Global Lower Tropospheric Temperature Report: December 2009 And For The Year 2009

January 8, 2010

The December 2009 and year 2009 University of Alabama at Huntsville lower tropospheric MSU temperature data is available. Thanks to Phillip Gentry and John Christy for alerting us to these figures]. I have several comments following the figures.

This data shows why the focus needs to be on the regional scale and that a global average is not of much use in describing weather that all of us experience.

The news media seem to continue to avoid this perspective. For example, in the article Snow, ice and the bigger picture

excerpts read

“Rather than seeking vindication or catastrophe in this cold snap, now is a good time to remind ourselves that weather, like death and taxes, will always be with us. Spectacular regional swings in temperature and precipitation, sometimes lasting for months, often emerge from the natural jostlings of atmosphere and ocean. By themselves, none of these prove or disprove a human role in climate change.”

“What’s different now is that climate change is shifting the odds towards record-hot summers and away from record-cold winters. The latter aren’t impossible; they’re just harder to get, like scoring a straight flush on one trip to Vegas and a royal flush the next.”

“If you’re craving a scapegoat for this winter, consider the Arctic oscillation. The AO is a measure of north-south differences in air pressure between the northern midlatitudes and polar regions. When the AO is positive, pressures are unusually high to the south and low to the north. This helps shuttle weather systems quickly across the Atlantic, often bringing warm, wet conditions to Europe. In the past month, however, the AO has dipped to astoundingly low levels – among the lowest observed in the past 60 years. This has gummed up the hemisphere’s usual west-to-east flow with huge “blocking highs” that route frigid air southward.”

“Handy as it is, the AO describes more than it explains. Forecasters still don’t know exactly what sends the AO into one mode or the other, just as the birth of an El Niño is easier to spot than to predict.”

See also the post at Dot Earth by Andy Revkin titled  Cold Arctic Pressure Pattern Nearly Off Chart

The obvious response to these claims is that if we cannot predict weather features such as the Arctic oscillation or an El Niño under current climate, how can anyone credibly claim we have predictive skill decades into the future from both natural and human caused climate forcings? The short answer is that they cannot.

The article concludes with the text

“If this winter tells us anything, it’s that we’ll have to remain on guard for familiar weather risks as well as the evolving ones brought by climate change.”

This admission implicitly recognizes the focus on the reduction of vulnerability that we wrote about in our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

The media, policymakers and others should recognize this evidence of our incomplete understanding of the climate system.  We will continue to have surprises such as we have seen this winter.

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Jimmy Haigh

“The media, policymakers and others should recognize this evidence of our incomplete understanding of the climate system. We will continue to have surprises such as we have seen this winter.”
Piers Corbyn is not in the least surprised…

Stefan

The concept of global climate and globally averaged temperatures appears to have no practical use whatsoever in this day and age.
But maybe I’m just ignorant. Is there anything about climate change theory that’s resulted in practical useful results yet?
Even if global average temperatures continue to rise in the coming century, what will the weather in the UK be like? Will it be wetter and milder, or will there be more extreme variations? If you’re designing buildings, that’s a huge difference. How much insulation? How steep should the roof be? What wind gusts do you expect? Will energy be available continuously or intermittently? Do you have to worry about cooling the thing? Or can it be kept warm passively?
Really, please let them start talking about “climate chaos”. That’ll be the final nail in this as far as the majority of the public are concerned. We have the common sense to know that once it’s “chaos”, that means nobody knows.

Invariant

This is another interesting article:
http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/07/the-truth-is-out-there-somewhere/print/
“It is grotesque to lump nuanced skeptics like Freeman Dyson, perhaps the most celebrated physicist alive, in with creationists and 9/11 “truthers.””

Simply breaking the TLT anomaly data down into subsets (tropics and mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere) can reveal the underlying causes of much of the rise in TLT anomalies:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/06/rss-msu-tlt-time-latitude-plots.html

Stephen Skinner

And this excerpt from the same Guardian article:
In any given year, there could be a season as shocking as Britain’s epic winter of 1962-63 – when snowdrifts were measured in metres, and temperatures stayed below freezing for most of January – or the summer of 2003, when tens of thousands died in some of the worst heat ever recorded in Europe.
Obviously nobody died in 62-63 and for some reason the Heatwave of 76 has disappeared from history.
As it happens I remember 63 as the coldest and 76 as the hottest. In 63 I walked across the frozen Avon river at Christchurch (UK), and the ice was thick. In 76 we had almost daily forest fires in the New Forest that in some case raged for days.
If we measure heat waves by deaths while we have an increasing elderly population it can look like the heat waves are getting worse.

