A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends Update: Warming Crisis Not

by Chip Knappenberger at Master Resource

Back in October 2009, my post “A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends” examined the many different statements that could be made to describe the tendencies of global temperatures over the past 20 years. I concluded that anything from rapid cooling to a faster than expected warming could be supported by carefully picking through the available data.

Now, more than a year later, and after one of the “warmest years on record,” I’ve updated my analysis so that any new statements characterizing global temperature can be evaluated against the complete set of recent observations.

In general, I find that statements such as “global warming has stopped” should be tempered, at least for the time being. But I conclude that my original article’s summary remains applicable:

What I can say for certain, is that the recent behavior of global temperatures demonstrates that global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than that projected by the ensemble of climate models, and that global warming is most definitely not accelerating.

I say “more or less” because one could argue from the data (as we’ll see below) that the warming rate during recent years has upticked with the warmth in 2010 indicating a warming that is occurring faster than projected and is accelerating. But, I think that this represents a temporary condition.

In due course (say over the next several months), the warmth in 2010 will continue to subside as the cooling influence from a Pacific La Niña event supplants the warming influence of last year’s El Niño (see here for example). This will have the effect of flattening out recent temperature trends and returning them once again to lower-than-projected values. I imagine that we’ll see such an impact when it comes time again for me to produce an update to this update.

But until that time, I’ll describe the situation as it presents itself data available through December 2010.

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I recommend that you read the entire article at Master Resource

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21 Responses to A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends Update: Warming Crisis Not

  1. Latitude says:

    We’re talking about a 1/2 degree in a 1/2 century, right

    …and all of that fudged

  2. pkatt says:

    I agree. I’ve started to see the ice age rhetoric starting up and I think that is rather premature too. Earth does not have a constant climate. I don’t care how many times you hear that, it is just not true. Earth also does not have a perfect climate. What may be good for one latitude may not be so great for another.

    There are so many tiny interactions on this planet we do not understand. Mother Earth has been around way longer than us puny humans and has a whole lot more going on then any supercomputer can calculate. I don’t care how good your model is. Case in point. We have yet to build a working habitat that is self sustainable.

    I cringe whenever I hear a scientist say that we can control anything on this Earth. Apparently the one law of nature humans have more trouble with than any other is the law of unintended consequences. Science needs to go back into the business of observation and stop making up movie of the week disaster scenarios. We need to know more about the cool things mother nature is doing without all the end of the world rhetoric. It would be nice to be able to trust a source and not to have to worry what agenda they are selling.

    Imagine if the current atmosphere existed when we were trying to land on the moon. We would never have gone because they would have told us all of the worst case scenarios and instead of letting us explore the bounds of human ingenuity and spirit. I miss science sometimes………

  3. Scott Covert says:

    That’s not a blog post, that’s an advertisment for a blog post.

  4. George E. Smith says:

    Well the CO2 is still going up; but the global warming is logarithmic with that, so it should be flatteneing out; doncha think ?

  5. Alan Clark says:

    If the warming does indeed, “continue to subside” they’ll simply re-adjust the temperature record to make previous periods cooler as they have done in the past. Your “analysis” of the data condones the ethical transgressions?

  6. Rhoda R says:

    Yes, but can we rely on the data? Is there a set anywhere that hasn’t gone throught someone’s filter?

  7. pat says:

    There will be much more of these bizarre compilations of data trying to convince the freezing masses that it is warm somewhere else. Particularly given the overall cooling trend.

  8. John F. Hultquist says:

    With the temperature trend not doing what was expected of it we should expect more of the extreme events being pushed as the real response to CO2 and, when historical studies show that direction to be a false hope the ocean “acidification” doom-soon crisis will follow. That won’t work either but they will give it a mighty try. When all the nonsense is throw up and found to not float perhaps we can get on with solving a real problem.

  9. DesertYote says:

    pkatt
    February 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    “Earth also does not have a perfect climate.”
    ###

    Yes it does. The Earrrths climate obeys the laws of physics perfectly. Its our expectations that are screwy. Personally, I would not mind the thermostat being turned up 2 degrees C or so. I hate the cold!

