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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting a tad excitable at WUWT over the ups and downs of ENSO

Sou | 9:50 AM Go to the first of 25 comments. Add a comment

The little WUWT-ers have been getting quite worked up lately. I think it's got something to do with the fact that reports from GISS and NOAA and the Hadley Centre and others point to the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record.

Today Bob Tisdale, who seems to be Anthony Watts' proxy while he's on holidays or whatever he's been doing this past few weeks, has written a very short article about a new paper in Nature Climate Change. Very short for Bob Tisdale, that is. It must be almost another record. And he's broken still another record. There's not a single drawing, diagram or chart of anything, let alone sea surface temperatures.

What Bob did write?  Well you can read it for yourself here if you want to. The paper is more interesting than Bob's article. Wenju Cai et al have written in Nature Climate Change about some work they've been doing on modeling ENSO.

What they figure seems to be that ENSO events could get more extreme as global warming continues. In particular, they found that extreme La Niña's may become more common, occurring on average once every 13 years instead of once every 23 years. This is related to extreme El Niños. Here is the abstract (my paras):

The El Niño/Southern Oscillation is Earth’s most prominent source of interannual climate variability, alternating irregularly between El Niño and La Niña, and resulting in global disruption of weather patterns, ecosystems, fisheries and agriculture.
The 1998–1999 extreme La Niña event that followed the 1997–1998 extreme El Niño event switched extreme El Niño-induced severe droughts to devastating floods in western Pacific countries, and vice versa in the southwestern United States. During extreme La Niña events, cold sea surface conditions develop in the central Pacific, creating an enhanced temperature gradient from the Maritime continent to the central Pacific.
Recent studies have revealed robust changes in El Niño characteristics in response to simulated future greenhouse warming, but how La Niña will change remains unclear.
Here we present climate modelling evidence, from simulations conducted for the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (ref. 13), for a near doubling in the frequency of future extreme La Niña events, from one in every 23 years to one in every 13 years. This occurs because projected faster mean warming of the Maritime continent than the central Pacific, enhanced upper ocean vertical temperature gradients, and increased frequency of extreme El Niño events are conducive to development of the extreme La Niña events. Approximately 75% of the increase occurs in years following extreme El Niño events, thus projecting more frequent swings between opposite extremes from one year to the next.

If they are correct, then Australia had better prepare. We had to fork out for a flood levy to bail out Queensland back in 2011. Queensland can't afford flood insurance any more. That season there were huge floods all over the country. We had to pay for our own floods in our own regions, plus the recovery from the floods in Queensland. And given the current Australian government is doing precious little to slow greenhouse warming, we'd better start saving our pennies - because we could have to pay up much more often in coming years.

If you don't remember the event, here is a chart of sea level. The floods were so massive they caused the oceans to empty!

Data source: U Colorado

This particular study was another international collaboration involving scientists from Australia, China, the USA, the UK, France and Peru. ScienceDaily has a press release, which states in part:
Co-author Professor Collins, from Exeter's College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences explained: "Our previous research showed a doubling in frequency of extreme El Niño events, and this new study shows a similar fate for the cold phase of the cycle. It shows again how we are just beginning to understand the consequences of global warming."
The new research was led by scientist Dr Wenju Cai, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and featured scientists from Australia, China, the US, France and Peru.
Dr Cai indicated the potential impact of this change in climate. He said: "An increased frequency in extreme La Niña events, most of which occur in the year after an extreme El Niño, would mean an increase in the occurrence of devastating weather events with profound socio-economic consequences."

Bob Tisdale of course doesn't believe it. It's science and Bob doesn't "believe" science. He wandered off talking about climate models that he doesn't believe in either. And misrepresenting Kevin Trenberth as usual. Bob's one weird bod. He doesn't understand the first thing about climate models but likes to make out that he does.

From the WUWT comments.

Apart from it looking to be an interesting paper, the other reason I'm writing this is because of the general hysteria that is evident at WUWT. I do think that some deniers are losing what little grip on reality they might have once had.  Here's a sample:

AnonyMoose is confused. He or she seems to think that there cannot be La Nina's while the world is warming.
January 28, 2015 at 8:13 am
Aren’t La Ninas associated with cooling?

SMC is under a similar delusion from the look of it:
January 28, 2015 at 8:24 am
The CAWG faithful are just trying to cover all the bases. Not matter what happens, it’s all man’s fault by emitting the evil CO2 greenhouse gas pollution.

