Roy Spencer (scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Roy W. Spencer
Aqua Celebrates Ten Years.jpg
Born (1955-12-20) December 20, 1955 (age 62)
United States
ResidenceHuntsville, Alabama
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison
AwardsNASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1991),
AMS Special Award (1996)
Scientific career
University of Alabama in Huntsville
ThesisA case study of African wave structure and energetics during Atlantic transit (1981)
Doctoral advisorVerner E. Suomi
WebsiteOfficial website

Roy Warren Spencer (born December 20, 1955)[1] is a meteorologist,[2] a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite.[3][4] He has served as senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.[3][4]

He is known for his satellite-based temperature monitoring work, for which he was awarded the American Meteorological Society's Special Award.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Spencer received a B.S. in atmospheric sciences from the University of Michigan in 1978 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1980 and 1982.[3] His doctoral thesis was titled, A case study of African wave structure and energetics during Atlantic transit.[5]

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1982, Spencer worked for two years as a research scientist in the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[3] He then joined NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center as a visiting scientist in 1984,[4] where he later became senior scientist for climate studies. After leaving NASA in 2001, Spencer has been a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). As well as his position at UAH, Spencer is currently the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite, a position he has held since 1994.[3]

In 2001, he designed an algorithm to detect tropical cyclones and estimate their maximum sustained wind speed using the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU).[6][7]

Spencer has been a member of several science teams: the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Space Station Accommodations Analysis Study Team, Science Steering Group for TRMM, TOVS Pathfinder Working Group, NASA Headquarters Earth Science and Applications Advisory Subcommittee, and two National Research Council (NRC) study panels.[3]

He is on the board of directors of the George C. Marshall Institute,[8] and on the board of advisors of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.[9]

Spencer's research work is funded by NASA, NOAA, DOE, and the DOT[4] as well as by Peabody Energy. [10]

Peer-reviewed articles on climate change[edit]

Negative cloud feedback[edit]

In 2007, Spencer and others published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters regarding negative cloud feedback in the tropics that potentially supports Richard Lindzen's Iris hypothesis, which proposes that as the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease, allowing infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space.[11][12] Spencer stated, "To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. [...] Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."[12][13]

Cloud formation and temperature change[edit]

In 2008, Spencer and William Braswell published a paper in the Journal of Climate which suggests that natural variations in how clouds form could actually be causing temperature changes, rather than the other way around, and could also lead to overestimates of how sensitive the Earth's climate is to greenhouse gas emissions.[14][15] Spencer stated, "Our paper is an important step toward validating a gut instinct that many meteorologists like myself have had over the years, [...] that the climate system is dominated by stabilizing processes, rather than destabilizing processes – that is, negative feedback rather than positive feedback."[16]

Energy lost to space as compared to climate models[edit]

In 2011, Spencer and Braswell published a paper in Remote Sensing concluding that more energy is radiated back to space and released earlier than previously thought.[17][18] Spencer stated, "The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans."[18][19][20]

The paper was criticized by numerous climate scientists.[21][22] Kerry Emanuel of MIT, said this work was cautious and limited mostly to pointing out problems with forecasting heat feedback.[21]

The editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, later resigned over publication of Spencer and Braswell (2011),[23] stating, "From a purely formal point of view, there were no errors with the review process. [...] the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view ...but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal."[24] Wagner added he, "would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate skeptics have much exaggerated the paper's conclusions in public statements".[23][24]

Andrew Dessler later published a paper opposing the claims of Spencer and Braswell (2011) in Geophysical Research Letters.[25] He stated, among other things:

First, [they] analyzed 14 models, but they plotted only six models and the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis. Plotting all of the models and all of the data provide a much different conclusion.


Climate change[edit]

In 2006 Spencer criticized Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, saying, "For instance, Mr. Gore claims that the Earth is now warmer than it has been in thousands of years. Yet the latest National Academies of Science (NAS) report on the subject has now admitted that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years, which is mostly made up of the 'Little Ice Age'".[26]

In a New York Post opinion column on February 26, 2007, Spencer wrote:

Contrary to popular accounts, very few scientists in the world – possibly none – have a sufficiently thorough, "big picture" understanding of the climate system to be relied upon for a prediction of the magnitude of global warming. To the public, we all might seem like experts, but the vast majority of us work on only a small portion of the problem.[27]

In an interview with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh on February 28, 2007, Spencer stated that he didn't believe "catastrophic manmade global warming" was occurring. He also criticized climate models, saying "The people that have built the climate models that predict global warming believe they have sufficient physics in those models to predict the future. I believe they don't. I believe the climate system, the weather as it is today in the real world shows a stability that they do not yet have in those climate models."[28] Roy Spencer is also included in a film that argues against the theory of man-made global warming called The Great Global Warming Swindle.

