By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
As Anthony and others have pointed out, even the New York Times has at last been constrained to admit what Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC was constrained to admit some months ago. There has been no global warming statistically distinguishable from zero for getting on for two decades.
The NYT says the absence of warming arises because skeptics cherry-pick 1998, the year of the Great el Niño, as their starting point. However, as Anthony explained yesterday, the stasis goes back farther than that. He says we shall soon be approaching Dr. Ben Santer’s 17-year test: if there is no warming for 17 years, the models are wrong.
Usefully, the latest version of the Hadley Centre/Climatic Research Unit monthly global mean surface temperature anomaly series provides not only the anomalies themselves but also the 2 σ uncertainties.
Superimposing the temperature curve and its least-squares linear-regression trend on the statistical insignificance region bounded by the means of the trends on these published uncertainties since January 1996 demonstrates that there has been no statistically-significant warming in 17 years 4 months:
On Dr. Santer’s 17-year test, then, the models may have failed. A rethink is needed.
The fact that an apparent warming rate equivalent to almost 0.9 Cº is statistically insignificant may seem surprising at first sight, but there are two reasons for it. First, the published uncertainties are substantial: approximately 0.15 Cº either side of the central estimate.
Secondly, one weakness of linear regression is that it is unduly influenced by outliers. Visibly, the Great el Niño of 1998 is one such outlier.
If 1998 were the only outlier, and particularly if it were the largest, going back to 1996 would be much the same as cherry-picking 1998 itself as the start date.
However, the magnitude of the 1998 positive outlier is countervailed by that of the 1996/7 la Niña. Also, there is a still more substantial positive outlier in the shape of the 2007 el Niño, against which the la Niña of 2008 countervails.
In passing, note that the cooling from January 2007 to January 2008 is the fastest January-to-January cooling in the HadCRUT4 record going back to 1850.
Bearing these considerations in mind, going back to January 1996 is a fair test for statistical significance. And, as the graph shows, there has been no warming that we can statistically distinguish from zero throughout that period, for even the rightmost endpoint of the regression trend-line falls (albeit barely) within the region of statistical insignificance.
Be that as it may, one should beware of focusing the debate solely on how many years and months have passed without significant global warming. Another strong el Niño could – at least temporarily – bring the long period without warming to an end. If so, the cry-babies will screech that catastrophic global warming has resumed, the models were right all along, etc., etc.
It is better to focus on the ever-widening discrepancy between predicted and observed warming rates. The IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report backcasts the interval of 34 models’ global warming projections to 2005, since when the world should have been warming at a rate equivalent to 2.33 Cº/century. Instead, it has been cooling at a rate equivalent to a statistically-insignificant 0.87 Cº/century:
The variance between prediction and observation over the 100 months from January 2005 to April 2013 is thus equivalent to 3.2 Cº/century.
The correlation coefficient is low, the period of record is short, and I have not yet obtained the monthly projected-anomaly data from the modelers to allow a proper p-value comparison.
Yet it is becoming difficult to suggest with a straight face that the models’ projections are healthily on track.
From now on, I propose to publish a monthly index of the variance between the IPCC’s predicted global warming and the thermometers’ measurements. That variance may well inexorably widen over time.
In any event, the index will limit the scope for false claims that the world continues to warm at an unprecedented and dangerous rate.
UPDATE: Lucia’s Blackboard has a detailed essay analyzing the recent trend, written by SteveF, using an improved index for accounting for ENSO, volcanic aerosols, and solar cycles. He concludes the best estimate rate of warming from 1997 to 2012 is less than 1/3 the rate of warming from 1979 to 1996. Also, the original version of this story incorrectly referred to the Washington Post, when it was actually the New York Times article by Justin Gillis. That reference has been corrected.- Anthony
- The warming ‘plateau’ may extend back even further (wattsupwiththat.com)
- Are We in a Pause or a Decline? (Now Includes at Least April* Data) (wattsupwiththat.com)
- The Met Drops Its Basis For Claim Of “Significant” Warming (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Benchmarking IPCC’s warming predictions (wattsupwiththat.com)
- WUWT: 150 million hits and counting (wattsupwiththat.com)