Pot to kettle: you completely ignored the distinction between perpendicular and monsoonal flow…

One of the two shallow equatorial flows that were presented as new behavior, even more shallow than the image in the Washington Post article

One of the two shallow equatorial flows that were presented as new behavior, even more shallow than the image in the Washington Post article

A couple days ago, Beckwith published a letter that he wrote to Jason Samenow, in which he want to defend his reputation and credibility by having his arguments published in the Washington Post.

There were eleven arguments in total, from which I recognized some that I discussed in previous posts. Like the argument that there was a question mark behind “unprecedented”.

I was however perplexed when I read argument 4 (my emphasis)

4. The image chosen for the article shows some weak cross-equatorial flow, and does not even show the image that I used in the video showing flow normal to the equator, connecting the two hemisphere jet streams. This image in the article is thus very misleading, and poorly chosen for the article. Figure 1 shows an image of the jet streams crossing the equator from my original viral video. On the left we see flow crossing perpendicular to the equator, while on the right we see flow crossing the equator at a shallow angle, more indicative of monsoonal flow. This distinction was completely ignored in the Washington Post article.

Figure 1: Image of jet streams crossing equator in my original viral video. Data is from June 28, 2016 at 20:00 Local time. The Washington Post article did not post this, but posted an image of a basic monsoonal flow.

I was perplexed by this because as far as I could see in the “unprecedented jet stream crosses equator”-video, he himself make no distinction whatsoever between flows that crossed the equator perpendicular or flows that crossed at a shallow angle. I also didn’t hear him tell anything about “monsoonal flows” either. He lumped all the equatorial crossing together as new behavior, indicating that “climate system mayhem is ongoing”.

The picture in the Washington Post article was also taken from earth.nullschool and depicts the situation at the time of the publication of the article. It also covers the equatorial Atlantic ocean, the only cross-equatorial flow that wasn’t dismissed as a monsoonal flow in a later video. So I am quite puzzled about his statement. Does he now also considers that a monsoonal flow?

Beckwith didn’t define which cross-equatorial flows he was talking about exactly in the unprecedented jet stream crosses equator-video. He didn’t make any distinction at the time he made the video, also not in his post. How could Samenow know that Beckwith only meant “non-monsoonal flows” if all crossing were treated in the same way?

My impression was that at the time of the posting he assumed that ALL cross-equatorial flows were unusual. He clearly identified three regions: one over the Pacific Ocean (identified as induced by the La Niña in progress), one over Africa (which he in a later video identified as a monsoonal flow) and one over Asia (later also identified as a monsoonal flow in the same video). He treated all three flows in the same way as shown several times in the video.

This is how he introduces the anomalous nature of the flows (from 01:30):

You normally have jet streams in the Northern and in the Southern hemisphere, but they are separate. But in this case we can see the jet stream twisting down here crossing the equator [over the Pacific Ocean) and rejoining the stream in the Southern hemisphere. You could also see it here [points to the flow over Africa]. You can also see it here [points to the flow over Africa]. This is new as far as I am aware.

Nowhere was said that the latter two where “normal to the equator”. On the contrary. They were all brought as flows that crossed the equator, without any distinction. The “this is new as far as I am aware” came after he pointed out the three crossings, so it couldn’t be only related to the crossing that was mentioned first.

A bit later at 03:06 he showed the three crossing again:

Focus on this green area here. If you click on other areas it gives you information and tells you the speed. So the red … the purple areas are faster jet streams. We see a crossing here [Pacific Ocean], here [Africa] and over here [Asia] of the equator.

Again, he showed them all, not only the one in the Pacific that went perpendicular to the equator. He didn’t make any distinction between the three.

After he determined exactly how long the Pacific flow was developing, he takes another view (at 07:33):

This is another view of this particular region and again you can see the strong …. you can see what is going on here. You can see air from up high in the Northern hemisphere and this jet coming down and crossing the equator and then joining with the Southern most jet stream. You also have these vortices here which are mixing air around the equator. You have air actually moving from the Southern hemisphere up in the Northern hemisphere across the equator here … and … over here air coming south and coming across [over Asia] … and over here [over Africa] you have a similar thing happening. So basically, we lost this separation between the Northern and Southern hemisphere in terms of the jet stream.

