Attribution

Given the extreme precipitation and flooding that’s been experienced in some parts of the world recently, I thought I would comment briefly on the issue of attribution. Clearly the El Niño has played an important role in these extreme weather events, but an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation events is what we expect in a warmer world. A typical response to this, however, is that we have yet to definitively attribute anthropogenic influences to these events.

This may be true, but arguing about attribution can, in some sense, miss the basic point. Consider the figure on the right. It shows the basic energy flows. At the top of the atmosphere we have energy coming in from the Sun, some of which is reflected and some of which is absorbed, and we have energy radiated outwards from the planet. In equilibrium, these energy fluxes would be in balance (I realise this figure is for a situation where the planet is out of balance, but lets ignore that for now).

At the planet’s surface, there is energy absorbed from the Sun, and energy coming back to the surface because of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. From the surface, there is energy radiated away (which depends on the temperature), energy carried away by thermals, and energy transported from the surface to the atmosphere via evaporation. In equilibrium all these energy fluxes would balance and the evaporation rate would set the rate at which water precipitated out of the atmosphere.

What happens, however, if we add greenhouse gases? If we add greenhouse gases, the amount of energy reaching the surface goes up. To balance this the surface temperature will rise so as to increase the flux of energy radiated from the surface, but we’d also expect the energy transported via thermals and via evporation to also increase. Since the evaporation rate will set the precipitation rate, we’d expect precipitation to increase. There’s even some evidence for this. Between 1973 and 2008 there is an observed increase in downwelling longwavelength flux that exceeds the increase in outgoing flux via radiation; something else must be transporting energy from the surface.

So, even if we haven’t been able to definitively attribute a human influence to extreme precipitation events, basics physics tells us that we’d expect precipitation to increase in a warmer world and, in particular, that we’d expect an increase in the intensity and frequency of the extreme events. Is it possible that this might not happen? Well, as Victor points out, if the evaporation rate does not increase, then that implies that a larger fraction of the surface energy imbalance is closed by an increase in outgoing radiation (i.e., the change in surface temperature will be larger). Also, this would imply that the relative humidity has increased more than we expect (because the relative humidity also influences the evaporation rate).

Therefore, if one argues that we aren’t going to see an increase in precipitation in a warmer world, you’re essentially suggesting that the world will be warmer and more humid than a world in which precipitation does increase. You can’t really have it both ways. So, attribution might be an important part of convincing us that our understanding is correct, but it isn’t really an important part of trying to determine what will likely happen. That’s just physics.

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63 Responses to Attribution

  1. izen says:

    Attributing the recent extreme weather in the north of the UK, the SW-NE of the US, South America etc to the El Nino effect is at least an admission that higher temperatures DO cause increases in extreme weather events.

    The El Nino elevated temperatures are a foretaste of what the weather will be like when AGW causes the neutral and then the La Nina years to catch up temperature-wise.

  2. thefordprefect says:

    but surely these hurricane thingies are driven by temperature differences, Hence a slowly warming climate may possibly have no increases in occurrences. But of course higher temperatures give them more energy (and water) to play with. Water events as in uk will be worse owing to greater evaporation due to higher temps. (in an article in the independent there is an article actually say dredging, widening channels is not necessarily the answer. And greenies have been wrongfully denigrated for daring to suggest managing the environment to slow water release to rivers – it has worked in a number of cases and at 1/10 cost of walling in rivers)

  3. izen,

    The El Nino elevated temperatures are a foretaste of what the weather will be like when AGW causes the neutral and then the La Nina years to catch up temperature-wise.

    Indeed. Even if we can’t defintively do attribution, these events still give us insights into what we might expect if we continue to emit CO2.

    thefordprefect,
    I think that the expectation is that we might see fewer Hurricanes/Cyclones, but that we will see an increase in the intensity and frequency of the strongest ones.

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  5. Analogies do not work well in the climate “debate”, but requiring attribution studies for any single aspect of the changes is comparable to admitting there is a link between radiation and cancer, but calling for evidence for the link for rare cancer of organ X as well.

