The Met office responds to 'Global warming stopped 16 years ago'

This article and graphic from David Rose in the UK Daily Mail has caused quite a stir as we covered it here over the weekend.  The Met Office has responded exactly as one would expect they would and I repeat their response below.

From the Met Office WordPress blog:

An article by David Rose appears today in the Mail on Sunday under the title: ‘Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it’

It is the second article Mr Rose has written which contains some misleading information, after he wrote an article earlier this year on the same theme – you see our response to that one here.

To address some of the points in the article published today:

Firstly, the Met Office has not issued a report on this issue. We can only assume the article is referring to the completion of work to update the HadCRUT4 global temperature dataset compiled by ourselves and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

We announced that this work was going on in March and it was finished this week. You can see the HadCRUT4 website here.

Secondly, Mr Rose says the Met Office made no comment about its decadal climate predictions. This is because he did not ask us to make a comment about them.

You can see our full response to all of the questions Mr Rose did ask us below:

Hi David,

Here’s a response to your questions. I’ve kept them as concise as possible but the issues you raise require considerable explanation.

Q.1 “First, please confirm that they do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997.”

The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.

As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.

Q.2 “Second, tell me what this says about the models used by the IPCC and others which have predicted a rise of 0.2 degrees celsius per decade for the 21st century. I accept that there will always be periods when a rising gradient may be interrupted. But this flat period has now gone on for about the same time as the 1980 – 1996 warming.”

The models exhibit large variations in the rate of warming from year to year and over a decade, owing to climate variations such as ENSO, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. So in that sense, such a period is not unexpected. It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely.

Q.3 “Finally, do these data suggest that factors other than CO2 – such as multi-decadal oceanic cycles – may exert a greater influence on climate than previously realised?”

We have limited observations on multi-decadal oceanic cycles but we have known for some time that they may act to slow down or accelerate the observed warming trend. In addition, we also know that changes in the surface temperature occur not just due to internal variability, but are also influenced by “external forcings”, such as changes in solar activity, volcanic eruptions or aerosol emissions. Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.

———–

The below graph which shows years ranked in order of global temperature was not included in the response to Mr Rose, but is useful in this context as it illustrates the point made above that eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade.

Graph showing years ranked in order of global temperature.

=======================================================

One wonders what the Met Office would say about the data if the many circular adjustments and artificial biases were removed from the data.

 

 

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Check the comments and especially the MO’s replies. They agree with Rose, but are pretending not to.

cui bono

They sure do like that chart – “eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade”.
Yes, but only after the 1930s were airbrushed out.
To keep Phil Jones happy until retirement, we need a good volcanic eruption so it can be blamed for the absence of warming. For a few years anyway.

Silver Ralph

“eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade”
——————————–
And many of the highest points on a sine-wave, will be near the crest of the wave. That does not imply that the sine-wave is not in decline from thereon in.
Did these guys ever get beyond kindergarten?
.

Rob uk

I aways suspected the warming was driven by UHI and that would peak at some point, seems it peaked about 16 years ago.

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead

The weasel words: “on record”.

Bryan A

I my self was wondering what happened to 1934?? The year that they say 2010 topped by just 0.2F or 0.4F It would seem to me that 1934? should be ranked a close second or did Hadley scrub those temperatures too

The Met criticise cherry picking of dates and then say
If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS).
Why choose 1979, as we all know this was at the end of a cold period?

Kev-in-Uk

”Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system.”
so they fully accept what everyone knows? are they thinking 30 years or 130 years? funny though, I don’t recall that argument when they were harping on about CAGW in the early 2000’s!!!

And if the Met disagree with cherry picking, why do they show a CET graph prominently on their website, which begins at the very cold interlude around 1780, instead of showing the full period that the CET series covers, starting in 1659?
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/science-or-propaganda/#more-1749

Kev-in-Uk

Paul Homewood says:
October 15, 2012 at 10:32 am
absolutely! but of course if they use the proper records and the WHOLE data as reference line – it wouldn’t show what they want!

astateofdenmark

Quote:
“The models exhibit large variations in the rate of warming from year to year and over a decade, owing to climate variations such as ENSO, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. So in that sense, such a period is not unexpected. It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely [!!!!!!]”
Unquote.
longer periods are unlikely…….

