Thursday, March 6, 2014

Did Judith Curry get a stadium wave reception in Denver?

Sou | 3:44 AM Go to the first of 27 comments. Add a comment

Judith Curry boasted that she started a talk to American Physical Society Meeting in Denver with these words (archived here):
For the past 15+ years, there has been no increase in global average surface temperature

So she started off in her usual form, minus any uncertainty.  She then goes on to promote Marcia Wyatt's stadium wave, saying:
The stadium wave hypothesis provides a plausible explanation for the hiatus in warming and helps explain why climate models did not predict this hiatus. Further, the new hypothesis suggests how long the hiatus might last. 

Judith didn't write her full talk, but she put up some different options under a heading: "implications for the future":
Implications for the future: I. IPCC AR5 view
The hiatus will end soon, with the next El Nino
Implications for the future:  II.  View emphasizing natural internal variability
  • The ‘hiatus’ will continue at least another decade
  • Climate models are too sensitive to external forcing
  • Hiatus persistence beyond 20 years would support a firm declaration of problems with the climate models
  • Incorrect accounting for natural internal variability implies:
  • —Biased attribution of 20th century warming
  • —Climate models are not useful on decadal time scales

You can read her article here.  It seems to be a mix of mainstream science and fringe science (pattern seeking), such as: Climate shifts hypothesis:  synchronized chaos framework for natural internal variability (shift ca. 2001) as well as her protégé's stadium wave hypothesis.

Your prediction?

Anyway, what do you reckon. Is anyone up for a prediction? Will Judith's "hiatus" end sooner rather than later or will global surface temperatures continue to shuffle upwards very slowly for the next two decades? Can she sustain her "stadium wave" theory longer than this one that went for 15 minutes? You'll probably recall that back when she introduced the stadium wave to her readers Judith wrote:
“The stadium wave signal predicts that the current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s,” Wyatt said, the paper’s lead author.
Now Judith has dropped back to maybe 2024, reducing it to only "at least another decade".

I'm game.  I don't think Marcia Wyatt's stadium wave will last another three years.  For one thing, it predicts that:
sea ice will recover from its recent minimum, first in the West Eurasian Arctic, followed by recovery in the Siberian Arctic,” Wyatt said. “Hence, the sea ice minimum observed in 2012, followed by an increase of sea ice in 2013, is suggestive of consistency with the timing of evolution of the stadium-wave signal 

So the stadium wave hypothesis will need to be heavily revised if either or both:

  • global surface temperatures continue to rise in the coming few years 
  • Arctic sea ice continues to disappear more each summer.

The next El Niño

Then there's El Niño.  I'm aware that ENSO predictions at this time of the year are fraught because, as BoM states on p3 of its latest ENSO report:
The predictability of El Niño or La Niña conditions for the period extending through and beyond autumn is lower than for forecasts made at other times of the year (known as “the autumn predictability barrier”). Long-range model outlooks should be used cautiously at this time.
Nevertheless, this is the first time in months there has been a POAMA chart like this one, which has been updated since the latest ENSO report on 24 February:

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Jeff Masters at Wunderground.com recently wrote:

Two Pacific tropical storms form, boosting the odds of an El Niño

The atmospheric and oceanic conditions in the Equatorial Pacific are ripe for an El Niño event to develop this spring or summer. As detailed in a guest blog post by WSI's Dr. Michael Ventrice on February 21, all that is needed to trigger an El Niño this spring or summer are strong and persistent bursts of westerly winds in the Equatorial Pacific to help push warm water from the Western Pacific Warm Pool eastwards towards South America. Two tropical storms capable of doing just that formed in the Pacific on Friday, boosting the odds that we will see an El Niño event this spring or summer. 

Climate change in Denver

I'd also be curious as to how Judith's Denver audience reacted to her talk.  Colorado has been beseiged recently. Last year alone there were dreadful wildfires followed by the "biblical" flood.  Anyway, here are just four bits and pieces about how people in Denver and Colorado more generally are coping with and/or preparing for climate change.  There is lots more where these came from.


