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Posts Tagged Climate science

Blink and its gone – spectacular time-lapse of ice retreat at Fox Glacier Gareth Renowden Feb 26

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This spectacular time-lapse video1 captures the dramatic retreat of the Fox Glacier in Westland over the last year — 300 metres between January 2015 and January this year. As the ice retreats, the hillside becomes unstable and collapses down into the valley. To get a sense of the scale, you can see people watching from a safe point on the bottom right.

The rapid retreat of both Fox and its neighbour Franz Josef has led to the abandonment of guided walks on the glacier tongues. The ice is now only accessible by helicopter on to the upper reaches.

The collapse of the walls of the valley at Fox (as well as rocks and sediment transported by the ice) has caused the valley floor to rise by a metre over the last two years, as measured by Massey University scientists (see also NZ Herald). They’ve also photographed the retreat over the last decade, but the most marked loss seems to be in the last few years.

NZ’s west coast glaciers are amongst the most dynamic in the world, fed by huge snowfalls in their nevées under Mt Cook — as much as 6 metres a year in the snowfield feeding the Franz-Josef, as Mauri Pelto notes here. At the moment, ice melt in the tongues of both glaciers is outpacing the ice input above, and so the glaciers are retreating fast, but a run of years with heavy snowfalls could reverse the process — at least temporarily.

  1. Created by Victoria University of Wellington with the support of Fox Glacier Guides, Department of Conservation, Snowgrass Solutions, University of Canterbury and the Marsden Fund.

Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences Bryan Walker Jan 28

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James Lawrence Powell is a former geology professor, college president and museum director. He is currently the executive director of the US National Physical Science Consortium. He is also an excellent communicator of science for the general reader. I reviewed two of his climate change-related books back in 2011 here and here. His latest book, Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth, is wider in its scope, and places climate science alongside three other major scientific understandings which emerged in the course of the 20th century, profoundly affecting our knowledge of the planet.

Powell the geologist was familiar with the fact that great geological discoveries of the 20th century had had to struggle for decades to gain acceptance by the community of geologists. It was no easy ride for the propositions that the planet is billions of years old, that continents and sea floors move, and that meteorites crash into the earth. The opposition and the controversy his book narrates were often intense before the theories gained wide acceptance.

Powell had researched modern climate science, but was less familiar with its past history. He discovered that its early proponents had also suffered initial rejection of their theories and it was many decades before the correctness of their discoveries was acknowledged.

We are used to hearing of the fundamental contribution of Arrhenius to our understanding of the effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide on temperature. In the late 19th century he showed that atmospheric carbon dioxide alone, had its amount doubled or halved, would have caused temperature mutations of several degrees. But readers may be less aware that, following initial welcome for the theory, scientists “piled on to reject it”. It was another fifty years before scientists began to investigate greenhouse warming seriously and a further fifty before an international panel of scientists would corroborate Arrhenius’s finding.

 “A century is a long time to wait to affirm a scientific theory, especially one with the dire consequences of global warming.”

Arrhenius did not foresee those dire consequences, assuming, perhaps understandably from a Swedish perspective, that a warmer world would be more pleasant to live in. But by the late 20th century Nasa scientist James Hansen was in no doubt as to the malign consequences of warming for human society. The work of Hansen and his group dominates the latter pages of this section of Powell’s book. Hansen is respected not only for being one of the most productive modern climate scientists but also for being courageous and outspoken in his desire to warn, in every possible forum, of the dangers of global warming.

When Powell wrote his earlier books on climate change a distinguished medical friend challenged him as to why he accepted the theory. To his reply that virtually all publishing scientists accepted anthropogenic global warming his contrarian-inclined friend rejoined that scientists have been wrong before. Powell’s subsequent research into the history of 20th century climate science enabled him to see that the “scientists have been wrong before” route had already been traversed in the years immediately following Arrhenius.  For fifty years the “magisters of meteorology” favoured a debunking of Arrhenius which didn’t stand the course of time. They were wrong. As more scientists examined the data and published their findings the fundamentals became irresistible and the modern consensus emerged. This time it is right. Anthropogenic global warming has taken its place among the known facts of our planet.

