Tag Archives: climate change

A frontier of climate science: the model-temperature divergence

Summary: Today Rud Istvan gives us a brief tour of a climate science frontier, as seen in a hot new paper. It’s a bit technical, an unavoidable aspect of real science. It’s controversial, an ingredient that helps science grow.  Don’t let activists on either side cloud your understanding of the science. There is a strong but narrow consensus among climate scientists; move beyond that and the questions multiply.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

A challenge for climate science: model-temperature divergence:

Figure 2 from  “Why models run hot, results from an irreducibly simple climate model”.Figure 1 from MSLB. Medium-term global temperature trend projections from FAR {IPCC’s 1st report}, extrapolated from Jan 1990 to Oct 2014 (shaded region), vs. observed anomalies (dark blue) & trend (bright blue), as the mean of the RSS, UAH, NCDC, HadCRUT4 and GISS monthly global anomalies. Click to enlarge.

Lessons from the ‘Irreducibly Simple’ kerfuffle.

by Rud Istvan, posted at Climate Etc., 1 March 2015.
Reposted under their Creative Commons License.
Headings & some graphics added.

A controversial study

The Monckton, Soon, Legates, and Briggs paper “Why models run hot, results from an irreducibly simple climate model” appeared in the January 2015 Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Hereinafter MSLB.The paper discusses the divergence between climate models and observed temperatures, and develops the implications for climate sensitivity.

MSLB has created quite a kerfuffle. There was initial dismissal: it was claimed that Science Bulletin is an obscure journal with lax review standards, so the paper is no good. Bulletin turned out to be the Chinese equivalent of Science or Nature. Then came MSM efforts (NYT, Boston Globe, WaPo, even BarackObama.com) to discredit the authors. This has escalated into a more general attack on prominent skeptics like Christy, Pielke, and our gracious hostess. These attacks are growing ugly, for example from BarackObama.com on Feb 23: “Bad things are coming for these boys and girls. (Name list) Keep your eye on the media. Several stories.”  {Ed note: I don’t see any mention of this on at BarackObama.com or using Google.}

Dr. Trenberth of NCAR provided NYTimes reporter Gillis a MSLB rebuttal, posted at Matt Brigg’s blog.  Gillis did not report Brigg’s reply. Trenberth dismissed the simple model simply because it is simple — and said the ‘pause’ is insignificant natural variation. Yes, but the now 18+ year pause/hiatus is in very serious disagreement with CMIP5 climate model simulations using criteria set out by climate modelers themselves in 2011 [see Climate Etc]. Trenberth’s comments to the NYTimes are indefensibly misleading in my opinion, and provide a vivid object lesson about consensus climate ‘science’ and its reporting.

There was a saying among WWII Army Air Force bomber pilots: “If you are taking heavy flak, you are over the target”. What is it about this target?

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Good news: the warming pause finally appears in the news as journalists learn about science.

Summary:  Telling the public about climate change is among the most difficult challenges for journalists, ever. Complex, rapidly changing, no consensus among scientists beyond a few basics about mechanisms and history, and highly politicized. Here we look at two examples, good and not-so-good. These show progress, and also how the Left’s dogmatic adherence to its narrative has forced them to abandon science (a commonplace in history for both Left and Right).

Community Climate System Model

Community Climate System Model

(1)  Good journalism

Sample #1: “Scientists now know why global warming has slowed down and it’s not good news for us“, Jeffery DelViscio, Quartz, 27 February 2015.

They accurately report two studies. They quote scientists — not activists. They often put things in context. Most important, they break the Left’s narrative of denying the pause, which for several years been one of the hot topics in climate science.

Roberts told Quartz that this all suggests our current warming pause is unique, but, despite the low probability, it is also “very possible” that the pause could continue a few more years. And that wouldn’t be inconsistent with what we know about the effects of the heat-trapping ocean oscillations at work in the Science study.

… >Some even say that 2014, the hottest year on record, already marked the end of the hiatus. But Roberts of the Met Office advised caution before calling it officially off. “I would argue that we need a run of several unusually warm years to be able to definitively identify the end,” he said.

All of the researchers who spoke to Quartz about the two studies agreed that the warming pause was just that. “Eventually we expect temperatures to ‘catch up,’ but it may take longer than five years for that to happen,” Roberts told Quartz.

The article’s overall frame is, however, incorrect. Individual scientists have theories about the cause(s) of the pause. But there is as yet no consensus on this. See for yourself by reading abstracts of (and links to) 37 articles describing of the major 12 theories about causes of the pause, many by leaders in this field.