    Requiring attribution studies for extremes for every separate region is comparable to asking for attribution studies on the link between radiation and cancer in Botswana.

    Requiring attribution studies for a single event and otherwise shouting that you are not allowed to connect it to climate change is like calling for an attribution study to prove a specific person died of a cancer due to radiation.

    It is interesting to study such more detailed attributions, they help us understand the climate system, but to pretend this is a necessary foundation before one can talk about changes in extreme weather is absurd.

  6. christianj says:

    ATTP,

    ” You can’t really have it both ways.”

    I am not so happy with that its too far simple, only on Global Scale would be this rigth and on longer time Scales. In other Words, you can have both for a while, because the atmosphere stratification is not the same, its depend on where, in the tropics its labile, you can see this every El-Nino when Convection is still in increase and the warming over the tropics is greater in deep troposhere then on Surface, this is not true for high latitudes, they have a stabil atmosphere stratification which cause that warming near surface will be traped and the deeper troposhere is warming less then its on surface.

    So in that Way, in Times where tropics are warming less or stand still and high latitude is incease much more, the evaporation can incearse without or less increasing the precipitation at all, because of stabil atmosphere stratification in the higher latitudes. This would also mean, that measurements by satelite (UAH/RSS) are forced to less increase the temperature in compare to Surface-Data, this is what we had seen in the so called “Hiatus”…

  7. Euan Mearns has this to say about warmer air holding more moisture:

    While the BBC / Met Office weather forecasts have only rarely mentioned the El Niño as an explanation for our winter storms, they are eager to spout that warm air holds more water vapour. The only temperature – time series that captures the temperature of most of the troposphere is the satellite microwave sounding unit that captures temperature from surface up to 350hPA – about 26,600 ft. Surface thermometer temperatures have absolutely no bearing on the upper troposphere’s ability to hold water vapour. Most people who are reading this blog will know that the satellite temperature record shows little to no warming since 1997. Hence claims for warmer air lying behind this winter rainfall appear to be unfounded.

    http://euanmearns.com/uk-winter-storms-2015/

    I wondered how he thought moisture got up to the troposphere if it wasn’t for evaporation at the surface… Or am I showing my ignorance?!

  8. Chic Bowdrie says:

    “You can’t have it both ways”

    What if an increase in humidity causes more cloud cover that doesn’t result in precipitation? Or the possibility that water vapor feedback is negative?

  9. Christian,
    Yes, I agree that there could be complexities that might make my description too simplistic. However, I do think that the general idea is correct. We expect the system to tend to a state of equilibrium in which energy is transported from the surface via radiation, thermals and evaporation and for each of these to increase if we were to warm.

    Kit,

    I wondered how he thought moisture got up to the troposphere if it wasn’t for evaporation at the surface… Or am I showing my ignorance?!

    I’ve no idea how he thinks it gets there. Magic?

  10. Chic,

    What if an increase in humidity causes more cloud cover that doesn’t result in precipitation? Or the possibility that water vapor feedback is negative?

    We can’t continue increasing cloud cover indefinitely, so at some point we would have to reach a quasi-equilibrium where the rate at which it falls out of the air matches the rate at which it is evaporating from the surface. I don’t think there is any chance that water vapour feedback is negative.

  11. christian says:

    ATTP,

    I agree, as i said before this effects should be only for a little time span, the climate system itself correcting this over time. My intention was to show that is also depends on where its warming.