The capacity of science to self-correct is in Powell’s eyes its cardinal virtue. In his book we see that process repeated four times over in the scientific revolutions he describes. What moved scientists to first reject for so long the four theories only to have later generations come to regard them as virtually self-evident? Looking back over the record it is plain, says Powell, that scientists accepted the theories when the data demanded that they do so. “To call themselves scientists they had no choice.”

But reaching this point is not necessarily straightforward. Powell comments that where science is concerned we cannot trust our common sense. In all four revolutions covered in book the discoveries are counter-intuitive.  Being able to make them is ”a triumph of human intellect, a testament to our ability to observe effects and reason back to causes”.

“I am not a scientist” is the latest mantra of denial in the US Congress, as if that statement somehow justifies a refusal to act to restrain greenhouse gas emissions or even to understand what is at stake. It’s a disgraceful evasion of intellectual and moral responsibility. One doesn’t need to be a scientist to understand the thrust of the scientific theories explained in this book, as any general reader of the book can attest.

The discovery of anthropogenic climate change may represent a triumph of human intellect, but that doesn’t put it out of reach of average human understanding. No patient reader of Powell’s book could come away confused about the scientific understandings it details, least of all  about how well established is the science of climate change. American scientists have played a prominent part in climate science. It’s hard to understand why any self-respecting American politician should continue to profess ignorance.

The wrinkled retainer returns with a Peer-reviewed Peer Gareth Renowden Jan 22

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There is much ado at Tannochbrae Manor, because the Laird has once again disproved global warming. One equation is all it takes! And an article in a new Chinese science journal with some friends, and lo!

Take away that inappropriate and misapplied equation, remove the unjustifiable tripling and the climate “crisis” vanishes.

You couldn’t make it up1. Although the Laird is a past master of self-parody, his triumphant article at WND is really something else. But enough: there is much ado at Tannochbrae Manor, because Scrotum has returned!

It’s been nearly two years since the last of my Monckton tales, and fully six since Old Scrotum first trod the boards at Hot Topic, so it’s a great pleasure to see someone else picking up the characters and beating around the bush with a pheasant in the hand and a peasant in the pocket. Izen has summoned the wrinkled retainer from retirement in order to help him express his astonishment at the chutzpah of the good Lord in writing and promoting his latest opus, which is being widely greeted with yawns — and some preliminary debunking. There will be more.

There may even be more from Scrotum. I hear rumours that the Laird’s attempts at spoken Mandarin are not going down well…

  1. No, wait a minute. You can. He has. And I might be persuaded…

Heat: 2014 breaks global temperature records, 2015 could be hotter Gareth Renowden Jan 18

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Climatecouncil2014graphic

Last year was the warmest year on record for the planet, analyses by NASA and NOAA show, and it’s possible that 2015 could be warmer still. 2014 was warmer than previous record holders 2005 and 2010, and comfortably ahead of 1998. 13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000. Remarkably, 2014’s warmth was achieved without much assistance from an El Niño — which boosts global temperatures and is normally a factor in record setting years, as this graphic from Skeptical Science shows:

ENSO Temps static480

For more discussion of ENSO’s impact on temperatures, see Dana Nucitelli’s article at The Guardian, and Jim Hansen et al’s discussion here. Hansen warns that more warming could be on its way:

More warming is expected in coming years and decades as a result of Earth’s large energy imbalance, more energy coming in than going out, and with the help of even a mild El Niño 2015 may be significantly warmer than 2014.

The risk of further rapid rises in global temperatures could also be increased by early signs that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may be shifting to its positive phase, as the Peter Hannam at the SMH pointed out late last year:

“During a positive PDO phase, you’d expect temperatures to keep climbing again as they did in the 1980s and 1990s,” Dr (Shayne) McGregor (of UNSW) said, adding that as PDOs are measured by rolling 11-year averages, it will be a while before any shift becomes clear.

