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  1. Surprising doesn’t begin to describe this. We’re really talking just about the influence of the Arctic, as the Antarctic hasn’t warmed nearly as much, so we’re talking about 20% of the globe doubling the warming?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Nov 2013 @ 1:52 PM

  2. Remarkable, 50% of the global warming has been hiding out in the 16% of the Globe we can’t accurately monitor temperature. Of the 50% increase in warming how much of that was attributed to the Poles and how much from Africa?

    [Response: You have to realise that the adjustment is quite small – within the published uncertainty of the HadCRUT4 data. But a small adjustment can make a big difference to a short-term trend – the emphasis is on short-term here. It is just another illustration that short-term trends like this are not robust, due to natural variability and (as shown here) due to data uncertainty. That is why the IPCC in its SPM quoted above says that the 1998-2012 trend is +0.05 with an uncertainty range of –0.05 to +0.15 °C per decade. The new estimate of Cowtan and Way is within this.
    As we have so often said here: do not over-interpret short-term trends, one way or the other. -stefan]

    Comment by JM — 13 Nov 2013 @ 1:58 PM

  3. Robert does awesome work. Thanks for covering this article.

    Comment by Steven Mosher — 13 Nov 2013 @ 2:10 PM

  4. How does this relate to your previous post on ocean warming?

    In other words, is the larger-than-earlier-thought increase in atmospheric temperatures occurring in tandem with the natural variation in ocean uptake during the last decade or so?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 13 Nov 2013 @ 2:49 PM

  5. It begs the question: What will the warming be if China and India clean up their aerosol problems? !

    Comment by robert — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:00 PM

  6. Let me add this: there is no pause. But, we have explanation for the “pause” ranging from reduction in solar activity, increase ocean uptake, CFC curtailment and Chinese aerosol.

    As I understand it, without these factors, the temperature would have rocketed up.

    Comment by Yvan Dutil — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:09 PM

  7. Oops.

    Presuming this holds up, is there a unit of measurement sufficient to encompass the suddenly humiliating and regretful history of over-heated blather on “the pause?”

    Even if the result were wrong, the paper’s exposure and highlighting of how much empty speculation has been flung around about “the pause” ought to be a permanent, thought-provoking monument to the value of due caution.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:24 PM

  8. JM said:”Remarkable, 50% of the global warming has been hiding out in the 16% of the Globe we can’t accurately monitor temperature.”

    Not really, if one notices that the additional Temperature data is less extremely varying than areas affected strongly by El Nino and La Nina, and that the arctic warming is rapid.

    “Of the 50% increase in warming how much of that was attributed to the Poles and how much from Africa?” Arctic, I would guess.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:32 PM

  9. Ray Ladbury and JM, the HadCRUT4 lacks data from large areas in Africa, the middle east and Asia (particularly central Asia), in addition to most of the Amazon basin and parts of Australia. This is evident in the figure in the main article. Your supposition that the effect is the result of Arctic data only is, therefore, simply not factual. As it happens, most of the nations that set new all time maximum temperature records in 2010 lie in a region (North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia) with very poor coverage by HadCRUT4, hence the particularly large correction in 2010. More generally, much of the area excluded in HadCRUT4 is not significantly effected by ENSO. That is why HadCRUT4 is more sensitive to ENSO than other surface temperature indices, and a significant factor in why making the index truly global increases the trend significantly.

    Comment by Tom Curtis — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:33 PM

  10. Hm. We seem to have misplaced the North Pole:

    While there were weather stations much closer to the top of the world, they haven’t been taking data since the 1950s:

    What, all those nuclear submarines, and no data about the conditions? the ice was too thick to push a thermometer through, but a Polaris missile was still feasible?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2013 @ 3:46 PM

  11. Dr. Kevin Cowtan ( is a chemist at the University of York specializing in X-ray crystallography. I do not see any hint of a connection with his work to climate change. Robert Way ( is a graduate student in geography at the University of Ottawa, but at least one of his few papers is somewhat relevant. These are not the qualifications I would expect for the authors of such a ground breaking paper. [This comment seemed to get lost, so I am posting it again.]

    [Response: With the amount of open data available for anyone to analyse, this is not such a stretch. There are many good papers from ‘outsiders’ in the literature and in general this kind of constructive input should be welcomed (as with work done by Zeke Hausfather, Troy Masters etc.). – gavin]

    [Response: p.s. It is well worth looking at his impressive citation record. I think it is excellent if top scientists from other fields make methodological contributions to climate science. -stefan]

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 13 Nov 2013 @ 4:40 PM

  12. Why do nearly all data reanalyses on this site show the warming is greater than the raw data?

    [Response: Not true. The raw SST data show much larger trends that turned out to be spurious due to changes in measuring techniques. The GISTEMP analyses correct for an urban heating effect that would otherwise lead to a (slightly) stronger trend globally. Homogeneity corrections at GHCN go both ways. The analysis in this instance is correcting for an obvious hole in the HadCRUT4 data (mainly the Arctic) which even you know has been warming faster. Your question therefore smacks of a desire to have lower trends for reasons that are not clear. I prefer to take the info as it comes rather than wishing it were otherwise. – gavin]

    Comment by Peter Lilley — 13 Nov 2013 @ 4:47 PM

  13. I peeked in the paper and it says that most of the ‘hidden’ temperature increase was in the arctic, rather than the antarctic. This would certainly explain why arctic sea ice cover has been absolutely crashing in recent years while the HARDCRU/GISS global average temps had been increasing more modestly.

    I wonder if the Cowtan and Way type temperature calculation will become one of the standard temperature datasets.

    Comment by SCM — 13 Nov 2013 @ 4:58 PM

  14. Blair Dowden is obviously good at finding CV information. Is Blair equally as good at reading research papers and finding points of disagreement or agreement?

    Blair’s is a borehole comment if ever there was one. Presumably it was let through only to shame Blair.

    Failing that: Blair, if you look carefully, you’ll see the paper is about global surface temperature trends, not about the life histories of Robert Way and Kevin Cowtan. The material in the paper is entirely separate and distinct from the authors. In fact, it would not matter if the paper had been an accidental product of 1,000 monkeys typing on 1,000 keyboards and only by chance was correct let alone coherent– you’d still need to address the content of the paper, not irrelevant biographical material.

    Can you see the difference between author and research? If you have doubts about the results, read the paper and see if you feel better. You won’t accomplish anything by looking at biographies.

    Pro tip: if you find yourself looking at an author’s choice of hairstyle, birthdate or food preferences, you show the world you’re bankrupt in terms of substantive argument

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 5:21 PM

  15. Surprising isn’t hardly how i’d label it.

    If 16% of the globe we cant monitor can double the amount of global warming – can you imagine how much warming could be discovered if we had actual data for sea surface air temperatures before satellites?
    Or measured air temps before 1850?

    If my calculations are correct, you could have like four times as much global warming.

    Comment by theotherstevejobs — 13 Nov 2013 @ 5:41 PM

  16. More to the point blair…if you knew enough to know about work on electron density functions in X-ray Crystallography, you’d see the that Cowtan works with contoured, dispersed data sets and its natural to transfer that skill to climate change data sets.

    I’ll point out something else for you: Much of climatology is the work of people with backgrounds in diverse disciplines coming together. People who study “innovation” in both industrial and scientific environments have identified this confluence of talents and perspectives as key to moving fields ahead. Cowtan’s take on things can be seen as one such influence. Your ideas about purity are simply biblical and have nothing to do with the real world of science, academic or industrial.

    Comment by Dave123 — 13 Nov 2013 @ 5:50 PM

  17. Stefan- It would nice to have a few comments from you on how the data as refined by Cowtan and Way affects the work you and Grant did removing ENSO, Volcanic and Solar effects from the temperature trends. Surely you must be well along with that. Any hints?

    Comment by Dave123 — 13 Nov 2013 @ 6:19 PM

  18. Curious as to whether there are two Peter Lilleys with an interest in climate change, or whether comment #12 is from the right wing Tory MP, Vice Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director at Tethys Petroleum, member of the House Of Commons Select Committee on Climate Change (no conflict of interest there, then), and one of only three MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act?

    In that debate Lilley is on record as saying “As we know, the pause that was already well established in 2008 has continued since then. There has been no 0.3° C rise, and all the years since then have been cooler than 1998.”

    Might this be the reason why his question, as gavin puts it, “smacks of a desire to have lower trends for reasons that are not clear”? Just wondering.

    [Response: It appears to be he. – gavin]

    Comment by edgeofkaos — 13 Nov 2013 @ 6:22 PM

  19. In reply to ” The analysis in this instance is correcting for an obvious hole in the HadCRUT4 data (mainly the Arctic) which even you know has been warming faster.”

    Question: there’s a hole in the data, meaning that we don’t know what the temperature is doing. Yet you’re saying people “know” the Arctic has been warming faster.

    How can you know the Arctic is warming faster when there’s a hole in the data? I’m experiencing some hardcore cognitivie dissonance. Isn’t that like saying, “we don’t have any blood tests but you know your cholesterol is through the roof?”

    [Response: Because we have satellite data, sea ice buoys, the obvious decline in sea ice volume/area/extent and information from the stations closest to the Arctic which show some the largest trends on the planet. So, yes, we know. – gavin]

    Comment by Jerry — 13 Nov 2013 @ 7:04 PM

  20. Doug Bostrom and Dave123: Personal attacks are not helpful. I looked up Robert Way only because he lives in my city and I did not know any climate change work was done here. I was surprised he was only a graduate student (his site did not mention he is a PhD student). So I looked up the other author and found he was from outside climate science. I now see “He took on this project in his spare time because the problem has synergies with his previous work and is of significant public interest.”

    I am not qualified to criticize the paper and did not do that. I asked a genuine question about how people from outside the field can discover something missed by the professionals in the field. I have observed most of the attacks on climate science come from outside the field. In general, pseudoscience is usually from outsiders saying the people with careers in the subject are all wrong. Perhaps this has made me overly skeptical of outside contributions. I think it is normal practice to look at the qualification of the authors of a paper. I also think that unusual authors have an obligation to explain why their background is relevant and why they have found something that people in the field have missed. I agree that in the end only the contents of the paper are relevant, and the scientists here seem supportive of it. I was hoping for a comment on where this paper fits in the scientific consensus, and what kind of uncertainties are involved.

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 13 Nov 2013 @ 7:14 PM

  21. All Blair seems to be saying is that the paper’s authors don’t appear to be climate change experts. I suspect one of the reasons that he brought it up is that the general public, when told there is no debate amongst experts as to whether warming is occurring, are also told that the hundreds of scientists they hear about in the news dismissing warming (or saying that there is a debate) are not climate change experts and therefore shouldn’t be believed.

    So, if I write an article about this in Examiner (which no one reads anyway – ha), what do I say to the commenter who says, “Gee, every time I bring up the name of a “scientist” who disputes warming, I get told he’s not an expert and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so why should I believe this other non-climate change expert who doesn’t dispute warming? Isn’t that contradictory logic?”

    Isn’t that all Blair is pointing out?

    P.s. I appreciate y’all giving this non-expert (me) a chance to read and post on here.

    [Response: There is a difference between a retired dentist declaring that climate science is all wrong, and outsiders using the huge amount of data now available to make constructive additions to the technical literature. We’ve been encouraging the ‘outsider’ critics to do this for years. But climate science has always had people from different backgrounds making contributions (I was a mathematician originally, Stefan studied general relativity, other colleagues were turbine engineers, geologists, seismologists etc.). The worth of the contributions varies, but this one seems well thought out. – gavin]

    Comment by frank maccioli — 13 Nov 2013 @ 7:48 PM

  22. thanks.

    Comment by frank maccioli — 13 Nov 2013 @ 7:58 PM

  23. There’s certainly nothing inconsistent in RealClimate’s take on the “pause.”
    A warming pause?
    “(2) It is highly questionable whether this “pause” is even real. It does show up to some extent (no cooling, but reduced 10-year warming trend) in the Hadley Center data, but it does not show in the GISS data, see Figure 1. There, the past ten 10-year trends (i.e. 1990-1999, 1991-2000 and so on) have all been between 0.17 and 0.34 ºC per decade, close to or above the expected anthropogenic trend, with the most recent one (1999-2008) equal to 0.19 ºC per decade – just as predicted by IPCC as response to anthropogenic forcing.”

    It’s certainly nice to see more specificity than ocean heat content is growing.

    Central Texas’ cedar elm trees are a little worried about the summer of 2014. The last few years of drought haven’t been kind to the woods at all. I’m hoping the 14 inches of rain we got the night before Halloween soaked in enough to get us through the next Texas scorcher.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:11 PM

  24. Blair, pardon me if I seemed to be over-reactive, but if you follow the topic of climate change for more than a very short while you’ll see that all too often the “argument” of people who disagree with results they don’t like is to mount the ultimate personal attack: they try to substitute comments about an author’s personal background for substantive comment about the author’s work.

    Your comment exactly matched that archetypal footprint.

    I also think that unusual authors have an obligation to explain why their background is relevant and why they have found something that people in the field have missed.

    Again, that’s all irrelevant. The paper in question is published having passed peer review, hence the authors have met their obligations as researchers, the only obligations that immediately pertain. If you then find some issue with the paper that is substantial, your obligation is to follow their example by meticulously articulating a case and then– ideally– getting it published. So, any relevant and useful progress for you can be found in the paper, not in biographical trivia.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:13 PM

  25. I’m a little confused here.

    “Cowtan and Way circumvent both problems by using an established geostatistical interpolation method called kriging – but they do not apply it to the temperature data itself (which would be similar to what GISS does), but to the difference between satellite and ground data. ”

    I didn’t think satellite data covered the arctic or the antarctic but the paper claims that is where the gaps is.

    What’s more the satellite data shows the same pause yet now it is being used to show there is no pause.

    [Response: The UAH satellite data show a pause when you start in 1998, but from 1999 they show a warming of +0.15 °C per decade. If you believe in short-term trends, you must conclude that there was a pause since 1998 but there has been no pause any more already since 1999. The difference of adding 1998 is greater here than with the surface data, because the response of tropospheric temperature to ENSO is twice as large as that of surface temperatures to ENSO (in other words, the 1998 anomaly is much larger in the satellite data).
    But the more basic point here is that the Cowtan paper does not use the satellite time trend (which is somewhat unreliable – remember the long history of corrections, and the difference in trends between the UAH and RSS products), it only uses the satellite spatial pattern to fill the data holes. -stefan]

    Comment by James Cross — 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:33 PM

  26. ” I was hoping for a comment on where this paper fits in the scientific consensus, and what kind of uncertainties are involved.”

    No, you weren’t: had you that intent, you would have said so, in your OP. Your motive was to play the man, and not the (published) ball, and to cast aspersions upon that ball by casting doubt on the men.

    Your intent was fully laid bare when you wrote this: “These are not the qualifications I would expect for the authors of such a ground breaking paper.”

    In your later post, you admit to not being qualified to comment upon the paper: what makes you qualified to arrive at the above statement (your exact words)?

    Comment by Harry W. — 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:50 PM

  27. see CLI FI CENTRAL blog on climate issues and SEA SPARROW taifoon name in English sigh RIP all 10,000 souls

    Comment by dan bloom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 8:50 PM

  28. I am a climate change blog newbie, a citizen barely informed on this topic, hoping to make sense of it. While I expect my readings will lead me to confirm my conviction that AGW is a real and present danger, I am suspending that conclusion to see if I can have it bolstered empirically by following what I see as quality blogs on both sides of the debate.

    My comment here is that Blair asked a reasonable question. For people who cannot decode the science in published papers, understanding qualifications is useful.

    My experience of these blogs is that people write unnecessarily mean-spirited things, such as those written criticizing Blair. When I read posts like that the credibility of the blog takes a ding. I see similar things on “skeptics” blogs. What I hope for on these blogs is carefully reasoned explanations of the science.

    Further, qualifications, as somebody above pointed out, do matter. For example, the Anderegg paper, trying to establish the 97% consensus, made much of qualifications. I agree that the science should stand on its own. In fact you’ll find that very argument made forcefully at the WUWT blog in discussion of the “consensus” papers. But for those of us who cannot decode the scientific arguments, and find them contradicting each other, qualifications are some guidance.

    Similarly, I suspect that people on this blog would find things to say about the qualifications of skeptic posts here or on other blogs. (Please don’t bring in the bit that all skeptics are wholly unqualified dentists, etc. While I agree that there are tons of citizens who are denying climate change based on faith, so far I am seeing plenty of skeptical blog posts that are trying to crunch the numbers, and have reasonable sounding objections).

    Blair’s post was maturely stated and asked a reasonable question. The criticisms, to me, lost credibility for being antagonistic.

    Please, folks, leave out the flaming, and stick to carefully explained scientific reasoning.


    Comment by Steve — 13 Nov 2013 @ 9:21 PM

  29. Presumably this finding will not make it into the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). That would go a long way to countering the damage the “warming pause” message has done in regard to action on climate change.

    Comment by Bruce Tabor — 13 Nov 2013 @ 9:40 PM

  30. To Blair, Before you mentioned it, I didn’t know that Kevin Cowtan was an expert at X-ray crystallography but it makes sense. I did diffraction theory for my PhD and I can tell you that this is puzzle solving at its finest — trying to piece together reality using limited data and wave interference prepares one for just about any challenge.
    Fine work.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 13 Nov 2013 @ 9:42 PM

  31. Warming at high latitudes: This was suspected based upon pretty sound arguments by Arrhenius in 1896, per S. Arrhenius, “On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground”, Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, April 1896.

    Always good to see what appears to be a “gap” closed. Of course, to the degree that conservation of energy applies, this kind of thing HAD to be true, going somewhere.

    Comment by Jan Galkowski — 13 Nov 2013 @ 9:45 PM

  32. I am a climate change blog newbie, a citizen barely informed on this topic, hoping to make sense of it.


    For example, the Anderegg paper, trying to establish the 97% consensus, made much of qualifications.

    There’s a problem with that juxtaposition.

    Method acting is not easy; great actors make immersion in a character look effortless but doing so requires a special kind of mindfulness, means entering a sort of hypnotic state. A misplaced twitch of the lips due to remembrance of a happy moment while portraying a simulation of grief ruins the whole show.

    Similarly, if a person is acting the role of a naif on a given topic, blurting out a nugget of specialized arcana during the performance ruins the entire effect.

    Good job with swerving the topic to matters of delicate comportment, though.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 9:54 PM

  33. Doug,

    This is the last I will post on this, because I don’t believe in flame wars, and the topic of the blog post is much more important. I am indeed a blog newbie. I started reading climate blogs three days ago. The first thing I was curious about was where does the media’s (and my own) off-cited 97% consensus come from. I found the answer on this page,, in the references. I read the Anderegg paper forthwith, to see if it was persuasive. Seemed reasonable to me. Next stop was the WUWT blog. That blog was pointed out by a friend as being a skeptic blog worth watching. I was curious what comments they had there about the paper I has just read. I found an analysis of it and other consensus papers. As I wrote to my friend, I thought that analysis was “full of sh-t” (part of its argument was that consensus is irrelevant in science, what matters is only the science itself).

    So you are off track with your not-nice comments about me, as well as yours about Blair.

    All this is besides the point. What I am interested in is comparing discussion of the Cowtan paper, which to my newbie eye seems important, on this blog and on WUWT, where I imagine a skeptic discussion will crop up.

    I will be assuming agnosticism, though expect to be persuaded by the mainstream, but am open-minded. Posts by antagonistic people don’t persuade me. In fact, anything they say subsequently is suspect.

    Comment by Steve — 13 Nov 2013 @ 10:22 PM

  34. “Steve”: Further, qualifications, as somebody above pointed out, do matter.

    …stick to carefully explained scientific reasoning.

    It’s not possible to ignore the logically disastrous combination of those two specifications.

    Is it so very difficult to understand that from the perspective of discussion of the validity of a scientific paper, referral to author biography is entirely a pointless distraction? Sticking to “carefully explained scientific reasoning” means confining the topic to the subject of the paper, nothing else.

    As usual, everything is information. Here we have a number of parties attempting to insist that personal aspects of authors are somehow important to a scientific discussion. The “here and now” begs the question “why this, now?” Perhaps it’s because there’s no other approach to reassembling Humpty Dumpty?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Nov 2013 @ 10:24 PM

  35. Blair,

    You thought what I wrote attacked you personally?

    There are contexts and there are contexts. You may have wandered into one by mistake. But I’m skeptical.

    The difference between the retired dentist opining and Cowtan and Way getting a complicated paper published should be clear and compelling. C&W getting past peer review should be a signal that the competence of the authors has passed scrutiny in the first form that matters. We’ll see how the work holds up in the future.

    In the meantime, I wonder do you get why a retired dentist opining in the blogosphere and a couple of scientists getting their work published are greeted differently?

    Comment by Dave123 — 13 Nov 2013 @ 10:37 PM

  36. Robert Way has published 4 papers. All are on the subject of climate change. The suggestion that only one is relevant is false. He is a graduate student, how many papers do you expect? One of his papers is the widely discussed paper with the group from Skeptical Science (where he posts regularly) on scientific consensus. Two big hits and he is only a graduate student! What will he publish next year?

    Stephan states in the OP that “We knew about the study of Cowtan & Way for a long time”. Obviously that means that it was vetted before publication widely among skilled reviewers. This paper is not a blog post written up late last night. This fact might not be so clear to the non-scientists present.

    My understanding is that Robert is an Inuit native to the Arctic. To me that suggests he has deeper roots than those who have not been directly affected as much by climate change.

    Steve: who did you see post on WUWT that has as much scientific credibility as Robert Way? Most of the posters there have done no science at all. Anthony Watt does not even have a college degree. Why do you question real scientists and trust the “quality blogs on both sides of the debate” like WUWT?

    Comment by Michael Sweet — 13 Nov 2013 @ 10:40 PM

  37. Ref: 28>11

    Steve’s comment isn’t flaming but it’s still a neophyte putting down people that know what they’re talking about without confining himself “to carefully explained scientific reasoning” at all.

    He writes: “My comment here is that Blair asked a reasonable question.” “Blair’s post was maturely stated and asked a reasonable question.”

    Blair Dowden didn’t ask a question. He cast an aspersion on the paper by impugning the authors of the paper’s qualifications. To wit:
    “These are not the qualifications I would expect for the authors of such a ground breaking paper.”

