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  1. “Now, an entirely new discussion is capturing the imagination, based on a group of scientists from Germany predicting a pause in global warming last week”

    Just to clarify, thy do not really predict that global warming will take a pause now, they predict it will continue to take a pause until 2015.

    We have a 0 trend for almost 11 years now so adding up another 6 years with no increase would result in 17 years with no increased temperature, just to clarify.

    Predicting the climate seems to be like betting on horses, there are alot of experts who know which horse that will win, but very few that actually get rich from betting on them.

    Comment by Jerker Andersson — 8 May 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  2. This doesn’t look to be a fair bet to me. :-)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 May 2008 @ 2:12 PM

  3. They’d be suckers to take your bet, especially the first part. The Nov.1994 – Oct.2004 average for HadCRUT3v is 0.3594, the average from Nov.2000 to the present is 0.4246. This means that for them to win the 2000-2010 part, the average temperature from now to Oct.2010 would have to drop to 0.1722. ‘Tain’t likely.

    [Response: Congratulations, it took you just 15 minutes to work this out. Of course they know those data too, and they still went into Nature and to the media with this forecast. They must have good reasons. If they do, they will take our bet. -stefan]

    Comment by tamino — 8 May 2008 @ 2:14 PM

  4. Anything to move on from just rolling the dice.

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 8 May 2008 @ 2:25 PM

  5. I hope the authors take the bet! I want in, too — I could use the money! Enjoy the 5000 Euro coming your way.

    Comment by Todd Albert — 8 May 2008 @ 2:44 PM

  6. I am not a scientist nor a sceptic. But i have often wondered if there was a variation or reversal of trend, by what mechanism would the heat escape? Does not the theory of GW envision a steady temerature rise? Or do variations represent data errors that mask the median trend?

    [Response: There are many mechanisms for natural short-term cooling. Some are of course external– large volcanic eruptions block incoming solar radiation from reaching and being absorved by Earth’s surface. But some are internal. ENSO events, for example, can warm or cool ocean surface temperatures through exchange of heat between the surface and the reservoir stored beneath the oceanic mixed layer, and by changing the distribution and extent of cloud cover (which influences the radiative balance in the lower atmosphere). -mike]

    Comment by ziff house — 8 May 2008 @ 3:02 PM

  7. It is interesting that if the authors are right, than global warming should go up (in fairly large) steps, rather than linearly, since the paper does not have implications for climate sensitivity. Still, given that the last decade has not seen a significant amount of warming (although any trend is swamped by noise), 20 years of little warming would give skeptics a little wiggle room. Some others such as Gavin and Tamino (and myself) have said that if there is no warming by 2015 (perhaps 2020) then there may be something quite wrong in our understanding. Personally, I’d bet on the RC side being right here.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 8 May 2008 @ 3:03 PM

  8. Could explain why you have little confidence in their report?

    I respect this site a lot, but this kind of gaming seems a bit silly without a formal explanation about why you think the model is weak.

    [Response: I missed the part where we implied their model is weak. We do have some issues with the experimental design and interpretation, and as we indicated in the post we will discuss those in due course. -mike]

    Comment by PeteH — 8 May 2008 @ 3:14 PM

  9. The bet itself sounds like a good experiment, if slightly Victorian.

    Anyway, I suggest using the Long Bets website, it provides a good neutral clearinghouse for such things. They will also do the third-party verification and contact the necessary experts (for instance, in the event that a specific one chosen passes away prior to the completion of the bet).

    Comment by Anthony Kendall — 8 May 2008 @ 3:20 PM

  10. I think these guys have been watching too many TH r-e-k-o-p tournaments on TV. They believe they have a good read on Mother Nature, are holding the abs nuts and have decide to go all-in. Good luck guys!

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 8 May 2008 @ 3:31 PM

  11. Isnt this paper all a bit of a storm in a teacup? From their graph that you show, if you run a line through the 1995 values and the 2025 values the slope is still steeper than the pre 1995 values.

    If they have identified a sink (increased fragmentation and hence increased surface area of ice sheets, mayhap?) that initiated stronger dT uptake C1995 and which will be saturated (gulp – ?melted?) C2010 when their green line kicks up to a much faster dT per year than A1B then so what? Well found – what is the sink? More understanding is good.

    But by 2025 they arrive at the same answer as A1B but go through 2025 at a much higher rate of dT per year. Please ask them about that!

    Comment by Nigel Williams — 8 May 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  12. OK, I’m a layperson, albeit one with an intense interest in the subject at hand. So please don’t throw too many rocks when I ask:

    When we’re talking about “warming”, what exactly is warming? The air? The oceans? Ice that’s no longer part of glaciers or Arctic sea ice but is now water? (The graph reproduced above is labeled “global mean surface temperature”, which sounds to my untrained ear like air temperatures.)

    My point is that I could easily see how the entire system in question could be warming, but because of transient effects, like weather patterns, the additional heat energy could easily wind up not where we’re measuring it for months or even years at a time. (I’ve been particularly interested in the Arctic sea ice situation the last few years. How many calories does it take to melt such vast amounts of ice? And how much apparent cooling could that cause if we’re measuring just air temps?)

    I’m far less concerned with where the heat energy is in the short run than the fact that the overall amount continues to increase.

    Comment by Lou Grinzo — 8 May 2008 @ 3:46 PM

  13. Minor(I think) nitpick. The end of the red line in the graph appears to end in about 1998, not 2004.

    [Response: This is all about 10-year averages – see footnote at bottom of article. They are centered on the graph. Hence the point that represents the 1994-2004 average is plotted at 1999. -stefan]

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 8 May 2008 @ 3:51 PM

  14. “Naja, um Wetten geht hier wohl nicht, sondern um Wissenschaft. So geht das nicht, da ist ernstzunehmende Wissenschaft gefragt. Das sind nicht die üblichen deutschen Klimaleugner und sie leugen ja auch nichts, bestenfalls verschieben sie das Szenario um lächerliche 10 Jahre. Wetten braucht man da nicht, das ist doch kein Kindergarten”

    Right, this should be not be be about betting on horses. This is all about serious science. These scientists are not denialists, they just postpone climate change in some regions for approx. 10 years. This is not a forum for betting on horses, it is a science forum”

    Comment by PeterK — 8 May 2008 @ 3:54 PM

  15. What is your level of confidence in the prediction made by GISS: “barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature clearly exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.”

    Does this prediction and the confidence with which it is made “The quasi-regularity of some natural climate forcing mechanisms, combined with knowledge of human-made forcings, allows projection of near-term global temperature trends with reasonably high confidence”, reflect the consensus of climate scientists, in your opinion?

    Comment by Gary Fletcher — 8 May 2008 @ 4:08 PM

  16. @11

    Yes, the paper is a storm in the teacup but over here in Germany it was was not fully understood, because it does not question the basic theory of cliamte change. I think it is just another model. But their theory cannot be easily dismissed. It is a quality piece of paper (good points, bad points), but I think realclimate was a little premature to answer it. However, the theory of cliamte change remains consistent.

    Comment by PeterK — 8 May 2008 @ 4:10 PM

  17. Minor(I think) nitpick. The end of the red line in the graph appears to end in about 1998, not 2004.

    i think the graph is smoothed (no 1998 spike….) and the endpoint is calculated from data between 94 and 04. but just a guess…

    thanks for addressing this topic.

    when discussing this topics sceptics tend to present the “Easterbrook projection” that turns out to be a wild guess:

    (warning, word document..)

    Comment by sod — 8 May 2008 @ 4:21 PM

  18. Re: #12 Lou –

    There is a nice fresh video of Jonathan Overpeck of Univ of Arizona speaking of Western US changes, but imparts global understanding in explaining it.

    Speaking here at the University of Washington – produced in April. Very current, very clear.

    “Climate Change, Sea Level, and Western Drought: Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference
    Learn why the American West could be in trouble with surface air temperatures rising faster than elsewhere in the coterminous United States. Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona, and recipient of the shared 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a Coordinating Lead Author for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment, will address the trend of droughts in the west and the vulnerability of coastal communities as they face sea level rise coupled with increasing storm intensities. This program is presented by JISAO, which fosters research collaboration between the University of Washington and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.”

    Comment by Richard Pauli — 8 May 2008 @ 4:39 PM

  19. Isn’t it odd that their so-called “verification” period indicates no global warming between 1985-1998? Since that is hugely incorrect, are we to conclude that their model is not very predictive? Or does “verification” mean something else in this context?

    Comment by Chris — 8 May 2008 @ 4:39 PM

  20. What about the eruption of Chaiten vulcano in Chile, is it suficiently important to affect the climate?

    Comment by Ayelén — 8 May 2008 @ 4:43 PM

  21. Shame on RealClimate for turning a serious scientific subject into a bet. If these authors are wrong please use the scientific method – evidence, reasoning, and yes climate models (if predictions vary) to convince others.

    Gareth Evans

    Comment by Gareth John Evans — 8 May 2008 @ 5:12 PM

  22. “To be fair, the bet needs an escape clause in case a big volcano erupts”

    There is currently a big volcano erupting.

    [Response: In full: “…the bet needs an escape clause in case a big volcano erupts or a big meteorite hits the Earth and causes cooling below the 1994-2004 level.” You forgot the last part. Whether this volcano will do that remains to be seen. Btw. – did Pinatubo leave even a blip in the red curve above? Remember we are talking 10-year averages. -stefan]

    Comment by C. W. Magee — 8 May 2008 @ 5:19 PM

  23. Re #12: It’s air temperature that is being discussed. Melting large quantities of ice requires large amounts of energy, and this slows the rate at which temperature would rise with the same energy input but no melting, but it is not a major effect. Also higher rates of ocean water evaporation produce a similar effect. In combination these two could possibly produce a “measurable” decline in the rates of warming, but I suspect that it would be measurable only if there was an equivalent Earth without the greater melting and evaporation rates so that a comparison could be made.

    There really should be more emphasis on the overall effects of energy added to the troposphere and the upper oceans. Average air temperature is an important indication of energy changes, but it doesn’t tell us everything.

    E.g., Assuming that the Keenlyside paper turns out to be accurate, it would mean that energy would be transferred from the atmosphere to the oceans at a higher rate for a time and then a lower rate. For the first period we might seem to be better off, but there are significant negative effects with a warmer ocean system. One of them seems to be a reduction in dissolved oxygen. If this passes tipping points in large enough volumes, there could be additional collapses in marine life beyond what we directly produce with overfishing and pollution.

    I’m not at all sure that the net effect would be positive during the predicted 10 year period.

    The point is that as long as greenhouse gases are reducing the rate of radiation from the land oceans and lower atmosphere, there may be no distribution of the net energy increase that results in good news. Those who might think that a ten year pause in air temperature increases gives us extra time are not looking at the whole picture.

    Comment by Robert Reiland — 8 May 2008 @ 5:34 PM

  24. Lou Grinzo (12) — I am under the impression that HadCRUTv3 uses air temperatures on land and sea surface temperatures in the oceans to produce their global mean.

    Ayelén (19) & C. W. Magee (20) — Impressive as it may appear, Caiten is not that much of a volcano nor produces that big an eruption. There is probably a volcano site which will give you an estimate of the current eruption’s VEI. I believe it will be on the smaller end of the scale.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 May 2008 @ 5:57 PM

  25. The two 10-year intervals have 5 years in common: 2000-2004. Thus the bet is really whether 1994-1999 would be warmer or colder than 2005-2010.

    Assuming (for lack of any reason to be biased in any direction) that 2008-2010 would average to about the same temps as already known 2006-2007, the RealClimate team stands to win.

    Comment by Sashka — 8 May 2008 @ 6:06 PM

  26. #19

    //”What about the eruption of Chaiten vulcano in Chile, is it suficiently important to affect the climate?”//

    Not likely. Volcanic eruptions don’t necessarily need to cause significant cooling. You need to look at the sulfuric-acid particles (aerosols). The eruption of El Chichon for example was significantly less explosive than Mount St. Helens a couple years earlier, but the former caused a lot more cooling because it emitted far greater quantities of SO2 gas, whereas Mount St. Helens was largely fine ash that settled out.

    #12 Lou:

    In fact the troposphere heats and cools pretty uniformily as a unit, so the surface and atmosphere will all heat up, at least until you get up very high and enter the stratosphere. Land and oceans will heat up(most of the heat goes into the oceans), though land heats quicker because it has a lower heat capacity. Though keep in mind that different regions are affected by global warming. Some might not change much at all, while others are effected a lot more. Also keep in mind (as Gavin mentions) that there is a lot of short-term “noise” that will offset warming, or even cause cooling on short timescales (such as years to a decade or longer).

    Comment by Chris Colose — 8 May 2008 @ 6:10 PM

  27. Re:#16 “i think the graph is smoothed (no 1998 spike….) and the endpoint is calculated from data between 94 and 04. but just a guess…”

    Very good guess,Sod. The anomaly for 1998 is about 0.5 from the HadCrut3 graph.
    Eyeballing the 1998 anomaly in their Figure 4 is about only 0.3. Thanks for helping to clear it up.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 8 May 2008 @ 6:23 PM

  28. I must have missed a link to the full article along the way. I only see links to the abstract.

    This is very sad that RC has been reduced to a carnival like betting on global warming.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 8 May 2008 @ 6:50 PM

  29. Jim Cross, betting is a time honored technique for judging “degree of belief” or subjective probability. We place sufficient faith in it to determine prices for stocks and commodities. I don’t see the problem with doing a little applied Bayesian probability in climate science ;-)

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 May 2008 @ 7:32 PM

  30. Re: #19 by Ayelén: “What about the eruption of Chaiten vulcano in Chile, is it suficiently important to affect the climate?”

    This is a spectacular, but not particularly big eruption at present.

    “Experts are now waiting to see whether the volcano will affect the world’s climate.

    “So far, Chaiten has emitted only a few thousand tons of sulphur dioxide.

    “In general, a volcano must spew at least one million tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere to have a global effect on climate.

    “After eruptions of unusual size, sulphur dioxide, converted into sulphuric acid, can form a thin white cloud in the atmosphere that reflects sunlight away from Earth.

    “The Philippines’ Mount Pinatubo produced a brief cooling of the climate after spewing 20 million tons of sulphur dioxide in 1991.”

    [Response: Moreover, most of the climatically-relevant volcanic eruptions are the explosive tropical eruptions (El Chichon, Pinatubo, Agung, Tambora, Krakatoa, etc), because the general circulation of the stratosphere is such that the aerosols are transported poleward from the source latitude. So only tropical eruptions tend to blanket the global lower stratosphere, which is how you get a substantial global mean cooling. There are exceptions (e.g. the Laki eruption of 1783 in Iceland). Nonetheless, as Chaiten is located well outside the tropic, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of any global climate impact. And more specifically, I don’t see it being a deal-breaker for the bet in question. -mike]

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 8 May 2008 @ 7:33 PM

  31. Great idea, though I doubt Keenlyside et al. will be amused. If this were to grow into a larger betting pool I would be strongly inclined to bet with RC, in spite of the fact that this is so short term that it may be more like betting on weather than climate. Nearly every paper that I have seen recently that has indicated a meaningful change in rate for a variable related to warming has suggested that, if anything, average model sensitivity may be too low, with positive feedbacks underestimated. I agree with others that consider this a pretty bold forecast by Keenlyside et al. since I think that 2005-2007 were warmer than 1994-2004 requiring that 2008-2010 exhibit quite a steep cooling trend for their forecast to pan out.

    Comment by Tom Huntington — 8 May 2008 @ 8:06 PM

  32. Mike:
    Given that there are generally only 0-3 VEI 6+ eruptions per century (Of which Chaiten might eventually become one, albeit at high latitude winter), why not just suck up the few % risk and drop the escape clause?

    [Response: Call us risk averse if you like. -mike]

    Comment by C. W. Magee — 8 May 2008 @ 8:17 PM

  33. Having looked at their paper and their press release, I think the terms of your bet may be a little misplaced.

    If you were living on a Keenlyside Earth and your global mean temperature followed their model, then you would still see warming, i.e. their model for 2000-2010 is warmer than their model for 1994-2004. So on the Keenlyside Earth the warming slows rather than stops.

    This jives with their press release: “The improved predictions suggest that global warming will weaken slightly during the following 10 years.” Where I assume “weaken” is intended to mean “slow” rather than being a prediction of cooling. A more natural bet therefore might be to ask whether the real Earth warms faster or slower than the Keenlyside Earth.

    In my opinion, it is only by willfully ignoring the misfit in their model at 1994-2004 that one would suggest that actual temperatures in 2005-2015 should be predicted to be colder than 1994-2004.

    [Response: Robert, this is something we discussed with the authors before proposing the bet. The green points, despite being connected by a line, do not represent one model run. Rather, each green point is an individual forecast starting from somewhere near the red line. That is why in the paper they say they predict a slight cooling relative to 1994-2004. You are right that already their prediction (or better to call it hindcast) for the 1994-2004 period was too cold. Otherwise, if you compare the green and black curves from 1999-2010, their evolution is the same, they are simply offset. So if you just took the relative change since 1999, not the absolute numbers as compared to the red curve, their new model would predict the same warming as a standard scenario run (i.e. the black one), which would hardly have been a reason to go to the worldwide media with a “pause in warming” prediction. -stefan]

    Comment by Robert A. Rohde — 8 May 2008 @ 8:21 PM

  34. “I must have missed a link to the full article along the way. I only see links to the abstract. …” – Jim Cross@26

    I believe this is the article:

    Comment by JCH — 8 May 2008 @ 8:21 PM

  35. I respect this site and its group of contributors greatly, but like Jim Cross I am disappointed to see this post as I think it trivialises the issues involved. Ray Ladbury, who I also respect, suggests that there no “problem with doing a little applied Bayesian probability in climate science” in this way. That would be fine to do in private with colleagues who understand the issues intimately, but this site attracts a lot of lay-people who come here for clear explanations of climate change science and informed debate on current topics. The take-away message from this post for a lay-person is that it is a game we are playing.