  12. Christian,
    Yes, I agree too 🙂

  13. christian says:

    Chic,

    There is no sign of a negative water vapor effect, see also water vapor messuring from the satelites: http://data.remss.com/vapor/monthly_1deg/tpw_v07r00_198801_201511.time_series.txt its still in increase also in the so called “Hiatus” Periode where RSS shows no warming but increasing water vapor, this is because the water vapor is controlled by the evaporation on the surface Layer, in other word, the water vapor meassurments are showing that Sea-Surface Temperature has risen since 1988 (or since 1998 if you argue there were a “Hiatus”)

  14. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli dealt with this recently. You too can have some fun

    “No bunny can prove that any race won by Lance Armstrong was caused by doping but the smart money bets that way”

  15. toby52 says:

    Re: Euan Mearns has this to say about warmer air holding more moisture:

    …. The only temperature – time series that captures the temperature of most of the troposphere is the satellite microwave sounding unit that captures temperature from surface up to 350hPA – about 26,600 ft….

    Isn’t he forgetting (deliberately) about the Radiosonde Atmospheric Temperature Products for Assessing Climate (RATPAC) temperature series collected by radiosonde from 50 locations around the world? RATPAC-A has temperature observations at different pressure levels in the atmosphere, and its 700mb observations (about 3km up) seem to be directly comparable to the UAH and RSS observations.

    However, RATPAC shows unequivocal warming of the lower troposphere and no “pause”.

    I often wonder why climate scientists do not cite RATPAC more often. Is there a reason for that?

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/weather-balloon/radiosonde-atmospheric-temperature-products-accessing-climate

    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ratpac/ratpac-a/

    [I’ve replaced your BBcode with HTML, Toby. -W]

  16. Pete best says:

    Is there more evaporation from the ocean and water surfaces or is water vapour held longer in the atmosphere or is it both. I thought I read somehere that the earths atmosphere now contains 4% more water vapour than it once did (in recent times) and hence there is more evaporation occuring becuase the length of time water is held in the air has not changed.

    Something must be different.

  17. Pete,

    Is there more evaporation from the ocean and water surfaces or is water vapour held longer in the atmosphere or is it both.

    In principle if we warm then if the relative humidity (RH) remains roughly constant (which is what is expected) then the air will hold more water vapour. Also, since we’re warmer and the RH has remained constant (assuming it has) then the evaporation rate will also increase. If this increases, then we’d expect that rate at which it precipitates to also increase.

  18. As I understand it, given that the global temperature is now globally 1C higher than before, the amount of water the air can hold has risen, potentially, on average, by 6%, according to the Met Office spokesperson I heard talking on the radio. Of course, this is not an observation but very simple physics of the type one learns before one leaves Junior School. Clearly this means storms in warmer atmospheric conditions will now tend to drop more water—because warmer air can hold it. This is what’s happened in the UK over the last few weeks, showing air temperatures and concurrent heavy rainfall is no coincidence: records for heat and rain are therefore broken at the same time. This is logical if you think about it, as anyone who has been in a rainstorm in the tropics will remember the high ambient temperatures as they were soaked.

    So I guess our storms in the future will more resemble the heavy downpours of lower latitudes. and those in lower latitudes will occur in even hotter conditions and with heavier deluges than were normal, historically.

    We should also expect yet another 6% water vapour in the air, on average, by the time the world is averaging 2C.

  19. I came across this paper today. Very interesting. Basically discussing the whole wet gets wetter, dry gets drier idea. This, however, seems relevant

    The sensitivity of global precipitation change is much smaller (2%/K) than the sensitivity of water vapor concentration change (7%/K), and this is primarily because the atmosphere and surface cannot lose sufficient radiative energy to accommodate the additional latent heating within the radiative-convective balance

    I presume this is one reason why most of what is expected is an increase in the intensity and frequency of the extreme events. The overall change in precipitation is quite small, but when you do have an extreme event, there could be a lot more water that is available to be precipitated.

  20. JCH says:

    An example – the Wivenhoe-Brisbane flood.

  21. I think discussion of increased temperature leads to increased precipitation is being conducted at too simpler level.

    Using Google maps, turning on ‘earth view’ to see the ground in full colour, then zoom out and down to western sahara. The part of north west Africa that meets with the Atlantic ocean.

    What do we see?

    A hot, dry parched land. Not much rain although the temperature (average and min/max) substantially higher than in the UK.