He testified before the Waxman committee's examination of political interference with climate science on March 19, 2007.[4]

Spencer has published two books on climate change: In 2008, Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor,[29] and in 2010, The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists.[30][31]

Spencer is a signatory to "An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming",[32][33] which states that "We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."[34] He believes that most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in the Earth's albedo and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but that its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover.[35] This view contradicts the scientific consensus that "most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities".[36] Climatologist Patrick Michaels, also a self-professed skeptic of global warming, has defended Spencer, arguing that his religious beliefs have nothing to do with his climate change research.[37]

On July 18, 2013 before U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's Environment and Public Works committee, Spencer suggested the hearing title could easily be renamed "Climate Change, It's Happened Before" rather than the actual title, "Climate Change, It's Happening Now". He added “The last 2000 years of proxy reconstructed temperature variations for the Northern Hemisphere shows that the Modern Warm Period (today) is not significantly different from the Medieval Warm Period of ~1000 years ago, or the Roman Warm Period of ~2000 years ago."[38][1][2][unreliable source?]

In February 2014 Spencer posted on his blog that he was going to start referring to those who referred to those questioning the mainstream view of global warming (such as Spencer himself) as "climate change deniers" as "global warming Nazis", contending that "...these people are supporting policies that will kill far more people than the Nazis ever did."[39][40] The Anti-Defamation League responded with a statement condemning Spencer's comparison. Shelley Rose, the ADL's Southeast Interim Regional Director, argued that the comparison of global warming advocates to Nazis was "outrageous and deeply offensive," and "This analogy is just the latest example of a troubling epidemic of comparisons to Hitler and the Holocaust."[41] In reply, Spencer asked whether the ADL was being hypocritical. Spencer quoted syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman's famous statement that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers," and said that the ADL should condemn that use of "denier."[42] Spencer was defended by Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow adjunct policy analyst Alan Caruba, who wrote that "Dr. Spencer’s decision to call a Nazi a Nazi ignited a lot of discussion among the global warming hustlers and those whom they have been calling “deniers” for many years."[43]

Intelligent design[edit]

In TCS Daily, Spencer wrote, "Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as 'fact,' I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college."[44]

In the book The Evolution Crisis, Spencer wrote, "I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world. [...] Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer."[45]


See also[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Spencer, Roy W. (June 30, 2006). "Star Search". TCS Daily.
  • Spencer, Roy W. (January 16, 2005). "World warms to Kyoto, but research will save the day". USA Today.
  • Spencer, Roy W. (February 26, 2007). "NOT THAT SIMPLE – GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT WE DON'T KNOW". New York Post.
  • Spencer, Roy W. (May 1, 2008). "More Carbon Dioxide, Please". National Review.


Peer-reviewed papers[edit]


