Friday funnies

Anthony Watts has a new post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) called Humor: climate delegates unaware of the pause in global warming. Maybe this is funny, but more because the views presented in the WUWT post are tragic rather than because it is typically comedic. The premise of the post, as the title indicates, is that global warming paused 16 years ago and, according to Anthony, it is funny that many delegates at the UN climate conference in Bonn did not know this. There may well be a very good reason why they didn’t know this. It may be simply because it isn’t true.

So, what do I mean by this? What Anthony is referring to is that the trend in the global surface temperature anomalies is not statistically significant. This means that there is a chance (small that it is) that there has been no increase in global surface temperatures since the mid-1990s. However, by the same argument, we can’t rule out that it hasn’t risen quite fast (~ 0.2oC per decade). Furthermore, the trend is positive and the analysis tells us that it is most likely that global surface temperatures have risen, since the mid-1990s, at a rate close to 0.1oC per decade.

Essentially, Anthony is basing his claim on global surface temperature anomalies alone which, although the trend is not statistically significant, do not indicate that there has been no increase in global surface temperatures since the mid-1990s. However, there is another issue. Global warming is about energy, not just about global surface temperatures. It is a process in which the Earth gains more energy from the Sun than it loses back into space. There is extensive evidence to suggest that we are currently undergoing global warming. There are satellite measurements of the energy imbalance. There are measurements showing that the ocean heat content continues to increase. There are measurements showing that the volume of arctic ice continues to decrease (quite dramatically). These are all indicators of global warming. Focusing only on the global surface temperatures ignores many other important and significant (90% of the excess energy is going into the oceans) indicators of global warming.

If there is anything amusing about this (and there isn’t really in my opinion) it is that the author of one of the most viewed sites on global warming and climate change appears not to really understand the fundamentals of global warming. Either that, or he is explicitly trying to mislead those who read his blog. Not actually sure which is worse.

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9 Responses to Friday funnies

  1. Lars Karlsson says:

    The WUWT post that claimed that most of the Greenland ice sheet was only a couple of centuries old was much funnier. It is a pity they took it away. No sense humour, I presume.

  2. Only when they laugh at others 🙂

  3. Skeptikal says:

    For years the scientists were telling us to look at the temperature record for proof of global warming. Now that the temperature record is not showing anymore warming, those same scientists are telling us to NOT look at the temperature record… look at the oceans instead, but not the surface which is easily measured… look at the deep layers of the oceans (which they know we can’t easily measure).

    You seriously expect people to believe that all the missing heat is miraculously bypassing the atmosphere AND also bypassing the upper levels of the ocean and is somehow making its way down into the abyss where nobody can find it.

    Anthony Watts points out the stark reality which you refuse to accept… global warming has stopped. That’s why he has “one of the most viewed sites on global warming and climate change”.

  4. I don’t know who’s been telling you what, but scientists have been aware of the energy aspects of the global warming for a very long time. It’s possible that aspects of global warming have not been communicated to the public as clearly as it could have been, but the idea that scientists have been considering only the global surface temperatures is nonsense.

    I don’t really care if Anthony Watts has “one of the most viewed sites on global warming and climate change.” That doesn’t make it scientifically credible. Most with any sort of scientific training will read what is said on his site and be amazed that anyone can say such ridiculous things. The reason that what is said on WUWT does not get corrected by those who understand the science well is because any attempt to address issues on WUWT through the comments leads quickly to vitriolic attacks by those who either don’t know that they’re wrong or don’t wish to actually learn that they might be wrong.

    I’d be happy to be corrected by anyone who knows more than me. Your comment, however, doesn’t even attempt to address the science. It seems to have two themes. Climate scientists are lying and Anthony Watts is correct because more people read his blog than almost any other site on global warming or climate science.

  5. Skeptikal says:

    Global temperature has been the metric used by the IPCC since its inception. Even Mann’s infamous hockey stick was displaying global temperature. IPCC projections for warming are all temperature based. I understand that the lack of warming has been a problem for those promoting the global warming theory. The solution to this problem has been a shift to communicating climate ‘energy’ to the public. Trying to shift the goal-posts in this manner makes sceptics even more sceptical.

    You say that I’m not addressing the science… well, the temperature record IS the science. It’s a scientific observation which cannot be disputed… and which I’m suggesting should not be ignored.

    Since you like to talk science, perhaps you could explain to me the science of ‘energy’ bypassing the atmosphere and the upper ocean… and being deposited directly into the deep ocean.

  6. Bypassing the atmosphere is easy. Most of the radiation is in the visible and makes it to the surface without being absorbed in the atmosphere. I accept that bypassing the upper ocean is yet to be explained, but it is my understanding that there are measurements indicating that the lower ocean is indeed gaining heat.

    Here’s a question for you though. What do you understand by the term “Trenberth’s missing heat”?

    Here’s my understanding. There are satellite measurements indicating that there is an energy imbalance of at least 0.5 Wm-2. This means that we are receiving an excess of energy of 2x1022J every decade. The mass of the atmosphere is 5×1018 kg and it has a specific heat capacity of 4000 J kg-1. Therefore increasing this by 0.1oC takes 2x1021J. Where’s the other 90% gone? That is my understanding of Trenberth’s missing heat?

  7. Skeptikal says:

    I would suggest that bypassing the atmosphere isn’t that easy. While 70% of the surface is water, the other 30% is a little bit more solid. 30% of incoming solar irradiation can’t go straight to the deep ocean. I’m going to remain extremely sceptical about the deep ocean heat theory until someone can come up a plausible explanation for how the heat gets there unimpeded.

    Trenberth’s missing heat? Well, like most sceptics… my first thought is the famous leaked email; “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” My second thought goes to the lack of warming in the temperature record. I really don’t know what context that was written in, but his leaked email sure made a splash.

    As for the apparent energy imbalance…. I don’t think that there is one. My reasoning is that if there was a net gain in energy on that scale, it would be manifest in the atmospheric and upper ocean temperatures. There’s something not quite right there, but I couldn’t say exactly what.

  8. Fair enough, you don’t have to believe the data. It does, however, exist and the evidence suggests that we currently have a net energy excess of 0.5 – 1 Wm-2. Even if you ignore the data for the deep ocean (below 700m) there is still evidence that the ocean heat content has been increasing at 4 x 1021J per year. Given that the surface temperatures are clearly higher now than they were in the mid-1970s and that arctic ice volumes appear to be lower now than in the mid-1970s seems, to me, to be strong evidence for global warming. Quite what this warming will do is less certain, but that it exists seems clear (or at least the evidence for an extended period of global warming seems very strong).

  9. Pingback: Another Week of Global Warming News, June 9, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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