    We join onto the Atlantic ocean, so we experience similar winds patterns.

    Travel further south towards Senegal and The Gambia and we see that the land starts to green.

    So our atmosphere, both cool and hot contains various amounts of moisture, dropping that moisture as rain almost with disregard to average regional temperature.

    To say that because warmer air can contain more moisture does not mean it will and does not mean it will rain more.

    It is vastly more complicated than that.

    The world climate and weather is not a test tube and can not (yet) be replicated by simple experiments.

  22. Steve,
    Appealing to some kind of ignorance is not really part of the scientific process. Of course the climate is a very complex system. However, at the end of the day, basic energy balance is a very useful way to consider the system. It may not tell us what will happen in some kind of detail, but it does indicate – broadly – what will happen if we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

  23. aTTP:

    Basic energy balance could be an interesting indicator.

    However, we are so far away from fully understanding all of the drivers in the climate system, as it actually is, to have even a semi-coherent understanding about how the system behaves, let alone draft predictions.

    Just see the struggle trying to get one general circulation climate model to any output that replicates history, let alone the future.

    Yet the IPCC relies upon dozens, all not fit for purpose currently.

    Do you expect any climate model to begin to correctly hindcast in the near future?

  24. Steve,
    Again, you should be careful of projecting your ignorance onto others.

  25. aTTP:

    Are all of your comments to me going to be rude?

    Which of my sentences displayed ignorance, I would like to know?

    Off to 2 hours now, back soon.

  26. Steve,
    Seriously, though, the basic idea here is very simple. If we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere we will increase the energy flux to the surface. Hence the energy flux from the surface will increase to retain equilibrium. Since part of that flux is evaporation, we would expect the energy flux from the surface via evaporation to increase. Of course the details are much more complex, but that this is likely to happen is pretty basic.

  27. Are all of your comments to me going to be rude?

    Depends. The whole “we really don’t understand” line of argument is pretty tedious.

    Which of my sentences displayed ignorance, I would like to know?

    It appears to be the core of your argument.

  28. Here we go again!

    Yes the basic idea is very simple, increase the level of radiative effective gases will increase the average temperature.

    But, by how much?

    Many investigators seem to be reaching a 0.6 degree figure for a doubling of CO2, however, if the temperature stated to climb, what else would change?

    Nothing on this earth, in nature, works in isolation.

    We can imagine increased cloud cover from ‘your increased moisture’.

    Increased cloud cover could reduce the amount of radiant energy reaching the earth surface.

    It appears that CO2 is ‘clouding’ your judgement.

    Other physical effects occur simultaneously.

  29. Many investigators seem to be reaching a 0.6 degree figure for a doubling of CO2, however, if the temperature stated to climb, what else would change?

    See, this is not only silly, but simply not true (unless by “many” you mean more than 1). There are virtually no credible studies that suggest that equilibrium climate sensitivity is less than 1C. It’s even unlikely that transient climate sensitivity is less than 1C.

    Increased cloud cover could reduce the amount of radiant energy reaching the earth surface.

    There are many things that “could” happen. However, our current understanding is that these things are unlikely. The best estimates at the moment are that clouds are a small positive feedback. Suggestion that something else “could” happen really isn’t part of the scientific process. You really do need to do more than simply suggest alternatives.

  30. You really think clouds can offer positive feedback?

    Do you understand control systems?

    You used the word ‘could’ twice in this thread alone!

    Here is the worst one:

    “The overall change in precipitation is quite small, but when you do have an extreme event, there could be a lot more water that is available to be precipitated.”

  31. Steve,

    You really think clouds can offer positive feedback?

    Yes, low level clouds tend to reflect incoming shortwavelength radiation and hence are a negative feedback. High level clouds are very cold and tend to block outgoing long-wavelength radiation and are hence a positive feedback. Our current understanding is that the net effect is that clouds provide a small positive feedback.

    Do you understand control systems?

    Do you understand that this has virtually nothing to do with our climate.

