An above average performance

Andrew Bolt links to the latest satellite data from Roy Spencer at UAH, shown below

and states that “Global temperatures in February remained below the long term average, thanks to the La Nina – but despite decades of allegedly catastrophic man-made warming.”

As can easily be seen from the graph, the zero line is not the long-term average, at least in the ways in which this term is usually used (the average for the instrumental record going back 150 years, or else the estimated pre-industrial average). It’s the average for the UAH satellite data set, which only started in 1979, when warming was well under way. Since there has been a steady long-term warming trend over the thirty years of data, the average of the data set corresponds to the average temperatures prevailing in the mid-1990s, as you can easily see by eyeballing the data, or, if you prefer, confirm by statistical analysis. (The National Academy of Sciences did this a few years ago IIRC).

So, what Bolt doubtless meant to write is that the effect of this La Nina, one of the strongest in the historical record, was sufficient to offset about 15 years of the warming trend – I guess one-and-a-half decades counts as “decades” in some sense.

Actually, there’s a nice symmetry here. On Spencer’s preferred measure of a 13-month moving average, 2010 (a transition from El Nino to La Nina) was almost exactly as warm as 1998 (the most powerful El Nino year in the record).

So, Bolt’s point goes both ways. Fifteen years of trend warming at the current rate is about 0.2 degrees C, which roughly matches the difference between the peak or trough of the ENSO cycle and the midpoint.

Unfortunately, with emissions and concentrations still rising, and sinks being saturated, the warming trend is likely to accelerate in coming decades. To quote Bolt again, the effects could well be catastrophic.

22 thoughts on “An above average performance

  1. JQ you have to be joking: “Unfortunately, with emissions and concentrations still rising, and sinks being saturated, the warming trend is likely to accelerate in coming decades. To quote Bolt again, the effects could well be catastrophic.” Emissions are growing at around 3% pa. but the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is growing at much less than that, 0.41% since 1959, 0.6% in 2010, mostly an El Nino year.

    Even Mike Raupach, inventor of sink saturation, now admits he was wrong – there is no evidence of that (see his Global Carbon Project 2010 and Knorr GRL 2009). Queensland may well be saturated, and deservedly so with its aversion to dams, but the world’s biota are not. And you misquoted Bolt.

  2. Bolt and his ilk search desperately for short term trends in the temperature records, no matter how statistically boneheaded that pursuit is. Bolt also likes the UAH temperature record because it shows the least warming. The problem for Bolt is that all trends in UAH that finish with the latest data are positive. Therefore he has difficulty running the line that the temperature trends show that the world is cooling, instead all he can do is just point to one piece of data . The irony is that the HadleyCRU data contains five short term negative trends, but Bolt can’t use HadleyCRU because of the nonsense that he wrote over “Climategate”!

    He tries the same type of trick with Arctic sea ice data. At about this time last year the Arctic sea ice briefly approached the long term average, and Bolt quickly started to claim that the Arctic was not losing ice. In the end we had the third lowest ice extent during the summer. This year it looks likely that he won’t be able to run that line as Arctic sea ice is near all time low winter levels.

  3. Charlie, your implication that Queensland deserved the flooding rain we have had, is, quite frankly, disgusting.

    But the naivety of your comment (ie that the flooding is related to our supposed stupidity towards endlessly building useless dams, rather than related to people such as yourself that oppose measures to prevent sensible climate change action) is obviously something to behold.

  4. Charlie, I took your advice, visited the GCP site, searched on saturation and found that, as I expected, you are full of it.

    Another three minutes I won’t get back.

    On the Knorr, paper, it’s startling how any piece of research that appears to support any part of the delusionist case is instantly endorsed as reliable, while the overwhelming majority of research is treated as false.

    You’re as stupid as you are disgusting, but your permanent ban (imposed as of now) is only due to the latter.

  5. As a recent arrival in Queensland, and immediately impacted by the floods, as I work for a coal mining company (shock, horror! – but all the same a major contributor to Australia’s exports and tax revenue, at least when not closed because of the wholly avoidable floods), I have been an occasional reader of this blog, and in particular this Thread had caught my attention.

