So when will we get a new temperature record?

I have tried to make it quite clear a few times that regardless of no new record, there is no evidence that the underlying rising trend in global surface temperatures has reversed or stopped. But absent a short term rising trend the inattentive public is very vulnerable to disengenouous denialists claiming warming is over (did they ever admit it was happening??). So I am afraid that that talking point will not go away until 1998’s record status does so as well.

So when will that happen? I’m not talking about statistically insignificant 0.05oC win by a nose in one record but not another, I mean when will we get an unequivocal, unanimously agreed replacement of 1998 as the new record high global average temperature?


Being just a blog scientist, and not a real one, I won’t do the actual work needed to answer that question. But there is a real answer, there is a point at which it becomes very unlikely that we won’t have a new record, a point at which the slow, inexolerable underlying climatic trend finally rises above the erratic and rapid weather noise that created 1998’s extreme record.

Fortunately tamino at Open Mind has done the required work and presented it very clearly for all of us in this posting.

The bottom line is that it is not surprising that we have not broken that record. 1998 was a very strikingly high record, 2.6 standard deviations above the underlying trend, where the most likely reading would have landed. Given that crucial fact, it turns out that 2008 was actually the year with the highest probablity of breaking the record. In other words “global warming stopped for ten years” was exactly what was the most likely outcome if global warming never stopped!

It will take us until 2012 before we should be scratching our heads and wondering why no new record yet. That is where the 95% probability threshold is (actually this holds whether you take Hadley’s 1998 record or GISS’s les dramatic 2005 record). And that is of course only if there is no identifiable mitigating factor, like some large volcanic eruptions or an actual decrease in solar output.

Of course it may happen before that, in fact that is more likely. We do have an El Nino on the way, (though not one to rival 1998) so maybe it will be this year or the next. But if it isn’t, that does not mean what the denialists will claim it means!

Go have a read at Tamino’s, and let’s all put this talking point to bed until 2012.

84 thoughts on “So when will we get a new temperature record?

  1. It is pretty obvious that Prof. Plimer has touched a nerve in exposing the flimsiness of the warming case, so let’s say no more.

    You seem to live in some kind of fantasy world where only those who are correct are corrected and mockery is hysteria. Also note that Plimer’s book itself could be considered an hysterical reaction to the correctness of the actual climate science. I won’t say that, though, because I think that the “must have touched a nerve” argument is a sign of weakness and also simply because it’s much easier to just point out that he’s wrong on some very key issues and he’s hardly an expert in the field to be respected.

    Just try to imagine a scenario where Plimer has written a 500 page book that’s total crap, while at the same time accuses every expect in the field of being either stupid or fraudulent. What then? Roses and thank you cards? Gay dancing in fields? A kiss on the cheek and a sly offer of more?

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  2. Sorry pough, I am afraid you have lost me. Gay dancing? A kiss on the cheek? What’s all that about?

    As for this fantasy world that you believe I inhabit, well, that just shows, I’m afraid, the utter impossibility of making progress in this discussion.

    We rationalists know that time will prove us right – indeed it already is so proving – but equally we know that there is not the slimmest chance of convincing those who think otherwise.

    Incidentally, I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but I assume it is the northern hemisphere somewhere. If so, better stock up on your winter woolies. It’s going to be a hard winter.

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  3. Sorry pough, I am afraid you have lost me. Gay dancing? A kiss on the cheek? What’s all that about?

    It’s about your inability to imagine reality and excellence at believing in fantasy. I was trying to ask you what kind of response you would expect to see if Plimer’s book were rubbish while it tried to demean experts. Imagine it. What would the response be? If what you like to believe is true, that good science is met with hysteria by scientists, then what is the response from scientists to bad science?

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  4. Perhaps in this context I can remind you of the words of H L Mencken, who said that ‘The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.’ That, in a nutshell, is what troubles me most about this whole issue.

    Yes, snowman, we know that for denialists like you it’s not really about the science.

    It’s rare to see one so openly admit it. Thanks.

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  5. Well pough, well dhogaza, this may surprise you, but I genuinely sympathize with your dilemma. You have both clearly read widely on this topic, and care deeply about it. And yet, as you look around you, you can see the whole AGW agenda collapsing like a house of cards. How appalling it must be, the dawning awareness that something in which you have invested so much emotional energy is simply wrong: wrong in theory, wrong in practice and wrong in reality – wrong, wrong, wrong.

