Posts Tagged ‘climate models’

Chaos of climate models only shows that “we don’t know what we don’t know”

April 17, 2013

I spent a large part of my early career in mathematical modelling (of combustion systems and of heat flow) and have a very clear idea of what models can do and what they can’t. Models after all are used primarily to simplify complex systems which are otherwise intractable. They are – always – severely limited by the assumptions and simplifying approximations that have to be introduced. Models are a powerful tool for investigation but are only as good as their most inaccurate assumption. But they are a tool primarily for investigation — and can be dangerous when used for decision making based on their imperfect predictions. The spectacular failures of mathematical models of the global economy are a case in point. It is worth noting that in spite of the great strides made in weather forecasting  for example – much of which is empirical – the simple statement that “tomorrows weather will be like today’s”  is as correct – statistically – as the most complex model running on some super-computer somewhere.

It has therefore always amazed me that so-called “scientists” would be so certain about their approximate models of climate systems – which are perhaps as complex, chaotic and “unknown” systems as any one could study. It has been a boon for politicians looking for new ways of raising revenue. It has been exploited by the alarmists since the alarmist predictions cannot be tested. The wide spread of results from climate models is rarely mentioned.

When reality does not match model forecasts it is time to back off and rethink the models and hopefully they will be better next time. And it is time to back track from all the political decisions made on the basis of patently incomplete and inaccurate models.

The simple reality about climate is that rather than being a “settled science”

  • we don’t know the impact of solar effects on climate
  • we don’t know the impact of clouds or even if they are net “warmers” or net “coolers”
  • we don’t know how much of the earth’s radiative energy balance is dependent upon carbon dioxide
  • we don’t know how much carbon dioxide is absorbed  by the oceans and living things
  • we don’t know the impact of aerosols and particles in the atmosphere
  • we don’t know the role of the oceans in transporting heat around the globe
  • we don’t know how much heat is stored in the oceans and how it varies
  • we don’t know the impact of solar effects on cloud formation
  • we don’t know what triggers ice ages, and
  • we don’t know what we don’t know.

This from Dr. Roy Spencer and the ridiculously wide spread of the model results and the obvious deviation of reality from model results are particularly striking:

Global Warming Slowdown: The View from Space

Since the slowdown in surface warming over the last 15 years has been a popular topic recently, I thought I would show results for the lower tropospheric temperature (LT) compared to climate models calculated over the same atmospheric layers the satellites sense.

Courtesy of John Christy, and based upon data from the KNMI Climate Explorer, below is a comparison of 44 climate models versus the UAH and RSS satellite observations for global lower tropospheric temperature variations, for the period 1979-2012 from the satellites, and for 1975 – 2025 for the models:



Clearly, there is increasing divergence over the years between the satellite observations (UAH, RSS) and the models. The reasons for the disagreement are not obvious, since there are at least a few possibilities:


The dark line in the above plot is the 44-model average, and it approximately represents what the IPCC uses for its official best estimate of projected warming. Obviously, there is a substantial disconnect between the models and observations for this statistic.

I find it disingenuous for those who claim that, because not ALL of individual the models disagree with the observations, the models are somehow vindicated. What those pundits fail to mention is that the few models which support weaker warming through 2012 are usually those with lower climate sensitivity.

So, if you are going to claim that the observations support some of the models, and least be honest and admit they support the models that are NOT consistent with the IPCC best estimates of warming.

Are climate scientists like Lance Armstrong? When will they admit their models are doped?

January 21, 2013

P. Gosselin at No Tricks Zone  is quite right in pointing out the enormous political problems in now admitting that the global warming hypothesis which has been accepted dogma for 3 decades may not be correct after all.

The big question now circulating through the stunned European media, governments and activist organisations is how could the warming stop have happened? Moreover, how do we now explain it to the public?

His recent posts got me to making the parallels between the AGW climate “scientists” and Lance Armstrong.


  • have posed as heroes “saving” the world / sport
  • have promoted dogma based on lies for many years,
  • have made fortunes in the process,
  • have lied and cheated to maintain the initial fraud,
  • have attacked and tried to destroy those who would disclose their fraud,
  • have – on the side – led to some good work along the way (in cancer research and in many disciplines connected to climate), and
  • will come out of the cesspit smelling of roses

I wonder if the Nobel Peace Committee could revoke their decision and if Al Gore and the IPCC could be stripped of their Nobel prize?  They can both afford to give the money back.

