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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bob Tisdale sez "I knew that", 'cept he didn't!

Sou | 1:18 PM Go to the first of 23 comments. Add a comment

You've probably come across the sort of person who when asked a question gives the wrong answer. Then when told the correct answer will squirm and sulk and say "I knew that". They get scornful looks but it doesn't seem to faze them.

Bob Tisdale is behaving like that today (archived here). He is writing about what he regards as "An Unexpected Admission from Dana Nuccitelli at SkepticalScience". What did Bob not expect? He didn't expect Dana to explain how El Niños lift average surface temperature and La Niñas suppress it. Though he did twist Dana's words. Bob wrote:

Dana admitted that during a decade-long (or multidecadal) period(s) when El Niño events dominate (when El Niños are stronger, last longer and happen more frequently), the El Niños enhance global warming, and during periods when La Niña events dominate (when there are weaker, shorter and fewer El Niño events), the absence of El Niño events suppresses the warming of global surfaces.

Note the use of the word "admitted". Bob has been getting tips from David Rose on the abuse of rhetoric. Bob twisted what Dana wrote a bit. Fortunately he then quoted him directly. There was only one paragraph on ENSO and this is what Dana wrote (from the Guardian):
...average global surface temperatures have warmed between 0.6 and 0.7°C over the past 40 years (lower atmospheric temperatures have also likely warmed more than 0.5°C, though the record hasn’t yet existed for 40 years). During that time, that temperature rise has temporarily both slowed down (during the 2000s, when there was a preponderance of La Niña events) and sped up (during the 1990s, when there was a preponderance of El Niño events). Climate models accurately predicted the long-term global warming trend.

Do you spot the difference? Bob was saying it was the absence of El Niños, whereas Dana was writing it was the preponderance of La Niñas, when surface temperatures didn't rise as quickly were suppressed. That's not splitting hairs. Bob Tisdale wrongly thinks that El Niños cause global warming, which is why he talks about it in that way.

Bob is also trying to claim that fake sceptics discovered this about ENSO. How ludicrous is that. Heck, Bob won't usually even admit that ENSO doesn't have a long term effect - it comes and goes.  ENSO events can temporarily boost or suppress the relentless upward trend in global surface temperature. They aren't what is causing global warming. That's down to the greenhouse effect - from increasing CO2.

As for his surprise at Dana's article - surely he's seen the escalator. I know he has seen this older article by Dana, which has the graphic shown below. He wrote about it at the time - only that time he disagreed with what Dana wrote (though it was much the same thing). So Bob already knows that Dana understands much more about ENSO than he, Bob, does. Dana's chart demonstrates how ENSO events affect global surface temperatures:

Source: SkepticalScience

Bob Tisdale's rare admission

It's not surprising that he feigns surprise about something he already knew (that Dana Nuccitelli knows about ENSO.) What is surprising about Bob Tisdale's article is this that was buried within:
The standard argument now from the CO2 obsessed is that over multidecadal time periods the natural enhancements and suppressions of global warming will cancel out because ENSO and the AMO are oscillations. 

I've never seen Bob write anything like that before. I'm not suggesting he subscribes to the notion that oscillations don't have a long term impact on temperature, but to even acknowledge the fact of oscillations is a breakthrough. I've never before read Bob giving any indication that he understands what an oscillation means. I might have missed it, I suppose.

ENSO has always puzzled Bob in that way. Maybe some climate science is finally sinking in. Though not much is. He wrote:
El Niños didn’t only dominate during the 1990s. For some reason known only to Dana, he overlooked the fact that the 1976/77 El Niño started the period when El Niño events dominated the late 20th Century. Thus, using Dana’s logic, El Niño events enhanced the observed global warming from the mid-1970s to the turn of the century—the first 25 years of the past 40 years Dana chose for his discussion.