Here they are brought as similar things that is happening and the “we lost this separation”-quote came after he explained all three. Also here, it couldn’t have been related to the Pacific flow only and my guess is that he didn’t know that the flows above Africa and Asia were monsoonal flows, but he thought these were unusual flows, a decrease in the “separation” of the two hemispheres.

Later in the video he looked again at the progression in time of the Pacific flow crossing the equator and went back to just before it occurred. He then saw that, although the Pacific flow was not there yet, two other flows were there (starting at 09:20):

You can see, even this [Pacific flow] is broken up here, there is [sic] other regions where there is air exchange across the equator. For example here [over Africa] … and over here [over Asia] there is a lot of movement parallel to the equator and then dipping down here … and … then go back to our original region in the Pacific … like I said, I have never seen this happening before.

Again, he went seamlessly from one to the other and back. It doesn’t sound like the two latter were considered different. These two were brought as “other regions where there is air exchange across the equator” even when that Pacific crossing was disconnected. He even mentioned that this movement is “parallel to the equator”. You can’t have more shallow than this. To me that showed that he wasn’t aware at that time that these flows were normal to the equator.

Nowhere was a separation made between flows that crossed the equator at a shallow angle or those perpendicular to the equator. Nowhere did he mention that two of the three crossings shown were “normal to the equator”. If he really was aware of the distinction he would not have emphasized those two shallow flows or would at least identified them as flows normal to the equator. Seeing the video would lead us to think that all three cross-equatorial flows were something extraordinary and they all played a role in the story that he brought.

The distinction was “completely ignored” by the Washington Post because the distinction was never made by Beckwith himself. Only in a later post and video he made that distinction. It is not very honest that he now blames the Washington Post for ignoring a distinction that he himself failed to make in the first place.


2 thoughts on “Pot to kettle: you completely ignored the distinction between perpendicular and monsoonal flow…

  1. manicbeancounter

    This illustrates why climatology cannot be considered a science. It is all about the rhetoric, and not about making clear, unambiguous statements. In scientific terms that means making empirically-based statements. By concentrating on the rhetoric, with people who have no training in rigorous argumentation (that is most of us – it was an 18th century pre-science discipline) the arguments can constantly shift when people hold strong beliefs where the supporting evidence is incomplete and highly ambiguous.


    1. trustyetverify Post author

      I wouldn’t put it that extreme. I guess you mean an “exact” science. Climate science is a science (although with lots of limitations due to its subject) and it is not always about rhetoric (although that is how it is often presented in the media).

      Beckwith indeed doesn’t quantify things and subsequently doesn’t make clear, verifiable statements. That is also the case here. He didn’t investigate how many crossings there were BEFORE he made the post and video. He just threw in that these were “new behavior”. Which was of course true … from his perspective (not having investigated the issue).

      What I took issue with (and is subject of this post) came after that. He seemed to learn quickly about cross-Equator flows and found one flow crossing the equator after another. From the atmospheric scientists (whom he criticized very much) he also learned that some of those crossings were normal to the equator (monsoon related). But now with this newly acquired information, he starts to criticize his opponents for not making the distinction he himself wasn’t able to make at the time he published the post and the video.

      He claimed that the Washington Post was misleading for not showing a perpendicular flow to illustrate cross-equatorial flows, while he himself didn’t make a distinction between perpendicular and shallow flows in his video.

      He uses the same tactics when claiming that he didn’t say those cross-equatorial flows were “unprecedented”.

      Basically, the big picture is that he tries to “tear down” the Washington Post article that criticized his video on cross-equatorial flows. Yet the insights and actions came only later. Which makes those arguments meaningless in the “tearing down” of the Washington Post article.

      Which is the subject of next post.



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