    Comment by Chris McGrath — 8 May 2008 @ 8:36 PM

  36. How pathetic. This bet is predicated on the assumption that the authors of the paper in question are “denier” sympathizers, placing them in an antagonistic position. Clearly what is at question is the science, not the scientists` beliefs. What kind of scientists would bet on their findings to add strength to their accuracy?

    The people at Real Climate are behaving very childishly on this. Just address the science and leave punditry to punters. Please. Are you trying to bring the level of discussion down to that of Fox News? Do you justify your actions by playground slogans like “he started it”?

    [Response: We are absolutely not proposing this on the assumption that the authors are “denier sympathizers”. The authors are very good and respected colleagues, and this post is entirely about the ability to predict natural climate variability a decade ahead. It is not about anthropogenic warming, a topic on which we completely agree with Keenlyside et al. The short time scale of this prediction makes it amenable to have some fun with a bet, because the outcome will be seen in a reasonable time frame. If for some a bet is not “serious” enough, we will follow it with a serious discussion of the scientific issues shortly. We think framing this as a bet with specified conditions will help to clarify what exactly it is that the authors are predicting – after reading the paper at first this was not entirely clear to us, and it clearly is not entirely clear to many of the journalists reporting on it either. -stefan]

    Comment by mark — 8 May 2008 @ 8:40 PM

  37. I’m surprised that you’re asking for a meteor escape clause, but not one for the use of nuclear weapons.

    Comment by silence — 8 May 2008 @ 8:43 PM

  38. RE #27


    Perhaps you should read Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb before you place your bet.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 8 May 2008 @ 8:49 PM

  39. Re: #26 (Jim Cross)

    I must have missed a link to the full article along the way. I only see links to the abstract.

    The article is copyright of Nature, and it would be unethical to provide free access to an article which the copyright owners don’t approve. If you want to purchase access, you can do so through the Nature website.

    This is very sad that RC has been reduced to a carnival like betting on global warming.

    What’s sad is that the denialosphere has made such a mockery of the Keenlyside et al. publication. The authors make it clear that they don’t disagree with the reality of global warming, but blogs everywhere are using it as a propaganda tool to paint global warming as a fraud and the climate science community as a bunch of confused clowns. I’d say that this RC article is an effective countermeasure in the propaganda war.

    I don’t think bets prove anything, but if this proposal gets the point across then to the RC guys I say: good on ya. And as I said before, the data already available make it nearly impossible for Keenlyside et al.’s prediction for the 2000-2010 average to be supported by the data.

    Comment by tamino — 8 May 2008 @ 8:54 PM

  40. After a big meteorite hits, I don’t think anyone will worry about collecting on a bet.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 8 May 2008 @ 9:17 PM

  41. regards #19: I read this week (probably in sciencedaily) that the geological evidence of the last Chaiten eruption shows a lot of ash, but not much SO2. If this bears out, even if the current eruption ended up being large (that is probably already only a small probability) the sulfates would still likely not be enough.

    I’m not so sure about the effects of eruption latitude. My (nonexpert) recollection is the high latitude eruptions would mean most of the aerosols would end up in the hemisphere of the eruption. I would think that the overall effect on global average would be similar, but concentrated on one hemisphere only.

    Comment by Thomas — 8 May 2008 @ 9:22 PM

  42. You need greater confidence than 50% to be motivated to make a bet. In some cases, much greater than 50%. Why? Because volatility destroys value (Sharpe Ratio). Depending on my utility curve and the size of the bet, I might need to be 99% sure or more before entering into the bet.

    This is such a simple and common lesson in statistics that I find it hard to trust a statistical scientist who doesn’t understand it. In particular, I find it hard to believe that somebody would be employed in complex modeling tasks without immediate recognition of the application.

    Comment by infopractical — 8 May 2008 @ 9:55 PM

  43. Perhaps I’m just out of touch with the times, but I agree completely with Chris McGrath in #33. This post would be crass even as an addendum to a serious discussion of the paper, but as a substitute for such a discussion (to be supplied at some future date) it’s an embarrassment. I don’t see why Tamino considers scientists engaging in a propaganda war a good thing – I haven’t seen him doing it.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 8 May 2008 @ 10:04 PM

  44. Michael Mann,

    as a follow up to your comment on volcanic aerosol transport, I was curious as to how fast anthropogenic aerosols are spread before they are removed, and if they are totally confined to the troposphere? They tend to have a reputation for being regional, but during the mid-century slight cooling, the Northern Hemisphere as a whole seemed to be effected.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 8 May 2008 @ 10:08 PM

  45. Re # 33 Chris McGrath
    “…I think it [this post] trivialises the issues involved…”

    I disagree – there is nothing frivolous in this post. Besides, scientists aren’t dead serious all the time – they like to have fun. That’s why a lot of science gets discussed over beers at the pub during scientific conferences. If you are surprised by this, read James Watson’s “The Double Helix,” about the discovery of DNA structure. Or Horace Judson’s “The Eighth Day of Creation,” which gives an inside look at the scientists (including Watson and Crick) responsible for the revolution in molecular biology during the mid-20th century.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 8 May 2008 @ 10:36 PM

  46. I find this post to be at best foolish and at worst reprehensible. To make the claim that if someone doesn’t accept your silly bet that they must not believe in their published article is childish. I would expect the same behavior from 10 year old boys on the playground. I am sure that the multiple authors of this article thought that this would be a good idea in the heat of the moment but I hope that they have the maturity to realize that it was poor judgment after a few nights sleep and pull this ludicrous article.

    Is the new standard that all scientific articles should be judged by in the future? The scientist must not only put his reputation on the line by publishing the article for all to review and discuss but also must be willing to accept all monetary bets that dissenters throw out? To think that this site actually condemned others for paid speaking engagements in NYC a few weeks back. Where is the “discussing ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding” (your words from your Jan 30 post).

    What happened to the common courtesy of yesteryear when if there was a disagreement between gentlemen they shook hands and engaged in a “gentleman’s bet”. Even the crooks in “Trading Places” only bet one dollar when they ruined two peoples lives. Perhaps we should go back to the time of Hamilton and Burr and you guys can fight for your honor with dueling pistols.

    I have typically publicly praised your site for its scientific knowledge. Now I have no choice but to write a rather viscious critique on my site that tries to discuss global warming with civility. At one time I thought this site was populated by scientists that were trying to explain complicated science. I guess I was wrong, it is run by children that want to show that they can beat up on others.

    What’s next Mssrs. Rahmstorf, Mann, Bradley, Connolley, Archer, and Ammann? [edit]

    Comment by Sean O — 8 May 2008 @ 11:45 PM

  47. Dear “scientists,”

    I have a slight favor to ask of youz:

    If you have a bone to pick with AR over his having ——-ed (supply your own descriptive verb) his reporting of the Keenlyside et al. paper, could you please send him an e-mail instead of blasting him in the NYT blog? It might be a more productive way of imparting better information. Thank you.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 9 May 2008 @ 12:29 AM

  48. None of the forecasts appear quite right, they are too conservative, specially for the 2005-2010 period. Almost known to be quite warm. Gisstemp .76. .65 and .73 C for 2005-06-07. Higher than most previous years except 1998. Before someone is going to say something like Hadley is different than GISStemp etc, My work agrees indirectly with GISStemp, and above all other reasons, a Density Weighted Temperature of the entire atmosphere would make such surface temperature graphs or projections eventually obsolete.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 May 2008 @ 1:05 AM

  49. Tamino are you saying that the bet is flawed because the Keenslyside paper is clearly and totally wrong or because the bet conditions are not in line with the paper’s predictions?

    Comment by Joseph Hunkins — 9 May 2008 @ 1:14 AM

  50. It is sad to me that a wager was made about our future climate. It may be somewhat in jest, but it now gives fuel to those who believe climate change (Global Warming has become a vilified word) is not real or just a money making scheme. I find that this could damage trying to get the message to ordinary citizens as it seems many on this planet are lemmings following the tune of the news media outlets and their agendas.

    I am not a scientist nor am I anyone of great interest in the world but I actually do my own homework on this subject and find Climate change is real. Please Please retract this bet before it causes more damage to a science that becomes more politicized each day. The future of this planet should be more important than any ego here or of any scientist for or against this subject. Please think before you act in the future!

    Sean Dorcy

    Comment by Sean Dorcy — 9 May 2008 @ 1:23 AM

  51. Maybe we shouldn`t take models so seriously at all..

    [Response: No–actually, it is comments such as this which we should not take seriously at all. -mike]

    Comment by rutger — 9 May 2008 @ 2:15 AM

  52. I’m a long time reader of Realclimate and have endorsed you, but I think this is a too polemic way to go about this. You should concentrate on the science where you rock.

    Not everyone has the same amount of loose money, placing the poorer in a very different position when betting. Even if the odds were the same, they have a much worse outcome if they lose – this is not offset by the positive outcome of victory. (Well, depends on how risk averse you are too.)

    All in all, it’s not very polite. There are people who are clearly dishonest hacks with whom politeness is not important, but I don’t suspect that with Keenlyside et al.

    [Response: I would not bet with “dishonest hacks”, but I would with respected colleagues that I feel I’m on sufficiently friendly terms with. -stefan]

    Comment by mz — 9 May 2008 @ 2:34 AM

  53. These sorts of bets also occur in Physics. I believe Hawking has (had) a few, for example. I *think* (could look it up) that there is currently one about whether the Higgs Boson will be detected.

    But it’s not even new to Climate Science or RC:

    Comment by Adam — 9 May 2008 @ 4:15 AM

  54. The new decadal model forecast has little if any skill due to an important scientific concept. It is an initial values problem, and is thus contaminated by large sensitivity to intial conditions (weather noise). What you guys will not come clean about however, is that these initial conditions of the ocean/atmosphere also impart a large range of uncertainty on multi-decadal predictions, even though you are invoking changes in boundary values to gain skill. I have thought a great deal about this, and I believe yours is a lousy hypothesis. Since the long-term signal from the external forcing change does not diminish natural variability, all the modeler is left to do is make long-term projections that are so vague, as to reneder them practically useless to the public or policymakers (other than to mislead them into thinking that these are skillful forecasts when they are not). Then some climate modelers even have the audacity to publish regional “projections” saying that the Colorado River will dry up in 50-100 years, or the rainfall and temperature somewhere else will change this way or that. This is abuse of science in the worst kind of way.

    It is double speak for a climate scientist to assert (correctly I might add) that natural variability like ENSO will alter the TOA radiative imbalance through changes in clouds, humidity, evaporation, rainfall, ect., but then out of the other side of the mouth imply that natural variability doesn’t really matter to the multi-decadal projections. It must. If you can’t keep up with annual-decadal changes in the TOA radiative imbalance or ocean heat content(because of failure to correctly model changes in the atmosphere and ocean due to natural variability), then your climate model lacks fidelity to the real world system it is tasked to represent. It might be said that such a model “is a uncertified public accountant of heat”. If either the model or the real system is a little “leakier” than the other, the two systems will diverge substantially over a long enough period of time. You gain a little heat in the model, or lose a little in the real world, and hope that the statistics of the long term natural variability go nowhere. Now the models may show this stability, but why should we believe them when they clearly don’t faithfully re-produce or predict some of the important atmosphere/ocean/cryosphere dynamics we are observing in the real world?

    So I think in the final analysis, you can place bets one way or another, and try and qualify the ground rules in a way that increases your odds of winning, but this whole post is really a joke, and an unfortunate diversion from an important science discussion. It is good entertainment though. By the way, how’s the bet with Bill Gray coming? He is also predicting cooling based on something probably as or more reliable than the numerical models: His gut.

    Comment by Bryan S — 9 May 2008 @ 4:24 AM

  55. EU2.5K is a bit steep, what happened to a more sporting bet of say a subscription to Nature. What the bloggers rant about is irrelevant, most stories I spotted on Google news were reasonably clear about what was said in Nature. IMHO the Germans and Nature have done the art of climate modeling a favour. No matter who is right about the oscillating thingies effect on short term temprature, climate modeling will be the winner.

    Comment by Alan — 9 May 2008 @ 4:26 AM

  56. Personally I greatly appreciate RC posting on this topic because it was reported in the media (especially the Telegraph, BBC etc) as the gospel truth which is what happens as soon as something is reported in Nature or some other academic and well respected academic publication.

    As RC are always at pains to point out to everyone, peer review is necessary but not sufficent to endorse something as true. The medias assumption that peer review means truth shows their lack of fundamental scientific understanding and hence the publics.

    Great article RC, I reckon I understand where you are coming from and it also makes me wonder about academic institutions and scientists themselves. I guess that science itself has scientists and scientists is you catch my drift.

    [Response: I think you understand the point we are trying to make. This supposed pause in global warming has been reported widely as if it were almost a fact, not a forecast, and as if this was widely supported by the climate science community, almost on a par with IPCC reports. Some articles framed it as if this new forecast now revises IPCC forecasts. If the prediction turns out to be wrong (which is what we think, and quite a few other climate scientists I have spoken to), this will damage the credibility of the whole community. This bet is supposed to signal to the public: on this decadal forecast the climate science community is not in wide agreement. In contrast to the global warming issue, where we have a wide agreement. -stefan]

    Comment by pete best — 9 May 2008 @ 5:00 AM

  57. Yours is a misleading and very weighted bet as others have already noted.

    Would you be willing to take a bet that 2008 – 2017 will be cooler than 1998 – 2007? That would be a much more fair bet as to whether the mean average global temperature is going up or going down. It is easy to have bets when you pick the years that happen to suit your argument. Oh and I hope they do take your bet and that they win. 2008 has already shown precipitous cooling, if this continues (as it probably will) you may even lose your weighted bet.

    Additionally IF you were to lose your bet, would you then admit that the earth IS cooling?

    [Response: We bet against their forecast as they made it in Nature. We did not pick the years. -stefan]

    Comment by Ken Hall — 9 May 2008 @ 5:01 AM

  58. Re #36 “What’s sad is that the denialosphere has made such a mockery of the Keenlyside et al. publication.”

    I agree but isn’t this bet just doing the same thing? And that’s my point. The point of Keenlyside et al isn’t that global warming has stopped but the bet seems to be more to make a point against the position of the denialosphere than it is against the publication.

    Is RC saying it is impossible that global warming might pause or not increase as quickly as some models project – that even a brief hiatus threatens the entire theory? I know it is not but the bet seems to be coming from precisely such a position.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 9 May 2008 @ 5:57 AM

  59. Why don’t you take up an earlier suggestion from Ross McKitrick and endorse (in summary here) that GHG emissions be taxed proportional to the actual global temperature change?

    That is better because reward is related to actuality, rather than guessing, as in your wager proposal, which is not actual. The former is better science than you propose.

    Why not cool down a bit and come back with a more sensible proposition like Ross’s?

    Comment by Geoff Sherrington — 9 May 2008 @ 6:34 AM

  60. There is an excellent article on the Keenlyside Nature letter at ClimateProgress which gives a very good explanation of what Keenlyside’s analysis is actually about, and from where much of the confusion about how the model should be interpreted, has arisen:

    Comment by Chris — 9 May 2008 @ 6:43 AM

  61. I think it would have been useful to point out how the media and blogosphere has wildly misinterpreted what the authors said:

    It is more accurate to say the Nature study is consistent with the following statements:

    * The “coming decade” (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally.
    * The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors’ calculations began in 1960.
    * The fast warming would likely begin early in the next decade — similar to the 2007 prediction by the Hadley Center in Science (see “Climate Forecast: Hot — and then Very Hot“).
    * The mean North American temperature for the decade from 2005 to 2015 is projected to be slightly warmer than the actual average temperature of the decade from 1993 to 2003.

    I explain all this in the blog post.

    Comment by Joseph Romm (ClimateProgress) — 9 May 2008 @ 6:51 AM

  62. Geoff Sherrington, Are you aware that what you are proposint is essentially a weather tax? Perhaps you’d advocate going a step further and having the tax vary throughout the day as temperatures rise and fall.
    Those who are betting on temperature rising are betting on physics–and physics has a pretty good track record. Indeed if you understand the physics, it is very difficult to see how one could make any other bet. Policy should be based on the best science available as we understand it, and the science isn’t changing the answer it gives us. Because responding to climate change will require long-term investment in infrastructure, research and mitigation, we need an economic environment that is sufficiently consistent to reward such investment. An economic policy that changes with the weather doesn’t meet such a test.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2008 @ 7:13 AM

  63. Contrary what Alan (# 55) says, I think that climate modelling finally will be the loser. This bet is damaging and discrediting your profession more than anything else.

    You should withdraw your bet and show some professional behaviour. Start professional discussions with your counterpart in Germany (and the rest of the world) without involvement of the Blogosphere in order to understand their position.

    But who am I, a (climate) realist sensitive to listen to both sides of the issue.

    Comment by Timo — 9 May 2008 @ 7:49 AM

  64. BryanS, So what you are saying is that since we can’t predict weather, we can’t predict climate; that because we have influences that oscillate up and down and up and down that they will trump a forcer that increases monotonically; that because we do not understand everything, we do not understand anything? Sorry, don’t buy it.
    By all means we must be cautious in extrapolating from long-term, global averages to regional consequences over finite intervals. However, we must weigh the consequences of the event as well as its probability, and over time, probabilities–and therefore risks–increase. If we have a threat with a possible consequence of the destruction of human civilization, we cannot dismiss that threat until we are certain that there is zero probability of that threat being realized.
    The science of climate change is sufficiently settled that it is unlikely that what we learn in the future–and we have much to learn–is unlikely to significantly alter the likely consequences of a business as usual approach. We now have to look at how business as usual must change to become business as sustainable.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2008 @ 7:49 AM

  65. re: 57. We are talking about climate, not weather. Even if 2008 turns out to be relatively cooler, it is not significant to the long-term trend. Which is warming. Similarly, 1998 was unusually warm due to the fact that there was a strong El Nino that year which enhanced global warming. So using 1998 as a reference year for cooling is not accurate either as it was an enhanced warming year.

