Click images for more details



Recent posts
Recent comments

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« More Met Office gongs | Main | Barroso then and now »

Falsifiability in my lifetime

An article on the Nature website looks at the failure of global temperatures to rise in line with the climate models and finds a possible explanation in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. I notice what may be the start of a new meme emerging:

...none of the climate simulations carried out for the IPCC produced this particular hiatus at this particular time. That has led sceptics — and some scientists — to the controversial conclusion that the models might be overestimating the effect of greenhouse gases, and that future warming might not be as strong as is feared. Others say that this conclusion goes against the long-term temperature trends, as well as palaeoclimate data that are used to extend the temperature record far into the past. And many researchers caution against evaluating models on the basis of a relatively short-term blip in the climate. “If you are interested in global climate change, your main focus ought to be on timescales of 50 to 100 years,” says Susan Solomon, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The idea that the predictions of climate models are only good over periods this long seems to represent a considerable upping of the ante, but it's one that I have heard elsewhere in recent days - if I remember correctly it was also mentioned by David Kennedy in his evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee. In the past, the community has stood by a period of 30 years (at least when it suited them), but it may well be that the public start to realise that the models have been running hot over periods of several decades, the climate modelling community has been forced to extend the limits.

100 years should ensure that all concerned make it to retirement.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (202)

If you behave in this life, go to church, pray to the right god, do as your told, and live life as we priests say (and not as we do), you will go to heaven when you die. We can't prove heaven is there, but trust us, you'll be rewarded after death.

Amazing how useful and resilient that meme is.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

You are getting rather cynical. You seem to be saying that these climate “scientists” might have motives other than merely saving the world. What could it be?

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

This is pic-n-mix science - wishful thinking and not evidence. The pause in temperature has got them all rattled and it's obvious that many scientists and campaigners are going off in all directions trying to explain it in their various ad-lib ways.

Interesting to see his Grace responding to Mark Lynas' tweet about the reality of the mysterious pause as he puts it, and his Grace's reminder of the insulting article he wrote in 2007 when David Whitehouse said look at this data. Perhaps now Lynas has admitted he was wrong (that's what I like about science he says) he will apologise to Dr Whitehouse who was not only light-years ahead of Lynas but remained a gentleman.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterLucyD

In the same way that global warming has the remarkable ability to make the world hotter and colder, drier and wetter, stiller and windier and anything else demanded of it, so of course the 'robustness' of climate models is similarly infinitely elastic, infinitely variable and infinitely right.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

The models are set up so that you don't *just* have to look at the century timescale in order to improve them.

You just have to be careful to match up what it is you want them to be good at, with what it is you measure them against. That is the way I read Susan's point there, anyway.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Yes I remember the unimpressive Dr David Kennedy talk of longer periods to show whether the pause is significant - but he also said that he and Lord Deben were more confident in the CAGW theory. Lord Deben said he was very concern about the impacts of glbal warming!

Given that Santer's dodgy17 years claim is merely part of the ever elastic goal posts of the CAGW alarmists. I seem to remember in 1988 when Hansen warned that the Potemic levels would flood parts of NY in 20-40 years. I wonder when they will be "revised"? China's fault to much aerosols no doubt!

Funny how "proof" of CAGW only takes a decade of data or so, but showing that the models are inadequate takes 17 years, nope 20 years, nope 30 years, nope 50 years, nope 100 years!

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

As a corollary to Borel's "Infinite Monkey Theorem", if enough climate scientists create enough climate models, sooner or later one will provide an accurate prediction for some period in the future.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Are computer models reliable?

Yes. Computer models are an essential
tool in understanding how the climate will
respond to changes in greenhouse gas
concentrations, and other external effects,
such as solar output and volcanoes.

Computer models are the only reliable
way to predict changes in climate. Their
reliability is tested by seeing if they are able
to reproduce the past climate, which gives
scientists confidence that they can also
predict the future.

But computer models cannot predict the
future exactly. They depend, for example, on
assumptions made about the levels of future
greenhouse gas emissions.

