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Global cooling - Is global warming still happening?

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

All the indicators show that global warming is still happening.

Climate Myth...

It's cooling
"In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable." (source: Henrik Svensmark)

When looking for evidence of global warming, there are many different indicators that we should look for. Whilst it's natural to start with air temperatures, a more thorough examination should be as inclusive as possible; snow cover, ice melt, air temperatures over land and sea, even the sea temperatures themselves. The key indicators of global warming shown below are all moving in the direction expected of a warming globe.


Indicators of a warming world based on surface, satellite, and ocean temperature measurements, satellite measurements of energy imbalance (the difference between incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere), and of receding glaciers, sea ice, and ice sheets, rising sea level, and shifting seasons.

The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event - a big snowfall or drought breaking rain. Global warming is entirely compatible with these events; after all they are just weather. For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming.

Last updated on 23 February 2014 by LarryM. View Archives

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Update

On 21 January 2012, 'the skeptic argument' was revised to correct a minor formatting error.

Comments

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 212:

  1. Chris @100,

    IMHO, this is a no win for you. Your friend has clearly made up his/her mind that some conspiracy is afoot; so no matter how much science, data and reason you provide, s/he will just keep moving the goal posts or arguing strawmen or claiming there is a conspiracy going on. I my experience, people like this never concede a thing, and have no interest in the "truth", but only the "truth" as they perceive it.

    I sense a lot of bluster and extremely little, if any, substance in his/her rant. Rather it is just another long list of common (and predictable) misinformation being parroted from places like ClimateDepot.

    I might regret this, but perhaps the best thing to do is to urge/challenge him/her to post here. That way we can address each and every misguided, unsubstantiated and incorrect assertion they make. Also, it will force him/her to put their money where their mouth is.
  2. Chris @ 100 - where's the evidence from those scientists that the Earth is cooling?. Not the UK or parts of the US in winter, the Earth.
  3. @101, thanks a lot, albatross. I've been a bit down lately with the amount of persistent rot-postings here. Inviting another one looks almost like masochism.

    Back to Chris's problem. The friend seems not to have provided names or references for this assemblage of learned persons. My response to this on other sites is to ask for names - I can do the scholar and general google searching thereafter myself. Chris cannot possibly deal with the mindset or the ideology or the paranoia. The strategy is simply to focus on specifics. And show a proper regard for facts - "I found this paper by A Williams, is that the one you meant?"

    Remember, you're not looking for a road to Damascus moment for this particular person. You're looking to chip away at the edges of their certainty about particulars, a.n.d. , to display to any observers of the exchange which of you has a better grasp of the correct way to find and interpret facts about science.
  4. @Chris: I agree with others here, your friend doesn't want to tackle this in a rational way, hence the belief in conspiracy theories involving scientists, NASA, NOAA, etc.

    The fact is, the Earth is *not* cooling, and we are not currently in a cold phase. It's above zero here in Quebec city, on January 1st. That is very warm indeed.

    I would suggest to your friend that he come here and post himself, so we can show him the errors of his ways. He better bring along evidence, however...
  5. This just in: 2010 ties 2005 for coldest year on record!



    Brrr!



    Time to buy some coal for the furnace...preferably anthracite...

    ( -edit: NASA agrees end edit- )

    The Poe-Yooper
  6. #105: Cherry-picking again, Yooper?

    + Northern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest year on record, at 0.73°C
    + global land surface temperature for 2010 tied with 2005 as the second warmest on record, at 0.96°C
    + global ocean surface temperature for 2010 tied with 2005 as the third warmest on record, at 0.49°C

    --All anomalies quoted are above 20th century average.

    See how the full story is much cooler. Some will say: no warming since 2005! GW is so over.
  7. 105 & 106 - UAH satellite data agrees too. It's a trifecta!.



    From Roy Spencer:

    "WHO WINS THE RACE FOR WARMEST YEAR?

    As far as the race for warmest year goes, 1998 (+0.424 deg. C) barely edged out 2010 (+0.411 deg. C), but the difference (0.01 deg. C) is nowhere near statistically significant. So feel free to use or misuse those statistics to your heart’s content."


