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A Rose on winter

Over the weekend there was quite a lot of interest in David Rose's article in the Mail, which addressed new figures from the Met Office which appeared to confirm a lack of any warming in the last 15 years.


The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Rose was also warning of further cold on the way, based on an assessment of Solar Cycle 24 and 25.

The Met Office have now responded, with a blog post that has a whiff of Bob Ward about it: "includes numerous errors in the reporting of published peer reviewed science". The argument seems to be that if you take decadal averages it is still possible to obscure the plateau in the temperatures.

Or words to that effect.


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Reader Comments (65)

Bob springs into action on Twitter, berating Richard Betts for "endorsing" the MoS article.!/ret_ward/status/163945370412527616

I can't find Richard's tweet as it happens (any pointers)

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

mrsean2k, I initially shared your confusion, but I think the tweet in question is

@Realclim8gate Reflects genuine difference of scientific opinion - fair enough!

No heresy will be tolerated in Bob's world!

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Jones

The Met Office bar chart is not science. They should display the raw satellite data.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Delingpole, in his inimitable manner, has a piece about that, Children aren't going to know what the sun is. !

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

When ten years won't be enough any longer, twenty years will suffice. And so on.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Translation of the Met Office response into non-climatologyspeak:-

"Please don't look at the temperature record, which shows no significant warming since 1998. Consider instead the fact that is has got about half a degree warmer in the past 150 years and our colleagues at IPCC have a theory that it might start getting a lot warmer soon - unless it gets a bit colder first of course. (Bear in mind also that all of us here depend on churning out this garbage for our living)."

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Maurizio: indeed, the only interesting question is what year Y will require a chunk of (Y - 1850) for the average to remain the 'highest since records began'.

mrsean2k: I won't be looking for the tweet that offended Ward but its existence is enough to say this: a very warm welcome to the denialosphere, Richard. It couldn't have happened to a nicer chap. (Indeed, belated kudos for your excellent, irenic reply to an unnecessarily aggressive challenge on John Houghton's emails and in other places. We will miss you when the Bob Wards of this world finally ban Met Office employees from engaging with such scum as ourselves.)

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

The Met Office bar chart is a trick to hide the decline.

In fact the article in the Mail is more accurate than the Met Office web site. The errors that were pointed out here a few weeks ago are still there (the incorrect claims that warming is accerating and sea-level rise is accelerating).

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

Wow, the graphic on the Met Office website is a spectacular piece of Mannian data torture - if they're interested in conveying information rather than disinformation there's nothing at all wrong with showing us the data points.

Anti-science dross - they should be ashamed.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

From the Met office Blog: (my bold) "“However, what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850."

I am just curious to know what the 'warming trend' would have been had the scientists continued to rely on Mann's proxies. (I inadvertently mis-keyed that as 'poxies'. I sometimes wonder if it doesn't really describe Mann's data more accurately).

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket


You may remember recently that I said I do try to remain calm and civil but sometimes ........

This is one of those sometimes. They simply make me sick. They are charlatans through and through.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

So, after how many years, they've finally got around to putting variable solar output into their "Climate Models". I suppose it never occured to them before. Nevertheless it's a start.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Always remember to take the average that suit your agenda.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Just remember:

The science is settled, until it isn't.
The sun is not a factor, until it is.
The world is warming, until it isn't.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Stuck-record: I think you forgot the final line:

Carbon control is required, until there's no more money in it.

Jan 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

In my garden, in the south Wiltshire Downs, a redwing is pulling up earthworms. I have never, until the Daily Mail report, seen a redwing. According to my Boys' Book of Birds, the range of the redwing typically reaches only the north of Scotland, but may go further south to find milder feeding conditions in winter. Apart from this inference of cold conditions further north-east of here, the lying snow is thawing, while it is also snowing again. My conclusion is - bird hacked-off by climate confusion moves south until the science is settled.

Jan 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFilbert Cobb

Has anybody tried to comment at the MO blog?

I have tried to point them in the direction of their own Decadal forecasts, but the post just hangs?

I suppose they are aware of their own forecasts, I wonder why they don't use them?

Jan 30, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Will this make it through moderation?

Talking of misleading:

"In addition the study also showed that if solar output reduced below that seen in the Maunder Minimum – a period between 1645 and 1715 when solar activity was at its lowest observed level – the global temperature reduction would be 0.13C."