    This is Blair Dowden the apologist for Roy Spencer, right?

    It seems to me from checking Dr. Cowtan’s publications that he offers an expert’s statistical analysis offering insights into a problem that was posted by the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society – a body of qualified scientists.

    Do we have a problem with them, too? Not to mention Stefan Rahmstorf who saw the merits of the paper enough to post the message? Perhaps Cowtan is just at the top of the list of Dowden’s impugnations today.

    The fact that this paper helps dispel confusion about the onslaught of continuing climate change and should help dispel complacency about doing anything about it. It’s a valuable contribution if it proves out.

    Comment by Tim Jones — 13 Nov 2013 @ 11:58 PM

  38. Doug Bostrom quoting Blair: “For example, the Anderegg paper, trying to establish the 97% consensus, made much of qualifications.”

    I’m thinking that even for a naif climate blog newbie, and for a number of reasons, that a paper like Anderegg (2010) could well stick out in the mind.

    I’m with Steve @ 28: “But for those of us who cannot decode the scientific arguments, and find them contradicting each other, qualifications are some guidance…Blair’s post was maturely stated and asked a reasonable question. The criticisms, to me, lost credibility for being antagonistic…Please, folks, leave out the flaming, and stick to carefully explained scientific reasoning.”

    Gavin’s pointed but non-antagonistic response to frank maccioli @ 21, for instance, is appreciated by this relative naif and newbie.

    Comment by Shelama — 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:16 AM

  39. @28

    …. quality blogs on both sides of the debate ….

    When I read posts like that the credibility of the blog takes a ding.

    Steve, aside from the fact that Climatology is not a “debate”, so there are not 2 sides, the comment section posts here are NOT “the blog”, that consists of the lead articles by the group of scientists known as “Real Climate”, for which see the Contributors link, the comments are from folks like you and me, generally non-scientists with varied opinions and sometimes clashing personalities.

    Comment by flxible — 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:20 AM

  40. RE: James Cross – “What’s more the satellite data shows the same pause yet now it is being used to show there is no pause.”

    This does seem strange. If you trust the satellite data enough to fill in the gaps in the surface data then why just go with the satellite data by itself since it doesn’t have the gaps?

    Comment by Svet — 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:54 AM

  41. There are still some problems.
    First the oft used rationale that short periods without substantial rise have been seen before ignores the fact that GHG forcing now is much higher than in those past records and one might expect this higher forcing to make a difference.
    Second, it seems hard for such a small land area as the high Arctic to make such a difference in the record.
    Third, even the corrected data look to the eye as not much warming.
    Fourth, past warming had the same gap problem as the recent record and yet showed a marked increase. One might ask why this has not been the case and when we might expect it to reoccur.
    Fifth, we need to understand much better negative forcings since they seem to be able to stop GHG warming.
    This is a good piece of work and needed to be done, but I think I’ll wait to see if there isn’t something else here.

    Comment by Chick Keller — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:02 AM

  42. Robert Way’s qualifications include Geomatics and Spatial Analysis. I would have thought that they would be a perfect background for this sort of study.

    Comment by MikeH — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:13 AM

  43. Dave, at comment 17, you beat me to the question.

    Stefan, are you working on updating your 2011 paper, which removes some of the natural variations affecting surface temperatures? Or perhaps have a feeling for the impacts of this work on that paper?

    A question on this paper: I’ve read that temperature anomalies are historically less in tropical zones, just as polar anomalies are larger. It was mentioned that there are gaps in Africa. Does the paper address those gaps as well as the polar gaps?

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:28 AM

  44. And from Blair Dowden’s link for Way. GIS = Geomatics more or less.

    Research Interests:Geography, Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, Remote sensing and GIS, Mountain permafrost, Permafrost, Glaciology, Glacial Geomorphology, and Remote Sensing in the cryosphere and climate change

    I am in a family of geospatial analysts. Kriging is a technique used in spatial analysis. Robert Way has the qualifications I would look for in a study of this sort.

    Comment by MikeH — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:34 AM

  45. I wonder what the deniers who make a big thing of satellite data being best will make of this. No doubt satellite data is only better if it blosters their case. As are errors. When the AMSU-A data started going bad in 2008, nothing happened until 2010, when it made 2010 look as if it was an off-the-charts warm year.

    Whenever an unusual result appears, we need to allow a bit of time for rebuttals and corrections. This one at least is consistent with other data, like the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice, way ahead of any model predictions I’ve seen published prior to the decline.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:29 AM

  46. *I looked up Robert Way only because he lives in my city and I did not know any climate change work was done here. I was surprised he was only a graduate student (his site did not mention he is a PhD student* – Blair, #20

    And Albert Einstein was only a patents office examiner. And Charles Darwin was only a theology student.

    Comment by mike — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:41 AM

  47. I hesitated before posting this; there are some quite unpleasant comments above. But it is an important subject..

    I am not a climate change expert. Therefore I must perforce trust those who say they are, and listen carefully to their claims. So yes, the qualifications and experience of those who make specific claims of this kind do become important; and it would be naive to think otherwise. I accept there is something approaching a scientific consensus that global warming is real and should be addressed urgently, but contributions wishing to radically change the figures do need to consider credibility issues of this kind.

    If the claims this paper makes are true, I think they should be disseminated with some care because to the unqualified observer, they will tend to undermine the credibility of the whole body of research. “If they are right,” people will say, “Everything we have been told so far must have been quite wrong.” Greatly wrong, as the study itself says.

    I would be interested to know what form of peer review the paper has undergone?

    Comment by Jerry W — 14 Nov 2013 @ 4:13 AM

  48. Great paper, a really important result. However, for Figure 1 they state “Note that the cylindrical projection exaggerates the missing area at high latitudes”.

    Why not use an equal area projection! Area is critical to displaying these data. These days re-projecting data is a simple task, if you’re trying to communicate an area dependent variable please use an equal area projection.

    Comment by Chris Vernon — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:05 AM

  49. A lot of what you have been told by the media might have been wrong, but if you had followed RealClimate over the years there’d be nothing very surprising in this for you. We have repeatedly reported about the Arctic data hole issue since 2008, and we have often made the more general point that short-term trends are not very robust and informative.That is also what IPCC said about this issue – quoted above. There is a lesson here about media hyping a pseudo-issue but not about climate science suddenly needing to be rewritten. -stefan

    Comment by stefan — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:33 AM

  50. Stunning stuff, if it holds up. Kudos to the authors, and to Rasmus Benestad as well; I read the 2008 post back when it appeared, but wasn’t aware that he was the first to raise the issue.

    The implications for public discussions of global warming are obvious. Would it be right to say, though, that this finding is not likely to make much difference for model-observation comparisons over the recent short-term period, because in such comparisons the models are masked by the observational coverage anyway?

    – –

    On etiquette, I don’t really take issue with Blair D. for raising the authors’ background; I plead guilty to doing the same as a lazy layman’s heuristic when I try to work out how much weight to place on a reported new result that seems to overturn a widely held view.

    But lazy heuristics will only take you so far, and Blair’s reaction to Dr Cowtan’s specialization reminds me of a supposedly true story of an awkward day at a U.S. institution when a visiting British scientist was confronted with her apparent abuse of her guest PC to surf for X-rated sites. As it turned out, the nanny software, pattern-matching on the first four characters only, had caught her red-handed looking at “X-ray crystallography”…

    Comment by CM — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:35 AM

  51. Hank,

    Actually, the weather station in the city of North Pole, Alaska, is correctly located:

    Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:48 AM

  52. Why do I suspect this significant paper will not get nearly the media coverage (if any) that all the “warming has paused!” noise did? Sigh.

    Comment by Dan — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:49 AM

  53. The problem of under-estimation of the rates of climate change translates into a political process that under-estimates the rate of climate-policy required to avoid runaway.

    IPCC AR5 WG1 results show ‘carbon budgeting’ is now needed to avoid 2 degrees [and this a plus] while depending on climate models that under-estimate the rates of change we’re faced with and therefore the rates of response required [and this is a minus]: –

    Global policy models are needed.

    Here’s a heuristic device that is a step in that direction: –

    Not finished yet.

    Comment by Aubrey Meyer — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:12 AM

  54. Over the last few years, the “other side” have been making such a lot from the “pause”, stretching it back into the mid-1990s to make it sound like something big. In my opinion, they were quite lucky the HadCRuT3/4 update didn’t shoot their fox. If Cowtan & Way have managed a clean shot, good for them. Their level of success with this will probably be proportional to the level of noise it eventually generates.

    So far, the only noise is “over here”. With the exception of Judy Curry, the “other side” appears silent on Cowtan & Way. Curry (blog-posting about another paper in the same screed, so nothing too important then) dismisses the Cowtan & Way findings because ☺ Kriging infills shouldn’t cross land/ocean/icepack boundaries, ☺ satellite data will pick up temperature inversions and ☺ Arctic temperature data suffers “temporal inhomogeneities” which will play havoc with your trends, apparently. So she concludes – ignore Cowtan & Way: we can still rely on the old favorite, that graph of Ed Hawkins so loved by Curry & her chum David Rose of the Daily Rail.

    Comment by MARodger — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:13 AM

  55. This post is a real concern troll magnet.

    Of course, it’s clear that if you accept this work from two non-climate scientists, you must also accept the Oregon Petition.

    Comment by Neven — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:25 AM

  56. Jerry says:

    If the claims this paper makes are true, I think they should be disseminated with some care because to the unqualified observer, they will tend to undermine the credibility of the whole body of research. “If they are right,” people will say, “Everything we have been told so far must have been quite wrong.” Greatly wrong, as the study itself says.

    What a strange comment. The previous work on temperatures has been up front about what is missing and what has had to be interpolated. This paper is one attempt to improve on that. Time will tell how it stands up but it hardly turns climate science on its head. It does however provide a result which makes sense of other arctic observations (melting sea ice etc).

    Comment by SCM — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:26 AM

  57. Below my post on this study, Peter Thorne gave a link to the free manuscript of the pay-walled article.

    I hope I can still comment here, at Climate Etc. my comments do not appear any more.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:30 AM

  58. Do follow the link; the journal, for example, tells you how they do most things. For example at

    ‘Accepted Articles’ have been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but have not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process.

    Accepted Articles are published online a few days after final acceptance, appear in PDF format only (without the accompanying full-text HTML) and are given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which allows them to be cited and tracked. The DOI remains unique to a given article in perpetuity. More information about DOIs can be found online at

    Given that Accepted Articles are not considered to be final, please note that changes will be made to an article after Accepted Article online publication, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record….

    (additional para. breaks added for readability — hr)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:34 AM

  59. #25 Stefan’s response

    Thanks but can you address how they used satellite data to fill in gaps in the Arctic which the satellite data does not cover?

    And also Chick Kellers point 4 in #41 about why wouldn’t the data before 1998 have the same under estimation problems?

    Comment by James Cross — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:41 AM

  60. James Cross: The satellite data hole is pretty small compared to the missing region of the arctic – only 5 degrees. UAH interpolates these regions, which should be fine over this range. The fact that the hybrid method gives better results than kriging for the south pole station is evidence that the interpolated satellite data still carries some information even at the poles, although less than for Vostok which is outside the hole.

    The reason why the effect takes over after 1998 is that that is when the Arctic warming really takes off. Look at the light blue curve in this figure from NASA/GISS.

    Chris Vernon asked about map projections. Most scientists seem to be well familiar with looking at cylindrical projections in papers, and there were a couple of other reasons: It allowed us to crosshatch the missing regions leaving more space in the colourbar while still allowing it to render in monochrome. It also allows the interesting high latitude cells to be visible in Figure 3. For our media materials however we’ve gone with Robinson (a compromise) and orthographic for the animations.

    [Response: Thanks, I was just going to say the same thing, Kevin. By my maths, the missing area (north of 85 N) is 0.2 percent of the Earth surface. -stefan]

    Comment by Kevin C — 14 Nov 2013 @ 7:17 AM

  61. Temperature data for the Earth’s land surface is important, because that’s where we live, but it represents only a small part (3%?) of the total heat content of the climate system. Does anyone produce a data series which brings together ocean heat content, surface and lower troposphere data, ice melt etc. and combines them into one comprehensive ‘energy balance of the planet’ index?

    Comment by Icarus — 14 Nov 2013 @ 8:17 AM

  62. “If you trust the satellite data enough to fill in the gaps in the surface data then why just go with the satellite data by itself since it doesn’t have the gaps?”

    The answer is in the post: “…the satellites cannot measure the near-surface temperatures but only those overhead at a certain altitude range in the troposphere. And secondly, there are a few question marks about the long-term stability of these measurements (temporal drift).”

    Elaborating just a bit, the satellites don’t measure the same thing as thermometers do. Not directly–because the satellite sensors we’re talking about directly measure microwave radiation, which is then converted to temperature via calculation–and not categorically, because the temperature number you end up with doesn’t refer to one (sheltered) location two meters above the ground, but to a largish chunk of troposphere about (IIRC) 5 kilometers thick. That fact goes a long way toward explaining why the satellite datasets–UAH and RSS–show a lot more variability than the instrumental records do.

    So Cowtan and Way compared MacIntoshes to Granny Smiths–much better than MacIntoshes to Damson plums.

    More on the satellite data sets here:

    Note that geographical coverage extends over most, but not all of the Arctic–there’s a “pole hole,” but it’s only 5 degrees of longitude. (Some more geometrically/geographically astute person can tell you just what percentage of the entire Arctic, which conventionally extends down to roughly 66 degrees, that represents. But it’s a pretty small percentage.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:03 AM

  63. @41 Your comment makes little sense to me. WHY would variability be less now? What underlying mechanism are you proposing. The basic math here is simple: There is a trend line plus error. If you cherrypick timeperiods which start from local highs, it is terribly unsurprising that you see fewer higher highs in the immediately succeeding periods. This is a simple consequence of regression.

    Try cherrypicking from a local low (la Nina years around the same time) and you’ll find quite gigantic warming. Or, do the analysis right and look at all the data.

    Comment by jgnfld — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:27 AM

  64. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Estimates of global warming from model-based reanalyses incorporate many types of observations, including from satellites. These estimates include the effects of the Arctic and other “holes” in the conventional observing system. They have been shown to be consistent with traditional observation-based estimates (from GISS, NOAA, Hadley Centre) – see Simmons et al 2010 ( and successive BAMS State of the Climate issues since 2010. Why is there so much resistance to the use of modern reanalyses for estimating global temperature trends? Doesn’t it make more sense to use a physical model to interpret observations, rather than relying on simple statistical interpolation techniques? The same models used to predict typhoons many days in advance should be able to tell you something about the way the atmosphere behaves.

    [Response: Have a look at the paper – they also show the reanalysis trend for comparison, it is even larger than their optimal reconstruction. -stefan]

    Comment by Dick Dee — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:29 AM

  65. Kevin C, I haven’t read your new paper with Robert W yet, but I did watch your little companion movie. Well done, more authors should do that.

    Comment by Imback — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:34 AM

  66. So why is warming slowing at those arctic stations, but not between them, (according this this study)?

    It’s worth noting that most arctic weather stations are located near the coast, and are highly influenced by the daily wind direction. Whereas the satellite data pixels at those same locations may have both a land and sea influence, as the pixels likely span both. So comparing the two may not be suitable, unless you adjusted which pixel you chose for each station day by day based on the wind. (And if the temperature data from the imagery is at an altitude so as to not be overly unfluenced by winds at a coastal location, that just begs another question in this comparison).

    Comment by G — 14 Nov 2013 @ 10:02 AM

  67. Zeke, thanks for 51. I was searching using “North Pole” there looking for weather stations nearest the Pole, and got fooled by retrieving the Alaska city by that name. Fooled me

    I’m guessing the other temperature records I turned up by the same search — data almost entirely from the 1950s — must be from drifting ice stations out in the Arctic Ocean.

    I’m still puzzled by the lack of data from the nuclear Navies during the Cold War years. Heck, the oil companies probably have some as well, I’d think.

    Which takes me back to wondering if the scientists who work closely with the Navies could possibly be benefiting from more data than they’re allowed to disclose (sigh).

    History teaches us that the grandchildren may — maybe — find out enough about what’s going on to make sense of today’s events.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2013 @ 10:07 AM

  68. My apologies for my previous comment, I had not understood Peter Thorne right and the link goes to another paper on the same topic.

    On their homepage, the authors of this study also discuss previous studies. Worth reading.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 14 Nov 2013 @ 11:11 AM

  69. I think this forum could be improved if inappropriate comments could be bounced back to the poster via the supplied e-mail address, with a reason for the rejection. Perhaps my first comment was poorly worded. If it had been bounced back I would have thought more carefully about expressing what I really wanted to say. But paranoia runs deep when somehow I have become an apologist for Roy Spencer. This kind of commentary diminishes the usefulness and credibility of this site.

    [Response: Ever wondered how we manage comment moderation in our spare time – even without bouncing back comments with explanations? -stefan]

    The background of the authors is unusual, which does not necessarily mean invalid. There is nothing wrong with wanting to know how this paper was written. It is impressive that an X-ray crystallographer (yes, not X-rated!) can produce this kind of work in his spare time. How much collaboration with other climate scientists was there, and how much does it take before ones name is added to the paper? I would just like to know more about how the scientific process actually works.

    As for the content, this video is a great summary. It is still hard to grasp how such a relatively small part of the Earth can raise the global average temperature by this much. I also do not understand how the Hadley re-calibration of sea surface temperature (HadSST3) plays into this, as much of the area in question is under sea ice. But as we keep increasing greenhouse gas levels, the additional forcing must be going somewhere. Maybe into the ocean, or the high Arctic, or maybe there is some negative feedback nobody knows anything about. In the long run I expect a rate of warming greater than 0.12 degrees C per decade.

    [Response: Note that the correction is very small – hundredths of a degree. It only makes a big difference to the trend because this is a short-term trend. Those should have been treated with caution anyhow, as the authors correctly point out. Short term trends are not robust. They change greatly when you change the start date from 1998 to 1999 for example, or when you slightly adjust the data within the error bounds as happened here. The “pause” should never have been a big deal, it captured the public imagination for no good reason. People confused noise with signal. -stefan]

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 14 Nov 2013 @ 11:17 AM

  70. Tangential, but this enquiring mind wants to know how the heck “kriging” is pronounced. The obvious sources are here:

    The first is equivocal, but lists most of the leading possibilities. (In my head, the list of probable pronunciations forms a 2 x 3 matrix.) The second is helpful in that it suggests the pronunciation ought to be as closely as is reasonable in keeping with the pronunciation of the honoree’s name, Danie G. Krige–which I understand to be “KREEG-eh,” more or less.

    The matter has been discussed at length elsewhere, as a Google search will show quickly. But perhaps matters have moved on a bit from the date of some of those discussions.

    Opinions, information, anyone?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Nov 2013 @ 12:21 PM

  71. If I understand it, the IPCC statement refers to the 1998-2012 trend, whereas Cowtan talks about the 1997-2012 trend.

    The piece implies these are one and the same. Is that right or is there a difference?

    Comment by Michael Le Page — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:13 PM

  72. Blair Dowden at #11 and #20, are you the former President of Huntington University?

    I think your comment #20 is well said. The general inability of the lay public to evaluate the trustworthiness of scientific sources is ruthlessly exploited by the denial industry. I recommend Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon’s presentation on scientific meta-literacy at the AGU conference last December (the linked page contains links to his text and power-point slides).

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:26 PM

  73. Somebody (who said it is not important, right?):

    “So yes, the qualifications and experience of those who make specific claims of this kind do become important; and it would be naive to think otherwise.”

    No. What’s naive is failing to successfully classify and distinguish trivia versus substance. Ultimately, the only material of importance when it comes to assessing the worth and utility of a scientific publication are the claims and content of the paper and their relationship to other science. Author characteristics beyond the claims and content in the paper are useless gossip.

    “I would be interested to know what form of peer review the paper has undergone?”

    As opposed to personal gossip about authors, the journal in which a paper is found does offer some clues as to the paper’s worth, although exceptions abound. For those who simply can’t get their eyes and minds past peripheral matters and move on to reading and understanding the paper and its relationship to the greater world, here’s some information on the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society:

    Aims and Scope

    Editorial Board

    Author Guidelines

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Nov 2013 @ 1:38 PM

  74. Hi everybody,

    The WUWT site has posted its response to the Cowtan paper. As I described above in my first-ever posts on a climate blog, I am a newbie citizen hoping to read various blogs to bolster my pre-existing concerns about AGW. My friend who is not persuaded told me to look at WUWT. My goal is to learn, and also to be able to show her posts on blogs that will persuade her, as well as myself.

    So… here is my impression. The postings on WUWT –for somebody like me, who doesn’t have the science background– look pretty persuasive. There are very specifically stated concerns about the paper, including images and animations. There is occasional “attitude” (which always drops credibility), but not that much.

    (One thing I am wondering: how do the guys on the WUWT blog find all the time they have for that blog? Not to get conspiratorial, but is it possible they are paid by some special-interest? I don’t want this to distract from the main question of the science, though.)

    I am hoping that this site can respond to their claims in ways that I can understand and compare.

    Now it might be that the scientists here feel there are better means to respond to their claims, or, have somehow learned a lesson that responding scientifically is not productive.

    But, that doesn’t help me, nor people like me, who are trying to persuade themselves or others, and are taking these blogs on face value.

    Finally, I will be disappointed if people here respond to my post with personal attacks. That will further soil this blog and reduce its credibility, and surely not help me become more educated.

    Comment by Steve — 14 Nov 2013 @ 2:53 PM

  75. Well, the back and forth, if prickly, did bring out some interesting information about skills and qualifications. Really interesting, thanks. I think it’s best to assume good faith, and one wants to be really careful with the /sarc if there’s any chance of the benefit of the doubt.

    It all comes back to what is knowledge. Anyone who pretends instead of doing the hard work is not knowledgeable, so admitting ignorance until one actually understands is the first step imnhso. As Gavin pointed out, climate science is a broad discipline and admits a variety of input, as long as it is honest and not bent on attack, which is always easy. One misses Stephen Schneider!

    captcha, too funny: scmpag pharisee!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:10 PM

  76. It’s mid November in inland California and I’m looking at leaves on deciduous trees that should have fallen a month and a half ago, still green and going.

    No rain yet either.

