Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Response (or having a battle of wits with an unarmed person)

We now boldly stride up to our ultra-fascist right wing wacka-doodle, ripping the gauntlet out of his hand and quickly striking him across the left side of the head.

The common tactic of the denier/delayer is to throw opinion pieces from news papers and magazines up on the wall and like spaghetti, see if it sticks. The opinion piece from the Western Voices World News is no different, let me show you how.

They start their piece with a staggering claim.
There's a big global warming scandal breaking out across the blogosphere. Earlier I saw Der Spiegel's, "Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out."

The Der Spiegel article correctly quotes a recent statement from the British MET Office Hadley Centre which indicated that the upward trend in global temperatures has plateaued off.

Just a few weeks ago, Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research added more fuel to the fire with its latest calculations of global average temperatures. According to the Hadley figures, the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008 and not by the 0.2 degrees Celsius assumed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And, say the British experts, when their figure is adjusted for two naturally occurring climate phenomena, El Niño and La Niña, the resulting temperature trend is reduced to 0.0 degrees Celsius -- in other words, a standstill.

They indicate how 'baffled' the climate science community is about the whole matter.
Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years.

Fact is, no one is baffled by what were seeing, what makes data analysis and prediction difficult is that the current historically measured rate of temperature increase is about .2 degrees celsius per year where the annual seasonal variability is also .2 degrees celsius.

Because the signal is buried deep in the noise for the lay public to make grandiose comparisons between observations and the predictions of models is more than crazy making.

Der Spegiel does seem to soften their tone by reflecting on the difference between local weather and global climate.
The differences among individual regions of the world are considerable. In the Arctic, for example, temperatures rose by almost three degrees Celsius, which led to a dramatic melting of sea ice. At the same time, temperatures declined in large areas of North America, the western Pacific and the Arabian Peninsula. Europe, including Germany, remains slightly in positive warming territory.

Wow, this has got to be damaging, doesn't it? Actually, no for two reasons.

First, Der Spiegel apparently failed to read the complete statement of the Hadley Centre. Quoting from the summary.
Average global temperatures are now some 0.75 °C warmer than they were 100 years ago and since the mid-1970s average global temperatures have increased at a rate of more than 0.15 °C per decade. Yet over the last 10 years temperatures have risen more slowly, causing some to claim that global warming has stopped. Here we explain why this is not the case and explains that observed changes are entirely consistent with our understanding of natural fluctuations of the climate within a trend of continuing long-term warming. The evidence is very clear that global temperatures are rising and that humans are largely responsible.

Secondly, Der Spiegel played fast and loose with the simplest of facts from the Hadley statement. To quote Der Spiegel -
"According to the Hadley figures, the world grew warmer by 0.07 degrees Celsius from 1999 to 2008"

The problem here is pretty simple, the Hadley data graphs cover the period from 1850 to 2007, not extending to 2008. Where did 2008 come from and what's wrong with adding a year here or a year there? Nothing until you use it as the basis of your headline graphic to support a false premise. They further seem to complicate matters by quoting a number of 0.07 degrees which I could not find at Hadley, so I went digging through the data sets.

This is typically the point where I stop looking for whats wrong and try to find what might by chance be right - looking into the HADCrut3 data set myself I found the same problem I've seen before with the deniers and delayers; cherry picking.

For the interval 1999 to 2007, the HADCrut3 data set starts from 0.262 degrees in 1999, peaks at 0.479 in 2005 and drops to 0.403 in 2007. Here the flattening of the trend line is quite clear and its clear that Der Spegiel had the data in their hands because they then proceed to add 2008 where the temperature drops to 0.3120 degrees celsius.

Impressive? Not really as ten years of data alone make a poor trend. What Der Spegiel failed to do when creating their headline graphic is include the error bars. What is it with the error bars? The error bars show the confidence of the data and is used and carried forward in all calculations.

In the HADCrut3 data set the first two columns are the year and the temperature, columns three through twelve are the 95 percent certainty ranges based on how the data was analyzed.

Since they had the data in their hands they also failed to notice that currently HADCrut3 has pegged 2009 at 0.439 degrees above the baseline datum making the total delta T from 1999 to 2009 of 0.1770 degrees celsius, just under the .2 degree per decade we've been observing.

What Hadley did was revise their data set factoring in yearly or seasonal variability. Now there is likely to be an argument about how they processed their data and I would like to see the same transforms made against some of the other established data sets but until then I'll just enjoy watching the denier/delayers dig a deeper hole for themselves.

British MET Office Hadley Centre Climate Monitoring Data Sets

British MET Office Hadley Report "Global Warming Goes On" (Summary)

Image Credit : Der Spegiel Online

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