Met Office Publication "Warming A guide to climate change" 2011
("This guide tells you everything you need to know about climate change and, importantly, what science tells us about it and what it means for you. ")

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Did I just read a confession in Nature that the late-70s to late-90s blip that all spawned all this CAGW cack was far too short to draw any conclusions whatsoever?

Who'd have thought it?

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

So does that mean they need 50-100 years to prove their Alarmism?

AGW effects are surely not even theoretically measurable before around 1950. That mean 2000-2050 repesents the period over which the theory has to be statistically proven.

And since we have only at most 25 years of true out of sample data to test we are surely a long way from being able to meet Susan Solomon's minimum requirements.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

@Martin A Jan 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Wow that Met office guide is total nonsense. Just so much wrong in 3 short paragraphs.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

"Funny how "proof" of CAGW only takes a decade of data or so, but showing that the models are inadequate takes 17 years, nope 20 years, nope 30 years, nope 50 years, nope 100 years!"

A sign that real proof is needed to disprove a fake theory created by tuning propositions to match observations.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commentershub

Calvinball science.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

I'd have thought that the long-term and paleo records were only proof that natural warming can be quite high all by itself - unless they are all still fooling themselves with the various hokey-sticks.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

"This as led sceptics - and some scientists - ..."

Oh Dear. No sceptics are scientists?

Would NATURE be biased, by any chance? Why believe the rest of the piece if they have such a distorted view?

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

The article is quite interesting in that it presents a more cautious (almost scientific) approach than is usual for Nature. Compare for example the article '"Tropical ocean key to global warming ‘hiatus’ " linked at the bottom, by the same writer.

The tone, and admissions, "piecing together" "minor crisis" "have struggled to explain" "models might be overestimating the effect of greenhouse gases" "it’s a negative feedback" are quite encouraging.
But it ends with the usual creed "temperatures will spike once again."

It's entertaining to see Susan Solomon say that the focus should be on 50-100 years, when IPCC AR4 WG1, of which she was the co-chair, had in its SPM the statement about warming of 0.2C per decade over the next two decades.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

quotable gems such as:

“An analysis of historical data buttressed these conclusions, showing that the cool phase of the PDO coincided with a few decades of cooler temperatures after the Second World War (see ‘The Pacific’s global reach’)

and that the warm phase lined up with the sharp spike seen in global temperatures between 1976 and 1998″

now remind me what caused the 80-90's warming?

Sir Brian Hoskins, in response to the Met Office new decadal (flat temp) forecast, last Januray:

Are these cycles just something scientists have invented to explain away the lack of recent warming?

No. The Met Office admits that we still know far too little about how these natural cycles work, and how big they are. And climate scientists are open to the charge that they ignored the potential impact of natural variability when it was accelerating global warming. According to Brian Hoskins of Imperial College London, it now looks like natural cycles played a big role in the unexpectedly fast warming of the 1990s.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Natural variability can be well observed to be far greater than the paleo climate reconstructions show. Here the Hockey Stick is graphed against CET (my reconstruction 1538 to 1659). Graph shows CET decadal and CET 50 year.

To put in further context the blue lines represent glacier movements; A closed blue line at top equals glacier retreat and closed at bottom equals glacier advance

This is a long way from the official Met Office belief in a stable climate until man interfered in 1900. Note the Hockey stick becomes an instrumental record at 1900. The Instrumental record is far more variable than the 50 year paleo hence the sudden uptick

This graph is taken from my article

The overall conclusion is that temperatures have been rising since the 1690’s with a notable hump around 1730 and what looks like a very warm period emerging around 1500.

I think we can see a fair few cycles within this data but suspect there is a longer one that brought the MWP and Roman Warm period. These do not show up in 30 year records nor in the paleo data using novel proxies.


Jan 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

The terms “hiatus” and “pause” each imply that we know that warming will resume. Hence the use of those terms seems to be an unjustified PR win for alarmism. Skeptics should adopt a more neutral term, I think. One suggestion is “stall”. What are some others?

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

The secular games people play?

"The Secular Games (Latin Ludi Saeculares, originally Ludi Terentini) was a pagan celebration, involving sacrifices and theatrical performances, held in ancient Rome for three days and nights to mark the end of a saeculum and the beginning of the next. A saeculum, supposedly the longest possible length of human life, was considered as either 100 or 110 years in length."

