Atmospheric Science

I don’t immediately trust the research published by highly cited atmospheric scientists. By my count many of them seem more keen on presenting their personal views rather than advancing the field. Off the top of my head, Richard Lindzen, Murry Salby, Roy Spencer, Tim Dunkerton, Roger Pielke, Cliff Mass, Judith Curry are all highly cited but come across as political and/or religious zealots. One guy on the list, Dunkerton, is also a racist, who happened to make the Washington Post twice : “Physicist ousted from research post after sending offensive tweet to Hispanic meteorologist” and “Atmospheric scientist loses honor, membership over ethics violation“. Awful stuff and he hasn’t stopped spouting off on Twitter.

Granted that Dunkerton says dumb stuff on Twitter but his highly cited research is also off-base. That’s IMO only because recent papers by others in the field of atmospheric science do continue to cite his ideas as primary, if not authoritative. For example, from a recently published paper “The Gravity Wave Activity during Two Recent QBO Disruptions Revealed by U.S. High-Resolution Radiosonde Data”, citations 1 & 12 both refer to Dunkerton, and specifically to his belief that the QBO period is a property of the atmospheric medium itself

Straight-forward to debunk this Dunkerton theory since the length of the cycle directly above the QBO layer is semi-annual and thus not a property of the medium but of the semi-annual nodal forcing frequency. If we make the obvious connection to the other nodal forcing — that of the moon — then we find the QBO period is fixed to 28 months. I have been highlighting this connection to the authors of new QBO papers under community review, often with some subsequent feedback provided such as here: . Though not visible yet in the comments, I received some personal correspondence that showed that the authors under peer-review are taking the idea seriously and attempting to duplicate the calculations. They seem to be methodical in their approach, asking for clarification and further instructions where they couldn’t follow the formulation. They know about the GitHub software, so hopefully that will be of some help.

In contrast, Dunkerton also knows about my approach but responds in an inscrutable (if not condescending) way. Makes you wonder if scientists such as Dunkerton and Lindzen are bitter and taking out their frustrations via the media. Based on their doggedness, they may in fact be intentionally trying to impede progress in climate science by taking contrarian stances. In my experience, the top scientists in other research disciplines don’t act this way. YMMV

UPDATE 3/17/2023

More activity related to my review comment

As a review, this was after commenting earlier this year on a Copernicus open-science research article on atmospheric cycles and QBO (with proposed links to sunspots and ENSO) that was undergoing a review, making a suggestion to consider analyses I had presented and published 4 years ago and also prior to that.

Thought that was that and was happy to see that the authors indicated they would revise the manuscript and perhaps advance understanding. But then several days ago, the editor interceded and essentially demanded that the authors not cite my research work. Apparently, the authors were influenced by the editor’s instructions, as they immediately removed my cite and replaced it with a citation to a review article that the editor preferred. The discussion on the article was then closed with no way for me to rebut.

This was all after I spent several hours working with the primary author as they worked to replicate my analysis, sending emails back and forth several times. The editor claimed that my contribution was “a new idea that has not been published in a recognized journal and received peer review”. This is not the case as I said above: Google Scholar citations all ignored.

Also see this post I contributed to the Peak Oil Barrel blog :

2 thoughts on “Atmospheric Science

  1. Does ENSO depend on lunar tides?

    There is some evidence to suggest that lunar tides may influence the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is a natural climate pattern that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean. However, the relationship between lunar tides and ENSO is still an area of active research and there is no consensus on the extent of this influence.

    Some studies have suggested that the gravitational pull of the moon on the Earth’s oceans may affect the ocean circulation patterns that drive ENSO, potentially leading to changes in the timing or intensity of El Niño or La Niña events. However, other studies have found no significant link between lunar tides and ENSO.

    It is important to note that ENSO is a complex climate phenomenon that is influenced by many factors, including ocean currents, atmospheric pressure patterns, and temperature gradients. While lunar tides may play a role in shaping the climate patterns that drive ENSO, their overall impact is likely to be relatively small compared to these other factors.


  2. Paul, on the grounds that there is always something new to learn, I looked up your favorite hammer, i.e. the Principle of Maximum Entropy.

    Wiki says this:

    “The principle of maximum entropy states that the probability distribution which best represents the current state of knowledge about a system is the one with largest entropy, in the context of precisely stated prior data (such as a proposition that expresses testable information).

    Another way of stating this: Take precisely stated prior data or testable information about a probability distribution function. Consider the set of all trial probability distributions that would encode the prior data. According to this principle, the distribution with maximal information entropy is the best choice.”

    The second paragraph makes more sense to me than the first. However, I do have some questions, and as asking questions of PhDs who are willing to talk is part of how I work, I was wondering if you would mind being asked questions on this topic?

    I don’t care about the format, POB seems like a difficult one, I am happy to discuss via email as I have with Dennis on more than a few occasions, and we also kicked around at where at least the format allows other to see, quotes to be used, I have no real preference. And of course you can tell me to take a hike.

    As an example, my first question would go something like this: There are tests for how well a distribution fits a set of data. Having empircally tested more than a few a decade or so ago when I began probabilistic modeling, Anderson-Darling seemed to work best with the data I was trying to describe. However, within the software I use there doesn’t appear to be any measurement of “here’s the distribution that gives you maximum information entropy”. I’m not even sure I want a maximum of entropy once the distribution of the data is properly described by a given distribution. I am willing to listen to explanations and be convinced however.

    That is just the first, if you have any interest in explaining it to someone. RGR


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