Alan Poirier rounds off that exchange by summing up what has happened to the intellect of deniers at WUWT:
January 28, 2015 at 11:31 am
CO2 is the most powerful molecule in the universe. It causes everything: More El Ninos, more La Ninas, more cold, more heat, droughts, floods. Truly amazing. It’s most pernicious effect, however, is on IQs.

As is normal for deniers, most of the WUWT-ers didn't bother reading the abstract or press release. And Bob Tisdale didn't describe the paper. So there were lots of dumb comments like this one from Robert Wykoff, who wrote:
January 28, 2015 at 8:29 am
So, if we suddenly go into an “extreme” El Nino regime, will that be caused by global warming too?

There was one normal person, trafamadore:
January 28, 2015 at 8:39 am
While the science world seriously tries to understand ENSO, WUWT decides that “Once again, the models simulate little if anything correctly. The same arguments apply to the newer paper Cai et al (2015), so there’s no need to repeat them”
You guys are pretty entertaining.
Trafamadore hit a nerve with more than one person, including dbstealey (aka Smokey the sock-puppeting mod), who made his usual inane comment:
January 28, 2015 at 10:13 am
It’s really entertaining seeing that folks like trafamadope actually believe that warming causes cooling. Entertaining… and scary, because they can vote.

This was followed by some of the silly one-liners that are so typical of WUWT, with some verging on hysteria and others invoking deep, dark conspiracies.

January 28, 2015 at 8:39 am
oh noooooo…more warm cold

January 28, 2015 at 8:40 am
So… everything is caused by global warming, even ice ages (I expect them to say that soon). 

Kamikaze Dave
January 28, 2015 at 8:41 am
Why don’t these bozos make it easy on themselves (and us) by telling us what global warming will NOT be responsible for causing? 

Joel O'Bryan
January 28, 2015 at 9:53 am
The underlying cause of Climate Science going off the rails and into the ditch is a multi-factorial ensemble of dishonesty, rent-seeking, and ego-reputation saving. Everything else is the effect.

Ed Moran
January 28, 2015 at 10:56 am
Joe, the problem is that they are helping the taking away of our democratic rights and wasting billions that could be better used. 

January 28, 2015 at 8:56 am
Absolute BS 

January 28, 2015 at 9:18 am
The biggest scam and fraud in the history of the world. 

You get the picture, I'm sure. I wouldn't mind betting that for a lot of these old guys (and I bet most of them are) - they only post a comment to see their name in print. They could never have got letters to the editor published in days gone by. However the Internet has given them their five minutes of fame that they'd never have dreamed of getting before they discovered computers and modems, a couple of years ago :D

Wenju Cai, Guojian Wang, Agus Santoso, Michael J. McPhaden, Lixin Wu, Fei-Fei Jin, Axel Timmermann, Mat Collins, Gabriel Vecchi, Matthieu Lengaigne, Matthew H. England, Dietmar Dommenget, Ken Takahashi, Eric Guilyardi. "Increased frequency of extreme La Niña events under greenhouse warming." Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2492


  1. Don't knock old guys getting their five minutes of internet fame; it's one of the few pleasures we have left :)

  2. As an old guy myself born in 1949 I can see your point Sou. The internet has given me power beyond my wildest dreams . In my case it is for information to decrease my ignorance of subjects outside my expertise.
    The surveys have shown that the average age of a FOX cable news viewer in the USA is 72+ and climbing. This demographic has no long term future. It also explains the ever more ridiculous strident form of presentation of the 'news'.
    I urge you to look at the comments under any youtube video that is gay or transgendered or dare I say it,,, scientific! The trolls that infest these comments is indicative that these idiots search out their targets for their ignorant and hateful comments.
    The comments range from the usual fundamentalist religious nutters and the totally ignorant homophobes or both.
    Quite some years ago a sociology questionnaire was issued at many US university campuses. It asked a very broad range of questions.
    The experimenters motives were to find two groups that were either homophobic or indifferent to their attitudes to homosexuality.
    Of the thousands that replied they managed to get two statistically meaningful groups to be subjected to further experimentation.
    These experiments had no connection to the original survey as far as the subjects were aware.
    These further experiments were measuring the state of arousal by transducers on the male subjects penises while watching both heterosexual and homosexual porno movies.
    A vast majority of the self confessed homophobes showed arousal to the homosexual erotica. The control indifferent group showed none!
    I sometimes wonder about denialists ..........


