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« Behind the scenes at Skeptical Science | Main | Pinning down the debate »
Friday
Mar232012

Accelerating global warming

Via Leo Hickman's Twitter feed, the World Meterological Organisation has issued its Annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate, announcing that that global warming is accelerating.(Press release here)

The annual statement for 2011 was released for World Meteorological Day 23 March. In addition, WMO also announced preliminary findings of the soon to be released Decadal Global Climate Summary, showing that climate change accelerated in 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade ever recorded in all continents of the globe.

A few years ago, reader Paul M produced an instructive paper on how this kind of analysis works. Perhaps the IPCC should familiarise themselves with it before their next state of the global climate statement.

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Reader Comments (45)

>those behind cried "Forward!", and those before cried "Back!"
(Horatius at the Bridge)

The more outrageous their claims, the better, IMO.

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

(OT) Did Leo ever get round to apologising for the slurs against Heartland from his reporting on the fake memo? Or did he stick to the "I'm not a journalist anyway" line.

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

A geologist's perspective on climate models:

"Even after all this manipulation, there is still no sign of a solution. The climate simulations provide no clue to why the polar climate was warm during the Cretaceous and early Tertiary. Furthermore, it is very likely that all climate models are unrealistically temperature sensitive to increased CO2. Since the late 1800s, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses have increased about 50% in equivalent CO2 units, but temperatures have warmed only about 0.5°C, not including the likely warmth-biasing factors in the temperature records. Climate simulations have predicted 2 to 5°C warming for a doubling of CO2. The simulations would predict a 1 to 2.5°C boost for a 50% increase in CO2, if the effect were linear. It thus appears that climate models predict 2 to 5 times too much warming.

Regardless, the finding of the champsosaur has now exacerbated the problem:

‘The presence of reptiles at Arctic latitudes offers challenges for efforts to model Cretaceous climates. The high polar temperatures implied here exacerbate the problems of simulating warm polar conditions without also raising equatorial temperatures to unreasonably high values.’

Until they solve the Cretaceous challenge, all models are merely w.i.p.

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRGH

If I were a cynic, I would suggest that there was an important, bi-decadal global conference coming up soon, which needed some bad news.

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Now, I don't mean to be finicky, but the quote says that *climate change* is accelerating. I don't like the IPCC graph either, but looking at some indicators of climate change other than warming, you could argue that they are accelerating.

Of course, the WMO should be more precise with their language.

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

A Global Coup D'etat

http://blackswhitewash.com/2012/03/23/a-global-coup-detat-2/

Mar 23, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterblackswhitewash.com

For a nice little explanation on records in the same mould, check out "It's a record" at John Brignell's Numberwatch site: http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/record.htm

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

Doug McNeall

Lord I don't mind finicky people, finicky people are great to have around to help make sense of imprecise language and obfuscation, however the "you could argue" approach doesn't really cut it with me.

What a laughable little piece of spin. As Ben Pile says it has all the hall marks of conjuring urgency out of nothing. How long are they going to dine out on Katrina and the 2003 heatwave? When will the warmest decade since the dawn of time get old?

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

RGH: Recall that during the Cretaceous Era of c. 65.5 - 145.5 million YBP, due to plate tectonics today's polar regions were disposed much nearer to global temperate zones. As a proto-crocodile inhabiting equatorial rivers and swamps, no climatological rationale for champosaurus' presence in these regions is germane.

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Blake

On 2012.03.05 and 2012.03.11 I was able to plot HADCRUT3gl data up to 2012.08, but note that maybe in an effort to ‘hide the decline’ on March 11, 2012 HADCRUT3 was truncated from 2012.08 to 2011.92.
Also, October, November and December 2011 were "warmed" in the data.

Can anyone explain this?
Can anyone please post the truncated data points in HADCRUT3gl; 2011.92 to 2012.08?
See my WoodForTrees graph at http://www.oarval.org/ClimateChangeBW.htm

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndres Valencia

I note an acceleration in the rate of warming from AR4 from 0.177 deg per decade to 0.166 deg per decade.

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveJR

No need to panic.... Here in the UK the climate hasn't changed since 1940 !