Would this not depend to some degree on how far future solar output was reduced below the levels seen during the Maunder Minimum?

Also, seeing as the models used to produce these 'projections' have parameters such that it is assumed that solar influence is considerably less than that of carbon dioxide, is it really much of a surprise that the outputs show solar activity to not have much of an effect? Is that what would be known in the vernacular as a circular argument?

Jan 30, 2012 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

Met Office global temp forecast from 2009, notice the bit about 1/2 the years 2010 to 2019 will be above 1998. Notice the prediction for 2010 which only they ended up saying was higher than 1998. Porkies

The latest forecast from our climate scientists, shows the global temperature is forecast to be almost 0.6 °C above the 1961-90 long-term average. This means that it is more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year which was 1998.

A record warm year in 2010 is not a certainty, especially if the current El Niño was to unexpectedly decline rapidly near the start of 2010, or if there was a large volcanic eruption. We will review the forecast during 2010 as observation data become available.

Looking further ahead, our experimental decadal forecast confirms previous indications that about half the years 2010-2019 will be warmer than the warmest year observed so far - 1998.

Jan 30, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

I'm reserving judgement until after I have read Richard Black's take on all this.


Jan 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Cripes, I just trawled through the Readers' Comments attached to the David Rose article. They're overwhelmingly sceptical of global warmery (our troll friend ZedsDeadBed ploughs her lonely AGW furrow there).

If this is representative of a wider pooh-pooing of Thermageddon in society, we need to be hammering the politicians to get with the programme and cease and desist with their billion-pound solutions to a non-problem.

Jan 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Extra cooling means more energy demand, so the UK will have to build 3 times as many windfarms as it previously estimated -- the bell-ringing cart will come through your street, accompanied by the cry: "Bring out your wallets!"

Jan 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford


Its getting very cold already.. There is a (blocking) high over Siberia, and really frigid air blowing westwards towards the UK. Have a look at the maps on Weatheronline.



Jan 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergrumpy grandad

It would be nice if the Mail could provide links to the various studies and comments it refers to.... the article is a real cut-and-paste operation. The part about the CRU quietly releasing data is probably this:

I was hoping Richard Betts might have some information about where to find the paper the Mail and the MET Office have been dueling about - and I can't find anything about the NASA University of Arizona connection.

The solar cycle plot in the mail article, complete with copyright notice, appears to be lifted from David Archibald's post at WUWT:

Jan 30, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Although I'd agree the "alternative" graph minimises the fact that measured warming has paused, I don't think it's misleading per se, it just takes quite a bit of effort to parse.

Two questions for Richard (or anyone)

(1) Why has the uncertainty increased for the 2000's when compared with all the averages as far back as 1940? Surely the bounds should contract and not expand?

(2) What happens to that graph if it is plotted with a different central value for the 10 year period in question? We may choose to talk about averages of 1990 - 1999, 2000 - 2009 etc. but that's an arbitrary choice for rhetorical purposes. What happens to that diagram if the data are partitioned differently?

Jan 30, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Jan 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM Steve Jones

"I'm reserving judgement until after I have read Richard Black's take on all this."

Richard Black has posted an article on the BBC website that lays the blame for the Little Ice Age, including Thames ice fairs, solely on volcanic eruptions.

Not one word about solar variability.



Jan 30, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergrumpy grandad

@grumpy grandad

'There is a (blocking) high over Siberia, and really frigid air blowing westwards towards the UK. Have a look at the maps on Weatheronline'

Do not be fooled into thinking about trivial things like day to day weather. You should warm yourself during the wee cold snap by remembering that we are all already irreversibly on the way to complete Thermageddon and that in future years you will look back on the day your balls froze and dropped off as a welcome respite from the fires of Global Warming.

Remember that with a truly huge and shocking increase in average global temperature from 285.9K to 286.5K in little more than forty years your fate is sealed anyway.


Jan 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

@grumpy grandad

Richard Black has posted an article on the BBC website that lays the blame for the Little Ice Age, including Thames ice fairs, solely on volcanic eruptions.

So if we cancel out the LIA cause by volcanoes, the current warming is just one long continuation of the Medieval Warming Period, Roman Warming Period, all the way back to .....