  10. JJ says:

    Chip,

    When you calc significance for your trends, are you using monthly anomaly vlaues or the annual averages?

    Have you considered a graph that, instead of plotting the trend forward to the present from each year, plots the trend backward from that year by some fixed period? Say, 10-15 years? Or, plotting backward from each year the trend for the shortest period for which the trend is significant? Either or both of those would be useful in putting the most recent data into better perspective.

    Thanks

  11. pcknappenberger says:

    JJ (February 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm):

    I calculated the trends through monthly anomalies.

    And thanks for the suggestions, perhaps I’ll look into them.

    -Chip

  12. Girma says:

    Chip

    What I can say for certain, is that the recent behavior of global temperatures demonstrates that global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than that projected by the ensemble of climate models, and that global warming is most definitely not accelerating.

    Here is the data that supports the above statement:

    http://bit.ly/gMAfzS

  13. walt man says:

    Some cyclical temperature stuff here:
    http://tinyurl.com/6ecn3c2
    if there is a 60 year cycle and 100 year cycle to the temperature (from what????) and an underlying upward trend then the negative slope of the 60 year cycle will cancel (more than cancel) the upward trend from 2001 to 2023.
    However the trend upwards is continuous and on the next positive slope of the 60 year cycle the temperature again rises.

    The “simulation” will prove itself in about 15 years. Will this give time to take action???

    Walt

  14. racookpe1978 says:

    walt man says:
    February 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm (Edit)

    Some cyclical temperature stuff here:

    if there is a 60 year cycle and 100 year cycle to the temperature (from what????) and an underlying upward trend then the negative slope of the 60 year cycle will cancel (more than cancel) the upward trend from 2001 to 2023.
    However the trend upwards is continuous and on the next positive slope of the 60 year cycle the temperature again rises.

    The “simulation” will prove itself in about 15 years. Will this give time to take action???

    Please check that “simulation, and revise it for periods: There (appears to be) a 66-year “short climate cycle” oscilating between 1/6 to 1/4 of one degree PLUS a 800-1000 year “long climate cycle” of about 3/4 to 1-1/4 of one degree.

    Typo perhaps of your “100 year cycle”? Let the mods know.

    Depending on exactly what the real magnitudes of the long climate cycle and the short climate cycle are, their addition may become flat spots in a long-term “ramp” of temperatures- as is now between 1998 and today’s 2011 temperatures; or they may be seen as 1/4 to 1/2 degree “flips and spots” and “error bars” in the flatter peaks and troughs of the long-term cycle.

    Note that predicting what the short term and long term temperatures will be does NOT requrei a specific exact theory or a “reason” for the pattern. First must be the observation(s) themselves, the accurate data, and then and ONLY THEN can an adequate theory appear. (Or you might get errors and bad theories. The epicycles used before Copernicus were more accurate than his theoretical circular orbits. Tycho’s circular orbits were even less accurate than the Ptolemy’s epicycles! Newtonian elliptical orbits were adjusted by relativity after several hundred years of observations were in the books – BUT THE ORBIT ITSELF NEVER CHANGED. )

    With bad data, or with theorists attempting to prove a bad theory by manipulating their data to prop up their funding and their power, you make progress only backwards to a “consensus of the screaming ignorants”.

  15. BCC says:

    Cherry pick, indeed.

    I wonder why the author started with 1989? Why not 1979, the start of the satellite records?

    Here’s an exercise:

    1. Grab yourself some global temperature data (conveniently found here – http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/Various_Temp.xls – boo, hiss)
    2. Compute centered 11-year averages for each series from 1984 (1979-1989) to 2005 (2000-2010). Why 11 years? That should go without saying around here. Why 1979? Start of the UAH/RSS records, of course
    3. Plot the results
    4. Take the slope of each series. Interesting! UAH gives the lowest decadal trend at 0.164 deg/decade; RSS (the other satellite record), the highest at 0.195 deg C/decade. All the surface temp records are a bit below the RSS slope.