    Comment by Dan — 9 May 2008 @ 8:26 AM

  66. Jim Cross, I am well aware of randomness–it’s part of my day job. I am also aware that randomness in a system does not make it unpredictable over all timescales. Stocks follow a pattern of a random walk, but over the past several hundred years (admittedly an atypical period for human civilization), they have followed a random walk with a slight upward trend. Bet on stocks over the long hall over that period and you would have done quite well. Bet it all on any one stock or any one day and you could quite easily lose your shirt.

    The desire to gamble is evidently part of human nature. Markets take advantage of this impulse to add liquidity to investments and thereby increase their value. Lloyds of London has made many people a good living over the years by allowing the wealthy to insure various propositions–in effect wagering. Moreover, life is full of probabilistic events for which it is very difficult to determine the probability distribution in any rigorous manner–either because they are inherently random, or because they are sufficiently complicated that rigorous determination is impractical. For such events subjective or Bayesian probability may be the only applicable technique, and betting is as good a way as any to determine such a subjective probability.
    In effect the wager is being used to gauge relative confidence in two different models–a question that is not uninteresting or irrelevant to the science. It is rather like Fermi at Los Alamos taking bets on whether the Trinity test would initiate a catastrophic chain reaction in the atmosphere and incinerate the entire state of New Mexico: As Fermi was present at the test, his motive was certainly not profit, but rather to assess relative how much confidence people had that the test would not have catastrophic results.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 9 May 2008 @ 8:28 AM

  67. I have read the Nature article, and cannot pretend to really understand it. From what I can gather, superficially, is that the authors took a climate model, with the same CO2 sensitivity as the IPCC, and modified it to account fot the Atlantic Meridional Overturning, which is a temporary phenomenon. Naturally, when this temporary effect disappears, the projected global temperature is the same as that forecast by the IPCC. What the paper does not appear to cover is where the heat from AGW “hides” in the intervening years. I apologise for the unscientific word “hide”; it is the beat I can come with to describe what I am trying to say. What is the physics of where the AGW heat goes between now, and say, 2015?

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 9 May 2008 @ 8:38 AM

  68. I believe model predictions have been the subject of bet challenges before (and no one has accepted one to my knowledge so why would this group.)

    The bet would also need another escape clause; that of the metrics used to measure temperature. Some metric would need to be implemented to ensure the same system is used to measure temperature in the future given how often the methods are changed which have increased the temperature trend.

    Comment by Lowell — 9 May 2008 @ 9:25 AM

  69. Another document to add to my archive of posts about warming, to be brought out to warm my heart during the bitterly cold winter of 2015…

    But seriously…between the Keenlyside prediction and the long-standing predictions by some in the solar community of solar-induced cooling in the next decade, this is a pretty ballsy bet. One might describe it as prideful, even.

    Comment by Matthew — 9 May 2008 @ 9:39 AM

  70. Re: #49 (Joseph Hunkins)

    Tamino are you saying that the bet is flawed because the Keenslyside paper is clearly and totally wrong or because the bet conditions are not in line with the paper’s predictions?

    I don’t say the bet is flawed. I just note that one would be a sucker to bet on the 1994-2004 decade because much of the data have already been recorded, and the 2000-2010 decade already has a big, almost insurmountable, lead.

    Re: #58 (Jim Cross)

    … the bet seems to be more to make a point against the position of the denialosphere than it is against the publication.


    Comment by tamino — 9 May 2008 @ 9:58 AM

  71. I was going to ask the same question as Jim in #67. I asked one of the authors of the Hadley decadal forecast paper (that said “cooling from 2005 to 2008/9 then warming afterwards”) and he shrugged his shoulders and said “natural variability”.

    If the Keenlyside forecast were correct, come 2015 what data will show us that the heat is indeed hiding and about to come out and cook us in 2030. Would such data be available?

    Second question. Are realclimate confident because the forecast is “probably” wrong, or are there physical reasons for not believing the forecast could come true?

    Comment by Steve Milesworthy — 9 May 2008 @ 10:30 AM

  72. Wow, look how many crypto-deniers came out of the woodwork to denounce the awful bet. I’m wondering if some web site asked their readers to go deluge RealClimate with this stuff.

    The reason they don’t want the bet is obvious — they know damn well they’re going to lose.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 May 2008 @ 10:32 AM

  73. What the paper does not appear to cover is where the heat from AGW “hides” in the intervening years. I apologise for the unscientific word “hide”; it is the beat I can come with to describe what I am trying to say. What is the physics of where the AGW heat goes between now, and say, 2015?

    Put a bowl of water at 50C in your oven, preheated to 50C. What will happen? Will the water warm? The air in the oven?

    Put a bowl of water at 1C in your oven, preheated to 50C. What will happen? Will the water warm or cool? Will the air in the oven warm or cool? If the air in the oven cools, where is the “lost” heat “hiding”?

    When upwelling brings cold water to the ocean’s surface, cooling the atmosphere, where is that heat lost from the atmosphere “hiding”?

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 May 2008 @ 10:38 AM

  74. Online bet payment by anyone in the USA may run afoul of the ca-si-no protection provision slipped into the recent Port Security Act. Just saying, be careful transferring any wa-gered funds when the time comes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2008 @ 10:42 AM

  75. Re #45 (Chuck Booth)
    Yes, of course many things are talked about over beers at conferences. And by posting this bet RealClimate has reduced its level of discussion to that of slightly intoxicated researchers shooting the breeze after hours.
    I know such discussions take place. I just don’t come to RealClimate to read them.

    Comment by John Franklin — 9 May 2008 @ 10:44 AM

  76. I’m of two minds regarding this post. Do bets cheapen science? Maybe. Is there potential for unintended effects in public perception? Sure — look at Ehrlich versus Simon. But I don’t think bets lower the quality of the discussion. Indeed, I agree that in this case the bet has served to crystallize just what the predictions are.
    I wish, however, that just one RC author had done the post. With a bunch of you, some people have already decided that the bet is all of RC versus Keenleyside et al. People tend to generalize and I think there may be some other perceptual problems. A less emotional complaint is specific to the bet, which can be made complicated if one considers that it is 6 to 5 in people, even in currency, and likely uneven in wealth. How should a reader interpret that? In that regard, perhaps a gentlemen’s bet would be preferable, as presumably everyone’s honour is equivalent. Ack, then again, honour is probably not the primary motivator on the internet.
    Maybe I’ll reserved judgment on this issue until the next post on the topic. I look forward to it!

    Comment by Steve L — 9 May 2008 @ 11:38 AM

  77. Re: tropical vs high latitude volcanic eruptions — I know the effect is likely negligible, but tropical locations are selected for launches into space because of centripetal force, right? Is it possible for tropical eruptions to put more material into the stratosphere due to an assist from rotation of the earth? Note, Mike’s comment about the primacy of the distribution of material that makes it that high is well-taken.

    Comment by Steve L — 9 May 2008 @ 11:48 AM

  78. Put a bowl of water at 50C in your oven, preheated to 50C. What will happen? Will the water warm? The air in the oven?

    They will both cool (the air in a preheated oven is quite dry).

    Put a bowl of water at 1C in your oven, preheated to 50C. What will happen? Will the water warm or cool? Will the air in the oven warm or cool? If the air in the oven cools, where is the “lost” heat “hiding”?

    It is hiding in the water.

    When upwelling brings cold water to the ocean’s surface, cooling the atmosphere, where is that heat lost from the atmosphere “hiding”?

    In the ocean, but this is not the only place for the heat to hide. It could be hiding in melting ice, or through albedo changes there may be no added heat at all. Is it so unreasonable for someone to be curious as to what exactly is offsetting the greenhouse gas warming in the paper?

    Comment by Greg Simpson — 9 May 2008 @ 12:06 PM

  79. The latest SO2 figures for the ongoing Kilauea eruption is that the two active vents are releasing more than 3,300 tons per day. Which will total more than a million tons of SO2 this year if the eruption continues.

    Will this have a measureable effect on climate?

    Layman Regards – Phillip

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 9 May 2008 @ 12:41 PM

  80. Phillip Shaw: SO2 does have an impact on climate, but the natural Hawaiian SO2 emissions are tiny compared with what is coming out of China’s coal-fired power plants. It takes a really huge eruption, like Pinatubo, to noticeably affect climate.

    Comment by silence — 9 May 2008 @ 1:02 PM

  81. I believe that Stephen Hawkins and Kip Thorne (who are very good friends) had a wager involving a substantial sum. I don’t recall what aspect of physics it was about or who won.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 May 2008 @ 1:11 PM

  82. Re#13
    “Minor(I think) nitpick. The end of the red line in the graph appears to end in about 1998, not 2004.”
    Would it make sense to put yearly temperatures on the graph as well to see how the projections are doing like the BBC did? How do the recent faster rising European temperatures look on their European predictions?

    Comment by Alf Jones — 9 May 2008 @ 1:13 PM

  83. I would accept your bet on the second forcast. If you have the oats to do it send me an email and we can make some agreement, including exchange rates cause my money is in dollars…

    Comment by Mick — 9 May 2008 @ 1:18 PM

  84. re#33
    Glad to see RC give the correct interpretation of the hindcast/forecast plot, i.e. the forecast is cooling.
    It took me a while to get my head around it, and I was in good company; ‘Figure 4 in the actual paper shows the global mean temperature trends and there is no projected cooling’ I wonder who said that ;-)

    [Response: Oops. I was fooled by the green line in figure 4. That joins up different predictions but is not a trajectory itself. – gavin]

    If the bet is accepted how will you include observational uncertainty? As the Hadley Center have uncertainties associated with them will you still win the bet if the globe has warmed but the error bars overlap with Keenlyside’s?

    Comment by Alf Jones — 9 May 2008 @ 1:20 PM

  85. “In 1975, cosmologist Stephen Hawking bet fellow cosmologist Kip Thorne a subscription to Penthouse magazine for Thorne against four years of Private Eye for …”
    Famous scientific wagers

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  86. Ref #73 by dhogaza. I think I understand the analogy as it pertains to the actual Atlantic Meridional Overturning, but I cannot follow how it explains what happens to the heat that accumulates as a result of AGW in, for example, the Sahara Desert, the Amazon Rain Forest, Antartica and Siberia.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 9 May 2008 @ 1:46 PM

  87. As a long time reader of RC and a long aquintance with media, I understand the bet and your reasoning. As totally an other issue I also wish you are right in your estimate and hope warming would not take a pause at this time. I guess warming will necessarily have its ups and downs due to weather cycles but a long pause at this particular time would be devastating for both political and popular reaction and a quick rise afterwards would have more dire consequences than a steady rise for several reasons I will not go into now.

    Comment by Risto Linturi — 9 May 2008 @ 1:55 PM

  88. If you are confident you will win your bet then you should also give them odds.

    10 to 1 or something will really show how confident you are.

    [Response: Actually, they made a forecast and took it to the media. We proposed this bet because we want to see how confident they are about it. -stefan]

    Comment by Dave Blair — 9 May 2008 @ 2:01 PM

  89. silence: According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, the normal SO2 emission for Kilauea is 150 – 200 tons per day. Thus the current emission of about 3,300 tons per day is around twenty times the normal level. And because of the recent activity at the Halemaumau caldera there is a good chance the eruption will intensify. The eruption was also featured on the NASA Earth Observatory website with an interesting image of the SO2 plume data from the Aura satellite. (Sorry, I don’t know how to add links to this post.)

    My questions are: is a megaton release of SO2 during a year large enough to be measurable? And what magnitude of SO2 releases are the geoengineering proponents proposing to offset, not mitigate, AGW?

    Thanks – Phillip

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 9 May 2008 @ 2:05 PM

  90. Stefan, In your reply to comment #56 you state “If the prediction turns out to be wrong (which is what we think, and quite a few other climate scientists I have spoken to), this will damage the credibility of the whole community.”—If the prediction turns out to be correct, will this too damage the whole community?

    Tamino, in #70 you state “…1994-2004 decade because much of the data have already been recorded,”–[MUCH]—It is well into 2008, should not ALL of this data be recorded?

    Comment by Gaelan Clark — 9 May 2008 @ 2:14 PM

  91. Have to agree with the crowd here, I think this is a poor way to judge confidence in the findings of the paper and a little below the level of discourse expected here.

    I think a much more appropriate bet would have been for a more symbolic prize: i.e. We will send you shorts and flip flops, and you send us parkas, or a weeks cruise to the caribbean vs. antarctica.

    Comment by Consumer — 9 May 2008 @ 3:14 PM

  92. Is it so unreasonable for someone to be curious as to what exactly is offsetting the greenhouse gas warming in the paper?

    It is when that person is Jim Cripwell, whose postings here make it clear that he’s a denialist…”offsetting greenhouse gas warming” presumes one accepts greenhouse gas warming in the first place, after all.

    Comment by dhogaza — 9 May 2008 @ 3:17 PM

  93. RE: #75

    On Friday afternoons, RC becomes Gavin’s Garage (where the mechanics of climate chnnge gets discussed), and everybody get a little loose.

    “…slightly intoxicated researchers shooting the breeze after hours…”

    This is when you learn all about the stuff that didn’t work (Been there, done that!), saving you a lot of time and money and grad students’ sanity. On occasion you can learn some really interesting info about your friends (and enemies) present research projects or pick up a few nitty-gitty technical tips that just never get written done.

    ATTN Gavin

    At the next big conference, why don’t you set up an after hours workshop called “Gavin Gargage” where there will be copious quantities of free beer, snacks and munchies!

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 9 May 2008 @ 3:35 PM

  94. Re: #90 (Gaelan Clark)

    Tamino, in #70 you state “…1994-2004 decade because much of the data have already been recorded,”–[MUCH]—It is well into 2008, should not ALL of this data be recorded?

    Settling the bet requires collecting data through Oct. 2010, which hasn’t yet been recorded.

    Comment by tamino — 9 May 2008 @ 3:53 PM

  95. Hank Roberts (85) — Thank you for the link. Shows that at least some scientists are betting men…

    Comment by David B. Benson — 9 May 2008 @ 4:01 PM

  96. At present I have not yet seen an analysis which shows this model to be rubbish. Just a lot of folks suggesting it smells improbably low. The principle of the BMA method in Douglass is that the average of several predictions is in general performs better than any individual projection. As it is a peer reviewed model, this model could reasonably figure in the IPCC model inter-comparison project and hence a possible Douglass et al 2011. Douglass weights all models in the IPCC model inter-comparison project equally. The ensemble would lose all predictive power regardless of what happened to measured global temp, as the error bars would be huge.

    Is that about right or is there a reason this model would be excluded ?
    Does anyone have ideas about if and on what basis this model should be excluded from an ensemble?
    If it is on the basis of not being a full General Circulation Model would it still be excluded if it’s predictions were spot on? Whatever rules are suggested now could rubbish other models later, or even some of the 22 in the existing model inter-comparision project.

    [Response: You have to compare like with like – so you can’t take this experiment and just throw it in with the standard runs discussed in AR4 – the likelihood of a significant structural bias is high. We’ll have a post about all the IPCC runs soon. – gavin]

    Comment by sean egan — 9 May 2008 @ 4:26 PM

  97. Even casual observers need to cherry pick to back up cooling. Recent months in Australia have been strange. Sydney had the coolest summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) ever. In March (autumn) Adelaide had 13 straight days over 37.8C the old 100F. Other parts of Australia that need frost for horticulture are still waiting, yet we had frosts last summer. Whatever trend line there is has hit a patch of statistical noise.

    Comment by Johnno — 9 May 2008 @ 4:47 PM

  98. RE #21 & “Shame on RealClimate for turning a serious scientific subject into a bet. If these authors are wrong please use the scientific method – evidence, reasoning, and yes climate models (if predictions vary) to convince others.”

    Actually, this is good for me. I don’t understand a whole lot of climate science. Much of it goes over my head. But I do respect the expertise of the RC scientists. So any of them saying they’ll bet serious money that there will not be these 10 year average cooling or stable periods is just the kind of info I need.

    Of course, I will also attempt to struggle thru their scientific explanations (Stephan did say he’d get to that in a later post), at least for a paragraph before throwing up my hands in surrender and turning back.

    So now I have this idea that there probably won’t be a cooling period. And we really could have used one.

    So it’s back to square one — prayer: “Heat, heat go away, little Johnny wants to thrive. And don’t come again another day.”

    And back to good old GHG emissions reduction.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 May 2008 @ 4:56 PM

  99. Phillip Shaw: I don’t have the most recent data at hand, but coal burning in China released about 25 million tons of SO2 in 2005. The increase Kilauea remissions may be smaller than the SO2 emission reductions that China is implementing to look clean during the Olympics.

    Comment by silence — 9 May 2008 @ 5:00 PM

  100. In #79, Phillip Shaw wrote:

    “The latest SO2 figures for the ongoing Kilauea eruption is that the two active vents are releasing more than 3,300 tons per day. Which will total more than a million tons of SO2 this year if the eruption continues.

    Will this have a measureable effect on climate?”

    Probably not. Kilauea lava is not very viscous, which means the eruptions are not explosive and do not inject the SO2 into the stratosphere. You might expect some temporary cooling of the ocean not to far downwind from Hawaii, but nothing more.


    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 9 May 2008 @ 5:39 PM

  101. [edit]

    On the off chance, then, an observation: why would an escape clause be needed in the event of a volcanic eruption? Aren’t all natural and anthropogenic projections, in the aggregate, included in models that purport to be good predictors?

