Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Winterval!

Been busy entertaining recently. Four of the people in these photos, plus the photographer have a birthday within a week of Christmas... and then there's the Japanese emperor's birthday on 23rd December to consider, and, of course, that Jesus chap, on Christmas Day itself.

Friday, December 19, 2014 Project ICAD and UKCP09

One of the more interesting talks for us in the Paris conference mentioned previously here was James Porter talking about UKCP09. It turns out there has been a social sciences project ("Project ICAD") part of which involved looking at the UKCP09 project (and they are based in Leeds University, perhaps an additional reason for a visit there some time?). We were in Japan over the entirety of the interval in which UKCP09 took place, and only had limited contact with the relevant parties, but perhaps know enough about the issues for our perspective to have some relevance. The speaker had spent some time embedded with the Hadley Centre and had talked to a lot of people involved in the production and review of the UKCP09 project.

A significant part of Porter’s talk looked at the question of how the probabilistic predictions were made, and in particular the UKCP choice of basing their probabilities primarily on their ensemble of HadCM3 simulations with different parameter values (perturbed parameter ensemble or PPE), rather than basing their results on the CMIP3 ensemble of different models (multi-model ensemble, MME). I was surprised to see this presented as such a major decision, as my recollection is that most of the critics at the time were really complaining about the willingness of UKMO to generate probabilistic predictions at all since (the critics argued) there was not really a sound basis for assigning numerical values by any method.

The main UKCP09 proposal was (according to their web page) funded in 2004 and at that time, it seemed quite widely accepted that PPEs were a better foundation for probabilistic prediction than the MME. In fact this era was very much the  heyday of PPEs, with, the Hadley Centre’s QUMP group and our own rather smaller ensemble research activity all making rapid progress. The UKCP09 approach was externally reviewed back in 2008/9. The full review doesn’t seem to be available (anyone know where it is?) but I don’t see any evidence in either the summary or response that the question of MME vs PPE was seriously raised by anyone even at that later time.

I believe (though I could be wrong and would welcome references) that we were actually the first to argue the contrary. The roots of our argument can be found in this Yokohata et al paper (which although published in 2010 was submitted back in 2008), which pointed to substantial inconsistencies between two PPEs based on our two different GCMs (MIROC and HadCM3). However it was actually our series of papers on ensemble analysis starting in 2010 (eg here, here, here and here) that most clearly argued not only that PPEs had serious problems, but also that the MME was much better than previously believed. So while I’m encouraged to see that this question is now high on the agenda, I really don’t think it was on the table at the outset of UKCP09 and it doesn’t really seem fair to use it as evidence of insularity or reflexive dismissal of outside ideas, which seemed to be the speaker’s point. Given the work they had already done by 2010 or so, the UKCP09 researchers actually made quite substantial and constructive efforts to account for the (by then) emerging failings of the PPE approach by effectively adding on the MME’s uncertainty to their results. While this may satisfy neither the resolutely anti-Bayesian nor the most purist pro-Bayesian, in my view it certainly improved the credibility of their results.

Some of the interviewees gave excuses for their apparent reticence to air their doubts openly at the time. According to Porter, some of them said they were scared of being labelled sceptics! What a feeble excuse. Perhaps more plausible, is the additional argument that the incestuous and cliquey nature of climate science in the UK made it a bit of a career risk in terms of future funding. But in any case, I certainly recall some people making their criticisms very plain. In particular, Lenny Smith argued eloquently about the risks of assigning probabilities where there was not really a sound basis for them. If the next model generates different results (which is entirely plausible) then someone is going to end up looking rather silly.

