Tag Archives: climate change

Do models accurately predict climate change?

Summary: Climate models are important for several reasons. Large flows of tax dollars go to their construction and operation. Their predictions dominate the public policy debate about climate change (to the exclusion of other tools, such as predictability studies). In this post eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. explains that long-term model forecasts have shown little skill at forecasting. Post your questions in the comments; he’ll answer as time permits.  {1st of 2 posts today).

“I offer a toast to the future, the undiscovered country.”
— Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek IV.

The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of? …And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.  {Hamlet}

Temperature change in NOAA's GFDL CM2.1 model.

Projected change in annual mean surface air temperature from the late 20th century (1971-2000 average) to the middle 21st century (2051-2060 average). This is based on a “middle of the road” estimate of future emissions ( IPCC SRES A1B). These results are from the GFDL CM2.1 model, but are consistent with a broad consensus of modeling results. From NOAA.

How accurately do the global climate models simulate the real climate?

Guest post by Roger A. Pielke Sr.

The climate models are useful as sensitivity experiments but using them to claim an ability to skillfully project climate, even on the global scale, in the coming decades has not been shown.

The new seminal Stephens et al paper provides a clear documentation of the level of model skill: “The albedo of Earth” in Reviews of Geophysics, March 2015. There is also a power point talk on this: “Is the Earth’s climatesystem constrained?” Among their conclusions is that …

“Climate models fail to reproduce the observed annual cycle in all components of the albedo with any realism, although they broadly capture the correct proportions of surface and atmospheric contributions to the TOA {top of atmosphere} albedo. A high model bias of albedo has also persisted since the time of CMIP3, mostly during the boreal summer season. Perhaps more importantly, models fail to produce the same degree of interannual constraint on the albedo variability nor do they reproduce the same degree of hemispheric symmetry.”

The technical term albedo “is the fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space. It is a measure of the reflectivity of the earth’s surface. Ice, especially with snow on top of it, has a high albedo: most sunlight hitting the surface bounces back towards space” (From the Earth & Space Research website). CMIP3 is phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). They collect the output of global climate models (i.e., coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models).

Stephens et al further bolsters the conclusions we summarized in the preface to Climate Vulnerability: Understanding and Addressing Threats to Essential Resources (5 volumes, 2013)…

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Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier?

Summary:  American political campaigns are the longest and most expensive in the world, but consist largely of both sides kicking sand into our eyes. The result leaves us less informed and more divided, and gives the victor no mandate. Campaign 2016 has begun. The reaction to Jeb Bush’s remarks about climate shows that we’ve learned nothing from the spectacle of past campaigns.

Jeb Bush logo


  1. Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.
  2. What do climate scientists say?
  3. What does the American public say?
  4. Do we need more innovation?
  5. For More Information.

See tomorrow’s post, where eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. answering your questions about climate models.

(1) Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.

The Left warms up for the 2016 election with smears to arouse the dwindling faithful…

Two stories are the most often cited to support these statements. Neither remotely justifies them. First there is this…

“It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” {Fox News, August 2011}

And this, more recently…

“The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you. … It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them. “We’ve had a pretty significant decrease and we’ll continue on, not because of Barack Obama, but because of the energy revolution.” He credited hydraulic fracking, horizontal drilling and an increased use of natural gas for helping cut American carbon emissions.

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What happened to NASA’s missing weather satellites & their vital data about global warming?

Summary: The world has a new and serious mystery, right up there with “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” and “The President’s plane is missing!” What happened to NASA’s satellites that measure global temperatures? They appear to have disappeared from the nation’s major newspapers, their valuable information about global warming lost from view. Today’s post retrieves it to help you understand one of the top public policy issues of our time.  {1st of 2 posts today.}



  1. Where are NASA’s satellites?
  2. How warm was May?
  3. Watch the trend in temperatures!
  4. Climate models predict too much heat.
  5. Who measures the world’s temperature?
  6. For More Information.
  7. Another view of the satellites.
  8. Giving the IPCC the last word.

(1)  Where are NASA’s satellites?

NASA has launched a fleet of satellites which (among other things) since 1979 have measured Earth’s temperature in the lower troposphere, with better coverage and consistency than the surface temperature networks — with their spotty coverage of the world’s seas and scores of national weather bureaus (many poorly funded) that the collect land temperatures. Being careful and thorough, NASA pays two teams to analyze the data:  Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

Here are the satellites whose sensors — at vast cost — have driven the RSS dataset since 1979, among the most valuable results from the space program (see the end of the post for a more detailed chart).

