Tasmanian Times


Global warming stalled by strong winds driving heat into oceans

The “pause” in global warming since 2001 can be explained by the discovery of unusually strong winds in the Pacific, climatologists have found.

Global surface air temperatures have more or less flatlined since the turn of the century, prompting some observers to claim that the planetary warming trend has stopped. But the new research, published in Nature Climate Change, shows how stronger winds have driven the excess heat down into the ocean.

Researchers led by Matthew England, a professor of climatology at the University of New South Wales, began by looking at the differences between the 1990s, when Earth’s surface was strongly warming, and the 2000s, after the hiatus began.

Previous research has already shown that cooler temperatures over the eastern Pacific are linked to a slowdown in worldwide warming, but researchers wanted to know why.

Data from ships and weather buoys revealed an unusual strengthening of the Pacific trade winds, which blow east-to-west near the Equator. In turn, that speeds up the “overturning circulation” of Pacific waters, driving warmer water down to depths of up to 300 metres in the western Pacific, while cooler water wells up in the ocean’s east.

When plugged into climate models, the effect of the strengthened winds is equivalent to 0.1-0.2C of surface cooling – which accounts for almost all of the observed slowdown in global surface temperatures.

Previous climate models missed this effect because the strong winds had never been observed before, Professor England said.

That doesn’t mean that climate models are “wrong”, he insisted, although they are still better at predicting what might happen by the end of the century than at the end of the decade.

“The models are improving all the time, but in this case they missed the dramatic observed wind trend. Suddenly something comes along like this wind acceleration that goes beyond what you’ve ever seen before, so maybe it’s no surprise that the models don’t capture it when it is such an extreme event,” he said.

Watching the wind

It is unclear exactly what has driven the upswing in wind intensity, the researchers said. It could be natural variation, or driven by another climate factor such as the warming of the adjoining Indian Ocean.

Professor England said it will be difficult to predict when the strengthened winds will ease. But when they do, the world is likely to see a resumption of warming air temperatures.

“That’s a very important thing to keep track of and we need to keep making measurements of the oceans, to be sure to detect the first signs of when this change occurs.”

Richard Allan, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading in the UK said: “We don’t know what is causing these unprecedented changes, but the implications could be substantial. It would be surprising if these large changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation over the last two decades, including also a potentially long-term decline in the Atlantic ocean circulation, have not already disrupted our weather patterns.”

Steve Rintoul, a researcher with the CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research, said: “More than 93% of the warming of the planet since 1970 is found in the ocean, according to the IPCC report released last week. If we want to understand and track the evolution of climate change, we therefore need to look in the oceans. The oceans have continued to warm unabated, even during the recent “hiatus” in warming of surface temperature.”

Professor England said his results fit with the observation that global surface warming can be held in check for a decade or two by the Pacific Ocean entering a “negative phase” of what is known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. As is occurring now, this state is characterised by cooler surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific, and has been associated with previous historical periods when planetary warming has stalled, such as the 1940s to 1970s.

“Climate scientists have long understood that global average temperatures don’t rise in a continual upward trajectory, instead warming in a series of abrupt steps in between periods with more-or-less steady temperatures. Our work helps explain how this occurs,” he said.

In contrast, previous positive phases of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, when eastern Pacific surface waters are warmer than average, have underpinned strong warming episodes such as that seen during the 1980s to 1990s.

“We should be very clear: the current hiatus offers no comfort – we are just seeing another pause in warming before the next inevitable rise in global temperatures,” Professor England said.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. john Hawkins

    February 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    According to the Forward Estimates released by Giddings the scrapping of the Carbon Tax by Abbott will cost Tasmania nearly $200 million per annum.

    This alone should be a good reason not to vote in the Tasmanian Liberals or for that matter as we did at the last election their Federal cohorts.

    I ask do the Tasmanian Liberals agree with Abbott that:

    “Climate change is crap” ?

    This Rhodes Scholar’s approach to the acquisition of the Red Neck vote has resulted in his attempt to scrap the Carbon Tax and roll back the World Heritage listing of our Tasmanian forests.

    How will the Tasmanian Liberals put this missing $200 million back into our bankrupt State via a now loss making Hydro Tasmania and pay for the even larger losses from Forestry Tasmania?

    Erich Abetz is no ally of Tasmania – a Green Hater from his bootstraps to those smelly Channel Highway hands, hands that are all over this State and its levers of power?

    This conundrum will test out our future financial whiz kids should we elect the Liberals and their financially illiterate party to power.

  2. Mike Adams

    February 16, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    And we now have the Prime Minister reassuring outback farmers that drought is now to be a ‘natural disaster’ and therefore they would qualify for ‘family income supplements’ and low interest loans. This presupposes that the drought will end and the status quo will return.

