This is both my personal learning project and my contribution in the struggle to confront the ongoing Republican/ libertarian assault on rational science and constructive learning, as manifested in their malicious strategic Attacks on Science ~ A collection of articles, scientific resources, plus my own essays and indepth critique of various presentations from unidirectional-skeptics ~ Hopefully a resource for the busy, yet discerning, student who's concerned about the health of our Earth
Unauthorized annotated Fyfe coauthors letter to US Rep. Lamar Smith
The Fyfe et al 2016 clarifying letter to US Representative Lamar Smith is well written. There's nothing to complain about and I don't. Still at 1000 word there's only so much it can say, and I'm going to use this opportunity to make my point using the words of other scientists. Remember my beef is about communication, not the science.
I’ve borrowed from about a dozen climate studies, along with some other info and let their quotes speak for themselves. I apologize for some of the hard feeling. I do not apologize pushing for better recognition of our* failures to communicate, how else can we learn, how else can we improve? (slight edit, I realized Josh Willis' quote belongs at the start of this reading, not at the end.) Best Wishes. For the background to this, link here
* Climate science communicators big and little.
“One way to think about it is that global warming continued, but the oceans just juggled a bit of heat around and made the surface seem cooler for a while” Joshua Willis Ph.D. - JPL
The Committee on Science, Space & Technology of the US House of Representatives conducts regular evidence hearings on various science topics. On Wednesday 29th March, there is a hearing on “Climate science: assumptions, policy implications, and the scientific method”. The following letter, summarising the scientific findings of Fyfe et al. (2016) and Karl et al. (2015), has been submitted as evidence to this hearing.
The broader context is that the Committee Chairman, Mr. Lamar Smith, has previously discussed the findings of Fyfe et al. (of which I was a co-author), claiming: “A new peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Nature, confirms the halt in global warming”.
This statement is incorrect, and motivated the clarification on what Fyfe et al. actually says.
Dear Mr. Smith,
We are coauthors of the Fyfe et al. paper published in 2016 in Nature Climate Change . You recently referenced this paper at a Subcommittee hearing on March 16, 2016 . We are writing to clarify what the Fyfe et al. paper actually finds and claims. We also want to ensure that the conclusions of the Fyfe et al. paper are not misconstrued as a criticism of Thomas Karl, of the Karl et al. paper published in Science in 2015 , or of the valuable research that Dr. Karl and his team have performed over many years.
Thomas Karl is a first-rate climate scientist. He served NOAA with distinction for decades. Dr. Karl and his colleagues at the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) developed rigorous scientific methods for estimating global changes in land and ocean surface temperatures. This is a critically important area of climate science.
From 2003–2006 he served as a member of the AMS Council. Mr. Karl has a B.S. degree in meteorology from Northern Illinois University, an M.S degree in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin, and an honary doctorate of humane letters from North Carolina State University.
NCEI made its surface temperature data sets freely available to the climate science community. This helped scientists around the world to conduct research on the size, rate, and causes of long-term temperature change, and helped to improve our knowledge of natural climate variability. NCEI temperature data are also key yardsticks for evaluating the performance of computer models of the climate system.
Science is dynamic, not static. All surface temperature data sets have evolved over time, as scientists found better ways of accounting for the effects of changes in measurement systems, measuring practices, and the geographical coverage of observations. Similar improvements have occurred in measurements of the heat content of the world’s oceans, and in satellite estimates [4,5,6] of temperature change in Earth’s atmosphere. The evolution of observed temperature data sets is a normal, on-going scientific process. It is not evidence of questionable behavior.
Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy
Peter W. Thorne, John R. Lanzante, Thomas C. Peterson, Dian J. Seidel and Keith P. Shine
Changes in atmospheric temperature have a particular importance in climate research because climate models consistently predict a distinctive vertical profile of trends. With increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the surface and troposphere are consistently projected to warm, with an enhancement of that warming in the tropical upper troposphere. Hence, attempts to detect this distinct ‘fingerprint’ have been a focus for observational studies.
The topic acquired heightened importance following the 1990 publication of an analysis of satellite data which challenged the reality of the projected tropospheric warming. This review documents the evolution over the last four decades of understanding of tropospheric temperature trends and their likely causes. Particular focus is given to the difficulty of producing homogenized datasets, with which to derive trends, from both radiosonde and satellite observing systems, because of the many systematic changes over time.
