# SkepticalScience Needs to Update their Escalator

The SkepticalScience animation The Escalator has been around for a couple of years, and it has appeared in dozens of their posts and in blog posts by other carbon dioxide-obsessed alarmists. Their intent with The Escalator animation was to show that the instrument temperature record includes many short-term absences of global warming, while, in their minds, manmade greenhouse gases caused the long-term trend of global warming. With Kevin Trenberth now saying strong El Niño events caused global warming to occur in steps, SkepticalScience needs to revise their escalator animation. The steps are not only how skeptics view global warming…one of the leading ENSO and global warming researchers is now presenting global warming in El Niño-caused big jumps, and he also has written in at least two peer-reviewed papers that El Niños are fueled by sunlight.

So here’s my suggested replacement for SkepticalScience’s The Escalator. For lack of a better title, we’ll call it…

THE TRENBERTH GLOBAL WARMING STAIRCASE

Feel free to link it anywhere you like…especially where the CO2-obsessed have presented the SkepticalScience animation “The Escalator”.

For more information about Kevin Trenberth’s discussion of the how the warming of global surface temperatures occurred “instead of having a gradual trend going up, maybe the way to think of it is we have a series of steps, like a staircase” or in “big jumps” see the following posts. The first post also includes quotes from and links to the papers where Trenberth states that sunlight provides the warm water for El Niños:

If this topic is new to you, see the free illustrated essay The Manmade Global Warming Challenge (42MB). And if you’d like more information, my ebook Who Turned on the Heat? is available. It goes into a tremendous amount of detail to explain El Niño and La Niña processes and the long-term aftereffects of strong El Niño events. Who Turned on the Heat? weighs in at a whopping 550+ pages, about 110,000+ words. It contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 380 color illustrations. In pdf form, it’s about 23MB. It includes links to more than a dozen animations, which allow the reader to view ENSO processes and the interactions between variables.

I’ve lowered the price of Who Turned on the Heat? from U.S.$8.00 to U.S.$5.00. Some readers spend more on a cup of coffee. Please buy a copy. You might even learn something. A free preview in pdf format is here. The preview includes the Table of Contents, the Introduction, the first half of section 1 (which was provided complete in the post here), a discussion of the cover, and the Closing. Take a run through the Table of Contents. It is a very-detailed and well-illustrated book—using data from the real world, not models of a virtual world. Who Turned on the Heat? is only available in pdf format…and will only be available in that format. Click here to purchase a copy. Thanks. Book sales and tips will hopefully allow me to return to blogging full-time once again.

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Jimmy Haigh.

Trenberth disappoints. (gavin)

Cream Bourbon

This does not add any understanding. It has been noted for years that El Nino spills out heat every few years.

@Pointman – I dropped a link to it as well over at Joanne Nova’s site. He is haunting her right now.

TedM

If I’m permitted to advertise here: I bought Bob’s ebook “Who Turned on the Heat”, one of the best decisions I ever made. Buy it, you have nothing to lose other than your ignorance. I particularly recommend it to Rob Painting and David Appell.

MikeUK

At first I thought that Trenberth was preparing a fall-back position for when the shit hits the fan on the failed CO2 hypothesis, but then I saw someone (sorry, forgot who) suggesting that he was just trying to suggest that pauses were expected, because look, they’ve happened before in a warming world.
Whatever, there may be step changes in global temperature for reasons unknown.

Aussiebear

Again, so much for the “settled science”. More evidence that 97% of climate scientist agree is bogus. The real question is: WHAT DO THEY AGREE ON??

As long as they continue to use a conclusion to chase data, they will miss the most interesting data.

RH

I personally love watching that stupid, condescending, staircase animation. It might have seemed like a clever idea to the ironically named Skeptical Science people when they first did it, but now, as that top line gets longer and longer, and starts to tilt downward it is mocking them.

norah4you

Some people like the article author never ever learn basic Theories of Science. First of all:
Fallacie nr 1 above: Argumentum ab auctoritate
Fallacie nr 2 above: Appeal to fear
Fallacie nr 3 above: Fallacies of Assumtion
not to mention: Fallacy from usage of insound premisses and Ad Hoc
How is it possible for anyone passing beyond Groundlevel at University anywhere not to have learn what it takes to present valid arguments that can lead up to a sound conclussion?