    And what if it doesn’t?

  3. Shaun

    February 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    As a child I remember being told at some stage that one of the world’s problems was that there aren’t sufficient resources, either physical things (oil, metals etc) or the ability of the natural environment to cope, in order to enable everyone on the planet to live as we do in the “developed” world.

    Well now we’re well down the track of trying to do just that, having everyone live the American / Australian / English or whatever you choose to call it dream of consumerism.

    China alone now burns as much coal as every other country combined and most of that consumption has arisen only in the past few years (presumably having little if any impact on the planet thus far).

    So if coal, oil etc are bad and we’re starting to see the effects then there’s a lot more coming. All those new power stations, factories and so on in China won’t be closed down anytime soon.

    Note that my point has nothing against China, a country I mention only due to the sheer scale of industrial activity taking place there. If it was in Australia, Canada, France or anywhere else then I’d be saying the same thing. All of a sudden, we’re burning 6 billion tonnes of coal every year, half of that in China, and consumption growth has been truly massive in recent times. If CO2 is bad then we’re all in for one almighty shock with the climate I’d expect.

    As for the “temperature isn’t rising recently” stuff, one obvious explanation is that conventional air pollution (things other than CO2 and in particular SO2) reflects heat. Ramping up the use of coal, which emits SO2 when burned unless flue gas desulphurisation is used (which in most cases it isn’t) does have the effect of lowering temperatures at least initially (until the rising CO2 becomes more significant than short term SO2 emissions, noting that the latter doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for long).

  4. Keith Antonysen

    February 14, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    “The last decade of the 20th Century was the warmest of the entire global instrumental temperature record, starting in the mid-19th century. All 10 years rank among the 15 warmest and include the 6 warmest years on record, which makes these high temperatures unusual for the past century. But what about in the context of past centuries or millennia? How unusual are modern temperatures compared to those of the past? It is only through the reconstruction of past climate that we can truly evaluate the magnitude of this warming.”
    Quote from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a USA Government Agency

  5. Mike Stasse

    February 14, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    “The hiatus” doesn’t even pass the statistical test…

    I love this wonderful post from Tamino: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/global-temperature-the-post-1998-surprise/#more-6942

    For those of you who have not come across him before, “Tamino” is a statistician who loves to interpret data, and this post is one of his absolute best. It’s about the warming “pause” and he keeps the technical details down and the quality analysis way, way up.

  6. Sue DeNim

    February 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    When next cherry season roles around Davies and I need a cherry picker I will know who to ask.
    None of those quotes are dated or referenced but nice try anyway.
    None of those quotes discuss the fact that warming in all other indicators other than surface temperature
    continues unabated which is what the original and TT article were actually about anyway.
    All they show is that climatologists are quibbling over a data anomaly between early model predictions and
    actual recent observations.
    When something seemingly as insignificant as the recent trend for beards can have actual sales impacts
    on Gillettes razors, I am quite certain the tonnes of carbon we have been pumping out for centuries are going to impact on us
    so I am sticking with the broad consensus thanks all the same.
    Until you can adequately answer 19 and 20, yours or any other doubt displayed by other climate scientists (bias or vested interests not identified)
    will sway me little.
    Many also continue to speak of the industrial revolution. Lets not forget the English, Dutch, French and Spanish
    were hacking down their forests for years prior for their navy fleets and before them the Greeks for their ships and the
    Vikings and Romans were burning timber for charcoal for metal smelting. So its been going on a lot longer than
    before the industrial revolution.

  7. Keith Antonysen

    February 13, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I thought I’d try and tease out a bit of logic from my none logical brain earlier today:

    By the logic of many climate change deniers there is no anthropogenic impact on the environment by man. Effluent can be allowed to flow wherever; chemicals from factories can be dumped anywhere; smoking has no impact on people’s health; exhaust fumes from vehicles can be breathed in and savoured; the flow of chemicals from farms has no impact on marine environments; we should recommence using CFCs as they have no impact on the ozone layer. etc etc. But, if there is an acknowledgement that these do impact ; then, climate change deniers must countenance that CO2 in large quantities can be a pollutant when exhausted in quantities the atmosphere and marine environments are not able to cope with.

    Many say that climate change in our era is merely a continuation of what has occurred in previous eras. So on that basis, we had ancient Egyptians flying in their jumbo jets to Australia, Columbus sailed to the Americas in his diesel powered ships, and when Australia was settled people drove around in their Holdens. In other words the consumption of fossil fuels has always been the same in the time of older civilizations. They must have produced as much CO2 as we are currently producing.

    But, CO2 has been associated with climate change that occurred in past eras through factors other than man. We are producing more carbon dioxide than in the past by a significant quantity since the Industrial Revolution. In other words I believe many climate change deniers need to block out much information to be able to hold their view.

