The Halt in Warming

For those that read widely on the subject of climate change, you will no doubt be aware that there has been a long halt in warming temperatures and even James Hansen has accepted this as fact. One interesting thing about the story is the way that the story has been treated. For example, David Rose wrote about the halt in the UK’s Daily Mail back in October of last year, only to create a storm of indignation:

Last week The Mail on Sunday provoked an international storm by publishing a new official world temperature graph showing there has been no global warming since 1997.

The figures came from a database called Hadcrut 4 and were issued by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University.

We received hundreds of responses from readers, who were overwhelmingly critical of those climate change experts who believe that global warming is inevitable.

But the Met Office, whose lead was then followed by climate change campaigners, accused The Mail on Sunday of cherry-picking data in order to mislead readers. It even claimed it had not released a ‘report’, as we had stated, although it put out the figures from which we drew our graph ten days ago.

The Met Office response referred to can be found here. In response to the hail of criticism, David Rose responded with a question at the head of an article; ‘so who are the “deniers” now?’ and it is a very apt question. He writes about the criticism of his article before saying (emphasis added):

But then last week, the rest of the media caught up with our report. On Tuesday, news finally broke of a revised Met Office ‘decadal forecast’, which not only acknowledges the pause, but predicts it will continue at least until 2017. It says world temperatures are likely to stay around 0.43 degrees above the long-term average – as by then they will have done for 20 years.

This is hugely significant. It amounts to an admission that earlier forecasts – which have dictated years of Government policy and will cost tens of billions of pounds – were wrong. They did not, the Met Office now accepts, take sufficient account of  ‘natural variability’ – the effects of phenomena such as ocean temperature cycles – which at least for now are counteracting greenhouse gas warming.

Surely the Met Office would trumpet this important news, as it has done when publishing warnings of imminent temperature rises. But there was no fanfare. Instead, it issued the revised forecast on the ‘research’ section of its website – on Christmas Eve. It only came to light when it was noticed by an eagle-eyed climate blogger, and then by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the think-tank headed by Lord Lawson.

Then, rather than reporting the news objectively, Britain’s Green Establishment went into denial. Neither The Guardian nor The Independent bothered to report it in their paper editions, although The Independent did later run  an editorial saying that the new forecast was merely a trivial ‘tweak’. Instead, they luridly reported on the heatwave and raging bushfires in Australia.

For those of you who do not read widely on the subject, this halt in warming might come as something of a surprise. For example, I did a search of the New Zealand Herald, and there was lots of reporting of alarm, but no article that seemed to cover the halt. I say ‘seemed’, as I only looked at the headline and summaries for most of the articles. However, I did look at some in more depth, such as this editorial, from which I will provide a quote:

In a review of climate study this week, we reported that New Zealand might fare quite well under the predicted 4C increase in average global temperatures. Here the expected rise is 3C.

Victoria University’s Dr Jim Renwick, a lead author of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel’s next report, said the North Island’s climate would be closer to Queensland’s and the South Island would have the North Island’s conditions. It does not sound so bad.

Melting polar ice caps would raise sea levels a metre, and droughts would be more frequent in eastern regions of New Zealand.

It remains wiser to contribute what we can to international efforts that might reduce or at least slow the rate of warming.

The next IPCC report will examine engineering responses to climate change, such as extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sending sun-reflecting particles into the stratosphere.

It is something to ponder as we bask in another hot, sunny weekend. And spare a thought for Australia where temperatures are predicted to set records this weekend.

If this is a symptom of global warming we are all in it together.

Oddly, there is no mention of the halt in warming. At least one thing is to their credit; although they tenuously link climate change to the recent heat wave in Australia in the quote, at least they suggest in the introduction that ‘Heat waves in Australia and NZ may not be a symptom of climate change’. This is at least a little better than the reporting elsewhere, including in one of their other articles, which clearly linked recent heatwaves to global warming, and also included this:

And Australia won’t be the only country to suffer from rising temperatures.

