A Sea-Surface Temperature Picture Worth a Few Hundred Words!

Reblogged From Watts Up With That:

We covered this paper when it was first released, here is some commentary on it – Anthony

Guest essay by By PATRICK J. MICHAELS

On January 7 a paper by Veronika Eyring and 28 coauthors, titled “Taking Climate Model Evaluation to the Next Level” appeared in Nature Climate ChangeNature’s  journal devoted exclusively to this one obviously under-researched subject.

For years, you dear readers have been subject to our railing about the unscientific way in which we forecast this century’s climate: we take 29 groups of models and average them. Anyone, we repeatedly point out, who knows weather forecasting realizes that such an activity is foolhardy. Some models are better than others in certain situations, and others may perform better under different conditions. Consequently, the daily forecast is usually a blend of a subset of available models, or, perhaps (as can be the case for winter storms) only one might be relied upon.

Finally the modelling community (as represented by the football team of authors) gets it. The second sentence of the paper’s abstract says “there is now evidence that giving equal weight to each available model projection is suboptimal.”

A map of sea-surface temperature errors calculated when all the models are averaged up shows the problem writ large:

Annual sea-surface temperature error (modelled minus observed) averaged over the current family of climate modelsFrom Eyring et al.

First, the integrated “redness” of the map appears to be a bit larger than the integrated “blueness,” which would be consistent with the oft-repeated (here) observation that the models are predicting more warming than is being observed. But, more important, the biggest errors are over some of the most climatically critical places on earth.

Start with the Southern Ocean. The models have almost the entire circumpolar sea too warm, much of it off more than 1.5°C. Down around 60°S (the bottom of the map) water temperatures get down to near 0°C (because of its salinity, sea water freezes at around -2.0°C). Making errors in this range means making errors in ice formation. Further, all the moisture that lies upon Antarctica originates in this ocean, and simulating an ocean 1.5° too warm is going to inject an enormous amount of nonexistent moisture into the atmosphere, which will be precipitated over the continent in nonexistent snow.

The problem is, down there, the models are making error about massive zones of whiteness, which by their nature absorb very little solar radiation. Where it’s not white, the surface warms up quicker.

(To appreciate that, sit outside on a sunny but calm winters day, changing your khakis from light to dark, the latter being much warmer)

There are two other error fields that merit special attention: the hot blobs off the coasts of western South America and Africa. These are regions where relatively cool water upwells to the surface, driven in large part by the trade winds that blow into the earth’s thermal equator. For not-completely known reasons, these sometimes slow or even reverse, upwelling is suppressed, and the warm anomaly known as El Niño emerges (there is a similar, but much more muted version that sometimes appears off Africa).

There’s a current theory that El Niños are one mechanism that contributes to atmospheric warming, which holds that the temperature tends to jump in steps that occur after each big one. It’s not hard to see that systematically creating these conditions more persistently than they occur could put more nonexistent warming into the forecast.

Finally, to beat ever more manfully on the dead horse—averaging up all the models and making a forecast—we again note that of all the models, one, the Russian INM-CM4 has actually tracked the observed climate quite well. It is by far the best of the lot. [Hifast bold]  Eyring et al. also examined the models’ independence from each other—a measure of which are (and which are not) making (or not making) the same systematic errors. And amongst the most independent, not surprisingly, is INM-CM4.

(It’s update, INM-CM5, is slowly being leaked into the literature, but we don’t have the all-important climate sensitivity figures in print yet.)

The Eyring et al. study is a step forward. It brings climate model application into the 20th century.

Repository for Climate Forecasts

From Fabius Maximus:   (Hifast note: follow the link; other forecasts will be added in the comments there.)

Climate forecasts: collect them all!

Summary: Climate science is done by experts, often using equipment of the high kind of tech. But we can crowd-source valuable information for the policy debate. Forecasts are the tool used to shape public. Here are some. Post in the comments those that you have found. We can list them and track their accuracy. The answer will reveal much.

“Men will seem to see new destructions in the sky. …O! marvel of the human race! What madness has led you thus!”
— From The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Forecasting with models

The Project

The advocates for massive public policy action to fight climate change have chosen fear as their primary tool to convince the public to follow them. Hence they are “alarmists.” They are almost always Leftists, seeing climate change as the path to gaining power to implement their ideology. Using their control of the news media, academia, and climate science institutions, they have bombarded America with terrifying forecasts of climate doom.

