CCNet – 15 October 2012
The Climate Policy Network
Global Warming Stopped 16 Years Ago
Met Office Quietly Releases Missing Data
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week. The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures. The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported. This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year. --David Rose, Mail on Sunday, 14 October 2012
Global warming stopped 15 years ago and the average temperature has not risen at all since 1997, the Met Office said last night. But critics said the Met Office had released the figures onto the internet without publicity – in contrast to the attention it gave to those released six months ago that reinforced the case for global warming. Those figures went up to 2010 – the hottest year on record – and showed a continuing warming trend. Dr Benny Peiser of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation said: “It is quite scandalous that the Met Office is misleading the public. The latest data proves beyond any doubt that there has been no warming [trend] over the past 16 years.” --John Ingham, Daily Express, 15 October 2012
The data confirms the existence of a ‘pause’ in the warming. The impact of this pause within the climate dynamic community has been to focus increased attention on the impact of natural variability, particularly the impact of internal multi-decadal oscillations in the ocean. The new climate model calculations for the AR5 have focused on trying to assess what it would take to accurately simulate these multi-decadal ocean oscillations and how predictable they might be. These new observations and climate modeling results will hopefully impact the the IPCC AR5 deliberations so that we do not see the same overly confident consensus statements that we saw in the AR4. --Judith Curry, Georgia Tech University, 14 October 2012
The Met Office says that the world has warmed by 0.03 deg C per decade since 1997 based on their calculation of the gradient in the Hadcrut4 dataset. But what the Met Office doesn’t say is that this is statistically insignificant. There is no case to be made for a statistically significant increase in global temperatures as given in the Hadcrut4 dataset between 1997 and August 2012. The Met Office says the 15-year standstill is not unusual. This is true but again the Met Office is being economical with the truth. --David Whitehouse, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 15 October 2012
Does it matter that campaigners and the media are actively peddling disinformation? For the most part, probably not, as the public is by now used to such nonsense on just about every subject from unemployment figures to Barack Obama’s birth certificate. But there is one group that should be very concerned about the spreading of rampant misinformation: the scientific community. It is, of course, thrilling to appear in the media and get caught up in highly politicized debates. But leading scientists and scientific organizations that contribute to a campaign of misinformation — even in pursuit of a worthy goal like responding effectively to climate change — may find that the credibility of science itself is put at risk by supporting scientifically unsupportable claims in pursuit of a political agenda. --Roger Pielke Jr, Denver Post, 12 October 2012
1) Global Warming Stopped 16 Years Ago, Reveals Met Office Data Quietly Released - Mail on Sunday, 14 October 2012
2) David Rose: Flawed Science Costs Us Dearly - Mail on Sunday, 14 October 2012
3) David Whitehouse: The Mail On Sunday And The Met Office - The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 15 October 2012
4) GWPF Criticises Met Office Over Hushed Data Release - Daily Express, 15 October 2012
5) Roger Pielke Jr: Climate Spin Is Rampant - Denver Post, 12 October 2012
1) Global Warming Stopped 16 Years Ago, Reveals Met Office Data Quietly Released
Mail on Sunday, 14 October 2012
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.
The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
HadCrut4 - global temperature changes 1997-2012
The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.
This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.
Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.
Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.
Others disagreed. Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America’s prestigious Georgia Tech university, told The Mail on Sunday that it was clear that the computer models used to predict future warming were ‘deeply flawed’.
Even Prof Jones admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun. However, he said he was still convinced that the current decade would end up significantly warmer than the previous two.
The regular data collected on global temperature is called Hadcrut 4, as it is jointly issued by the Met Office’s Hadley Centre and Prof Jones’s Climatic Research Unit.
Since 1880, when worldwide industrialisation began to gather pace and reliable statistics were first collected on a global scale, the world has warmed by 0.75 degrees Celsius.
Some scientists have claimed that this rate of warming is set to increase hugely without drastic cuts to carbon-dioxide emissions, predicting a catastrophic increase of up to a further five degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The new figures were released as the Government made clear that it would ‘bend’ its own carbon-dioxide rules and build new power stations to try to combat the threat of blackouts.
At last week’s Conservative Party Conference, the new Energy Minister, John Hayes, promised that ‘the high-flown theories of bourgeois Left-wing academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport – energy policies, you might say, for the many, not the few’ – a pledge that has triggered fury from green activists, who fear reductions in the huge subsidies given to wind-turbine firms.