Bob Tisdale says:
May 29, 2014 at 4:23 am

Anthony, here’s something really curious. Kevin Trenberth’s media page at the NCAR website includes links to WUWT posts, under a special heading no less:
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/trenbert/media.html

More curious than that – Only the first link goes to WUWT (…/2014/01/31/open-letter-to-kevin-trenberth-ncar/), the remaining 10 all go to various pages at bobtisdale.wordpress.com.
Congratulations seem to be in order.

Gary Pearse

Bob, the staircase is, however, going up. When does it go down? For those who don’t care where the heat is coming from, could we reach thermageddon just with El NINOS? Something is wrong with this model. If GHG are relatively small in effect, we would have to appeal to the sun to take us to our final end with El NINOS and why would it do that when it appears to even be quieting down or, according to some experts, it is relatively unchanging. How does it come down – that is the missing half of all your stuff. Maybe heating up after the LIA we can expect an equiibrium when sea “catches up”.

Stephen Richards

How does it come down ?
Cold PDO ?

Evan Jones

As long as they continue to use a conclusion to chase data, they will miss the most interesting data.
Sometimes you can make skillful use homogenization to make a true signal simply disappear.

Dave

Personally, I would listen more to what you say if you would discontinue the infomercials advertising your book.

Evan Jones

Bob, the staircase is, however, going up. When does it go down?
During negative PDO. But with upward pressure form CO2, there is constant mild thumb under the scale, so positive PDO shows double warming and negative PDO is flat.
Net result is about where Otto and Idso put it: a notch over +1.1C per doubling.

Walt S

Given a certain number of years between “stairsteps” (say 15) between “Super El Niños”, how much rise needs to happen during each Super El Niño to make the IPCC prediction for the year 2100, and what would that stairstep graph look like?
Would they have to be Super _Duper_ El Niños?

Anthony, here’s something really curious. Kevin Trenberth’s media page at the NCAR website includes links to WUWT posts, under a special heading no less:
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/trenbert/media.html

