What happened to global warming?

I have Hank to "thank" for pointing me towards http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8299079.stm, which was presumably written to prove that the BBC is no longer sane or indeed terribly interested in reality.

Rather than that, you're better off with something like RC: A warming pause?.

Why they write "And our climate models did not forecast it" when what they really mean is "climate models did forecast this but we paid no attention and / or were too stupid to understand, and still are" is... well, entirely obvious when I think about it :-)

But the true test of an article about global warming that doesn't have anything useful to say is: does it quote Piers Corbyn? And I'm happy to say this one passes with flying colours: But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees. He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures. He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month. If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject. I can hardly wait.

[Update: Nurture doesn't much like it either.

Uupdate: this gets funnier. The Grauniad has the story: this turns out just to have been some piece of toss written by Paul Hudson on his personal beeb-blog then promoted by some dumb news editor to a real story, in the process medaciously promoting him to "climate correspondent, BBC News", which he isn't. Meanwhile, PH is repeating his stupidity. PH seems to be new to the blogosphere - those are his only two posts -W]

More like this

The pause discussion was reported in Science as well: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/326/5949/28-a (subscription only).

But the news flash is a bit misleading, for it presents a graph, the Met Office reconstruction with ENSO eliminated I guess, with a flat trendline. The text says there is nothing unusual going on and refers to a newish paper, but a careless reader easily gets a wrong impression.

[Alas the science thing is behind their moneywall -W]

By Janne Sinkkonen (not verified) on 11 Oct 2009 #permalink

Ok, if we cannot arrange a bet against each other, how about betting the same way and taking some money off these crazy folk who believe global warming has taken a pause?

2009.GLOBALTEMP.TOP5 at intrade has a trading range 50.5 to 60.5.
last 3 months giss anomaly average 59.7 and required average is now 55.

In the last 10 years, only 3 have shown cooling: 2007, 2002 and 2000.

2007 would be expected to show cooling because of strengthening La Nina condition. Adjusting to this years forecast strengthening El Nino would adjust this to an expected warming.

2002 had a stengthening El Nino but not as strong as forecast for 2009. Adjusting to 2009 forecast, the cooling would (according to my adjustments) remain but be reduced to just insufficient and 2009 would just be in the top 5 years.

2000 shows considerable cooling and my enso adjustments would not change this result.

None of the other 7 years alter as a result of Enso adjustments.

So 1 year in 10 show a tempature change when adjusted for expected enso effects to not reach a top 5 position. This suggests a 90% probability.

If I extend this back to 1975 I get 4 years in 34 failing so this suggests an 88% probability. However 1 of those years is 1991 so if I exclude 1991-1993 that leaves 3 in 31(That seems quite consistent with 90% above.)

So if you find this convincing that it is around a 90% probability you can invest US$610 to get back US$990. (That doesn't take account of the charges involved in getting US dollars into and out of Ireland.)

These 100 coupons were put on offer after 288 coupons were bought at 51% after the September giss figure was published. Seems like someone is swallowing the pause or other denialosphere nonsense, don't you think?

(My 168 $10 true coupons have an average cost of $4.17.)

I don't think there is any single answer to what was forecast. Looking at page 69 of AR4 figure TS.26 we are currently clearly below the green range, which "represented the uncertainty ranges." I'm quite sure the decadal trend would extend below the green uncertainty bar as well.

[No. The answer is that no real forecast was given for initial decades (laying aside the issue of whether IPCC issues forecasts anyway). Your quote is incomplete: with uncertainty ranges indicated against the right-hand axis. (actually your quote isn't a quote at all - where did you get it from?). There is no implication that the year-to-year variation should fit within the green-shaded triangle -W]

This may simply indicate that decadal variability is larger than was presumed by the authors of this graph. However given the fact that this graph was only created a few years ago it represents a pretty poor forecast.

[No, it means you've misunderstood the graph :-( -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 11 Oct 2009 #permalink

"Why they write "And our climate models did not forecast it" when what they really mean is "climate models did forecast this but..."