2) David Rose: Flawed science costs us dearly
Mail on Sunday, 14 October 2012
Here are three not-so trivial questions you probably won’t find in your next pub quiz. First, how much warmer has the world become since a) 1880 and b) the beginning of 1997? And what has this got to do with your ever-increasing energy bill?
You may find the answers to the first two surprising. Since 1880, when reliable temperature records began to be kept across most of the globe, the world has warmed by about 0.75 degrees Celsius.
From the start of 1997 until August 2012, however, figures released last week show the answer is zero: the trend, derived from the aggregate data collected from more than 3,000 worldwide measuring points, has been flat.
Not that there has been any coverage in the media, which usually reports climate issues assiduously, since the figures were quietly release online with no accompanying press release – unlike six months ago when they showed a slight warming trend.
The answer to the third question is perhaps the most familiar. Your bills are going up, at least in part, because of the array of ‘green’ subsidies being provided to the renewable energy industry, chiefly wind.
They will cost the average household about £100 this year. This is set to rise steadily higher – yet it is being imposed for only one reason: the widespread conviction, which is shared by politicians of all stripes and drilled into children at primary schools, that, without drastic action to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, global warming is certain soon to accelerate, with truly catastrophic consequences by the end of the century – when temperatures could be up to five degrees higher.
Hence the significance of those first two answers. Global industrialisation over the past 130 years has made relatively little difference.
And with the country committed by Act of Parliament to reducing CO2 by 80 per cent by 2050, a project that will cost hundreds of billions, the news that the world has got no warmer for the past 16 years comes as something of a shock.
It poses a fundamental challenge to the assumptions underlying every aspect of energy and climate change policy.
This ‘plateau’ in rising temperatures does not mean that global warming won’t at some point resume.
But according to increasing numbers of serious climate scientists, it does suggest that the computer models that have for years been predicting imminent doom, such as those used by the Met Office and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are flawed, and that the climate is far more complex than the models assert.
‘The new data confirms the existence of a pause in global warming,’ Professor Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Science at America’s Georgia Tech university, told me yesterday.
‘Climate models are very complex, but they are imperfect and incomplete. Natural variability [the impact of factors such as long-term temperature cycles in the oceans and the output of the sun] has been shown over the past two decades to have a magnitude that dominates the greenhouse warming effect.
‘It is becoming increasingly apparent that our attribution of warming since 1980 and future projections of climate change needs to consider natural internal variability as a factor of fundamental importance.’
Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who found himself at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ scandal over leaked emails three years ago, would not normally be expected to agree with her. Yet on two important points, he did.
The data does suggest a plateau, he admitted, and without a major El Nino event – the sudden, dramatic warming of the southern Pacific which takes place unpredictably and always has a huge effect on global weather – ‘it could go on for a while’.
Like Prof Curry, Prof Jones also admitted that the climate models were imperfect: ‘We don’t fully understand how to input things like changes in the oceans, and because we don’t fully understand it you could say that natural variability is now working to suppress the warming. We don’t know what natural variability is doing.’
Yet he insisted that 15 or 16 years is not a significant period: pauses of such length had always been expected, he said.
Yet in 2009, when the plateau was already becoming apparent and being discussed by scientists, he told a colleague in one of the Climategate emails: ‘Bottom line: the “no upward trend” has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’
But although that point has now been passed, he said that he hadn’t changed his mind about the models’ gloomy predictions: ‘I still think that the current decade which began in 2010 will be warmer by about 0.17 degrees than the previous one, which was warmer than the Nineties.’
Only if that did not happen would he seriously begin to wonder whether something more profound might be happening. In other words, though five years ago he seemed to be saying that 15 years without warming would make him ‘worried’, that period has now become 20 years.
Meanwhile, his Met Office colleagues were sticking to their guns. A spokesman said: ‘Choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system.’
He said that for the plateau to last any more than 15 years was ‘unlikely’. Asked about a prediction that the Met Office made in 2009 – that three of the ensuing five years would set a new world temperature record – he made no comment. With no sign of a strong El Nino next year, the prospects of this happening are remote.
Why all this matters should be obvious. Every quarter, statistics on the economy’s output and models of future performance have a huge impact on our lives. They trigger a range of policy responses from the Bank of England and the Treasury, and myriad decisions by private businesses.
