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Winter 2011/2012: The final verdict

Paul Hudson | 15:07 UK time, Friday, 2 March 2012

Winter this year has confounded most long range forecasts issued last autumn, turning out to be mild, averaged over December, January and February (Climatological winter).

Talk of huge snowfalls, and the likelihood of another severe winter which were lapped up by an ever eager media, were wide of the mark.

The only notable cold spell, which brought to some areas the only snow of winter, occurred during early February.

One of the most interesting features of winter was the fact that this intense cold spell, which resulted in the equal coldest February temperature ever recorded in Lincolnshire, was cancelled out by the exceptionally mild spell which resulted in near record levels of warmth later in the month.

A significant new record was set on the 28th February, with Durham reporting 17.4C, the highest February temperature in 132 years of data

For these reasons, February has turned out to be slightly milder than average, across the UK as a whole.

Most attention though is focused on the lack of rainfall that some areas have experienced.

England only received 82% of normal rainfall this winter, with eastern and southern areas seeing the least.

Western areas of the UK had above average rainfall and this is why reservoirs in Pennine areas are mostly full to overflowing, which will be crucial should spring and summer remain dry across Yorkshire, as bore holes in East Yorkshire are badly depleted.

Lincolnshire, subject to a drought order since last summer, is desperately in need of a wet spring to prevent further restrictions being imposed.

It's worth remembering that the serious drought and water restrictions in the summer of 1976 was not just because of the prolonged heat wave. The previous summer of 1975 was dry, as was the winter of 1975/76.

As for the first half of March, some southern and central parts of the UK could see some useful rainfall this weekend.

After that, weather patterns suggest that rainfall will continue to be below average in eastern and southern areas, where it is needed most.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Apologies for starting a thread with an O/T comment but Spencer has done it again and announced the Feb UAH Ch5 anomaly before the last daily value is posted.

    Just when my fag packet came up with -0.15c, Dr Roy says -0,116c, he is getting to be a bit of a spoil sport!

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/uah-global-temperature-update-for-february-2012-0-12-deg-c/

  • Comment number 3.

    A couple interesting comments from Bob Tisdale's latest:-

    "The 2011/12 La Niña is coming to an end. This is quite apparent in the weekly data."

    "Weekly Global SST Anomalies have risen quite rapidly in two weeks, rising 0.16 deg C. They are presently at +0.196 deg C."

    "PRELIMINARY February 2012 SST Anomaly Update"

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/preliminary-february-2012-sst-anomaly-update/

  • Comment number 4.

    Greensand - has Dr Roy adjusted his records yet? I remember him saying about a month ago that there would be a revision to the dataset as they had identified a warm bias with one of the instruments. Accordingly, they would adjust the set which would be 'slightly cooler' overall.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2. - greensand wrote:
    "Apologies for starting a thread with an O/T comment but Spencer has done it again and announced the Feb UAH Ch5 anomaly before the last daily value is posted.
    Just when my fag packet came up with -0.15c, Dr Roy says -0,116c, he is getting to be a bit of a spoil sport!"
    I am sure that Roy Spencer has all of the figures, although the discover website publishes them a couple of days late.
    I too would have guessed -0.15c but -0.116 is a bit on the high side of the likely range.

  • Comment number 6.

    Given the very cold temperatures in Europe this winter, I think it has been a matter of chance that we haven't had a colder winter.
    The return to a pattern of warm westerlies has saved us from freezing again.
    After all, the reduction in Arctic sea ice would suggest that we should have had a cold winter!
    Despite being mild, so far, CET is down on last year.

  • Comment number 7.

    Paul Hudson says . . .
    "After that, weather patterns suggest that rainfall will continue to be below average in eastern and southern areas, where it is needed most."

    So its the MET office v the Hollybush then! Holly (first name terms now) predicted soaking wet end of Winter continued through Spring.

  • Comment number 8.

    #3. - greensand wrote:
    "The 2011/12 La Niña is coming to an end. This is quite apparent in the weekly data."
    greensand, is it true to say that the latest La Niña hasn't been a particularly cold one, which might account for the fact that UAH hasn't fallen as much as in previous La Niña episodes?

  • Comment number 9.

    Your winter assessment sounds about right to me, Paul H - overall mild and remarkably dry. One spring I know here, which I don't recall ever running out before, is dry now. The condition of the soil itself, particularly in woodland, seems more akin to its usual state in early summer. Westerly winds may well have saved us (on the edge of the continent) from prolonged freezing (sea ice reduction?), but the westerlies seem to have been very warm recently. Given the intensity of the Feb freeze, it is remarkable that the month has turned out "mild".

    As you say, 1976 drought was induced by prolonged winter/summer dryness commencing from at least summer 1975 (also v. dry - remember potato famine?)

    Plenty of insects about already inc. bumblebees. Of particular interest - noticed a queen of the "tree bee" a newly arrived continental sp. (thought to be spreading north due to warming). Actually had a nest of them last year aswell. Also seen- "workers" of one of the common sp.. I read somewhere that some bumblebee colonies are starting to survive through the winter with workers, instead of dying off and hibernating as normal. Workers would not normally be seen until well into spring.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did anyone happen to see the Dimbleby lecture last week - by Nobel Prize winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse?

    If not, you missed a treat. It was an inspiring clarion call for science everywhere. The power of his words and sincerity was palpable even to non scientists like myself.

    I mention it partly because he had one or two things to say about climate change and the scientific "concensus" so often criticised heavily on this blog. There was something about the way his speech and comments were put over, that made the remarks on this blog seem so snide, cynical and petty by comparison.

    I sometimes think that in reading certain comments this blog, one gets a totally false impression of their importance. Hearing speeches like Paul Nurse's reminds one of just what a complete backwater much of this climate sceptic stuff really is.

  • Comment number 11.

  • Comment number 12.

    #10. - jkiller56 wrote:
    "Did anyone happen to see the Dimbleby lecture last week - by Nobel Prize winning scientist Sir Paul Nurse?"
    When was it broadcast and on which channel?

  • Comment number 13.

    QV

    here you go

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01cx7x0/The_Richard_Dimbleby_Lecture_28_02_2012/

    if you are interested there is comment at Bishop Hill and Delingpole blogs

  • Comment number 14.

    #13. - Spanglerboy wrote:
    "here you go
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01cx7x0/The_Richard_Dimbleby_Lecture_28_02_2012/
    if you are interested there is comment at Bishop Hill and Delingpole blogs"
    Thanks, they don't seem to be repeating it ad infinitum like some things.
    I would have liked to have a permanent copy.
    I will watch it before reading any other comments, so as not to be prejudiced.

  • Comment number 15.

    8. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    #3. - greensand wrote:

    "The 2011/12 La Niña is coming to an end. This is quite apparent in the weekly data."

    QV, the quote belongs to Bob Tisdale.

    "is it true to say that the latest La Niña hasn't been a particularly cold one, which might account for the fact that UAH hasn't fallen as much as in previous La Niña episodes?"

    Not sure QV, for example this La Nina is not as strong as the previous one but SSTs are cooler so I would expect UAH to show cooler.

    My understanding is that ENSO - NINO areas only relate to a very small sea area +or/ 5deg of the equator in the Pacific. It is the effect that the warm or cold produced in that area has on Global SSTs that should show through to UAH. Lots of debate about time lags etc, DW is working on one with an 8 week lag at present.

    If you have a look at Bob Tisdale's "Mid-January 2012 SST Anomaly Update"
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/mid-january-2012-sst-anomaly-update/

    He sums up with:- "The 2010/11 La Niña was a moderate event, while the La Niña this year will be classified as a weak one. Note, however, that the Global sea surface temperature anomalies have dropped lower in response to this La Niña than the last one. That’s a curiosity."

    Not sure if he still thinks the same way following the significant jump in SSTs last month.

    I have always viewed ENSO as an indication of which direction Global SSTs and eventually Global Temps are likely to go, not an actual temperature but an “index”?

    Something on these lines has puzzled me for the last year, North Pacific SSTs have been noticeably cold, product of a double La Nina? North Atlantic SSTs have been noticeably warm, product of...?

    We live and learn, hopefully

  • Comment number 16.

    greensand,
    Thanks,
    I am new to the relationship of ENSO to SST and I am glad that others are puzzled too.
    It appears that the relationship isn't as clear cut as I had thought.

  • Comment number 17.

    @16. QuaesoVeritas

    One to read (and time I did again) is:-

    "ENSO Indices Do Not Represent The Process Of ENSO Or Its Impact On Global Temperature"

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/

    Bob has sceptic views but his description of the mechanics is a good sound insight.

    Another of his, found whilst trawling for the above, that might be of interest to you is:-

    "An Introduction To The Hadley Centre’s New HADSST3 Sea Surface Temperature Data"

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/a-introduction-to-the-hadley-centres-new-hadsst3-sea-surface-temperature-data/

  • Comment number 18.