...if we had presented to the public the full range of forecasts, rather than ensemble averages, the public wouldn't have got scared, they'd have got confused and started asking awkward questions, and we couldn't have that, could we?

[What do you mean "we"? They certainly would have been confused; I don't think they would have asked awkward questions, though -W]

A lot of these misunderstandings are the direct result of propagandists for AGW simplifying and distorting the science to get their urgent message across. You see headlines about hot weather events presented as 'evidence' of global warming (that the scientists let pass), and the public come to the conclusion that weather is evidence. Then when sceptics point to cold weather events (some of them well aware of the point, but imbued with a sense of irony) only then are we told that climate change can only be measured when averaged over decades and continents. We were told the rising trend from 1980 to 2000 was solid evidence, but now suddenly we are told a falling trend from 2000 on is not, because "it could be natural variability". Ha! Ha! True. But this argument is of course a double-edged sword.

[I disagree; a lot of the misunderstandings are due to the septics deliberately stirring up misinformation -W]

It's the sudden shifting of stories that is killing your credibility with the public. Yes, of course many sceptic arguments are rubbish. They're your own arguments! Your own errors, coming back to bite you. And journalists are fickle.

[Who is "your" in this para? Also, I notice that everything you say is rather reference-free -W]


You are absolutely right, I misread the graph. The green triangle is "Projected trends and their ranges from the IPCC First...Assessment report."

How about figure 10.4? Or is there really nothing in AR4 that we can compare temperature trends with until 2100?

[2100 is a long way off. I think there should be "predictions" for before that. Indeed TS.26 appears to commit itself to a range at 2025. The fundamental problem is natural variability, which precludes saying anything very interesting about the immeadiate future. Or rather, you can say that the temperature will probably go up over the next decade by X, but then it doesn't mean very much if that doesn't happen -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 11 Oct 2009 #permalink

No results found for "represented the uncertainty ranges."

Nicholas, you quoted who, or what, when you posted those words in quotes?


As W pointed out it was an incomplete quote, which I did for brevity not to be misleading. I had misread the graph. It is a quote from figure from TS.26 but it refers to the error range bars on the right scale of the graph. The uncertainty ranges on that graph are for 2100.

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 11 Oct 2009 #permalink

There are even arguments suggest that the earth temprature is actually decreasing not increasing.

What is "temprature"? How is it measured? Ever notice a red underline while replying? Ever right click on a red underlined word? Why do I ask so many questions?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 11 Oct 2009 #permalink


Ocean temperatures have been observed to show short periods of cooling during the last 30 years of long term warming.

Oceans are warming across the globe. In fact, globally oceans are accumulating energy at a rate of 4 x 1021 Joules per year - equivalent to 127,000 nuclear plants (which have an average output of 1 gigawatt) pouring their energy directly into the worldâs oceans. This tells us the planet is in energy imbalance - more energy is coming in than radiating back out to space.

We were just hit by two very strong storms two weeks ago. we never had that in decades. The storms left our country with still so many flooded areas, a lot were homeless and lost so many loved ones. The effect of those twin storm were devastating. And the news says its all because of global warming.

I must say, I did a double take when i read that piece on the BBC Website. It was FAR below their normal very good coverage of the science.
That's twice in the last couple of months they have surprised me with such poorly written science coverage.

The article was written by Paul Hudson who is the weather presenter for Look North (he is a meteorologist and is also employed by the BBC as a climate correspondent).

He has a wikipedia page that links to some of his other stuff, including a presentation that seems rather at odds with this article (goes a bit too far in the other direction, implying individual weather events were caused by AGW - though without hearing/reading the text, I may be doing him a disservice). So I was a bit surprised by it. Anyway, you can find the relevant links at wikipedia.

