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« Lindzen on AR5 | Main | AR5 press cuttings »
Friday
Sep272013

Keenan writes to Slingo

Doug Keenan has just written to Julia Slingo about a problem with the Fifth Assessment Report (see here for context).

Dear Julia,

The IPCC’s AR5 WGI Summary for Policymakers includes the following statement.

The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, over the period 1880–2012….

(The numbers in brackets indicate 90%-confidence intervals.)  The statement is near the beginning of the first section after the Introduction; as such, it is especially prominent.

The confidence intervals are derived from a statistical model that comprises a straight line with AR(1) noise.  As per your paper “Statistical models and the global temperature record” (May 2013), that statistical model is insupportable, and the confidence intervals should be much wider—perhaps even wide enough to include 0°C.

It would seem to be an important part of the duty of the Chief Scientist of the Met Office to publicly inform UK policymakers that the statement is untenable and the truth is less alarming.  I ask if you will be fulfilling that duty, and if not, why not.

Sincerely, Doug

 

This seems quite important to me.

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Reader Comments (73)

Ooooohh...

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Dear Doug, please refer to the snotty answer I gave to Nic a couple of days ago. Any future correspondence through the peer-reviewed literature please. Regards, Julia.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Is there a prize for guessing what the gist of her answer will be?

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Ouch, and I don't imagine this is the last time we will find contradictions with previous climate science statements.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace_F

Dear Doug

It is well known we don't review our previous predictions, because we know know we are 95% right in our future projections.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

Julia's response...


[Tumbleweed enters screen left and rolls slowly across frame. Exits right.]

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Just a reminder and for those that don't yet know

If you type the name Senna the Soothsayer into google guess who's profile pops up first

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Very funny, Anon.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterG. Watkins

0.85C between 1880 and 2012. But AR5 also chats about the anthro contribution rising above natural variation in the 1950's.
That means, according to AR5, more than half of 0.42C temperature rise can be attributed to human activities.
But human activities include CO2, ozone variations, aerosols, soot, land use change, UHI effects on T stations, ad-hoc adjustments to ocean and land temperatures, etc.

That leaves how much for CO2? Maybe 0.2C.
With uncertainty intervals wider than a barn door.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

Richard? Richaaaard? Where are you.

Has anybody seen Richard? Hello? Hello?

ps this has to be a world record for error discovery, even in the mistake-prone world of climate science.

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The Met Office official line seems to me to be hopelessly compromised/fully committed. He is wasting his time. Completely wasting his time.
Scoring some nice points in our little community, but nowhere else.

If I knew of any underhand tactics I could utilise in the struggle to alert the wider world to the hyping of catastrophic man made climate change, I would use them and advise everyone else to use them. There is a complete lack of good faith at the Met, in my far-from-humble opinion.

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I had rather hoped for a better response from the IPCC on the significance of the warming trend, or, better still, a more or less dignified retreat. The use of a linear trend + noise as the underlying statistical model has been widely disparaged both for its physical unsuitability to climatic systems and the poor quality of the fit it gives to the historical data. I had thought that it had become the received wisdom that a model involving differencing would be required for any plausible examination of trend. But then, of course, the warming no longer comes out as significant which I imagine is politically unpalatable.

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Jack Savage

you wear a mask of the face of Senna the Soothsayer (and nothing else) and you scale the main tower of the Houses of Parliament where you drape a banner which states '97% of the inmates are as thick as sh1t'. That will get their attention. I would join you but I have to practise jumping through a hoop.

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

chris y (Sep 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM), you say "...according to AR5, more than half of 0.42C temperature rise can be attributed to human activities."

This may well be true if those activities include human 're-calibration' of the temperature records :-)

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Anyone for Slingo Bingo?

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterfretslider

"I ask if you will be fulfilling that duty, and if not, why not.."

Salient point, who do our UK policymakers go to in order to carry out their responsibilities of independent due diligence?

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

'Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past'

In true 1984 style I think you will find there is no problem here , becasue those past statements were never made , the fault here is your understanding of history and your memory.


For some the book 1984 stands as a warning , but for others its an instruction manual .

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Even leaving aside the issue of correctly calculated confidence limits, 0.85 degrees in tmeperature rise between 1880 and 2012 is a rate of 0.6 degrees per century.

Surely, given the log linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, that rate of increase is highly unlikely to accelerate. That means in 200 years from now the average global temperature is still not likely to be "2 degrees above pre-industrial levels".

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Plaudits to Doug. Thanks, and well done.

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Green Sand 3:13pm "Salient point, who do our UK policymakers go to in order to carry out their responsibilities of independent due diligence?"