Great! Big mystery solved, nothing to worry about, can I have my taxes back please?

Jan 30, 2012 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMangoChutney

Filbert I think your bird book is a bit out of date. I saw redwings yesterday while doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. They are fairly common in winter.

The Met Office blog has posted our sneering comments.

Jan 30, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

Nice lateral thinking Mango.

Unfortunately Mr Black has made his article comment free.

But he does say, right at the end

Analysis of the later phase of the Little Ice Age also suggests that changes in the Sun's output, particularly in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, would also have contributed cooling.

Jan 30, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Brent Hargreaves,

"If this is representative of a wider pooh-pooing of Thermageddon in society, we need to be hammering the politicians to get with the programme and cease and desist with their billion-pound solutions to a non-problem."

The Mail on Sunday is the UK's biggest selling Sunday paper, with a circulation of about 2 million. That's about 7% of UK households.

The Graun on Sunday (The Observer) has a circulation of about 270,000.

Jan 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

I see Zed is over there spouting the usual rubbish. I note that one of her comments has been rated negatively by over 560 people. Got to give it to her - she never gives up :)

Jan 30, 2012 at 7:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

I am 45 years old (ish) but I am still getting taller! The trend is still upwards! My average height in the first 15 years of my life was smaller than my average height in the second 15 years of my life, which was smaller than my average height in the third fifteen years of my life.

All of that is true. Yet it's a big fat lie.

Jan 30, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

@james evans

me too, although a different part of my anatomy, but then I'm older than you

actually thinking about it, my average height in the first 15 years of my life was smaller than my average height in the second 15 years of my life, which was smaller than my average height in the third fifteen years of my life. Now into my 4th 15 year span, I've started shrinking in height

Correlation with the official temperature record!

I'm the cause of global warming!

Jan 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMangoChutney

James Evans

Nice one. But what goes up comes down. In the next 15 years, I predict your trend will be downwards. (Disc/cartilage shrinkage is a normal part of aging). And your ability to rise again may be increasingly forlorn.

Jan 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I've just been bimbling round the internet and stumbled on this on a green and fair economy:

I can't stop laughing. My favourite initiative is Beyond GDP, although under Renewable Energy you get this gem:

"The installation, operation and maintenance of renewable energy is far more labour intensive than our large-scale, centralised fossil fuel-powered energy systems. Therefore pursuing a policy of renewable energy access that respects labour and human rights can create the quality of jobs and training programmes that are necessary for a sustainable economy in both the Global North and South."

Now take out the word Global and insert Korea and it makes sense!

Jan 30, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Jan 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Filbert Cobb

Saw a Redwing near Frome just the other day.

Jan 30, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

@PJ - apropos your quote...

Milton Friedman Shovels vs. Spoons Story

While traveling by car during one of his many overseas travels, Professor Milton Friedman spotted scores of road builders moving earth with shovels instead of modern machinery. When he asked why powerful equipment wasn’t used instead of so many laborers, his host told him it was to keep employment high in the construction industry. If they used tractors or modern road building equipment, fewer people would have jobs was his host’s logic.

"Then instead of shovels, why don’t you give them spoons and create even more jobs?" Friedman inquired.

Jan 30, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Scroll down on this page for winter distribution of Redwing:

Jan 30, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

The Met Office graphic ties in with Romm's response and graphic: both show cooling and warming events that, as far as I know and see, are considered "natural" even by the IPCC. Where, pray tell, are we to say that CO2 warming has taken over from natural warming? I understood it to be around 1975+/-5. This is to say, that prior to 1975 the events were dominantly natural, and after 1975, dominantly caused by CO2 increases in the atmosphere.

On that assumption, we could well ask what "natural" processes are still occurring. What are, the natural processes hidden inside the post-1975 rise? If we say that "most" means more than 50% to begin with and the effect of CO2 is linear, and the current proportion is 80%, then we can look to what the remaining natural impact is by a process of elimination. Without doing the thing itself, we will clearly see by intuition that the natural process has not ceased to heat the planet. The natural cycle is one, warm-sided. That's both weird and unexplainable unless you say it is the sun (stupid).

On the other hand, take the period prior to (say) 1940, and use the prior 70 year pattern (to 1870) as "the" natural pattern of warming and cooling. Now the CO2 impact is up and down and non-linear. That's weird.

