January 2nd warmest globally on record

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 21:57

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

Hot of the press tonight...

Global temperatures in January rose to 0.51C above the 30 year running mean according to UAH satellite data, up sharply from an anomaly of 0.21C in December.

This makes it the second warmest January on satellite record, behind January 2010.

It equates to a global temperature of approximately 0.763C above the more standard 1961-1990 measure.

The rise comes as quite a surprise, especially considering El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators in the tropical Pacific remain at neutral levels.

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 61.

    Getting back to Gavin Schmidt's graph on "RealClimate", my own calculations suggest that the observed temperatures for 2012 (HadCRUT4, GISS & NCDC), were all below 100% of the individual model run averages.
    I think that the fact that they are still within the ensemble 95% range is that the range represents the individual ensemble runs, while I am using the ensemble averages.
    Of course, the individual ensembles will include some very low forecasts as well as some high ones and I think it is "stretching it" a bit to claim any sort of accuracy on that basis.
    For example, the 95% range clearly extends to about zero in 2010, while the lowest individual model average was 0.175c.
    There are also problems with the manner in which the IPCC Multi-Model Means were calculated, which results in them being slightly too low, which again makes the forecasts appear more accurate than they really are.
    I have passed my findings to Gavin Schmidt for comment.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 62.

    61. QuaesoVeritas

    I see the RealClimate graph has been updated with the following comment:

    "Correction (02/11/12): Graph updated using calendar year mean HadCRUT4 data instead of meteorological year mean."

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/02/2012-updates-to-model-observation-comparions/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 63.

    61.QuaesoVeritas:

    QV: ".... my own calculations suggest that the observed temperatures for 2012 (HadCRUT4, GISS & NCDC), were all below 100% of the individual model run averages."

    That much is obvious from the RC graph.

    QV: "Of course, the individual ensembles will include some very low forecasts as well as some high ones and I think it is "stretching it" a bit to claim any sort of accuracy on that basis."

    RC isn't claiming that observations match the model averages accurately. They state that observations are "on the low side". They also say the models "...span a large range of possible situations, the average of these simulations is not ‘truth’."

    QV: "...the 95% range clearly extends to about zero in 2010, while the lowest individual model average was 0.175c"

    Observations for 2010 were all higher than that lowest modelled average average, were they not?

    To summarise this, observed surface temperatures remain well within the IPCC projected range, though at the lower end of it.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 64.

    #63.newdwr54
    "That much is obvious from the RC graph."
    I disagree, how can you tell that from the graph, since the individial model averages are not shown?

    "GC isn't claiming that observations match the model averages accurately. They state that observations are "on the low side".

    I think that is an understatement. It would be more accurate to say something like "the observations are lower than all but the most extremely low and least likely model projections".

    "Observations for 2010 were all higher than that lowest modelled average average, were they not? "

    Yes, but by including the 95% range of individual model runs, I think the graph makes the forecast look "better".

    "To summarise this, observed surface temperatures remain well within the IPCC projected range, though at the lower end of it."

    You consider the fact that they are within the bottom 25% approx. of the range to be "well within"? I don't. I would say a better term would be "just within".

    Fortunately for those who support the IPCC forecasts, the Multi-Model means actually decline in 2013 & 2014, so there is a chance for actual temperatures to catch up.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 65.

    #62.newdwr54
    "I see the RealClimate graph has been updated with the following comment:

    "Correction (02/11/12): Graph updated using calendar year mean HadCRUT4 data instead of meteorological year mean.""

    Yes, that looks much better.
    However the "explanation" doesn't really explain why he used the meteorological year mean in the first place. It makes it look like it was a deliberate decision, rather than a mistake.
    I also notice that he hasn't thanked you for pointing out the mistake!
    Isn't a "hat-tip" normal under such circumstances?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 66.

    64. QuaesoVeritas

    QV: "...how can you tell that from the graph, since the individual model averages are not shown?"

    But the ensemble average is shown, which is after all the mean of the individual models. It's not as if they've tried to hide the fact that observed surface temperatures have been below the combined model averages.

    QV: "It would be more accurate to say something like "the observations are lower than all but the most extremely low and least likely model projections"."

    What the graph shows is the observed data versus the projected range. It's currently on the low side. In 2010 it was spot on. Who knows where it will be in 2013? If it turns out in a few years that the models were too high, then that will also be obvious. I believe that the likelihood of the observations falling below the modelled range in 2013 is very low.

    QV: "You consider the fact that they are within the bottom 25% approx. of the range to be "well within"? I don't. I would say a better term would be "just within"."

    That boils down to a matter of opinion. Don't forget that just two years ago (2010) the surface temperatures where in more or less 100% agreement with the modelled projections. Since then we've had a double dip La Nina.

    Do you think that by the end of 2013 the observations will be closer to or further away from the mean modelled projection?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 67.