    1. Bert, ah yes, I know that paper well. I knew there was a good reason to have a laugh every time Tisdale writes about "prolonged weather events".

    2. Brandon my failing memory only retains the gist of this paper since at the time it explained a lot of the homophobic behaviour I witnessed all around me in general society. Do you have a reference?
      I was fortunate to have a very large extended family. Ten siblings, about twenty uncles and aunts and over one hundred and twenty first cousins. My mother had ten sisters and it was their good influence on me and my eight brothers that made us far more balanced towards women and their intrinsic worth.
      My father was shocked in 1953 when his fellow workmates called him a poofter because he bought a bunch of flowers for his wife on payday. I suppose he was suspect as he always went straight home from work and never went to the pub with his 'mates'. Bert

    3. Bert,

      Reference for you, Sir: Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? Henry E. Adams, et al. (1996), University of Georgia

      Fascinating paper. However, I have observed it being abused online in very nasty ways. I can only imagine the carnage it would create in a pub setting similarly used ... especially if the bloke who just called you light in your loafers really is closeted but with outwardly homophobic behavior ... ;-)

    4. I am not a psychologist so I do not know what drives people to judge others by their own inadequacies whether by projection or ignorance. All I see is the obvious and as a Physicist I try to use my expertise to formulate a world view only on the evidence.
      My granddaughter was in a bit of trouble at preschool. Apparently a much larger boy pushed into a queue all the others were patiently waiting in for some sort of ride. She asked him to wait his turn. He just grinned until she punched him in the face. On their way home my daughter asked her why she did this terrible thing . Her answer was 'I am sorry mum if he did not fall down the dirt bank I would have hit him again!'
      Lewandowsky would have a field day! And the subjects of his research react accordingly. I would call this a positive feedback system, and this leads to major oscillations. A bit like the simple feedback electronic equations that some charlatans are quoting. Bert

    5. Thanks Brandon. It is just as bad to use this information to judge others as they judge.
      We had an open homosexual join CSIRO. All the young blokes were parodying his manner of speech. I very loudly said at morning tea if I hear one more pathetic attempt at your so called humour I will get you to say it to his face. You are all as weak as piss! I made it a point to have a drink and a yarn with him at the next Friday pissup at the pub. Attitudes were changed to the point where his long term partner would turn up at in house pissups and it was considered normal. Bert

    6. Reminds me of the good ol' days, when people had morning tea together (and lunch, not sitting at their desk working). How times have changed :)

    7. Bert,

      "It is just as bad to use this information to judge others as they judge."

      Pretty much, but I must confess having succumbed to the temptation when I felt the other guy was really asking for it. Casual, in passing-like, "Well you know, research suggests that extreme homophobia may be associated with latent homosexual feelings ... " or some such. Then read the reaction and drop it. I've seen others write things like, "This paper proves you're gay" when it says no such thing, and to me is completely beyond the pale of reasonable good taste. Not to mention being an ironically self-defeating debate tactic in the contexts I've most often come across it.

    8. “Reminds me of the good ol' days, when people had morning tea together (and lunch, not sitting at their desk working). How times have changed :)”

      Good for some. In 1968 I started work in a notoriously regimented govt dept. Other staff informed me how lucky I was at tea break. Why? Because we had a break. One of the reasons why cups of tea were delivered individually to our desks was that, until fairly recently, there was no break, only the tea. (One of the other reasons was that the tea lady could keep track of who had and who hadn’t paid for the service.) People kept on working presumably invigorated by their cuppa tea and a biscuit. We weren’t allowed to leave our desks, but we were allowed to read a newspaper. Good times!

      (At least I wasn’t in data processing. Their morning and afternoon tea breaks started and ended with a buzzer.)

    9. Management at CSIRO was run by senior scientists when I first started in the early 1970's. They were well aware that morning/afternoon tea and lunchtime in a well serviced tea room led to very valuable cross fertilization of ideas and sharing of problems with others that had more expertise in other disciplines that already had the answer that was eluding you.
      I do not know how often others and myself would have scientific arguments with even senior scientists and even the Chief of our Division.
      No amount of direction by bean counters will ever replace this valuable interaction of dedicated people.
      A common complaint from all of our partners at parties outside working hours was that the conversation would inevitably degenerate into shop talk.