Lot of snow in the past – sign of virgin state of climate, undamaged by human influence.
Lot of snow today – sign of climate change, warming atmosphere holding more humidity. Even the atmosphere is not getting warmer, it does not diprove global warming a tall.
These guys are schizophrenics.

geronimo

Do you know Stephen that I was thinking the same thing about 1976 when the Met Office announced that 2009 is going to be the hottest year on record. It doesn’t seem credible, I believe the Met Office is so entrenched in the business of proving AGW that it has lost all sense of integrity. Hadley should be closed down.

al

why are mercator style projections used in these maps – would an equal area projection not be better?

Stephen Wilde

Surely the proper conclusion to be drawn is that natural variability is way bigger than previously accepted by AGW proponents.
If the current regional cold is mere weather and it follows a 10 year pause in warming (and possibly the start of a new long term cooling trend) then the previous 30 year warming spell with it’s regional heat waves is just as likely to have been mere weather.
Even if one were to accept a warming effect from more CO2 the apparent size of natural variability reduces the significance of any CO2 effect such that at worst we have hundreds of years to solve our energy problems before any of the scare stories come to pass.
And there remains the possibility that with negative climate feedbacks the CO2 effect could be zero.

“This data shows why the focus needs to be on the regional scale and that a global average is not of much use in describing weather that all of us experience.”
Absolutely right. Global temperatures on the ground level do not make much sense. I have put number of posts in past suggesting exactly that: focus needs to be on the regional scale.
CET has one of the longest and probably most scrutinised local records. Even then there are frequently opposite long term trends between winter and summer trends, which can last up to 50 years, e.g. 1900 – 1950 summer and winter temps were moving in opposite directions, 1950 – 2000 there’s very close tracking between two. Climate not ‘the weather’!
More details on CET summer/winter trends on :
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETt.htm
charts for N Atlantic islands and S Greenland:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GandF.htm
look for appropriate link.

Peter of Syndey

The one surprise that will shock every AGW believer will be when the global temperatures fail to rise as predicted by even the mildest IPCC computer models. What then? Will they continue to sing the same tune and claim the models are “on target” when clearly they are not even now? If they do they will only make themselves look even more stupid than they already do. I can’t wait for that to happen as it will most certainly will. In fact we should help them. We should re-publish the IPCC predictions far and wide to make it clear to everyone how wrong they are.

rbateman

I got a hot flash for Revkin: That gummed up hemisphere flow started in the Spring of ’08. It has grown, and is now 1.75 yrs long. And, there is reported evidence of it doing the same thing in the late 1880’s onwards into the 1890’s.
Yes, it does disprove the global warming hypothesis on 2 accounts:
#1 – AGW has not proven it’s case that it is forcing or overwhelming these cycles
#2 – AGW did not predict that this cycle would overwhelm the modeled warming, which it surely has, and on a massive scale.
It’s time to get noses out of the failed models and start focusing on where this leads to. Refer to the dusty volumes of the past.

It'sthesunstupid

You’re exactly right Peter. Let their own words hang them.

rbateman

al (03:51:41) :
why are mercator style projections used in these maps – would an equal area projection not be better?

An excellent point: We need to see this projected on to a North Polar sphere and South Polar sphere. I’m willing to bet the picture would show the true nature of just how cold it is this winter, and what the overall year has been like.
The chosen projection is a serious distortion.

what are all of these global warming enthusiasts going to do when the earth keeps dropping in temps?

David Hall

I asked on this site for a reason why effectively the whole of the northern hemisphere should suddenly be experiencing exceptional cold. I wondered if there was any possible connection with the current quiet sun, but a lady named kate answered as follows.
See http://nsidc.org/arcticmet/patterns/arctic_oscillation.html
Now the obvious question is ‘what causes THAT?’ If a connection can be made to some forcing or forcings, surely that is a far better method of predicting
weather (and maybe climate) than what our ignoble climatologists are using at the moment.
Suppose further, that it is actually a chaotic bi-stable oscillation with no discernable cause. If I were a Government Science advisor, I would be puring money into research to answer exactly that question, not into a totally unfounded and oppressive tax. It has surely FAR more relevant to the next few decades to understand this oscillation and it’s causes.

