Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tim Ball tells fibs about past climates at Anthony Watts' conspiracy blog WUWT

Sou | 11:25 PM Go to the first of 27 comments. Add a comment
Tim Ball is an uber conspiracy theorist and the author of the first chapter in the greenhouse gas denying book about slaying sky dragons. One might suspect that he pens articles for Anthony Watts so he (Tim) can build up a defense of insanity in his defamation lawsuits. He's quoted Hitler and Osama bin Laden to support his conspiracy nuttery. He thinks that Tom Wigley is angling to be the Leader of the World. He's nuts.

Nevertheless he has a nutter fan club in Anthony Watts and his conspiracy theorising acolytes.

The Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age

Today he's started an article with the following:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Report claimed that neither the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) nor the Little Ice Age (LIA) occurred. 
I didn't need to check to know that he telling fibs. To save you the trouble let me quote from the 2013 AR5 WG1 report from the IPCC. The medieval warm period is referred to in the IPCC report as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. The report doesn't just mention it 27 times, it states its duration, from 950 to 1250. The Little Ice Age is mentioned 43 times in the document, and its duration is given from 1450 to 1850. Therefore Tim is lying when he claims that the IPCC "claimed that neither the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) nor the Little Ice Age (LIA) occurred". Quelle surprise - not. Lying and deception is pretty well mandatory on denier blogs like WUWT. Below are some of the 70 instances:

From TS.2.2.1 Surface
For average annual Northern Hemisphere temperatures, the period 1983–2012 was very likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 800 years (high confidence) and likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence). This is supported by comparison of instrumental temperatures with multiple reconstructions from a variety of proxy data and statistical methods, and is consistent with AR4. Continental-scale surface temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multidecadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century. With high confidence, these intervals were not as synchronous across seasons and regions as the warming since the mid-20th century. Based on the comparison between reconstructions and simulations, there is high confidence that not only external orbital, solar and volcanic forcing, but also internal variability, contributed substantially to the spatial pattern and timing of surface-temperature changes between the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age (1450 to 1850). . (from TS.2.2.1 Surface)
 From TS.2.7.1 Atmosphere
During the last millennium, there is high confidence for the occurrence of droughts of greater magnitude and longer duration than observed since 1900 in many regions. There is medium confidence that more megadroughts occurred in monsoon Asia and wetter conditions prevailed in arid Central Asia and the South American monsoon region during the Little Ice Age (1450–1850) compared to the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950–1250)

Maybe what Tim meant to say, and did intimate further down in his article, was that the IPCC reports show that research shows that the medieval climate anomaly wasn't globally synchronous - from Box TS.5: Paleoclimate:
Continental-scale temperature reconstructions show, with high confidence, multi-decadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (ca. 950 to 1250) that were in some regions as warm as the mid-20th century and in others as warm as in the late 20th century. With high confidence, these intervals were not as synchronous across seasons and regions as the warming since the mid-20th century

Or maybe Tim didn't like it that it is probable that there was external forcing, not merely internal variability, that contributed to climate variability of the past 1200 years or so. From Box TS.5: Paleoclimate:
Based on the comparison between reconstructions and simulations, there is high confidence that not only external orbital, solar and volcanic forcing but also internal variability contributed substantially to the spatial pattern and timing of surface temperature changes between the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age (ca. 1450 to 1850). However, there is only very low confidence in quantitative estimates of their relative contributions. It is very unlikely that northern hemisphere temperature variations from 1400 to 1850 can be explained by internal variability alone. There is medium confidence that external forcing contributed to Northern Hemispheric temperature variability from 850 to 1400 and that external forcing contributed to European temperature variations over the last 5 centuries.  

You won't be surprised to learn that Tim floated the schematic from the very first IPCC report, published 25 years ago before there were any global temperature reconstructions of recent centuries. He wants his readers to think it was something it's not. He doesn't say what, although this time he bent a bit and only claimed the zero line was of the northern hemisphere, claiming it was "the average temperature of the Northern Hemisphere for the last 1000 years." He's wrong. Some scientists checked its provenance and found that it was only of Central England, and only a schematic. It didn't represent actual observations of any kind:
...the curve used by IPCC (1990) was locally representative (nominally of Central England) and not global, and was referred to at the time with the word ‘schematic’.