  3. remember it well, the year that Queensland had a flood the size of germany

  4. Bob 'People-Who-Have-More-Birthdays-Live-Longer' Tisdale doesn't live in a scientific world. How could he when, inter alia, he confuses cause and effect in his interminable ENSO ramblings? But I'm starting to repeat myself, so I'll stop. Bob should stop too.

  5. Bob 'People-Who-Have-More-Birthdays-Live-Longer' Tisdale doesn't live in a scientific world. How could he when, inter alia, he confuses cause and effect in his interminable ENSO ramblings? But I'm starting to repeat myself, so I'll stop. Bob should stop too.

    1. Thanks, Joe. Bob's currently working on his next big WUWT article: 'How a Skeptics' Hubris Night Helped to Cheer Climate Pseudoscience Numpty Groups.'

  6. SSTs are quite high today. Check out climate reanalyzer

    1.26 C above the baseline.

    but I notice on the tropicaltidbits site, they have it only in the ~0.2 C area.

    now I know the baselines are different, but they aren't 1 C different. I suspect the "global SST anomaly" graph from tropicaltidbits is actually global tropical SST anomaly. is that right?


  7. Just added this to His Lordship's latest meditation ...

    More Monckton Misrepresentations.

    ... 1.4 Cº/century, or below half the central rate predicted by the IPCC on its “business-as-usual” scenario in 1990

    Ah, but BAU or Scenario 'A' , meaning no emmission controls, was only one of 4 scenarios A-D in AR1, one which we now know was overly pessimistic due to controls being introduced on CFCs and the collapse of the Soviet Union, inter alia. Under the scenarios B-c, which did project increasing controls, IPCC correctly projected warming of 0.1-0.2C/decade. SSSH, brush that under the carpet.

    'McLean, de Freitas & Carter reported that ...'

    also see Foster, Annan, et al, 2010, which reported that McLean et al's conclusions were

    'not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in their paper, especially as the analysis method itself eliminates the influence of trends on the purported correlations

    led the IPCC to abandon the computer models on which it had previously relied without question.

    These would be the models plotted in the figure ...

    In the final or published draft (lower panel),

    That figure has been amended, overlaid with the Viscount's nonsensical arrows and shading. The original is Fig 11.25 in AR5.

    This new and much-reduced best estimate, equivalent to 0.13 K decade–1, is a little below the 0.14 K decade–1 that was observed over the preceding 30 years, despite continuing increases in CO2 concentration. The IPCC is now actually predicting a standstill, or even a little slowdown, in the rate of global warming.

    Nope. The IPCC give a range of warming rates, from 0.12°C to 0.42°C per decade. Nowhere do they state a 'best estimate' nor do they identify any scenario as more likely than the others.

    a full decade has passed since January 2005, the benchmark month for the predictions of near-term global warming to 2050 in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, it is time to take stock with a comparison between the rate of temperature change the IPCC predicted by the IPCC in 2005 ....

    Huh? Which report is being referenced here? AR5 was published in 2013, the AR4 in 2007. If interested, one can reference the AR3 projections here. Under Scenario A2, arguably the one that most closely matched the actual forcing outcomes they projected 0.35C, or 0.175C/ decade. Over the period, the linear trend in HADCRUT4 was 0.175C/decade.

    The IPCC’s prediction is that there should have been a sixth of a degree of warming over the past decade. However, there has barely been any at all.

    As, usual, His Lordship is coy about giving a reference. The IPCC do not give firm predictions for periods as short as ten years.

    the failure of global temperatures to keep pace even with the IPCC’s latest and much-reduced global-warming projections is remarkable.

    The failure of this sentence to reflect reality is remarkable.

    failure is evident in all 73 of the models examined by Christy (2013), not only confirming the models’ propensity to exaggerate warming

    Confrming little more than Christy's ability to cherry-pick one area of the atmosphere where measurements are highly uncertain and compare it to an equally carefully selected set of model projections under an extreme scenario (RCP8.5, described by His Lordship himself as 'unrealistic' (LOL)).

    via the use of a system-gain equation borrowed from electronic circuitry – an equation that has no place in the climate

    An equation that does not used by any of the models. Go on, show us in the code of one of the open-source models where it is used....

    That will do, for starters.

    1. Phil,

      " ... coy about giving a reference .... " indeed. Right into downright obfuscatory. The mini-lecture he delivered me for writing that the second plot in the essay implies something about the relationship between CO2 and temperature was telling.