    You used the word ‘could’ twice in this thread alone!

    Yes, I was using it as “could actually be”, rather “could be instead”. There is a difference.

  32. A true word smith!

    Do you know of any man made system: audio amplifier, engine governor, level controller, heating controller, cruise control, aircraft attitude controller, voltage regulator, pressure controller, pacemaker, gas oven temperature controller, electric oven temperature controller – which uses positive feedback?

    I suggest sir that there is non.

    I am not displaying ignorance but stating control theory. For a system to remain stable it must have an overall system gain of less than one.

    Your clever choice of words: virtually nothing to do with our climate” does suggest you are hedging your bets on this one.

    Let me help: the climate system on earth displays all of the characteristics of a partially self regulated system. to wit, with a steady flow on energy from the sun, our climate will self regulate between upper and lower limits of temperature.

    Why does our climate partially self regulate:

    Unique properties of water

    Why have we the temperature we have today?

    70/30 percent water land ratio
    Gravity
    Air density
    Contents of the atmosphere

    The long term proxy temperature record displays a remarkable consistency indicative of a partially self regulated system.

    Any hint of positive feedback would have led to the destruction of life on earth a long long time ago.

  33. Steve,

    I am not displaying ignorance but stating control theory.

    Yes, but control theory is largely irrelevant. Also, I didn’t say you were ignorant, I said you’re invoking ignorance.

    For a system to remain stable it must have an overall system gain of less than one.

    Indeed, but that does not mean that there can be no feedbacks that are positive.

    Any hint of positive feedback would have led to the destruction of life on earth a long long time ago.

    You seem slightly ill-informed about climate science. You could try reading this. Including the Planck response, the overall feedback response is indeed negative. However, there are feedbacks that are positive and our current understanding is that the feedback response of clouds is small and positive. Try Chapter 7 of the IPCC AR5 report. On page 574 it says

    the cloud feedback from all cloud types to be +0.6 (−0.2 to +2.0) Wm–2 oC–1.

  34. verytallguy says:

    Steve,

    you have misunderstood the meaning of”positive feedback”.

    In climate science it refers to feedbacks except stefan-bolzmann temperature feedback

    The net feedback including that,  is negative. 

    This is a common misconception of engineers in the climate debate. 

    Could I suggest that a good question to ask yourself if you find yourself disagreeing with experts,  is where you are wrong,  rather than where they are wrong. 

  35. Bernard J. says:

    A true fallacious-logic smith.

    For a system to remain stable it must have an overall system gain of less than one.

    There are a few unsupported assumptions inherent in this straw man, not the least of which is that the “system” has a linear response across the range of the independent variable; that it is not merely metastable…

    When one has a hammer, everything is a nail – even if it’s not.

    Why have we the temperature we have today?

    Add to your list the following:

    Biological activity.
    Surface geochemistry.
    Crust/mantle geochemical physics, including but not restricted to volcanic history.
    (Relative absence of recent) astronomical stochastic events.

    There are many other factors, including the distance from and the age of the sun, and planetary precession (and not all of which are linear in their forcing…), but the peculiar and very conspicuous thing is that you completely omitted non-water (-> anthropogenic) ‘greenhouse’ gases…

    Any hint of positive feedback would have led to the destruction of life on earth a long long time ago.

    At least two fallacies in one sentence. Take your pick from the following: ignoratio elenchi, causal oversimplification, inductive fallacy, and/or ‘normalcy’ cognitive bias…

  36. Oh dear again:

    Yr page 574 AR7, “The net feedback from water vapour and lapse rate changes combined, as traditionally defined, is extremely likely positive (amplifying global climate changes)”

    Then next sentence: “Uncertainty in the sign and magnitude of the cloud feedback”

    informs us that they do not know the sign of the feedback: positive or negative!!!!!!!!!

    Lets be clear, they (IPCC) state that cloud feedback is positive, amplifying global climate change.

    Lets understate their sentence: higher temperature = more cloud = higher temperature: repeat.