    This analysis is quick n dirty, is somewhat susceptible to peak/trough issues, etc. BUT: it doesn’t get fooled by a hot or cold year or two, and it uses data over significant time period (I’m sorry, I really don’t care what the e.g. 5 year trend in any temperature dataset shows).

  16. Brent Hargreaves says:

    Pat said (at 2:33 pm)
    “…. data trying to convince the freezing masses that it is warm somewhere else. Particularly given the overall cooling trend.”

    Yup. The Romanian dictator Ceaucescu told his people: “Food shortages here? Yes, but you’re lucky you’re not in the West. They’re starving there.” Maybe Dr. Pachauri would like to present the next IPCC report from Ceaucescu’s famous balcony?

  17. Walter Dnes says:

    Some more cherry-picking…

    NOAA ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/monthly.land_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat
    From March 2001 to latest available (December 2010) anomaly slope is -0.0233 C per century

    Hadley http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt
    From November 2000 to latest available (December 2010) anomaly slope is -0.0426 C per century

    RSS ftp://ftp.ssmi.com/msu/monthly_time_series/rss_monthly_msu_amsu_channel_tlt_anomalies_land_and_ocean_v03_3.txt
    From July 1997 to latest available (January 2011) anomaly slope is -0.0325 C per century

    Note that NOAA updates continuously as late data comes in, so may differ slightly when you check. I am not going to run around screaming “the coming ice age is coming!!!, the ice age is coming!!!” on the basis of those numbers.

  18. James Luko says:

    Indeed, it has been a great fallacy to even tout the concept of “global temperature” as there is NO global temperature- thus, it’s impossible to have “global” warming. Warming and cooling trends are not consistent globally, the trends occur regionally.

  19. J. Bob says:

    Here is a sample of a longer term outlook on temperature (HadCRUT3gl) using 3 different methods: MOV, 2-Pole “filtfilt” Chebushev & a Fourier Convolution. The time frame was a 10 year MOV, and a 0.1 cycles/year filter cut-off freq.

    http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/filter_er_10yr-g6l8y.jpg

    The three methods were used as a comparison between the methods, and to evaluate their strengths & weaknesses. The MOV “cuts out” before the end, which is not helpful, and the “filtfilt”, or forward & reverse recursive is subject to “reflection” conditions at the end. The Fourier does seem to give the best result, particularly at the end point.

    The upper figure shows the three filter methods, and their respective responses. The bottom figure is a little more interesting, in that it shows the difference between the Fourier Convolution filter response and the “raw” signal. Of more importance, it provides a metric to evaluate the filtered value error from the actual. It shows the difference is pretty much less then +/- 0.2 deg. over all, while the mean is virtually negligible. Assuming a Gaussian distribution, the 3 sigma error would be less then 0.3 deg. Probably better then most of the temperature data taken over the past 150 years.

  20. anonymous says:

    Does anyone besides me find it strange that most of the supposed warming that has supposedly happened is in places like the arctic or siberia or even deserts i’ve heard where no one lives?Also according to a ground surface temperature station, Nuuk in greenland has gotten 7 degrees warmer in the last 30 years.Urban greenhose effect maybe?

  21. Davidl says:

    While I am not a climate scientist, I do have 50+ years of experience observing weather. Notice that I too confuse the two…

    I spent the first 13 years in New England, in the 70’s. I can remember family discussion of the coming “ice age”, and what we should do. So, we moved to Florida. However, while in New England I clearly remember mountains of snow most winters. After we left to escape the advancing glacier, the snow petered-out. So much so that my uncle dissolved his snow-plowing business and sold-off all of his equipment. This year, there is snow – which to me is “normal”.

    Now to Florida. Lived there 23 years. And not once did the rapidly rising sea-levels cause me any inconvenience. See, in Florida the daily tides are around 3 feet. So, most of the coastal infrastructure (docks and such) are fixed rather than floating. 3 feet of differential is pretty easy to deal with. Given that the above is true, how is it that the “rapidly rising” sea levels have not made these fixed structures unusable? Maybe Florida exempted itself from “rapidly rising” sea levels through legislation…

    Anyway, until climate models can predict last years weather, I’ll continue not worrying.

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