Articles Tagged "David Whitehouse"
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Monday, January 7th 2013, 4:23 PM EST
The UK Met Office has revised its global temperature predictions as a result of a new version of its climate model and climate simulations using it. It now believes that global temperatures up to 2017 will most likely be 0.43 deg C above the 1971 -2000 average, with an error of +/- 0.15 deg C. In reality this is a forecast of no increase in global temperatures above current levels.
The new forecast produced by the UK Met Office for the next five years is a considerable change from forecasts given in the past few years. An excellent comparison between the new and older forecasts can be found here.
It is worth comparing the current forecast with that made just five years ago. In 2007 The Met Office Hadley Centre reported to the UK Government that it had pioneered a new system to predict the climate a decade ahead. It said that the system simulated both the human-driven climate change and the evolution of slow natural variations already locked into the system. “We are now using the system to predict changes out to 2014. By the end of this period, the global average temperature is expected to have risen by around 0.3 °C compared to 2004, and half of the years after 2009 are predicted to be hotter than the current record hot year, 1998.”
Thursday, December 20th 2012, 11:59 AM EST
Our world is based upon science. It is a shame, though perhaps inevitable, that more people do not truly appreciate it. The clothes you wear, the mobile phone you use, the food you eat and the vaccination that protects your child are all wonders of science, based on so many generations of scientists carrying out observations and measurements, formulating hypotheses and theories, using logic and mathematical models.
Few would argue that climate science has not been controversial, even if opinions as to why differ. It is important to everyone on the planet, so the bar on evidence and conclusions should be set high. But climate science is no different from any other area of science. The process of science involves scrutiny, questioning and often cussed unreasonableness in the face of data, its gathering and interpretation. Truth will out eventually and the result is progress, a step towards better understanding. Carl Sagan (how he is missed) once told me that science was a “baloney detection kit.”
But where is the baloney? Many misunderstand what is going on in climate science. It’s as if there is a reflex against what is seen as an attack on the scientific method by outsiders, by uninformed, unqualified skeptics armed with their blogs and a bad attitude. Their views are dismissed as mere opinions out of line with the consensus and indeed of science itself. But the debate about climate science is not an attack on the scientific method. That view shows a shallow understanding of climate science and the issues involved. Neither is the debate regarding climate science about politics or a view about the right course of human development. It might come as a surprise to some, but the debate about climate science is about science, framed in the way science is changing.
Tuesday, December 18th 2012, 7:35 AM EST
Whatever one’s view about the leaking of the draft IPCC AR5 report it does make fascinating reading, and given the public scrutiny it is now receiving it will be interesting to see what parts of it are changed when the final report is released in a year or so.
One part of it that should be changed is the section on global surface temperature data and its interpretation.
The analysis of global combined land and ocean surface temperature in AR5 is inadequate for what it admits is seen as the prime statistic of global warming. It is highly selective in the references it quotes and in the use of time periods which obscures important, albeit inconvenient, aspects of the temperature data. It is poorly drafted often making a strong assertion, and then somewhat later qualifying if not contradicting it by admitting its statistical insignificance. This leaves the door open for selective and incomplete quoting.
In Chapter 2 the report says that the AR4 report in 2007 said that the rate of change global temperature in the most recent 50 years is double that of the past 100 years. This is not true and is an example of blatant cherry-picking. Why choose the past 100 and the past 50 years? If you go back to the start of the instrumental era of global temperature measurements, about 1880 (the accuracy of the data is not as good as later years but there is no reason to dismiss it as AR5 does) then of the 0.8 – 0.9 deg C warming seen since then 0.5 deg C of it, i.e. most, occurred prior to 1940 when anthropogenic effects were minimal (according to the IPCC AR4).
Source Link: thegwpf.org/
Sunday, December 16th 2012, 7:04 PM EST
Rising sea level has become an icon of global warming with claims that by 2100 many cities on the coast will face severe problems. In 2009 the Met Office, the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) and the Royal Society released a joint pre-Copenhagen Conference statement that included as one of its five main scientific points: “There is increasing evidence of continued and accelerating sea-level rises around the world.”
At the same time the Royal Society said in a press statement touching on sea level changes that, “…estimates generally larger than those previously projected including evidence of continued and accelerating sea-level change around the world.”
What a difference a few years makes.
Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last Ice Age as the Northern Hemisphere’s ice burden was lifted. From Roman times however there is no evidence of significant changes in sea level until about 1750 – 1800 when sea levels started to rise linearly until about 1910 when the rate of change increased. Since 1910 the rate of sea level rise has been, within the errors, constant, despite the statements made by the institutions listed above.
Friday, November 30th 2012, 3:27 AM EST
The Leveson Report does not have much to say about science reporting, and even less about the problems of reporting climate change. But what it does say ranges from the blatantly obvious to the misguided, in my opinion.
I think all reporters, science and otherwise, would agree that the MMR story that began in 1998 was clearly a disaster for science reporting, and for society as a whole. As a result of it vaccination rates fell by 12%. Cases of measles rose from 56 in 1998 to 1,370 in 2008. But it was not alone. The reporting of BSE/CJD from 1996 onwards, after the link between BSE and new variant CJD was established, was poor. It tended to be alarmist, and relied on too narrow a range of sources about the possibility of an epidemic, which in the end did not happen. The BBC was particularly guilty of this. Likewise a few years later the coverage of Foot and Mouth disease and genetically modified crops in the press has at times been to coloured by the views of pressure groups and public opinion, and science has not been as prominent as it should have been.
