Weather and Climate

They call themselves the “Global Warming Policy Forum” and their goal is to deny global warming. True to form, they’re trying to explain away the record-shattering heat of 2015 as being due to anything but global warming. It’s a desperate attempt to cling to what they’ve claimed for quite a while, in spite of being wrong about it all along because it simply never happened: a “pause” in global warming.

The latest, courtesy David Whitehouse in a blog post repeated at WUWT, is to insist that it’s all due to weather. In a stunning display of hypocrisy, he accuses climate scientists of not knowing the difference between “weather” and “climate.”


“Weather” is David Whitehouse’s codeword for natural variation due to known effects, things like the el Niño phenomenon. What he doesn’t get, maybe never will, is the fact that natural variation is the only reason anybody thought there was a “pause” in the first place.

Whitehouse emphasizes both el Niño and something he calls the “blob.” The north Pacific ocean has been unusually warm for several years, some have called it the “blob,” and Whitehouse has decided that it’s some normal phenomenon that (like el Niño) caused extra-hot temperature this year. His post is also rife with implication that climate scientists are ignoring these things. He even went so far as to say “In the Nasa press conference about the 2015 global temperature see how long it takes the presenters to mention the El Nino.”

About five minutes, actually (you can listen to the press conference yourself here). Not only was it mentioned, they had even prepared a slide to emphasize it:

slide4

They not only discussed, and showed, that el Niño years are extra hot, they also showed that this el Niño year was hotter than previous el Niño years. The reason is that global temperature is a combination of natural fluctuations (like that due to el Niño) and trend — the heating of the Earth we call global warming. NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt even mentioned it (emphasis is mine):


“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Niño,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “Last year’s temperatures had an assist from El Niño, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing.”

I’m one of those (there are many) who have investigated the influence on global temperature of both trend and fluctuations of known origin, including el Niño, volcanic eruptions, and solar variations. I’ve recently updated my analysis to include data from 2015, and to treat the el Niño influence in a more complex way, but the results are similar to my previous treatments. When we create a model of global temperature based on el Niño, volcanoes, and solar variations, plus an unflinching global warming trend, one which doesn’t pause or hiatus or slow down, that model mimics observations quite well:

nasa_model

There are times when it might “look” like the progress of global temperature flattened out — maybe, just a little — but when tested statistically such claims fail miserably. More to the point, the model shows them too, making it clear that even the appearance of a “pause” is created by those natural, but known influences on climate. Here’s a look at yearly averages of the model:

nasa_model_1yr

Note how easy it is for the eye to trick people into “seeing” a “slowdown” — especially those who desperately want there to be a slowdown — even in this, a model in which the global warming part moves steadily upward, never stopping or slowing.

There are other fluctuations, quite natural, in addition to el Niño and volcanoes and solar variations. We can’t pin down their precise origin, but their influence is small. This can be seen by taking the observed temperature and removing our best estimate of the fluctuations we can estimate, to create “adjusted” data. Here are yearly averages:

nasa_adj_1yr

All of which serves to emphasize what I said at the outset, that natural variation is the only reason anybody thought there was a “pause” in the first place.

Which itself serves to emphasize the hypocrisy of David Whitehouse having said that climate scientists “Deliberately Mistook Weather For Climate.

The blog post ends by saying “The main conclusion that can be drawn about 2015 is that it was a truly exceptional year for weather, and for misleading press releases.” Change “press releases” to “blog posts from the Global Warming Policy Forum,” and I’ll agree.


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30 responses to “Weather and Climate

  1. Now that one can easily show statistically significant warming since 1999 and, with some datasets, even 1998 and 2000, the pausists are crying foul. I had one attempt to call me out for starting on a La Nina year and ending on an El Nino. “That’s my point,” I protested to deaf ears.

  2. In fact, all of the global surface datasets at https://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php now show significant peak El Nino to El Nino-in-progress warming since 1998, as well as the NOAA land/ocean. Only the satellite datasets – for now the pausists’ one true creed – don’t.