    For some, their views are determined purely by avarice.

  8. phill Parsons

    February 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

    #21. Some will always have empty heads, stars in their eyes, a limited budget, rose tinted glasses or an agenda.

  9. Factfinder

    February 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Flooding and storms in UK are clear signs of climate change, says Lord Stern

    Author of 2006 report says recent weather is part of international pattern and demonstrates urgent need to cut carbon emissions

    Conal Urquhart
    theguardian.com, Friday 14 February 2014

    Flooded houses in the village of Moorland on the Somerset Levels. Writing in the Guardian, Lord Stern says failure to cut emissions will result in ‘even more devastating consquences’. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

    The devastating floods and storms sweeping Britain are clear indications of the dangers of climate change, according to Lord Stern, the author of a 2006 report on the economics of climate change.

    Writing in the Guardian, the crossbench peer said the flooding and storm damage demonstrate the need for Britain and the rest of the world to continue to implement low-carbon policies to reduce the probability of greater tragedies in the future.

    He said the five wettest years and the seven warmest years in the UK have happened since 2000, which is explained by a clear body of evidence showing that a warmer atmosphere contains more water and causes more intense rainfall. When this is combined with higher sea levels in the English Channel, the risk of flooding increases.

    Recent UK weather is part of an international pattern of extreme weather which proves the dangers of climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions, Stern said.

    “If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

    “The shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity.”

    Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, noted that Australia has just had its hottest year on record, Argentina one of its worst heatwaves in late December, while parts of Brazil were struck by floods and landslides following record rainfall.

    He said that delay is dangerous: “Inaction could be justified only if we could have great confidence that the risks posed by climate change are small. But that is not what 200 years of climate science is telling us. The risks are huge.”

    Britain must continue to implement the 2008 Climate Change Act, he said. This commits the UK to cut its emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

    Stern said that the risks were greater than he anticipated in his 2006 report for the government. “Since then, annual greenhouse gas emissions have increased steeply and some of the impacts, such as the decline of Arctic sea ice, have started to happen much more quickly.

    “We also underestimated the potential importance of strong feedbacks, such as the thawing of the permafrost to release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as well as tipping points beyond which some changes in the climate may become effectively irreversible.”


    Jump to comments:
    Mumsche PeterSitch

    13 February 2014 8:48pm

    Recommend 75

    “Whatever happened to the British stiff upper lip??

    It was replaced by British ignorance.”

  10. Factfinder

    February 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    UK storms should be catalyst for climate change treaty, says Ed Davey

    Energy change secretary hopes extreme weather ‘will stiffen the arm of British people’ arguing for action on climate change

    Terry Macalister
    theguardian.com, Friday 14 February 2014
    The energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, has warned that the floods should act as a catalyst for a new international treaty to tackle global warming.

    While the link between the current UK storms and climate change remains under dispute, Davey said that extreme weather conditions in the United States had changed the debate over there.

    “I hope it will stiffen the arm of British people arguing for it [action against climate change]. I am arguing for it very strongly both in Europe and the UN. I think it’s very interesting [that] if you talk to Barack Obama’s team, they are clear that the debate on climate change has shifted due to extreme weather events.

    “A number of people who were sceptical about climate change are now listening to what the president is saying, what Secretary [John] Kerry is saying. Americans are really moving on climate change and I strongly welcome that … it gives me much more confidence we can get a global climate change treaty.”

    Davey attacked the UK Independence party and elements of the Conservative party for doing a disservice to the British people by parroting the views of discredited climate change deniers at his speech at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), a left-leaning thinktank. The minister has insisted that his views on global warming had David Cameron and George Osborne’s support.

    Davey said he believed there was a link between the floods that have put swaths of countryside under water and planetary warming but he side-stepped questions about whether the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, shared his views.

    Cameron said last month he “very much suspected” that the floods were linked to climate change. Paterson, however, refused to endorse that position and claimed last autumn that farmers would benefit from longer growing seasons if temperatures rose.

    Davey said politicians should listen to the experts. He told the IPPR: “The chief scientist of the Met Office recently said that all the evidence pointed to a link to climate change. And the climate change scientists have been warning for some time that their models suggest there will be an increase in extreme weather events,” he said.

    “We are more vulnerable if the sea levels are higher so we do need to take what climate scientists tell us extremely seriously. ”

    But the known climate change sceptic, Lord Lawson, a former chancellor, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he didn’t blame the climate scientists for not knowing whether there was a link between flooding and climate change. “Climate and weather is quite extraordinarily complex and this is a new form of science. All I blame them for is pretending they know when they don’t,” he said, adding later that low-carbon wind and solar projects should be scrapped.