So I’m not going to stick the knife into the Hadley Centre for proposing in 2004 to base their probabilistic predictions on a PPE methodology that they had already started to work on. You would have had to be unusually prescient to anticipate our research by several years, although I’m encouraged to see it is now obviously high on peoples’ minds. On the other hand, the Hadley Centre’s apparent continuing preference for PPEs is hard to defend, now that they have a chance to regroup. To that extent, perhaps this Project ICAD analysis contains a truth that is deeper than the actual story they purported to tell :-)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sunday, December 07, 2014

[jules' pics] tree

It is wonderfully freeing to be allowed to invent our own personal truth. Clearly, the ancient Japanese visited the windswept uplands of NW England ...and thus was the art of bonsai born. I wonder if they also brought the hippopotamus bones to our local caves.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/07/2014 10:38:00 AM

Saturday, December 06, 2014

[jules' pics] B&W

Probably no one has noticed, but, as well as a cow phase, I have also been having a minor black and white phase...
The two phases can sometimes be combined to make a true masterpiece!

Maybe I shouldn't have given up the day job after all... oh well, too late now! :-) Moooo.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 12/06/2014 03:36:00 PM

Friday, December 05, 2014

What's the point of social science?

By chance, our visit to France coincided with this conference:

International Conference : Confidence, Credibility, and Authority in Climate Sciences and Politics

It looked interesting, so along we went...

The talks from scientists were generally straightforward, but the social science talks inevitably left us waiting for the punchline. They would get to the end and stop, before reaching any real conclusion. This has been a common impression we have both got from a number of similar events. The speakers tend to be long on historical description and retrospective analysis, and short on anything amounting to overall vision, substantive advice or predictive claims. (There have been notable exceptions to this general impression, but they are rare.)

A lunchtime discussion provided more insight than a day and a half of talks. We were sitting next to a social scientist, let's call him Bob (because his real name was Ian). jules asked him pointedly what the purpose of social science was, as it never seemed to say anything of substance to us, i.e. concrete advice. IanBob admitted rather frankly - proudly, even - that it wasn't supposed to have a point. Does it have to have utilitarian value to be worthwhile, he countered. I readily admitted that art and poetry had some value without making falsifiable predictions. But I had been hoping for more from the, um, scientists, involved in social science. The entire system of science can possibly be summed up as the making of falsifiable predictions and this is what most clearly separates it from religion (probably a bit over-simplistic, I don't claim any great authority on the topic). So asking for some testable theories didn't really seem too unrealistic to me.

The first talk was actually a history of the establishment of confidence in climate modelling, and though it was basically a valid review of the literature, it lacked a little (in my view) in describing confidence and consensus as something that seemed to emerge by default over time, and failing to recognise the emergence of consensus as primarily an indication of the limits of credible disagreement. IMO, this is the most fundamental aspect of consensus-forming and scientific progress (as we argued in this piece), but of course the failure to generate credible alternative theories is not really obvious from the literature. For a currently topical case, consider Tim Palmer's call for new high resolution climate modelling centres. Tim has some ideas for improvements to climate models and climate modelling, which may be wrong or right (his new article is at least an improvement on previous versions of his argument, IMO), but at least they are plausible and concrete. In contrast, Judith Curry waves her hands and asks for "fundamentally new model structural forms" but without any actual ideas as to how these fundamentally new models might be created nor what they could bring to the table, it's just hot air and hand waving. While I'm on the topic, if it's not the job of people like Curry to actually create such new models, then who exactly does she think should be doing it, and how? But I digress.

Anyway, back to the story, Ian argued that the main point of social science was to provide stories - his word - that described how human society worked. And these stories were to be judged primarily on how plausible or convincing they sounded. The concept of "truth" as a scientist would interpret it didn't come into the matter - truth was basically determined as whatever ideas were currently popular, nothing more. Of course scientific "truth" is actually a bit of a slippery concept. For example, Newtonian gravity is not actually true, but it's near enough for very accurate predictions over a wide range of applications. We don't think we are really describing truth, but we are at least attempting to approximate it and the demonstration of this is that the theories reproduce and predict the world, rather than merely being attractive to an audience. Note again the importance of useful predictions in this. Moreover, the stories were not expected to be generalisable to other situations. They were just what happened in that particular case. No over-arching theories, or even any consideration that this could - in principle - be one of the eventual goals.