  3. “They call themselves the “Global Warming Policy Forum””
    Others call them the “Gentlemen Who Prefer Fiction”.

    It has nearly always been possible to claim that “global surface temperatures are declining” (or “global warming has paused”) during the last four and a half decades in which the long-term trend of global warming has become ever more evident and relentless, as the following WoodforTrees graph of the NASA data shows (I’ve used Tinyurl because the raw WfT url is enormous):
    http://tinyurl.com/p9nf47r

    No doubt in a few years time, when the present El Nino peak has subsided somewhat, the GWPF and their like will be telling anyone who will listen that global warming stopped in 2016. Hopefully people like Tamino will still be around then, carefully explaining what the evidence really shows.

  4. Sheldon Walker

    The years 1975 to 2014 had an average temperature increase of +0.022 degrees Celsius per year (measuring December to December).

    2015 had a temperature increase of 0.34 degrees Celsius (measuring December to December).

    How much of the 2015 temperature increase do you think is due to el Nino, and how much do you think is due to AGW?

    Which factor should be given the greatest importance when discussing the temperature increase in 2015?

    • Pierre-Normand Houle

      Sheldon Walker,

      “Increase” is a relational concept. What “temperature increase in 2015” are you inquiring about? It is the temperature increase since 2014, or the temperature increase since 1975? If the former, then El Nino is responsible for the bulk of the increase. If the latter, then anthropogenic global warming is responsible for the bulk of the increase.

    • Over the long haul cycles tend to 0.

      That said, deniers rarely if ever ask, “How much of the observed ‘cooling’ is caused by la Nina/volcanoes?” You would think to be complete deniers who blame el Nino for any warming would also parse out short term cooling influences. But for some odd reason this does not occur.

      Finally, in terms of global warming one should not even be thinking about 2015 in isolation. It’s the TREND that counts, not annual values.

      • skeptictmac57

        “You would think to be complete deniers who blame el Nino for any warming would also parse out short term cooling influences. But for some odd reason this does not occur.”
        It’s almost as if their minds are being motivated by something. I wonder what it could be. A real puzzler there.

    • I was about to post a reponse and found that the delightfully nommed OSweetMrMath has already done so when Sheldon Walker (trolled?) HotWhopper with the same (spam?):

      http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2016/01/desperate-deniers-part-6-david.html?showComment=1453696894290#c8968652154438616878

      • Sheldon Walker

        Bernard J,

        Yes, I posted the same post to 2 websites. Both of the websites were discussing the same thing. I am new to both websites, and didn’t know that many people visit both.

      • You will find also at both sites that most posters really do understand statistics. Some in a very deep way, most at at least the graduate level. They can identify nonsense very quickly.

  5. The writings of Whitehouse have always struck me as that of someone operating out of their depth. But this latest piece of his is much tighter than his normal offerings. He has evidently been taking lessons in how to weave propaganda or has been having some chums help him out.
    Note how the comparison of NOAA & NASA by number of 2015 months cooler than 2014 switches deviously to the number warmer than 2014 when comparing HadCRUT. And the use of the Randall Dole quote that was indeed about El Nino and of course naff all to do with global climate, except to a reader of Whitehouse’s little essay. And his straw man is excellently branded as resurgent AGW. There are indeed some well crafted lies in this GWPF essay from Whitehouse with just a few poor bits where the lies are less well tucked out of sight. (For instance he says “The IPCC says that just over half of the warming since the fifties is forced” which is a blatant lie.)
    Mind, like all works of propaganda, this GWPF essay fails to note the true message – that we should compare 2015 with 1997 while the stonkingly hot (for the time) 1998 only bears comparison with 2016. (I’m keeping a graphed comparison of these two resurgent El Ninos here (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’)) If you note, Whitehead doesn’t actually do any true comparison: he just mouths off about it.