    Sore loser!.
  8. I am very curious to understand why the effects of the sun are not calculated into the global warming scenario. Our sun is already middle aged and will eventually fry the earth if science does not find a way to distance them. Shouldn't all factors be taken into consideration when looking for an accurate analysis and figures on what is causing the earth and its oceans to warm?
    Response: In the Search field at the top left of the page, type "It's the sun" without the quote marks.
  9. @MJ: In a nutshell, we know it's not the sun because we can measure Total Solar Irradiance, and it's actually decreasing a little right now.

    The effects of the sun are, in fact, calculated in the Global Climate Models. May I suggest you read a bit more about the subject on this site before commenting?
  10. MJ LIberto@108 The effects of the sun *are* taken into account in modelling global climate. However we have measurements that show that changes in solar activity are too small and in the wrong direction to explan the warming of the last 40 years or so. The IPCC WG1 scientific basis report though attributes much of the warming of the first half of the 20th century to solar activity.

    Note the number 1 skeptic argument is "It's the sun".
  11. MJ Liberto, to satisfy your curiosity, and in addition to what has already been posted for you, why not also have a look at this page, where you can find the 'It's the Sun' argument and others that are linked to it.

    And to see how all possible factors are taken into consideration, why not look at Newcomers Start Here, The Big Picture and Skeptic Arguments and what the Science says.
  12. #109 "we can measure Total Solar Irradiance, and it's actually decreasing a little right now." This is actually kinda funny, See TSI. Can you specify "a little"?
    Response: See the Argument "It's the Sun," and continue the conversation there.
  13. Someone asked me to name one of the scientists that my skeptic friend was citing to support his position and this morning he named a guy called Lubos Motl. Apparently Motl is a “Theoretical physicist, a graduate of Charles University in Prague, Rutgers University and has been a Harvard Junior Fellow and assistant professor. He’s worked on such common problems as the pp-wave limit of AdS/CFT correspondence, twistor theory and its application to gauge theory with supersymmetry, black hole thermodynamics and the conjectured relevance of quasinormal modes for loop quantum gravity, deconstruction, and other topics.”

    This is his latest comment on his blog where he seems rather upbeat about the UN and US moving away from tackling climate change:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/01/ban-ki-moon-gives-up-fight-against.html

    Has anyone ever heard of this guy and what your thoughts on his latest comments?
  14. Chris - Lubos Motl does indeed have extensive string theory experience (I won't claim to be an expert in that; I have no real opinion about how good he is). He was at Harvard until a couple of years ago - he left that institution in mid-semester for some reason.

    He is also a frequent commenter on climate change - his blog apparently seems to alternate between physics and climate change posts.

    Keep in mind that expertise in one field does not automatically grant expertise in another! I frequently have to deal with PhD's or MD's who make that mistake.

    I would suggest trying a quick Google search on his name, and read the top 10 or so results. He tends to provoke strong opinions from everyone - he's a less than polite commenter.
  15. Thanks, KR. I looked him up and he certainly has provoked a few strong opinions. He seems like a renegade who enjoys stirring up trouble for its own sake.
  16. The ten indicators of global warming described all respond to the suns heating except ocean heat content which is related to stored heat. Few manmade GW sceptical scientists I know of disagree that CO2 causes warming. The argument seems to be about the level of CO2's influence. Climate change seems to be accepted by all only the degree of human influence is questioned. However there seems to be violent disagreement over the amount of energy reaching the planet. I understand CO2 traps the heat reflected from the planets surface driving the ten indicators and the manmade GW followers insist that the suns heat remains constant. While many of the sceptics insist that there is variability in the amount of heat reaching the planets surface. Those sceptics argue that the variability is due to sun influenced cloud cover while the MMGW folowers argue that the suns output is not varying.
    The global warming supporters only argument against the cosmic ray influence on cloud cover seems to be by issisting that the suns output is constant. I have not heard an argument against the mechanism described by some of the sceptics. If someone understands why the variability of the suns magnetic shield has no influence on our climate then please explain. So far all the supporters of manmade global warming seem to do is try to shout down sceptics which only places doubt in my mind over their confidence in the theory. Currently I sense the planet is cooling but I am told it is really warming. I hope it is warming because I am not convinced that a warmer future is more dangerous to my grandchildren that a colder world.
    Response: No, the energy being trapped by CO2 is not heat being "reflected" by the planet's surface, but the energy absorbed and then radiated; see "CO2 effect is weak." Nobody is "insisting" that "the Sun's heat remains constant"; see "It’s the sun." The evidence in favor of the role of cosmic rays is entirely unconvincing; see "It’s cosmic rays." Your "sense" that the planet is cooling is trumped by the empirical evidence; please read the post at the top of this page. Regarding warming not being bad, see "It’s not bad." And if you want to comment on any of those specific topics, please do so on the appropriate one of those threads. Off topic comments get deleted after a polite warning or two. Also, I strongly suggest that you read The Big Picture, which you can get to any time by clicking on its image at the top right of The Home Page.
  17. Notsure,