    Yep, things are warming.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:21 PM

  77. Just to be clear: I firmly believe in the reality of serious AGW, and am rather glad to be 64 and likely to be dead before the really nasty effects kick in. And I understand the paranoia that comes of dealing with climate liars almost daily for years.

    But the first thing I thought when I saw the bold paragraph was ‘I thought the “pause” was already explained by heat transfer to the deep oceans. How was this missed?’ And the first thing I thought when people started piling on Blair Dowden was ‘If you’re going to argue that denialists’ credentials are not necessarily relevant if they’re pontificating outside their field’–and that argument is often made, and I think it’s a good argument–‘then why not apply the same heuristic to extraordinary AGW papers?’

    I think that gavin and stefan’s initial response was polite, concise, and informative. Others, not so much. Yes, the content of the paper is what counts; yes, the authors’ expertise is in fact relevant; yes, the paper was peer reviewed in a respectable publication; yes, the conclusion was mooted before they put a number on it; but it’s not necessary to froth like a Watts when pointing this out. Blair D. strikes me as a concerned layman, not a concern troll. Jerry W @47, now….

    And because I found this conclusion so extraordinary, I’m going to wait a few months before I start using it in arguments. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few small details turn out to be questionable. Peer review is essential but it’s not the end of the process.

    Comment by Philip Cohen — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:23 PM

  78. I should have mentioned, the temperature outside as I write is 88 F in the shade.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:26 PM

  79. #72 Mal Adapted: No, I am not the former President of Huntington University. But thanks for the link about scientific meta-literacy (best summary here). This is an area of interest for me. Yes, ultimately only the content of the paper in question is what matters, but in the real world how many people can evaluate if HadSST3 is better than HadSST2, if it was correctly applied to the GISS data, and if the authors did their kriging correctly?

    I, like most others, can only rely on scientific meta-literacy to evaluate such a paper. Being in a peer reviewed journal is good but does not guarantee correctness (Lindzen gets published in peer reviewed journals, and his results are not always that great). And sorry, an author from outside the field (even a top scientist) is often not a good sign, but of course not necessarily. My original post was trying to do that kind of meta-analysis. I am sorry if I wrote it poorly and it looked like an ad hominem attack. I will be more careful next time.

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:31 PM

  80. @ Blair Dowden (#69)

    “I also do not understand how the Hadley re-calibration of sea surface temperature (HadSST3) plays into this, as much of the area in question is under sea ice.”

    Surely HadSST3 affects all the world’s oceans so the fraction covered by sea ice would be pretty small. A bit of Googling and checking Cryosphere Today tells me the world’s oceans have an area of 361 million square kilometres and the portion covered by sea ice is only between about 15 million and about 23 million square kilometers as it fluctuates annually.

    Comment by Jon — 14 Nov 2013 @ 3:46 PM

  81. Steve:

    “So… here is my impression. The postings on WUWT –for somebody like me, who doesn’t have the science background– look pretty persuasive.”

    That’s the point. They are meant to be persuasive to those not educated in the relevant scientific and mathematical fields. Apparently it is working …

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Nov 2013 @ 4:28 PM

  82. Can somebody here respond point-by-point to Curry’s analysis (WUWT blog) of the Cowtan paper?

    Also, please respond to the claim on WUWT that satellite data is not reliable over the poles because they don’t really travel over them.


    [Response: Kevin Cowtan has responded to Curry here. Robert Way has responded here. And see also #86 below. -stefan]

    Comment by Steve — 14 Nov 2013 @ 4:46 PM

  83. Steve wrote: “The postings on WUWT –for somebody like me, who doesn’t have the science background– look pretty persuasive … is it possible they are paid by some special-interest …”

    Anthony Watts, who runs WUWT, has received tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the Heartland Institute, a global warming denial propaganda mill that is in turn funded by major carbon polluters. In short, he is paid to lie to you.

    All of his “persuasive looking” critiques of climate science have been thoroughly debunked and refuted many times over.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Nov 2013 @ 4:55 PM

  84. Steve @ 74

    One thing I am wondering: how do the guys on the WUWT blog find all the time they have for that blog?

    Well for one thing, it takes less time to produce b.s. than actual science.

    I’m a fan of meta-literacy, but I think it takes perhaps a little more time and effort than is sometimes suggested. Tone trolling will not tell you much. Learning how the institutions of science work and how to spot rhetorical techniques, fallacious or invalid reasoning, and what amounts to simply poor reading comprehension will many times be all you need.

    When it comes to denialism and qualifications, there seems to be a signifigant hurdle in going from gassing on the intertubes to being expert enough to publish on the subject in respectable, peer-reviewed journals. Note that few deniers who are actual scientsts publish relevant material on the subject of climate — and of those who do, fewer still produce anything noteworthy.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:20 PM

  85. 1) Some grad students do very good work and Robert Way is hardly from outside the field, and it can be quite fruitful if computational methods get broader application in different fields.

    2) Whether an author team has PhDs and long publication records in X is not the issue, it’s the nature of the paper X the backgrounds.

    a) The paper is published in a serious journal and is an evolution of the current mainstream, often a refinement of mathematical technique better at extracting signal from noise, or combining disparate elements. The method may or may not be perfect, but the experts in the field think it’s good enough to take seriously, regardless of who wrote it.

    Such will likely stir more research, be refined, different people will publish variants and argue about them. Paleoclimate in general and the 1999 hockey stick specifically fit this. (After all, the latter did not suddenly overthrow Lamb(1965), which was long gone. (see p.15 of Strange Scholarship for a progression of curves among IPCC reports. MBH99 differs mainly from Bradley and Jones(1993), used in IPCC SAR mainly by having more proxies and applying additional math.

    After all, people have had very good reason to expect the Arctic to be warming faster, and see lots of evidence, but the challenge is to have better methods of filling in the holes. This is a common problem in many areas of science.

    b) The paper proposes a very different hypothesis to explain existing data. Again, experts will consider the merits, argue about it, some may get interested and do research. If the paper demonstrates knowledge of the literature, that’s a plus, and if the authors are known, it is likely to be taken more seriously, whether people buy it or not. My favorite example here would be Bill Ruddiman’s Early Anthropogenic hypotheses. (Note: for anyone attending AGU, Bill is giving the Tyndall Lecture on this, on Thursday the 12th.)

    c) The paper claims to overthrow a whole mesh of data and well-integrated data.
    It might be published in an odd venue, or show little knowledge of the literature or worse, cite as authoritative absurd or obsolete sources. For example, anyone positively citing E.G.Beck or Gerlich&Tseeuschner or almost anything at RC Wiki should raise red flags, as should anyone citing Lamb(1965/1982) except for history.

    If someone essentially claims to have repealed conservation of energy, or disproved Relativity using high school math or to have a better measurement of speed of light that says it is half what everything else says, then it’s barely worth thinking about, no matter who wrote it. Many times, those come from outside the field, as when Monckton’s endocrine surgeon claimed to have refuted Oreskes’ essay on consensus in Science(2004).

    In some sense, these cases aren’t very interesting, as lots of people who do not know a field think they know more than all the real experts. Every once in a while, someone who has published in the field (or a closely-related subfield) and ought to know better, suddenly starts claiming to overturn well-established results. A good example there would be the weird case of Murry Salby, starting in 2011 (See RealClimate comments 37, 42-81, and especially John N-G’s amusing comment. It turns out that Salby got an oral slot to talk about Antarctic ozone patterns … and with no notice gave a talk on his CO2 ideas. In this case, experts took a quick look, and then didn’t bother, even though Salby had a long track record in atmopsheric physics (not carbon-cycle or ice-core). For current discussions, try Stoat or WOTTS.

    Summary: experts look at the paper. Those of us who are less expert can look at credentials and track record of authors, but even better is to have found experts with credible histories and see what they think. All sorts of things can seem plausible if you’re not directly involved with the field.

    Comment by John Mashey — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:23 PM

  86. Steve at 74,

    The key point in examining any supposed scientific criticism of a paper is to assess whether everything has been presented to you. The strongest portion of the Cowtan and Way paper is the cross-validation results and the comparisons with Arctic buoys on sea ice and in isolated locations. Any discussion that criticizes the paper (like the one at WUWT or at Climate etc) and yet does not mention either of these tests is unlikely to be reliable.

    Comment by Robert Way — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:28 PM

  87. Steve: “So… here is my impression. The postings on WUWT –for somebody like me, who doesn’t have the science background– look pretty persuasive.”

    OK, now here’s what I don’t understand. How in the hell can anyone find that looney bin persuasive? The only consistent tenet among the posts is “anything but CO2”, and that is NOT a scientific theory. The posts even contradict each other! If you look at the utter crap (CO2 snow, anyone? The stations project that never quite worked out? The reversal on Muller and BEST?). WTFUWT provides a useful service to education in climate science in the same way an insane asylum provides a useful service to the political process.

    Personally, I do not have a dog in this fight. I, too, find the claims of this paper surprising and think it deserves a lot of scrutiny. The work is certainly interesting.

    One question, Tamino has noted that the satellite datasets tend to be affected by ENSO much more strongly than the terrestrial series. Have the authors considered this?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:32 PM

  88. Steve,

    Since all the hardworking scientists here have been subjected to continuous attacks, many of them underhanded and some of them pretty vile, it’s hard for them to be neutral about WattsUpWithThat. But consider the source. I get kind of tired of pulling up the same information, but in any other field you would try to find out who is best at the job and prefer their opinion. Claiming that RealClimate will be “further” tarnished does not inspire confidence in your objectivity. I suggest an objective reading through the archives here, with particular reference to the ClimateGate attack, for example.

    Many of the real experts are right here, and they run this blog. Try this:
    which leads to this:
    It’s a little out of date but you can click on the individual scientists’ links to find out their qualifications.

    You might search using your preferred search engine on any particular name, for example
    “Mike Mann cv” (curriculum vitae, or you could try bio for biography). The first result, pdf version, includes 42 single spaced pages of publications in top journals, honors, and the like. He’s a favorite target, because fake skeptics hate the temperature record which proves them wrong:

    Compare with Anthony Watts, a former weather presenter on a mission to discredit the best available science, with what appears to be a persecution complex, supporting by politics but not by reality. Have you been told that RealClimate censors? You really believe WUWT’s does not shut down dissenting voices in a big hurry? There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary if you will open your eyes and mind.

    You can also check some of the prominent figures in the mirror universe at Sourcewatch, which shows that most of them have connections to industry.

    For a more neutral source, here’s Wikipedia:

    After a long list of organizations in agreement, and a much shorter one of neutrals, it concludes with this:


    As of 2007, when the American Association of Petroleum Geologists released a revised statement,no scientific body of national or international standing rejected the findings of human-induced effects on climate change.

    Now I’m a layperson just like you, except I have a wide acquaintance with science and scientists, who are both smart and honest, which biases me in their favor.

    Don’t you think there’s something wrong with people who make it their mission in life to discredit the vast majority of working experts and expertise? How about you believe your five senses instead of these poorly supported assertions?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 14 Nov 2013 @ 5:44 PM

  89. Stefan – Thanks for your response to #69. I appreciate how much work you must do to keep this forum going, and I would not want to add to the workload. The solution would be to get the software provider to attach a quick pop-up to the Reject button, you check the box that describes the problem (ad hominem, etc), and it automatically sends the e-mail. As for your second comment, I am sure you are right that we are all making a lot of fuss over what is mostly weather noise.

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 14 Nov 2013 @ 6:19 PM

  90. @62 Kevin McKinney – The answer is in the post…

    I don’t think that it is. I understand that the satellite data has limitations. My issue is that if you are concerned enough about those limitations that you use the surface data instead then isn’t it a bit weird to then use that satellite data (with all of its limitations) to fill in the holes in the surface data?

    Put another way, if the satellite data is robust enough to be usable to fill in holes in the surface data then is it not robust enough to be used and trusted in its own right?

    As James Cross mentioned above, the satellite data shows the “pause” and yet it is now being used to show that there is no “pause”. There just seems to be something illogical about that. Am I missing something?

    Comment by Svet — 14 Nov 2013 @ 7:57 PM

  91. Could we talk about the data and analysis?

    It sounds from the first post like most of the difference between before and after taking cognizance of the change in the global average — is to say, oh, good, that makes more sense than what we were getting.

    Is that even close?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2013 @ 8:29 PM

  92. Folks,

    Thanks all for your responses to some of my questions. The thing that would most help is what I asked for in #82, a point-by-point response to the WUWT assessments of the Cowtan paper. It would be really great if somebody could give that a whack. Robert Way in #84 did give a hint in this direction, but it did not touch on the points that Curry raised. (This is the last time I will ask for it.)

    Telling me that the guys there are unqualified, etc, doesn’t really help me. Nor does telling me that what they post is often inconsistent.

    I am looking at this current topic, the Cowtan paper, as a moment where I could be locked into my conviction that skeptics are generally full of it, or where they could succeed in introducing doubt in my mind. So far, sadly, they have succeeded in the latter. And if they can succeed in doing that with me, a person who has been an ardent environmentalist for 40 years, then I hate to think about less committed people.

    Again, I am looking for concrete ammunition to persuade my friend (and other agnostics/skeptics).

    If I can point to a blog post on WUWT that looks like careful analytic thinking objecting to a mainstream paper, but can be revealed as scientific misconception or misinformation, that would be a huge win.

    Thanks again.

    If it turns out that you guys can’t do this I guess I’ll have to continue reading contradictory blogs and over time try to form a judgment.

    [Response: Kevin Cowtan has responded to Curry here. Robert Way has responded here. -stefan]

    Comment by Steve — 14 Nov 2013 @ 8:56 PM

  93. @89 – Svet You seem to have dismissed Gavin’s concise note that that Satellite record only shows a pause if you cherry pick 1998 as the start date. I’ve done my own playing around at wood for trees, and I don’t think the UAH data there shows a pause at all. Break the data into 1979 to 199x and 199x to 2013 and see what i mean.

    Now for Steve-

    I’m seeing what I regard as a suspicious synchrony in concerns about tone across a number of boards, so you won’t mind I hope, if I’m not immediately solicitous towards your notions of civility.

    So let me tell what I see especially from people without any science or math chops:

    First there is a pure bit of grammar school beat up on the smart kid going on here. The motive seems nothing more or less than to get some feeling of triumph over all those smart guys with Ph.D.s who do all this complicated stuff we can’t understand. The result is that it doesn’t matter how many times a myth is debunked, how many stakes we put through a zombie myths heart, none of that counts against any possible thrill that one of those “too-smart-for-his-own-good-and-he’s probably a commie too” is somehow shown up. You really can’t talk with people like that. The question is, what tactics are effective in demonstrating to the reading public what’s going on, and that having some unresolved envy issues with smart kids isn’t how you figure out whether the science is right.

    Second, far too much of this starts with ideology, as if the oceans care about the politics of people measuring the heating, the rise in sea, the fall of pH etc.

    And from our side, we worry about the Serengiti Strategy being applied to distinguished scientists such as Mike Mann, and a lack of good faith when the same voices repeatedly do not engage scientific evidence and reasoning and simply repeat the myth again.

    Anyhow, thanks for the opportunity to put forth this meme: That a lot of this is a bunch of goofs trying to gang up on the smart kid at recess.

    Comment by Dave123 — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:20 PM

  94. RE: #12. (Vaguely)

    The extreme confidence of political contrarians. Are they taught to act?

    I went straight from reading this, to watching the latter part of “Question Time” on BBC 1 which ran from 10.35 PM to 11.35PM. It is probably still available on BBC’s I Player.

    By coincidence they were discussing Typhoon Haiyan and climate change in general. The team included Nigel Lawson, who invoked the IPCC for support, which he had previously tried to discredit. This is exactly the same tactic as that used by his ex-colleague Peter Lilley over the Arctic. Lawson told the audience that there was no evidence at all, that extreme storms were becoming more intense , and repeated the mantra that there had been no warming for 15 years. He was well prepared and chose his words carefully in such a way as to mislead. The good news was that he was received with skepticism, but the bad news was that the replies were rather muddled. Lawson’s extreme confidence appeared to throw the team off balance including even Ed Davey , the Liberal Democrat minister(second in seniority in the UK government on climate change policy) who was surprisingly insecure about the details apart from adopting some words of appeasement (“Lawson had written a good book on the subject” which Ed happened to disagree with).

    Very recently I watched an earlier version of Question Time in which Lawson’s role was taken by the Daily Mail’s Peter Hitchens who like Peter Lilley and Nigel Lawson adopted a similar pose of confidence in taking an even more extreme position.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:32 PM

  95. Ray at 87 –

    “One question, Tamino has noted that the satellite datasets tend to be affected by ENSO much more strongly than the terrestrial series. Have the authors considered this?”

    I believe that is probably related to the sensitivity of the remote sensing systems to precipitation and clouds in the atmosphere. A good place to start is Weng et al (2013) which has a very important conclusion. The ENSO impact on TLT trends is an important issue and one that should be investigated but in the same context it should be noted that the TLT data is only used as a proxy for surface temperature and cross-validation shows it performs well in this regard. In fact, it may be the case that by including the Arctic we are reducing the dependency of global temperature on ENSO as opposed to in the initial Met Office record.

    Weng et al.(2013). Uncertainty of AMSU-A derived temperature trends in relationship with clouds and precipitation over ocean. Climate Dynamics.

    Comment by Robert Way — 14 Nov 2013 @ 9:52 PM

  96. @92 Dave123 – Thanks. Did somehow miss that reply. Thanks also for the link to

    Comment by Svet — 14 Nov 2013 @ 11:26 PM

  97. Predictable.

    Here’s a simple and easy exercise. Use the search facility at upper right, on the term “newbie” or “beginner” or various synonyms claimed by self-professed neophytes. You’ll find many comments in the results. Follow the evolution of those conversations.

    Originality is preciously rare.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Nov 2013 @ 12:16 AM

  98. I’d like to chime in on the value of the WUWT site, on my way over there to check out the analysis of the Cowtan and Way paper, I ran across this posting titled “What makes the warmist-skeptic fight go on and on?” In that piece, I found this gem:

    “Specifically, the skeptics use declarative, as in “this will”, “this shall” or “this does”, and, of course, its negative equals. The warmists use conditionals, i.e. words like “could” or “should” or “may” or “might” that indicate undefined probabilities and, in truth, possibilities, things that are determinable only after the fact.

    “The use of conditionals after 25 years is remarkable (here I make a declarative statement). Despite all the models and claims of correlation/matching of observation, we still have no “does”, “shall” or “will” in the IPCC or other CAGW programme. The dangers and fears are in the distant future, discussed only as emerging from the present, but still only becoming obvious in some, never-close-to-today, tomorrow.”

    And this from someone who claims some authority as to why the “skeptics” and climate scientists disagree! I had a good laugh over that bit. It is evident that this person hasn’t much of a clue of how science works or of the epistemology of science. How can anyone take a site that posts stuff like this seriously?

    My impression of WUWT is that they use the “throw enough mud at the wall and see what sticks” approach in their opposition to climate science. I see a lack of any comprehensive theoretical framing, not to mention a lack of empirical support. Instead, what i have observed is a hodge podge of stuff, some of it contradicting other stuff that is posted there. A real dog’s breakfast. (So sorry to mix up the metaphors–I couldn’t resist.)

    Comment by Charles — 15 Nov 2013 @ 12:59 AM

  99. Building on comments #83 and 88: an insightful article that you can download in pdf is “Cool Dudes: The Denial of Climate Change among Conservative White Males in the United States”. This is a 2011 paper by sociologists Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap, published in Global Environmental Change. The authors explore social and psychological reasons why conservative white men are especially prone to climate change denial.

    QUOTES FROM THE ARTICLE [I omit references, for ease of reading]:

    Our data come from the Gallup Organization’s annual environment poll, conducted each March in anticipation of Earth Day (April 22). [They used data from 2001 – 2010. jj]

    … significantly greater percentages of conservative white males than of all other American adults report denialist views. For instance, while 29.6% of conservative white males believe that the effects of global warming will never happen, only 7.4% of all other adults believe so. Also, 58.5% of conservative white males but only 31.5% of all other adults deny that recent temperature increases are primarily caused by human activities.

    … a greater percentage of conservative white males (30.4%) than of all other adults (18.0%) report that they understand global warming very well. … conservative white males tend to assert somewhat greater personal understanding of global warming than do other adults. This, of course, seems an untenable self-assessment, given that conservative white males are more likely than are other adults to reject the current scientific consensus. …

    Conservative think tanks, conservative media, corporations, and industry associations (especially for the fossil fuels industry) — domains dominated by conservative white males — have spearheaded the attacks on climate science and policy from the late 1980s to the present. The results presented here show that conservative white males in the general public have become a very receptive audience for these efforts. When mobilized, these conservative white males may constitute a key vector of climate change denial in their own right via their online and offline social networks and through participation in various protest and campaigning events.
    Since the mid-1990s, organized climate change denial has diffused from the US to other Anglo nations with established conservative think tanks that promote free-market conservatism and front groups promoting industry interests, most notably Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This spread of climate change denial has been driven to a significant degree by key actors — and their resources, strategies, and tactics — in the U.S. climate change denial machine. …

    Comment by Jane Jackson — 15 Nov 2013 @ 1:35 AM

  100. Steve, you should do the point by point thing yourself.
    Seriously. Copy the point, open Scholar, paste it in.
    The ‘oogle has a better and better “natural language search” and you can refine what you see. Pick just 2013 and read a few pages of the results on the point and decide if it’s worthwhile.

    When you can say you looked up a point and got an opinion whether it was a good one or not — someone may get interested enough to help you if you’re stuck. Otherwise you end up “debating” — which isn’t science.

    Better — watch for Curry’s paper on the subject when and if it comes out. See if what gets published matches the blog, or not. Stuff that attracts blog readers is often very different from what’s worth publishing as science.

    You wrote

    … succeed in introducing doubt in my mind. So far, sadly, they have succeeded

    You sound there as though you think doubt is a bad thing.
    Au contraire.

    Science _exists_ to introduce doubt, then to find ways to do something that could convince you that your idea is wrong. That’s progress!

    How it works

    Asking for point by point responses? That’s homework help. You start; then others will work along with you, if what you find is interesting.

