Bragging rights

My one or two irregular readers may have noticed a lack of recent posts. I've had rather a lot of other things to keep me busy lately, some work-related, some family, some energy/climate-hobby related, some church. One of which is our new wood stove for home heating. It's good to be off oil, but I'm starting to wonder if this was really such a good idea, with all the work it's taking to gather wood now!

I do have a handful of posts I've started work on, including on some complaints I have about at least one chapter in Al Gore's new book, another one on Jevons' Paradox, and another on my imaginary relationship with Douglas Hofstadter... but all of them are still only half-written, still trying to work out my thoughts on some of these issues myself. And there's much more I've thought about wanting to write about - including the huge Copenhagen climate conference going on right now, and before that the stolen climate emails mess - but I'm pretty happy with how it's been covered by others at this point, and really don't have anything specific to say on it myself.

But no, I'm presently just ignoring or procrastinating the meaningful stuff I've been thinking about writing about. Instead how about some fun?

One of the most persistent climate denial memes of the past few years has been that global temperatures hit a peak, and have started falling - that we're currently in a "cooling" trend with "declining" temperatures. Most often they claim the peak was in 1998 (11 years ago now) which was indeed an unusually hot year. This "cooling" meme became immensely popular in early February 2008, when GISS reported their global land-ocean temperature index for January of that year, with a huge drop from the average surface temperature of January 2007 (from the table the change is now listed as a drop from 0.87 to 0.15 degrees C anomaly for that 1 year).

The drop was far less dramatic in the other temperature indexes - all the indexes follow one another quite closely, but month-to-month variations can be quite large. Usually the climate denial folk like to ignore the GISS record, because it actually lists 2005 as the world's hottest year, not 1998 (which comes in third or fourth after 2007 and maybe 2002). But suddenly in February 2008 the NASA-GISS temperature index was all the rage among the climate denial crowd, with shouts of "cooling" and an impending ice age on all the favorite blogs.

Now this is one case where at least a few of the usual crowd actually wrote down some numbers - specifically predictions for the year-end GISS global land+ocean average for 2008. The folks touting cooling surely expected temperatures to drop in 2008 from previous years (and to continue dropping in 2009 and later). What's even better is I put down my guesses too - based on my understanding of the underlying warming trend and some solar variation (but I probably should have put in more of a guess for El Nino behavior too, as that's turning out to be rather important). This was after only one month of 2008 had passed (except for Lucia's number, which came from before January 2008 had been reported). So how did we all do?

The guesses were gathered by Steven Mosher at climateaudit:

  • Lumpy (Lucia's lumped parameter model):.7C
  • Hadcru (Hadley center prediction for 2008): .47C
  • Geoff: .38C
  • Andrew: .34C
  • Larry: .31C
  • Jae: .3C
  • Earle: .26C
  • Moshpit. .23C
  • PaulM: .21C
  • SamU: .18C
  • GregF: .15C

My guess was posted here, a little later in the same thread:

  • Arthur: 0.41C

Note that every climateaudit poster guessed lower than me. Cooling, remember? And they were particularly eager for the number to be below 0.39C, which would have made 2008 cooler than 1997 as well as 1998 in the GISS record. So how did we all do?

You can find the numbers for yourself in the GISS table - look at the J-D values, or just average the individual months. The year-end 2008 number for global land+ocean temperature anomaly according to GISS was 0.43 C. Slightly above my number, but far closer to mine than to anybody else's. I won, yeah! Except the promised follow-up awards never happened, sigh. Somehow when things don't go the way that group expects, they forget that it ever happened...

By the way, I also posted, in that same comment, my guesses for 2009 through 2012:
2009: 0.55
2010: 0.65
2011: 0.75
2012: 0.80

For the first 10 months of 2009, GISS global land+ocean temperature average anomaly was 0.56 C. November should be reported soon and will likely be on the warmer side, and December will perhaps move it up a little too. But my number's still incredibly close, guessed 23 months in advance. Still no awards?

Looking at it now, the present El Nino seems likely to boost 2010 temperatures even higher than my guess, so I fully expect my 2010 number to be way low; I have no particularly expectation that the 2011 and 2012 guesses will be any better, but I do know one thing. We're not in a cooling trend. Now when will those so-called skeptics face up to the contrary evidence of their own failed predictions?


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Ok, GISS November average is

Ok, GISS November average is out +0.68 for that month, so that bumps the 11-month average for 2009 to 0.57. The 0.02 difference is now the same as the difference between my 2008 guess and reality - but it may bump up a little more if December is warm too... Still, pretty good guessing I have to say!

