Circles and Squares – Where Do the Facts Lie?

I enjoyed the conference, ‘Circling the Square’ (20-22 May 2014) organised by Reiner Grundmann and colleagues from the Science,Technology and Society Priority Group at Nottingham University. Bringing together academics from the natural and social sciences (and others), the conference explored how scientific knowledge is (or should be) used for policy. Some reactions have been collated by Brigitte Nerlich on the Making Science Public blog.

There were many facets to the discussion, but here I will make just a few observations. As a former natural scientist now attempting to become a social scientist, I appreciated the refreshingly frank (and generally good-natured) exchanges on the different world views across the natural/social science divide (or continuum).
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Met Office Report Says Sea Levels Likely to Rise 11-16 cm by 2030?

Update 11 Feb 2014: Met Office says Oh, you thought we meant from now? No, from 1990! See comment from Richard Betts, below and the updated Met Office report.

13 Feb: A further comment from Richard confirms that the Met Office projections for UK sea level rise are 5 to 7 cm between now and 2030.

This is an edited version of a comment I made on Bishop Hill on 9 Feb:

In February 2014 the Met Office and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) published a report called “The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK”. (pdf of original version here). The report makes an interesting prediction about sea level rise by 2030 on p.21 (the same figures are also given on p.2):

Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm of total sea level rise since 1900. We are very confident that sea level will continue to rise over coming decades as the planet continues to warm. These numbers represent our current best estimate for the UK.

That implies that the rate of sea level rise (SLR) in the English Channel will more than double in the next 16 years to 7 to 10 mm per year (on average) from the current 3 mm per year. And assuming that the rate of SLR does not leap to the new level in the first year, a linear increase from the current rate implies a rate of about 15 mm per year by 2030.

Is there something special about the English Channel? It’s hard to reconcile this with the IPCC projections in AR5 Chapter 13.

No citations are given for this statement in an otherwise well-referenced document. I’ll update this post if I find out more.

Update: Tim Channon has plotted a graph of how this prediction compares to past SLR at Newlyn, Cornwall (the national sea level monitoring station) http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/met-office-forecasting-skill-on-show

Update 2: Richard Betts is on the case…


Update 3: I think Tim Channon may have nailed the problem (2030 should be 2100?). Although, this would mean that the Met Office is expecting no acceleration of SLR over a century, while the IPCC expects it to at least double by 2080-2100. We’ll see what the Met Office comes up with.

This doesn’t turn out to be the Met Office’s error, but you can see his original graph at http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/mo-newlyn-2.png

Update 4: The Met Office have ‘clarified’ their statement, which apparently relates to a 1990 baseline. See Richard Betts’ comment below. See also Tim Channon’s new post and graph: tchannon-image-356

Update 5: A few final thoughts from me in a comment below.

Update 6: Nic Lewis tackles the UKCP09 projections on Bishop Hill and Euan Mearns looks at the Met Office report as a whole on his blog.

My ‘Nicked from Norway’ Plant is Flowering!

Its real name is Pilea peperomioides, also called the Chinese Money Plant and the Missionary Plant, but in our family it’s ‘Nicked from Norway’ as my mother-in-law brought a small plant back from a visit to Norway, about fifteen years ago. Mine is a third- or fourth-generation offshoot of that original plant and this is the first time I’ve seen one in flower (or at least, in bud).
NPflower2

This post is about the intriguing story of how Pilea peperomioides came to be a popular houseplant, entirely below the radar of European botanists and horticulturalists.

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Rock Fall at Porthcothan

A massive rock fall at Porthcothan Bay, Cornwall, has changed the beach dramatically.

I’ve been documenting the changes since I first noticed a hole in the rock in 2002 – but it’s all changed now!

Here are the gradual changes since 2002 (click on image to enlarge):
11 years at Porthcothan

And now – see photo in the Cornish Guardian – and more falls since then shown on Facebook and Sky News. There are some particularly spectacular photos in the Daily Mail (scroll down to the end) and some fine ‘before and after’ photos from the BBC.

Updated April 2014 with some first-hand photos:

A drawing by Barry Driscoll (1927-2006) from over 50 years ago.

A drawing by Barry Driscoll (1926-2006) from over 50 years ago.

The same view in April 2014.

The same view in April 2014.

Looking through the 'new gap'

Looking through the ‘new gap’

Jonathan and Stephen in the gap

Jonathan and Stephen in the gap


A longer view

A longer view towards the Trescore islands

Attribution Statements in AR5

This is my comment in reply to a post by Dr Tamsin Edwards on her blog ‘All Models Are Wrong’ entitled Nine Lessons and Carols in Communicating Climate Uncertainty. I have submitted this comment on Tamsin’s blog.

My comment:

Thanks, Tamsin, for this article. It is a pity, though, that what the IPCC said about the attribution of global warming in AR4 and AR5 is not reported correctly. Continue reading