Tag Archives: IPCC mistake

Sea Level Questions Continue

Yesterday, I read a piece in our local newspaper discussing the problems rising sea level will cause.   Built into the article were two assumptions, both of which are probably  incorrect.

  • Assumption 1 – Sea level could rise by as much as a meter by the year 2100
  • Assumption 2 – Man can take actions to alter this in some significant way.

When I look at sea level data I see confusion.   Today was no exception.   My inquiry began with a look at Satellite data courtesy of  Colorado University.

Sea level, according to CU, is rising at a rate of about 3.2 millimeters a year (plus or minus 12.5%).  That’s about an 1/8 of an inch per year or about a foot per century.  Plus or minus an inch or two.  Not exactly a meter, but coastal regions will have difficulties.  Sea level has been rising since the Little Ice Age ended some 250 years ago.   If I had land in Key West, I’d be worried.

But sea level in Key West isn’t rising at 3.2mm/yr, it’s rising at 2.24 mm/yr.  And the trend has been steady for the 100 years of the data.

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 8724580 - Key West, Florida

Key West may be under water at some date in the future, but the rate of change appears to be much less than predicted by IPCC scientists.  I suppose Key West could be an oddity, but it’s unlikely.   I visited the NOAA web site and checked many places I thought might be interesting.   Places like Bermuda, Honolulu, San Francisco, Venice.   Yep, Venice, well Trieste, it’s just across the bay.


Trieste’s rate is less than 40% of the Satellite predicted rate.

1.24/3.4 = .397 or 39.7%

The margin for error is half the satellite data rate (.2 mm vs .4mm)

Every place I checked  had a trend rate that was less than the satellite data.   In most cases the predicted margin for error was less than the satellite data too.    A few select data points have a longer history too. I tabulated the results

City                                            rate of change       data history

San Francisco                             2.01 mm/yr       160 years                                              Honolulu                                       1.50 mm/yr       110 years                                                     New York                                     2.77 mm/yr       120 years                                                 Bermuda                                       2.04 mm/yr         70 years                                          Narvik, Norway                       -2.06 mm/yr          60 years                                          Cochin, India                              1.71 mm/yr          70 years                                                Hong Kong                                  2.92 mm/yr          60 years                                        Nagasaki, Japan                        2.20 mm/yr         45 years                                          Sydney, Australia                     0.65 mm/yr         130 years                                     Auckland, New Zealand         1.29 mm/yr         120 years

This data doesn’t tell the full story of the confusion.  Individual sites provide lots of conflicting data.   Honolulu has been trending down since about 2002:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

The NOAA presentation of the Bermuda data a bit odd:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 2695540 - Bermuda,

Most of the increase shown in Bermuda happened before 1960.  Had the data set begun in 1955 instead of 1934 the trend line would have shown nearly no net change.  Sea level rose fairly rapidly from 193o until 1955 and has been relatively stable since then.  Go figure.

Virtually every city I checked showed a less ominous looking trend line than the satellite data.  This land based data has it’s limitations.   Many international cities have tiny data sets, particularly in South America and Africa.   Only one data point exists for all of Antarctica

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 999-003 - Argentine Islands, Antarctica

I would argue that the Antarctica data doesn’t really suggest a trend but NOAA calculates the trend at  1.43mm/yr.  When I look at the data I see no net changes since 1960.  Sounds kind of like Bermuda’s data to me?

Something is wrong.   Every land site I checked showed less overall change than the satellite data.   How can that be?   The satellite data is an average for the whole world.   Some specific locations should be higher and some places should be lower.

Northern locations like Alaska and Norway are showing reduced sea level due to reduced gravitational pull from the Arctic Ice Sheet (presumably).  Where are the equatorial places that are compensating for that reduction?   I can’t make sense of the data.   Satellite data and measurements at land interfaces don’t tell the same story.

Sea level is extraordinarily difficult to calculate.   Sea level changes in one part of the world can take years and years  to impact the ecosystem.  I understand that storms and changing ice sheets impact the data.  Change that can take decades to correct.

WHY is the satellite data very nearly ALWAYS significantly higher than the land data?

