A possible “told you so” moment?

I guess there’s no point in writing a “possible told you so” post if you can’t then say “I told you so” when it actually comes about. I guess I was maybe out by a few months with respect to when the El Nino started, but still, I told you so.

...and Then There's Physics

There is increasing evidence to suggest that we may see an extreme El Nio event later this year, which could make 2015 the hottest year on record. Given that surface warming has slowed and we continue to accrue energy, most of which is going into the oceans, this seems like something that has to happen at some stage in the not too distant future. The oceans do have a large heat capacity, but they can’t accrue most of the excess energy for ever and – if our emissions are increasing the energy imbalance – they can’t accrue an ever increasing fraction of the excess. At some point surface warming will have to accelerate and a sudden large El Nio event is certainly one way in which this could happen.

I looked through some of my older posts to see if I had discussed this is any detail previously. I came…

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63 Responses to A possible “told you so” moment?

  1. Pete best says:

    2016 could be even warmer due to the el nino and climate change

  2. Pete,
    Indeed, I think the general view is that there is a reasonable chance that 2016 could beat 2015. So, 3 warmest years in a row, which – I think – has not happened before in the instrumental temperature record.

  3. Andrew dodds says:

    I do wish people would stop calling 2016 as hotter than 2015.. It’s horribly close to weather prediction, and gives a chance of egg-on-face.

    Yes, it should be by historical comparison, but something can easily happen.

  4. Andrew,
    Yes, you’re probably right that it could end up being a bit of a disaster if it does not turn out warmer than 2015 (and that’s true even if people have provided suitable caveats).

  5. BBD says:

    The more emphasis placed on EN the more likelihood there is that the next ‘sceptic’ meme will be about how the *ongoing* ‘pause’ (that isn’t – see OHC) has merely been punctuated by a ‘natural phenomenon’.

  6. BBD,
    Indeed, that is an issue. You’d think that they might stop and consider the implications of there being events that cause warming, but there not being an associated event that causes a comparable amount of cooling, but that’s clearly beyond the grasp of some people (yes, I am thinking of Bob Tisdale here).

  7. KarSteN says:

    This one was even more predictable [www.thegwpf.com]:

    “This clearly because 2015 was like 1998 a strong El Nino year. Because of this it is unwise to use 2015 in any trend analysis.”

    I mean, honestly, this is beyond ironic. It only shows what a bunch of bigoted nutters they really are. Sorry, but there’s no way of putting that more polite.

  8. KarSteN,
    Bizarre, but not surprising.

  9. Nick says:

    KarSteN, in the light of that GWPF offering, no doubt the ‘skeptics’ will soberly request removing the ENSO signal from the data…

  10. semyorka says:

    Warming on HadCRUT4 is now statistically significant since 1995 its significant on most other surface datasets from 1997 (but not HadCRUT4). A meme dies and almost no one mourns it.

  11. Joshua says:

    This is also quite interesting coming from the GWPF:

    “Remember when some analysts used 1998 as a start point for global temperature trend analysis they were rightly criticised for it. “

    The GWPF is saying that 1998 shouldn’t be used as a start point for global temperature trend analysis? I presume that much of hte GWPF material speaks of a “pause.” If so, I assume that none of that material uses 1998 as the starting point for their analyses?

  12. Joshua,
    I guess that’s the post-2015 GWPF distancing itself from the pre-2015 GWPF.

  13. I also suspect that the GWPF are hoping that by 2018 people will have forgotten that they said you shouldn’t use 2015 as an endpoint, or startpoint, in a trend analysis.

  14. Dan says:

    ATTP why are you high-fiveing? These values were inevitable.
    What’s more important, mitigation or atmospheric extraction and storage? As I’m a bit keen on mammals I’m favouring the latter. Anybody got some big holes that need filling…quickly?

  15. Dan,

    why are you high-fiveing? These values were inevitable.

    Well, yes, they were, which is kind of the point. I’m not exactly pleased about this. I would preferred to have been wrong. I was also being a bit lazy, as I’m travelling home from a meeting today, so don’t have much time to write anything new 🙂

    What’s more important, mitigation or atmospheric extraction and storage? As I’m a bit keen on mammals I’m favouring the latter. Anybody got some big holes that need filling…quickly?