In New Zealand, NIWA reports that the nationwide average temperature for 2014 was 12.8°C, 0.2°C above the 1981–2010 annual average, but that June was tied for warmest in the long term record. The MetService blog provides a good overview of regional weather here.

For further analysis and discussion, there is a lot of good coverage and supporting information available on the web. Here’s my pick of some of the best.

News coverage: New York Times (above the fold on the front page, no less), BBC, Guardian, Stuff (taking the AP coverage). Time makes the obvious point: warming continues unabated, which should give the lie to climate crank nonsense about no recent warming1.

Background analysis: the Climate Council in Australia (who created the graphic at the top of this post), a superb Bloomberg graphic, Climate Nexus, Climate Central (one and two), and for my favourite visual reminder of how warming has progressed, here’s NASA’s animation of global warming from 1880 to 2014:

[Bowie]

  1. …but I won’t be holding my breath…

Your Life as Planet Earth Bryan Walker Jan 06

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“We can’t make sense of our future until we make sense of our past”, writes Howard Lee in his recent book Your Life as Planet Earth: A new way to understand the story of the Earth, its climate and our origins. The book demonstrates the very considerable sense that science has been able to make of our past. There are clear lessons for us as we forge our future, though whether the political leadership is able to take on board those lessons is moot.

In the first part of the book Lee provides a highly readable account of the turbulent history of the planet in the four and a half billion years of its existence. Geology, climate and the evolution of life are the recurrent themes. He measures this long history against an imagined human life spanning a century. It’s an entertaining and effective way of depicting the enormous spans of time before humans arrive on the planet. On this measure simple life starts in the teens of the centenarian’s life; oxygen arrives during the mid-life crisis; primitive plants and fungi start to colonise land in the late 70s; at 86 complex animals show up; in the 90s four-legged life evolves from fish; at 98 the dinosaurs are extinguished; homo sapiens doesn’t emerge until the 29th December in the final year. And in the few remaining minutes of that last year we have achieved a rapid rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels not seen since the Pliocene, three and a half million years ago.

Our rates and quantities of carbon dioxide generation are rivalling those of the great igneous eruptions which had highly destructive effects on the climate of their times, triggering global warming, ocean anoxic events and mass extinctions. We’re making our presence felt in no uncertain manner, and Lee sees no reason to assume we can avoid the consequences which attended past rapid escalations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The second half of the book shows how scientists have discovered so much about our past.  It’s a fascinating account of the enormous range of techniques and ingenuity by which the progression of events and processes has been discovered. Plate tectonics is a stand-out in geology: “In short, it is geology’s unifying theory.” The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. It has been established in the fossil records and in the genes, anatomy and biochemistry of living things today. We have also come to understand that the evolution of life has been an integral part of the planet’s evolution.

Turning to the evidence for past climates Lee explains the numerous proxies by which past temperatures and carbon dioxide levels can be established and confirmed, along with the accompanying behaviour of the oceans. There are uncertainties of course, and there is more to be discovered, but the overall picture to date is impressive in its detail. Carbon dioxide and temperature have moved in lockstep throughout most of Earth’s history, with the gas being both a driver of and responder to warming.  The gauging of carbon dioxide levels through the climate changes of the past is, Lee emphasises, crucial to our understanding of how the planet will respond to the rising levels of today.

Lee’s survey of what has been discovered about past climates covers territory mostly familiar to readers who follow climate science, but it is marked by the completeness of its range and the writer’s ability to make complex matters clear to non-scientists. He has a light touch, but achieves admirable clarity in his explanations.

Alarm is, Lee thinks, an entirely appropriate response to scientists’ projections of Miocene-like or maybe even end-Triassic-like conditions for our grandchildren’s world and beyond. He fervently hopes for some unforeseen cooling feedback “to swoop in like a fairytale hero, saving us from destructive climate change”. But Earth’s past shows no sign of that.

The book is testimony to the high worth of the patient processes of the scientific community. The piecing together of Earth’s past is a triumph of human intelligence. It also obviously carries high import for our future as we keep raising the level of carbon dioxide by continuing to burn fossil fuels.