Of course Ian's argument was somewhat undermined by the number of speakers wailing that "things need to change" (in order to make progress in the policy debate, which went almost without saying as the underlying purpose of the conference). This sounds almost like a predictive claim, i.e. that a change in behaviour might lead to some observable result, but stopped some way short, in that they didn't actually describe what the required changes were, nor what results would likely be observed. Next time I hear a social scientist going on along similar lines, I will simply sigh and try to treat it as a Just So Story, only not as good.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Cow, closer than you think

Phew. Back at last to the land of feeble livestock-based humour. Talking of livestock, it was a major revelation quite how much cheese the French consume. We've visited France for weeks at a time before (although not Paris since we were both infants), but although we'd sampled many cheeses from many kinds of French livestock (sheep, goats, cows, chickens etc), we'd not really eaten with actual French people much before, so had failed to appreciate the Quantity. All that red wine is probably a necessary accompaniment to save the arteries from completely furring up.

This photo was taken on a bike ride before we went to France. It was frosty yesterday so the moo cows may well be be in their sheds for the winter by now.

James has some posts half written about some of the slightly less cheese related French adventures, so they may appear soon.

You could hardly make it up...

Nothing should surprise me where parasitical publishing is concerned. The big headline news is that Nature have made articles free to view...FOR SUBSCRIBERS!

Big whoops and high-fives all round!

Worryingly, some people have fallen for it (Tim Haford re-tweeted approvingly, perhaps not having read carefully enough). As the link makes clear, all that Nature are doing is allowing subscribers to share a crippled DRM-protected read-only version of manuscripts that will obviously require proprietary software of some sort to view and therefore be thoroughly unhelpful for promotion of scientific research.

Considering that Nature already allowed people to put their own published pdfs up on their own website, openly readable by all and not crippled by DRM, I don't see how this can be anything other than a big bold step in the wrong direction. Let's hope it's the last gasp of a dying empire. For too long scientists have been paying parasitical publishers for the privilege of then having their own work sold back to them at hugely inflated prices. The journals don't pay the authors who write their material, don't pay the reviewers who are the only participants in the process who actually add any genuine value compared to an open archive (eg arxiv). Maybe Tim Harford would be less enthusiastic if he was paying the FT to print his columns!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

It's deja vu all over again, again

Not sure why, but people seem interested in the “history of climate blogging”. See posts here and here, for example (there may be more, if so, they are hopefully linked). And I see Eli has already nicked my title, but for different purposes.

My first post was Jan 2005, some climate stuff came within a few months. Not really that long after Stoat and RC, then. But I didn't (and still don't) think of it as anything particularly revolutionary or trend-setting, it was just that the previously well-established discussion fora of usenet which had served their purpose well for many years were finally dying due to a surfeit of nuisance-makers and lack of moderation. I'm still not really a fan of the concept of blogs (too much of a personal soap-box for proper discussion) but they still seem to be the worst system available, apart from all the other ones. I was on sci.env a decade earlier (at least occasionally; climate change wasn't high on my agenda during my maths DPhil).

But one thing that thinking back on this does perhaps help to explain, is my cynicism at the supposed new dawn of revolutionary new(bie) climate bloggers trying to be nice to sceptics, in the hope that this will make a material difference to anything at all. It hasn't, and it won't. That Watts should post something likening climate scientists to Hitler, soon after having a supposedly collegial dinner with several of them, should surprise no-one.  Plus ça change (scuse my french, I've just had mussels for dinner). That the scientists respond by writing an article for his blog basically excusing him for having posted it...umm...that worked well. For him.

Friday, November 28, 2014

[jules' pics] chateau

After working too hard on our paper on Sunday morning, in the afternoon James went for a run, and at last I had an hour to take a walk around some of the grounds of the chateau in which we are staying at Gif-sur-Yvette.
Here's the chateau itself.
And here's the pond at the bottom of the garden.
chateau garden
Lots of mushroomy things grow under the trees.
The autumn colours are quite nice - this might be some sort of chestnuttish tree?
autumn leaves
Some of its leaves are almost black!

