I can’t tell the bottom from the top

homer.jpgA couple of weeks ago I blogged about NIWA’s climate summary for 2008, but inexplicably missed a most excellent response to the figures from the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition’s energy expert Bryan Leyland. He must have been digging through some dusty tomes in the library, because he arrived at the astonishing conclusion that New Zealand was warmer 141 years ago:

New Zealand’s national average temperature of 12.9 degrees C during 2008, described by NIWA as ‘milder than normal” was in fact cooler than it was 141 years ago, this, and worldwide drop in temperatures since 1998, demonstrate that claims of man-made global warming have lost touch with reality.

Oh really?

Mr Leyland said it is important that all New Zealanders, but especially politicians, understand the significance of the two sets of temperature readings.

Quite so, Bryan, quite so. Let’s see if I can help out a little…

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Baby, it’s cold outside

Pegsnow.jpg In the make-believe world of Climate Debate Daily, where there are two sides to a great “debate” on the reality of climate change (there aren’t), a great gulf is opening between the opposing teams. Cranks are investing a great deal of (wasted) time and effort into spreading the idea that the world is cooling, while climate scientists think a new record high global temperature can’t be far away.

In The Australian today, The Great Communicator (for it is he!) runs the cooling argument for all its worth:

Thus, using several fundamentally different mathematical techniques and many different data sets, seven scientists all forecast that climatic cooling will occur during the first decades of the 21st century. Temperature records confirm that cooling is under way, the length and intensity of which remains unknown. […] Perhaps a reassessment will finally occur when two-metre thick ice develops again on Father Thames at London Bridge, or when cooling causes massive crop failure in the world’s granary belts.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Robin McKie in The Observer, Jim Hansen nails his colours to the mast:

Deniers should show caution, Hansen insisted: most of the planet was exceptionally warm last year. Only a strong La Niña – a vast cooling of the Pacific that occurs every few years – brought down the average temperature. La Niña would not persist, he said. “Before the end of Obama’s first term, we will be seeing new record temperatures. I can promise the president that.”

There’s a collision coming…

Continue reading “Baby, it’s cold outside”

Bright future in sales

2009iPredict.png iPredict, the NZ-based “prediction market” has offered two new contracts based on global temperatures: will 2009 be warmer than 2008, and will 2009 set a new record for warmest year? TV3 News featured the offerings last night. In iPredict’s market, buying and selling contracts — the equivalent of stock trades in a traditional market — establishes what the market (ie, the collective wisdom of the buyers and sellers) considers to be the most likely outcome, and expresses that view in the price. At the time of writing, the $1 contract “2009 warmer than 2008” (TEMP.2009) was trading at $0.7041, indicating that the market view is that it will be. On the other hand, a new record (TEMP.2009.HIGH) was trading at $0.1840, suggesting that the market deems it unlikely.

iPredict’s blog explains the thinking behind the contracts:

2009 is shaping to be an interesting year for climate science. There are, as I understand it, two camps in the climate change community. One says that greenhouse gases is a major driver of changes in climate. The second says changes in the Sun’s energy output is responsible. What makes 2009 interesting is that these drivers are expected to head in opposite directions – greenhouse gas concentrations will continue their inevitable march upwards, but the Sun’s energy is expected to continue falling. So which driver will temperatures tend to follow in 09?

Unfortunately, whether 2009 is warmer than 2008 tells us nothing about long term climate “drivers”, because there’s too much noise in the system (the variation from year to year is bigger than the signal we’re looking for — an approximate 0.2ºC per decade increase – so we need to look at long time periods to establish its existence). The swing from El Niño to La Niña — a natural oscillation — has more effect in the short term than any annual increase in CO2 forcing.

The “new record” contract is potentially more interesting, because if there is a long term upward trend (and there is) then eventually there will be a new record. That could take some time to happen, though, as Tamino demonstrated in this excellent post at Open Mind.

For what it’s worth, here’s my take. 2008 began with a very strong La Niña, which has a cooling impact on global temperatures, so unless there’s an equally strong cooling event 2009 should be warmer. On the other hand, the latest prognostication from NIWA suggests that “moderate La Niña conditions are expected to prevail into [SH] autumn”, so perhaps things may not be clear cut until much later in the year. For 2009 to set a new record, ENSO would need to swing into an El Niño early in the year, and that now looks very unlikely — hence, I would guess, the price for that contract.

To measure the market confidence in the two views on climate drivers, iPredict would need to offer longer term contracts — 2009-18 average warmer than 1999-2008, for instance, but that might not be good for active trading. There are other climate-related contracts they could offer, though, and a new record minimum for Arctic sea ice in 2009 might be a good one. That might persuade me into the market…

[Fountains of Wayne]

When Gray turns to blue/Flung a dummy

gray.jpg In a dramatic announcement today, Vincent R Gray, the retired coal researcher and diligent proof-reader of IPPC Working Group Reports (he’s inordinately proud of the fact that he submitted over 1,800 comments to the fourth report) has resigned from the Royal Society of New Zealand because of its recent statement on climate change. Given that Gray has been criticising the IPCC view of climate science for 18 years and is a vocal member of the NZ C”S”C, this is perhaps no surprise, but the statement he has issued as a riposte to the Royal Society is a minor classic of its genre. Vincent doesn’t so much spit the dummy as hurl it into low earth orbit, and uses pretty forthright language as he does so.

[Hat tip: Sam Vilain in a recent comment]

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Long shot kick de bucket (no warming since 1958)

homer.jpg At last, the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition publish their response to the Royal Society of New Zealand’s recent statement on climate change. As I predicted, they’ve made my day. Let’s consider the circumstances. We have the nation’s leading science organisation, and a panel of the nation’s leading climate scientists – including a few Nobel prizewinners – presenting the evidence for climate change. And then we have the Climate “Science” Coalition:

It beggars the imagination that an expert committee can launch a public statement about climate change that is so partial in its arguments and so out of date in its science.

Yeah, right. It “beggars the imagination” that a bunch that seriously believes it has a chance of influencing public policy can issue a statement so seriously factually incorrect and so deliberately misleading.

Continue reading “Long shot kick de bucket (no warming since 1958)”