The journal Nature embraces 'the pause' and ocean cycles as the cause, Trenberth still betting his heat will show up

From the “settled science” department. It seems even Dr. Kevin Trenberth is now admitting to the cyclic influences of the AMO and PDO on global climate. Neither “carbon” nor “carbon dioxide” is mentioned in this article that cites Trenberth as saying: “The 1997 to ’98 El Niño event was a trigger for the changes in the Pacific, and I think that’s very probably the beginning of the hiatus,”

This is significant, as it represents a coming to terms with “the pause” not only by Nature, but by Trenberth too.

nature_the_pause

Excerpts from the article by Jeff Tollefson:

The biggest mystery in climate science today may have begun, unbeknownst to anybody at the time, with a subtle weakening of the tropical trade winds blowing across the Pacific Ocean in late 1997. These winds normally push sun-baked water towards Indonesia. When they slackened, the warm water sloshed back towards South America, resulting in a spectacular example of a phenomenon known as El Niño. Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled.

For several years, scientists wrote off the stall as noise in the climate system: the natural variations in the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere that drive warm or cool spells around the globe. But the pause has persisted, sparking a minor crisis of confidence in the field. Although there have been jumps and dips, average atmospheric temperatures have risen little since 1998, in seeming defiance of projections of climate models and the ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. Climate sceptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt. Climate scientists, meanwhile, know that heat must still be building up somewhere in the climate system, but they have struggled to explain where it is going, if not into the atmosphere. Some have begun to wonder whether there is something amiss in their models.

Now, as the global-warming hiatus enters its sixteenth year, scientists are at last making headway in the case of the missing heat. Some have pointed to the Sun, volcanoes and even pollution from China as potential culprits, but recent studies suggest that the oceans are key to explaining the anomaly. The latest suspect is the El Niño of 1997–98, which pumped prodigious quantities of heat out of the oceans and into the atmosphere — perhaps enough to tip the equatorial Pacific into a prolonged cold state that has suppressed global temperatures ever since.

“The 1997 to ’98 El Niño event was a trigger for the changes in the Pacific, and I think that’s very probably the beginning of the hiatus,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. According to this theory, the tropical Pacific should snap out of its prolonged cold spell in the coming years.“Eventually,” Trenberth says, “it will switch back in the other direction.”

…none of the climate simulations carried out for the IPCC produced this particular hiatus at this particular time. That has led sceptics — and some scientists — to the controversial conclusion that the models might be overestimating the effect of greenhouse gases, and that future warming might not be as strong as is feared. Others say that this conclusion goes against the long-term temperature trends, as well as palaeoclimate data that are used to extend the temperature record far into the past. And many researchers caution against evaluating models on the basis of a relatively short-term blip in the climate. “If you are interested in global climate change, your main focus ought to be on timescales of 50 to 100 years,” says Susan Solomon, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The simplest explanation for both the hiatus and the discrepancy in the models is natural variability. Much like the swings between warm and cold in day-to-day weather, chaotic climate fluctuations can knock global temperatures up or down from year to year and decade to decade. Records of past climate show some long-lasting global heatwaves and cold snaps, and climate models suggest that either of these can occur as the world warms under the influence of greenhouse gases.

One important finding came in 2011, when a team of researchers at NCAR led by Gerald Meehl reported that inserting a PDO pattern into global climate models causes decade-scale breaks in global warming3. Ocean-temperature data from the recent hiatus reveal why: in a subsequent study, the NCAR researchers showed that more heat moved into the deep ocean after 1998, which helped to prevent the atmosphere from warming6. In a third paper, the group used computer models to document the flip side of the process: when the PDO switches to its positive phase, it heats up the surface ocean and atmosphere, helping to drive decades of rapid warming7.

IPCC-AMO-PDO-Warming

Scientists may get to test their theories soon enough. At present, strong tropical trade winds are pushing ever more warm water westward towards Indonesia, fuelling storms such as November’s Typhoon Haiyan, and nudging up sea levels in the western Pacific; they are now roughly 20 centimetres higher than those in the eastern Pacific. Sooner or later, the trend will inevitably reverse. “You can’t keep piling up warm water in the western Pacific,” Trenberth says. “At some point, the water will get so high that it just sloshes back.” And when that happens, if scientists are on the right track, the missing heat will reappear and temperatures will spike once again.