A recent study done by Britain’s Met Office showed that 2013 is on course to be the hottest ever globally.

This is odd, as the UK’s Met Office is actually predicting several years of a pause in warming. In fact, when all is said and done, the reporting of the halt in warming is distinctly odd. Very odd. Or rather the absence of headlines is odd. As David Rose suggests, it should be trumpeted. It should be headline news.

The Significance of the the News

The real significance of the news is in what it confirms about the state of the science, and in particular about climate models. For example, GWPF have helpfully translated a Spiegel article, and it includes these comments (emphasis added):

Scientists previously thought 14 years without further warming could be brought into line with their forecasts – but not “15 years or more,” as NASA scientists stated four years ago in the journal “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society”. In an email to colleagues a renowned scientist wrote on 7 May 2009, at a time when the warming standstill had already lasted for eleven years: “the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.”

[and they ask scientists for their views]

However, climate models do not represent stratospheric water vapour “very well”, admits Marotzke. The forecasts remain vague.


Thus there are plenty of plausible explanations for why global warming has temporarily slowed down. However, the number of guesses also shows how inexact the climate is understood. Could La Niña, for example, continue to have a cooling effect? “The jury is still out on this”, NASA explains.

The article includes several theoretical explanations for the halt, but none of them are given as firm explanations but are instead competing unconfirmed theories lacking in evidential support.

Does this look like the science is settled? It looks far from settled, and only serves to highlight that the climate models used by researchers are, at best, incomplete. Now at this point, you would expect that this would be a cause for celebratory headlines. After all, the story so far is that ‘we are all doomed’, and this narrative is derived from the very same models that are demonstrably inadequate. So what is the reaction of the alarmists to this? The Huffington Post calls the Met Office’s revisions a ‘distraction’ and simply asserts:

Our focus must at all time be on debating and researching new technologies and efforts to tackle climate change – repeated debates about whether climate change is happening or not are extremely unhelpful and distracting at this critical point in time. The argument should be long gone now!

I really like the exclamation mark at the end! The distraction that is being referred to is whether the science is settled. I picked the Huffington Post as an exemplar, as it is arguing that:

[...] climate sceptics are constantly looking for gaps in how climate science is being reported in order to exploit them and fundamentally question whether climate change is actually happening.

It is not gaps in the reporting that are interesting to skeptics, but the gaps in the science. In this case, the failure of the models used to predict catastrophic global warming to predict the climate. They are not working. There are gaps in the science, and these reflect in the models. If the models are wrong, then the output of the models cannot and should not be trusted, at least not at present.

There is nothing to say that the models cannot be improved, but when there are competing and debated explanations for the current halt in warming there are some tough questions that need to be addressed. What is very apparent in the Spiegel article is that there are some very fundamental questions about climate science and this will reflect in the models as they stand. However for the future, assuming that any of the theories are correct, which one goes into revisions of the models? Each of the explanatory theories is different, and the use of each will therefore create a very different model. Each theory is contested or lacks evidential support. Or perhaps the models should use more than one of the explanatory theories but how will they be used together?

And this is exactly why this news should be headlines. Climate scientists cannot even agree on the explanation for the halt in warming. We have been told that the science is settled, that there is consensus on the science, that the debate is settled…and on and on….but it is not settled, and there is no consensus.

Instead, there is uncertainty, unknowns and debate over theory. Furthermore, when being told all these tales of certainty, we were being lied to. Faced with the failure of their models, they have been forced to admit the critical gaps in the science. Yes, they will update their models, perhaps using one, or a combination of the theories (hopefully with some evidence in place by then). The models might even improve. But will this change the tune that is sung? I very much doubt it. Instead, the media will continue to pour out the lie that the ‘science is settled’. This will be promoted by the very same scientists who have been falsely claiming that the science has been settled up to this point in time.