The only way that the IPCC and MET, CO2-as-villain works is if natural cycles stopped about 1940. Since then the natural cycles have had to go into hibernation. And that is even weirder.

We live in special times, it is both settled and certain. Al, Jim (both), Phil and Michael deserve all the money and adoration they receive: they, like Harold Camping of last year, have recognized that God in his Mansion (and Al in his) have made these days of carbon taxes and roses Special. What was, is no more.

Harold Camping had his Bible, while Al et al have their AR4. It is ironic that it is easier to refute God's word than it is that of the sharkskin-suit set.

Jan 30, 2012 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Large flocks of fieldfares and redwings are seen regularly in Devon in winter. I found a dead redwing the other day under a wind turbine - only kidding, it was under a power line.

Jan 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hang on, Richard Black of the BBC says the LIA exists and was caused by volcanoes?

Splitter! Phil Jones says the LIA (and the MWP before it) are figments of people's imaginations.

Jan 30, 2012 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterWB

"Filbert I think your bird book is a bit out of date. I saw redwings yesterday while doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. They are fairly common in winter."

That's as maybe - I have never seen one before, so they are not fairly common where I wherever I have lived - Kent, Hampshire, Berkshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Fife, Worcestershire and Wiltshire. My little book is a 1996 edition, pre-Mann, so it is of course wrong ...

Jan 31, 2012 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterFilbert Cobb

The most interesting thing about the response is this hostage to fortune.

It confirmed that although solar output is likely to reduce over the next 90 years this will not substantially delay expected increases in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gases. The study found that the expected decrease in solar activity would only most likely cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08 °C. This compares to an expected warming of about 2.5 °C over the same period due to greenhouse gases (according to the IPCC’s B2 scenario for greenhouse gas emissions that does not involve efforts to mitigate emissions). In addition the study also showed that if solar output reduced below that seen in the Maunder Minimum – a period between 1645 and 1715 when solar activity was at its lowest observed level – the global temperature reduction would be 0.13C.

Another thing they'll have to backtrack on in a few years time if they want to keep the scam alive when we are six feet deep in snow from November to March.

Jan 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Richard Betts' comment January 31, 2012 - 12:33 am at is worth reading.

He starts: Hi Bob (Ward)-------

Jan 31, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPerry

People in 'climate science' realise IPCC pseudo-science has been at the least over-sold and accept that those like me are not paid shrills but are putting valid scientific objections.

What is also coming out is that because the IPCC has been claiming its science is based on proven existing science, including fundamental mistakes by Arrhenius and Tyndall, the development of the real scientific principles ceased nearly 20 years' ago.

Hence now we have seen 15 years of temperatures not rising and the IPCC has to maintain the fiction that everything is decided, it is fast losing control. Ward's thrashings are proof of this.

The real IR physics is emerging and it's not going the IPCC's way. As for the 'back radiation' saga, it is proving an IPCC killer as process engineers around the World wake up to this attempt to create a new perpetual motion machine!

Jan 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

It would be interesting if Richard Betts would come on here and defend the Met Office statement. David Whitehouse is not very complementary of the Met Office trick to show the incline. Damn lies by the Met Office using statistics. The Met Office is being totally deceptive in trying to hide the lack of warming bu using ten year averages. The Met Office should be brought to book. Proper scientists working for the Met Office should be up in arms about its behaviour.

Jan 31, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

If what the GPWF says is correct then it's going to be very hard for the Met Ofgice to explain its way out of this one. Then again I suspect the Met Office will just ignore the GPWF's statement and leave it up to Bob Ward to respond for them.

Jan 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I do not have the research paper that the Mail on Sunday and the Met Office are discussing. Regarding the second graph in the Met Office blog post, though, (which shows decadal temperatures since 1850) the post states “what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend of warming … going back to 1850”. Is there any statistical analysis to back this up? By my calculations, the trend is not significantly different from a horizontal line, i.e. no warming.

Does anyone have a contact e-mail address for an appropriate person at the Met Office to ask?

Jan 31, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan


I've asked in a few different ways to a few (doubtless very busy) people, why the uncertainty bounds in the decadal average also seems to have declined in the 2000-2009 decadal period when compare with the 50's, 60's etc.

Any insight?

Jan 31, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

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