    I presume you mean “mitigation” as distinct from extraction and storage? Why does it have to be one, not both? As I understand it, one of the ways to extract and store is to burn plants and then capture and store the CO2 they release. The next generation of plants would then be removing CO2 and you can repeat this process. One issue, though, is for this to make some kind of meaningful impact, you’d have to be utilising an area that might be larger than India.

    Even if we do think that some form of extraction and storage will be needed, at the end of the day, we should be aiming to get emissions to zero if we want to avoid continued warming.

  16. Dan says:

    We are all agreed that 1.5C is a joke (made more so by NOAA’s 2015 temps) but in the interests of getting some form of unanimity it may have been a useful lie at COP21.
    2C is a bigger and more dangerous joke than 1.5C because world leaders have convinced themselves that
    1. it’s a reasonably benign value and
    2, it’s achievable.
    Neither is true.

  17. Dan,
    I largely agree. I might nuance it slightly to “we’re certainly doing very little to limit warming to 2C”.

  18. JCH says:

    Well, SOI is dropping like a rock, so maybe this EL Nino will be eternal!!!!

    Andrew is right. Remember 2007. Started out with a sky high anomaly, and then it dropped.

  19. dana1981 says:

    You’re correct that there hasn’t been 3 consecutive record-breaking years in the instrumental record. The real difference is that 2014 broke the record despite being an ENSO-neutral year. That 2015 broke it again with the El Nino assist isn’t surprising, and 2016 may again, depending on how ENSO changes in the coming months.

    But the big difference is that we can now get record-breaking years with no El Nino assist.

  20. Pete best says:

    I though that the effects of an el nino are lagging behind the atmosphere so for soem part of 2016 at least the el nino will impact some warming effect?

  21. JCH says:

    Pete Best – I agree. As the PDO sagged throughout 2015, the anomalies drifted downward. It was not until October-November-December that the El Nino showed up positive in the anomalies.

  22. Willard says:

    Brace yourselves, a impactful rounds of ClimateBall ™ are incoming:

  23. BBD says:

    was there any serious negative impact to the warm December? Does it change your level of concern when warm record and no damage?

    So no flooding in the UK then?

  24. Willard says:

    Perhaps, BBD, but how can you be sure that the warmth of the 19th at 12:13 PM caused any of this?

  25. anoilman says:

    BBD: Its been great here! I’m busting out my Hawaiian shirts and everything!

    Steve Macintyre is making an appeal to the fact that it may indeed be good weather for much of the US. But its avoids the fact that the US represents a tiny portion of the planet. He’s also avoiding the fact that a nice comfy winter came with drought and other obnoxious problems for others at other times in the year.
    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-monitoring/

    In the mean time Pine Beetles which freeze to death in cold winters (-35C for 2 weeks does it) are heading to the arctic circle, ’cause its not cold enough to kill them in Canada.

  26. verytallguy says:

    Willard,

    (1) it’s not happening
    (2) it’s not us
    (3) it’s not bad

    SM seems to have reached (3). Judging from the GWPF response to 2015 record, they’re still at (1). Indeed, most deniers are at (1) or (2) so we can thank SM not just for his concerns, but also his forward thinking attitude.

  27. dhogaza says:

    McI:

    “was there any serious negative impact to the warm December? Does it change your level of concern when warm record and no damage?”

    1. Loss of revenue of the King Salmon season for fishermen on the Central California coast.
    2. Warming-enhanced/driven bloom of the algae which causes domoic acid poisoning, leading to the closure of the Dungeness crab season in California (note that salmon trollers often switch to crab in winter after the king salmon season closes, meaning that a lot of fishermen here have lost essentially their entire annual income). The OR/WA seasons suffered a partial closure but are open now.
    3. Market squid fishery in Monterey Bay collapsed this year, leaving purse seiners in the lurch.
    4. Water conditions led to the loss of almost the entire year’s crop of California sea lion pups over the course of last winter.
    5. High northern fur seal pup mortality, though less well documented than the sea lion pup die-off.
    6. Massive Cassin’s auklet die-off on the west coast last year.
    7. Large die-off of other species of seabirds this year.
    8. Closure of the sardine fishery.
    9. Though not well documented due to low market value, anchovy numbers appear to be extremely low and plankton trawling surveys have found almost no eggs or larvae (this is a bit counterintuitive because massive numbers of anchovies came into Monterey Bay and some other nearshore waters, leading to an illusion of healthy numbers, but turns out this was very, very localized).