Major German Daily Carries Front-Page Headline: “Global Warming Keeps Us Waiting!…CO2 Over-Estimated?”

Warmist Spiegel/Euro-Media Concede Global Warming Has Ended…Models Were Wrong…Scientists Are Baffled!

Lance Armstrong, Livestrong And Climate Research

Weather Service Warns of “Shock Cooling” Coming To Europe…4th Bitter Cold Euro-Winter In 5 Years Shaping Up!

Reuters gets it wrong again: If Chinese emissions have been higher than assumed then emissions have even less effect on climate than thought!

June 11, 2012

Reuters reports that Chinese carbon dioxide emissions may be some 20% higher than previously thought. But then the Reuters reporters (David Fogarty and David Stanway) and their editor Jonathan Thatcher get their knickers properly in a twist and conclude that this suggests that “the pace of global climate change could be even faster than currently predicted”.

Perhaps some bright schoolboy could point out to our intrepid reporters that if the change in B is supposed to be dependent upon the change in A and if the change in A is actually higher than assumed, then the change in B is less dependent upon the change in A than assumed.


Director of Max Planck Institute admits that climate models are “inconsistent with observations”

April 18, 2012

Climate models – at best – are gross over-simplifications of the chaotic layer of atmosphere around the earth in which climate and weather manifest themselves. Solar effects, the effects of clouds, of volcanoes, of aerosols, of sulphur compounds, of ocean currents and of the winds can only be crudely modelled. There is no evidence that man-made carbon dioxide has any significant impact on weather or climate. No one really knows when and how ice ages come and go. The models use fudge factors galore and each only represents the imperfect understanding, the prejudices and the biases of the modeller. And yet IPCC and governments have got so caught up in their own smug rhetoric about the science being “settled” that they prefer to believe the model results even when they are “inconsistent with reality”.

P Gosselin reports on a new article by Michael Odenwald in the  magazine “Focus” (in German).


New computer simulations to find new excuses for recent lack of global warming

September 19, 2011

The lack of any global warming over the last decade while carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing is extremely worrying to the global warming orthodoxy. Recently “peer-reviewed” papers have attempted to find excuses for this lack of warming. Sulphur emissions from coal plants in China it has been suggested have been cooling the earth! The effects of soot in the atmosphere have also been blamed for reality and measurements not corresponding to the (sometimes fanciful) results of climate models. Needless to say it would not be politically correct to accept that solar influences – through clouds for example – may be so powerful as to make any anthropogenic effects quite insignificant with regard to climate.

One school of global warming believers believe that the missing heat is being hidden like some Loch Ness monster in the deep oceans and will come back to haunt us in due course. Of course measurements can not find this “hidden” deep ocean heat. It is far too well hidden for that. But the “unhidden” measurable ocean heat content (upto a depth of 700m) also confirm the flattening out of global warming.

As Bob Tisdale had pointed out in WUWT: Global Ocean Heat Content Is Still Flat

Figure 1 is a time-series graph of the NODC Global Ocean Heat Content Anomalies from the start of the dataset (1st Quarter of 1955) to present (2nd Quarter of 2011).

Figure 1: Global Heat content

And as many are aware, Climate Model Projections of Ocean Heat Content anomalies did not anticipate this flattening. Figure 2 compares the ARGO-era (2003 to present) NODC Global Ocean Heat Content anomalies to the GISS Model-E Projection of 0.7*10^22 Joules per year. The linear trend of the observations is approximately 7% of the trend projected by the model mean of the GISS Model-E.

Figure 2 - Ocean heat content:measurements compared to models

But the heat cannot hide from the speculative computer models of our intrepid global warmers. And since they cannot find this heat they have instead programmed a super-computer to tell us that it exists and will appear again in a decade or two. A new paper entitled Deep oceans can mask global warming for decade-long periods is to be published online on September 18 in Nature Climate Change. The title itself illustrates the defense. The  National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research has issued a press release which states:

Yet emissions of greenhouse gases continued to climb during the 2000s, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased. This implied that heat was building up somewhere on Earth, according to a 2010 study published in Science by NCAR researchers Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo. 