    65. QuaesoVeritas

    "... the "explanation" doesn't really explain why he used the meteorological year mean in the first place. It makes it look like it was a deliberate decision, rather than a mistake."

    What would he hope to gain from such a deception QV? It's not as if the RC posts aren't scrutinised. I imagine that guys like Schmidt and co are accustomed to compiling their data sets around the Met year and he simply made a mistake. It didn't really change the impact of the graph at all, did it? So how would he benefit from posting incorrect data?

    QV: "I also notice that he hasn't thanked you for pointing out the mistake! Isn't a "hat-tip" normal under such circumstances?"

    To be fair, he did respond to my comment on the RC thread. If he had acknowledged me with a hat tip in the changed graph, then I would only have been burdened with the task of pointing out that it was in fact some sceptical poster over at the BBC Hudson site who actually spotted it in the first place.

    I think you should be quite proud of yourself.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 68.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 69.

    #66.newdwr54
    "But the ensemble average is shown, which is after all the mean of the individual models. "
    Yes, but that only shows the observations are lower than the scenario mean. Unless you know the distribution around the mean, it doesn't show that the observations are below 100% of the ensemble means, as you said.

    "In 2010 it was spot on."
    Err, no, the observations were all below the 2010 MMM. Your definition of "spot on", seems ot be different to mine. To me, "spot on" would mean at least one of the series above the mean.

    "Do you think that by the end of 2013 the observations will be closer to or further away from the mean modelled projection?"
    Probably closer but mainly because the mean projection FALLS for the next two years.

    "What would he hope to gain from such a deception QV? "
    I wouldn't call it "deception", only "obfuscation".

  • rate this
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    Comment number 70.

    68.ukpahonta

    David Archibald has a long history of making incorrect predictions of imminent global cooling based on his interpretation of solar activity. He said in 2008 that there would be an accelerated cooling trend in global temperatures relative to 1998 following the onset of solar cycle 24 in 2009. Solar Cycle 24 began in January 2009 and, relative to 1998, the trend in UAH satellite data is currently flat, or even slightly positive.

    His graph of UK growing season clearly shows a strong recent upward trend starting in the mid 1970s, with just a slight levelling off over the past few years, with the smoothed line still at historically high levels. While winter temperatures in the UK since 2008 have been slightly below average, annual temperatures have been spot on average.

    Yet not only is Archibald forecasting impending doom, he's now blaming it on the UK's "lack of faith in the religion that their forebears gave them courtesy of the King James Bible".

    Is this guy actually serious?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 71.

    69. QuaesoVeritas

    "...the observations were all below the 2010 MMM"

    Fair enough, I mustn't have had my specs on yesterday. But my point is that there is quite a bit of up and down movement in the annual figures and it seems to be closely related to ENSO variations. We can't rule out the possibility that temperatures will approach the MMM again in the next couple of years.

    But even if they don't, the models cannot be said to be 'wrong' unless observations stray outside of the range. All that can be said is that observations are on the low side of projections. This information will inform future models.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 72.

    #71.newdwr54
    " I mustn't have had my specs on yesterday."
    You probably had your "climate change" glasses on!
    "We can't rule out the possibility that temperatures will approach the MMM again in the next couple of years."
    I am not ruling that out, only commenting on what has actually happened in the past.

    "But even if they don't, the models cannot be said to be 'wrong' unless observations stray outside of the range. All that can be said is that observations are on the low side of projections. This information will inform future models."
    We can say that SOME of the models are wrong, The fact that temperatures are higher than SOME of the individual ensemble runs, but not the ensemble means, doesn't mean that the other ensemble runs or models are correct. The ones which are wrong should be eliminated or corrected, resulting in a less biased or more neutral overall foreast. Before that can be done, it is necessary to recognise that some of the models are wrong.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 73.

    #68.ukpahonta
    "Interesting read:"

    Interesting but I think based on unproven theories regarding solar activity.

    There is no evidence from the first graph that the growing season is getting shorter.

    I agree however, with the point about accepting immigrants, not because of unemployment, which will adjust itself as the population increases, but because we are continually having to build on prime agricultural land in order to provide more housing for immigrants.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 74.

    #70,#73

    How much of what we all debate on a daily basis is insignificant noise. Archibald suggests a problem of shortening growing seasons here in the UK as a problem that we will face if we see an extended solar minimum but Churchill puts it into perspective.

    "So this implies, strongly, that if we can just avoid some kind of surprise “big cold swing” (think “big rock from space” or “big ass volcano” or possibly “Maunder Minimum and Gulf Stream takes a break”…) we’ve got about 9,000 years before we are back at real risk of a guaranteed plunge into a glacial. Unfortunately, there are a couple of other factors that come into it, including axial tilt, that are pushing the other way. But still, it is very nice to have a ‘big one’ in our corner."

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/interesting-change-of-season-length/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 75.

    Damn predictive text scrub Churchill and replace with Chiefio

 

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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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