    40 years an ‘environmentalist’ — and did you take Ecology 101?
    Statistics 101? Those classes open up the world beyond anything else. Most ‘environmentalist’ folks

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 2:09 AM

  101. ‘How it works’ should link to:

    Because As We All Know, The Green Party Runs the World.‎

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 2:11 AM

  102. Steve,

    Not a point by point rebuttal but I took a look, as a non-scientist. Like others, it’s hard to understand why you thought the article plausible. Here are a few points.

    as NASA GISS tries to do by infilling temperatures from stations far away with their smoothing algorithm

    Note the phrasing. Actually the NASA data set uses stations that are as close as possible (they can’t use stations that aren’t there).

    one should always be wary of trying to create data where there is none

    Eh? What exactly is the sattelite data, if not data?

    just two years ago he [Dana Nuccitelli] was trashing the UAH satellite data on SKS as “misinformation”

    Tries to rubbish Dana Nuccitelli by displaying a screen shot of part of an article by him, instead of linking to the article or just pasting from the article (which seems strange to me). There is a kind of link, but one which has to be copy and pasted, as though to deter a reader from exploring. In fact, I couldn’t find anything in the article that justifies the claim.

    There is no mention of the ways in which Cowtan and Wray have attempted to validate their method, either in Curry’s bit or Watts’ bit.

    There is no mention of the how the gaps might affect the apparent slowdown in surface temperature. So the meme that global warming has stopped continues even as they acknowledge that there are gaps – which may or may not be significant. Without a reliable way to fill the gaps, in their view, how can Curry or Watts keep spouting the pause nonsense?

    But I’m still puzzled over how you could regard the piece as plausible.

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 15 Nov 2013 @ 4:17 AM

  103. Hi Steve,

    If you want to get informed on climate change, reading blogs might not be the way to go. You get to know a lot of fragments, but no coherent picture. A book by a good source will do better in that regard. I’d recommend this one, available online:

    The Discovery of Global Warming

    It’s written by a historian of science, about the development of climate science. It contains some real interesting nuggets, like that the heat-trapping properties of CO2 were first measured by the US army, in order to build heat-seeking missiles. It takes a long time to read, but fortunately it’s well written, and it gives you a good basis of the science.

    If you want to know what the debate is all about and are prepared to go to a library, this one is an eye-opener:

    Merchants of Doubt

    Again written by historians of science, this one is about the misuse of science to further political agendas, from the smoking and lung cancer link, acid rain, the ozon hole and lately climate change. Some people in the climate sceptic camp have been around denying all these problems. Unfortunately, the book itself is not available online.

    And finally, some fun:

    Caught greenhanded

    This is the definitive report on the climategate dustup from the sceptic side. It’s hilarious. Unless, of course, you are on The Team.

    Comment by Bouke — 15 Nov 2013 @ 5:53 AM

  104. This was posted on neven’s arctic ice blog under a similar story:

    from somewhere i got the idea to connect the atmospheric warming “hiatus” to the heat necessary to melt the 8000 km³ of perennial ice lost during the last 20 years or so.
    The calculations can be found here:
    What do You think of that?

    Posted by: dominik lenné | November 15, 2013 at 04:13″

    It is obviously a hugely simplified model since Arctic sea ice and the atmosphere aren’t the only two elements of the system. But are Dominik’s basic maths right for the energy balance involved?

    Comment by wili — 15 Nov 2013 @ 6:19 AM

  105. Steve: “Can somebody here respond point-by-point to Curry’s analysis (WUWT blog) of the Cowtan paper?”

    Maybe my preliminary thoughts on her comments are what you are looking for. On first reading, the her comments sounded valuable, but I start to have the feeling that on further investigation they will fall flat.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 15 Nov 2013 @ 7:31 AM

  106. #94 Robert Way – “One question, Tamino has noted that the satellite datasets tend to be affected by ENSO much more strongly than the terrestrial series. Have the authors considered this?”

    I believe that is probably related to the sensitivity of the remote sensing systems to precipitation and clouds in the atmosphere.

    There is a real reason (“real” meaning not measurement-dependent) why MSU/AMSU satellites show greater response to ENSO: The water vapor feedback response to El Nino warming enhances atmospheric temperatures more in the mid-troposphere than near the surface. The MSU/AMSU satellite channel used for TLT substantially samples in this mid-tropospheric region so it is expected that they should indicate greater response than observations at the surface. Radiosonde data sampling the same vertical space also shows this stronger ENSO response.

    However, this vertical response gradient is concentrated at lower latitudes and may even reverse in the Arctic.

    Comment by Paul S — 15 Nov 2013 @ 7:38 AM

  107. #89–“if the satellite data is robust enough to be usable to fill in holes in the surface data then is it not robust enough to be used and trusted in its own right?”

    It *is* used and trusted in its own right. All kinds of research has used and continues to use those data sets.

    But it is not a ‘drop in’ substitute for the instrumental record. The latter shows us something different than does the lower trop satellite data, which is spatially more diffuse (especially vertically.) Granted, the difference is ‘diluted’ somewhat by this hybridization process, but less so than if the lower trop values were dropped in directly.

    The procedure may not be perfect, but then in a perfect world we’d have thermometers all over the ice caps, wouldn’t we? If it can be shown create the best picture possible, then bring it on, I say.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Nov 2013 @ 8:58 AM

  108. Jerry W @ #47,

    Have you not read the comments? They explain the peer review, as well as others who have commented on the expertise of the two in their fields and how it’s been of use to “fill” the gaps.

    I’m left dumbfounded when I read comments of people who acknowledge their complete lack of scientific knowledge, who then comment that they’ll check the credentials of the authors. Tell me, how are you going to do that? The fact that every respected research institute confirms the science isn’t enough, they’ll do their own “investigative” work. Did you bring your magnifying glass with you?

    Comment by dne — 15 Nov 2013 @ 9:03 AM

  109. But I’m still puzzled over how you could regard the piece as plausible.

    Wattsopia peddles plausible deniability, much of what’s found there seems “plausible”, particularly if it’s a sciency-sounding piece by the likes of what’s-er-name.

    Comment by flxible — 15 Nov 2013 @ 9:54 AM

  110. Agreeing with Wili who points to the back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations at that link above, I have also been wondering where all the higher amount of captured Arctic heat could be going as it goes somewhere in the climate system. Would it be expected to show a clear bump of something measurable somewhere?

    It needn’t show up right away as an increase in temperature, right? As that page points out it could show up as cold fresh water leaving the Arctic.

    If there is more hidden as melted fresh water — we don’t have great data that I know of on fresh meltwater flows from underneath the glaciers — would that show up anywhere in salinity changes? changes in overturning/sinking? Additional fresh water floating on top of seawater around where meltwater exits the glacier terminations at the ocean?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 10:28 AM

  111. The paper is a really interesting piece of work. I had mistakenly assumed that that’s how the global temperature trends were already being calculated – score one for my laziness.

    But, while interesting, it’s not that consequential I don’t think. The underlying mechanism of AGW is unchanged and the heat is still being trapped. This highlights what should probably be a best practice perhaps for generating a temperature reconstruction, but a slight twitch in the warming rate doesn’t change the first principles of the story.

    Comment by tmb — 15 Nov 2013 @ 10:30 AM

  112. Steve — note that the real scientists here, identified as Contributors (link at top of every page) will often eventually add a response “inline” — right in the place you asked the question earlier. Watch that right hand sidebar. You have had some answers to your questions posted that way. Just in case you didn’t notice that, it’s sometimes missed.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 10:33 AM

  113. @Steve 74

    You can almost always judge the quality of a web site by the quality of the comments. Sure there is a lot of subtle snark here (less so at but it pales in comparison to WTFUWT :)

    Real scientists write very differently as well. They are trained to avoid weasel words and to recognize them. They are trained to spot manipulative figures, i.e. always be careful when two axis scales are present.

    When I first started “closely” following the Climate debate it was abundantly clear from the start that WUWT was not the real thing even before a closer reading of the actual articles revealed the paucity of intellectual honesty. Pielke very briefly fooled me but the comments gave it away…

    Comment by Flakmeister — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:03 AM

  114. #97 (Doug):
    You are quite right about the ”beginner”.
    I saw this coming from a mile away.
    The only thing missing from the usual ”help convince a newbie” recipe was a claim of being an engineer or a retired engineer.

    Comment by Esop — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:04 AM

  115. Please stop referring to Anthony Watts, WUWT and similar purveyors of deliberate deceit as “skeptics”.

    The are not “skeptics”. They are propagandists who are paid to lie.

    Neither are their followers “skeptics”. They are, in fact, the diametric opposite of skeptics: they are gullible dupes who unquestioningly and slavishly believe whatever they are told by their “leaders”.

    Aside from granting them a respect that they do not deserve, calling them “skeptics” pollutes the English language with Orwellian gibberish.

    So please stop it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:12 AM

  116. @Steve (74)

    Perhaps some other responses, Victor Venema (105) for instance, will have given you some of what you want in the way of replies to some of the concerns raised at WUWT. I’d like, as a fellow non-scientist, to raise a point – you probably need to be patient and let the back and forth between the scientists sort itself out. Consider what Judith Curry wrote on her blog, reproduced at WUWT:

    “Let’s take a look at the 3 methods they use to fill in missing data, primarily in Africa, Arctic, and Antarctic.

    1. Kriging
    2. UAH satellite analyses of surface air temperature
    3. NCAR NCEP reanalysis
    The state that most of the difference in their reconstructed global average comes from the Arctic, so I focus on the Arctic (which is where I have special expertise in any event).

    First, Kriging. Kriging across land/ocean/sea ice boundaries makes no physical sense. While the paper cites Rigor et al. (2000) that shows ‘some’ correlation in winter between land and sea ice temps at up to 1000 km, I would expect no correlation in other seasons.

    Second, UAH satellite analyses. Not useful at high latitudes in the presence of temperature inversions and not useful over sea ice (which has a very complex spatially varying microwave emission signature). Hopefully John Christy will chime in on this.

    Third, re reanalyses in the Arctic. See Fig 1 from this paper, which gives you a sense of the magnitude of grid point errors for one point over an annual cycle. Some potential utility here, but reanalyses are not useful for trends owing to temporal inhomogeneities in the datasets that are assimilated.”

    Regarding use of Kriging, Dr. Curry says she “would expect no correlation in other seasons”. She doesn’t present of refer to any analysis done by herself or others to support this opinion.

    Regarding use of the UAH data, she says it’s “Not useful at high latitudes in the presence of temperature inversions and not useful over sea ice…”. Once again, no references to any evidence or any analysis she or anyone else has done to support this opinion. As Victor Venema observes on his blog, it’s a bit strange to ask John Christy to chime in to support her on this since he co-publishes the UAH data and apparently feels it is useful enough at high latitudes to be worth publishing.

    Regarding reanalyses in the Arctic, this is bizarre since by all accounts other than Dr. Curry’s, Cowtan and Way don’t use reanalysis data to infill where HADCRUT4 doesn’t have coverage. Looking at her blog post, where she quotes the abstract of the paper and various online commentary but, unlike with the other paper she discusses, doesn’t excerpt anything from the body of the paper, I can’t help getting the feeling that she wrote her blog post without actually reading the full Cowtan and Way paper.

    Now maybe I’m wrong on that last bit and she had read the paper before she dismissed it as not adding anything to our understanding of the global temperature field. In any case, the paper has only been published for a day or so so it’s understandable that at this point Dr. Curry is merely mentioning concerns she has with the methodology even if she has read the paper in full. However, as of now Cowtan and Way did a lot of data analysis in order to validate their approach and all Dr. Curry has clearly done in response is read their abstract, read some online commentary on their paper, watch their video describing their methodology and write a few paragraphs about it. She hasn’t done any number crunching to prove that kriging is useless in the Arctic or that it’s impossible to extract any useful information from UAH data at high latitudes. Based on my experience of watching her over the last couple of years, I’ll be astonished if she puts in the hard work to substantiate her expressed concerns but no doubt others will investigate further. As laypeople, we have little choice but to wait for them to do so, which is going to take time.

    Comment by Jon — 15 Nov 2013 @ 12:46 PM

  117. Steve response by Hank @~100

    Unfortunately, Hank muffed the link. His “How it works” was meant to link to this:

    It’s rather good on the topic, and includes this classic:

    Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it. And it does that at least partly fueled by our pettiness and our rivalries. Science is alchemy: it turns shit into gold. Keep that in mind the next time some blogger decries the ill manners of a bunch of climate scientists under continual siege by forces with vastly deeper pockets and much louder megaphones.

    The chronic tone of frustration with the constant bringing up of WUWT is, well … chronic frustration. No matter how detailed and factual the response, the false claims keep bobbing up. Point by point rebuttals of the most recent phony logic are hard work, and they don’t change much.

    There are a few blogs that do this work, however:

    which has a specific response to this item, among others.

    Sou does some work on this too

    Some of Sou’s other posts are interesting on the subject as well.

    I know there are more, but this will do to go on with. Note these are responses, not provocations. The provocation is from WUWT, and never stops.

    If you actually read the various links provided, you will see that they provide point by point rebuttals. If you choose to show up in the top scientists’ own blog and insist that they personally answer your claims, and refuse to read the detailed responses provided for you, that says more about you than about them.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Nov 2013 @ 1:47 PM

  118. Hank, 100-101 – sorry about reinventing the wheel there. I see you had already corrected your link … the rest of what I had to say was for Steve.

    Perhaps the rest of you should get back to science.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Nov 2013 @ 2:27 PM

  119. [edit – please try to limit the criticisms to issues that are specific to the topic at hand]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Nov 2013 @ 2:49 PM

  120. This seems relevant to the conversation (sorry if it has already been linked–hard to see everything important through all the troll feeding):

    <discussed further and more recently here:

    Comment by wili — 15 Nov 2013 @ 3:11 PM

  121. SA: how about we call’em catastrophes instead of skeptics?
    Oh, wait …

    Why not follow tradition, and call’em septics. That’s got legs.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 3:33 PM

  122. Hank and Susan, re posts 100 et seq from the Rifter Article about the Green Party for Steve.
    I think you have missed the key quote, as follows with a modification:

    That’s how science works. It’s not a hippie love-in; it’s “Southern Hemisphere International Rugby, Springboks versus the All-Blacks at Port Elizabeth, the Original Home of the Punch-Up, in the rain”.
    Every time you put out a paper, the guy you pissed off at last year’s Houston conference is gonna be laying in wait.
    Every time you think you’ve made a breakthrough, that asshole supervisor who told you you needed more data will be standing ready to shoot it down.
    You want to know how the Human Genome Project finished so far ahead of schedule?
    Because it was the Human Genome projects, two competing teams locked in bitter rivalry, one led by J. Craig Venter, one by Francis Collins — and from what I hear, those guys did not like each other at all.

    This is how it works: you put your model out there in the coliseum, and a bunch of guys in white coats kick the shit out of it. If it’s still alive when the dust clears, your brainchild receives conditional acceptance. It does not get rejected. This time.

    I’m re-reading James Hansen’s “Storms of my Grandchildren”. He was too much of a gentleman with certain parties, and not enough of a Colin Meads or a Sebastien Chabal.
    Or a Thomas Huxley dealing with Soapy Sam Wilberforce with one deadly reposte.

    Comment by Richard Hawes — 15 Nov 2013 @ 3:54 PM

  123. This is an interesting paper but I think a lot of the online discussion that this “issue” is not longer existent is misleading.

    The one point I think Judith Curry gets right is that the key issue is that the observed global warming trend over the last 15 years is still at the lower end of the CMIP5 historical ensemble range, and probably at the high end of the ensemble for the previous 15-year interval ending in 1998 (the figure from Ed Hawkins masks out the model data in comparison to HadCRUT4, and this general picture is true even if you look at the GISTEMP dataset, or the entire HAdCRUT4 100-member ensemble, and I don’t think too sensitive to whether you look at the 14 or 16 year trend or whatever). This is still sufficiently interesting to be thinking about whether or not the CMIP5 forcings are correct, the structure of ocean heat uptake, the spatial-temporal pattern of the hiatus (e.g., primarily a DJF phenomena, largely a Eurasian signal). There’s a lot of explanations surrounding the hiatus and they shouldn’t be seen as mutually exclusive, but it’s emphatically not a “non-issue” even if probably has little to do with broader questions of anthropogenic attribution or climate sensitivity.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 15 Nov 2013 @ 4:47 PM

  124. I’m glad to see the link to an attempt at a rough calculation of the heat balance met with approval by no less than hank. However, Chris Reynolds at neven’s forums has pointed out some problems with the assumptions there.


    (I learn a lot from watching my betters work through these things.)

    Comment by wili — 15 Nov 2013 @ 6:11 PM

  125. Hi again everybody,

    Thanks to many of you who provided posts that were helpful to me, climate newbie. I found particularly good the discussion at these two blogs:

    There is only one thing that is nagging me. Maybe somebody can clarify. The WUWT blog, and I think Curry, say that the satellite data over the poles is not reliable. Watts gives a picture of the satellites’ trajectory implying that they kind of skirt the poles.

    It would seem that the validation methods of Crowtan and Way, using held-out data for other regions, might be suspect if those regions have reliable satellite data but the poles don’t.

    So, is the satellite data at the poles reliable enough to have been used in this study? (Presumably it is, because presumably these guys know what they are doing. But, it was a point raised in the skeptic blogs that I don’t think I have seen addressed).


    Comment by Steve — 15 Nov 2013 @ 9:42 PM

  126. What a fascinating thread!

    I had a touch of the “but-but-but”s at one point there, but it should be preserved as an example of how to respond to difficult blog comments.

    Thanks everybody.

    [ Disclosure – I *am* a retired engineer :( ]

    Comment by Peter Smith — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:04 PM

  127. Steve, if you want to read a bit, there’s a site that’s reliably good on the basics– you have to set up a free account to look at it.

    Free, interactive, online training on a wide range of topics in meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, environmental science …

    Among much else you’ll find a good thorough explanation of how polar orbits work, why there’s a “hole” at the poles, what the “footprints” are and so forth. The relevant page is
    An animation showing that is at

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:34 PM

  128. Oh, and if you want to ‘oogle around, you could do worse than to start from this search, add additional search terms and remove others:

    Among much else, for example, remember the satellite’s data gives, after it’s worked with, different temperatures for different levels of the atmosphere and ground/ocean, for example.

    Kind of like taking one of those fancy multi-layered multi-colored drinks with a little umbrella in it, and a straw, and trying to get a taste of each layer and identify it.

    If you want just one page — this one covers it all:

    Why study the uncertainty?

    Without realistic uncertainty estimates we are not doing science!
    In the past, numerous conclusions have been drawn from MSU/AMSU data with little regard to the long term uncertainty in the data.
    Most previous error analyses for MSU/AMSU data sets have focused on decadal-scale trends in global-scale means, while in contrast, many applications are focused on shorter time scales and smaller spatial scales.
    Here we describe a comprehensive analysis of the uncertainty in the RSS MSU/AMSU products. The results can be used to evaluate the estimated uncertainty on all relevant temporal and spatial scales.


    Our MSU/AMSU products use data from 14 different satellites. The data need to be intercalibrated before being merged together. This is a complex process …

    … Available Uncertainty Information and Recommendations

    We have constructed a 100 realization uncertainty ensemble for each of the MSU/AMSU products we produce…. available in netCDF, with exactly the same form as the baseline temperature data. We recommend that researchers evalutate the uncertainty in any results they obtain using our MSU/AMSU data by re-running their analysis using each member of the uncertainty ensemble, and then evaluating the spread in the distribution of results obtained.

    Amateur recommendations, mind ya. I’m not a scientist. Others will have other suggestions.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:44 PM

  129. Kevin Cowtan: “Like many scientists, I’m an obsessive problem solver. Sometimes you see a problem and think ‘That’s mine, I can make a contribution here.”

    And: “No difficult scientific problem is ever solved in a single paper. I don’t expect our paper to be the last word on this, but I hope we have advanced the discussion.”

    See the Guardian online: ClimateConsensus – The 97%, Abraham/Nuticellli on this topic, with animated version of data graphic in this post, narrated by Kevin Cowtan. Same animation is at SkepticalScience post on this topic, as well as on YouTube.

    Comment by patrick — 15 Nov 2013 @ 11:50 PM

  130. #25 “With the amount of open data available for anyone to analyse, this is not such a stretch.”

    Thanks for the key point. Thanks for the post. It’s a memorable moment.
    Someone could make a documentary thriller out of it. Shane Salerno, are you listening?

    A phase in the work of John Schellnhuber is relevant I think:

    “Tidal flats are ‘very peculiar ecosystems,’ he says. ‘[They are] a sort of fractal structure. It’s interesting how the water is transported and how nutrients are transported through these fractal structures, how algae start to settle there.’ Researchers from geology, biology, and chemistry came to ask him for advice about how to construct a mathematical model for their specialties. ‘So I started to become interested in ecosystems,’ he says,’not because I was a green activist, it was simply through sheer scientific curiosity.’

    “His own group focused on the stability of nonperiodic orbits, using Kolmogorov–Arnold–Moser theory. ‘That is probably the most complicated mathematical issue you can do in nonlinear dynamics,’ he says. Meanwhile, his colleagues in the Institute were considering how algae grew in the mud. ‘I found it refreshing.’ he says. ‘You cannot do 12 hours a day thinking of Kolmogorov–Arnold–Moser theory. There may be some people doing that but, in general, you do it a few hours a day. I found it more enjoyable to talk to people and even go out to the tidal flats to look at the structures.’ ”

    The PNAS profile is linked by a biographical footnote at Wikipedia:

    “From solid state physics and quantum mechanics, John Schellnhuber´s interest was drawn to complex systems and nonlinearity or chaos theory.[9]”

    Also relevant:

    “His background serves him well here. ‘Physicists have a pictorial understanding of very complex relationships,” Schellnhuber says. ‘Of course, you always need to do it in tongue-in-cheek. You never believe it’s a true picture.’ Werner Heisenberg, he says, always looked for a good picture or analogy, as did Richard Feynman, who invented ‘a sort of pictorial calculus.’ Even with an apt analogy in hand, Schellnhuber admits that with many leaders, ‘you cannot give a scientific lecture. But you try to do it in terms that can be felt intuitively, perceived by people. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail.’ …

    “After his experience in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States, including several visits to Capitol Hill, Schellnhuber has faith that at least some leaders want to hear the truth. ‘I’m convinced that you simply have to provide the scientific evidence. If politicians ask “What is going on?” they will turn to the best scientific institutions and not to those who are shouting the loudest. So it’s very important that you remain credible.'”