    Davey attacked these kinds of views as irresponsible. He said: “This is undermining public trust in the scientific evidence for climate change, overwhelming though it is. This type of climate change-denying conservatism is wilfully ignorant, head-in-the-sand, nimbyist conservatism. And when married to the Europhobia innate to parts of the Conservative party, you have a diabolical cocktail that threatens the whole long-term structure of UK climate change and energy policy.”

    The UN signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which came into force in 2005, but since then a succession of international follow-up meetings have struggled to come up with new initiatives amid disagreements over various aspects of what action should be taken and who should pay the most.

    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/13/uk-storms-climate-change-ed-davey

  11. Factfinder

    February 13, 2014 at 11:10 am

    An open letter to Nigel Farage on emissions and climate change (and an offer of a pint)
    13 February 2014, 5.06pm AEST

    Dear Nigel, I was concerned for you on the news the other night. I’ve never seen you looking uncomfortable in front of the camera before. Answering questions about climate change with water all around…

    Author: Joe Smith
    Senior Lecturer in Environment at The Open University


  12. Factfinder

    February 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Climate change leaves ancient corals on Pilbara coast devastated by marine heatwaves

    Date: February 13, 2014

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/climate-change-leaves-ancient-corals-on-pilbara-coast-devastated-by-marine-heatwaves-20140213-32jtp.html#ixzz2tF4Xw4Kf

  13. Factfinder

    February 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    …” We could go on and on.

    Not so much a “pause” as a “fast forward”

    A decade ago, the world was talking about limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2C to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change.

    Now, during a time when we are supposed to have been in a “hiatus”, almost nobody thinks that guardrail is achievable.

    Now, the talk is of 3C or 4C or higher.

    Temperatures on the surface – measured by thermometers and then averaged out across the world – is not the problem defence agencies around the world fear could destabilise entire regions.

    So what really caused the pause in global warming? I think there might be four possibilities.

    1. Was it headline writers and journalists who, out of necessity, sometimes need to strip nuance and context from their stories?

    2. Was it climate science deniers who repeated the “no global warming” mantra so often it started to infect even the rational people?

    3. Was it the internet?

    4. Was it a crack squad of fairies who secretly changed the laws of physics so the earth doesn’t warm after you have pumped 1,407 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution?

    Nah! While some thought climate change was on “pause” the reality is that the world’s big fat fingers have been stuck on the fast-forward button.”

    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/feb/12/global-warming-fake-pause-hiatus-climate-change

  14. max

    February 13, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Re #17. There are two sides to your argument, if you are right we will go on happily ever after, if you are wrong we will disappear into the ever after. This argument about climate change is more than an intellectual debate, it is about the future of mankind or the very world we live in. The way I see it, would you buy a house if 90% of the builder inspectors told you the foundations were unsafe and the building would fall down, or would you dispute them and buy it any how.

  15. Keith Antonysen

    February 12, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    No 9, Davies, what occurs when a significant amount of CO2 meets the atmosphere?

    What happens when a significant amount of methane is voided into the atmosphere?

    What happens when CO2 is mixed with salt water?

    These are very basic questions in relation to climate change. CO2 has been voided into the atmosphere at unprecedented levels since the Industrial Revolution.

    Check out the amount of methane that is being voided from the Arctic area.

  16. Russell

    February 12, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Re #17

    How about you answer my question and sea ice and glacier recession arguments without evasion and spin?

  17. Artemisia

    February 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    #17 – Superstorms and unprecedented cold in one hemisphere……record breaking heatwaves in the other and England under water from massive, unheard-of rainfalls. Don’t know about “warming”, but the climate sure seems to be becoming much more unpredictable and unstable…..exactly as predicted by the models. Well, I never!

  18. davies

    February 12, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    #14 and #15, surely you two can present an argument without resorting to rudeness. It only diminishes you not the person your attacking.

    Anyway, we have heard enough from me so let’s hear from eminent climate scientists about the global ‘pausing’.

    As climate scientist Professor Judith Curry noted in testimony to Congress this month:

    “For the past 16 years, there has been no significant increase in surface temperature. There is a growing discrepancy between observations and climate model projections… The IPCC does not have a convincing or confident explanation for this hiatus in warming.

    There is growing evidence of decreased climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations… The growing evidence that climate models are too sensitive to CO2 has implications for the attribution of late 20th century warming and projections of 21st century climate change.”

    How arrogant of this woman! Or is she confused?

    Quite conveniently she has also commented on Prof England’s paper and she isn’t impressed:

    “The main issue of interest is to what extent can ocean heat sequestration explain the hiatus since 1998. The only data set that appears to provide support for ocean sequestration is the ocean reanalysis, with the Palmer and Domingues 0-700 m OHC climatology providing support for continued warming in the upper ocean.