    Classic positive feedback.

    What stops the temperature from increasing or decreasing indefinitely?

    You confidently echo their positive feedback, they put it in print, using the classic definition, then you say engineers do not understand ‘this form of positive feedback’

    Sorry, there is only one kind of feedback, where the output influences the input.

    Please educate me if you or the climateers have discovered/invented and ‘new kind of feedback’.

    I would not call “stefan-bolzmann temperature feedback” feedback because it is not, it is purely a physical effect so well quantified it is a law.

    If you have a problem agreeing with me on including a small section of positive feedback in an overall larger system, just model a 3 block system in Matlab, give the middle block positive feedback, with the whole system possessing negative feedback and see what happens. I’ll leave it to inquisitive readers to understand how daft it would be.

    Re your appeal to authority: “Could I suggest that a good question to ask yourself if you find yourself disagreeing with experts, is where you are wrong, rather than where they are wrong. “

    Are these the experts who have not got one general climate circulation model to work AT ALL, after a spend of many millions?

    Are these the experts who said there would be no pause?

    Are these this the experts who said there would be a hot spot?

    Are these the experts who turned trees into thermometers but forgot that tree respond equally well to rain as well as temperature?

    Are these the experts who keep changing historical temperature records?

    Are these the experts who, when they discover a difference between satellite and terrestrial records do not suggest investigating the reason why there is a difference but blindly carry on?

    I think there are not many true experts (in the traditional sense) in climatic research.

    To end, much of the IPCC work involves computer modelling/simulation.

    Until these computer models approach a usable state (ie verified) there is no further reason to discuss catastrophic man made global climate.

  37. @verytallguy

    Some of my comments were addressed to you! sorry.

  38. Bernard J. says:

    Was 1984 the Year of the Goose?

  39. @Bernard J.

    !
    I agree with the additions to the list which could be very long if we had time to compile it.

    Why is: For a system to remain stable it must have an overall system gain of less than one.

    a strawman?

    It is a statement of fact, if you disagree please point me to a reference that contradiction me.

    Are you suggesting that a dynamic (changeable/changing) system with overall end to end positive feedback will remain stable!

    Unbelievable.

    completely omitted non-water (-> anthropogenic) ‘greenhouse’ gases

    Since temperature have risen in the recent pre industrial age I dismiss CO2 from having a dynamic effect. We know it is not CO2, lets move on.

  40. verytallguy says:

    Steve

    What stops the temperature from increasing or decreasing indefinitely?

    I explained to you above how your understanding of the jargon of climate science has led you to this erroneous extrapolation.

    Again, ask yourself whether it is really likely that every climate scientist has made such a facile mistake, or if your understanding is, in fact, wrong.

  41. Steve,
    Your strawman arguments are getting rather tedious.

    Yr page 574 AR7, “The net feedback from water vapour and lapse rate changes combined, as traditionally defined, is extremely likely positive (amplifying global climate changes)”

    Then next sentence: “Uncertainty in the sign and magnitude of the cloud feedback”

    informs us that they do not know the sign of the feedback: positive or negative!!!!!!!!!

    No it does not. The cloud feedback is likely positive. However, there is uncertainty and it could be negative. However, the range is -0.2 to +2, hence it is more likely above 0, than below, but it could be positive and large, or it could be negative but probably small. Hence there is uncertainty in the sign and magnitude. That, however, does not mean that they know nothing. Again, it is likely positive and small.

    Personally, I have little time for people who say things like this

    I think there are not many true experts (in the traditional sense) in climatic research.

    In my experience it is an indicator of hubris.

  42. Bernard J. says:

    Are you suggesting that a dynamic (changeable/changing) system with overall end to end positive feedback will remain stable!

    No, I’m suggesting that you are attempting to fallaciously confabulate a metastable system, impacted by a temporally-variable range of forcings, with a simple linear system more familiar to engineers.

    Unbelievable.

    Incredulity is a logical fallacy.