    [Response: Because volcanoes are not predictable and do not form part of the Keenlyside et al experiment. Thus if one occurs then their scenario will no longer be valid, and the test moot. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 9 May 2008 @ 5:41 PM

  102. Authors,

    There is a flaw in your betting proposal (unless I missed it above or in the subsequent comments). There is no expiration date! As is, the other team can wait 5 years to accept the bet! Legal scholars you’re not.

    Comment by Chris — 9 May 2008 @ 5:49 PM

  103. Re 80:

    Has anyone modeled and published the effects of anthropogenic Chinese/ Indian aerosol emissions on monsoonal/ SE Asian climate?

    Comment by C. W. Magee — 9 May 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  104. Re 102: ” Legal scholars you’re not.”

    Which is to their credit. I once went hunting with a neighbor who happened to be an attorney. We encountered a panther and he started running. I told him it was useless, that he couldn’t outrun a panther. He said that he didn’t have to outrun the panther,he just had to outrun me!

    Referring to Lynn’s comment: “So now I have this idea that there probably won’t be a cooling period. And we really could have used one.”

    There could still be regional cooling in places like in the north Atlantic, which could slowdown melting on Greenland, and give the world an opportunity to take advantage by putting the reduction of GHGs on the front burner asap to mitigate the effects of albedo reduction and sea level rise from that source, when the heat returns.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 9 May 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  105. Re #64: Ray Ladbury, The type of prediction being tried in the new paper is certainly an initial values problem, much the same as weather prediction. Collins (2002) investigated this type of climate prediction, and found limited skill using a few metrics, in a few regions (one of these included the north Atlantic). In most areas there was essentially no skill. Now keep in mind that these runs assumed perfect initialization, and a perfect model, neither of which are possible in reality. Therefore, I have concluded that these types of forecasts likely have a poor chance of showing any skill, ever. Even if the initial atmosphere/ocean state could be estimated in an accurate quantitative manner, these will likely still hit the predictive wall owing to chaos. Remember that the ocean has a very long memory of initial conditions, and I doubt you wash these out even in multi-decadal predictions, but certainly not in decadal forecasts. Now it is a very big leap of faith to hold that initial conditions definately will not matter for multi-decadal evolution of the climate system as external forcing is perturbed. A big assumption is made that the natural variability of the ocean/atmosphere gets averaged out, and that this leads to no multi-decadal trend (statistical stability of the climate system). The only solid evidence of this is not observation, but rather another hypothesis, which is the model climate itself. Ray, what do you think happens to the system if there are a succession of big El Ninos followed by weak La Ninas or long neutral conditions. Then another big El Nino and a weak La Nina. Now flip the sequence over another period. These must have an important effect on latent and sensible heat fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere, and ultimately influence the TOA radiative imbalance and the ocean heat storage. Now if the AOGCMs are not skillfully simulating tropical variability, you explain to me how they can possibly correctly model cloud and water vapor feedback correctly, and ultimately skillfully simulate the heat storage changes in the system? Think about this. The long memory in the ocean may mean it is still responding to intial conditions from sometime ago, and much of the intrinsic variability of the system is dictating these big radiative fluxes from ocean to atmosphere. Yes the GHG external forcing is giving the system a shove in the direction of warming, but there is a bunch more taking place. So with this reasoning, I have convinced myself that the initial conditions and short term variability of the ocean/atmosphere may well be very important in influencing the ultimate longer term trajectory of the climate system. The main longer term influence of relatively modest GHG forcing is to increase the probability that longer-term evolution of the system will be toward warming. Skillfully predicting the magnitude of such warming over even a multi-decadal time span is overselling the science in my opinion. Then trying to downscale to make regional predictions in this time frame borders on foolish. You are free to disagree.

    Comment by Bryan S — 9 May 2008 @ 8:02 PM

  106. Here’s another reference to this post at

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 May 2008 @ 8:36 PM

  107. Tamino (94) or H. Roberts (85)

    I will defend the science/logic and sociological arguments for the following bets.

    1)The planet will abruptly cool because of the current solar magnetic cycle change. The solar cycle has been interrupted, cycle 24 will not appear. There be a recognized direct connection to planetary cloud cover and solar magnetic cycle changes and to galactic cosmic ray (GCR) changes. GCR has and will continue to increase until mid 2009.
    2)Next winter will be the coldest winter in 50 years. There will be crop failures next spring and summer due to early and late frosts.
    3)Global cooling will become a recognized environmental problem, in 2009. There will be proposals presented to stop global cooling.
    4)The deep issues discussed in Anne Leonard’s story of stuff video will be discussed in 2009.

    I do not have an answer to the problems raised by Anne Leonard.

    Solar magnetic cycle update. Cycle 24 is a year over due, there are currently no sunspots.

    Ocean temperature anomalies.

    Comment by William Astley — 9 May 2008 @ 8:54 PM

  108. Is it so unreasonable for someone to be curious as to what exactly is offsetting the greenhouse gas warming in the paper?

    Yes, indeed it is.

    From fundamental thermodynamics, if heat is being retained at the surface, and in fact is not radiating into space because of some feedback effects (clouds or whatever …) then it must be going into a colder reservoir, and we know exactly where those reservoirs are. Admittedly with the loss of Cryosat were are a bit behind the curve, and the response of the thermocline and deep sea currents is problematic at best, there is no question where the heat is going.

    It’s melting ice and warming the ocean.

    It’s a trivial thermodynamic result.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 9 May 2008 @ 9:27 PM

  109. Because volcanoes are not predictable and do not form part of the Keenlyside et al experiment. Thus if one occurs then their scenario will no longer be valid, and the test moot. – gavin

    Yes, but to win the bet you need warming, or at least less cooling, and you get that based on models that oppose the Keenlyside. Presumably you think the warmer models are more accurate, so is volcanic activity and the resultant cooling haze built into those or not? That’s my point — are the predictive models complete? And if not, what’s the utility of any model that needs to be excused when natural events occur?

    [Response: Neither set of models have future volcanoes. Instead their trends are determined by the intrinsic variability in the climate and the far more predictable increases in greenhouse gases. Think of it like a train schedule – that is a prediction for when the train will leave but it doesn’t account for random things that might happen and so when they do, the schedule is thrown off. Yet there is still utility in having a schedule. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 9 May 2008 @ 9:43 PM

  110. Re Phillip Shaw #89:

    To create links in your posts use the following HTML code
    <a href=”>This text appears in the post.</a>
    Test it with the preview button before you post, it’s easy to get it wrong.

    Gavin, I found this intriguing remark by you in the comments to the

    # John Says:
    27 May 2007 at 1:37 PM

    I am running a distributed model for I would just as happily run one for realclimate. … [snip] … Thanks and if you need some of my cpu cycles, I will be glad to donate.

    [Response: Watch this space… – gavin]

    Should we continue watching the space, or did you give up on the idea?

    [Response: Continue to watch, but have patience. – gavin]

    Comment by Craig Allen — 9 May 2008 @ 10:06 PM

  111. Re # 75 John Franklin: “…RealClimate has reduced its level of discussion to that of slightly intoxicated researchers shooting the breeze after hours.I know such discussions take place. I just don’t come to RealClimate to read them.”

    Hmmm…that is precisely why I do come to RC. This is a blog, afterall. If I want peer-reviewed science, I’ll read the peer-reviewed journals, or IPCC reports. Instead, like Harold Pierce, Jr. (#93), I want to know what the climatologists really think, unconstrained by the formalities of a journal article. Since I can’t afford to attend AGU meetings, and wouldn’t be invited to drink beer with the scientists if I did attend, this blog is the next best thing to being there, or to sitting in on one of their laboratory meetings (or, joining their Friday afternoon sessions at the pub).

    As for allegations that this post will hurt climatalogists’ credibility, I say, Give me a break! With all do respect to the RC staff, I think some of the critics of this post greatly overestimate the influence RC has on the general public’s understanding of global warming. At least in the U.S., if the general public knows anything about global warming (and, clearly, many people don’t), they probably learned it learned it from television, newspapers, news magazines, and, dare I say it, An Inconvenient Truth. I seriously doubt that millions of people are rushing home from work each day to read the latest RC post.

    I’m not qualified to judge if the proposed wager is sound scientifically, or statistically, but as long as neither side has the power to alter the climate in order to win the bet, I’m confident the bet will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on the earth’s climate. Therefore, I see no reason to get upset about it. Your time and energy might be better spent debating the potential impact of the proposed summer-time moratorium on federal gasoline tax on CO2 emissions. Or, debating the scientific issues that prompted this wager in the first place.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 9 May 2008 @ 10:43 PM

  112. Dhogaza@92

    “It is when that person is Jim Cripwell, whose postings here make it clear that he’s a denialist …”

    My hunch is his question in part stems from discussions between gusbobb and Gavin concerning gusbobb’s notions of ocean heat loss.

    According to earlier discussions with Gavin on the Galactic Glitch he says that the ocean will respond to the atmospheric forcing to achieve equilibrium with radiative input, so if this cooling trend further supported, by his own logic he would have to admit that the there is less input.

    [Response: Not really. The Nature study is talking about changes associated with ocean circulation even while CO2, and the global imbalance, and global temperature, is increasing. It is exactly what we’ve been trying to explain. – gavin]

    Recently there was a press release about a paper written by J. Willis:

    The Mystery of Global Warming’s Missing Heat

    Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it’s probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.

    That can’t be directly measured at the moment, however.

    “Unfortunately, we don’t have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they’ve been playing during this period,” Trenberth says.

    It’s also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it’s possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don’t know about. It’s an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate….

    Perhaps this exchange between gusboob and Gavin is what is driving his question:

    You can cry foul JE but you misplace the lag time effect. The lag time effect refers to the effect of heat stored in the ocean and subsequently released to warm land temperatures. I hope that clears the ice for you.

    [Response: That one is almost worth a red card. The increased heat in the oceans doesn’t get ‘released’ to warm the land – it pretty much just stays there. The land warms because of the forcings (either solar or GHG etc.) and that is only delayed by the siphoning of heat to the oceans. – gavin]


    In earlier conversation you adamantly said heat does not leave the ocean. So where does the heat come from so that El Nino will cause a record breaking year?

    Jim Cripwell:

    I think I understand the analogy as it pertains to the actual Atlantic Meridional Overturning, but I cannot follow how it explains what happens to the heat that accumulates as a result of AGW in, for example, the Sahara Desert, the Amazon Rain Forest, Antartica and Siberia.

    According to the press release, the Willis paper found the ocean was cooling slightly, but also found no corresponding reduction in SLR. Doesn’t that sort of point to the heat going deeper in the ocean?

    Comment by JCH — 9 May 2008 @ 10:48 PM

  113. Unless I read the WRONG paper, and I followed the link provided here, what I read
    doesn’t seem to jive with any of the comments, other than one, that is being posted here.
    What I got out of the paper was that their prediction hinges on

    …”the current Atlantic meridional overturning circulation will weaken to its long-term mean; moreover, North Atlantic SST and European and North American surface temperatures will cool slightly, whereas tropical Pacific SST will remain almost unchanged. “….

    And if such were to happen, isn’t their thinking along historical lines, another words they are more or less echoing a set of circumstances that predicated and brought in cold times in Europe
    in the past due to a weak gulf stream that carries the warm weather up into Europe’s latitudes.

    And this was released this week by UCAR

    Climate Models Overheat Antarctica, New Study Finds
    NCAR & UCAR Press Releases, (07 May 2008)

    “”Computer analyses of global climate have consistently overstated warming in Antarctica, concludes new research by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Ohio State University.”…”The error appeared to be caused by models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere, the new study concludes. The reason may have to do with the cold Antarctic atmosphere handling moisture differently than the atmosphere over warmer regions.Part of the reason that Antarctica has barely warmed has to do with the ozone hole over the continent. The lack of ozone is chilling the middle and upper atmosphere, altering wind patterns in a way that keeps comparatively warm air from reaching the surface. “…

    Comment by Cheska — 9 May 2008 @ 11:12 PM

  114. Regarding 91: “Have to agree with the crowd here, I think this is a poor way to judge confidence in the findings of the paper and a little below the level of discourse expected here.”

    Puhleez, this is how humans resolve it. Get off your high horse.

    Comment by pdm — 9 May 2008 @ 11:26 PM

  115. Actually as a framing device, I think the bet is a very good idea. Sometimes it just takes brute force to make people listen whenever science is the topic at hand.

    Comment by Geoff — 10 May 2008 @ 12:10 AM

  116. re #41+79

    The EOS Aura satellite has some good plots of the Sulfur dioxide from Chaiten, many orders of magnitude lower than Pinatubo (15-20Mt SO2)… so far.

    Comment by Alf Jones — 10 May 2008 @ 4:30 AM

  117. #103 CW Magee,

    Have you read this?
    “Atmospheric brown clouds: Impacts on South Asian climate and hydrological cycle” Ramanathan 2005.
    Or this:
    “Warming trends in Asia amplified by brown cloud solar absorption.” Ramanathan 2007

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 10 May 2008 @ 4:34 AM

  118. Ray Ladbury (no 64) “However, we must weigh the consequences of the event as well as its probability, and over time, probabilities–and therefore risks–increase. If we have a threat with a possible consequence of the destruction of human civilization, we cannot dismiss that threat until we are certain that there is zero probability of that threat being realized.”

    The climate threat with the highest chance of destroying human civilization would be the next ice age. Are we dismissing that, or doing something to reduce its probability to zero?

    “The science of climate change is sufficiently settled that it is unlikely that what we learn in the future–and we have much to learn–is unlikely to significantly alter the likely consequences of a business as usual approach. We now have to look at how business as usual must change to become business as sustainable.” No argument with this. But we are a long way from having the knowledge or the technologies to genuinely achieve this goal. (BTW, the second “unlikely” in the quoted passage should be “likely” or words to that effect.)

    Comment by Alex Heyworth — 10 May 2008 @ 5:43 AM

  119. wmanny, perhaps you could come up with a model-crystal ball interface so the models could include this important effect on the WEATHER!!!! Until that point, all one can do is look at various runs with various volcanic aerosol contributions for potential effects and include a mean contribution in the models.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 6:13 AM

  120. Alex Heyworth, Jim Hansen’s work has suggested that we are very unlikely to have an ice age with CO2 as high as it currently is. Therefore, I would say that the probability is certainly fairly remote. Also, I would contend that some of the warming scenarios Lovelock has painted hold equally grim prospects for human civilization and are more probable.
    I agree, that a lot of work is needed to achieve sustainability, but starting now by serious conservation efforts, investment in alternative energy sources, etc. is a start and buys us the time we need to achieve this goal (hopefully, at least).

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 6:19 AM

  121. RE, Re #56, Another article appeared in the UK Daily Telegraph the other day regarding the Antarctic computers models being inaccurate for this region.

    However the DT tone for this article is far more downbeat and you would expect from a boradsheet newspaper.

    Comment by pete best — 10 May 2008 @ 6:28 AM

  122. Those who think that betting on scientific matters trivialises the issues should be aware that there is something of a tradition among scientists of betting on scientific outcomes.

    For example, in 1997 Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne made a bet with John Preskill of the California Institute of Technology who had argued that information carried by an object entering a black hole was not destroyed. Hawking famously lost when he changed his mind some 30 years after declaring that information entering a black hole would be destroyed. The prize in this instance was an encyclopedia “from which information could be freely retrieved”.

    Another well known, still-unresolved bet was made by futurist Ray Kurzweil when he wagered $10000 against Lotus Development Corp founder, Mitchell Kapor. Kapor believes that “by 2029 no computer – or “machine intelligence” – will have passed the Turing Test” while Kurzweil takes the opposing view.

    Ther are many others, as Hank Roberts link (#85) shows.

    Comment by GT — 10 May 2008 @ 6:38 AM

  123. Ref 112 from RCH “Doesn’t that sort of point to the heat going deeper in the ocean?”
    and # 108 Thomas Lee Elifritz “From fundamental thermodynamics, if heat is being retained at the surface, and in fact is not radiating into space because of some feedback effects (clouds or whatever …) then it must be going into a colder reservoir, and we know exactly where those reservoirs are. Admittedly with the loss of Cryosat were are a bit behind the curve, and the response of the thermocline and deep sea currents is problematic at best, there is no question where the heat is going.
    It’s melting ice and warming the ocean.”

    I do not hide the fact that I am a denialist. However, I am a scientist as well. If the heat we are wondering where it “hides” is, in fact, going into the oceans, then it cannot be going into the surface of the oceans, otherwise these would heat up, and the average global temperatures would rise. The forecast, from Keenleyside, is that this is not going to happen. So the heat must be going into the deep oceans. Simple physics says that warmer water is lighter, and therefore this heat should rise to the surface. I know it is much more complicated that this, and I know my physics isn’t good enough to work it out. But I can understand any arguments, based on fundamental physics, that proves this is the meachanism I am looking for. What I am looking for is a properly argued discussion that proves that a process that “hides” the heat in the deep oceans,(or anywhere else for that matter) exists. Until such a detailed paper has been published, I simply cannot accept the idea that this heat can “hide” anywhere. To me, this is simply, inadequate science.

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 10 May 2008 @ 6:40 AM

  124. Alex Hayworth writes:

    The climate threat with the highest chance of destroying human civilization would be the next ice age. Are we dismissing that, or doing something to reduce its probability to zero?

