Thanks for this excellent summary of 2013′s temperature profile compared to other years. The changes in latent in sensible and latent heat flux from ocean to atmosphere that occur during El Nino (greater flux) and La Nina (lower flux) are of course key to understanding the short term variability in tropospheric temperatures. In terms of the so-called “pause”, it becomes more and more clear that the current cool phase of the PDO is largely responsible for this “pause”, but looking at the continued rise in ocean heat content, and the nice job Cowtan & Way have done interpolated Arctic temperatures, we see that the “pause”, may have reflected a slowdown in the rise of tropospheric temperatures, but the energy imbalance of the climate system continues quite strongly. Furthermore, the next large El Nino event will very likely bring new record highs to global temperatures, perhaps breaking those records as strongly as Australia’s regional records were shattered in 2013.
Thanks for putting Cowtan & Way into the big picture.
SPIEGEL is on record for fabricating negative renewable energy articles under Stefan Aust. (1) It appears that some of the journalist hired under him can still market their ideas of what climate change is. Though not all articles on climate are bad, but the importance is clearly lacking and as noted many articles have a lot of motivated framing and spin to it. On top of this you have the regular deniers who in a timely manner prevent any honest science discussion. The moderation sometimes even promotes denier comments is my impression, when blocking links and arguments to scientific data.
To me it is bad news if PDO is the main antagonist of the hiatus. I say that because “sceptics” will have years of ammunition pointing out their view of what AGW means, that is surface temperatures.
Of course government all over the world will do anything to delay any real action and they could have another 10-20 years to do just that.
When the warming eventually comes back, logical it should be in the likes we never seen before and then it will probably be to late.
“When the warming eventually comes back, logical it should be in the likes we never seen before…”
I think Australia has been getting a taste of that. It is also interesting to note the relationship between Australias warmth and the record OHC in the Indo Pacific Warm Pool. We often see “skeptics” suggest that the additional warming stored in the ocean can’t possibly come back to affect tropospheric temperatures in any meaningful way, but the record levels of energy being stored in the Indo Pacific Warm Pool has impacted and made possible the record tropospheric temperatures Australia saw in 2013.
I am curious as to whether there exists an analysis of temperature changes over the course of seasons through the last 50 years…
Example: where I currently live, we have undergone a recent series of temperature swings over the course of the last 4 weeks with highs in the 50′s (farenheit) and lows near -15 (farenheit)… that’s happened several times. It seems to me that ~60 degrees (F) temperature changes in Northern North America in January is a bit… off.
But one season does not a trend make… has anyone done such an analysis of differences over time and space?
Comment by Daniel Curewitz — 27 Jan 2014 @ 10:34 PM
However – if you’re looking into the comment sections of those DER SPIEGEL articles, there are quite a few brave souls stemming the tide of fake “skeptics”. Quite successfully so, in recent months.
Daniel Curewitz – The GISS tool allows you to make trend and anomaly maps for months and seasons. However, these are monthly averages. It sounds like you’re interested in changes in monthly or seasonal extremes (highs and lows). For that you’d need to start with daily temperature records: your best bet is probably your state or city weather service.
Steven Goddard has apparently uncovered massive “discrepancies” in the US temperature record, he has a post called “Just Hit The NOAA Motherlode”. Now considering his past skills I don’t doubt he has made a massive mistake somewhere. Does anyone know of any good analysis on the real situation?
I have been seeing several papers recently about China aerosols affecting North Pacific weather, and pollution on the US west coast. Is there anything new on how they might be affecting the energy balance?
What are the 95% confidence intervals of the point estimates of average temperature? It seems to me bad practice to discuss the latter without the former.
[Response: For modern years it is around 0.08°C - getting larger as you go back in time. -gavin]
Comment by Christopher Squire — 28 Jan 2014 @ 11:53 AM
The USA temperature record is at most 2% of the area of the world. So I would discredit Goddard just for his sensationalism.
Based on my “climate-geek” analysis of the temperature records, the GISS (NASA) and NCDC (NOAA) records appear to be much higher quality than the HadCrut records. For example, when I try to fit natural variability models to HadCrut data, various abrupt shifts appear in the residual that look to me as artificial.