    Let us start with that, the myoptic perspective of someone who currently resides on Monterey Bay, on the Central California coast.

  28. anoilman says:

    verytallguy: GWPF are at stage 1 and losers. Total absolute losers.
    http://www.desmog.uk/2016/01/21/two-members-lawson-s-climate-denial-think-tank-lose-2k-climate-science-bet

    Yup, they actually bet money temperatures would be going down. They lost…

    But I bet their fan boyz will counter with 2 out of 3?

  29. dhogaza,
    But I think some would argue that you can’t attribute that to CC. That even if that is true, the idea that what’s happening now is an indicator of what might be common if we continue to warm, seems beyond them.

  30. dhogaza says:

    Well, yes, of course …

    I posted that list for us, not them 🙂 It’s scary.

  31. Willard says:

    Not sure if that fits best here or in the Tu Quoque thread.

  32. BBD says:

    Models are in much closer agreement with updated *observations* than some people seem to realise. See this excellent analysis by the newly-reawakened Deep Climate.

  33. Andrew Dodds says:

    Dhogaza

    You can add ‘making a mess of my home jam production by f**ing with the seasons in the UK.’ I realise that this is not a scientific description, but in between early blossom being destroyed in march, strawberries soaked to mush in june and damsons failing to ripen because August is about the same temperature as December.. Its hard work.

  34. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    The more GHGs we add to the atmosphere, the more anthropogenic climate change obscures underlying natural variability.

    Ergo – the more we actually change the Earth’s climate, the less we know to what degree we have.

    Once the Earth’s climate has become completely unrecognizable, we will have achieved a state of perfect ignorance with respect to the cause.

    Denialist logic 101.

  35. Tadaaa says:

    “The more GHGs we add to the atmosphere, the more anthropogenic climate change obscures underlying natural variability.

    Ergo – the more we actually change the Earth’s climate, the less we know to what degree we have.”

    brilliantly put

    but as you say lost on the denialist – where it is always heads they win tails you lose

  36. izen says:

    While 2015 was globally a record hot year by a record amount. this in not a homogeneous shift in temperatures. Only a few land areas had the hottest year, although most were in the top five. Satellite data, the ‘Gold standard’ or ‘best we have’ according to some relegated 2015 to third warmest. At least if you live with your head in the clouds.

    But the driving data behind the magnitude of the record were the sea surface temperatures.
    Covering a larger area of the surface, record ocean surface temperatures over a larger area than land temperatures drove the step-change in the global record.

    But while SST is still measured by ship intakes and ocean buoys, at least for reasons of historical continuity, It is my understanding that a significant component of the SST data that is incorporated into the GISS/NOAA/HADCRUT global record is derived from satellite IR measurements of the ocean skin temperature under clear sky conditions.

    I would welcome any better information on how much of the recent record really is dominated by satellite SST data corroborated by in-situ instrumental measurements.

  37. anoilman says:

    I wonder if anyone has tried applying coverage bias to the model output and seeing if more closely matches surface measurements.

  38. Willard says:

    > [T]he driving data behind the magnitude of the record were the sea surface temperatures.

    And then there’s Lamar.

  39. vtg – does the GWPF feel any need to follow a logical linear stages: (1) -> (2) -> (3). Why not keep us guessing by randomly jumping to any stage … It’s Thursday so let’s go to stage (1)!

  40. Andrew dodds says:

    I think that with the GWPF, the logic is more ‘The conclusion is burn more fossil fuels, therefore the facts must be whatever supports the conclusion’.

    I wish I had an ethics deficiency, I’m sure I could achieve fame and fortune as a climate skeptic.

  41. Phil says:

    “Remember when some analysts used 1998 as a start point for global temperature trend analysis they were rightly criticised for it. “
    Have the GWPF repremanded their own chairman ?

    Recorded in 2013 – so “very little warming in the last 15 years” is using 1998 as a start point for [a] global temperature trend

  42. verytallguy says:

    Richard,

    I think a record of how denial sites/organisations are responding to the second record breaking year in a row.

    Hilariously, Bishop Hill seems to be back at square (1)… http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2016/1/22/probable-cause-josh-358.html

    Looks like full on denial to me.

  43. Phil,
    Indeed, I pointed out on Twitter that David Whitehouse should be very cross with himself.

    vtg,

    Looks like full on denial to me.