Yet it has steadily become apparent since the 2008 crash that both the statistics and the modelling are extremely unreliable. To plan the future around them makes about as much sense as choosing a wedding date three months’ hence on the basis of a long-term weather forecast.
Few people would be so foolish. But decisions of far deeper and more costly significance than those derived from output figures have been and are still being made on the basis of climate predictions, not of the next three months but of the coming century – and this despite the fact that Phil Jones and his colleagues now admit they do not understand the role of ‘natural variability’.
The most depressing feature of this debate is that anyone who questions the alarmist, doomsday scenario will automatically be labelled a climate change ‘denier’, and accused of jeopardising the future of humanity.
So let’s be clear. Yes: global warming is real, and some of it at least has been caused by the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels. But the evidence is beginning to suggest that it may be happening much slower than the catastrophists have claimed – a conclusion with enormous policy implications.
3) David Whitehouse: The Mail On Sunday And The Met Office
The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 15 October 2012
In response to an article in the Mail On Sunday that points out the absence of a recent temperature rise in the Met Office’s newly released Hadcrut4 global temperature database the UK Met Office released a statement that is misleading.
The Mail On Sunday article uses the Met Office’s Hadcrut4 database that was updated from 2010 to the present day last week.
HatCrut4 - 1997 - 2012
We live in the warmest decade of the instrumental era (post-1850), and most of the warmest years have occurred in the past decade, but what the Met Office ignores to say is that, at present, we live on a temperature plateau – there is no recent upward trend in global temperature.
The Met Office says that the world has warmed by 0.03 deg C per decade since 1997 based on their calculation of the gradient in the Hadcrut4 dataset. But what the Met Office doesn’t say is that this is statistically insignificant. The gradient of the trendline in Hadcrut4 is very sensitive to the start and end dates used as temperatures vary significantly month-to-month, so the Met Office is being misleading in quoting trendlines for a particular start and end date without taking into account how the scatter of the data, the errors in the temperature measurements, and short-term changes affect the statistical confidence in the resulting trendline.
Trendlines from 1997 to August 2012 vary between 0.04 to 0.02 deg C per decade with an associated error of 0.04 deg C per decade. This has to be considered along with the error in annual global temperature measurements of 0.1 deg C. Hence there is no case to be made for a statistically significant increase in global temperatures as given in the Hadcrut4 dataset between 1997 and August 2012.
Quoting trendlines without errors can mislead. For instance the trendline between January 2002 and August 2012 in Hadcrut4 is negative, being minus 0.04 deg C per decade: Between January 2003 and August 2012 it is minus 0.05 deg C per decade – that is global cooling. Would the Met Office be happy to quote such figures in the same way they have for 1997 onwards and state that the world has cooled in the past decade? Only when the errors are incorporated, which the Met Office did not do, can these be seen to be statistically insignificant.
The Met Office also says that if they were to calculate a linear trend from 1998 (a strong El Nino year) to August 2012 it would show a warming more substantial that 0.03 deg C per decade. Actually the warming since 1998 is the same – 0.03 deg C per decade – and again statistically insignificant.
The year 1997 – roughly the start of the recent temperature standstill – is not cherrypicked. Before that year there is a statistically significant increase to 2012, after 1997 there is not.
The Met Office says the 15-year standstill is not unusual. This is true but again the Met Office is being economical with the truth. The IPCC concluded that the period 1960-80 marked the start of mankind’s domination of the Earth’s climate via greenhouse gas forcing. The period before 1960-80 the IPCC regarded as being solely due to natural factors. In the pre 1960-80 period there was a standstill between 1940-80. In the post 1960-80 period there was warming between 1980 – 96 and a standstill thereafter. The mankind-dominated era has only one standstill, which is becoming the dominant global climatic feature of this era.
Only a few years ago the Met Office said that temperature standstills of a decade were common (about one in eight decades), but that temperature standstills of 15 years were not supported by their climate models. They appear to have altered their view as the observed temperature standstill lengthens. The Met Office’s track record in predicting global temperature changes has been dismal.
The Met Office says that climate change can only be detected in multi-decadal timescales. In the three decades since the IPCC said that mankind dominated the Earth’s climate there has been equal timespans of warming and temperature standstills. Which one do they consider to be more significant?