    “The belief that his work is important and that his advice will be heeded by people in a position to implement change is what keeps Schellnhuber motivated.”

    Comment by patrick — 16 Nov 2013 @ 1:07 AM

  131. Correction: “With the amount of open data available for anyone to analyse, this is not such a stretch,” This is from response at #11, not #25. I like them all.

    Comment by patrick — 16 Nov 2013 @ 1:52 AM

  132. Jos Hagelaars made a figure comparing these new Cowtan and Way data to the CMIP5 model ensemble (and to HadCRUt4 for reference).



    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 16 Nov 2013 @ 3:06 AM

  133. > approval by no less than hank
    I asked where the Arctic heat captured goes in the climate system — whether looking outside the Arctic would turn up support for the larger warming there, in some other measurement elsewhere. But I don’t understand that guy’s answer. Is he saying it’s not going into meltwater? Or that it’s trivial?
    Wili, do you follow the arithmetic? It’s beyond me. I’m looking for who to trust on these questions.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2013 @ 7:39 AM

  134. Steve, regarding satellite trajectories. Most polar satellites do not in fact go directly over the poles. 98 degrees is a common inclination and corresponds to a Sun synchronous orbit, where the satellite passes over the same latitude at the same time of day. This has obvious advantages for measuring temperatures.

    As to the accuracy of the measurements–I rather doubt that the sensor only looks directly below the satellite. Clearly, the UAH and RSS groups do not share Aunt Judy’s pessimism about the accuracy of measurements over the poles, and the same suspects now questioning polar accuracy have for years been touting the satellites as superior because of their whole-Earth coverage. Methinks she doth protest too much.

    I’m still of two minds about the paper. I still find the results surprising, however, I think the methodology is promising.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Nov 2013 @ 8:19 AM

  135. Chris Colose @123.
    Curry’s “bottom line” was to point out that Ed Hawkins masked the CMIP5 output and so to infill in the blank areas without temperature data would not invalidate the ‘masked’ Hawkins comparison. This is obviously correct.
    Ed Hawkins also compared GISS with the full global CMIP5 output and it is onto this second graph that Cowtan & Way would be plotted. It does looks like such a plot would remain below the 25-75% region.
    What I take away from the Hawkins graphs is that as a representation of ‘hiatus’ for the great unwashed they do cut the ‘hiatus’ in half. A 15-year-long pause is difficult to argue for if surface temperatures were in that 25-75% region as recently as 2006. While the ‘hiatus’ is worthy of full investigation, 2006 wasn’t 15 years ago.

    Comment by MARodger — 16 Nov 2013 @ 9:22 AM

  136. Re: Hank Roberts @ 110:

    There is little readily accessible data on freshwater within the Arctic Basin and its exit from there.
    One paper by Rabe, et al. is available at Ocean Science Vol. 5, pages 219-233, 2009. Be prepared to brush up on your physical oceanography.
    Another more recent paper can be found here:

    There is growing evidence that a significant amount of cold, fresh water is entering the Greenland Sea and points south via polar surface waters on the East Greenland Shelf (western side of the Fram Strait). The Summary & Conclusions section of the Dodd paper is very readable.

    Comment by BillS — 16 Nov 2013 @ 9:25 AM

  137. The link to the Dodd, et al. JGR paper seems to be not working…

    On a search for: p.a.dodd,.b.rabe,e.hansen will bring up a working link…sorry….

    Comment by BillS — 16 Nov 2013 @ 9:36 AM

  138. Steve, though it’s not exactly on topic, you might enjoy looking at NASA’s material on the “A Train” about the various satellites out there which might provide information about the polar data hole. Going further afield, there is an issue now with our current satellites being on track to fade away leaving a gaping hole that the politicos are fighting about while one party works to defund anything that might increase scientific knowledge.* Though to be fair there were two launches that failed, and that may have been a design problem. Tricky business, launching and calibrating satellites!

    Being more of an amateur than you, I have to take most of this on others’ sayso, but I did start to try the NASA links and it looks like there’s more information there, for example:

    *ClimateCentral (for one) has some information on the funding/political clashes. Congress has been busy blaming the victim in classic fashion for potential satellite failures. You may have heard that we had to rely on the European model for information about Sandy and there’s more about that out there too. I’m providing the search rather than the results, but you can sort the information by date (shortfall Feb., funding March, blamefest September).

    And this on (weather not climate) forecast comparisons; Masters is excellent on this subject, though it appears to be focused on hurricanes:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 16 Nov 2013 @ 10:13 AM

  139. Stefan, could you comment on the stoichiometry of the heat? Enough ‘hidden’ heat was accounted for in deeper ocean strata to explain the “pause”. Now this study interpolates enough missing heat somewhere else. Do we have too much heat floating around or not?

    Comment by Roger Lambert — 16 Nov 2013 @ 12:24 PM

  140. BillS, thank you! you pointed to

    Ocean Sci., 9, 91–109, 2013 doi:10.5194/os-9-91-2013
    Liquid export of Arctic freshwater components through the Fram Strait 1998–2011
    B. Rabe1, P. A. Dodd2, E. Hansen2, E. Falck3, U. Schauer1, A. Mackensen1, A. Beszczynska-Mo ̈ller1, G. Kattner1,
    E. J. Rohling4, and K. Cox4

    found that (full text and discussion)
    and much else relevant at Ocean Science
    “An Interactive Open Access Journal of the European Geosciences Union”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2013 @ 1:01 PM

  141. and Eli has a relevant topic on the IPCC’s underestimates now:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2013 @ 1:03 PM

  142. Susan: Though to be fair there were two launches that failed, and that may have been a design problem.

    The kind of problem you’d expect when the launch organization is the relative equivalent of a primary school rocketry club. Same design problem, twice.

    Ipso facto drastically underfunded.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 16 Nov 2013 @ 2:27 PM

  143. Polar holes in satellite data depend to some extent on the sensor and the satellite. here are just two examples.

    The ASTER sensor (Advance Spaceborne Thermal Emmission and Reflection Radiometer) is a push broom scanner (see wikipedia for a brief explanation on board the Terra satellite. Terra is designed to pass over the Equator at 1030 local time everyday on a descending orbit. Terra carries 4 other sensors in addition to ASTER — MODIS, MISR, CERES, & MOPITT. In theory, the ASTER sensor should not be able to “see” any farther North than about 82 degrees and about 80 degrees South. But, the ASTER telescopes can point up to 8.55 degrees either side of vertical so while you should not be able to get ASTER images of far northern Greenland (82-84 N) you can sometimes see the northern coast at 84N if the telescopes are pointing off-vertical (off-nadir). (It is possible to request such off-pointings if you can provide a good science reason.)

    The Landsat 7 and 8 sensors are whisk broom scanners on a satellite with the same orbit as Terra but designed to pass over the Equator every day at 1015 local time. Unlike the ASTER sensor however the Landsat sensors can not point any direction except straight down and you will never see any farther north or south than about 82 degrees.

    The Terra satellite can be re-positioned to get near-real time imagery of natural disasters; I don’t know whether any of the Landsats can be.

    NASA’s A-Train is a marvelous (Susan Anderson, above) idea; all satellites are designed to have 1330 local time Equator crossings.

    Finally, if you ever want the gory details of a satellite or sensor simply do a Google search on the satellite/sensor name, for example, “CALIPSO atbd”.

    Comment by BillS — 16 Nov 2013 @ 2:48 PM

  144. There is a reason warming occurs at the poles faster than the rest of the planet. When Ice melts it absorbs energy, and when it freezes it releases energy. With liquid water temperature changes linearly with energy change. So, if you understand that ice warms significantly, while maintaining a constant temperature before melting that makes perfect sense.

    Comment by JB Abbott — 16 Nov 2013 @ 5:19 PM

  145. There is a reason warming occurs at the poles faster than the rest of the planet. When Ice melts ….

    Er, that was the reason we thought so, long ago.

    After that, we thought it was the change in albedo.

    Then, people started modeling how energy moves in the climate system.

    That “habyhints” site is by a meteorologist. Keep watching. Presumably he updates his pages from time to time, as new science keeps being done.

    For example, this:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2013 @ 6:34 PM

  146. Steve: “There is only one thing that is nagging me. Maybe somebody can clarify. The WUWT blog, and I think Curry, say that the satellite data over the poles is not reliable.”

    Yes the satellite retrievals of temperature over the poles are less reliable. That is why RSS does not provide any retrieved values at high latitudes. It is not a black and white issue, UAH has no problems providing data with a somewhat larger error and does provide data.

    If these measurement problems just make the data more noisy, that would be no problem. There is more than enough data to remove this. Also if the data has a bias, this would be no problem, such a bias would not affect the temperature trend. What would be a problem would be a change in the bias and thus change in the bias would only occur in the part where HadCRUT has no data. One reason for that could be the rapid melting of sea ice in the Arctic and the temperature retrievals need assumptions on the surface. I do not know how well that has been studied by the authors or whether that should be investigated in future. If it would be severe I would expect that they had seen a problem in their cross validation. (In a cross validation you leave out part of your data and investigate how well your method can reconstruct this again.) Still given that the temperature slowdown is such a minute effect, such details may matter.

    Steve: “Watts gives a picture of the satellites’ trajectory implying that they kind of skirt the poles.”

    As already noted above, polar orbiting satellites do not cross the poles exactly. Most have an offset of a few degrees, which they need to stay sun synchronous. This, however, leads to a minor gap of just a few degrees in the middle. This gap is so small that interpolation should be very save.

    In his post Anthony Watts was so careless to stray from the script of Judith Curry and showed this graph:
    and added: Note how the data near the poles starts to get spotty with coverage?

    He unfortunately did not note that the Antarctic is also very large on his figure. The figure has geographical coordinates, which near the poles means that points that are very close in reality (in km) are plotted as very distant (in degrees). In fact the effect goes the other way around, near the poles the sampling is much denser and near the equator. This can be seen in a figure Watts shows later:

    Even if the sampling near the poles would have been worse, this would have been no problem for this study. The points would be sufficiently near to be able to perform a very save interpolation. Furthermore, the plot Watts shows is for one day, over one month the sampling would be much better.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 16 Nov 2013 @ 7:34 PM

  147. Thanks, everybody for all your replies.

    Victor@146 particular thanks to you. I don’t perfectly understand, but understand enough to feel reassured that the sat data was reasonable.

    There is one thing though I wonder if you can further comment on. It is about the validation. Imagine for a moment that the sat data for the poles is garbage. If so, then cross-validation in regions with good sat data would not demonstrate valid results where there is garbage sat data.

    I am not saying that the sat data is garbage, not at all. You dispelled that well. I am just asking an academic question about the validation. Basically, validation alone cannot show that the sat data is ok. You need to know it is prima facie, right?


    Comment by Steve — 16 Nov 2013 @ 11:02 PM

  148. > very large on his figure.

    Reminds me of some guy on the Internet a few years back who was foreseeing great opportunities to expand wheat farming into northern Canada. He figured the square miles available using the same kind of map projection.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2013 @ 1:50 AM

  149. The cross-validation that was performed is quite strong. They did not just leave one point out and study how well they could reconstruct it, but the made the Arctic gap almost two times larger and studied how well they could reconstruct this edge region. That is a similar difficult extrapolation result. Also the removed region is probably already difficult to measure be satellite. That is most likely not a black and white issue.

    Maybe these edges are even more difficult as the center of the Arctic region. I am no expert for the Arctic, but I can imagine that these edges would be the region where the reduction in sea ice was strongest, whereas close to the North pole not much has happened yet to the ice cover and thus likely to the atmospheric profile. And I would guess that the changes in ice cover are the main reason to expect a trend in the bias, which is what could cause problems as argued above. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about sea ice can step in and say how well the regions and seasons match.

    To fully rule out such problems, an expert on the satellite retrievals should investigate how sensitive these retrievals are to changes in sea ice and the atmospheric profile and compare that to expected changes. The latter could be studied using radiosonde and dropsonde data. Black Board Lucia suggested studying this with model data. That would also be an option, but models are not that reliable for stable atmospheres, like we have in the Arctic. Thus I would prefer observations if we have enough of them.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 17 Nov 2013 @ 9:10 AM

  150. Steve, glance over the first few dozen results:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2013 @ 10:23 AM

  151. Re Hank at 148, not to mention the guy’s total ignorance of the Precambrian Shield that lies exposed across much of northern Canada. Love to see him try to grow wheat in solid granite.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 17 Nov 2013 @ 11:03 AM

  152. Jim @ 151 and Hank @ 148, also not too mention virtually all the arable land in Canada is in production, and if we were growing wheat and corn in Canada rather than in the Midwest US we in the US wouldn’t be growing our own food. Is there a problem with that?

    Comment by Tokodave — 17 Nov 2013 @ 2:01 PM

  153. Chuckle. Nope, just commenting that people do still forget that Mercator’s projection is not an accurate representation of the surface area of the planet. Did WTF correct that misapprehension about the spacing of the data points?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2013 @ 3:26 PM

  154. Who is responsible to put some pressure on countries such as China to reduce their emissions? Governments shall develop mandatory standards for import from those countries

    Comment by Alfred — 17 Nov 2013 @ 4:42 PM

  155. My latest post in now a complete reply to Curry and also Lucia. For the people who followed the discussion here, it does not much many new ideas, however.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 17 Nov 2013 @ 6:47 PM

  156. To the many questions questions about Arctic accuracy, it would be worth reading the paper on the cross-validation, which as Robert Way commented includes Arctic buoys in the middle of the region. They have done an excellent job on cross-validating their approaches.

    Satellite trends (and any biases in them) aren’t relevant, as they use the satellite data patterns for each month individually to derive the satellite/surface relationship. Any satellite bias will drop out with the constant recalibration.

    Roger Lambert – Regarding stoichiometry and the temperature change, atmospheric temperature represents perhaps 2.3% of the energy in the climate. I expect that the C&W estimates, which are within the 95% range of HadCRUT4, are far smaller than the uncertainties in ocean heat content.

    To the authors, Way and Cowtan – I note that the trend difference for the short term (since 1998, which is of course statistically insignificant) appears to be due both to 2009-2013 increases above HadCRUT4 _and_ to a reduced excursion during the 1998 El Nino. Would it be correct to conclude that your estimate of global temperatures is less sensitive to ENSO than HadCRUT4?

    Comment by KR — 17 Nov 2013 @ 10:25 PM

  157. > all this is within the usual variability
    > around the long-term global warming trend
    > and no cause for excited over-interpretation.

    Are there any data outside the physics — phenology, breeding times, plankton bloom observations (handwaving frantically), maybe sound transmission across long distance in thermal layers — anything that would be expected to -amplify- a real warming signal but not noise? In the temperate zones, the phenology work suggests that nature’s a better detector of temperature changes than the instruments and statistics so far.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2013 @ 11:02 PM

  158. Hank Roberts, do you know of any quantitative estimates of the temperature trend based on phenological data? I would be very much interested.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 18 Nov 2013 @ 9:00 AM

  159. Hank Roberts:

    “Nope, just commenting that people do still forget that Mercator’s projection is not an accurate representation of the surface area of the planet.”

    Poor Mercator. People also forget that Mercator’s projection was explicitly developed for use by mariners, and he was well aware of the scaling issue. The benefits for navigation at sea far outweighed the scaling issue which is why it became the standard projection for so long …

    Comment by dhogaza — 18 Nov 2013 @ 10:42 AM

  160. Victor Venema,
    Of course, phenological studies are local. Nonetheless here is one:

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Nov 2013 @ 12:10 PM

  161. for Victor Venema — I’m an amateur and reader, so the best answer I can give you is “Yes, and here’s how I’d look for that”

    This won’t be the global annual average temperature trend.
    All phenology is local.

    There’s at least one RealClimate discussion of the subject; the search box (upper right) will find “phenology”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2013 @ 12:17 PM

  162. As a scientist with an Ivy league Ph.D. I don’t care much about credentials and they do not play a role when I act as a peer reviewer or editor. In order to pass peer review, ones needs to have spent quite a lot of time reading the literature to place a study in context. So, if scientists who have not published much in a field do their homework on the literature and come up with an important analysis of data, more power to them. This contrasts with bloggers and critics who have a poor understanding of scientific research, don’t know the relevant literature and usually are not competent to criticize the methods.

    Comment by BillD — 18 Nov 2013 @ 12:35 PM

  163. According to Google News, this story is being largely ignored in the media.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 18 Nov 2013 @ 2:18 PM

  164. here’s another:
    Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2013) 035036 (12pp) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035036
    Shifts in Arctic phenology in response to climate and anthropogenic factors as detected from multiple satellite time series
    Heqing Zeng1,2, Gensuo Jia1 and Bruce C Forbes3

    (focusing more on what can be derived from satellite work, noting that phenology is local, and trying to make sense of the local data, which is highly variable — some of that local variation would be “noise” and some would be attributable to the site’s location/elevation/land use/history)

    I’m posting what I find hoping to tempt some scientist who knows more about this to let that trickle down from her brain through her fingertips onto the screen here :-)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2013 @ 5:59 PM

  165. Thanks for the information on phenology. Looks like something I should look into.

    In Germany, this story is covered by three main newspapers. Sueddeutsche Zeitung, TAZ, Spiegel Online (all in German).

    The article in Spiegel Online by the infamous Axel Bojanowski is so bad that I gave the link a NoFollow tag in my post, normally only NoFollow WUWT. One of the main climate blogs, PrimaKlima, just had the headline that Spiegel had written a balanced and interesting article on climate. That is news, in case of Spiegel.

    Comment by Victor Venema — 18 Nov 2013 @ 6:49 PM

  166. Whilst trying to bear in mind Stefan’s warning not to “over-interpret short-term trends, one way or the other”, I can’t help musing over the following:

    Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) published a paper in Environmental Research Letters in which they largely removed the influence of ENSO, solar variations and volcanic eruptions from the five main global temperature series (three surface and two satellite)from 1979 onwards. The results, of course, already have shown that “the pause” is non-existent, see:

    However, one of the slightly surprising aspects of that Foster and Rahmstorf graph is the relentlessly linear nature of the trend in global temperatures that it shows since 1979, in spite of increasing levels of GHGs in the atmosphere.

    Cowtan and Way’s contribution appears to be additional to that revealed by Foster and Rahmstorf. What might be the result of applying the Cowtan and Way methodology to HADCRUT4 AFTER its modification by the Foster and Rahmstorf method? Might it be that it would then show global warming, as expressed in the surface temperature data, to be accelerating?

    Comment by Slioch — 19 Nov 2013 @ 5:08 AM

  167. BillD (#162): I would think that as an expert reviewer you can detect poor science, and can thus not have to worry about the author’s credentials. For a non-scientist trying to read a scientific paper, do you think that I should look up the background of the authors? I personally have seen a lot climate misinformation from qualified scientists who are outside of the climate field. Or do you think I should only check to see if the paper is in a decent journal, and trust the peer review process? I am trying to learn how to evaluate scientific information from the perspective of a limited science background, and appreciate any help in this area.

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 19 Nov 2013 @ 9:52 AM

  168. > Cowtan and Way’s contribution appears to be additional

    But if you look back at the beginning, you’ll see it’s not:

    all this is within the usual variability around the long-term global warming trend and no cause for excited over-interpretation.

    Their contribution points out that the appearance of a “hiatus” is over-interpretation of short term noise, and that better analysis reduces the noise level so the signal is clearer. And lo, the signal is the same, not different.

    Wiggles “appear to be” because we over-interpret what we see.
    That’s why statistics. The long-term global warming trend is.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Nov 2013 @ 11:49 AM

  169. #166 Slioch,

    This is a Foster and Rahmstorf-style analysis (applying ENSO, solar, volcanic, etc) to Cowtan & Way’s hybrid correction:

    Amusing that Inspector McIntyre raises suspicions on C&W but it backfires on him as the jigsaw pieces fit tightly together. A slight recent cooling in comparison to the model is made up by the abnormally high temperatures in the Arctic. C&W reveal this correction and science marches forward.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 19 Nov 2013 @ 2:46 PM

  170. Hank #167 – I don’t think that quote provides the information you attribute to it.
    Foster and Rahmstorf removed the effect of ENSO from the temperature records. During La Nina episodes more heat than normal is absorbed into the oceans. Taking that into account in adjusting the temperature record results in a higher average global surface temperature in the record than formerly. Similarly, taking into account that the Arctic has warmed more rapidly than other regions results in a higher average global surface temperature in the record than formerly. The two phenomena, La Nina and Arctic warming, are not the same and it therefore appears that their effects on adjustments to the temperature series are additive.

    Comment by Slioch — 19 Nov 2013 @ 4:52 PM

  171. #166 Slioch,

    Bear in mind that although global emissions rose near-expponentially to the mid-1970s, the rise from then to c. 2000 was not *that* great – the West finished industrializing, oil crises limited consumption rises, and then the USSR collapsed. So to an approximation, the increase in CO2-forcing was linear from perhaps 1975-2000, after which China started on the path of digging Australia up and burning it.

    Given the delays in the system, it follows that you’d expect a near-linear trend from 1980-2005 at least. All to a first approximation, of course.

