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« The global warmist plan | Main | Up against the Wall - Josh 260 »

Santer: pause now 20 years long

David Whitehouse has taken a look at the Santer et al paper in Nature Geoscience that claims to find a partial explanation for the hiatus in surface temperature rises in the cumulative effect of a series of small volcanic eruptions.

As an aside, Whitehouse notes that once you have adjusted the temperature data for the non-AGW effects, the pause in warming is very long indeed:

Their Fig 1 shows raw lower temperature data (a), that with the El Nino removed (b) and that with El Nino and El Chichon and Pinatubo removed (c). Looking at 1c one sees that the lower atmosphere shows a standstill since 1993, that is 20 years! This is in itself a remarkable graph extending the ‘pause’ into the start of its third decade.

And suffice it to say, the attribution to volcanoes is shonky indeed.


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Reader Comments (106)

These pseudo-scientists are so concerned to find yet another post-hoc explanation for the hiatus and the missing heat that they don't realise the implications of what they publish. The implications are only noticed by real scientists, such as David Whitehouse.

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What happens for eruptions going back over 100 years? Or is this fix only applied to the pause period?

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

that with the El Nino removed

You can't remove the El Nino. It is an output not an input. Doh!

El Chichon and Pinatubo removed

Correct. You have to adjust for volcanoes, because they are an input.

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick

I asked on a previous thread for paper(s) by a vulcanologist that details either the increase in volcanic eruptions since 2000.

Nobody provided any.

The only place I have seen this claim, for increased volcano activity, is from climate scientists. I am not aware of any papers from anybody else. I haven't seen an increase in news articles on volcano activities, and, most damning of all, I haven't seen a paper blaming an increase in volcanic activities on CO2.

Where is the evidence for increased volcanic activity?

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I thought that was settled by Gavin's "coincidence" paper, where the slowdown is set to have started in 1992?

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

A relevant posting on WUWT by Willis Eschenbach Volcanoes Erupt Again

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A


The only place I have seen this claim, for increased volcano activity, is from climate scientists. I am not aware of any papers from anybody else. I haven't seen an increase in news articles on volcano activities, and, most damning of all, I haven't seen a paper blaming an increase in volcanic activities on CO2.

Precisely. There are no data. This is pissing into the wind, but you can be sure that Betts will be along soon to explain how the models show greater volcanic activity.

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

The climatologist's argument for increased volcanic activity is:

The models run to hot and we need cooling.
We have upped the aerosols as much as possible for burning fossil fuels
All that's left is increased volcanic activity so we will increase that.

Arguments against:

Volcanoes tend to be big and when they erupt people for miles around know about it and report it.
The earth tremors they produce can be picked up by seismographs located around the world.
On average, between 50-70 volcanoes erupt each year and at any given time there are about 20 erupting.

If we have more volcanic activity then I would expect to see:

1. Papers by vulcanologists discussing the increased activity.
2. Papers by seismologists discussing the increasing seismic activity caused by the increased volcanic activity.
3. Documentarys telling us we are all going to die due to increased volcanic activity.
4. Somebody to name the 71 or more volcanoes that erupted each year that we have had increased activity.
5. Climatologist's blaming it on CO2*

* I do seem to recall reading something about a claim that increased CO2 led to increased rainfall which increased the pressure, due to steam , in the volcano which led to more eruptions.

Feb 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

So only another 10 years for them to cling on by their fingernails before it will start warming again.
Time to make the point that the 60-year "cycle" is still alive and kicking because otherwise if/when it does start to warm again around 2025 they'll be saying "I told you so" and the whole extortionately expensive charade will kick off again!

Feb 28, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

There was a piece this week about Volcanoes on WUWT. Something later said that since the big boy Volcanoes stopped their big activity some 200 yrs or more back (I think?) most related dust had dropped out of the atmosphere. So its been on the warm ever since.

Logical I 97% of me believes that.......till the next PhD pops up.