  1. I think we can expect at least a decade of Curry redefining "hiatus".

  2. Sou -

    I don't see any inconsistency between this:

    " “The stadium wave signal predicts that the current pause in global warming could extend into the 2030s,” Wyatt said, the paper’s lead author."

    and this:

    "Now Judith has dropped back to maybe 2024, reducing it to only "at least another decade".

    How is "at least another decade" dropping back with reference to "could extend into the 2030s"?

    That said:

    "So she started off in her usual form, minus any uncertainty"

    True that.

  3. It would take a very powerful El Nino to end the "hiatus". On the 2024 prediction, it really depends on how many La Nina events happen in the next decade. She could end up being right.

    Since Tsonis and Swanson discuss a physical mechanism for changes in the direction of the GMT, I don' think they are fringe guys at all. Swanson was one of Ray Pierrehumbert's 1st graduate students.


    1. As a physicist who understands that mathematics is not arithmetic and short term curve fitting. I find the assertions without real statistically valid evidence by these cherry picking amateurs who put up absolutely inane conflicting propositions that have no basis in reality as complete idiots!

      Their sentence in the courtroom of science should be. They are science deniers! They have no credibility. They have no evidence apart from what they mine from REAL scientists.

      These twits cherry pick information and I have to say AGAIN from real scientists, to then use the usual moronic arguments that mentally unstable religious preachers use to 'convert' people who should be in a banjo playing competition.
      I do not know how you can this Sou. I try to keep up!
      My mother warned me about looking into cesspools. The more you look the more disgusted you become. Yet you keep on looking! Bert from Eltham

    2. This is just hilarious. Tsonis is a scientist. Swanson is a scientist. Curry is a scientist. They are not Anthony Watts.

      Tsonis and Swanson are not Girma. They have a physical mechanism. A physical mechanism would not be curve fitting. It is not cherry picking.

      And you have this big problem. They predicted a flattened surface air temperature due to ocean dynamics, which is pretty much exactly what we have. And they gave their reasons why. So now we learn that winds blowing along the equator from South America to the Western Pacific have been unusually strong in the 21st century, and that Michael Mann reportedly thinks they could persist. First, that is ocean dynamics, not curve fitting. Second, if they persist - and nobody I've seen has given a physical reason for why they will slow down - for decades, there will be very little warming for as long as they blow. Because the ocean has a simply huge volume of exceedingly cold water that the winds will upwell to the surface, and once on the surface the cold water could drag down the surface air temperature of the globe for many years in a row. Maybe to 2024; maybe to 2030; maybe longer.

      And your condescension toward banjo players is revealing as it gets. You probably could learn to play Foggy Mountain Breakdown at some elemental level, but I sincerely doubt you could jam it (endless improvisation) at the lightening speed at which the snake handling hillbillies play it.

      Climate scientist say decadal forecasting is extremely difficult. Why? They do not have a means of predicting ocean dynamics other than the patterns in the SAT record. The AMO: roughly 60 years. The PDO: roughly 40 years. These are not physical explanations. Tsonis and Swanson suggest they have found a physical reason for the changes in direction of the SAT in the 20th century. Instead of sneering at them, you might actually look at what they've done. Your Tamino-like reaction will do you no good at all if the SAT is still essentially flat in 2024. You will look like an idiot, and people will suggest you take up the banjo.


    3. JCH - interesting, you are suggesting the EN/SO is over and the La Niña-situation is to remain for many years.

      Now what is your physical explanation for that conjecture? Would that be dropping the phrase 'ocean dynamics' and reckon us to believe in your magic?

      Are you aware that global average air temps have been singing around the tops ever measured since November last year? Are you aware the whole ffing 'hiatus' myth will be totally forgotten by the end of this year? Do you know why?

      Which do you prefer - being an idiot right now, as you are, or taking a tiny risk to maybe look like an idiot in ten years or so?

    4. Here is the Tsonis and Swanson paper. Here is the article on realclimate by Kyle Swanson. Here are some comments by Anastasios Tsonis and here is another article about his comments.

      Judith Curry might still play at being a climate scientist in her day job. After hours she shifts to playing climate disinformer, with people like Anthony Watts and co.

