Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WUWT Bombshell - or not! ENSO phases affect global surface temperatures

Sou | 11:25 PM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has an article on WUWT (archived here) about ENSO.  He has dug up an open access paper in the International Journal of Geosciences (from back in January this year), by Chris de Frietas and John McLean (yeah, the same John McLean who predicted that in 2011, global temperatures would have dropped to that in 1956 or colder!) who have made the not startling discovery that, as they conclude:
All other things being equal, a period dominated by a high frequency of El Niño-like conditions will result in global warming, whereas a period dominated by a high frequency of La Niña-like conditions will result in global cooling. 
Well, duh!  Who'd a thunk it!

I've not looked at their workings because what's the point?  They seem to have discovered the obvious.  There might be something new in their paper that made it worthy of publication.  I don't know.

The final sentence in their paper is a bit off.  But what do you expect from this pair?  This is what they write:
Overall, the results imply that natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to temperature variability and perhaps a major control knob governing Earth’s temperature.
If you didn't know the history of these two, you'd probably just conclude they were being sloppy in their terminology.  ENSO isn't considered a "climate forcing" - it's normally considered part of natural variability and tends to be short term (usually just a year or so but sometimes up to several years) rather than on a climate time scale (decades long).  Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has a good overview of ENSO with some neat diagrams.

Now while ENSO phases affect surface temperatures I kinda get the feeling that de Freitas and McLean would've liked to go further.  Maybe as far as they foolishly went in a previous very silly paper of theirs which somehow made it through peer review but was rebutted by some of the world's leading climate scientists very quickly.

Another thing that I noticed, John McLean has described himself as being from the Department of Physics, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.  I did a staff search of McLeans at James Cook University and found two of them, neither being John McLean.  Maybe he's studying there with Professor Peter Ridd,  who does identify on his personal blog as being from the Department of Physics.  Peter Ridd is reportedly a contrarian when it comes to climate science and a mate of the fake climate sceptic Bob Carter.  John McLean used to describe himself as doing his PhD.  Maybe he's being supervised by Peter Ridd.  Does anyone know?

C. de Freitas and J. McLean, "Update of the Chronology of Natural Signals in the Near-Surface Mean Global Temperature Record and the Southern Oscillation Index," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 1A, 2013, pp. 234-239. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.41A020

From the WUWT comments

Oh my.  This paper has brought out some denier weirdness.  Here's a sample. (Archived here.)

Peter Miller isn't aware that it was scientists who study climate who discovered what we know about ENSO and says:
September 3, 2013 at 1:19 am
Hmm, natural climate cycles, who would have thought it?
Remember, these are banned by global warming fanatics.

Perennially Puzzled Bob Tisdale says (excerpt):
September 3, 2013 at 1:29 am
...A step in the right direction! Let’s see if The Team jumps all over this as they did with McLean et al (2009). That would be more difficult now since the same thing is implied by Kosaka & Xie (2013) and the two recent Meehl et al papers.
Yes, Bob has it wrong as usual.  Here are rundowns on Kosaka and Xie from SkepticalScience.com and from Tamino.

Sceptical lefty is living in cloud cuckoo land and says:
September 3, 2013 at 2:24 am
Pardon me for being sceptical, but the recent run of “It’s not quite as bad as we thought” papers suggests to me an attempt to construct an escape route. If timed correctly, there should be enough papers predicting an impending cold snap to salvage the shaky credibility of the climate-change industry when it becomes impossible to deny (you need to be careful with that word) that warming has ceased. Somehow, whatever happens will be bad and ALL OUR FAULT.
I suppose I need to work on my faith.

I've no idea what mycroft is going on about when he says:
September 3, 2013 at 2:45 am
Now we see why Jones was wishing for STRONG El Nino in ClimateGate emails,the team knows what exactly cause’s warming but ideology getting in the way of science!

Per Strandberg (@LittleIceAge) seems to have made a startling new discovery.  I can't wait for his paper.  He says:
September 3, 2013 at 4:01 am
They would have found if they had investigated it, that global temperature anomalies are also closely correlated to LOD Length Of Day. This is because LOD and tidal forcing are major component of ENSO.

MattN believes that scientists will say something different to what I've ever read, and is 100% positive about something that he fails to provide any evidence of and says:
September 3, 2013 at 4:08 am
Once again, this surprises NO ONE who has actually been paying attention. But you know that they will just say that CO2 is influencing, if not outright controlling ENSO. I am 100% positive I remember reading a statement from Gavin on Reallywrong Climate years ago where he stated that the PDO was permanently positive now due to CO2.


  1. Re: MattN's comment. Unsurprisingly, I have never made any such comment. I wonder what else he is 100% certain about that is 100% wrong?

    1. I'm honoured :)

      I mean, welcome to HotWhopper, Gavin.

      WUWT-ers make the oddest claims and many (most) feel no compunction to back them up with evidence. Why spoil a good yarn with facts?

  2. While I don't usually comment I do enjoy reading a number of the climate blogs pointing out the stupidity of the deniers. I particularly like this blog because I can find out what nonsense is being posted on WTHWT without adding to their webpage hit count.


  3. I knew it: they compare derivatives.

  4. Note that the publisher, Scientific Research International is a bottom feeder amongst bottom feeders. Gives you a hint of the quality of the paper.

    1. They just asked me to review a paper about the Earth's magnetism. That is about all I got from the abstract; hardly understood anything. Almost looks as if they send the manuscripts to random scientists.

    2. They is the same journal as the above post: International Journal of Geosciences.

  5. KR

    There's a reasonable Wiki on SCIRP [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_Research_Publishing], and it's listed by Bealls as a predatory publisher [http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/12/06/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2013/]

    Not quite "dog astrology", but pretty much a pay-to-publish set of journals with low standards.

    1. I did like the part about accepting a paper generated by a random text generator. While that may not represent an advance in pure mathematics, it certainly represents an advance in applied mathematics!

  6. Great post, Sou. I'm pleased to see you linking to an archived version of the WUWT post. Like Anonymous above, I don't like adding to the hit counter at WUWT so it's nice to be able to keep up with what's happening through your blog and the other blogs out there doing a similar thing.


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