Oddly, the results of the satellites’ temperature measurements have almost disappeared from much of the news. As a crude measure, there are 2,970 Google News stories in the past year mentioning “hottest year”, but only 637 (21%) include the word “satellite” — and few of those are in the mainstream news. For example, per Google News only 1 of the many “hottest year” stories in the New York Times include both terms, 2 of the 49 science articles in the Washington Post (here and here), and 6 of the 17 in the Wall Street Journal.

The eclipse of this data is mysterious since it would provides a contrary perspective to the “hottest year” stories, since neither RSS nor UAH shows 2014 as a record (details here). But whatever the reason, we need not rely on journalists to tell us the expensive findings of this NASA research.

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About the imminent spike in global warming

Summary: Our dysfunctional politics result largely from polarized views of Americans, both sides shaped by skillful and expensive propaganda. To break free we’ll need to learn their methods and develop far deeper skepticism. This is another in a series of posts looking at examples of our minds being molded by pros. It discusses the work of climate activists, but it’s vital to understand that both sides do this — because it works.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Global Warming

Yesterday’s post discussed the largely erroneous framing in an article about climate change by investment expert Barry Ritholtz at Bloomberg. How do intelligent, educated people become so convinced by the propaganda of climate activists, dismissing any who disagree with them as “deniers”?

We might find an answer by looking at the work of activists, such as Joe Romm (note that most climate activists are paid employees, unlike most of those on the Right). This post follows his chain of evidence in a typical article, showing how his bold conclusions rest on misrepresentations of the literature, and exaggerating the scope and certainty of specific papers.

The work by activists have large effects because liberals often read only activists, giving them a misunderstanding of climate science — exacerbated because activists seldom cite the work of institutions like the IPCC (designed to make the work of scientists understandable to laypeople).

Today’s example: “NOAA Study Confirms Global Warming Speed-Up Is Imminent” at ThinkProgress, 5 June 201 — Opening …

A major new study from NOAA finds more evidence that we may be witnessing the start of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures. As I reported in April, many recent studies have found that we are about to enter an era of even more rapid global warming. … The new study in Science from a team of NOAA scientists, “finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century,” as NOAA explains.

… What happens when these various temporary factors stop? Karl explained: “Once these factors play out, and they may have already, global temperatures could rise more rapidly than what we have seen so far.” In other words, the long-awaited jump is global temperatures is likely imminent.

The cracks appear right at the start of this. Note the jump between Karl’s careful “may have already … could rise” and Romm’s “likely imminent”. Romm also omits the cautious language Karl gives in the NOAA’s well-written (as always) press releases (first one, second one) …

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An example of the mad climate change debate, showing America’s dysfunctionality

Summary: In 2008 I first wrote about the climate change public policy debate as an example of the increasing dysfunctionality of America’s ability to see, understand, and act upon our changing world. Despite the attention of our most intelligent and educated people, the problem has grown worse. This post provides yet another example, ground-level reporting about how our politics make us stupid.  {1st of 2 posts.}

“Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”
— From Robert A. Heinlein’s novella “Gulf” (1949), later published in Assignment in Eternity.

Logical contradiction

Embrace the truth!

Barry Ritholtz at Bloomberg explains that “Even Skeptics Can Profit From Climate Change“. He’s an investment expert (trained as an attorney) whose work I’ve followed for years (his website is The Big Picture).  Opening…

A new Mercer research report, “Investing in a Time of Climate Change,” is fascinating for what it is (and isn’t): a pure investment thesis, not a screed on science or politics.

… I don’t want to debate the science, but rather to focus on the investment risks the report discusses. As we have noted before, this is a question of industry market share, corporate profits and investment performance — not science. In the real world, climate-change deniers are and will be giant money losers.

I replied on Twitter that although the future is unknown, bets on climate change during the past decade or two probably would not have been profitable — as explained by the IPCC in their 2012 report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX), and in AR5, the most recent IPCC report — from which I quoted…

Overall, the most robust global changes in climate extremes are seen in measures of daily temperature, including to some extent, heat waves. Precipitation extremes also appear to be increasing, but there is large spatial variability, and observed trends in droughts are still uncertain except in a few regions. … There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century.  {AR5, WG1, chapter 2}

This is an unambiguous conclusion, supported by a wide range of data. The fraction of a degree in warming during the past few decades provides no basis for successful “bets”. As for other forms of extreme climate, there is no trend in global tropical storm numbers and intensity, in global sea ice area — and in the US, in tornado and wildfire numbers and intensity (as shown by Prof Botkin and in this post).

