Uh oh, the Met Office has set the cat amongst the pigeons

Excerpt from Bishop Hill (plus a cartoon from Josh) showing that the claim of a statistically significant temperature rise can’t be supported, and the Met office is ducking parliamentary questions: (h/t Randy Hughes)

Met Office admits claims of significant temperature rise untenable

This is a guest post by Doug Keenan.

It has been widely claimed that the increase in global temperatures since the late 1800s is too large to be reasonably attributed to natural random variation. Moreover, that claim is arguably the biggest reason for concern about global warming. The basis for the claim has recently been discussed in the UK Parliament. It turns out that the claim has no basis, and scientists at the Met Office have been trying to cover that up.

The Parliamentary Question that started this was put by Lord Donoughue on 8 November 2012. The Question is as follows.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government … whether they consider a rise in global temperature of 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 to be significant. [HL3050]

The Answer claimed that “the temperature rise since about 1880 is statistically significant”. This means that the temperature rise could not be reasonably attributed to natural random variation — i.e. global warming is real.

The issue here is the claim that “the temperature rise since about 1880 is statistically significant”, which was made by the Met Office in response to the original Question (HL3050). The basis for that claim has now been effectively acknowledged to be untenable. Possibly there is some other basis for the claim, but that seems extremely implausible: the claim does not seem to have any valid basis.

Go read the entire essay here: http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/5/27/met-office-admits-claims-of-significant-temperature-rise-unt.html

Josh has a go at them:



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Jimmy Haigh.

The MET Office disappoints. – gavin

Colin Gartner

A terrific essay, understandable by laymen, such as myself. I encourage all to head over to Bishop Hill and read the full missive.

Green Sand

What really is significant is that this is the outcome of a question(s) raised in the UK Parliament.
At last we have legislators becoming aware of their responsibilities and carrying out due diligence, albeit belatedly.


You can fool some of the people some of the time, contrary to what the civil servants at the Met Office thought – you can’t fool all of the people – all of the time Goddammit!
‘Bout time some real time employment expenditure retrenchment was made at the Met Office – with the UK CET showing a decline in average annual temperatures – the game is up.
The UK branch of the scientific warmist cabal and arguably ‘consensus central’ – is stuffed and judging by this article [see below] the same could be said of the German warmist klimatekrieg too:
Alarmist Consensus – over and out.


It only took 6 times asking substantively the same question to get an answer. Previously, the question was ducked, finally the math was done.

“Met Office has set the cat amongst the pigeons”
More of a red herring than a cat. Only Keenan cannot tell the difference.
REPLY: Mr. Telford, who is on the government climate science payroll, would do well to embrace this:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
– Upton Sinclair


Jimmy Haigh.

Green Sand says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:19 am
The chickens are well over the horizon…
But, as I have said many times, can we all have our money back please?

Peter Stroud

Excellent work. This must be given maximum publicity. Also it must be pointed out that many other official bodies, worldwide, follow the same line. Including, of course the IPCC.

Jimmy Haigh.

Anthony’s reply to Richard Telford at 07:26…

Jim Ryan

From Athelstan’s link, a thing of beauty (for those of us who are fans of the absurd):
“…prognoses confirm forecasts…”
Deliciously unintelligible. Just like “…has correctly predicted that temperatures will…”, it has no semantic value. In the old days, a student would flunk a college essay for such locutions. These days they count as vindication of a scientific theory and bring millions in funding.


Who is Lord Donahue and where has he been hiding?

Nick Milner

It’s an interesting essay but what are we to take away from it? That statistically speaking the planet isn’t actually warming after all? This seemed to be the sceptical argument from the early days but over the years hasn’t it moderated to be more along the lines of “we agree that the planet has warmed but we disagree as to the proportion that is man-made?” Is that now no longer the case? Are we, for example, to assume that the recently lauded low climate sensitivity studies are invalidated and the sensitivity should really be 0?
I ask because it looks like the “sceptical view” (if such a thing can be said to exist with any broad agreement) can’t make it’s mind up what it thinks, as long as it’s not what “the other guys” think, and you can bet that “they” will point this out.
Don’t take this the wrong way – I’m no believer in CAGW – but I don’t think this kind of flip-flopping helps anyone’s case. It’s reminds me of this scene from Galaxy Quest 🙂

From thefreedictionary.com:
pi·geon 1 (pjn)

2. Slang One who is easily swindled; a dupe.

A brief, but substantially correct, description of many of the followers of CAGW by CO2.

