"Warming of the world ocean" and "Anthropogenic warming of earth's climate system"

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James Annan

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Apr 16, 2002, 1:21:19 AM4/16/02
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Has anyone else here used the data presented in these papers? A
colleague and I have, but we cannot reproduce the net heat gain of
18.2 x 10^22 J in the worlds' oceans for the period 1955-1996 which
was mentioned in [2].

According to [2], this number comes from a straight line fit to the
5-year averaged ocean data from 1957.5 to 1994.5 (the year index
refers to the mid-point of the 5 year averages), extrapolated out to
cover the original 41 years 1955-1996. Ie a trend of 0.44 x 10^22 J
per year. The data are presented in Fig 4 of [1], and available from
the authors.

We get a much lower answer of 13.5 x 10^22 J, ie 0.33 x 10^22 J per
year. It's only a least squares fit, so I don't see what we could have
done wrong. But our number is a long way off the published value, and
also a long way short of the model result (which was 19.7 x 10^22 J).

James

1 Warming of the World Ocean. Levitus et al, Science vol 287 2000
2 Anthropogenic warming of Earth's Climate System. Levitus et al,
Science v 292 2001

Jim Scanlon

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Apr 17, 2002, 1:00:35 AM4/17/02
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In article <35ac5ae8.0204...@posting.google.com>,
jd...@pol.ac.uk (James Annan) wrote:(see below)

Have you contacted the authors or written to Science?


Jim Scanlon

James Annan

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Apr 17, 2002, 7:47:23 AM4/17/02
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Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message news:<jscanlon-7AAE0F...@netnews.attbi.com>...

> In article <35ac5ae8.0204...@posting.google.com>,
> jd...@pol.ac.uk (James Annan) wrote:(see below)
>
> Have you contacted the authors

Yes, I got the data from one of them in the first place, and he
explained how they had calculated the figure (the description in the
paper isn't brilliant). But as soon as I pointed out the error, he
stopped replying.

James

Jim Scanlon

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Apr 18, 2002, 1:40:07 AM4/18/02
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In article <35ac5ae8.02041...@posting.google.com>,
jd...@pol.ac.uk (James Annan) wrote:

> Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message
> news:<jscanlon-7AAE0F...@netnews.attbi.com>...
> > In article <35ac5ae8.0204...@posting.google.com>,
> > jd...@pol.ac.uk (James Annan) wrote:(see below)
> >
> > Have you contacted the authors
>
> Yes, I got the data from one of them in the first place, and he
> explained how they had calculated the figure (the description in the
> paper isn't brilliant). But as soon as I pointed out the error, he
> stopped replying.


Suggest you write to the journal. This is the way science is supposed to
work. Reviewers are supposed to check for errors.

About twenty years ago there was a mathematician who lived in Berkeley,
I can't remember his name, but I think it was Serge Lange or something
like that, who specialized in finding math errors in published papers. I
helped a medical doctor format a paper for publication and found a error
in addition. One can't be too careful.

Jim Scanlon

James Annan

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Apr 18, 2002, 11:30:25 PM4/18/02
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Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message news:<jscanlon-6682C1...@netnews.attbi.com>...

> Suggest you write to the journal. This is the way science is supposed to
> work. Reviewers are supposed to check for errors.

I suppose so. Unfortunately I see that Science has a 6 month cut-off
for letters discussing previous publications. Which is doubly
unfortunate since we actually discovered the mistake inside 6 months
and have been twiddling our thumbs (*) waiting for a reply from the
authors ever since!

James
(*) not literally of course, but doing other things...
--
If I have seen further than others, it is by treading on the toes of
giants.

Alastair McDonald

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Apr 19, 2002, 5:06:34 AM4/19/02
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"James Annan" <jd...@pol.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:35ac5ae8.0204...@posting.google.com...

> Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message
news:<jscanlon-6682C1...@netnews.attbi.com>...
>
> > Suggest you write to the journal. This is the way science is supposed to
> > work. Reviewers are supposed to check for errors.
>
> I suppose so. Unfortunately I see that Science has a 6 month cut-off
> for letters discussing previous publications. Which is doubly
> unfortunate since we actually discovered the mistake inside 6 months
> and have been twiddling our thumbs (*) waiting for a reply from the
> authors ever since!

I think you must write to Science anyway. They may not have a 6
month cut-off for factual errors, or they may send you a copy of
Levitus's next paper to peer review.

HTH,

Cheers, Alastair.


Jim Scanlon

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Apr 20, 2002, 12:51:51 AM4/20/02
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In article <35ac5ae8.0204...@posting.google.com>,
jd...@pol.ac.uk (James Annan) wrote:

> Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message
> news:<jscanlon-6682C1...@netnews.attbi.com>...
>
> > Suggest you write to the journal. This is the way science is supposed
> > to
> > work. Reviewers are supposed to check for errors.
>
> I suppose so. Unfortunately I see that Science has a 6 month cut-off
> for letters discussing previous publications. Which is doubly
> unfortunate since we actually discovered the mistake inside 6 months
> and have been twiddling our thumbs (*) waiting for a reply from the
> authors ever since!
>
> James
> (*) not literally of course, but doing other things...

Well, I would encourage you to write anyway. You may be wasting your
time, but I think not. It's good practice and you will have the
satisfaction of having followed through. It sounds like a cliche, but
you can say to yourself that you "did the right thing"!

The next time you will be better prepared for what comes up.

Best wishes,

Jim Scanlon

PS I liked your quote: "If I have seen further than others, it is by

James Annan

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Apr 21, 2002, 5:45:20 AM4/21/02
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Jim Scanlon <jsca...@linex.com> wrote in message news:<jscanlon-A8CA99...@netnews.attbi.com>...

> Well, I would encourage you to write anyway. You may be wasting your
> time, but I think not. It's good practice and you will have the
> satisfaction of having followed through. It sounds like a cliche, but
> you can say to yourself that you "did the right thing"!

Maybe, it seems a bit petty but then again the authors really ought to
have done it themselves.

> PS I liked your quote: "If I have seen further than others, it is by
> treading on the toes of giants."

Your description of the nit-picking mathematician struck a chord...or
is that a nerve...

James
--

Paul Farrar

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Apr 21, 2002, 3:13:51 PM4/21/02
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In article <35ac5ae8.02042...@posting.google.com>,

I would say publish. Even if there is some logical explanation for
the difference (it does seem too large, though, to be just quirks
of the averaging techniques), your result would be a defensible
alternative interpretation. The real peer review for papers is what
people write about them after they are published. I would suggest
looking into _Geophysical Research Letters_, or the new Letters
section of the AMS journals, either _J of Climate_, or _J of
Physical Oceanography_. These are all aimed for quick turnaround.
Unfortunately, _Science_ (and _Nature_) papers have such high
impact that a paper in it will get more attention than a better
paper (or correction) in a specialist journal.

Paul Farrar

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