Previous post: Roger
Pielke Sr. and Climate Definition - GO
defined by IPCC
Silly? Very Silly?? Naive???
Posted by Dr. Arnd Bernaerts, April 2014
Clear and unambiguous
of all terms used are
a prerequisite for any
and for sound
definition serves to sharpen, clarify, or point out the objective of
definition attempts to explain a word using other words.
definition is a statement that explains the meaning of a term.
Does IPCC in
its 5th Report [AR5-WGI, 2013] since 1990 observe such basic
rules? The Glossary, attached as Annex
III (pp. 1447-1465), does not, stating that
in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather,
or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the
mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time
ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical
period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the
World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most
often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind.
Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical
description, of the climate system.
On the other hand it represents the state of climate science.
Neither the World Meteorology Organisation or other scientific
organisations or institutions use a different terminology. Is climate
science incapable to define what they are talking about? An analysis of
the term CLIMATE as defined in the Glossary (left column) show big flaws
The term ‘climate’ (used in Ancient Greek klima, meaning inclination
of the sun) was used to describe the average weather at a location
according the season. It was a layman’s term over 3000 years. As a
scientific term it came in use only during the last decades. [A],
[B], [C]; more HERE
a narrow sense 
What is CLIMATE in a wider sense?
usually defined 
Is there any “unusual” CLIMATE definition? What shall
The term ‘weather’ is not listed in the IPCC-Glossary! The core
term is not defined! Silly? A joke?
‘Weather’ presumably consists of up to several hundred
parameters or descriptions. More details HERE,
‘Weather’ is also a layman’s term since immemorial times, as
described in the AMS-Glossary: “As the state of the atmosphere,
mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities.”
While it is a perfectly common term in the layman’s sphere, it is
totally insufficient for scientific work.
more rigorously  ,
If the initial explanation ‘explains’ nothing (1-5), a more
‘rigorous’ approach explains either nothing.
the statistical description 
The word statistic
is a quantity computed from sample data. A statistical description
is a synonym of statistic. Once a statistic always a statistic.
terms of the mean 
Which ‘terms’, which ‘means’?
Which variability is meant? IPCC-Glossary cause confusion if saying:
“Climate variability refers to variations in the mean state and
other statistics (such as standard deviations, the occurrence of
extremes, etc.) of the climate on all spatial and temporal scales
beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to
natural internal processes with the climate system (individual
variability, or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability).”
Do they mean ‘weather variability’ or statistical variability’?
relevant quantities 
Who defines what is a ‘relevant quantity’?
a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of
What a flaw! How can science work with such nonsense? How can the
general public and politics understand and evaluate ‘scientific
classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as
defined by the World Meteorological Organization. 
Wrong, at least misleading! Only once the predecessor of the WMO
agreed in 1935 that the period from 1901 to 1930 should be used to
express departures from mean datax). Not only has this
fixed indicator been abandoned, but also the time span of 30 years.
What is now a ‘change’?
J.B., 1935; Monthly Weather Review, 63, 342-344, available online
relevant quantities  are most often surface  variables
as temperature, precipitation and wind 
see [above 12]
What shall the word ‘surface’ indicate?
‘Weather’ consists of several hundred parameters, see 
in a wider sense  is the state, including a statistical
description, of the climate system 
; [IPCC definition, next box below]
The whole sentence is confusing and utterly nonsense. It actually
says: “Climate is the state of the climate system”. According
IPCC definition, climate is statistic. Why do the authors include in
the sentence: “including a statistical description”.
Deliberate or naive? The definition of ‘climate system’ explains
nothing. The same definition could be used to explain ‘nature’,
consisting “of the
atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere and the
biosphere, and the interactions between them.”
IPCC-Glossary says: The
climate system is the highly complex system consisting of five major
components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the
lithosphere and the biosphere, and the interactions between them.
The climate system evolves in time under the influence of its own
internal dynamics and because of external forcings such as volcanic
eruptions, solar variations and anthropogenic forcings such as the
changing composition of the atmosphere and land use change.
Tim Ball titled a post (25.
