On Monday 14th March, Channel 4 News (UK terrestrial news channel) carried a report on catastrophic February warming and involved two distinguished UK climate scientists. What was said was so far away from the physical reality that I experience here on Earth that I was left wondering if they were talking about the same planet. So I have done a little digging.
Everyone who can should try and watch the 5 minute clip. The link takes you to a news catch up page. Select Monday 14 March and the clip titled “Is Global warming Quickening?”.
Figure 1 The NASA GISS LOTI (Land Ocean Temperature Index) graphic shown on Channel 4 News. This is a screen capture from the video archive linked above. Take a close look at the gradation of the colour scale that is discussed further below. This image bears no resemblance at all to the current NOAA SST image that appears immediately below the fold.
Sea Surface Temperatures (SST)
Let us begin by comparing the NASA GISS LOTI (Land Ocean Temperature Index) with current SSTs.
Figure 2 The full global SSTs as recorded on 14 March 2016. NOAA SSTs downloaded from this link. If anything I’m more concerned by all that blue. The dying remnants of the El Nino along the Equator cover a vast area that is not captured by this projection while the cold southern ocean covers a relatively small area.
The SSTs present a totally different picture. In fact a worryingly cool picture with the N Atlantic now looking as cool as I’ve seen it, a likely refection of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) preparing to flip to cool mode. The N Pacific and whole of the Southern Ocean are distinctly cool. How they manage to manufacture record warmth out of this is a story for another day. But how do Figures 1 and 2 appear so different. Part of the answer lies in the colour scale intervals that are chosen.
The boundary between red and blue in Figure 2 is in fact zero and the colour code intervals progress at 0.5˚C intervals. This is technically sound and is the way I would do it. But take a look at the scale on Figure 1. It is quite extraordinary. Here are how the intervals progress, there is no zero and we begin with +0.2 to -0.2˚C which is the big fat number in the centre (Figure3):
Figure 3 How the GISS map (Figure 1) is scaled. dT = the change from one colour to the next.
I find this scale to be totally bizarre and I’m lost for words. NOAA do it the way I would on the SST map. But in preparing the post I have noticed that HadCRUT use an even more bizarre scale than GISS with an upper category of 5 to 17.3˚C for the temperature anomalies. I suspect the upper bound of 11.5˚C on the GISS map is set by a single station. It is difficult to accept this rendering of the data as objective.
What The Climate Scientists Said
The program was presented by C4 anchor Kathy Newman and had interviews with two climate scientists. Dr Chris Brierly, a climate modeller from University College London. And Dr Emma Boland, an oceanographer and climate scientist from the British Antarctic Survey.
Kathy Newman the Presenter begins:
It’s a bombshell, a true shocker that heralds a climate emergency.
Across the Arctic and much of Russia, temperatures were up to 11.5˚C warmer than normal.
Now wait a minute Kathy, the deep orange on the map represents 4 to 11.5˚C. All this shows (if the map is correct which it probably is not) is that the deep orange areas were at least 4˚C warmer than the reference period and as we shall see that is not an unusual fluctuation for the Arctic. But she has two climate scientists to interview who will surely keep her right 😉
This is really very warm. I was expecting this year to be one of the warmest…
There’s an El Nino in the Pacific…
There’s not much sea ice up in the Arctic…
This is really quite scary and it’s jumping a lot faster than I would have anticipated…
What?! Not much sea ice up in The Arctic? It is approaching the spring equinox and Arctic sea ice should be near its annual maximum. Has something gone catastrophically wrong to make it disappear? Let’s take a look.
Figure 4 Arctic sea ice area as of 14 March 2016. Image Cryosphere Today.
So there we have it, 12.86 million square kms of sea ice, not substantially different to the equinox peaks of the last 12 years. The trend of gradually declining spring equinox maxima is clear to see and it is still too early to say if spring 2016 will set a new satellite era low. Given that we are in an El Nino year there is absolutely nothing alarming about this at all. Especially since the decline in Arctic Sea ice is likely part of a longer time scale natural fluctuation. Saying “There’s not much sea ice up in the Arctic” is a misrepresentation of fact.
Kathy Newman referring to the El Nino
Climate scientists believe that accounts for some of the rise in temperatures but only around 1/10th of February’s rise.
How shocked are you at these figures?
Well they are very unusual…
This was the most unusual month we’ve seen ever in records…
Over hundreds of years we’ve never seen a month so unusually warm as last month…
Some of the warming is down to the El Nino…
But only about 1/10th
Let’s take a look at what the satellite temperatures show (Figure 5). February has certainly spiked up but temperatures are only 0.1˚C higher than during the last big El Nino of 1998 (but they may well go higher still). It is this incremental rise relative to 1998 that may be attributed to global warming and perhaps half of that incremental rise of 0.1˚C may be attributed to man. But as already stated, temperatures may go even higher in March and April.
According to this data the El Nino has caused a 0.5˚C spike in temperatures and virtually all of the February spike is down to the El Nino. I would like to do the same exercise on Hadcrut4 but the February numbers are not out yet. Where the 1/10th claim comes from is simply unfathomable.
Figure 5 UAH satellite temperature record from Roy Spencer.
What do Thermometers Show?
To wrap this up, I have had a quick look at three climate stations in the Arctic deep orange zone (Figure 1) fully expecting to see some dramatic spike up. Charts for Vardo (N Norway), Murmansk (N Russia) and Fairbanks (central Alaska) are shown below. Each has long and complete records. Data are GHCN V3. The dashed lines mark the February 2016 temperatures.
Figure 6 Mean February temperatures for Vardo, North Norway. February 2016 was the 26th warmest since records began in 1880. Note the dynamic range of 10˚C.
Figure 7 Mean February temperatures for Murmansk, North Russia. February 2016 was the seventh warmest since records began in 1918. Note the dynamic range of almost 20˚C.
Figure 8 Mean February temperatures for Fairbanks, central Alaska. February 2016 was the ninth warmest since records began in 1930. Note the dynamic range over 2o˚C.
By this point I am rather speechless. There is absolutely NOTHING unusual about the February temperatures at any of these stations. Sure, they are all above average, but it is a warm phase with El Nino, but none are close to setting a record let alone a dramatic record busting spike. Sharp eyes will also find it hard to see any significant warming trend in the February data.
Note that there is a HUGE dynamic range in the February temperatures where swings of over 20˚C from one year to the next are not uncommon (see Fairbanks). This places the 4 to 11.5˚C dark orange (Figure 1) in context. I’d have expected Dr Boland to have known this and to have made this clear to Kathy and all C4 viewers.
I sense that since the Paris accord was struck that the warming propaganda has gone up a couple of gears. I have rarely listened to a TV broadcast on climate change that was so packed full of scaremongering hyperbole. It leaves me feeling rather uneasy.
The Arctic Sea ice is intact, there is absolutely nothing in the February temperatures that cannot be explained by the El Nino and / or by data that is continually adjusted and massaged in efforts to prove a theory.
Meanwhile the BBC reported today:
Climate laws will be tightened to cut carbon emissions effectively to zero, the government has said.
I’m totally baffled by Cameron’s administration.