It is disappointing, if not misleading, that when the Hadcrut4 data was announced in March, with data only available to 2010 (a warm El Nino year), the Met Office promoted it with a press release and briefings to journalists. They told Louise Grey of the Daily Telegraph that the Hadcrut4 data showed that the world had warmed even more than expected in the past ten years and that the warming between 1998 – 2010 was 0.1 deg C.
When the full dataset was available, in the past week, showing global temperatures to August 2012, and telling a very different story, no press release was produced.
4) GWPF Criticises Met Office Over Hushed Data Release
Daily Express, 15 October 2012
Global warming stopped 15 years ago and the average temperature has not risen at all since 1997, the Met Office said last night. But critics said the Met Office had released the figures onto the internet without publicity – in contrast to the attention it gave to those released six months ago that reinforced the case for global warming.
Those figures went up to 2010 – the hottest year on record – and showed a continuing warming trend.
Campaigners yesterday slammed the Met Office tactics and questioned the Government’s drive for costly green energy such as wind turbines which add about £100 a year to domestic energy bills.
Dr Benny Peiser of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation said: “It is quite scandalous that the Met Office is misleading the public. The latest data proves beyond any doubt that there has been no warming [trend] over the past 16 years.
Nobody knows what this means long term and how long this pause is going to last.
“Global warming is not a looming disaster. We need to reassess the Government’s climate change policies.
These figures do not mean there is no problem long term, but they show it is not the imminent disaster we have been told about.”
5) Roger Pielke Jr: Climate Spin Is Rampant
Denver Post, 12 October 2012
Over the years, the political debate over climate change has been waged on many fronts. At various times at the center of the debate, we’ve seen green jobs, SUVs, Al Gore and climate “deniers.” The latest front in this battle is extreme weather.
Earlier this week, Munich Re, a large German reinsurance company, fueled this debate with a report claiming that it has identified “the first climate change footprint in the data from natural catastrophes” in the damage caused by thunderstorms in the United States since 1980. USA Today put the claim on steroids by announcing on its front page, “Climate change behind rise in weather disasters.”
A big problem with the claim by Munich Re and its amplification by the media is that neither squares with the actual science of climate change and disasters.
Along with colleagues around the world, I’ve been studying climate change and disasters for almost 20 years, and we just had a scientific paper accepted for publication this week on damage from U.S. tornadoes since 1950. What we found may surprise you: Over the past six decades, tornado damage has declined after accounting for development that has put more property into harm’s way.
Researchers have similar conclusions for other phenomena around the world, ranging from typhoons in China, bushfires in Australia, and windstorms in Europe. After adjusting for patterns of development, over the long-term there is no climate change signal — no “footprint” — of increasing damage from extreme events either globally or in particular regions.
What about the United States? Flooding has not increased over the past century, nor have landfalling hurricanes. Remarkably, the U.S. is currently experiencing the longest-ever recorded period with no strikes of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane. The major 2012 drought obscures the fact that the U.S. has seen a decline in drought over the past century.
Such scientific findings are so robust that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded earlier this year that over the long-term, damage from extreme events has not been attributed to climate change, whether from natural or human causes.
So if the science is so clear on this subject, why then are companies and campaigners, abetted by a willing media, engaged in spreading misinformation?
The debate over climate change is well known for excesses on all sides. Those who claim that the issue is a hoax actually have a lot in common with those who see climate change in every weather extreme. The logic behind such tactics is apparently that a sufficiently scared public will support the political program of those doing the scaring.
Andrew Revkin, who has covered the climate issue for decades for The New York Times, explains that “the media tend to pay outsize attention to research developments that support a “hot”conclusion (like the theory that hurricanes have already been intensified by human-caused global warming) and glaze over on research of equivalent quality that does not.” This leads to an amplification of “findings” such as the report presented by Munich Re this week and a complete blackout of coverage of our peer-reviewed paper on declining tornado damage.
Does it matter that campaigners and the media are actively peddling disinformation? For the most part, probably not, as the public is by now used to such nonsense on just about every subject from unemployment figures to Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
But there is one group that should be very concerned about the spreading of rampant misinformation: the scientific community. It is, of course, thrilling to appear in the media and get caught up in highly politicized debates. But leading scientists and scientific organizations that contribute to a campaign of misinformation — even in pursuit of a worthy goal like responding effectively to climate change — may find that the credibility of science itself is put at risk by supporting scientifically unsupportable claims in pursuit of a political agenda.
Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder and author of “The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming” (Basic Books 2010).