British Met Office refutes “misleading” claim “Global Warming stopped 16 years ago”

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

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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.

Pure rubbish.

First the Daily Mail article (which I hesitate to even reprint in this space), then the Brithsh Met Office reply, then my own take.

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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.

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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.

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Source: British Met Office

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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.

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Source: British Met Office (My notes in rust & blue)

Heres’ an even better version from Skeptical Science.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Climate Central

How to talk to a climate skeptic

Skeptical science


  • Jason


    Thanks for the thorough update and all the great posts. I never miss one.

  • J. Gary Fox

    Who are you going to believe, Public Radio or your lying eyes when you use the statistical “Interocular Test”?

    As my Stat Professor said, “Look at the graph or data and see what hits you between the eyes.”

    Clearly the graph shows no significant change over 16 years.

    And as the High Priest of Global Warming said to the UK Mail,

    “Some climate scientists, such as Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, last week dismissed the significance of the plateau, saying that 15 or 16 years is too short a period from which to draw conclusions.”

    For several decades we have been beaten daily by the Priests of Warming that we are all doomed. Now we are told 16 years is too little of a time period to judge warming or cooling effects.

    OK, forgive me … I fell from Grace. No matter what the evidence … even if the glaciers start the march South after 15, 000 years … The World is Warming and the World will always be warming.

    Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania was always at War with Eastasia.

  • Fox Gary Jay

    Hey JGF did your stats professor teach you to cherry pick your dates in order to misrepresent the real case? Apparently so.

    Does wishing make it so? Wish harder.

  • Climate rainbow

    Looking at the graphs you’ve included, I’m not seeing any correlation between the steady increase in CO2 which has been going on since the start of the industrial revolution and the global temperature chart which you acknowledge shows significant cooling periods over very long periods of time. Indeed, using a HADCRUT3 temperature data set, you can find a flat trend from 1850 to 1932, the only significant warming has been from 1978 to 1997. this article has, of course, chosen the GISTEMP temperature dataset which is the data set which shiws the mkst significant global warming. it seems global temperatures are as hard to pin down as house prices with different providers producing diferent results and the viewer choosing whichever suits them.The global temperatures have increased by a mere 0.75C since 1880, the IPCC claim that the earth will warm by 0.2c per decade, 2c by 2100 has no statistical basis and that was their most conservative prediction, so why are we spending billions on a supposed threat for which scientists do not know the cause.

  • Gerald Wilhite

    It is a strange fact in criminology that the victims of a con artist are almost never willing to admit that they have been conned. That’s why so few con men go to jail. Admitting that you’ve been a fool is so hard that a good con man can often go back and again to do a “double con” or “triple con” on the same victim.

    In the 1990s Vice President Al Gore conned us into believing that using food to make fuel for our automobiles — his “ethanol from corn” program —was a great idea. It was for his friends at global food giant ADM. It wasn’t for US taxpayers or the millions of children and elderly who have starved to death because of the skyrocketing world grain prices it caused. It is an understatement to say that Al’s con puts Hitler’s ovens to shame.

    In 2007 Al came back for the “double con” with his deceptive movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. Like fools, even the Nobel Prize Committee joined the rest of us. We all bought into his con again. The mass media fell for it, no doubt because of the giant advertising dollars provided by companies like ADM.

    So reporters gave scant and usually very disdainful coverage to thousands of highly respected scientists who weren’t sucking on the tit of government climate research funding. Those scientists tried to warn us: There is no abnormal warming. The globe has been warning since the end of the last ice age. CO2 is not an evil villain. Al’s scam is a hoax based on bogus data and propaganda put out by the very same 1970s elitist technocrats (like Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren) who told us global cooling was about to freeze us to death.

    So now the question arises once again. Can we swallow our pride and admit that we’ve been fools? Or will we once again fall for his scam? In other words, can Al pull off a “triple con” on us? Probably, unless we wise up and threaten to tar and feather him if he doesn’t get out of town pronto.

    Think about it, while you’re watching Al laugh at you all the way to the bank.

  • marky mark

    I understand that its hard to admit you’ve been taken by a bunch of globalist con men….its tough.

  • Charlie

    The global warming fanatics are in deep trouble. As Gary Fox says, you just have to look at the data in the graph and it’s perfectly clear that there has been no warming for the last 16 years. But if you report this fact, the climate loons go ballistic and start misrepresenting the skeptics view and changing the subject.

    The stuff about disasters is ‘pure rubbish’, see several recent blogs by Roger Pielke jr. It’s so funny that you accuse the Mail of cherry picking and then pick one year, 2012…

  • More Bread and Circuses

    He who lives by the circus dies by the circus. United Circuses of America is no exception.

  • Sci-…Fi?

    Hmmmm…. Generally the difference between numbers quoted by scientists and those quoted by the media is that the scientists tell you what the statistical uncertainties of their numbers are. Funny I don’t see a single uncertainty in these numbers…. I guess they’re all exactly true. Glad we have the media around to give us all certainty of things.

  • William Holder

    As a previous poster pointed out, it was the climate scientists who stated years ago that a period of 15 years would indicate a trend and suggest the models are wrong.

    In fact the models have been consistently wrong as regards climate on every single issue.

    What’s wrong with you? Are you just “thick”? Do you have some investment in green tech? Are you paid to be ignorant?

    You do understand that climate changes? I’m sure you were taught this very basic science in grade school.

    The best that can be said is that there is some casual correlation between CO2 and climate but that we don’t understand all the mechanisms that produce climate change.

    A very small increase in temperature over 150 years is hardly remarkable. Long term graphs are replete with temperature changes – most of them of a greater magnitude and many of them in much shorter periods.

