Tag Archives: global warming

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

  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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The record closes on 2014. Was it the warmest year on record?

Summary: Alarmists trumpeted that 2014 was the warmest on record, seldom mentioning how long the record, or how much warmer, or if all the datasets agree. It’s innumeracy, an ignorance (sometimes feigned) of mathematics and the scientific method. It’s sad, since they’re repeating long-failed attempts to arouse public fear of climate change by statements beyond those of the climate science consensus — and often contradictory to it. (2nd of 2 posts today)

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— conclusion of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I

Earth Burning

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Contents

  1. Appeals to fear. Will they work?
  2. What do satellites tell us about global warming?
  3. What’s the trend?
  4. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  5. For More Information

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(1) Appeals to fear. Will they work?

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Joe Romm at ThinkProgress is a poster child for the Left’s failure to build public support through propaganda. For an example see “2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record Globally By Far” — “The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has announced that 2014 was the hottest year in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far.”  Quite a bold statement, but not what JMA said.

The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.27°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.70°C per century.

Five Warmest Years (Anomalies): 1st. 2014 (+0.27°C), 2nd. 1998 (+0.22°C), 3rd. 2013, {4th.} 2010 (+0.20°C), 5th. 2005 (+0.17°C).

No mention by JMA of “warmest by far”, since it was the warmest by only +0.05°C — far smaller than the accuracy of the hodge-podge global surface temperature network (run by individual national weather services, with widely varying funding and effort).

The world has warmed for 2 centuries, since WWII largely due to our emissions (natural cycles caused the warming from the early 19thC). Activists like Romm seldom mentioned how much it has warmed, which allows alarmists to more easily arouse fear. For the answer we turn to the NASA-funded global temperature data from satellites.  This post shows the numbers: the warming since 1979 is small (so far; the future might be quite different). The truth is out there for people willing to see it. Only with it can we prepare for our future.

Before we dive into the numbers, read this 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.

(2)  What do satellites tell us about global warming?

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Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979, measuring lower troposphere temperatures.

The 2014 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

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UAH satellite 2014 temperature data

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2014 will be the hottest year on record! Except for the details, which ruin that narrative.

Summary: Let’s look at the most recent hot story about climate change. It shows why the public knows so little about it, despite the intense coverage — and why so many are suspicious about what they’re told. Activists and journalists often prefer the simple politically useful narrative to the messy reality.  This is the second of today’s post, a follow-up to this morning’s How much did the world warm in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers.

The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.

— Sir Arthur C Clarke, interview with Nalaka Gunawardene, posted at OneWorld, 5 December 2003

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We start with the science, a press release from the UK Met Office, 3 December 2014 (the WMO put out a similar notice that day) — Excerpt:

The global mean temperature for January to October based on the  HadCRUT4 dataset (compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit) is 0.57 °C (+/- 0.1) above the long-term (1961-1990) average. This is consistent with the statement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today.

With two months of data still to add, the full-year figure could change but presently 2014 is just ahead of the current record of 0.56°C set in 2010 in the global series which dates back to 1850. The final value for this year will be very close to the central estimate of 0.57°C from the Met Office global temperature forecast for 2014, which was issued late last year.

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: “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.”

Note this looks at only one of the global temperature datasets; although the other surface temperature datasets agree (they rely on overlapping sources) neither of the 2 satellite datasets shows a record year.

For an example of accurate reporting on this see the Financial Times (whose demanding audience doesn’t tolerate lies and cant): “This year on course to be warmest on record“, 3 December 2014. They give accurate and precise news, put in context.

  1. The news (burying the lede, it’s at the end):”… The WMO said the average global land and sea surface temperature between January and October was about 0.57C higher than the average recorded between 1961 and 1990. It was also 0.09C above the average for the past 10 years.”
  2. Context:  “Mr Stott said it was “remarkable” to see a record year of heat occur in the absence of an El Niño, a warming water pattern in the eastern Pacific that has boosted temperatures in the recent past. But he added it was still too early to know whether 2014 signalled an end to the so-called pause in the rate of global warming during the past decade.”
  3. Political background (news seldom just happens): “The news came as thousands of delegates to this year’s UN climate negotiations in Lima arrived for the last big round of talks before a global climate-change deal is due to be sealed in Paris at the end of next year.”

Most of the major media follow the same format, but omit the FT’s scientific and political context (e.g., on CNN and The Guardian). They prefer instead to hype the warming.

Liberals tend to get their news from activists like Joe Romm at ThinkProgress. He goes straight for innumeracy, omitting all numbers and provides word salad instead. He quotes a UN official (WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud) who denies the pause — after several years during which climate scientists study its causes and forecast its duration. And he ignored Dr. Morice’s warning.

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How much did the world warm in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers.

Summary: How warm was the world in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers. They might surprise you.

