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Slingo on The Life Scientific

Julia Slingo was interviewed on The Life Scientific this morning. The show is very much about a friendly chat  rather than a penetrating interview, so expectations were low, but there were nevertheless a couple of interesting moments.

One of these concerned the pause in global warming, Dame Julia putting the blame on deep-ocean heat transport and in particular the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Unfortunately, interesting followup questions were not put, for example

  • the corollary effect of the PDO on late-twentieth century warming
  • what this means for the IPCC's claim that most of that warming was manmade
  • the risk to mankind from heat located in the deep ocean.

There was also a wonderful bit of footwork when presenter Jim Al-Khalili asked whether the climate models had predicted the pause and was told "yes these models have these periods of slowdown", which I think, on referring to Ed Hawkins' famous graph, means "no".

Slingo 1

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Reader Comments (28)

Andrew Lang could almost have said:-

“She uses climate models as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination.”

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Richard Betts said on BH that the models had predicted the halt. (They had done so because global temperature was still within the upper and lower confidence limits of the model output.)

I have a computer program which reliably predicts the number resulting from the throw of a die; it has never failed. (My program predicts the number thrown will be 3.5 ± 3.)

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Julia Slingo, defended her reported view that this year’s exceptional rainfall was linked to anthropogenic climate change. She ran out the well-worn mantra of the enhanced greenhouse gas theory that more warming from a little increase in carbon dioxide concentrations leads to yet more warming because warmer air can hold yet more of the most powerful greenhouse gas – water vapour.

This time however Slingo went on to state, as a matter of fact, that increased concentrations of water vapour do result in more rainfall. This may well be true but for there to be more water vapour resulting in more rainfall there must be an increase in the latent heat taken by the water vapour from the surface to higher altitudes. This is one of the several basic physical constraints on global warming, before one takes into account the possibility of negative feedback from clouds. Other constraints on global warming include the roughly logarithmic nature of the absorption of long wave radiation by greenhouse gases, the fourth power relationship of temperature to radiation and, of course, the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, which in the words of Mitchell, Slingo et. al. (2007), “forms the basis of the compelling argument for an amplifying effect”. However, the increasing steepness the Clausius-Clapeyron curve demands increasingly more energy input for each temperature increase and is a major constraint.

All of this is as may be, but those of us, who have had to deal with positive feedback in places where we did not want it, know that, in the absence of a compensating negative feedback loop, all that limits the run away effect of positive feedback, once it exceeds a gain of 1.0, is the energy supply. Möller and Manabe (1961) demonstrated that, considering radiative equilibrium alone, the Earth’s surface temperature would be constrained to 70-80°C. That it is not nearly so hot demonstrates that convection and other physical effects must comprise a negative feedback loop that neutralises what is, undisputedly, a strong water vapour positive feedback loop.

In the case of our climate, it is the sun that provides energy that drives both the positive and negative feedback loops. While the constraints on the loop gain of the positive feedback loop, mentioned above, clearly increase with temperature, it is not so clear that other constraints act so powerfully on any negative feedback loop. In such a system it is still to be expected that a small changes in the energy input from the sun will result in quite large changes in surface temperature – which is what we observe.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

@Martin A 12:14

A mate used to write gambling type programs for Commodore machines in the 80's. Football and Horse Racing primarily and he sold some. Come a particular Chelthenham Gold race day and he used his program to bet. Two of us checked the program code structure (very sequential) that morning and noticed a variable error for the track itself in terms of hard/softness. So we knew he had lost - again. 3 days later a new Porche arrived at work with him in it - cash paid. He was on an Army salary.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

She sounds very much like a politician to me (when interviewed for BBC news): "I wish to be very clear ..." and "The science is unequivocal, we must cut our emissions ...". Sympathy is due to her for some nastiness following climategate and her "floods = climate change" statement, but what do you expect in the political arena, always a nasty old business.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

was told "yes these models have these periods of slowdown",

No-one ever asks the obvious next question. "yes these models haveTHESE periods of slowdown", Yes, Slingo, but did they forecast THIS slowdown. ANSWER : NO, NO no.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Richard Betts said on BH that the models had predicted the halt. (They had done so because global temperature was still within the upper and lower confidence limits of the model output.)

You cannot seriously believe anything Betts and the Metoff say on the subject the pause. Their lielyhood depends on them. They are like the second hand car dealer who, knowing the cars are a pile of merde, sells them to people who really can't afford.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Having just listened to it over lunch, I can only say that I agree with the comment at 9:36am at unthreaded of Jack Savage. Much deliberate deception.

Apr 8, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Having just listened to it over lunch ...
That was either very brave of you, Phillip, or very foolhardy.

Apr 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"predict the pause" yes they told us all about well before it happened. It's not like they spent years saying they "those deniers are lying there is no pause".. end of sarcasm

- Seems to me she was expressing massive certainty about climate change and the future by massively extrapolating past the validated science, that would make her a CLIMATE ASTROLOGER, some might say a witch.
..And what is it the crowd chant towards witches who have made wild predictions, summoned demons & harmed their community ?
appropriately beginning with B--- H-- .But as ever I suggest pity is a better attitude towards the deluded.

Apr 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Someone should ask Slingo if there is anything that is not "consistent" with global warming -- Russia's annexation of Crimea, MH370 or the next North Korean electoral result, for example.