For all of the scientists who have claimed that the science is settled, there is a very basic question; why should be believe you in the future, when it is apparent that you have lied? In other words, the scientists who have claimed consensus, that the science is settled, and even described skeptics as ‘deniers’, have a problem with credibility. ‘Trust us, we’re scientists’ has been the underlying refrain but they have lied to us, and they have been caught lying. There never has been the certainty that they have promoted and there never has been a consensus, not even amongst those who have supported the catastrophic warming theory. It was all lies. After all, if they cannot explain and agree on the recent absence of warming, where is the consensus and certainty?

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30 responses to “The Halt in Warming

  1. >’The models might even improve. But will this change the tune that is sung?”

    The acid test will be on this decadal projection over the next 5 yrs given that there is improved accounting for natural variability. But although the trajectory is radically modified downwards from 2011 it is still for “record” levels above 2010′s strong El Nino year level and 1998′s superstrong El Nino level. The record levels do not arise primarily from natural factors though from what I can gather but from the assumed “anthropogenic global warming trend” because there’s no natural factor on the horizon short of a superstrong El Nino to boost temperatures to record levels.

    2012 was essentially an ENSO neutral year (a little more El Nino than La Nina) so that temperatures oscillate above and below a 2012 neutral level for this current decadal regime. See RSS (Note the different baseline to the UKMO HadCRUT 2012 projection plot – they’re not directly comparable):-

    If we take the average of 2012 as roughly 0.2 anomaly, then “record” levels in RSS terms are at least 0.4 higher (2010) or 0.6 higher (1998) than 2012 ENSO neutral levels. The lower confidence level if it eventuates would still be 0.25 higher than 2012.

    If this projected boost does not occur over the next 5 yrs, there cannot be a “background” anthro signal of any significance. And say La Nina dominates. That would mean oscillation BELOW 2012 levels i.e. cooling. There’s already a La Nina on the way for 2013 possibly and the PDO is in cold mode so La Nina could dominate for the next 20 yrs plus as La Nina did for the last 30 yrs with PDO in warm mode.

    Then there’s the solar recession upon us, that can’t boost warming. It’s only lagged ocean heat that will keep temperatures elevated but wont do any boosting. With solar forcing reduced, temperatures must decline at some point in the future – when?

    So if over the next 5 yrs temperatures even just maintain 2012 neutral levels on average, the tune that is sung will of necessity have to change.because the assumed “background” anthropogenic signal demands a rise.even at the lower limit by 0.25 C and at mid confidence by 0.4 – 0.6 C by UKMO’s forecast in RSS terms.

    The probabilities that could be assigned to the scenarios would however provide a prediction more like this in my view going by natural indicators:-

    0.2 warming (anthropogenic forcing above neutral levels, El Nino prevailing)
    0.3 no change (neutral conditions prevailing)
    0.5 cooling (La Nina conditions prevailing, solar recession)

    The next 5 yrs are crucial for

  2. Ah yes, the typical denialist cherry-picking and dishonesty.

    Science deniers are apparently completely clueless about statistics, trends and variations. Or they are extremely dishonest and consciously try to mislead people.

    • Oh dear, oh dear. Your link is nothing to do with the models. Completely off the subject that I posted about….and the escalator in any case does not represent the skeptical position.

      As usual, you serve to highlight your lack of engagement with anything that is written.

      • My link has to do with science deniers declaring that the science is wrong because of short-term variations. The point is that science deniers ignore the long-term trend.

        The escalator does not represent the skeptical position because skeptics will come to accept AGW. It does represent the denialist position because you even did it yourself right here in this blog post: Cherry-pick something from a bigger whole and lie about it.

        • Still no discussion of the models having been proved to be wrong, despite the certainty, consensus etc..

          May I suggest a novel approach for you. How about addressing what is written in the post….or are you suggesting that the model predictions were in fact correct, that the halt in warming is fully understood, and that the science is settled, there is a consensus and there is nothing up for debate? If so, take a look at the article in Spiegel….

          So have a go, answer the points in the post.

