I am a freshman student at Washington and Lee University, and I also run the blog Climate Change Clarity.  I have no future aspirations in climate science besides continuing to do the work I’m doing now.  Erl Happ and I have been discussing his papers for the past few months, and because others might be interested, we decided we might as well make the discussion public and start a blog.  Enjoy and please contribute.

-Carl Wolk

I am a winemaker and grape-grower with a strong interest in climate.  In the early 1990s I set out to discover the common thermal characteristics that are seen in great vineyard locations. This involved a lot of work with hourly temperature data from sites around the world.

I became interested in climate change when I noticed the growing season temperature falling in my part of the world, the south west of Western Australia. That set me on a quest to work out why. Soon, it became apparent that parts of the Southern Hemisphere like Antarctica and Southern Chile had been cooling for fifty years or more. My experience in analyzing temperature dynamics for vine sites and working out just how much heat these plants need to bring their fruit to maturity gave me a focus on sourcing data using the net. Figuring out what has been happening on a regional scale, both at the surface and in the upper atmosphere has been my consuming interest for the last couple of years. It became quite plain to me that the upper atmosphere very much influences surface conditions. It is in the upper atmosphere that solar influences are manifest.

I think there is room for a subject called historical climatology. We can learn a lot just by looking at what has happened over long periods of time. Good data sets are readily available on the net. All one needs is a little curiosity, a facility with spreadsheets and a lot of determination.

Perhaps the easiest way to begin is to download the longest possible time series of sea surface temperature data for tropical latitudes in a hovmoller diagram. Then do the same for each level in the atmosphere to see how far the surface influence extends. This can be easily done here: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/map/time_plot/

Erl Happ



  1. Hmmm… very intersting point off view. I never realized that there was any real debate on the subject before. Have you ever considered whether the real problem is with the system itself? The whole idea behind a democracy is that the passions of the ignorant should dictate policy. Give the masses an apoclyptic scenario and they’ll embrace it. The idea of Global warming would never have been accepted in Hapsburg Austria.

    • Hi Rupert, I don’t know much about Hapsburg Austria but I do know that hereditary rulers have included a few nutters. Picking up your theme, I do wonder though whether a significant portion of the population is predisposed to see the glass as perennially half full.

  2. I am a wine maker in Templeton Ca. I too have vested interest in the climate and have been following the AGW debate and have reached the conclusion that it is, for the most part, an unscientific fraud. As an amateur Astronomer since I was young I always believed that the Sun had to play a major role in Climate. Thanks for showing me some of the ways sun plays its all important role. Has your paper been peer reviewed? What has been the response to this so far? Best of luck.

    • Hi James,
      No, this paper is not peer reviewed and it has not been submitted to any peer reviewed publications. My initial foray in that direction met with disappointment. In effect, I was told to get lost because the science was settled.

      I see the CSIRO, a government organization in Australia, is pressurizing its employees who are active in the field of evaluating emissions trading schemes, in terms of effectiveness and cost to the community, to cease and desist from submitting articles to publications.

      I like the freedom of the net. I can be independent and I can range across the disciplines (including economic aspects) without wondering whether I am offending some publication guideline. In the week since I put ‘The Climate Engine’ up on this blog about 1500 people have viewed it. It was also picked up by ‘Watts Up With That’ and reviewed elsewhere. So, in my view, I am the publisher and people are free to criticize as they wish. I take the absence of contrary comment as endorsement….or is it apathy….or is it the fear of the consequences when one puts ones name to a comment rather than hide behind the skirt tails of a ‘peer reviewed publication’ where one can blast away at will while remaining anonymous.

  3. Erl, excellent work. I had bookmarked one of your articles, but not read any of your work until now. Do you have a bio? If I cite your articles, that’s the second challenge I will get. The first will be the peer-review thing. That has become the cop-out-du-jour for the AGW proponents. If your supporting evidence has not been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal that they consider legitimate, it doesn’t count. Cowardly, but that’s the game they are playing.