    And talking of graphs that are always way above the head of Wazzock Whithead’s writings, and I mean that literally, the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy (who still outrageously operate as a registered UK educational charity and so trouser government money) have since the began spreading lies used a graph of 21st Century Global Mean Temperature on their masthead showing HadCRUT data 2001-to-date. It is a little wonky, as you’d expect from such a devious crew (If you scale it, the trend turns out to be 0.015ºC/decade below true which is pretty massive, even for a masthead.) and in the past the sad bunch have even resorted to wheeling out Whitehouse to defend it, which suggests a certain level of desperation.
    But today that desperation must be much heightened. They surely now have to add the 2015 plot to their graph and with its inclusion it is going to take a whole different scale of ‘wonking’ to keep 21st Century Global Mean Temperature from showing a strong upward trend.

  6. I wonder how long it will take the Global Warming Policy Forum (thegwpf.org) and Global Warming Policy Foundation (thegwpf.com) to update their site headers. This is what their graph should look like:

      • True, but then they would have to admit up front that they have no leg to stand on. I wanted to depict how their own graph fails them, even within the limitations of the timeframe and the scaling of the y-axis that they use. Maybe they now turn to the Kelvin scale and start at zero.

    • They’ve been slow to switch over to RSS (or version 6 of the UAH). Out with the old and misleading, in with the new and misleading. Convenient for them that the century technically starts on Jan. 1 2001 and not with the La Nina @ Jan. 1 2000.

  7. Pierre-Normand Houle

    Bluegrue wrote: “This is what their graph should look like…”

    You don’t want them to promote a hockey stick, now, do you ;-)

  8. Look for the denialati to become shriller and nastier this year. As their “pause” evaporates like morning mist, the only thing they have to fall back on is accusations of a global fraud by the entire scientific community.

    They would be as laughable as the moon-landing deniers if they did not have deep pockets with a vested interest in muddying the waters.

  9. I noticed that immediately, and posted the following ‘correction’ to the WUWT headline in the comments:

    2015 Global Temp, Or How Some Scientists Deliberately Mistook 50 Years of Global Weather For Climate
    There, fixed that for you.

    Then someone asked for a link…

  10. Andy Lee Robinson

    Well, this is what we expect from the Global Warming Pollutocracy Fawn club.
    Obstructing solutions is the whole reason for their existence, like bollards at a fire escape!

  11. I calculated (and see Gavin’s calculation at RC using a somewhat different approach) that El Nino only boosted 2015 temperatures by ~0.07 to 0.09 C, depending on what ENSO index you use to explain global temperature variability. It would probably have been a record year even if we had a neutral ENSO state.

    What’s more, all the big El Nino years (82-83, 97-98, 2015-16, etc) are progressively warmer than the previous, as Jim Hansen showed nicely in Fig. 3 http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2016/20160120_Temperature2015.pdf

    This is not an El Nino story, it’s a trend story.

  12. Al Rodger — explain MEI on your chart, please?

  13. Your model is tracking impressively well the average temperatures, however, nearly all big spikes (either downward or upward) are not tracked. I guess that you at least suspect what is the reason for that. Isn’t your el Nino response to weak in the model? It fits nearly perfectly 1997/98 event, but other than that it seems to be rather conservative. Or maybe it is something else?

  14. I’d like to have a link to the details of your model, which gerated the beautiful linear residuum trend curve. It’s really stunning!

  15. Sou and ATTYP have also dealt with this excrescence.

  16. Correction ATTP.

  17. Thanks for this post Tamino. I logged on to request exactly this, and was pleased beyond measure to find that you’d already done it!

    Now to see how the Denialati spin it and clutch their precious “pause” to their chests…

  18. — not related —
    a new publication about climate noise, might be of interest to you
    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep19831

  19. I agree with your insight on the lack of information that forum truly has as they remarked on weather instead of climate. I have found throughout my research that many contributors to the issue are often uneducated and lack factual support. I think that your inclusion of graphs clearly references your point.