    The influence of cosmic rays on temperature is covered in Could Cosmic Rays Be Causing Global Warming. The post addresses almost all the issues you have raised.
  18. Notsure (#116)
    The moderator has beaten me to the reply button it seems so I will address a few other (perhaps off topic) points.

    "I have not heard an argument against the mechanism described by some of the sceptics. If someone understands why the variability of the suns magnetic shield has no influence on our climate then please explain."
    Would you provide some links to explain these mechanisms? It is up to the person making a claim to support there position before others can critique.

    "So far all the supporters of manmade global warming seem to do is try to shout down sceptics which only places doubt in my mind over their confidence in the theory."
    You have come to the right place then as that behavior is not tolerated here. Yours is the polar opposite to my own personal experience. In my discussions with Skeptics I have only ever been presented with incomplete hypotheses , conspiracy theories and (ultimately) insults. The supporters of the AGW theory have provided me with mountains of data and explanations.
  19. A little picky, rebounding, reflecting or absorbsion and re-emission. Technically it may be different but simplified its the same. Weather and climate are a result of mechanisms that no scientist fully understands or could ever fully explain. All the references highlighted in the response have benn exhaustively shown unfortunatly there still remain sceptics. Science is forged on sceptism. Sceptics form science if no questions are posed no answers are found. The majority are sceptical because any sign of sceptism is put down by those promoting the theory of man made global warming. Unless proper reasoned arguments are given people will sense untruth. I hope i have an open mind. I hear non scientists but listen to scientists and expect reasoned argument. The global warming debate is driven by models. The sceptics seems to be driven by history. Where the conflict seems to come is where the history is questioned. So far the sceptics seem to be more open (not the cranks, there there are many on both sides) If the world is warming and we are heading for problems then understand the sceptical viewpoint and use them to refine the argument. To continue to put down critism smells of a shaky religion not confident of its facts. Get it right because time and money is being spent. If it is in the right areas then ok but if not then beware we are driving ourselves in the wrong direction. The planet is our responsibility at the moment which we hand to our children. Our children will judge us in turn.
  20. Skepticism quickly becomes denial when the proper reasoned arguments are rejected on the basis that they conflict with preconceived notion. People's sense of "untruth" is based on emotion.

    If you truly are interested in learning about this scientific field, please read through this site & follow the primary source links for more reading material.

    Please respect the moderation of this site, which keeps it a civil place for discussing science. References to religion are not helpful.

    The global warming debate is driven by models. The sceptics seems to be driven by history.

    Please continue these discussions on the threads that already exist for these topics. They are both linked in the box at the top left corner titled "Most Used Skeptic Arguments".

    #5: Models are unreliable

    #2: Climate's changed before
  21. Notsure wrote : "Weather and climate are a result of mechanisms that no scientist fully understands or could ever fully explain."

    Does it matter ? Does any scientist fully understand the workings of Evolution or how the universe was created ?
    By the way, weather forecasts are invariably right these days, up to a certain number of days, so someone somewhere must know what they're doing.


    Notsure wrote : "The majority are sceptical because any sign of sceptism is put down by those promoting the theory of man made global warming."

    Can you give some reasonable examples, with regard to that "majority" and those being "put down" ?