    All in all, I don’t see a very convincing case for deep ocean sequestration of heat. And even if the heat from surface heating of the ocean did make it into the deep ocean, presumably the only way for this to happen involves mixing (rather than adiabatic processes), so it is very difficult to imagine how this heat could reappear at the surface in light of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.”

    Is she mis-comprehending too?

    Perhaps we need a second opinion. William Kininmonth, head of Australia‘s National Climate Centre from 1986 to 1998, says England’s paper actually weakens the global warming theory he’s trying to defend:

    “Without acknowledging same, England et. al. are implicitly drawing on internal variability to explain the recent temperature pause – varying Trade Wind strength is claimed as the driver but no explanation is given as to what is causing the Trade Wind variation. Inadvertently they are opening the possibility of an important role for internal variability as a basis for global temperature variations.

    This is at odds with the IPCC claim of limited internal variability and further suggests that much of the global warming of the 20th century was not due to increasing carbon dioxide but due to internal variability. It follows that the sensitivity of global temperature and climate to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations is much less than IPCC claims based on computer models.

    The England et. al. paper underscores that the science of climate change is far from settled.”

    Is that a bit of rigour I see before me!

    How about Hans von Storch? You know the guy, he is a leading global warming scientist and an IPCC author. So his admission is even more striking:

    “In recent years, the increase in near-surface global annual mean temperatures has emerged as considerably smaller than many had expected. We investigate whether this can be explained by contemporary climate change scenarios. In contrast to earlier analyses for a ten-year period that indicated consistency between models and observations at the 5% confidence level, we find that the continued warming stagnation over fifteen years, from 1998 -2012, is no longer consistent with model projections even at the 2% confidence level.

    Of the possible causes of the inconsistency, the underestimation of internal natural climate variability on decadal time scales is a plausible candidate, but the influence of unaccounted external forcing factors or an overestimation of the model sensitivity to elevated greenhouse gas concentrations cannot be ruled out. The first cause would have little impact of the expectations of longer term anthropogenic climate change, but the second and particularly the third would.”

    You going to disparage Van Storch and tell him he is wrong wrong wrong? Go on I dare you.

    Or Richard Lindzen, his 200 plus papers and books on the subject indicate only a passing interest in the subject so I am positive you can land a couple of blows with that wit of yours.

    I could also quote another 15 or so climate scientists who are all from the ‘warming’ side generally gnashing their teeth and bewailing the fact temperatures are not rising. But let’s leave that for another time.

    And you know the best bit about this response? It was all done without insulting you or belittling your respective intellects.

  19. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    @ Davies again 5. Your second last statement is so totally deranged it defies belief.

    So what about trees and other animals and insects we rely upon? How will they be affected by those rises? Can’t crow crops without bees and soil biota.

    Those figures are averages. Some places will rise alot more, some less. The world on average will not grow more food?

    In some places they will, in other places, farming will collapse so on average it will stay the same or diminish depending on the size of the places whose agriculture diminishs and those whose expands compared to their current output.

    Also as a result of warmer oceans, undersea currents that are driven by sinking and rising cold and warmer water, that carry warm water to polar regions may collapse so some people will also indeed be colder.

    What else have you got?

  20. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Davies at number 9. No,no,no, wrong wrong, wrong.
    If you are going to be wilfully ignorant of the facts and loathe to research then please don’t bother posting. Its just embarrassing.

    1. Many commenters on Redfearnes article questioned the idea of a closed system and it was revealed under different physical principles the
    interpretation of ‘closed system’ can have different meanings. As far as matter exchange is concerned, aside from cosmic dust, very little enters the atmosphere and very little escapes.
    In terms of energy flux, yes energy enters and some returns, but the whole theory of global warming is based on the fact that the same is always entering but less is leaving.
    That’s the problem. You are just quibbling over relatively insignificant statements taken out of context to distract from the actual point of the article.

    2. I’m not sure where sea level rise of 100m was ever predicted but the theory when I was at Uni was that for every meter of sea rise, a factor of 80x sea influx inland was expected,
    depending on the shape and gradient of the coastline. Perhaps this is what you are getting confused with.

    3. All land based freshwater ice sheets in the arctic, Greenland and glaciers are melting, losing density, receding, whatever you want to call it. The phenomena that was recently described as sea ice expanding, was merely a thin layer of fresh water floating on the top of salt water (resulting from iceshelf melt) may have re-frozen from the wind chill factor of faster wind speeds into a less dense but larger expanse of sea ice sheet. This does not compare to the larger, denser ice sheets that used to be there.