Read the full article here:

http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525

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It’s sad that real science has to be pried from the alarmists clenched fists. But reality just will not be denied.

DirkH

“The simplest explanation for both the hiatus and the discrepancy in the models is natural variability.”
No, that’s nonsense. The simplest explanation is that the theory is falsified, and that the models are wrong. In fact, EVERYTHING points at the models being wrong, false and useless. Not ONE thing points to the models being right, correct, or useful. There are simply no such reports. We should see thousands of triumphant papers confirming again and again that the models got this right and that right after many years of painstaking development, but we NEVER see any such report.
That’s like celebrating the 100,000th Lancaster bomber built and shipped over the Atlantic while not one of them ever made it through the Kammhuber line.

johnmarshall

Trenberth getting a reality hit?
One of his problems is a complete misunderstanding of latent heat which is where much heat has been used for in cooling at the surface and has stupid graphic in AR4 which uses a flat earth with 24/7 sunlight and no idea from where radiated energy comes from.

heinz57

How come El Nino is an input in to the system.
It’s an output.

Quotes:
“An analysis of historical data buttressed these conclusions, showing that the cool phase of the PDO coincided with a few decades of cooler temperatures after the Second World War (see ‘The Pacific’s global reach’), […]
…and that the warm phase lined up with the sharp spike seen in global temperatures between 1976 and 1998.″
——————–
Now if the cool phase causes global surface air temperatures to stall…
not a huge step to consider, does the warm phase cause them to rise….
and that this might be a cause (or a large proportion of)the late 80’s to 90’s warming..
they sort of acknowledge it in the graphic…
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ipcc-amo-pdo-warming.jpg?w=640&h=293
—————-
When last year the Met Office released a new decadal forecast (with flat temps until 2017)
Sir Brian Hoskins said in response to a to New Scientist question:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23060-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt.html#.UtexAPRdV6Q
NS: Q – Are these cycles just something scientists have invented to explain away the lack of recent warming?
NS: A – No. The Met Office admits that we still know far too little about how these natural cycles work, and how big they are. And climate scientists are open to the charge that they ignored the potential impact of natural variability when it was accelerating global warming. According to Brian Hoskins of Imperial College London, it now looks like natural cycles played a big role in the unexpectedly fast warming of the 1990s.

Bloke down the pub

As long as they realise that the flip side of the argument is that the warming experienced prior to ’98 was exaggerated by the pdo and not some new normal.

No much coming to terms yet. The issue isn’t much that the warming has not happened, rather that the temperatures have been so remarkably stable for a number of years.
How on Earth can all the various processes balance each other out so perfectly?
This indicates there is something big we do not understand about taking measurements, or about the processes that regulate the climate.
Unless and until scientists try to take the pause head-on, they will only be able to accumulate epicycles upon epicycles, a veritable ocean of post-hoc explanations of zero scientific value.

Bloke down the pub

DirkH says:
January 16, 2014 at 4:10 am
That’s like celebrating the 100,000th Lancaster bomber built and shipped over the Atlantic while not one of them ever made it through the Kammhuber line.
What are you wittering on about?

It doesn't add up...

Changes in the earth’s albedo and emissivity and the mechanisms that drive them are of course not up for discussion.

ROM

In a nutshell ; They haven’t got a bloody clue!
But hey! They’re Climate Scientists with a capital “C” and a capital “S” so the great fantastic parody called the Climate Warming Science show must go on and all the regular big time players must be seen to be still the most skillful scientific chappies around otherwise those conferences and free airfares to all those exotic paradises on earth could all dry up and devastation and depression would reign in the world of climate warming science and that would indeed be a travesty of Trenbarthian proportions [ /sarc]

Bruce Cobb

“Climate sceptics have seized on the temperature trends as evidence that global warming has ground to a halt.”
Yes, skeptics “seized” on them. A bit of psychological projection there. All skeptics have done all along is point out the truth. It is the climate “scientists” who seize and grasp at anything and everything to try to keep their fantasy alive, to the detriment of science and humanity. Fact: the warming has halted for some 17 years, despite ever-increasing CO2. Now, the warmologists grasp at straws, even trying to say that the “missing” heat is hiding in the deep oceans. It’s laughably absurd, and pathetic.