    5. This is all that I could find regarding the "physical mechanism" that JCH referred to in Tsonis and Swanson (2006):

      It is hypothesized that persistent and consistent trends among several climate modes act to kick the climate state, altering the pattern and magnitude of air-sea interaction between the atmosphere and the underlying ocean....

      and further on:

      ...an internal reorganization of the climate system has offset this presumptive radiative imbalance, either via an anomalously large uptake of heat by the deep ocean or a direct offset of the greenhouse gas forcing by a shift in cloud forcing

    6. As I said in my article, it looks like pattern watching. There was no analysis of changes in ocean heat content or clouds in the Tsonis/Swanson paper.

      Also, I stand by my calling it "fringe". It's not something that has been adopted as mainstream science AFAIK. In part probably because it's just a hypothesis about patterns, much like the stadium wave hypothesis.

      The fact that they are all scientists doesn't automatically make their ideas mainstream. They might become mainstream if the hypotheses are further developed and supported by detailed observations and a fuller explanation. So far that hasn't happened.

      That's how it appears to me at any rate.

    7. So Tsonis and Swanson have no 'physical mechanism', just some conjectures on an ocean/air-warmth interaction based on one ordinary run of neutral/negative EN/SO conditions.
      Never ever mind such runs have existed before. Never mind the fact that between half a dozen and and a dozen years ago the somewhat El Niño-favouring run of years led some opportunists to announce the same kind of fictional 'physical mechanism' doing away with the oscillation wholesale and substituting a 'climate change response' in its stead like Tsonis/Swanson do. Or, hey, 2006, actually did??

      Air uptake of AGW heat would imo be like MUCH more than it is today to f.o. the entire EN/SO like that. I don't buy it, worse, I won't pick it up if thrown at me.

  4. Yep, careful Sou, she might be right. Li et al 2013 is much better than Wyatt and Curry 2013, AFAICT...


    Discussed further here...



    1. Thing is that, as usual, Judith didn't commit to one or other option in her article. She just tossed them all in.

      So saying "she might be right" is not terribly meaningful. She "might be right" about Marcia Wyatt's stadium wave hypothesis meaning a cycle of 60 or 80 years or whatever you want to choose in between. This would mean an increase in Arctic sea ice over the next decade or two - from the 2012 low according to Marcia. Plus no increase in surface temperature possibly till the 2030s.

      Judith also "might be right" that the "hiatus will end soon with the next El Nino".

      I'm happy to go on record saying I don't think that Arctic sea ice is about to recover, but I grant you that I "might be wrong" :) I'm not any sort of expert in Arctic sea ice (or climate science for that matter).

      As for El Nino - well Kevin Trenberth and others who study such things have been fairly circumspect when it comes to predicting actual timing. What I've seen them say is that the current situation will reverse sooner or later. They haven't predicted in the next year or two AFAIK - though they've suggested it will happen sometime in the next decade IIRC.

      Sorry - I don't have time to dig up references, but this might have some pointers:


    2. Meant to say thanks for your links and reference, idunno. The more info the better :)

    3. I left academia years ago, but think I have enough understanding of the space to take a large bet that Arctic sea ice will continue its decline. 2012 was a low anomaly, but 2013 was a high anomaly (at least in the last five years). There is no way I see the trend changing just like I don't see sea levels declining. Whether or not the surface temperature change (and Cowtan and Way have shown they have), the earth is still absorbing an extra 10^21 joules per year.

      Sorry, I lost the last bit of respect I had for Curry after her recent Senate testimony. She was caught red-handed misleading non-scientists, and still hasn't responded well to those who caught her (Tamino and JNG).

      I have to say that I do like that she made some predictions. What will happen when she's wrong?

  5. It occurs that a "stadium wave" is caused by ten of thousands of people hand-waving in synch. No wonder Judith's so keen.


