This is interesting

The contentious “pause” in global warming over the past decade is largely due to unusually strong trade winds in the Pacific ocean that have buried surface heat deep underwater, new research has found.

A joint Australian and US study analysed why the rise in the Earth’s global average surface temperature has slowed since 2001, after rapidly increasing from the 1970s.

The research shows that sharply accelerating trade winds in central and eastern areas of the Pacific have driven warm surface water to the ocean’s depths, reducing the amount of heat that flows into the atmosphere.

In turn, the lowering of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific triggers further cooling in other regions.

The study, which is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, calculated the net cooling effect on global average surface temperatures as between 0.1C and 0.2C, accounting for much of the hiatus in surface warming. The study’s authors said there has been a 0.2C gap between models used to predict warming and actual observed warming since 2001.

The findings should provide fresh certainty about the reasons behind the warming hiatus, which has been claimed by critics of mainstream climate science as evidence that the models are flawed and predictions of rising temperatures have been exaggerated.

No, it doesn’t mean that the whole climate change thing is bollocks. But nor does it mean that the more adventurous catastrophists are correct either. Assume, for the sake of argument, that this finding is correct, entirely ticketty boo.

What that tells us is that the whole thing is still more complex than we understand it at present. If we’ve got this one process that cools by 0.2 oC a year then we obviously don’t know enough yet about climate sensitivity to be sure about anything.

And do recall the truth at the heart of of the whole argument. Climate sensitivity is the most important single number in the whole game. If there’s no positive feedback then a doubling of CO2 gives us a temperature rise of 1 oF (or is it oC?). Which really isn’t something to worry about. All of the higher estimates of temperature change come from the existence of positive feedbacks: or more precisely, from the balance of positive and negative feedbacks.

And, here, we’ve got people telling us that there is this huge and previously unknown negative feedback. So, we don’t know enough yet about that climate sensitivity to know what it is that we should be doing. Panicking or just mooching along as normal?

42 thoughts on “This is interesting”

  1. So you fell for the big lie then Tim. The carbon dioxide was a scheme dreamt up by global socialists, including Maurice Strong. What is more illogical than taxing the rich countries and transferring the money to poorer countries, the main underlying purpose of the carbon tax, which you so wholeheartedly supported? Never heard about wealth that must created, generation after generation? It was never about the climate or global temperatures but about the great and good cause of social justice. Repeat a lie long and hard enough and people will believe you. Making people feel guilty about a gas which they exhale a number of times every minute of their lives was a masterpiece of deception, and they succeeded, proving that most people alive today are as thick as pig shit.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    No, it doesn’t mean that the whole climate change thing is bollocks.

    But it does mean their models, as I have been saying for some time now, are bollocks. Bollocks on stilts. They did not notice this effect and so they could not model it. What else do they not know about?

    If we’ve got this one process that cools by 0.2 oC a year then we obviously don’t know enough yet about climate sensitivity to be sure about anything.

    And therefore should not be destroying our economy just yet

    And, here, we’ve got people telling us that there is this huge and previously unknown negative feedback.

    Actually it is not a feedback. It is buffering. The heat is not going away. It is just being stored. It gives us time but otherwise does little either way.

    So, we don’t know enough yet about that climate sensitivity to know what it is that we should be doing. Panicking or just mooching along as normal?

    The sensible thing is to do the sensible things. It may be a problem and so we ought, where we can do it cheaply and without too much disruption, reduce CO2 emissions. So we ought to segue from coal to nuclear for base load generation for instance. Not too expensive. Not too ambitious. Easy to do. We should do it.

    But that is about it.

  3. Panicking or just mooching along as normal?

    There are no Nobel Prizes and very little money in “mooching along as normal”. Therefore there is little incentive to pursue that course.

  4. I think it’s also worth noting that the “heat sinking into the deep oceans” idea kind of glosses over the fact that we don’t actually have any accurate time series of deep ocean heat measurements so it can’t be proved or disproved, which is convenient. We used to refer to this as the use of “Skinner’s Variable Constant” to make the sums balance

  5. The fundamental principle here that warm water will rise and cold water will sink is turned on its head. If hotter water is found deeper in the ocean would volcanic heating not be a logical cause?

  6. The findings should provide fresh certainty about the reasons behind the warming hiatus, which has been claimed by critics of mainstream climate science as evidence that the models are flawed and predictions of rising temperatures have been exaggerated.

    Of course the models are flawed, its a matter of by how much.

