On Joe Bastardi’s post “Global temps in a Crash as AGW proponents Crash the Economy”

UPDATE 1 (January 20, 2012):  I revised the closing comment, and used strikethrough on the original version so that you can see the intent of the revision.

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This post examines only two sentences in Joe’s Bastardi’s post at WattsUpWithThat titled, Global temps in a Crash as AGW proponents Crash the Economy.

Joe Bastardi opens his post with:

“When the PDO turned cold, most of the meteorological and climate community understood that the pattern was turning very similar the last time of the PDO reversal, the 1950s, and it was a matter of time before the global temperatures, which have leveled off, would start falling in the same herby jerky fashion they had risen when the PDO turned warm at the end of the 1970s.”

This is a very curious statement. Let me paraphrase: It states that we should anticipate a decrease in global surface temperatures at a rate that is comparable to the rate at which they rose from the late 1970s to late 2000s. But surface temperatures did not decline at anywhere near that rate from the early 1940s to the late 1970s, when the PDO was in the same mode we’re in right now. So there’s nothing in the instrument temperature record to support the claim that global temperatures “would start falling in the same herby jerky fashion they had risen when the PDO turned warm at the end of the 1970s”.

Also the PDO “switched” to the cool mode in the 1940s, not the 1950s. The JISAO PDO webpage reads:

…“‘cool’ PDO regimes prevailed from 1890-1924 and again from 1947-1976”…

But since there’s no process by which the PDO could raise or lower surface temperatures, it’s a moot point.

In the third paragraph, Joe Bastardi writes:

“However first came the flip in the PDO, seen nicely here on the Multivariate Enso Index chart, which clearly illustrates the colder Pacific when the earth was colder, the start of the warming period coinciding with the satellite era, and now.”

There are a bunch of errors in that sentence:

First, the Multivariate ENSO Index by its name is an ENSO index. It does not represent the PDO, and the PDO does not represent it. The Multivariate ENSO Index includes NINO3 sea surface temperatures and 5 other tropical Pacific variables. On the other hand, the PDO is a statistically created index that represents the leading Principal Component of the North Pacific, north of 20N, after the data has been detrended. One’s in the tropics of the Pacific; the other’s in the extra-tropics of the North Pacific. Neither represents the sea surface temperature of the Pacific.

Second, the Multivariate ENSO Index data has been standardized. Look at the y-axis in the graph that Joe Bastardi provided, shown here as Figure 1. It does not list the units as deg C. It lists them as “Standardized Departure”. The units of the MEI are not temperature.

Figure 1

Third, since the Multivariate ENSO index does not represent temperature in any way, shape or form, the statement, “which clearly illustrates the colder Pacific when the earth was colder,” is wrong.

Fourth, even if you were to replace the MEI data with the official ENSO index of NOAA, that index is based solely on the sea surface temperatures of a very small region in the eastern equatorial Pacific, the NINO3.4 region. It does not in any way illustrate “the colder Pacific when the earth was colder” because it does not represent the Pacific as a whole, just a teeny little part of it.

Fifth, the satellite era for sea surface temperature data starts in November 1981. The Pacific climate shift occurred in 1976/77.

CLOSING

The skeptical side of the climate change debate is not reinforced by misleading and error-filled sentences such as this.

The authors of posts should realize the skeptical side of the climate change debate is not reinforced by misleading and error-filled sentences such as this.

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About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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25 Responses to On Joe Bastardi’s post “Global temps in a Crash as AGW proponents Crash the Economy”

  1. DB says:

    Bob, the way I read it, Joe didn’t mean that “we should anticipate a decrease in global surface temperatures at a rate that is comparable to the rate at which they rose from the late 1970s to late 2000s” but rather the ‘herky jerky’-ness would likely again.

  2. Pingback: Global temps in a Crash as AGW proponents Crash the Economy | Watts Up With That?

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    DB: The key word in the Joe’s sentence is rate. I still read it as it’s suppsed to cool at the same rate that it had warmed.

  4. Bryan Short says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for pointing out these errors. Joe Bastardi is an excellent forecaster, and he is certainly much more informed on climate issues than most. But I think he lets his politics cloud his judgment when it comes to climate change. If battling climate change were still a conservative cause, as it was in the 1980s when Maggie Thatcher first used it as a way to bust the coal miner unions. In any case, I think the PDO is under studied and we need more info. PDO and ENSO are definitely linked, though my theory is that the negative phase is favored during periods of high solar activity while the positive phase is favored during periods of weak solar activity. But that is going by the reconstructions dating back to ~1000AD… not observed values. And the PDO was positive while solar activity reached its peak in the 80s and 90s… so there is that. Perhaps you could add some insight into that.

  5. Bob,

    You wrote:

    “But since there’s no process by which the PDO could raise or lower surface temperatures, it’s a moot point.”

