February 26, 2010

Quick Response to Ben Santer’s Comments at RealClimate

Ben Santer has an article over at RealClimate defending himself against some claims made recently by Fred Pearce in a series of articles Pearce did for the U.K.’s Guardian in recent weeks.

In particular, Santer discusses a 1996 paper that he (and colleagues) published in Nature magazine in which they reported to have identified a human fingerprint on global temperature change. Well, actually, in his RealClimate article Santer primarily discusses his Response to a Comment that WCR’s Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger published in Nature that pointed out that had Santer et al. used the full observational period of record available at the time they published their original paper (instead of a truncated one), that Santer et al.’s statements “about the strength of the evidence for human alteration of the lower tropospheric climate must be tempered.”

In Santer’s RealClimate piece, he claims that in his Response to our Comment, that he “demonstrated that this criticism was simply wrong.” And that “[u]se of a longer record of atmospheric temperature change strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

At RealClimate, Santer provided this link to his Response to our Comments. Here, for completeness’s sake, we provide a link to our Comment.

We invite you to read them both and see for yourself.

Personally, we are incredulous that Santer maintains, even to this day, that had they used the full period of available record—which he admits would have shown a decline in the correlation between models and observations—that this somehow “strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

We can only wonder what he would have concluded had the full dataset of observations maintained or strengthened his original correlation! Somehow we doubt that had the updated data strengthened the correlation between models and observations, that Santer would have come out and declared this as evidence the human fingerprint was fading.

(There is lots more regarding this issue (and others discussed by Santer in his RealClimate article) that resides in our back pages. To investigate for yourself, use our ‘back issues’ search function and enter “Santer”)

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