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« The Holland redaction | Main | RealClimate's take on the year »

Climate models hopelessly simplistic

P Gosselin has an interesting story about an Austrian meteorologist who is completely underwhelmed by the reliability of climate models. As Karsten Brandt apparently puts it:

It is simply nonsense. These prognoses are not worth the paper they’re printed on. The Gulf Stream has an impact on European weather that is 100 times larger than CO2.”

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (62)

Don't worry, the mighty bob will be sling any second now to tell us all how to think.


Nov 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

As devil's advocate, I have to say that short term effects are certainly more important. Thus gulf-streamn effects do affect local climate.

Long term effects - and I mean LONG - are relevant but certainly not important on any individual human time-scale.

Nov 21, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerry

A 1000 times larger.

Nov 21, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

He's confusing weather with climate. Or something.

Nov 21, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

to help distinguish weather from climate effects, it is a great help to have Al Gore's investment portfolio at hand.

Nov 21, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

Just finished watching BBC 1 Scotland with Prof I. Stewart. 'Making Scotlands Landscape'
half hour later and I cannot get my dropped jaw back into place.
If you thing Gore, Mann, Hansen, Stern and Jones are unhinged this presentation really does take the oatcake.
It should be available on Tube soon (I think). I am not too clever with these thingies so perhaps my Lord Bishop could rry and peruse it and post in WUWT to show how far the Gobbels Warming Scam has progressed in Scotland.


Nov 21, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

Just finished watching the most surreal Gobbel Warming Indoctrination on BBC 1 Scotland.
'Making Scotlands Landscape' by Prof Iain Stewart.
It would be well worth posting on - say WUWT to show a wider audience just what sort of incessant propaganda we are subjected to here in Scotland.
He repeated the crazy Co2 vs. Air Plastic bottle scam as on BBC earlier this year.
The most hilarious comment was near the end when he said something like 'It's taken 10,000 years for science to overtake superstition in understanding weather/climete .....' this without the trace of irony.

Nov 21, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

patrick healy

You may already have seen this, but if not, it will probably be of interest:

I didn't have much time for Soames back in the day, but I have to admit that he is making sense in the here and now.

Nov 21, 2010 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


That was an excellent speech. The look on the politicians faces suggested that they weren't enjoying it too much. Well, those of them for who the whole thing didn't go shooting way over their heads.

Nov 21, 2010 at 11:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

It's nice to hear that Scotland still has a contribution to make to "saving the Planet"
I'm somewhat saddened, however, that my financial circumstances may prevent me from being incinerated by the promised heat-waves as my domestic equipment is switched to "I'm freezing my b*lls off, get me out off here, mode.
I'd trade away my right to, perhaps, be future-boiled in the bag for the short-termism of surviving another cold winter without having to sell my children to Big-energy!
I wish A. Salmond and his SNP party well but I have to ask just one question.
Why do you still choose to believe that Man can overcome Nature when all you have as evidence is the word of untrustworthies and WTF should we all have to suffer 'cos you have FUBT?

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

"The look on the politicians faces suggested that they weren't enjoying it too much..." JHaigh

Their belief system regarding the Tooth Fairy was obviously being dashed to pieces. Now if we could just get them to see through the major hoax...

Nov 22, 2010 at 6:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar


Aren't a lot of climate scientists are simply, well, thick?

In 2010, according to

28% of A-Level candidates got an A or A*, and the next 25.2% got a B.

The total of As and Bs was 53.2%. So you could be in the bottom half of the class - in the 51st to 54th percentile - but still get Bs. And those would get you into UEA to read BSc Climate Science. BBB, that's all you need.

This whole sky-is-falling farrago thus seems to have been got up by the bottom half of the class. Now, do you remember when you did your A-Levels? Remember what the bottom half of the class was like? Blank expressions, never asked any questions, never known to read outside the course, never challenged the teachers with something they'd read that didn't make sense?

Future climate scientists!

Yet the alarmists' best argument for buying into alarmism seems to be "trust us, we're clever", which is a very, very odd argument to make in the circumstances.

Some years ago, when Labour declared that 50% of all school leavers should go to university, someone in a newspaper commented caustically that historically O-Levels were sat by fewer than 50% of 16-year-olds. Thus, Labour was saying that some people who previously had been considered CSE material were now considered university material.

I am starting to suspect I know where they ended up.

Nov 22, 2010 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

That link seems to have wrapped. Here it is split across two lines if anyone would like to see the graphs:

Nov 22, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

interesting how they handle entropy

Nov 22, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo


I think you've got it, by jove :-)

Nov 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered Commentersunderland steve

@ Steve

At the risk of argument from anecdote, my own experience of science teaching even in good schools is that it is not very good.