    This is the worrying part, they are so scared of admitting the obvious that they lose credibility. If we are to have an honest debate the AGW crowd need to be less dogmatic on this point which, from I understand, AR5 has started to accept.

  7. Pielke snr has been banging on that Ocean Heat content is the best metric for global warming for a good few years now. That as continued to rise during the “pause”, but at a rate much slower than would justify the alarmists most prognostications. The following article might be germane:

    Of course, the alarmist point of view is probably that the ocean atmospheric system being such a complex unlinear system, we cannot be positive that such a regular and predictable rise will be maintained, or that we won’t suddenly have an el-nino ’98 style event that sends temperatures shooting up again, creating chaos and drought for the oppressed masses, and for which only a self-flagellating economically deadening and massively bureaucratised system of carbon control can possibly have any succour.

  8. From hide the decline to hide the heat. You can hide gadzillions of calories in the Pacific Ocean. 0.1 degree is at the limit of measurability and there is no baseline to measure against.
    So since this theory can’t be tested or falsified it’s not science. Religion, maybe.

  9. Still the same nutters. And you’re feeding them. I think its sweet that you pretend to believe the IPCC science, but its clear your heart isn’t in it.

    There’s probably a better case for “the pause doesn’t exist”. E.g.

    > a doubling of CO2 gives us a temperature rise of 1 oF (or is it oC?)

    Errm, if that’s the kind of depth of understanding you bring to the debate, you’re really adding nothing but more squid ink.

    > So, we don’t know enough yet about that climate sensitivity to know what it is that we should be doing. Panicking or just mooching along as normal?

    Are those the only choices you’re prepared to consider? That’s very unthinking of you.

  10. This has to be about the tenth theory I’ve seen “explaining” the pause. The climate change dorks clearly have no clue how the climate actually works. Their reliability is so frickin poor that it makes economic modelling and forecasting look like an exact science. (And economic forecasting is about as reliable as a chocolate firebreak).

  11. Con-man-ally–how does a fucking trade wind push warm water to the depths? Another load of lying bullshit from the eco-freak scum. From the provo wing who at least have a small grasp on reality such that the try to explain why their bullshit isn’t bullshit as opposed to the rest of your freak show who just keep shouting.

    Face it–you and your gang are losing. Tough shit.

  12. Riffing off BiF’s comment there’s something puzzles me the more scientific minds might be able to explain.
    I’ve had a great deal of practical experience of measuring temperature. I have an IR thermometer for doing this. I have never been able to take measurements accurate to 0.1deg. it’s not that the instrument isn’t accurate enough. It’s because nothing I’ve measured is at a constant uniform temperature. Any airmass or fluid is in constant motion as the heat exchange processes within it cause convection. That’s without movements from other causes.
    And I’ve had great experience of large numbers of measurements. And something one learns from that is the dangers of presumed accuracies. You can measure a sample quantity of 10 bricks, each to an accuracy of 1mm. You can average the measurement. But you can’t predict what the total length of a hundred bricks better than 1cm. The reason is simple. The sample accuracy is 1mm. The sample average accuracy is also 1mm. It is not 0.1mm. Because you haven’t measured anything to 0.1mm. You’ve only raised the level of confidence on which particular 1mm you work to. If you wish to know the length of 100 bricks to an accuracy of 1mm you do have to measure the hundred bricks.
    So where do these climate temperature numbers of 0.1deg or even 0.01 & amazingly 0.001 come from? This is down, well into the noise of the measuring method

  13. So where do these climate temperature numbers of 0.1deg or even 0.01 & amazingly 0.001 come from? This is down, well into the noise of the measuring method

    They do the averaging thing and assume that all errors are random rather than systemic.

    Take a continuous measurement accurate to a degree. Generate an average, say 14.2C. In responsible science this might be expressed as 14.2C ± 1C. Now, average this with many* other continuous measurements. You now have an average of 12.372C.

    * Some “manys” may be fewer than others.

  14. BiS

    Assuming that all the measurements are accurate to 0.1, you take many measurements and divide by the number of measurements. This then gives you a number that is accurate to a larger number of decimal places. If you measured a million bricks accurate to 0.1, you would have a good estimate of the likely length of a 100 bricks and the standard deviation of this estimate. This presupposes that any errors are independent and identically distributed (so bricks can be either bigger or smaller than the measured 0.1 mm – if they are all 0.09, the measure will give you a false estimate – since we assume temps fall either side, this works for temperatures, it might not for bricks – maybe there is a structural reason for them being 0.09 (the molds are this shape) – of not (maybe there is some expansion or shrinkage due to the clay used – in which case it might be identically distributed).

