Anthony Watts must be losing income or just getting desperate in his denial. He's jumped into Bob Tisdale's bed and is claiming that it's not extra greenhouse gases that's causing global warming, it's ENSO. Today he's got an article (archived here and here) about how he thinks 2015 wasn't proof of human-caused global warming. Well, I ask you: who ever said that a single hottest year was proof that humans are causing global warming? It's the ongoing onslaught of increasing temperatures over decades, together with physics, that shows that it's us who are causing the world to keep getting hotter and hotter and hotter.
What caused 2015 to be so hot?
Anthony is wrong when he claims that it was El Niño that made 2015 a record hot year. Scientists have worked out it would have been a record hot year anyway. The El Niño lifted temperatures a bit higher (around 0.07 °C), but it wasn't the only factor that caused the 0.12 °C jump in global mean surface temperature over that of the previous hottest year on record, 2014.
Below is a chart of the annual anomalies around the world from GISS NASA.
|Figure 1 | Map of global mean surface temperature anomalies for 2015 vs the 1951-1980 mean. Source: GISS NASA|
|Figure 2 | Animation of monthly global mean surface temperature anomalies for 2015 vs the 1951-1980 mean. Source: GISS NASA|
- Cherry pick the data he liked while not showing the relevant data
- Use irrelevant images from 2014 without saying what he was showing
- Make unsupported assertions based on his cherry pick.
Sea surface height anomalies from 2014 and hottest ever 2015?
At the top of his article Anthony posted the image below as if it were evidence of something. It looked as if he said he got the chart below from Ryan Maue, but it wasn't. It was a chart of sea surface height anomalies as at 5 June 2014 from Jason 2 (h/t Nick Stokes):
|Figure 3 | Sea surface height anomaly as at 5 June 2014. Source: WUWT that got it from another article at WUWT that got it from the Jason2 website of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.|
Anthony doesn't say anything about the image except that:
Dr Ryan Maue of Weatherbell follows the data, wherever that data leads him. He’s not shy of telling it like it is. Yesterday he released what I consider the most important graph of the year.There are some things you'll notice about his map.
- First of all there is no information about what it represents..
- Next there is no indication of the period it represents, though
it's safe to sayit was an El Niño year. (Actually it wasn't. My investigation shows it was 2014, which wasn't an El Nino year.)
- Then it doesn't show anything about what's happening on the land
- Finally it's not of the whole world. It doesn't include the Arctic or Antarctic.
If Anthony wanted his readers to be informed by that map, then he should have said something about it. I expect he didn't because he didn't know anything about it. He just thought it looked pretty or something.
The GWPF chart from NASA
Anthony initially put up the image below, when he first wrote the article. It was labeled GWPF, and as far as I know, Ryan Maue doesn't have an association with the lobby group the GWPF, which agitates for the world to get hotter and hotter faster and faster.
|Figure 4 | Still from a YouTube video from a silly article by David Whitehouse of the GWPF. Source: WUWT|
|Figure 5 | Origin of Figure 4 above, comparing the sea surface height anomaly ion 19 February 1997 with that on 19 February 2015. Source: Animation on NASA's website.|
Anthony Watts builds a strawman - it's the long term trend not a single year
So having dealt with Anthony's pictures of sea surface height anomalies, let's see what he did next. Well, what Anthony did was build a strawman:
For all those people that want to claim 2015/2016 “proves” that human caused global warming is at work (while at the same time ignoring a record El Niño event as seen above), this graph indisputably proves that the El Niño is the driver of record high temperatures, not carbon dioxide.Do you know anyone who claimed that 2015/16 "proves" that human caused global warming is at work? I don't. I cannot imagine anyone would. The evidence that humans are causing global warming lies in the long term warming, not a single hot year.
|Figure 6 | Decadal global mean surface temperature from 1880 to 2015. Data source: GISS NASA|
The effect of El Niño
For his so-called "evidence", Anthony triumphantly pastes a tweet from Ryan Maue, which doesn't claim (or show) what Anthony claims it claims.
Easy to see effect of El Nino on global temps by concurrently plotting tropical & global temp anomaly time series pic.twitter.com/NkZNsKukzI— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) March 14, 2016
|Figure 7 | What looks like recent weekly surface temperatures from NCEP/CFSR reanalysis. Source: WUWT|
- In the tropics it started getting warmer from May-June onwards, after the El Niño started, and
- Globally it got progressively hotter in the hottest respective months on record - October 2015 to February 2016 inclusive.
|Figure 8 | Monthly global surface temperature anomalies from January 1997 to February 2016. The chart has February highlighted from the second year of the last two El Niños and the current one. Data source: GISS NASA|
|Figure 9 | Annual global surface temperature anomalies. The chart also shows the anomalies for February from the second year of each of the last two El Niños and the current one. Data source: GISS NASA|
Where is it warming? It's the high northern latitudes!