    4. I don’t recall these figures, but they may have been in relation to various possible tipping points. The scientists can’t state categorically how much temperatures will rise, how quickly, and when,
    because they can’t say when the tipping points will flip, and how much the extra methane or the lower albido effect of the poles will affect the temperature rise. What they do say is extra CO2 causes extra warming, we are still pumping it out, its definitely getting warmer, and if we don’t stop it, it will continue to get warmer, alot quicker than we have ever seen before. Why is this not enough for you?
    Your arguing is like someone telling you a nuclear bomb will be dropped on your city and you want to question the exact location, exact force impact and exactly how many will die?

    Your final statement clearly shows you have completely mis-comprehended all the articles and somehow assume that these scientists aren’t as rigorous as they possibly could be when they know how hard they have to try to convince people. How arrogant could you possibly be?

  21. Russell

    February 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Re #9
    You’re a little light on understanding and heavy on the misinterpretation of fact there davies.

    “Sea level rise. His dramatic graph shows a trend of 3.2mm per year.”

    Right now this very minute there are inhabited Pacific Islands going under water, how do you explain that?

    “Ice sheets melting. I would have thought the numpties that recently went down to Antarctica and got stuck in thick ice was proof enough that sea ice in Antarctica is growing not diminishing.”

    The facts are that glaciers have and are receeding at incredible rates. And the Polar caps are melting, getting thinner, and therefore breaking up and spreading out in ever-thinning sheets. That’s why the ‘numpties’ got stuck, flat-earther.

    As a matter of fact, just about every prediction made in early climate modelling for 2050 or later has either been reached or surpassed expectations already.

    When the shit hits the fan in my lifetime, I’m going to take great pleasure in watching Ostriches like you squirm and I won’t lift a finger to help you. Well, maybe one 😉

  22. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Sorry I meant people posting comments on the article that the editor linked to in comment #6

  23. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Shaun. Conforming to science theory, we can expect more and heavier rain, less frequently and longer droughts.

    This is caused by warmer air retaining more moisture and causing more evaporation as well as dust from drier soils
    being blown by stronger winds into the atmosphere to provide particulate for more and larger water particles to condense
    and coalesce upon.

    With longer droughts, the top soil humus layer will dry out and be blown away, leaving it harder to establish crops.
    Heavier flooding rains will wash the rest into water courses, flowing faster due to compaction or more human drainage infrastruture,
    causing higher and faster flood peaks and further sedimentation of river channels and wetlands, further raising flood levels.

    When soils become too dry they become hydrophobic and the water does not penetrate the soil profile, hence running off faster, taking soil particles with the water.
    Alternatively soils that become saturated resettle their profile and become more compacted.

    If you extrapolate crop failure, lack of fresh water and sedimentation of currently fresh water supplies to the social ramifications of this, the picture just gets grimmer. Its not doomsaying, its reality based on well established climate, biological and physical principles.

    Of course it will not happen everywhere but the planet is so full there aren’t many areas where large numbers of people won’t be affected and displaced.

    Where do you think they will want to flee to? The unaffected places? How do think the people in unaffected places will react?

    Check current Australian border security issues for a forecast.

  24. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    The other one deniers like to drag out is the ole “its been warmer than this on the planet before”. To this I say “so what”.

    Various records going back tens of thousands of years tell us it has never warmed this quickly before and this is the crux of the issue.
    It leaves us so little time to adapt either biologically or infrastructurally.

    As Phil Parsons points out, if we don’t plan for the worst case scenario straight up, any incremental band-aids will be superseded by the next jump to the next tipping point resulting from the lag in feedback effects and the time we delayed in acting accordingly.

    Were humans around when it has been warmer before? If not then this is a stupid argument.
    If there were and they survived warmer global temperatures, it was most likely in small pockets not effected by drastic changes due to a fluke of where the land mass they were living on was on the planet at the time.

    Tasmania may well fall into this category, but our reliance on global trade and fossil fuel (which previous human inhabitants didn’t have) will be our undoing.

    So-called ‘alarmists’ are not for a minute saying its the end of the human race at all. Its just that we want to avoid the calamity of war, famine, flooding, ruination and overall general discomfort and heartache that will occur in the meantime before it all eventually evens out again.

    For the sake of what? Money

  25. Sue DeNim

    February 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Davies, you and many who have posted in comments on the original article are engaging in deliberate or inadvertent obfuscation due to misuse and/or mis-comprehension of terminology.
    You can’t be judged too harshly because even the heading here in this TT article is incorrect. It may just seem like semantics but people can only be educated when concepts are clear and
    comprehension is correct.

    Firstly GLOBAL Warming did not pause, break or go on hiatus. Full stop end of story. Nor did average SURFACE TEMPERATURE (one out of many indicators measured to gather data on the whole planetary [Global] phenomena of accelerated warming) for that matter. All that occurred was that mean earth surface temperatures did not rise as high as earlier models predicted for that period, because the roughly 20year cycle of strong winds that the article speaks of were not plugged into the early models.