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 11/26/2014 10:48:00 AM

Thursday, November 27, 2014 Paris syndrome

 So, for two weeks we find ourselves in France. Gif-sur-Yvette on the outskirts of Paris to be precise, the location of the CNRS site where we are staying in the very impressive chateau de ville (preservation of which was apparently a requirement of taking on the site).

The visit is courtesy of Masa Kageyama at LSCE-IPSL-CEA-CNRS and our first lesson was to learn what all the acronyms mean and (roughly) how they relate to each other! The main focus of our trip is working on a joint paper which involves several people here, which is not yet ready for public unveiling but which may hopefully be the subject of future blogging. LSCE is stuffed full of paleoclimate scientists of note, including numerous IPCC authors and PMIP leaders and the like. So it was a little surprising to find it located on the site of a disused and slightly derelict corner of a nuclear research facility a little way away, with the offices lined up in what used to be a linear collider. It’s not quite as dystopian as it sounds, and the canteen is certainly a cut above what you tend to find in UK labs!


We managed to arrive just as Masa had to go away to be somewhere else, so we spent our first day (and also our free weekend) mostly enjoying the pleasures of Paris. I was three years old last time I visited, so I was surprised how little it had changed, though everything looked a bit smaller than I remember.

Our work stay started off with a couple of informal seminars which then merged into a group meeting at which they all discussed their upcoming strike. As a one-time union rep it was interesting to finally find somewhere where unions actually do something. Vive la revolution! What with that and the food I wonder if I would have liked to live in France, though the prevalence of smoking remains a problem.

Our visit also coincided with this conference which we also attended, about which I’ll write separately. More importantly, significant progress on the paper has been made, and our last act before leaving will be to give another talk at Jussieu in central Paris tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

[jules' pics] Travels

But where?!

It is a place where people have been known to lose their heads

And not just on the roads

Where bicycles are very important. (Although you actually see more of them being ridden in London).

Where the building that should be the opera house is actually the stock exchange

Where they have taken the Boris Bicycle concept several stages further...?

And where the picktur blogger is permanently drunk due to the local beverage coming in too large bottles; please scuse typos.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 11/22/2014 08:50:00 PM

Sunday, November 16, 2014

[jules' pics] "Quit your jobs"

Seen from the platform at Pangbourne railway station, the graffiti on the fence in the background is probably aimed at the Thames Valley London commuters. But be careful of you do quit your jobs - you might end up like these two!
Quit your jobs

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 11/16/2014 11:32:00 AM

Sunday, November 09, 2014 The LGM – not finished yet!

Well, of course it’s finished in the temporal sense. But not in terms of scientific interest. This is perhaps the main conclusion of our latest review paper, which was published in QSR a few days ago. All followers of @geschictenpost on twitter (never miss an interesting paper!) will already be aware of this, but they might not realise that the full paper is freely available via this link until midnight on the 23rd Dec at which point it will turn into a pumpkin (ok, hide behind a paywall).

The review was invited back at the end of 2012, but at the time we were in the process of publishing some relevant work so we didn’t actually get round to writing anything until half way through 2013. We had fun over the summer chasing up some old papers that we had not previously seen, and even got a paper print of a CLIMAP reconstruction – which we were not allowed to remove from the library, or even copy! Conversations with several more senior scientists were helpful, including a few emails exchanged with Tom Crowley. And a reviewer added another perspective which was very helpful.