I don't have monthly zones at my fingertips, but I can plot annual temperatures for different zones. Here are some zones for the northern hemisphere so you can see where it's been getting hottest:
|Figure 10 | Annual surface temperature anomalies for selected zones in the Northern Hemisphere. Data source: GISS NASA|
As you can see in the Northern Hemisphere the temperatures have been going up most in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, more than the tropics and latitudes closest to the tropics.
For comparison, here is the southern hemisphere, with and without the Antarctic. There the story is different. It's the tropics and sub-tropics that have been warming more than down near the south pole. (Antarctica is all over the place, possibly in part because it's so remote that it's hard to get a handle on what's happening.):
|Figure 11 | Annual surface temperature anomalies for selected zones in the Southern Hemisphere. Data source: GISS NASA|
To really appreciate the difference between north and south, look at the scale on the Y axis of the above charts. The Arctic has hit more than 2C above the 1951-1980 mean.
Telltale techniques of science deniers
What Anthony Watts has done is called cherry-picking. First he showed maps of sea height level anomalies from 5 June 2014. Wrong year, not surface temperature and it didn't include the Arctic.
Then he showed a chart that only had the tropics and global mean surface temperature. It didn't include other latitudes so it wasn't sufficient to demonstrate anything except that both the world as a whole and the tropics have been getting warmer in the past few months.
So when Anthony Watts wrote his headline:
One graph proves that record high year of 2015 and record months of 2016 are not AGW driven,,,he was wrong. It didn't prove anything at all. In fact El Niño wasn't responsible for all the warming last year. Much of it was from anomalous warmth in the high northern latitudes.
Anthony is on a crusade to persuade the world that humans aren't causing global warming, He resorted to cherry-picks and irrelevancies. Going by what he wrote, he's shifted away from accepting the greenhouse effect and into Bob Tisdale's "global warming is caused by El Niño's and blobs". Which is pretty dumb. If El Niño's were causing global warming, does that mean that El Niño events only started last century? (They didn't, in case you were wondering.)
When Anthony Watts wrote in relation to Ryan Maue's chart of monthly temperatures for the tropics and global averages:
...this graph indisputably proves that the El Niño is the driver of record high temperatures, not carbon dioxide.... he was wrong. That chart didn't "indisputably" prove anything at all. It was just a chart. It didn't include temperatures for any other regions. If he'd included monthly temperatures for other latitudes, the chart may have been more informative. He didn't, so it wasn't.
A discussion of El Nino probably isn't complete without a comparison of El Nino years. Here it is:
|Figure 12 | Global mean surface temperature for El Nino years. Source: HotWhopper. Data source: GISS NASA|
Bob Tisdale has been busy over the past two years arguing that the 97/98 El Nino was the biggest ever. He's been trying to show that it was stronger than the current one. If that's the case then it can't be El Nino alone that caused these past few months to be the hottest on record, can it. Deniers need to get their story straight.
From the WUWT comments
SMC complained about the GWPF picture:
March 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm
The GWPF ‘Sea Surface Height Anomaly’ picture is kind’a misleading.
Anthony Watts agreed and said he replaced it with another misleading picture. He was wrong again. It wasn't a 2015 El Nino event, it was of a non-El Nino year - from June 2014:
March 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm
Yes, I replaced it with a better representation of the 2015 ENSO event.
Nick Stokes found it somewhere else on WUWT - it's from Jason2 and is of sea level, not temperature:
March 15, 2016 at 1:25 pm
It’s worth noting that it is showing sea surface height, not temperature. and it is May 21, 2014, from here.
Francisco is just being silly. He's a climate conspiracy theorist:
March 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm
But, but, El Niño was super fueled by evil fossil fuels!! It is unprecedented since the last big one on record and there could not have been any as big in the past where we do not have records, the tree rings prove this.
I am sorry, with this scam any and all excuses, no matter how far fetched they are, are fair game it seems.
Rudd Istvan sinks further and further into wackiness with each passing day. I don't know if he knows that he's lying or if he's just another deluded denier. If he wasn't deluded, he's been around climate stuff for long enough to know he's lying. Could be he's a wacky conspiracy nutter. He's wrong in pretty well everything. For one thing, global warming didn't stop. ristvan wrote:
March 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm
Tomeb. Please look closely at your posted WMO melange of three underlying ‘adjusted’ records. Ignore the OLS lines. NO warming from 1950 to ~1976. Clear warming from ~1976 to ~1998. NO warming since. Natural Variation is evident, since CO2 was monotonocally increasing the entire time (proven by the MLO Keeling curve starting 1957 IIRC). So OLS is inapplicable.