    Dismissing it. The next ice age is due 20,000-50,000 years from now. It’s something that can be calculated with fair accuracy, since it depends on the Earth’s orbit and other astronomical factors.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 May 2008 @ 6:52 AM

  125. BryanS, I would qualify the effort as extremely difficult of having limited probability of success rather than foolish. It is hardly a frivolous undertaking. And one can always envision a scenario that invalidates assumptions of the model. The question is how probable these scenarios are. Are such asymmetric ENSO patterns the norm. It is more likely that the events will follow some sort of probability distribution. And even if there were no predictability, I don’t know of any scientist worth his salt who would throw up his or her hands and declare defeat.
    In any case, the purpose of modeling is not necessarily predition, but rather to gain insight into the problem and–from a risk mamagement perspective–to explore the probability space. Neither of these goals is foolish.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 6:56 AM

  126. Simple physics says that warmer water is lighter, and therefore this heat should rise to the surface. I know it is much more complicated that this, and I know my physics isn’t good enough to work it out. But I can understand any arguments, based on fundamental physics, that proves this is the mechanism I am looking for. What I am looking for is a properly argued discussion that proves that a process that ‘hides’ the heat in the deep oceans,(or anywhere else for that matter) exists.

    I just gave you one, simple, direct and to the point.

    Heat doesn’t hide, it’s energy, it’s always there. It’s what drives the atmospheric circulation and the ocean currents that mix the upper warm layers of the ocean with the deeper colder layers, and vice versa.

    The oceans aren’t static, they circulate, as observed.

    Did you miss the rotation of the Earth as well?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 10 May 2008 @ 7:05 AM

  127. Jim Cripwell, OK, now I know you can figure this out. Temperature is not the only determinant of density–there’s also salinity and even CO2 content. Even turbulence can change the amount of mixing from below. There are several places on Earth where cold water upwells continually–just ask the fishermen, as they are the most fertile areas of the oceans. The thing is that unless there is a permanent change, such events average out over time. And if we are talking a permanent change, that bodes ill–from the point of view of ocean fertility and for stability of greenhouse gasses sequestered in the briny deeps.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 7:10 AM

  128. re #124

    The science of the next Ice Age must very “proven” since Barton tells us we can calculate it with “fair accuracy” to a 30,000 year range.

    Don’t give a lecture about the Milankovitch cycles. There also a number of known problems with the theory, which means we still may have something to learn, even if it may be mostly right.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 10 May 2008 @ 8:15 AM

  129. Ref 127. OK, and fair enough. But what I am looking for is a paper giving the DETAILED physics as to how the heat in the Keenleyside paper “hides” for 10 years or more. I am quite sure there are all sorts of hypotheses as to how this happens. But no-one seems to be able to come up with a reference giving, as I note, the detailed physics. Until I can read such a paper, my funny internal feelings tell me that there is no viable mechanism as to how this can happen. We are, I hope, talking science. Where and what is the reference I am looking for?

    Comment by Jim Cripwell — 10 May 2008 @ 8:19 AM

  130. Barton wrote

    “The next ice age is due 20,000-50,000 years from now. It’s something that can be calculated with fair accuracy, since it depends on the Earth’s orbit and other astronomical factors.”

    Obviously I (and I suspect many others) are ill-informed on this question, since I had no idea that the timing was known with such accuracy. I’d be grateful for some pointers on where to read up on it.

    Comment by Alex Heyworth — 10 May 2008 @ 8:30 AM

  131. Jim, The reason you can’t find it is because the heat isn’t hiding. If it goes into the briny deep, it has a tiny effect on the huge mass of water. All that has to happen is you get more upwelling of cold water–as happens with La Nina, and we know that can have significant effect. That’s that much more cold water at the surface that needs to be heated up. Such a state is, however, not sustainable. Eventually, the situation turns around. Now, you have less upwelling cold water to heat up, and you get more warming–as in El Nino (a la 1998).

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 8:36 AM

  132. Re #129 Jim Cripwell: “Where and what is the reference I am looking for?”

    You say you are a scientist – if that is true, then you should know now to search the peer-reviewed literature for the information you are seeking. Check the references cited in the Keenleyside paper, and the references those papers cite. Search the oceanography and climatology journals. Do a Google Scholar search. Those are the things that real scientists do when they are searching for specific information. And if you are totally incapable of looking for information outside of RC, then check the links provided on the site and in the posts by the RC moderators – this site has tremendous resources, if you bother to use them. But, don’t expect the readers of RC, most of whom are not climate scientists or oceanographers, to do your work for you.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 10 May 2008 @ 8:40 AM

  133. A lot of people really have a distorted idea of both the purpose of scientific model. First, the purpose is not to get an “answer,” but rather to gain insight into the phenomenon. As such the goal is to identify those elements that are most important in the model, nail those down and then 1)bound and 2)quantify the contributions of of secondary factors. With regard to climate models, we have a good fix on the main factors and have good bounds on most of the secondary factors. One could even argue that since most of the uncertainty resides on the high sides of the estimates, that the models are a conservative treatment–certainly from a risk perspective.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 8:58 AM

  134. The ARGO buoys found the oceans to be colder than expected. The Nature paper forecasts a cooler ocean region.

    The big stuff about the ocean that Thomas LF is referring to, surely those were incorporated into the original expectation by which this coolness has been determined to be whatever – unexpected?

    Even a noted climate scientist (Trenberth) is quoted as sort of wondering out loud about the mystery of where this expected heat is ‘hiding”. If this is such a simple issue, then why was he wondering? When interviewed by the press, he obviously did not know the exact answer to this simple question.

    I’ve read various presentations as to how deep the ARGO system is gathering data – from the upper 700 meters to more than twice that. The press release on the WIllis paper seemed to indicate findings that sea level and surface temperature were somewhat at odds. Why would that be? If the heat simply went down under, why would the scientist who wrote the paper have an expectation of SL drop? Is the expansion of a better-mixed ocean equal to that of a normally, temperature wise, layered ocean?

    On the Keenlyside paper and the denialosphere, the denialists seem to think Keenlyside and the RC group are on opposing sides as to AGW. Unless I totally misunderstand the Keenlyside work, they are not at all on opposing sides. That is the only downside I see to this bet. It belies their extensive agreements. They’re perceiving this like Monkton stalking Al Gore.

    Comment by JCH — 10 May 2008 @ 9:12 AM

  135. Until I can read such a paper, my funny internal feelings tell me that there is no viable mechanism as to how this can happen.

    As I said earlier, Jim doesn’t believe that GHG-forced warming is happening, that’s where everything he posts leads, without exception.

    He’s “disproved” global warming in so many different ways one can’t keep track.

    Comment by dhogaza — 10 May 2008 @ 9:12 AM

  136. I think that one might be wise to consider what warming and cooling mean when considering the effects of varying MOC.

    Warming as measured by increased global heat, (heat in greater than heat out) and warming measured as increased globally averaged temperatures are closely linked but are still different things. As the distribution of land and ocean areas in the two hemispheres is markedly different the redistribution of heat via MOC leaves open the possibility of the world getting hotter in the first sense whilst the averaged temperatures only rise a little or stagnate. Alternatively the averaged temperatures could rise significantly with little increase in net heat. This would be purely an effect of the two hemispheres having different thermal properties.

    Such effects can be achieved without needing to “hide” or “find” any heat merely to redistribute it in such fashions that its affect on globally averaged temperatures is minimised or maximised.

    This is obvioulsy not the whole story but it is worth keeping in mind regarding the MOC whose primary effect is to redistribute heat.

    Best Wishes

    Alexander Harvey

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 10 May 2008 @ 9:35 AM

  137. > next ice age
    Alex, your library will be able to get you the Science article referred to here:
    Follow the citations and related links on the page and using search terms you find there. Stay with Google Scholar, there’s much chaff in Google searches on this subject.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2008 @ 10:08 AM

  138. Oh, from the very bottom of that page, the ‘citing articles’ will be helpful, many of those link to more detailed text. One example:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2008 @ 10:11 AM

  139. Given the ‘global warming is stopping’ stuff in the media, this is exactly the kind of thing an interested, scientifically literate (but non climate scientist) wants to read. Keep it up, bets and all. Where I come from, ‘Want a bet?’is fighting talk.

    Comment by Peter McGrath — 10 May 2008 @ 10:16 AM

  140. Jim Cross & others — The next orbital forcing for a stade (massive ice sheets) is about 20,000 years from now. But it is such a weak forcing that perhaps little ice will form. The next one is in 50,000 years and that is respectably large.

    I have this from papers by Archer & Ganapolski, with copies available on David Archer’s publications page. But also see…/Buch/DPG2007_SYEE1.2_Crucifix_AstronomicalTheory_ofPalaeoclimates.doc

    for a more current summary of the state of knowledge regarding major climate ‘cycles’.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 10 May 2008 @ 11:52 AM

  141. I asked Tony Watts over at Watts up with that a question, was wondering what you thought. And please, go gently on me boys, I’m just a layperson & a partial skeptic (I believe CO2 causes warming but haven’t been convinced it’s dangerous. Actually I’m more worried about sootfall on the boreal environment, esp. the tundra permafrost situation).

    Verbatim cut & paste of my question to Tony Watts:

    “…NPR did a bit about the Argo data not finding the warming anticipated by the climate models.

    I was thinking …. the 1998 el Nino burped out a pile of heat & then the next year temperatures dropped almost the same amount in response. Could that be where all that errant heat went?

    This makes me think. The warmist models might be half-right. Could it be that the el Nino / la Nina oscillations are gaining in amplitude. They’re modeling a more-stable system. Could that mean the warmists “natural variations” from Los Ninos are actually reflecting the system’s ability to shed the excess heat they can’t find right now?

    Another aspect could be the upwelling of warm water going into the Arctic. Most of the year Arctic insolation is weak, meaning that the now-open waters have more emissivity outbound than insolation inbound, a 2:1 ratio.

    The gist of this is that the oceans, being real big like they are, are functional heat exchange systems that can shed excess inbound heat from extra warming, making the time constant/heat latency shorter than modeled.

    This would explain why we have ice ages but not heat ages. The oceans tend toward a thermal constant and big El Ninos or Arctic thaws will regulate the backlog by shoving the heat back out into space. The Antarctic fringes would thaw in a likewise manner, dumping heat out in the fall and spring before solar heating takes over.

    This concept wouldn’t exculpate CO2 terribly well for those who’d like to otherwise, but that might explain the discrepancies that are inciting we skeptics and puzzling the warmists.

    I’m also wondering what effect aerosol dimming would have on the surface in the ability of the seas to off-load the heat due to reduced evaporation, and hence, reduced evaporative cooling. I think it’d reduce evaporation in high-aerosol regions but would get offloaded as increased rain clouds elsewhere where surface dimming wasn’t as prevalent (the southern hemisphere?).

    Eventually the heat piles up into a big el Nino like ‘98. Makes me wonder if the 2000-2007 double set of PDO oscillations were unusual in any regard (amplitude, frequency).

    V. Ramanathan, et al, in 2008 noted that the net heating effect of tropospheric brown clouds over the Pacific alone was about 40 percent. That’d reflect a fair amount of surface dimming as well, I reckon (don’t have my handy dandy quick climatology/oceanography data facts almanac handy… :-).

    So the next question is whether that’d moderate direct surface heating since the brown clouds are actually net heat traps, or what that’d do for T-storm strength (although the N. Pacific is seeing unusually big winter T-storms from aerosol cloud seeding).

    So, watt would this mean? Could the next big release of heat show up early, with heat-burps piling out as aerosol shading increases. Bigger amplitude, both ways, since all that heat leaving the system in one big belch makes for big coolth afterwards, tending toward a self-regulating state.

    Is there any merit in this idea? What would the realclimate boys have to say about this?

    Interesting in seeing your reaction.

    Best regards,


    Comment by leebert — 10 May 2008 @ 12:55 PM

  142. Gavin and Ray,

    You appear to contradict each other — one of you states there are no volcanoes in the models, and the other implies that volcanic aerosols are included in the aggregate. It would be good to know which models do attempt to include major eruptions, solar flare-ups, wildfires and the like, which are hardly random on a geological timescale. Ray makes my point, ironically, when he chides me for not having developed an eruption crystal ball. It’s another way of saying we have not yet developed the crystal ball we need to accurately predict future climate. Until we understand how all the various and chaotic climate forcings work, I am afraid we are mere climate alchemists. That greenhouse gas emissions are predictable is not a good excuse for making those emissions the overriding factor in models.

    Walter Manny

    [Response: You are extremely confused. Historical eruptions are of course included in historical model runs. For future scenarios you can either make a WAG about when they might occur or not. For the simulations being talked about here, no volcanoes were included in the future simulations. But if you look at the Hansen et al (1988) paper, they assumed some future eruptions. There is no right answer for this, since we lack any basis to forecast whether a volcanic eruption will happen and what it’s contribution to stratospheric aerosols will be. However, your leap of logic to concluding that there is no point in doing any forecasts unless we know exactly when the volcanoes will erupt is completely fallacious. Climate modellers didn’t make greenhouse gas changes the dominant effect – human civilisation did. We’re just reporting the consequences. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 10 May 2008 @ 1:20 PM

  143. “The climate threat with the highest chance of destroying human civilization would be the next ice age. Are we dismissing that, or doing something to reduce its probability to zero?” – Alex Heywood

    The danger of climate change for human civilization and possibly the human species comes not from ice or heat. It comes because merely rapidly changing the average temperature of a location must upset the ecosystem there. Worldwide average temperature change will upset ecosystems everywhere.

    The best average temperature for the ecosystem earth is the present one, but in the long run it only matters to humans if it is also a stable, sustainable, temperature.

    Comment by catman306 — 10 May 2008 @ 6:01 PM

  144. I’m not confused, Gavin, though I’m guessing that is simply your way of saying we disagree. I merely referred to what you and Ray wrote. (“Neither set of models have future volcanoes” and “mean [volcanic] contribution in the models”). The Hansen piece, which predictions didn’t pan out in any of the famous scenarios, demonstrates the difficulty of getting all the contributions right, though he would argue, and rightly so, that the science was in its infancy in ’88. I would argue that it still is.

    [Response: Hansen’s predictions did as well as you could possibly expect as we have discussed previously. With the scenario closest to the what happened, the temperature trends match the obs with the uncertainty. – gavin]

    It would indeed be a leap of logic for me to say there is no point in doing forecasts, as you infer. Of course we need to do forecasts and to continually measure their accuracy as the models improve. It would be absurd to do otherwise. What we don’t need to do is to base sweeping policy on demonstrably incomplete science. This is what I meant when I said I question the models’ utility. Ray puts it well when he explains the distorted view people have of models, which should be used to get insights rather than answers. Policymakers are only too happy to substitute answers for insights, though, and are given to report that “we know” the human contribution to global warming when, of course, we know no such thing.

    If the recent temperature plateau and/or brief cooling period were to cause the wheels to come flying off the AGW vehicle, so to speak, then it would be the theory’s proponents’ own fault for overstating the case, however noble their motives. When the idiots then went out and purchased ever more SUVs in backlash, I would be more annoyed with the advocates than the skeptics, because there were always more compelling reasons to be good, non-polluting citizens than to save an iceberg or polar bear that was never at risk.

    Comment by wmanny — 10 May 2008 @ 6:45 PM

  145. RE # 129

    Jim Cripwell, your posts are a mile wide and an inc;h deep, in general.

    You said:

    We are, I hope, talking science. Where and what is the reference I am looking for?]

    Find that which you are asking RC to find for you!!! Then, share it.

    Your comment sounds as if you are asking out loud to anyone nearby: “where the heck did I leave my car keys?”

    John McCormick

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 10 May 2008 @ 6:46 PM

  146. The whole “global cooling” bandwagon is a big premature in claiming current temperatures reflect a real change.

    But solar cycle #25 is reasonably forecast to be a half-amplitude dud, with its solar max in 2025. Odds are better than even it’ll be the full onset of a multi-cycle trend.

    And a multi-cycle solar grand minimum of half-amplitude solar cycles can have moderate globe-cooling effects that’ll be felt within continental interiors as longer and colder winters.

    Comment by leebert — 10 May 2008 @ 7:13 PM

  147. Leebert, The oceans are indeed large heat reservoirs (though in fact most of the ocean is quite cold) and can have a big effect for a relatively short time. And indeed there has been some speculation that climate change could affect ENSO. The thing is that while ENSO and other such oscillations are not periodic as such, their net contribution averages out. As Raypierre says, “the sun goes up and down and up and down, and temperature (trend) goes up.” Same goes for ENSO.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 8:54 PM

  148. Walter Manny, Just what should we base policy on if not the insights we gain from sound modeling? And climate models are indeed sound. That is not to say that we don’t still have much to learn, but rather that what we learn is very unlikely to change the important takeaway message: Human activity is adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere and thereby changing the climate. There is very little wiggle room for CO2 sensitivity to change significantly–and most of the uncertainty is on the upside rather than the downside.
    Policy should be optimized to mitigate risk, and the science is unequivocal–climate change poses a serious risk.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 10 May 2008 @ 9:08 PM

  149. leebert Says:
    10 mai 2008 at 7:13 PM
    > … solar cycle #25 is reasonably forecast
    > …. Odds are better than even that ….

    How much are you willing to bet?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2008 @ 9:29 PM

  150. I thought the originally sited article was pro-AGW, reading their discussions does as well. Their models just seem to be predicting a temporary slow down in the heat level due to previously unforeseen alterations in Atlantic Conveyor. If their models turns out to be more accurate, what is the harm.
    I guess I don’t understand why the ‘bet they are wrong, but they won’t bet so that proves they are wrong’ has any place in serious discussions of Climate modeling.

    [Response: This has nothing to do the AGW – instead it is related to how near term predictions are made and received in the media. Everyone involved is already in agreement on the long term effects of CO2. – gavin]

    Comment by T Siefferman — 10 May 2008 @ 11:17 PM

  151. It would indeed be a leap of logic for me to say there is no point in doing forecasts, as you infer. Of course we need to do forecasts and to continually measure their accuracy as the models improve. It would be absurd to do otherwise. What we don’t need to do is to base sweeping policy on demonstrably incomplete science.

    wmanny, science is never absolutely complete. There will always be things that we don’t yet know. We don’t even have a complete science of gravity. Does that mean that we should not formulate sweeping plans like launching of satellites and space stations because we don’t know everything?

