There has been an unusual surge of interest in the climate sensitivity based on the last decade’s worth of temperature measurements, and a lengthy story in the Economist tries to argue that the climate sensitivity may be lower than previously estimated. I think its conclusion is somewhat misguided because it missed some important pieces of information (also see skepticalscience’s take on this story here).
The ocean heat content and the global mean sea level height have marched on.
While the Economist referred to some unpublished work, it missed a new paper by Balmaseda et al. (2013) which provides a more in-depth insight. Balmaseda et al suggest that the recent years may not have much effect on the climate sensitivity after all, and according to their analysis, it is the winds blowing over the oceans that may be responsible for the ‘slow-down’ presented in the Economist.
M.A. Balmaseda, K.E. Trenberth, and E. Källén, "Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 40, pp. 1754-1759, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/grl.50382
Guest post by Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Francisco Doblas-Reyes, Sybren Drijfhout and Ed Hawkins
Climate information for the future is usually presented in the form of scenarios: plausible and consistent descriptions of future climate without probability information. This suffices for many purposes, but for the near term, say up to 2050, scenarios of emissions of greenhouse gases do not diverge much and we could work towards climate forecasts: calibrated probability distributions of the climate in the future.
This would be a logical extension of the weather, seasonal and decadal forecasts in existence or being developed (Palmer, BAMS, 2008). In these fields a fundamental forecast property is reliability: when the forecast probability of rain tomorrow is 60%, it should rain on 60% of all days with such a forecast.
This is routinely checked: before a new model version is introduced a period in the past is re-forecast and it is verified that this indeed holds. In seasonal forecasting a reliable forecast is often constructed on the basis of a multi-model ensemble, as forecast systems tend to be overconfident (they underestimate the actual uncertainties).
T.N. Palmer, F.J. Doblas-Reyes, A. Weisheimer, and M.J. Rodwell, "Toward Seamless Prediction: Calibration of Climate Change Projections Using Seasonal Forecasts", Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 89, pp. 459-470, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/bams-89-4-459
The link between extreme weather events, climate change, and national security is discussed in Extreme Realities, a new episode in PBS’ series Journey To Planet Earth hosted by Matt Damon.
The video features a number of extreme weather phenomena: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wild fires, and flooding. The discussion is about climate change and the consequences on the ground – or, how climate change may affect you.
It is important to ask what is the story behind the assertions made in the video. What scientific support is there for the link between such extremes and climate change?
The recent warming has been more pronounced in the Arctic Eurasia than in many other regions on our planet, but Franzke (2012) argues that only one out of 109 temperature records from this region exhibits a significant warming trend. I think that his conclusions were based on misguided analyses.
The analysis did not sufficiently distinguish between signal and noise, and mistaking noise for signal will give misguided conclusions.
C. Franzke, "On the statistical significance of surface air temperature trends in the Eurasian Arctic region", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 39, pp. n/a-n/a, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2012GL054244
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