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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Joe Romm: Ten Charts That Make Clear The Planet Just Keeps Warming

by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, October 15, 2012

skeptics v realists v3
Perhaps you thought that the whole “planet isn’t warming” meme was killed by this summer’s bombshell Koch-funded study. After all, it found ”global warming is real,” “on the high end,” and “essentially all” due to carbon pollution.
Sadly, denial springs eternal. Long-debunked denier David Rose has an article in the Daily Mail,“Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released … and here is the chart to prove it.”
The piece is so misleading, even the UK Met Office felt a need to instantly debunk it with a blog post that included this chart.
UK Met Office graph showing years ranked in order of global temperature.
Since Rose managed to find one misleading chart to push his myth, I thought I would dig up ten serious ones that show the reverse, including the top chart from Skeptical Science, the great Australian blog, which is derived from the data in the Koch-funded study.
Note: “Skeptics” is an Aussie word for denier or disinformer. The British have their own words — Rose or Mail:
So one has to assume going in that any climate piece in the Mail with Rose’s name on it is somewhere between misinformation and disinformation. The latest piece tends toward the latter. Heck, even Judith Curry complains she was misquoted, as Media Matters notes.
The Met Office, part of the UK Defence Ministry, explained, it’s absurd to look at a cherry-picked “trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina)”:
As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16 °C/decade (or 0.15 °C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16 °C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.
Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8 ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.
The warming trend is clear in a chart from an earlier Met Office post “Noughties confirmed as the warmest decade on record“:
Here’s an analogy to the notion it hasn’t warmed from the El-Nino-fueled summer of 1997 through the La-Nina-cooled summer of 2012. Imagine your kid got 11 B's and 1 A+ in 9th grade science class. Then, in 10th grade science, she gets 9 A’s and 2 A+’s — but her last grade was “just” an A. Would you say she is doing better in science class or worse in science class?
If you prefer your charts from U.S. agencies using the good ‘ole Fahrenheit scale, here’s NOAA’s version of the previous chart, which notes “Every year of 2000s [was] warmer than 1990s' average”:
The recent La Nina, far from providing evidence that the planet isn’t warming, demonstrates the exact reverse, since it was the hottest La Nina on record — as seen in this chart from NOAA:
See also this discussion of the World Meteorological Organization from December 2011: 2011 Is Warmest La Niña Year on Record and Science “Proves Unequivocally” It’s “Due to Human Activities.”
If you want to refute the disinformers with perhaps the biggest dataset, analyzed independently, and backed by Koch money, well, you have to go to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Study — and really, what else is it good for? Their key paper from 2011 found it’s warming fast:
… our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g., NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.
They compare their findings with all the other data sets, and it looks like this:
ten year data analysis comparison graph
The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the January 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.” A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Via BEST.
Still warming, though that’s just a chart of land-surface temperatures.
In fact, the land has received only a tiny fraction of the manmade warming in recent years as the scientific literature — captured in this great Skeptical Science infographic — makes clear:
Components of global warming for the period 1993 to 2003 calculated from IPCC AR4
Now, if you actually read the scientific literature, you find the oceans have been rapidly warming in recent decades (see “Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans“):
“Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al. 2008.”
And no, the ocean didn’t stop warming in the middle the last decade, as a chart from yet another scientific study makes clear (see “Search for ‘Missing Heat’ Ends Myth Global Warming Has Ended“):
Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1,500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55 ± 0.10 Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.
Still warming.
You may have noticed in the infographic that Arctic sea ice has seen 0.8% of global warming — nearly two-fifths of the warming the continents have received. I wonder what has been happening in the Arctic:
Arctic Sea Ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected. The reason is most likely unmodeled amplifying feedbacks. Image via Arctic Sea Ice Blog.
Oh, right, it’s in a death spiral — and that’s just the two-dimensional sea ice extent. Let’s remember that “Experts Warn Of ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue.”
Finally we have the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which each have been getting a mere 0.2% of the warming. Let’s check in on those:
  • Nature“Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized”
  • JPL: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050
  • Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’
  • Large Antarctic glacier thinning 4 times faster than it was 10 years ago: “Nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.”
Still warming.
That’s ten charts, enough for now, but there are many other physical indicators of continued warming (see “How Can It Be Warming When It’s (Almost) Always Cooling?“)

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