    Comment by Andrew Dodds — 20 Nov 2013 @ 4:28 AM

  172. Stefan” “The public debate about the alleged “warming pause” was misguided from the outset, because far too much was read into a cherry-picked short-term trend. Now this debate has become completely baseless, because the trend of the last 15 or 16 years is nothing unusual – even despite the record El Niño year at the beginning of the period.”
    OK, well that’s good then, but it does NOT chnage the fact that at the release of the ARG WGI massive coordinated ‘marketing campaign’ [by rent seekers and special interest groups] was implemented globally that focuses solely on “the IPCC confirms the pause”.
    Sorry but Stefan, the billions of people exposed to that “public opinion making campaign” are not visiting this site now – so whether the “debate was baseless” is utterly irrelevant here, it was still “successful”. As a Public Policy issue it still has legs. being “right” is one thing .. winning the minds of the Public is another matter entirely. In this regard the UNFCCC, the IPCC and all Climate Scientists have missed the boat here and failed to communicate the actual REALITY.
    Also, if this “arctic region” errors in surface temps is correct over the last 15 years then what is being done about all the current figures in AR5 which are not correct going all the way back whenever in your GCM models? Clearly, unless I am making a serious error here, if this paper is correct then every estimate of past Global mean avg surface temps is therefore incorrect. That is not a complaint about past errors, only a cry from the wilderness that Global Temps must have been significantly understated all the time, including the latest “data summaries” in the AR5 WGI barely 8 weeks old now.
    To me this is a PR disaster of global proportions, not a reason to be chipper and smug about being “right”. Yes? No? thx Sean

    Comment by Sean — 20 Nov 2013 @ 4:48 AM

  173. @169 “after which China started on the path of digging Australia up and burning it.” excuse me, as an aussie, i just had to laugh out loud at that. :) Well damn it, at least we have the cleanest burning coal and NG on the planet. :)

    Comment by Sean — 20 Nov 2013 @ 8:47 AM

  174. @154 Alfred re “some pressure on countries such as China to reduce their emissions?” Whilst I understand the concern here I think it’s unfair, biased, and misplaced considering the big picture over time.
    A rather large % of their CO2e in the last 2 decades growth has been being the global manufacturer for OECD nations. Yet OECD emissions have not significantly reduced in relative terms to China’s increase.
    and the real crux of this issue imho is about 1850 to now and the total cumulative carbon budget used up. [is it over 65% of total budget already used before 450ppm +3-4C?]
    China, India, Africa & sth america did not contribute any significant amount of CO2e relative to nth america, europe, russia, japan, korea, australia etc have contributed to date. Sure the reality of now needs to be rationally dealt with, but this should not be done by ignoring History either. imho, don’t you think? these matters seem far harder to work out than the science itself.

    Comment by Sean — 20 Nov 2013 @ 9:17 AM

  175. > Clearly, unless I am making a serious error here,
    > if this paper is correct then every estimate of past
    > Global mean avg surface temps is therefore incorrect.

    Seems to me you’re making a serious error here.

    As I read what’s said above:

    They improved the accuracy of some data points in the Arctic.

    The global average for those years calculated using the improved data remains within the gray fuzzy uncertainty band drawn around the long term trend line. The trend is unchanged by adding this improved data point. The trend is unchanged using the data points over the last fifteen years. No lurch, no hiatus; wiggles.

    Note this also doesn’t mean there’s a ruler-straight line inside. The uncertainty is showi by that gray fuzzy band, as best we can tell — that’s the measure of the uncertainty.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2013 @ 10:57 AM

  176. Robert already commented on this but I have the same question, where will we be if China and India don’t (or do) clean up their carbon dioxide issues?
    And what about the US? We’re currently second to China in our CO2 emissions. Are we already past the point of no return or can we correct the damage done?

    Comment by Jenna — 20 Nov 2013 @ 1:23 PM

  177. > Clearly, unless I am making a serious error here,
    > if this paper is correct then every estimate of past
    > Global mean avg surface temps is therefore incorrect.

    Beyond what HR said, I would add that if the Arctic was more stable in the past and tracked what the rest of the world as doing (stationary scaling implied) then the correction would not be needed.

    In fact, what we are seeing is a subtle divergence between model and data that has not been seen in the past. I created a model called CSALT which is based on applying variational principles wrt thermodynamic parameters, and this can detect these subtle changes across the historical records. This link shows how it is used with Cowtan and Way’s hybrid correction:

    BTW, this model was originally inspired by the success of F&R and C&W and K&X (Kosaka and Xie) and others in creating simple models of the temperature time series.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 20 Nov 2013 @ 2:12 PM

  178. #176–A nice source for up-to-date carbon emissions data is here:

    China accounted for 27% of world emissions last year; India, roughly one quarter of that. Call the two about one third of total emissions. Clearly, if they magically stopped emitting tomorrow, we’d still be in trouble climate-wise. (Perhaps slightly less trouble, but still not out of the soup.)

    To match that imaginary reduction, the rest of the top 11 or so emitters would have to stop cold turkey as well. That ‘distinguished’ club includes (in descending order) the US, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Indonesia.

    From there, we’d need the other 204 identified emitters all to pony up and do their bit.

    From this I conclude that there’s really no way out of everybody mitigating emissions. Yes, historical realities and present realities both need to be considered. The best compromise I know about is called “contraction and convergence.” See:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Nov 2013 @ 2:34 PM

  179. For “Robert” and “Jenna” —
    Click the Start Here button, top of the page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2013 @ 2:44 PM

  180. Hi, I haven’t read all the comments so maybe this has been discussed already.
    The polar region in question represents about 3% of globe area (from 70N to 90N seems to be in the ballpark). So if this region contribute 0.04degC/decade extra to the global avg then the unobserved or “extra” warming in this region is given by 0.04/3% = 1.33 degC/decade. Maybe someone can comment on how likely this is?

    Comment by Carl — 20 Nov 2013 @ 3:34 PM

  181. Phenology!

    filling a gap in data about how the Arctic climate has changed in the past few hundred years.

    In a paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Canadian-led research team showed the sea ice cover in the Arctic has declined dramatically over the past 150 years, not just over the past 30.

    The study was able to extend the record of sea ice coverage in the Arctic more than 600 years into the past with the help of an unusual, long-lived rock-like organism called coralline algae.
    [illustration and caption omitted]

    By reading the algae’s growth layers like tree rings and comparing them to satellite data, the team led by Jochen Halfar, a professor of chemical and physical sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga, was able to figure out how long ice covered the sea where the algae lived during each year of its 646-year life span.

    That kind of data, unavailable up until now, can be used to update climate models “to predict what is going to happen in the next 100 years or so,” said Halfar in an interview Monday from Germany, where he is doing some research with a scientist at the University of Goettingen.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2013 @ 4:21 PM

  182. I think that in some ways, discussions of who is “responsible” for emissions and who needs to cut back are misguided. The reality is that the planet needs to develop a new, clean, renewable energy infrastructure. Whichever nation cracks that nut first is going to make a killing selling it to everyone else. This isn’t about cutting back so much as it is about realizing that this is a race to get where the world needs to go first.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Nov 2013 @ 5:47 PM

  183. @Hank #180:


    Yeah, looks interesting, but I can only access the abstract and the SI. Like to see RC do a piece on this. The last sentence of the abstract says:

    The past 150 y instead have been characterized by sea ice exhibiting multidecadal variability with a long-term decline distinctly steeper than at any time since the 14th century.

    But I can’t find a graph of this anywhere. I can only assume it was a more gradual decline until 50 – 60 ya when the polar amplification really kicked in. Of course, the denial-o-sphere is getting great mileage out of that little breadcrumb, no doubt assuming that the 150 y decline is linear or something (in the absence of further detail).

    Comment by Steve Metzler — 20 Nov 2013 @ 7:51 PM

  184. … only access the abstract and the SI…. can’t find a graph … I can only assume

    I was with you up to the second step but you lost me on the third one. I didn’t look, but I”d expect one of the authors is flagged as the “correspondence author” — the one to contact.

    Asking is better than assuming. Paywalls aren’t absolute barriers, just hurdles, for getting at most science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2013 @ 8:29 PM


    The combination of algal growth and chemical composition enabled the researchers to reconstruct a record of changes in summer sea-ice cover dating back to around 1400 AD. “During the Little Ice Age, which lasted from the early 16th to the mid-19th century, Arctic sea-ice cover displayed year-to-year variability but overall stability,” says Dr. Kronz. “However, since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, variability in sea-ice cover has not been confined to annual scales, but has extended across decades, forming a trend of declining sea-ice cover up to the present day. This decline is more pronounced than any other observable trend in the past 650 years.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2013 @ 10:46 PM

  186. #175 #177 TY. I understand the trend, as before the ‘lower’ temp was still inside the bands too. I can also appreciate the issue of increasing arctic melts in the last 15 years especially being an indicator which was outside the prior global avg temp figures. What I do not get is that one day we wake up and realise/are told the arctic temps are being significantly underestimated, and we have very limited surface temp stations today to ensure the data sets have a decent input to begin with.
    Given it was already known for decades that most warming will rapidly rise in the polar regions first, and given it;s already clear that is exactly what’s happening in the nth arctic circle land masses, I am totally surprised (naively probably) that across the arctic north pole there is such a huge gap in real time surface temp monitoring and an over-reliance on the ‘estimating’ it using satelite and modeling.
    That this “gap/under-estimate” actually makes a significant lift to avg global surface temps as a whole the last 15 years to make a such major shift in the graph red lines is to me “startling”.
    From a PR reputation pov I’d be embarrassed if things are so out of whack. ie if the new study becomes the “norm” and proven reliable. Given the “pause/hiatus” issue already, it simply makes the whole process dubious to the average person, and even more so to the anti-activists of how unreliable the “figures” are just released in Sept by the ipcc. See?
    I am not ‘arguing’ the validity of the science, nor trends, nor AGW, nor issues that constrain certainty … but if anyone ever needed a professional Sachi & sachi type Advertising Public Relations and Public Communications Dept it is the IPCC and Climate Scientists globally.
    That Cowtan and Way are on Curry’s blog may be seen as a positive but I think it’s the most dangerous of things. The real world simply doesn’t operate like the ‘controlled accepted norms’ inside of academia and climate science circles. “Business” is very very different. Truth is irrelevant. Winning is all. cheers

    Comment by Sean — 21 Nov 2013 @ 1:33 AM

  187. According to the Arctic Pilot, a drop in air temperature indicates the presence of ice. So, isn’t there a danger that an extrapolation of sea surface temperatures to ice covered regions could overstate the actual temperature

    Comment by Geoff — 21 Nov 2013 @ 4:29 AM

  188. Andrew #171
    Barton Paul Levenson provides a handy table, including ln[atmospheric CO2 concentration] (not emissions), since 1880 (though only to 2007) here:
    Since 1880 the graph of ln[CO2] against time shows an acceleration, though it is more or less linear for the last few decades.

    Comment by Slioch — 21 Nov 2013 @ 6:36 AM

  189. Sean said:

    “That this “gap/under-estimate” actually makes a significant lift to avg global surface temps as a whole the last 15 years to make a such major shift in the graph red lines is to me “startling”.”

    I would instead say it is subtly significant. The bump it provides may not even be 0.1C while the year-to-year fluctuations can easily be that much.

    Curry right now is mocking it as being a “2.8% solution” while she should really know better than that. She should actually be in the business of teaching her online students that science often advances by making many little steps instead of huge breakthroughs.

    The C&W Hybrid model is one of those missing little pieces of the larger jigsaw puzzle that not only seems to fit but provides valuable insight into what is actually happening the last few years — that the heat buildup is spatially arranged and it has shifted northward the last few years.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 21 Nov 2013 @ 9:02 AM

  190. Blair Dowden @167

    There seems to be an assumption that there should be some way a person with limited knowledge of a technical discipline can evaluate a scientific paper in that discipline without doing the work to be at least a journeyman.

    There are many things I can do, and my personal history is an argument that some scientific generalists are left in the world. However, if someone presents me with a paper on the fine details of resolving the x-ray crystal structure of an enzyme and its impact on a metabolic pathway or drug binding, I’m going to step back from making a judgement about it myself. I cannot evaluate the math or the theory behind the Higgs boson. You might want to consider the same possibility- that unless you put the archetypical 10,000 hours in, you won’t have the ability. As we’ve said in our family, “that’s a wish you can’t have little bear”. (props to anyone who gets that kiddy lit reference)

    Now, if a paper is important enough to me, I will do two things you haven’t considered yet, one of which probably isn’t available to you.

    First, I will use google scholar to look up citations of the paper in question to see if the conclusions have been affirmed or challenged, or simply ignored. In the same light, depending on how recent the paper is you can look for review articles on the topic that cite the paper, and see what at least one expert says about the position of that paper in the general body of knowledge. I will NOT use blogs as a source for those opinions.

    The other alternative I have, that you do not, is that being able to sign my name with Ph.D. and having a visible professional presence in the sciences under my real name, I can and do write to scientists whose work interests me, ask a respectful question and get a reply. I have done so recently with scientists involved in an aspect of climate change and one has kindly responded and I’m waiting on the other.

    Comment by Dave123 — 21 Nov 2013 @ 9:14 AM

  191. > I can and do write to scientists whose work interests me,
    > ask a respectful question and get a reply.

    This, done right, works even for those of us without PhDs.

    My father taught his Biology 101 students how to do it (back
    in the days of paper offprints and long distance phone calls).

    The best summary advice I know about asking smart questions — written long ago — came, ironically, from that gun’totin’ climate’nialist ‘ibertarian ‘nix guy ESR:

    How To Ask Questions The Smart Way –

    (If he’d applied his own methods, he’d know better about climate)

    This approach works — whether you’re a gradeschooler or college faculty — if you ask with preparation.

    As Dave123 says: be interested.

    Show you’ve read some of the person’s work, and looked into the citing papers.

    I think we’d see a lot more scientists responding in public forums, if those asking questions made that much effort first.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Nov 2013 @ 10:14 AM

  192. Dave123 @~190,

    Thanks for that! It is exhausting trying to point out that expertise is, well, expert. Current New Yorker has a bit about Syrian blogger who says something similar about his (different line of country) work:

    able to enlist support, in part, because he frankly acknowledged his amateur status. “A lot of people who work in this field, they want to give the impression that they’re in the know, … If Eliot doesn’t know something, he’ll just ask
    Mindful that he’d once been the most reviled creature of the Internet – a commenter, Higgins was even indulgent with angry quacks …. painstaking marshalled his evidence, indifferent to the fact that they were indifferent to reason. (paywalled)

    Also WebHub just before: “science often advances by making many little steps instead of huge breakthroughs”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Nov 2013 @ 11:01 AM

  193. Blair Dowden #167:

    I am trying to learn how to evaluate scientific information from the perspective of a limited science background, and appreciate any help in this area.

    I’d echo Dave123’s advice, with the proviso that a non-expert should suspend acceptance of a newly-published finding until it moves toward the Einstein end of John Nielsen-Gammon’s Crackpot-Einstein Scale. That may take years, but often takes less time for surprising new results than for incremental contributions.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 21 Nov 2013 @ 1:19 PM

  194. Re: evaluating scientific information, here’s an excerpt from Matt Strassler’s Of Particular Significance blog:

    “I want to know what is happening at Fukushima and what exactly the risks are. But I’m not an expert on this subject. Just because I’m a scientist doesn’t mean that it’s that much easier for me to figure out what’s really going on. It’s just perhaps easier for me, compared to the general reader, to recognize misinformation for what it is.”

    What Matt seems to be pointing out is that we all need a good B.S. detector! Read a ton of abstracts, read a couple of the highly cited papers all the way through. Even if you can’t follow all the math pay close attention to Analysis, Discussion, and/or Conclusions sections. A slight familiarization with the topic can oftentimes be enough to make your B.S. detector useable.

    Comment by Kevin O'Neill — 21 Nov 2013 @ 6:05 PM

  195. @190-194 all great comments and ideas. I’d echo the point that one doesn’t need a PhD to email questions to “expert” sources and get not only a reply but a very useful and genuine one, with extra resources offered. Sincerity, some humility, and respect is the key imho.

    The tip from Dave “I will NOT use blogs as a source for those opinions.” is a no-brainer and should be followed. No matter how many PhDs, “fellows” or science degrees the Blog owner or contributors may ‘appear’ to have.
    [realclimate being a excellent exception that proves the rule]

    Comment by Sean — 21 Nov 2013 @ 11:19 PM

  196. > Crackpot-Einstein scale
    see also: John Baez’s Crackpot Index

    A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Nov 2013 @ 10:58 AM

  197. Dave123 (#190) and Mal Adapted (#193), thanks for the advice. I have done the work to be a journeyman in climate science, but of course there are many other fields I know much less about. I understand that this paper is piece in the puzzle of where the extra long wave radiation retained by increasing greenhouse gases has gone. I know that the paper has a very reasonable thesis that a method of estimating the Earth’s average temperature that leaves out the high Arctic will return too low a result. I have no ability to evaluate if the authors did their work correctly. While you gave good advice about contacting the author, learning more about how to calculate global average temperature is not a priority for me.

    I tried to use ‘scientific meta-literacy’ to get a quick feel for how reliable the paper is. There is no revolutionary hypothesis, and it is published in a decent peer reviewed journal. But I did notice the lead author was from outside climate science, and in my experience that is often a problem. My opinion now is that the paper contains little actual climate science, meaning that it could be written knowing nothing about the greenhouse effect, or maybe even without knowing about the existence of the sun. Therefore an X-ray crystallographer may be well qualified to write such a paper, and bring with him some new ideas.

    Perhaps more interesting is my response to the Simple Physics and Climate article here last week. I am interested in the physics of the greenhouse effect, so I tried to follow the related paper. I was fine until section 1.2 when it switched gears into a higher level of math. While I cannot claim to fully understand what they are doing, the assumptions being made just look wrong to me. I would write this off as my ignorance except for their result. Forgive my arrogance, but I have High Confidence that raising pCO2 from 280 ppm to 400 ppm will not give a forcing of 6.6 deg C before feedbacks. That rather contradicts the IPCC WG1 reports which give 1.2 deg C for a CO2 doubling. To explain the order of magnitude difference by invoking unspecified (negative!) feedbacks is absurd. So what am I supposed to do? I asked a question in the forum, but it did not get answered. I don’t feel qualified to contact the authors.

    I see no reason to think that cosmic radiation has any significant effect on our short term climate, so the conclusions of the paper are not very surprising. But either the authors chose to use an inappropriate method for calculating the greenhouse forcing, or there is something seriously wrong with my understanding, and I would like to know which.

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 22 Nov 2013 @ 6:52 PM

  198. Blair, to the extent I follow the “related paper” link, the article is for various reasons proposing an vastly over-simplified climate model with basically only one or two major positive feedbacks involved, particularly the increased height of the warmer troposphere. They are not saying that this is in any way a realistic model, afaics.

    Comment by wili — 23 Nov 2013 @ 12:51 PM

  199. Blair, physicist John Baez said the same thing you did, that further explanation was needed to clarify that question.
    (in that thread, where John Baez says: 13 Nov 2013 at 2:35 AM)

    Perhaps someone will make the attempt.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2013 @ 2:12 PM

  200. The Cowtan & Way paper distinctly say the area they cover is 16% of the globe. That area that is missing data.

    Thus an early comment here goes: “Remarkable, 50% of the global warming has been hiding out in the 16% of the Globe we can’t accurately monitor temperature. Of the 50% increase in warming how much of that was attributed to the Poles and how much from Africa?”

    Later someone responds “I guess the Artic.” [Arctic] RC says? Nothing?

    The Arctic & Antarctic circles each equal 4% of the globes surface area = 8%

    Meaning that if 16% is actually the combined area covered by Cowtan and Way, this leaves 8% outside the arctic/antarctic circles. {no I haven’t checked thru the full paper to see how this delineated by them – yet]

    So we now come to Judith Curry She heads her ‘blog post’ about their paper as “The 2.8% effect”

    She gets 2.8% by geography for the surface area of the Arctic Ocean. And mentions 70-90N as being the location of Arctic region studied.

    OK, no problem there. Then Kevin Cowtan shows up and posts this: “Thank you for that thoughtful post.” and few other things.

    Does he mention the Blog title 2.8%? No.

    But he does say this: “I for one haven’t found a good way of communicating this last issue to a lay audience.”

    Plus this short note:

    OK so what we have here is that with in 6 days of this material being posted on RC, you have a whole thread on Curry and shared cross-posted across multiple anti-science blogs sites and news reports (possibly or soon) that has EFFECTIVELY RE-FRAMED THE BASIC PARAMETERS OF THIS Science Paper into:
    “Climate Scientists claim that new corrections 2.8% of the globes surface increases Global Warming by 50% over the last 16 years”

    And even the authors do not say a word about this…..? Question mark becausue I cannot be sure. maybe the specifically address the specific area but that is NOT what I am addressing here. It is the PUBLIC IMAGE out there in the Public Consciousness.

    Whether C&W are right or frauds or genuii within a week the Scientists have lost control of this public discourse…. and have been misrepresented ie ‘verballed’ by others as well as complimented at times.

    More “twisting/reframing/distortion goes like this:
    Kevin Cowtan | November 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    No, length is only one of the problems. We shouldn’t be drawing conclusions from trends at all, unless we can isolate the contribution we are interested in and know it is linearly increasing.

    Peter Davies | November 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    +1 ‘No conclusions should be made from trends at all’. As David Springer would say. Write that down. /end quote

    Meanwhile on another Blog page
    Robert Way says: ” We have updated our FAQ to address several of the comments from here including the incorrect assertion that we included reanalysis into our reconstruction.”

    FAQ says: Do you use any form of atmospheric reanalysis in your data?
    Atmospheric reanalysis data are not used in our global temperature reconstructions. We use them for validation where observational information is limited, and for uncertainty estimation.
    In our results we show that atmospheric some reanalysis products perform reasonably well in determining surface air temperature (SAT) in the Arctic and Antarctic similar to results shown by Screen and Simmonds (2011), Screen et al (2012) and Screen and Simmonds (2012).

    Do they mention **the incorrect assertion** by Curry? No. Has it been “corrected” by Curry or all the rest? No.

    Who would know if the explanation on the FAQ means “Atmospheric reanalysis data are not used in our global temperature reconstructions.” Yes, no, who knows?

    Way persists with Curry: “Finally if you will be discussing our paper I was wondering if you could give your opinion on our cross-validation measures, our comparison with the IABP data, the tests with interpolating from SSTs versus land and the errors associated with leaving regions null (e.g. setting trends to global average).

    I look forward to this continued discussion but I feel that these issues were not addressed last time so it would be worth discussing further.”

    Well, thanks, that does me in. :) All the best RC.

    Comment by Sean — 23 Nov 2013 @ 9:42 PM

  201. I would also suggest, given the ‘pattern’ shown already, that Judith Curry is “playing them” with a thin veneer of ‘genuineness’… which sends them off (especially Cowtan) chasing more and more info down the rabbit hole.

    Comment by Sean — 23 Nov 2013 @ 10:19 PM

  202. Similarly, there is a significant gap between public perception of scientific consensus and the 97% reality. A 2012 survey found that 57% of Americans either disagreed with or were unaware of the fact that most scientists agree global warming is happening. This matters because perceived consensus is a strong predictor of support for climate policy. When people think the scientists agree, they are more likely to support climate action.

    Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets are perpetuating the misconceptions. One way they achieve this is by granting outlier voices disproportionate visibility in the public arena, creating misleading and counterproductive debates.