The problem with MMR wasn’t the reporting of the work, of what was after all that of a qualified expert, but the fact that it fell into the old media cliché of the maverick scientist who might be proven right. It is said by some, including the submission by the Science Media Centre to the Leveson enquiry, that the problem with MMR was ‘false balance,’ in which a minority view is represented by one voice (Wakefield) and the view of the scientific consensus is represented by another single voice, giving the impression of a kind of equality or balance of argument that does not exist in the scientific community. The public will get misled, it was argued, and in the case of BSE/CJD and MMR they certainly were.
Friday, November 30th 2012, 2:10 AM EST
It’s that time of year again when some call the global annual average temperature for the year, even though there are still two months of data remaining. Such a premature declaration is done for political reasons, such as the current UN climate meeting in Doha.
The UK Met Office, on the 28th November 2012, issued a ‘State of global temperatures in 2012,’ and it makes interesting reading.
The Met Office uses three “leading global temperature datasets” to conclude that the average temperature of 2012 is 0.45 +/- 0.10 deg C above the 1961-90 average. They add that these error bars mean that 2012 could be between the 4th and the 14th warmest year of the instrumental period, since 1850. Realistically though it’s going to be ninth or tenth. Fig 1 (left) shows the Met Office data.
The Met Office then adds that due to a La Nina 2012 is cooler than the average for the last decade. Statistically speaking that is not the whole story. According to the data we already have, taking the errors into account, 2012 is statistically identical to all the other years of the past decade and beyond. The recent global temperature standstill continues.
What is an obvious standstill to some – the global temperature hasn’t increased for 15 years – is to others a not so rapid warming, or as the Met Office puts it; “Although the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record, warming has not been as rapid since 2000 as over the longer period since the 1970s.”
Tuesday, October 23rd 2012, 1:29 PM EDT
The data, displayed this way, reveal that far from showing a steady underlying rate of warming the global temperature has had two standstills, with curiously, the 1998 super El Nino delineating them.
In the debate about the significance of the observed global annual average temperature standstill – whose duration now stands at the past 16 years – some have argued that it has little climatic significance. Not only is it shorter than the canonical thirty years used as the minimum to deduce climatic effects, it is also unimportant because the underlying decadal rate of warming is close to the IPCC’s estimate/prediction of 0.2 deg C per decade, and that this rate of warming has remained unchanged over the past thirty years. Thus it is maintained that global warming has not stopped even though there may be a pause in the temperature increase, or as the UK Met Office put it, a recent lower rate of warming. What we have seen in the past 16 years is therefore just variation in the rate of warming and that the underlying rate of global warming is as significant today as it has always been.
The evidence for this is the average global temperature for the past three decades. The UK Met Office in their State of the Climate brochure use an oft-repeated graph that shows this underlying increase in warming.
Thursday, October 18th 2012, 6:05 PM EDT
Another piece of research using climate proxies has cast some light on the recent evolution of sea surface temperature in a region of the Atlantic.
The researchers, from the National University of Mexico and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA, writing in the journal Paleoceanography, point out that accurate low-latitude sea surface temperature records that predate the instrumental era (post-1850) are needed to put recent warming in the context of natural climate variability and to understand what they describe as the possible influence of anthropogenic climate change on this variability.
They obtain a most interesting 235-year-long sea surface temperature reconstruction based on annual growth rates of coral (Atlantic coral Siderastrea sidereal) at three sites in Mexico located within the Atlantic Warm Pool (AWP). The point out that AWP surface temperatures vary in concert the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) – a basin-wide, quasiperiodic (60–80 years) oscillation of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.
Wednesday, October 17th 2012, 5:44 PM EDT
A new paper, looking back at the climate of the past two thousand years, published in the journal “Climate of the Past,” will either cause something of a stir, or provide confirmation of what some regard as having already emerged from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The title of the paper is, “The extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere temperature in the last two millennia: reconstructions of low-frequency variability,” by B Christiansen of the Danish Meteorological Institute and F C Ljungqvist of Stockholm University. The link to the journal is here, and the paper can be read in its entirety here.
The climate of the past few hundred years is of clear importance because it allows scientists to put today’s warm period into context, and provides some evidence of the influence of the quantity of greenhouse gasses that mankind has injected into the atmosphere. In much literature and during many debates statements to the effect that it is warmer now than it has been for thousands of years are frequently used.
Monday, October 15th 2012, 6:09 AM EDT
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In response to an article in the Mail On Sunday that points out the absence of a recent temperature rise in the Met Office’s newly released Hadcrut4 global temperature database the UK Met Office released a statement that is misleading.
The Mail On Sunday article uses the Met Office’s Hadcrut4 database that was updated from 2010 to the present day last week.
We live in the warmest decade of the instrumental era (post-1850), and most of the warmest years have occurred in the past decade, but what the Met Office ignores to say is that, at present, we live on a temperature plateau – there is no recent upward trend in global temperature.
The Met Office says that the world has warmed by 0.03 deg C per decade since 1997 based on their calculation of the gradient in the Hadcrut4 dataset. But what the Met Office doesn’t say is that this is statistically insignificant. The gradient of the trendline in Hadcrut4 is very sensitive to the start and end dates used as temperatures vary significantly month-to-month, so the Met Office is being misleading in quoting trendlines for a particular start and end date without taking into account how the scatter of the data, the errors in the temperature measurements, and short-term changes affect the statistical confidence in the resulting trendline.