    4. lateintheday wrote:

    "Greensand - has Dr Roy adjusted his records yet?"

    Not that I am aware of, though he does make the following statement:-

    "Progress continues on Version 6 of our global temperature dataset, which will have a better adjustment for drift of the satellites through the diurnal cycle, and an improved calibration procedure for the older MSU instruments (pre-1998)."

    I don't recall "had identified a warm bias with one of the instruments" if you find a link please pass it on. I think if Spencer did "adjust the set which would be 'slightly cooler' overall." then the reaction in certain areas would be very interesting to watch.

  • Comment number 19.

    To Spanglerboy #11

    If you believe that sophistry (your link) you'll believe anything. Wonderful scientific language aswell!

    I might be diverted by it, if it wasn't so obvious that far greater minds than Brown's appears to be, seem to think otherwise - which was the point of my Dimbleby post.

  • Comment number 20.

    jkiller56 wrote:
    "Hearing speeches like Paul Nurse's reminds one of just what a complete backwater much of this climate sceptic stuff really is."

    Backwater? More like flat earther!

  • Comment number 21.

    Greensand, found it.

    UAH Global Temperature Update for January 2012: -0.09 deg. C
    February 2nd, 2012 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    "Progress continues on Version 6 of our global temperature dataset. You can anticipate a little cooler anomalies than recently reported, maybe by a few hundredths of a degree, due to a small warming drift we have identified in one of the satellites carrying the AMSU instruments."

    Jkiller - if you cannot find anything in the Robert Brown post to shake your belief, even a little, then I've got no chance. Did you consider that he used 'wonderful scientific language' because he is a physicist and actually knows what he's talking about? No, didn't think so.

    So you find yourself agreeing with the 'far greater minds' do you? Have you considered that you find them 'far greater' because they agree with you? Time for a little introspection methinks.

  • Comment number 22.

    lateintheday @ #21

    " .......if you cannot find anything in the Robert Brown post to shake your belief, even a little, then I've got no chance. Did you consider that he used 'wonderful scientific language' because he is a physicist and actually knows what he's talking about?"

    I know this was addressed to jkiller, but I will comment if I may.

    Dr Brown spends most of his post telling us all why we need to be sceptical and why we should always be guided by the evidence (which is indeed the way science should be done). He then proceeds to throw all that out of the window the moment he gets around to discussing AGW!

    He states:

    "The sad thing about the Great Climate Debate is that so far, there hasn’t really been a debate."

    This is utter nonsense. The debate began around 150 years ago and hotted up (excuse the pun) when the military started applying the "greenhouse theory" in heat-seeking missiles. Since then, support for the theory has gradually strengthened as more evidence has come in both of CO2's influence on past climate and the lack of other mechanisms which can explain warming in the here and now.

    He also states:

    "The Great Climate Debate, however, is predicated from the beginning on one things (global average temperature)."

    This too is nonsense. It is based on many lines of evidence, observations and on established science - science that in a previous WUWT article even David Evans accepted as being settled.

    Brown hasn't told us why we should reject the theory. He has merely amplified all of the uncertainties (all of which are discussed by the IPCC) which make it impossible to PROVE AGW. However, the thing which makes it so obvious that he is not being truly sceptical with regards to the science of AGW is that he has patently failed to address the core problem with his entire argument - that there is no other mechanism which even comes close to explaining all observations.

    Paul

  • Comment number 23.

    #22. - Paul Briscoe wrote:
    "and hotted up (excuse the pun) when the military started applying the "greenhouse theory" in heat-seeking missiles."
    Could you explain the connection between heat seeking missiles and "greenhouse theory"?

  • Comment number 24.

    my friend Paul @22

    "This too is nonsense. It is based on many lines of evidence, observations and on established science - science that in a previous WUWT article even David Evans accepted as being settled."

    And here you fall into your usual argment..

    WHowever, the thing which makes it so obvious that he is not being truly sceptical with regards to the science of AGW is that he has patently failed to address the core problem with his entire argument - that there is no other mechanism which even comes close to explaining all observations."

    There are many mechanisms that could explain the observations, and many combinations of which that could explain recent trends, however the amount of research into it is pityingly small as compared to the ipcc presumtion. In fact it is in examing this priori position that we're descovring all the other factors involved in climate.

    In using the 'it can't be anything else' line your are performing exatcly the same trick you acccuse skeptics of when they harp on about error limits (something all proffesional scientists do as a matter of course by the way paul). The only difference is you see admiting errors as an admission of guilt, not as normal procedural method.

    As for the IPCC including all the errors, please don't make me laugh. They don't even KNOW all the sources of error. Your faith in the IPCC is quaint Paul, i just wish it weren't so blind.

    Incidentally, did anyone see the article on the parts missed form AR5 that assign extra significance to cAGW? long short- the dismisal or certain natural factors (without much research) masks any contribution they may have and in fact may mis attribute their effects to cAGW itself.

    This is a feeling i've had for a while, that the (supposed) cAGW signal is just in fact a combination of unknown of under described natural factors misinterpretet as anthropogenic. It's certainly an interesting premis (though again, not arguing that there is NO anthropogenic signal, i'm fairly certain there is).

    Previous blog was closed before i could respond to you- but i think you can take a wild stab at my line...

    Re the above- his point is not nonsense, given that the IPCC was set up with a priori explicitly stated in it's manifesto.

    ""The sad thing about the Great Climate Debate is that so far, there hasn’t really been a debate."

    This is utter nonsense...."

    And you slip into another tactic of yours- conflating the ghg, radiative physics et all with the attribution and DEGREE of warming from co2. The two are VERY different points Paul (though unarguable linked, before you spit your teat- never waste tea!).

    This is why debating with you can be so frustrating, you, for the most part a good debating technique, but you get dragged (or pull others) off tangent into irrelevant ancillary points to bloster your argument.

    Address the acctual point not what YOU think (or wish) the point were.

  • Comment number 25.

    Paul B said . . .
    "This is utter nonsense. The debate began around 150 years ago and hotted up (excuse the pun) when the military started applying the "greenhouse theory" in heat-seeking missiles."
    You're misrepresenting his position entirely if you seek to question his acceptance or understanding of radiative physics. You clearly haven't read what he's said or you are intentionally obfuscating the issue, defaming him somewhat in the process. In many cases, evidence to support AGW is hard to come by. Nobody's fault - that's just the way it is. Tentative conclusions drawn from sparse data or highly complex models are readily accepted and presented by the faithful as powerful evidence or irrefutable proof. This is the real nonsense Paul.

    You quote Brown as "The Great Climate Debate, however, is predicated from the beginning on one things (global average temperature)." About which which you say "This too is nonsense. It is based on many lines of evidence, observations and on established science."
    Again Paul, you're simply missing the point. If temps during the 20thC had not been going up, there would be no great climate debate. One simply has to ask, if the rate of temperature increase was within the realm of natural variation or not. In order to answer that, one must have a high degree of confidence about past temperature variations. Clearly, you (and the consensus) have great confidence in these reconstructions. He does not, and for very good reason. Objectively, the reconstructions are little more than best guesses which in turn are based other best guesses through proxies.

    "However, the thing which makes it so obvious that he is not being truly sceptical with regards to the science of AGW is that he has patently failed to address the core problem with his entire argument - that there is no other mechanism which even comes close to explaining all observations."
    You're not even close to understanding him Paul. Do you think we should hang onto a bad theory simply because it's the only one we've got? Brown's position is very clear. If a theory can't be supported through other means (experiment) then it can only be judged by its predictive success. According to Brown (and others), AGW continues to fail this test. The theory need to be modified.
    It is also important recognise that he's not advocating throwing the baby out with the bath water. He knows that all things being equal, increased CO2 can theoretically cause warming. He also knows that the climate is a complex and chaotic beast and that the chances of all things remaining equal are slim. There are many poorly understood climate mechanisms which might serve to amplify or constrain climate variation. AGW assumes amplification without any constraints and this is what is unsupportable.

  • Comment number 26.

    oh my word- my previous post is hoplessly garbled. i'll try re post in order- disregard (the perils of typing on a laptop with track mat).

    my friend Paul @22


    Previous blog was closed before i could respond to you- but i think you can take a wild stab at my line...


    "This too is nonsense. It is based on many lines of evidence, observations and on established science - science that in a previous WUWT article even David Evans accepted as being settled."

    Re the above- his point is not nonsense, given that the IPCC was set up with a priori explicitly stated in it's manifesto.

    ""The sad thing about the Great Climate Debate is that so far, there hasn’t really been a debate."

    This is utter nonsense...."

    And you slip into another tactic of yours- conflating the ghg, radiative physics et all with the attribution and DEGREE of warming from co2. The two are VERY different points Paul (though unarguable linked, before you spit your teat- never waste tea!).

    This is why debating with you can be so frustrating, you, for the most part a good debating technique, but you get dragged (or pull others) off tangent into irrelevant ancillary points to bolster your argument.