View a graph of monthly averaged UK & Ireland temperature anomalies

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

Doug arctic ice is going nothing much..
They use a couple of heat waves and cherry pick weather events to make claims, no evidence that any if these are not attributable..

Alarmist rhetoric..

I took a look at the history of the IPCC accelerated graph..

Is it true that the other 'accereated' trend kinds were inserted after thecscientist reviewed it.

By a nameless individual or 2.
If that was a sales graph, or financial service product there would be consequences..

Why won't the scientists disown publically, this misrepresentation

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Clive Best

To save me looking it up, can you post a source for that Clive? Many thanks!

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterrussep3

Oh, so here we go again, vested interests being protected, the line resolutely held, the status quo definantly defended.

The frightening point in this otherwise laughable nonsense is not just that these people actually believe the tosh they spout, but that the more they spout it, the more their own interests are served. How else to justify the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, to take just one hideous example?

Grotesque scarcely hints at the damage these self-important, over-paid numbskulls are peddling.

Watch ' em and weep. It is truly pitiful. And it is all at our expense. Despair seems the only rational response.

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Clive Best

It's OK Clive, found the answer on your blog [http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=3493]. Many Thanks!

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterrussep3

The source is actually myself ! - http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=3459

I took all the weather stations from CRU that lie within the UK and Ireland (about 40). Then I averaged together all the temperature anomalies for each month. The anomalies are the difference between temperatures and "normals". The normals are the monthly average "climate" from 1961 to 1990.

You can also see all the stations on a clickable map here

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

Take a look at the WMO's graph of precipitation, fig. 5 here. WMO say "Global precipitation (rain, snow etc) over land in 2001-2010 was the second highest average after 1951-60 since 1901." Look back at the figure and compare the *changes* in, say, the last 50 years, with those of the 50 years before -- is this climate change acceleration?

It brings to mind one of my favorite movie quotes: "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Mar 23, 2012 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Mar 23, 2012 at 6:13 PM | John Blake

Recall that during the Cretaceous Era of c. 65.5 - 145.5 million YBP, due to plate tectonics today's polar regions were disposed much nearer to global temperate zones.

Hi John

Would you care to give some sources? The papers (e.g. see below) I have seen suggest that Antarctica was close to, or covering, the South Pole at the end of the Cretaceous and had drifted to within the Antarctic Cicle well before then. There is plenty of evidence of "proper" South Polar dinosaurs in the literature. (Try Google - or even Wiki!.) All major groups seem to have been present from large and small carnivores, through to vegetarian long-necked sauropods such as titanosaurs and hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs).

Antarctica is reckonned to have been around the Equator in Cambrian times (c. 540 - 490 Ma) but had slowly moved South and was close to the South Pole when Pangea was formed in the late Permian (c. 250 Ma).

It is because Antarctica has been in approximately the same position for the last c. 250 Ma that it has been suggested that it could be a better fixed palaeogeographical reference point than the global set of so-called mantle plumes.

Dinosaurs lived in the South Polar region. There were no icecaps (Arctic or Antarctic). The temperature was substantially warmer than today and Antarctica was covered with forests right up to (down to?) the South Pole. The "only" problem was the lack of light in the Southern winter. There is no ecological niche currently to compare.

http://www.geo.uni-bremen.de/geomod/staff/mschulz/reprint/Hay_et_al_1999_Alternative%20global%20Cretaceous%20paleogeography.pdf

Mar 23, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Bates

"Also, October, November and December 2011 were "warmed" in the data.

...Can anyone explain this?"

Not directly, I can't. But I think you may already have so. If the last points in the series are at the end of the summer then they will be relatively high. So anyone wishing to draw 'trend lines' against the advice of statistician William M. Briggs http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5107 will feel more able to claim continued warming.

I doubt that UK weather last year was representative of the world, but in the UK October saw the highest temperatures [~30 degrees C] of an otherwise flaccid summer....
On 31st August 2011, even The Grauniad wrote:
"Are our summers getting colder?
According to the Met Office, this year has been the coolest summer in 20 years. We look at data that shows the mean temperature in the UK by month and season over the past 100 years"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/aug/31/weather-cold-summer

A lot of people will have forgotten that by now. But other people will have a continuing want and need to draw lines through recent temperature measurements to show encroaching doom and the fifth-horseman-of-the-apocalypse bearing down on us. These people are helped [in the UK at least] by the time series finishing soon after the high point of 2011. And, of course, by being conveniently able to forget that 1997 was the previously trumpeted "hottest year". It will be expunged from the records like politburo members photographed next to Stalin. If there is no significant temperature change in coming years then there is every chance that CRUTEM5 will be able to pull the same stunt.