    • Bob,
      You must decide on the basis of your understanding of climate science and your own familiarity with the data whether what I write has value or not. The bio that appears here is all that you will get. It is a very simple matter to check the data using the sources that I cite. In my experience very few people writing on this subject go to the trouble of doing so. But, it must be done. And if there is any way that I can help in the process I will. What I hoped for when i began this work was a colaborative endeavour….a discussion.
      best regards,

  4. Also, if you have not yet connected with Warren Meyer you should. He is an amateur, but very knowledgeable and extraordinarily gifted in explaining complex issues. His site is:


  5. Thanks Earl, please keep me informed!!!

  6. Found this here http://www.actahort.org/chronica/pdf/ch4501.pdf, might be of your interest ..

    French researchers Isabelle Chuine, Pascal
    Yiou, Nicolas Viovy, Bernard Seguin, Valérie
    Daux, and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie have used
    records of the grape harvest to determine
    annual spring-summer temperatures in eastern
    France over the past six centuries. They demonstrate several warmer periods over the centuries, and a cool trend of nearly 300 years that
    ended when temperatures rose in the 1970s.
    The study, reported in Nature 432(7015):289-
    290, is one of many that use proxies such as
    tree rings and ice cores to study past climate
    change. French grape harvests appear to be an
    excellent proxy because harvest dates were set
    by official decree and archived records went
    back centuries. ‘Pinot Noir’, the major cultivar
    Grape Harvest Records: Longterm
    Indicators of Temperatures
    grown in Burgundy, was particularly useful
    since it was used constantly in Burgundy since
    the Middle Ages and always has had the same
    vine type, not necessarily true for other
    The investigators studied the biology of ripening in ‘Pinot Noir’, the major wine grape cultivar grown in Burgundy and were able to compute exactly the state of ripeness of the vine
    from temperature. Then, using information
    from church and municipal archives, they compiled a record of harvest dates since 1370. From
    that date they could estimate the date of
    veraison, when the grapes begin to ripen, turning from green to black. This is about 23 days
    before the decreed harvest date. From the
    model of grape growth the temperature of the
    warm season was estimated.
    The researchers found a few periods of high
    temperatures. The 1380s were warm, about
    1.7° C above the norm, as were the 1420s, the
    1520s, and the half-century from the 1630s to
    the 1680s. But after that, temperatures turned
    cool, with a few brief exceptions, until the past
    30 years, when things really began to warm up.
    The temperature increase in the late 20th century was exceptional. While this is only a local
    trend for eastern France, it is comparable to findings from global studies. Furthermore, the
    trend is quite stable and unprecedented

    • Thanks for this information.

      Ripening date primarily depends also on the rate of leaf establishment in spring. 23 days between verasion and harvest seems too short to me. One is also not sure that people have picked their grapes at the same degree of ripeness over the years. Sometimes, rain induces rot and harvest is forced. But, all that considered the relationship between warmth in the ripening season and day of harvest is broadly indicative of climate.

      The need for proxy records of this sort just serves to emphasize just how short our documentary record is. And when you look at the record you find it deficient in so many ways. And, we are looking at change of less than 1°C. So I think this concern is just hysterical nonsense. Looking at it broadly most of the Earth is too cool most of the year to support photosynthesis and especially so in the southern hemisphere.

  7. Just wanted to pass on my thanks for your 4 part article at WUWT. I find your mechanism very interesting and appreciate the work you put into explaining it. I for one find a plausable mechanism a very valuable starting point towards investigating a novel causality. As much as I appreciate the rigor that many commentors subject your work to, I find the tone occasionaly unsettling and wanted to commend you for your patience.

    • Thanks Dave, I appreciate the comment. One could easily lose patience in the blog-world. Some comments seem to be driven by a desire to be in the limelight, however briefly and that’s something that is easy to understand. It’s a complex system capable of many interpretations. But thank God (or human ingenuity) that blog-world exists to allow those interpretations to surface. There are some smart people on both sides of this argument and that needs to be respected.