Feb 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

This is becoming a 'hoist on his own petard' moment.
But is that not what typically happens when post hoc excuses and arm waving are happening faster and faster?
No wonder the hardcore believers in AGW are acting like orthodoxy enforcers and are becoming so committed to shutting down the debate.
It is not really skeptics they want to silence. It is the cognitive dissonance that the excuse makers are creating in the believer community that they want to silence.
Those seeking to end the discussion are afraid that as more excuses to explain away the failures of AGW, the entire enterprise they have vested so much into will fall into disrepute and become laughable to more and more people.
Good luck with that.

Feb 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Fwiw, the recent volcanoes are identified , the largest e.g. Manam, Tavurvur and Nabro, and the reasoning behind is in Santers presentation in the recent APS transcript, around p. 219-229:

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSoren


Alarmists are very fond of logarithmically increasing measurements, so much so they are now creating one of their own. As the 'pause' gets longer expect the hysteria to increase logarithmically.

The hysteria hockey-stick, if you will.

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Tangled webs, eh?

We must have missed all of those volcanoes going off for surely they did. For the models tell me so.

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

It should be fairly easy to categorise large scale volcanic activity, after all they are not small.

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Re: soren
> Fwiw, the recent volcanoes are identified

Santer says:

a swarm of over 17 eruptions with a volcanic explosivity index of three to four after Pinatubo. So, this is an instance of a systematic error in volcanic aerosol forcing.

According to wiki you would expect a VE3 every few months and a VE4 slightly less than once a year. This means that in any 4 year period you would expect around 16 VE3 and 3 VE4 or a swarm of about 19 eruptions with a volcanic explosivity index of three to four.

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The problem is they are trying very hard to hold the climate sensitivity high in the models, this requires offsetting by cooling effects, in the period 1940 - 1975 and now in the last period. These are controlled in the model by the forcings with time of eg aerosols and volcanos. But these forcings are only estimates, so they can be "adjusted"...just like the temperature data.

The question to keep asking is Lindzen's question from the APS seminar transcript: How well do the models reproduce the warming to 1940?

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Sceptics should not crow too loudly. The volcanoes are probably hiding in the same place as the missing heat. See the two links below.

Submarine Volcanoes

"The most productive volcanic systems on Earth are hidden under an average of 8,500 feet (2,600 m) of water. Beneath the oceans a global system of mid-ocean ridges produces an estimated 75% of the annual output of magma."

Underwater Volcano as Big as New Mexico is Largest on Earth, Scientists Confirm, Nature World News Sep 05, 2013

"At a size equivalent to the state of New Mexico or British Isles, the underwater shield volcano known as Tamu Massif is the largest individual volcano ever documented on Earth, according to new research to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience."

Feb 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

So they removed Chichon and Pinatubo.
Does Hudson get a mention??

Feb 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

Roy, lol. Now aerosols that are hiding the deeps of the ocean and never even get to the atmosphere are to blame for the atmosphere not behaving as Santer and pals desperately wish.
Terry S puts the light of fact on Santer's arm waving. Volcanoes are not the cause of the pause.
In one sense, there is no pause at all. The climate is, as skeptics have pointed out, simply varying as it always has.
In the same sense the climate change crisis is man made: It is an artifact of a small group of self-selected alarmists being allowed to make scary claims, avoid any real scrutiny and to suppress their critics in a most lucrative fashion.

Feb 28, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Ben Santer and his collleagues have always reminded of the Keystone Cops.

Santer would be the Desk Officer played by Ford Sterling

Mann would be the officer played by Roscoe Arbuckle (who also fell from grace - but for different reasons)

My prediction - In the next 20 years the number of Polar Bears in the world will be greater than the number of Climate "Scientists" by at least 100 to 1.