The smartest of these guys will be looking for an exit strategy and will eventually look the other way if anyone suggests they were once on the bandwagon beating the drum.

Stephen Richards

What I don’t want is for these guys to remain in place when this whole scam is exposed. Like Erlich they will just keep coming back with another scare for money scheme.

Chris Wright

Here’s the simplest possible explanation of the 20th century warming:
Whatever caused the 20th century warming is the same thing that caused the MWP warming. And the Roman period warming. And the 1500 BC warming.
This explanation is simple and completely natural – literally.
Chris

hunter

“Missing heat” is climate talk for “the dog ate my homework”.
Making ocean cycles the dog raises the question: is it heating or cooling, long term?

M Courtney

Not sure that this report does fully recognise the impact of natural cycles.
It seems to think that the cooling phase of the PDO exactly balances the warming from Greenhouse gases over several decades when the emissions have varied.
That raises two questions:
1 How come the balancing is so precise – are our emissions coupled to the PDO or is their effect swamped by the PDO?
2 If the PDO can match the magnitude of AGW on th ecool sided, can it match the magnitude of AGW on the warm side? If so, how do we know any of the 20thC warming was manmade?

TB

Barry Woods says:
January 16, 2014 at 4:13 am
Quotes:
“An analysis of historical data buttressed these conclusions, showing that the cool phase of the PDO coincided with a few decades of cooler temperatures after the Second World War (see ‘The Pacific’s global reach’), […]
…and that the warm phase lined up with the sharp spike seen in global temperatures between 1976 and 1998.″
——————–
Now if the cool phase causes global surface air temperatures to stall…
not a huge step to consider, does the warm phase cause them to rise….
and that this might be a cause (or a large proportion of)the late 80′s to 90′s warming..
they sort of acknowledge it in the graphic…
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ipcc-amo-pdo-warming.jpg?w=640&h=293
—————-
When last year the Met Office released a new decadal forecast (with flat temps until 2017)
Sir Brian Hoskins said in response to a to New Scientist question:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23060-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt.html#.UtexAPRdV6Q
NS: Q – Are these cycles just something scientists have invented to explain away the lack of recent warming?
NS: A – No. The Met Office admits that we still know far too little about how these natural cycles work, and how big they are. And climate scientists are open to the charge that they ignored the potential impact of natural variability when it was accelerating global warming. According to Brian Hoskins of Imperial College London, it now looks like natural cycles played a big role in the unexpectedly fast warming of the 1990s.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Barry:
Yes, undoubtedly natural climate cycles play a big part in the decadal changes we see – most of these cycles however complete in 30 years (not all). Ocean cycles are undoubtedly the most significant as that’s where ~93% of the earth’s heat is stored. Vis – I suspect the Arctic melt is in part due to the +ve AMO.
However examination of the evidence shows these cycles to overly a general warming signal. The ocean’s heat can only come from the Sun and then store some of it and shift it around in a complex way.
The UKMO’s decadal model is an experimental one, and as such can and has come to a different conclusion to the ensemble mean of the GCM forecasts. The algorithms incorporated in it must be complex, but still, cannot capture a signal from something like the PDO/ENSO and AMO cycles when we cannot predict their wax/waning.

cnxtim

I am entering “sloshed” into my CAGW lexicon. In the Australian vernacular, it also means disgustingly inebriated – now that I can buy!

troe

I applaud this blog and those who have worked so hard to sustain it. When I came to this issue at the time of climategate your position on the role of natural variability was dismissed as unscientific. Now the wheel has turned in your direction. I stand amazed at your insight, courage, and persistance in the face of an incredible storm of unbridled criticism. Its the high stakes drama that keeps us tuned in.