The Met Office is the UK National Weather Service, founded in Aug of 1861. In recent years, forecasts based on the Carbon forcing model provided increasingly inaccurate long range predictions as barbie summers went cold and damp, as mandatory hose pipe bans were met with floods and the ‘warmest winter on record’ guesses were the coldest of the century. For decades the Met Office excuse was that with faster computers, long range accuracy would improve dramatically. Lavish Cray Super Computers have not improved Met guesses. With over 30,000 cold related deaths this winter due to energy poverty, the abject failure of their warmest winter bet could not be ignored, so on April 9, 2013 the Met announced that they would no longer provide ‘public’ long range forecasts, but would continue to provide that ‘service’ to the government….wink, wink. The government that pays Met operations and doesn’t mind exchanging tax money for worthless dribble….will continue to fund the charade….with no Met staff reductions. Unhappy with the official Met announcement of this change, i posted this version in comments at WUWT, now worth repeating:
The Met Office has admitted that predictions about weather and climate are beyond the ability of charlatans with super computers, and have therefore switched to the seance with poltergeist form of forecast. Future predictions will be made by the ghost of Marcel Marceau….”the mime who brought poetry to silence”….offering the public the same level of accuracy and entertainment of our recent long range forecasts.
Perhaps if the Met masters had not invested 30% of the Met pension fund in Carbon futures, there would be a more objective view of Earth’s non CO2 driven climate future.
Just saying.

slow to follow

onlyme says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:23 am
“…Previously, the question was ducked, finally the math was done.”
The maths might have been done before the question was ducked.

Brian Johnson UK

What did we UK taxpayers get for buying the Met Office a shiny new number cruncher – nothing.
Will David Cameron finally realise that supporting Green Initiatives [Daddy in Law has wind farms] has to be dropped and huge subsidies for wind and solar contraptions has to stop.
A small part of the money saved could be spent on hiring a really competent Chief Scientific Officer.


So this will be the top headline on the BBC News this evening, won’t it?
No, didn’t think so.


i’ll try and Tweet Harribin and see what he says,no doubt the same rubbish “that its still a warming trend”
Would ask others to do the same if they are signed up to Twitter

Richard M

I believe this topic was brought up a few years in a blog by moderate warmist Bart Verhoven (sp?). An anonymous statistician (VC?) made the point that the warming since 1880 was not statistically significant. You should have seen the alarmists go through the roof. The thread went on and on with all the alarmists in total denial.
It’s good to see this revisited for the politicians. If anything the lack of recent warming has made this point even stronger.

Ian W

From the Bishop Hill post:
A Parliamentary Question that has been tabled in the House of Lords is formally answered by HM Government as a whole. In practice, HM Government assigns the Question to a relevant ministry or department. In our case, the Questions have been assigned to the Department of Energy and Climate Change
So a Parliamentary Question requesting an answer that showed there was NO statistically significant temperature change was put to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The PQ was effectively: “Is there a valid reason for half of your headcount and funding?”
I think we can all see why there was a reluctance to answer.
As they have been forced into answering: “No valid reason”. Where do things go from here? The UK DECC is currently subsidizing inefficient energy production at £18 Billion a year ($28 Billion) for no valid reason and in doing so hugely inflating the costs of energy. Just in the first two weeks of March 2013 2000 people died of cold in energy poverty and since 2003 more than 250,000 UK citizens have died of cold in energy poverty..
This is NOT an academic argument more people died of cold in UK in the last 10 years than military and civilian deaths in the Iraq war!
While I understand people wanting to protect their budgets, headcounts and tenure, they have to realize the lethal effects of the decisions made by politicians based on the reported figures. It is time for a VERY public inquiry with no attempts to hide data or obfuscate reasoning.


slow to follow says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:57 am
onlyme says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:23 am
“…Previously, the question was ducked, finally the math was done.”
The maths might have been done before the question was ducked.
Correct, I falsely made the assumption of integrity on part of the responders to the original question. It is more than possible that the dissembling in the responses was done with knowledge that the math would not support the Met office claim.