Will we witness the extinction of the Climate "Scientist" in our lifetime? Polar bears are smarter than the average Climate "Scientist" - to misquote Yogi Bear

Feb 28, 2014 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

The more I read, the more shonky (to use your word) the science becomes.
We have long argued, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek occasionally, that all the hype and all the scaremongering is to keep the research grants flowing. The last few years and the sudden flurry of data on pauses, hiatuses, coincidences, and excuses suggests to me that climatology is still a wide open field where there is worthwhile grant money to be looked for.
The science is evidently far from settled and the planet's reaction to warming (or cooling), whether coincidental, part of some inbuilt thermostatic device, or even direct intervention by a benevolent deity, seems to me to provide legitimate grounds for further study.
The fact that so many climate scientists insist on hanging on to the evermore threadbare paradigm of "it's CO2 wot dun it" and "just you wait; it'll be back" only reinforces the belief that it is global politics that is really in play here and not honest science.
Bio-diversity, sustainability and all the other buzz words and paraphernalia associated with Agenda 21 as well as the pseudo-environmentalists' aim of a return to a pre-industrial society are the current objectives as they always have been. Otherwise honest scientists would be welcoming the "pause" as a signal that things are perhaps not quite as bad as we thought and that there are perhaps other directions that their research should be going in.

Feb 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Oh no! you all not know what this means???

Look what happened to all their precious Catastrophic Man Mad Global Warming - its down to just 14 years in length.

That's really too bad. And if they weren't such a.... I might just feel bad for them

Feb 28, 2014 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS

This site has records going back to before the 1940s, but how detailed and complete I'm not sure. I'm sure I found another site a few years ago when there was an undersea event in the Canaries. No trace now of course.

Feb 28, 2014 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

"I asked on a previous thread for paper(s) by a vulcanologist that details either the increase in volcanic eruptions since 2000."

This is the most complete and detailed list of eruption history I have been able to find in my roughly two months of casual looking for such a list.

I do not know either way if volcanic activity has increased, but this is probably one of the easier ways of figuring that out.

Do note, this list includes eruptions going all the way back 12,000 years (9950 BC is the oldest dated eruption) so it is quite long (in fact, 10,740 total eruptions are included.) I am not sure when the extensive and detailed reporting began though (but that might be roughly discernible from the data itself)

Feb 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS

If volcanic activity was doing significant stuff, the vulcanologists would be reporting it, and the climatologists would have been talking about it before now, instead of tossing out a bunch of post hoc garbage after the fact.
This is like the melting Tibetan glaciers: Skeptics pointed out for years that the claim of 2035 was bunk. we were ignored even after John N-G pointed it out in 2009. For the AGW community, back downs are only acceptable if they come from insiders, and then only if the insiders are properly circumspect.
Look at how Curry, Lindzen, Spencer, etc, etc. etc. are treated.

Feb 28, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

OT: Having just read Guido's comments on Ed Milliband's climate totalitarianism (linked top right) I think it is apropos for everyone to be reminded of this:

Feb 28, 2014 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Has any real climate scientist (ha ha) considered the obvious. El Chichon and Pinatubo caused the 1980 to 1998 warming by creating a barrier that reflected energy back to earth when it would normally escape.

Once volcanoes returned to "normal", the warming stopped.

Feb 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce


You don't have to tell me anything - remember, I am the guy who posted the 50-year "pause" that is 1930-1980 shortly before providing the link to the best tracking of volcanic eruptions I know about.

The entire argument is nonsense, we are not "warming" except for the normal warming you would expect as we come out of a LIA. We are also only "warming" during PDO Positive cycles, at consistantly identical rates, despite them somehow trying to tell us the "warming" over the PDO+ from 1977-2008 was "unprecedented." The plant has been much hotter (consistently 1-3 degrees warmer) during the MWP, and despite what Mann tells us, peer-reviewed papers show it was true at about any location you choose to look at. We also know for a fact deep oceans (at least in the Pacific) are not as warm as they have been for most all of the past 10, 000 years - making the "its hiding in the deep ocean" claim idiotic.

All of that does not change the fact the link I provided was helpful on the topic, hence my providing it

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS


It has been considerd . The aerosols from volcanos increase albedo more than they insulate, The overall effect is a negative forcing.