But if science brings understanding it takes politicians to act on scientific information, and at the end of his book Lee reflects on the complete disregard for science shown by many top political leaders. He writes of “the burden of ignorance in the upper echelons of power”. That spectacle is particularly apparent in America where Lee lives. But while I was settling to write this review I viewed for the second time Alister Barry’s documentary Hot Air screened by Maori Television. Watching the dismal progression of political and business leaders in supposedly well-educated New Zealand scrambling to evade or deny the issue of rising emissions was a depressing experience. All the more while reading yet another clear and compelling explanation of the scientific conclusions which any of those leading figures would be capable of understanding.

Lee ventures reflection on what we must do if we are to pull back from invoking the worst consequences of climate change. In this discussion I thought he surrendered too readily to the notion that decarbonisation of our energy systems within the necessary time frame is too much for us to accomplish. He appears influenced by Roger Pielke on this point. If the message from Earth’s past is allowed to finally break through into the public consciousness we may surprise ourselves by the speed with which we can move. But that’s a very big if.

Stuffed birds and hot years (Merry Christmas) Gareth Renowden Dec 25

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The fourth LP I bought (after Sgt Pepper and The Monkees first two albums — this was 1967/8, and I’d just acquired a record player that could handle discs larger than singles) was a Stax sampler called This Is Soul. It triggered a life-long love of that Memphis soul sound, and in particular the voice of Otis Redding. His version of White Christmas is a thing of joy. Play it today, and think not of the fact that this year is likely to set new records for hottest year on many of the global temperature series.

Nick Cave’s take on Christmas is (characteristically) a little gloomier than most, and perhaps more appropriate.

Things down here are fragmented

In fact they’ve exploded all over the room

I think everything’s a little off-center, babe

I do dear, I do

So, dear reader, allow me (and all the contributors to Hot Topic) to wish you the very merriest of whatever season it may be that you are currently celebrating. In the Waipara Valley it looks like it’s going to be a long hot day. A turkey is truffled and soon to be cooked, there is too much good wine to drink1, and Rosie the beagle is looking forward to a break in her post-harvest diet. Nadolig llawen.

PS: If confronted by a climate-denying family member over the holidays, here’s some advice on how to approach them, from The Conversation via the NZ Herald.

  1. Considering the supplies laid in for the next week, and my intention to have a dry January, my liver is going to take a hammering. Do not expect much in the way of posts here.

Carbon News 15/12/14: smoke and mirrors Gareth Renowden Dec 16

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English goes silent on carbon deficit costs


The Government is refusing to discuss what impact a 2030 carbon deficit will have on the economy – despite warnings from Treasury. Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed to Carbon News that Treasury is predicting carbon prices of between $10 and $165 a tonne between 2021 and 2030, but he has not answered questions on what that will cost New Zealand.

Climate expert: It’s all smoke and mirrors, Mr Groser


New Zealand is using smoke and mirrors to meet its 2020 emissions reduction target, when it could get there by using clean heating and transport technologies, says one of our leading scientists. Climate Change Minister Tim Groser told Radio New Zealand National this morning that while New Zealand faced some big hurdles in cutting emissions, the country was on target to meet its pledge to cut emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Climate talks off on the rocky road to Paris


A deal struck in Lima between 196 nations today leaves open the possibility of saving the planet from dangerous overheating. But its critics say the prospects of success are now slim.

Fossil fuel probe under way as NZ goes exploring


New Zealand is expanding oil and gas exploration at the same time as Britain probes the likely cost of stranded fossil-fuel assets.

What did the Romans ever do for us? They left a water warning


As all good Monty Python fans know, water technologies feature large in the legacy of benefits left by Roman civilisation.

Carbon trade in Beijing tops 100 million yuan


Carbon trade volume in Beijing has reached 105 million yuan ($NZ21.8 million) since a carbon emissions trading scheme was launched in the city a year ago.

UN launches new coalition to promote renewable energy


The launch of a new coalition spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme will focus on boosting renewable energy usage around the world.

Australia takes action on energy market reform


The Australian Government is leading a new focus on reforms to put downward pressure on electricity prices and give Australian consumers greater power over their energy bills.

