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« Truth and the green | Main | All change at the SMC »

No, it's natural variability

In the wake of Karl et al's frantic tweaking of the global temperature data in order to get the pause to disappear, a new paper by Nieves et al, also in Science, comes up with a different theory to explain what's happening, this time putting it down to natural variability:

Recent modeling studies have proposed different scenarios to explain the slowdown in surface temperature in the most recent decade. Some of these studies seem to support the idea of internal variability and/or rearrangement of heat between the surface and the ocean interior. Others suggest that radiative forcing might also play a role. Our examination of observational data over the past two decades shows some significant differences compared to model results from reanalyses, and provides the most definitive explanation of how the heat was redistributed. We find that cooling in the top 100-meter layer of the Pacific Ocean was mainly compensated by warming in the 100- to 300-meter layer of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the past decade since 2003.

So while the Karl et al paper gave rise to headlines that the hiatus was no more, this one seems to confirm that it's real. The right-on message is therefore that warming is continuing but that the heat's in the ocean (just not deep down as Trenberth argued).

Judith Curry gives the paper a welcome here and David Whitehouse has an excellent review of it here. I sense that Whitehouse shares my view that we don't have good enough temperature data to draw firm conclusions about what is going on in the oceans.

Reading University's Richard Allan was interviewed on the Today programme about the paper as well (audio below). Allan argues that over the coming decades the heating will start to be felt at the surface again and managed to sneak in a bit of advocacy at the end, saying that we need to put in place measures to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. How nice for scientists to be able to advance their political views unchallenged!


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Reader Comments (20)

Of course nobody really knows, despite the claims and models. But some editor at Science magazine is going to get their hands smacked for them for going against the injunction of the headmistress:

The time for debate has ended. – Marcia McNutt, editor of Science

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I'm just waiting to see if the Guardian reports this. I so want to reply to those who thought Karl et al was going to last a year.

But as this paper's based on observations, not just models, it may not be counted as real science by the sadly declining Guardian.

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

the science is effectively settled
Corner et al.

Not when you talk about the 'radiative forcing' nonsense.

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

More shuffling of the deck chairs by the true believers as the climate catastrophe continues to sink into oblivion.

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

… we don't have good enough temperature data to draw firm conclusions about what is going on in the oceans.
Yeah, but what we don’t know we can make up. Know you nothing of climate science?!

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:32 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Delighted to see a brand new scientific discovery that heat doesdn't just rise, it goes down too!

Jul 10, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

The axioms of Climate Science:

Never let data get in the way of a good model


Torturing data until they confess

Jul 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

So they found that the heat did not really jump 700m to hide in the deep ocean - it only jumped 100m and only in one place, ie still unphysical!

Yet, like turkeys not voting for Xmas, these Caltech geniuses still cannot bring themselves to admit that there is no anthropogenic signal detectable and hence no credible scary future scenario. Without the CO2 scare the Argo buoy network would never have been funded. Little did they expect that it would report no actual ocean warming but of course they cannot just accept that this important finding can arbitrarily be ignored in favour of warmist dogma as Karl has done.

But regardless of who is right; Karl calibrating on sparse & inaccurate but long-term bucket measurements or Willis calibrating on abundant but short-term buoys, neither can do no more than project that warming may continue at the (probably entirely natural) IPCC official rate of 0.6K/century. That is not something that demands any policy response: You need scary model scenarios for that and the models are still inadequate for prediction by dint of ignoring the obvious prior that nature can warm up all by itself.

Jul 10, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Phillip Bratby, radiative forcing is so old hat in climate science.

Now it is all about Political Forcing. The temperatures and graphs have to be forced to meet the political agenda, set by the models, which were set by the politics. It is such a simple concept, it beats me why they even overcomplicate it with actual thermometers anymore.

Who needs data in Real Climate Science?

Jul 10, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

So within a month of Karl signing the Pause's death certificate along comes another expert to defibrillate it back to life. This comes hard on the back of 60-something contradictory papers all trying to explain or slay the Pause that is or isn't happening that none of them predicted and no model projected.

It seems the Pause is more indestructible than Frankenstein's monster.

Jul 10, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

cheshirered, the Pause, like the Medieval Warm Period, seem rather more resilient, than Real Climate Science.

If they could develop the 'jumping heat theory' a bit more they could save us all some money on heating bills, by jumping heat from distant stars into our living rooms.

It is also worth noting that cold can jump aswell. This is the only possible explanation as to why our unbearably hot Arctic Ocean is still covered in ice, despite Real Climate Science's best attempts to model it away.

The Thermal Teleporter, was never imagined in Star Trek, but does exist on planet earth.

Jul 10, 2015 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Allan argues that over the coming decades the heating will start to be felt at the surface again

I wish it some of it would appear here and right now, it's another Baltic day here in the Highlands.

Jul 10, 2015 at 1:03 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Starship Enterprise, Captain's Log

Scotty, "You cannae change the Laws of Physics, Captain!"

Capt James T Kirk, "Scotty, in Climate Science and Hollywood, anything is possible"

Jul 10, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Webb: Now, has global warming paused? There is a view of course that it has. During the first decade or so of this century there didn't seem to be any measurable increase in global temperatures in spite of all the carbon we continue to release into the atmosphere - climate scientists found the pause difficult to explain, but a paper published by ocean scientists at NASA seems to come up with an answer. Richard Allan is Professor of climate science in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading and is on the line, good morning.

Allan: Good morning

Webb: And the answer is what?

Allan: Well, I mean this new research shows that um, heating of the planet is going on full pelt, um, heat is continuing to build up in the oceans but in the last decade its been penetrating a bit deeper down, so rather than heating up the surface layers it's been going to deeper levels, so we've seen a slight suppression of the rate of global surface temperature rise in the last decade....

The paper talks about temperature rises of the order of 0.001C per year. I guess that's what Allan means by 'full pelt'.

Jul 10, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Jul 10, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Paul Matthews

The paper talks about temperature rises of the order of 0.001C per year. I guess that's what Allan means by 'full pelt'.


At what point do claims of 'warming' of 1/1000th of one degree no longer count? We can't even measure 'temperature rises' of such a tiny amount across a global dataset without it being dwarfed by the margin of measuring error. The whole thing has become absurd beyond words.

Jul 10, 2015 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

There's now a full transcript of the interview, here:

Jul 10, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

They seek it here,
They seek it there,
They seek it everywhere.

Damn sneaky stuff this "missing heat"

Jul 10, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Re-energise the di-lithium crystals, and lets get this theory back to life. Aye, it'll be life Jim, but not as we know it.

Jul 10, 2015 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I woke to hear Allan on R4. It was very difficult trying to imagine that the man talking about oceans of heat 'sloshing around' was actually a scientist.

I also have trouble with the concept that surface (air) temp can be relatively low yet the oceans can be warming. Surely, if the air temp is low - ie: not as high as it 'should be' - then there is no way for the oceans to take on extra warmth that is not there. And, even if it is in the oceans, sloshing around, it'll take donkey's years to come out again, no?

Jul 10, 2015 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

According to my understanding of the science, the heat will jump out at us in about 800 years. Scary, no?

Jul 10, 2015 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Peacock

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