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Twenty stories of good news about polar bears!

Summary:  Another in our series of good news about the climate, this time about polar bears (others are listed at the end). Good news generates few clicks, so you’ll not see this info in the news. This period of good news probably will not last forever, perhaps not even long. Let’s stop the playground politics and make good use of this time.

Say goodby to the poor photoshopped bear floating out to sea; but his real cousins are doing OK (so far).

Photoshopped polar bear in Science

Pitiful but photoshopped. In Science, 7 May 2010.

Twenty good reasons not to worry about polar bears.

By Susan Crockford
From her website: Polar Bear Science.
Reposted with her generous permission.

Introduction

Here’s a new resource for cooling the polar bear spin, all in one place. I’ve updated and expanded my previous summary of reasons not to worry about polar bears, now two years old. In it, you’ll find links to supporting information (including previous posts of mine providing background, maps and extensive references). Some important graphs and maps have been copied into the summary. I hope you find it a useful resource for refuting the spin and tuning out the cries of doom and gloom about the future of polar bears. Please feel free to share.  Here is a PDF of the this post.

This is the 1st anniversary of Canada providing population estimates and trends independent of the pessimistic prognostications of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) — so let’s celebrate the recent triumphs and resilience of polar bears to their ever-changing Arctic environment.

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More good news about the climate, giving us a priceless gift.

Summary:  Today’s post shows more good news about our climate, about ice. The good news gives us time to act. Unfortunately both Left and Right prefer that we squander this gift of time. The Left denies the pause; the Right considers it a “stop”. Neither supports the climate science research and political organizing necessary to build a coalition capable of acting on the scale necessary. But we need not listen to them. {1st of 2 posts today.}

“Ask me for anything, except time.”
— Attributed to Napoleon.

Ice cubes

Contents

  1. The most valuable resource
  2. Polar Sea Ice
  3. Greenland’s Ice Cap
  4. News coverage from hysteria to journalism
  5. For More Information

 

(1)  Our most valuable resource

Time is the most valuable of resources. It gives us the ability to do research, to mobilize the public and build political coalitions. With time we can prepare; without it we can only react.

Nature has given us the gift of time in the pause of  the atmosphere’s warming since roughly 2000. Most forms of extreme weather have followed by stabilizing or improving: hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires (see links at the end). Even the “sea level rise slowed slightly in the past few years” (Columbia Earth Institute). And now even the sea ice and rate of Greenland glacial melting have stabilized (the subject of this post).

Both Left and Right have adopted science denial as their preferred tactic, using selective citation and exaggeration of science — filtered through activists. Yet we have time to act if we can break free of the ideologues that surround us.

Now to another update on the data.

(2)  Polar Sea Ice

The polar ice caps are sensitive indicators of the global climate. They’re influenced by a wide range of factors and have opposite trends. The good news is that the global sea ice area has been at 1979-2008 average for the past 2 years. See these graphs from the NSIDC.

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Climate denial by Left & Right dominates the public debate.

Summary: One of the oddities in American politics is how Left and Right clearly see each others’ faults, but remain blind to their own similar faults. The mainstream media reports the follies of the Right, but less often those of the Left — which are highlighted by their increasing abandonment of science in their quest to alarm the public about climate change. For example, their long effort to hide climate scientists’ work about the pause in warming of their atmosphere since roughly 2000. It’s a kind of denial, much as we see on the Right.

“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” — Matthew 7:5.

Global Surface Temperature

Observed (black) and predicted (blue) global average annual surface temperature difference relative to 1981-2010. Previous predictions starting from November 1960 are in red, and 22 model simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) are in green. Shading in red represents the probable range, such that the observations are expected to lie within the shading 90% of the time. The forecast (blue) starts from November 2014. All data are rolling 12-month mean values. The black line is from Hadley Centre, GISS and NCDC data. {Caption slightly edited}

Left and Right work to mislead us

During the past few years scores of polls attempted to find the source of the public’s polarized views about climate change. Perhaps there’s a simpler answer. One group knows about the pause, and so has skepticism (for some grossly exaggerated) about the certainty of catastrophic future warming. The other group reads only activists and so remains ignorant of scientists’ research about the pause. For example, Joe Romm at ThinkProgress and Phil Phait in November 2013 and  February 2014 (he’s slacked off lately).

