Met Office scale back global warming forecast

Tuesday 8 January 2013, 15:19

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

A new global temperature forecast published by the Met Office, through to 2017, has scaled back projections of the amount of warming they expect compared with previous estimates.

The new projection can be seen below with more details on the Met Office website.



I have written several times in the last few years on the subject of Met Office global temperature predictions, and how they have been regularly too warm.

In the 12 years to 2011, 11 out of 12 forecasts were too high - and although all projections were within the stated margin of error, none were colder than expected.

One of their most high profile forecasts came in late 2009, coinciding with the Copenhagen climate conference.

It stated that half the years between 2010 and 2015 would be hotter than the hottest year on record, which I wrote about on my blog.

This already appears wide of the mark.

The latest projection seems to address this error with a prediction to 2017 in which temperatures rise 20% less than previously estimated.

In November 2009 I wrote about this levelling off in global temperatures, using research available at the time on the Met Office website.

In it, the Met Office explained that the levelling off of global temperatures that we were experiencing can be expected at time periods of a decade or less, because of the computer models internal climate variability.

But intriguingly, the research ruled out zero trends for time periods of 15 years or more.

The new projection, if correct, would mean there will have been little additional warming for two decades despite rising greenhouse gases.

It's bound to raise questions about the robustness and reliability of computer simulations that governments around the world are using in order to determine policies aimed at combating global warming.

The Met Office says natural cycles have caused the recent slowdown in warming, including perhaps changes in the suns activity, and ocean currents.

And mainstream climate scientists, who are in a majority, say that when the natural cooling factors change again, temperatures will be driven up further by greenhouse gases.

But climate sceptics, who have long argued that natural processes are either underestimated, or not properly understood, will not be surprised at this scaling back of expected warming.

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Comments

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 61.

    59. Correction:

    The 30-year period ended 2017 would still be +0.08C [not +0.8C] warmer than the 30-year period ended 2012.

    It's not much, but it's still positive.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 62.

    #59. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "So is the Met saying it expects the 'average' annual temperature between 2013 and 2017 to be around the level seen in the record years of 2005 and 2010? Is that really such a big shock?"

    I think that is what the M.O. are saying, looking at the graph.
    It isn't a shock to those of us who have been saying that the previous M.O. forecasts were excessive, but it should be a shock to anyone who believed those forecasts.
    Look at the differences in the forecast, can you not see them?
    The latest forecast is roughly where the previous lower confidence range was and the previous forecast is roughly where the latest upper confidence range is.
    This is a HUGE change.
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0e9S3JvjWrg/UOmGJq06wYI/AAAAAAAABDY/3UHjSSHTfKo/s670/metOffice20112012DecadalForecast.gif

  • rate this
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    Comment number 63.

    Quake: link one is to China wide? Is that a regional correlation they think they have identified?
    If so, it looks a reasonable match though it doesn't go to 2012. Also, if it is a China LAND based construction then one might expect a more immediate response to changes in solar forcing since the longer lag times are associated with ocean heat storage.

    Link two: The correlation may have broken down - it's not clearly shown in your link if it has, but surely, there can be no worse a correlation than that between CO2 and global temps over the last 20 years? So what's going on here. Are you saying that CO2 doesn't need to show any correlation at all but any other possible cause of warming must show a close and unbreakable link?

    Link three: Doesn't actually show an immediate effect does it? Certainly a faster response to warm phase and lags are visible, particularly near the start of the graph as it enters the cool phase. In fact, the PDO cool phase simply seems to suppress the general warming that was otherwise evident. This includes the warming at the start of the 20thC which cannot be explained by CO2 levels without the help of natural or solar forcings. From my post at 56, you can see that Solar forcing was considerably lower at the start of the 20thC than that from mid century onwards.
    While one cannot say with any certainty, the sun is the cause of the warming, one cannot reasonably say it definitely isn't. All it takes is for there to be a lag or response beyond the length of one solar cycle, such that there is a carry forward of excess energy into the following cycle.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 64.

    62. QuaesoVeritas,

    No doubt it's a big reduction over 5 years. Comparing both charts is slightly misleading though, as they have different end years. Interestingly the Met's 2010 decadal forecast was much lower than the 2011 one: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/decadal-prediction

    But as I mentioned above, when set against the 30-year rolling trend the new forecast would only represent a reduction in the rate of warming of about -0.03C per decade (if it comes true) by end 2017 compared to end 2012. The rolling 30-year average would also remain positive.

    In other words the warming trend is expected to continue, but at a reduced rate over the next 5 years. We still need a physical explanation for why it's warming.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 65.