In contrast, the only interval in the GISS or NCDC global time series that looks odd is during the WWII years between 1941 and 1945, where it appears that all the temperatures have a warming bias of 0.1 C. I agree with J.J.Kennedy that it is an artificial shift based on war-time procedures, but I think the corrections that Hadley made post-WWII were questionable. Best to use the GISS or NCDC data.
As an ordinary physicist (no climate expertise) I have always noticed the “hump” in Fig 1. around the 1940s relative to a very broadly-brushed exponential curve fitted to the 1890-present data. I must have missed comment on this anomaly – if it is such – so would someone enlighten me, please? Surely not WW2?
MightyDrunken @12 refers not to global temperatures but to Goddard’s latest attempt to unravel the warming trend in USHCN v2 (which I note has been pasted around the deny-o-shphere over the last few days). So it is slightly off topic.
Do bear in mind that Goddard has already been round the block on his attempted unraveling of USHCN v2 (for instance). Indeed his unraveling hasn’t been very productive even when he did spotted a problem. His latest effort is rather more incoherent with its accusations all over the place. Perhaps that’s the strategy – if you don’t explain what you’re going on about, there is less risk of making yourself look stupid.
However I would say of the USHCN v1 to v2 update that it is badly explained (eg here) and given the impact of the new version, a clearer explanation would be a welcome development. But with even the Version 1 explanation not as clearly described as it could be, explaining the Version 2, the changes from Version 1 and the controversy leveled at it – all this may be too much for one simple account.
Re jaget80′s comment (#4) on the PDO. If global surface temperatures continue not to increase v quickly over the next decade or two then I think this could seriously slow down action to cut GHG emissions, no matter how well understood the “slow-down” is, and no matter how much additional heat is measured accumulatng in the oceans. Forgive my ignorance about the PDO. Is there any reason to believe that the PDO is likely to exert a strong surface-cooling influence for a decade or two to come? I’ve heard it said that ENSO can essentially be treated as random and is not predictable except over v short timescales. Is the PDO itself predictable?
The broad hump around WWII is understood to be natural variability in the warming trend. Some find Dickey’s theory intriguing that this natural variability can be separated from the secular trend by looking at Length-Of-Day (LOD) variations
“Air Temperature and Anthropogenic Forcing: Insights from the Solid Earth”
Jean O. Dickey, Steven L. Marcus, Olivier de Viron, 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2010JCLI3500.1
One idea is that this is related to PDO and how slight changes in the earth’s rotation rate can set in motion large-scale upwellings in the ocean that reverse as the rotation accelerates and decelerates.
Re David Beach @19, it’s not so much the 1940s “hump” as the 1950s-60s-70s “trough.” The reason for the trough is thought to be the surge in aerosols generated by the post-war economic boom, finally removed in the late 1970s by the implementation of the Clean Air Act and similar legislation in Europe, thereby unmasking the steadily rising CO2 forcing that had been there all along.
quoting TsonisThese shifts are superimposed on a low frequency signal known as global warming. Here we are not interested on
the origins of the low frequency signal. Rather we are interested
in the departures from this signal over decadal time
scales. The part of the black line that is colored yellow indicates
that the four climate modes are synchronized during a
period when the coupling between the modes is not increasing.
The part colored green indicates periods when the modes
are synchronized and the coupling is increasing. Thus, we see
that the network synchronized six times in the periods 1908–
1913, 1921–1925, 1932–1943, 1952–1957, 1975–1979, and
1998–2003. In the periods 1921–1925, 1932–1938, 1952–
1957 synchronization is not associated with an increasing
coupling strength and no change in the temperature trend
is taking place. However, in the periods 1908–1913, 1939–
1943, 1975–1979, and 1998–2003 synchronization is associated
with an increase in coupling strength. As the modes keep
on synchronizing and the coupling strength keeps on increasing,
at some coupling threshold the synchronized state is destroyed
and climate shifts into a new state characterized by
a reversal in global temperature trend. This mechanism appears
to be an intrinsic mechanism of the climate system as it
is found in both control and forced climate simulation (Tsonis
et al., 2007;Wang et al., 2009). It also appears to be a very
robust mechanism. …
1950-1970s through is for transition from mostly coal (larger aerosols that fall out quickly) to mostly oil based economy and post war economic boom (smaller aerosols, more sulfates), as far as I know it. The big question for the future could be, if China and India start to clean up their energy production, how will the temperatures and the monsoons respond. Will they get droughts similar to US south on their agricultural areas.