The world has been warming for 2 centuries. Seldom mentioned is how much it has warmed, which allows alarmists to more easily arouse fear (e.g., see Joe Romm’s latest; difficult to read graphs but no numbers). For the answer we turn to the NASA-funded global temperature data from satellites.  This post shows the numbers: the warming since 1979 is small (so far; the future might be quite different). The truth is out there for people willing to see it. Only with it can we prepare for our future.

Click to enlarge the graphs. This is the first of two posts today.

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— conclusion of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I

Global Warming

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Contents

  1. What do satellites tell us about global warming?
  2. Was this the hottest November?
  3. The long-term history of warming
  4. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  5. For More Information

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(1) What do satellites tell us about global warming?

Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979.

The November 2014 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

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U AL-Huntsville November 2014 temperature map

Click to enlarge. From the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

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See the equivalent graph from the surface temperature stations of the Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (CAMS) of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) at the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).

Key points from the UAH report (prepared under contract for NASA), which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly (few alarmists know this; even fewer admit it):

  1. The global composite temperature in November was +0.33°C (0.60°F) above the average for November during 1981-2010.
  2. Global climate trend of temperature starting in 16 November 1978: +0.14°C  (0.3°F) per decade.
  3. Anomalies are computed per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommended method, comparing the current temperatures vs. a 30 year base period ending with the latest decade.

That warming has not, however, been uniform around the globe.

  1. The fastest warming has been over the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Those areas have warmed at the rate of 0.49°C per decade, or more than 1.76°C (about 3.17°F) in 36 years.
  2. The oceans surrounding the Antarctic are cooling at the rate of 0.02°C per decade, or 0.07°C since December 1978.
  3. The Northern Hemisphere is warming more than twice as fast as the Southern Hemisphere (0.19°C per decade vs. 0.09°C per decade).
  4. The contiguous 48 U.S. states have an average warming rate of 0.22°C (almost 0.40°F) per decade during the past 36 years. That means the average atmospheric temperature over the lower 48 has warmed by 0.79°C or about 1.43°F during that time.

(2) Was this the hottest November?

Before we look at the numbers, Colin Morice (climate monitoring scientist at the UK Met Office) warns us that…

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Some good news about our changing climate. Enjoy it, for it might not last long.

Summary: A people can be shaped by controlling their information, altering their perception of the world by filtering what they learn. We see that today in the debate about one of the potentially largest challenges of the 21st century.  Climate scientists differ on their forecasts of future weather, which range from large to calamitous changes. Some activists find these inadequate, and resort to exaggerated claims about extreme weather today — and suppression of the good news. Today we look at the good news you might know. All these trends will change (that’s what climate does). But before we look ahead, let’s clearly see the world of today.

Extreme Weather

We don’t know what lies ahead

Contents

  1. Few hurricanes, weak hurricanes
  2.  It’s a slow year for wildfires (again)
  3. Another slow year for tornadoes
  4. Arctic sea ice rebounds
  5. The pause continues
  6. About trends in extreme weather
  7. For More Information

Click on the graphs to enlarge them.

(1)  Few hurricanes, weak hurricanes

No Named Storms First Time Since 1992 at Hurricane Peak“, Bloomberg, 10 September 2014 — Excerpt:

The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season has arrived and for the first time since 1992 there isn’t a named storm in the basin. … In records going back to 1851, Sept. 10 is the day when the odds are greatest there will be at least one tropical storm or hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic.

… There have been times when quiet years have shown up in the midst of active eras, Phil Klotzbach, lead author of Colorado State University’s seasonal hurricane forecast, said from Walnut Creek, California. Last year produced 13 named storms, one more than the 30-year average, yet the power of those systems was so weak it is considered a relatively quiet season.

Using an index called the accumulated cyclone energy, 2014 has only had 45% of  the activity that it should have produced by this time, Klotzbach said. “But we are still ahead of the ridiculously quiet season of 2013,” he said. “I would say that we need at least one more quiet year to really be convinced that we are heading into an inactive era.”

The last major landfall on the US was Wilma in October 2005; cyclone activity is also low in Australia. Global tropical cyclone energy has fallen from its peaks of 1994 – 2006, per this graph from WeatherBell.

Global tropical cyclone activity, 31 August 2014

Ryan N. Maue, meteorologist, WeatherBell

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The core of the climate debate: how much of the past warming did we cause?

Summary:  Today we have a post by Judith Curry, a leading climate scientist, going to the very heart of the debate: how much of the warming since 1950 results from us? Before making predictions, how confidently can we see our past?

Climate change presents one of the greatest challenges in humanity’s history. To accurately assess long slow changes in Earth’s biosphere, discerning the effects of our effects from natural cycles. Equally difficult, our political machinery must accurately see the conclusions of climate scientists, and take appropriate steps. These are largely sociological processes, called upon to work on a level seldom seen in our past.

