MacKay Minutes 2016/05/25

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How did we do on our todo list?


  1. will take a crack at getting climate normals for one of the sites from the old climate data.
  2. will continue the regressions, using her famous "cereal box centroids"
    • started csv


  1. will continue looking at data quality, and fixing missing data in our summary data sets;
  2. get help from Steve at creating a function for creating the small multiples;
  3. will continue working with Steve on differences from year to year.
    • Didn't seem to learn anything looking at first differences.


  1. will help Laura with regressions in R;
  2. will work on getting the climate data into a better format;
  3. will help Madison with deciding how to fix data problems (e.g. missing data) in individual data sets.


  1. will help Madison turn her process into a function to create small multiples;
  2. will continue working with Madison on looking at differences and second order differences from year to year.

The Readings

1, Week 2: The warming Earth —

  1. McKibben: pp. 54-67
    • IPCC Working Group I summary -- the second released
    • The third came out in 2001, the fourth in 2007, the fifth in 2013/14, and the sixth is due out in 2022.
    • The most up-to-date summary of Working Group I from the fifth report suggests that "The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the TAR [ael: Third Assessment Report], leading to very high confidence that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2." [ael: "In this Summary for Policymakers the following levels of confidence have been used to express expert judgements on the correctness of the underlying science: very high confidence represents at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct"]
    • p. 61: "...the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability...."
    • [ael: IPCC documents are "consensus" documents, which leads to them being very conservative.]
  2. Kolbert: Chapter One (Shishmaref, Alaska)
    • p. 10: The Charney report (1979): "If carbon dioxide continues to increase, the study group finds no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible." [ael: the concluding sentence of that paragraph from the report: "A wait-and-see policy may mean waiting until it is too late."]
    • p. 12: More non-parametric tests: Kolbert begins a litany of "warmer years". If she'd been wrong, and if there were no global warming, what's the probability that we would see the run of "warmer years" that we've seen in recent years?
    • p. 18: "For provisions, he'd brought along an oversize bag of Tostitos." A little humor helps... followed by a (gratuitous?) twist of the knife -- e.g., the story of the most northern North American spruce. The story Kolbert is telling isn't depressing enough, so she spices it up!:(
    • p. 19: important tie-in: soil temperature as a function of atmospheric temperature. p. 20: "In the air temperature, the signal is very small compared to noise. What permafrost does is it works as a low-pass filter."
    • p. 33: more good humor: "I'm changing the climate! Ask me how!"
    • Take-aways:
      • Tipping points and feedbacks.
      • Permafrost as a store of 120K year old carbon.
      • Albedo.
      • Thinning of ice, not just extent.
      • There's no question: climate change is under way, and its dramatic. This in 2006....
  3. Archer: Chapter 11: Climate change. pp. 129-145
    • p. 130-131: Isn't the "bucket story" interesting? Part of our story so far is the difficulty of measuring things well:
      • Tyndall
      • Keeling
      • SST
    • Natural forcings (e.g. sunspots, volcanos) versus human forcings (gases and aerosols).
    • p. 135: "Who made that story up, you may wonder."
    • p. 141: foraminifera and diatom records (MacKay and Kannan!) are useful
    • Projects, p. 144: doesn't seem to work for me:

Moving forward

  • I'd like to know this: How does soil temperature vary with air temperature?
  • How stable are our regression parameters? We could make "small multiples" of regression planes....

In the News

Todo for next week

  • Andy
    • Make web directories for Laura and Madison
    • Get Laura climate data for Sydney, 1890-1924
    • Take Steve's numerical univariate, and convert to multivariate version of estimator
    • Get SVD reference for Laura and Madison
    • Help Laura with missing data issues for climate normals
  • Laura:
  • Madison:
    • What's the relationship between soil temperature and air temperature?
    • When estimate data comes in for 1922 and 1923, get small multiple images to add to the rest
  • Steve
    • Mathematica example code to dump latex
    • Figure out how to do a numerical univariate optimization in Mathematica

Next meeting

Thursday, noon