  8. Hello dear,

    Excellent work !

    You often speak about some ozone. Do you know a web site with daily data of ozone and NOx concentration according latitude and height ?

  9. 9th October 2012


    You might be interested in this article about Doug Keenan. He has exposed IPCC personnel for “massaging” terrestrial temperature.

    Best wishes.


    Crusade against sloppy mathematics

    George Szpiro

    A London-based Canadian mathematician, Douglas Keenan, has made it his mission to lead the battle against the sloppy or malicious use of mathematics. You might think that there isn’t much scope for different opinions in mathematics, but when you’re dealing with the interpretation of data, it’s entirely possible for divergences of views to arise. The wrong interpretation can be made at times, and even consciously made. In particular, in the field of climate studies, opposing points of view are often backed up by scientific research that is based on the mathematical analysis of data. Because mathematics gives such pieces of work a stamp of credibility, politicians often rely on them. It is therefore all the more important for them to be carried out with care.

    After studying mathematics at the University of Waterloo, Keenan worked on Wall Street for a few years, but in 1995 devoted himself completely to the forensic study of mathematics. Since then he has been leading—completely independently—a real crusade against shady mathematical machinations. The targets for his often vigorously worded attacks are numerous, and range from the misuse of statistical methods in determining the origin of volcanic ashes to the questionable use of tree-rings in evaluating the date of a shipwreck.

    Three years ago, the scientific journal Nature published a study that used the ripening process of Pinot Noir grapes as an indicator for the warmth of the climate. The official start of the harvest in August is determined by the ripeness of the grapes, which in turn is determined by the temperature of the summer that has just ended. Since the dates for the beginning of the harvest in Burgundy have been recorded in city archives since 1370, they could conceivably be used as indicators for the way temperatures have developed over the past six centuries. A French research team came up with a model based on this data. The model showed that the summer of 2003 was the hottest in 600 years. The conclusion was clear: Burgundy is warming up.

    The work aroused Keenan’s suspicion, and he wanted to test its mathematical foundations. In order to do this however, he needed the raw data—but the authors were not prepared to hand it out. It was only after two requests to Nature that they finally handed their documents over. Keenan immediately made a find. The authors had smoothed the data for their study, confused standard errors with standard deviations, used incorrect parameters, and confused daily temperatures with average temperatures. Once all these sources of error are taken into account, the year 2003 does indeed display high temperatures, but not unexpectedly high ones. It’s no surprise that the Nature editors hadn’t noticed anything, since the data was never put at their disposal, and they never asked for it either. Had they done so, they would easily have seen through the authors’ game. The mere fact that the grape harvest model gave a temperature for 2003 that was 2.4 degrees Celsius above the temperature actually measured by Météo France should have made the editors suspicious.

    Keenan’s most recent targets are two pieces of work that examine the influence of urbanization on climate change between 1954 and 1983. In order to be able to compare measurements made over different periods, it is absolutely crucial that the location of the station where the measurements are carried out not change throughout the observation period. For example, because a city generates warmth, a measuring station that is moved from the center of the city to its periphery would record lower measurements. On the other hand, the measurements would be more likely to rise if a measuring station was moved from a position upwind from the city to a position downwind. Even small changes of location, like for example from a field to the asphalt road next to it, lead to deviations. Keenan was above all doubtful about the measurements made in China. He didn’t believe that during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, when scientists were thought very little of, a scientific study would have been carried out with much care.

    When he asked which stations had been used to make the measurements, Keenan once again found himself running into a brick wall. “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”, asked one of the authors. But the professor had not reckoned with Keenan’s obstinacy. Since the professor was working at a university in England, he was subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which obliges employees of public institutions to release data. He was thus forced to hand over the list of the Chinese measuring stations to Keenan. And lo and behold: out of 35 measuring stations, 25 had been subjected to a change of location, sometimes even several changes, which often covered dozens of kilometers. For a further 49 measuring stations, documentation did not even exist.


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