    Address the actual point not what YOU think (or wish) the point were
    And here you fall into your usual argument..

    “WHowever, the thing which makes it so obvious that he is not being truly sceptical with regards to the science of AGW is that he has patently failed to address the core problem with his entire argument - that there is no other mechanism which even comes close to explaining all observations."

    There are many mechanisms that could explain the observations, and many combinations of which that could explain recent trends, however the amount of research into it is pityingly small as compared to the ipcc presumption. In fact it is in examining this priori position that we're discovering all the other factors involved in climate.

    In using the 'it can't be anything else' line you are performing exactly the same trick you accuse skeptics of when they harp on about error limits (something all professional scientists do as a matter of course by the way paul). The only difference is you see admitting errors as an admission of guilt, not as normal procedural method.

    As for the IPCC including all the errors, please don't make me laugh. They don't even KNOW all the sources of error. Your faith in the IPCC is quaint Paul, i just wish it weren't so blind.
    Incidentally, did anyone see the article on the parts missed form AR5 that assign extra significance to cAGW? long short- the dismisal or certain natural factors (without much research) masks any contribution they may have and in fact may mis attribute their effects to cAGW itself.

    This is a feeling i've had for a while, that the (supposed) cAGW signal is just in fact a combination of unknown of under described natural factors misinterpreted as anthropogenic. It's certainly an interesting premise (though again, not arguing that there is NO anthropogenic signal, I’m fairly certain there is).

  • Comment number 27.

    The link between greenhouse gases and heat seeking missiles is that the military (commie pinko liberals one and all) had to find seekers that worked at all altitudes of the atmosphere. They had to avoid wavelengths 'blocked' or attenuated by CO2.

  • Comment number 28.

    #27. - john_cogger wrote:
    "The link between greenhouse gases and heat seeking missiles is that the military (commie pinko liberals one and all) had to find seekers that worked at all altitudes of the atmosphere. They had to avoid wavelengths 'blocked' or attenuated by CO2."
    Thanks, but I don't see how that is "appying greenhouse theory", only taking into account the fact that the atmosphere has CO2, which I don't think anyone is denying.

  • Comment number 29.

    The greenhouse theory rests on certain gasses doing certain things at certain wavelengths. The seeker part of the missile has to operate at a wavelength where it can see the most. The research they did showed certain gasses blocked different wavelengths thus they confirmed (and expanded?) the 150 year old theory.

  • Comment number 30.

    Comments from Judith Curry's blog

    Diogenes | March 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply


    Dr. Curry, I commend an essay by Dr. Robert Brown, a Duke University physicist, to your attention. It appears at WUWT. It is one of the most rational commentaries on The Great Climate Debate I’ve ever encountered and should be required reading for every Congressperson and member of the National Academy of Sciences.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/02/why-cagw-theory-is-not-settled-science/


    curryja | March 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply


    Agreed, this is a very good essay by Robert Brown.

  • Comment number 31.

    lateintheday @ #25

    ""This is utter nonsense…………..”
    You're misrepresenting his position entirely if you seek to question his acceptance or understanding of radiative physics."

    No, you haven't read what I wrote. I was actually challenging his claim that "there hasn’t really been a debate." This claim IS utter nonsense.

    "You quote Brown as "The Great Climate Debate….” About which which you say "This too is nonsense….."
    Again Paul, you're simply missing the point. If temps during the 20thC had not been going up, there would be no great climate debate."

    No I'm not missing the point at all and your assertion is incorrect. The rise in temperature over the 20th century is just one part of a much bigger picture. Indeed, the theory that anthropogenic CO2 would have a warming effect on the planet became widely accepted long before the anthropogenic warming signal became obvious. When I was taught about it at university in 1980 this was still the case. All of the more recent evidence has only strengthened that view.

    According to greenhouse theory, global temperature will only rise with increasing CO2 levels IF OTHER FACTORS DO NOT COUNTERACT IT. So even without a rise in global temperature during the 20th century (say due to a fall in solar activity), scientists would still have reached the same conclusions based on their knowledge of physics and the various forcings active over the period.

    "Clearly, you (and the consensus) have great confidence in these reconstructions. He does not, and for very good reason. Objectively, the reconstructions are little more than best guesses which in turn are based other best guesses through proxies."

    No, not for “very good reason”. If we were talking about one or two proxy studies with small temperature fluctuations he might have a point, but we're not. We're talking multiple studies, using a variety of different methods, all showing the same thing....... and the changes in both temperature and CO2 are WAY larger than the differences we’ve seen during the Holocene, so confidence in the findings is high. Also, they happen to fit very well with what would be predicted from basic physics.

    Paul

  • Comment number 32.

    lateintheday (continued)

    "You're not even close to understanding him Paul. Do you think we should hang onto a bad theory simply because it's the only one we've got? Brown's position is very clear. If a theory can't be supported through other means (experiment) then it can only be judged by its predictive success."

    This is NOT a “bad” theory. It is based on sound empirical science and multiple lines of evidence........ and it predicts nights warming faster than days, winters warming faster than summers, a cooling stratosphere, reduced outgoing radiation in wavebands specific to greenhouse gases, increased back radiation, past climate being warmer when solar activity was much lower ......... all of the above can ONLY be explained by greenhouse warming. Where is Dr Brown’s discussion of these hugely important points?

    Regarding the models, they DO accurately predict global temperature in response to known forcings, as demonstrated by the hindcasts. Brown also OUGHT to know that it is far too early to be drawing firm conclusions about the forward projections. His claim that scientists are trying “to keep people from losing faith in a theory that isn’t working” is just mischief-making. It’s about sound science.

    “He knows that all things being equal, increased CO2 can theoretically cause warming.”

    Where does he state this? I’d say that he has studiously avoided acknowledging this.

    He also states “You compare the predictions of their “catastrophic” theory five, ten, twenty years back to the actual data”, but why would any scientist want to draw conclusions about the reliablilty of science by comparing old predictions to observations? Science progresses, so why not use the most up-to-date understanding of science….. an understanding which DOES explain the cooling from the late 1940’s to the 1970’s (due to sulphate aerosols), the LIA and MWP (due to solar forcing).

    Paul

  • Comment number 33.

    lateintheday (continued)

    “There are many poorly understood climate mechanisms which might serve to amplify or constrain climate variation.”

    As stated before, this is NOT a sound scientific argument. Science can only ever be based on available evidence……. and the available evidence from the ice cores and fossil record indicate that net feedbacks are strongly positive.

    “AGW assumes amplification without any constraints”

    This is simply not true, as you should know if you’ve read the scientific literature. As pointed out above, the view that net feedback is positive is based on both empirical science and the available evidence.

    Dr Brown’s article may have been well “dressed up” with lots of reference to scientific details from other areas of science, but when it comes to the details of climate change his claims have little merit. I stand by my comment that his failure to discuss the lack of evidence for other mechanisms singles him out as anything but objective.

    Paul

  • Comment number 34.

    LabMunkey @ #24 and #26

    It's late now, so I may return to other points tomorrow. However, I'll comment on this now:

    “And you slip into another tactic of yours- conflating the ghg, radiative physics et all with the attribution and DEGREE of warming from co2. The two are VERY different points Paul.”

    I think this actually comes down to our very different views of the way science works and what constitutes evidence. You appear totally wedded to the “anthropogenic” aspect, but from my perspective this is a red herring. Indeed, to me it indicates that you aren’t thinking about this the way a scientist should.

    I use the term “greenhouse theory” advisedly, because it is well established science. There is no question that adding more CO2 to a planet’s atmosphere should have a warming effect (unless saturation has been reached). Again, I use the term “warming effect” advisedly, because it will only actually cause the planet to warm if there is no other factor counteracting it. The only thing that can stop this is if feedbacks counteract it. However, you need to remember that feedbacks respond to the WARMING rather than the CO2, so ANY period of much higher temperatures in a planet’s past, through ANY cause, is evidence that feedbacks are not strongly negative. In fact, it would be impossible for the temperature of a planet to fluctuate much UP OR DOWN, if feedbacks were as strongly negative as suggested by some.

    You may not be convinced by the evidence in the ice cores and fossil record, but most scientists are…….. and for me, like many others, this is actually the evidence which is the most compelling. The ice cores give far more detail and they clearly show that the very large changes in temperature between glacial and interglacial periods cannot be explained without CO2 warming AND significantly positive net feedbacks.

    So from my perspective (and I suspect most objective scientists’ point of view), we would actually EXPECT to see global temperatures rise in the here and now as atmospheric CO2 rises (assuming other negative forcings aren’t active) and we would EXPECT feedbacks to amplify rather than diminish the effect.

    Paul

  • Comment number 35.