    What is my evidence? Well, you cannot be unaware of he growing uproar at both the American Physical Society and American Chemical Society as members rebel against the politically correct, unscientific policies that have been shoved down their throats. I expect you are aware, too, of the letter in the latest issue of Nature signed by six eminent scientists deploring the intolerance and irrationality of the AGW brigade. Even a few months ago, it is inconceivable that such a letter would have been published.

    At the same time, we are seeing more and more newspapers and broadcasting organizations beginning to question the whole thing, even those like the BBC which for years has been the broadcasting arm of the AGW lobby.

    And so, dhogaza and pough, the writing is clearly on the wall. Or, to quote the perhaps more appropriate words of Bob Dylan: ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’

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  6. What is my evidence?

    By all means, let us look at your evidence.

    Well, you cannot be unaware of he growing uproar at both the American Physical Society and American Chemical Society as members rebel against the politically correct, unscientific policies that have been shoved down their throats.

    Questioning imagined bullying: political/rhetorical/ideological; not science.

    I expect you are aware, too, of the letter in the latest issue of Nature signed by six eminent scientists deploring the intolerance and irrationality of the AGW brigade.

    Questioning imagined bullying: political/rhetorical/ideological; not science.

    At the same time, we are seeing more and more newspapers and broadcasting organizations beginning to question the whole thing, even those like the BBC which for years has been the broadcasting arm of the AGW lobby.

    Questioning imagined bullying: political/rhetorical/ideological; not science.

    How can we possibly consider the science by climate scientists to be science when cranks outside the climate science field wax conspiratorially? You got us over a barrel, Snowman, you really do.

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  7. And yet, as you look around you, you can see the whole AGW agenda collapsing like a house of cards. How appalling it must be, the dawning awareness that something in which you have invested so much emotional energy is simply wrong: wrong in theory, wrong in practice and wrong in reality – wrong, wrong, wrong.

    This is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever read on the intertubes, including things that were *meant* to be funny.

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  8. I expect you are aware, too, of the letter in the latest issue of Nature signed by six eminent scientists deploring the intolerance and irrationality of the AGW brigade. Even a few months ago, it is inconceivable that such a letter would have been published.

    Bull. It’s the same old suspects, with Fred Singer leading off.

    The response to nature will be boatloads of mail from angry scientists annoyed that Nature would give these people a platform.

    Well, you cannot be unaware of he growing uproar at both the American Physical Society and American Chemical Society as members rebel against the politically correct, unscientific policies that have been shoved down their throats.

    At the same time, we are seeing more and more newspapers and broadcasting organizations beginning to question the whole thing, even those like the BBC which for years has been the broadcasting arm of the AGW lobby.

    Notably absent in your list is any meaningful scientific research to counter the work of thousands of scientists worldwide.

    Lindzen appears to be flogging his old dead horse, the iris effect, yet again in his recent paper, which if true would make it extremely difficult to understand how we could have such large swings in climate in the past.

    McLean’s latest doesn’t even support the conclusions they make in public, and two of the authors are on *record* saying so.

    But for someone whose interest is ideological, not scientific, I can see why you rejoice in the fact that the press and right-wing politicians continue to ignore sound science.

    Frankly, I don’t care all that much, being 55 and childless. Let these people sell their children down the river, why should I care?

    Their ideology isn’t going to change physics. No matter how much you believe it will.

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  9. What is my evidence?

    Oh, snowman, you forgot to mention the most compelling evidence that the so-called house of cards is collapsing:

    The US House of Representatives passed the first piece of federal legislation regulating CO2 emissions EVER.

    That’s a real victory for the anti-science side, oh yeah!

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  10. Pough, what are we going to do with you? Must you miss the point every time? By evidence I referred to evidence for the fact that the AGW consensus is evaporating. There is of course separate evidence that the science is wrong, but that was not what I was alluding to.

    And as for you, dhogaza, I am glad to have brightened up a dull day.

    Unfortunately, boys, I must ask you to brace yourselves because I have some bad news. I am about to go off for a month on my travels and for much of that time I will be in remote areas without internet access.

    So, for at least four weeks you will have to manage somehow without my posts: yes, it’s hard, I know, mais courage mes braves.