Cim

Re Peter: “We should re-publish the IPCC predictions far and wide”
Is this discussion good enough: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

Mark

Hey your paper is in the American Geophysical Union, does this mean you are peer reviewed? Make a nice addition to the global warming article in wikipedia 🙂

Stefan

@Cim
Do I understand that the 95% range on that graph means that, for all their modelling, there’s still a 1 in 20 chance the climate in 2010 could be 0.2C cooler or 0.8C warmer? Sorry for such a basic question but IANAS.

Cim:
“Is this discussion good enough”
No. Anyone can do “updates”. Let’s look at the original IPCC predictions:
click1
click2
click3
click4
click5
Got plenty more if you’re interested.

JamesG

The comments after the guardian article depress me more than the weather. Full of basically well-educated, reasonably bright people who are behaving like braying sheep. Absolutely nothing will overturn their dogma of doom. You’d think that once they see just how much climate can change naturally that they’d get a bit more skeptical of anyones ability to separate out a human contribution.
They forget that the “experts” had already stated that cold winters were a thing of the past. They ignore that the “experts” link every single hot weather event to global warming but say every cold weather event is natural. And they ignore that most “expert” predictions turn out utterly and abjectly wrong. They even reject the stone cold evidence that the IPCC are making things up as they go along and adjusting the data to fit the story – condemned even by their own words. It’s not even as if we haven’t had ample previous examples of such widespread hubris. In fact it is all too common. The public at large get it but the chattering classes just continue to believe exactly what they want to believe and reject all conflicting facts.
For those trendies clamoring to repeat that weather isn’t climate – please try to hold onto that thought until the next drought, flood or heatwave and don’t listen to any “scientist” that says this event proves that global warming makes this that or the next natural weather event more likely. You need to look at long term trends for that and those who have done so have noticed that there is absolutely nothing unusual happening yet. Any speculation that it will happen is therefore not grounded in the facts.

Patrick Davis

“Peter of Syndey (04:12:04) :
The one surprise that will shock every AGW believer will be when the global temperatures fail to rise as predicted by even the mildest IPCC computer models. What then? Will they continue to sing the same tune and claim the models are “on target” when clearly they are not even now? If they do they will only make themselves look even more stupid than they already do. I can’t wait for that to happen as it will most certainly will. In fact we should help them. We should re-publish the IPCC predictions far and wide to make it clear to everyone how wrong they are.”
The decline will be hidden. Not sure how they will stop millions of people rioting…interesting times ahead.

Stephen Wilde

A more active sun allows faster energy loss from upper atmosphere to space which cools the stratosphere and increases the flow of energy from troposphere to stratosphere and from stratosphere to space thus giving a positive AO with lower pressure over the poles and a faster energy flow from equator to poles. That involves a poleward shift of the air circulation systems and less north/south variation in surface air flows
A less active sun allows slower energy loss from upper atmosphere to space that warms the stratosphere and decreases the flow of energy from stratosphere to space thus giving us a negative AO with higher pressure over the poles and a slower energy flow from equator to pole. That involves an equatorward shift in the air circulation systems and more north/south variation in surface air flows (winter 2009 / 2010)
Note however that over time during a negative AO the larger high pressure systems will themselves migrate equatorward to some degree and allow a low pressure system to develop at the poles themselves.
In contrast over time during a positive AO the smaller high pressure systems at the poles will contract to the extent that they increase the size of the dry regions between the mid latitude depression tracks and the equatorial air masses (much of the period 1975 to 2000).

John Peter

Quote Cim (04:42:34) :
Re Peter: “We should re-publish the IPCC predictions far and wide”
Is this discussion good enough: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/
Smokey (05:01:00) :
Cim:
“Is this discussion good enough”
No. Anyone can do “updates”. Let’s look at the original IPCC predictions:
click1
click2
click3
click4
click5
Got plenty more if you’re interested. Unquote
As an interested layman I am very interested in the question of the accuracy of the IPCC 2001 computer model predictions of temperature response to CO2 emissions. I seem to get two entirely different interpretations here. I wonder if WUWT could devote an entire article to interpreting the RealClimate version versus the original 2001 predictions (not updated) compared to global temperatures up to the end of 2009. I think this is a very important topic.