    Note:

    “Given the persistence of these temperature anomaly fields and the significant influence of the Pacific Basin on global climate, changes in oceanic conditions like those characterized by the PDO could have a major impact on climate forecasting.”

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JCLI3367.1

  6. Theo Goodwin says:

    Mr. Tisdale writes:

    “But since there’s no process by which the PDO could raise or lower surface temperatures, it’s a moot point.”

    That sentence is multiply pregnant, maybe quintuplets. Could you please explicate it?

    There are trivial reasons that the PDO could not raise or lower surface temperatures. Do you have in mind some important reason that involves some important insight into the nature of the PDO?

    Do you mean to assert that the PDO is not a natural process (that is a collection of many smaller processes) that involves temperature changes?

    In referring to the PDO, are you addressing the standard accounts and claiming that in the context of the standard accounts the PDO cannot raise or lower surface temperatures?

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Will Nitschke: The persistance of a spatial pattern in the North Pacific (represented by the PDO) does influence regional surface temperatures and precipitation. But there is no means for the PDO to raise and lower global temperatures since the PDO does not represent the sea surface temperature of the North Pacific.

  8. Bob,

    I understand where you’re coming from but two points require clarification:

    The PDO is a measure and not strictly speaking a “cause” of anything, in the same sense that the red blotches on your skin when you get measles are not the “cause” of the disease either; rather a symptom of an underlying cause.

    One should distinguish between global temperature and measured global temperature. A circulation pattern may alter surface temperatures or tropospheric temperatures without altering the planet’s total heat content. But this could still have a significant impact on thermometer readings, which I suspect is what is being debated.

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    Theo Goodwin says: “Do you have in mind some important reason that involves some important insight into the nature of the PDO?”

    Yup. The PDO does not represent the sea surface temperature of the North Pacific.
    https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-3/

    The PDO is actually inversely related to the sea surface temperature of the North Pacific. See:
    https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/an-inverse-relationship-between-the-pdo-and-north-pacific-sst-anomaly-residuals/

    You asked, “Do you mean to assert that the PDO is not a natural process (that is a collection of many smaller processes) that involves temperature changes?”

    The PDO is an aftereffect of ENSO. It is also influenced by North Pacific Sea Level Pressure, which is why it has different timing than the ENSO. The PDO is not a process.
    https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/is-the-difference-between-nino3-4-sst-anomalies-and-the-pdo-a-function-of-sea-level-pressure/

    The research by Di Lorenzo confirms that ENSO/SLP relationship in producing the PDO. Keep in mind, the PDO only represent the spatial pattern of the North Pacific, north of 20N, not temperature.

    You asked, “In referring to the PDO, are you addressing the standard accounts and claiming that in the context of the standard accounts the PDO cannot raise or lower surface temperatures?”

    I am referring to the PDO as defined by the JISAO webpage:
    http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/

    Curiously, your questions sounded as if you were a lawyer cross examining a witness.

    Regards

  10. Bob Tisdale says:

    Will Nitschke says: “The PDO is a measure and not strictly speaking a “cause” of anything, in the same sense that the red blotches on your skin when you get measles are not the “cause” of the disease either; rather a symptom of an underlying cause.”
    And you continued, ” One should distinguish between global temperature and measured global temperature. A circulation pattern may alter surface temperatures or tropospheric temperatures without altering the planet’s total heat content. But this could still have a significant impact on thermometer readings, which I suspect is what is being debated.”

    Will, the PDO does not represent the Sea Surface Temperature of the North Pacific. It basically represents the relationship between the eastern North Pacific and the central-western North Pacific. The sea surface temperature can rise and fall, but just as long as the relationship between those two locations is the same, the PDO remains constant. The pattern in the North Pacific is established by ENSO and the Sea Level Pressure of the North Pacific, which are then the two factors that establish circulation patterns in that part of the globe, not the PDO.

    Regards

  11. enginer007 says:

    Since I am a Chemical Engineer, I am very interested in know if Joe has data that shows that a non-ideal gas mixture (Mainly nitrogen and Oxygen) actually responds to individual molecular masses. The theory says it doesn’t, but since CO2 is largely sourced near the surface looking for a depletion up high is a fool’ errand. Joe B can’t be THAT foolish…

    Quote/
    Nor am I going to question them as to why they believe a trace gas like CO2 (needed for life on the planet) with a specific gravity of 1.5 as compared to the atmospheres 1.0, was going to mix with air in a way to affect the earth’s temperatures./quote

  12. Bob Tisdale says:

    enginer007: I believe your comment would be better placed on the WattsUpWithThat thread. You’re more likely to get a reply from him there.