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

Look at this nonsensical statement from Tollefson

"Climate sceptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt."

Apart from the thing about sceptics always 'seizing' something, examine this sentence - it is purely circular. Sceptics look at a flat graph and conclude there's no trend? Well, what else is one supposed to do?

Toffelson's device is to say sceptics look at the temperature celebrate by saying 'global warming has stopped' whereas it is the scientists who are actually thinking about it. In reality, the pause has been looming in the horizon for a number of years now and scientists wasted the span of two IPCC churning out alarmist material, sticking the head in the sand and hoping the problem would go away. The conclusions of the article still has scientists wishing for the same thing.

Give them a few more years and the climate activist losers will be telling you it was they who always worked hard to figure out the pause.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Registered Commentershub

P.s. The Nature piece uses “stall”.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

The way I read it is that the 17year halt in global warming means that "climate scientists" haven't a clue how the climate works and it sure isn't governed by so-called greenhouse gases.

They are just making it up as they go along, with no scientific basis for the models.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

A Met Office Press release from 2008 - acknowledges the 'slowdown', and explanations were being sort..

Met Office - Is global warming all over?

29 April 2008

The recent fall in global temperatures has led to increasing speculation that global warming is a thing of the past.

spot the silly graph.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Everyone, be quiet. The science is settled. Again.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

It reminds me of tossing a coin against my brother as kids. If you lost you just say "Best of 3", if you lose the next one, "Best of 5", "Best of 7" infinitum to get away from actually losing.

I'm sure that far from the alarmists accepting that their hypothesis is struggling they're convinced all that warming is about to leap out (from the oceans, natch) and they'll eventually win "Best of 51". It's totally projection to accuse their opponents of denial.

All along I've said they have clear traits of mugpunters, I see it all the time. If I double the stakes and just win this next race, I'll be back in profit...oh dear. The trouble is mugpunters eventually end up skint, these guys just get richer at our expense.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterSimonW

100 years should ensure that all concerned make it to retirement.

And its more than enough time to ensure the money keeps pouring and the political ‘objectives’ are in place so that they cannot be reversed.
And once again we see why its ‘science’ in quote marks whenever you mention climate 'science' because they prove so very often that the actual scientific approach is one they reject when its ‘useful’ to do so.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Bish says:

"...but it may well be that the public start to realise that the models have been running hot over periods of several decades..."

Bish, I'm pretty sure that the 'public' are not even aware that the scientivists are predicting CC with models - unless they think that Kate Moss has taken up weather forecasting. We have to depend on the MSM really getting the message across, in very simple terms, what the models are for, what they do and how they run 'hot' (and what that means).

Douglas: 'Hiatus/stall/pause/etc'. If we want to use a name that does not imply that CC will continue, I am now of the opinion that we could start looking at the hiatus as a 'Peak'. Notwithstanding that on another thread a commenter (I think Richard) argued that in order to call it a 'Peak' we would need to see into the future to know that CC had fallen, I think we can be pretty sure that the cyclic nature of these things show a distinct possibility this could be the point we go over the hump.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

I'm surprised that there seems to be no mention of climate sensitivity as the current range of empirically derived values are significantly below those used in climate models (aiui).

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

No explanation is an explanation unless and until it explains why temperatures, instead of going slightly up or slightly down, simply and steadfastly moved nowhere.

As already noticed by David Whitehouse some time ago, the one fact we know is that whatever effects are at play, they have miraculously balanced each other out almost exactly to the tenth of a degree on a planetary scale.

This means that there is some very powerful inertia in the system, or that the measurements are all wrong.

It's like with the profits of a Company. Being the difference of two very large numbers (earnings, expenses), the profit figure is expected to vary wildly year-on-year, even if earnings and expenses don't change much. We are seeing just the opposite instead.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

They might need 50 years to prove their models right but they won't get that long. Somewhere between 5 and 10 years from now it will be crunch time. They won't even be able to fall back on a low climate sensitivity position because by then everyone will be fed up with AGW.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Without the step-change around the turn of the millennium there would be no warming trend in the entire satellite record of 35 years. I think it is for climate science to explain that more than the flat trend before and after it.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Two things; firstly they claim both the pause and divergence between models and observations may be caused by - shock! natural variability. Who'd of thought it? Funny how any warming is 'never' natural and can only be explained by agw....blah blah.