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

The plant has been much hotter (consistently 1-3 degrees warmer) during the MWP, and despite what Mann tells us, peer-reviewed papers show it was true at about any location you choose to look at.

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS

Marcott et all would disagree.

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Entropic man
"Marcott et all would disagree."

...and yet these many papers would disagree with Marcott et al's little reconstruction

Besides, it's not as if we don't know that Marcott paper has more then its fair share of extremely questionable inclusions, exclusions and decisions made

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS

But you see DS the whole point of papers that the catastrophiliacs fall back on is just they have something to fall back on and can then crow that its been through peer review THEREFORE is the received word of God. Never mind the fact these papers have holes the size of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic!


Feb 28, 2014 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I agree with you. I should have made that more clear in my post.
The facts are now inside the response capacity of the 'team'. So we are seeing self-contradicting explanations for things like the pause, while the hardcore rent seekers like Mann deny there is even one happening.
The fun will really start when some of the current 'team' do a Curry and start asking the really pointed questions and admitting that they were wrong.
Sadly I doubt if we will see journalists do this early if ever.

Feb 28, 2014 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Wasn't it Santer himself who said something like 17 years is long enough for a change in climate to show itself? I can't remember the exact quote.

Feb 28, 2014 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Santer, 2011

Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.

Separating Signal and Noise in Atmospheric Temperature Changes: The Importance of Timescale, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2011JD016263. (Climate Etc)

In the thermometer temperature record there have been 2 periods of 20 year warming, 1920-1940 and 1980-2000 since the start of the record in 1880. The other periods, three, have been 0 sum. That's 2:1 against CO2.

Feb 28, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

If Santer et al 2014 becomes accepted, it could cause embarrassment to the UNIPCC's AR5 report published last September. The report, (like AR4 in 2007), stated quite clearly that there was zero radiative forcing impact from volcanic aerosols between 1750 and 2011. To have prevented 20 years of warming - 0.4 degrees or more from the climate models - volcanic aerosols would have needed to be 0.5 Wm-2 or more, to offset the net 2.29 Wm-2 of anthropogenic factors.
I compared the radiative forcing components of the two reports here.

However, Ben Santer is reverting back towards what James Hansen was saying in 2000. Hansen then estimated the radiative forcing component of volcanic aerosols to be +0.20 to -0.50 Wm-2

Feb 28, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

em: " The aerosols from volcanos increase albedo more than they insulate"

The albedo must work both ways. Most incoming sunlight is reflected back towards space depending on the albedo of the clouds/ocean/vegetations/desert.

More SO2 would then reflect more of that reflected sunlight back to earth,

Feb 28, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Wonder how they removed "ENSO" and fear it is done the same embarrassing way as Rahmstorf/Foster, by linear regression with the ENSO Index.

The very basis prerequisite for a linear regression is

Global temperature is a linear function of ENSO.

And it is not. ENSO has a long frequency tail which is not described by the ENSO index but much more by the PDO.

It is exactly this long frequency tail, which accounts for the multidecadal temperature trends.

Feb 28, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred


"In the thermometer temperature record there have been 2 periods of 20 year warming, 1920-1940 and 1980-2000 since the start of the record in 1880."

two IDENTICAL periods of warming - it is important to remember that very key part

This is their chosen time period of 1950-Today for CAGW (giving them an extra 4 years to include the proper flipping of the PDO cycles)

It is claimed one of these two periods of time absolutely "Couldn't be Natural", that it is just completely "Unprecedented" and because of that was clearly done by CO2 because "omg, it's Catastrophic" and all that blahblahblah. Oh, and the other was just normal natural stuff or whatever, ya know - with the point being, they are nothing alike. They say "CO2 fit better (to explain the warming since 1950) than everything else we tried" - Nature apparently being one of those things they didn't bother thinking about trying

And when you delve even deeper, you see this
Not even the 40 years you give them - instead, just 22 years.