As an aside, the word "medieval" only appears three (3) times in that very first IPCC report that Tim likes so much. In the latest AR5 report it appears 45 times.

Pictures and letters don't tell the whole story

What Tim is arguing is that thousands and thousands of observations and measurements from all around the world count for nought, not when compared to a painting of people ice-skating in Venice and a sermon by an English Vicar.  They don't rate a cracker when compared to a very cold day in New York and western Europe in 1709. Tim's world is quite tiny. It doesn't include Australia, most of North America, any of South America, none of Asia, nor the middle east. And his world has no oceans.

Here is what scientists have discovered about temperatures of the past 2000 years:

Fig 3. | Reconstructed (a) Northern Hemisphere and (b) Southern Hemisphere, and (c) global annual temperatures during the last 2000 years. Individual reconstructions (see Appendix 5.A.1 for further information about each one) are shown as indicated in the legends, grouped by colour according to their spatial representation (red: land-only all latitudes; orange: land-only extra-tropical latitudes; light blue: land and sea extra-tropical latitudes; dark blue: land and sea all latitudes) and instrumental temperatures shown in black (HadCRUT4 land and sea, and CRUTEM4 land-only; Morice et al., 2012). All series represent anomalies (°C) from the 1881–1980 mean (horizontal dashed line) and have been smoothed with a filter that reduces variations on timescales less than ~50 years. Source: Figure 5.7 IPCC AR5 WG1

If you are 80 years old

I won't attempt to list every single lie that Tim told. If you're interested you can do a count yourself. Actually it would be easier to count the facts he told. Tell me if you find one. However there's one more thing Tim wrote that I'll mention. He said:
If you are 80 years old, you have lived through four climate changes; the warming from 1900 to 1940, the cooling from 1940 to 1980, the warming from 1980 to 2000 and the slight cooling from 2000 to the present. There are individual years within each period that had a significant impact. The summer of 1934, the winter of 1936, the winter of 1947 and so on.

Here is an animated chart, showing Tim's periods. Notice the periods that he says were "cooling".  I've also added an arrow showing the past 80 years.

Fig 1. | Global Mean Surface Temperature. Data source: GISS NASA
From the mid-forties to the mid-seventies the global mean surface temperature plateaued. This period was when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) was in its cool phase. Once the PDO shifted to a warm phase during the late 1970s, the world got warm very quickly. (This rise in temperature may have been helped by the introduction of clean air regs in most industrialised nations, too.)  Below is a chart showing the PDO index and global mean surface temperature.

Fig 2. | Global Mean Surface Temperature and PDO. Data sources: GISS NASA and Nate Mantua at NOAA

Notice that the latest cool phase didn't have very much impact on global surface temperature compared to that of the middle of last century. Given the current high values, it's probable (possible?) the PDO has just shifted to a warm phase, which would mean it will warm again more quickly.

From the WUWT comments

So far at the time of archiving, there's only one, which is not worth the bother.

References and further reading

P.D. Jones, K.R. Briffa, T.J. Osborn, J.M. Lough, T.D. van Ommen, B.M. Vinther, J. Luterbacher, E.R. Wahl, F.W. Zwiers, M.E. Mann, G.A. Schmidt, C.M. Ammann, B.M. Buckley, K.M. Cobb, J. Esper, H. Goosse, N. Graham, E. Jansen, T. Kiefer, C. Kull, M. Küttel, E. Mosley-Thompson, J.T. Overpeck, N. Riedwyl, M. Schulz, A.W. Tudhope, R. Villalba, H. Wanner, E. Wolff and E. Xoplaki. "High-resolution palaeoclimatology of the last millennium: a review of current status and future prospects." The Holocene 19, no. 1 (2009): 3-49. doi: 10.1177/0959683608098952 (pdf here)

From the HotWhopper archives


  1. It's amazing that the international conspiracy of scientists has never successfully gotten their hit men to silence him now that we all know what he looks like!