Secondly, isn't this flipping of the oceans into their cool phases - thus triggering a global cool period, exactly what Joe Bast' has been speaking of for several years? As I understand we now have both the Pacific and Atlantic in cool synchronicity - in addition to the sun, too. Joe should be nicely chilled about his predictions right now.

Finally, by the very nature of articles like this appearing at all Alarmists are clearly preparing the ground for a series of subtle shifts of their position - depending upon how temps pan out in the coming years. Those guys are likely very nervous right now....

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

The certainty of climate 'scientists' is what raised my suspicions about them in the first place, it's just not possible to be so certain about such a complex system. The more I researched the more sceptical I became. Now i just consider that community to be outright liars, anyone who can't see that is either dishonest or stupid.

Apparently, in climate 'science' there are no significant uncertainties, everything is known - even the unknown, because when new information emerges climate scientists can evaluate it instantaneously (either supporting it or dismissing it) purely based on whether or not it is suitable as alarmist propaganda.

Jan 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

The 30-year period arose because the World Met Organization long ago adopted 30-year temperature and precipitation as the threshold between weather and climate.

We know now that both temperature and precipitation fluctuate over longer time periods, some longer than human lifetimes. That is the main reason that I am a skeptic. I argue that the amount of warming since 1850 is no more than we might expect from the Earth's recovery from the Little Ice Age.

The Modern Warm Period may someday reach the temperatures enjoyed during the Roman Warm Period or the Medieval Warm Period, both prosperous times. All the better for mankind.

Hubert Lamb convinced me 40 years ago that the climate varies substantially more than has been witnessed since mankind began to use fossil fuels intensively about 60 years ago. The CRU that he founded has produced nothing that invalidates what he wrote before he set up the unit.

So I don't share the view of this blog.

In my view, what this blog should say to Susan Solomon is that she should think through what she said about needing a century to falsify the theory of global warming.

If a theory cannot be falsified for 100 years then the theory should not be used to make public policy until 100 years.have passed.

Certainly such a theory should not be used to change the way in which we are governed, change the way we govern our private lives, cause us to pay premiums for energy to subsidize uneconomic technologies. The list goes on and gets longer by the year.

Enough. Let's wait until the 100 years is up and then decide whether or not we need to do something.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Colbourne

Re: shub

"Funny how "proof" of CAGW only takes a decade of data or so,

CAGW doesn't require proof - it just is. Anybody who denies that is a denier.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

WUWT now has this story up.

Anthony shares my view I think - he says
"This is significant, as it represents a coming to terms with “the pause” not only by Nature, but by Trenberth too."

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Agree with Phillip Bratby - they are just making it up as they go along (as usual). I note from a recent comment by Geoff Sherrington over at Steve's excellent post on Turney's ship of fools, that the Southern Pacific at least around MacQuarie did not even warm in the late 20th Century: MacQuarie Island temperature, 1970-2013. I have seen a similar graph for Alice Springs which shows absolutely no warming (before adjustments) and likewise another village on the north coast of Australia. Is there any evidence for any warming of the SH in the late 20th century, or is global warming just a misnomer for NH warming (or more likely a run of mild NH winters + some UHI + spurious adjustments)?

