Notes from the Santa Fe Conference

Source: Climate, etc.

by Judith Curry

I am currently in Santa Fe, attending the Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate.

The conference web site has little information.   The conference agenda is posted [santa fe schedule].  The abstracts of the talks are presented [santa fe abstracts].  [Note:  I assembled the pdf of the abstracts from an emailed folder with the individual abstracts, many of which were pdfs.  The laborious task of integrating all this into a single file (and dealing with line breaks) was done at 10% of my bandwidth while listening to the talks.  Equations may be missing, etc. The abstracts were edited to delete email addresses.]

There will be a special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research for papers from the conference whose authors chose to submit a paper.  There are no plans to post the talks on the internet.  I have offered to post any talks emailed to me on the web, lets see how many I receive.  If I receive a significant number of them, we will have another thread next week.

This is an unusual conference.  The conference organizer is Petr Chylek, generally regarded as a skeptic.  In his opening comments, Chylek stated that this conference is open to people from all scientifically valid points of view.  I?m not exactly sure how to interpret the ?scientifically valid,? but the conference includes IPCC authors as well as noted skeptics such as Fred Singer.   Apparently some people on the ?warm? side declined to attend because they would not attend a conference with certain skeptics in the room.  A number of talks began with a comment or disclaimer to the effect that they only care about science, and pay relatively little attention or care little about the public debate and noise surrounding it.


The talks were a mix of excellent, boring, and rather wacky; of course the categorization of individual talks is subjective :)  I?ll mention a few talks that are relevant to topics discussed recently at Climate Etc.

With regards to my talk on the IPCC attribution argument, one participant asked the session chair Ramaswamy for his reactions (Ramaswamy is Director of GFDL and has been heavily involved in the IPCC).  He said that he can?t argue against my four main points, particularly my statements about lack of traceability and subjectivity of the uncertainty estimate.  He then discussed the challenges associated with improving the situation.

Several talks on aerosols and clouds by leading scientists in the field argued that the estimated aerosol indirect forcing is too large, since internal cloud processes act to minimize the effects (Stephens and Stevens).

There were several very good sessions on the Arctic climate, too much to summarize here.

In the feedback session, Steve Schwartz had a  provocative analysis (he has sent me his presentation, we will discuss it at some point).  Peter Webster addressed the temperature ?bump? ca 1940.  Amy Solomon had a very interesting paper on tropical sea surface temperature trends and decadal predictability.

In the observations session, Steve Wofsy gave an excellent presentation on HIPPO.  Muller and Rohde of BEST both gave presentations.  Rohde?s  clearly explained the BEST methods and how they differ from others without the use of equations.  I?ve encouraged them to post the the two talks on their web site.

The solar session was very informative to me.  The comments and discussion were also interesting.  Graeme Stephens argued that the solar forcing was one of the better understood parts of the record, with uncertainties of a several W/m2 at most.  Whereas the uncertainties in the surface energy budget were on the order of 20 W m-2.

The AMO and PDO were frequently brought up in the presentations.


On Tuesday night, a conference dinner was held.  I gave a keynote presentation entitled ?The uncertainty monster at the climate science-policy interface.?  The talk is on youtube.  My talk was interrupted by an irate audience member (who is an AR5 author).

A second keynote talk was given by  Anjuli Bamzai, who is program manager of Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics at NSF.  She discussed relevant NSF initiatives.

At the end, the floor was opened to discussion.  The Chair of the Program Petr Chylek made some critical comments regarding NSF funding (i.e. no funding for skeptics).  Some people complained that he was out of line in pushing this as the moderator of the evenings activities.  The two talks were opened up for discussion.  As controversial as my talk (presumably) was, most of the discussion was about funding issues.  The conversation frankly degenerated and people started leaving.   Anjuli did a good job in defending and describing NSF practices, but a few people did make valid (IMO) points regarding the funding.


Today I had lunch with Richard Muller and Christopher Monckton (!)  Topics covered included Climategate, the IPCC, climate sensitivity, trend analysis.  I was relatively passive, just taking it all in :)  What an amazing conversation.

Random conversations

Apart from Tues dinner, the conference has for the most part been quite congenial, with a few exceptions.  Bill Gray wanted to refight the 2005/2006 hurricane wars with Peter Webster.

I had the opportunity to meet many people for the first time, including Muller, Tsonis and Loehle whose papers have been discussed extensively at Climate Etc.

I am heading back to Atlanta tomorrow (Thurs) so I will miss the last two days of the conference.