As for the models prediction quote, I often refer to Fig 10.5. I know they're not to be read as gospel, but they show (a) individual model runs showing ups and downs on the short time-scales, and (b) even the ensemble averages showing ups and downs (or at least flattenings) on the short time-scales (eg A1B around 2010). Obviously the caveat is that we shouldn't be matching observations to those runs on that time-scale, but they are indicative of what the observations should look like (or vice versa - depending on where you're coming from), eg they'd get lost in the crowd if plotted using the same style line.

Or have I got that wrong (it did get a bit wordy, which probably makes my point more obscure than less)?


Looking at figure 10.5, it doesn't look to me like a single run showed flat or negative growth from 2000-2010. But it would be better to look at the actual values. Perhaps I will.

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 12 Oct 2009 #permalink

"it doesn't look to me like a single run showed flat or negative growth from 2000-2010"

That's not the point. The point is that the models predict that there *will* be flat or negative growth at various times.

[Well not only that; the obs show it too :-) -W]

Identifying which periods will show that trend in advance is a very difficult problem. It has had some exposure recently, and was discussed at RC:


It seems that there is increasing work going into improving this, but it is still in its infancy. NB if you Google "DePreSys" you should get some more background to the Smith et al paper linked from RC.

"Well not only that; the obs show it too"

True, but I was specifically addressing the "our climate models did not forecast it" line. :)

For a meteorologist (like say, Paul Hudson), a reasonable* analogy would be, "There will be showers tomorrow afternoon" rather than "This place will get showers at these times: 13:30 - 4mm, 14:15 - 5mm,..." etc.

Of course, if the models showed ups and downs, but the obs didn't, that might be an issue... ;)

*bearing in mind the shortcomings of all analogies.

"Why they write "And our climate models did not forecast it" when what they really mean is "climate models did forecast this but we paid no attention and / or were too stupid to understand, and still are" is... well, entirely obvious when I think about it :-)"
W, could you point me to models that did forecast it? Or could you quickly explain the rationale behind it? Thanks!

[I have to admit now that I didn't explcitly check. But the obs show it (i.e., that there are periods of cooling in the record simply due to natural variabilty) so I assume that the models show the same thing. Of course that won't then have been pulled out as an explicit prediction - it is just "obvious" -W]


Actually it is an interesting question whether it is considered that the variability during the instrumental period is "natural." For example the cooling into the seventies is considered to be at least partly due to increasing aerosols. Also some of the cooling periods were caused by volcanic events.

[Yes, fair point. I was thinking of post-70's -W]

By Nicolas Nierenberg (not verified) on 12 Oct 2009 #permalink

>"[Well not only that; the obs show it too :-) -W]"

William you need to be more careful about what 'it' means ;)


Both 1998-2008 and 2000-2008 show a positive trend of over .1C per decade.

Nicholas may have a wait before 2010 actual data is in ;)

>"True, but I was specifically addressing the "our climate models did not forecast it" "

In that case, shouldn't the first point be that the obs don't show a declining trend?

[Well, it does indeed matter what "it" is. I was responding to the Beeb's stuff, in part "This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998." So the fact that T incs aren't monotonic, or even close, was the point. If we're talking about T trends, even now is +ve -W]

Ah, I see, thanks.
Many people have observed that the sun is experiencing a brightness-low for the last 3 years or so. Would you expect this to reduce the warming effect in such a way (that is, if you would assume for a moment that the recent 'stop' is real?).

"In that case, shouldn't the first point be that the obs don't show a declining trend?"
Well, I think Hadcrut does show a declining (slightly negative) trend, at least when cherrypicking 1998 as a starting point (according to woodfortrees). Gistemp is still very positive, of course.

"In that case, shouldn't the first point be that the obs don't show a declining trend?"

Yes, that was my first thought reading the article. However, even though positive, the short-term trend is still lower than the long-term trend - cloudy periods, rather than showers? ;) - and this is still expected to happen at various times. Also there have been, and will be, downturns on very short time-scales of say a year or two (both in obs and models).

"I assume that the models show the same thing."