Voltaire: Doubt & Certainty

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Contents

  1. The 50-50 argument
  2. About Judith Curry
  3. Vital info about climate change
  4. For More Information
  5. Advice from Bertrand Russell

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The 50-50 argument

by Judith Curry, at her website Climate Etc
24 August 2014
Posted here under her Creative Commons license

(a)  Choose which hypothesis you prefer

Pick one:

  1. Warming since 1950 is predominantly (more than 50%)  caused by humans.
  2. Warming since 1950 is predominantly caused by natural processes.

When faced with a choice between 1 and 2,  I respond:  ‘I can’t choose, since i think the most likely split between natural and anthropogenic causes to recent global warming is about 50-50′.  Gavin thinks I’m ‘making things up’ {see the discussion in comments here}, so I promised yet another post on this topic.

For background and context, see my previous 4 part series Overconfidence in the IPCC’s detection and attribution.

(b)  Framing

The IPCC’s AR5 (2014) attribution statement:

It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

I’ve remarked on the ‘most’ (previous incarnation of ‘more than half’, equivalent in meaning) in my Uncertainty Monster paper: “Further, the attribution statement itself is at best imprecise and at worst ambiguous: what does “most” mean – 51% or 99%?” Whether it is 51% or 99% would seem to make a rather big difference regarding the policy response.  It’s time for climate scientists to refine this range.

I am arguing here that the ‘choice’ regarding attribution shouldn’t be binary, and there should not be a break at 50%; rather we should consider the following terciles for the net anthropogenic contribution to warming since 1950: >66%, 33% – 66%, <33%.  Hence 50-50 refers to the tercile 33-66% (as the midpoint)

Note:   I am referring only to a period of overall warming, so by definition the cooling argument is eliminated.  Further, I am referring to the NET anthropogenic effect (greenhouse gases + aerosols + etc).   I am looking to compare the relative magnitudes of net anthropogenic contribution with net natural contributions.

Further, by global warming I refer explicitly to the historical record of global average surface temperatures.  Other data sets such as ocean heat content, sea ice extent, whatever, are not sufficiently mature or long-range (see Climate data records: maturity matrix).   Further, the surface temperature is most relevant to climate change impacts, since humans and land ecosystems live on the surface.  I acknowledge that temperature variations can vary over the earth’s surface, and that heat can be stored/released by vertical processes in the atmosphere and ocean.  But the key issue of societal relevance (not to mention the focus of IPCC detection and attribution arguments) is the realization of this heat on the Earth’s surface.

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Have the climate skeptics jumped the shark, taking the path to irrelevance?

Summary: How do myths get entrenched in conservatives’ minds, exerting a pull to the right on American politics? We can understand the process — and perhaps fight it — by studying specific cases. Like the one happening right now, about the secret conspiracy of government scientists manipulating the US climate data to exaggerate global warming. These myths take hold in part because most people, including journalists, consider them too daft to bother with. Like a small infection. In the coming months we’ll see how well the skeptics — and America — fight this off.

Altered version of Newsweek Aug 2007 cover

Altered version of Newsweek Aug 2007 cover

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BENGHAZI: the model for debates in our mad age

I saw the first sparks of the Benghazi BENGHAZI myth as they flew through the right-wing blogosphere. I remember a Sergeant (having an impressive bio) explain how the decisions that night could only have been made by the President as he watched events in real-time on the giant monitors in the War Room. I laughed at this fantasy by someone who probably spent too much time watching TV, and too little studying the vast-beyond-imagining but slow-moving US government apparatus. Many Congressional investigations — and thousands of articles and Fox TV shows — later, it’s not so funny.

Right now a similar social virus spreads through the political right of America. This post briefly describes it, puts it in a broader context, and discusses the possible effects. For details about the story see:

  1. Did NASA and NOAA dramatically alter US climate history to exaggerate global warming?
  2. Comment threads about global warming show the American mind at work, like a reality-TV horror show., 29 June 2014
  3. The climate wars get exciting. Government conspiracy! Shattered warming records! Global cooling!

This story has a second dimension. Movements have life cycles, and are subject to “illnesses”. One of these is “jumping the shark“, a decline in quality following an over-the-top moment in the plot. I saw this happen in the Peak Oil Movement at the 2008 US Conference of the Assn for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (also see posts at The Oil Drum from that period). People competed to have the most dire forecasts, the most authoritative conspiracy theory — with a complete collapse of intellectual integrity by the group, and failure of its leaders to maintain discipline. (As with Benghazi, I saw this but did not appreciate its significance)

The result: growing irrelevance, and loss of members and influence. This is unrelated to the issue of peak oil, which not only remains serious but also intersects with the potentially equally serious challenge of climate change. It’s also unrelated to the work of scientists, which mostly works on a separate plane.

“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”
— attributed to French politician Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin (1807-1874)

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