MikeN

I think the linear trend argument is weak. Suppose I want to argue that global warming stopped in 1998, and I cheat. I change the temperatures for 1999 and 2000 to support my case. So I make them both colder before having someone graph the trends for me. It turns out making 1999 and 2000 colder makes my argument weaker as suddenly the trend has gone up! To support my case, I should make 1999 and 2000 warmer than 1998 to argue that global warming stopped in 1998!

JJ

Silver Ralph says:
“eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade”
——————————–
And many of the highest points on a sine-wave, will be near the crest of the wave. That does not imply that the sine-wave is not in decline from thereon in.
Did these guys ever get beyond kindergarten?

Of course. All of them did. They aren’t ignorant.
They are dishonest.

davidmhoffer

Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
A tacit admission that they don’t have enough information to attribute ANY change in temperature to any specific factor.

Silver Ralph says:
October 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

“eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade”
——————————–
And many of the highest points on a sine-wave, will be near the crest of the wave. That does not imply that the sine-wave is not in decline from thereon in.

I prefer to use the term “plateau.”
They do need to clean things up a bit. I commented on the Met Office blog:
You show 2011 in brown, but it’s not in the legend. That has 2000-2010, which is the only range with an end year that’s not a 9 and implies the past decade was 11 years long. When you update things for 2012, I suggest making 2010-2019 be brown and clarify whether the “past decade” is the last 10 years, 2000-2009, or 2001-2010.

Dave_G

Where did they get the equipment capable of measuring to an accuracy of 5/100ths of a degree?

klem

Canucklehead said “The weasel words: “on record”.”
Weasel words, that’s a great term. I’m going to use that if you don’t mind.
I think how often have I seen weasel words used by researchers, reporters and politicians but could never think of an accurate way to describe them.
Weasel words, I like that very much.

JJ

We have limited observations on multi-decadal oceanic cycles but we have known for some time that they may act to slow down or accelerate the observed warming trend.
Then why aren’t they in your models? And why are you continuing to stump for predictions made with models that you have known “for some time” are missing a component that can both cool and warm at a magnitude larger than the CO2 effect you allege?
In addition, we also know that changes in the surface temperature occur not just due to internal variability, but are also influenced by “external forcings”, such as changes in solar activity, volcanic eruptions or aerosol emissions. Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.
Of course it is. Not an area of ongoing research: figuring out how, combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the warming seen over the decade prior to the last decade.

Paul Homewood
I do enjoy your blog
As you know the Met office tend to like using the Parker CET 1772 data rather the Manley 1659 CET data. I show Manleys data in the same style as Hadley 1772 in my article;(first graph)
http://judithcurry.com/2011/12/01/the-long-slow-thaw/
There is little difference between 1730 and today
Later on in the article I show my own CET rconstruction of CET to 1538 based on observational records, many from the Met office library.
I wonder if you have an opinion as to whether the small UHI adjustment of 0.2C used by the Met office (and quoed in the article) really represents the reality of heat island modern Britain?
tonyb

Coldish

What happened to 1934?

Theo Goodwin

Silver Ralph says:
October 15, 2012 at 10:09 am
No, they did not get beyond kindergarten, except in media manipulation. The graph that they present might impress some folks who are impressed by bright colors but, just as you point out, absolutely nothing can be inferred from that graph. Surely, they know this. Pathetic.

Louis

“…several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.”

First they admit that multi-decadal oceanic cycles “may act to slow down or accelerate” the warming trend. But then they go on to say that it and other factors could only account for some of the “reduced warming trend” over the last decade. They can’t bring themselves to admit the obvious — that these factors could also account for the increased warming trend observed from 1980-1996. If oceanic cycles are not yet well understood, why couldn’t they account for some of the warming?

Jim G

Response does not make a very good argument regarding the anthropomorphic causes of any warming actually occuring over the longer periods of time and, in fact, admits that in the short term “owing to climate variations such as ENSO” temperatures are enhanced or mitigated. So, why not over the longer term as well? Why would only CO2 be a long term causal variable?