    Notsure wrote : "The global warming debate is driven by models."

    No. I think you should have a look at a page on here that gives an outline of what we know and gives more links : The Big Picture


    Notsure wrote : "The sceptics seems to be driven by history."

    Do you have any examples you can give and link to ?


    Notsure wrote : "So far the sceptics seem to be more open (not the cranks, there there are many on both sides)."

    Do you have any examples you can give and link to ?
    Who would you class as the "cranks" on both sides ?

    You can give your answers on either of the links Bibliovermis gives, or find one of your own by searching this site.
  22. Notsure - so far the points you have made are show you are skeptical because you are uninformed as to what the data is and what is known or unknown. Now I agree with science being always skeptical - a constant search for errors and alternative explanations. However, real skepticism has be actually informed and climate pseudo-skeptics are mostly put down because they trot out long-debunked disinformation to support agendas not founded on data.

    Feel fdels, but theree to propose alternative mo
  23. #119: "A little picky, rebounding, reflecting or absorbsion and re-emission. Technically it may be different but simplified its the same."

    There is a huge difference between reflection and absorption/re-emission. Clouds, ice/snow, atmospheric dust, etc reflect a portion of the sun's energy back into space; this energy is then not available to heat the planet. On the other hand, energy that is absorbed at the earth's surface, to be re-emitted as infrared as the surface warms, is at the heart of greenhouse warming.

    "Weather and climate are a result of mechanisms that no scientist fully understands"

    Not really. In the utmost simplification, weather is planet's local, temporary response to differential heating and moisture conditions. Climate is the long term average and trend of this response.

    "The global warming debate is driven by models. The sceptics seems to be driven by history."

    Most science is driven by models these days. Models make complicated systems easier to describe and understand. And models are driven by history, because they must include past behavior. What you call 'skeptics' (more likely to be what we call deniers) are driven by neither. You'll find they often just make things up, take items out of context and try to explain by gross over-simplification.

    Please do take advantage of the tremendous amount of information available here. Read the Newcomers Guide, the Big Picture and then start working your way through the Most Used Arguments. Put 'what you've heard' and 'what it seems to be' on hold, so you can learn from the science. As Bibliovermis suggests, find the appropriate threads for comments and questions.
  24. Notsure: "Get it right because time and money is being spent."

    Climate science is receiving greater scrutiny than perhaps any other area of science, excepting evolution. There are massive lobbying dollars being spent in the U.S. to discredit the science--and this lobbying is not based on an alternative theory that explains the instrumental record. It is simply an attack to stop legislation that might help mitigate the developing problem, because the legislation will hurt particular industries.

    If you want to be convinced, then do the math yourself. If you can't or won't do the thinking, then you're always going to rely on people you think you should trust, and they're always going to have power over you. That's fine--it's necessary sometimes. Yet who do you trust? Climate scientists, who don't really roll in the dough and don't have a vested interest in a warming planet (other than having to live in it)? Or pundits and big oil-financed lobbyists whose interests are not scientific but simply in achieving legislative or political effects, whatever the means?

    At least try to understand the basic mechanisms involved. Go over to scienceofdoom.com and do some brain sweating. The comment "A little picky, rebounding, reflecting or absorbsion and re-emission" is custom made for a ticket to SoD.