  6. At least she's making predictions that can be proven wrong in the next couple of years.

    1. Predictions? I would suggest guesswork.

  7. Without underlying mechanisms, the Stadium Wave hypothesis is along the same lines as Ptolemaic planetary epicycles i.e. it may be useful but ...
    In order to refute suggestions of the SWH being mere 'curve fitting' and deduce the underlying mechanisms, e.g. forces and energy flows, I'd suggest that Wyatt and Curry consult an expert in Feng Shui. Failing that, a meteoromancer may be able to divine atmospheric phenomena and apply it to the Stadium Wave hypothesis. Both suggestions would increase the legitimacy of the SWH among skeptics.

  8. It would appear that the whole Stadium wave hypothesis is based solely on the past variability of the surface temperatures.

    So it is “hypothesised” that there is an approximate 60 year cycle. Therefore, if you take any 60 year period, the net effect on surface temperatures would be expected to be near to zero.

    How you can make the claim that: “Climate models are too sensitive to external forcing” then?

    You cannot suggest a 60 year natural cycle, and claim that the resulting change over that period is not as a result of other factors. Simply bonkers.

    So where has this cycle and her predictions been derived from? It looks to me like the static temperatures that were seen from 1940 to 1970. Therefore, she is expecting to see this pattern repeat, we’ve had 15 years of static temperatures and expects to see at least another 10 years of no change in global average surface temperatures.

    It is already well documented that the global dimming from aerosols during this period was a major factor affecting global temperatures. If you assume that this was wholly driven by natural forcing and variability would you be then be able to base a claim of an ongoing “hiatus” for the next 10/15 years.

    La Nina and Neutral years are showing the same ongoing upward trend in temperatures.

    On the issue of increased sea ice, this is fanciful. Let’s have a look for the change in the 60 year signal from Kinnard et al 2008, reproduced here:

    Any upward trend visible in either the minimum or maximum sea ice extent on a 60 year cycle? No. Perhaps there is a small increase in the minimum sea ice extent around 1940, but this does not effect the overall downward trend, and then you would to attribute this to the “stadium wave” and not the effect of aerosols.

    In addition to this if you consider the difference in the Arctic now compared to the 1940s you can conclude that it is considerably warmer, albedo has reduced significantly, CH4 concentrations are at record highs.

    “sea ice will recover from its recent minimum”

    I don’t think I need to make a prediction as I think there is not any substance to any of it.

    Perhaps the better prediction to make will be which aspect will be first to bring about the downfall of the “theory”; sea ice; or El Nino?

    Dan Aged 8 and 3/4

    1. One El Nino will not change much, especially if surface winds produce more La Nina events afterwards. And that is the physical realty in place in the system since the back-to-back El Nino events at the start of the 21st century.

      In periods with La Nina dominance, the SAT goes up as soon as a very negative ONI starts relaxing toward zero, in part because of a big assist from ACO2. In periods with El Nino dominance, the SAT will go down, not as aggressively due to increased ACO2, as soon as a very positive ONI starts relaxing toward zero.

      If any part of the loss of arctic sea ice has been caused by natural variability, and that goes the other way, there will be a rebound of some sort in arctic sea ice extent.


  9. The National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Nino watch today. http://news.yahoo.com/comes-el-nino-good-news-us-weather-woes-142354512.html

    Mike Pollard

    1. Thanks, Mike. That's consistent with the chart from BoM I noticed had crept in. If the models don't change between now and next Tuesday, when the next BoM ENSO update is due, I expect BoM will also be forecasting an El Nino later this year.

    2. NOAA "Enso Meter" seen here, seems to be
      in conflict with their own dire warnings though ...

    3. I don't know about dire warnings. This is from the latest NOAA report:

      ENSO-neutral is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall.

    4. And this is from the news item, which seems to match up with the report and the POAMA model chart I included in my article above:

      Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, says the El Nino warming should develop by this summer, but that there are no guarantees. Although early signs are appearing already a few hundred feet below the ocean surface, meteorologists say an El Nino started to brew in 2012 and then shut down suddenly and unexpectedly.

      It's an El Nino "watch" - not a guarantee.

  10. An El Nino this year would give Curry a breathing-space - she can write-off 2014 and 2015 as "El Nino influenced" and the next few as "recovering".

    What she absolutely must have is a La Nina in the next few years, and a strong one at that. Or something like Krakatoa to muddy the waters, so to speak.


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