May 17, 2016

"Understanding this holds the promise of enhancing climate models' accuracy."

"This" = "the most abundant organism at the ocean's surface... involved in an integral process that helps regulate our climate – the production of dimethylsulfide (DMS)."
[I]f Pelagibacterales are such simple organisms, and so abundant, why has this pathway remained hidden until now, awaiting accidental discovery? The answer, ironic though it may appear, lies in their very simplicity, evolved over as much as a billion years into "streamlined cells," honing their role into something small and specific, and discarding unnecessary genes along the way....

41 comments:

Original Mike said...

"Understanding this holds the promise of enhancing climate models' accuracy."

Wait, what? Climate models need enhancing? I thought they were settled.

Herb said...

if we keep discovering things how can 97% believe something with such certainty. The climate models need enhancing because so far they have all been very wrong.

Original Mike said...

"Let me see. I need a word that doesn't imply that the models aren't already accurate. Not perfect, mind you, but pretty close already. Improve? Adjust? Rectify? ..... Enhance!. That's it!"

cubanbob said...

I have a suspicion that the models whence enhanced are going to show that nothing significant is happening so the models won't be publicly shown to produce an inconvenient result.

Bob Boyd said...

If you want government funding to do science, connect it to climate change.

Original Mike said...

"Understanding this holds the promise of making the climate models more truthy" would have been better.

rhhardin said...

Climate models have worse problems than that, one being modellers.

traditionalguy said...

Lo and behold. Global Cooling happens when clouds increase blocking out the sun.


And CO2 has no effect at all on that. The Hoax is exposed for the hundredth time. True believers hit hardest.

SteveR said...

These unsettling enhancements are very inconvenient.

damikesc said...

[I]f Pelagibacterales are such simple organisms, and so abundant, why has this pathway remained hidden until now, awaiting accidental discovery? The answer, ironic though it may appear, lies in their very simplicity, evolved over as much as a billion years into "streamlined cells," honing their role into something small and specific, and discarding unnecessary genes along the way....

Makes one question the utility of models that were unaware of these things.

When you're demanding economies get ground into nothing for your theories, your theories better be completely unassailable.

Is it too much to expect them to know this stuff? I'd argue no. Because if you attempt to create a solution without knowing the problem, you are less than useless.

if we keep discovering things how can 97% believe something with such certainty. The climate models need enhancing because so far they have all been very wrong.

Indeed. The only thing more debunked than climate science is Mormonism, but at least Mormons are nice, friendly, and don't make demands of you.

Fernandinande said...

Fake science-y headline of the day @Drudge:
CLAIM: Life exists after death...
Consciousness continues...

eric said...

This looks like an excuse.


Scientist: "We know global warming is true, right?

Another scientist: " Of course!"

Scientist: "So why are all the models wrong?"

Another scientist: "No clue. Because we already know we are right. Let's blame it on this over here."

Scientist: "Sounds plausible. Have a story we can tell to make it all believable?"

Another scientist: "No worries, I've got this."

Static Ping said...

I do appreciate the efforts to make climate models more accurate. That's great science and helps us understand our world better. The problem has always been that the models, as they exist right now, are crude. The complexity of what they are measuring is incredible. At the moment we simply do not have the ability to model the climate in any useful way, which makes it baffling that they would be relied upon as basis for major economic upheaval. The politicians I understand - honesty and integrity is not a strong point - but the fact that scientists who know better would support this is appalling. The corruption is awful.

David Begley said...

I thought this was all settled.

Tommy Duncan said...

It is not surprising these oceanic organisms slipped in under the radar. The climate change guys don't like to talk about oceans because they don't understand them. Even worse, they don't have sufficient data collection mechanisms and data history to properly study the role of oceans in climate matters. Oceanic feedback loops are complex, so they conveniently ignore them.

Fernandinande said...

I wish they wouldn't use esoteric technical terms like "itty-bitty".

Roger Sweeny said...

traditionalguy,

The production of dimethylsulfide does indeed increase clouds, which block the sun and lead to cooling. The production of carbon dioxide increases heat retention, leading to warming. Both processes, pushing in opposite directions, are occurring.

buwaya puti said...

Another example of people in some unrelated field trying to get funding from the huge global warming grant firehose. There have been piles of these.