The value of multiple independent analyses is demonstrated. Paralleling developments in observational datasets, increased computer power and improved understanding of climate forcing mechanisms have led to refined estimates of temperature trends from a wide range of climate models and a better understanding of internal variability. It is concluded that there is no reasonable evidence of a fundamental disagreement between tropospheric temperature trends from models and observations when uncertainties in both are treated comprehensively.
HadSST3 not only greatly expands the amount of raw data processed, it makes some important improvements in how the uncertainties are dealt with and has a more Bayesian probabilistic treatment of the necessary bias corrections.
In their 2015 Science paper, Karl et al. identified changes in three different aspects of surface temperature measurement systems. These observing system changes must be addressed in order to reliably estimate the true, climate-related temperature signals in the data. After accounting for the evolution of the measuring system, Karl et al. concluded that the rate of surface warming in the first 15 years of the 21st century was “at least as great as (in) the last half of the 20th century”.
Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus
Thomas R. Karl, Anthony Arguez, Boyin Huang, Jay H. Lawrimore,
James R. McMahon, Matthew J. Menne, Thomas C. Peterson, Russell S. Vose, Huai-Min Zhang
… The apparent slowdown was termed a “hiatus” and inspired a suite of physical explanations for its cause, including changes in radiative forcing, deep ocean heat uptake, and atmospheric circulation changes (2–12). Although these analyses and theories have considerable merit in helping to understand the global climate system, other important aspects of the “hiatus” related to observational biases in global surface temperature data have not received similar attention. In particular, residual data biases in the modern era could well have muted recent warm- ing, and as stated by IPCC, the trend period itself was short and commenced with a strong El Niño in 1998. Given recent improvements in the observed record (13, 14) and additional years of global data (including a record-warm 2014), we reexamine the observational evidence related to a “hiatus” in recent global surface warming. …
These networks of observations are always undergoing change. Changes of particular importance include (i) an increasing amount of ocean data from buoys, which are slightly different than data from ships; (ii) an increasing amount of ship data from engine intake thermometers, which are slightly different than data from bucket seawater temperatures; and (iii) a large increase in land-station data, which enables better analysis of key regions that may be warming faster or slower than the global average. We address all three of these, none of which were included in our previous analysis used in the IPCC report (1). …
… Specifically, the central trend estimate in our new analysis for
1998–2014 is 0.020°C decade higher as compared with 1998–2012. Likewise, global trends
2000–2014 are 0.030°C decade higher than for 1998–2012.
In other words, changing the start and end date by 2 years does in fact have a notable impact on the assessment of the rate of warming, but less compared with the impact of new time-dependent bias corrections. …
Last, we considered the impact of larger warming rates in high latitudes (24) on the overall global trend. To estimate the magnitude of the additional warming, we applied large-area interpolation over the poles using the limited observational data available. Results indicate that, indeed, additional global warming of a few hundredths of a degree Celsius per decade over the 21st century is evident (Fig. 1), providing further evidence against the notion of a recent warming “hiatus” (supplementary materials). …
Our new analysis now shows that the trend over the period 1950–1999, …, is 0.113°C decade, which is virtually indistinguishable from the trend over the period 2000–2014 (0.116°C decade). …
Fyfe et al. acknowledged the “high scientific value” of the work performed by Dr. Thomas Karl and his colleagues. We stand by our statement. It is of great benefit to understand how observational temperature data are affected by changing measurement systems. Karl et al. deserve credit for focusing attention on this issue, and for inspiring important research on the further improvement of surface temperature datasets .
While Karl et al. focused on developing a better understanding of (SURFACE) temperature observations, Fyfe et al. summarized and synthesized scientific understanding of decadal changes in warming arising from natural variability of the climate system. The emphasis in the Fyfe et al. paper was on studying internal variability (caused by phenomena like El Niños, La Niñas , and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation [9-12]) and on assessing the effects of natural external changes in volcanic aerosols  and the Sun’s energy output .
Fyfe et al. found that the rate of temperature increase in the early 21st century was slower than during the latter part of the 20th century. Reduced warming was apparent in both surface observations and in satellite measurements of the temperature of Earth’s lower atmosphere (the troposphere).
The bottom line is that Karl et al. and Fyfe et al. reached different conclusions regarding the warming rate in the early 21st century.