    1. He's beyond the reach of cell phones, so we wouldn't be able to communicate.

    2. Tinfoil hats tend to interfere with radio reception!

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Rattus Norvegicus a study MIT showed otherwise. The frequencies that gummint uses are amplified by tin foil hats. It is all a plot for conspiracy theorists to be more easily monitored by the gummint.



      There is even a conspiracy theory that this is a trick by gummint to get us to not wear our tinfoil hats! Bert

    5. To those of you that do not know whether to wear your tinfoil hat I urge you to do what I do.

      When having VERY important thoughts I frequently doff my tin foil hat. This gives those that are watching roughly only half of my thoughts no matter which conspiracy theory one believes in or which one is true.

      So many theories too little time. I prefer to think that all conspiracy theories are a bit like the superposition of all possible quantum states.

      They are all true until one tests them and then definitely one will be true after observation! This makes holding entirely conflicting views simultaneously valid!

      Stay tuned for my Dark Conspiracy Theories. These are conspiracy theories that are not even known yet but exist.

      See us old farts can be very smart. When I am eighty I will be even smarter. :- ) . Bert

    6. I meant to say

      'Stay tuned for my Dark Conspiracy Theories. These are conspiracy theories that are not even plotted yet but exist.'


    7. If you;re on tinfoil hats, let me introduce you to Anti-Science Associations: Rand Paul, Jane Orient, Art Robinson, Willie Soon And Friends. There you will learn of AAPS, DDP, OISM and ther various connections. Click on the gaph to expand.
      One of our Presidential candidates was involved with AAPS for 20 years. I did have one typo: DDS aslo gave the Peter Beckmann Award (for courage in science) to Marc Morano, and WIllie SOon is one of its favorite speakers.

      But put your hat on first.

  2. See also MedievalDeception 2015: Inhofe Drags Senate Back To Dark Ages for images of relevant curves, a map of the part of England covered, and an annotated copy of the 4 key pages of IPCC(1990).

  3. Sounds interesting - but...

    Page not found
    The requested page "/2015/01/26/medievaldeception-2015-inhofe-drags-senate-dark-age" could not be found.

    1. Here you go:


    2. Here's the right link:


      Missing the "s" at the end.

    3. John omitted the last 's' of the URL address. Here is the post: Medieval Deception 2015: Inhofe Drags Senate Back To Dark Ages

    4. Argh, sorry, thanks for fixups. Done just before running out.

    5. "Argh, sorry, thanks for fixups. Done just before running out."

      Just before running out of 'esses' perhaps? ;-)

      Seriously though this sort of URL failure is very easy to sort with just a little thought for a google (or whatever) will quickly put one straight.

      Others have shown it to be a non problem. Unless of course the wish is to avoid reading something you would rather not bother with.

      If that latter is not the case for 0^0 then sorry, but I do see many cases of such evasions.

  4. Considering the "If you are 80 years old" comment it's worth noting that Tim Ball is almost 80, and seems to be fading fast. And it isn't as if he was starting from a point where he had coherence to spare.

    It says much that Watts relies on long-retired fourth-raters like Ball for fill. The deniers' pipeline is clearly starting to run dry when the likes of 60-something Curry and Spencer are their mid-career on-call experts and Willie Soon is the bright young lad.

    Damn the vast global conspiracy intimidating the young scientists who by rights should be stepping into the large shoes* of their bold, skeptical predecessors.

    (*and donning the colorful wigs, facepaint and red noses)

  5. Not really on topic but Tim makes a point that “... few are familiar with the historic evidence because most don't read history ...,

    Perhaps Tim should not criticise others grasp of history until he checks his dates. The Duchess died of natural causes in 1749 so missed a likely unnatural death during the French Revolution

    Well she might have but few people in the 18th C lived to be 116.

    1. Ah, but her great-grandson Louis Philippe II was guillotined in 1793 despite his revolutionary leanings. Clearly Tim is playing four-dimensional chess while we are playing checkers.