Michael in Sydney

“…The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented…”
Reduced warming – It is like the Fonz trying to say SsoSoSooSorrSorry.

george e smith

“””””…..The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period,…..”””””
I do NOT doubt, that Temperature sensors that can record Temperature changes much smaller than 0.05 deg C do exist. That is they can accurately record Temperature changes OF THAT THERMOMETER to that kind of precision.
I note that the MET office cited NO ERROR BOUNDS for that 0.05 deg C change only that it was for that 15 year total period they cited, which presumably is the data graphed in the first figure.
So WHY does the MET office place ANY significance on that 0.05 deg C change, if they are unwilling, or reluctant, or simply lackadaisical to the point, that they omitted the error bounds on that 0.05 deg C.
But it’s the lack of connection between their limited data set, and any planetary causal phenomenon that gets me. Meanwhile presumably the atmospheric CO2; that all powerful forcing agent, presumably kept up its inexorable maybe 1.5 deg C per year rise during that time fraim so maybe 20-25 ppm of CO2 with nary a trace of Temperature effect.
Last night on PBS T&V, I watched Bill Moyes carry on a somewhat dumbfounded “interview” with some unknown un-named “photographer” who is pushing hs book/DVD/whatever all about ice, and the geologic record in that ice that proves to him (the “photographer” that we have already passed the tipping point, and are now in unrecoverable territory.
Well he is still in favor of spending billions of the Western world’s productivity to recover from this unrecoverable disaster; so long as they have enough left over to buy his book/DVD/whatever.
No he presented absolutely NO physics/chemistry /etc in support of his “sky-is-falling” hysteria.
Bill Moyes looked his usual goggle eyed bewilderment, and simply lapped up what this otherwise charming looking chap was feeding him.
Yes; Big Bird, is not the only one on the public dole who needs a well deserved retirement.

From the NCDC web site: “Why are there more cold (negative) step changes than warm (positive) step changes in the historical land surface air temperature records represented in the GHCN v3 dataset? The reason for the larger number of cold step changes is not completely clear, but they may be due in part to systematic changes in station locations from city centers to cooler airport locations that occurred in many parts of the world from the 1930s through the 1960s.”
So, NCDC says maybe people moved the thermometers from city centers to cooler outside the city airports. So, NCDC adjust the temperature back by adding in increments for the removal of the thermometers from the heat island effect adding in the artifical heat of the city which they seem to want to keep including even going to the extent of adding it back in when people try to move thermometers to less biased locations. Okay. But why are they adding back in the heat island effect?
Is there a different way to read their statement? Why make these adjustments anyway? Can’t we assume that over a large enough sample of thermometers located by people they are not systematically choosing cool locations or warm locations but choosing better locations over time or at least equally bad locations. The large magnitude of the “adjustments” subtracting and adding 0.5C to the historical record implies almost a systematic attempt by thermometer placers to “reduce” the temperature today and an opposite motive in the past people systematically attempted to raise the temperature by placing thermometers in heated places but somewhere around 1980 thermometer placers systematically changed motives to reducing temp readings from their previous bias to place instruments trying to raise temperatures. Without justifying such counterintuitive behavior don’t we have to assume that over time thermometers in the US are sufficiently distributed and being placed over time with either the same or better overall placement? How can one justify a 0.5C adjustment to the overall record becasue of a bias in placement that hasn’t been demonstrated but simply through mathematical trickery to the underlying data?

Jimbo

Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.

What! Bring out the 97%. Now where did I hear about the 95%+ or 97%+ or whatever ‘certainty’ that it was man’s greenhouse gases what done it?

Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system.

Remember this quote chaps. It’s the one to use whenever they attribute weather events to climate change. The funny thing is that despite this quote they keep ignoring it. They know full well the IPCC and the WMO use 30 years or more of weather data to define climate.

In other words, trends don’t matter because of natural variablity.
Except when we tell you its CO2!!!
Time to spank these children and send them to bed.