Anyone who ever followed Cricket or Baseball knows that there is always some "record" that can be unearthed from even the most tedious games by a commentator. "Records" make good headlines. If temperatures just flat-line, they will still be able to push 2005 and 2010 down a little and some newer temperature up a little, and so claim a "new" record. All without seriously compromising the data. Easy.

Or am I being overly cynical? I used to be sceptical for many other reasons, but I never seriously distrusted the actual recorded data that was published [not above and beyond honest mistakes and instrumental uncertainties]. After the last year or two, I can no longer say that this is always the case.

Mar 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

We are talking tenths of degree over decades and this is supposed to indicate catastrophe for the planet. This bollox represents a disaster for science.

Mar 23, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The WMO is an agency of the UN and a political propaganda trumpet.

Mar 23, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

From the report...

In contrast, other regions experienced, on average, below normal precipitation. The western United States, southwestern Canada, Alaska, most parts of southern and western Europe, most parts of southern Asia, central Africa, central South America, and eastern and southeastern Australia were the most affected.

On what planet was this?

Here is southeastern Australia (on planet Earth), 2011 was wet. Above average style wet... and has remained so thus far in 2012. Hardly surprising given a big La Nina.

Mar 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermct

Essex and McKitrick plot global mean temperature over the hockey stick period in Kelvins in their book "Taken By Storm." It's not very terrifying at all, really.

This is all to say that the other side won an important battle the minute it got people to argue over temperature anomalies rather than absolute temperature. This battle must be fought anew wherever possible.

Mar 24, 2012 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarold Ambler

I love the smell of picked cherries in the morning, the smell of climate change victory.

'Globally-averaged temperatures in 2011 were estimated to be 0.40° Centigrade above the 1961-1990'
'The rate of increase since 1971 has been “remarkable”
'warmest since records began in 1850, with global land and sea surface temperatures
recorded temperatures for the decade between 1°C and 3°C above the 1961-1990 average.'
'global temperature has increased since 1971 computed over the full period 1881-2010'
'Global precipitation since 1901'
'Arctic sea ice extent was again well below the 1979-2000 average'

Would the real 30 year climate normal please step forward ('79-2000; '61-90; 2 "remarkable" rates of increase since '71)

How about those global land and sea temperature records from 1881 and precipitation records from1901 wow i never knew, we knew, what we thought we knew.

Mar 24, 2012 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered Commenternicanuk

Mar 24, 2012 at 12:47 AM | Harold Ambler

"This is all to say that the other side won an important battle the minute it got people to argue over temperature anomalies rather than absolute temperature. This battle must be fought anew wherever possible."

Amen, brother! Climate Science and its parent, Meteorology, are the only disciplines known to mankind that claim to be scientific and that take great care to employ artificial constructs such as "anomalies" instead of raw data. Use of "anomalies" introduces averages and trends as the bedrock that replaces raw data in climate science and meteorology. There is no justification for such practice in science, scientific method, philosophy, or in the difficulties of computation. No one has ever offered a justification. Use of "anomalies" is a scandal of the highest order and should not be tolerated.

Also, climate scientists and meteorologists use the word incorrectly. An anomaly is a lone fact that challenges all existing explanations of phenomena of that kind and proves resistant to all efforts at explanation.

Mar 24, 2012 at 3:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

these people are our Govt!