This was largely due to different justifiable choices the two sets of authors made about the timescales and periods of interest. The Karl et al. finding – that the recent rate of surface warming is larger than in previous data sets – is supported by an independent study of surface temperature measurements .
 Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records.
Hausfather, Z., K. Cowtan, D.C. Clarke, P. Jacobs, M. Richardson, and R. Rohde, 04, Jan 2017: Sci. Adv., 3, e1601207.
Sea surface temperature (SST) records are subject to potential biases due to changing instrumentation and measurement practices. …
We find a large cooling bias in ERSST version 3b and smaller but significant cooling biases in HadSST3 and COBE-SST from 2003 to the present, with respect to most series examined. These results suggest that reported rates of SST warming in recent years have been underestimated in these three data sets.
Hausfather, Cowtan et al. comparing ERSST adjustments
Other sources of information support the Fyfe et al. finding of a reduced rate of surface warming in the early 21st century. These sources include independent satellite estimates of tropospheric temperature change, physical understanding of the waxing and waning of different “modes” of internal variability, and measurements of the changes over time in volcanic aerosols and the Sun.
Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration
Global warming seems to have paused over the past 15 years while the deep ocean takes the heat instead. The thermal capacity of the oceans far exceeds that of the atmosphere, so the oceans can store up to 90% of the heat buildup caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Chen and Tung used observational data to trace the pathways of recent ocean heating. They conclude that the deep Atlantic and Southern Oceans, but not the Pacific, have absorbed the excess heat that would otherwise have fueled continued warming.
The results show that a slow-moving current in the Atlantic, which carries heat between the two poles, sped up earlier this century to draw heat down almost a mile (1,500 meters). Most of the previous studies focused on shorter-term variability or particles that could block incoming sunlight, but they could not explain the massive amount of heat missing for more than a decade.
"The finding is a surprise, since the current theories had pointed to the Pacific Ocean as the culprit for hiding heat," Tung said. "But the data are quite convincing and they show otherwise.” …
Rapid warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, they found, was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle that kept more heat near the surface. When observations show the ocean cycle flipped, around the year 2000, the current began to draw heat deeper into the ocean, working to counteract human-driven warming. …
Recent Walker circulation strengthening and Pacific cooling amplified by Atlantic warming
•Shayne McGregor, Axel Timmermann, Malte F. Stuecker, Matthew H. England, Mark Merrifield, Fei-Fei Jin & Yoshimitsu Chikamoto
… Here we analyse a series of climate model experiments along with observational data to show that the recent warming trend in Atlantic sea surface temperature and the corresponding trans-basin displacements of the main atmospheric pressure centres were key drivers of the observed Walker circulation intensification, eastern Pacific cooling, North American rainfall trends and western Pacific sea-level rise. Our study suggests that global surface warming has been partly offset by the Pacific climate response to enhanced Atlantic warming since the early 1990s.
While active, the stronger Equatorial trade winds have caused far greater overturning of ocean water in the West Pacific, pushing more atmospheric heat into the ocean, as shown by co-author and ARCCSS Chief Investigator Prof Matthew England earlier this year. This increased overturning appears to explain much of the recent slowdown in the rise of global average surface temperatures.
Importantly, the researchers don't expect the current pressure difference between the two ocean basins to last. When it does end, they expect to see some rapid changes, including a sudden acceleration of global average surface temperatures.
Tracking the Missing Heat from the Global Warming Hiatus
Despite indications that the Pacific Ocean is helping to take up the world's missing surface heat, the heat doesn't linger; oceanographers now find that heat has moved over to the Indian Ocean.
Growing body of literature has developed to detect the role of ocean heat uptake and transport in the recent warming slowdown between 1998–2013; however, the atmospheric footprint of the slowdown in dynamical and physical processes remains unclear. Here, we divided recent decades into the recent hiatus period and the preceding warming period (1983–1998) to investigate the atmospheric footprint. We use a process-resolving analysis method to quantify the contributions of different processes to the total temperature changes. We show that the increasing rate of global mean tropospheric temperature was also reduced during the hiatus period.
The decomposed trends due to physical processes, including surface albedo, water vapour, cloud, surface turbulent fluxes and atmospheric dynamics, reversed the patterns between the two periods.