    “completely omitted non-water (-> anthropogenic) ‘greenhouse’ gases

    Since temperature have [sic] risen in the recent pre industrial age I dismiss CO2 from having a dynamic effect. We know it is not CO2, lets move on.

    You “dismiss” with no defensible rationale, and with an avoidance of the full range of causal factors.

    Unlike you, the professional scientists “know” that it is extremely likely that “it is CO2”.

    [Mod : Just redacted this last sentence.]

  43. Steve,
    In fact, if you could respond to VTG’s latest before gish-galloping to your next point, that would be appreciated.

  44. Bernard J. says:

    Apologies for the snark, ATTP. Facile hubris and logical fallacy of this industrial grade make me a little short-tempered.

    I’ll consider myself smacked in advance.

  45. Bernard,
    Thanks, it was getting a bit more snarky than I normally like 🙂

    Steve,
    Seriously, if you want to have a discussion about this I think you do need to address the point that VTG has made about terminology. Ideally, also dismissing the expertise of large number of climate scientists when it seems clear you’re unfamiliar with the terminology that they use seems rather suboptimal.

  46. Marco says:

    “Are these the experts who have not got one general climate circulation model to work AT ALL, after a spend of many millions?”

    Apparently, Steve Richards is Ignorant of what GCMs can do and do do.

    “Are these the experts who said there would be no pause?”

    Citation needed! In the absence of a citation I call BS.

    “Are these this the experts who said there would be a hot spot?”

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/tropospheric-hot-spot-advanced.htm

    “Are these the experts who turned trees into thermometers but forgot that tree respond equally well to rain as well as temperature?”

    Apparently, Steve Richards is completely ignorant about dendroclimatology. Steve Richards can start to learn something here:
    http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/climate/CDcourses_treerings.html
    They even have a nice simulation in place that “allows you to specify the conditions (temperature and precipitation) in the vicinity of a tree on a yearly basis, and to see how those conditions influence tree ring growth” – you know, the kind of stuff that Steve Richards claims experts in the field did not know.

    “Are these the experts who keep changing historical temperature records?”

    And the problem with that is? Incorporating new knowledge is apparently not allowed in Steve Richards’ world.

    “Are these the experts who, when they discover a difference between satellite and terrestrial records do not suggest investigating the reason why there is a difference but blindly carry on?”

    Yeah, maybe you should propose a project to Christy & Spencer to investigate why their satellite record is so divergent. At least Carl Mears from RSS openly states he believes the terrestrial records are more reliable!

  47. BBD says:

    steverichards

    Perhaps it would help if you thought of positive (climate system) feedbacks as having gain <1.

  48. Willard says:

    Hello Steve,

    You ask many rhetorical questions. If you could point me to any reference behind the arguments they conceal, I could add them to my Contrarian Matrix:

    http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com

    I will of course add you to the list of contributors.

    Meanwhile, please stop arguing by asking rhetorical questions.

    Thank you for your concerns.

  49. anoilman says:

    steverichards1984 says:
    January 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    “Are these the experts who said there would be no pause?”

    Oh dear indeed.

    First question, to which hiatus are you referring? There are so many to choose from.

    Name anyone who’s claimed that won’t happen? (Well… besides global warming deniers such as yourself.) Just so you know… the simulation ensemble averages contain temperature declines. So… every simulation shows it. Every one of them, and they always have. Perhaps you are confused as to what the ensemble averages contain?

    If you want to look at short term data you have two choices, understand what’s in it, or explain the statistical significance of a short data set. I invite you do do that. After all, today is colder than yesterday. So in your world global warming is over?

    I prefer to understand what it contains, like weather, solar variance, and volcanoes. Ergo… the current definition of the hiatus is as long as i takes to include 1998, a blisteringly hot El Nino.

    I suspect in a few years it will be people like you saying it hasn’t warmed since 2015?

    My hats off to you for a very fine gish gallop. Its bound to entertain us for half a day or so. Have you considered the benefits of learning something and maybe figuring out what’s going on with facts a physics? It would be a tad more interesting to read.