    Remember: if we ignore this problem and it turns out the scientists are all wrong, then all this will be over within a decade, and heads will roll. Such a hoax couldn't last long with new generations of researchers coming on line. If scientists are right, and the observed warming continues, and we ignore it when we had a chance to do something about it, then we will and should be damned daily by our children and grandchildren.
  25. 'Remember: if we ignore this problem and it turns out the scientists are all wrong, then all this will be over within a decade, and heads will roll. Such a hoax couldn't last long with new generations of researchers coming on line. If scientists are right, and the observed warming continues, and we ignore it when we had a chance to do something about it, then we will and should be damned daily by our children and grandchildren.'
    I agree, however it is far more than the scientists reputations at stake (on both sides of the argument).
    If global warming is continuing and is caused by CO2 and poses a threat I agree we should take action. If not and global cooling increases in pace. (We are in a interglacial period within an iceage remember). This may be wasted effort. If we are heading for dangerous cooling instead of dangerous warming we may harm our ability to adapt by wasting precious time. I feel that we are not taking sufficient action to prevent global warming through our actions. Nor are we taking sufficient steps to check that understanding of climate change is correct. Labeling critics as deniers only builds barriers between the two sides of the argument.
    If you are convinced that warming is the only danger and have supported all available measures to reduce the risk then sleep well at night. If we ignore the posibility that we have misunderstood and have labeled CO2 as a danger and have damaged our ability to feed and warm ourselves we will pay the price. Whatever action we take we must test it on the way and be prepared to adapt or change course if we are in error.
    Response: We are not heading into a new ice age anytime soon. That is several tens of thousands of years away, as explained on the post "We’re heading into an ice age" and the comments there.
  26. JMurphy 'So far the sceptics seem to be more open''Do you have any examples you can give and link to' Prof Bob Carter James Cook University, Queensland. He has strong views on the subject that are worth listening to. From there you can search for many others. All come from different angles but unfortunatly if they dare to question global warming, even if they agree its happening they are labeled deniers. As far as cranks are concerned I have views and I will leave you to judge others.
    Response: Type "Bob Carter" without the quote marks into the Search field at the top left of this page.
  27. DSL 'Climate science is receiving greater scrutiny than perhaps any other area of science' I hope so and so it should. True enquiring minds welcome scrutiny. However, whenever I see people defending global warming and especially mans influence on it, I fail to see reasoned defensive debate. Personal attacks and labeling them as deniers only stiffels debate.
  28. Notsure (#127)
    This entire website is a "reasoned defensive debate" of the science behind AGW.
  29. 127 Notsure,

    Its being defended because the full body of evidence supports AGW. Conversely, there are no supported studies demonstrating otherwise. Contrary to popular skeptic belief, natural causes are not being ignored. Please read the post on Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?
  30. Muoncounter 'There is a huge difference between reflection and absorption/re-emission. Clouds, ice/snow, atmospheric dust, etc reflect a portion of the sun's energy back into space; this energy is then not available to heat the planet. On the other hand, energy that is absorbed at the earth's surface, to be re-emitted as infrared as the surface warms, is at the heart of greenhouse warming.' Warming occurs when more heat is received than lost. Cooling occurs when more heat is lost than received. Whatever mechanism is involved is not important with respect to the question, 'Is global warming still happening?' To me all that is important is to understand which way the heat is moving? When that is known then look into detail. Man made global warming is a recent happening, (over the last 50-100 years?) All the debate that I have seen so far revolves around the data for the last century. I look to the global warming supporters to prove that what has happened over the last century is unatural. So far it has not been shown convincingly to me that anything that has occured climate wise is outside the normal range of climate change either in rate of change or degree of change.
    I have not found any convincing argument or evidence that increasing CO2 levels do not cause warming. I hear debate on its degree of influence. I am not an expert and I am not qualified to point to any particular paper or theory. But I am entitled to try to understand and question.
    DSL 'Yet who do you trust? Climate scientists, who don't really roll in the dough and don't have a vested interest in a warming planet (other than having to live in it)? Or pundits and big oil-financed lobbyists whose interests are not scientific but simply in achieving legislative or political effects, whatever the means?' Its easy to acuse to put people on the defensive. I wonder if the big bad oil companies you refer to would really be happy if the global warming threat was removed. I suspect they do quite well out of the publics concern.
  31. Notsure (#130)
    "So far it has not been shown convincingly to me that anything that has occured climate wise is outside the normal range of climate change either in rate of change or degree of change."

    How about the 'why' of change? Climate scientists have a pretty good idea what caused previous climactic changes (orbit and solar output) but when those causes are used to explain current trends they fail to completely describe what is observed. GHGs do explain it. If there are other explanations then everyone would be glad to hear about it but so far no other answer has been found that explains the current observed trend. Saying it is natural only works if you can explain what natural event is behind it.
    I fear this has gone off topic though.
  32. Notsure - I would encourage you to look at the science, look at the data. On this site there are some excellent references to some of your primary issues on the threads Evidence for global warming and The human fingerprint in global warming. This includes plenty of links to papers, data, and many items that point out (a) it's warming significantly over and above natural variations and cycles, and (b) we are responsible for it.

