MacKay Minutes 2016/05/12

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Proposed Tasks for the week

I had suggested two things for this initial meeting in my recent email:

  • let's all do the readings for the first week of the course, and then
  • you two decide how to divvy up two things:
    • scout out the historical climate data (and I put a link up last week, but scour the web), and
    • continue our "small multiples for the other summary data sets (for which we already have 01, 07, 14, and 21).

Data Issues

  • 1910 -- mislabeled, has the 1909 data
  • 1919 -- missing
  • 1920 -- how to estimate missing data?
  • 1922-1923 -- too long

Let's talk about the readings:

That was a lot of reading! Someone's an evil taskmaster! Maybe you didn't get to them all, and that's okay. If you got to the following, what did you think of

  • the BBC's summary?
  • Svante Arrhenius's "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground"?
  • Keeling's long autobiographical piece?
  1. p. 40: an exciting moment.
  2. p. 46: "I learned a lesson that environmental time-series programs have no particular priority in the funding world, even if their main value lies in maintaining long-term continuity of measurements."
  3. p. 56: "Pursuant to this new mandate, the director of ERDA’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Alvin Weinberg, appointed a Study Group on the Global Environmental Effects of Carbon Dioxide (58). He did not hide his motive. The application of nuclear energy to electrical power generation was regarded as unsafe by a vocal group of objectors to nuclear energy. Owing to the CO 2 greenhouse effect, the burning of fossil fuels might be more dangerous to mankind than any perceived side effects of nuclear energy. It was time to find out."
  4. p. 69: "Also, the seasonal decline in CO2 concentration in the spring came earlier than usual during these warm years, indicating an earlier growing season by as much as 7 days, confirmed by satellite data on the Earth’s greenness (49). We saw even greater amplitude increases (up to 40%) and similar evidence of earlier plant growth at our two more northern sites."
  5. p. 73: "As these speculations indicate, we have been led in unexpected directions by our pursuit of time-series data on atmospheric CO 2 . The CO 2 signals that we measured were slight but persistent. We dared to believe that they might be real, because we deemed our data to be precise enough, and sufficiently well calibrated, to show weak patterns, if they existed."
  6. What can we learn about government funding and grants from Keeling?:)
  • Elizabeth Kolbert's preface?
  • The first few pages of Archer's book: "Humankind and climate"?

I have lots of things to say, but I'd like to hear your reactions.....


Some comments on Archer's material:

  1. If you read the preface, what do you think of my choice of a text for nonscience majors?!
  2. Laura: as a statistician, you may have already been exposed to non-parametric tests. What can we can say about the second paragraph of the first sub-section ("The glacier's are melting, but is it us?"), in terms of non-parametric statistical tests? It was written in 2007 or so....
  3. In the second sub-section, we read that " is trickier to discern a change in the average when the variability is so much greater than the trend."
  4. The bathtub analogy of equilibrium.

Some recent headlines

To Do for Next Week

  • Put up small multiples and get the axes to match
  • Find centroids for regions--with cereal boxes!!
  • Create regressions for each species in each year
  • Continue trying to find historical climate data
  • Continue reading assignments