I went to a fee-paying school (though on a scholarship, so I didn't pay the fees :-p) that is always in the top 20 or 30 academically, to this day. The way chemistry and physics were taught was a bit of a disgrace, but may explain the way climate "scientists" think.

For instance, we would have lab sessions where you mxed this chemical with that one and the result was supposed to be a white precipitate, or whatever.

A large minority of these experiments did not produce the expected result. There would be no precipitate, or it would be the wrong colour, or whatever.

You never wrote up the result you had actually obtained, however. What you wrote up was the result you were supposed to have obtained. So if your experiment produced smoking green sludge, that became, in your write-up, a white precipitate. It was the same in physics - if you combined red, blue and green light and the result was green light, you were ordered to write up that you'd produced white light.

If your results disagreed with what the answer was known to be, it wasn't that the answer was wrong, it was that you'd done your experiment wrong. I never got a good explanation as to what the point of doing these experiments was, if the result was known in advance and all conflicting results were to be automatically discarded.

Now, I don't doubt that the results we were ordered to write up were the right results, had we been using uncontamined chemicals, etc etc. The white light one is also mathematically checkable. The point, though, is that the way we were taught inculcated the very bad habit of finding out what the answer was first, and then fiddling the experiment to align with the answer. Divergent results weren't explained, but explained away, if they were even written up at all.

If this habit has permeated climate science, which is an immature field studied by rather average minds, then it is not hard to see how complete rubbish could be fervently believed. Data or interpretations that challenge the accepted wisdom would simply be discounted, because the BBB priesthood has already decided what the answer is.

Nov 22, 2010 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Great speech from Rupert Soames to the Scots Parliament.

He makes a good point about the pollys focusing on the end of the road and not seeing the potholes 300 yards ahead.

This is part of a trend of pretending to care about abstract and remote concepts that avoid any action today and make the "carer" feel good about himself.

It's like buying a "Free Tibet" bumper-sticker or signing a petition to Save the Gay Whales. It makes you feel noble and open-minded and caring - but doesn't really have any cost or involvement.

A lot of pollys have triangulated themselves into their current thinking because they are scared to confront these eco-doomsters and say "No - I don't have any feelings at all about penguins in 200 years time". It seems so hard, so cold, so uncaring.

Nov 22, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I would urge everyone to watch this video and speech. The arguement and concequences of energy policies dictated by climate change fears is met head on in a non PC manner.

I work in the energy industry and we have been saying what Rupert Soames is saying for the last 15 years but it falls on deaf ears of course.

Nov 22, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

It would appear that a large number of meteorologists are the most sceptical of climate models.

However our own Met Office is still tripping over its own feet when it comes to forecasting the weather and predicting the future climate.

When the Met Office's new supercomputer was installed in 2009, the Met Office publicly claimed that its processing power would enable the organisation to predict disastrous weather events that were previously unforeseeable such as the infamous hurricane of 1987. Further a Met Office official claimed that without such a resource, "We would be throwing ourselves back into the dark ages of weather forecasting if we withdrew our reliance on supercomputing, it's as simple as that."

It was unfortunate then that the furore over the Met Office's failure to predict last week's Cornwall floods was compounded by a Met Official saying, "If we got it right every time we'd be God."

Despite having a supercomputer with a carbon footprint of a small town the Met Office now appears to concede that God now controls the weather.

If the Met Office are still stumbling in the Dark Ages with forecasting the weather where does that put the Met Office's expressed certainty in computer models on man-made global warming?

Nov 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


'Aren't a lot of climate scientists are simply, well, thick?'

Yes. I posted this at Judith's.

'I'm being forced to the conclusion that, though climatologists may have lots of degrees and stuff – a few even in proper grown up ‘hard science’ subjects – they are not actually very bright in the ‘living in the real world’ sense.

It took me less than five minutes to realise that there were serious errors in the scourcewtach article (reference to Big Oil denial machine - article where the sums do not add up. $1.4M vs claimed $5.6M). I did not even need a calculator…I could do the sums in my head. And yet it seems to have been taken as the primary reference for ‘ the global denying mafia’ by the gullible for at least two years (last time it was changed).

Phil Jones thought he had played a trump by saying ‘can’t show the data – its confidential’, and then was highly surprised and indignant when people said ‘Show Me the agreements, then’ and was left with egg all over his face. Very few believe his highly unlikely story of the disappearing Chinaman and his disappearing data – a plot device also used by the conspirators in Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Western Star, and exposed very early by Poirot as a complete sham.

These are elementary howlers. Most savvy thirteen year olds would see through them straight away. At grammar school I learnt early that ‘the dog ate my homework’ did not go down well with my ferocious history master. Especially when I had no easy answer to ‘what sort of dog is it and what is its name’,

I know that climatologists have a deep sense of intellectual superiority (see Schmidt and Colose on this blog for examples) and inbuilt arrogant contempt for Joe Public’s abilities.