    It sounds like you are just looking for a rationalization to avoid dealing with the problem.

    Comment by trrll — 11 May 2008 @ 12:19 AM

  152. To Ray’s “Just what should we base policy on if not the insights we gain from sound modeling?” You are the one who noted the incorrect use of models to get answers rather than insights. I inferred that you meant models should be used, then, for study rather than for policy-making. I now infer that you believe “sound models” can and should be used to get answers, and fair enough. Your reading takes you to the point of view that says human CO2 contributions to climate change are determinative. Mine takes me to a more optimistic place, where among other things I admire the responsible choices many people make when they come to believe in AGW. My pessimistic side, though, says that once AGW is shown to be a trivial factor in the geological swing of things, the backlash will be strong. Were I a cynic, then, I might pretend to be a believer, but I prefer to shoot straight with my students and try to educate them about the myriad other reasons to behave in more sustainable ways. Most of them have been indoctrinated in AGW, but a minority could use some other incentives.

    Comment by wmanny — 11 May 2008 @ 12:23 AM

  153. @ Hank,

    I’m not talking SC#24 max in 2013, but SC #25. And we’d have to wait, um, 17 years for any prediction of its max to actually transpire.

    I guess there’d be two or three different bets. SC #25, then SC #26. And any discernible negative climate effect as of SC #26 max.

    The data behind what I’m citing about SC#25, there are two big indicators: Sunspot group surface speed & cumulative spotless days. The SS group speed has become dog slow, reflecting the plasma energy level in the convective layer. Current spotless day trends like 17th – 19th C solar activity, as do the wolf #’s, etc.

    Honestly it’s anybody’s guess WTF SC #24 will do. Some trendcasts based on 19th century data say the sun’s hibernating, but I haven’t sat down with those data & I think it’s probably premature speculation.

    Comment by leebert — 11 May 2008 @ 1:34 AM

  154. @ Ray,

    > The thing is that while ENSO and other such oscillations
    > are not periodic as such, their net contribution averages
    > out. As Raypierre says, “the sun goes up and down and up
    > and down, and temperature (trend) goes up.” Same goes for
    > ENSO.

    Thanks Ray, that makes sense, but I wonder if there’s more to the story. Scripps & JPL both saying they were expecting a crapload more heat, more than the NPR story is saying has been found. Is the gist of the NPR segment wrong?

    Has anyone seriously looked at amplitude, frequency & phase switch frequency. Even if the amplitude & frequency went up couldn’t the running averages look the same? What I’m driving at is taking the avg high/low bands & looking for increased amplitude differential that’d reflect more total energy throughput with some uptick in sea temperatures.

    If the gist of the NPR segment is correct, where’s the missing heat? It may have been offloaded by heat-exchange mechanisms, like ENSO or open ocean boreal & austreal seas that have less insolation most of the year. Can the system respond to keep a nearly-level thermal constant, via increased local entropies from increased system enthalpy? The result would be negentropic. How dynamic would a system have to be in order to keep up with additional heat loadings?

    Hmmm. I work on cars. When I explain the climate problem to friends I speak of the potential for latent heat getting swept under the rug. Like an engine, the faster you pump energy through it the more heat comes out the radiator. If the radiator is clogged, the heat backlogs in the engine, the engine overheats. If the radiator is in good shape, a motor sheds heat. The heat exchange capacity of the system stays efficient even in 40 degrC b/c it has excess emissive capacity.

    I read about missing heat (Argo), lower-than-modeled RH in the mid- upper-troposphere and marginal increase in WV & my reaction is to wonder if the system has become more energetic but somehow, through various emissive mechanisms, seeks a thermal constant (thermal inertia).

    Stephen Schwartz’ energy paper has been reviewed & SS has accepted a time constant of 8 years as more apropos. How does that jibe with a less-dangerous rate of cumulative heat retention? Can the system keep up w/ the extra energy through other mechanisms?

    But then, they’re really not “artificial variations” if bigger perturbations are caused by increased energy throughput caused by human influences. Artificial variation is misnomer.

    As for risk assessment, here’s my quandary. There’s cost containment to consider in the pursuit of mitigation, not b/c the USA or whoever is a cheapskate, but b/c there are conflicting priorities and we can’t serve them all.

    The soot problem looks more immediate to me b/c of its effects in the boreal environment, particularly the risk of tundral permafrost methane release.



    Comment by leebert — 11 May 2008 @ 2:15 AM

  155. Re: #143

    If you live in the Canadian praries you can see the temperature swing from -40 deg C to almost +40 deg on occasion in the course of a year. I don’t these folks will ever notice a slight increase annual mean temperature. The mean annual temp in Alice Springs has changed hardly at all since 1880.

    Comment by Harold Pierce Jr — 11 May 2008 @ 4:49 AM

  156. I agree with #144 wmanny & “What we don’t need to do is to base sweeping policy on demonstrably incomplete science.”

    Yes, we certainly do need to immediately halt this ridiculous policy of burning fossil fuels and emitting GHGs into the atmosphere until we know for certain that they don’t cause GW. Scientists have been trying and trying for decades to disprove AGW (that’s how science works), and so far all they’ve been able to do is reject the null hypothesis.

    So we really do need to halt this ongoing and dangerous policy of continuing to emit (even increasingly emit) GHGs…at least until they are 99% confident the null hypothesis is correct!

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 May 2008 @ 6:05 AM

  157. Alex Hayworth wrotes:

    “The next ice age is due 20,000-50,000 years from now. It’s something that can be calculated with fair accuracy, since it depends on the Earth’s orbit and other astronomical factors.”

    Obviously I (and I suspect many others) are ill-informed on this question, since I had no idea that the timing was known with such accuracy. I’d be grateful for some pointers on where to read up on it.

    Google “Milankovic cycles.” The Pleistocene ice ages seem to correlate with periodicities in the Earth’s orbital eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession. The theory was first proposed by Milutin Milankovic in 1930, but it wasn’t generally accepted until the 1970s.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 May 2008 @ 6:27 AM

  158. Here’s a paper found in the blogosphere which seems to take on the IPCC and modelling as well no less. I’ve included their conclusions.


    All.examined.long.records.demonstrate.large.overyear.variability (long.term. fluctuations) locations/climates.

    GCMs generally.reproduce.the.broad.climatic.behaviours at.different.geographical. locations.and.the.sequence.of.wet/dry.or.warm/cold.periods.on.a.mean.monthly.scale..

    However, reality;.also,,.generally,. underestimate.the.variance.and.the.Hurst.coefficient.of.the.observed.series;.none.of.the.


    The.GCM.outputs.of.AR4,, the.elements.of.falsifiability they.provide,.because.most.of.the.AR4.scenarios.refer.only. to.the.future,.whereas.TAR.scenarios.also.included.historical.periods..

    They have a point? I dunno.

    PS hope you win your bet.

    [Response: With all due respect to the authors, they do not appear know very much about either TAR or AR4. Looking at the statistics of local temperature and precipitation is useful but picking just a few long records and comparing to the nearest individual grid cells is not sensible. The differences in topography an local micro-climates are probably large and will make a big difference. A better approach would have been to look at aggregated statistics over larger areas. This has in fact been done though – for instance Blender and Fraedrich (2003), and there was a recent paper that looked the AR4 models (in GRL maybe? – I can’t quickly find the reference). The most curious aspect of this paper’s reception in the blogosphere is that the authors use the surface station records which in all other circumstances the cheer squad would be condemning as being horribly contaminated. Just saying. – gavin]

    Comment by Mike Donald — 11 May 2008 @ 7:11 AM

  159. Hank Roberts, thanks for your suggestions. I followed up on them but the results do not seem to me to make the issue as clearcut as I was led to believe by Barton’s comment. For example, this is one of the papers I got to.

    According to these researchers, warming (particularly of tropical oceans) is one of the things that leads to a glacial. They also say

    “A significant part of the current global warming is due to the gradual temperature increase of the tropical oceans. As the changing orbital configuration today resembles that of the last interglacial/glacial transition, the warming is likely to have a natural component.”

    This seems to me to be saying that the Earth is in a similar position in terms of its orbit around the sun to where it was at the onset of the last glacial. So to suggest that it is 20,000 to 50,000 years off apparently wouldn’t be supported by these researchers.

    Comment by Alex Heyworth — 11 May 2008 @ 8:03 AM

  160. Who said science can’t be fun? Isn’t that fun?

    IMHO, the reason this made huge news at least in Europe (where I am now) is because it is mostly in Europe that the large weather prediction centers are pushing this idea of “decadal predictions”. This paper wants to show that IPCC models fail to give decadal predictions although they maybe correct in the longer time scales.

    So this tongue-in-cheek bet is much more than that. Can the weather
    prediction centers do decadal predictions as they claim?

    Comment by Natassa — 11 May 2008 @ 8:22 AM

  161. This seems to me to be saying that the Earth is in a similar position in terms of its orbit around the sun to where it was at the onset of the last glacial. So to suggest that it is 20,000 to 50,000 years off apparently wouldn’t be supported by these researchers.

    You’ve completely misinterpreted what the article states.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 11 May 2008 @ 9:42 AM

  162. Further reading on Milankovic cycles and their influence on our climate has not convinced me that the next glacial must be 20-50 Ky away. This is clearly the view of some researchers (eg Berger and Loutre, Drexler et al), mainly on the basis that the interglacial approximately 400 kya known as marine isotope stage (MIS) 11 is the best analogue for the present interglacial, but even they admit that there is a lot we don’t know about the causes of interglacial/glacial transitions.

    This paper

    concludes that:

    “Much progress has been made in the understanding of glacial-interglacial cycles in
    the past 30 years, since Kukla et al. (1972) predicted that the present interglacial
    would end soon. Nevertheless, the dynamics which govern the glacial-interglacial
    cycles are still not fully understood. The results from Paillard (1998) suggest
    that the glacial-interglacial cycles are indeed driven by insolation, as predicted by
    Milankovitch (1930), since Paillards (1998) simple, orbitally forced model could
    successfully simulate the observed glacial-interglacial cycles of the past 2 million
    years, including the change from the dominant 41 kyr cycle to the 100 kyr cycle
    after the MPR around 900 kyr BP. However, which of the orbital parameters is the
    primary driver of glacial-interglacial cycles remains debated. Vetoretti and Peltier
    (2004) found that glacial inceptions can be caused either by a strong obliquity
    forcing or by a combination of eccentricity-precession forcing and low CO2 values,
    which is in line with results from Berger and Loutre (2001) who found that CO2
    is important during times like the MIS-11, when the insolation variations are
    too small to drive glacial-interglacial cycles. However, Kubatzki (2005) found
    that a simultaneous changes in the perihelion and obliquity forcing is necessary
    to initiate a full glaciation, while obliquity forcing alone or in combination with
    eccentricity forcing is not able to cause a glaciation.”

    While Richard Muller ( that orbital inclination is the key factor, with changes between interglacials and glacials being due to accretion of extraterrestrial dust or meteoroids. Muller makes a strong case that Milankovic cycles, however manipulated, cannot be matched up properly to the transition timeframes.

    To sum up: some researchers think the next glacial is a long way off. Their reasons for thinking this are plausible, but not yet stringently tested. They rely too heavily, imo, on comparisons with a previous interglacial that may or may not be a good match to the current one. Other research suggests that a glacial could be much closer.

    Comment by Alex Heyworth — 11 May 2008 @ 9:44 AM

  163. Alex, we know who the “some researchers think” are, and can read what they’ve published. But your “Other researchers suggest” lacks a cite.

    The researchers who think, as you say, think the orbital parameters give us a long time til the next glacial. We can read that.

    Who are the people who suggest otherwise? Where are you reading the suggestions, who quotes it, what has been published, where is it published? Have you a cite to any research journal?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2008 @ 10:45 AM

  164. How can it get colder unless energy is being reflected back into space before it is absorbed/released by the earth as heat or the energy is being used to warm the oceans to a greater depth. I am presuming that thermalmally expanded water is a less effective heat absorber so the energy penetrates deeper into the ocean?

    Comment by pete best — 11 May 2008 @ 11:06 AM

  165. Reading through the RC stacks last night I found a post that indicated the cooler than expected ocean temperatures were also confirmed at depths below those discussed in a recent peer-reviewed paper.

    I also found an interesting post and response that discussed fresh water possibly being behind sea level not behaving in a way ocean cooling would indicate.

    And I found a post that suggested heat going back into space as being the most likely answer. In the denialospere that will inspire the notion of a “thermostat”, and perhaps even revive Lindzen’s unmentionable.

    Comment by JCH — 11 May 2008 @ 12:43 PM

  166. Alex Heyworth (159) — From the discussion section of the paper you linked:

    “It is therefore likely that the future natural climate development would result in a prolonged continuation of an interglacial type of environment.”

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 May 2008 @ 1:50 PM

  167. Pete Best, If you have more cold water upwelling than normal, that is that much more heat going into the ocean just to maintain the surface temperature. Since the ocean is a huge heat reservoir, it’s overall temperature would only rise marginally. Now, of course this can’t go on forever. Eventually the flow diminishes and even if it did, the effect of CO2 persists for thousands of years–plenty of time to warm the entire ocean. The thing is, the energy can’t be lost into space is because until the atmosphere heats up, the greybody radiation doesn’t increase to restore equilibrium.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2008 @ 1:53 PM

  168. I have left two other comments on this site within this conversation that are dated prior to the comments that are last posted. My comments are not being posted. Are the good folks here at RealClimate blacklisting me?

    [Response: No. But tirades and misrepresentations are not welcome. We work to make this a relatively pleasant place to discourse, if you are not interested in that, comment elsewhere. – gavin]

    Comment by Sean O — 11 May 2008 @ 2:04 PM

  169. “If you live in the Canadian praries you can see the temperature swing from -40 deg C to almost +40 deg on occasion in the course of a year. I don’t these folks will ever notice a slight increase annual mean temperature. The mean annual temp in Alice Springs has changed hardly at all since 1880.”

    You think wrong. As it happens I live on the Canadian Prairies and it’s not unusually for be to be cycling to work in Dec, and back on the road in March. That would have been unthinkable 30 years ago because temperatures would have been -25 deg C. Early springs combined with late falls can have profound impact on a relatively dry ecosystem that depends heavily on spring runoff.

    Comment by L Miller — 11 May 2008 @ 2:13 PM

  170. You can find almost anything here, but if you don’t cite your source, there’s no way to tell if you read a hobbyhorse post or a bit of something out of context. Care to attribute what you say?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2008 @ 2:15 PM

  171. Just been looking at new books on global warming /climate change and guess what.

    This one stands out a tad and Lawsons book. Blimey, I just cannot believe that people are able to get this stuff into print!

    [Response: Never underestimate the need for frequent reinforcement for people who fervently wish something to be true but who know it isn’t. They will buy almost anything to support their illusions. – gavin]

    Comment by pete best — 11 May 2008 @ 3:28 PM

  172. One question nagging me.

    How is it possible that this will have a significant effect, if it should have already been a part of the assumed baseline of the past few decades.

    Has the meridional overturning circulation changed significantly in the past few decades?

    [Response: There is no evidence for an MOC change in recent decades – however the measurements are very noisy and sparse, thus some small changes cannot be ruled out, but they are effectively unknown. – gavin]

    Comment by David Ahlport — 11 May 2008 @ 4:46 PM

  173. Hank, if that was directed at me –

    cooling at depth/lost into space:

    posts 3, 9 and 11

    fresh water:

    post 16

    Posts 14, 42 and 63 are also interesting.

    The above should be considered in context of this later RC article:

    On sea level, I found 122’s response to 119 valuable.

    Comment by JCH — 11 May 2008 @ 4:49 PM

  174. JCH refers to Bryan Sralla’s postings, where he wrote
    “lets assume for a moment that this loss of heat is confirmed, and this heat is not still in the deep ocean (no evidence of this)….” and then in 11 wrote “In respect to heat transport to the deeper ocean, Lyman also took a look at heat changes below 750 meters, and the cooling signal was still quite strong. This does not invalidate the deep ocean hypothesis, but with no viable mechanism proposed to transport this heat, it looks unlikely at this time to be the answer.”

    There’s always something new; the few press reports I’ve seen suggest these very slow currents may go quite deep:
    “… striations are oriented nearly zonally and coherent vertically at least through 700 m depth….”

    Most of the following is paywalled:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2008 @ 5:26 PM

  175. PS, looking up the researcher’s name
    let me backtrack to this:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2008 @ 5:31 PM

  176. I like this bet. It seems the denial people use all sorts of blatant gimmickry and bullishness to make them sound confident, which achieves the goal of stirring up a lot of support among those who don’t think very much. And it seems to me we of the realistic, scientific persuasion need to get our points out to those people too, so it follows that making an unscientific personal challenge to back up good science is a good way to get unscientific people to listen. It makes a scientific debate into a tabloid drama. That way Glenn Beck and O’Reilly might understand it.

    Comment by Howard Garrett — 11 May 2008 @ 8:25 PM

  177. to #151 (trrll) I grant we don’t know what gravity is, but we do know what it does, and nobody feels the need to claim there is a consensus on the issue, so I don’t think the analogy is apt. And I am not looking for a rationalization to avoid dealing with the [AGW] problem. I don’t happen to share your view that there is one.

    to #156 (Lynn) I agree it is ridiculous policy to to keep mindlessly burning fossil fuels, but not because I am worried about GHGs and AGW. I do not think the ends justify the means, and I fear backlash when those means are shown to be groundless. One could argue backlash is already upon us when we look to Europe, which on the one hand is way ahead of us by your way of looking at things, but whose latest actions (Enel in Italy and elsewhere) are to build new coal plants. When Gore overstates the case in Myanmar, as another example, he does a huge disservice to the AGW cause, and those of us seeking cleaner energy for reasons aside from AGW can be heard gnashing our teeth in unison.