Ivor Ward

So essentially he is saying that Bob Tisdale is right and he was wrong. Why does Trenberth not just say that and get it over with?
[This moderator liked the screen name “Disko Troop”. But not many knew where the name came from. ~ mod.]

jaffa68

“[a] finding…in 2011…inserting a PDO pattern into global climate models causes…..”
What? 2011, what was in the model previously? a fudge factor? What else is missing?

DC Cowboy

The term ‘missing heat’ continues to bother me. It implies that something is there that does not exist. This idea creates a series of natural questions; 1) How much heat is ‘missing’?, 2) How do you know the answer to 1? The ‘heat’ isn’t ‘missing’, it isn’t there, it doesn’t exist. Belief in ‘missing’ heat is akin to belief in the Tooth Fairy and requires a great deal of faith.
To me it would be like a football coach talking about ‘missing points’ after a loss. The team actually scored enough points to win, its just that some of the points they scored are ‘missing’. When those points emerge from wherever they are hiding, the losing team will win.
Also, I hope I’m not around when all that water ‘sloshes’ back to South America. 🙂

philincalifornia

Dear Dr. Trenberth,
Do you recall if, as a small child growing up, your parents made you behave by threatening you with some future appearance of a made-up, mythical bogeyman ? In some cases, perhaps, could this mythical entity even be purportedly hiding under your bed ?
Yours sincerely.
pic

Henry Galt.

The Cl(imate/imatology)(P/C)ause.
My take on “The Clause”:
CS due to 2xCO² is ≤ 0.000°K à la Ferenc Miskolczi.
Back-pedalling grant seekers are barfing up lower and lower guesswork for CS as time passes, we get colder and the 0.000°K part becomes increasingly obvious.

Trenberth’s ‘explanation’ is not really an explanation, but an excuse. He and many other climate scientists are now so deeply influenced by the CAGW narrative that they cannot shake it off come what come may. Whatever happens in the real world, they still try to serve that narrative as faithfully as they possibly can. This by no means invalidates everything they say, but the warp to a single framing becomes much more obvious, and they are blind to a whole range of possibilities.

Hmmm

Barry- that is a fascinating link and quote! I also added the next sentence of the next paragraph in the quote below and my comment follows:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23060-has-global-warming-ground-to-a-halt.html#.UtexAPRdV6Q
“Are these cycles just something scientists have invented to explain away the lack of recent warming?
No. The Met Office admits that we still know far too little about how these natural cycles work, and how big they are. And climate scientists are open to the charge that they ignored the potential impact of natural variability when it was accelerating global warming. According to Brian Hoskins of Imperial College London, it now looks like natural cycles played a big role in the unexpectedly fast warming of the 1990s.
Even so, the fundamental physics about how greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere hasn’t changed.”
Follow the pea here they state that the fundamental physics of greenhouse gases isn’t changed bby the pause (which is true), but this is only speaking to the FIRST ORDER effects which most skeptics also agree with and which are not alarming to anyone. What they absolutely fail to mention is the fact that this may have DRASTIC impacts on their calculations of 2nd order effects/feedbacks/sensitivity and attribution. So they tell an incomplete truth leaving out the important part.

RichardLH

This falls into ‘there MUST be a rise in something soon or we all are doomed’ CAGW camp’s constant refrain.
On the verge of another La Nina currently.
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/monitoring/nino3_4.png

Pethefin

Trenberth has recently also admitted the role of the PDO in the warming period of 1978-1998:
http://notrickszone.com/2014/01/10/oops-trenberth-concedes-natural-ocean-cycles-contributed-to-1978-1998-warming-after-all-co2-diminishes-as-a-factor/
and now admits the possible role of the PDO in the ending of the warming period. Amazing that he is unwilling to reconsider his belief in the CO2-dogma.