  13. AusieDan says:

    Hi Bob Tisdale,
    I enjoy your periodic comments at WUWT.
    I have not studied Jo’s post nor your response in sufficient detail to make up my own mind on the issues that you raised.
    However, I feel that both of you are remiss for not even commenting in passing, that in some manner, global climate, PDO and ENSO seem to be related to the electro – magnetic lines of force between sun and earth, and perhaps also the moon and the other planets.
    PDO and ENSO are clearly only intermediaries.
    There is much more to be learned, but that itself is becoming clearer and clearer.

    ENSO and the PDO may only be intermediaries, but ENSO is a process that drives Global surface temperatures, while the PDO is not.

    Regards, Bob

  14. Orson Olson says:

    Negative PDO-and a negative AMO? I grew up near the Canadian prairie during the ’60s and ’70s. And while “comparable rate” of decline is surely up for debate – since the “global” data is incomplete – I feel safe to bet that the current decades temperature will be below the 1998 super El Nino for the inner Northern hemisphere. Furthermore, I would bet 10,000 dollars that it will be below the past decade’s plateau.

    Just sayin’ I’m seeking gullible warmers.

    All warmers are gullible, Orson.
    Regards, Bob

  15. Wayne Job says:

    Bob, nit picking Joe is not a nice look, You may disagree with his take, but you have to agree he gets it right most of the time, as to what is about to befall us.

    Thus it would seem he has a very keen insight as to what causes what where and when.

    My post was not nit picking. And getting a weather forecast right is different than a discussion of the PDO and ENSO.

    Regards, Bob

  16. Laurie says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for your work. I also believe corrections and discussions are productive in all climate science. I support you in speaking up and I also appreciate Joe’s report which gives us an opportunity to hear sincere and talented views expressed even where there is disagreement.

    I’ve always appreciates Joe’s work, too, but I disagree with parts of it.

    Regards

  17. John F. Hultquist says:

    Again! How many times have you had to respond to such things over the last 3 years? It seems this is one of those occasions when an idea gets into some folk’s heads and then you can’t get it out.

    Even if one were to construct an index that represented a process and/or even if it represented SST in some direct manner, I think there would be an issue of scale. The part of the Pacific involved with the ENSO activities is much larger (how much I don’t know) than the areal (spatial) extent used for the PDO calculation. People should use globes. Then scale differences would be apparent. This would not address the main fault, as you have explained, but it might cause them to think a bit more about air mass source regions.

    If you need a break, search for the ice storm in Seattle on web videos. One shows a small hill claiming a couple dozen cars and trucks.

    Thanks, the video was a treat.

    Regards, Bob

  18. George says:

    I guess this is one reason why I figured Weather Bell could use someone like you in their team. Mr. Bastardi is not shy about speaking his mind. But I believe we do have a fairly significant body of evidence to show that North American weather cools during Negative PDO. Now that’s not to say what causes what. But the correlation is pretty good over time.

  19. Pingback: Crashing economies…by AGW fanatics ignoring the cold | pindanpost

  20. barry says:

    Quick query – doesn’t the satellite temp data commence from December 1978, including sea surface?

    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

    Makes no difference to your conclusions, just want to know if I have that bit wrong or not.

  21. Bob Tisdale says:

    Barry, the NOAA satellite-based sea surface temperature dataset (Reynolds OI.v2 SST data) starts in November 1981, and as far as I can tell, the start year for the use of satellite data in the Hadley Centre’s HADISST is 1982.

  22. barry says:

    Thanks for the reply: I believe that the data I linked that starts in December ’78 is a UAH product for NCDC (see the end of the web address), which compiles NOAA’s data. Hadley is as you say.

    Joe Bastardi, however, refers to the data compiled by UAH (via Roy Spencer’s interactive site), so in discussing his post it’d probably be more accurate to say that the satellite SST data stream begins December 1978, as it does with UAH data.

    Makes no difference to your point, of course. And it was worth re-familiarizing myself with the the SST compilations.

  23. Bob Tisdale says:

    Barry: The data you linked earlier is Lower Troposphere Temperature (TLT) anomaly data. The “ocean” data in list is the TLT data over the ocean, not sea surface temperature. TLT is measured at about 3000 meters above sea level.

  24. barry says:

    TLT comes from measuring radiance through the troposphere and even the stratosphere and attempts to winnow the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface to several kilometers altitude. Yes, it’s not sea surface temps, but you said;

    “Fifth, the satellite era for sea surface temperature data starts in November 1981.”

    which I didn’t parse carefully enough. At the same time, it’s not clear how your point relates to Bastardi’s comment, which isn’t particularly clear itself. I can’t tell if he’s referring to ocean temps in the satellite record (thereby corroborating PDO shifts with ocean temperature), or global (corroborating PDO shifts with global temps). Either way, you’ve shown that his premises are fallacious.

  25. barry says:

    Aha. Google is my friend. I did not realize that satellites could measure SSTs directly in cloudless conditions, and you are correct about when that data stream starts.

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