          • Your claim that the models are wrong is based on the cherry-picking and dishonesty I’ve already pointed out. What I wrote specifically addresses the long garbage text you wrote.

            You have failed to address this, and instead tried to desperately change the subject. Typical denialist behavior.

          • The link you gave me really does not address the poiint of my post at all. Instead, your argument yet again comes down nothing. Yet again you have nothing to say….except your usual use of the work denier. Again, thank you for showing that you are completely bereft of argument. Readers who are unsure will again be persuaded by you…

          • The link does indeed address your post because it shows how you deniers are cherry-picking data to misrepresent it.

      • >”The escalator does not represent the skeptical position because skeptics will come to accept AGW. It does represent the denialist position…..”

        What waffle.

        The escalator does NOT represent the “denialist” position or the sceptical position. It is a piece of junk.

        In the following plot, the sceptical position is represented by the observations and the AGW position is represented by the models:-

        There are only 2 models that have got anywhere near the trajectory of observations: the Russian Academy of Sciences INM-CM4 model (blue line) right between satellites and surface-based series and an as yet unidentified model (black line) at surface-series level. The rest are rubbish because they have for accounted for natural variability in a realistic way.

        Now that UKMO has a decadal forecast with an improved model that goes some way to mimicing natural variability, the trajectory of it is similar to the black line model in the long-term projections.

        In other words, only 3 models have managed to achieve what models should do and what sceptics require (their position). The SkS/Rahmstorf, Foster and Cazenave (RF&C) “true background anthropogenic global warming signal” trajectory however, tracked the UKMO HadCM3 trajectory but the UKMO has abandoned that model because it was unrealistic i.e. SkS are now out on a very skinny limb.

        Rahmstorf, Foster, and Cazenave (RF&C) 2012 Figiure 1:-

        Abandoned 2011 HadCM3 projection and hindcasts (trajectory as per SkS/RF&C):-

        New 2012 HadGEM3 projection and (radically) revised hindcasts:-

        Sceptical Science have been gazumped by UKMO. Even Hansen, Sato and Ruedy have a different trajectory for the “background” warming (La Nina minimums apparently).

        It remains to be seen over the next 5 years if there will be any anthropogenically forced warming at all in the current climate regime, If not, AGW is dead.

      • Correction.

        “The rest are rubbish because they have for accounted for natural variability in a realistic way”

        Should be,

        The rest are rubbish because they have [not] accounted for natural variability in a realistic way.

      • >”The SkS/Rahmstorf, Foster and Cazenave (RF&C) “true background anthropogenic global warming signal” trajectory however, tracked the UKMO HadCM3 trajectory”

        Looks like I’m wrong here. The RF&C Fig 1 trajectory does intersect roughly with the 2016 peak in the UKMO 2012 projection.

        So the “true background anthropogenic global warming signal” in both SkS/RF&C and HadGEM3 will be tested over the next 5 yrs.

  3. Whether or not we can explain the lack of warming, the result is that the empirical measured surface temperatures are deviating from the model projections. One would assume that at some point, we would either reduce the central estimate of sensitivity to CO2, or increase the error bounds. I see little evidence of this happening

  4. Thanks for the comprehensive summary. Lets hope the NZ Herald come out with some realistic comment on the 16+ years of no warming while CO2 continues to rise. This in itself show a disconnect of CO2 and world temperatures.

  5. For those who have stumbled on this post, there is also a very good discussion going on over at Climate Conversation Group, including some interesting points from RichardC and Andy (see comments above):

  6. Apologies for highjacking both of these threads at 2 blogs (NZCC and CCG), but I’m on a roll here and I think this is a very important juncture in the test of AGW validity (or not).

