A few scattered showers overnight into Tuesday AM
AM clouds give way to some PM sun in the metro Tuesday
Near 70 Tuesday PM (AM clouds may limit warming)
Fall returns Wednesday cold front arrives with falling temps and gusty NW winds
Source: Twin Cities NWS
“Global warming stopped 16 years ago” headline from conservative British tabloid “Daily Mail”
“Misleading” Sunday’s response from British Met Office
British tabloid claims “Global Warming stopped 16 years ago”:
Breaking News: Prince Harry is at it again and your favorite Senator really is a space alien!
It pays to have to have a sense of humor about these things.
What we might call a “row” seems to be underway across the pond in the UK these days.
The conservative British tabloid The Daily Mail inked a piece Saturday claiming “Global warming stopped 16 years ago” and implied that the British Met Office “quietly released” the usual updated data in an attempt to hide the data.
A few of you have asked for my assessment of the DM story. I’ll try and be brief and keep with the UK theme.
First the Daily Mail article (which I hesitate to even reprint in this space), then the Brithsh Met Office reply, then my own take.
Here’s an excerpt from Saturday’s piece from David Rose at the Daily Mail.
Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released… and here is the chart to prove it
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.
The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.
This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.
Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.
The British Met Office (Britian’s “NOAA”) responded to the article Sunday, and continues to address with comments in the Met Office News Blog.
Again here’s an excerpt. You can read the whole post from the link above.
The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.
As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.
Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.
The below graph which shows years ranked in order of global temperature was not included in the response to Mr Rose, but is useful in this context as it illustrates the point made above that eight of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past decade.
Source: British Met Office
The Updraft Take: Why the Daily Mail piece is (intentionally) misleading and misses the point.
1) Looking back at the global temperature surface record since 1850, you can find many multi year periods where global temperature has plateaued or even fallen.
But the overall long term trend of warming is undeniable.
Source: British Met Office (My notes in rust & blue)
Heres’ an even better version from Skeptical Science.
Planetary warming has not been, and is not expected to be a uniformly linear trend. To suggest otherwise is to deliberately mislead the public.
2) The Daily Mail piece seems to have “cherry picked” a high point of warming in 1997, and a relative low point in 2012 to get a “level” temperature trend.
Here’s is the Daily Mail “proof” graph below. As an example of cherry picking, the black lines are my additions selecting other data points along the graph that can be chosen had somebody wanted to misleadingly suggest the strong warming between 2000 and 2012 is the best trend, or the relative cooling between 1997 and 2007.
Source: Daily Mail (My lines in black)
Both of my starting and ending points (black lines) would be misleading and draw inaccurate conclusions for the reader about global temperature trends in the next few years.
It’s very dangerous, misleading, and scientifically dishonest to pick any one 16 year period and make inferences about where long term climate trends are headed.
3) The Daily Mail piece misses the point and the effects of current climate.
Even if you accept the (scientifically rejected) notion that a leveling of global temperature in the past 16 years will continue for the next several decades, the fact that we’ve observed the hottest 10 years in the global temperature record is troubling.
Source: NOAA via John Abraham – University of St. Thomas
The changes we’re observing at the current temperature levels are dramatic. 70% of the volume of Arctic Sea Ice has disappeared since 1979.
Source: NOAA via Cryosphere Today
Drought are more extreme and common, and cost the USA billions in 2012 alone. Billion dollar weather disasters have reached record levels in 2012 & 2012.
Source: NOAA via Jeff Masters
To suggest that a leveling of temperatures at current levels somehow diminishes threats posed by a warmer climate that holds more water vapor is absurd, incomplete, and journalistically irresponsible.
The last month globally cooler than the 20th century average was February 1985! Ask yourself this question: In a climate system where you would expect a roughly equal number of warmer and cooler than average months, how can the system be considered “normal” when we haven’t recorded even one month cooler than average in 27 years?
It’s sad and even dangerous that we live in an era where you have to vet news outlets and determine if they report science from a predisposed political bias. The Daily Mail piece is not peer reviewed science. It’s one guy trying to create smoke where there’s no fire.
When 97% of all accredited climate scientists agree on the basic facts of climate change and the human component, keep one eye open when journalists that work for tabloid newspapers do stories that claim to make “scientific” conclusions.
When a consensus of actual climate scientists say that global climate has stopped warming, I’ll be the first to publish it in this space.
There you go.
Here’s a deeper point by point look at the Daily Mail piece from Skeptical Science.
Here are a few great web sites that deal with actual climate chance science and answer the often fallacious arguments which attempt to deny climate change.