    [Response: Please no nonsense about Gore. Read the actual transcript rather than some hachet job from the ‘BMI’. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 11 May 2008 @ 8:39 PM

  178. To those who think this is frivolous, there’s a longstanding tradition of wagers in science. Almost any memoir or history of scientific discoveries contains wagers. I like this wager, although the stake is a little higher than most scientific wagers (my favourite examples being the wagers involving Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking where a year’s worth of Playboy was up for grabs…).

    Comment by Charlie B. — 11 May 2008 @ 9:54 PM

  179. I guess these guys don’t recall the famous Julian Simons bet… those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it… goodluck guys.

    Comment by Richard Guenther — 11 May 2008 @ 10:09 PM

  180. The following article is about the ‘Weather Olympics’ that will be run alongside the Beijing Olympics, in which international teams will compete to predict Beijing’s weather with 36hr forecasts.

    >> Teams prepare for weather Olympics

    Perhaps we similarly need an annual climate forecasting competition. There could be multiple events:

    1. Global average temperature.
    2. Regional average temperatures.
    3. Arctic and antarctic ice extent prediction.
    4. Glacial extent.
    5. El Nino/La Lina prediction, along with predictions for a bunch of other such phenomena.


    And where appropriate there could sub-events for different time periods or for trends rather then absolute values.

    Then we’ll be able to see who’s models and theories stack up to the cold hard facts of reality the best.

    And competing for prizes is a little more dignified than taking bets.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 11 May 2008 @ 10:32 PM

  181. A bit off-topic, I suppose, but the following essay does pertain to making bets on the future (in the form of risk assessment):

    “…People are too complacent. They think it isn’t going to happen here.”Complacency about the prospect of catastrophe can be a “deadly enemy,” warns top investment strategist Barton Biggs in his new book, Wealth, War & Wisdom. The rich are especially vulnerable, Mr. Biggs writes, “because they cherish the illusion that when things start to go bad, they will have time to extricate themselves and their wealth. It never works that way. Events move much faster than anyone expects.”

    How much faith can any of us have that we’ll see devastating events coming? According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, not much.

    Mr. Taleb is a former Wall Street trader who has become a philosopher of probability. He wrote a terrific nonfiction bestseller last year, The Black Swan – the title is his term for a totally unexpected, utterly game-changing event, like 9/11 – that explored the importance of what we falsely think we know.

    The notion that it isn’t going to happen here is an example of a logical fallacy that Mr. Taleb calls confirmation bias. It’s the same mistake made by the turkey that wakes up the day before Thanksgiving convinced that this day is bound to be just as terrific as the last thousand, based on his own experience.

    And then there’s the narrative fallacy, which depends on the human weakness for imposing patterns on data. Because we’re hardwired to interpret facts in terms of a story, Mr. Taleb explains, we erroneously exclude information that doesn’t fit our preferred narrative. It was easy for Americans to believe erroneously that the Iraqis would welcome U.S. invaders as liberators because that conclusion fits the story we like to tell ourselves about human nature and progress….”

    The essay quoted above, by Rob Dreher of the Dallas Morning News, was about an impending global food crisis. And who is taking the lead in ringing the alarm bell? None other than Wall Street Journal financial columnist Brett Arends. Initially, I found it curious that the WSJ op-ed staff would see this issue as a major concern while continuing to deny or downplay AGW (for example, here and here). (I’m not referring to the WSJ news division, which tends to do a reasonable job of reporting on scientific issues, including global warming). However, with the price of food rising much faster than the global mean temperature, I suppose it is really not terribly surprising that financial analysts would seize on the potential catastrophe that is most immediate (especially if there are no major energy companies waging a campaign to confuse the issue). I also read another of Brett Arend’s columns, this one (in dealing with U.S. energy policy (such as it is), and realized that he may not be your typical WSJ oop-ed page columnist; I have to wonder if an essay like the latter would ever run in the WJS.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 11 May 2008 @ 11:19 PM

  182. Hank, Barton , et al

    To think we understand a lot about of Ice Ages when we can only guess whether the next glaciation begins in 20K or 50K years seems self-contradictory on the face of it. If we were really confident in our knowledge, we could say with confidence one or the other.

    The real danger on the cooling side, however, probably isn’t the next onset of the glaciation phase of the Ice Age. It is more likely to be a cooling somewhat like the Little Ice Age which is still largely unexplained.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 12 May 2008 @ 5:31 AM

  183. Incredible misinterpretation of their own results!!!

    The authors say: “Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming”

    Their figure 4 shows: the black graph (“old modell”) and the green graph (“improved modell” are exactly parallel from 1999 (= mean 1994-2004) to 2010 (= mean 2000 to 2010). Both show the same increase from 1999 (mean 1994-2004) to 2005 (mean 2000-2010) and both show constant global temperature from 2005 to 2010. So the result is: the new climate modell shows no influence of the new ocean parameters on the development of the global average temperature from 1999 (mean 1994-2004) to 2010 (mean 2005-2015)!!!

    The standstil of global average temperature predicted by the “improved” modell compared to warming predicted from the “old” modell is nothing that happens in the future, it should have happened (but did not happen) in the past, from 1985 to 1999: The “improved” modell (green graph) shows that the global average temperature did not change from 1985 (= mean 1980-1990) to 1999 (= mean 1994 to 2004). This was completely wrong, as the real development (red graph) shows. Also the “hindcasted” cooling from 1960-1970 did not happen. Why should we trust in the forecasts of this modell, which gave so bad results for the last 14 years of the verification (1985-1999 = mean 1980-1990 to mean 1994-2004)? Even without understanding the work in detail everybody who is able to interpret data should see that the conclusion of the authors cited above doesn´t make any sense.

    Comment by UNSICHERHEITSRAT — 12 May 2008 @ 5:31 AM

  184. The consensus answer to Jim Cripwell’s question would appear to be that if you compared their forecast run with the projection run, the ocean heat content would be slightly higher in the forecast run in 2015. The difference can be measured in the models, but it would probably be much less than measurement uncertainty in the real world.

    Comment by Steve Milesworthy — 12 May 2008 @ 5:57 AM

  185. re #129 Jim Cripwell:

    I belatedly happened upon this. It’s easy for me to provide Cripwell the references he seeks. There’s a detailed discussion of the history of Milankovich cycle science on my Website, and some references that give the key points on future projections may be found in a note at

    This is a historical essay so there may be some more recent calculations I haven’t noticed, but the papers cited in that note remain valid. Read on to the end of the essay for recent questioning of how well we understand all this.

    Comment by Spencer Weart — 12 May 2008 @ 6:46 AM

  186. Re. 168. Gentlemen, I do not think that my comments on your site fall into the “tirade and misrepresentation” bucket. If you think that I am putting up a misrepresentation then publish it and poke holes in my logic. I wasn’t doing a tirade because I was simply responding to other comments that were left. I see no reason for you to hold back my comments. Do you really mean to be so Orwellian? I begin to wonder how many other comments get edited out because they are critical of your logic.

    [Response: Critical of our logic? none. Accusing us of unethical behaviour because you misunderstand completely the nature of this proposal. One. If you want to discuss logic do so – if you want a platform for overblown rhetoric take it elsewhere. Hint – this wager has nothing to do with who’s the better scientist, it is all to do with how new research results play out in the public perception. The forecast for the first decade has almost no chance of being correct, and the one for the second decade implies a degree of natural variability that is significantly larger than their model generates on their own or is seen in the obs. Yet, the forecast was seized upon all over the media as a likely, nay probable, truth. Bets like this are useful ways of examining confidence in predictions – any trivial wager would be accepted immediately since there is nothing to lose, while having it be something more substantial requires reflection on the benefit of accepting (public respect) vs the probable loss. They are only useful when the prediction is for something concrete and limited, and where there is a mismatch between what people say and what is likely. – gavin]

    Comment by Sean O — 12 May 2008 @ 7:37 AM

  187. To think we understand a lot about of Ice Ages when we can only guess whether the next glaciation begins in 20K or 50K years seems self-contradictory on the face of it. If we were really confident in our knowledge, we could say with confidence one or the other.

    We know enough about ice ages and global warming to definitively say that the next ice age ain’t coming, not now, not in 20,000 years and not in 50,000 years. Period.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 May 2008 @ 9:45 AM

  188. wmanny in 177 — don’t you suppose, if there were a well-funded assault on the “so-called theory of gravity” by the political right (say, with funds provided by American Airlines for research positions at right-wing think tanks, economists writing op-eds about how dealing with gravity prevents us from fighting malaria in Africa, engineers writing blog comments pointing out that their personal expertise makes it clear that this “gravity” thing is just a fiction made up to get grant monies, and others popping up to note that if science can’t solve the three-body problem we can’t possibly say with enough certainty what the effects of this alleged gravity might be), that physicists might spend some of their time pointing out that the science on this point really has been settled for quite some time now, and that the physics community is in agreement about the underlying nature of the effect?

    The emphasis on the existence of consensus by the defenders of science is entirely a result of the assault by denialists who insist (falsely!) that the science on this subject isn’t settled. In other words, the consensus issue is one that was raised by those claiming there was none — you will find that biologists involved in evolution-creationism disputes also frequently point out that scientists have reached consensus on evolution (although perhaps not in those words), and in both cases this protestation is raised only because it is a (true!) refutation of an opposing talking point.

    Comment by JBL — 12 May 2008 @ 10:00 AM

  189. Regarding the response to 186 from Gavin:
    But that is the fallacy of your logic. The authors of the original study already put something of value on the line with the publishing of their study – they opened themselves, their reputation, and their study up for review, analysis, critique and (ultimately) ridicule if they blew it. You, however, have not offered anything of value in your ridicule outside of exercising the right for all to critique another’s paper. Now you are asking them to double down on their analysis while you are just putting down part of the bet. How does piling on with 2500 Euros make it better? Unless I misread the paper in question, they did not single out any of the authors of this site as being wrong or doing bad work.

    And why 2500? Why not make it 10,000 or 100,000? That would increase its significance. At what point does the penalty of “the side bet” become a deterrence to science? If they accept this bet, does this mean that all studies that are published in Nature should be ready to defend their conclusions from all comers with side bets?

    Also, why this particular prediction that causes the need for this site to stand up and take such a strong stance. I didn’t see anyone here betting against (or for) Dr. Gray’s recent hurricane prediction. Maybe it was because the seven (6 authors plus Gavin) agreed with Dr. Gray but surely there has been at least one other scientific study and prediction that you thought was inaccurate – will you be betting on that one as well? Can we anticipate this behavior against all predictions that you don’t agree with?

    I hope that you can see why I believe that your logic is flawed. I would not be fighting this cause so aggressively if this was a gentleman’s bet (see my other comments – published and unpublished). I find gentleman’s bets to be perfectly within the realm of scientific discussion but 2500 Euros is too significant of a price such that the price becomes the discussion point and not the science itself.

    I am sure that you disagree and perhaps I am unaware of other major scientific bets. Please cite other references of scientific bets that exceed the gentleman’s bet category (e.g. the various Hawking bets). I honestly am not aware of a scientific study that the authors accepted a significant sum of money bet against their conclusions. If this is common place than please accept my apology but if it is not then please revise your bet to gentleman’s status and move on with scientific discussion.

    [Response: I was not involved in the discussions over this bet, but I don’t see a problem with it. If they wanted to negotiate something different, I’m sure the others would be amenable. I don’t see the connection with Gray’s forecast at all. His forecasts and track record are well known and anyone taking note of it will obviously factor that in. The issue here is that people have taken way too seriously a prediction that has no track record at all. A bet is a good way of seeing how seriously the authors take it. As has been hypothesised elsewhere, it seems unlikely that they would accept the bet at any level. We will see. – gavin]

    Comment by Sean O — 12 May 2008 @ 1:36 PM

  190. Gavin, I can understand why you might not decide to publish this first paragraph — it would be embarrassing for you — but for you to accuse me of taking my cues from a BMI “hatchet job” (I don’t know what BMI is, by the way) is so unfair I almost don’t know how to respond. I’m not sure what you think is to be gained by laying the “nonsense” bit on me. If you don’t print the next part, though, I will know you are not sincere in what you say, and move on. I am sure NPR has the audio transcript if you want to listen yourself.

    To the “hatchet job” inference (#177), I listened with my ears and nobody else’s to the May 6th ‘Fresh Air’ interview, when Gore moved from an ethanol/food price debate, to his joke about some minister’s absurd believe that Katrina was New Orleans’ punishment for a gay pride parade, to his clear inference that Myanmar and, previously, Bangladesh, are part of an emerging consensus that the trend towards more Category 5 and stronger storms appears to be linked to AGW, specifically the heating of the upper oceans, driving convection energy, etc. He offered the caveat that you can’t attribute a single storm to global warming, and then he moved on directly to say that, in fact, you can:

    “And as we’re talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated. And last year a catastrophic storm from last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China – and we’re seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming.”

    He then moves on to polar icecap melting. If some right-wing nut jobs characterized the quotation as evidence of Gore going off the deep end, that’s their business. I would characterize it, did characterize it, as Gore overstating the case. The double-speak about hurricanes is not new, and you hear the construction all the time: while scientists have not yet established a clear link between global warming and individual hurricanes, nevertheless the trend towards more and stronger storms is likely a result of AGW, etc. I believe Gore did a disservice when he linked Myanmar to AGW — at the very least, with his poor timing, he opened himself up to understandably harsh criticism.

    [Response: You are either fooling yourself, being fooled or being disingenuous. The quote you have from Gore is out of context. The statement about consequences was in a sentence concerning the polar ice cap, not hurricanes. He specifically stated and you heard that “any individual storm can’t be linked singularly to global warming ” and yet you appear to think he said the exact opposite. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 12 May 2008 @ 3:10 PM

  191. Funny thing, the HADCrut data that these guys are using has already shown a cooling trend since 2005. 2006 was cooler than 2005, and 2007 cooler than 2006. And 2008 has a very good shot at being cooler than 2007. So according to that data, the trend is already going the way they predict…

    Comment by Jared — 12 May 2008 @ 3:44 PM


    See RC’s response to #33 for correct interpretation of plot.

    Comment by Alf Jones — 12 May 2008 @ 4:02 PM

  193. To Gore’s statement, what can I say? You obviously did not listen to the audio transcript, and it appears you have no intention to do so and are relying on others to tell you what he said. Why anyone would pay attention to the biases of the Drudge Report or the Wonk Room is beyond me, when it’s so easy to listen for yourself and make up your own mind. The context is very clear, and Gore does not, I repeat NOT, refer to icecap melting until after he has made his linkage of the storms to global warming. You seem like an open-minded fellow, though, so here’s how to determine for yourself the context. Go to NPR, which does not doctor its own tapes, and listen to:

    Start listening at minute 28, on the nose — he has just made his French Quarter joke (a good one in my opinion). If you come away from the tape itself, and you can’t believe your own ears, and you still think Gore did not say one thing and then the other, then I can only assume you don’t want to hear it.

    [Response: My ears obviously don’t work the same way as yours. He states specifically that single storms can’t be attributed (correct), he talks about increasing SST fueling more intense hurricanes (reasonable), mentions a few big hurricanes as examples (fine). Then he states that ‘And we are seeing consequences…’ – note the ‘and we are seeing’ implying additional information, not ‘these are’ – and then discusses polar ice etc. If you want to believe that he was deliberately contradicting what he had just stated, then I can’t dissuade you, but that is certainly not the reading I and most other neutral listeners would take. – gavin]

    Comment by wmanny — 12 May 2008 @ 6:53 PM

  194. Neutral listeners! Well, you have the religion, and you can’t talk someone out of that. Nor should you try, I suppose. You now find yourself squarely in the middle of an “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” moment in order to defend your god. You have stretched logic so hard and thin that you are now in the position of having us suppose Gore mentioned Myanmar (and its rising death toll) to make sure we all understand that the severity of the cyclone was NOT necessarily a consequence of global warming. I am completely comfortable with the idea that Gore meant us to understand that AGW is and will be the cause of future Myanmars. He believes it, I believe he is sincere in his beliefs, and he says what he should say given those beliefs, his apologists notwithstanding.

    If you want to get into a parsing contest, note that “and” can mean “and, as I have just noted, we are seeing” just as easily as it can mean “and, separately from what I just noted, we are seeing”. At any rate, we’ll see soon enough whether he drops the linkage or continues on with it.

    Comment by wmanny — 13 May 2008 @ 7:46 AM

  195. I’m sure we’ll see future Myanmars as well, population and sea level are rising, if you haven’t noticed that yet.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 13 May 2008 @ 9:02 AM

  196. Walter, Here’s a hint: when you find yourself accusing scientists of “religiosity” for believing what the science tells them to believe, you have crossed over into the land of the kook. When talking climate, the rules are that you cannot attribute any particular event to climate change. Gore was careful to make that disclaimer. Can you not see that it is one thing to attribute a cyclone to climate change and quite another to suggest that such a strong cyclone coupled with a strong tidal surge could be part of a trend that is quite credible (though perhaps not 100% established) based on scientific evidence? Did Gore want to use the specter of future devastation from storms like that in Burma to motivate people? Hell, yes. That is what politicians do. However, he stayed within the bounds of what is justifiable scientifically.

    Look, I’m not the world’s biggest Al Gore fan. However, did it ever occur to you that by your very hatred of him, you help to elevate his stature? He’s not worth hating. And certainly, he is not worth allowing yourself to be blinded to solid science just because he has embraced it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2008 @ 9:08 AM

  197. I can’t tell the argument for the noise about betting and Penthouse magazine and how mean certain people are, but what are the claimed causes of this “pause”? Because for as long as Al Gore has been a major voice in Climate Change, I’ve been saying we need to get out of the current solar cycle and see how that changes things.