ENSO and the PDO and global surface temperature

Here is a chart showing the different ENSO years, on which I've overlayed the phases of the PDO (from Nate Mantua's website). You can click on the chart to enlarge it.

Data sources: GISS and Nate Mantua and BoM

During a warm PDO phase, El Niño events tend to exacerbate global surface temperatures more and the impact of La Niña is not as great. During a cool phase, La Niña events tend to be exaggerated and the effect of El Niños on global surface temperatures are not as great. I cannot find anywhere that states categorically what phase we are currently in. As the above chart shows, there was almost an equal number of years in both phases of ENSO. The PDO index gives a guide. Below is a plot of GISTemp against the PDO index:

Data sources: GISS and Nate Mantua

If we have been in a shortish cool phase and are now emerging into a warm phase, then global surface temperatures will probably go up even more quickly over the next few years.

Bob's words are contradicted by his own chart

Bob then wrote something odd. He said:
Climate models don’t consider the ENSO-enhanced portion of the global warming from the mid-1970s to the turn of the century.  See Figure 1, which compares observed global surface temperature anomalies for the past 40 years to the model simulations of global surface temperatures. 

But Bob's chart belies his words. His Figure 1 shows extremely close congruency between the model mean and the global surface temperature from the mid-1970s.  You could hardly ask for better. Right up until the forcings plugged into the models could not be based on observations (from 2006), the model mean is remarkably close to observations.

Source: WUWT

Someone tell Bob Tisdale what "long-term" means

There is just one more thing that I'll mention. Bob doesn't understand a lot of things, but he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "long-term". He wrote:
There is, of course, a major problem with Dana’s last sentence in that quote:
“Climate models accurately predicted the long-term global warming trend."Climate models don’t consider the ENSO-enhanced portion of the global warming from the mid-1970s to the turn of the century. 
Bob skips over the word "long-term". In any case, for not considering whatever, the models have done a remarkable job of emulating global surface temperature from the mid 1970s to the turn of the century, haven't they! Bob's very own chart shows that.

Bob thinks climate models are weather forecasts

Bob keeps confusing climate models with weather forecasts. He looks at ENSO and thinks "climate". But ENSO is at best an interannual feature. Single ENSO events don't persist on the scale of climate (multiple decades).  (Phases of the PDO tend to last for multiple decades, but they too oscillate and don't have a permanent impact on long term temperature trends.)

Climate models don't and probably never will emulate ENSO events at the same time as they occur. What they do is model climate, not weather. In regard to temperature etc it's the long term trend that they focus on - on the scale of multiple decades.  Models do exhibit internal variability as well as the result of external forcing. However that won't necessarily be in phase with what actually happens. They've been remarkably good at doing what they were designed to do - model climate trends. Climate can be described as the limits of weather - the upper and lower boundaries expected. It's not about whether an El Nino occurs this year or next year. Bob is just another dumb denier - he doesn't understand the difference.

Gotta go. If you want to read the comments or the rest of Bob's article, click here.

From the WUWT comments

I just noticed this exchange, so figured I'd post it. Bob Tisdale is blind as a bat, or nuts, if he can't see the long term warming trend. Barry posted a chart showing the ENSO years, and wrote a non-controversial comment:
January 24, 2015 at 9:24 am
Actually it’s both linear and cyclical — climatic variations imposed on a warming trend.

To which Bob Tisdale let his denial slip and replied:
January 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Barry, are you purposely contradicting Nuccitelli now?
Also, the vast majority of the people who visit here understand “climatic variations imposed on a warming trend” is incorrect. In reality, ENSO has caused a major portion of the surface warming during the satellite era of sea surface temperature data. In fact, in the post, I linked a detailed description of how that works. Here it is again: 

For one thing, Barry didn't contradict Dana. Bob can't or won't understand what Dana wrote, with the emphasis on won't. For another thing, Bob ignores all the La Nina years and weirdly thinks that the oceans just keep getting hotter and hotter by magic. His "chaotic, naturally occurring, sunlight-fueled, recharge-discharge oscillator".