    LabMunkey (continued)

    So where does that leave us? You say that the evidence to support the IPCC’s conclusions isn’t there, but I, like most scientists, disagree with you. Nobody is claiming that the science is completely “settled” and climate sensitivity is the main uncertainty, but it is very unlikely to fall below the IPCC’s quoted range. You say the onus is on scientists to prove it to your satisfaction, but I say that their judgement and knowledge of the science is far better than yours and that they are NOT required to provide extra evidence just to prove it to you and others like you whose expectations are unrealistic. They will, of course, continue their research to reduce uncertainties.

    Indeed, given the huge body of evidence and the “fingerprints” of greenhouse warming, I’m of the view that it is YOU who now has to start coming up with some meaningful evidence that feedbacks are NOT strongly positive. After all, we know that clouds have both positive and negative feedbacks, so with strong evidence that net feedbacks were positive in the past, why would we expect them to be otherwise now?

    Seeing as it's on the same basic subject, I'll also quickly deal with this:

    "There are many mechanisms that could explain the observations, and many combinations of which that could explain recent trends,"

    Which mechanisms, exactly? If this were really true, the consensus wouldn't be so strong.

    "however the amount of research into it is pityingly small as compared to the ipcc presumption. In fact it is in examining this priori position that we're discovering all the other factors involved in climate."

    Significantly, it is mostly scientists who support the consensus who have done the research into other possible mechanisms. This is because the scientific community, contrary to the impression you give, know that eliminating other options is very important. Also, I suspect that many of the things you consider have not received sufficient attention have already been discounted for other sound reasons.

    Paul

  • Comment number 36.

    15. greensand wrote:

    Hi GS,

    Just to clarify; my notion is that there is a rough 8-wk lag between SSTs in NINO 3.4 and UAH at 14,000 ft. It's slightly complicated in that I've based it on weekly averages (because that's the way the NINO SST data comes).

    I'd expect UAH land and sea surface temps to respond more quickly - say 4 weeks? As such, I'd expect to see a rise in UAH land/sea reflected in March 2012 (i.e. an increase on February).

  • Comment number 37.

    11. Spanglerboy:

    From your link, under a heading written by Anthony Watts entitled "Why CAGW theory is not “settled science” Dr Robert Brown writes a 3,720 word essay in which he uses the phrase "settled science" once (in the last but one sentence).

    Even though he uses quotation marks, Dr Brown fails to provide a citation for his quote (perhaps it was Watts he was quoting?). The last lines of his essay are not very controversial:

    "The CAGW theory is not “settled science”. I’m not even sure there is any such thing."

    Isn't that exactly what Sir Paul Nurse was advocating in his lecture?

  • Comment number 38.

    26. LabMunkey wrote:

    "Incidentally, did anyone see the article on the parts missed form AR5 that assign extra significance to cAGW?"

    No; what is "cAGW" by the way? I've heard of AGW, and it appears frequently in the IPCC reports, but I can't find any reference to cAGW. Where did you get that acronym from?

  • Comment number 39.

    36. newdwr54 wrote:

    Eh up DW just watching your team and the squirrel taking on QPR after that I am lost.

    What is the difference between "UAH at 14,000 ft" and "UAH land and sea surface temps"? In your following:-

    "8-wk lag between SSTs in NINO 3.4 and UAH at 14,000 ft."

    "I'd expect UAH land and sea surface temps to respond more quickly - say 4 weeks? "

  • Comment number 40.

    I forgot to add:-

    Don't say 4 weeks!

  • Comment number 41.

    LabMunkey (continued)

    I'll tackle this one now too:

    "In using the 'it can't be anything else' line you are performing exactly the same trick you accuse skeptics of when they harp on about error limits (something all professional scientists do as a matter of course by the way paul). The only difference is you see admitting errors as an admission of guilt, not as normal procedural method."

    This is nonsense. Science is evidence based and the basis of a scientific theory is that it provides a broad explanation for observations. The theory will only gain acceptance amongst the scientific community if it is supported by all observations and evidence AND no other mechanism fits with the evidence.

    So, whether you like it or not, the lack of evidence for alternative mechanisms is actually key here.

    I also think you're conflating "error" and "uncertainty", unless you really meant "confidence limits".

    "As for the IPCC including all the errors, please don't make me laugh. They don't even KNOW all the sources of error. Your faith in the IPCC is quaint Paul, i just wish it weren't so blind."

    Again, your choice of the word "error" is misleading. The IPCC has whole sections given over to uncertainties. Meanwhile, you are COMPLETELY missing the point when you say they don't know all the sources of uncertainty. This is wrong because other evidence (which you dismiss but most scientists do not) actually CONSTRAINS the uncertainty. The problem here is not that I have blind faith. Rather, the problem is that YOU:

    Don't understand the science.

    Don't understand the way science of this type works.

    Don't understand how the full body of evidence is evaluated.

    Don't WANT to accept evidence which challenges your misconceptions.

    Paul

  • Comment number 42.

    QV @ #23

    "Could you explain the connection between heat seeking missiles and "greenhouse theory"?"

    My understanding is that for a long time most scientists refused to believe that CO2 could enhance the greenhouse effect because its absorption spectrum is too close to that of water vapour, which is obviously present in much larger quantities across much of the atmosphere. However, the research done for the military identified absorption wavebands which are specific to CO2, comfirming that it can absorb IR radiation at wavelengths not already trapped by water vapour.

    Paul

  • Comment number 43.

    41. Paul Briscoe wrote

    "the lack of evidence for alternative mechanisms is."

    Hi Paul, sorry for butting in, and I know you are in the midst of a discussion covering many issues but as a scientist are you sure you want to be associated with the above statement?

    The whole base of science is the realisation that there may be an “alternative mechanism” on many, many occasions the “alternative mechanism” has been discovered by enquiring scientific minds. So whilst at present there may be no evidence available how can it be possible to claim that the lack of it is scientifically “actually key here”?

    Unless it is a claim of consensus, but that cannot be the case, because consensus has no factual scientific standing.

  • Comment number 44.

    39.greensand:

    I just mean that surface temperatures are likely to react more quickly to SST change than temperatures as measured at 14,000 ft, (which is what UAH ch. 5 shows). As far as I know the official monthly global UAH figure is based on their interpretation/extrapolation of surface air temps from the various satellites at different levels.

    I don't base that on anything too scientific. In fact, I think Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) estimated a 4 month lag for ENSO/UAH surface, but I haven't tested it that far back.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi DW, IIRC Gavin from RC joined in at a discussion at CA presenting data that there was basically no difference between surface and surface from 14k. Too late to find the link.

    Just listened to a guy on OZ tel stating that the La Nina has raised SSTs and caused flooding in OZ?

    Will try and post the link tomorrow.

  • Comment number 46.

    Re the main blog:

    According to Met Office data Northern Ireland had its 4th warmest February on record in 2012, and it's seventh warmest winter. I'm not surprised by this, as those warm Atlantic fronts protected us pretty well from the 'Beast from the East' in early February (apart from one short spell).

    Scotland also appears to have fared very well. Overall I make 2012 the second warmest UK February on record - after 1998. Winter as a whole I make the 5th warmest on the UK record. This may come as 'cold' comfort to people in Eastern England!

    There have been some recent cold winters in the UK, especially December. The 30-year temperature trend in UK Decembers is currently -0.53 C per decade. However this is offset by warming Januarys (+0.31 per decade) and rapidly warming Februarys (+0.78 C/decade). UK winters overall are running at +0.19 C per decade over 30 years (the period recommended for inferring climate trends from temperature data by the WMO).

  • Comment number 47.

    Re 46 above - apologies but I have to make some retractions - too late at night! I accidentally added the NI data to the UK as a whole.

    Amendments to 46 as follows:
    __________________

    "Overall I make 2012 the 20th warmest UK February on record (not the second!). Winter as a whole I make the 10th warmest on the UK record (not the 5th!)..."

    And...

    "... rapidly warming Februarys (+0.71 [not +0.78] C/decade). UK winters overall are running at +0.16 [not +0.19] C per decade over 30 years..."
    ____________________

    Apologies for that. I better shut up and go to bed.

  • Comment number 48.

    greensand @ #43

    "..as a scientist are you sure you want to be associated with the above statement?"

    Yes! This is something we've discussed several times over recent threads.

    Science is evidence based and scientists can only work with the evidence available. So arguing that something MIGHT crop up tomorrow which overturns everything, whilst possible, is not a valid argument for rejecting a theory which is based on all available evidence in the here and now. You are, in effect, saying that we should not accept a theory until it is 100% proven, but science would achieve nothing if it employed such a strategy.

    "....because consensus has no factual scientific standing."

    We've discussed this at length too. Scientific consensus is actually central to science. Very few of the theories on which modern science relies can be proven. Therefore, theories become an accepted part of science when there is sufficient evidence in support of them to convince most experts in the relevant field to accept them - ie. a consensus.

    Yes, there are examples of where a scientific consensus has been completely overturned, but for every one of these there are many more examples of the mavericks attacking the consensus being wrong! Also, it is actually far more common for theories to evolve and adapt with time as scientific understanding improves. Evolution is a good example of this.