    In the survey of surveys was Q. “Warming is extremely important personally (and is likely to influence voting)”.

    Here are the results for some the states, more or less at random. Nevada 12%, Florida 14%, Louisiana 9%, Alabama 7%, Montana 5%, New Jersey 12%, West Virginia 6%, New York 11%, Rhode Island, Delaware 8%, Michigan 8%. I could have looked at more but a pattern is emerging. (It looks like the green vote.)

    Something is going on in the survey, I suspect that respondents are trotting out the “right” answers to the “motherhood questions like “Global warming has been happening” and giving some more thought to those questions that require a measured response.

    This can be seen in the huge disparity (disconnection) between the strong agreement with, say, the question “Warming will be a serious problem for the world” and the massive disagreement with the “Warming is extremely important personally”.

    Comment by Sean — 24 Nov 2013 @ 6:04 AM

  203. Sean has good points. As a scientist myself, it pains me to see how the likes of Curry and her acolytes are controlling the narrative. Scientists need to be *much* more forceful than this in public fora. This isn’t academia. Come on, scientists, *engage*! Be *aware* of the distortions and ‘incorrect assertions’ being made, and counter them specifically — if someone mocks your work in the title of their blog post, make sure you ADDRESS THAT. If it’s another *scientist*, an authority figure like Judith Curry, misrepresenting your work, give it to her with *both barrels*. And when you engage on sites like hers, think about who is reading what you write, and with what intent — they *will* take your measured, context-dependent sentences out of context if you don’t think first and *anticipate* before you write. And those quotes will get propagated over and over.

    Comment by Steven Sullivan — 24 Nov 2013 @ 7:46 AM

  204. Re the whole hiatus thing, I think you’re more on point here, Sean. The response to these sorts of attacks tends to be desultory from the outset. The broader lay audience (the vast, pacified middle) is left unattended with an impression of dithering that only reinforces confusion.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Nov 2013 @ 8:40 AM

  205. Steven and Radge, thank you very much for commenting.

    Comment by Sean — 25 Nov 2013 @ 9:21 PM

  206. But is it true that the likes of Curry control the narrative? Where have those blogosphere thoughts been picked up by any mainstream media? (I’ve been on vacation since the 22nd and haven’t been paying close attention.)

    C&W provides ammunition in some public forums, and Sean’s points are useful in facing flying monkeys. But I’m not alarmed yet.

    Comment by Dave123 — 30 Nov 2013 @ 8:46 PM

  207. Dave123 says re “But is it true that THE LIKES of Curry control the narrative?”

    Absolutely true Dave, imho. Why did the head of the IPCC need to specifically make a public announcement comment about the “pause/hiatus” before the WGI itself did in writing – unless they were reacting to what is?

    Curry, WUWT ala Mocnkton, ala heartland ala Murdoch, a whole of activists, journalists, ala Corporations CEOs, radicalised scientists who are deniers and more have overwhelmed the narrative for the last 4 years very aggressively, with co-ordinated ‘action teams’ controlling (influencing) and sharing of “methodologies” MOs, topics, weak points to attack, and the “phraseology” & “slogans” used – you bettcha they control it.

    Why do you doubt such a thing? Is the IPCC controling the narrative? Is the EU controlling the narrative? Is China or India, or Real Climate or the hundreds of scieitific bodies on earth controlling it? Are any Politicians or Political Parties controlling the narrative, outside of the USA?

    Why are Cowtan and Way posting on Curry’s Blog? Not because they admire her scientific work and attitude. THAT’s control, when you get someone to REACT or ACT in a way which otherwise they would NEVER do .. that is effective “controlling” of others. Did a bit of myself from time to time, when necessary. :)
    and those were genuine questions. If you feel I am wrong above, please explain why this is so in your view. Thx Sean

    Comment by Sean — 1 Dec 2013 @ 8:03 AM

  208. Now my prior reply is my normal MO. This is my head kicking MO – It’s a choice. This time you have the opportunity to see them both together, and note the difference style from the very same person. Which would you prefer RC Moderators? Nobody operates in a vacuum here. Moderators can make a difference, but when they are little better than those that consistently insult others, well, what’s the point in participating or asking a straight question on the science?

    “Sean’s points are useful in facing flying monkeys.”

    The ‘default’ respect shown for others on this site, when someone presents a view new or different than one’s own is telling and meaningful.

    Which is why I have intentionally couched my words in some posts the way I have (not all posts) to see what the response would be from those who seem to love giving out and how well they would be able to take it. It’s been a good experiment. Lot’s of data collected. TY all.

    Yes I am confronting and speak truth to power who don;t want to listen yet, but I am NOT abusive, far from it. Sean

    Comment by Sean — 1 Dec 2013 @ 8:12 AM

  209. Dave123

    I don’t know about cause for alarm, but the ‘pause’ business made it into the MSM briefly. Unlike climategate where denialists behaving like jerks was treated as somehow being news, there seems to be genuine confusion about the hiatus. The flap may be a minor issue to those immersed in climatology, but for others the take-away may differ. After “hiatus” has slipped from memory, the impression left will be the uncertain, unsettled, controversy about AGW.

    Which do you think carries more weight for a distracted citizen, a subtle point of science made in a noisy dispute or the thought that, meh, maybe it’s not worth it for me to worry about this now?

    Sharp messaging.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 1 Dec 2013 @ 10:54 AM

  210. First, sorry for jumping into this discussion late. Something really begs the question here, and I wonder if it’s well addressed: What about the ~70y warming cycle in the Arctic? If we pick the longest series in GISS station data and plot 30y moving average graphs, most stations in the Arctic or subarctic show a large multidecadal temperature cycle, and I believe there is some agreement that this cycle also seems to extend into the 19th century and earlier, and the causes are still not yet perfectly understood. We are currently near the top of that cycle and the satellite era largely coincide with the rising edge of the cycle. You probably see where I’m going.

    So if we’re mainly interested in the global warming signal, not the effects of a local multidecadal phenomenon, isn’t the “Arctic hole” sort of addressing, though somewhat crudely, that problem, at least until the cycle in the Arctic is properly understood? Filling the whole for the satellite era would then create a different bias unless the cycle is somehow addressed.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 1 Dec 2013 @ 2:36 PM

  211. > 70y warming cycle …?

    This may give you a start:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2013 @ 6:22 PM

  212. @209 Dear Dave, we seem to see this differently. Which is fine by me. neither of us have the power to change or influence a thing anyway.

    Where you say: “but the ‘pause’ business made it into the MSM briefly.” I can’t know whose MSM you are referring to, or have been observing the last 4 years, but it’s clearly not the same one’s I have been watching. Especially via the Murdoch press globally, and their ideological cohorts.
    One simple example may be the following ‘speech’ made the week immediately after the AR5 WGI was publicly released.
    Recalling that amid the IPCC announcement a concerted global campaign was put out through the MSM globally by the deniers industry every day for the week beforehand. That PR push emphasised nothing BUT the 15 years “hiatus/pause” disinformation. PLUS quoting the IPCC directly supposedly claiming it has CONFIRMED this ‘pause’.

    Nov 05, 2013 – ex-PM Howard made major MSM news in UK, Canada, Australia for week over this speech. Every nation has it;s own ‘talking heads” that have th power to break into the news cycles and get prominence on the nightly TV news and newspaper front pages.

    He said: “And the most recent IPCC Report has produced a grudging admission that the warming process has been at a standstill for the past 15 years. ”

    He also said far worse than that regarding the science, the scientists, and the IPCC system. Repeatedly quoted professional climate science deniers.

    I am not sure how this fits in the big picture that you see. Perhaps we are both right, depending on where we might live, and how far afield we have looked at the issue in the Media and common public perceptions and why they are what they are. Thanks very much for your reply Dave, I hope the proceeding is useful. Sean

    Comment by Sean — 2 Dec 2013 @ 12:57 AM

  213. > This may give you a start:

    Not really. The first page is a discussion not about this study, nor air surface temperatures directly, but about Arctic ice extent. While your second link takes me discussions on realclimate about the ~70y temperature oscillation, which most seem to think is real, my concern is more about that they study a period which coincides with the rising edge of this oscillation, discuss that in the context of the longer global warming trend, yet I don’t see the oscillation mentioned anywhere (the discussion could be behind the paywall, though). I think it’s important to realise and be clear about that the recent Arctic warming likely is a combination of a ~70y cycle and the longer warming trend seen elsewhere during the 20th century.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 2 Dec 2013 @ 4:13 AM

  214. Stendar, read through the Tamino link again; the claimed 70-year cycle doesn’t show up in the data. The claim about a cycle in sea ice is directly related to the claim you asked about of a 70 year cycle in temperature. Point is, it’s a major talking point much repeated but without data to support the claim.

    Try Google Scholar for the same search terms and compare the result to what Google gives you. (Remember to clear cache and cookies as Google tries very hard to give you more and more of whatever you like to see, which can lead people very far into notions lacking a basis in the science; there’s always more to find, but not more good info.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2013 @ 9:28 AM

  215. ps, try this: analyzing the data looking at a similar claim of a cycle in temperature

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2013 @ 9:58 AM

  216. Hank,

    > The claim about a cycle in sea ice is directly related to the claim you asked about of a 70 year cycle in temperature.

    Ice extent is not a direct way to measure air temperature. Why do you want to use a temperature reconstruction based on scattered and incomplete ice observations involving the complexities of currents in air and sea as well as air-ocean interaction, when direct measurements exist and are more complete?

    > Point is, it’s a major talking point much repeated but without data to support the claim.

    I suggest that you go to and pick the stations with the longest records, say, 90+ years to get at least one cycle and three normal periods, and plot the 30y to find climatic trends. I agree that there is little data in the sense that there are few stations with that long history, but I don’t believe that much in coincidence in what exists. And I agree that there are even less data to say for sure that the oscillation goes back centuries. Nor can we say for sure whether the period is fixed or not. Still, let’s not pretend that the direct evidence that exists isn’t there. If you can direct me to papers (rather than apologetical blogs) giving good evidence that the instrument records showing this pattern are flawed, I would be interested.

    As a start, I made some 30y plots for you (from GISS):

    While the shapes will differ if you go on, they generally agree that last turn happens to coincide with the start of the satellite measurements, and it seems obvious that the 30y average will continue to rise for a decade or more unless you believe in an imminent and very rapid Arctic cooling.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 2 Dec 2013 @ 1:59 PM

  217. Hank,

    > ps, try this: analyzing the data looking at a similar claim of a cycle in temperature

    I’m not sure what the argument here is. So, one cycle does not perfectly model the data, and a fit of any cycles can model any dataset (obviously) – then, having proven that both extremes fail to predict anything, we can conclude that it applies to the general case: cycles can not exist in temperature data?

    Anyway, altogether denying the existence of this ~70y oscillation (whether it has existed a long time or only for a short time) seems to place you outside both camps in the climate debate. In mutually derogative terms, a couple of papers from the “alarmist” and “denialist” camps respectively aknowledge the cycles:

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 2 Dec 2013 @ 4:59 PM

  218. I found this article by David Rose: Global warming ‘pause’ may last for 20 more years

    “The 17-year pause in global warming is likely to last into the 2030s and the Arctic sea ice has already started to recover, according to new research.

    A paper in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Dynamics – by Professor Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr Marcia Wyatt – amounts to a stunning challenge to climate science orthodoxy.

    Not only does it explain the unexpected pause, it suggests that the scientific majority – whose views are represented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – have underestimated the role of natural cycles and exaggerated that of greenhouse gases.

    Read more:

    Pause: How the Earth’s average temperature defied scientists’ predictions by remaining almost the same

    Pause: How the Earth’s average temperature defied scientists’ predictions by remaining almost the same

    The research comes amid mounting evidence that the computer models on which the IPCC based the gloomy forecasts of a rapidly warming planet in its latest report, published in September, are diverging widely from reality.

    The graph shown above, based on a version published by Dr Ed Hawkins of Reading University on his blog, Climate Lab Book, reveals that actual temperatures are now below the predictions made by almost all the 138 models on which the IPCC relies.

    The pause means there has been no statistically significant increase in world average surface temperatures since the beginning of 1997, despite the models’ projection of a steeply rising trend.

    According to Dr Hawkins, the divergence is now so great that the world’s climate is cooler than what the models collectively predicted with ‘five to 95 per cent certainty’.

    Curry and Wyatt say they have identified a climatic ‘stadium wave’ – the phenomenon known in Britain as a Mexican wave, in which the crowd at a stadium stand and sit so that a wave seems to circle the audience.

    Recovery: A new study suggests global warming is at a halt and Arctic seas are starting to recover

    In similar fashion, a number of cycles in the temperature of air and oceans, and the level of Arctic ice, take place across the Northern hemisphere over decades. Curry and Wyatt say there is evidence of this going back at least 300 years.

    According to Curry and Wyatt, the theory may explain both the warming pause and why the computer models did not forecast it.

    It also means that a large proportion of the warming that did occur in the years before the pause was due not to greenhouse gas emissions, but to the same cyclical wave.

    ‘The stadium wave signal predicts that the current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s,’ said Wyatt. This is in sharp contrast with the IPCC’s report, which predicts warming of between 0.3 and 0.7C by 2035.

    Wyatt added: ‘The stadium wave forecasts that sea ice will recover from its recent minimum.’ The record low seen in 2012, followed by the large increase in 2013, is consistent with the theory, she said.

    Even IPCC report co-authors such as Dr Hawkins admit some of the models are ‘too hot’.

    He said: ‘The upper end of the latest climate model projections is inconsistent’ with observed temperatures, though he added even the lower predictions could have ‘negative impacts’ if true.

    But if the pause lasted another ten years, and there were no large volcanic eruptions, ‘then global surface temperatures would be outside the IPCC’s indicative likely range’.

    Professor Curry went much further. ‘The growing divergence between climate model simulations and observations raises the prospect that climate models are inadequate in fundamental ways,’ she said.

    If the pause continued, this would suggest that the models were not ‘fit for purpose’.”

    Comment by CptWayne — 2 Dec 2013 @ 5:13 PM

  219. You should check the claims you read in the newspapers, and the reputation of the people making them. You’re rebunking claims that were shown to be bogus months ago. You know how to look this stuff up.

    See, for example, what Ed Hawkins has to say about David Rose’s claims.


    From the first page of results (yours may vary, search is like that, read carefully what you get):

    Philip Plait

    Columbia Journalism Review

    … (Ed Hawkins of the IPCC took to Twitter to affirm that none of this actually happened)

    Copypasting stuff from other blogs without checking their claims often merely repeats misstatements that their authors knew they were making up; they fooled you.

    No shame being fooled once.
    Don’t be fooled again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2013 @ 6:23 PM

  220. Steinar,
    OK, time to break out my example again. Consider the following set of ordered pairs.


    Does this represent a periodic function, and if so predict the next y value (the 11th). If you said 1 or 2, you are wrong. It is in fact 4. The y values are merely the digits of the base of napierian logarithms, e, and the x values are their ordinal position. The number e is transcendental, and so cannot be periodic, and yet it appears as if we have 5 periods.

    What this says is that you have to be very, very careful when positing a periodic behavior. You have to either have many, many periods or you have to have physics that suggests behavior will be periodic. Your “oscillation” has neither. Beware.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Dec 2013 @ 6:27 PM

  221. For CptWayne:

    Reading say just the 2013 papers, if not more, will make clearer what variety of observed changes over time have been called “AMO” — there’s no clear and definite cycle. the more data looked at the less clear and less definite the variation seems to have been.

    Quaternary Science Reviews
    Volume 69, 1 June 2013, Pages 142–154
    Evolution of NAO and AMO strength and cyclicity derived from a 3-ka varve-thickness record from Iceland

    … Spectral analyses from three sediment cores recovered from the lake show essentially the same periods of 2.8–3.4, 13, 35–40 and 85–93, for the overlapping ∼900-year period. Additionally, cycles of 55, 130 and 290 years are found in the spectrum for the 3000-year record that do not show up in the spectra for the shorter cores. Some of these cycles show similar variability to those of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). This relationship is supported by a significant correlation between varve thickness and both the NAO (precipitation) and AMO (summer temperature) indices over the 180-year instrumental period. NAO cyclicities (2–15 years) are weakly expressed in the first half of the record, increase between 600 and 1000 AD, decrease in strength during medieval time, and are most strongly expressed between 1300 AD and the early 20th century. AMO cyclicities (50 to 130 years) are also relatively weak in the first half of the record, becoming quite strong between 600 and 1000 AD and again between 1100 and 1500 AD, but are essentially absent through the peak of the LIA, between 1500 and 1900 AD, a time when strong cyclicities of about 35 years appear.

    Using just the past couple of hundred years of data you can fit any kind of curve you want; using all the data available tells you whether there’s one clear cycle: Not.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2013 @ 6:47 PM

  222. I’m gonna have to go with CptWayne on this one, he sounds official and look at all the effort he put into his post and his thesis! All you’ve got is a bunch of googly papers by a bunch of smarty pants.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 2 Dec 2013 @ 9:06 PM

  223. Ray,

    I did stress in my first post both that the data showing the pattern going centuries back are not very complete (an inherent feature of paleoclimatology) and that the causes are not perfectly understood (some attempts to explain the physics have been presented, but I think it will take time for these to ripe or rot). We don’t really know for sure. The uncertainty goes both ways. You can’t argue that something doesn’t exist because the evidence is incomplete. You need more complete contradicting evidence to do that. Or your position can simply be that there is not sufficient evidence either way.

    We know from the instruments that there was a temperature change in the Arctic in the 20’s and 30’s comparable to the current temperature change so far (I write “comparable”, since the current change might still be ongoing and by cherrypicking smoothing or average windows one can easily make either temperature change look larger than the other). Regardless of whether one believes this is a cycle, it tells us that such changes can happen in the Arctic without the modern CO2 boom, and if we are to accept that CO2 is the cause now, and that something else was the cause previously, I think that some clarification would be due. I’m not saying that it can’t be. I’m just suggesting that it’s hardly a wild idea that something that has happened before, once for sure and probably several times before to a lesser or greater extent, can happen again. And that the question becomes relevant because the satellite period overlaps very well with the expected rise if the change indeed has repeated.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 3 Dec 2013 @ 4:44 PM

  224. Re- Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 3 Dec 2013 @ 4:44 PM

    “We don’t really know for sure. The uncertainty goes both ways.”

    No it doesn’t. Statistical curve fitting to a noisy signal without any physical explanation is not science. There are known possible physical explanations for the ups and downs it is just hard to determine what was working in the past. During the instrumental period it is known, for example, that the period of decreasing and flat temperatures after WWII were due, in part, to industrial sulfates and the occasional volcano.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 3 Dec 2013 @ 10:55 PM

  225. “We know from the instruments that there was a temperature change in the Arctic in the 20′s and 30′s comparable to the current temperature change so far”

    We know this how? Without satellites? How?

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Dec 2013 @ 11:40 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2013 @ 12:18 AM

  227. “We know from the instruments that there was a temperature change in the Arctic in the 20′s and 30′s comparable to the current temperature change so far” – No, no we don’t. In fact, the evidence shows the contrary.

    Ice extents are currently far below those of the 20’s and 30’s, as shown in Rayner et al 2003, and in fact are demonstrating a ‘hockey-stick’ decline compared to the last 1450 years, as in Kinnard et al. 2011, Fig. 3a. And that ice extent means that Arctic temperatures were just not as high as they are now.

    Comment by KR — 4 Dec 2013 @ 12:44 AM

  228. Steve,

    > Statistical curve fitting to a noisy signal without any physical explanation is not science. There are known possible physical explanations for the ups and downs it is just hard to determine what was working in the past.

    I agree on that, but just because it’s hard doesn’t prove that the signal doesn’t exist.

    What is your best physical explanation for the rapid warming seen at Arctic stations, in particular on the North Atlantic side, in the 20’s and 30’s?

    I find the large variability (compared to the rest of the world) of the Arctic climate interesting (as a side effect of an interest in the Arctic in general). Understanding the 20’s and 30’s warming may prove important, since we have little data before this, and later the global warming trend is disturbing the scene.


    > We know this how? Without satellites? How?

    With meteorological stations that been operational for ~100 years. You can look up the station data on the internet.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 4 Dec 2013 @ 4:50 AM

  229. “With meteorological stations that been operational for ~100 years. You can look up the station data on the internet.”

    They do not cover the entire arctic. As others have pointed out above, sea ice extent is far, far less overall in the arctic now than then.

    Your claim is one of those common denialist claims which the arctic climatology community has been aware of for a long time, and which has long been debunked. You’re not likely to impress anyone here by repeating it.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Dec 2013 @ 9:41 AM

  230. On sea ice–Yes, while data is sparser than we’d like for the 20s and 30s, I think it is still quite ample enough to rule out out any extent crash such as that observed today. Hank’s link is good in that respect, and you can find contemporaneous ice edge maps online for the Atlantic sector–DMI, perhaps? And the AR5 Technical Summary (p. 8) says that current extent is “unprecedented” within the last 2 millennia (medium confidence.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2013 @ 10:20 AM

  231. Re- Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 4 Dec 2013 @ 4:50 AM

    “I agree on that, but just because it’s hard doesn’t prove that the signal doesn’t exist.”

    Consider that the signal indicating the reality of the sirens on Titan is also absent. If it isn’t science then it isn’t science and I hope that you agree with this.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Dec 2013 @ 11:02 AM

  232. “> Statistical curve fitting to a noisy signal without any physical explanation is not science. There are known possible physical explanations for the ups and downs it is just hard to determine what was working in the past.”

    I am trying to see how far one can take the curve fitting by applying a variational approach. If one assumes that aggregated energy on the scale of the earth does not fluctuate spontaneously, and must be the result of real physical forcing changes, one can try to apportion each change in temperature to a contributing factor.

    This does not go over well at blogs such as Lucia’s Blackboard because it uses all the skeptical arguments to substantiate warming attribution to CO2. All the fluctuation terms such as Curry’s Stadium Wave, and Scafetta’s gravitational terms, and Bob Carter’s SOI cancel out and we are left with what is called the secular trend, the ln(CO2) control knob signal. Even the long pauses are explained.

    Needless to say, the skeptics do not like seeing the tables turned and using their own ideas against them.