The two scientists, who are coauthors on the new study, suggested that the oceans might be storing some of the heat that would otherwise go toward other processes, such as warming the atmosphere or land, or melting more ice and snow. Observations from a global network of buoys showed some warming in the upper ocean, but not enough to account for the global build-up of heat.

And when there are no measurements to back up some speculation a new computer model is deployed:

The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues.

“We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future,” says NCAR’s Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study. “However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line.”

The simulations, which were based on projections of future greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, indicated that temperatures would rise by several degrees during this century. But each simulation also showed periods in which temperatures would stabilize for about a decade before climbing again. For example, one simulation showed the global average rising by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius) between 2000 and 2100, but with two decade-long hiatus periods during the century.

During these hiatus periods, simulations showed that extra energy entered the oceans, with deeper layers absorbing a disproportionate amount of heat due to changes in oceanic circulation. The vast area of ocean below about 1,000 feet (300 meters) warmed by 18% to 19% more during hiatus periods than at other times. In contrast, the shallower global ocean above 1,000 feet warmed by 60% less than during non-hiatus periods in the simulation.

“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” Trenberth says. “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

This is plain speculation. And it looks to me that these simulations are only done for the sake of rescuing previous computer models which are beginning to be shining examples of GIGO. Even super-computers can only produce rubbish when the models are developed by zealots. And as Bob Tisdale comments:

An explanation for why Global Ocean Heat Content Is Still Flat. … I’d like to see some supporting observations, otherwise this is just speculation for something that Trenberth is doggedly trying to explain away. My question is; show me why some years the deep ocean doesn’t mask global warming. It’s not like that big heat sink was suddenly removed.

Antarctic sea ice is increasing and rate of increase is accelerating

August 4, 2011

An instance of actual measurements over the last 30 years rather than just model results. Overall, sea ice extent is increasing in the Antarctic, contrary to climate model predictions for the 21st century, and this increase is accelerating and has strong regional and seasonal signatures.

A new paper in Climate Dynamics, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-011-1143-9 

(H/T The Hockey Schtick)

Sea Ice Trends in the Antarctic and Their Relationship to Surface Air Temperature during 1979 to 2009 by Qi Shu, Fangli Qiao, Zhenya Song and Chunzai Wang

Sea ice trends in the Antarctic and their relationship to surface air temperature during 1979–2009


Surface air temperature (SAT) from four reanalysis/analysis datasets are analyzed and compared with the observed SAT from 11 stations in the Antarctic. It is found that the SAT variation from Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is the best to represent the observed SAT. Then we use the sea ice concentration (SIC) data from satellite measurements, the SAT data from the GISS dataset and station observations to examine the trends and variations of sea ice and SAT in the Antarctic during 1979–2009. The Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) shows an increased trend during 1979–2009, with a trend rate of 1.36 ± 0.43% per decade. Ensemble empirical mode decomposition analysis shows that the rate of the increased trend has been accelerating in the past decade. Antarctic SIE trend depends on the season, with the maximum increase occurring in autumn. If the relationship between SIC and GISS SAT trends is examined regionally, Antarctic SIC trends agree well with the local SAT trends in the most Antarctic regions. That is, Antarctic SIC and SAT show an inverse relationship: a cooling (warming) SAT trend is associated with an upward (downward) SIC trend. It is also concluded that the relationship between sea ice and SAT trends in the Antarctic should be examined regionally rather than integrally.

As put by Skeptical Science – “The most common misconception regarding Antarctic sea ice is that sea ice is increasing because it’s cooling around Antarctica. The reality is the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica has shown strong warming over the same period that sea ice has been increasing. Globally from 1955 to 1995, oceans have been warming at 0.1°C per decade. In contrast, the Southern Ocean (specifically the region where Antarctic sea ice forms) has been warming at 0.17°C per decade. Not only is the Southern Ocean warming, it’s warming faster than the global trend. This warming trend is apparent in satellite measurements of temperature trends over Antarctica”.