    Paul

  • Comment number 49.

    The following may be of some interest, and I would appreciate constructive comments.
    I have done some calculations of the current linear trends over various periods of time, from 10 to 100 years.
    The current trend over 10 years is -0.102c/decade and the trend continues to be negative (albeit lower), over periods up to 12 years.
    There is a short period of positive trends for periods of 12.08 to 13.8 years, with a max of 0.042c over 12.9 years, after which there is another short phase of negative trends for periods of 13.9 to 14.9 years, with a min of -0.018c/decade over 14.4 years, and the longest period currently over which there is a negative trend is 14.9 years.
    Beyond that the trend is always positive and increases rapidly, reaching 0.153c/decade over a period of 20 years, but after that, the trend is more or less constant, within a range of 0.138c to 0.167c/decade up to a period of about 48 years.
    The period over which there is the highest trend, i.e.of 0.167c/decade, is 38.08 years.
    After about 48 years, the trend falls steadily, reaching about 0.073c/decade over a period of about 86 years, and remains fairly constant after that.
    The above is better expressed graphically but I am not able to do that here, and there is also too much data to post.
    Having done this, I am not entirely certain what it proves, except that currently, the longest period with a negative (albeit small), trend is 14.9 years.

  • Comment number 50.

    Oops, forgot to mention that the above figures are based on HadCRUT3 global monthly anomalies, up to January 2012.

  • Comment number 51.

    48. Paul Briscoe wrote:

    "You are, in effect, saying that we should not accept a theory until it is 100% proven, but science would achieve nothing if it employed such a strategy."

    No I am not! But I am saying that there is no such thing as a "scientific consensus".

    Paul I am fully aware that we have been down this road many, many times and we will continue to with regard to “Scientific consensus”. There is not and cannot be a “Scientific consensus”. It is true that there can be a consensus among scientists, but not, nay, never a “Scientific consensus”.

    If you ask a group of scientists if they are in agreement regarding a certain theory they may well answer in the affirmative. If you then ask them if their agreement constitutes in any way as “proof” of a theory you will get a categorical NO most likely followed by “that work is still to be done”.

    So I agree with you that we may choose to go with a theory forwarded by a consensus of scientists.

    But we cannot and must never make decisions based upon “Scientific consensus” and leave it at that. The consensus exists amongst people, scientists, and not within science. Science is our precious tool with which to question theories whether they have a consensus of scientific views or not.

    On this particular subject it is recognised that there is a very close and strong consensus regarding the physical properties of CO2 in our atmosphere. But regarding what our planetary system as whole does with those properties, then opinion is far further stretched. Presently, and quite correctly, there are numerous very good people and establishments doing lots of very good scientifically based work in an attempt to quantify the uncertainties surrounding this area.

    You and I are not very far apart but I am sorry I cannot get away from seeing “Scientific consensus” as an appeal to authority and that as such it can only stifle debate. I am sorry if I am placing you incorrectly but I cannot see that phrase in any other light.

    Regards

  • Comment number 52.

    greensand @ #51

    I suggest that you go back and read the thread where we discussed this in detail. Both Lazarus and myself made some very important and pertinent points which are at odds with what you're saying and I have no intention of revisiting them again now, especially as I'm just about to go out!

    Suffice to say that I don't agree with you and that I believe you misunderstand how science actually works.

    Paul

  • Comment number 53.

    52 Paul Briscoe

    "Suffice to say that I don't agree with you and that I believe you misunderstand how science actually works."

    Paul, I am more than happy to leave you to your beliefs.

    I will return to the observational data.

    Regards

  • Comment number 54.

    Paul Briscoe

    I feel obliged to add to the comments on your interpretation of good science in the context of global warming. You have faith in the consensus view but do you accept the scientific method has to be applied to the main predicitons of AGW

    Reflecting on some of the excellent things Paul Nurse said in his Dimbleby lecture
    http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/people/fellows/2012-02-29-Dimbleby.pdf

    He makes the point well, that enlightenment, or scientific advancement, begins with data or observations and proving a theory is true

    ‘It is the ability to prove that something is not true which is at the centre of science. This distinguishes it from beliefs based on religion and ideology'

    That co2 was overwhelmingly responsible for the majority of the predicted global warming was an ‘a priori’ in all discussions (even though this was not the science). Decarbonisation was promoted as the simplistic solution to a predicted climate change

    A modest global warming trend preceded this and was not part of the modern predictions re AGW and has little to do with the predicted warming in the 21st century

    So what do you believe the consenus view (which part) constitutes in terms of evidence???

    The observation that the predictions were realised would be essential and even then the attribution would have to be proven not assumed for the scientific test to have been passed.

    One might of course act on the basis of unproven suspicion as we increasingly have to do in this media driven political world, Consider the predictions say around Swineflu and the billions spent on that

    Very few predictions in AGW have been realised and the IPCC models are looking weaker as each year passes

    The 'consensus opinion' is mainly concerned with explaining why we cannot yet call the main predicitions discredited for another few years given current observations (meanwhile Hansens truly are)

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    So do you really believe the consensus view is more important than future observations?

  • Comment number 55.

    #51, greensand wrote:
    "There is not and cannot be a “Scientific consensus”. It is true that there can be a consensus among scientists, but not, nay, never a “Scientific consensus”."

    So what does the difference make?

    There is a consensus among the best placed scientists, (those that do the research), that "Climate change and sustainable energy supply are crucial challenges for the future of humanity. It is essential that world leaders agree on the emission reductions needed to combat negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change" - (from the national science academies of the G8+5 nations) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

    Do you believe that it is invalid for a consensus among scientists to be used as a basis for action?

    If so, you believe that it is invalid for cancer patients to be treated using the range of treatments developed by research and deemed to be the most effective we currently have by a consensus of scientists.

  • Comment number 56.

    greensand @ #53

    I was in a rush earlier and on reflection I have been far more dismissive of your post than I should have been. Apologies for that. In future I will just leave my posts until I have more time to collect my thoughts!

    I do agree that a consensus such as the one that exists over climate change is necessarily quite a "broad church", with different scientists having their own slightly different interpretations of the details. However, I think the IPCC report (specifically WGI) actually reflects this pretty well. Even when a particular point of view is dismissed, good reasons are given.

    The discussion of the key question of climate sensitivity is a case in point. If the IPCC had boldly stated that climate sensitivity was 3 Celsius, critics would have a point. However, the stated range (2 to 4.5 Celsius) is incredibly broad and actually encapsulates the views of pretty well the entire field....... with a very small number of obvious exceptions. This is why most working climate scientists as well as the academies that have reviewed the science are happy to accept it.

    So the "scientific consensus" that I'm talking about really does encompass the views of the majority.

    I am categorically NOT using the consensus argument as an appeal to authority. It is NOT part of the evidence for AGW. However, this is very complex science and it is essential to have a good grasp of all aspects of it to draw the correct conclusions. Only those carrying out the research have this expertise. As Lazarus put it on a previous blog:

    ".... consensus isn’t important for the science it is important for the non scientist, the layman. I can’t know everything about the way chemicals affect the body, or evolution, or geology, neuroscience or astronomy. ........ I believe as a sceptic the only rational thing for people who can’t hope to be experts in everything is to accept that a consensus of experts is far more likely to be right than not."

    Paul

  • Comment number 57.

    Lazarus @ #55

    Our posts crossed....... and I have quoted from your excellent post on a previous thread. I hope you don't mind!

    Paul

  • Comment number 58.

    Pkthinks @ #54

    "He makes the point well, that enlightenment, or scientific advancement, begins with data or observations and proving a theory is true"

    I think you have that the wrong way around. As you've noted yourself, Sir Paul actually spoke of the importance of being able to prove that something is NOT true - the difference is absolutely crucial, because it is generally impossible to prove that a theory IS true. In other words, a hypothesis has to be FALSIFIABLE but can rarely be proven.

    "That co2 was overwhelmingly responsible for the majority of the predicted global warming was an ‘a priori’ in all discussions"

    In which discussions? I'm not remotely interested in what the media or blogs say (or Al Gore), it's what the scientific literature says that counts and this is reflected in the IPCC reports in WGI. Also, why are you so preoccupied with past discussions? It is the evidence available in the here and now that has convinced most of the scientific community, NOT the far lesser amount that was known 25 years ago when Hansen published his first model projections.

    "A modest global warming trend preceded this and was not part of the modern predictions re AGW and has little to do with the predicted warming in the 21st century"

    Indeed...... and if you were to read the IPCC report you would find that it is discussed in detail, together with the likely reasons for it.

    "So what do you believe the consenus view (which part) constitutes in terms of evidence???"

    When I talk of the consensus, I'm referring to the IPCC position, as WGI is really a literature review which summarises the available evidence. The overwhelming majority of working climate scientists as well as most of the World's major science academies have endorsed the IPCC's position. What very few bloggers seem to appreciate is that the IPCC clearly lays out the uncertainties for each sub-topic and this is what allows most scientists to support it.