    Comment by WebHubTelescope — 4 Dec 2013 @ 11:55 AM

  233. Steinar Midtskogen: “I agree on that, but just because it’s hard doesn’t prove that the signal doesn’t exist.”

    Wait, are we talking about the weather or the Loch Ness Monster? Science concerns itself with what DOES exist. I do not have to come up with an explanation of how invisible, pink unicorns got into the trunk of my car until I at least find some unicorn crap in the trunk.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Dec 2013 @ 1:32 PM

  234. dhogaza,

    “They do not cover the entire arctic. As others have pointed out above, sea ice extent is far, far less overall in the arctic now than then. Your claim is one of those common denialist claims which the arctic climatology community has been aware of for a long time, and which has long been debunked. You’re not likely to impress anyone here by repeating it.”

    1. Few regions on earth are well covered by stations. With such an argument you can just as well deny any global warming before the satellite era on the basis that stations only cover a small fraction of the globe. I don’t know who that would impress, if that’s an objective for anyone here.

    2. I’m not here to impress or get impressed, but I’m here for an open discussion.

    3. You confuse change with level. Less ice today does not contradict a similarly sized shift 70 years ago if the starting point was lower (check the data). I have nowhere compared absolute levels, because it’s irrelevant here. I have only spoken of change. Besides, if you’ve ever seen sea ice in action, you must know that wind and sea currents influence coverage a lot in addition to temperature, so you’re not only using sparse observations, but also an oversimplification and that misunderstanding of change vs level to debunk direct instrumental observations.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 4 Dec 2013 @ 3:11 PM

  235. for Steinar, from JC quoting from Watts:

    … Dr Walt Meier of The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder:

    “Analysis of the temperatures does not support a cyclic explanation for the recent warming. The warming during the 1920s and 1930s was more regional in nature and focused on the Atlantic side of the Arctic (though there was warming in some other regions as well) and was most pronounced during winter. In contrast, the current warming as observed is amplified over almost the entire Arctic and is seen in all seasons. Another thing that is clear is that, the warming during the 1920s and 1930s was limited to the Arctic and lower latitude temperatures were not unusually warm.”

    Seriously, as dhogaza wrote above, you’ve found and posted a fresh copy of an old, long-debunked story about the Arctic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2013 @ 4:23 PM

  236. “Loch Ness monster”, “sirens on Titan”, etc.

    I’m saying that there is something between solid evidence and nothing. In this case the evidence is sufficient to have it identified as a possible cycle in the literature. Are you saying that scientists writing that are also inclined to believe in pink unicorns? Then you must direct much science to the junkyard.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 4 Dec 2013 @ 4:27 PM

  237. Steinar, read the linked page at JC’s quoting Watts. The ‘nialists have given up on that idea, pretty much. Walt Meier did a good patient job of talking this through.

    Yes, ice and temperature highs and lows changed as weather conditions moved back and forth across the Arctic; once the picture was put together, it became clear that averaged out.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2013 @ 8:16 PM

  238. #232–Yes, that’s the quantified version of the contemporary denialist contradiction: after years of berating the scientific mainstream for (allegedly) supposing that *only* CO2 affects temperature, they are all agog about the ‘hiatus’, since that proves the mainstream wrong–provided you assume that *only* CO2 affects temperature, that is.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2013 @ 9:07 PM

  239. Re- Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 4 Dec 2013 @ 4:27 PM

    There is a big difference between proposing a hypothesis based on interesting statistical data and then suggesting it is anything more than that. For the hypothesis to progress would require support in the form of a reasonable physical mechanism that would cause 60 year temperature oscillations and then some kind of test of its veracity. Until this is accomplished we just have a proposal equivalent to the belief in the Great Spaghetti Monster. This hypothesis hangs in the no-man’s-land along with many others, such as the influence of cosmic rays or planet alignment on weather.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Dec 2013 @ 10:08 PM

  240. Steve Fish:

    “This hypothesis hangs in the no-man’s-land along with many others, such as the influence of cosmic rays or planet alignment on weather.”

    Or, in shorter form, “anything but CO2!”.

    As if the radiative properties of CO2 don’t exist, sigh …

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Dec 2013 @ 12:44 AM

  241. Guys,

    I read Tony Brown’s post at JC a while ago and his others on the topic, since the topic interests me. I have nowhere stated that the entire recent warming can be explained by a cycle, but made it clear that I consider the global trend a significant factor as well. And since a cycle might not have a consistent amplitude, nor period, as I stated right away, separating the signals is not trivial. Which is precisely why being dead sure is dangerous.

    Look, why are you trying to polarise this discussion so much? Is it all either all CO2 or all nonsense to you, all black and white? You know better, of course. While some claim to have found a match with planetary alignment, it does no job at explaining the phenomenon since it totally lacks a physical basis. That doesn’t mean that everyone who see a possible cycle is into astrology. I don’t think solar activity and cosmic rays are relevant here, either. It doesn’t seem very cyclic to me anyway, and if anything, the influence seems weak or it would show up clear in the data. While I wont rule out a detectable influence in Europe (nor other explanations for the little ice age), there is nothing to suggest, as far as I know, that the Arctic was particularly cold during the little ice age. On the contrary, if the Arctic were much colder than last century, few would have gone through the trouble of going there, some even overwintering, and even less return, during the little ice age, but they did.

    Anyway, another 30 years of data should shed some more light on this. I plan to stay around to see what that tells us.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 5 Dec 2013 @ 8:14 AM

  242. Steiner:

    “Look, why are you trying to polarise this discussion so much? Is it all either all CO2 or all nonsense to you, all black and white? ”

    No, it is not “all CO2 or all nonsense”. Quit putting words into people’s mouths.

    You made a claim about arctic temps being as warm in the 1920s and 1930s as now, a claim made by denialists for quite a long time, and thoroughly debunked by professionals in the field. You begin your argument from a false premise. Therefore your argument has no legs to stand on. The rest is noise flowing from your original misconception.

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Dec 2013 @ 10:37 AM

  243. Steinar,
    The frustration you are sensing is due the the fact that you aren’t paying attention to what people are saying. Yes, it is POSSIBLE there could be an oscillation. It’s possible there could be hundreds of oscillations. And even if there are not, we can reproduce any time series (except, perhaps near the endpoints) of data if we use enough sinusoidal functions, since these form a complete set of functions. It is for this latter reason that it is prudent to either require compelling evidence of such an oscillatory behavior or to have a compelling evidence of an oscillatory driver of the proper frequency. Without this, you are engaging in Mathturbation–to borrow Tamino’s term.

    It is very easy to fool oneself into thinking there is oscillatory behavior when there is not, and if you are so fooled, the misinformation will distort your understanding of all other aspects of your model. So take a hint from William of Occam: Don’t add complexity to your model until you have definitive evidence you need it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Dec 2013 @ 11:41 AM

  244. > a cycle might not have
    > a consistent amplitude, nor period

    What else does a cycle have, if not repeatability over time?

    Do you mean noise is a cycle? natural variability is a cycle?

    “Analysis of the temperatures does not support a cyclic explanation for the recent warming.” == Meier, op. cit.

    Where is this cycle you claim you find?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2013 @ 12:25 PM

  245. Re- Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 5 Dec 2013 @ 8:14 AM

    You appear to be objecting to the usual and appropriate progression of science. With apologies, you are beginning to sound like a concern troll because of the combination of claims that objections to your ideas are “polarizing” and the assertion that those critical of you claim that it is “all either CO2 or all nonsense.” This latter claim is a straw man argument. Further, you admit that some hypotheses (cosmic rays, planetary alignment) that are, as yet, unsupported, are not relevant, while your own unsupported pet hypothesis is.

    Please admit that an interesting statistical fit to a noisy signal, with no underlying physical explanation, is just an unsupported hypothesis with no reason, as yet, for concern. I hope that your blogging behavior improves.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 5 Dec 2013 @ 1:08 PM

  246. #241–Steinar, I don’t think that there’s any intent to polarize the discussion. What folks are saying is that one (purported) cycle really has very low evidentiary value.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Dec 2013 @ 1:18 PM

  247. Steinar, here’s where that’s been discussed, at considerable length. Seriously, it’s an old story:

    …the pattern of warming of the 1930s was very different from the recent warming. In the 1930s, warming was localised to the high latitudes, consistent with this warming being the result of a natural oscillation (the so-called “Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation”). Very similar natural oscillations are also found in climate models. The recent warming, in contrast, encompasses most of the planet; this is consistent with it being the result of a global forcing.

    If that natural variability is what you’re thinking about — that thread explains the difference between then and now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2013 @ 4:12 PM


    Unprecedented recent summer warmth in Arctic Canada
    Gifford H. Miller et al.
    4 NOV 2013
    DOI: 10.1002/2013GL057188

    … the extent to which recent Arctic warming has been anomalous with respect to long-term natural climate variability remains uncertain. Here we use 145 radiocarbon dates on rooted tundra plants revealed by receding cold-based ice caps in the eastern Canadian Arctic to show that 5000 years of regional summertime cooling has been reversed, with average summer temperatures of the last ~100 years now higher than during any century in more than 44,000 years, including the peak warmth of the early Holocene when high-latitude summer insolation was 9% greater than present. Reconstructed changes in snowline elevation suggest that summers cooled ~2.7°C over the past 5000 years, approximately twice the response predicted by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate models. Our results indicate that anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases have led to unprecedented regional warmth.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2013 @ 6:40 PM

  249. I’ll touch the key points briefly.

    20’s warming debunked. I can only ask, have you actually checked the station data or have you just read somewhere on the Internet that the warming is debunked? You can easily access GISS station data. If you pick stations going back at least 90 years, plot a 30y moving average, the warming is easy to spot. In some places very striking, a few not so much, which could be due to short history (110+ years would be best) or simply that the station was the exception, but the pattern is beyond coincidence. Sure, there could be errors and the correctness was already questioned in the 20’s because the warming was unheard of, but I don’t think errors happen many places independently. What I did was to get those 30y trends. This was version 2 data and I see today that there is a version 3 dataset, but both are available. If we can’t agree on whether the station data are real, our premises are just too different to make the other discussion points relevant.

    Consistent period/amplitude. Again, it’s not either a perfect sine or noise. Sunspot cycles have variation in period and amplitude (this is just an example, not suggesting that it has anything to do with an Arctic cycle). Yet most people call it a cycle. By the argument given here, however, it’s to be considered random noise. Also note that when the discovery of the sunspot cycles was published, it was initially only done so on the basis of two periods and no satisfactory physical explanation. It provided a testable prediction, and I see no reason why still couldn’t be called a scientific hypothesis, but here it would apparently have been likened with pink unicorns.

    Straw man: Yes, I thought the same thing when cosmic rays, astrology, etc came up. I didn’t bring up this discussion to prove the “hiatus”. I don’t even find it or the lack of it very interesting for the question on global warming because 15-20 years is a short time frame in the respect in my opinion, but that’s a different discussion.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 6 Dec 2013 @ 9:46 AM

  250. Steinar Midskogen @249.
    Why do you insist on examining individual station data. This cycle you hypothesize about is in the Arctic? GISS do provide Arctic temperatures here. Unless you want to do GISS’s job for them, why reinvent the wheel? If you plot out the GISS Arctic temperature you get the red trace here (may require two clicks to ‘download your attachment’).
    Bar a 25 year period 1940-65, the Arctic temperatures are rising over the entire record. Is this your basis for arguing for a hypothetical 70-year Arctic cycle?

    Comment by MARodger — 6 Dec 2013 @ 1:25 PM

  251. Steiner:

    “20′s warming debunked. I can only ask, have you actually checked the station data or have you just read somewhere on the Internet that the warming is debunked?”

    People are paying attention to the literature, and informed summaries of the literature, some of which is somewhere on the internet, just as is the GISS data that you’ve gathered from somewhere on the internet.

    Said debunking doesn’t come from any ‘ole random people on the internet, it comes from people like Dr. Walt Meier, of the NSIDC. *You* are the random person on the internet, here, and sorry, your opinion just doesn’t carry the same weight as the published literature and summaries provided by experts in the field.

    If you’ve really managed to de-debunk the long debunked denialist claims regarding arctic temps in the 1920s and 1930s, this is a big deal. You should write it up and publish it. Gain fame and notoriety for having undone the work of a large number of scientists.

    Hand-waving on a blog isn’t going to have any impact.

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 Dec 2013 @ 2:10 PM

  252. Look again at the RC topic from 2004, where this was pretty thoroughly gone over. Link and quote about the AMO involvement there posted just above at 5 Dec 2013 at 4:12 PM — the bit quoted begins

    …the pattern of warming of the 1930s was very different from the recent warming…. consistent with this warming being the result of a natural oscillation …

    Nobody’s ignoring that. It’s history.

    Look at in recent papers, e.g.

    Do you see something new others haven’t published or discussed here since 2004, and earlier? This has really been gone into over and over.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2013 @ 3:04 PM

  253. MARodger,

    > Bar a 25 year period 1940-65, the Arctic temperatures are rising over the entire record. Is this your basis for arguing for a hypothetical 70-year Arctic cycle?
    Also add some indirect evidence for previous cycles. But I’m glad you recognise the warming, bar the middle period. I trust that no one here will claim that all the warming since 1880 in that graph is due to AGW with an offset that built up from 1940-1970 and stayed due to soot, volcanos, etc.

    Et al.,
    If it helps, I’ll happily make some semantic adaptations. To describe the observations in the Arctic I’ve spoken of a possible cycle (or quasi-cycle since the periodicity and amplitude might vary somewhat as I’ve argued) of about 70 years. I can just as well use the term Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillion instead and speak of its local effects in the Arctic, and if it’s bad to hint that AMO could sometimes have a larger swing up every 70 years roughly, I can refrain from that for now. I do not think there exists an independent Arctic cycle. Everything is of course interconnected, and the Arctic is directly influenced by the Atlanic.

    So, if we can agree that AMO is exists with or without AGW and that it influences the Arctic, possibly causing greater variability there than elsewhere, I can rephrase the original question: what if the recent Arctic warming has been amplified by AMO, isn’t that weakening the “no AGW hiatus” argument, assuming that AMO is not a consequence of AGW?

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 8 Dec 2013 @ 2:22 PM

  254. Steinar Midtskogen @253.
    I fear you will have you work cut out trying to present any AMO causation for substantial parts of Arctic warming since 1880 because, unlike the Artic temperature record (as per GISS), the AMO index since 1880 has shown far more than a single period of non-warming.
    And be warned that the AMO is well-trampled ground. There are quite a few who have tried to suggest that the AMO is the cause of the ‘hiatus’ as it must surely be in the process of dipping by now, it being an oscillation and all and that is what oscillations do when their time is due. Or in fact overdue. As of October 2013, the AMO stubbornly refuses to cooperate.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Dec 2013 @ 7:01 AM

  255. Steinar,
    We have no problem calling the solar cycle a cycle, despite its deviations from strict periodicity, because we understand the physical processes underlying it. One cannot say the same of your putative 70-year cycle. And since we do not know the underlying physics, we cannot say if it is independent of the warming trend or whether it exists at all. Again, you are getting very excited by very weak evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 Dec 2013 @ 2:11 PM

  256. MARodger,

    > “I fear you will have you work cut out trying to present any AMO causation for substantial parts of Arctic warming since 1880 because, unlike the Artic temperature record (as per GISS), the AMO index since 1880 has shown far more than a single period of non-warming.”

    Since it’s apparently not kosher to speak of cycles with variable amplitude, possibly variable period, for which direct measurements aren’t yet long enough to do proper statistical analysis, unless it has an 3 or 4 letter abbreviation, I’m stuck with the AMO. AMO is not Arctic surface temperature, and correlation is not causation, but it takes some effort to disregard the signs of correlation. Again, I remind you that AMO surely isn’t the only thing controlling Arctic temperature, but if you assume an AMO correlation and add a global warming trend, we seem to get a bit closer.

    What is your time window for saying “far more than a single period of non-warming”? As I’ve clearly stated, I’ve been using the standard climatic 30y average. If you do that on the AMO data that you provided, you get the same apparent ~70 year periodicity that I’ve been suggesting, but to avoid further discussions on the periodicity and whether the 30y AMO and corresponding Arctic temperatures in the 2030’s will show a turn around now, the main point is the turn at the beginning of the satellite measurements, precisely as in the Arctic temperature record. That coincidence could be a problem for the study unless it deals with it somehow (by denying an AMO-Arctic temperature link, for instance).

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 9 Dec 2013 @ 2:40 PM

  257. Steinar Midtskogen @256.
    When I say “far more than a single period of non-warming” you capture the issue well with the graph of AMO you link to @256. The GISS Arctic temperature record (graphed red here) shows but one period of falling temperature 1940s-1960s. (You might also squeeze a second tiny one in around 1910.) Otherwise, the only way is up! Yet the Enfield AMO record in your graph presents a big meaty oscillation peaking in the 1870s & the 1940s. How then can the AMO present itself as a significant feature of Arctic temperature? Where are you “signs of correlation” that you say “takes some effort to disregard”? I am finding it an effort to see them.
    I would add that you should not be reluctant to consider cycles/oscillations. If there is data to demonstrate a wobble, there is a wobble. The AMO appeared within the analysis that gave us the hockey stick graph. Since then a lot of work has shown evidence of some sort of AMO wobble back through time although it doesn’t exhibit itself in the ways you would consider obvious, like say a massive signal on say the Central England Temperature record. Likewise, it appears, the Arctic.

    Comment by MARodger — 10 Dec 2013 @ 5:43 AM

  258. MARodger,

    > “The GISS Arctic temperature record (graphed red here) shows but one period of falling temperature 1940s-1960s.”

    We can only expect one period of falling temperatures in the instrumental temperature record of the Arctic simply because we don’t have sufficient instrumental data going back to the 1850’s. Data becomes scarce going back more than 100 years, and your GISS graph shows a 10y average. If you had used the standard 30y average, your plot would only go back to 1895 and you would simply see a bottom between 1895 and 1906, and even that period would be somewhat uncertain, so I would hesitate to call it inconsistent with the AMO bottom in the early 1910’s. We can’t pinpoint a certain year within a decade for bottoms and peaks anyway, which heavily depend on the kind of smoothing used. Moving averages certainly shift that if the edges are not symmetrical, which we cannot expect if the periodicity and amplitudes are indeed somewhat variable.

    > “Where are you “signs of correlation” that you say “takes some effort to disregard”? I am finding it an effort to see them.”

    So if we don’t have good instrumental evidence for a warm period from around 1850 to 1870, nor the direct evidence for the contrary, can we then be sure of an AMO and Arctic temperature link? No, but I believe there is enough to keep an eye or two open for that possibility. We have one period of warming, which was before any large scale emission of CO2, we had one cooling period, and the another warming period, all very well timed with the AMO turns. In a couple of decades we’ll know if this holds a fourth time in a row.

    But let’s return to the study again. It picks 1979 as it’s starting year. Then look at the AMO graph above. And some Arctic temperature records (from GISS, picking a few going long back):

    Nuuk, Reykjavík, Ostrov Dikson

    Let’s disregard all discussions on AMO-Arctic temperature links, causes and periodicity. Can we just agree that something happened in those 30y trends ca. 1979? Is it really no concern whatsoever to introduce an inhomogeneity for Arctic temperature at that point by shifting to satellite measurements from 1979?

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 10 Dec 2013 @ 3:55 PM

  259. Errr…Steinar, last time I checked GISTEMP (which is also shown in MARodger’s graph) doesn’t use satellites. So, considering the land-based measurements follow the same trend as the satellite record, perhaps the concern that there may be an inhomogeneity for Arctic temperature by shifting to satellite measurements is, like, unnecessary?

    Comment by Marco — 11 Dec 2013 @ 2:01 AM

  260. Steinar Midtskogen @258.
    I find little of merit in what you present here.

    If a 30-year rolling average were used on the GISS Arctic temperatures you would not see a “a bottom between 1895 and 1906.” You would see it rising steeply from the off. The only way is up!!
    I cannot countenance any of the objections you raise which allow you to “hesitate to call it inconsistent with the AMO bottom in the early 1910′s.” A significant AMO signature is absent, pure and simple, from the GISS Arctic temperature record.
    Thus things cannot very be auspicious for your reply to my second quote from ‘@257’.

    Indeed, I insist that you are dismissing “direct evidence for the contrary.” The inflections in the temperature records in the 1940s and 1970s are present globally and in many places regionally. Many see a prior inflection in the records in the 1910s as having the same status although this 1910s version is absent in the Arctic record. (The three inflections are enough to prompt some to speculate forcefully that AMO runs through the whole world. Note this; many apparently find this an attractive prospect but their analyses are flawed nonetheless.)
    Particular to the Arctic, these two Arctic inflections are certainly not enough reason to wait in anticipation for “a couple of decades” for a 4th inflection. It is not even enough to wait in anticipation a couple of years for the 3rd!

    The study (I assume you refer to Cowtan & Way 2013) cannot extend back prior to the satellite era for obvious reasons. To suggest that their start-date was “picked” is disingenuous. And of course any study using satellite data will suffer “inhomogeneity” at 1979. Beyond regret that them there satellites weren’t launched earlier, I am not sure where any “concern” would lead. A grassy knoll? Rosewell Area 51? I am not inclined to be lead in such directions!

    Comment by MARodger — 11 Dec 2013 @ 5:23 AM

  261. Marco,

    You misunderstand. I do not claim there is an inhomogeneity in GISS. Rather, that an inhomogeneity arises if you talk about 20th century GW and use satellites for the Arctic since 1979, and that it could make a difference because of the turn in AMO around 1979.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 11 Dec 2013 @ 10:49 AM

  262. Haven’t been following this in detail, but that graph sure looks like a trend plus variability (which COULD, but need not be, in the form of one cycle of an oscillation) to me.

    The graph gives annual, as well as smoothed, values. I think that a 30-year smooth would not change the picture, except to the extent that it would ‘smooth over’ information. And “+1” for Marco’s comment.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Dec 2013 @ 11:15 AM

  263. MARodger,

    Their “pick” of 1979 marks of course the start of available satellite data. Purely coincidental, that time also marks the turn of the AMO when looked through 30y glasses. And the turn of Arctic temperatures also seen through 30y glasses. One can think there is an AMO or Arctic temperature link, or one might find an ad hoc explanation for every correlation. In the latter case 1979 might not matter much, but if you do not rule out such a connection, some care must be taken. The study could then also argue that the global cooling from 1940 to 1980 has been underestimated.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 12 Dec 2013 @ 1:00 AM

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