Dan C. @8 How big the temperature fluctuations normally get in January depend very strongly on your location. The fluctuations you describe, from about 50F to -15F, would be an approximate fit for interior New England or central Iowa. In either case, it would depend on the storm track, which has been exceptionally stable this month, due to the blocking pattern in the eastern Pacific and downstream vortex over Hudson Bay. The storm track puts you in alternating mild and very cold air, and it’s been happening frequently.
#19 David Beach: Specifically on WW2, yes, it could be–due to the role of aerosols (among other things), described in the article on mid-20th century cooling at Skeptical Science linked @ 22:
“Industrial activities picked up following the Second World War. This, in the absence of pollution control measures [post-war], led to a rise in aerosols in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere).”
I don’t mean it wasn’t due to a combination of things–but to focus thoughts about aerosols in the post-war boom, described nicely @ 26.
Then there was the grim accidental experiment of 9/11: “…when the entire U.S. airline fleet was grounded for three days. This presented a unique opportunity to study the effects… Comparing changes in the daily temperature range showed that the absence of dimming from aircraft pollution alone made a marked difference to the temperature. This result hints at how much the effects of atmospheric pollution had been underestimated.”
jyyh @ # 28 wrote: “if China and India start to clean up their energy production, how will the temperatures and the monsoons respond. Will they get droughts”
Not sure I follow you here. IIRC, it is dimming from aerosols that is most likely and quickly to shift monsoonal patterns in India and the Sahel in such a way to potentially cause massive disruptions in food availability.
Are you saying that the loss of these aerosol injections will create such as large, sudden increase in GW that they will get the same kind of disruptions in rain patterns anyway? Recent work has suggested that the ‘shielding’ effect of aerosols is probably a bit less than once thought (again, if memory serves).
Are you sure you don’t want to rephrase this, “Although there are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic”? To my mind the Arctic is anything north of 66.5 and there are many permanent weather stations within the region. Perhaps you meant the Arctic Ocean basin?
Many thanks for the multiple replies to my query @19. I can best relate to Jim Eager’s note @26. I had direct experience of industrial pollution in England 1956-1975, which was as bad as today’s Chinese examples.
From what I remeber airplane contrails have a small net warming effect. They have a noticable effect on the diurnal variation (day/night difference), by blocking some sunlight, and also blocking some outgoing longwave radiation. The former effect cools daytime temps, while the later warms nighttime temps.
#36 Thomas: Thank you. Your comment is helpful to me. I deliberately avoided the word, “contrails.” But it does appear in what I linked. I was thinking about smaller aircraft too. I should re-phrase my comment to include everything we burn, however we burn it, to whatever purpose. I am thinking about the moral hazard of masking our climate debt. I know that assessing it is really complicated.
About this, on another thread, Hank has cited this:
I really like this blog and respect the contributors. I find it frustrating though that discussions of global warming continue to be based almost exclusively on the traditional station-based data set. The anomaly maps produced by GISS/NCDC/Hadley Centre are full of holes. Cowtan & Way tried to fill one of those gaps using in-situ observations and traditional methods, and everyone gets excited. The satellite data record is consigned to a mere footnote, and reanalysis is not even mentioned.
Come on people: We have learned, during the last few decades, how to utilise satellite observations in combination with other observations and (very good) models. Trend estimates from the latest reanalyses agree with those based on station data within the accepted uncertainties of those estimates. They also provide real information globally. Nothing is perfect, but you need to start discussing them.
While I agree that the satellite series are useful tools and could be exploited with greater frequency, they are not without problems. For one thing, they are not measuring temperature, and not even measuring a surface temperature proxy, but rather a tropospheric temperature.
Second–and not unrelated–these series are far more likely to be distorted by large response to ENSO variability.
No, none of these issues is a insurmountable, let alone a disqualification, but these are issues that need to at least be fully understood if not solved.
Stefan, thanks for this post. The graphics and links are eloquent. Fig.2 directly rivets my attention. Links on Figs. 2 & 5 are great updating resources. The ONI background presentation (link) is something anyone who’s interested can understand.
Hi, I read the Hansen, Sato, and Ruedy paper “Global Temperature Update Through 2013″ linked in the article. Can someone explain one point to me? Their central point seems to be:
“…the growth rate of the net climate forcing has been slower in the past 15- 20 years than it was in the preceding three decades, but only slightly. Thus a slowdown in growth of the net climate forcing probably contributed to the slowdown of the global warming rate…”
If the net forcing increased for several decades, then leveled off 15-20 years ago, wouldn’t that cause the rate of warming to level off too, not to slow down?