23 March: Business Spectator, Australia: Greens celebrate 40 years of survival
Senator (Bob) Brown received a standing ovation before delivering the third green oration on the theme of global – and, at times, intergalactic – democracy, addressing the party faithful as “fellow earthians”.
“Surely we are not, in this crowded reality of countless other similar planets, the only thinking beings to have turned up,” he said. “Most unlikely.
“So why isn’t life out there contacting us?
“Maybe life has often evolved to intelligence on other planets with biospheres and every time that intelligence, when it became able to alter its environment, did so with catastrophic consequences.
“They have come and gone. And now it’s our turn.”
Senator Brown proposed that a global parliament should be formed with the question ‘Will people a hundred years from now thank us?’ inscribed above its door.
He said its goals should be economy, equality, ecology and eternity.
“Let us determine to bring ourselves together, settle our differences, and shape and realise our common dream for this joyride into the future,” he said.
“In that pursuit, let us create a global democracy and parliament under the grand idea of one planet, one person, one vote, one value.”
With 10 Greens sitting in federal parliament, 25 in state parliaments and more than 100 councillors around the country, the party is a far cry from the United Tasmania Group formed on March 23, 1972, after a confrontation with hydro workers.
The Greens received congratulatory messages from colleagues as far away as Mongolia, while Senator Milne announced Australian Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Schmidt as next year’s orator.
http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Greens-celebrate-40-years-of-survival-SNDW5?OpenDocument&src=hp19

Mar 24, 2012 at 5:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

22 March: Fox, Phoenix: Climate Fund Seeks UN-Style Diplomatic Immunity
The Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year to lower global greenhouse gases, is seeking a broad blanket of UN-style immunity that would shield its operations from any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates.
There is just one problem: it is not part of the United Nations…
A 24-nation interim board of trustees for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is slated to hold its first meeting next month in Switzerland to organize the fund’s secretariat and to get it running by November, as well as find a permanent home for the GCF’s operations…
But before it is fully operational, the GCF’s creators — 194 countries that belong to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — want it to be immune from legal challenges and lawsuits, not to mention outside inspections, much like the United Nations itself cannot be affected by decisions rendered by a sovereign nation’s government or judicial system…
http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpps/news/climate-fund-seeks-un-style-diplomatic-immunity-dpgonc-km-20120322_18755189

Mar 24, 2012 at 5:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

What we are dealing with is the next extension of the power of the NGOs: to be able arbitrarily to tax and rule on the basis of science they judge themselves.

The next move will be the right to jail opponents for eco-crime defined as challenging the 'consensus'.

This has been trailed by an activist working for a Club of Rome subsidiary

Mar 24, 2012 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Theo Goodwin writes above: "... No one has ever offered a justification. Use of "anomalies" is a scandal of the highest order and should not be tolerated. "

     Pleased, and relieved, to have you writing that, Theo (and to Harold for his: "... This is all to say that the other side won an important battle the minute it got people to argue over temperature anomalies rather than absolute temperature. "
     I took a big slap down when I raised this on WUWT? way back in an attempt to get an explanation of why it was done this way. I asked the question as I was impressed by a commenter who said much the same as Harold has (above).
     I was sobered by the response I had on WUWT? and backed away. Now I feel by showing support for you and Harold it may help the question progress to a genuine answer.
     Why the use of anomalies and not absolute?

Mar 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

One thermometer in Brazil is all that's necessary for CRUTEMP4 to measure the January 1851 temperature of the Southern Hemisphere, to three decimal figures.

http://www.real-science.com/crutemp4-takes-climate-bs-to-new-levels#comment-81947

Mar 24, 2012 at 5:09 PM | Registered Commenterperry

Mar 24, 2012 at 7:27 AM | Roger Carr

"Why the use of anomalies and not absolute?"

Meteorologists grew up on "anomalies" and are addicted to them. Not a genuine reason.

Computations are easier with "anomalies." No longer a genuine reason if ever it was.

Apologists for climate science argue that taking the raw temperature data from even a small site, such as a suburban lot, and using it as the raw data is too challenging for science. Obviously, an admission that there is no science of temperature records that uses raw data or is worthy of the name science. This is the real reason.

Mar 24, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0GFRcFm-aY

Climate change is accelerating ?

Oh dear HOW TERRIBLE

Mar 24, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Theo Goodwin,

I too have experienced much bewilderment at how climate scientists rely upon an idiosyncratic usage of the term "anomaly"....

However, I'm not sure that a Kuhnian sense of observation in contradiction to a theory is so widely used, either:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anomaly

I'm not a scientist and can't assess all the various usages, but the do seem to be a variety of disciplinary usages which develop over time.