Poor old Bob is like a broken record of the Dunning Kruger kind. He insists upon this, even though (a) the incoming solar radiation has declined a bit and (b) since 1999 there have been more La Nina years (5) than El Nino years (4)! If not for greenhouse warming, then the surface temperature would be much lower. Bob clearly doesn't understand the meaning of the words "oscillation" or "cycle". On the other hand, Bob is probably correct when he writes about what some of the deniers at WUWT understand - although what they understand is wrong and much more varied than what Bob Tisdale would have you believe.

[Added a bit later by Sou.]


  1. Bob is getting boring. Same inability to understand energy conservation, same "trees not forest" view of the oceans, same dishonest cherry-picking ( ), and same wrong conclusions. ENSO cycles and pixie dust. Blah blag yawn.

    Have a nice day :)

    1. Yes. WUWT has gone very quiet and is getting quite boring. No insects or russian steampipes or anything much interesting at all.

      I don't know what Anthony Watts is up to. He has barely made an appearance in weeks. Hardly at all since before Christmas. He didn't even wish his readers happy holidays, all there was was a greeting from Josh to Anthony. It's down to Wondering Willis building strawmen (out of Milankovitch) and Bob Tisdale recycling all his old articles. Interrupted now and then by a bad Josh cartoon.

      I suppose Anthony could be working on his highly secretive open society business. Or maybe trying to see if he can find someone to finish the paper he promised a few years ago. Or maybe he's just given up and handed his asylum over to the inmates.

  2. You just simply have to check this out.
    Be sure to read the comments, I know there are about 10 billion of them, but Monckton (or someone who is able to do an extremely convincing impression of a completely wacko wannabe Lord) loses his shit completely. It's fabulous darling. Laughs all round.

    Rational Troll

  3. Sou,

    I was stunned when I read Eschenbach trashing Milankovich. I mean, in a crowd looking to chalk all -- or nearly all -- climate change up to natural variability, one would think orbital parameters would be AGW denier gold. In fact, for many deniers I've run across online, it IS solid gold ... it goes hand in hand with "CO2 lags not leads". But not Willis. Apparently not only is climate change natural, it must be made as mysterious as possible to boot.

    Knowledge of elegant theory is dangerous, donchaknow ....

  4. I have followed Bob and his cherry picking of data antics for years, hence the expression-- another "Tisdale Cherry". Now he seems to want to extend that cherry picking into what people say as he's doing in Dana's case, and then mash that cherry into something that has no resemblance to what was intended.

    Regarding Bob's long-held pseudoscience wet dream that all warming has been El Niño driven-- of course he's clearly off the mark for both fundamental physics reasons, but also simply the data don't support this fantasy.

  5. RT, Monckton was getting really wound up, having hissy fits galore, finally sending his old retainer Scrotum (or something). Classy man that Monckton.

  6. Brandon,

    I've noted with a saddened heart that you've stopped engaging the people on WUWT. I suppose all good things must come to an end, but I was really hoping Tisdale would give you a straight answer to your 3 questions one of these days. With you gone, the contributors and readers have had an easier time patting each other on the back.

  7. I am reminded of an encounter my sister had with her daughter at the age of two.
    Did you spill your milk?
    Yes me did it mommy.
    No, it is I did it mommy.
    No me did it.
    It is I did it, Christine!
    OK you must have done it mommy!

  8. The second graph labelled GISTemp and PDO, citing data sources: GISS and Nate Mantua, I've been making that same graph, using wood for trees, and posting it to Climate Etc. for way more than a year.

    Nice to see climate science is catching up with me!

    You can also see where the Tsonis crowd jumped the rails and switched to the meandering and completely aimless AMO. You guessed it: around 1980 to 1985. It's like the Bermuda triangle of missing cyclists. They go in and do not come back out.