    Paul

  • Comment number 59.

    Pkthinks (continued)

    "The observation that the predictions were realised would be essential and even then the attribution would have to be proven not assumed for the scientific test to have been passed."

    No! As stated above, it is almost impossible for attribution to be proven. The best that can be done is to eliminate known alternative mechanisms.

    Regarding predictions, I think you maybe misunderstand what scientists talk about when testing predictions against observations. This isn’t just about models. It's also about the other things I mentioned in post #32. Greenhouse theory predicts the following, all of which have been confirmed by observations:

    "...... it predicts nights warming faster than days, winters warming faster than summers, a cooling stratosphere, reduced outgoing radiation in wavebands specific to greenhouse gases, increased back radiation, past climate being warmer when solar activity was much lower ......... all of the above can ONLY be explained by greenhouse warming."

    As for the models themselves, far too many bloggers believe that if global temperature falls below the central trend line for model projections even for a relatively short period of time, this falsifies the theory. This is nonsense for a number of reasons:

    The projections are based on scenarios which don't necessarily reflect actual forcings. In this case we know that solar activity has fallen and sulphate aerosols increased, both of which have a cooling effect. It is how the models perform as HINDCASTS which gives a truer reflection of their accuracy, as the hindcasts are based on the ACTUAL forcings.

    The model ensemble will never predict the natural peaks and troughs in the real data - only the long-term trend. So drawing conclusions about the performance of the models based on just 11 years of data since the last projections were made is BAD SCIENCE.

    The model ensemble actually encompasses models with a variety of different sensitivities and the IPCC have stated that the real temperature trend could fall ANYWHERE within the range (shown in grey in the Realclimate article you linked to). So the fact that the temperature trend is currently towards the bottom of the range does not invalidate the science. If the trend were to remain in the lower half of the range in the long term it would simply indicate that climate sensitivity is towards the bottom of the IPCC's stated range of 2 to 4.5 Celsius.

    Paul

  • Comment number 60.

    Speaking of the IPCC check out this overview of their beloved leader

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/magazine/issue/2012/3/the-fictive-world-of-rajendra-pachauri

    I love this bit

    "Gaffes notwithstanding, Pachauri is too committed to his “cause” to step down. It’s worth asking, what precisely is this “cause”? In a 5000-word interview with Nature he said it was not the global warming threat but something more important.[51] “I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it” [emphasis added]. The “major structural changes” he wants involve transferring wealth from the West to developing countries—such as India—leading to a convergence of living standards. The West thereby pays for its past sins of emission. Climate Professor Fred Singer waspishly describes this as shifting money “from the poor in rich countries to the rich in poor ones”

    Who'd a thunk it!

  • Comment number 61.

    Pkthinks (continued)

    "So do you really believe the consensus view is more important than future observations?"

    No! Future observations are part of the EVIDENCE on which scientists will base their conclusions. However, consensus is also important – this is because, in a complex science such as this (where incomplete understanding can lead to wholly wrong conclusions being drawn), it is the experts who are best placed to draw the CORRECT conclusions. Sir Paul Nurse is one of the leading champions of this principle.

    Paul

  • Comment number 62.

    @5. QuaesoVeritas

    Further UAH Ch 5 landmark, March opens with the lowest daily March value for a decade, tis but only a day and this planet does not understand our designation of “months” but we do and we are stuck with it.

    So now we have 3 consecutive of our months recording their lowest daily levels for a decade, the previous two went on to also record their lowest monthly averages for a decade, whether March will do the same is yet to be seen.

    Not sure that it will happen, according to Reynolds, SSTs anomalies are showing a significant move towards warming, though it is not clear when these will feed through to global average temps. Time will tell.

    http://nomad1.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?ctlfile=oiv2.ctl&ptype=ts&var=ssta&level=1&op1=none&op2=none&day=01&month=jan&year=2010&fday=22&fmonth=feb&fyear=2012&lat0=-90&lat1=90&lon0=-180&lon1=180&plotsize=800x600&title=&dir=

    However if Ryan Maue’s latest predictive tool has any inherent skill we should not be expecting it to show though before the 20th of the month at the earliest. It will be interesting to watch developments.

    http://policlimate.com/weather/current/ext_raw_temp_c.html

  • Comment number 63.

    Paul Briscoe

    re #58



    'a hypothesis has to be FALSIFIABLE' ,

    No.... its the NULL hypothesis that has to be falsifiable that’s the standard test

    The 'a priori' assumption of CO2 attribution evolved from Hansen’s original 1988 paper and the politicking around this, where CO2 is immediately identified as the main concern amongst CO2, CH4 and N2O

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1988/1988_Hansen_etal.pdf

    Forward 10 years to MBH 1998 where they concluded
    ‘it is reasonable to infer CO2 is the dominant forcing agent’
    ( because its increase in the previous 50 years correlated with warming in the Hockey stick)

    Therefore, it was assumed and stated in the AR4 commentary (reaffirmation)that anything consistent with CO2 forcing would be assumed to be Anthropogenic

    'in practice attribution of anthropogenic climate
    change is understood to mean demonstration that a detected
    change is ‘consistent with the estimated responses to the given
    combination of anthropogenic and natural forcing’ and ‘not
    consistent with alternative, physically plausible explanations of
    recent climate change that exclude important elements of the
    given combination of forcings’.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter9.pdf

  • Comment number 64.

    Paul Briscoe re 59,61

    As above re the first part

    But while you suggest all kinds of observed phenomena are relevant and I agree, I DO NOT agree we can just say there is a correlation so cause and effect is proven.

    Re conclusive proof of attribution it is certainly clear this kind of complex observational science is not going to allow randomised controlled studies of mother earths with different levels of CO2

    ‘Only caused by greenhouse warming’ and Hindcasts are something that are part of the same arguments relating to the scientific method

    If Hindcasts were blinded predictions not calibrated by previous observations they would be of some importance but truthfully thats how the models were ‘modelled’
    We are much more concerned with the future as you yourself point out

    We of course agree on 15-17 years being required for models and predictions to be ‘falsifiable’ but if the observations leave the lower 95% CI for some years as with the Hansen models, the current models are disproved unless there is a rapid reversal

  • Comment number 65.

    Pkthinks @ #63

    "its the NULL hypothesis that has to be falsifiable that’s the standard test"

    That is certainly true, but a scientific hypothesis also means nothing if it is not possible to falsify it. See around the 5 minute mark in this excellent video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV1SqGINnP8

    "The 'a priori' assumption of CO2 attribution evolved from Hansen’s original 1988 paper and the politicking around this, where CO2 is immediately identified as the main concern amongst CO2, CH4 and N2O"

    Sorry, but the idea that CO2 is the main concern is based on sound scientific evidence and the physical/chemical properties of the different gases, NOT "politicking". Again, I suggest that you read the relevant section in IPCC AR4.

    "Forward 10 years to MBH 1998 where they concluded ‘it is reasonable to infer CO2 is the dominant forcing agent’ "

    Without going back to the paper (which I've read in the past) I can't comment on the context (context is always key in such things). However, based on the available evidence, CO2 IS the dominant forcing agent.

    "Therefore, it was assumed and stated in the AR4 commentary (reaffirmation)that anything consistent with CO2 forcing would be assumed to be Anthropogenic"

    The problem is that the section you've quoted doesn't actually say that. It specifically states that attribution also requires demonstration that the change is ‘not consistent with alternative, physically plausible explanations of recent climate change that exclude important elements of the given combination of forcings’. This is absolutely key and is something I've mentioned a lot over recent threads - it's not just about evidence for AGW, it's equally about the LACK of evidence for other mechanisms.

    Paul

  • Comment number 66.

    64. Pkthinks wrote:

    "...if the observations leave the lower 95% CI for some years as with the Hansen models, the current models are disproved unless there is a rapid reversal"

    You're overlooking a very important point about the Hansen and IPCC FAR models, etc. They were predicated upon increasing emissions of CFCs *as well as* CO2, etc. 'Business as usual' in 1988 or 1990 is not the same thing at all as 'business as usual' today.

    CFCs are extremely powerful greenhouse gases. Their emission was controlled by the Montreal Protocol (I think) around the early 1990s. Hansen and FAR had no way of knowing that this would happen and they modelled their future 'BaU' scenarios on factoring in CFC emissions. So don't compare apples with oranges. Who knows what 'business as usual' will mean in 20 years' time?

  • Comment number 67.

    Pkthinks @ #64

    "I DO NOT agree we can just say there is a correlation so cause and effect is proven."

    .... except that the scientists are NOT actually saying that. The following excellent article from Prof John Nielsen-Gammon explains exactly why such a correlation on its own means nothing:

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/02/the-null-and-void-hypothesis/

    As stated above, it is the ability to eliminate other potential mechanisms which makes it possible to attribute warming to CO2.

