Watt about 10 years of ‘accelerated global warming’?

Watts Up With That (WUWT) has a new post by our old favourited Christopher Monckton. It’s called Ten years of ‘accelerated global warming’?. In this post Christopher attempts to address Barack Obama’s claim that over the past decade global warming has been accelerating at an unforeseen rate.

Let’s first establish what Obama used to make this claim. It’s essentially based on recent Ocean Heat Content measurements that extend down to a depth of 2000m. The figure below is from Balmaseda et al. 2013 and shows the Ocean Heat Content for the period 1955-2010 and for depths down to 300m, 700m, and 2000m. This figure indicates that the from 2000 to 2010, the total (or at least down to 2000m) Ocean Heat Content increased by 1.5 x 1023 J. This is the largest decadal rise in the dataset. If one uses this to establish what the top-of-the-atmosphere energy imbalance would need to be to produce such a large increase, it is about 0.9 Wm-2. This is a remarkably high energy imbalance. It is typically been measured to be about 0.5 Wm-2.

Ocean heat content data for the period 1955-2010 from Balmaseda et al. 2013.

Ocean heat content data for the period 1955-2010 from Balmaseda et al. 2013.

Okay, so that is what Obama was using to suggest that global warming has accelerated in the last decade. What does Christopher Monkton do to refute such a claim. Does he suggest that there are problems with the ARGO floats used to collect the data? Does he argue that the uncertainties are large and that we shouldn’t be making such strong claims using this data? No, he completely ignores the Ocean Heat Content data and focuses only on those dataset that provide surface temperatures (GISSTEMP, HADCRUT, NOAA) or tropospheric temperatures (RSS, UAH). So, he tries to refute Obama’s claim by using temperature datasets that measure the temperature in regions that are only associated with a few percent of the current warming.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that at least 90% of the excess energy entering our climate system is currently going into the oceans. Given that so large a fraction of the excess energy is going into the oceans would seem to indicate that you should at least consider this when making claims about whether or not global warming is happening. Focusing only on surface temperatures would seem to indicate that either you don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) what the term “global warming” actually means.

Now, I don’t know for certain that global warming has actually accelerated in the last decade but there is clearly quite strong evidence (in the peer-reviewed literature) that it has. Obama therefore based his claim on a perfectly reasonable bit of scientific evidence. Monckton is refuting this by cherry-picking datasets that virtually no reputable scientist would regard as reasonable indicators of global warming.

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15 Responses to Watt about 10 years of ‘accelerated global warming’?

  1. Ste D says:

    Anthony Watts is happy to post this rubbish.

    Notice how Monckton puts “President” in quotation marks (his birth certificate is a forgery, you understand).

  2. Doesn’t matter how often you repeat that you don’t focus on subsets but you need to look at the complete picture, people like Monckton will still use small datasets or focus in on details. This myth being said constantly on my videos was the reason I bumped my video on this topic to the top of my queue (saves me time responding to those comments):

    And Monckton knows that short datasets aren’t reliable for basing trend conclusions on. He made this point himself…

    There’s one interesting thing though that caught my eye in the blog post. He bolsters his point by saying he’s an expert reviewer for the IPCC. Well, anyone can become an expert reviewer for the IPCC if you fill out a form:

    And here’s were the fun starts. As an expert reviewer you only asked to have access to the draft with the stipulation that you don’t publicly comment on the draft.(you sign an agreement for that). Leaked or not, this is exactly what Monckton now is doing.

  3. dana1981 says:

    While I agree that global heat accumulation may very well have accelerated over the past decade, that’s not even what President Obama claimed. Monckton provided the quote he’s responding to:

    “We … know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago.”

    Where does that say “accelerating”? The only use of the word or variants of “accelerate” are from Monckton, usually in quotation marks, as if he were quoting President Obama directly. What a fraud.

  4. Interesting, I should have read that more carefully. Not that surprising that Monckton mis-represented what was actually said.

  5. And he refers to him as Mr Obama throughout.

  6. Michael Whittemore says:

    People like Monckton are only saying these things to mislead others. I really think we need to start focusing more on actually stating that these people are intentionally lying to mislead.

  7. I probably agree and others are doing so. My intent was to see how much impact my writing would have if I avoided accusing others of lying or being intentionally deceptive. It may not have any impact, but hopefully won’t do any damage. It does become harder and harder though as I get exposed to more and more things that do appear to be obviously mis-representing the science. I will re-evaluate as time goes on. I may also just finally lose control and just have to have a bit of a rant 🙂

  8. Skeptikal says:

    This is a remarkably high energy imbalance. It is typically been measured to be about 0.5 Wm-2.

    How has it typically been “measured”?

  9. I was referring here to measurements from the ERBE satellite and the CERES instrument on other NASA satellites. The data from these suggest a long-term (decades) energy imbalance of 0.5 – 0.6 Wm-2, but the errors are large and so is not inconsistent with a higher energy imbalance. The point I was trying to make is that 0.9 Wm-2 appears to be on the high side of other estimates. Warming appears to be happening faster than expected, hence what Barack Obama said is not inconsistent with the evidence.

  10. Rob Painting says:

    The figure shown is actually from Balmaseda et al (2013).

  11. Indeed it is. Apologies for the error. Will fix it now.

  12. Bernard Murphy says:

    Can someone point out to me where Obama referenced Balmaseda et al. 2013, or any other study regarding Ocean Heat Content ?

  13. Okay, one could indeed be pedantic and claim that Obama made a statement that he did not reference at all. However, scientific evidence exists that indicates that global warming has been accelerating (or has been faster in the last decade that was expected). I guess, it’s possible that Obama simply made up his statement, but it seems more likely that he took advice from actual scientists who would have used studies like Balmaseda 2013, or Levitus 2012, or Loeb 2012 to inform their advice. I guess I can’t know this for sure but at least there is scientific evidence that supports Obama’s claim about global warming.

  14. Berényi Péter says:

    Well, ERBE/CERES has actually measured a ridiculous 6.4 W/m2 radiative imbalance, that is, imbalance was not measured at all this way.

  15. Really? When I looked into this it was more like 0.6 W m-2 although, as I understand it, with quite a large error and the ocean heat content data has been used to constrain the error. I wasn’t aware that it was 6.4 Wm-2. Do you have a reference or some kind of link to this?

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