BBC misses hottest decade on record
Existential question of the day: How can Paul Hudson’s byline be “Climate correspondent, BBC News” when his ‘reporting‘ doesn’t correspond to the climate, which continues to warm?
It is tiresome debunking yet another poor researched article by a media outlet that has historically had a great deal of credibility [see “NYT’s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation“]. The BBC headline inanely asks “What happened to global warming?” Answer — it keeps on keepin’ on:
- Very warm 2008 makes this the hottest decade in recorded history by far, according to NASA
- Sorry deniers, Hadley Center and WMO say 2000s are easily the hottest decade in recorded history
And those posts were just projections from December 2008, before factoring in the record warming we’re seeing this year (see “NASA reports hottest June to September on record“). The figure above is from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The solid red line is the five-year mean, which is obviously a better view of the climate picture, as opposed to the highly variable annual data. NASA used the “January-September (9 months) mean” for the 2009 data point. The hottest year on record is 2005, and 2009 is likely to be close to the second hottest years of 2007 and 1998.
But Hudson is a Brit, so he (sort of) uses the data from the Met Office aka Hadley Center in his lede:
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
Yes, the headline was a surprise since you’re supposed to be the climate correspondent, but the headline fails to correspond to the climate, which continues to warm — as even your own friggin’ Met Office explained a few weeks ago in this online analysis:
… trends over the past 10 years show only a 0.07 °C increase in global average temperature. Although this is only a small increase, it indicates that there has been no global cooling over this period. In fact, over the past decade, most years have remained much closer to the record global average temperature reached in 1998 than to temperatures before the 1970s. All the years from 2000 to 2008 have been in the top 14 warmest years on record.
So the BBC doesn’t even know what it’s own lead climate data and analysis center has concluded, even though it (selectively) makes use of that center’s data.
And I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time, the NASA GISS data is almost certainly superior to the data from the Met Office (see “What exactly is polar amplification and why does it matter?“). Remember, “there are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest,” as New Scientist explained (see here and here). “The UK’s Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” Thus it is almost certainly the case that the planet has warmed up more this decade than NASA says, and especially more than the UK’s Hadley Center says.
I’d add that RealClimate has an excellent recent post on this very subject — “the ‘hole in the Arctic’ in the Hadley data, just where recent warming has been greatest” — with this great figure (and caption):
Figure. The animated graph shows the temperature difference between the two 5-year periods 1999-2003 and 2004-2008. The largest warming has occurred over the Arctic in the past decade and is missing in the Hadley data.
And then we have this utterly backwards piece of nonsense from Hudson:
What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth’s great heat stores.
According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.
The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).
For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.
But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.
These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.
So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.
Professor Easterbrook says: “The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling.”
The only problem is that everything Easterbrook and Hudson just said is bunk. First, the PDO is a “long-term fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean that waxes and wanes between cool and warm phases app
roximately every 5 to 20 years” — it has no net impact on the long-term warming trend. Moreover, contrary to Easterbrook’s and Hudson’s un-fact-checked assertion, the oceans have continued to warm, as the peer-reviewed literature makes clear (see “Skeptical Science explains how we know global warming is happening: It’s the oceans, stupid!“).
A September JGR article, “Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003–2008” (subs. req’d, draft here) details an analysis of “monthly gridded global temperature and salinity fields from the near-surface layer down to 2000 m depth based on Argo measurements.” Background on Argo here. Their findings are summed up in this figure:
Figure : Time series of global mean heat storage (0–2000 m), measured in 108 Jm-2.
Still warming, after all these years! And just where you’d expect it — the oceans, which is where more than 90% of the warming was projected to end up.
I would also add that Hudson and Easterbrook also seem painfully unaware of the recent sea surface temperature data (see “Second warmest August on record and warmest June-July-August for the oceans“).
And what error-riddled article on nonexistent global cooling would be complete without some confusion about the work of the admittedly confusing Mojib Latif:
To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.
Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world’s top climate modellers.
But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.
Ah, the unintentional irony — “To confuse the issue even further.”
Hudson obviously missed my October 1 memo to media (see “Exclusive interview with Dr. Mojib Latif, the man who confused the NY Times and New Scientist“):
If your “global cooling” piece revolves around Dr. Latif, you probably have the entire story backwards….
In an interview today, Dr. Latif told me “we don’t trust our forecast beyond 2015″ and “it is just as likely you’ll see accelerated warming” after then. Indeed, in his published research, rapid warming is all-but-inevitable over the next two decades. He told me, “you can’t miss the long-term warming trend” in the temperature record, which is “driven by the evolution of greenhouse gases.” Finally, he pointed out “Our work does not allow one to make any inferences about global warming.”
With apologies to regular CP for the repetition, I mostly deciphered Latif’s work on this blog in 2008 (see “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming“). Latif’s Nature study is consistent with the following statements:
- The “coming decade” (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally.
- The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors’ calculations began in 1960.
Here is his Nature “forecast” in green (”Each point represents a ten-year centred mean” — more discussion at the end):
Now, with the caveat that Latif claims no “skill” in any forecast after 2015 — a caveat the media and deniers never print — as you can see, their model suggests we’ll see pretty damn rapid warming in the coming decade, just as the Hadley Center did in a 2007 Science piece and just as the US Naval Research Lab and NASA recently predicted (see “Another major study predicts rapid warming over next few years — nearly 0.3°F by 2014“).
One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.
The science was in years ago. Hudson should try reading the literature or at least the summary of the literature in the 2007 IPCC report, “the largest and most detailed summary of the climate change situation ever undertaken, involving thousands of authors from dozens of countries,” which found
- “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”
- “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
The “debate” over what is causing global warming has been ginned up by clever deniers and spun to the public by lazy or easily duped journalists.
Stop the madness, already, status quo media. Either read the damn literature and talk to dozens of serious climate scientists or write about something else.
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