And they have terrified people. Scared, they believe all sorts of stories. They are immune to facts and logic. They believe with passionate intensity claims that are easily and immediately proven false, such as The North Pole is now a lake! – Are you afraid yet?,

It is vital that we learn about the accuracy of climate forecasts. We need a comprehensive list of documented forecasts. A forecast is an event and a date (or narrow range of dates). Documented means an easily checked authoritative source describing the prediction. Post in the comments forecasts that you have found.

I did not include in this post climate projections based on scenarios (RCPs) used in the IPCC’s AR5. I have compiled a very partial list of those predictions (there are too many for a comprehensive list). Most use RCP8.5, the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5. That is an unlikely future – as a worst-case scenario should be. Let’s not go there and learn if those forecasts are correct.

Alarmists R’us – a history of the Left

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”
— From Narcotics Anonymous (1981).

But first let’s see the background story. During the past five decades, the Left has bombarded us with countless warnings of approaching doom. Inciting hysterical fear has become their favorite propaganda tool (for the Right, also – but that is a story for another day). Their predictions have an impressive record of almost total failure. Their fear-based political campaigns have had little success. Here are a few highlights.

Famine, 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive?
by William and Paul Paddock (1967).

It was a best-seller! See Wikipedia for details. Bruce Trumbo’s review, “A Matter of Fertility“, gives a summary of this horrific forecast.

“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’

“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.’”

Moving to bigger names, Paul Ehrlich set the model for bold doomsters. Others have followed his lead, but none have as yet equaled his record of wrong predictions. He hit the big time with his 1968 book The Population Bomb (see Wikipedia). The preface provided this inspiring news.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

He built his reputation with confident and precise predictions, such as this in his Autumn 1969 speech at London’s Institute of Biology. Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” (New Scientist, 16 September 1971) quoted Ehrlich.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. …If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Dixon said that Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all seafood, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”. Dixon applauded Ehrlich’s “vitally important activity.”

Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“ in which he said “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”.

My favorite bombardment of bout of doomster hysteria was about peak oil. Supposedly peaking had occurred, and would cause the end of civilization. Also entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse – and the imminent collapse of agriculture.

This is the background for one of the Left’s largest campaigns ever in America: to get massive public policy action to fight climate change.

About Climate Change

The campaign began with James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming. Since then, the Left made frequent predictions about the imminent climate catastrophe – going beyond anything in the reports of the IPCC or major climate agencies. Many of the target dates of climate predictions will come due in the next few years. Let’s assemble a list. Here are a few to get started.

The endless series of tipping points.

Climate tipping points are like buses. We miss one, and another comes alone soon. Journalists’ fabulous amnesia means that these forecasters are never held to account for their failures. Such as this from the AP, 29 June 1989.

“A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ″eco-refugees,′ ′ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP. He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.”

There are some fun collections of these warnings of tipping points and “last chances” to save the world – always imminent – such as this one. And this one.

The Arctic death spiral.

The Arctic ice has been melting since the 1970s cooling ended. Looking further back, it has been melting since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 19th century (during the LIA sea ice encircled Iceland and sometimes reached Scotland). Predictions abound about what comes next. Some are quite bold, such as this NASA press release about the coming “Arctic Meltdown“,  27 February 2001 {deleted from NASA’s archive, sent down the memory hole).

“The Arctic ice cap is melting at a rate that could allow routine commercial shipping through the far north in a decade and open up new fisheries. …It was in 1906, after centuries of attempts, that Roald Amundsen finally navigated the North-West Passage through the sea ice north of Canada. Even today, only specially strengthened ships can make the trip.

“But in 10 years’ time, if melting patterns change as predicted, the North-West Passage could be open to ordinary shipping for a month each summer. And the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia could allow shipping for at least two months a year in as little as five years.

“The new routes will slash the distances for voyages between Europe and East Asia by a third, and open up new fisheries. The resulting boom in shipping could lead to conflicts, as nations try to enforce fisheries rules, prevent smuggling and piracy, and protect the Arctic environment from oil spills. To complicate matters, Russia and Canada consider their northern sea routes as national territory, while the US regards them as international waters. …

“Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. ‘Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there,’ he predicts.”

The summer sea ice minimum in the Arctic Ocean has been in a tight range since 2007. Seventeen years after Wadhams’ prediction, there is no regular commercial traffic of size in the NW passage.

End of Snow

Bold predictions by activist scientists get headlines, such as “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past“ in The Independent, 20 March 2000 (The Independent put the story down the memory hole, but the Internet never forgets).

