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« Statistical sierra | Main | LWEC Report Card: A microcosm of global warming exaggeration and errors »

A la Southern Annual Mode

As I understand it, GCMs say that ice extent at both poles should be reducing as global warming hits the poles in advance of the rest of the planet. The increase in Antarctic sea ice is therefore another question mark over the veracity and trustworthiness of climate model output.

That's the way I understand it, anyway. According to this article at The Conversation, I'm completely wrong. The increase in extent is due to changes in the Southern Annual Mode, a sort of El Nino of the Antarctic.

Here’s the kicker: the strengthening of SAM over recent decades has been directly linked to human activity. Since the 1940s, ozone depletion and increasing greenhouse gases have caused the westerly winds to intensify and migrate south towards Antarctica. The net effect of this drives sea ice further north and increases its total extent.

There is still plenty of great work ahead to improve our understanding and modelling of Antarctica’s climate, but a basic message is emerging. Far from discounting climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, the apparent paradox of Antarctic sea ice is telling us that it is real and that we are contributing to it.

So this means that the models don't recreate the Southern Annular Mode then?

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Reader Comments (80)

I'm no scientist, but I am getting mightily tired of being accused, with others, of changing the climate this way or that, when my understanding is that it changes quite well on its own, thank you. If a wayward asteroid was to hit, and destroy half the planet, would that be my fault, too?

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

The link doesn't seem to work for me.

Is anyone surprised? The climate "scientists" continually move the goal posts.

CAGW => climate change => extreme weather

pause what pause? => the heat is hidding in the deep ocean => we found one GCM projection out of 5 million that suggested a pause => trade winds

Polar amplification => the Arctic is screaming but the Antarctic is different => we await the excuse why the Acrtic is not going to disappear anytime soon

The huge sea level rise will drown us all

blah blah blah

Sounds more like water divining or astrology

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

It is quite extraordinary how things that have happened naturally for ever suddenly start to become the fault of man. Hard winters cold winters. Warm summers cool summers. Too much rain too little rain. Too much snow too little snow. Now Antarctic ice. All our fault.

There is a whiff of desperation about all this when we blame man instead of capricious nature and are so counterintuitive when trying to apportion blame.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

What I find most depressing is the fact that when the old pseudo scientific modelling doesn't fit the alarmist agenda, they just invent a new explanation to fit their narrative.

This latest one reminded me of the fact that all the non increases in global temperatures over the last decade and a half are all miraculously lurking in the deep ocean and are just waiting for the right moment to come out and cook us all.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterStu

What will the blurb be if the Arctic ice coverage also begins to trend up?

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

I'm no scientist, but I am getting mightily tired of being accused, with others, of changing the climate this way or that, when my understanding is that it changes quite well on its own, thank you.
Jun 7, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Old Goat

It is quite extraordinary how things that have happened naturally for ever suddenly start to become the fault of man.
Jun 7, 2014 at 9:08 AM | tonyb

Extraordinary? Just that if it isn't our fault, we can't be made to pay.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

This is just another example of settled science. Plus ca change.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The most recent forecast (late May) suggested the Arctic mean ice coverage at its lowest point this year (usually mid-Seoptember) would be close to the long-term mean. If that comes true, it will mean a big increase two years in a row. Meanwhile, the 2014 el Nino which some so slaveringly longed for looks like being a lot weaker than originally forecast.

Andrew Jaspan, who set up The Conversation, edited the Observer 1995 -6. He was a total disaster, and deeply unpleasant to boot. He was fired after 11 months, prompting the late Hugo Young, then chairman of the Scott Trust, the body ultimately responsible for the Guardian and Observer, to call a meeting of the staff and tender a sincere apologies for the Jaspan ordeal - during which the paper lost more then 10 per cent of its circulation, so starting a decline which was never reversed. Jaspan's next job was, I jest not, with The Big Issue. Then he went off to Australia to wreck the Melbourne Age.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rose

After years of pulling my hair out at the endless stream of fake science purporting to prove Global Warming TM, and hoping that the integrity of its practioners will result in the hyopthesis being categorically refuted, I now see where the problem lies.

The NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) and its overseas equivalents are corrupting science. They have such vast amounts of public treasure to throw around that its recipients have every interest in keeping the gravy train rolling and none in declaring Global Warming to be within millennia-old natural cycles. The Bishop's quote above - "There is still plenty of great work ahead" - portrays this beautifully.