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  11. I didn’t miss the point. The consensus within the relevant field is solid. Outside that field is both irrelevant and based entirely on an imagined bullying. So when you talk about “evaporating consensus” you’re conflating relevant consensus and irrelevant (and unscientific) consensus. It’s actually a double fail on your part. Triple fail if you count how closely it parallels the “dissent from Darwin” creationist ploy. Quadruple when you factor in how ridiculously pompous you sound while doing it.

    Laughter is not hysteria, BTW. Just thought you should know that.

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  12. So when you talk about “evaporating consensus” you’re conflating relevant consensus and irrelevant (and unscientific) consensus. It’s actually a double fail on your part. Triple fail if you count how closely it parallels the “dissent from Darwin” creationist ploy. Quadruple when you factor in how ridiculously pompous you sound while doing it.

    Quintuple fail when you understand that the recent increase in the decibel levels of denialist shrieking is a reaction to the strengthening consensus that something must be done, and their fears that something *will* be done at Copenhagen.

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  13. What is it about your posts, pough, that gives them their uniquely surreal quality? What’s with this talk of double fails and triple fails, and how did we suddenly get on to Darwin?

    Every time I read your comments I have the strangest sensation: the words seem to be part of the vocabulary of the English language. There is an observance of the basic rules of grammar and syntax. And yet, when I try to make sense of them it is as if I am encountering something that has been badly translated- from Lithuanian, say.

    It rather reminds me of the English language slogans I saw printed on tee shirts worn by Japanese teenagers when I visited Tokyo a few years ago. It was obvious they didn’t read English as they were just random collections of words. Nor did this matter to them. The words were merely a type of decoration. The fact that they were meaningless was entirely irrelevant.

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  14. To “Global warming denier for life”:

    So electric cars are ugly? HAHAHAHAHA!!! I think you are just jealous because you can’t afford a Tesla.

    Take a look at another “ugly” electric car, the eVaro, at http://www.futurevehicletechnologies.com..

    Electric cars are coming, whether you like it or not. They will be beautiful, fast, and just as affordable as today’s cars. Whether they will be durable depends on who captures the technology and the market. Cars today are less durable and more complex than those of the 70’s and 80’s because manufacturers figured out they could increase their profit margins over the life of the car that way. Electric cars are inherently simpler to maintain than ICE cars.

    And by the way, your ICE stinks….haven’t you noticed? Electric cars don’t.

    For everyone else who might be interested in the progress being made with electric cars, check out http://www.eaaev.org. It may be that in the future, if we have one, there will be high speed trains, greater use of waterways, and so forth. But we have roads now, so we may as well use them.

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  15. And yet, when I try to make sense of them it is as if I am encountering something that has been badly translated- from Lithuanian, say.

    Really? That’s kind of depressing, if it’s true. Communication is something I’m very interested in. Does anyone else have difficulties understanding what I write?

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  16. The other day, I was thinking that if there is climate change, then new weather records should be happening at an increasing rate. By golly, someone ought to look into that! Turned on the weather channel and there was this graph of number of weather records/period of time, with this sharp upturn over the last few years. How about that?

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  17. Well, the way that GISS keeps jacking up GISTEMP, I would not be surprised that almost every month the rest of this year is not a record or near record.

    Well, if I am reading the records right, for the US there were lots of records broken this year – for cold.

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  18. As Coby is not interested in an open curteous and meaningful debate (refer post #49) i only have this to say.

    Vernon when will you ever learn cold records are caused by either noise or weather whilst warm records are caused by catastrophic climate change brought on by mans greedy insatiable appetite for fossil fuel based energy.

    PS, snowman what is the challenge you refer to in post #37

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  19. PS, snowman what is the challenge you refer to in post #37

    crakar #13: “In regards to a new temp record, when you consider a large portion of the past 12,000 years has been hotter than now would it be a big suprise if we did get one one day?”

    pough #14: “Maybe Snowman can respond to this. What’s it likely to be? A new record because ‘a large portion of the past 12,000 years has been hotter than now’ or past due for another ice age?”

    crakar #24: “Pough please stop crediting other people for my posts”

    pough #36: “Also, you never did respond to what crakar feels is a misattribution of his comment.”

    Snowman #37/38: “I am not ducking it but I am not sure what comment I am meant to respond to. Perhaps he could refresh my memory.”