  8. Good job Phil.... I would (did for a while in the past) post on WUWT, but I had to "withdraw", on the basis that I valued my sanity. They are all well beyond where the Fairies live that lot.
    I supported your post though.

  9. Monckers breaks out his birtherism in comments there. Also his choice of time frame for this latest post in a "series" of temp reports (30 years instead of the usual set of post-1998 time periods) suggests he has started walking back from the "pause".

    1. It's only been the past several months that I've experienced him firsthand. Well ... firsthand online. You know what I mean. He does not disappoint.

  10. I am grateful to Lord Monckton for his reply, however it leaves several substantive points unanswered. I am sure we would all appreciate unambiguous, and preferably concise answers to these points of fact:

    (Monckton's verbose narrative on IPCC predictions omitted to stay under 4096 characters)

    Me: That is a qualitative response, however we can do better: as we are now some way into the period under discussion, 1990-2025, we have the actual numbers. Remember that the IPCC published 4 scenarios A-D in AR1, and they also gave forcing projections. Scenario A had CO2 forcing at 1.85W/m2 in 2000 and 2.88 in 2025, while scenarios B-D all had around 1.75 and 2.3 respectively. This information is in Table 2.7, page 57.
    According to Lord Monkton’s recent paper, CO2 forcing in 2011 had only risen to 1.82W/m2 (whatever the reason) by 2011, below the IPCC Scenario A figure for a decade earlier and far more closely in line with Scenarios B-C. Under these scenarios the IPCC report predicted rates of increase in global mean temperature of about 0 2°C per decade (Scenario B), just above 0 1°C per decade (Scenario C) and about 0 1 °C per decade (Scenario D) . ((Policymakers summary page xii)
    Actual outcome: 0.13C/decade.

    In another thread, His Lordship agreed that Scenario A turned out to be an overestimate, not because the models were wrong but because the forcings were overestimated,
    I had not recalled that IPCC had made its 1 k by 2025 prediction under Scenario A. However, Scenario A was its business-as-usual scenario, and it had incorrectly predicted a far greater rate of forcing, and hence of temperature change, than actually occurred.

    So he self-contradicts, business as usual is not what occurred, as his own paper makes clear. The IPCC cannot predict how emissions and hence GHG forcings will evolve, which is precisely why the IPCC run the models against a variety of scenarios. In my book, to take a single scenario, which never transpired, and to ignore those which did, well if it is not misrepresentation, what is it?

    I would also invite comments on the IPCC projections from AR3, which I linked. For 1990-2010 under the Scenario A2, which most closely matches reality, the IPCC model projections matched exactly the linear trend in HADCRUT4. Remarkable, no?

    I would also be grateful for a quote or page reference where I can find the following:

    - IPCC AR5 stating that 0.4K for the next 30 years years or 0.14K /decade is their ‘best estimate’.

    - IPCC stating that they have abandoned climate modelling.

    - An example, in the code or documentation for a climate model of it applying the Bode equation (rather than references to the analysis of the outputs as an emergent property of the model after the fact). I won’t bothering asking a third time.
    I would also be grateful if he (or anybody) could confirm that the scenario used to produce the plot of model outputs vs observations in the Christy graph was RCP8.5. Perhaps his Lordship could also confirm that he described the underlying assumptions for this scenario as ‘implausible’ and ‘unrealistic’ in his recent Science Bulletin article. Also, perhaps he would explain why he posted this chart without mentioning that the CMIP recommend that predictive RCP values should not be used before a date of 2006 and that historical values should be used for modeling of the recent past? And I would also be interesting in learning the name of the dataset which is ‘highly questionable and defective dataset.

    All perfectly cogent questions, I think, capable of a brief, factual response, which I respectfully await.

    1. Phil,

      well, I still am waiting for His Lordship's answer to my question ( what value for the heat capacity of the planet they assumed for the zero-dimensional energy balance model in the Monckton et al. paper. That one is also a question that should be easy to answer. Thus, don't hold your breath. :)

  11. Hi Sou,

    I see we're ahead of you for once, on the topic of Watts' warblings about the Arctic!

    Anthony's has been telling Arctic porkie pies in public (APPP), so we've just called him a liar in public:

    Click through to Twitter, where the conversation has just taken an interesting turn.

    Let's see the bastards get out of that without moving!


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