“However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become ‘a very rare and exciting event’. ‘Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,’ he said.”

For better grounded perspective, see “Winter Olympics: Downhill forecast“ by Lauren Morello (journalist), Nature, 4 February 2014 — “Winter sports face an uncertain future as the planet warms.” This cites a wide range of expert sources.


Predictions about hurricane doom make exciting headlines!

  1. A Katrina hurricane will strike every two years“ in ScienceNordic, 2013 — One of many articles exaggerating the findings of “Projected Atlantic hurricane surge threat from rising temperatures” by Aslak Grinsted el al. in PNAS, 2013.
  2. Hurricanes Likely to Get Stronger & More Frequent“ in Climate Central, 2013 – About a study in PNAS by Kerry Emanuel et al.using RCP8.5 (the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s AR5).
  3. See ten even more extreme predictions from the big 3 TV networks.

For actual science about hurricanes, see What you need to know about hurricanes and their trends. For another perspective, see “Weather-related Natural Disasters: Should we be concerned about a reversion to the mean?” by Prof Roger Pielke Jr., 31 July 2017. Neither is alarming. This graph by Pielke shows how the game is played. The absence of extreme weather is weather, so the hurricane “pause” (the tall blue column at the right) means nothing. Any year with several major hurricanes – like 2005 (e.g., Katrina) – is reported as climate change by activists and journalists.

Days between major hurricane landfalls

Fails about drought

Climate change works like quantum mechanics. It produces both droughts and floods. See the predictions that the California drought (now over) would be permanent (or very long). And The Texas drought ended; climate alarmists were wrong again!

Forecasts – collect them all! Mark them on your calendar!

“I think looking at grief is quite appropriate, as I believe we are facing human extinction”
— One of thousands of similar comments on the internet, by a reader on the FM website.

We need a list of predictions made about climate change. But only documented ones, supported by links to authoritative sources. The sooner the target date, the better. Post in the comments any that you have found. The ones given in this post are just a sample to start the project. Here are a few more.

“Not long after civilization fails – and certainly by mid-2026 – the planet will harbor no humans.”
— From a post by Guy McPherson (Prof Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology, U AZ), February 2017. He is the author of Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind (2014). He predicted in 2017 that our species will be extinct by 2026.

“If current climatological conditions are sustained, the ice fields atop Kilimanjaro and on its flanks will likely disappear within several decades.”
— “Glacier loss on Kilimanjaro continues unabated” by L. G. Thompson et al. in PNAS, 24 November 2009.

Understanding the plan: why Doomsterism?

Alarmism Is the Argument We Need to Fight Climate Change” by Susan Matthews in Slate — “New York magazine’s global-warming horror story isn’t too scary. It’s not scary enough.”

It’s okay to talk about how scary climate change is. Really.” by David Roberts at Vox — “In defense of worst-case scenarios in climate journalism.”

The Uninhabitable Earth” By David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine — “Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.” Even Michael Mann gently condemns its exaggerations. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The article fails to produce it. The article paints an overly bleak picture by overstating some of the science.” But in an interview Mann supports the argument and the doomster outlook: “Scientist Michael Mann on ‘Low-Probability But Catastrophic’ Climate Scenarios” by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine.

A Leftist likes Wallace-Wells’ doomsterism, but condemns his article for insufficient leftism: “New York Mag’s Climate Disaster Porn Gets It Painfully Wrong” by Daniel Aldana Cohen at Jacobin — “The real climate danger is that a vicious right-wing minority will impose an order that privileges the affluent few over everyone else.”

Stand by for many many more over the top predictions of climate doom! NYMag published a follow-up article. It opens with what is most important to them — and their fellow journalists.

“We published ‘The Uninhabitable Earth‘ on Sunday night, and the response since has been extraordinary — both in volume (it is already the most-read article in New York Magazine’s history) and in kind.”

As the news media suffers from loss of credility and overcapacity, they use science. Readers’ attention is all that matters, and the advertising dollars that flow from them. Doomster stories gain our attention. Keyboards are humming across America right now to tell us about the very certain death to everybody coming very soon.


“The world may still be doomed, but it is not quite as doomed as the climatologists have repeatedly told us.”
— From “Global warming predictions may have been too gloomy” by Ben Webster (environment editor) in The Times.

There is no point bickering about these forecasts. Let’s build a complete list of them and track results. Time will provide the necessary evidence.