    But as I am a recent graduate of LSE, I was astonished to find Charlie banned by Quiggin for what seemed to be an innocuous contribution, given that LSE – but evidently not the University of Queensland – has a statement on Freedom of Speech, which states:

    Every member, officer and employee of the School, and every student and other individual associated with the School, shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to hold opinions without interference, disability or disadvantage, and to freedom of expression within the law, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

    As I had thought of applying to UQ to study for a Master’s in Economics, I now realise that would be very foolish when it has people like Quiggin on its payroll.

  6. Henry,
    As JQ has often stated, freedom of speech does not constitute an obligation on him to turn his blog into a platform from which others speak. Charlie can get his own blog.

  7. @Henry Maltby
    It has nothing to do with freedom of speech, it’s about denialist trolls, and that includes concern trolls. Iif you really are new here you at least can claim to be unaware of how much time is wasted here by denialist spamming but frankly the rest of us are sick of seeing the same delusional nonsense repeated endlessly and prefer to see the spammers banned sooner rather than later.

  8. James H: why not? JQ is a public servant paid for by us taxpayers and as often as not running his Blog in working hours. But I know what you are saying, you like JQ and Ian Milliss only want to hear what you already agree with. That is a great recipe for progress of knowledge!

    Actually I checked Charlie’s references: it would appear that GRL is a kosher journal, so Knorr can hardly be deemed a denier (he is actually an IPCC contributor and a co-author of one of its most cited papers, Friedlingstein et al 2006), but it seems Charlie was wrong about Raupach and Global Climate Project’s claims, even though cursory inspection shows even to me as a tyro in this field, but with some knowledge of calculus, the actual data there show no sign of “saturation”.

    That is obvious from the data Charlie cited on emissions and “atmospheric fraction” (AF) in 2010: emissions were about 10.7 GtC, the AF was only 4.25, so around 6.4 GtC ended up in the “saturated sinks”, how so if JQ is right?

    Goodbye UQ and JQ.

  9. It is not a case of wanting to hear what we agree with, it is a case of not wanting to hear the same delusional nonsense again and again and again and again etc etc etc. Original disagreeable ideas are not only welcome but pounced on with great glee.

  10. @Henry Maltby

    We’ve been round the block with these same arguments before. We’re right, you’re wrong. There are other places for this to be discussed.

  11. Thanks for the goodbye, HM, but just in case it isn’t final, you’ve come in to my place, claimed ownership, and tried to tell me how I should run it. As indicated in my comments policy, you are permanently banned.

  12. I am slightly surprised that it hasn’t been even colder this (northern) winter after all the volcanic activity in Iceland in 2010. I was just wondering if there’s been any suggestion that the Icelandic eruptions had any effect on temperatures in the 2010/11 winter?

    That is to say, I thought there might be, but it hasn’t been especially cold in Canada this winter.

  13. Scott :
    I am slightly surprised that it hasn’t been even colder this (northern) winter after all the volcanic activity in Iceland in 2010. I was just wondering if there’s been any suggestion that the Icelandic eruptions had any effect on temperatures in the 2010/11 winter?
    That is to say, I thought there might be, but it hasn’t been especially cold in Canada this winter.

    No evidence, just deliberate confusion.

    It obviously was a lot colder in the northern winter, and the evidence is here:

    WINTER .

    Weather is different to climate. Greenhouse gases disrupt climate which can then have varying impacts on short-term weather over a few seasons. Colder winters somewhere, warmer summers elsewhere, greater moisture in the atmosphere leading to increased rains, floods and snow – all are phenomena of disrupted global energy balance.

    Volcanos can cool weather – the “nuclear winter” effect, but I have not yet seen any refereed evidence that Icelands volcanic eruptions caused (or did not cause) any such effect, but I suppose one should let tabloid journalists make this link.

  14. @Chris Warren

    UK MET Office has the following summary for Winter 2010/11.

    Mean temperatures over the UK were 5.1 °C below average during December, 0.3 °C below average in January and 1.9 °C above average in February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 2.4 °C, less cold than winter 2009/10 (1.6 °C) but otherwise provisionally the coldest winter since 1985/86. Over Scotland and Northern Ireland it was also not as cold as last winter but otherwise the coldest since 1978/79. Over Northern Ireland, it was equal seventh-coldest in the series from 1910. Over England and Wales, whilst again not as cold as last winter, otherwise it was the coldest since 1995/96.