Actually, this is a sign (one among many) that Trenberth is a pretty reasonable guy. He actually reads what “the opposition” has to say (at least about him and his work) and is obviously willing to consider entirely new paradigms. At the very least he is unafraid of bucking the prevailing worldview of the mainstream CAGW/CACC group, and as chairman of GEWEX he has some serious influence. Finding the “missing heat” in the ocean is like asserting that it has all simply gone away never to trouble us again.
http://data.nodc.noaa.gov/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/DATA/basin/yearly_mt/T-dC-w0-2000m.dat
It is apparently the annual ocean heat content delta for the NH, SH and the globe for my lifetime (1955-present). It is enormously interesting. Two features I pointed out and will point out again:
a) The error bars are impossible. They are basically unchanged from 1955 to the present at ~0.003-ish (on the scale of the chart, which isn’t given). The assertion that we knew these numbers in 1955 at the same resolution that we know them today is laughable — somewhere in there ARGO came online, and back in the 1950’s we had only the most cursory and enormously, unbelievably sparsely sampled knowledge of the temperature across the depth of the entire water column. Today, with ARGO this is still true, but there is no way that the addition of literally thousands of sampling stations would not reduce the error bars. In fact, reduce them by a factor of (wait for it) order $\sqrt{1000} \approx 31$ if the gods of statistics have not lost their power and charm. Since there are “thousands” of buoys (the number keeps increasing) error estimates in the present ought to be at least one, more likely two orders of magnitude smaller in the present, assuming that they might have had 50 stations sampling the entire planet back in 1955 and through much of the reported interval. Indeed, there should have been a rapid (nearly discrete) jump in precision when ARGO came online. It’s not there, so I doubt it.
b) OK, so error reporting sucks, but that is the rule, not the exception, in climate science. At least we can hope that the data themselves are accurate within some precision, or reflect some observed trend. And how very interesting a pattern it is!
From 1955 to 1974, ocean heat content rockets up — I eyeball an “average” annual increase of order 0.15-0.2 (in whatever the units are, again, not given in the 0-2000m data panel itself). In 1975, it is like a switch is thrown, and the rate of increase plummets to be nearly indistinguishable from noise (same order as the error bar) except for 1982/1983 (remember this for a moment). In 1994/1995 the switch flips again, and the ocean’s heat rockets up at the former rate until 2002 when it more than doubles and is still on a slow increasing trend.
Compare that to:
and it is almost scary. The intervals of flat atmospheric temperatures correspond to periods when the ocean was absorbing heat (which almost invisibly increases its temperature). The intervals of rising atmospheric temperatures almost perfectly correspond to periods when the ocean’s heat content was nearly flat. The recent weak cooling trend in the atmosphere corresponds to a time when oceanic heat absorption is gradually increasing. Even the “bobble” in ocean heat content delta in 1982-1983 corresponds almost exactly with a similar “antibobble” in global average temperature in HADCRUT4 (offset by around a year).
It would be very, very interesting to look at the correlation of the two data sets (with atmospheric temperature presented as an annual delta to correspond to the delta in oceanic heat) in a scatter plot. I predict that they will produce two distinct regimes — one where the ocean is warming and the atmosphere is neutral to cooling, and one where the ocean is neutral to cooling and the atmosphere is warming with almost nothing in between. Well, with a tiny bit more structure — the post 2000 behavior almost forms a third regime splitting off from the 1955-1974 behavior.
Ordinarily I tend to suspect things like this, because numerology is not science and post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy, but OTOH I “do” statistics, and this sort of (anti)correlation almost always signals either a confounding connection — one variable really is some sort of approximate transform of the other variable — or a really, really serious causal connection (which is confounding, no doubt, but in a good way). I would come dangerously close to believing an assertion like “The ocean and atmosphere countervary in temperature/heat content in steps” even without a mechanism.
But I think that the mechanism itself may be pretty simple. Air pressure alone may be the cause. High pressure systems cool the atmosphere via pressure broadening of the GHGs and reduction of humidity, but let sunlight penetrate into the ocean. Low pressure systems can warm the atmosphere but tend to reflect sunlight and prevent it from penetrating the ocean. The decadal oscillations tend to alter the distribution of high vs low pressure centers both spatially and temporally (but do so in a more or less chaotic fashion, a la ENSO and polar vortices, with decade-scale trends that suddenly jump to a different regime but don’t necessarily repeat in duration or strength or distribution).
Note that GHGs play a role in both warming and cooling in this scenario — the wings in the lower atmosphere have been known to be mostly cooling since the 1950s. Water vapor is complex and works both ways — albedo and as a GHG and as a latent heat transport agent.
rgb

Brilliant.
Of course atmospheric CO2 concentration is rising! That is caused by Global Warming and Henry’s Law, a law of physics IPCC has actively concealed and left unrecognized in its tomes. Global Warming is caused by the Sun. IPCC claims not because the Sun doesn’t vary enough for its radiative forcing models. IPCC missed the effect because clouds are a positive feedback to TSI, and IPCC does not know how to model clouds dynamically. IPCC covered up this amplifier, dismissing it in AR4.
The claim above that the rise on the escalator matches man’s emissions is one of IPCC’s fingerprints. That claim is a forgery committed by IPCC’s Chart Junk, as shown in my Journal.
These climatologist know a little about a small branch of science without grasping overarching scientific principles. Causation, the existence of Cause & Effect, requires Causality, the property of science that a Cause must precede its Effects. Even if the rise on the escalator were to match man’s emissions that would not mean that man’s emission were the cause of the separate rise in temperature. (The reverse is a Law of physics.) The climatologists’ claim to that proposition is an active example of the fallacy that correlation establishes cause, a fact known even to laymen. IPCC needs to show the lead-lag relationship between its conjectures about causes and effects, but never manages to do so. The whole shebang of warmists is scientifically challenged.