  9. You just simply have to check this out.

    OMG. Monckton is such a dick. He certainly can't take criticism can he? And jeez, he really does go for the paranoid conspiracy theory line that everyone is a paid climate communist troll.

    His latest paper is just another in a long line of rants chock full of logical fallacies, misinformation and cherry-picking.

    Utter nuttery on steroids!!!

  10. Who is it who has strong connections with communists? I thought it was Christopher himself who chose to publish in a journal of the People's Republic of China.

    Remember, he's a showman first and foremost. He makes his living as an entertainer - theme climate. You can never tell how much of what he writes is an act.

  11. Jon K, thank you for your kind compliment.

  12. Tidale's ridiculous 'ENSO is causing global warming' canard got a serious rebuke from Earth in 2014. Not only was mean global surface temperature the warmest ever recorded, but the oceans accumulated heat at the rate of 7 Hiroshima bombs per second.

    What does one expect of crackpot ideas eh?

  13. Off-topic

    At WUWT, Warren Smith asks

    1) According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as of the end of December 2014, the extent of Arctic sea ice coverage, when compared to the year-end averages from 1981 through 2010, was:

    A) About 90% below normal
    B) About 75% below normal
    C) About 50% below normal
    D) About 25% below normal
    E) Less than 5% below normal
    F) About 33% above normal

    2) According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as of the end of December 2014, the extent of Antarctic sea ice coverage, when compared to the year-end averages from 1981 through 2010, was:

    A) About 90% below normal
    B) About 75% below normal
    C) About 50% below normal
    D) About 25% below normal
    E) Less than 5% below normal
    F) About 33% above normal

    The trick answers to the trick question being (E)and (F).

    LOL. Try it again in September.

    The Arctic basin freezes up every winter, the ice extent is basically constrained by the coast. Hence the variance, even as the region warms, is low in winter months. Anyone who looks at a single winter month in isolation is

    (A) Cherry-picking.

    1. Actually, this is just putting in context the data reported in the "Year End Report" by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Any "cherry picking" is theirs, not mine.


    2. Try to be a little self-critical WS - did Phil 'just put it in context'? Is that all he did? Or were your questions (deliberately) misleading? Come on...confessions are good for the soul. Don't be afraid.

  14. 2) According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as of the end of December 2014, the extent of Antarctic sea ice coverage, when compared to the year-end averages from 1981 through 2010, was:

    F) About 33% above normal

    Because we're melting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) at an unprecedented rate due to all the GHGs that mankind is adding to the atmosphere, there is more fresh water than usual in the surrounding ocean. As a result, the salinity of the ocean water is reduced, and it freezes easier. Granted, that's not the only reason Antarctic sea ice is increasing lately, but it's a known factor.

    So, question arising for Warren Smith and his ilk: what's more important - a relatively meaningless short term metric for which there is a scientific explanation, or a habitable planet for future generations?

  15. By some strange sort of synchronicity we've just started a learned discussion about "Increasing Antarctic Albedo" over on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:,1128

    I have recently found myself in conversation on Twitter with a somewhat sceptical enquirer.

  16. I suspect that his information is anyway out of date. There has been huge melting in the last few days.

  17. I fear I couldn't resist the temptation to have a little fun at the Watties expense:

    Q4. When was the NSIDC Arctic sea ice extent last at the lowest level ever (since satellite records began) for the day of the year?

  18. @Jim Hunt

    Tamino did some detailed analysis here

    “… the global climate forcing from Arctic sea ice changes would be about +0.13 W/m^2.”
    “… the global climate forcing from Antarctic sea ice changes would be about -0.02 W/m^2.”

  19. Off topic, but great video from Richard Muller of BEST. Put out today:

  20. Off topic, but great video from Richard Muller of BEST. Put out today:

    It is very good, and drives home the point that the underlying data is sound. But still not enough to convince Willard Tony that he's barking up the wrong tree with UHI et. al.


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