...that was then though, and now Santer has apparently expanded the pause back to 1993. So I guess they feel they are currently sitting at just 14 years total of "Global Warming" since 1850 (I will be kind and say they are more then welcome to take the 14 years since 1930 I offered them earlier though, if they would rather argue on those grounds. I'm a nice guy, after all!)

Feb 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDS

Feb 28, 2014 at 5:26 PM | Entropic man

I remember recently reading a reference to a paper linking volcanism to Climate Change, it that case it's a second negative feedback in two days ;-)

Feb 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I sincerely believe the warming will be found to be hiding itself in Mann's, Trenberth's, Gleicks's underwear -- if anyone has the the courage to check -- only (s)kidding

Really, I'm no scientist and have only a rudimentary education in scientific matters (but I paid attention particularily in physics), however my long experience in running large complex programmes and projects leaves me in no doubt that these people are now lying, it can no longer be attributed to incompetence. The basic motivation (whatever it is) provides no excuse; after all a lie , when all is said and done, is still a lie.

Feb 28, 2014 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterdennis

"I asked on a previous thread for paper(s) by a vulcanologist that details either the increase in volcanic eruptions since 2000."

Zeke over at the Yale Climate Media Forum gave me a link to which mentions data sources for its post-2000 updates. The most recent figures appear to be OSIRIS satellite-measured optical depth. There's a slight increase post-2003 relative to the years on either side of 2000, but not enough to get vulcanologists writing excited papers - it looks well within the usual range of variation.

Zeke also mentioned that including the volcanic forcing could only explain at most 15% of the model-reality divergence, only 2-5% of the divergence from GISS models, and agreed with me that it is probably more correct to call this an argument for the models running hotter than they should, rather than the climate running colder.

Feb 28, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Aerosol fudge, in unending varieties. It's like a candy store.

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Dennis, I reluctantly have to agree with your position.
If the leader of the US Senate can stand up and say that reports of people made worse off by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) are ALL untrue (lies), then we have finally achieved the Saul Alinsky precept that it doesn't matter what you say as long as it advances your cause.

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Daddis

Santer et al have been stung by Nic Lewis and others saying their sensitivity estimates are too high--here is most of the final paragraph from the conclusions:

"We note that systematic forcing errors in CMIP-5 simulations
of historical climate change are not confined to the treatment of
volcanic aerosols. Errors are also likely to exist in the treatment of
recent changes in solar irradiance9, stratospheric water vapour10,
stratospheric ozone29,30 and anthropogenic aerosols11. Even a
hypothetical `perfect' climate model, with perfect representation
of all the important physics operating in the real-world climate
system, will fail to capture the observed evolution of climate
change if key anthropogenic and natural forcings are neglected
or inaccurately represented. It is not scientifically justifiable to
claim that model climate sensitivity errors are the only explanation
for differences between model and observed temperature trends."

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

That para reads as if someone is admitting that a significant amount of what they are working with is crap. Is that how you read it?

Mar 1, 2014 at 4:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Ben Santer seems to have made the paper redundant in any case. At page 228 of the APS transcript he is recorded as saying -

"Clearly, the missing volcanic forcing contributes to that
discrepancy between modeled and observed behavior. The question is
how much? Susan Solomon and colleagues have estimated about
25 percent. We get something similar to that.
There is a lot of uncertainty.
And much of that uncertainty relates to the representation of volcanic
aerosol effects in models. Eruptions are different. If I have learned
anything over the last six months, it's that."

At page 555 when summing up what the APS might include in its public report, Santer notes -

".... extremely fruitful, a systematic exploration of parametric uncertainty
and forcing uncertainties so really, we can construct an error budget for
a climate model."

I thought climate models displayed errors that presumably were correctly calculated? Are they premature?

Mar 1, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

"The missing volcanic forcing" this similar to the "missing heat"? No one knows where it is, or even if it exists, but by golly we are going to allow for it anyway because there can be no other explanation!?!!?!!!!


Mar 1, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I'm not sure about this but intuitively if volcanic activity was increasing this would be evident in the seismic records?

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

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