    In fact, looking at a longer term chart it is clear that it would take hundreds of years to detect any anthropogenic impact.

    Just pretend that you’re capable of learning and assimilating new information and be aware that the cherry picking is on the part of the alarmists, starting with a temperatue graph that begins 150 years ago rather than a longer term graph that provides a fuller picture including a long term cooling trend.

  • Thomas Christleman

    Notice you didn’t discuss the most interesting part of the offending article:

    “Like Prof Curry, Prof Jones also admitted that the climate models were imperfect: ‘We don’t fully understand how to input things like changes in the oceans, and because we don’t fully understand it you could say that natural variability is now working to suppress the warming. We don’t know what natural variability is doing.’”

    This is your poster boy for catastrophic climate change and he doesn’t know what natural variability is doing? But, whatever that natural variability is doing we do know that the West needs a carbon tax and that catastrophe is imminent.

  • Paul b

    The final comment says all you need to know about the great climate change scam ie “we need a carbon tax in the west or its catastrophe “. This is the biggest lie the world is being fed by people who need to see us pay more and more for travel and use natural resouces.yes the climate changes ,it always has and always will ,and we may be going through a warm period now as we have before ( long before there were any man made carbon emissions ).but that does not mean its all our fault. As the article makes clear we need to see trends over many many decades not just a few to see what’s really happening and even then it’s not very scientific to blame it all on aerosols ,power stations and cars is it? No it’s all about trading carbon tariffs big business and corporate greed and you in the press just lap it all up as gospel truth.the left green movement dictates your agenda but your london twittering classes will be that last to give up their holiday homes and international jollies ,following the politicians as they trot across the globe to their summits and fact finding or trade missions.hypocrites the lot of you.

  • Larry

    I choose to accept the scientific conclusions of, you know, actual climate scientists, rather than anti-science hacks like David Rose, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and most of the Republican politicians. They misquote and misrepresent the science just like the evolution deniers (and are probably the same people for the most part). When the science conflicts with your political or religious ideology then, of course, the science must be wrong and the scientists must be attacked personally to discredit and silence them. The denier groupies regurgitate the same tired propaganda, no matter how many times it is debunked. They are proactively obtuse to real science. Oh, and smoking doesn’t cause cancer, vaccines cause autism, and women who are “legitimately” raped don’t get pregnant.

  • Arno Arrak

    First, the response from the Met Office came in an awful hurry – on the same day Rose’s article appeared. This is the second article by Rose that disturbed them – the first one was on the same topic in December/January past. Rose did not catch them then but they were cheating, trying to use the peak temperature of the 2010 El Nino to claim warming in the twenty-first century. See my comment in their blog. As for Paul Huttner, his graphs are a joke and he uses data from Climate Central that is a warmist propaganda machine. He is right about the disappearing Arctic ice but wrong about its cause. The Arctic warming began suddenly at the turn of the twentieth century because of a rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system that started to carry warm Gulf Stream water into the Arctic Ocean. Greenhouse warming is ruled out because we know that there was no sudden increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide when the warming started. As to the current Met Office attack on Rose, I find Rose correct and Met Office not just wrong but incompetent. My comment I placed on Met Office web site follows:


    Arno Arrak (14:36:45) : Below are my reactions to your questions to Rose.

    Q1 answer needs to be critiqued. You cannot jumble long stretches of temperature records randomly together because the physical processes which determine how climate behaves can and do change. It is your responsibility to be aware of such changes and treat the data accordingly but you have not done so. For example, it is totally impermissible to average the temperature stretch from 1979 to 2011 as you just casually mention. That is because everything changed in the middle of this period when the super El Nino of 1998 arrived. There was nothing but a series of ENSO oscillations in the eighties and nineties and global mean temperature stayed the same from 1979 to 1997. There were five El Nino periods there and one of them – the 1988 El Nino – is the one that Hansen imagined was 0.4 degrees Centigrade(!) warmer than anything else before it. The peak temperature of the super El Nino was twice as high as the ones that preceded it but you would not know it from your ground-based data. It is the inclusion of this super El Nino with the nineties that makes the nineties warmer than the eighties in your data set. With that super El Nino came a huge amount of warm water across the ocean that caused a step rise in global temperature. In four years the temperature rose by a third of degree, then stopped, and has been at a standstill ever since. It is the only actual warming within the satellite era that began in 1979. It is this step warming that is responsible for the unusual warmth of the first decade of this century, not an imaginary greenhouse effect. It starts a completely new temperature regime. The beginning of the century is taken up by a twenty-first century high because the La Nina that should have appeared in that time slot is absent. Regular ENSO oscillations return with the 2008 La Nina but the global mean remains constant at the level of the step warming that started it all. This means that within the satellite era we now have two temperature standstill regions – from 1979 to 1997 and from 2001 to the present that do not meet because of the intervening step warming. It is all there in the satellite record but for reasons of your own you have chosen to ignore it. As a result none of this info is present in your temperature curve. Not only that but you have substituted a late twentieth century warming in the eighties and nineties which makes your curve fraudulent as well. My suggestion is, revise that curve the soonest you can to incorporate satellite data. And don’t try to jiggle it with a computer. There is more and I suggest you absorb the section on temperature in my book “What Warming?”

    Q2 – Neither ENSO, which is well understood, nor any of the other poorly understood cycles have any explanatory power about global temperature change.

    Q3 – The graph is worthless and the rest of the answer is meaningless

  • Anton

    Wow, this really brought out a goodly number of people who don’t believe in science. It’s rather amazing in this day and age.