Reposted in its entirety from Climate Science
By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. University of Colorado
There was an interesting news article in the Guardian on December 6 2008 by James Randerson titled Explainer: Coolest year since 2000
The article reads
“This year is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released next week by the Met Office. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07.
The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing, say climate scientists at the Met Office. “Absolutely not,” said Dr Peter Stott, the manager of understanding and attributing climate change at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre. “If we are going to understand climate change we need to look at long-term trends.”
Prof Myles Allen at Oxford University, who runs the climateprediction.net website, said he feared climate sceptics would overinterpret the figure: “You can bet your life there will be a lot of fuss about what a cold year it is. Actually no, it’s not been that cold a year, but the human memory is not very long. We are used to warm years.”
The Met Office had predicted 2008 would be cooler than recent years due to a La Niña event, characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean – the mirror image of the El Niño climate cycle.
Allen was presenting the data on this year’s global average temperature at the Appleton Space Conference at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Didcot, yesterday. The 14.3C figure is based on data from January to October. When the Met Office makes its formal announcement next week they will incorporate data from November. “[The figure] will differ from it, but it won’t differ massively,” said Stott.
Assuming the final figure is close to 14.3C then 2008 will be the 10th hottest year on record. Hottest was 1998, followed by 2005, 2003 and 2002.
In March a team of climate scientists at Kiel University predicted that natural variation would mask the 0.3C warming predicted by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change over the next decade.”
Lets do a reality check.
The statement that “The relatively chilly temperatures compared with recent years are not evidence that global warming is slowing” mixes up regional and global temperatures changes. Also, there has been no global warming in the last 4 years (at least; e.g. see). Global warming has stopped for the last few years.
The statement that “In March a team of climate scientists at Kiel University predicted that natural variation would mask the 0.3C warming predicted by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change over the next decade” is scientifically incorrect. Heating cannot be ”masked”.
As given in the examples below, the news releases provided by the UK Met Office make for interesting reading and show the complexity and difficulty of skillful season climate prediction.
Thus why should there be any confidence in the forecasts regarding climate change in the longer term?
Examples of UK Met Office News releases
“The Met Office forecast of global mean temperature for 2007, issued on 4 January 2007 in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, stated that 2007 is likely to be the warmest ever year on record going back to 1850, beating the current record set in 1998.”
This did not occur.
2. On April 3 2008 they wrote in a news release “A typical British summer”
“The coming summer is expected to be a ‘typical British summer’, according to long-range forecasts issued today. Summer temperatures across the UK are more likely to be warmer than average and rainfall near or above average for the three months of summer.”
On August 29 2008 they published a news release titled “Wet summer could end with a bang” where they write
“The return to unsettled weather will mark the end of the meteorological summer which has been one of the wettest on record across the UK.”
I suppose that rainfall “near or above average” fits what actually occurred but this is hardly a particularly precise or useful forecast.
3. On September 25 2008 they wrote in a news release “Trend of mild winters continues”
“The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.”
They qualified this news release with the article on November 25 2008 titled “A cold start to winter” where they wrote
“The latest update to the Met Office winter forecast suggests that although the coming winter will have temperatures near or above average, it is very likely that December will be colder than normal.”
Now, in addition to a news release on December 9 2008 they published an article ”El Niño gives colder European winters”, which states
Sarah Ineson, climate research scientist at the Met Office says: “We have shown evidence of an active stratospheric role in the transition to cold conditions in northern Europe and mild conditions in southern Europe in late winter during El Niño years”.
The message in th UK Met Office press releases is that, since their is such poor skill with seasonal weather prediction, multi-decadal climate prediction must be a much less precise and accurate science than we have heard promoted by the IPCC and in the climate change press releases given out by the UK Met Office and others.