Apr 8, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"The science is unequivocal, we must cut our emissions ...".
Apr 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM Mikky

Sounds much the same as "The science is settled".

Apr 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Why must "WE" cut our emissions?

Liz Kershaw recalls a surprising moment of honesty on the subject from Tony Blair in 2007.

With the microphones switched off, the presenter was chatting about green issues when Blair suddenly sighed. “Liz, we in the UK could shut everything down and turn everything off,” he said. “And within two years all our efforts would have been wiped out by what’s happening in China now.” Kershaw says she hasn’t bothered to switch off her television since.

Apr 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Stephen Richards

Serendipitous typo: lielyhood

Apr 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

With one trillion model runs, Slingo would also have some runs into an Ice Age. Always nice to have some blankets for the cold. Does she understand anything of statistics?

Apr 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMindert Eiting

Whenever I hear someone making statements about warmer means more atmospheric water, I like to remind myself of this site which also looks at the basic physics but a bit more than just infrared radiation.

It shows global cloud coverage falling from 69% to 64% during the 90's as the earth warmed and flattening as the hiatus took hold. It also shows total column watervapour which looks pretty flat during the warming of the 90's and falls to a lower flatness as the hiatus kicks in. We keep being told that we have just had the warmest decade but clearly not the highest decade for water vapour.

Meanwhle anthropogenic CO2 marches on wards and upwards oblivious of the hydrological cycle not wishing to follow.

Apr 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Sligo, a copper-bottom, ocean-going product of a bloated public sector that, smugly, for years had everything going its own way, not least in terms of endless finance, is now, bit by bit, being forced onto the back foot.

She is clearly finding it a disconcerting business.

Her response, if I may put it this way, is 'consistent with' an over-paid, self-satisfied, over-promoted non-entity who, dimly, is beginning to realise that she and her cutting-edge science (ho! ho! and ho! again) have been rumbled.

Hence the trilling little laughs, the vague references to natural variation, to the complexity of the science – you don't say so, Julia? and there we were thinking that you has told us it was all so simple – to the sophistication of the models, to the oceanic up-take of heat (eh? so why wasn't it doing that before 1998? Has the Met. Office been able to re-direct the behaviour of the Pacific Ocean so as to meet the demands of the Climate Change Act?).

In short, a grasping woman whose only talent has been to climb a slippery ladder down which she is now inevitably about to slide.

I promise not to hoot too much when she lands on her arse.

Apr 8, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commenteragouts

"Someone should ask Slingo if there is anything that is not "consistent" with global warming -- Russia's annexation of Crimea, MH370 or the next North Korean electoral result, for example."

Rick Bradford,

Those events (and all bad things in the world) are caused by CAGW. Once you understand this you can just relax, stop thinking critically, and obey our masters.

Apr 8, 2014 at 6:11 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I'd have gone large on the BBQ summer and drier than average winter myself but it was never going to be a rough ride for her. It's the BBC and Jim is a true believer as evidenced in his tweets today.

Apr 8, 2014 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Model=not real.

got it?

Apr 8, 2014 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

I promise not to hoot too much when she lands on her arse.

How charmingly naive!

The only thing Slingo will 'land' is a luxurious early retirement on a full gold-plated pension paid for by the taxpaying peasantry.

Apr 8, 2014 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Thank for the link to the recording.

I note that she continually used the word 'science', but kept babbling about climate models and statistics.

I particularly like the your line "Dame Julia putting the blame on deep-ocean heat transport and in particular the Pacific Decadal Oscillation." and then she goes on to defend the UK's recent wet spell was caused 'climate change' and thus by the same (missing) warming.
Strange how she can hold both of these views.
Maybe this is her song -

Apr 8, 2014 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Slingo reminds me of the raddled old bat who was Head Teacher of a girls school I briefly taught in many years ago, who remarked during a staff meeting
'The gels need models like me for a successful life'
It was interesting watching various members of staff turning all shades of pink in theiir efforts not to laugh.
Models, indeed!

Apr 8, 2014 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Kendall

The fluency with which she lies. She no doubt *believes* that the models *did* predict the "cessation". (As it is, until further notice.)

Apr 8, 2014 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

I am always amazed that some can dance an absolutely spectacular Climate Tango even when the orchestra is playing a different tune -- or perhaps paused...

Apr 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillR

My original quote to which Martin A refers was 2 years ago, and is here. It was slightly facetious - as you note, I was trying to say that the surface warming 'pause' wasn't a big deal because observations were still within the range of the model projections. The pause wasn't predicted in advice - but climate scientists / communicators (often not the same thing, especially in the 1990s) should have been clearer about natural variability meaning that there will still be periods of little change in global mean temperature sometimes. There was too much focus on long-term (multi-decadal) projections and the long-term trend, and little attention to what might happen in the near term (next few years).

Apr 9, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts


Possibly serendipitous for someone who is intent on sowing mistrust instead of addressing the actual science!

Luckily for me and the Met Office, any regular reader will probably see that Stephen Richards comes across as too irrationally hate-filled and angry to be taken seriously. ;-)

Apr 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Irrational? No, I don't think so. Irritable, but with a whole lot to be irritated about, I'd say.

Apr 10, 2014 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

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