By Michael Bastasch
A group of scientists recently put out a new study confirming the 15-year “hiatus” in global warming. That study made headlines, but what went largely unnoticed was a major admission made by the paper’s authors: the climate models were wrong.
“There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing,” John Fyfe, Canadian climate modeler and lead author of the new paper, told Nature. “We can’t ignore it.”
“Reality has deviated from our expectations – it is perfectly normal to try and understand this difference,” Ed Hawkins, co-author of the study and United Kingdom climate scientist, echoed in a blog post.
This is a huge admission by climate scientists and a big victory for skeptics of man-made global warming who have for years been pointing to a mismatch between climate model predictions and actual temperature observations.
“Overall, the paper is an admission by prominent members of the ‘mainstream’ scientific community that the earth’s surface temperature over the past two decades or so has not evolved in a way that was well-anticipated by either the scientific community and/or the climate models they rely on,” Chip Kappenberger, climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News foundation.
“Something that the skeptic have been pointing out for years,” Knappenberger said.
Knappenberger and fellow Cato climate scientist Patrick Michaels have been prominent critics of climate models relied upon by “mainstream” scientists because they say the models have not accurately predicted global temperature rises for the past six decades.
In a recent paper, Michaels and Knappenberger compared observed global surface temperature warming rates since 1950 to predictions made by 108 climate models used by government climate scientists. What they found was the models projected much higher warming rates than actually occurred.
Michaels and Knappenberger aren’t alone. Satellite-derived temperature readings have shown a “hiatus” in global warming for at least the last 18 years, despite rising carbon dioxide emissions.
While some scientists have tried to discredit satellite readings, they have been unable to explain the lack of significant warming in recent years.
“When a theory contradicts the facts” you need to change the theory, climate scientist John Christy told Congress in January hearing. “The real world is not going along with rapid warming. The models need to go back to the drawing board.”
Christy and his colleague Roy Spencer compile satellite-derived temperature readings at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Their satellite data has shown no warming for about two decades, and has been cited by researchers skeptical of claims of catastrophic global warming.
“The bulk atmospheric temperature is where the signal is the largest,” Christy said in the hearing, referring to the greenhouse gas effect. “We have measurements for that — it doesn’t match up with the models.”
“Because this result challenges the current theory of greenhouse warming in relatively straightforward fashion, there have been several well-funded attacks on those of us who build and use such datasets and on the datasets themselves,” Christy said.
Now, skepticism seems to have won the day — at least in terms of convincing other scientists there’s a big problem with climate models.
Fyfe’s study — which was co-authored by Michael Mann of “hockey stick” curve fame — contradicts a study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists claiming there was no global warming hiatus.
“Overall, there is compelling evidence that there has been a temporary slowdown in observed global surface warming,” Hawkins wrote in a blog post about the study, noting “the most recent observed 15-year trends are all positive, but lower than most previous similar trends in the past few decades” which is a “clear demonstration that the rate of change has slowed since its peak.”
But even with the admission, some skeptics are still critical because the study’s authors employed research methods they have been critical of in the past.
“All of this said, the authors used techniques to demonstrate a slowdown, that when employed by the skeptics, are harshly criticized,” Knappenberger said. “This seems to me to indicate that the mainstream community gives a free pass to some researchers more so than others.”