But, really guys. If you are going to pull the wool over our eyes, at least try to do it properly and professionally. Come up with stories and excuses and references that have at least some basic plausibility. Not just your normal pile of third rate mendacity'

Nov 22, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Good post LA. To your point and to Mac's in the post prior, I note that meteorology is just oen of about seven scientific disciplines that will supposedly be mastered by graduates of UEA's Climate Science BSC course. So these guys who've got a handful of Bs and may well be in the bottom half of the class are going to acquire graduate-level expertise in seven areas of study, are they?

No they're not - they're going to skim over it in the most superficial way because a meagre knowledge of real science is no impediment to a career in climatology.

Climate Science is the new woodwork.

Nov 22, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

I am a proud owner of an O-Level in Woodwork......... but also have a degree in fizzicks and applyed maffs.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


Your degree would be no use to if you were considering a problem in climate science. To get the right answer you'd have to talk to some climate scientists. They are cleverer than you.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

J4R, "To get the right answer you'd have to talk to some climate scientists. They are cleverer than you."

That as maybe, but I am a dab hand at putting up shelves and arguing about wave-particle duality and mutual exclusivity.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Hey, thanks for sending this bloke down our way.

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti has been appointed to prepare the UK's security agencies for severe weather events, increased migration and greater competition over resources.

I thought you are undergoing severe cuts in defence. But I suppose a 2-star for climate change is cheaper than guns and things. Maybe he's wangled a guernsey at a defence related climate change conference while the cricket is on.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

GrantB, "severe weather events" - such as last week's floods in Cornwall?

Since the Met Office are of the opinion that severe weather events are acts of God it is perhaps no surprise that and Rear Admiral has been enlisted. Who better to prepare for floods on a biblical scale than someone who knows a lot about boats.

Perhaps too a O-Level in woodwork would be handy for the coming deluges.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

As long as that's all he's got.

We can't have anyone thinking for themselves.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Sadly, I failed my Woodwork exams. My teachers refused me sharp objects.
All they let me do was to count the rings on the timber.
How would that help anyone get a job?

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Re GrantB

I thought you are undergoing severe cuts in defence. But I suppose a 2-star for climate change is cheaper than guns and things.

We are, but we also have far more Admirals than ships, hence the need to strategically redeploy them away from lavishly furnished offices in the new (vastly overbudget) MoD building.

Re J4R

Some years ago, when Labour declared that 50% of all school leavers should go to university

But it achieved results. Yoof unemployment figures temporarily decreased, university funding increased. Money making courses (the easy ones) expanded, loss making ones (the difficult ones like physics, chemistry, engineering) decreased. Too bad Labour forgot about what to do for jobs for the newly graduated yoofs with degrees often irrelevant to the economy, high expectations and large debts.

Nov 22, 2010 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

The sceptics must surely win - their sense of humour is just so much better!!!

Nov 22, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Peake

Jack Hughes

'It's like buying a "Free Tibet" bumper-sticker'. Students for a Free Tibet do Global Warming as well:

Nov 22, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

People who have risen to positions where it could be assumed their intelligence played a role in that rise are not immune to failures of critical thinking. A proof of this became apparent a while ago where a neighbour, employed high-up in an organisation who's existence was dependent on its ability to detect fraud in organisations, fell prey to a scam.

The scam was a get-rich-quick scheme based around the invention of a new glue with the inventors selling exclusive territories to people who might be in a position to cough up for licences. My neighbour chose Hawaii as his favoured territory in the expectation he would be filthy rich in a tropical paradise. The technical fact that the claims for the glue mirrored the capabilities of an existing common glue escaped his notice. He soldiered on with plans for beneficial revolution of Hawaiian life in general and his in particular. Things did not turn out that way but remained un-glued in Hawaii etc. Neither claims for the glue or the need for it were ever tested but did result in the transfer of wealth - the primary aim in the whole construct.

J4R postulates that climate scientists may be thick. They may well be but the gullibility of others is the greater concern. I see little materially different in the scam outlined here and the wider one which is the concern of this blog.

Nov 22, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

It looks the planet has caught a cold.


Nov 22, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


It looks the planet has caught a cold.

I have no idea about the world, but I can speak for northern California. A month or so ago I reported several harbingers of a cold winter -- such things as squirrels collecting acorns and numerous fuzzy wollybear caterpillars. Of course, the skeptics among us -- if there are any -- might laugh and say that I would be better off counting tree rings.