Gary Hladik

Love the cartoon!

Gary Pearse

Do we still go with the 95% confidence level? The Max Planck Institute seems to have slipped it to the 90% confidence and then states that this level is even fraught with uncertainty!:
Athelstan. says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:20 am
provides this link:
The models are right but warming from the doubling may be postponed for hundreds of years. The words are from two of the authors of the recent Otto et al paper. The least that can be done is to relieve Max Planck from having his name attached to this institute. His family should picket the place – he deserves to have a scientific institute with his name. Halving the ECS and still lowering the confidence level says something. Read the article – at least the MPI press release stuff. Also, it will be interesting to see who the trolls are if any (Telford above probably won’t be back after Anthony’s response to him) to argue against the change of heart of the UK Met Office.


From the post: “This means that the temperature rise could not be reasonably attributed to natural random variation — i.e. global warming is real.”
The sentence is a little confusing and clumsy. Presumably it means that the rise is statistically significant, and therefore represent something other than statistical errors, errors in measurement, and so on. It represents a real rise.
The term “natural random variation” could be taken to mean that natural causes are excluded as a reason for the rise, which, I suspect is not what is intended here.
Statistical significance does not in itself exclude natural variation as the major factor.

Very much and kindly glad for this!
Good wishes, Doug

Peter Miller

Those living comfortably on a gravy train, especially a government one, with nowhere else to go if the truth prevails and the train derails, will obfuscate and duck and dive and wriggle and do whatever it takes to avoid admitting there was never any point to the gravy train.
Bureaucratic empire building is what global warming is all about, followed closely by goofy politicians trying to display their supposed green credentials.
All this nonsense is paid for by those who pay taxes; the people held in utter contempt by our ruling liberal ‘elites’.

Bearing in mind the Met Office is British, gets money from the British taxpayer AND is a British Govt dept I think that British MPs need to also know what is going on in Britain.(I met up with mine several weeks ago)
As you may know Central England temperature-the worlds oldest instrumental record- is said by many scientists to be a reasonable (but by no means perfect) proxy for Global temperatures
The latest Met office figures to 1772 show only a 0.4C anomaly
Here is the Met office extended data to 1659-please note it is my own reconstruction from then to 1538
Current Temperatures after the recent decade long dip in Britain are about 0.2 degrees higher than the 1830’s, indistinguishable to the 1730-‘s and currently lower than my reconstructed figure for 1500-1540 approx.
Measuring from the 1880’s is somewhat devious as it was of course a noted period of temperature decline and measuring from the trough rather than an earlier peak is always going to skew data. I have always wondered why Giss decided to measure from that 1880 point

Gary Pearse

Nick Milner says:
May 27, 2013 at 7:54 am
“…,.Are we, for example, to assume that the recently lauded low climate sensitivity studies are invalidated and the sensitivity should really be 0?”
Nick, you missed the point of the “lauding”. We realize that the Otto paper is a first step in the way back for the CAGW hardliners of the past. What was being lauded was that IPCC mainliners were chopping the sensitivity in half – this is just a start. Most thinking skeptics believe the sensitivity is 1 or less – there have been a few papers on this from Lindzen et al, Roy Spencer, etc. Moreover, many have been embracing the idea put forward by Willis Eschenbach over the last several years that there is an over-riding governor that puts a series of processes in play to counteract the warming that theoretically could come from CO2, and even the cooling that can come from aerosols volcanic and otherwise. That the Met Office has been forced (with extreme reluctance) to admit that 0.8C since 1880 is not really significant, you will agree, is newsworthy here.
We know that it has warmed since the Little Ice Age when it was possible for people to walk on 8 feet thick ice from Manhattan to Staten Island and that during the American Revolutionary War, heavy cannon were rolled over the ice from New Jersey to Manhattan and a third of Finn’s died of cold and starvation…. but this was all recent natural variation which historically appears large enough to overpower any warming of significance that otherwise might be possible.