Some commentators above have mentioned the PDO in relation to the ‘pause’. Whether it is the PDO, or another natural oscillation (my money’s on the AMO), which is holding global temperatures more or less constant its significance is not just as a weapon for sceptics in the future. If, in its negative mode, it can fully counteract anthropogenic warming then in its positive mode it made a large contribution to warming in the last decades of the previous century. To what extent was this taken account of in climate model calibration?
I second Dick Dee’s (comment #40) call not to ignore satellite temps. I note that RSS TS channel TLT (http://www.remss.com/measurements/upper-air-temperature figure 5) shows a clear stillstand starting in 2001 and extending for the next 12 years. If anything there is a hint in the past few years of a decrease! I know, I know, some of you will repeat the oft heard “ya can’t get a trend in only a decade”, but of course you can. I note that past stillstands in the record occurred when GHG forcing was significantly less than recently and so one might expect current GHG forcing to compete more with natural variations. As to ocean uptake of heat, the novice might ask, “how come that didn’t happen so obviously a in the past? What is different now that causes the ocean to take up proportionately more heat than then?”
Finally I bring up the often derided 60 year natural signal which appears to modify GHG warming. It’s right on schedule to have its cooling phase counteract GHG warming (and any warming due to solar activity which is now near its maximum but not showing in the record).
All of this does not contradict GHG warming, but it does point to climate sensitivity being on the low side of the IPCC’s estimate and as such calls into question the higher climate sensitivity of current climate models.
In short the past decade presents climate scientists both observational and modeler with more challenges that we thought we’d have in the year 2,000.
Chick Keller, a major reason RSS deviates so much may well be its poor coverage of the Arctic (and Antarctic). As shown in Cowtan & Way, leaving out the Arctic has a significant influence on the trend for HADcrut.
When I see folks advocating RSS without mention of any other dataset or the fact that RSS is inconsistent with any other dataset, my spider sense starts tingling, and I wonder if I’m dealing with someone wearing blinders.
As a layman, what I see is a constant emission of 35 billion tons of CO2 each year, and a 43% increase of ppm in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. That is a destructive course, and the prospects for reversing seem grim.
I think that there is one thing wrong with this article: You say something like “climate change cannot be understood by studying short timescales but even if that were the case the denialists would still be wrong.”
I wonder if you see the flaw that I am trying to point out.
Not to mention that no record shows any change in warming slope. And if you need to add warming in such a small area as the Arctic to make your case, my point has already been made.
I’m not saying there’s no “dangerous” GHG warming (I’ve written entire reviews on the subject). But I am cautioning that there is growing evidence for the lower end of our estimates of Climate sensitivity, and certainly below what the models get (btw, my career was in computer modeling and I helped get Los Alamos Nat. Lab. into modeling of oceans resulting in one of the best, so I’m not anti-modeling). But, having been in modeling for decades, I have a healthy respect for the constant need to improve simulations. bottom line–it ain’t warmin as much as we thought it would, and the oceans (with their multi-decadal cycles) may be the reason why.
To what extent was [PDO/AMO] taken account of in climate model calibration?
Quasi-periodic oscillations in the oceans have been included as random variation in models, but not at their observed timing. That was recently addressed by Kosaka and Xie. John Nielsen-Gammon summarizes their results:
Here’s a non-technical translation: the HIST simulation has all the climate forcings, but doesn’t know how or when El Niño or La Niña patterns will develop. The POGA-H simulation has all the climate forcings, plus the atmosphere and ocean are forced to respond to the actual evolution of sea surface temperatures associated with El Niño and La Niña as they actually happened during the past sixty-plus years.
What Kosaka and Xie Found
Kosaka and Xie find that the POGA-H run reproduces the hiatus, along with most other interannual variations in global surface temperature (correlation 0.97 since 1970). In addition, it reproduces most of the key observed regional variations in warming, both during the rapid rise of 1971-1997 and the hiatus period of 2002-2012. All of this, to me, is convincing evidence that any explanation for the hiatus must pass through the tropical central and eastern Pacific.