Well yesterday, my Snow Shovel Index (SSI) went to 1. That is I had to shove my driveway. And this was on November 21. I live in a fairly temperate part of the Sierra Foothills, and I often go through the entire winter without bringing out the shovel at all, and until last year, I never had a SSI higher than 2. Last year, I had to shovel about four times, but never before late December.

So --- maybe we are in for another winter of Inconvenient Truth.

Nov 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Following on from Mac above: Does anybody know what the "climate models" of (say) 2005 were forecasting for the UK winter of 2010? Can their output be looked at on a month by month basis? Can we keep track of their predictions over the coming months to see how they did? (I realise the terms "forecasting" and "predictions" are not correct but can't immediately recall the approved lingo wrt models)

Nov 22, 2010 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Justice: When I applied for university you needed 2 Ds to study physics at UEA. They no longer have a physics dept at UEA, so I guess 2 Ds now gets you to do climate studies. I guess it's about the same standard as you need to do meeja studies and become an environment correspondent for the BBC.

Nov 22, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Phillip

Climate studies is so much more apt. That is, almost any discipline that requires the addition of the word "studies" on the end requires it because there's nothing in it worthy of degree-level study.

You don't hear of Physics Studies, Maths Studies or even English Studies, for example. Well, you probably do, but not at academically respectable institutions.

I'd be interested in, but CBA to do for myself, an analysis of the %age of Russell Group university courses with the word "studies" in the title versus those with that word in at all of the rest. I imagine there are hardly any at the former and lots and lots at the latter.

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Just watching "the climate wars" on Eden channel they just had Mann on talking about his graph and the spaghetti graph! Psmsl, this was obviously made a few years ago; bare faced lies and misinformation and it is now so outdated I don't think it should be broadcast.

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

nby @4.31pm - the cant term you're after is "projection". The warmists pull that one out when they wish to score an empty point by insisting the climate models don't make predictions (usually when it's been pointed out to them that the models are rubbish).

An interesting discussion of models v observations can be found here:

Which also links to part one.

As far as your specific question is concerned, I'm not sure such model runs exist. My understanding is that the initial values for the runs are basically just random but within natural limits, as initialising every cell in the model with simultaneous real world values is, erm, rather tricky. The model then purports to give gross "projections" of temperature, rainfall etc many decades in the future.

It's also worth bearing in mind that model interpretation is a subjective thing. I recall reading something to the effect that many model runs are binned because they "run away" and give what is described as unphysical results (ie bollocks). There's some discussion of this phenomenon here:

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

@Mac "That as maybe, but I am a dab hand at putting up shelves and arguing about wave-particle duality and mutual exclusivity."

At the same time? That is impressive!

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS


"Climate Science is the new woodwork"

I know what you mean, but that's a bit hard on honest carpenters - especially at this time of year...

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


"People who have risen to positions"

Don't forget the Peter Principle...

(I would have linked to Wikipedia, but those pictures of Jimmy Wales are getting on my tits.)

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Maybe we are being a bit unfair on these students from East Anglia, the Gulf Stream (mentioned in the header to this thread) mainly affects West Anglia, and so does not need to be incorporated into their models.

The actions and routes of the Golf Stream are easily manipulated by course designers (see Ryder Cup) and the Jet Stream is pure CO2 coming out of aircraft at 30,000 feet, when carbon offsets have not been paid for

Nov 22, 2010 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

"Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti has been appointed to prepare the UK's security agencies for severe weather events, increased migration and greater competition over resources."

Is he the one who will order gunboats to fire on Bristol when the riots start?

Nov 22, 2010 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

woodentop at 5:43pm - thanks, your comments agree with those I've seen elsewhere. Even so it seems to me that there must be output data from model runs (of whatever vintage) which relates to a grid area and a time bin. Given one of the successes claimed for models is the increase in winter temperatures I think it would be informative to follow how they have performed at predicting the 2010/11 winter as it happens. Thanks for the links too. Here is one which lists the successes of models:

Nov 22, 2010 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

sorry - that should read "the claimed successes of models".

Nov 22, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

@ not banned

I'm not sure about season-specific projections by year post 2005. My guess is the Met Office is the place to start. Just email and ask.

Recall that the Met has had to cease its seasonal projections because it over-predicted heat during the summer every year for the last decade - based on its climate model runs.

Which tells you all you need to know about the parameterisation of the model or models it is using.

If you are interested in climate models generally, there are a couple of good posts on Judith Curry's blog you might want to look at if you haven't seen them already:

Nov 22, 2010 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Can you say "closely coupled chaotic system with literally millions of inputs"?

I knew you could!

Nov 22, 2010 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

The text to "computer science studies for climate science studies students":


The advanced course text is:

20 GOTO 10

And, coincidentally, this code kernel forms the basis of all GCM models.

Nov 22, 2010 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

UKCIP has detailed projections for 25km squares.

Nov 22, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

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