Peter said...

Wherein the purveyors of the "settled science" of climate change learn (once again) that "There are more things in heaven and earth ... Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"?

Meanwhile, a group of states' attorneys general are preparing try the heretics. Because, nothing quite says "science" like rounding up and trying heretics.

Perhaps there's a play to be found in this story, somewhere?

mockturtle said...

The 'news' media are rife with junk science and junk medical reports. I guess that's effective propaganda, since most people tend to buy into it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The answer, ironic though it may appear, lies in their very simplicity, evolved over as much as a billion years into "streamlined cells," honing their role into something small and specific, and discarding unnecessary genes along the way

That's a strikingly Lamarckian way of characterizing the organism's evolution, no? I mean, I get it...but to say that the organism discarded genes and honed its role (as opposed to saying that the more-simple examples were able to survive and reproduce in greater numbers meaning their genes were more likely to be passed on...etc) in the context of "scientific explanation" seems a bit off. Maybe it's just me.

DavidD said...

"We got them to believe in the theory of evolution. Why can't we get them to believe in the theory of Global Warming?"

"I know, let's combine them!"

Krumhorn said...

Observed satellite temperatures are already 2 standard deviations below the hoaxers' model-mean projections. On the current trend, there could easily be 3 standard deviations difference in the next 7 years. Given that there have been no observed rise in temperature over that last 19 years in a time in which 30% of all man made CO2 has been produced since the Little Ice Age, any rational person would reach for a stronger word than enhanced.

By contrast, a recent study of several of the Holocene ice cores estimated that the average standard deviation of the centennial variability of global temperatures over the last 8000 years is slightly less than 1.

I'm thinking that the word they're searching for is scrapped.

- Krumhorn

Gahrie said...

Global warming is totally a product of the "adjustments" that "scientists" make to observed data.

Walter S. said...

Bob Boyd has it right. The scientists have probably done some important work, but the connection to climate change sounds like hype.

It's true that a climate model needs to account for the effect of ocean conditions on cloud formation. And, that's hard. But the way to do it is to study past relationships between these two variables. It doesn't add much to know the exact mechanisms, whether they are Pelagibacterales or anything else. There will always be other mechanisms and offsetting effects that we don't understand, so even a rough historical estimate of the ocean-cloud relationship is more reliable than a direct calculation from biology and physics.

chickelit said...

DMS - Wiki says it smells like cabbage- I always thought it smelled like the inside of pumpkins.

Michael K said...

THe organisms that are just now being identified since the work of Carl Woese will upset a lot more models. Archea which he discovered are probably the life we will find on other planets and comets.

For much of the 20th century, prokaryotes were regarded as a single group of organisms and classified based on their biochemistry, morphology and metabolism. In a highly influential 1962 paper, Roger Stanier and C. B. van Niel first established the division of cellular organization into prokaryotes and eukaryotes, negatively defining prokaryotes as those organisms lacking a cell nucleus.[21][22] Adapted from Édouard Chatton's generalization, Stanier and Van Niel's concept was quickly accepted as the most important distinction among organisms; yet they were nevertheless skeptical of microbiologists' attempts to construct a natural phylogenetic classification of bacteria.[23] However, it became generally assumed that all life shared a common prokaryotic (implied by the Greek root πρό (pro-), before, in front of) ancestor.[22][24]

In 1977, Carl Woese and George E. Fox experimentally disproved this universally held hypothesis about the basic structure of the tree of life.[25] Woese and Fox discovered a kind of microbial life which they called the “archaebacteria” (Archaea).[4] They reported that the archaebacteria comprised "a third kingdom" of life as distinct from bacteria as plants and animals.


Mitochondria are also "stripped down genomes."

The discoveries are just getting rolling.

MadisonMan said...

The scientists have probably done some important work, but the connection to climate change sounds like hype.

Agreed. DMS's effect on cloud formation is pretty well known. What the scientists don't do, as far as I can tell from a glance, is establish the size of the DMS emissions from the bacteria relative to the amount emitted from other organisms.

tim in vermont said...

Of course denialist sites have been making this criticism of the models for years.

Fritz said...

We already knew that there was shitloads of DMS out there. You can smell it, for crying out loud, and it's moderately easy to measure.