  15. Stronger winds across the surface = more evapouration. But suddenly (i.e. it didn’t happen previously) the winds have acquired a magical property of forcing water downwards. Yeh, right.

  16. > So where do these climate temperature numbers of 0.1deg or even 0.01 & amazingly 0.001 come from?

    This is all known. I suspect the true answer is that if you really cared you could find out for yourself. But its also a common mistake. So…

    The accuracies of 0.01 or 0.001 come from averaging. If you take multiple unbiased measurements of a thing, you get better accuracy. That should be uncontroversial.

    A proper-met-recording mercury-in-glass thermometer can be read to an accuracy of 0.2 (—minimum-212-p.asp) or 0.1 if you’re careful. Though people are more likely nowadays to be using a PRT which can be significantly more acdurate (

    As for stability: depends. A properly-ventilated thermometer will be measuring the bulk air temperature. I’ve no idea about your IR thermometer.

  17. For that accuracy you have to measure lots of samples of the same thing many times (without systematic error, though note a systematic error in data compared over time, like climate stuff, would make no difference). Many of the climate averages that I have come across are measuring single samples of different things once (different parts of the atmosphere/surface temperature stuff) , so I’m not convinced that averaging does much for the precision of those data (as I said when comparing stuff over time and looking at the direction of change, we don’t so much care about accuracy).

    With the sea thing, how much temperature change are we expecting to see? We know the volume of the oceans and the heat capacity of water. If the warmist models are accurate we can work out how much heat energy is “missing” and work out whether that gives us a measurable rise in sea temperature – and whether observations are in line with that or not.

  18. @Ken &WC
    It may not be controversial to you but it’s controversial to me.
    There’s a difference in what we do. You do your averages & the result of your calculations is your answer. For me, the result of my calculations are my estimate. The answer presents itself in reality. What you might call the experimental method. And i get to check the result of the experiment in reality.
    Yes, i know we can talk about averaging samples improving accuracy. But i could measure every single one of those bricks to 1mm accuracy, total the measurements & i still wouldn’t have the length of 100 perfect bricks butted end to end to 1mm. Because i can’t measure each brick to 0.01mm.
    You presume compensating errors because you presume compensating errors. By definition, they’re a presumption.
    Measurement accuracies. No doubt you can produce instruments that are accurate to all sorts of amazing numbers. But temperatures are not static. They’re dynamic. it’s like trying to assess the attendance at Wembley Stadium, by observation. There is no such thing as an “attendance” figure for the big match. Some people arrive late. Some people leave early. No matter how accurately you count you don’t know how many saw the game unless you can track each individual attendee.or have access to the ticket stubs.

  19. You’re using too many words. Use mathematics instead.

    If the measurement process satisfies:

    x_i = x + e_i

    where i = 1, 2, …, n are your samples; x is the real physical quantity of interest and assumed to be continuous, and x_i is the result of each measurement, and e(i) is a random number from, say, e * N(0,1), then you get the required improvement with averaging (e_i could have any number of other noise models and you get much the same result, but it helps to be specific, perhaps). That is, if the error is random and unbiased, all is well.

    Now suppose you’re measuring bricks. Suppose that x, the true length of the brick(s), isn’t continuous: suppose its always 100.05 +/- 0.01. And suppose your measurement process, due to the rulers you use (which are caliphers, and you insist that they must go over the brick) always over-measures, and they are accurate to 0.1. Then you’ll always get the answer 100.1, and averaging won’t help you.

    But that doesn’t fit meteorology: the temperature you’re trying to measure is continuous (and you get multiple goes if it is, say, the monthly average over the UK). And as far as we know the thermometers are unbiased (especially if you’re thinking about anomalies; please don’t rant off about “bias” in a different sense).

  20. @WC
    it is the difference between the words & the math I’m querying. Math is theory. Words describe reality. if the math doesn’t describe the reality, we ain’t changing the reality to fit.
    It’s for this reason I’m personally not impressed by the sceptics’ enthusiasm over supposed temperature plateaus. A decade & a half & some .numbers down in the level of confidence doesn’t make much of a case. But then i was never very impressed with scaring announcements the global temperature rose 0.003 deg, or some such number, in some such year. FFS. That’s just noise.