    Now that SC24 is here and things aren’t broiling, I think this bears out the point I was trying to make since first trying to make it — CO2 is not the end-all, be-all of climate. It makes things go “up” in the long term, but there are other things that make it go “up” and “down” and right now “down” seems to be winning. Not to worry, “up” is going to take over again, but after how many lost wagers and delayed changes in energy policy?

    At this point, I think the failure of the climate community to take predictions about SC24 (and now SC25) seriously pose a greater threat to the long term climate than CO2. Because if people such as myself who see a pause based on solar behavior during SC24 are right, and you guys keep saying we’re wrong, the result is going to be people thinking your models must be wrong. Tactically it would be better to accept the obvious — if SC24 and SC25 are fizzles, the climate models won’t be “right” again until whatever solar cycle related cooling is made up for by CO2 related warming — than to engage in a different form of denial.

    Comment by FurryCatherder — 13 May 2008 @ 9:11 AM

  198. And “single storms can’t be attributed” doesn’t fit your belief, so you ignore that part. This is how statistics works — probability, not certainty, about risk. Ask someone in, for example, the insurance industry. They mostly understand this, it’s how they do business.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2008 @ 9:20 AM

  199. re: 193 & 194

    wmanny seems to want to say that because no one storm could be pinned to Global Warming then it becomes dishonest to complain about storms and Global Warming. A good analogy would be drunk drivers and accidents. Not all accidents that occur after someone has been drinking are due to the drinking, but it’s preposterous to suggest that we shouldn’t complain about drunk driving or take steps to keep people from driving drunk.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 13 May 2008 @ 9:21 AM

  200. A better question is, how many storms similar to the most recent one, struck the Myanmar area in the last 10,000 years? And how was this one different from the others? This is the case for all the issues that are associated with AGW.
    If we had perfect knowledge of the past, we could make a better determination of how the present differs from what could be considered “natural events”.
    If you want to change the behavior of people you need a firm foundation. Everytime someone jumps to conclusions that are easy to make, but without the data to prove causation, another skeptic is born.

    Comment by Russell — 13 May 2008 @ 10:13 AM

  201. Furrycatherder, You are missing the point. It is not short-term ups and downs that matter–it is the long-term change. Humans, and even human civilization have survived short-term variation before. They may cause distress, but ultimately, even during a Grand Minimum, WEATHER is predictable enough to get in a crop that will keep us fed. Now contrast that with a climate change, where we cannot know whether the monsoon rains will come in May or August or even at all; and whether the monsoon rains will wash away the crop or not.
    Grand minima and maxima last for decades. CO2 persists for centuries. At best, a minimum now will give us a few decades to respond to the crisis of increased greenhouse warming. At worst, it will make people think the crisis is over, and we will have a much bigger problem in a few decades when the minimum is over. Given hmanity’s track record, I’d bet on the latter.

    In any case, it is awfully premature to declare the onset of a Grand Minimum. We are not yet even outside the normal range for the Solar Max/Min cycle.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2008 @ 10:35 AM

  202. Russell, Skeptics make an effort to understand the evidence. Denialists do not. They are born of complacency, and alarmism merely nourishes them. Like all parasites, they will always seek out nourishment.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2008 @ 10:46 AM

  203. > the climate models won’t be “right”
    Wrong. The climate models work through the ups and downs of the solar cycle; even assuming a prolonged down instead of an up, the effect is as expected, and is small compared to the effect of added CO2.

    Think. If coal burning had been done on a large scale starting a century or more before the Maunder Minimum, what would climate have been like during that span?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 May 2008 @ 10:48 AM

  204. Nature allows comment and reply. At this point, given the technicality of your arguments, you should be writing one, and sending it to the journal. Bets between scientists have a long history. They were mostly private, and cordial. Usually over relatively trivial points. I have a feeling also that ‘bets’ were generally made by a particular standard of scientist – usually Nobel or equivalent – at least the bets that became famous afterwards. Isn’t the most positive way to respond, to channel your energy into constructing a proper, scientific reply, and use the official channels for its submission, review, publication etc.?

    I can give you a very good example of exactly this process. Try reading the following (from the field of seismology):

    Smalley et al. Nature, 435, 1088-1090, 2005
    Calais et al. Nature, 438, E9 – brief communication arising, 2005

    That’s really how to do it. I’d be much happier happier if, in this case, you stuck to the ‘normal’ channels and waited until your counter-arguments were accepted and published in Nature. Then blog about it.

    [Response: That’s all well and good. But there is a big problem with that when you have such huge amounts of press coverage. Look at how long it took to get the comment published (almost 6 months). That does not fit in with the 24 hour news cycle. Note also that Nature only publishes a fraction of the comments it receives. We did discuss this particular issue a few weeks ago though. – gavin]

    Comment by David Hindle — 13 May 2008 @ 3:51 PM

  205. But Gavin, you are risking subverting the very process by which science is ‘done’. We don’t have a written constitution, but there are ‘rules’ which we all know and respect. Every scientist is frustrated at some point or other by manifestly bad articles which appear in Nature or Science. But I’m not happy that you claim the imperative of the news cycle means you can go your own route in this case. I think here, you have a more normal scientific objection, and there is a ‘correct’ way to deal with that. It isn’t (or wasn’t at least) a blog.

    It’s one thing to correct misapprehensions amongst journalists, or rebut nonsense from pseudo-scientific quarters with specious anti-AGW arguments. However, this particular case does not strike me as such. The news cycle argument could easily become a catch all whereby every peer reviewed article you disagreed with could be commented upon (scientifically) in a blog, run by you. You are running the risk of appointing yourselves as arbiters of what is good and bad in the literature. That is a very dangerous step. For all their faults, the peer-reviewed journals are the best system we’ve got. Their neutrality at least, can’t be questioned. Their crass stupidity at times, I’d not argue with. But for lack of an alternative, what else can we do?

    [Response: We went through all this on the other thread. The peer review route will remain dominant, but where did the idea that we have to be like monks under a vow of silence outside of the journals come from? It’s certainly not the case at meetings, workshops and coffee time – much more frank exchanges occur there! If I’d been asked to review this manuscript, I’d have said the same general things – is this now secret information that must be withheld from other interested parties? Our credibility comes from our backgrounds, publications and reputations in the field. We are not going to jeopardize that by running amok on a blog, but when the media gets the balance wrong or we see some misrepresentation being used by the antis, would you have us just sit back? I do not see any contradiction in commenting on papers that may well be fine technically, but that are misused and misrepresented in the media. Comments to journals are all very well, but having been involved in 4 in the last few months, they are a huge waste of time and, though necessary for the field, I do not need to do it for every paper I have an issue with. – gavin]

    Comment by David Hindle — 13 May 2008 @ 4:40 PM

  206. David Hindle, Somehow, I think the integrity of science will survive this little exercise in applied Bayesian probability. In any case, I think that whether the Keenlyside have sufficient confidence in their predictions to take the bet will tell us something of value. We already know they were keen on going to press with their results. In any case, the American parties to the bet are the ones taking a risk–given current trends, who knows dollars one will need to make up 2500 euros in 10 years?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 May 2008 @ 6:40 PM

  207. Ray:

    I’m well aware of that. What I’m saying, and have always said, is that certain predictions have the potential to do harm, particularly if, as some of us have noted, there is a connection between solar cycles and weather.

    The absolute best thing that could happen to support AGW is 2008 breaks all the records, then 2009, then 2010, and so on. But if SC24 is a fizzle, 1998 will likely stand as a record for another 11 or 12 years, plus whatever it takes for SC25 to get going — perhaps 3 to 5 more years.

    In that intervening time, the people who’ve consistently asserted that the sun isn’t a significant influence — up and down, yes, but still a significant influence — aren’t going to look better.

    The worst case scenario, I think, is that SC24 and 25 are duds and people conserve just enough, but not any more, to get prices under control, but not enough to make a dent in CO2 level (and certainly not enough for my pet project — getting people off carbon so the global economy doesn’t really tank).

    The best case scenario, I think, is for the climate folks to say “Look, we’ve got a decade or two reprieve — let’s push as hard and fast as we can before the sun resumes its normal level of activity and global warming comes in with a vengeance.” Bets and other such silliness don’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about this.

    Comment by FurryCatherder — 13 May 2008 @ 7:29 PM

  208. Ray, I attempted to respond to your calling me a kook (which the moderator allowed) and for the record my reply was censored by the moderator, possibly because I did not call you any names in return. Will the moderator print this? Hmmm. I will say I am enjoying the process of letting my science colleagues in on this site’s true colors regarding dissent! They have been telling me for years about RC’s supposedly disinterested stance, and they have been surprised to learn otherwise. They, in fairness to RC, have the advantage of knowing that I, like Nixon, am not a kook.

    Comment by wmanny — 13 May 2008 @ 10:09 PM

  209. Wow. Different moderator on board at the moment, perhaps, so, Ray, I’ll try it again: I am not a kook, and neither are you, so let’s give the ad hominems a rest. I used the religion analogy in debate without giving proper consideration to its loading. Re-phrasing, then, I know that Gavin is a scientist, but I believe he is overly attached to the politics of AGW if he is so loath to countenance criticism of Gore’s overstatement. I thank you for your decency in noting that Gore is doing what politicians do when he uses the cyclone’s spector to motivate people through fear and compassion. Gore, whom I do not hate, by the way (though on this site dissent and hatred seem to be conflated at times) has overstated his case, says me. You say he has not, and so be it.

    Comment by wmanny — 13 May 2008 @ 11:22 PM

  210. Reread that comment because you misread or misquoted what he said.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 May 2008 @ 12:04 AM

  211. Ray Ladbury: Suppose Noel Keenlyside or Mojib Latif or both are billionaires. Their accepting the bet would probably tell you that 2500 euros is peanuts to them and they can indulge you. They might even ‘raise’ until you fold. Or suppose Noel Keenlyside earns less than me. Not accepting the bet would probably tell us that he hasn’t got money to burn, and more generally that european scientists are financially very risk averse.

    Currently, Keenlyside et al. have the published article, and RC has a blog reaction and offer of a bet. Keenlyside et al. are quite entitled to ignore you completely unless you are prepared to challenge them through official channels. The worse thing is, I may well agree with most of your criticisms. But still, this particular series of posts more closely resembles a tirade than science.

    Comment by David Hindle — 14 May 2008 @ 5:53 AM

  212. Walter Manny, Apology (of sorts) well taken. Note that I did not explicitly state that you were a kook–merely that the attribution of religiosity to a scientist doing his job crosses into the borders of that dangerous land. I apologize if you took my warning as an epithet.
    As to Gore, he makes such a good whipping boy for the political right, that they feel safe in ignoring the science. The science, however, is not going away. And by ignoring the science, they continue to cede the high to Mr. Gore and his allies. It appears that John McCain has realized this–at least until November. I’m not sure how much I can believe him. Even George Bush in 2000 talked about regulating greenhouse gasses. And whether you like Mr. Gore or not, you must give him credit for consistency. He advocated for a carbon tax long after Bill Clinton discarded the idea (whether out of a weakness for lobbying dollars or a weakness for cigars, who can say?).

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 May 2008 @ 8:54 AM

  213. David Hindle, All a bet does is ask the question: Are you sure about that? And I think that is a rather important question. After all, the press latched onto this like a pit bull on a burglar’s shin, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to point out that this is one of many predictions and has its issues. Science is a human activity. So is gambling (actually, chimps to it, too, but that just means it’s more fundamental). And a bet can also be taken as a way of establishing a subjective probability. Now a better way would be to allow the authors and their allies to wager whatever amount they wish and then allow those dissenting from Keenlyside to subscribe to shares of that wager. But that is likely more trouble than it’s worth. Come on, haven’t you ever been tempted to use the term “horse puckey” in a review?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 May 2008 @ 9:05 AM

  214. Thank you for putting the bet out there. I think risking money goes a long way in seeing how strong your beliefs are.

    Dagny McKinley
    organic apparel

    Comment by Dagny McKinley — 14 May 2008 @ 10:58 AM

  215. You might as well make the bet. Paying out the money will be the least of your problems if temperatures don’t continue to rise. The public has a very short attention span for fads. If the climate cools down your careers will be feeling the heat.

    [Response: Climate change is (unfortunately) a growth industry. But it is not an environmental cause de jour, more like a cause de siecle. – gavin]

    Comment by Will Nitschke — 15 May 2008 @ 4:27 AM

  216. re: 215

    As long as the underlying physics is correct, there’s not a “problem”: energy will keep getting added to the Earth’s climate system. Eventually, that’ll show up in higher air temps. It really can’t happen any other way. There are cooler waters in the oceans that can dampen that for awhile, but the energy that goes into the oceans doesn’t disappear.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 15 May 2008 @ 8:32 AM

  217. As a reasonably informed non-scientist with no dog in this hunt I’m heartened by the bet but wish it was significantly larger. At 2500 Euros it puts some skin in the game but not as much skin as is being asked of those who will most suffer from reduced economic growth if a carbon tax is instituted.

    [edit – discussions of who called who what are off topic]

    The question before me as a voter is how much pain should we inflict on ourselves now to avoid pain later. That is a cost benefit question which can’t be resolved if people are name calling rather than presenting evidence.

    Comment by Sully — 15 May 2008 @ 1:30 PM

  218. Sully, You seem to neglect the fact that if we do not act now, we will pay a whole lot more in the future, and maybe not even the distant future. Moreover, many of the problems we face may be amenable to improved science and technology. Others will be amenable to greater efficiency. These could actually foster growth in the future. Each of us has a lot more than 2500 euros riding on this proposition, and every evidence points toward the winning bet being on acting soon.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 May 2008 @ 7:54 PM

  219. I’m happy to see someone has addressed this article. However, I’m a little confused as to why you failed to explain your eagerness to bet money. Ignorant climate skeptics could and probably would use this review of Keenlyside’s study to argue scientists “believe” global warming rather than deduce its occurrence from hard data. Not everyone has those temperature trends in their back pocket.

    Comment by Jess Whitaker — 29 May 2008 @ 10:56 AM

  220. Why 2500? Why not 100,000? or 10? I think that you should point out that they might not take your bet because it is too much money.

    Anyone who plays p o k e r knows how that works. Even if you have a 51% chance of winning, you don’t go all in. The amount of the bet is important.

    Comment by jonny — 30 May 2008 @ 9:37 AM

  221. Jonny, 2500 euros represents a sufficient commitment to be meaningful and is within the means of most professionals to raise if they need to. It is large enough that one would not commit to it frivolously and small enough that it is not beyond the means of a team of professionals. One could also take it as a statement of how confident the RC team are of continued warming.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 30 May 2008 @ 10:39 AM

  222. Re # 219
    “Ignorant climate skeptics could and probably would use this review of Keenlyside’s study to argue scientists “believe” global warming rather than deduce its occurrence from hard data.”

    But, they’ve been doing that all along, despite an extensive peer-reviewed literature on the subject, and despite a decade of IPCC reports. Even if they learn of it, the bet won’t influence the skeptics either way – their minds are already made up.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 30 May 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  223. Re: #222

    Those who are smart should not have their minds totally made up either way at this point – skeptic or AGW believer. I think bets like this are good, because they represent confidence in one’s position…however, the average Joe would do best to wait out at least the next 10 years and see where the science/trends stand at that point.

    If RC wins this bet, that proves something about their science. If this other group that predicts cooling turns out to more correct, that also proves something.

    Comment by Sean Rogers — 30 May 2008 @ 6:04 PM

  224. Re Sean Rogers @223: Except that the ghg pump will continue ticking as we wait. Waiting 10 years means that there will be at least* 10×2.5 ppmv more CO2 in the atmosphere, or 412 ppmv total, minimum.

    (*Not counting an acceleration in either antropogenic emissions or in CO2 and CH4 emissions from natural sinks–not a safe assumption in either case.)

    Comment by Jim Eager — 31 May 2008 @ 11:07 AM

  225. Umm, I can’t seem to find the page of the original post in English.
    Can someone help with a link?

    [Response: Click on the US/UK flag icon. – gavin]

    Comment by Peter Sinclair — 4 Jun 2008 @ 6:12 PM

  226. Re #223: Sean Rogers, there was this great set of articles in EOS, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, which were titled “The Greenhouse Debate: Time for Action?” They were a correspondence between two groups of authors, one group advocating, much like you, a 10 year delay before implementing a GHG policy because they judged the costs of delay to be small compared to the benefits of learning over that 10 year period. The other group advocating starting immediately with a phased in approach to GHG control, noting that after waiting for 10 years, they were sure someone else would repeat the “wait for 10 years” argument. The publication date of this edition of EOS? December 31, 1991. That was more than 16 years ago. Hansen talked in front of Congress is 1988, almost 2 decades ago. Heads of state signed the UN Framework Convention in 1992. Kyoto was approved over a decade ago. The evidence since then has only been better and stronger – how long should the average Joe wait? Had we started implementing a carbon pricing policy in 1988, we would be in a much better position today with respect to increased energy costs. And given that it is unrealistic (and unreasonable) to expect developing nations to make much of a commitment until several years after the developed world (and especially the US) shows some good faith efforts, you’d in effect be delaying their entrance until almost mid-century…

    Comment by Marcus — 5 Jun 2008 @ 1:38 PM

  227. Marcus, Arguably, we would be better off not just in terms of climate, but also in economic terms, as the price of oil has dealt a severe jolt to the global economy. I would also not that those yelping the loudest for delay are precisely those with the least understanding of the science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 Jun 2008 @ 2:09 PM

  228. Be ready to pay up. Looks like temps from 2001 to 2010 will be lower sorry.

    Comment by james jones — 26 Oct 2008 @ 6:58 PM

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