Peter Hartley

From the blog entry:
“This data shows why the focus needs to be on the regional scale and that a global average is not of much use in describing weather that all of us experience.”
Stephen Wilde (03:59:52) :
“Surely the proper conclusion to be drawn is that natural variability is way bigger than previously accepted by AGW proponents.”
From the perspective of policy, these two observations have a very important implication. They both add to the argument that trying to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is likely to be a very ineffective, if extremely costly, way of reducing any adverse effects of such emissions on climate. There likely will still be lots of costly weather events in many regions in many years regardless of what we do with CO2. That raises the benefits of devising methods of reducing the costs of extreme weather, no matter what the source.
Add to this the observation that, due to the aerial fertilizer effect, extra CO2 in the atmosphere is likely to also bring substantial benefits for agriculture not to mention natural ecosystems. According to the IPCC models, even some of the effects of CO2 on weather in some regions are likely to be beneficial.
The case for investing in actions that reduce the costs of extreme weather while reaping the benefits of extra CO2 becomes overwhelming.
In summary, having the IPCC crowd admit that “natural weather events” are very significant and can overwhelm the effects of CO2 on weather actually strongly weakens their policy claim that the best response to a non-negligible effect of CO2 on weather is to limit CO2 emissions.

jmrSudbury

OT, The rss data for Dec is out now too. They dropped from 0.328 for November to 0.243 for December.
ftp://ftp.ssmi.com/msu/monthly_time_series/rss_monthly_msu_amsu_channel_tlt_anomalies_land_and_ocean_v03_2.txt
John M Reynolds

TerrySkinner

I don’t know if this has already been posted. If you have not seen it this is John Hirst the head of the UK Met Office being given hell by Andrew Neil on the BBC. Great fun. The guy is hopeless, has no credibility and is to say the least not at all convincing when claiming that the Met Office predicted the lack of warming since 1998.

John Peter (05:23:23):
clickA
clickB
clickC
clickD
clickE
Got plenty more if you’re still interested.

Tom P

Smokey (05:49:08) :
Your plots are rather old. Here’s the up-to-date comparison:
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/811/ipccprojections.png
The IPCC record of prediction is considerably more accurate than yours.

Dusty

“In any given year, …”
It’s not that random.

Even if they wish to continue believing in AGW, at a minimum-MINIMUM-the Warmists have to admit that things have not gone nearly the way they had predicted even a few years ago.
Even Jones and his cronies have admitted this. They just didn’t intent to do it publicly.

lgl

“The obvious response to these claims is that if we cannot predict weather features such as the Arctic oscillation or an El Niño under current climate”
Solar eclipses at low latitudes usually produce El-Nino so we will ‘very likely’ see La-Nina conditions in 2011 and 2012.
http://virakkraft.com/enso-solar-eclipse.png
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/5MCSE/5MCSE-Maps-10.pdf (20 MB)

Dan Lee

@Stefan
>”But maybe I’m just ignorant. Is there anything about climate change theory that’s resulted in practical useful results yet?”
Yes, the Green goal of making energy so expensive that only the rich can afford it is almost within our grasp.

FergalR

I love that Cim’s post got approved while 3 others were waiting. World-class moderation. The graphs are much appreciated Smokey.
[sorry, Ferg, the wordpress moderation tools gives me a list starting with newest first… -mikelorrey]

Gail Combs

Bob Tisdale (03:14:03) :
Simply breaking the TLT anomaly data down into subsets (tropics and mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere) can reveal the underlying causes of much of the rise in TLT anomalies:…
Great analysis Bob.
Peter of Syndey (04:12:04) :
The one surprise that will shock every AGW believer will be when the global temperatures fail to rise as predicted by even the mildest IPCC computer models. What then? …”
Patrick Davis (05:06:04) :
The decline will be hidden. Not sure how they will stop millions of people rioting…interesting times ahead.”
I just realized as I commented on another article here at WUWT, that they are not worried about hiding the future decline in world temperatures because another very real crisis is being orchestrated. This one is going to get everyone’s attention. It is rising food costs and famine. Worldwide “harmonized” regulations for farming (HACCP) will push independent farmers off their land causing increasing food riots, starvation and will spread to food shortages in first world countries. Of course it means mega profits for the food cartels too. Who the heck is going to care about “Global Warming” and the weather when they can not feed their families or get a job?
To date there have been six bills introduced to the US Congress for implementing this idiocy. The USA 20 years ago was responsible for over 50% of the global grain trade. Since 1990 the U.S. share has fluctuated between 25 and 30 percent. As a farmer I would grow crops for bio-fuel only to evade all those regulations and I am sure I am not alone.
For more info see the last comment at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/08/high-fire-danger-in-south-australia-as-temperatures-soar/

James Chamberlain

The biggest thing that I note when I see a map with the warm at the poles is the projection. There was a long post about this a year or two ago either here or at CA. Flat projections make the poles look huge, even though they are quite small.