Our new energy mix is a game-changer, says India


While the political spotlight focused on the world’s two biggest polluters − China and the US − in the run-up to the Lima climate talks, pressure is mounting on India to set emissions targets to help to prevent the planet overheating.

Bank of England probes risk of fossil fuel assets


In a move that’s likely to cause consternation in some of the world’s most powerful corporate boardrooms, the Bank of England has disclosed that it is launching an inquiry into the risks fossil fuel companies pose to overall financial stability.

On the web: Meet the world’s greatest climate wrecker … Australia

  • Welcome to Planet Oz: Julie Bishop’s speech to Lima climate talks
  • Change of heart: Abbott government commits $200m to Green Climate Fund
  • Cutting carbon a good business opportunity, private sector told
  • EU court nails Austria, Poland over breaches to green energy rules
  • Scots’ renewable energy offsets a million tonnes of CO2 every month
  • How to harvest energy from everything that moves

Eels worth the effort, says environment watchdog


New Zealand needs to put more effort into protecting long-fin eels, or tuna, says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Spotlight turns on roadway illumination


Local authorities are out to halve the energy and cost involved in lighting public roads.

Spot NZUs hit two-year high


Carbon ended the week slightly down, though prices remain above $5 with spot NZUs closing at $5.40 on CommTrade, OMFinancial reports.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Is earth’s temperature about to soar? (No pause, no hiatus, only warming) Gareth Renowden Dec 10

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This is a guest post by the statistician who blogs as Tamino, cross-posted from his Open Mind blog with his permission. It’s important reading…

A recent blog post on RealClimate by Stefan Rahmstorf shows that when it comes to recent claims of a “pause” or “hiatus,” or even a slowdown in global surface temperature, there just isn’t any reliable evidence to back up those claims.

TempCP3

Yet for years one of the favourite claims of those who deny the danger of global warming has been “No global warming since [insert start time here] !!!” They base the statement on the observed data of earth’s surface temperature or its atmospheric temperature. Then they claim that such a “pause” or “hiatus” in temperature increase disproves, in one fell swoop, everything about man-made climate change.

They seem a bit worried lately because it is very likely that the data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will record this year as the hottest on record; we won’t know, of course, until 2014 is complete. A single year, even if the hottest on record, has only a little to do with the validity of such claims, but a lot to do with how hard it is to sell the idea. Perhaps they dread the prospect that if the most recent year is the hottest on record — in any data set — it will put a damper on their claims of a “pause” in global warming. If they can’t claim that any more, it deprives them of one of their most persuasive talking points (whether true or not). Still the claims persist; they’ve even begun preparing to ward off genuine skepticism spurred by the hottest year on record.

I seem to be one of very few who has said all along, repeatedly and consistently, that I’m not convinced there has been what is sometimes called a “pause” or “hiatus,” or even a slowdown in the warming trend of global temperature — let alone in global warming.

And it’s the trend that’s the real issue, not the fluctuations which happen all the time. After all, if you noticed one chilly spring day that all that week it had been colder than the previous week, you wouldn’t announce “No more summer on the way! No more seasons since [insert start time here]!!!” You’d know that in spite of such short-term fluctuations, the trend (the march of the seasons) will continue unabated. You wouldn’t even consider believing it had stopped without some strong evidence. You certainly wouldn’t believe it based on weak evidence, and if the evidence is far too weak …

Why am I not convinced? Because the evidence for claims of a “pause” or “hiatus” or even slowdown is weak. Far too weak.

Let me show you just how weak their case is.

Rahmstorf’s post is based on a mathematical technique known as “change point analysis” (with the kind assistance of Niamh Cahill, School of Mathematical Sciences, University College Dublin) applied to data from GISS (NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies). The result is that the most recent change point (the most recent change in the trend) which is supported by the data happened back in 1970, nearly 45 years ago. As for a change in the trend more recently than that (which is the basis of claims about a “pause”), there’s just no evidence that passes muster.