    December was exceptionally cold across the UK; the coldest December in over 100 years, with the highest number of air frosts in at least the last 50 years. It was the coldest calendar month since February 1986, and in Northern Ireland the coldest calendar month of the last 100 years. Chilly conditions persisted in early January, before a milder spell around mid-month then a return to colder weather. Mean temperatures finished somewhat below normal. Temperatures were generally above average in February, making it the mildest February since 2002. The number of air frosts was the fourth lowest in February in the last 50 years. [ 2010-11 Northern Winter Summary ]

    Beyond pointing to possible significant disruption, one or two years of seasonal weather is not a good indicator of a underlying human-sourced climate change. Sub system effects (such as southern oscillation) can overlay a flip-flopping disrupted weather pattern on top of a climate shift – a continuing inexorable warming.

  15. Hi Scott

    Despite making for some spectacular TV images, the Icelandic volcano didn’t actually throw all that much dust/aerosols etc into the stratosphere and so didn’t have much effect on global temperatures. Also to strongly affect global temperatures volcano’s usually need to be in the tropics.

    Despite some widely reported cold snaps in specific areas of the northern hemisphere over the winter, the hemisphere hasn’t been cold. A look at the NOAA State of the climate for Dec and Jan actually shows temperatures above the long term average for both months (results for Feb aren’t out yet). Pretty much what we would expect for a warming world during a strong La Nina.

  16. ‘ JQ is a public servant paid for by us taxpayers and as often as not running his Blog in working hours.’

    Anybody who could write such a moronic sentence, demonstrating comprehensive ignorance of the nature of academic work in any century, can go get their own blog (oops sorry, ‘Blog’). Self-evidently their imbecile opinions have no place in anybody else’s.

  17. How about we make a market to see what Bolt et al actually believe:

    Give them $100, and have them bet on whether they believe next month will be above or below the 0 line on the chart. Repeat every month.

  18. Thanks for the replies. I was asking out of ignorance, not to be difficult- as a lay reader, knowing where to ask about science can be difficult, especially if one is time-poor.

  19. ” dn’t wnt t b msndrstd n ths. F w r dstryng th plnt wth r fssl fl brnng, thn smthng SHLD b dn bt t.

    Bt th clmt scnc cmmnty hs llwd tslf t b sd n ths ss, nd s rslt, pltcns, ctvsts, nd th md hv sccssflly prtryd th bsd scnc s sttld.

    Thy pprntly d nt rlz tht ‘sttld scnc’ s n xymrn.

    Th mst vcl clmt scntsts dfndng th PCC hv lst thr bjctvty. Ys, thy hv wht cnsdr t b plsbl thry. Bt thy ctvly spprss vdnc t th cntrry, fr nstnc ttmpts t stdy ntrl xplntns fr rcnt wrmng.

    Tht’s n rsn why th pblc ws s trgd bt th ClmtGt -mls. ClmtGt dsn’t prv thr scnc s wrng…bt t ds rvl thr bs. Scnc prgrsss by nvstgtng ltrntv xplntns fr thngs. Lng g, th PCC ll bt bndnd tht srch.”

    Troll comment from sockpuppeter Tony G disemvowelled. All sock puppeteers are liars and frauds, and the comment was also a lie – JQ

  20. Actually “Nowun 2” science just as often progresses by abandoning theories that are not supported by the evidence for theories that are.
    Spencer’s theories for warming due to natural cycles lack both a well supported physical mechanism and empirical evidence. On the other hand greenhouse gasses have both a well known physical mechanism for causing warming, indisputable evidence for an increase in their concentration and running the numbers to gauge their effect clearly shows they dominate climate forcing.
    No one is stopping Spencer from doing his work, but scientists are skeptics and until Spencer can demonstrate his theories fit the data better and why, if greenhouse gasses could change climate in the past, they can’t now, they will remain skeptical of his work.

    Errors like these don’t help his cause either:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s