  1. ^ "ISNI 0000000122132141". Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  2. ^ Fong, Jocelyn (27 January 2011). "Fox Tries To Debunk Global Warming, Fails Miserably". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Aqua Project Science". NASA. Archived from the original on 2013-02-16. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Spencer, Roy W. (March 19, 2007). "STATEMENT TO THE COMMITTEE" (PDF). United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  5. ^ Spencer, Roy Warren (1981). "A case study of African wave structure and energetics during Atlantic transit". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  6. ^ "Detecting Tropical Cyclones Using AMSU". NASA. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  7. ^ Spencer, Roy W. and William D. Braswell (2001). "Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Monitoring with AMSU-A: Estimation of Maximum Sustained Wind Speeds". Monthly Weather Review. 129: 1518–1532. Bibcode:2001MWRv..129.1518S. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(2001)129<1518:ATCMWA>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  8. ^ "The Marshall Institute – Staff". George C. Marshall Institute. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  9. ^ "Cornwall Alliance Board of Advisors". Cornwall Alliance. Archived from the original on 2013-04-28. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  10. ^ "Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change". The Guardian. 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  11. ^ Spencer, Roy W.; Braswell, William D.; Christy, John R.; Hnilo, Justin (2007). "Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 34 (15). Bibcode:2007GeoRL..3415707S. doi:10.1029/2007GL029698.
  12. ^ a b Milloy, Study (November 1, 2007). "Clouds Mitigate Global Warming, New Evidence Shows". Heartland Institute. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  13. ^ "Cirrus disappearance: Warming might thin heat-trapping clouds" (Press release). University of Alabama in Huntsville. August 9, 2007. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  14. ^ Spencer, Roy W. and William D. Braswell (2008). "Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Demonstration" (PDF). Journal of Climate. 21 (21): 5624–5628. Bibcode:2008JCli...21.5624S. doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2253.1. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  15. ^ Rice, Doyle (June 18, 2008). "Global warming forecast: Partly cloudy". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  16. ^ "Has global warming research misinterpreted cloud behavior?". PhysOrg. June 8, 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  17. ^ Spencer, Roy and William Braswell (2011). "On the Misdiagnosis of Climate Feedbacks from Variations in Earth's Radiant Energy Balance". Remote Sensing. 3 (8): 1603–1613. Bibcode:2011RemS....3.1603S. doi:10.3390/rs3081603. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  18. ^ a b Orlowski, Andrew (July 29, 2011). "'Missing heat': Is global warmth vanishing into space?". The Register. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  19. ^ "Data contradict climate model predictions". UPI. July 29, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  20. ^ Horton, Daniel (July 29, 2011). "Climate models make too hot forecasts of global warming". PhysOrg. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  21. ^ a b Borenstein, Seth (July 29, 2011). "Skeptic's small cloud study renews climate rancor". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  22. ^ Black, Richard (September 2, 2011). "Journal editor resigns over 'problematic' climate paper". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  23. ^ a b Hickman, Leo (February 9, 2011). "Journal editor resigns over 'flawed' paper co-authored by climate sceptic". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  24. ^ a b Wagner, Wolfgang (2011). "Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper "On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth's Radiant Energy Balance" by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-1613". Remote Sensing. 3 (9): 2002–2004. Bibcode:2011RemS....3.2002W. doi:10.3390/rs3092002. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  25. ^ Dessler, Andrew E. (2011). "Cloud variations and the Earth's energy budget" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 38 (19). Bibcode:2011GeoRL..3819701D. doi:10.1029/2011GL049236. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
  26. ^ Star Search by Roy Spencer, TCS Daily, 30 Jun 2006
  27. ^ Spencer, Roy W. (2007-02-26). "NOT THAT SIMPLE / GLOBAL WARMING: WHAT WE DON'T KNOW". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
  28. ^ Global Warming Update: Facts, Science Smash the Global Warming Myth Archived 2007-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ Climate Confusion
  30. ^ Bickmore, Barry (February 27, 2011). "Roy Spencer’s Great Blunder, Part 1". Skeptical Science.
  31. ^ Ghan, Steve (April 28, 2011). "Review of Spencer’s ‘Great Global Warming Blunder’". RealClimate.
  32. ^ "Prominent Signers of 'An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming'". Cornwall Alliance. May 1, 2009. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015.
  33. ^ Mark Kelly. "Global warming alarmism 'fails the tests,' scholars say", Baptist Press, December 4, 2009.
  34. ^ An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, Cornwall Alliance, 1 May 2009, retrieved 14 October 2015
  35. ^ "Interview With A Global Warming Skeptic: Dr. Roy Spencer" (Interview). Interviewed by Cameron J. English. Science 2.0. May 13, 2010.
  36. ^ "Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis". GRID-Arendal, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2001. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  37. ^ Michaels, Patrick J. (May 9, 2012). "Guilt by Association". National Review. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  38. ^ Noon, Marita (July 21, 2013). "Why Is Obama Lying on Climate Change?" Town Hall. Archived 2016-03-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ Spencer, Roy W. (20 February 2014). "Time to push back against the global warming Nazis". Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  40. ^ Abrams, Lindsay (21 February 2014). "People who call climate deniers "climate deniers" should be called "Global Warming Nazis," says climate denier". Salon. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  41. ^ Gattis, Paul (26 February 2014). "UAH climate expert Roy Spencer calls critics 'global warming Nazis'; Anti-Defamation League objects". The Birmingham News. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  42. ^ UAH climate expert Roy Spencer sharply rebukes criticism from Anti-Defamation League, The Huntsville Times (, February 28, 2014
  43. ^ Caruba, Alan (12 March 2014). "Calling the Global Warming charlatans "Nazis"". Sonoran News. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  44. ^ Spencer, Roy (August 8, 2005). "Faith-Based Evolution". TCS Daily. Archived from the original on October 3, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  45. ^ Penfold, Michael (2007). The Evolution Crisis. Penfold Books. ISBN 1900742241. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
  46. ^ Horack, John; Dooling, Dave (January 1996). "SSL 1996 Annual Report – Earth Science". NASA.

External links[edit]