    Up to 2010, Foster, Rahmstorf and Cazenave had the liberty of “taking out” “exogenous factors” (e.g. ENSO, a bogus method but we’ll go with it here) and that worked to their advantage for fixing “the true background anthropogenic global warming signal”. That had the effect of pulling down all levels prior to their pivot point at 2010, a manipulation that has also been going on in major observation series i.e. hindcasting that RF&C Fig 1 trajectory leads to very silly levels prior to 1980:-

    But now that RF&C have immutably fixed the “signal” (according to them), they will NOT be able to pull down their 2010 pivot point level as new data comes in because they no longer have that liberty, the “signal” was fixed in their Fig 1.

    And for 2013 – 2017, RF&C will also have to “take out” any El Nino that may occur to be consistent in their method. Any continuation of their “signal” will have to be anthro-only – no El Nino’s allowed.

    Neither will they be able to “add in” any imaginary warming after their fixed 2010 pivot point to perpetuate the “signal” if observations after “taking out” El Nino’s do not produce higher levels relative to their 2010 Fig 1 pivot.

    Over the next 5 years, Foster, Rahmstorf and Cazenave (and SkS) are about to hoist themselves on their own petard unless there’s some radical warming in that time.

    • Not hijacking Richard – informing and contributing.

    • Geez, richardcfromnz:

      Up to 2010, Foster, Rahmstorf and Cazenave had the liberty of “taking out” “exogenous factors” (e.g. ENSO, a bogus method but we’ll go with it here) and that worked to their advantage for fixing “the true background anthropogenic global warming signal”.

      Even the raw data shows a clear warming trend. What’s wrong with you deniers?

      • snerkersnerk you say:-

        >”Even the raw data shows a clear warming trend. What’s wrong with you deniers?”

        Not this century it doesn’t and that’s the whole point. From 2002 HadCRUT4 and other series have a cooling trend (are YOU denying that BTW?).

        Consequently, AGW folks have to fall back on – after much data torture – a purported “background” warming trend. Even Hansen concedes the “standstill”. He then resorts to the fall-back and concludes “background” warming is continuing even during the standstill but his basis for it is so tenuous it’s laughable.

        Since 2010 that “background” trend of RF&C and models is now looking very suspect and time is putting AGW under an acid test. If even the “background” trend fails over the next 5 yrs as the actual trend has this century, that will make 7 yrs of “background” trend failure too and AGW will be dead snerkersnerk.

        You should be more cautious than confident.

  7. Snerksnerk, you seem to be in a bit of a tizzy. Reread the post, and follow the links in the post. The UK met office has accepted that there is a halt in the warming. Nobody can explain it satisfactorily, and it was not predicted in the models. You have been commenting on this blog accusing skeptics of being ‘denier’, ‘creationists’ etc. etc. but refuse to accept the halt, even when it comes from the UKMO. When you start to deny that warming is halted, as David Rose said, who is the denier? Perhaps some self-reflection would be a good idea. You seem to be making a fool of yourself.

    • Look, you need to stop lying and deceiving.

      Here’s what you are doing again:

      Apparently the difference between variations and long term trends escapes you.

      In fact, the response from the MET Office specifically points out this dishonest cherry-picking by the liar from the Daily Fail. Indeed, the blatant liar David Rose from the Daily Fail doesn’t even get basic facts right, such as the nonsensical claim that the MET Office has issued some kind of report. They haven’t. So once again his lies fall apart.

      More on that in this video:

      It’s time for you science haters to stop spewing lies. And I also have to point out the kind of sources you rely on, such as Monckton, the guy who wants to luck up anyone suffering from HIV/AIDS permanently and keep them away from the rest of the population. And of course David Rose, a clueless “journalist” who has been caught lying so many times it’s really quite amazing.

      • You are not actually addressing anything I have written, or the links that I have provided. I have linked to a translation of a Spiegel article, which is hardly a skeptical outlet, and there are quotes in there from NASA and scientists that accept the halt in warming. Then there is the link to Hansen’s work. As I said earlier, who is the denier now? Yet again you link to the dubious escalator graphic, which appears to be some kind of comfort blanket you turn to when you have no answer. The warming has halted.

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