John West

@Nick Milner
I think most skeptics would say there’s been statistically significant temperature rise since the peak of the Little Ice Age (~1600’s) but that there are plenty of non-random natural processes to explain [some/most/all] of that warming.

REPLY: Mr. Telford, who is on the government climate science payroll, would do well to embrace this:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
– Upton Sinclair
If you have to stoop to using ad hominem arguments, you could at least ensure that the ad hominem is correct. The salary of academics is not dependent on their opinions – a concept known as academic freedom.
REPLY: A famous quote is an “ad hom” LOL!. Yes no dependency, sure, no ‘publish or perish’ until such time you get that cushy deal known as tenure, where you can be free to be as loony as Paul Ehrlich without fear of losing your job. It doesn’t work that way in the real world outside academia my friend. – Anthony

The problem for the Met modellers is that, apart from the egregious structural errors in their specific models, (assuming that CO2 is the main driver when it clearly follows temperature and adding water vapour as a feedback onto CO2 to increase the sensitivity) climate science is so complex that the modelling approach is inherently incapable of providing useful forecasts. All the IPCC model projections and the impact studies and government policies which depend on them are a total waste of time and money.The only useful approach is to perform power spectrum and wavelet analysis on the temperature and possible climate driver time series to find patterns of repeating periodicities and project them forward. When this is done it is apparent that the earth entered a cooling phase in 2003-4 which will likely last for 20 more years and perhaps for several hundred years beyond that. For the data and references supporting this conclusion check the posts “Open letter to Benny Peiser ” and “Climate Forecasting Basics for Britains Seven Alarmist Scientists”
at http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

Gary Hladik

Nick Milner says (May 27, 2013 at 7:54 am): “It’s an interesting essay but what are we to take away from it? That statistically speaking the planet isn’t actually warming after all?”
Read the beginning of the article again:
It has been widely claimed that the increase in global temperatures since the late 1800s is too large to be reasonably attributed to natural random variation. Moreover, that claim is arguably the biggest reason for concern about global warming.
The MET has admitted that the measured warming is in fact not too large to be attributed to natural variation. That’s in agreement with one of the skeptics’ most consistent arguments, i.e. that in light of the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age, Roman Warm Period, Holocene Optimum, etc., we’re still well within natural variations of the Earth’s climate system.

William Astley

The fact that the MET will not answer a simple scientific question appears to support the assertion that the MET is biased and is agenda driven, rather than a neutral scientific body whose purpose is to provide data and analysis for the public and policy makers.
The MET will not answer a simple scientific question with a quantified standard scientific answer (probability the 20th century warming is significant based on past warming and cooling periods in the climate record) as the answer is the 20th century warming is not unusual, not statically significant.
There is a reason the ‘warmists’ will not debate the observations concerning the most basic fundamental questions concerning validating the AGW theory, related to the position of Lukewarm AGW vs Dangerous AGW: They would lose that debate.
1) Warming is not statistically significant (i.e. There has been other periods of warming and cooling in the recent human history post 1850 that is similar to the 20th century.) MET will not answer this question as the answer does not support the warmist position.
2) The latitudinal pattern of warming does not match that predicted by the AGW theory. (There is too much observed warming in the Northern Hemisphere ex-tropics. There is hardly any warming in the tropics.) See paper link to below to back up that claim.) That fact indicates a significant portion of the 20th century warming has caused by something else than CO2. Hint solar modulation of clouds. No one is even discussing this observation.
3) Even if 100% of the warming was caused by CO2 (ignoring the fact that the regions of the planet that warm do not match theory), the amount of observed warming is significantly less than what is predicted by the IPCC used general circulation models (See link below). The most recent warmist response is the heat is hiding in the deep ocean. (No one has noticed that if there is mixing of surface water with deep water that will significant reduce/cap the rate of rise of atmospheric CO2. Is there no end to the problems for the warmists?)
Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Earth
The global atmospheric temperature anomalies of Earth reached a maximum in 1998 which has not been exceeded during the subsequent 10 years (William: 16 years and counting). The global anomalies are calculated from the average of climate effects occurring in the tropical and the extratropical latitude bands. El Niño/La Niña effects in the tropical band are shown to explain the 1998 maximum while variations in the background of the global anomalies largely come from climate effects in the northern extratropics. These effects do not have the signature associated with CO2 climate forcing. (William: This observation indicates something is fundamental incorrect with the IPCC models, likely negative feedback in the tropics due to increased or decreased planetary cloud cover to resist forcing). However, the data show a small underlying positive trend that is consistent with CO2 climate forcing with no-feedback. (This indicates a significant portion of the 20th century warming has due to something rather than CO2 forcing.)
The recent atmospheric global temperature anomalies of the Earth have been shown to consist of independent effects in different latitude bands. The tropical latitude band variations are strongly correlated with ENSO effects. The maximum seen in 1998 is due to the El Niño of that year. The effects in the northern extratropics are not consistent with CO2 forcing alone. …. …. An underlying temperature trend of 0.062±0.010ºK/ decade was estimated from data in the tropical latitude band. Corrections to this trend value from solar and aerosols climate forcings are estimated to be a fraction of this value. The trend expected from CO2climate forcing is 0.070g ºC/decade, where g is the gain due to any feedback. If the underlying trend is due to CO2 then g ~1. Models giving values of greater than 1 would need a negative climate forcing to partially cancel that from CO2. This negative forcing cannot be from aerosols. … …These conclusions are contrary to the IPCC [2007] statement: “[M]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Theo Goodwin