Bill Illis

If you accept Trenberth and Tollefson’s proposition here, the energy builds up (mostly in the Pacific, PDO), until it is released (the 1997-98 El Nino) and then it build up again (the current hiatus in the temperatures) …
… which is closer to reality than they have accepted before (but is really just an excuse) …
… then you get a much lower overall warming trend. You get some ups (1976 to 1998), some downs (1944 to 1976) and some flats (1998-2014) …
… but the average rate over all these swings is a small 0.05C per decade signalling a very low climate sensitivity.
Of course, Trenberth and Tollefson stop before they understand/communicate what the proposition really means as a conclusion.

Jim Cripwell

Unfortunately, what is written on WUWT carries little weight with our politicians and the MSM. Hopefully, one of these days, something approaching a miracle will happen, and an eminent scientist who has, in the past, been and out and out warmist, will have the integrity to say what is being said here; that adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels, has an insignificant affect on anything to do with climate. Who that person will be, I don’t know, but whoever it is will have her/his name written proudly in the annals of science.

James

Someone needs to alert SkS. They are convinced it has still been warming…

aaron

So, PDO in. That means Aerosol out for 40s, 50s.

hunter

Dr. Trenberth makes an important admission in the article:
He no longer claims the heat skipped own into the deep ocean, but is instead hiding somewhere near Indonesia, waiting to slosh back into an El Nino mode.

Still, we argue over fractional degrees of temperature “anomaly,” accepting that there is something special, normative, or magical about temps of the past 30 years, or of the past century.
The entire conversation, particularly in the MSM, takes the up-and-down anomaly discussion way too seriously. Does Kevin Trenberth really believe that the ups and downs of a few tenths of a degree represent hair-raising temperature swings rather than a self-regulating system displaying the minor fluctuations around something very close to homeostasis?
The realists will have to, eventually, argue the warmists down on this one, in the popular media. As long as New York Times readers, USA Today readers, and NBC Nightly News watchers believe that they’re seeing a roller coaster rather than a wiggle, the war will never be won.

graphicconception

The temperature graph is a kind of integration of the PDO Index graph.
(You need to add 0.6 to the Index, cumulate and then scale. Where do I collect my Nobel Prize?)
So as Bob Tisdale has been saying, if I understand it correctly, PDO variations are not just oscillations about a mean. They leave a resultant change.

At a Royal Society meeting in 2013, Julia Slingo of the Met office played devil’s advocate and posed the following question to Prof Jochen Marotzke of the German Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, see the 42:46 mark royalsociety.org/marotzke.mp3:
“…it’s a great presentation about 15 years being irrelevant, but I think, some of us might say if you look at the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and it’s timescale that it appears to work, it could be 30 years, and therefore I think, you know, we are still not out of the woods yet on this one. … If you do think it’s internal variability, and you say we do think the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a key component of this, and it’s now in it’s particular phase, but was previously in the opposite phase, could you not therefore explain the accelerated warming of the 80s and 90s as being driven by the other phase of natural variability?”
Simplifying Slingo’s incoherence: “If the current cooling is due to the negative PDO phase, then wouldn’t the warming of the 80s and 90s be a result of the positive PDO phase back then?”
via (and me) http://notrickszone.com/2014/01/10/oops-trenberth-concedes-natural-ocean-cycles-contributed-to-1978-1998-warming-after-all-co2-diminishes-as-a-factor/#sthash.tdBTxgt5.dpuf

catweazle666

Looks like the climate McScientist’s version of “the cheque’s in the post” to me.

Greg Goodman

Sooner or later, the trend will inevitably reverse. “You can’t keep piling up warm water in the western Pacific,” Trenberth says. “At some point, the water will get so high that it just sloshes back.” And when that happens, if scientists are on the right track, the missing heat will reappear and temperatures will spike once again.
This is mainstream explanation and is a questionable as it’s “sloshing” language is silly.
While wind driven “piling up ” is well known in closed lakes, where the wind is in the same direction across the width of the lake, it makes a lot less sense when the trade winds act over a restricted latitude band and the water has several exits from where it is ‘piling up’.

Evan Jones

Yeah, they finally discovered the PDO. Sort of like a professional secretary discovering the Shift key. Bloody amateurs.
Now they need to “discover” that their panic was due to a positive PDO and, consequently, their “projections” were at least twice too high. Then maybe they can learn the rest of the alphabet . . .