Due diligence couldn't be provided by the Met Office because they have been involved with the IPCC in the provision of data, models and staff. Due diligence requires a certain distance from the work done so far to give the necessary impression of independence.

Sep 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Diffenthal

In today's Johannesburg's Business Day Slingo has a letter to the editor published:

'WE ARE living in a changing world. Last year was among the 10 warmest years on record — continuing the long-term trends we have seen in our changing and varying climate.

As CO² levels continue to climb, these changes are not just confined to global temperatures. Keeping sight of the bigger picture shows evidence of a changing world in rising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice, and shrinking ice sheets.

And this evidence is indisputable. Observations across the climate system show a warming planet. The fundamental physics is clear; CO² traps radiation and warms the planet. If we increase CO² levels in the atmosphere, temperatures will rise.

Last year, and again this year, many parts of the world have been affected by damaging and costly extreme events; from major heat waves, droughts and wildfires to extreme cold, excessive rainfall and flooding. Thousands of lives have been lost, over 100-million people have been affected and the damages run to tens of billions of pounds.

A new paper by scientists from the UK and the US provides evidence that human influences on the climate played a role in the severity of a number of these events. The paper concludes that the frequency of occurrence of the extreme heat experienced in the US last year is four times more likely as a result of human-induced climate change, and that climate change contributed about 35% of the high temperatures in the eastern US between March and May.

It also highlights the increasing risks of coastal inundations from events such as Hurricane Sandy, which broke 16 historical storm-tide levels along the US east coast. Increases in sea level related to climate change have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood compared to 1950. As sea levels continue to rise, coastal communities face a looming crisis with an increased frequency of flood events on a par with Sandy but from storms of less intensity and lower storm surge.

The paper’s authors are rightly cautious in not overstating the case for human influences on extremes, in particular those related to extreme rainfall. What is clear is that climate change is already costing us dearly, and that when combined with growing population and urbanisation, is projected to disrupt regional and global energy, food, water and health security.

It can often be all too easy to focus on minutiae; to burrow down into the proverbial rabbit hole. But the world is changing and we are playing a part.

Prof Julia Slingo

UK Met Office Chief Scientist'

Why on earth would she be sending letters to a South African newspaper, or is this perhaps a shotgun approach where the letter has been sent to papers around the world (on this particular day)?

Sep 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Shorten

I think Doug may be confused here. Isn't the IPCC simply reporting the measurement uncertainty in this sentence, not carrying out a significance test against some sort of null hypothesis?

Sep 27, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commentertilting@windmills

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

For Slingo, you should specify the acceptable journals. Not just any old peer review will do.

Sep 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

John Diffenthal

Precisely!

So who, where? Even for an impression of carrying out their responsibilities?

Sep 27, 2013 at 5:30 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"What is clear is that climate change is already costing us dearly, and that when combined with growing population and urbanisation, is projected to disrupt regional and global energy, food, water and health security."

Really?

Honestly, is this really the kind of emotive nonsense Prof Slingo is reduced to spouting?

Sep 27, 2013 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

DaveS,

This isn't far removed from the spittle-flecked keyboard stuff that the Guardian's CIF resident circle-j*rk comes up with - how far removed from objectivity is it possible to be?

We need a Tony Abbott. Now.

Sep 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Sep 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM Geoff Shorten

"... What is clear is that climate change is already costing us dearly, and that when combined with growing population and urbanisation, is projected to disrupt regional and global energy, food, water and health security.
(...)

Prof Julia Slingo
UK Met Office Chief Scientist "


This is science. It is not propaganda.

How can we be sure of this?

The Met Office's Richard Betts recently asserted here on BH that the Met Office does not do propaganda. It does science.

Sep 27, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

From Geoff Shorten's post:

As CO² levels continue to climb, these changes are not just confined to global temperatures. Keeping sight of the bigger picture shows evidence of a changing world in rising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice, and shrinking ice sheets.

And this evidence is indisputable. Observations across the climate system show a warming planet. The fundamental physics is clear; CO² traps radiation and warms the planet. If we increase CO² levels in the atmosphere, temperatures will rise.

Last year, and again this year, many parts of the world have been affected by damaging and costly extreme events; from major heat waves, droughts and wildfires to extreme cold, excessive rainfall and flooding. Thousands of lives have been lost, over 100-million people have been affected and the damages run to tens of billions of pounds. [...]


"And this evidence is indisputable"

There is no question - the evidence is undisputed: about the delusional groupthink that mesmerises all and sundry @=the Met Office. Still, you must take credit even when you know where it comes from. You know, like the World Meteorological Organization [stop giggling at the back], it gives the Met Office brownie points for just clocking into work at the centre in Hadley.