Of course, the data from GISS isn’t the only well-known data for global surface temperature; there’s also the aforementioned NOAA data, the HadCRUT4 data (from the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit in the U.K.), the data from Cowtan & Way (an improved — in my opinion — version of the HadCRUT4 data), the CRUTEM4 data which cover only earth’s land areas (also from the the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit), and the land-only Berkeley data (from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project). There’s also data covering, not earth’s surface but its lower atmosphere (often called “TLT” for “temperature lower-troposphere), one from UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville), another from RSS (Remote Sensing Systems).

With so many data sets to choose from, sometimes those who deny the danger of global warming but don’t like the result they get from one data set will just use another instead, whichever gives the result they want. Then again, some of them might accuse Rahmstorf, in his blog post, of choosing the NASA GISS data because it was most favourable to his case; I don’t believe that’s true, not at all. We can forestall such criticism by determining the result one gets from different choices and compare them. In fact, it’s worth doing for its own sake.

Let me state the issue I intend to address: whether or not there has even been any verifiable change in the rate of temperature increase — and remember, we’re not talking about the up-and-down fluctuations which happen all the time, and are due to natural factors (they’re also well worth studying), we’re talking about the trend. If there’s no recent change in the trend, then there certainly isn’t a “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming. I’ll also apply a different technique than used in Rahmstorf’s post.


First a few notes. Those not interested in technical details, just skip this and the next paragraphs. For those interested, I’ll mention that to estimate the uncertainty of trend analysis we need to take into account that the noise (the fluctuations) isn’t the simple kind referred to as white noise, rather it shows strong autocorrelation. I’ll also take into account that the noise doesn’t even follow the simplest form of autocorrelation usually applied, what’s called “AR(1)” noise, but it can be well approximated by a somewhat more complex form referred to as “ARMA(1,1)” noise using the method of Foster & Rahmstorf. This will enable me to get realistic estimates of statistical uncertainty levels.

I’ll also address the proper way to frame the question in the context of statistical hypothesis testing. The question is: has the warming rate changed since about 1970 when it took on its rapid value? Hence the proper null hypothesis is: the warming rate (the trend, not the fluctuations) is the same after our choice of start year as it was before (basically, since 1970). Only if we can contradict that null hypothesis can we say there’s valid evidence of a slowdown.


Spoiler alert: there’s no chance whatever of finding a “slowdown” that starts before 1990 or after 2008. Therefore for all possible “start of trend change” years from 1990 through 2008, I computed the best-fit statistical model that includes a change in trend starting at that time. I then tested whether or not the trend change in that model was “statistically significant.” To do so, we compute what’s called a p-value. To be called “significant” the p-value has to be quite small — less than 0.05 (i.e. less than 5%); if so, such a result is confirmed with what’s called “95% confidence” (which is 100% minus our p-value of 5%). Requiring 95% confidence is the de facto standard in statistics, not the universal choice but the most common and certainly a level which no statistian would find fault with. This approach is really very standard fare in statistical hypothesis testing.

So here’s the test: see whether or not we can find any start year from 1990 through 2008 for which the p-value is less than 0.05 (to meet the statistical standard of evidence). If we can’t find any such start year, then we conclude that the evidence for a trend change just isn’t there. It doesn’t prove that there hasn’t been any change, but it does lay bare the falsehood of proclamations that there definitely has been.

I’ll also avoid criticisms of using some data set chosen because of the result it gives, by applying the test to every one of the aforementioned data sets, four for global surface temperature, two for land-only surface temperature, and two for atmospheric temperature.

I can graph the results with dots connected by lines showing the p-values for each choice of start year, with the results from different data sets shown in different colours. The p-values are plotted from highest (no significance at all) at the bottom to lowest (statistically significant) at the top, with a dashed line near the top showing the 5% level; at least one of the dots for at least one of the data sets has to rise above the dashed line (dip below 5%) to meet the “Statistical Significance for Trend Change” region in order to claim any valid evidence of that (think of it as “You must be this tall to go on this ride”). Have a look:

Pvals

In no case does the p-value for any choice of start year, for any choice of data set, reach the “statistically significant” range. Therefore, for no choice of start year, for no choice of data set, can you make a valid claim to have demonstrated a slowdown in warming. As a matter of fact, in no case does the p-value for any choice of start year, for any choice of data set, get as low as the 10% level. To put it another way, there’s just no valid evidence of a “slowdown” which will stand up to statistical rigor.