In the paper, we trace the evolution of model-data comparison for the Last Glacial Maximum, at least for surface temperature, talking about what has been achieved (the models and data agree to some extent on the broadest scales) and what issues remain (regional differences are large, not only between models and data, but also amongst different models and different interpretations of data). The LGM remains the gold standard for testing the ability of models to reproduce a climate state very different to the present day, thanks to the relatively abundant data and large, well-understood forcing. But as well as suggesting that models are basically on the right lines, the results of the simulations also suggest there is plenty of room for improvement.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014 Cloudy Skies Research

Cloudy Skies Research
Posted: 03 Nov 2014 06:38 AM PST
Cloudy Skies Research might have been a more appropriate name, because it is on the cloudy days that we do the actual science. This is not only because of the large uncertainty in future climate change due to the lack of knowledge about how clouds will respond to the changing temperature.

Our Blue Skies policy is that on the days of blue sky we go out and make the most of the sky! Such a life plan would never work in places like Yokohama or Boulder, where there are far too many sunny days, but here in Settle it is not so hard to find a reasonable work-cycling balance… So, while the brave weekend warriors battled the conditions, we were crunching data. The following Wednesday the sun came out and we spent the day cycling the same route over the hills to Littondale and back. It was so sunny that we were able to eat lunch outside and were actually too hot!!! Well, OK, so were were wearing a lot of clothing…

blueskies tandem


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The new UKMO computer

I was thinking that this seems reasonable enough:

but then Mat Collins tweeted that it will "will also be used for making more reliable climate projections" which is a bit of a hostage to fortune. (Though technically, it may take so long to check this out that we never know if he is right or not).

Way back in the mists of time senior scientists at FRSGC (as it then was) imagined that their new superduper Earth Simulator would solve all the problems of climate change...

As for weather prediction, it's easy enough to demonstrate experimentally that higher resolution has the potential to improve performance (even though computer power is far from the only influential factor). So I expect they can claim quite confidently that the bigger computer will improve this.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

[jules' pics] falling water

As well as ocean swell, there are other after effects of storms. One is the amount of water falling in the water falls. I actually didn't know we live near a waterfall until this week. It is Scaleber Force, and only 1.3 miles from our house (although up a stupidly steep hill). I learned later that it is a top photography spot, so it is lucky that James encouraged me to take my camera along just in case there was something to see.
This photo was taken at the same place, looking downstream,

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/23/2014 06:55:00 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[jules' pics] Autumn colours

Another storm yesterday, and the autumn colours are not going to last much longer. Better blog them while I still can.
autumn leaves

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/21/2014 10:42:00 PM

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

[jules' pics] ocean #2

The fun thing about the ocean, is that the waves can come quite a while after the weather. So, while the storm had blown over the day before, the sea was just getting going.



Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/16/2014 09:35:00 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2014

[jules' pics] ocean #1

Some rain stopped us mountain biking on the way over to Scotland's east coast, but it had stopped by the time we got to the seaside.

seaside sunset

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/16/2014 09:31:00 PM

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

[jules' pics] autumn

My memories of autumn from when I were a lass are of slipping about on mushy brown leaves on the ground, and of wind, rain and days so dark you can barely see across the school hall. There must have been some climate change because we now have some sunny days with little hints of yellow and orange on many of the trees. It's nothing like Japan, obviously (many more degrees of climate change to go before we get there), but still...


Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/14/2014 03:35:00 PM

Friday, October 03, 2014

Much ado about sensitivity

Well, perhaps not really very much ado. There's a new paper in Climate Dynamics, by Lewis and Curry, with a central sensitivity estimate of 1.6C with a 90% range of 1-4C, based on energy budget analyses over the instrumental period, updated to the present day, also taking account of the newer AR5 forcing estimates. I don't find it particularly exciting, the authors cite several recent papers with similar results including Aldrin and Otto et al. I wrote about those papers some time ago, and I think these posts (1, 2, 3) still stand. I've commented before on my objections to Lewis' method, and especially the sleight-of-words with which it is described, but (as I've also emphasised) I don't think this substantially affects the results in this application.