This Climategate link was posted yesterday at the top of Christopher Mockton's WUWT article on the coming Heartland Conference:

This confidential email shows the great sophistication of milking the public purse under a veneer of scientific enquiry, and I suspect that the author was distressed when it was leaked, only to find that his email with its revealing inverted commas made nary a ripple after Climategate. I recommend reading it: the MO of this great heist is revealed.

A vist to the NERC website illustrates the process: they trumpet "£200m for new UK Polar Research Ship". This vast sum will benefit a whole supply chain, from the lifejacket makers to the crew's pension funds. What's not to like? Well this: that same £200m put to good use, or left in the hands of the taxpayer, would be of greater benefit to the many. What are the chances of this latest Ship of Fools reporting record Antarctic ice, and the absence of Global Warming, and sailing her back to Pompey to be sold off?

8 years ago, at a Nottingham Uni seminar, I witnessed the head of a different Research Council say, "Don't come to me for a lousy million". He had, IIRC, £120m to give away and was finding it hard to find enough takers.

In summary, the idiots who gather our taxes and hand them out in mindboggling tranches to "good causes", have created a culture as addictive as that of the narcotics industry. Only if senior politicians grasp this, and shut off the floodgates, will the ruinous Global Warming hoax collapse.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

More epicycles. They just keep bolting them on!

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Whitehead

Or could it be the southern oceans have been cooling for the last decade?

Reynolds SST 60 to 70 deg South

Reynolds anomaly relative to 1971-2000

And as of yesterday:-

Earth Wind Map

Shows almost a complete circle of blue - below “average/normal” SSTs around Antarctica.

“ocean surface temperatures and anomaly from daily average (1981-2011) updated daily”

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Ahhh, the shifting unfalsifiable hypothesis, a favourite of The Conversation and their preference for Clima ficción (es un subgénero de la ciencia ficción). The Antarctic 'exception' was an inconvenience. No more. It is now a post hoc adjustment, a tweak, a mere piquant twist to wonderful feel-good bedtime story, best read with an expensive champagne.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

More epicycles. They just keep bolting them on!
Jun 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Whitehead

Yes. Well spotted David. Bolting requires, well, an source of nuts.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

This September, total Global sea ice will probably be t an all time record. It's because 2013 Arctic ice volume was 60% up on 2012. Current mean Arctic temperature is about 2 k lower than the long term average. By 2020, the Arctic will probably be frozen solid as we enter the new Little Ice Age. As for the 'consensus', forget it.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

As has been noted before, they make it up as they go along.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

...are lurking in the deep ocean and are just waiting for the right moment to come out and cook us all.
Jun 7, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterStu

So far as I can see, any heat that *did* get into the depths of the ocean by miraculous means unknown to man would have fallen into a thermodynamic black hole.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The 'missing heat' never existed in the first place.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

It was always a travesty.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

What the **** has ozone depletion got to do with westerly winds?

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMax Roberts

I don't think you're doing this article justice; it's a gem from the Royal Society, no less:

The abstract is a polished diamond:
"In recent decades, the Arctic has been warming and sea ice disappearing. By contrast, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica has been (mainly) cooling and sea-ice extent growing. We argue here that interhemispheric asymmetries in the mean ocean circulation, with sinking in the northern North Atlantic and upwelling around Antarctica, strongly influence the sea-surface temperature (SST) response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing, accelerating warming in the Arctic while delaying it in the Antarctic. Furthermore, while the amplitude of GHG forcing has been similar at the poles, significant ozone depletion only occurs over Antarctica. We suggest that the initial response of SST around Antarctica to ozone depletion is one of cooling and only later adds to the GHG-induced warming trend as upwelling of sub-surface warm water associated with stronger surface westerlies impacts surface properties. We organize our discussion around ‘climate response functions’ (CRFs), i.e. the response of the climate to ‘step’ changes in anthropogenic forcing in which GHG and/or ozone-hole forcing is abruptly turned on and the transient response of the climate revealed and studied. Convolutions of known or postulated GHG and ozone-hole forcing functions with their respective CRFs then yield the transient forced SST response (implied by linear response theory), providing a context for discussion of the differing warming/cooling trends in the Arctic and Antarctic. We speculate that the period through which we are now passing may be one in which the delayed warming of SST associated with GHG forcing around Antarctica is largely cancelled by the cooling effects associated with the ozone hole. By mid-century, however, ozone-hole effects may instead be adding to GHG warming around Antarctica but with diminished amplitude as the ozone hole heals. The Arctic, meanwhile, responding to GHG forcing but in a manner amplified by ocean heat transport, may continue to warm at an accelerating rate. "


I think I'll wait for the publication of the novel. It's a pity Iain Banks died so young.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour
Roll up (We've got everything you need), roll up for the mystery tour
Roll up (Satisfaction guaranteed), roll up for the mystery tour
The magical mystery tour is hoping to take you away
Hoping to take you away

"Magical Mystery Tour"
Lennon–McCartney 1967

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"So this means that the models don't recreate the Southern Annular Mode then?"