    Please read through these, and comment on specific issues you might see with them on those threads where it's appropriate.
  33. Ice age alarmists and global warming alarmists have the same aim, simply to alarm. This winter in the the USA has caused damage. It is weather not climate change. The global warming alarmists have diverted attention away from this type of weather. The climate has always changed, look back at history. Climate will always change. It is very dangerous to be complacent and assume we know where the climate is going. The alarmists will always point to any current weather event and imply its some kind of unatural occurence or some local record. Weather will turn up in its various guises the danger is to assume that it will only take one form. Look at what has happened to Australia. Did the global warming alarmists cause the authorities to forget the past floods. Was there assurances that flooding risk in that area was no more? That is a danger that we should all avoid. Alarmists, whether iceage or global warming are dangerous. Nature has a way of reminding us that we are not as in control as we like to think we a
    Response: (Daniel Bailey] Not sure if I can make any difference here, but in case you are actually not of closed mind then read this. You have been given good advice from many others here: demonstrate you are here for the right reasons.
  34. Notsure - I hate to say this, but you are beginning to give the appearance of a Concern Troll.

    See the Climate's changed before thread, along with CO2 is not the only driver of climate - the climate has changed before, but we actually have a pretty good idea of how and why. Currently, extra CO2 forcings are the dominant (not the only) forcing in effect, causing the climate to warm rather than slowly cool over the last half century.

    From what I have seen of your postings, you are repeating some very well known skeptic myths and misconceptions, not looking at the large list of Skeptic Arguments discussing those, and failing to follow up on any of the links folks have presented to you as explanations as to why those skeptic arguments don't hold up.

    You certainly do not act like someone honestly in search of information. I may be wrong about that; I would enjoy being proven incorrect - by seeing you actually looking at and digesting some of the information you have been presented with.
  35. Notsure, unfortunately you seem to be posting a stream of beliefs and opinions without any attempt at trying to back up those beliefs and opinions.
    Why are you ignoring all the information you have been provided with via this website ?
    Where are you getting your information from ?
    Until you start to show where your beliefs and opinions are coming from, they will be treated as unfounded and not credible.
  36. Notsure,

    The tone of your posts has become increasingly aggressive and arrogantly dimissive. Not only have you failed to discuss any specific objection to current understanding of climate science, you have rudely refused to follow up on any of the links provided for you by these good people in their desire to help educate you. You have also repeatedly labelled them as "alarmists" trying to "divert attention", essentially slapping the hand away each time one is extended to you.

    Please show some civility, and maybe even a little class.
  37. Notsure :
    This web site is an amazing resource for the non-scientist to get a grasp of what the science says about AGW. I say that as a non-scientist myself. If you are truly interested in the facts please avail yourself of the information here. When you do you will realize (as KR pointed out) that your concerns and doubts have been discussed here ad nauseum.
  38. #130: "Whatever mechanism is involved is not important with respect to the question, 'Is global warming still happening?'"

    The question to ask is not 'is global warming still happening?' -- that's been answered numerous times on SkS with a resounding yes.

    The mechanism is extremely important, if you want to understand what's going on -- which may lead to an understanding of what to do about it. But it appears that you've already got your mind made up, 'notsure'.

    "it has not been shown convincingly to me that anything that has occured climate wise is outside the normal range ... ."

    Have you looked at the relevant posts? Considering you seem to be in a position to learn a lot, it's very sad that you aren't willing to try.

    #133: "alarmists have the same aim, simply to alarm."