    That is all.

    As the article says, the TOTAL, ‘global’ trend of steady warming continued regardless of this surface temperature anomaly.

    Models will always need to be revised to to account for the new and increasing number of climate factors that are now being gathered, or are now reaching long enough sampling time frames to be reliable.
    All deniers seem to be missing the point – that revisions are getting more and more accurate and more and more alarming, not the reverse.

    So far from being wrong, the scientists who advise the IPCC, are more right than ever.

    The two statements you quote are not contradictory at all. Moving air is caused by fluctuations of hot and cold air rising and sinking, and the spin of the planet. Seemingly predictable or
    expected wind directions based on the direction the planet turns, are confounded by land masses, ocean currents and the Coriolis effect. Hence it is possible for the air flows that normally fuel the usual
    direction and intensity of the Pacific trade winds to change due to changing hot/cold- rise/fall – push/pull coefficients. This may result from a ‘weaker’ air current reaction caused by the upper atmosphere
    being warmer, hence the warmer air below not rising as quickly as it would into a colder upper atmosphere, or conversely air over land being hotter and rising quicker than it would normally.

    The point of the article is that climate systems are complex and non-linear, but when new data is added, observations align more closely with predictions, not less so.

  26. davies

    February 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    With all due respect Editor that Guardian article by Graham Readfearn is pretty poor.

    The global mean surface temperature has been in a hiatus for the last 16 years or so. Professor England now admits it. And plenty more with much better credentials also admit it. Here I am thinking of Hans Van Storch, Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen.

    They admit there is a hiatus in the temperature because every single comprehensive data set (GISS, HadCrut4, NCDC, RSS, UAH etc.) shows no rise.

    Now Prof England’s article suggest reason for that is the climate models did not take into account the stronger trade winds in the Pacific. Which does beg the question what else has been missed in these climate models. For example, have they looked at what effect a lower sun activity has on the climate?

    But my point is earlier articles had suggested climate change was decreasing the strength of the trade winds. So which is it? Climate change causing stronger or weaker trade winds?

    As for the article, Readfearn states that the planet is a closed system. Is it? Is he discounting the effects of the sun?

    Sea level rise. His dramatic graph shows a trend of 3.2mm per year. That’s just 32 cm in 100 years. Didn’t politicians and so-called scientists (Bob Brown, Robin Williams, Tim Flannery) talk about sea level rises of many many times that? Robin Williams is quoted to agreeing to a sea level rise of 100 metres.

    Ice sheets melting. I would have thought the numpties that recently went down to Antarctica and got stuck in thick ice was proof enough that sea ice in Antarctica is growing not diminishing. Satellite data has the sea ice coverage in Antarctica at record levels not seen since satellite coverage began in the late 1970s.

    Suggests the talk is now 3-4C when a decade ago it was a 2C rise. Think he has that the wrong way around. A decade ago, and less, talk was of 5-6C to even 8C higher. Those temperature rises are now being pared back.

    It should be remembered that a global temperature rise of around 2-3C is actually beneficial to the world since it means more areas can grow more crops for longer periods of time with better yields. It also means less deaths as more people die in cold weather than hot weather.

    Now I have no idea whether Prof England’s theory proves why there has been a pause in the global warming. I hope it will go through the appropriate rigorous scientific analysis since it is very obvious the science is not settled.

  27. phill Parsons

    February 12, 2014 at 9:38 am

    “god” deserted the ‘greatest’ economy and leading denier country when Hurricane Sandy wrecked the burbs of a leading world financial centre, New York.

    Often shown as the focus of disaster movies when a real event costing at least US$136 Billion it makes no impact on their beliefs and thus action.

    The same applies to the droughts that southern areas of the US have suffered.

    The UK government took the advice and recognized there is a problem. Setting an emissions reduction target that would send the fossil fools here into slathering wrecks and still they have a changed climate.

    If you don’t get the physical evidence you are unlikely to be convinced by the data as davies indicates from his comments.

    Therefore one can only conclude that it has to get much worse.

    The problem with this is a revelation will not turn around the dynamic that is climate instability even if the problem is recognized by the rich and powerful and then acted upon by their minions.

    Early action may limit the degree of instability and give a chance to retain the world in a recognizable form based on the experience we have recorded.

    Otherwise you can be sure that many more of the investments made through human activity will become valueless as their function or placement is made redundant by the changes in the climate patterns they were built on come into play.