They recreate it but based on a couple of science paper abstracts, apparently badly.

Southern Annular Mode Dynamics in Observations and Models. Part I: The Influence of Climatological Zonal Wind Biases in a Comprehensive GCM

Southern Annular Mode Dynamics in Observations and Models. Part II: Eddy Feedbacks

What the Conversation article is suggesting is quite different. The claim there is that their model *is* modeling things correctly with the added ozone calculations and that Antarctic ice will melt later. Their claim is that the Arctic warms quickly because ocean currents transport warm water in that direction while Antarctica will take longer to start warming is it requires wind induced upwelling to (from the sounds of it) overcome the direction of the southern ocean currents.

Our calculations suggest that around Antarctica the ozone hole may have delayed warming due to greenhouse gases by several decades. It’s tempting to speculate that this is the period through which we now find ourselves passing.

Smells like confirmation bias to me. And as with much climate science based on models a temporary good approximation to existing observations is no proof of reliable projection.

Jun 7, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

The more science changes the more it remains settled.

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Sydney

Off topic I suppose but in Wikipedia we read this:

"After leaving The Age in 2008, Andrew started working within the higher education sector on The Conversation project that would seek to improve the quality of trusted information and level of public debate.[3]"

Shouldn't Wikipedia be a little more objective? Or can we rewrite

" Adolf's early eugenic policies targeted children with physical and developmental disabilities in a programme dubbed Action Brandt, and later authorised a euthanasia programme for adults with serious mental and physical disabilities, now referred to as Action T4.[332]"

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

More post hoc bs from the climate obsessed.
No matter the evidence, they will arm wave and explain it away......from themselves.
Ben Pile explores the miasma of the Environmentalist mind, which gives some insights on this sort of arm waving in his latest essay:

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Link in original post should be Gareth's link (above, 11:59 AM) is to a different Conversation article on the same topic.

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Karl Popper will be turning in his grave.

His formulations are particular relevant to the cult of climate psience

These considerations led me in the winter of 1919-20 to conclusions which I may now reformulate as follows.

1.It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.

2.Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.

3.Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

4.A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.

5.Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

6.Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.")

7.Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status.

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"Children just aren't going to know what Science is".

All evidence suggests that this will be the only prediction proven by Climate Science.

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayJ

Where are Bird and Fortune when you need them..?

(Yes - I do know that sadly John Fortune has died, but you get my drift - John Bird confidently waffling absolute drivel while John Fortune blinks with incredulity...)

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

There sure does seem to be a plethora of "apparent paradoxes" coming out of the mouths of the scientists these days.
Why not simplify it for us rubes and say that you're just too stupid to see what's really going on and don't believe your lying eyes.

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris F

Unfortunately, Climate 'Scientists' have been taught incorrect physics. This is 50 years of wrong physics. To get the rapprochement with reality will need a Peace and Reconciliation' Commission, at which people like Trenberth and Hansen will have to appear to explain where and why they went (a) wrong and (b) state that they then did what the carbon traders and fascist policians told them to do, which was to cheat.

Jun 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

IT's well known that the main changes in climate in the southern hemisphere is being driven by ozone depletion and not anthropogenic CO2

Jun 7, 2014 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterregular lurker


"What will the blurb be if the Arctic ice coverage also begins to trend up?"

That will be the newly discovered Northern Annual Mode.

Bish, you've got 'annular' at the end of your piece. It makes just as much sense, though...

Jun 7, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It's amazing how the post-hoc rationalizations of why the models failed is always so rosy. FWIW, AR 5 chapter 9 on model evaluation has only one lonely paragraph on SAM.