Bottom line: not only is there a lack of valid evidence of a slowdown, it’s not even close.

But wait … there’s more! Imagine you roll a pair of dice and get a 12 in some game where that’s the only losing roll. You might suspect that the dice are loaded, because if the dice were fair then the chance of rolling a 12 is only 1 out of 36, or 2.8% (hence the “p-value” is 2.8%). You can’t prove the dice are loaded, but at least you’ve got some evidence.

Now suppose you roll the dice 20 times, and at least once you got a 12. Do you now have evidence the dice are loaded? Of course not. You see, you didn’t just roll once so that the p-value is 2.8%, instead you gave yourself 20 chances to get a 12, and the chance of rolling a 12 if you get to try 20 times is much much higher than the chance of rolling a 12 if you only get to try once. In fact the chance is 43%, so the p-value for all the rolls combined is 43%. That’s way way way higher than 5%. Not only do you have no valid evidence based on that, it’s not even close.

In the above tests, we didn’t just test whether there was valid evidence of a trend change for a single start year. We did it for every possible start year from 1990 through 2008, 19 choices in all. That means that the actual p-value is much higher than the lowest individual p-value we found — it’s just too easy to get results that look “significant” when you don’t take into account that you gave yourself many chances. The conclusion is that not only is there a lack of valid evidence of a change in trend, it’s nowhere near even remotely being close. Taking that “you gave yourself multiple chances” into account is, in fact, one of the strengths of change point analysis.

I repeat: not only is there a lack of valid evidence of a slowdown, it’s nowhere near even remotely being close. And that goes for each and every one of the 8 data sets tested.

A hottest-on-record for 2014 will dampen the enthusiasm of those who rely on “No global warming since [insert start time here] !!!” Yet, in my opinion, this never was a real issue because there never was valid evidence, even of a slowdown, let alone a “pause” or “hiatus.”

Based on the best estimate of the present trend, using the data from NASA GISS (as used in Rahmstorf’s post), this is what we can expect to see in upcoming years:

Giss2

Of course there will still be fluctuations, as there always have been. But if future temperature follows the path which really is indicated by correct statistical analysis, then yes, Earth’s temperature is about to soar.

Does the data prove there’s been no slowdown? Of course not, that’s simply impossible to do. But the actual evidence, when subjected to rigorous statistical analysis, doesn’t pass muster. Not even close. Those who insist there definitely has been a “pause” or “hiatus” in temperature increase (which seems to include all of those who deny the danger from man-made climate change) either don’t really know what they’re doing, or — far worse — they do know what they’re doing but persist in making claims despite utter lack of evidence.

I will predict, however, with extreme confidence, that in spite of the lack of valid evidence of any change in the trend, and even if we face rapid and extreme warming in the near future, there’ll be no “pause” or even slowdown in faulty claims about it from the usual suspects.

Carbon News 8/12/14: NZ’s multi-billion carbon blowout Gareth Renowden Dec 09

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We’re facing a $3b carbon crisis … and it could be worse

New Zealand has a $3 billion carbon headache looming – and Treasury says that’s the conservative estimate. Carbon emissions in the period 2021 to 2030 could cost the country as much as $52 billion. Official briefings to the incoming Government acknowledge that the costs of meeting emissions reductions targets after 2020 were likely to rise significantly because “our emissions are forecast to increase and carbon prices are likely to be higher”.

The country needs a carbon budget, says pressure group

A climate change lobby group is calling for a national carbon budget and legally binding emissions reduction targets. The Sustainability Council’s paper comes as it releases figures showing New Zealand is facing a carbon liability of between $3 billion and $52 billion by 2030. Drawing on Government documents and its own work, the research and advocacy trust paints a picture of a country running a creative carbon accounting process, in which carbon liabilities have been shunted off to a time when carbon prices are predicted to be much higher.