Steve from Rockwood

Trenberth admits he doesn’t know (why the world hasn’t warmed according to the models) yet he’s doubling down at the same time (eg. the warmth is going to slosh back).
The issue continues to be the fact that scientists don’t know what the range of natural variability is, both in amplitude and time. They under estimate it (natural variability) and it makes their models over-sensitive to other things such as changes in CO2 concentration.
Natural variation is not limited to +/- 0.2 deg C and it doesn’t have to be entirely periodic with the AMO. In 100 years maybe we’ll know why.
In the meantime Trenberth hopes the world “spikes back up” to save his precious model.

missing heat is an excuse. if we see another warming period in 20 years they will immediately say the missing heat showed itself again.
they are using this term to give themselves an out and an excuse for the future.

Greg Goodman

Barry Woods: Simplifying Slingo’s incoherence: “If the current cooling is due to the negative PDO phase, then wouldn’t the warming of the 80s and 90s be a result of the positive PDO phase back then?”
What is incoherent about that? She was pointing out the duplicity of many attempted explanations that now suggest various other factors account for the pause without acknowledging they must, by inference, be accepted as a cause of warming.

The annotation on the graph says “After a sharp warming early in the 20th century….”. What is the explanation for that “sharp warming”, since it was prior to 1950 when we all started driving our SUVs. Are they saying that the PDO was its cause? If so, is there any reason why it shouldn’t also have been the cause of the “earth warmed rapidly” period in the late 20th century? If so, the job’s done and the climate scientists can move on.
I guess we do have to understand the reasons for the overall increase in temperature anomaly visible across the period of the graph (from about -0.2’C to +0.4’C). My feeling is that it’s due to a combination of post hoc adjustments to the records, UHI effects and systemic issues with thermometer locations.

Would love to hear the explanation as to why the 1920-40s increase (before CO2) is almost identical to the 1970-2000s increase (CO2 “caused”). Can Trenberth explain the missing CO2?

troe

Had a quick look around at the MSM reporting on this. Pretty predictable. No questions about the well-know previous certainty that natural variability could not explain current temperature trends. Suppose they are hoping that nobody will notice if they back down the ladder at sloth speed. The authoritative voice from on high is their most effective tool. Lose that and they lose it all.

Greg Goodman

http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=750
Following El Chichon and Mt Pinatubo eruptions the temp of the stratosphere was raised by the blocking effect of the volcanic ejections absorbing incoming UV, leading to temporary surface cooling.
A few years later, when it cleared there was a permanent, net cooling below the pre-eruption temp in stratosphere. This implies MORE solar was getting through to the surface than before.
That is not what climate models do. They assume volcanoes have a net cooling effect on climate. A cooling effect that used to conclude the spurious positive feedbacks amplifying GHG warming.
It seems probable that the unusually large 1998 El Nino was because of the EXTRA incoming solar getting into lower levels of the climate system caused by the major eruptions. The sustained high level of global temps since then are matched by the sustained high levels of incoming UV energy witnessed by the cooling in the TLS record.

MattN

If the heat was never there, how can it ever be “missing”?

Leo Smith

If that graph is anything to go by, we have 50years of ‘hiatus’, or more, to get through, by which time according to the peak oilers we will in any case have gone past ‘peak CO2’ and emissions will be falling because we have run out of _cheap*_ coal, oil and natural gas.
mating that with an ecosystem adapting to lovely CO2 by voraciously consuming it, and we get a a picture of falling CO2, just as the temperatures start to rise agan. Oh dear. that will be the final gold plated nail in the AGW coffin..
* I stress the cheap bit, no argument there’s lots more down there, just that in the end it ain’t competitive with e.g. nuclear power in the long term, so that’s where it will in fact stay…

Leo Smith

Trenberth says. “At some point, the water will get so high that it just sloshes back.”
Golly. That phrase is so damned scientific it makes my eyers water. 🙂

Speed

These winds normally push sun-baked water towards Indonesia. When they slackened, the warm water sloshed back towards South America
Sun-baked water? Sloshed?