All this is just someone finding where a lot of it comes from. This doesn't change the models at all.

Science by press release.

Michael said...

I can improve my projected investment returns by "enhancing" my models in a lot of different ways. A tweak in a growth rate, a slight manipulation of operating costs downward, a somewhat more optimistic view of the yield curve.

When you hear the word "model" you should consider running for cover. In the old days when these things had to be done by hand and when even a slight change in assumptions would lead to countless hours of re-doing a spreadsheet no one was tempted to say try this or try that or try another thing. It was too time consuming and thus a great deal of thought had to be put into the thesis at the outset.

With computers you can have whatever you like come to pass. Prospectively.

Paul Snively said...

> With computers you can have whatever you like come to pass. Prospectively.

Which is why I insist all publicly-funded research involving mathematical models be computerized, and the results made open source, using reproducible research technologies. Thankfully, virtualization software, containerization software, and cloud computing generally are making this task vastly easier even than it was, say, five years ago. Regardless of your beliefs about the anthropic global warming hypothesis, one thing that should infuriate every intellectually honest person was the amount of reporting of outright refusal of climate researchers involved in "ClimateGate" to share code and data with skeptics. When you refuse to share code and data in purportedly scientific research, you are not engaged in science. You are engaged in advocacy.

mockturtle said...

Well said, Paul. My late scientist husband would most certainly have agreed with you.

jr565 said...

Understanding this holds the promise of enhancing climate models accuracy. So then they are acknowledging that there is a problem with climate models accuracy? Noted.

paminwi said...

Settled science until, whoops, it's not!
How in the world anyone can believe global warming is settled science is beyond me!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/05/13/ancient-tools-and-bone-found-in-florida-could-help-rewrite-the-story-of-the-first-americans/

tim in vermont said...

Verification and validation of numerical models of natural systems is impossible. This is
because natural systems are never closed and because model results are always nonunique.
Models can be confirmed by the demonstration of agreement between observation
and prediction, but confirmation is inherently partial. Complete confirmation is logically
precluded by the fallacy of affirming the consequent and by incomplete access to natural
phenomena. Models can only be evaluated in relative terms, and their predictive value is
always open to question. The primary value of models is heuristic.
- Namomi Oreskes

Yes that Naomi Oreskes, of Merchants of Doubt, 97% consensus, fame. She wrote this paper before that when she was still a scientist, not a propagandist.

This is the killer graf, if you ask me, the very last one:

Finally, we must admit that a model may
confirm our biases and support incorrect
intuitions. Therefore, models are most useful
when they are used to challenge existing
formulations, rather than to validate or
verify them. Any scientist who is asked to
use a model to verify or validate a predetermined
result should be suspicious.
- Naomi Oreskes

Please note that per Google Scholar, the paper has over 2500 cites.

Roger Sweeny said...

tim, when was that Naomi Oreskes paper published? And where?

MadisonMan said...

Which is why I insist all publicly-funded research involving mathematical models be computerized, and the results made open source, using reproducible research technologies. Thankfully, virtualization software, containerization software, and cloud computing generally are making this task vastly easier even than it was, say, five years ago.

So you're saying all grants should be awarded, say, 25% extra so there is time to do this? Because a mathematician might not be adept working with software.

Alternatively, you could pay a company to do this for you -- but then how do you know the implementation is done correctly?

Shorter: 'vastly easier' doesn't equate to 'easy'

MadisonMan said...

@Roger Sweeney, you can find it here.

tim in vermont said...

Google scholar her name and numerical models, it's a peer reviewed paper.

Rusty said...

MadisonMan said...
Which is why I insist all publicly-funded research involving mathematical models be computerized, and the results made open source, using reproducible research technologies. Thankfully, virtualization software, containerization software, and cloud computing generally are making this task vastly easier even than it was, say, five years ago.

So you're saying all grants should be awarded, say, 25% extra so there is time to do this? Because a mathematician might not be adept working with software.

Alternatively, you could pay a company to do this for you -- but then how do you know the implementation is done correctly?

Shorter: 'vastly easier' doesn't equate to 'easy'

That wouldn't be a problem since just implementing these requirements would discourage 50% of the applicants.