Friday, January 20, 2017

Keeping Cool About Hot Temperatures: Last year was warmer by 0.04 Celsius, but it was also an El Niño year

WSJ editorial.
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced this week that last year was the warmest in the agency’s 137-year series, and that 2016 broke the previous record for the third consecutive year. This sounds alarming, until you read that 2016 edged out 2015 by a mere 0.04 degrees Celsius. That’s a fraction of the margin of error. Atmospheric data from satellites detected similarly small warming over previous years. In other words, no one really knows if last year was a record.

Here’s what we do know: 2015 and 2016 were major years for El Niño, a Pacific trade winds phenomenon known to produce temperature spikes. The Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels has detailed in these pages how in 1998, another big El Niño year, average surface temperatures increased about a quarter-degree Fahrenheit and then dropped in the following years. That is similar to the increase in 2015—and by the end of 2016 temperatures were falling back toward 2014 levels. Even NOAA admits El Niño’s role.

The underreported news here is that the warming is not nearly as great as the climate-change computer models have predicted. As climatologist Judith Curry testified to Congress in 2014, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change simulations forecast surface temperatures to increase on average 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade in the early 21st century. The warming over the first 15 years was closer to 0.05 degrees Celsius. The models also can’t explain why more than 40% of the temperature increase since 1900 happened between 1910 and 1945, which accounts for only 10% of the increase in carbon emissions."

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