Clearly, the longer the relatively slow warming continues, the lower the estimates will go. And despite what some people might like to think, the slow warming has certainly been a surprise, as anyone who was paying attention at the time of the AR4 writing can attest. I remain deeply unimpressed by the way in which this embarrassment has been handled by the climate science insiders, and IPCC authors in particular. Their seemingly desperate attempts to denigrate anything that undermines their storyline (even though a few years ago the same people were using markedly inferior analyses of this very type to bolster it!) do them no credit.
One weakness of these energy-budget type of analyses, that I believe Lewis and others could easily address, is to demonstrate how well it works in application to GCM output. That is, can the method accurately diagnose the sensitivity of a model given equivalent information to that which we have for the real world? Aldrin et al addressed this rather briefly and in a very limited way, using a far stronger forcing scenario (1%pa CO2 enrichment) than what has occurred in reality. It would be easy to investigate the precision of the method, and whether it gives rise to any systematic biases, by using output from the more realistic 20th century simulations. It is also noteworthy that the Aldrin method struggles to cope with hemispheric differences, which may point to some limitations of the energy balance concept. While the climate system certainly does obey the fundamental conservation laws, supposedly “fixed” parameters (in simple models) are not actually constants in reality. And no matter now precisely we can determine the historical transient response to the current radiative imbalance, there will always be a bit of additional uncertainty in extrapolating that to an equilibrium 2xCO2 state.
Finally, it is also amusing to see Judith “we don't know anything” Curry to put her name to this new paper: it is unclear what she might have added, as Nic has been presenting analyses of this nature for some time now. But that's a minor matter.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[jules' pics] running man

In light of recent events, it seems appropriate to post these pickturs.

Spot the marathon man...

The second photo shows James running towards our house, with Settle and Giggleswick in the middle distance, the two metropolises have merged together into one big conurbation, like Tokyo and Yokohama. And Ingleborough hill, like Fuji-san, lies further beyond. Perhaps I was hallucinating. At this point I was in a world of pain, having fallen off my bicycle about 40 minutes earlier. I carried on riding, as I decided that, as I was going to be in pain anyway, I could distract myself with a nice bike ride in the sunshine. The worst thing about falling over on gravel is the bath afterwards where you have to scrub the dust out of the wounds. The best part is the rolling about on the loose stuff which means that many parts of the body absorb the impact. So today everything hurts, but nothing too much.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 9/30/2014 06:58:00 PM

Monday, September 29, 2014


I must have mentioned my goal of running a sub-3h marathon at some point. It was always likely to be a little ambitious, as running time calculators (which estimate likely times based on other races, eg here) suggested I would be very borderline based on my 10k and half marathon times, and the formula on which they rely are well known to be rather optimistic at extrapolating from shorter distances up to marathon (for running geeks, the Riegel factor for most people gets a little larger when you cross the ~2h time barrier, due to the need to take on food and water). After failing - but not disastrously - at Tsukuba last year, I had set my sights on Vienna as a fast flat course likely to have good conditions (if not too hot) but that was a long way off so for a various reasons we settled on running the Chesterfield marathon as a practice, with jules doing the half which conveniently coincided.

The early start required us to stay the night before, which was a little concerning when a friend who commutes from Nottingham to Sheffield said he had ruled out living in Chesterfield because it was too rough! But perhaps I misunderstood something, we had a pleasant walk around the town admiring the famous twisted spire before settling on a huge plate of ribs and potato for dinner. 

Most unusually, jules and I failed to clear our plates which was a good omen. The hotel was very obliging with an early breakfast which enabled us to wander down to the start in good time feeling as well prepared as it's possible to be for an event such as this. 