Now realize that the CMIP5 archive was, by peer reviewed ‘experimental design’ parameter tuned to best hindcast from YE 2005 back 30 years to 1975. A problem that resulted in model failure to predict the now ~19 year pause, resulting in model falsification. They failed because of their parameter attribution problem, which you have so nicely (if inadvertently) illustrated here. Previous guest post had the why and how.
Here's the latest chart of CMIP5 with monthly anomalies. And that's the uncorrected CMIP5 models, which have a net overestimate of positive forcings from 2005. This month is way, way above what was modeled. It doesn't mean the models are "wrong" because the observations are against the multi-model mean. (Models aren't designed to show month to month variability, they are for long term projections.)
|Figure 13 | CMIP5 and observed temperature anomalies to February 2016. Data sources: KNMI climate explorer (CMIP) and GISS NASA (observations)|
Sheesh there is some weird nonsense posted at WUWT. pochas94 thinks a whole heap of wrong, including the fact that he doesn't know that CO2 is a well-mixed greenhouse gas and is the same over Antarctica as in the air over the rest of the world, such as Mauna Loa.
March 15, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Because the antho CO2 never makes it to the antarctic. Contrary to the myth that CO2 persists in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years, its lifetime is actually less than a year. In winter plant life goes dormant so that anthropogenic CO2 has persistence and there is a definite elevation of CO2 in the arctic which, in the absence of water vapor, produces the warming effect. In summer plants become active and the surplus disappears. Since there is little CO2 generated in the southern hemisphere and it is mostly ocean anyway, the southern hemisphere does not experience this effect. So “global warming” is largely confined to the arctic in winter and some to the northern extratropics. The tropics are affected by El Niño of course, but the southern extratropics do not experience “global warming” simply because there is no wintertime elevation of CO2.
Luke points out that Anthony ignored the long term trend:
March 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm
By focusing on April-October you missed the most important point, the temperatures are above the 30 yr mean for almost the entire year for both the tropics and the entire globe. That is the AGW signal.
This got a lot of protests from deniers, like markstoval who wailed, illogically:
March 15, 2016 at 12:50 pmIf Mark had said that wet sidewalks were a signal it had probably rained, his analogy would have been closer to the mark.
Luke, you are one of those guys who claim that wet sidewalks cause rain.
Ktm is wrong when he or she writes about the warming period in the early part of last century. It was a combination of dearth of volcanic eruptions, an increase in solar radiation, and an increase in greenhouse gases:
March 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm
The globe warms naturally, the globe cools naturally. What makes you think the baseline for natural warming/cooling is a flat line? Why can’t it be an upward sloping baseline?
The Warmists argue that they can’t explain the warming without CO2. But they can’t explain the warming from the 1910s to 1940s, with or without co2.
Their inability to explain natural phenomena does not prove co2 to be responsible for anything.
I wonder what words Steven Mosher put in Anthony's mouth that didn't come from Anthony's keyboard? We'll probably never know. It's been censored :)
March 15, 2016 at 1:17 pm
[snip – don’t put words in my mouth not written – you are welcome to resubmit – Anthony]
If I'd read this comment before writing the article it would have saved me (and you) a lot of time:) dcpetterson wrote:
March 15, 2016 at 2:54 pm
This blog entry is a brilliant textbook example of a straw man coupled with a red herring. No one actually believes the things you’ve set off to disprove. It’s entertaining, though.
The record high temperatures we’re experiencing now are the result of a very strong el Nino piled on top of the heating due to AGW. Neither one alone would currently result in the record high temperatures we are seeing. No one has claimed the 2015 and 2016 records are due solely to AGW. So the attempt to prove el Nino is involved is silly at best, since everyone is agreed on that already.
Nor does anyone say the record 2015 and 2016 temperatures “prove” the reality of AGW. Physics and chemistry prove the reality of AGW. The consistent long-term trendine is a symptom of (not a “proof” of) the physics behind climate science. The record-high temperatures of 2016 and 2016 are a result of a strong el Nino sitting on top of the high level to which the long-term trendine has brought us.
Some more meaningful questions: How long has it been since there was a record low global monthly or yearly temperature? How many global monthly or yearly record highs have there been since then? What does that tell you?
I notice at least some WUWT readers are beginning to acknowledge that the Earth is warming (which is a start) though they continue to question the cause. At least ya’all are moving in the right direction.