A Foolish Bet about 2016 Global Surface Temperatures – It’s Nothing More than a Silly Publicity Stunt

SEE UPDATE 2 – Dr. Boslough’s wager is truly a sucker bet.

TheHuffingtonPost published a laughable post on December 31st by Sandia Labs’ Mark Boslough titled Are Climate Bullies Afraid to Bet Me?  It begins (You’re going to enjoy this):

I, Mark Boslough, being of sound mind, do hereby challenge any individual or organization to a $25,000 bet that global warming is real and will continue. If the climatological average global land surface temperature goes up again in 2016, setting another new record, the party that accepts my challenge must donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit of my choice. If not, I will donate $25,000 to a nonprofit designated by the accepting party.

Details are below. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a sucker bet. Everyone knows that global warming is real.

Dr. Boslough is correct, inasmuch as it is a sucker bet, but not for the reason or reasons he claims.  Even skeptics expect global surface temperatures (and global lower troposphere temperatures) will be higher in 2016 than they were in 2015, but skeptics understand the reasons for it…that a strong El Niño raises global surface temperatures in the El Niño evolution year AND (typically) even more in the El Niño decay year. That means, as the 2015/16 El Niño winds down in 2016, global surface and lower troposphere temperatures will continue to rise in response to the El Niño.  I reminded readers of this likelihood back in September 2015, in the blog post Tired of the Claims of “Warmest Ever” Month and Year? They Will Likely Continue Next Year. Not too surprisingly, Dr. Boslough’s blog post failed to mention El Niño.

NOTE: I do not recall ever hearing of Dr. Boslough before reading that blog post. I’m assuming he’s whining about human-induced global warming and not the warming associated natural variability.  Maybe Dr. Boslough is someone who believes that any global warming is bad, regardless of whether it was caused by the hypothetical impacts of manmade greenhouse gases or by naturally occurring ocean-air processes.  Then again, maybe Dr. Boslough is just another alarmist, one who disregards natural variability and is playing to the other alarmists in his audience with his publicity stunt.  I would tend to believe he fits into the latter category. [End note.]

In addition to the 2015/16 El Niño, skeptics also understand that another naturally caused warming event was responsible for the reported record high (much-fiddled-with) SURFACE temperatures in 2015. That naturally caused warming event in the eastern extratropical North Pacific is known as The Blob. And we understand the reported record high SURFACE temperatures in 2014 were a response to The Blob. The Blob is another natural factor Dr. Boslough just happened to overlook.  (See The Blob series of posts here.)

Another thing skeptics understand: Dr. Boslough failed to mention lower troposphere temperatures in his publicity stunt…that lower troposphere temperature anomalies are not close to record highs in 2015, though they will likely make a jump in 2016 in response to the current El Niño. See Figure 1.  It includes meteorological annual mean (December to November) Lower Troposphere Temperature anomalies from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). (Data here.)

Figure 1

Figure 1

Note:  I presented the meteorological annual mean data because the December 2015 data from GISS (Figure 2) is not yet available and I wanted the two graphs to agree. A graph of the annual (January to December) RSS TLT data is here. 2015 came in a distant 3rd warmest with the RSS lower troposphere temperature data.  [End note.]

As one might expect, Dr. Boslough chose the GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index as the metric for his publicity stunt. He writes:

Mark Boslough (MB) hereby presents a challenge as to whether the Earth’s climate will set a new record high temperature in 2016. The challenge will be settled using the NASA GISS mean global land surface temperatures for the conventional climate averaging period (defined by the World Meteorological Organization as 30 years) ending on December 31, 2016. If the global average temperature does not exceed the mean temperature for an equal period ending on the same date in any previous year for which complete data exist, MB will donate $25,000 to a nonprofit to be designated by the accepting party. Otherwise, tie accepting party will donate $25,000 to a science education nonprofit designated by MB.

One last thing Dr. Boslough overlooked: The naturally caused (El Niño and The Blob) uptick in global surface temperatures in 2015 did not eliminate the difference in warming rates (linear trends) between surface temperature observations (his choice of GISS LOTI) and climate model simulations of surface temperatures.  See Figure 2, which presents meteorological annual mean (December to November) values and linear trends for the period of 1980 to 2015. GISS and NOAA (the supplier of the sea surface temperature data for GISS) would have to tweak the data a whole lot more to get those two trend lines to agree…even with another naturally caused uptick in 2016.

Figure 2

Figure 2 (Corrected title block.)

The GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index (December to November) are available here.  The graph also includes the multi-model mean of the climate model simulations of global surface temperatures from the models stored in the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) archive. The climate models stored in the CMIP5 archive were used by the IPCC for their 5th Assessment Report (AR5). See the post here for the reasons we use the multi-model mean.  Those climate model outputs are available from the KNMI Climate Explorer.  To highlight the difference in warming rates, the data and model outputs have been shifted so that the trend lines are zeroed at 1980.

CLOSING

As of this writing, Dr. Boslough has published a not-very-noteworthy 20 blog posts for TheHuffingtonPost since April 2013.  I suspect we’ll be seeing more from him in 2016 when no one accepts his foolish bet and he tries to play additional silly games.

UPDATE

Forgot to mention that Gavin Schmidt, Director GISS, recently acknowledged that lower troposphere temperatures are supposed to be warming at a faster rate than surface temperatures.  See the WattsUpWithThat post here.

UPDATE 2 – Dr. Boslough’s Wager is Truly A Sucker Bet

Bloggers MikeN and 1sky1 remind us here and here on the cross post at WUWT that the Dr. Boslough’s wager isn’t that global surface temperatures will be warmer in 2016 than they were in 2015. Dr. Boslough’s wager is for the average of 30-year periods. I should have read the wager more closely. (Thanks, MikeN and 1sky1.) Here are the specifics of the bet again:

The challenge will be settled using the NASA GISS mean global land surface temperatures for the conventional climate averaging period (defined by the World Meteorological Organization as 30 years) ending on December 31, 2016. If the global average temperature does not exceed the mean temperature for an equal period ending on the same date in any previous year for which complete data exist…

As an example, Figure 3 shows the last 30 years (1986-2015) of the meteorological annual mean (December to November) GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index. In order for the 30-year average for the period of 1987-2016 to equal the value for the period of 1986-2015, the 2016 value has to equal the 1986 global temperature anomaly of 0.19 deg C.  In other words, global surface temperatures would have to drop 0.65 deg C in 2016 for the average of 1987-2016 just to tie the average for 1986-2015.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Again, I should have read Dr. Boslough’s wager more closely. It truly is laughable.

Advertisements

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.
This entry was posted in Alarmism, Climate Model Failings. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Foolish Bet about 2016 Global Surface Temperatures – It’s Nothing More than a Silly Publicity Stunt

  1. Thanks, Bob.
    As you have shown, natural ENSO controls the SSTs in the Pacific Ocean and are the most useful proxy for global lower troposphere global temperatures.
    The Earth will do as ENSO pleases.
    Happy New Year!
    May 2016 be a much better year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s