I didn't actually set out with the aim of running sub-3h, I could see the course was far too hilly for that with the organisers' claim of 287ft of climbing directly contradicted by their own course profile which showed rather more climbing (my Garmin trace agrees with the profile, and estimates ~350m of climbing):

Not knowing what time to aim for or how hard to set off, I decided to just run by my pulse meter and keep to no more than low 150s as this seemed to be the threshold above which things got difficult in Tsukuba. I hoped that with this strategy I would at least enjoy the run more and perhaps shave a bit off my previous time. The first 10k were rather uphill so it was no surprise that I was 20 secs down on 3h pace at that time. What was a surprise, was that I caught that deficit up and more on the 2nd 10k and went through half way in under 1:30 feeling very comfortable. It wasn't until about 30k that I started thinking seriously that I might do it, and allowed myself to start working a bit harder on the hills. The last few miles were mostly downhill and would have been fast but for the unexpected appearance of a gravel path twisting around a park, followed by what felt like the steepest climb of the course. Luckily it didn't drag on too long and I was able to enjoy the final lap of the cricket pitch where a fair sized crowd had gathered to watch.

(Pic courtesy of Barry Dyke photography)

It's not often that I will get the chance to hear the commentator announce my name and 8th place, so I thought I should make the most of it. Of course the serious marathoners in the north west were all preparing for Chester which is still a week away, I'm under no illusions about my level of performance! The winner was a local who pretty much turned up on a whim and ran it in 2:37 as a training run - a bit of google stalking reveals he's been 10 mins quicker at London. Jules also ran a PB for her half despite the hills. As well as being better prepared than last time (thanks to the Jack Daniels book and accompanying marathon plan) the weather was perfect - quite cool with no wind, which suited me much better than the late autumn heat in Tsukuba.

Overall the race was well organised for a first effort - I would have liked better signage at some points, as it was not always obvious which way to turn and at one point I ran for a couple of km on a completely unmarked road wondering if I'd gone off course. The locals turned up to give good support which was appreciated especially as the second half was pretty lonely! Most importantly perhaps, the distance was spot on, which matters when you're cutting things this fine...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

[jules' pics] Pen-y-ghent

Not sure whether to go backwards, forwards, or randomly in time with my backlog of unblogged photos.

This one was taken yesterday.

Sun continues unabated. Well, OK, so there is the occasional heavy rainstorm, but this is upland Britain for goodness sake... Sunday is the 3 peaks cyclocross race, traditionally a cold and rainy mudfest. After the driest September in forever, perhaps it will be a pleasant roll over the hills. This is the third peak - Pen-y-ghent - as seen yesterday, from the back of a high-speed tandem .

Pen y ghent

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 9/27/2014 03:14:00 PM

Friday, September 26, 2014 The future of climate science

The future of climate science
Posted: 24 Sep 2014 09:08 AM PDT
I recently had the pleasure of a trip to Brussels, courtesy of this workshop, organised by Michel Crucifix, Valerio Lucarini and Stéphane Vannitsem. Titled "Advances in Climate Theory", it was a chance to discuss ideas related to…advances in climate theory, surprisingly enough. In practice, that included lots about the dynamics of the wiggles that are seen in paleoclimate cores (are they noise-induced or due to an inherent instability?), various nonlinearities, some entropy stuff which (deservedly?!) got a bit of rough ride from the audience. My talk was not so much on theory as practice, that is, the practical aspects of using the past to improve predictions of the future.
We were based in the Royal Meteorological Institute, which was a nice site some way out of town (walkable from the hotel, which was great apart from the day we had a brief downpour of biblical proportions just as I sneaked out a little bit early). Here is a picure of Michel orating on dynamical things…
IMG_7110.JPGIt wasn’t all fun though – on my first night I had to forage on my own and only found some gueueuze for dinner, along with geueze-flavoured pate.
IMG_7100.JPGBeer is the answer – it doesn’t matter what the question is.

Thursday, September 25, 2014 Connected!