    63. lateintheday wrote:

    "... surely, there can be no worse a correlation than that between CO2 and global temps over the last 20 years? So what's going on here."

    This is global temperatures (HadCRUT4) vrs CO2 and solar (sunspots) over 20 years: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1992.93/plot/esrl-co2/from:1992.93/normalise/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1992.93/normalise/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1992.93/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1992.93/trend/normalise/plot/pmod/from:1992.93/trend/normalise

    And over thirty years: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1982.93/plot/esrl-co2/from:1982.93/normalise/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1982.93/normalise/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1982.93/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1982.93/trend/normalise/plot/pmod/from:1982.93/trend/normalise

    Do you honestly believe that sunspots are better correlated to temperatures than CO2, going by those graphs?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 66.

    @64 newdwr54 wrote:

    "In other words the warming trend is expected to continue, but at a reduced rate over the next 5 years."

    No, the warming trend is expected to be zero for the next 5 years the effect of which will further reduce the 30 year trend.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 67.

    Actually newdwr54, that graphing does surprise me, not least because I understood our CO2 emissions were increasing at an alarming rate. Clearly not. Or perhaps there's a scaling issue with your graph. With my post in response to Quake, I had in mind another graph which I had stumbled upon a few days ago.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DIuZMfy53ZA/UIbKVQiTExI/AAAAAAAAA5s/KAN33VgWIwM/s669/tempAnomaliesCO2decadalTrends1987on.jpg

    I notice you're not interested in the 30 year mean of sunspots maxima posted above or the fact that I clearly stated "All it takes is for there to be a lag or response beyond the length of one solar cycle, such that there is a carry forward of excess energy into the following cycle."

    Your choice of taking a recent short term solar trend (which is reducing from a peak) gives the rather cherry picked view of the trend since we are only half way into the reduced cycle 24.
    Just goes to show how many jigsaws you can make from the same pieces if you are so minded.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 68.

    66. greensand wrote:

    "No, the warming trend is expected to be zero for the next 5 years the effect of which will further reduce the 30 year trend."

    I suppose you could put it like that. But then how much significance should we attach to a 5-year trend? And at +0.14C per decade by 2017, the 30 year trend would still be at the high end historically (the average 30 year trend throughout HadCRUT4 is +0.05). 30 year average temperatures would still be at their highest on record, which means that the current extreme weather we're seeing globally will not have abated in the least.

    The fact that the Australian Met has just added two new high temperature colours to its forecasting maps seems to have slipped under the radar: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/01/09/uk-australia-wildfires-maps-idUKBRE90806T20130109

    Ditto the new record high temperature in the contiguous USA: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/us-usa-weather-idUSBRE90714420130108

  • rate this
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    Comment number 69.

    lojohn wrote:

    "So the total absence of warming for over 20 years has been noted by normal people"

    Actually normal people know that there has been warming in the last 20 years. Please don't confuse absence of warming with no scientifically significant warming just because it supports what you choose to believe.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 70.

    67. lateintheday wrote:

    Re your link: that chart shows 'decadal trends', not temperatures. In other words it graphs 10 year rolling temperature trends; not real world temperatures. This is the same data only using real temperatures: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:1987/plot/wti/from:1987/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1987/normalise/plot/esrl-co2/from:1987/normalise/trend I'm sure you'll agree that it looks quite different?

    Re lags in solar forcing: you have not yet explained why you think there should be a lag in cooling due to reduced solar forcing but no lag in warming in response to increased solar forcing. In fact you stated above that "we might expect more immediate response to changes in solar forcing" on land. Well here is UAH (land only) from just before the last solar maximum in 2000 against TSI: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah-land/from:2000/plot/uah/from:2000/trend/plot/pmod/from:2000/normalise/plot/pmod/from:2000/normalise/trend No sign yet of any immediate response.

    If you prefer the longer term land temperature versus solar comparison then compare CRUT4 (land only global) with sunspot numbers: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/plot/crutem4vgl/trend/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1850/normalise/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1850/normalise/trend The recent discrepancy between solar and temperatures becomes even more pronounced.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 71.

    68. newdwr54 wrote:

    I suppose you could put it like that

    No, it is like that! The statement was for a zero trend for the next 5 years. Simple!

    But it is of no consequence, nobody knows where we will be at the end of 2017. The previous MO Decadal Forecasts did not demonstrate any forecasting skill, why should we now put great store in the new one?

    No hypothetical trend has any significance only the ones based on actual observational data are of any consequence.

    No need to guess about the future when we can look at what is happening in the here and now. The HadCRUT4 30 year trend has reduced by 20% over the last 9 years. Commonsense and logic dictates that if temps remain flat the reduction in the rate of warming can only continue.