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I have also picked up on people making predictions that aren't falsifiable until after their retirement age in a blog post:

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

If nature chooses to follow the pattern of the last century-and-a-half then all they need do is hang in there till about 2025-2035 (roughly) and warming will start again.
Before then I would expect to see around .3C of cooling, give or take.
One useful thing that the next generation of sceptics could do (I suspect a fair number of us are not expecting to be around by 2035!) is to hammer home that message so that when (if) the warming does restart in 15-20 years' time the psyentists will not be able to claim — at least unchallenged — that it is all mankind's fault and we need to .........
"I don't what you're talking about, Professor. Sceptics have been forecasting this increase for the last decade and more. It's just part of a long-running pattern of ups and downs as anyone able to read a graph knows!"
Come to think of it, we could probably start now.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Hi Mike

All the model sceanrios - until 2040 predict a range of warming from 0.9C to 1.3C by 2040..

so even if warming start up and gives us 0.3C by then. Predictions/projections wrong by a factor of 3 (and that is the low end of the range)

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Prima facie evidence that the programmers are ignoring the climate patterns of the last 150 years.
Since I believe that those patterns have more to do with what the climate actually does than CO2 (which remember is the only variable that they claim had to be added to the mix or their models fell over) and since I have no professional axe to grind I'm prepared to stick my neck out and go with the figures I've quoted.
Based on the reliable evidence we have I would hazard that a 1.3C increase by 2040 is virtually impossible.
But then I'm not a climate scientist™ so what would I know?

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

From Memorandum submitted by
Professor Hans von Storch and Dr. Myles R. Allen (CRU 43) to
"8.2 The detection step reveals that the warming trend extending across the recent few decades is more rapid than warming or cooling trends what would be expected from internal variability alone (from phenomena such as El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and so on)....
8.3 Attributing observed temperature variations to specific causes relies more on climate models.....
8.4 Importantly, both of these conclusions rely on thermometer-based temperature records such as HadCRUT. They do not rely on reconstructions of temperature over the past millennium. Such reconstructions are not based on thermometer data but on indirect evidence such as tree rings, and are consequently more uncertain and have been the subject of intense debate over the last few years. Because of this uncertainty, coupled with uncertainty in the drivers of climate change prior to the 20th century, reconstructions of past climate have played a more marginal role than the instrumental surface temperature record in the detection and attribution efforts of assessing ongoing climate change....."

Ok so now let's just about-face and bring back that unimportant PDO and those unreliable paleo reconstructions and sideline the climate models that were the main attribution tools for manmade warming in the first place. Remarkable how all this "mountain of evidence" just contradicts itself time and time again.

In the face of such obviously abject and contradictory guesswork the only rational response is skepticism!

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Why am I not surprised at picking 50 or 100 years as the new time-spans for climate change?

Using HadCET (2013 est)

R2 354 yrs (since 1659) 0.1026 (incline)
R2 163 yrs (since 1850) 0.2273 (incline)
R2 100 yrs (since 1914) 0.1876 (incline)
R2 50 yrs (since 1964) 0.2738 (incline)
R2 30 yrs (since 1984) 0.1105 (incline)
R2 20 yrs (since 1994) 0.0550 (decline)

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

One suggestion is “stall”. What are some others?
Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM Douglas J. Keenan


Jan 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Imagine you drop yourself from 10km above ground. Your model called "gravity" suggests you will hit the planet in 78 seconds, at a speed of 2760kph.

At one point during the fall, you notice your speed is stable around 200kph.

If you are a thinking person, you soon get the concept of terminal velocity. If you are a climate scientist, you will find a way to blame aerosols and any other atmospheric component for slowing down the fall, miraculously exactly by the amount opposite to what would make it speed up.

Then you open the parachute. Please.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

A proper application of the precautionary principle would suggest that we do not go hell for leather in any particular direction until the problem is proven as there is an undeniable cost to doing the wrong things. That's not going to happen though is it.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth


>The Nature piece uses “stall”

In my limited flying experience, stalls are invariably followed by a sharp plummet.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:57 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

the pause:

A neutral term is : The anomaly has "plateaued" , "levelled off", hit the top, has maxed out.

Jan 16, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

When Pooh & Piglet dropped the sticks over the bridge, they came out the other side apparently randomly placed with respect to each other. But to their disappointment, these sticks that just seemed to get further and further apart under the bridge, far from jumping out the river as they seemingly must, they both carried on down the same river.

From this, Pooh and Piglet deduced that the sticks get further apart under the bridge where they cannot be seen but this does not happen where they can be seen. From this they theorised that the sticks must be shy, and that they continue in the river rather than jumping out (as they ought) because they do not want to be far apart from their friend.

Jan 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>