Francisco

This is OT – on what appears to be another new form of censorship.
As some may know, WOT is a very popular Firefox add-on whose main original purpose was to warn users about potentially unsafe sites (unsafe in the technical sense: trojan horses etc.). It works by people giving it a safe or unsafe rating.
If a site has a bad reputation, it gives you a red circle next to a google search result. If you try to go to it directly from a link, you get a big warning page about its potential unsafety. Most people will be deterred from going to it, unless they personally know it’s safe.
I’ve been noticing that this add-on is increasingly being used as a means of censoring the views of sites. Of the blogroll on the right side of WUWT, at least three sites have been thus censored:
C3 Headlines
The GWPF
CO2 Science
I am not very familiar with the first two, but I often visit CO2 Science, a very informative site, and was surprised to see it had acquired the reputation of being unsafe through WOT voting.
All kinds of sites are being thus labeled just because voters disagree with the ideas they find in them, nothing to do with their safety.
Example: the Save America Foundation is a perfectly safe site. It happens to be concerned with the lack of transparency inherent in electronic voting machines, the potential for fraud, and various other constitutional issues. Today I wanted to go to it in order to read an older article by Victoria Collier (who has just published a new report on the topic in the November issue of Harper’s Magazine). Again, you get the spooky-looking WOT page warning you that you may be going into unsafe territory. I am considering turning WOT off permanently. Such zealotry everywhere!!
http://www.saveamericafoundation.com/category/voter-fraud/

Gras Albert

Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.
Just as 10 of my tallest years occurred in my last decade… because I stopped growing 40 years ago
http://tinyurl.com/ageHeight

Michael

Center column of Drudge Report with 30,000,000 page views per day;
http://www.drudgereport.com/
That’s what I call critical mass public consumption of truth.

“As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading…….For example, 1979 to 2011.”

“August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina)”
Actually, August 2012 was near the end of a weak El Nino. And why would we think that the 1997 value did not use January data? The title of the graph does not mention only Augusts. Even ignoring all that, the linear trend was supposed to be 0.2 C per decade. His using the lower 0.05 numbers is rather indicative that the realized warming over that period is much lower than the IPCC’s best estimate.

pat

obviously Michael Mann hasn’t been observing the data!
4 Oct: Guardian: Jo Confino: Climate change may force evacuation of vulnerable island states within a decade
(Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University)
Mann, who is one of the primary targets for attacks by “climate deniers,” said that there is still uncertainty about the speed of global warming as it is not clear what the impact of feedback mechanisms could be…
“If you look at the US, some of these things are unfolding ahead of schedule and we are already contending with climate change impacts that were once theoretical,” he said.
“We predicted decades ago that this might eventually happen. We are watching them unfold and there are very real consequences to our economy and to our environment.
“The climate models tell us that what today are record breaking levels of heat will become a typical summer in a matter of 20-30 years if we carry on with business as usual. Not only will this become the new normal but we will have to change the scale because we will see heat and drought far worse than anything we have seen before.”
The silver lining in all the bad news is that while the political system is gridlocked when it comes to confronting climate change, public attitudes are starting to change.
“It is going to take a little while to sink in,” says Mann “but there is evidence of a dramatic shift in awareness and the public increasingly recognises climate change is real and if the public becomes convinced of this, they will demand action and they are connecting the dots because we are seeing climate change playing out in a very visible way.
“I think we are close to a potential tipping point in public consciousness and what will tip it, you never quite know, but another summer like the one we just witnessed we will see a dramatic shift in public pressure to do something about this problem.”…
He said the tactics of those who question climate change was not only to intimidate scientists already in the public arena, but also to warn off others from taking part in the public discourse.
But Mann believes the power of the Koch brothers and others in the fossil fuel lobby, whom he believes have been responsible for poisoning the whole climate change debate, is on the wane.
“I am optimistic,” he says. “The forces of denial will not go down with a whimper and as the rhetoric becomes more heated and the attacks become more concerted, we see the last vestiges of a movement that is dying…
“There are an increasing number of companies like Walmart which are ideologically conservative but have a real commitment to sustainability as they realise that as people become more concerned, they will reward companies that are part of the solution.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/polar-arctic-greenland-ice-climate-change?newsfeed=true

“Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC”
I;ve seen various dates as to when Co2 started to cause some warming. 1950 is used by BEST. Others use 1970.
In either case, the concept of 140 years of AGW is bogus and should not have been used.

Rose’s headline “global warming stopped ” is imprecise and misleading”. It is true that SST data – the best measure of global temperature trends because of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the UHI effect on the land data – show that there has been no net warming since 1997 – with CO2 up 8,5% .However the same data show that warming peaked in about 2003 and that since then the earth has actually been in a cooling trend. Empirically the phase of the PDO and the declining solar magnetic field strength ( Livinston and Penn) indicating a possible coming Maunder minimum , suggest at least 20 – 30 years of cooling. Beyoned that our knowledge is insufficient to make any actionable predictions. The IPCC climate models were and are structured to produce a desired result and have limited empirical connection to the real climate.