ruvfs says:
May 27, 2013 at 8:31 am
Very well said and very important. Whether the rise is statistically significant tells us nothing about what might have caused a significant rise and nothing about the maximum range of our data (known natural variation).
To show that natural variation is not the cause, one would have to show that recent data exceed the known range of the data and that the difference is statistically significant. In layman’s terms, you have to show that the Medieval Warm Period has been exceeded and that the difference is statistically significant.
A switch from actual data to “rate of warming” makes no difference as one still must show that the rate in the 20th Century exceeds that in the Medieval Warm Period and that the difference is statistically significant.


It was always foolish to attribute all of the warming since the LIA to AnthroGHGs, as some do, because were it so, the earth would be very cold now without it. The higher the sensitivity, the colder it would be now without man’s input. Much better to hope for a low sensitivity to CO2 and dominance of natural cycles.

Stephen Wilde

Since 2008 I’ve been telling you all that I noticed the air circulation across the UK starting to change from around 2000. The data in this thread confirms that observation.
That followed the change in the opposite direction that subsisted during the late 20th century warming spell.
In the late 1970s climate shift the jets and climate zones shifted poleward.
Since 2000 they have been shifting equatorward.
All else follows from that.
The only correlation that appears to be duplicated at both times is solar variation.
In the late 70s solar activity increased after slightly less active cycle 20 and the atmospheric circulation shifted poleward.
In the late 90s the decline from active cycle 23 to quiet cycle 24 moved the atmospheric circulation equatorward.

Mike Haseler

In 2009 in my submission to the UK Parliament after climategate I stated: “The Null Hypothesis (Natural Variation) is Consistent with Global Temperatures”
Four years later the UK parliament says I was right.

Robert of Ottawa

What persistance on behalf of the players – including the MET’s stonewalling. Had to ask the question 6 times

Robert of Ottawa

Reply to Nick Milner May 27, 2013 at 7:54 am
Nick, to clarify, many people like me argue that yes, the place has warmed slightly, but it is not statistically significant; just red noise and a recovery from the little ice age. Now the MET office is agreeing.


The key issue is that Climate Alchemy depends upon incorrect physics from Sagan and Houghton. Hansen codified it and in 2011 was forced to claim that aerosol cooling was exactly equal and opposite GHG-AGW, and still the lunatics believed in the religion.
The fact is, any competent objective professional with proper training** can see that the modelling is wrong. it takes a rarer individual to work out that there is a mechanism by which CO2-AGW is kept at zero, on average, and compensates for solar change.
**The Met. Office is staffed by people who do not know enough physics and/or have been poorly taught. Few scientists know the S-B equation and its progenitor, the Planck Irradiation Function. I have heard physicists claim bodies emit streams of photons and Climate Alchemists claim it’s streams of heat energy. The fact is, heat transfer rate per unit volume is the negative of the integral over all wavelengths of the divergence of the monochromatic radiative flux density.
So, you do not get any energy transfer until the radiation fields interact destructively. The result of this is that ‘back radiation’ is an aborted foetus of science. How anyone can teach it is beyond my ken. And to believe pyrgeometers measure it is ludicrous. The manufacturers know the truth, which is that only the net signal is real.
Sagan got the aerosol physics wrong. Houghton claimed the two stream approximation can be used at an optical discontinuity and assumed that atmospheres are grey bodies. Put these two errors right and add a few twists and there can be no CO2-AGW.