The Satellite data has been higher every year since the data began in 1993.   Every year! Most places I have checked disagree by about 1 mm per year.  After 20 years of data the sources disagree with each other by about 20 mm.  or about .78 inches.  The longer this condition exists, the less I trust the data sets.

It really is difficult to make accurate predictions about sea level if you don’t have the ability to accurately graph the underlying trend line.  Sea level, almost certainly,  has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age some 250 years ago.  But by how much?   Almost no statistical data exists before the Civil War. I suspect SWAG.

Sea level has been steadily rising for probably 250 years.   How much has been man’s impact? I don’t know and I’ll go a step further…nobody knows!

I am not convinced that we have the tools necessary to accurately predict the future course of events as it relates to sea level.    Sea level appears to be an indicator that follows rather than leads climate change.   How much of today’s changes in sea level were impacted by global temperatures of 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?  I don’t know.  I see guessing here, there and everywhere.

IPCC scientists might have the trends right….but even that is…I fear …. a guess.







Mr. Obama and the Flat Earth Society

Last week I became a member of the Flat Earth Society….or so says my President.  He was discussing the urgent need to take action on global climate change.

Come on Mr. President, it’s recycled data.   The IPCC President used that one in 2002.   Al Gore has linked skeptics to people that thought the moon landings were faked.   And in MR. Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, skeptics were equated to the smoking lobby…complete with slides of old magazine advertisements of doctors recommending smoking.    The climate change boogie men have been using this tactic since the 1980’s.  When challenged attack the creditability of your opponent.

It helps to have a thick skin if you going to question the conventional wisdom of the day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the world is a bit warmer than it otherwise would be because of man caused global warming gases.   I simply think the ecosystem is so complex and has so much natural climate variation that it is impossible for anyone to KNOW how much of the recent warming in natural climate variation and how much is man caused.   Everybody is guessing.   And the recognized experts (the IPCC)  have….at least so far….been dead wrong as this chart demonstrates:

This  chart is from a draft of  AR5 (the 5th Climate Assessment) that has been making the rounds at various skeptic sites.   AR5 will be published in 2014. Every few years the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues a climate synopses report.   The first one (FAR) was published in 1992.   The reports take a long time to write, so the data is usually about 2 years old when published.

Let’s look at the AR4 data.  The Forth Assessment (AR4) was prepared in 2005 and published in the fall of 2007.  The orange color as depicted on the chart is the probable range of  temperatures the IPCC anticipated.  Every year since 2005 has been low.   The data in the chart stops in 2011 because the draft was being prepared in 2012.   2011 was a cool year by 21st century standard.  2012 was above 2011 but just barely,and so far 2013 has been a bit cooler than either 2011 or 2012.  Every year since 2005 has been cooler than the IPCC predicted and every year since 2011 has been so cool as to be below the minimum range prediction made by the IPCC in 2007.

The First Assessment (FAR)  was prepared in 1990.  Every year except 1998 has been lower than the IPCC predicted.   If there is one pattern that has emerged….it is that the IPCC has been wrong in their predictions.  They have tended to be wild high.   I’m not one of those people that thinks I know how to calculate the right temperature for any given time.  I’d argue that anybody that tries is guessing…..and the IPCC has ….so far…been a lousy guesser.

And a note to Mr. Obama….just because everybody you associate with agrees with you does not mean you are right.

I’m all for making a reasonable effort to limit our carbon footprint, but I question his assertion that there is no time to critically evaluate the science. The track record of the experts suggests that they are guessing….and guessing badly.

Three quotations out of the past sum up my position on this issue.

Sinclair Lewis is credited with the following:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Both Mark Twain and Will Rogers made similar statements that go something like this:

It’s not what we don’t know that gets us into trouble. it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

Another Will Rogers quotation:

Be thankful we’re not getting the government we’re paying for.

IPCC Short Term Predictions are Wrong

Anyone wishing to understand why I don’t trust IPCC (the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) science need only look at the 2007 IPCC Climate Change Synopses Report.   Chapter 3 is one of my favorite chapters, it deals with predicted changes in Climate and is full of wild ass guesses.   Section 3.2 is titled Projections of Future Changes in Climate.   It begins with the following statement

For the next two decades a warming of 0.2 degree C is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios.  Even if the concentrations of all GHG’s and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of 0.1 degree C per decade would be expected.  Afterwards temperature projections are increasingly dependent on specific emissions scenarios.