Groser has a cunning plan (but he won’t say what it is)

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NZ: pushing the world to go beyond 2 degrees cindy Dec 05

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head-in-the-sandNew Zealand is coming under increasing scrutiny in Lima, not least because it’s our turn to be reviewed by the UNFCCC process.

Early next week our representatives will have to defend our position and our lack of action to 190 governments in our first “multilateral assessment.”

Already, there have been some tough questions, coming especially from the EU and China. New Zealand’s answered them, but will have to more to defend itself than these carefully fudged answers.

Our negotiators have been trying to promote our position around the meeting, including a botched attempt in a science discussion yesterday, when they were interrupted halfway through a blatant PR presentation. They were told to get back to the issue at hand (science, not promotion of a country’s so-called “efforts”), after a number of governments objected to our highjacking the agenda.

Right now, our ballooning emissions are on track to be at least 36% above 1990 levels – instead of the 5% below 1990 that we’ve promised, and they’re going to continue going up. In short, we’re in trouble. And we’re going to get hammered for this next week.

But let’s turn for a minute to our efforts to actually solving this problem at the global level.

At the centre of NZ’s proposal for the Paris agreement is the notion that while elements of the global deal should be legally binding, targets for cutting emissions should not be legally binding.

Everyone should just add up what they feel like doing, put them in a schedule, and the sum total should be the agreed global target. And the national targets should not be legally binding.

This proposal drew praise from Obama’s climate envoy Todd Stern a few weeks back, and the idea is also supported by a band of the most recalcitrant countries on climate change: Australia (where “coal is good for humanity”) and Canada, home of the tarsands, who have, like NZ, walked away from the Kyoto Protocol.

On the other hand, the EU, in their first press conference in Lima this week, were unequivocal in their opposition to the idea. Elina Bardram, head of the EU delegation told reporters that:

 “The EU is of the mind that legally binding mitigation targets are the only way to provide the necessary long-term signal, the necessary confidence to the investors … and provide credibility in the low carbon transition worldwide.”

This is the EU’s negotiating position on a global deal. The EU is one of the few who have actually put a target on the table – with a cut of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, so they are backing this with action at home.

But here’s a funny thing about New Zealand’s proposal.

NZ’s “unconditional” target is to cut emissions by 5% by 2020 (below 1990). We have spelled out a specific set of conditions under which we’d improve this to 10% – or even 20%, although these two improved targets tend to cause hysterical laughter if one looks at our emissions projections.

Nick Smith told the UNFCCC on 31 January 2010 that, among other conditions, this agreement must:

“…[set] the world on a pathway to limit temperature rise to not more than 2˚C.”

That seems reasonable, right? On the face of it, it looks like NZ’s keen to keep to this globally agreed temperature limit (even though we know 2˚C of warming will wreak a fair level of havoc on the planet).

However, there appears to be a discrepancy between our conditions – and what we’re actually proposing for a Paris agreement. And this discrepancy has been pointed out by none other than the New Zealand Treasury.

Treasury’s advice to the incoming Climate Minister in November went to great lengths to explain our proposal, explaining in detail how we should only do our “fair share” – a line that is Tim Groser’s mantra, yada yada yada. But even Treasury admits:

“This may mean that the level of action is less than is required to limit global warming to two degrees, but negotiators have chosen to prioritise participation at this point in time.”

So let me get this right:

We are holding out on increasing our international commitment to climate action because we want to see a strong 2020 agreement that keeps the world on a below 2˚C pathway.

Yet even Treasury says our proposal for the Paris agreement will not achieve this.  Have our negotiators had a brainfade? Did they forget what they agreed just a few short years ago?

Or do they have instructions to do their best to avoid a 2˚C pathway so that we don’t have to increase our target?   Perhaps next week’s questioning could focus on this issue. I look forward to the event.

But one thing is clear: our Government has its head firmly planted in the sand on climate change, as activists across the country will be pointing out on Sunday.

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