The changes in atmospheric heat transport are coupled with changes in the surface latent heat flux across the lower troposphere (below approximately 800 hPa) and with cloud-related processes in the upper troposphere (above approximately 600 hPa) and were underpinned by strengthening/weakening Hadley Circulation and Walker Circulation during the warming/hiatus period. This dynamical coupling experienced a phase transition between the two periods, reminding us of the importance of understanding the atmospheric footprint, which constitutes an essential part of internal climate variability.
“Near-surface temperature trends and their partial components due to latent heat flux and atmospheric dynamics for the hiatus period and the preceding warming period.”
All of the factors studied by Karl et al. and Fyfe et al. (changing observing systems, internal variability, and natural variations in the Sun and volcanoes) affect temperature records, and affect our interpretation of the size and significance of decade-to-decade changes in warming rate. The scientific challenge is to reliably quantify the contribution of each factor to short-term changes in warming rate .
Finally, we would like to emphasize that Karl et al. and Fyfe et al. agree on the most important scientific points. We agree that human influence on climate is real, is large, and is ongoing.
We agree that this influence is primarily due to fossil fuel burning, and to the resulting human-caused changes in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases .
We agree that human-caused changes in greenhouse gases should lead – and do lead – to global-scale warming of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surface .
We agree that we have identified large global warming signals in the observed surface temperature changes from the late 19th century to the present , in the satellite atmospheric temperature data that have featured prominently in recent Congressional hearings [19,20], and in ocean heat content measurements .
I love this from Joshua Willis, he says it all in a sentence that needs to be echoed in front of government panels and the media and anywhere else the term “hiatus” gets flashed around. It comes from an article by Monte Morin reporter for the La Times in an article titled “Scientists conclude that global warming never went on ‘hiatus’"
A growing number of climate scientists have argued that this phenomenon, as well as other hiatus effects, are evidence of a poorly understood pattern of wind, ocean current and temperature variations that have far-reaching effects on global climate. They say the oceans have absorbed heat energy from the sun, causing Arctic ice to melt and sea levels to rise.
“One way to think about it is that global warming continued, but the oceans just juggled a bit of heat around and made the surface seem cooler for a while,”said Joshua Willis, another climate scientist at JPL.
Josh definitely has a nicer way of explaining it than I do.
NASA | Ask a Climate Scientist: Global Warming Pause?
And we agree with Karl et al. that on top of the underlying global-scale warming trend over the past 150 years, we should see – and do see – natural, decade-to-decade ups and downs caused by internal variability, volcanic activity, and changes in the Sun’s energy output. These decade-to-decade fluctuations in warming are not a scientific surprise. They have been discussed at length in every national and international assessment of climate science.
Sometimes the “ups” act in the same direction as human influences, leading to accelerated warming. Sometimes the “downs” lead to a short-term decrease in warming. Our disagreement with Karl et al. about the size of the most recent short-term fluctuation does not call into question the reality of long-term human-caused warming.
Ben Santer, Matthew England, Ed Hawkins, Michael Mann, Gerald Meehl, Yu Kosaka, Shang-Ping Xie
The co-authors of the Fyfe et al. paper, who are Canadian Government scientists (John Fyfe, Greg Flato, Nathan Gillett & Neil Swart), felt that it would not be appropriate for them to communicate directly to elected officials in the U.S. pursuing an inquiry. However, they did write a supporting note to Ben Santer affirming their scientific support for the statements made in the letter written by himself and the other co-authors of the Fyfe et al. paper.
 Fyfe, J.C., G.A. Meehl, M.H. England, M.E. Mann, B.D. Santer, G.M. Flato, E. Hawkins, N.P. Gillett, S.-P. Xie, Y. Kosaka, and N.C. Swart, 2016: Making sense of the early 2000s global warming slowdown. Nature Climate Change, 6, 224-228.
 Karl, T.R., A. Arguez, B. Huang, J.H. Lawrimore, J.R. McMahon, M.J. Menne, T.C. Peterson, R.S. Vose, and H.-M. Zhang, 2015: Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus. Science, 348, 1469-1472.
 Santer, B.D., T.M.L. Wigley, and K.E. Taylor, 2011: The reproducibility of observational estimates of surface and atmospheric temperature change. Science, 334, 1232-1233.
 Wentz, F.J., and M. Schabel, 1998: Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperature trends. Nature, 394, 661-664.