    "If Hindcasts were blinded predictions not calibrated by previous observations they would be of some importance but truthfully thats how the models were ‘modelled’"

    In his model FAQ article at Realclimate, Gavin Schmidt, who is a World authority on climate modelling, specifically addressed the question: "Are climate models just a fit to the trend in the global temperature data?". He gave the following response:

    "No............Model development actually does not use the trend data in tuning. Instead, modellers work to improve the climatology of the model (the fit to the average conditions), and it’s intrinsic variability (such as the frequency and amplitude of tropical variability). The resulting model is pretty much used ‘as is’ in hindcast experiments for the 20th Century."

    So the hindcasts, fed with actual forcings, are indeed a good indication of the effectiveness of the models.

    "..but if the observations leave the lower 95% CI for some years as with the Hansen models, the current models are disproved unless there is a rapid reversal"

    That's correct, as I've already stated further up this thread....... unless, of course, some other substantial negative forcing were to suddenly come into play.

    Paul

  • Comment number 68.

    For those of you that like to think that global average temperature has a meaning, Dr Robert Brown has some interesting comments

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/04/global-annualized-temperature-full-of-snip-up-to-their-eyebrows/

  • Comment number 69.

    Just been reading that - somebody reminded me of you Spanglerboy!

  • Comment number 70.

    Bit lateintheday for me lateintheday

  • Comment number 71.

    to Lateintheday#21

    Our paths cross yet again!

    Don't be silly! That I should flatter myself to think that my own views are reinforced by "fine minds"! (Wow I must be clever mustn't I?) No, just listen to or read what the man has to say. Don't you think he has a fine mind?

    He actually didn't say that much about AGW scepticism- but in a way that made what he did say seem all the more telling - as if he felt that he had to nail this foolish irritation by mentioning the bleedin' obvious about consensus. And within the great panorama of the speech AGW scepticism seemed so small. I know Nurse is not a climate scientist - but he does know how science works. And above all he has respect for the integrity of his fellow scientists - which is more than can be said for many commentators on this blog. That is what I mean.

    Incidentally I was being sarcastic about Brown's "scientific language" - sounded a touch too much like someone trying to sell KFC - or is that being too cheeky for your reverential view of said Dr.?

  • Comment number 72.

    Paul Briscoe wrote:

    Lazarus @ #55

    " I have quoted from your excellent post on a previous thread. I hope you don't mind!"

    Flattered. Paul H's last thread closed before I could comment but your #64 &#66 comments are crying out to be turned into a blog post. You really should think about getting them a wider audience.

  • Comment number 73.

    Actually Jkiller - I admit, I didn't bother listening to the link you gave to Sir Paul Nurse. The reason being that although I've no doubt that he is an excellent biologist, his behaviour in the infamous Horizon programme was to my mind, shoddy. Quite the opposite of that which you would expect of an intelligent man, seeking to uncover the reason why joe public's 'faith' in science is waning. To my mind, he simply ended up providing a perfect example of why trust is waning.
    He did himself no favours in taking on AGW skepticism and choosing Delingpole as his victim. Yes - he scored some cheap points - well done. Perhaps next time he'll pick on a six year old - should be some easy points there too. The fact is, he spoke to a couple of consensus climate scientists in a very buddy, buddy fashion and didn't ask one difficult question. He didn't even bother checking his facts which led to him squirming afterwards, as others pointed out the mistake. So why didn't he speak at length with McIintyre, Watts or Montford if he wanted to explore skepticism seriously? Simple - he didn't dare face people who knew more about it than him.

    Great scientist perhaps, but I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

  • Comment number 74.

  • Comment number 75.

    #55. - Lazarus wrote:
    "If so, you believe that it is invalid for cancer patients to be treated using the range of treatments developed by research and deemed to be the most effective we currently have by a consensus of scientists."
    I don't believe that is a valid argument.
    Just because the consensus of medical scientists is correct on cancer research (or heart surgery in the case of Paul Nurse), doesn't make the consensus of scientists on "climate change" correct. If 95% of cancer patients and heart patients died as a result of medical intervention, I doubt if there would be as much faith in medical science. "Climate science" is probably at the equivalent stage of research that cancer treatment and heart surgery was in about 50 years ago.

  • Comment number 76.

    @74, ukpahonta,

    Surprised to see that Peter Gleick wasn't on the list; he ticks all the boxes and is very strong on ethics. ;)

  • Comment number 77.

    56. Paul Briscoe wrote:

    "I was in a rush earlier and on reflection I have been far more dismissive of your post than I should have been. Apologies for that. In future I will just leave my posts until I have more time to collect my thoughts!"

    No worries Paul, we all bounce around inside this little box of ours and sometimes it is inevitable that we will hit the sides a little too hard.

    Many thanks for the reply.

  • Comment number 78.

    #62. - greensand wrote:
    "So now we have 3 consecutive of our months recording their lowest daily levels for a decade, the previous two went on to also record their lowest monthly averages for a decade, whether March will do the same is yet to be seen."
    Yes, while AQUA daily temperatures are rising, it is easy to forget how low they still are in relation to previous years, and even 2011.
    Ch5-8 temperatures still seem to be rising strongly, but the ch 6-8 figures for March 2nd showed a slight fall in the 7 day mean daily change, which in the past has preceded a actual fall in temperatures by about 5-7 days, which would suggest that the start of the next declining phase might be round about the 9th. Of course that is dependent on past patterns repeating themselves and there is no real reason why that should be the case.

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 RobWansbeck,

    Cannon fodder : Untouchables

  • Comment number 80.

    I finally got around to listening to the Sir Paul Nurse lecture and I didn't hear anything which I disagreed with too much. Clearly this was used as an appeal for more funding for science, which I am not against.
    I did detect a couple of digs at "catastrophic global warming" in the lecture, as in :
    "Others argue that warming is not taking place at all or that it will happen in a catastrophic way. But they have failed to persuade the majority of climate experts, who have judged the scientific arguments made to support those more extreme views as being too weak to be convincing. "
    I did think his apparent total belief in the "goodness" of science to be a little naive, since science has produced a lot of evil as well as good and in a way, it could be argued that if "climate change" is happening, it is almost entirely a result of scientific development.
    Also, I doubt if he would have been so confident in trusting his health to medical science if it's success rate was as low as the predictions made so far by climate science.

  • Comment number 81.

    80. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "I doubt if he would have been so confident in trusting his health to medical science if it's success rate was as low as the predictions made so far by climate science."

    Have you any specific examples of unsuccessful climate science "predictions"?

  • Comment number 82.

    80. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "Ch5-8 temperatures still seem to be rising strongly, but the ch 6-8 figures for March 2nd showed a slight fall in the 7 day mean daily change, which in the past has preceded a actual fall in temperatures by about 5-7 days"

    Thanks for that QV. I have been plotting the relationships between the channels. Ch8 minus Ch7 etc, results at present are as clear as mud!

    Your 5 to 7 day lag is interesting will watch with interest.

  • Comment number 83.

    #81. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "Have you any specific examples of unsuccessful climate science "predictions"?"
    Most of the IPCC climate model global temperature forecasts.

  • Comment number 84.

    There is a pdf file of the Sir Paul Nurse Richard Dimbleby Lecture here:
    http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/people/fellows/2012-02-29-Dimbleby.pdf

  • Comment number 85.

    @31, Paul Briscoe wrote:

    “ If we were talking about one or two proxy studies with small temperature fluctuations he might have a point, but we're not. We're talking multiple studies, using a variety of different methods, all showing the same thing....... “

    You keep repeating this claim yet you consistently fail to give an example that would allow readers to draw their own conclusions. I'm not surprised since the multiple studies showing the same thing are far from independent.

    Then in post #67 you link to JNG's 'null and void hypothesis' post. His 'null and void hypothesis' is not the hypothesis that climate change is outside the bounds of natural variability but the hypothesis that the climate isn't changing at all.

    Another hypothesis which is null and void is the hypothesis put forward by your multiple studies that climate change was negligible in the thousand years before the twentieth century.

  • Comment number 86.

    83. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    Re: "Have you any specific examples of unsuccessful climate science "predictions"?"

    Most of the IPCC climate model global temperature forecasts."
    _____________

    It is incorrect for you to say that these have been unsuccessful, since they have not yet run their course. Presently, the measured surface temperatures are well within the envelope of climate model runs: http://www.realclimate.org/images/model11.jpg

  • Comment number 87.

    85. RobWansbeck:

    This is a link to a graph showing the smoothed means of 10 published NH palaeoclimate reconstructions for the past 2,000 years. These used evidence variously from tree rings, boreholes and lake and ocean sediments, or in some cases (Moberg, 2005) a combination of these. Links to the relevant papers are also given.

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

    None of the reconstruction means were as warm as the instrument data, which is zeroed here to 2004.

  • Comment number 88.

    lateintheday @ #73

    As stated before, I'm of the opinion that your criticisms of Sir Paul Nurse's programme on the BBC are very unfair. His behaviour was not remotely "shoddy". It has provoked criticism from people who found his message unpalatable.

    "He did himself no favours in taking on AGW skepticism and choosing Delingpole as his victim."

    Why?! Delingpole arrogantly proclaims on his blog that he's "right about everything" and he influences public opinion with what he writes. He openly admits that he never reads the scientific literature (which is what the scientific debate SHOULD be based on) and instead bases his claims, most of which are demonstrably false, on views expressed by fake sceptics on blogs. Frankly, anyone who puts themselves forwards as an expert on climate change and in doing so misleads the public DESERVES to be taken down a peg or two!

    "The fact is, he spoke to a couple of consensus climate scientists in a very buddy, buddy fashion and didn't ask one difficult question."

    The scientists make their statements through the scientific literature...... and that's the big difference - most of those attacking the science do not.

    "He didn't even bother checking his facts which led to him squirming afterwards, as others pointed out the mistake."

    As I pointed out on a recent thread, it was actually those attacking Sir Paul who were being disingenuous, because it was the form of words they put forwards that was actually misleading. It was absolutely obvious to anyone objective who was watching the programme that they were discussing the reasons for the increase in atmospheric CO2. Yes, they neglected to use the word "net", but that would have been lost on most viewers anyway. The fuss being made about this actually tells us far more about the agenda of those attacking Sir Paul than it does about him!

    "So why didn't he speak at length with McIintyre, Watts or Montford if he wanted to explore skepticism seriously? Simple - he didn't dare face people who knew more about it than him."

    Excuse me! Sir Paul actually spoke to Dr Fred Singer, who is INFINTELY more qualified than the individuals you mentioned to discuss climate science. He also happens to be the founder of SEPP and editor/lead author of the NIPCC reports.

    Paul

  • Comment number 89.

    QV @#75

    "Just because the consensus of medical scientists is correct on cancer research (or heart surgery in the case of Paul Nurse), doesn't make the consensus of scientists on "climate change" correct."

    That's not the point Lazarus is making. In fact, the consensus on cancer treatment and heart surgery probably isn't "correct" - it is simply the best understanding based on the evidence currently available to science. The same applies to the IPCC reports.

    The most important point about scientific consensus is surely the one that I quoted from Lazarus at post #56:

    "the only rational thing for people who can’t hope to be experts in everything is to accept that a consensus of experts is far more likely to be right than not."

    Paul

  • Comment number 90.

    RobWansbeck @ #85

    You do have a thing about those hockey sticks don't you Rob?...... to the point that you presume that I'm talking about them even when I'm not!

    If you'd checked the context of my comment (ie. not the Holocene), you'd have realised that I was talking about the multiple lines of proxy evidence from the ice cores and fossil record described by Prof Richard Alley in this video:

    http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

    Also, my link to John Nielsen-Gammon was in response to a claim by Pkthinks that scientists were simply correlating CO2 and temperature and presuming a causal link between the two. JNG's article graphically explains why such an approach doesn't prove anything at all on its own.

    Paul

  • Comment number 91.

    #86. - newdwr54 wrote:
    "It is incorrect for you to say that these have been unsuccessful, since they have not yet run their course. Presently, the measured surface temperatures are well within the envelope of climate model runs: http://www.realclimate.org/images/model11.jpg"
    You say "well within", I would say "just within".
    If heart surgery results were in the lower 25% of the range of possible outcomes, then that wouldn't be very successful.

  • Comment number 92.

    91. QuaesoVeritas wrote:

    "If heart surgery results were in the lower 25% of the range of possible outcomes, then that wouldn't be very successful."

    But you're not comparing like with like. First, there have not yet been any 'outcomes' for the climate models. Second, the range of model outcomes would be equally unsuccessful if actual temperatures ended up in the 'upper' 25% of the range of possible outcomes; whereas that would certainly be considered successful in the heart surgery analogy.

  • Comment number 93.

    newdwr54 @ #87

    Your graph almost certainly doesn't include the most recent NH proxy studies by Ljungqvist et al (2012):

    http://www.clim-past.net/8/227/2012/cp-8-227-2012.html

    The full text (pdf) is linked to on the above page.

    This paper is significant because it is written by someone who has no connection whatsoever to "the team" and uses a slightly different approach. You'll note that Ljungqvist only compares earlier periods to the 20th century mean and his "time series" plots (Figure 4) therefore do not show the most recent period of rapid warming. Even so, the "blades" of the hockey sticks are already apparent and would obviously be much longer if the instrumental data up to the end of the century were plotted. Ljungqvist himself concludes:

    "...our results show the rate of warming from the 19th to the 20th century is clearly the largest between any two consecutive centuries in the past 1200 yr."

    Paul

  • Comment number 94.

    93. Paul Briscoe:

    Thanks Paul. No, the Wiki graph does not include Ljungqvist et al (2012).

    I see they used "ice-cores, pollen, marine sediments, lake sediments, tree-rings, speleothems and historical documentary data." That can fairly be described as a 'variety of different methods'.

    I admit that I had to look 'speleothems' up; and then, of course, I realised that I really knew what they were all along (but just not by that name!!).

  • Comment number 95.

    #66 newdwr54

    Even though CFCs levels have been moderated(not ozone loss over the antarctic in recent times), they were a much smaller percentage of forcing than other GHGs which have increased beyond expectations at that time if anything

    No one is expecting model predictions to apply if dramatic change in the biosphere occurs

    Hansen's models on the other hand although a first attempt were seriously overheated

  • Comment number 96.

    #67 Paul Briscoe

    Calibration is different to tuning, the algorithms used in the models make extensive use of the past observations for calibration, and special events such as eruptions etc,

    My understanding is that tuning would mean extending the trends to force a match whereas the hindcast is the forcing models and past observations allowed to realise themselves as a valid model of the past events rather than a prediction of future ones


    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/an-excellent-multi-decadal-global-climate-model-hindcast-evaluation-by-bob-tisdale/

  • Comment number 97.

    95. Pkthinks:

    Again I think you are underestimating the CFC issue. Although these were released in much smaller quantities than CO2, etc, they were (from memory) hundreds of times more powerful, per mole, as a GHG.

    One simple point people overlook about Hansen's early projection is that at least he got the direction right. In 1988 there were still people saying the earth would cool, or remain at a constant temperature.

    Admittedly this is a 50/50; but if you look at his early projection objectively, i.e. remove his presumed increases in CFCs, and filter out natural variation such as volcanoes and ENSO, then be honest: his projection was reasonably good.

  • Comment number 98.

    #73lateintheday and #88 Paul Briscoe and #80Quaesoveritas

    I have to admit I cant help admiring Paul Nurse as a great scientist and brilliant advocate for science in general
    but feel he should have read a little more (like Dellingpole) before going on Horizon to brand all sceptics anti-science (to fulfil his new political role)

    He was like a politician wheeled out with a brief and I feel Horizon was not his finest moment

    Lateintheday I think you should listen (or read) to Paul Nurse's lecture , much to admire and interestingly very balanced comments about global warming as QV picked up

    Paul Briscoe feels I got it the wrong way round in #58.. I dont think so, because that assumes the science is settled, its not

  • Comment number 99.

    #97newdwr54

    I don't mean to underestimate the importance of CFCs but they havent gone away, so I accept this takes away a portion of the anthropogenic forcing and Hansen certainly considers it important

    http://www.pnas.org/content/98/26/14778.long

  • Comment number 100.

    Paul Briscoe said . .
    "Frankly, anyone who puts themselves forwards as an expert on climate change and in doing so misleads the public DESERVES to be taken down a peg or two!"
    Does that include Trenberth, Mann Hansen et al. No? well surely Rahmstorf and Foster then. How about Gleick? (and the list goes on)

    I think you've made up your mind about AGW before the science is strong enough to support it. Your multiple lines of evidence/big picture/jigsaw puzzle arguments are beginning to sound like rhetoric. "No - don't look at the detail - that's not important" is the same technique salesmen have employed for centuries. Maybe that's what annoyed you so much about the Robert Brown post - it was too close to home.

    You say Delingpole deserved it because he's not climate scientist. Well, neither are McIntyre, Watts or Montford and they all have a far greater influence. Let's face it, he picked on Delingpole because it was an easy target. Nurse probably chose to speak to Singer for the same reason - because bright as he is, Singer is 87 years old! Oh, Nurse really puts it all on the line doesn't he.

    Fake skeptic - I know it's used a lot at SkS but what exactly does it mean? You see to my mind, it implies that someone is pretending to be skeptical - rather like all of those who run SkS. Or perhaps someone who constantly reminds us that all scientists are skeptics by nature, and then shows absolutely no sign whatsoever, of challenging a word that the consensus breathe. Maybe I've got that mixed up with fake scientist.

 

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