  6. add an "s" to the end of that link and it works...

    1. Sorry, meant to post in reply to 0^0 above, and once it posted i realized i am quite late to the party. thats what i get for not reloading the page before posting.

  7. I didn't need to check to know that he telling fibs. To save you the trouble let me quote from the 2013 AR5 WG1 report from the IPCC.

    Sou, to be fair though, Tim did, as you also quoted him, say the 2001 report, ie. TAR.

    That however does not change the fact that Tim is talking out of his ass.

    TAR Chapter 1 says the following:

    Temperatures were relatively warm during the 11th to 13th centuries and relatively cool during the 16th to 19th centuries. These periods coincide with what are traditionally known as the medieval Climate Optimum and the Little Ice Age, although these anomalies appear to have been most distinct only in and around the North Atlantic region.


  8. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Report claimed that neither the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) nor the Little Ice Age (LIA) occurred."

    2001...that'd be AR3.

    So you quote from AR5 to prove he lied. okaaaay.

    Interesting that none of your lapdogs picked up the error. Or you just delete any posts that did?

    1. Anonymous, it's a nice conspiracy theory, but did you not read the comment immediately above yours, which was made five days ago? Or are you merely saying that Poltsi isn't a lapdog?

    2. As Poltsi, and much later anonymous, pointed out, I missed the reference to 2001. The science changed some in the intervening years, but both reports suggest that the variability wasn't globally synchronous. Here is the full text from Section 2.3.3 from TAR:


      2.3.3 Was there a "Little Ice Age" and a "Medieval Warm Period"?
      The terms "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" have been used to describe two past climate epochs in Europe and neighbouring regions during roughly the 17th to 19th and 11th to 14th centuries, respectively. The timing, however, of these cold and warm periods has recently been demonstrated to vary geographically over the globe in a considerable way (Bradley and Jones, 1993; Hughes and Diaz, 1994; Crowley and Lowery, 2000). Evidence from mountain glaciers does suggest increased glaciation in a number of widely spread regions outside Europe prior to the 20th century, including Alaska, New Zealand and Patagonia (Grove and Switsur, 1994). However, the timing of maximum glacial advances in these regions differs considerably, suggesting that they may represent largely independent regional climate changes, not a globally-synchronous increased glaciation (see Bradley, 1999). Thus current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries. With the more widespread proxy data and multi-proxy reconstructions of temperature change now available, the spatial and temporal character of these putative climate epochs can be reassessed.

      Mann et al. (1998) and Jones et al. (1998) support the idea that the 15th to 19th centuries were the coldest of the millennium over the Northern Hemisphere overall. However, viewed hemispherically, the "Little Ice Age" can only be considered as a modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during this period of less than 1°C relative to late 20th century levels (Bradley and Jones, 1993; Jones et al., 1998; Mann et al., 1998; 1999; Crowley and Lowery, 2000). Cold conditions appear, however, to have been considerably more pronounced in particular regions. Such regional variability can be understood in part as reflecting accompanying changes in atmospheric circulation. The "Little Ice Age" appears to have been most clearly expressed in the North Atlantic region as altered patterns of atmospheric circulation (O'Brien et al., 1995). Unusually cold, dry winters in central Europe (e.g., 1 to 2°C below normal during the late 17th century) were very likely to have been associated with more frequent flows of continental air from the north-east (Wanner et al., 1995; Pfister, 1999). Such conditions are consistent (Luterbacher et al., 1999) with the negative or enhanced easterly wind phase of the NAO (Sections and 2.6.5), which implies both warm and cold anomalies over different regions in the North Atlantic sector. Such strong influences on European temperature demonstrate the difficulty in extrapolating the sparse early information about European climate change to the hemispheric, let alone global, scale. While past changes in the NAO have likely had an influence in eastern North America, changes in the El Niño phenomenon (see also Section 2.6), are likely to have had a particularly significant influence on regional temperature patterns over North America.