Feb. 2014 -
HERE): “Government Weather and Climate Forecasts Are Failures”;
mentioning –inter alia-:
Around 300 BC Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle’s, wrote a book
setting out the first rules for weather forecasting. In the Book of Signs,
he recorded over 200 empirical indicators such as “A halo around the
moon portends rain.” Many skeptics, including me, say we haven’t come
very far since. Indeed, I would argue we have regressed.“
That seems to be the case. A science which is not able to define
the central terms they use: weather and climate, and is unable to name
the oceans as the most potential driver of atmospheric processes, will
fail to advise politics and the public fair, competent, correct, and
Unambiguous definitions of all
used are a prerequisite
sound scientific work.
H.H. Lamb, Meteorological Office Bracknell, Berkshire (UK), “The
New Look of Climatology”, NATURE, Vol. 223, September 20, 1969,
thirty years ago climatology was generally regarded as the mere
dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology.
F. Kenneth Hare, 1979; „The Vaulting of Intellectual Barriers:
The Madison Thrust in Climatology“,
Bulletin American Meteorological Society , Vol. 60, 1979, p.
1171 – 1124
is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You
hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman's
word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the
climatologists in public service, in the British service you
actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the
climatologically division! Climatology was a menial occupation that
came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession.
It was clearly not the age of climate.
Spencer Weart, 2007, “The
Discovery of Global Warming”: Chapter: Climatology as a
. Available as book: HARVARD
UNIV. PRESS, 2003.
the middle of the 20th century the study of climate was a scientific
backwater. People who called themselves “climatologists” were
mostly drudges who compiled statistics about weather conditions in
regions of interest—the average temperatures, extremes of rainfall,
and so forth.
__Climatology could hardly be scientific when meteorology itself was
more art than science.
__(Aside)…..meteorology was scarcely seen as a field of science at
all, let along a science firmly based on physics. Meteorology, one
academic practitioner complained to another in 1950, “is still
suffering from the trade-school blues.”
back to A, B, C
Roger Pielke Sr. and Climate Definition
- A field of jargon words and misuse of definitions –
-- Rubbish terms: Climate and Climate system --
Roger Pielke Sr.
concerning “AGU Statement on Climate Change”;
by Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
It is a pity. Prof. Roger Pielke Sr ended to run his invaluable weblog “Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr.“ on November 13, 2012, which he had started with a post on the topic
“What is Climate? Why Does it Matter How We Define Climate?” on July 11, 2005. We discussed his consideration critical in 2007 (here B-211; and B-330). He, as well as his son Roger Pielke Jr. (here E-510), belong to the very few scientists that have addressed the climate definition issue critical. In the last seven years R. Pielke Sr. did it frequently. In a post on June 15, 2012
(HERE) he commended once again:
“The terminology in the field of climate and environmental science is filled with jargon words and the misuse of definitions.” Particularly he opposes the term “climate change”, because the term is being extensively used to mean
“anthropogenic caused changes in climate” from nearly ”static“ climatic conditions. Instead only the term “climate” or “climate system” should be used, concluding that the post shall
“alert others to the frequent mischaracterization of the climate system”. Regrettably his considerations lack even basic clarity and do not end the mischief in the disastrous climate terminology. Nothing is solved if “climate change” is replaced by “climate system”. It would require saying precisely and in a meaningful way what “climate” is.
Back in 2005 Roger Pielke Sr. assumed in his first post (see above) that
“the climate is the system consisting of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere”. Later he merely presented it more detailed definition without altering the
example, in “Physics Today” (Nov.2008, p.54f)
“For many, the term “climate” refers to long-term weather statistics. However, more broadly and more accurately, the definition of climate is a system consisting of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. Physical, chemical, and biological processes are involved in interactions among the components and the climate system. Vegetation, soil moisture, and glaciers, for example, are ass much a part of the climate system as are temperature and precipitation.”
