After a winter in Dubai replete with chilly rain and even snow, folk there suggest this “seems to affirm the UN’s admission in 2013 of a decline in temperature rises…. So what do the experts say?” Answer from Robert Matthews, visiting professor of science at Aston University, Birmingham, writing in the Emirates newspaper The National: It’s complicated:
From the strange, barely predictable temperature changes in the Pacific, known as El Nino, to random upheaval, global warming is not the only influence on the weather.
And according to some, it may no longer be the threat it once was.
The idea that global warming may be grinding to a halt has been around for a decade, and is based on data collected from thousands of weather stations around the world. When plotted against time, the temperature measurements produce a zig-zag pattern, with some years cooler and others warmer than before. The long-term direction is clear enough, however: upwards.
But around 2007, some researchers began pointing out that the trend seemed to be breaking down.
Initially, many dismissed the claim as simply part of a denialist agenda to discredit the concept of global warming. Yet, as the years rolled by and more data came in, it became harder to dismiss.
In 2013, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed that a slowdown was under way. The data pointed to a warming rate from 1998 onwards that is barely half that of the previous half-century’s.
And for reasons unknown, the slowdown had not been predicted by computer models of the climate.
There is a lot the climate models have not predicted. Indeed, they are the only place where catastrophic warming is actually seen.
Yet for years, even as their models were predicting outrageous warming, they had to be so severely adjusted to fit existing temperature records it rendered them all but unserviceable. Last month we told the story now revealed of how, in an effort to remove the slowdown, scientists at NOAA reversed the process: adjusting the data to fit their models.
Matthews recounts the story, concluding “the continuing debate does highlight the limitations of science as a means of checking ‘alternative facts.’ Those involved in research know that the scientific process is shockingly simple to subvert – inadvertently or otherwise.”
… The argument over the strength of global warming shows how difficult climate research really is.
In short, it’s not what you’d really call :”settled science.”
[Pic: Global Warming Policy Forum]