That was what my reference to Fig 10.5 was about (I think there's an even better figure showing a similar set of data somewhere that I can't find now...it might also be on RC somewhere).

'"natural"...volcanic events'

One would presume so...?

"Well, I think Hadcrut does show a declining (slightly negative) trend, at least when cherrypicking 1998 as a starting point (according to woodfortrees). Gistemp is still very positive, of course. "

I haven't checked but I think realclimate has posted that Hadcrut has a hole in the arctic which is just where we expect the greatest warming to be. So the difference is reconciled and the better dataset to use for the purpose of considering whether global warming paused is gisstemp.

gisstemp does have a small negative trend for 2001-2008 but that is 8 years not 9 or 10. There are larger negatives for 7 and fewer years.

I completely agree, of course, crandles. It would still be much more convincing if Hadcrut would show it, too ;-) Also, the two sattelite records (RSS, UAH) seem to show the negative trend. Not sure about their coverage, though.

correction: negative trends only turn up if I use 2009 as the endpoint. Since 2009 is not over yet, 2008 might be more appropriate. With 2008, the trends of all records are slightly positive.

There's some confusion above about the difference between decadal trends (from decade to decade) and short-term trends within a decade. Model runs show occasional periods of decadal negative trends, as well as more frequent instances of 10-year negative trends. We have seen the latter in the obs, but *not* the former.

In terms of decadal trends, 2000-2009 shows warming over 1990-1999 in both GISS (0.19C) and HadCRU (0.17C). So there is no evidence whatsoever of "pause" at the decadal level. In the shorter term, of course HadCRU is under GISS.

I discuss this widespread confusion here, using Andy Revkin as an example:


AR4 chapter 10 Table 5 (p. 763)gives medium term projections for 2011-30, compared to 1980-99 (31-year trend of a twenty-year moving average). The range is 0.64 (A2 scenario) to 0.69C (A1B scenario), which comes out 0.20-0.22C per decade, or "about" 0.2C.

So W. is correct to state there is no decadal projection as such for 2000-2009. The smoothed trends (both GISS and HadCRU) of the observations are definitely within the the bounds in AR4 figure TS.26, although below the central estimate. As W. said, there is no expectation that all individual years will fall within these bounds.


> promoted by some dumb news editor to a
> real story, in the process medaciously
> promoting him to "climate correspondent,
> BBC News"

Wow. They needed a Tierney for their lineup?

"Wow. They needed a Tierney for their lineup?"

Via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Hudson

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/yorkslincs/series11/climate.shtml

BBC weatherman Paul Hudson has issued a worrying forecast about the future of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire's weather.

On Inside Out Paul states he was once sceptical about climate change but is now convinced he is seeing a real change in the region's weather patterns.

"What was once science fiction is now in my opinion a fact.

"I have been watching our weather for the last 15 years.

"I have seen what the future holds - and it is not looking good," says Paul.

And: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/networks/cbn-e/members_uk.html

After achieving a first class honours degree in Geophysics and Planetary Physics from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1992, Paul joined the Met Office and held forecaster posts at The Leeds weather centre and in the International forecast unit at Met office headquarters in Bracknell before joining BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as their broadcast Meteorologist in Autumn 1997.

In Autumn 2007 he left the Met Office to join the BBC and split his role between Broadcast Meteorologist and Climate correspondent, where he reports regularly on issues related to climate change. This is a brand new role and the first of its kind in the BBC. He has written 4 books on the weather, most recently Storm Force, co Written with Michael Fish, detailing Britainâs wildest weather.

"I have decided to join this network because the impact of climate change is the single biggest threat that faces the world today, and in my position of BBC climate correspondent I hope to inform our viewers and listeners in as many ways as I can about the implications of an ever warming planet. This network will allow me to share ideas with other colleagues who broadcast across Europe."

Finally from: http://www.yhraf.org.uk/documents/climate-change/conference-130508/1.pdf

"The earth is warming sharply"


Which makes his blog posts all the more puzzling.

NB thanks to DC for the above clarification.