The definition is meaningless. It explains nothing. Beside from not mentioning the fundamental relevance of sun ray, “weather” can either be defined as: a system consisting of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. In the same way “nature” can be defined. If weather, climate, nature, need or can only be defined in the same way, than it is misleading to use different words, but claim that there is a distinction. Nevertheless one can often read: “weather is not the same as climate”. That is talking
The starting point is that “climate” is generally defined as average weather (by WMO and others) without defining “weather” in the first place (discussed HERE and HERE). It is a comparison between apples and pears. One item has a physical background; the other item is a ‘man-made’ technical mean, which we know as “statistic”. “Weather” consists of many dozen components (AMS-Glossary), which can be described in many hundred ways (see HERE). The
statistic of single physical element, or specification of atmospheric behaviour, remain an abstract
On first view Roger Pielke Sr. seems to be aware of it when he writes
(June 15, 2012, HERE):
When change is discussed, the specific component that is being discussed should be presented, such as an increase in annual averaged surface air temperatures, a decrease in the length of growing season etc. Unfortunately, he spoils this approach by the subsequent sentence:
Phrases such as “changes in regional and global climate
statistic” could be used. This assumption is wrong. Regardless what kind of regional or global weather statistics is at stake, it is necessary to name the “specific component” individually and precisely. Assuming that one or several statistical components are able to make-up a weather or a nature “system consisting of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere”
would always result in a failure. “Climate” is a meaningless term, and scientifically incomprehensive in what ever combination with other words.
The failure of science to come up with appropriate climate definitions misleads the general public and politicians on how the prevent man-made changes in the atmosphere (more HERE and HERE). The oceans drive the weather and are the main source of changing statistic values. Roger Pielke Sr. addressed this aspect only partly (July 11, 2005; HERE):
“Ocean heat content changes are the much more appropriate metric than a globally-averaged
surface temperature when evaluating “global warming” in any case.”
Ocean input is much more relevant than this statement suggests, but is too complex to be outlined here any further. Nevertheless, we appreciate his statement highly, as he is one of the very few scientists who have given the ocean more weight. In his closing post Roger Pielke Sr. expressed his intention to “… spend more of my time on research papers.” We wish him well and all success.
Everything comes from water!!
Everything is maintained through water!
Ocean, give us your eternal power.
Drama: Faust II; Act 2, J. W. v. Goethe (1749-1832)
The climate definition by Roger Pielke Sr. in his essay concerning the
“AGU Statement on Climate Change”,
as published by Judith Curry on
August 5, 2013.
Posted: 07. August,
Pielke Sr is a dissenting voice on the panel that wrote the statement.
His response to the “AGU
Statement on Climate Change” (Adopted December 2003; Revised and
Reaffirmed 2007, 2012, August 2013) was posted by Judith Curry on 5th
August 2013 at: http://judithcurry.com/2013/08/05/agu-statement-on-climate-change/.
In his view the Statement accepted by the Committee incompletely does
and/or does not address at all a number of issues. As first point of six
he addresses is the question:
“1. What is the definition of climate and climate change?”,
which he subsequently describes as:
Climate is defined here as the
statistical description of all
the elements in the climate system (including
the atmosphere, ocean,
land surface and cryosphere), including both the
mean state and any variations over time.
Climate change is defined as a shift
in the statistical description of climate."
A statistic is a statistic of the
‘element’ in question. To say climate is the “statistical
description of all elements in the climate system” is circularity,
obscure and explains nothing. The common explanation “climate is
average (statistical) weather” is scientifically meaningless, if
“weather” is not defined in the first place. Circumventing the
problem “weather” by replacing it with indefinite “elements” (which
can be several thousands) solves nothing. The collection, organization,
analysis, interpretation and presentation of data (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics
) from the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and cryosphere does neither
represents: weather or climate.
posted at: http://judithcurry.com/2013/08/05/agu-statement-on-climate-change/#comment-361136
Back to post:
Pielke Sr. and Climate Definition - GO
The subject in
“Is the term ‚climate’
too unspecific for a fruitful discussion?”
A detailed analysis, 10 pages, in: hmtl,
International Conference, Pacific
Congress on Marine Science and Technology,
1 - 5 June, 2010,
National Conference on
Change and Future Security“, Loyola
08 - 09, 2011