Antarctic Climate and Sea Ice Variability – a Brief Review by Marilyn Raphael, UCLA Geography, WRCP Workshop on Seasonal to MultiDecadal Predictability of Polar Climate, October 2010


Antarctica’s remoteness, the difficulty of conducting research there and the paucity of observations, are some reasons why the Antarctic climate and sea ice variability are not as well understood as in the Arctic. However, research has shown that the climate of Antarctica including its sea ice is dictated by numerous influences with origins ranging from the Tropics to local atmosphere/surface interactions. Over the period of record indications are that much of Antarctica is warming, led by the Antarctic Peninsula. Regional changes in atmospheric circulation, sea surface temperatures and sea ice may explain this warming. Overall, sea ice extent is increasing, contrary to climate model predictions for the 21st century, and this increase has strong regional and seasonal signatures. Sea ice variability is strongly influenced by ENSO, Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) and by zonal wave three (ZW3) among other large scale atmospheric circulation mechanisms. The Antarctic climate and sea ice variability are reviewed with respect to the atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms that influence them.


Measurements show climate models get the energy balance wrong (again)

July 27, 2011

Settled science?

The deification of climate models and the development of the Global Warming religion will be remembered as one of man’s great follies.

A new paper in Remote Sensing Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 1603-1613; doi:10.3390/rs3081603 

On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance

by Roy W. Spencer  and William D. Braswell
ESSC-UAH, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Cramer Hall, Huntsville, AL 35899, USA;  

A University of Alabama Huntsville news release (via Dr. Pielke Snr.)  

Climate models get energy balance wrong, make too hot forecasts of global warming

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (July 26, 2011) — Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to “believe.”

The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades.

In research published this week in the journal “Remote Sensing”, Spencer and UA Huntsville’s Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks. Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak.

“At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained,” Spencer said.

This is the first time scientists have looked at radiative balances during the months before and after these transient temperature peaks.

Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle.

Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth’s changing climate is feedback from manmade greenhouse gases.

“There are simply too many variables to reliably gauge the right number for that,” Spencer said. “The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations.”

For this experiment, the UA Huntsville team used surface temperature data gathered by the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Great Britain. The radiant energy data was collected by the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.

The six climate models were chosen from those used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UA Huntsville team used the three models programmed using the greatest sensitivity to radiative forcing and the three that programmed in the least sensitivity.

Dr. Roy Spencer writes about his paper:

Well, our paper entitled On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance which refutes Dessler’s claim, has just been accepted for publication. In it we show clear evidence that cloud changes DO cause a large amount of temperature variability during the satellite period of record, which then obscures the identification of temperature-causing-cloud changes (cloud feedback).

Along with that evidence, we also show the large discrepancy between the satellite observations and IPCC models in their co-variations between radiation and temperature.



Reindeer grazing not global warming is shifting the tree line in Torneträsk

November 29, 2010
Strolling reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in the ...

Strolling reindeer: iImage via Wikipedia

New research shows that the advance of the tree line upwards in the Swedish mountains was due to reduced reindeer grazing and not due to any global warming.

Swedish Radio P1 reports today: (freely translated)

It is not primarily a warmer climate which causes the tree line to crawl
up in many places in the Swedish mountains. A new study from the Torneträsk area shows that there are several other factors that affect tree spread rather than just higher temperatures. Climate change plays a very minor role. It is mainly grazing reindeer, insect infestation, and several other factors that affect mountain forest coverage, rather than changing temperature conditions.
“That the tree line can go up or down or remain stationary within the same climate period has not been shown before “, says Professor Terry Callaghan, one of the researchers who carried out the study.

The tree line advanced up the mountains most during the cold period at the end of the 1960s and 1970s. It was primarily because it was a time with fewer reindeer. A warmer climate may actually have an indirect effect (to reduce the advance northwards) by adding to the number of  insects and insect infestations that can damage trees.

Many climate models expect that the forest in the tundra and other Arctic areas will expand considerably northwards in the next one hundred years because of higher temperatures. But the new research suggests that these simple assumptions can be grossly inaccurate. One must reckon with how to account for the impact of insects and grazing reindeer and moose. “It now requires that much more detailed information be added into the models”, says Professor Terry Callaghan, director of the Abisko research station.

The article is published in the Journal of Biogeography

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