Sigh..............at any rate I'm 95% certain.

Sep 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

knr

regarding things that disappear, this was on the Met Office web site until very recently in line with their policy that the past climate was static. They now seem to be accepting some measure of natural variability and the previous statement has disappeared.

http://web.archive.org/web/20101229165808/http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/policymakers/policy/slowdown.html

‘Before the twentieth century, when man-made greenhouse gas emissions really took off, there was an underlying stability to global climate. The temperature varied from year to year, or decade to decade, but stayed within a certain range and averaged out to an approximately steady level.’

tonyb

Sep 27, 2013 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Sep 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Anoneumouse

If you type the name Senna the Soothsayer into google guess who's profile pops up first?

I thought it was only me! I thought perhaps I'd trained my browser to do that - works with Bing too.

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Why on earth would she be sending letters to a South African newspaper, or is this perhaps a shotgun approach where the letter has been sent to papers around the world (on this particular day)?
Sep 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered Commenter Geoff Shorten

Slingo's propaganda, is as Peter Lilley and Lord Donoughue have pointed out, a symptom of the British establishment's desire to preserve some influence in the world. I don't [know] which is the worse, the environmental imperialism or Slingo's junk science.

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Oh dear!

Oh dear, oh dear!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

Meanwhile in other news, the Met announce that a "J Slingo" has been awarded a £30K bonus.

http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/met-office-gravy-train-rolls-on/

[Surely some mistake? - Ed]

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

So rip up the garden we were told to plant a few years ago:(they hope you've forgotten about it their advice)

Mike Calnan, the National Trust's head of gardens and parks, said the predictions were based on computer models generated by the Met Office Hadley Centre.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1260244/National-Trust-UK-garden-images-effect-global-warming.html#ixzz2g7UfnPi3

and plant these instead
http://www.123rf.com/photo_14551981_blooming-edelweiss-flower-leontopodium-alpinum.html

before they change their minds again.

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

"I think Doug may be confused here. Isn't the IPCC simply reporting the measurement uncertainty in this sentence, not carrying out a significance test against some sort of null hypothesis?"

The IPCC is reporting a confidence interval, which is essentially the range of hypotheses for which the data would show no significant difference from it. So the IPCC are doing both.

Essentially, this is an "Oops! I did it again!" moment by the IPCC. In past reports they cited 90% confidence intervals of the slope based on REML linear regression using an AR(1) model of the noise. (See AR4 Appendix 3.A The Met Office used that to declare that the amount of warming was significant (i.e. the confidence interval did not include zero), and Doug had an extended argument via Parliamentary Questions to get them to admit that the AR(1) model was far less likely than certain other noise models they could have used, by a factor of about a thousand. The Met Office eventually tried to claim their significance assessment never used AR(1) in the first place. Oh, no, they're far more sophisticated than that.

So when the new IPCC AR5 summary comes out, the first thing Doug does is to check what method they're using now. Oh, look, it appears they're still using the AR(1) confidence intervals, the method the Met Office said was dumb. So is the Met Office now going to tell the policy makers they're supposed to advise not to trust that number? Doug helpfully points it out to Julia, in case she might have accidentally missed it. Isn't he nice?

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Doug, thanks for the correction. It will be addressed after due process in AR6 -Julia S

Sep 27, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternaloptimist

I'm trying to imagine a Time Team exercise where J Slingo's claim of a change in temperature of 0.85C was processed by those who lived in the LIA - except, they would be wondering about a fall of 0.85C (or more) over their lifetime.

Had they had the where-with-all to (ho-ho) change the climate then, what would have been the effect now, in today's warming/cooling climate?

So, if we (AKA our leaders) get this wrong...think about the grand-children!

Sep 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

In a cringe worthy talk to the Royal Horticultural Society Slingo claimed she was passionate about gardening. Well it's time she was put out to grass, along with all the other activists in the Met Office.

Sep 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

I'm intrigued. Why does Julia Slingo's Metoffice page come first when Googling 'Senna the Soothsayer'? I don't usually use Google, but just did to try it. It only comes fifth top in Yahoo.

Sep 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

In case anyone else wants to check, the following R script ought to replicate (roughly) the IPCC's calculation. I used GISTEMP here, although the IPCC didn't say I'm assuming they used the combination of several global temperature series, or possibly different versions. But the closeness of the result indicates that this is indeed what they've done.