Looking past the Walt-Kelly-esque acronyms, it’s convincing evidence that when the tropical central and eastern Pacific returns to El Nino conditions, we’ll see warming like nothing we’ve seen before.
“…it’s convincing evidence that when the tropical central and eastern Pacific returns to El Nino conditions, we’ll see warming like nothing we’ve seen before.”
A couple of years ago I was inclined to say something along the lines of -just you wait ’til the next El Nino – to Australians who were crowing about all the water in the Murray and no drought. Sort of self-righteous, sort of a joke.
Now, Adelaide’s just had its hottest ever February day, and one of our towns in the south east has had its hottest ever, ever, day. I’m simply dreading the next El Nino. And if the IOD gets in on the act as well, we’re in for a simply awful time.
There is no shift in the slope of even atmospheric warming. Warming has proceeded after 1998 at exactly the rate it had been going before that date. We are mostly arguing about nothing (and giving the pseudo-skeptics lots of fuel in the meantime).
#62 – I thought the tamino post was excellent (and Gavin had done something very similar before here). However when comparing models vs observations, the observations are still at the bottom of the model spread for both AR4 and AR5 (I don’t necessarily conclude that this means the climate sensitivity is at the lower end of the IPCC range but this is one possibility)
I wonder if gavin could clarify how confident we can be at this point that we are heading into an El Nino later this year… “An El Nino trend is likely to develop this year, Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said this month.”
Any explanation of the current hiatus which does not cover the longer hiatuses (hiati ?) of 1945 to 1975 and 1870 to 1910 cannot be considered definitive.
That’s Science for you. The evidence suggests that ocean oscillations affect the shape of the global surface temperature curve over time. Just how they do is an area of active research. There may not be a “definitive” explanation of the current slope of the curve so far, but stay tuned.
What is the outlook for the ENSO status going forward? The most recent official diagnosis and outlook was issued earlier this month in the NOAA/Climate Prediction Center ENSO Diagnostic Discussion, produced jointly by CPC and IRI; it called for a high likelihood of neutral ENSO conditions enduring through winter 2013-14 and into spring 2014, with probabilities of El Niño or La Niña each less than 30% until Apr-Jun 2014 when El Niño probabilities rise above that level but stay less than 50% through summer 2014.
this is all very instructive for me. I’ll look at those papers, but one point you may wish to keep in the back of your heads. Say the 60 yr cycle is in fact real. It would nicely explain the two earlier hiatuses mentioned above. Thanks again for the references which I’ll read up on.
If it was steady warming after the nasty cold patch that ended in ~1850, every year would be hotter than the previous year but the warming has a cyclical or saw-tooth pattern which allows different selections of data to suggest we are experiencing catastrophically rapid warming whilst other selections of data suggests we have moved into a “flatline” or below-trend warming rate in the last 10 to 15 years. Both are poor science.
There is a 66-year cyclicity in the global temperature data that can’t be caused by atmospheric CO2. This focus on CO2 may be diverting our eyes from a more significant understanding of this dynamic planet.
Without a plausible and testable physical mechanism that could explain a 66 year cycle in global temperature it is just a statistical coincidence and pseudoscience. Further, to even consider the idea requires several cycles. There are usually very many up-down-ups at varying scales in any natural data set, but to get any attention there must be several complete cycles that are both consecutive and have the same period.
These figures were shocking. You would think that when receiving evidence such as this, and such as #50 and the destructive course we are on, that everyone would be moved to action. Energy efficient practices and conservation are musts for our future. Let’s hope we all wake up soon.
Global, even just northern hemisphere, oscillations of, say, a 60 year quasiperiod would show up in the southern Greenland ice cores. Not there in that the signal is (well) below statistical significance:
Greenland ice core evidence for spatial and temporal variability of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
Petr Chylek, Chris Folland, Leela Frankcombe, Henk Dijkstra, Glen Lesins, Manvendra Dubey
DOI: 10.1029/2012GL051241 Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 39, Issue 9, May 2012
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Feb 2014 @ 10:01 PM
I appreciate all the help but did well with ‘skeptical science’ and other things here. The problem is an absolute refusal to accept facts. It gets nauseating to see even basic climate science questioned even after mountains of evidence to the contrary. There are people (few) who do actually learn something and can shed their conservative armor and listen to reason.
This site is doing amazing work and there are people like me taking this information to echochambers where it normally wouldn’t be seen and it does make a difference. Thanks again.