Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Progress on my list of climate scientists

It's been a while since I've blogged on my quixotic project, and a lot has happened in the interim. In mid-December, I posted on some climate discussion sites including Realclimate and Deltoid, describing my list and providing a link. I've begun getting some very nice feedback - about a dozen responses so far - and the comments have been very positive. I may post some "dust jacket blurb" pull-quotes soon. (I'll anonymize any where the source does not want to be quoted by name.)

I've added some ancillary pages based on spillover from the data I've been harvesting: a list of over 60 journals that have published the authors I've catalogued. There are ones that cover climate science, paleoclimate, oceanography, biogeochemical cycles, and various allied subjects.

I also threw together a partial list of climate research centres at universities around the world. (I could do a similar one for the others that are either government run or that span several different universities - still To Do.) The one I've got for university centres is still far from complete; I first need to go through the domain names I extracted from all the author URLs to see how many more these might pick up. Today I pulled out stats on what countries these come from, based on the top-level domain suffix (probably still including multiples from the same university in several cases, though):
190 .edu (mainly U.S. universities)
43 .gov (U.S. gov't agencies)
45 U.K. universities
30 .de Germany
29 .ca Canada
23 .fr France
18 .au Australia
14 .jp Japan
13 .ch Switzerland
9 .it Italy
9 .nz New Zealand
and so on through AR AU BR CL CN DK ES EU FI HK IN IR IT MX NL NO RO RU SE to ZA.
Plus - extra bonus! - the first site I've ever visited that's set in the .AQ namespace - Antarctica! Twice, in fact: Australia's SIPEX and ASPECT. (The British Antarctic Survey falls under the domain, though they clearly could justify a .aq name if they wanted.)

As for my issue with sorting out authors with the same or very similar names, this is even turning into an issue within the list. I've now identified three pairs of similarly named climate scientists whom I confirmed are indeed different people:
Karl R Thomas director of NOAA's NCDC, not-the-same-guy-as the Austrian-born Karl Thomas lately at NCAR in Boulder

This Bin Wang of U. Hawaii not-the-same-guy-as this other Bin Wang of China -- both were IPCC AR4 wg1 delegates.

David C. Lowe of New Zealand's NIWA (no homepage found) not-the-same-guy-as David J. Lowe of Waikato U. -- also in New Zealand. At least these two have different middle initials, making it possible to tell them apart in Google Scholar.

This past week I went back to a topic I looked at in some depth a year ago: open letters to the Prime Minister of Canada opposing Kyoto and arguing that the science on climate needs to be gone back over (again?) before anyone makes any decisions. I found there were actually three such letters, in 2002, 2003, and 2006. I've charted who signed which one, how many were actually Canadians (no more than 1/3) and then I picked up the 2006 rebuttal letter from a much longer list of Canadian climate scientists. The latter seems to have arising out of a meeting of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and has 130 signatories - all Canadian and all well qualified - so I've dubbed this the "CMOS 130." I'll blog in more detail on the Canadian angle in a future post.

I'm working on this idea as a formulation of who is who in this list: a subset who are declared on the outspoken 'anti' side - signatories of the inactivist petitions, fellows of think tanks staunchly against the mainstream science, and the like; a separate subset who are vocal activists urging immediate cuts in carbon emissions; and the silent majority who just publish their research and in many cases contribute to the IPCC reports. The key point is that the IPCC reports draw on the full range of the published literature, which includes this whole spectrum; yet the IPCC ARs make it clear we really do have a problem. Thus the inactivists are reduced to attacking the IPCC itself - and with it, in effect, all the science literature it built upon. This is why Naomi Oreskes' paper caused them such consternation. They also have to keep trying to claim there are "silent skeptics" afraid to say what they think out of fear of persecution by "alarmist" bullies. Hmmm.

I launched into the creation of my site to put a face to the over 600 authors of IPCC AR4 wg1, most of whom toil above the fray of blog and counter-blog. A lot of them spend months at a time in the field - on survey ships, in the Arctic or Antartic, climbing and drilling on glaciers, operating LIDARs, sondes, hydrographs, and then months more back in the lab (and the classroom!) working through the data.

As I kept expanding from just AR4 wg1 to all their co-authors, departmental colleagues, and then other names that I came upon following those leads, a picture has begun to emerge of a broad and still growing field of interrelated research disciplines. I've got 1600 names and a long queue of sources I haven't even begun to examine yet. My list may top out at some point out of sheer exhaustion - of me rather than of the sources of more names of scientists.

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