 Mears, C. A., and F.J. Wentz, 2005: The effect of diurnal correction on satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperature. Science, 309, 1548-1551.
 Hausfather, Z., K. Cowtan, D.C. Clarke, P. Jacobs, M. Richardson, and R. Rohde, 2017: Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records. Sci. Adv., 3, e1601207.
 Kosaka, Y., and S.-P. Xie, 2013: Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling. Nature, 501, 403-407.
 Meehl, G.A., J.M. Arblaster, J.T. Fasullo, A. Hu, and K.E. Trenberth, 2011: Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods. Nature Climate Change, 1, 360-364.
 England, M.H., et al., 2014: Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus. Nature Climate Change, 4, 222-227.
 Trenberth, K.E., 2015: Has there been a hiatus? Science, 349, 791-792.
 Steinman, B.A., M.E. Mann, and S.K. Miller, 2015: Atlantic and Pacific multidecadal oscillations and Northern Hemisphere temperatures. Science, 347, 988-991.
 Solomon, S., J.S. Daniel, R.R. Neely, J.-P. Vernier, E.G. Dutton, and L.W. Thomason, 2011: The persistently variable “background” stratospheric aerosol layer and global climate change. Science, 333, 866-870.
 Kopp, G., and J.L. Lean, 2011: A new, lower value of total solar irradiance: Evidence and climate significance. Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L01706, http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL045777.
 Flato, G.M., et al., 2013: Evaluation of climate models. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stocker, T.F., et al. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 741-866.
 The basis for our understanding of human-induced changes in climate stretches back to the 1850s, when carbon dioxide was first identified as a greenhouse gas. It is not a new development. Similarly, our observational understanding of large-scale temperature change dates back to the 1930s, when it was first shown that global land areas were warming (see ref. 17).
 Hawkins, E., and P.D. Jones, 2013: On increasing global temperatures: 75 years after Callendar. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 139, 1961-1963.
 Bindoff, N. et al. Detection and attribution of climate change: from global to regional. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stocker, T.F., et al. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 867-952.
 Santer, B.D., et al., 2013a: Identifying human influences on atmospheric temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 26-33.
 Santer, B.D., et al., 2013b: Human and natural influences on the changing thermal structure of the atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 17235-17240.
 Gleckler, P.J., et al., 2012: Robust evidence of human-induced global ocean warming on multi-decadal time scales. Nature Climate Change, 2, 524-529.
Ocean Heat Uptake:
The Apparent Hiatus in Global Warming and Climate Sensitivity
Kevin Trenbeth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, delivers a lecture entitled, "Ocean Heat Uptake: The Apparent Hiatus in Global Warming and Climate Sensitivity" during YCEI's conference, "Uncertainty in Climate Change: A Conversation with Climate Scientists and Economists"
Charles Keeling (1928-2005) and NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory
This short video tells the story of how Charles David Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, worked with scientists from the U.S. Weather Bureau and NOAA at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory to create what is now an iconic record of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere taken from 1958 to the present have become the most widely recognized record of mankind’s impact on the Earth, linking rising levels of carbon dioxide from man’s burning of fossil fuels to the warming of the planet.
Global mean temperatures have been flat for 15 years despite the increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases, but a new Scripps study shows cooling in the equatorial Pacific Ocean explains the discrepancy New research by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego climate scientists attributes the attenuation of a worldwide temperature increase to a cooling of eastern Pacific Ocean waters, one that counteracts the warming effect of greenhouse gases.
“Global mean temperatures” sounds like he’s discussing the “global” temperature, its the GMST, huge difference - GMST contains all of ~10% of the “Global” mean temperature.
That sort of sloppy writing is nothing less than an atrocity - if you want to call that vitriolic, so be it, I’m considering the harm its done. We aren’t playing a game here, our collective failures have consequences. Nor does it mute the fact that this is another example of seepage - That is, playing by the contrarian PR machine’s script - rather than presenting an original and clarifying narrative. Willis summarized the thing with a visceral zing. It can be done.
Two key climate change indicators -- global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent -- have broken numerous records through the first half of 2016, according to NASA analyses of ground-based observations and satellite data.
Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The six-month period from January to June was also the planet's warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.
Climate Change Pushes World Into ‘Uncharted Territory’
The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016 reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.
Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño — a natural climate cycle — added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the U.S. in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows.