Summary: The debates about climate science have divided us, which is nothing new. And it has provided a gift, showing how our vision of the world can be distorted by the apparatus (social mechanisms) through which we see the world. We have an opportunity to learn from these early years of a new century so that we do better during the rest. Today we see the same story told three times, in three different ways — one theory about the cause of the pause in surface temperature warming, and one of the forecasts for its duration — among the most important research of our time.
- Boosting the narrative
- Telling the story, but in context
- More accurate reporting
- For More Information
(1) Boosting the narrative
“Global warming ‘pause’ due to unusual trade winds in Pacific ocean, study finds“, The Guardian, 9 February 2014 –“Study shows sharply accelerating trade winds have buried surface heat underwater, reducing heat flowing into atmosphere” Opening:
The contentious “pause” in global warming over the past decade is largely due to unusually strong trade winds in the Pacific ocean that have buried surface heat deep underwater, new research has found.
A joint Australian and US study analysed why the rise in the Earth’s global average surface temperature has slowed since 2001, after rapidly increasing from the 1970s. The research shows that sharply accelerating trade winds in central and eastern areas of the Pacific have driven warm surface water to the ocean’s depths, reducing the amount of heat that flows into the atmosphere. In turn, the lowering of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific triggers further cooling in other regions.
The study, which is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, calculated the net cooling effect on global average surface temperatures as between 0.1C and 0.2C (0.2-0.4F), accounting for much of the hiatus in surface warming. The study’s authors said there has been a 0.2C gap between models used to predict warming and actual observed warming since 2001.
The findings should provide fresh certainty about the reasons behind the warming hiatus, which has been claimed by critics of mainstream climate science as evidence that the models are flawed and predictions of rising temperatures have been exaggerated.
(2) Telling the story, but in context
“If Ocean Heat Pump Switches On, Expect to Feel It“, Eric Roston, Bloomberg, 10 February 2014 — As usual in such reporting, other theories in the literature are ignored (mustn’t confuse the marks). This is better than usual, as it describes this as a theory instead of revealed truth. Excerpt:
Scientists are chipping away at a question that has dominated public climate change discussions in the U.S. the last few years: Where’s the heat? Despite unchecked carbon pollution, warming felt on the Earth’s surface has slowed since 1998.
Clues keep pointing to the Pacific Ocean, and a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) predicts that the temperatures will rise again toward the end of this year.
More specifically, the authors predict the return later this year of El Nino, the tendency of the Pacific Ocean to vent more heat than normal into the atmosphere, often with dramatic effects on weather in North America. The last powerful warming phase of what scientists call the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was 1998, the hottest year on record. Since then, natural climate variability has been disguising the manmade warming.
“This might lead to an end of the present ‘hiatus,'” Armin Bunde of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Giessen, Germany, said in an email. He qualified the prediction, saying that the tool can’t predict the strength of an El Nino, only that it’s coming. “We can only predict that in 2014 there will be an El Nino event with 76% likelihood,” he said.
In the PNAS paper, called, “Very early warning of next El Nino,” the German, Russian and Israeli scientists introduce a technique for predicting what kind of trouble the Pacific Ocean might have in store for global weather patterns a year before it happens.
… The new tool doubles the warning time before an El Nino hits, from the six months offered by current models, to a year. The new El Nino “alarm,” as the researchers call it, is right 76%, better odds than current prediction methods. The scientists describe their advance, in the dispassionate, clinical tone of peer-reviewed research, as “non-trivial.” A year warning of an El Nino could give farmers time to buy drought- or flood-resistant seeds.
The scientists are making a confident but big bet here, one they acknowledge comes with “reputational risks,” if they call an El Nino that doesn’t show up. “Should our alarm turn out to be correct, however,” they write, “this would be a major step toward better forecasting — and eventually understanding” of how El Nino works.
Bloomberg is working this narrative, carefully avoiding telling readers of objections to this theory — and about other theories about causes of the pause. Here is their previous article, written in the same tone: “Global-Warming Slowdown Due to Pacific Winds, Study Shows“, 9 February 2014.
(3) More accurate reporting
“Researchers suggest controversial approach to forecasting El Nino“, Phys.org, 11 February 2014 — This puts this new research in a broader context. Excerpt:
An international team of researchers has ignited a controversy over their claim to be able to predict El Niño up to a year in advance. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team claims their method, which relies solely on atmospheric temperature readings, accurately predicted the last two El Niño years.
… The new technique is based on data and analysis of patterns that link air temperatures over the ocean at the equator with temperatures over the rest of the Pacific Ocean. Their analysis showed that when the two temperature readings are closely linked, the odds of an El Niño go up — enough to allow for relative percentages to be calculated. Their data shows, they say, that that for the year coming up, 2014-2015, there is a 75 percent chance of an El Niño occurring.
Other researchers thus far aren’t as confident of the team’s results—they suggest that the limited amount of data the researchers had available to them means their predictions are premature. Others contend that it’s just not possible to predict such a complicated weather event using such a simplistic approach. For this coming year, it may not matter, as most other climatologist using conventional methods are also predicting this will be an El Niño year as well.
“Very early warning of next El Niño“, Josef Ludeschera et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press — Gated, which is why we must depend on journalists to learn about cutting edge science. Abstract (it doesn’t say much):
The most important driver of climate variability is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which can trigger disasters in various parts of the globe. Despite its importance, conventional forecasting is still limited to 6 months ahead. Recently, we developed an approach based on network analysis, which allows projection of an El Niño event about 1 year ahead.
Here we show that our method correctly predicted the absence of El Niño events in 2012 and 2013 and now announce that our approach indicated (in September 2013 already) the return of El Niño in late 2014 with a 3-in-4 likelihood. We also discuss the relevance of the next El Niño to the question of global warming and the present hiatus in the global mean surface temperature.
(5) For More Information
Posts about the pause:
- Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012 — Scientists analyze the pause
- Scientists explore causes of the pause in warming, perhaps the most important research of the decade, 17 January 2014
- One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013
- Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
Propaganda about climate change:
- The media doing what it does best these days, feeding us disinformation, 11 February 2008
- Quote of the day – hidden history for people who rely on the mainstream media for information, 12 February 2010
- Shaping your view of the world with well-constructed propaganda, 21 June 2012 — About rising sea levels.
- Run from the rising waves! (The latest climate catastrophe scare), 27 June 2012
- Ignorance and propaganda about extreme climate change, 10 July 2012
- Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
- We can see our true selves in the propaganda used against us, 14 May 2013 — Skillful actually inaccurate article in The Guardian
- A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that’s set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
- The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013