That would not suggest that "anomaly" is well understood by climate scientists (I cannot claim to know), but it may be a thorny conceptual issue.

Mar 24, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

@ janspid :


Yep if bird flu, swine flu, meteor impact or nuclear winter don't hit us first then we can just relax waiting slowly dozing in the warmth for ..... Catastrophic Climate Change !

Mar 24, 2012 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

I predict that it will be no more than ten years before someone "discovers" that CO2 causes cooling and starts the great CAGC (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Cooling) scare.

Mar 25, 2012 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Heyworth

Theo; thank you. I'll take this away with me: "... using it as the raw data is too challenging for science. Obviously, an admission that there is no science of temperature records that uses raw data or is worthy of the name science. This is the real reason."

Skiphil; and thank you for this: "That would not suggest that "anomaly" is well understood by climate scientists..."

Mar 25, 2012 at 4:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Skiphil writes:

'I too have experienced much bewilderment at how climate scientists rely upon an idiosyncratic usage of the term "anomaly"....'

Yeah, reminds me of the Watergate Hearings. When the DC police who made the arrest were being questioned, the lead detective used the word "responded" whenever he should have used the word "went." He said that they responded to the office, then responded to the balcony, then responded to the stairway, and so on. It took some time for the senators to get clear on the detective's story. The senators had initially believed that there was someone "to respond to" in each of the places mentioned.

Mar 25, 2012 at 6:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Skiphil,

I do not disagree with you but I have a question. Isn't the adjective 'anomalous' really rather clear? When speakers of English say that "X is anomalous" or "It is an anomalous X," do they not always mean that X is strange and remarkably so? I do not know of a counterexample.

Did the founders of Meteorology take it for granted that temperature readings are remarkably strange?

Mar 25, 2012 at 6:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Roger Carr,

My pleasure. I shudder at the thought of encouraging someone to become a crusader against the conceptual ogre that "anomalies" in climate science are but the job does need to be done.

Mar 25, 2012 at 6:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Is there any other discipline that routinely uses 'anomalies' instead of raw data? It seems odd that every other discipline that I can think of either uses raw data, or perhaps does things with it in relation to particular problems for reasons that have to be clearly articulated and the methodology carefully explained. What special circumstances make it the default position in interpreting temperature data?

Mar 25, 2012 at 7:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

http://the-end.com/2008GodsFinalWitness/?gclid=CMehj-K-ga8CFS4NtAodtRrG2A

Those of you non believers

Believe in this and you will be saved

( Note the date 4 years ago )

Mar 25, 2012 at 8:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterjAMSPID

So dont take any loans out on the 27 of May 2012

Must be true someone in the pub told me
it was on the internet

Mar 25, 2012 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterjAMSPID

The term 'anomaly' has long been used in geophysics to express variations from an expected or average value. So terrestrial gravity data are commonly expressed in terms of the so-called Bouguer anomaly. Bouguer anomalies have the same units (metres per second per second, i.e. acceleration) as the raw gravity data from which they are derived, but have been 'corrected' for variations of latitude, altitude, and local topography, so as to standardize measurements from every point on earth. Corrections are also made to raw geomagnetic data (i.e. measurements of the local strength of the earth's magnetic field) to convert them to 'magnetic anomalies' which are globally comparable. For temperature data it is (as I think Essex and McKitrick have argued) an almost impossible (or even meaningless) task to try to measure a precise mean global temperature for the earth's surface. It is however in principle rather easier to measure changes in temperature with time for a large number of points, then integrate them across the globe to arrive at an estimated global trend.

Mar 25, 2012 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

Mar 25, 2012 at 9:52 PM | Coldish

"The term 'anomaly' has long been used in geophysics to express variations from an expected or average value."

Why?

"For temperature data it is (as I think Essex and McKitrick have argued) an almost impossible (or even meaningless) task to try to measure a precise mean global temperature for the earth's surface. It is however in principle rather easier to measure changes in temperature with time for a large number of points, then integrate them across the globe to arrive at an estimated global trend."

Well, if it is impossible then it is impossible and good scientists should tell us that. So, is it impossible or not?

Why substitute artificial constructs for raw data that cannot be turned into a mean global temperature for the earth's surface?

Mar 26, 2012 at 3:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

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