Climate scientists speak, even if we don’t listen

Meanwhile climate scientists continue their work, while Left and Right distort their findings to manipulate public opinion. As we see in the new “Decadal Forecast” of the UK Met Office. From the summary:

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Was 2014 the warmest year? NOAA says that was “more unlikely than likely”.

Summary: To learn if 2014 was the warmest year let’s read the annual reports of NOAA and NASA. They give clear answers (different from the headlines). It might have been the warmest, but if so, only by a insignificant amount. The hysteria of activists about this is absurd. The data shows that the pause continues.

  1. Last year was 0.04°C (0.07°F) warmer than 2005 according to NOAA’s surface temperature data (0.02°C per NASA). NOAA gives it a 48% probability of being the warmest of the past 135 years (a 38% probability per NASA ). NOAA describes this as meaning “more unlikely than likely”.
  2. Berkeley Earth’s data shows it as tied with 2005 and 2010 (within the margin of error).
  3. Neither of NASA’s two satellite datasets of lower troposphere temperature show it as close to a record (data back to 1979).

Before we jump into the details, here’s a cautionary note from Colin Morice (climate monitoring scientist at the UK Met Office):

Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years. We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.

Earth Burning

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Contents (1st of 2 posts today)

  1. How warm was 2014?
  2. How certain is the result?
  3. The Berkeley Group looks at 2014.
  4. Update: the UK Met Office
  5. The satellites disagree with the “hottest year” story.
  6. Conclusions
  7. Other articles about the warmest year
  8. For More Information

(1)  How warm was 2014?

The Most Dishonest Year on Record“, Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, 19 January 2015 — Excerpt:

If 2014 is supposed to be “hotter” than previous years, it’s important to ask: by how much? You can spend a long time searching through press reports to get an actual number on this — which is a scandal unto itself. Just saying one year was “hotter” or “the hottest” is a vague qualitative description. It isn’t science. Science runs on numbers. You haven’t said anything that is scientifically meaningful until you state how much warmer this year was compared to previous years — and until you give the margin of error of that measurement.

The original NASA press release did not give those figures — and most press reports just ran with it anyway. This in itself says a lot. When it comes to global warming, “journalism” has come to mean: “copying press releases from government agencies.”

That’s our journalists! But annual reports by NASA (who runs the GISS dataset) and NOAA (runs the NCDC dataset) provide the answers for journalists interested in news rather than the pack’s narrative. For answers let’s first turn to NOAA’s 2015 “State of the Climate” report. From the Global Analysis section:

The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).

So the fireworks are about a temperature increase of 0.04°C (0.07°F) over 7 years?

(2)  How certain is the result?

How certain is NOAA of this conclusion? We turn to the section Calculating the Probability of Rankings for 2014:

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Scientists speak to us about the warming pause, while activists deny their work.

Summary: I feel sad watching the Left liquidate its credibility by denying climate scientists’ work on the pause in warming of the atmosphere since roughly 2000. Although their voices dominate the news media, we must not rely on activists to tell us about the world. We can see the cutting edge of science for ourselves. Seeing the world clearly is a requirement for our success in the 21st century.

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

— From “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), said first by a prison warden and later by the prisoner Luke (Paul Newman).

World in eye

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Activists have published scores of articles denying the existence of the “pause” (or “hiatus”). That’s politically convenient — the pause contradicts their narrative of imminent catastrophic warming and arouses doubt about the computer models that create the forecasts. But it displays an astonishing disregard for the work of climate scientists, and science — just like those on the Right they mock.

Here we again we see the similar behavior of Americans on both ends of the political spectrum, obvious to all who look — except the participants themselves. It’s one of the things that gives our politics that Oz-like air of absurdity.

While activists earnestly deny the pause, scores of peer-reviewed papers discuss the pause, analyze its causes and forecast its duration. We see the cutting edge of this work at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, in their two sessions about the “Global Warming Hiatus”: Part I and Part II.

Global average temperature has increased by 0.80°C over the 20th century but this warming trend has slowed or even stalled for the past 15 years. This warming hiatus has caused much confusion and debate but at the same time offers a scientific opportunity to study climate change dynamics in action. Mechanisms proposed include a slowdown in net radiative forcing, and interference by natural variability.

This session showcases rapidly advancing research on the physical mechanisms and various impacts of this hiatus event. Topics of particular interest include interdecadal variability and the interaction with forced climate change, radiative forcing and related processes, and ocean heat storage as pertinent to the hiatus.

Especially note this one, an A-team climate scientist revising the consensus: Projections of a rebound in warming out of the current hiatus, Matthew H. England, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Abstract, red emphasis added:

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