Bernd Palmer

When does it go down? It has been going up since the Little Ice Age.
What made it go up? Good question …

Leo G

Next year has the lunar standstill, which apparently has been associated with transient climate disturbance as far back as the Neolithic. Any predictions for the effect of any such 2015 disturbance?

lgl

Bob
Roy Spencer can explain this to you, it’s not difficult. http://virakkraft.com/sinus++.png
hint, drroyspencer.com , november.

Olaf Koenders

Gary Pearse, the staircase went down between 1945 and 1975. Don’t panic.

urederra

And what about the cooling in the seventies? I cannot see it in the escalator.

michael hart

Well someone has to do it, so it may as well be me.

J

urederra…
That decline was hidden (hide the decline !), or “adjusted” away.l

mpainter

There have been El Ninos in the past. If El Ninos mean stepwise warming, then we should have had such stepwise warming in the past. But, no, we do not see such. Something different is happening today (that is, the last forty years or so). El Ninos do not explain the circa 1977-97 warming trend, despite the apparent coupling of step-warming with ENSO events.
However, insolation can explain it. The question is whence the increase of insolation? Answer this and we will know the cause of the late warming trend and whether this will resume in the future. CO2 can be eliminated from consideration as a factor in climate.

Thank you Bob

Latitude

so, what’s the Atlantic doing?

Gras Albert

Bob has seen my escalator before, I can’t remember if Anthony has, whatever, feel free to use as your discretion, you might like to display it in the post (depending on browser, you may need to refresh the image).
Albert’s Escalator
Illustrating why escalator’s are embarrassing to climate science, especially if, like Tim Yeo & John Gummer, you think the last decade having record temperatures means anything at all

Matthew R Marler

Robert Brown: The intervals of flat atmospheric temperatures correspond to periods when the ocean was absorbing heat (which almost invisibly increases its temperature). The intervals of rising atmospheric temperatures almost perfectly correspond to periods when the ocean’s heat content was nearly flat. The recent weak cooling trend in the atmosphere corresponds to a time when oceanic heat absorption is gradually increasing. Even the “bobble” in ocean heat content delta in 1982-1983 corresponds almost exactly with a similar “antibobble” in global average temperature in HADCRUT4 (offset by around a year).
Doesn’t that first sentence express what Trenberth is saying is happening now?
Is it possible for that to be happening if the CO2 in the atmosphere is what is driving the overall increase that has occurred?

“I’m not sure why Trenberth muddied the waters of AGW with his stairway to global warming, or if was his intent to muddy them, but he definitely muddied them.”
actually it helps to disabuse people of the notion that warming (of the ATMOSPHERE and upper ocean) will occur in a monotonically increasing fashion.
El nino is a pattern. it does not cause warming it is how the energy imbalance manfests.