# ###################
# Replicate IPCC's confidence interval for warming 1880-2012
library(nlme) # nlme contains gls

# Read in GISTEMP data obtained from
# http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt
# Downloaded 27 Sep 2013
gistemp<-ts(c(-22,-13,-16,-19,-27,-25,-24,-31,-19,
-10,-33,-27,-31,-36,-32,-25,-18,-18,-31,-20,-14,-21,
-30,-36,-44,-29,-26,-42,-43,-46,-45,-44,-41,-39,-23,
-16,-36,-44,-31,-29,-27,-21,-29,-26,-24,-22,-9,
-18,-16,-31,-11,-7,-10,-25,-9,-15,-10,3,6,1,6,8,5,6,
14,1,-8,-4,-10,-11,-19,-6,2,9,-11,-12,-18,4,4,3,
-4,5,4,7,-20,-10,-4,-1,-5,6,4,-7,2,16,-7,-1,-12,15,
6,12,23,28,9,27,12,8,15,29,35,24,39,38,19,21,28,
43,33,45,61,40,40,53,61,60,51,65,59,63,49,59,66,
55,58)/100,start=1880)

# Do the regression using AR(1) model, restricted maximum
# likelihood, and show the coefficients of the best fit
glsREML<-gls(gistemp ~ time(gistemp), cor=corARMA(p=1,q=0), method="REML"); coefficients(glsREML)
# Calculate 90% confidence interval on the slope
confint(glsREML,level=0.9)
# Calculate 90% confidence interval on the increase from 1880 to the end of 2012
confint(glsREML,level=0.9)[c(2,4)]*(2013-1880)

# Plot the data and slope on a chart
plot(gistemp)
abline(glsREML)

Sep 27, 2013 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Sep 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM | Pharos

In 'Up Pompeii', Senna the Soothsayer's favourite expression was "Woe, woe and thrice woe!" - constantly seeing doom in Lurcio's future, except that she was usually wrong ...

does that give you a hint?

It's been going on a few years - I found this on the blog 'Autonomous Mind':

Anoneumouse 17/02/2011 at 11:12 am

Go to google and type in “senna the soothsayer” and see who appears in the number one spot :-)

Sep 27, 2013 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I don't know if Doug Keenan has arrangements for getting out a press release on this. However if he needs any help in this area please contact me through scef.org.uk. Mike@

Sep 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeHaseler

If you type the name Senna the Soothsayer into google guess who's profile pops up first?"

Whoever did that is very clever indeed. Google has take action to prevent that sort of thing as they don't want to be proven to be politically biased or open to defamation libel acts.
Yet this beats Google.

Two options:
A - This guy is very, very astute.
or
B - This lady is very, very astute.

Sep 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

... and this from Steven Goddard's blog earlier this year:

Met Office Say Warm Springs Due To Climate Change–March 2012!

Billy Liar says:
April 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm

We knew that already:

warm weather/wet weather/dry weather = climate change
unusual weather = climate disruption (© Senna the Soothsayer*)
cold weather/snow/normal rainfall = ignore

*Go on, Google it, I know you want to.

Sep 27, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Where do we go with the conflict now?

The MO has issued long term climate forecasts indicating a future Mediterranean climate, milder winters, warmer wetter summers for which many private customers have paid good money.

The IPCC AR5 predicts the opposite, a cooler climate with harsher winters.

Will litigation ensue, does the MO recognise this report as a direct challenge to their advice, are they opposing the conclusions or opening the way for lawyers to sue for recompense.

Sep 27, 2013 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Yes, sure, but the 95% consensus says I am 100% right.

Sep 28, 2013 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Well done Doug! (and poorly done IPCC).

But it is probably certain now; Slingo is not going to send you a holiday card this year.

Try not to be too disappointed; reacting with glee is acceptable though, perhaps even expected.

Can Lord Lawson pony up Doug's question to the Met O?

Sep 28, 2013 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Julia's first question will be: "What's a linear trend?"

Sep 28, 2013 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Keenan has made the mistake of assuming that Slingo can even hear him over the deafening roar of careerist chiselling going on all around her ... and in which she plays no small part.

Sep 28, 2013 at 6:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterthe sweet sound of chiseling

Can Lord Lawson pony up Doug's question to the Met O?
Sep 28, 2013 at 1:32 AM ATheoK

Is Lord Donahue on the case?

Sep 28, 2013 at 8:47 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I posted this over at WUWT:

While I agree the AR(1) model is lacking, I can't understand why people would endorse Keenan's letter when he seriously suggests the "correct" error margins might include zero. Does anyone actually think we shouldn't be able to rule out the possibility of no warming in the last 100+ years?

I stand by that. It's good to point out problems, but it isn't good to overstate one's case.

Sep 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

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