Posted: 24 Sep 2014 03:45 AM PDT
It took a month and ten days to get Ye Olde Chapel connected to the internets. But when the engineer finally arrived this morning he seemed to know what he was doing. We had quite a bit of fun trying to trace the phone line through the house. The previous occupants of the house were shonky DIYers so nothing is very logical. At the height of the confusion the engineer dubbed them DDIYers (don’t do it yourself-ers). But it was worked out in the end, and so far is running smoothly. Hopefully this means that normal blogging service will soon be resumed! I certainly have quite a backlog of pickturs that I would like to blog, and we remain forever hopeful that James might think of some interesting words to share.
It is very fortunate that the common man now demands unfeasibly fast internet to stream video and play games. For Blue Skies Research our usage boils down to downloading data to analyse later which is, by comparison, a light demand. A few years ago it would have been impossible to consider working from home using a normal home connection, but not any more. Having said that, one big reason why we chose to live in inner-city Settle (population 2,421), rather than out of the way on some hilltop, was the “super-fast” internet. Fast broadband was already fast here, and fibre was due to arrive shortly. It think it will come to most places in the National Park within the next few of years, but it didn’t seem sensible to try and survive for any length of time on 1-2Mbps, as it really isn’t sufficient for doing science. We paid the few pounds extra to get fibre, but it isn’t fibre right to the door, just to a “cabinet” about 300m away. From there the signal travels down ye olde copper cables. This is probably just as well, as our external telephone line appears to be underground, but it limits the speed to a maximum of 20Mbps.
I have got LOTS of paper reading to catch up on now. An 8 month backlog sits in my Google Reader!

Friday, September 19, 2014 Settled! A home for BlueSkiesResearch!

Posted: 18 Sep 2014 09:21 AM PDT
Eight months minus a day since our return to the UK, we completed on our new house in Settle. James already had a trip to Belgium planned (hopefully he will write something about it soon), so it was another couple of weeks before we started moving in earnest. We are now sufficiently settled to do several hours work a day, which is nice. Doing science at our computers is pleasant relief from scrubbing the very grubby house and wondering what to do with all our stuff. Anyone need any appliances which run on 100V?
Here is the house. It is an old Roman Catholic chapel, built around 1870, after Catholicism was re-established in the mid 1800s, then converted to a house in the 1970s or 1980s when the congregation moved to a new building nearer the town centre.
And here is the local pub, which seems to have 6 local beers on tap, different ones every time we have visited.
It has been unremittingly sunny since we arrived. This climate scientist thinks it can’t last much longer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We're the best!

Another year, another increase in Geoscientific Model Development's impact factor. Last year I reported that GMD was a whisker behind ACP in the EGU journals, and this year our impact factor has risen still further to over 6, which comfortably leapfrogs ACP and places GMD 6th in all geosciences journals (aside: who or what is Gondwana Research, and should I be embarassed at never having read it?). Of course, the future direction of the journal is no longer my (shared) responsibility, but I will keep an eye on how things progress...

Incidentally, page charges at GMD, and indeed all EGU journals, are rather more reasonable than the outrageous profiteering by the American Association for the Advancement of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAAAAS as it is henceforth to be known, with their new attempt at if you can't beat them, parasitise them publishing.

Friday, August 08, 2014

[jules' pics] High Street

Decided to go shopping so yesterday we headed for the High Street near Ullswater in Cumbria.

Getting there was a bit harder than expected, as there was no railway station, and it involved a 700m climb from the car park. Views were nice though.
Finally got there only to discover that the Vikings had torn down all the shops in the centuries after the Romans had left.
The other shoppers seemed almost as lost (see their little silhouettes on that rocky outcrop!). Germanic and Australian accents asked us if we were "doing the coast to coast". Just a day trip we answered.
It was surprisingly pleasant especially considering that this High Street is so far from those more desirable parts of the UK.
Here, James is looking for the Apple Store. Sure it was supposed to be here somewhere...
The street side planters were flowering nicely. This is heather, probably imported from the soon to be foreign country of Scotland.
We never did find Harvey Nicks, but a couple of hours later we were in Patterdale (named after St Patrick Patterdale) where there are pubs that serve food and beer all day long. hicc.
Best High Street ever.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 8/08/2014 08:16:00 PM