The very next paragraph states

Since the IPCC first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested  global temperature increases between 0.15 and 0.3  degree C per decade from 1990 to 2005.  This can now be compared with with observed values of about 0.2 degree C per decade, strengthening confidence in our near-term projections.

I wonder what the IPCC thinks now.   Just about everybody (except NASA) thinks we had a short term temperature peak in 1998.  Since then we have had 15 years of relatively stable climate.   8 years of warming followed by 15 years of stasis.

Last December, a temperature chart in a draft of the next IPCC report (AR5) started making the rounds at the various skeptical web sites including Watts Up With That?     Here is that chart.

The color bands in the chart represent the temperature projections the IPCC has done since it’s first study in 1990.  The black bars are measured temperatures.  Four projections have been issued, FAR in 1990, SAR in1995, TAR in 2002 , and the AR4  (orange) which is the 4th report issued in 2007.  The color bands represent a prediction that is supposed to include 90% of all possible outcomes with 5% percent being higher and 5% being lower than the color band.  The orange band was constructed in 2005 and published two years later.

Just 7 years later, the world temperature is below the range predicted.  We are in 5% land  according to the IPCC.  That’s quite a bit off, just 7 years after the study and only 5 after publication.  2008, the first year after publication was the first year to land completely outside the curve boundary.

The last data included in the graph is now over 2 years old. How have we been doing since 2010.  Let’s look at the UAH satellite data

The running 13 month average is the same as it was in 2000 and .2 degree C below the peak encountered in 1998.  I’d be the first to admit that any conclusion based upon short term data is stupid in a climate cycle that averages 100,000 years per cycle.  The recent past does not prove the science behind global climate change right or wrong, it merely points out that the IPCC practices sloppy science full of wild guessing.

They never should have made such specific projections. Natural climate variation makes any specific projection problematic.   Volcanic eruptions mess things up in the short run (Mt. Pinatubo in 1992 is an excellent example).  The IPCC has difficulty modeling periods before 1850.  They have trouble with the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period.  Climate modeling has come a long way….but it still has a long way to go.  They should have been more circumspect.

Imagine trying to predict changes in your speed relative to the ground while walking on a moving train.  You know your walking speed, but if you don’t know what the train is doing, it is extremely difficult to accurately predict your ground speed.   The IPCC is trying to predict changes caused by man without knowing how to accurately model the natural system.

They were bound to be wrong.    Getting the right answer fifty or one hundred or one thousand years into the future is a very difficult science problem.  The cause is not well served by IPCC wild guesses.

Sloppy Science has a long history at the IPCC

The UN has been in charge of climate research since 1988 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed.   The UN has been in charge of negotiating treaties on climate too.  When one agency has that much control over the process, the opportunities for mischief are almost endless.

The notion that the UN is the worldwide expert on anything scientific seems odd to me.  The UN is not where I normally go when  seeking scientific enlightenment.  But I suppose if one wants to mix science and politics together into some form of sciopolitical stew, it’s the perfect place to go.

There have been too many big  mistakes at the IPCC.  Last week I discussed the 2007 Himalaya Glacier debacle. It was a horrible mistake on a grand scale .  In December of 2009 it was Climategate.  The IPCC has been sloppy for a long time.  My favorite is the 2001, Hockey Stick Graph event, sloppy science in the extreme.

Chapter 7 of the 1990 IPCC Climate Assessment is titled Observed Climate Variation and Change.  Back then the IPCC described in detail weather going back 600,000 years.  A discussion of the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age was a part of their evaluation.  Multiple graphs were included, with one covering the last 1000 years.  Here is that graph from page 202 of the report:

This graph and others like it were causing problems for the IPCC. If it was warmer 1000 years ago (and 6000 years ago too on a different graph), how could the IPCC be sure the warming we were seeing today was man caused?

In 1998 a small miracle appeared.

