGTON… INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING AREAS… IN WA… ADMIRALTY INLET AREA… CENTRAL COAST… EAST PUGET SOUND LOWLANDS… EASTERN STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA… EVERETT AND VICINITY… HOOD CANAL AREA… LOWER CHEHALIS VALLEY AREA… NORTH COAST… OLYMPICS… SEATTLE/BREMERTON AREA… SOUTHWEST INTERIOR… TACOMA AREA… WEST SLOPES CENTRAL CASCADES AND PASSES… WEST SLOPES NORTHERN CASCADES AND PASSES… WESTERN SKAGIT COUNTY… WESTERN STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA AND WESTERN WHATCOM COUNTY. IN NORTHWEST WASHINGTON… SAN JUAN COUNTY.

    * FROM SATURDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON

    * A WARM AND MOIST WEATHER SYSTEM WILL MOVE INTO WESTERN WASHINGTON SATURDAY NIGHT. HEAVY RAIN WILL FALL AT TIMES. AT THIS TIME IT IS UNCERTAIN EXACTLY HOW MUCH RAIN WILL FALL AND WHAT PLACES WILL GET THE MOST RAIN. VARIOUS WEATHER MODELS BRING HEAVY RAIN TO DIFFERENT PLACES. THEREFORE THE FLOOD WATCH IS FOR EVERY COUNTY IN WESTERN WASHINGTON.

    * SOME RIVERS SEEM CERTAIN TO FLOOD… INCLUDING THE SKOKOMISH IN MASON COUNTY… THE TOLT IN KING COUNTY… AND THE PUYALLUP RIVER NEAR ORTING IN PIERCE COUNTY. THE FLOOD POTENTIAL ON OTHER RIVERS DEPENDS ON WHERE EXACTLY THE HEAVIEST RAIN FALLS.

    * RIVERS FACING AT LEAST A MODERATE THREAT OF FLOODING INCLUDE THE SATSOP AND CHEHALIS RIVERS IN LEWIS AND GRAYS HARBOR COUNTIES… THE NOOKSACK SKAGIT STILLAGUAMISH AND SNOQUALMIE RIVERS FLOWING OFF THE NORTH CASCADES… AND THE DESCHUTES COWLITZ AND SKOOKUMCHUCK FLOWING OFF THE CENTRAL CASCADES.

    * EVEN SMALL STREAMS COULD OVERFLOW THEIR BANKS IF RAIN IS HEAVY ENOUGH. URBAN FLOODING WHERE DRAINAGE IS POOR IS ALSO A POSSIBILITY.

    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

    A FLOOD WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR FLOODING BUT FLOODING IS NOT IMMINENT OR OCCURRING. MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND BE READY TO ACT QUICKLY IF FLOODING IS OBSERVED OR A WARNING IS ISSUED.

    &&

    More Information
    … FLOOD WATCH NOW IN EFFECT FOR WESTERN WASHINGTON FROM SATURDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON…

    .HEAVY RAIN IS COMING TO WESTERN WASHINGTON LATER THIS WEEKEND. WEATHER MODELS DIFFER IN THE DETAILS BUT IS IS LIKELY THAT HEAVY RAIN WILL BEGIN SATURDAY NIGHT… CONTINUE SUNDAY… AND END MONDAY. THE DURATION AND EXACT LOCATION OF THE HEAVIEST RAIN IS UNCERTAIN. HOWEVER HEAVY RAIN IS LIKELY… AND IN AMOUNTS LIKELY TO CAUSE FLOODING ON AT LEAST SOME RIVERS.

    Normally we see these in March. Often referred to as the Pineapple Clipper.

  9. George says:

    This is an oldie but relative to the discussion:

    http://climateaudit.org/2006/12/06/underwater-in-the-sierra-nevadas/

    Basically there are a lot of trees that were growing for a very long time that are now dead and tens of meters under water in Sierra Nevada lakes.

    Indeed, increasing evidence indicates that there is little that is climatically “normal” about the past century – and- a-half; it appears, in fact, to be California’s third- or fourth-wettest century-scale period of the past four or more millennia. Since statehood, Californians have been living in the best of climatic times.

    During the last 500 years, a wet climate, punctuated by intermittent but substantial droughts, began to dominate the region, and lake levels again rose and cirques glaciers reformed in the Sierra. A series of substantial droughts are documented during this period, however. Dozens of submerged tree stumps are located up to 300 feet below the present day level of Donner Lake a tributary of the Truckee River; carbon –14 samples from one stump date from AD 1433 (Lindstrom and Bloomer 1994). Another warm period, documented by tree-ring studies and Truckee River run-off, dated between AD 1579-1585, and again around AD 1630 (Hardman and Reil 1936). It is possible that Lake Tahoe contributed relatively little water to the Truckee River during the last 200 years. During the century between the mid 1700s to mid 1800s, the level of Lake Tahoe may have been below its rim, with no water flow into the Truckee River. This is documented by a submerged stump in the Upper Truckee River Delta dating from AD 1720 (Lindstrom 1996a), one from Donner Lake dating from AD 1800 (Lindstrom and Bloomer 1994) and one in Emerald Bay dating to AD 1840 (Lindstrom 1992). The 40 years between AD 1875-1915 were the longest period during which the flow of the Truckee River was above the average. During the AD 1930s drought, Lake Tahoe ceased to flow from its outlet for six consecutive years. Drought within the last decade (late 1980s to 1990s) either stopped Tahoe’s flow into the Truckee or reduced it to almost nothing.