  21. And as you raised the question of bias – it was furthest from my mind – if i sent a bunch of people to measure a hundred meter wall i’d reckon on getting back a bunch of measurements close to 100m. Whatever the length of the wall,. Because any came up much different would be going back to remeasure until they did.
    (Looked a lot like that in some e-mails escaped a while back.)
    You don’t actually work with the raw numbers, do you? You work with the result of the numbers filtered through your models to correct for whatever your models say you need to correct for.

  22. > Math is theory. Words describe reality.

    No, that isn’t right. Math is a way to write things down into a way that is completely specified and compact enough to fit into your mind. I’ve provided the formula, from which its possibly to deduce (with absolute unassailable mathematical accuracy) the improvement-with-averaging (I haven’t filled that step in because it is undisputed textbook stuff from that point on).

    I’ve also provided (all of?) the assumptions needed to get to that step, together with a brick-type example of why those assumptions are not universally true.

    I think that reading-the-temperature *does* fit those assumptions, and have sketched out why. You’re at liberty to examine what I’ve written for flaws, of course.

  23. @ BIS

    actually maths is reality and words is just, well, words.

    If you measure x bricks, you can derive from your mesurements the average length and also the standard deviation of the measurements which is simply an indication of how much variation there is from brick to brick, expressed in a useful way. Armed with these you can estimate the probability of the length of 1000 bricks together being between 100m and 100.1, between 99.8 and 99.9 etc etc adn in fact you can constuct confidence limits which give you the range that you can be 95% or 99% or 99.999% sure the actual value will fall into. The more individual bricks you measure the more reliable your average will be and the more useful your standard deviation, and so the narrower will be the confidence limits.

    It is sometimes called the law of statistics but that is really a misnomer, but it is an extremely reliable rule of thumb that there will be less variation when you have a lot than when you have a few. In other words you can be jolly sure that there will be proportionately less variation over 1000 bricks than there would be over 100 or over 10, although obviously since there are more of them, the ABSOLUTE variation will probably be more.

    ANyway how did we get onto this?

  24. B-i-I
    It was rather the point. The numbers get banded about look as if they’re down in he same range as the confidence limits produce the numbers.
    And, surprisingly no doubt, i do have a grasp of the math. But the math describes a large number of bricks & a large number of walls. it can’t describe these bricks & this wall with the same confidence.. And I don’t have much confidence in being able to tease much out of a large & highly complex thing like climate on the basis of very small measurable changes in relatively few measurements.
    Trying to argue about which particular tenth of a deg will appear in 50 years sounds like astrology.

  25. Bis
    If you measure a hundred bricks then measure the length of the hundred bricks, no you wont get the 0.01 measure. But with a statistically large enough sample and with a i.i.d. distribution, you can estimate the length to 0.01mm. With temp measurements, we can assume they are i.i.d. (and even if they systematically biased upwards or downwards, as long as the bias was constant, it would not matter to the rate of change at the 0.01 level).

    Your error is to assume that we are just talking about a hundred bricks. The idea is that you measure a million bricks (and make the assumption of no bias – which is justified for temps) to estimate the length to a length below which we measure.

    Should we then talk about fractions of a degree 50 years in the future? no, but that isnt the question you asked.

  26. Bloke in Central Illinois

    Typical incoherent sputtering from the Defender of the Faith. Is this the best that the warmies have to offer?

  27. > incoherent sputtering

    Thank god, its a nutter, normal service is resumed. It was pretty unnerving having a sane conversation here for once.

  28. In ore reserves reporting it is the duty of the responsible person to ensure that the ore reserves estimate is reported to ….reflect the order of accuracy of the estimate by rounding off to appropriately significant figures… direct quote from the JORC code.

    Significant figures? Something very basic in engineering. You cannot measure in decimeters, add all the measurements together then divide by the total number of measurements and report your answer in millimetres. All very basic stuff.

    That is why it is actually quite hilarious to see wiki willy parading his ignorance shrouded with layers and layers of horse shit formulas to demonstrate his lack of basic engineering principles.

    Good, buy shares in a mining company that reports an ore reserve of 2.3754089g/t gold in 18354634.55tonnes of ore!