    3. /cont…

      The hemispherically averaged coldness of the 17th century largely reflected cold conditions in Eurasia, while cold hemispheric conditions in the 19th century were more associated with cold conditions in North America (Jones et al., 1998; Mann et al., 2000b). So, while the coldest decades of the 19th century appear to have been approximately 0.6 to 0.7°C colder than the latter decades of the 20th century in the hemispheric mean (Mann et al., 1998), the coldest decades for the North American continent were closer to 1.5°C colder (Mann et al., 2000b). In addition, the timing of peak coldness was often specific to particular seasons. In Switzerland, for example, the first particularly cold winters appear to have been in the 1560s, with cold springs beginning around 1568, and with 1573 the first unusually cold summer (Pfister, 1995).

      The evidence for temperature changes in past centuries in the Southern Hemisphere is quite sparse. What evidence is available at the hemispheric scale for summer (Jones et al., 1998) and annual mean conditions (Mann et al., 2000b) suggests markedly different behaviour from the Northern Hemisphere. The only obvious similarity is the unprecedented warmth of the late 20th century. Speleothem evidence (isotopic evidence from calcite deposition in stalagmites and stalactites) from South Africa indicates anomalously cold conditions only prior to the 19th century, while speleothem (records derived from analysing stalagmites and stalagtites) and glacier evidence from the Southern Alps of New Zealand suggests cold conditions during the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries (Salinger, 1995). Dendroclimatic evidence from nearby Tasmania (Cook et al., 2000) shows no evidence of unusual coldness at these times. Differences in the seasons most represented by this proxy information prevent a more direct comparison.

      As with the "Little Ice Age", the posited "Medieval Warm Period" appears to have been less distinct, more moderate in amplitude, and somewhat different in timing at the hemispheric scale than is typically inferred for the conventionally-defined European epoch. The Northern Hemisphere mean temperature estimates of Jones et al. (1998), Mann et al. (1999), and Crowley and Lowery (2000) show temperatures from the 11th to 14th centuries to be about 0.2°C warmer than those from the 15th to 19th centuries, but rather below mid-20th century temperatures. The long-term hemispheric trend is best described as a modest and irregular cooling from AD 1000 to around 1850 to 1900, followed by an abrupt 20th century warming. Regional evidence is, however, quite variable. Crowley and Lowery (2000) show that western Greenland exhibited anomalous warmth locally only around AD 1000 (and to a lesser extent, around AD 1400), with quite cold conditions during the latter part of the 11th century, while Scandinavian summer temperatures appeared relatively warm only during the 11th and early 12th centuries. Crowley and Lowery (2000) find no evidence for warmth in the tropics. Regional evidence for medieval warmth elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere is so variable that eastern, yet not western, China appears to have been warm by 20th century standards from the 9th to 13th centuries. The 12th and 14th centuries appear to have been mainly cold in China (Wang et al., 1998a,b; Wang and Gong, 2000). The restricted evidence from the Southern Hemisphere, e.g., the Tasmanian tree-ring temperature reconstruction of Cook et al. (1999), shows no evidence for a distinct Medieval Warm Period.

    4. /cont…

      Medieval warmth appears, in large part, to have been restricted to areas in and neighbouring the North Atlantic. This may implicate the role of ocean circulation-related climate variability. The Bermuda rise sediment record of Keigwin (1996) suggests warm medieval conditions and cold 17th to 19th century conditions in the Sargasso Sea of the tropical North Atlantic. A sediment record just south of Newfoundland (Keigwin and Pickart, 1999), in contrast, indicates cold medieval and warm 16th to 19th century upper ocean temperatures. Keigwin and Pickart (1999) suggest that these temperature contrasts were associated with changes in ocean currents in the North Atlantic. They argue that the "Little Ice Age" and "Medieval Warm Period" in the Atlantic region may in large measure reflect century-scale changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation (see Section 2.6). Such regional changes in oceanic and atmospheric processes, which are also relevant to the natural variability of the climate on millennial and longer time-scales (see Section 2.4.2), are greatly diminished or absent in their influence on hemispheric or global mean temperatures.


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