By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Tom Karl’s paper (Karl et al. 2015) purporting to abolish the global-warming pause, recently published in Science, may be partly my fault. I first ran across the National Climatic Data Center’s (NCDC) accident-prone director in a Congressional hearing room in about 2009, when I was the witness for the Republicans, Karl for the Democrats.
I showed the energy and environment committee a graph showing the mean of the temperature anomalies from the three terrestrial and two satellite datasets. The graph showed that in the first eight years of the 21st century the Earth had cooled:
Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the formidable Republican ranking member of the House climate committee, feigned astonishment. He rounded on Karl and said: “You and other officials have made repeated appearances before this committee in recent months, telling us over and over again about “global warming”. Not one of you has ever told us that there has been global cooling throughout the past seven or eight years. Why not? Or is Lord Monckton lying to us?”
Tom Karl, who was sitting next to me, looked as though he wished the “warming” Earth would swallow him up. He shifted from one well-padded butt-cheek to the other. He harrumphed, “Er, ah, well, that is, we wouldn’t have quite – oof – um – done the calculations that way, aaahh… We wouldn’t have averaged the anomalies from – umf – multiple datasets with different fields of coverage, err – aaagh…”
Karl was Saved by the Bell (perhaps he saw himself in the role of Screech to my Zack Morris in the hit 90s teen TV series). A division was called and proceedings were suspended while Hon. Members shuffled out to vote.
While the committee members were doing their democratic duty, Tom Karl rounded on me and hissed, “How do you expect to be taken seriously?”
“I don’t,” I said. “I expect the data to be taken seriously.”
Karl also took issue with my having told the committee there had been no particular trend in landfalling U.S. hurricanes over the past 100 years. He was carrying a vast artist’s portfolio of charts about with him. He flipped it open and said, “You’re wrong.”
“No,” I said, “I’m right.”
He pointed to the graph. I was indeed wrong. Karl’s graph showed no trend in landfalling hurricanes not only for 100 years but for 150 years. His face fell, then brightened again: “Ah,” he said, “but just look at how tropical storms have increased in the past 30 years!”
“You know perfectly well,” I replied, “that that apparent increase is merely an artifact of the satellite coverage that began 30 years ago. Before then, you knew if a hurricane had hit you, but you would probably not be able to detect every tropical storm.”
The committee members murmured back into the hearing room and took their seats. Joe Barton snapped, “Both of you had better write to this committee informing it of how you reached your mutually incompatible conclusions about whether there has been cooling over the past seven or eight years.”
I was quick off the mark, sending the committee a letter that week pointing out that each of the datasets individually showed the cooling. I had particular pleasure in pointing out that Karl’s own NCDC dataset showed it:
Karl sent a rather testy reply to the committee saying that the mere data were not relevant. Eight years was too short a period to draw any conclusion, yada yada. What he could not quite bring himself to admit was that he had been wrong in suggesting there had been no global cooling from 2001-2008. His own dataset showed it.
Now, perhaps still smarting over his trouncing at the hands of a mere layman trumping predictions with data, Karl has done his best to abolish outright the Pause of 18 years 6 months that makes a standing mockery of the wildly exaggerated predictions of the error-prone models unjustifiably but profitably favored by the politico-scientific establishment of which he is a member.
Skeptical scientists including Bob Tisdale, Judith Curry, Ross McKitrick Dick Lindzen and our kind host, have all weighed in with commendable speed to point out how much is wrong with Karl’s overt data tampering.
There is one glorious point they have not mentioned. Karl’s paper appears to repeal the laws of thermodynamics.
Suppose, ad argumentum, that he is right. In that event, in the past 15 years global warming at the Earth’s surface has continued at the not particularly alarming rate of 0.116 K per decade. In 1990 the IPCC’s central business-as-usual prediction for the medium term was equivalent to 0.28 K per decade, so, on any view, Karl’s paper is an admission that the models have been exaggerating by well over double.
But let us look at what happened either side of the surface over the same period.
Beneath the surface heaves the vasty deep. The least ill-resolved source of data about the temperature of the top 1900 m of the ocean is the network of some 3600 automated ARGO bathythermograph buoys.
Unlike the assorted ship’s buckets and engine intake sensors and promenade-deck thermometers that preceded them, the bathythermographs were specifically designed to provide a consistent, calibrated, competent ocean temperature dataset.
They have their problems, not the least of which is that there are so few of them. Each buoy takes only 3 measurements a month in 200,000 cubic kilometres of ocean – a volume 200 miles square and a mile and a quarter deep. The bias uncertainty is of course less than it was in the bad old days of buckets and such, but the coverage uncertainty remains formidable.
Another problem is that ARGO only began producing proper data in 2004, and there seems to have been no update to its marine atlas since the end of 2014.
Nevertheless, ARGO is the least bad we have. And what the buoys show is that the rate of global ocean warming in those 11 full years of data is equivalent to less than a fortieth of a degree per decade – 0.023 degrees per decade, to be more precise:
The lower troposphere extends about as far above the surface as the ARGO-measured upper ocean extends below it. Its temperature is measured by the satellites from which the RSS and UAH datasets come. They have a highish bias uncertainty, but a low coverage uncertainty. Following the recent revision of the UAH dataset, they now tell much the same story. Here is the RSS graph for the 11 years 2004-2014:
These considerations raise an important question, which – once it has been raised – is obvious. But, as Dr Lyne, my wise tutor in Classics at Cambridge, used to remind us: “Do not be frightened to state the obvious. It is surprising how often the obvious goes unnoticed until someone points it out.”
Here is the obvious question. Where is Karl’s surface warming coming from?
It is not coming from above, for in the lower troposphere there was no warming over the 11-year period 2004-2014 (or, for that matter, over the 15-year period 2000-2014).
Four-fifths of it is not coming from below, for Karl’s paper says that from 2000-2014, the 15-year period that includes the 11 years for which we have ARGO data, the surface warming rate was equivalent to 0.116 degrees per decade – more or less exactly five times the measured ocean warming rate.
Not much is coming from the land, for Karl’s paper makes few adjustments to the rate of warming of the air above the land, which in any event accounts for only 29% of the Earth’s surface.
Where is the missing heat coming from? Spukhäfte Fernwirkung, perhaps? Have Mr Karl, and the peerless peer-reviewers of Science who ought surely to have spotted this huge error, inadvertently repealed the laws of thermodynamics? I think we should be told. For if I am right this is the simplest, clearest, most complete refutation of Karl’s paper.