    Does rather. Maybe that’s why they get so cross when they’re called science deniers; the truth hurts?

  44. verytallguy says:

    The truth hurts?

    Indeed, that’s why any mention of Lewandowsky results in outrage, outrage I tell you, at the thought that politics might be prejuding their opinion of the science.

  45. Joshua says:

    What’s up with Nigel Lawson’s hair?

  46. I think it just grows faster in a warmer world 🙂

  47. The truth hurts?

    I don’t particularly want to judge people on the basis of how they choose to moderate their blog, but given that Andrew has now deleted two of my comments, he presumably doesn’t like it being pointed out that his post is pretty full on science denial.

  48. Willard says:

    > a logical linear stages: (1) -> (2) -> (3)

    There are more than three stages:

    0. Lots of Theories
    1. No Best Practices
    2. Do Not Panic
    3. Do No Harm
    4. Future is Bright
    5. We Won, You Lost, Get Over It

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/

  49. verytallguy says:

    ATTP, having your comments deleted is God’s way of telling you to stop wasting your time with people who are in terminal denial.

  50. vtg,
    Well, yes, but they don’t take long to write 🙂

  51. Joshua says:

    Let it be noted that Judith has high praise for the author of the following, as having a “clear understanding” of the scientific method:

    That disjunction is particularly telling when we look at the very recent era, from 1998 through 2012, when emissions have carried on rising sharply, but temperature rises have been slow or stagnant.

    I’ll see if my comment related to this gets past Judith’s moderation (not many of my comments do these days)….I do think it’s amusing that if it doesn’t, it will be the first time that I’ve had a comment shit-canned for quoting the GWPF!

  52. Joshua says:

    I’ll repeat the quote, because it is such a tidy example of how “skeptics” employ double-standards:

    “Remember when some analysts used 1998 as a start point for global temperature trend analysis they were rightly criticised for it. “

  53. > There are more than three stages: …

    All models are wrong and some are useful! I was responding to VTG’s simple but useful ‘model’. One day, we might achieve a Grand Unified Theory of science denial that includes climate, evolution, cold fusion and the moon landings.

  54. Andrew dodds says:

    …. Germ theory, heliocentric theory, abiotic oil, HIV-AIDS, vaccines, and those who deny the existence of the Great Turtle….

  55. BBD says:

    The Great Turtle?

    PAH!

  56. frankodwyer says:

    given that Andrew has now deleted two of my comments, he presumably doesn’t like it being pointed out that his post is pretty full on science denial.

    Which post exactly are you talking about? Can you narrow it down a bit as that could be almost any of them? 🙂

  57. frankodwyer says:

    Ah yes, let me guess, your sin was to use the word ‘denial’ correctly in a sentence?

    BH has always moderated so that anyone who annoys the clowns (by pointing out that they are clowns) has to make their argument with both hands tied behind their back. Pretending ‘denial’ is a swear word is just one of the techniques.

    Another is to complain about the tone of inconvenient remarks (inventing the complaint if necessary) – while of course barking mad insinuations and outright accusations of fraud aimed at scientists are just fine.

    And of course it’s much easier to misrepresent the comment if it is deleted.

  58. Frank,

    Ah yes, let me guess, your sin was to use the word ‘denial’ correctly in a sentence?

    That BH is a science denial site is not really a great surprise. I think I expected them to leave the comment and simply hurl abuse. Deleting it seems more interesting 🙂

  59. Mal Adapted says:

    ATTP:

    I think the general view is that there is a reasonable chance that 2016 could beat 2015. So, 3 warmest years in a row, which – I think – has not happened before in the instrumental temperature record.

    When Gavin Schmidt was asked “Do you think 2016 will break the record again?” on Reddit, he replied “I’d give this better than evens odds.”

  60. JCH says:

    I think it is going to have to be very “warm”, as in, hot, right out of the gate for 2016 to beat 2015. Right now January is very hot, but it looks like it will cool from now until the end of the month, so it could come in under December. If the El Nino fades quickly, it will take a recovery of the PDO for 2016 to have any chance. 2015 has set a very high bar. This may not be like 97-98.

  61. anoilman says:

    BBD: Andrew Dodds: I’m surprised those guys haven’t thought of a creative meme with that…

    “Al Gore The Hypnotoad”

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