  29. BiS

    Also what you fail to mention, but allude to, is that a temperature measurement is a “snapshot”.
    It is a representation of the kinetic energy of the air molecules. On a normal thermometer, you probably won’t notice the change, but if you had a super accurate digital device, you should really never get a stable reading, because the temperature is not in fact stable.
    You see, with your brick analogy, you are measuring apples and oranges. Well it is a matter of degree, really: a brick’s size will change according to conditons, but we are talking of nanometres, but the temperature might change by a few hundredths from one second to the next and by whole degrees in minutes.
    I think personally that the concept of average temp is a fiction, but that’s’just me. Like the other commenters I believe that you need a very high sample rate to have any confidence in temperature figures.

  30. BiA,

    Edelweis, you are on the right track.

    The concept of an average temperature is as stupid as an average mass (weight) for obesity. Saying everybody over 75 kilograms is fat is absolutely nonsensical. That is why Body Mass Index was developed, the BMI takes the weight and height of a person into account and is a better (though not perfect) measurement of obesity.

    To measure the warmth of air, you must measure the heat content. The heat content of air can be calculated after taking measurements of temperature, air pressure, and humidity at a given location. Saying that you can add the temperature of a dry desert location to that taken in a damp and humid location and averaging the two readings to get an average is showing total ignorance of science and is absolutely bullshit.

    That is the big lie that very few people point out or understand.

  31. @ William Connolley
    When pontificating about accuracy of averages try remembering that probability theory merely tells you the “expected” accuracy of the mean of the estimates is greater than that of the individual estimate but you have no *certainty* that the mean of the estimates will be that accurate. Secondly the standard formula is only true for the normal distribution: if you encounter a Cauchy distribution the mean of the estimates is no more precise than a single point estimate.

  32. “I think its sweet that you pretend to believe the IPCC science, but its clear your heart isn’t in it.”

    Perhaps that’s because there isn’t any IPCC science:

    – “The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data. Lead authors of IPCC reports assess the available information about climate change based on published sources. According to IPCC guidelines, authors should give priority to peer-reviewed sources. Authors may refer to non-peer-reviewed sources (the “grey literature”), provided that they are of sufficient quality. Examples of non-peer-reviewed sources include model results, reports from government agencies and non-governmental organizations, and industry journals.” –

    – “Thousands of scientists and other experts contribute to writing and reviewing reports, which are then reviewed by governments. IPCC reports contain a “Summary for Policymakers”, which is subject to line-by-line approval by delegates from all participating governments. Typically this involves the governments of more than 120 countries.” –

    It’s government at work. And the “sufficient quality” notion of Himalayan Glaciers disappearing by 2035 was close enough for government work. Until some “nutter” pointed out what utterly insane and unscientific bollocks it was.

    But still some want to believe

  33. Its a shame that Tim buys the othodoxy on this one, he is generally spot on with the economics.

    I agree with the absurdity of the overly accurate temperature reporting. But that is nothing compared to the extreme lack of relaible data from which these numbers are extracted. There are no decent long term measurements and trying to make it up from proxies is worse.

  34. “Its a shame that Tim buys the othodoxy on this one, he is generally spot on with the economics.”

    I’d hazard our esteemed host has his own opinions on CC. But there’s very little mileage in getting involved with debates one has no competence in. So he sticks to the economic aspects where he has.

    Similarly, I’ve no intention of challenging competent science. But i’m bloody skeptical of methods used that wouldn’t work anywhere i’m competent.

  35. If the pause is largely due to heat being deposited in the Pacific Ocean, is it possible that previous warming was largely due to (historical) heat being emitted from the Pacific Ocean?

  36. Mathew England Dec 2012:
    – “And so anybody out there lying that the IPCC projections are overstatements or that the observations haven’t kept pace with the projections is completely offline with this. The analysis is very clear that the IPCC projections are coming true.” –

    Mathew England Feb 2014:

    Lead author Professor Matthew England, a climate scientist and oceanographer at the University of New South Wales, says since 2001 global surface temperatures have remained steady despite an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    Oh, what to believe; what to believe?

  37. It seems pretty obvious to me that it is an inherently good thing to use resources more efficiently where possible. So efficient transportation, and energy production that produces fewer emissions (Nuclear) are things that probably should be done just in case. If nothing lower emissions and getting more MPG provide clear benefits to society in that the air is cleaner and the oil will last longer. Other things like improving insulation and having more efficient appliances (HVAC) are all pretty good things to do and make sense economically. Hell even introducing electric cars makes sense if battery technology can become sufficiently advanced to make them work in the city.

    But restructing the entire economy at a cost of trillions seems completely insane when the evidence isn’t clear.

    I suspect that climate changers are the latest version of: Malthus, Limited of Growth, Millennium Bug blah blah blah.

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