  28. Philip Lowe

    February 12, 2014 at 5:32 am

    From a plebbish,non scientific point of view,here in the Gulf Stream warmed North Atlantic island known as the British Isles,we are having the wettest,wildest winter since records began.Spurn Point is now an island,massive coastal erosion, overflowing flood plains,ten weeks of intense troughs of low depression,farm lands flooded to ruination.

    Pretty much what was predicted about two dozen or so years ago.If you close your eyes and stick your head in the sand then it’s not a problem,but it does leave your arse exposed,and it’s bloody cold as well.

  29. Editor

    February 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    #4 Davies: FYI this may be of interest as it seems to traverse some of the points you raise


  30. Shaun

    February 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Does anyone have a good, science based idea of what impacts Tasmania is likely to experience in the years ahead?

    The Hydro has done quite a lot of research from their perspective. In short, runoff into dams is decreasing but there’s an interesting pattern to it with the entire reduction occurring during just 3 months of the year (Jan – Mar) when the reduction is pretty large. I can’t remember the exact figures, but it’s somewhere around a 50% decline in those months from memory versus no real change in most other months and there’s one that actually has an increase. But overall, it’s around a 15% reduction in runoff over the year.

    The Hydro’s research is based on something they are already measuring so it’s based on real, verifiable data that they’ve been collecting since the early 20th Century in some cases both via operating power schemes and river flow gauges on undammed rivers too.

    From a practical perspective, there are likely implications for agriculture especially given that the decline is all over 3 months. If the place is drying out for the first 3 months of every year, then that obviously has implications for agriculture.

    Bush fires would seem to be another issue. Rains for 9 months and everything grows well, then dries out Jan – March and that poses an obvious fire risk especially if combined with hot and windy weather. More frequent major fires are a plausible outcome.

    Has anyone done any research into other implications? Eg natural environment, day to day weather etc?

    Editor’s note: Shaun – yes there have been a few studies: will see if I can get someone to bundle up the links and write up a brief summary for TT.

  31. john hayward

    February 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    As long as the Libs are on the fossil fuel industry payroll, they will accept no proof that climate change is anthropogenic.

    They may also rely on divine intervention by the Christian god, a la War of the Worlds, despite the obvious fact that Mammon is the apex deity these days.

    John Hayward

  32. davies

    February 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Well very interesting since Prof England was denying any such hiatus in the warming:

    April 2012:Professor Matthew England [on the ABC’s Q&A] accuses sceptics of telling untruths when they say the planet hasn’t warmed as the IPCC predicted:

    “What Nick just said is actually not true. The IPCC projections from 1990 have borne out very accurately.”

    December 2012: England accuses sceptics of lying when they say the rise in global air temperatures has paused:

    “And so anybody out there lying that the IPCC projections are overstatements or that the observations haven’t kept pace with the projections is completely offline with this. The analysis is very clear that the IPCC projections are coming true.”

    February 2014 – England now admits there has been a “hiatus” in warming, after all, which the IPCC did not predict:

    “Even though there is this hiatus in this surface average temperature….”

    And what to make of the ABC Science Unit who in 2006 said:

    “The vast looping system of air currents that fuels Pacific trade winds and climate from South America to Southeast Asia may be another victim of climate change, scientists say…. This important system has weakened by 3.5% over the past 140 years, and the culprit is probably human-induced climate change…”

    But totally contradicts that today. The ABC’s science unit, 2014:

    “Stronger than normal trade winds in the central Pacific are the main cause of a 13-year halt in global surface temperatures increases, an Australian study reveals.”

    So many contradictions and unknowns for a science that is apparently settled!

  33. Russell

    February 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Is that why the ocean is warming? I’d be more concerned about that than the land warming because the oceans drive so much of the weather and hold most of the fresh water in ice, which has been melting.

  34. Martin Hay

    February 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Nothing that I have researched regarding climate change gives any cause for optimism.

    For instance, remember how it was profoundly said that the Amazon rainforest were ‘the lungs of the world’. Well, the Amazon rainforest has changed from being a net ‘sink’ of carbon to this year being an net emitter of carbon.
    Heat stress has caused the demise of millions of trees with the resultant decay sending more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    When you look at the big picture and realise that what we are currently experiencing is the result of our emissions from the 70’s and that in the last 20 years or so we have emitted the total of the previous 200 years, if you are a realist then you

    do start to seriously consider that we, along with an unprecedented species loss worldwide, will struggle to survive also.

    Marry this with the economic drivers for more and more growth at any cost, the spiralling population, countries falling over themselves to jostle their way into the exploitation queue as the Arctic “opens up” and the propaganda behemoth that the denial industry, then there is unfortunately little cause for hope.

    And for all those out there that say ‘adapt, adapt, adapt’, your idea will probably include holding the winter Olympics in Antarctica in future as all other places will be unsuitable and ‘dam the cost”.

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