    So it appears that during the MWP (or thereabouts), the lake levels in the Sierra Nevada were very low and were low long enough for these trees to get to pretty good size.

  10. xyzlatin says:

    I am glad to see you are now getting on to the rain connection. The whole “high temperatures will kill you” scare thing has always seemed to me to be an artifact made up by scientists who live in a cool climate, not near any tropical sea.

    In the tropics, if you live near the sea, and thus subject daily to the ocean’s evaporation, with high humidity, heavy downpours at night, you would know that the temperature actually does not go all that high.

    Yes, it is uncomfortable, but not because of temperature. It’s the humidity. Water vapour has a negative feedback on temperature, and temperature (night time drop) has a positive effect on rainfall in the tropics.

    Further inland, where it is not subject to the sea, temperatures are higher. However, people do not die of the higher temperature, they adapt their houses and lifestyles.

    Little has been said in this “science” of the human body’s ability to adapt to higher or lower temperatures. People who live in these places become “acclimatized”, ie their bodies change to accommodate the temperature. This is another aspect of human evolutionary adaptation which is unlike vegetation. We are not specialised to live at one immoveable temperature.

  11. Curt says:

    I would be very surprised if we really know much about this with any degree of confidence. Like you, I don’t put much store by the 20th-century GISS records, but I put even less store by the earlier proxy records.

    What were the temperature proxies used? What were the precipitation proxies used? How representative were they over the earth’s surface? What mathematical/statistical techniques were used in the reconstructions?

  12. tallbloke says:

    Given the opposite sign around 1100 we might give GISS the benefit of the doubt for the modern part of the record (apart from their large departure from everyone else’s records since 1998). Those early C20th temps do look a bit suspect though…

    The sometimes lagging sometimes leading thing is interesting. Maybe this implies a third factor (and 4th, 5th, 6th) affects both temp and precip, but in different ways at different times.

    Can’t be co2, that was at exactly 270ppm forever until Henry Ford cranked up his first petrol engine. :)

  13. Baa Humbug says:

    Well that’s just great. After 2 weeks of intermittent showers/rain it has come down in buckets in just 1 hour here in Brisbane (outer nth suburbs).

    With the already saturated grounds, there is nowhere for the water to go. My 20acres is well and truly under, about calf deep now and rising.
    My granny flat under the house is taking water.
    back to the mop and buckets :(

    I hate globull warmin

  14. mrpkw says:

    Good thing that you are “retired” to have the time to do all of this.

    Would I call GISS “liars”?
    Don’t know.

    But clearly they have an agenda and on the very surface appear to be a little less than “honest”.

    Great work !!

  15. Tony Hansen says:

    Looking at all the maps the coldest period is the first part of the 1900’s and the warmest is the last part of the 1900’s.
    This obvious climate disruption easily explains the significant decrease in human population seen during this period :)

  16. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Maybe the water is locked up in the freshwater dams?

  17. Dave F says:

    Hello Mr. Smith. I am wondering if you found out where longrangeweather.com got this data from. I can’t find any information about their cited source, the Weather Science Foundation, and I wondered if you know anything about them.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve not dug into it. Too many other things calling for attention. This is the time when family and Christmas start to suck down a fair number of cycles too.

    I’ve not got 38 ‘tabs’ open in my brower. About half of them are “things I need to ergently evaluate”… only one of which has gotten done (this morning’s posting).

    So it’s likely to be a while if you wait for me…

    The general theme I’ve chosen to persue here is that I “quick plough the field” and turn up things that others might wish to “dig into”. I’ll often put a “Dig Here!” sign on particularly interesting bits. The unstated implication of that is there will be a large number of things I ought to have detail on (especially if it were an academic / research posting or paper) that will be left as ‘loose ends’ for other to ‘dig here’…

  19. Hi E.M Smith!

    I truly understand why this catches your interest. And it would be interesting to work more with this – and as another commenter says, to find out where data comes from – mostly to be able to “defend” when under fire :-)

    Obviously there is a rather stable bond between rain and temperature that suddenly goes lost when GISS-temperatures begins.

    What logic could justify that rain amounts no longer fits temperature?? So around 1900-20 there where much more rain compared to temperature… what took the water up in the air if not temperature…?

    This is a good pice of evidence. Perhaps it could be funny to make some kind of formula to calculate temp from rain, and then see how perfect this could be done. And then apply this to the 20´ieth century rain…

    But as you say – we all hav tonnes of things to do!

    K.R. Frank

  20. tallbloke says:

    I wonder what the south American and south African records look like for the later C20th. Australia has been well below average rainfall since the ’70’s and the GISS record seems a bit Northern Hemisphere biased temp wise. Plus most of the warming has been N.H. biased anyway.

    According to the website there wasn’t much of a little ice age to compare another cold period like the alleged coldness of 1900-1920 to…

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