    That's just nonsense. If you want to have any credibility: substantiate, don't declare.
  39. Yup. Still happening:



    Yes, Virginia, Polar Amplification is Real:



    The Yooper
  40. Climategate U-turn

    No warming in 15 years, from the mouth of Phil Jones himself - NEXT!
  41. 140 Mr Anderson.
    I think you will find that you are completely wrong.
    Next you should read this and if you have anynew, and interesting data or comments, add them in the comment section.
    HTH.
  42. 140 Mr Anderson

    Also read http://www.skepticalscience.com/Phil-Jones-says-no-global-warming-since-1995.htm

    Your welcome.
  43. @139
    Why are we looking at a snapshot of the Arctic in 2011 and comparing it to a thirty year range of the Antarctic from 30 years ago to prove that the globe is warming?
  44. You do realise that what models predict is arctic warming but only very slow warming in Antarctica (with some parts getting colder)? Its model verification. Nonetheless, as papers show (even skeptic darling O'Donnell), Antarctica is also warming, and with net loss of ice.
  45. A quick question for all you ladies and gents with far more knowledge than myself.

    January and February of this year (2011) show a combined land and ocean temperature that is cooler than the past few years. I know that two months is much too short to make claims about trends, but I am just wondering why that might be. I am about to teach a unit on Climate Change and like to give updated temperature information to my students. I foresee this being a question I get from my students and I want to be prepared. Thanks
  46. Re: chudiburg (145)

    That depends. As you note, it's too short to make any meaningful comparisons. Over a short distance, say 30 feet, a human can outrun a champion quarterhorse. Over a half-mile...not so much.

    Comparing temperature trends from short intervals is similar. Apples & oranges. Like comparing the weather from the last 2 days to that of the last 2 years. Sure, you can do it, but what's the point?

    We had the 17th-warmest combined land+sea temps in February in the instrumental record. That doesn't seem particularly cold, does it? And it wasn't hot everywhere nor cold everywhere. Here's January, normal reference baseline:





    Here's January, last 30 years baseline (just the lifetime of your students):



    Yeah, it was colder in the NH where most of the people live, but that would be ignoring the rest of the world that was warming.

    Scientists are concerned with the long-term trend, which is up. That doesn't mean that every month is of necessity warmer than the previous. Weather, like bodily functions, happens. But over longer periods of time, it shows definite trends (let's also remove cyclical stuff like oscillations [which do not add or subtract energy from the system] and volcanoes):



    That's why climate scientists use 30 years or more of cumulative weather trends to make their studies of climate. Because any trends emerge from the noisy datasets. Too short of a period of time, like a month or too, will typically contain too much noise in the data for any background signal to be seen. Like asking your students how much they grew yesterday, last week, last month, etc. Eventually any growth trend will be revealed.

    [ Edit:
    As a footnote, GISS typically updates its online data in mid-month for the previous month, which is why the above graphics only have January data. February should be available at any time soon, here.

    In Climate Science, "The trend's the thing" (apologies to the Bard).

    End Edit- ]

    Hope this helps,

    The Yooper
  47. chudiburg - Further to Daniel Bailey's excellent explanation:

    We are in the midst of a strong La Nina event, a lot of the heat from the atmosphere is disappearing down into the oceans. See NOAA sea surface temperature map below:



    This is part of an ongoing warm/cool oscillation of the climate that has been going on for millenia (at least). It's part of the "natural variability" that climate scientists often refer to. The only way heat can leave Earth is via radiation at the top of the atmosphere. ENSO events (El Nino & La Nina) just shuffle the heat around between the ocean and atmosphere. See discussion here: Global warming and the El Niño Southern Oscillation

    There's no expectation that each year will be warmer than the previous one, but over longer time-frames we expect the atmosphere and oceans to warm as more heat is trapped by greenhouse gases. Therefore we should see the continual warming show up in long-term records. This is what we see when all temperature records are combined into one graph.



    Hope this helps too.
  48. Nice summary, Rob!

    Some February info from Hansen:



    The Yooper
  49. Thanks guys. I must have missed that we are in the midst of a la nina year. That explains some of the temporary cooling (compared to the last few years at least) I also liked the analogy about how much you grow in a day vs. a week/month/year. Keep up the good fight gentlemen. Cheers!
    Response: [DB] Cheers to you, too. BTW, Feb data is now available from the GISS link I provided earlier.
  50. Anyone in need of a laugh must read this CP analysis of the latest wackiness in Watt$ land: Seals predict cooling!

    Canadian Harp Seals may have “read” the predictions of the coming decades of stabilization of global temperatures and perhaps some cooling. Animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climatic change and, through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.

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