  50. Turbulent Eddie says:

    Given the extreme precipitation and flooding that’s been experienced in some parts of the world recently,

    Do think about this logically.

    The extreme precip and flooding have occurred in the Northern Hemisphere during the coldest time of the year.

    To be sure, there’s global warming, but invoking it to describe flooding during January is weak.

    El Nino and the associate circulation is the leading suspect, of course, and a reminder of the primacy of circulation in determining climate.

  51. The extreme precip and flooding have occurred in the Northern Hemisphere during the coldest time of the year.

    You do realise that it’s relative to this time of year?

    To be sure, there’s global warming, but invoking it to describe flooding during January is weak.

    I didn’t really did I? (why does everyone do this?) I was trying to simply point out that attribution is really only something that helps us to establish if our understanding is indeed correct. Trying to determine what will happen is physics.

  52. @anoilman

    You say: “the simulation ensemble averages contain temperature declines. So… every simulation shows it. Every one of them, and they always have. Perhaps you are confused as to what the ensemble averages contain?

    Do you realise what you are saying?

    You get one model output that is hopelessly incorrect and average it with another hopefully incorrect model output, repeat until you have run out of hopelessly incorrect model outputs.

    If you and others here really really believe that averaging absolute rubbish gives you a valid answer then

    a) I feel sorry for you

    b) I am out of here.

    Have you any maths theory in there at all?

    Renaming feedback, averaging incorrect outputs based on incorrect and incomplete simulations tut tut.

  53. @anoilman

    One last point, which hiatus? the current one of course.

    The one that Prof. Phil Jones wrote that he was worried about if it did not end soon, we would be found out……..

    Bye to all, its been a good distraction, I now have to catch up on my work…..

  54. BBD says:

    steverichards

    Instead of raising everybody’s blood pressure, including your own, how about reading up on climate system feedbacks and *then* coming back to discuss them when you have a clearer picture?

    There are two useful articles at RealClimate (starting here). I hope you find them helpful.

  55. BBD says:

    Without further comment (source: Climate Lab Book):

  56. anoilman says:

    steverichards1984 says:
    January 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    “Do you realise what you are saying?

    You get one model output that is hopelessly incorrect and average it with another hopefully incorrect model output, repeat until you have run out of hopelessly incorrect model outputs.”

    Ah… Yes, I know what I’m saying. And you start clearly stating that you have no idea what’s going on.

    I recommend you look at the various parameters they toss in the models for those simulations. Hint: Its the things they can’t predict, like weather (El Nino), volcanoes, and solar variance.

  57. Willard says:

    Please mind your sock puppet, Turbulent One. I’ve corrected it.

    This is your second and last warning.

  58. Steve,

    b) I am out of here.

    Apart from you not quite achieving this, this is probably a good thing. Being insulted by people who are almost certainly wrong does get tedious after a while.

  59. anoilman says:

    Besides Anders… all of Global Warming is over according to a few Snow Troopers;

  60. guthrie says:

    Strange how it raining in areas which would normally expect snow at this time of year doesn’t tell TE something.

  61. Marco says:

    “The one that Prof. Phil Jones wrote that he was worried about if it did not end soon, we would be found out……..”

    Gee, how surprising that Steve Richards now even decides to lie about what Phil Jones wrote…

  62. Bernard J. says:

    One last point, which hiatus? the current one of course.

    The nature of natural short-term noise is such that there is always a period immediatey preceeding the present where said noise has the appearance of a statistical “hiatus”, even when it’s actually still warming and that “hiatus” isn’t real.

    Using your logic there has always been a “current [hiatus]” of 12-20 years. Always. Except that it’s not in fact a “hiatus”, it’s an inherent part of needing a minimum amount of time to discern a signal from the variability inherent in a noisy system.

    How can you be so refractory to this (generally) easily-understood fact?

  63. Pingback: 2016: A year in blogging | …and Then There's Physics

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