The response reveals much

Ritholz’s response was also unambiguous: he blocked me on Twitter, a typical reaction of people getting their truths from climate activists. They pay little attention to the IPCC but freak when confronted with its conclusions that disagree with theirs. The IPCC was the “gold standard” description of climate science research — the most reliable statement of climate scientists’ consensus. By 2011 activists were saying it was “too conservative”, which became a widespread response to the release of AR5 in 2013 (e.g., see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360).

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The Pause in global warming has ended. Now see the rest of the story.

Summary: A new paper in Science grapples with pause in atmospheric warming, one of the frontiers in climate science. I expect that the news media will give it mega-coverage, total applause (papers that challenge the paradigm are ignored). Here are comments by climate scientists giving the vital context that few journalists will mention. The important thing to know, a secret to journalists, is that laypeople should focus on the trend of the literature — or summaries like those of the IPCC — rather than the cherry-picked papers highlighted by activists on both sides. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Community Climate System Model

Community Climate System Model

A major new report just published in Science by a team of NOAA climatologists will roil the debate about the vital subject: “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus” by Thomas R. Karl et al. The timing is significant, one of a series of papers appearing before November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.  Abstract…

Much study has been devoted to the possible causes of an apparent decrease in the upward trend of global surface temperatures since 1998, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the global warming “hiatus.” Here we present an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than reported by the IPCC, especially in recent decades, and that the central estimate for the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century. These results do not support the notion of a “slowdown” in the increase of global surface temperature.

Excerpts from the paper.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report concluded that the global surface temperature “has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years [1998-2012] than over the past 30 to 60 years.” The more recent trend was “estimated to be around one-third to one-half of the trend over 1951-2012.” The apparent slowdown was termed a “hiatus,” and inspired a suite of physical explanations for its cause, including changes in radiative forcing, deep ocean heat up-take, and atmospheric circulation changes.

While these analyses and theories have considerable merit in helping to understand the global climate system, other important aspects of the “hiatus” related to observational biases in global surface temperature data have not received similar attention. In particular, residual data biases in the modern era could well have muted recent warming, and as stated by IPCC, the trend period itself was short and commenced with a strong El Niño in 1998. Given recent improvements in the observed record and additional years of global data (including a record-warm 2014), we re-examine the observational evidence related to a “hiatus” in recent global surface warming.

… It is also noteworthy that the new global trends are statistically significant and positive at the 0.10 significance level for 1998–2012 {i.e., weakly significant}.

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Texas warns us that we’re unprepared for normal weather

Summary:  We get a lesson from the weather about America’s lack of preparedness for quite normal “disasters” (events). Our fascination with doomster scenarios is fun, as we thrill to op-eds asking if we will we start WWIII with Putin — or die in the deserts of 2100 or die in its flooding seas — but it distracts us from managing America’s routine operations.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc.


While we bicker fruitlessly about the weather in 2050 and 2100, we ignore the clear lessons from disasters of the past decade. Hurricane Katrina revealed a city with elaborate (and expensively prepared) disaster procedures, but totally unprepared to implement them. Hurricane Sandy revealed a city unprepared for weather that occurred in its area several times in the 20th C. The current flooding in Texas: showed State proud to have resisted Commie-lite land use regulation and high taxes — and so severely damaged by floods typical in its region.

Not only are we vulnerable to normal weather (“normal” by the usual 100-year standard), we’re vulnerable to less frequent but inevitable weather (e.g., a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hitting a major city, like Miami). It’s yet another example of our focus on theoretical future disasters while we ignore imminent dangers, such as our dying oceans (details in this post, and this one).

Today’s reading shows America’s vision in operation. Blind and dumb is no way to run a superpower, or even prosper in the harsh wilds of the 21st C.

Texas And Oklahoma Floods 2015:
Flooded Properties In Central Texas Were Knowingly Built In Harm’s Way.

by Maria Gallucci, International Business Times.
29 May 2015 — Excerpt

As torrential downpours ripped through San Marcos, Texas, earlier this week, the town’s two rivers swiftly burst over their banks and surged into homes and across roads. At the Woodlands of San Marcos, a new housing complex, thick brown waters flooded the buildings’ first floors.

Stephen Ramirez said he wasn’t exactly surprised to see the damage. The 306-unit development is being built in a floodplain and sits just steps from the San Marcos River. When city officials were mulling a zoning change in 2012 to allow the project to proceed, Ramirez and other opponents repeatedly warned about the risks of flooding.

… But the flooded complex in San Marcos and other damaged properties in the region point to the broader challenges facing America’s communities: As populations swell and urban development abounds, cities and towns are increasingly allowing developers to build squarely in harm’s way.

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