"Raphael and Holland (2006) showed that coupled models produce a
clear Southern Annular Mode (SAM) but that there are relatively large
differences between models in terms of the exact shape and orientation of this pattern. Karpechko et al. (2009) found that the CMIP3 models have problems representing linkages between the SAM and
SST, surface air temperature, precipitation and particularly sea ice in
the Antarctic region." Chapter 9 p801

Table 9.4 states that their confidence level of models to simulate SAM is "low". For anyone interested there's more detail about SAM in chapter 14 section 14.5.2.

Jun 7, 2014 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveO

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

To the devotee, the central truth of his religion is paramount. Should a pillar of the faith be knocked away, then the believer casts around for reasons to sustain his faith, either refuting the fact that the pillar is now missing and/or accepting it and falling back on other arguments that allow him to maintain his conviction in the central truth of his belief.

Thus, where the pillar that Jesus was born of a virgin was plausibly argued to be a mis-translation of Jesus was born of a maiden then the faithful bury their heads and pray that he who believes this heresy be brought to the belief in virgin birth - ie: deny, to themselves, that the pillar is knocked away. And/or that, anyway, that Jesus was still God, son of God and Holy Ghost (?) and accordingly that the central tenet of the faith remains unassailed.

Do we not have, in the Conversation's article, yet one more 'other argument' preserving the central truth of the CAGW religion in the face of the removal of the pillar that the ice is retreating?

Jun 7, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

It's the ultimate unfalsifiable religion isn't the good ecclesiastical uncle has already pointed out.



Jun 7, 2014 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Completely off-topic, but in response to the Ecclesiastical Uncle (being more ecclesiastical than usual): this recalls the famous German emendation of Shakespeare: "Stones in the running brooks, sermons in books".

Jun 7, 2014 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

Goat: you are wrong. Its not "our" fault, it's only the fault of white. Christian men.

Jun 7, 2014 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Peake


Thanks for the correct link.

Jun 7, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Isn't it marvellous. The closer you look at Antarctic climate, the more complex it gets.

Scientists' heaven!

Jun 7, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I fear that the modelers' response will be:

"Everyday in every way we are making our models better and better. They were pretty good before but now that we have festooned them with extra special equations to account for the Antarctic, the PDO, El Nino, ozone, soot, solar variability and atmospheric opacity - plus a few I've forgotten - they are very nearly perfect.

Or at least they will be if this year's El Nino is big enough to break the #%&@+ pause.

Jun 7, 2014 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJay Currie

Two questions:

1) Does Occam's Razor apply in climate science?

2) Can the missing heat cause "extreme weather" while it is hiding in the deep oceans or does it have to come out of hiding first?

Occam's razor's_razor

Jun 7, 2014 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

1) I doubt it
2) The extreme weather (supposing it exists) is being caused by the heating that took place up to 1998. When (if) the temperatures start going up again, it will get worse. We can explain anything (both facts and non-facts).

Jun 7, 2014 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo


You've convinced me. Doesn't No-trumps beat Spades?

Jun 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterHamish McDougal

Jay Currie

"...we have festooned them with extra special equations..."

What an old colleague designated a "Christmas Tree Development" -

"What do I do with this bit Joe?"

"Hang it on the other side Fred, means nowt but looks as though it does!"

Peak modelling!

Jun 7, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Yet the climate obsessed reduce the Antarctic to a giant harbinger of the climate apocalypse by way of melting glaciers.

Jun 7, 2014 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

@ EM.

Actually, it's an activists dream.

It's a lot more difficult to refute the lies when nobody knows exactly what the truth is.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnything is possible

Anything is possible

Truth? You don't get truth in science, only probabilities.

I usually refer people seeking truth to a priest or a politician.

Jun 7, 2014 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Roy, osseo

Think of Occam's Razor as a rule of thumb. It is supposed to discourage unnecessary complexity, not preclude complexity altogether.

Unfortunately sceptics tend to confuse simple with simplistic, as Roy has done. Stop focusing on surface temperatures at the expense of ice, ocean, atmosphere, ozone, energy flow and all the other factors involved.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Bish asked: "So this means that the models don't recreate the Southern Annular Mode then?"

Possibly. Or the southern annular mode in model doesn't drive the sea ice away from Antarctica. Or the sea ice driven away from Antarctica melts in models. (Sea ice driven out of the Arctic by summer winds is certainly responsible sudden drops in sea ice coverage.) Assuming, of course that the unusual state of the Southern Annular Mode has been caused by rising GHGs and not natural (unforced) variability.

Given enough guesswork, almost anything can be attributed to rising anthropogenic GHGs. This is politics, not science.

Jun 7, 2014 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

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