Marcos

no mention yet of the anomaly period they used for that chart at the end (1961-1990). whenever i see the unusually cold 60s/70s as a ‘normal’ period, i see red flags. either use the most recent 30 year period or use the entire time period being compared…

KnR

When ever you seen any two decimal places claims for precision, you should ask yourself is this in practice possible or is it merely an artefact of ‘adjustment ; that come not from know facts but intelligent ‘guess work ‘
Hands up who thinks there is much chance of temperature records from 100 or even 70 years ago being correct to two decimal places.

The other Phil

Gras Albert
“Just as 10 of my tallest years occurred in my last decade… because I stopped growing 40 years ago”
Thanks, a useful analogy

DDP

“…The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented…”
Neither was the previous period of increased warming.

Steve C

With more, let’s say independent forecasters inclining to the view that temps are about to head downhill over the next decade or two, the entertainment might get better yet in the years to come.

kwik

I have a suggestion for some real number crunching here; Remove all decimals.
What do we get?
A straight line. In other words; Nothing to be alarmed over.

Billy Liar

klem says:
October 15, 2012 at 11:22 am
You may also like to get fully weaseled up:
http://thedilbertstore.com/products/65162-dilbert-and-the-way-of-the-weasel

Joe

“Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.”
Why do they get away with the above, often repeated, statement as evidence that warming is continuing? In that context it’s logically meaningless because it’s exactly what you’d expect if there had been warming 9from whatever source) which stopped in the last decade or so. Once something warms up, it takes time to cool down again even if you turn down the heat source.
In fact, anything else would suggest worryingly rapid cooling ahead!

jmrsudbury says:
October 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm
> “August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina)”
> Actually, August 2012 was near the end of a weak El Nino.
El Niño conditions didn’t last long enough to cause things to be declared an El Niño. I don’t have time to dig up the definition, but it’s sort of like a recession – by the time it’s declared, everyone knows it is.
More to the point – I think El Niño warming takes a few month to make it into the temperature record, so we may not have seen it yet.

RockyRoad

Buy the biggest computer on the block and all the big iron goes to your head.
Or is that the biggest computer in the country?

1) It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely.
Says the Met Office. So if we do not get back to warming by 2015, what, then? Does “unlikely” become “within variation as predicted by computer modelling”?
2) external forcings”, such as changes in solar activity, volcanic eruptions or aerosol emissions. Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the reduced warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ongoing research.
For a start: “reduced warming trend”, i.e. statistically zero. Then: CO2 forcing must equal at least the negative forcings of the other, cooling trends. But they are not sure. Still, you could rule some out: volcanic eruptions? Definite “no”. Aerosol emissions? Just got a negative forcing number to check. Solar … another hard number to check.
They are getting backed into a corner, you think?

Johnny

Its important to understand that not only is temperature not responding but the energy is missing. Climate and weather are one thing but conservation of energy is an

Johnny

Its important to understand that not only is temperature not responding but the energy is missing. Climate and weather are one thing but conservation of energy is an immutable law that must be satisfied instant by instant. The energy is missing. It’s not in the oceans it’s not in the atmosphere it’s not on the earth. It escaped. If it escaped and they didn’t predict it would escape then how dO we know it won’t all escape? If that energy has escaped why? How can any prediction be taken seriously if they didn’t understand this?

Catcracking

“eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade”
——————————–
“And many of the highest points on a sine-wave, will be near the crest of the wave. That does not imply that the sine-wave is not in decline from thereon in.”
Moreover, their claim is an absolute insult to anyone who understands a minimal level of Math, Science, or logic. It is an insult for the gang to think there are so many “stupid” people who can not see through the poor logic of their statement. Sure, some of the mathematically challenged folks may not see through the manipulation of the comment immediately, but once explained they understand.
How stupid do they think we are??

Johnny

It is obvious that the agw fanatics think little of average person. They assume their scare tactics will work that if they say that te petabytes remain high that the average person then concludes they are right that temperatures could climb 3C by 2100 when there is zero change in nearly 2 decades. This may work for another few years but it’s unmistakable that the consequences of agw is inconsequential unless you are a pure h2o ice crystal located north of 80 degrees latitude.

TomRude

The Met Office always knows… after the facts as their prediction for September was spot… off. LOL