Michael Mann and others published a new study in Nature that showed rapid 20th century warming.  The study included a 600 year long temperature reconstruction. Another 400 years was added in a second graph in 1999.  That 1000 year long graph became known as the Mann Hockey Stick Graph.  Ta Da, the graph:

The same 1000 years, two very different graphs.  The Mann graph was magical.  In one single piece of research….Poof… the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were gone. How convenient for the IPCC.

In 2001, the IPCC released its 3rd Climate Change Synthesis Report..  It featured the Mann Graph and the graph became the rage of the climate science community. Pro global warming scientists from all over the world adopted the graph.

Other studies that contradicted the Mann report were mysteriously missing form the IPCC Synopses.  The IPCC had just rewritten climate history based upon a single unsubstantiated piece of data that was brand new.  One sloppy WAG, and wrong too.

The Mann study turned out to be flawed.  It has been challenged both mathematically and scientifically.  But even if it had been accurate it was arrogantly sloppy science.  The study was too new and too untested to be adopted so quickly. Pro global warming advocates all over the world liked the results…it was the proof they needed …so they ran with it.

Look at the data.  There is very little fluctuation in data until 1900 (which  contradicted earlier studies) and then it went nuts.  Mann would later claim (in a March 2005 Scientific American article) that the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were regional events. But he was graphing the northern hemisphere, the very region in question.

Earlier studies predicted single century changes of as much as 2 degree C., but not the Mann study.  The data never varied by more than .3 degree C in the first 900 years of the study. The data changed shape at the boundary layer between the  two main data sets (blue and red data sets), always a red flag.  A sudden change in shape that coincides with new data being used is an indication that the data sets might not be properly calibrated.   The IPCC featured the graph and then insisted they were right.  Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

In the 1992 Synopses Report, the IPCC predicted a .3 degree C increase in temperatures per decade  (using 1990 as a baseline) with a 1 degree C increase by 2025.  In the 2007, the Synopses Report  predicted a .2 degree C increase from 2000 levels by the end of the decade with another .2 degree C increase by 2020.  They had in effect cut their predicted temperature rise by a third after an additional 15 years of study.   Obviously the first estimate must have been a wild ass guess.  And the second guess has been too high to….at least so far….sloppy science, the IPCC way.

Some Himalayas Glaciers are not melting — an IPCC oops.

April 15, 2012 (BBC) Some Asian  glaciers putting on mass.  Some glaciers near the Himalayas are putting on mass and scientists don’t know why.   The full article is available at:


Climate politics (and science too unfortunately)  is all about creating an urgent need.  If there is no urgent need, there is no funding….and if there is no funding, there is no employment.  Governments have trouble focusing if the need is not urgent.

Virtually all funding in climate science is government funding.  Climate scientists are usually consultants, working for governments or universities on a government grant.   And we all know what a consultants first job is…..maintaining employment.

A consultant that does not find a problem, does not maintain employment.  This set of circumstances can cause extraordinarily odd events as scientists search for ways to stay employed.

Enter the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synopses Report on global climate.   The IPCC has been producing climate reports since 1992, the 2007 version is their fourth iteration of the process.

When it was released in September of 2007, it predicted the glaciers in the Himalayas would be gone by 2035.   Gone completely in only 28 years.   What to do next…..hire lots of consultants of course.

In December of 2009, J. Graham Cogley, a professor at Ontario Trent University, stated (according to another BBC article) that the IPCC was off by more than 300 years.

In January of 2010, the IPCC admitted they made a mistake.    The IPCC is quoted as the authority all over the world….the Himalaya Glacier prediction was a really big deal…and their 28 year prediction was off by more than 300 years.  Wow.  Can you say wild ass guess.

Let’s return to the BBC article dated April 15, 2012.  A group of French scientists used satellite data to demonstrate that the Karakoram range (a range next to the Himalayas which includes K-2 the second highest mountain in the world) has been putting on mass.   We learn that the region is very remote and very difficult to study.  It is clear from the article that there is still much to learn about the dynamics of ice and the Himalayas.

All this begs the question….How and why did the IPCC come up with their prediction?   I don’t know, but I suspect future employment opportunities might have been a factor.