Scott Basinger

Telford: “More of a red herring than a cat. Only Keenan cannot tell the difference.”
If you’d actually make a point rather than using snark against the author, people like myself would probably listen to what you have to say. But since you didn’t, I have to conclude that you really don’t have a valid point and that you’re so wedded to your ‘side’ that not much you have to say is worth listening to. Good luck on that.

Mr Green Genes

I find it interesting that the question was put to the Department for Energy and Climate Change since, on their own website, the Met. Office proclaim themselves to be “a Trading Fund within the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, operating on a commercial basis under set targets“, however odd that may sound. As someone who, over the years, has had to deal with government bureaucracy at its most crass and unhelpful, I sense that the set-up has given the civil servants an excuse to bounce the response around Whitehall in an effort to avoid having to give a politically embarrassing answer. Kudos to Lord Donoughue for not falling for it.


What should people expect as we came out of the Little Ice Age? Then there’s the ‘significant(?)’ rise between 2910 to 1940 when co2 was well below the ‘safe’ level.

Stephen Wilde

Gary Pearse said:
“Moreover, many have been embracing the idea put forward by Willis Eschenbach over the last several years that there is an over-riding governor that puts a series of processes in play to counteract the warming that theoretically could come from CO2, and even the cooling that can come from aerosols volcanic and otherwise”
Yes and I’ve told you what it is.
Rather than simply being changes in thunderstorm activity in the tropics as suggested by Willis it is a bodily latitudinal shift of the entire atmospheric circulation in response to any forcing element other than atmospheric mass, the strength of the gravitational field or ToA insolation.
Compared to such shifts induced by solar and oceanic variations the effect of our CO2 emissions could never be measured.

This is brilliant. Let’s see what Parliament does with it. I guess they’ve got some thinking to do.
Excellent work, Doug – the world needs more like you.

Isn’t this part of the IPCC report the EPA relied on for it’s endangerment finding? If so this action by the MET should effect the validity of the finding.


Meanwhile in Germany it looks like they are having the coldest Spring in 40 years.

Nik Marshall-Blank

No problem, the warmists will produce a new paper excluding all other papers written by people who always leave a little tea remaining in their cup or do not eat the wafer cone of an ice cream and that will leave 97% agreeing with AGW.

Doug Proctor

The CAGW counter to this is that just because the temp increase from 1850 COULD be an example of “normal” variation, and so is not statistically significant, i.e standing outside noise, it doesn’t mean the temp increase IS an example of normal variation.
The warmist do employ circular reasoning. But they claim that other evidence leads them to say that the warming from 1850 ISN”T natural, that it is forced by the increase in CO2.
We have a non-unique solution type problem. The warmists have reframed it as a unique solution problem, and since they have found “a” solution, i.e. A-CO2, they have found THE solution. The post’s statistical statement is that the rise global temps since 1850 is not a unique solution situation. That is important and signficant in terms of the debate, but that is all: CO2 is sufficient but not necessary.
CO2 as in the IPCC narrative is a necessary and sufficient cause. In the skeptic view, CO2 is a sufficient but not necessary cause, and that other factors, also sufficient but not necessary are involved. In fact, the skeptics’ case is that several factors together are both sufficient (though not necessary) AND actually the reason.
When the climatologists, politicians and ideologues are stuck in the “necessary”, Unique Solution Syndrome, they are like the man who thinks the entire world is just a collection of various types of nails. Whatever the situation, he only needs a hammer; he will resist all other tools to the end of his life.

Nik Marshall-Blank

Oh… and Dana Nuttynelly will have to think hard about what to write after this.