    Crakar, I never credited other people for your posts. I wanted Snowman to address your expectation of record temperatures because I recall him claiming that cooling is and will be the big issue. Snowman, crakar never challenged you directly; I tried to get you to respond to what he said.

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  20. Pough, you know me: I live to please others. So, I want to address, fearlessly and frankly, your regrettable tendency to lapse into that unique brand of English that some of us now know as pough-speak.

    You have said you are interested in communication. Very well: here are Snowman’s four simple rules for clear writing:

    1. Never try to be too cute. Things like ‘double-fail and triple-fail’ sound sophomoric at best, incomprehensible at worst.

    2. Think about the rhythm of your sentences and vary it. Mix longer sentences with shorter ones.

    3. Write the way that people speak. I don’t mean that a certain formality can never have a place in written English. But make effective use of everyday words, occasionally dropping in a fancier one for impact.

    4. The shorter word is generally to be preferred. So, for example, don’t say ‘utilize’, say ‘use’.

    Of course I could say a lot more about this. But try to remember these few simple concepts, my dear pough. Swallow your pride and put them into effect. You will be amazed at how much better your posts will become.

    You may remember that I am about to head off for a month (tomorrow, in fact), and during that time I will be out of contact. However, I shall return, and when I get back I am going to be looking for a big improvement and will give you marks out of ten.

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  21. Vernon when will you ever learn cold records are caused by either noise or weather whilst warm records are caused by catastrophic climate change brought on by mans greedy insatiable appetite for fossil fuel based energy.

    If I had a nickel for the straw used to build each of crakar’s strawmen, I’d be rich by now.

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  22. Pough, you know me: I live to please others. So, I want to address, fearlessly and frankly, your regrettable tendency to lapse into that unique brand of English that some of us now know as pough-speak.

    Yeah, but I think you’re lying. Apart from using some common internet-isms like “fail” that you might not be familiar with due to age or inexperience, I think I manage to communicate just fine. I think you’re doing what you always do when confronted with an argument you can’t deal with: change the subject and act superior.

    But I’ll admit you’re a good communicator. And by good communicator I mean in the mould of Reagan and Clinton, where compelling and convincing are completely disconnected from truth and relevance.

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  23. Oh, and Pough, I know anonymity is standard practice here, but would you be prepared to tell me where you are based – even approximately?

    No particular reason. I’m just curious.

    If it helps, I’ll start. I’m in the UK.

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  24. After talking to a Canadian colleague of mine i also found out that you call your $1 coin a looney after the bird, no not the Queen the other one although i could understand any confusion.

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  25. That’s right. And the two dollar coin is called a toonie(sp?). One thing I found hard to get used to in Oz was how the two and one dollar coins were so small…

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  26. I am not sure why you closed the GISTEMP thread but you let Ian’s disinformation stand as the final entry. The fact is that least squares trend lines are used for temperature and it is a lie to say they cannot be.

    Statistical Issues Regarding Trends
    http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/sap1-1-final-appA.pdf

    “Nevertheless, used appropriately, linear trends provide the simplest and most convenient way to describe the overall change over time in a data set, and are widely used.”

    So saying that least squares cannot be used is basically a lie. Further to say that only the last 30 years matter, without any scientific studies to support his contention is meaningless speculation on his part.

    Finally, Coby, you have refused to answer this simple question. Do you consider the 9.2 percent change in GISTEMP from 2005 to 2009 to be insignificant? It is a very simple question.

    So if your going to go by a temperature record that is constantly be rewritten (GISTEMP) with the past colder and the present warmer, then I would expect new records constantly.

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  27. Yes my work friend here went on to say that the $2 coin was called the Looney Toon (after the cartoon), it sounds quite good looking with silver with a gold trim, or was that the other way around? Your looney is similar shape to our 50 cent piece with the angled edges but ours is silver not gold.

    Yes our coins are very small, we used to have a $1 and $2 note but they were replaced by the coins. When will you be back in Oz? If you come to Adelaide let me know.

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  28. http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090812/full/460787a.html

    “No, no, no, no no nonononono you dont want the raw data; the raw data is, well, raw! All you need is the conclusions we are showing you and trust us, the raw data really does support it. Honest! You don’t need to see the raw data! You don’t need to see the raw data! You don’t need to see the raw data! These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Honest!” — Saint Al of the Gore

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