    Time will tell.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    #69. - Lazarus wrote:
    "Actually normal people know that there has been warming in the last 20 years. Please don't confuse absence of warming with no scientifically significant warming just because it supports what you choose to believe."

    My guess is that the majority of "normal people" would have no idea whether there had been warming or not, were it not for the propaganda coming from the M.O. and/or the mainstream media.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 73.

    This blog has been mentioned on the GWPF website:
    http://www.thegwpf.org/met-office-warming-2017-media-do/

    Note the comments about the BBC.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    Interesting article by Fred Pearce in New Scientist:-

    “Has global warming ground to a halt?”

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23060-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|environment

    Lots in there for everybody so please read it all, however the following statement demonstrates a welcome growing awareness:-

    “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.”

    Professor Sir Brian Hoskins
    Director of Grantham Institute for Climate Change

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    greensand wrote:

    "The previous MO Decadal Forecasts did not demonstrate any forecasting skill, why should we now put great store in the new one?"

    Because the previous forecast was always going to be wrong. We all knew that it was just a figure at the centre of a possible range. The real figure was within that range too, so the forecast was right within a defined margin of error. That is how real science works. Why would you ignore an updated one?

    It should be noted that this new forecast is for the short term only. Scientists know the importance of natural variability in the short term, where it can completely obscure the global warming signal. Four years ago Doug Smith from the MO said research "suggests that surface air temperatures will remain steady for the next six years or so, as cooler sea surface temperatures keep the lower atmosphere cool despite ever higher greenhouse gas levels".
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19926691.500-climate-change-the-next-ten-years.html?

    There are NO negative figures within the error margins of this or any other credible scientific forecast that I know off - Global Warming will almost certainly continue.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "My guess is that the majority of "normal people" would have no idea whether there had been warming or not, were it not for the propaganda coming from the M.O. and/or the mainstream media."

    Or it might be the empirical evidence of the many separate threads of research that show continued average warming trends and anthropogenic fingerprints and that the scientists are finally getting through to normal people.

    Using "propaganda" at every turn when the majority of the best qualified people don't agree with you makes you come across a a conspiracy theorist wingnut - sorry.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    #76. - Lazarus wrote:

    "Using "propaganda" at every turn when the majority of the best qualified people don't agree with you makes you come across a a conspiracy theorist wingnut - sorry."

    For what it's worth, the definition of "propaganda" from Wikipedia is as follows:

    "Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes."

    How else would you describe what is going on?

    To be "propaganda", it doesn't necessarily have to be untrue, only to put forward one side of the argument exclusively.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 78.

    75. Lazarus wrote:
    “Because the previous forecast was always going to be wrong. We all knew that it was just a figure at the centre of a possible range.”

    No Lazarus it was withdrawn before it went out of “a possible range”

    The new one is the same format “just a figure at the centre of a possible range”
    Neither you nor I know what the outcome will be, so I ask again with the “why should we now put great store in the new one?"

  • rate this
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    Comment number 79.

    RSS down 0.09C in Dec. Both satellites now show no warming against 10 yr average, and this is at the end of a small El Nino.

    Me thinks the Met have finally seen reality!

    Remember as well that we are still in the warm phase of the AMO. When this switches to cold, probably in the 2020's, we will be looking at 40 yrs of no warming.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/rss-uah-update/

  • rate this
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    Comment number 80.

    "Both satellites now show no warming against 10 yr average, and this is at the end of a small El Nino."

    Neither satellite records show no warming over the last 10 years. To show no warming they'd have to very finely show something close to 0C/decade trend.

    UAH since 2002 comes out as 0.004 degrees C per decade +- 0.346C/decade to 95%
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    Such a large uncertainty range precludes being able to conclude there's been no warming. The given figure above does not preclude 0.2C/decade and so cannot be said to represent no warming.

    The surface records are somewhat better as they have less noise over 10 year periods, but they still have large uncertainty.

    bear in mind that the period 2002-2012 started with a string of el ninos and a strong solar maximum and ended diving into a solar minimum, string of moderate to strong la ninas and a weak solar cycle.

    How much warming from CO2 do we expect over this period? 0.2C?

    Okay. So how much cooling did the Sun provide? I don't think 0.1C is unreasonable, nor conflicts with mainstream science. And the El Nino-La Nina imbalance? I think 0.05C is reasonable.

    So in total that would be 0.05C/decade warming expected from 2002-2013 given all the above effects, including 0.2C warming from CO2. Now obviously 0.05C/decade is not falsified in light of the temperature data over the period and the large uncertainty in it. It really isn't anywhere near falsification.

 

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