Gail Combs

Tom P (05:57:44) :
Smokey (05:49:08) :
Your plots are rather old. Here’s the up-to-date comparison:
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/811/ipccprojections.png
The IPCC record of prediction is considerably more accurate than yours.
REPLY:
Of course the UPDATED IPCC “predictions” are going to be better. If I line fit to the current data and then fudge the new data I can do great “predictions” too.
http://i31.tinypic.com/2149sg0.gif

Arctic warming in a little bit of perspective
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icrutem3_hadsst2_0-360E_66-90N_na.png
Check as it is going down again. Remember, that Arctic should show most warming because of CO2 because low humidity there. There is barely any rise compared to 40ties, temperature following AMO.

Tom_R

Tom P (05:57:44) :
Smokey (05:49:08) :
Your plots are rather old. Here’s the up-to-date comparison:
http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/811/ipccprojections.png
The IPCC record of prediction is considerably more accurate than yours.
Eurasia is our friend. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

OT In the Times [UK] today there is a classic warming rant..even revisiting the reversal of the gulfstream …this ‘comment’ is ludicrous..the MSM has a long way to go unfortunately!

Midwest Mark

And this from today’s Columbus Dispatch (by AP reporter Malcom Ritter)…When questioned about the unusually cold weather the northern hemisphere is experiencing lately, scientist (and AGW supporter) Gerald Meehl provided the old It’s-not-climate-it’s-weather response:
“It’s part of natural variability,” said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. With global warming, he said, “we’ll still have record cold temperatures. We’ll just have fewer of them.”
Is Mr. Meehl not aware of the number of record cold temperatures that have popped up recently? I’d hazard a guess and say we’ve been experiencing many MORE record cold temperatures than fewer (and I don’t have an advanced degree in meteorology).

Richard M

I think it will be awhile before any real comparison of IPCC projections is meaningful. Look at June and July 2009. In a single month we went from way below to very near the projections. When month to month variation is this large I don’t see any practical sense in making comparisons. It can always be cherry picked to show whatever one wants.

Retired Engineer John

“This has gummed up the hemisphere’s usual west-to-east flow with huge “blocking highs” that route frigid air southward.”
The large high pressure regions should also allow the surface of the Artic to view deep space and with no Solar input, this will cause accelerated cooling.

Midwest Mark

TerrySkinner:
Thank you for the BBC video post! I believe Andrew Neil is my new favorite television interviewer!

Made the same mistake 3 years ago.
This is NOT a Mercator projection. This is a “Latitude/Longitude”
plot. Note the size of Greenland compared to Africa. It is about 1/5 the size of Africa, which is abbout right.
Made the same mistake when I did the Out Going Long Wave analysis, having to convert colored pixels to numerical values, 3 years ago. (Before NEO put out the convinient Java analyzers.)

Gary Palmgren

Note that the cooling occurs over the large northern hemisphere landmasses. This would be the expected pattern as the oceans take much longer to change temperature.

Riceowl

Note the size of Greenland compared to Africa. It is about 1/5 the size of Africa, which is abbout right.
Greenland = 2.2 million sq km
Africa – 30.2 million sq km = 14 x Greenland

Jason F

Apparently it’s presently colder in America than both poles, according to this http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread533082/pg1

Jim Stegman

“Spectacular regional swings in temperature and precipitation, sometimes lasting for months, often emerge from the natural jostlings of atmosphere and ocean. By themselves, none of these prove or disprove a human role in climate change.”
What is the likelihood that they would make this statement if we had an extremely hot summer?

geronimo (03:47:06) :
Do you know Stephen that I was thinking the same thing about 1976 when the Met Office announced that 2009 is going to be the hottest year on record. It doesn’t seem credible, I believe the Met Office is so entrenched in the business of proving AGW that it has lost all sense of integrity. Hadley should be closed down.
According to the BBC, the Met Office’s predictions have been correct — the public has merely misinterpreted them.
“…Susan Watts, BBC Science Editor, on Newsnight, as she attempted to explain why the abysmal failure of climate “scientists” to predict current weather conditions does not in any way reduce their credibility in predicting global warming: ‘In fact that seasonal forecast predicting a mild winter wasn’t actually wrong, but it left people with the wrong impression.’ ”
http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=4839
Gentleman: “What are you doing with that herring?”
Met Office: “Just holding it. I am *not* going to whap you in the face with it.”
*whap*
Gentleman: “Ow! You snippety-snip-snipping-snip, why the snip did you do that?”
Met Office: “I *told* you I was going to whap you in the face with it — you misunderstood!”