rgbatduke

Illustrating why escalator’s are embarrassing to climate science, especially if, like Tim Yeo & John Gummer, you think the last decade having record temperatures means anything at all
Well, it means that the last decade had a number of record temperatures (record over the thermometric era, probably not records over the Holocene and certainly not record temperatures outside of the Holocene).
However, another point that is being missed in the discussion is this. If one takes a peek at Figure 9.8a from AR5:
and try to discern all of the little pastel-colored lines that make up the results presented for each of the CMIP5 models, how many of these exhibit a stair-step behavior? Would that be zero? How many of them exhibit the same range of temperature fluctuation around their “smoothed mean” behavior as is observed in the real climate? Would that also be zero? That’s a real question, as one cannot see most of the behavior of individual models in this obfuscating figure, but it is quite certain that MOST of the models have a variance that is between 2 and 3 times the variance observed in the actual climate (with absolutely zero individual models that exhibit “fifteen year intervals without temperature increase”). Would this obvious problem with the variance be a small fraction of the actual problem, because these pastel curves are themselves averages over many perturbed parameter runs for each model and hence the variance is already reduced by a statistical factor from the average variance for the individual runs? It would.
The models presented in figure 9.8a of AR5:
* Spend close some 8 or 9x as much time above the HADCRUT4 GAST estimate as they do equal to or below that estimate (outside of the reference interval — in fact let’s exclude the reference interval from all of the remarks in this list).
* In the rare intervals that the MultiModel Ensemble Mean (and don’t get me started on this statistical abomination) does go below HADCRUT4, it goes barely below. When it is above, it goes way above. To the extent that this mean reflects the general behavior of the already internally averaged underlying models, we can conclude on the basis of these two observations that:
* The p-value for the null-hypothesis “The [number of] models of CMIP5 [that] correctly compute the physics and solve the problem they are attempting to solve is absurdly small. That is, the probability of correct models producing this behavior by random chance is very small (easily less than 0.01), basically zero. There is no reasonable possibility that the climate models presented in figure 9.8a of AR5 or their MME mean are correct and that the deviation between the models and the actual climate outside of the reference interval is due to random chance.
* The individual, already averaged models contributing to the MME mean have variances 2-3 times too large. Since they are already averaged, it is probable that individual model runs exhibit global temperature fluctuations as much as an order of magnitude too large around whatever one imagines constitutes their “mean behavior”. IMO this is strong evidence that they accomplish their forced fit across the reference interval by incorrectly balancing competing dynamics — taking a large warming effect and partially cancelling it with a large cooling effect to produce a much smaller warming effect. Instead of damping temperature fluctuations with dynamic feedback, this effectively amplifies fluctuations by causing much weaker dynamics feedback damping mechanisms to be heavily overdriven and lagged before they can respond.
* And then, yeah, they no not exhibit anything like Hurst-Kolmogorov behavior, a.k.a. “stair stepping”, or the “escalator”. That is, they have a dynamic signature that is completely inconsistent with the actual data. They aren’t even qualititatively correct.
Sadly, I could go on. I sometimes wonder if anybody actually looks at anything but the SPM in the Assessment Reports. I don’t understand how any scientist who looked at this figure would not go “whoa, that’s not right” long before they got around to looking at the right hand end of it, where the model predictions are actively diverging from the observed temperatures, precisely as one would expect if the fit in the reference interval were being extrapolated out of its range of partial validity where the large cancelling terms no longer cancelled.
rgb

rgbatduke

Doesn’t that first sentence express what Trenberth is saying is happening now?
Sure. As I said (up above) I think Trenberth is actually a pretty reasonable guy, unafraid to depart from the “party line”. The problem with his assertion is that it doesn’t address whether CO_2 is or isn’t an important factor in the overall warming, it reflect ex post facto explanation of what has happened, it isn’t a prediction for what will happen, yet. Trenberth has basically said that all of the models that neglect this process are badly wrong even if that isn’t exactly how he has framed it.
Note well that this is still a hypothesis. It is by no means a proven fact. The data is very strongly suggestive and convincing, but the hypothesis itself is not quantitatively rigorous. It still doesn’t properly explain how the atmosphere steadily heats when the ocean does not, or how the ocean steadily heats when the atmosphere does not, and AFAIK no models exhibit this particular counterintuitive countervariance but the data does.
This is in fact still more direct statistical evidence that the models have the physics wrong, deeply wrong.
But that also means that I cannot answer your second question about how important CO_2 is in the actual climate or this process. Nobody can, not yet. It is possible, even probable, that it has an overall warming effect and is in fact contributing some step height to the escalator, but the escalator was walking up (and rarely down) long before CO_2 started to increase and existing models cannot and do not predict any of this (as one can easily see from:

rgbatduke

OK, I’ve tried to post the graphic from AR5 twice inline twice and it hasn’t worked. Here is a URL:
http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Figure9.8.jpg
Enjoy.
REPLY: I’ve converted to image for you. – Anthony

>Dave says: May 29, 2014 at 5:48 am
>Personally, I would listen more to what you say if you would discontinue the infomercials >advertising your book.

Scorp1us

I was looking at this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-of-doubt-escalator-updates.html
I wonder why they use a line for the temperature data, and a curve for the ice data. I’d like to see a curve applied to the temperature data.

Latitude

Steven Mosher says:
May 29, 2014 at 10:50 am
actually it helps to disabuse people of the notion that warming (of the ATMOSPHERE and upper ocean) will occur in a monotonically increasing fashion.
El nino is a pattern. it does not cause warming it is how the energy imbalance manfests.
======
you mean exactly the same way cooling does……