Yup, the 12-month 2009

Yup, the 12-month 2009 average is 0.57 too (December was 0.59 so didn't change the average significantly) - GISS just posted the final numbers. So, for 2008 I was low by 0.02 degrees C, and for 2009 low by the same amount. Not bad for a pretty off-the wall guess - especially compared to the entire climateaudit contingent. I've still seen no acknowledgement from any of the of this striking failure of predictive power...

January through April 2010

January through April 2010 average is 0.75 - what I'd guessed for 2011! Still, it's early in the year, if the remaining 8 months do conform to my 2010 guess then the whole year will only be off by 0.03 for me... Fred Staples' claim (see other comments here) would be much further off...

Joe Romm has a post up on

Joe Romm has a post up on this, pointing out that 0.57 which is the average so far is hotter than 1998 and 2002 in the GISS record (putting 2009 so far tied with 2007 for second hottest year ever). A December as warm as October and November have been will clearly put 2009 in second spot.

Now, as Scott Mandia notes in the comments on Joe's post, one year doesn't prove anything. The interesting thing to me is that we have on record, from 2 years ago, the predictions of the "cooling" crowd that were very far off for 2008, and from whom you would expect 2009 to be even cooler, if we really are cooling. And on the other hand we have on record, from 2 years ago, my prediction based on continued warming. Only one of those is right. Who are you going to trust going forward, the "coolers", or the people who have time and time again been shown to be right?

Please post some lottery

Please post some lottery number for next month. ;-)

Ah, well, there's a

Ah, well, there's a difference between predicting something that's actually somewhat predictable (climate) and something that's truly random. Though year-on-year variations in global temperature have a lot of randomness, they're much more predictable than something purely random, if you believe the science. Which is typical of many things in the world...

Arthur, When you win do you


When you win do you get a trip to the tropical Arctic? :)

Just to be sure that your comment about my post is not misconstrued, my comment at Climate Progress suggested that we not trumpet 2009 or 2010 too much lest we violate our own rule that "one or two years does not a trend make". I think the best tack is to keep reminding people that since the 1970s, each decade has been warmer than the past and that we have had a very warm decade in the 2000s with a very weak sun in the past few years. That takes care of the "it's the sun" argument pretty well.

Now to get my shovel ready for tomorrow's blizzard. :(

Yeah...Scott and Arthur, it

Yeah...Scott and Arthur, it is kind of annoying how you down-staters have stolen all of our snow this year. We did, just barely, have a white Christmas (although the rain last night has taken care of that now) but there hasn't yet been enough to x-country ski on.

We had 2 feet - but it's

We had 2 feet - but it's almost all gone now. Warmed up a little too quickly the last few days. At least the kids had a few days of fun in the snow! Ah, winter time, southerners never seem to appreciate it properly...

Well done, Arthur.

Well done, Arthur. Congratulations. Given that you expect annual warming, your choice of 0.41 degrees C was a little surprising, because the years from 2002 were 0.56, 0.55, 0.49,0.63,0.54,0.57,0.43, and now 0.57.

That tend is actually negative, but not significantly so, of course.

If your next three predictions are correct, there will be a significant trend of more than 2 degrees per century from 2002 to 2012 (the 1 chance in 20 bounds are from 0.14 to 3.95 degrees C per century), which is exactly what the IPCC luminaries suggest

Given that the long term trend over all the GISS data from 1880 to 2009 is just over 0.5 degrees per century, you, and they, may turn out to be wrong.

I don't expect every year to

I don't expect every year to be monotonically warmer than the previous one - nobody does. I had done some previous analysis on solar cycle and El Nino periodicity in the temperature records that led me to believe there would be somewhat of a dip before the next rise, which was the basis of that set of guesses. I'm sure temperatures will go down somewhat in future too, after the next peak, for a while. That's the way these things work.

Since the current trend is "actually negative, but not significantly so", I will generously take as your prediction for 2010 the value 0.54 (average of the last 8 years you have listed) - unless you want to be more specific. We'll see who is closer to reality at the end of the year, then, shall we?

Agreed, Arthur. Actually,

Agreed, Arthur. Actually, there is more to this than a few competing forecasts.

In the year 2000 Hansens’ famous “B” (business as usual) and “C” (capped CO2 emissions) were about the same at +0.5 degrees C relative to the 1951 – 1980 base line.

Thereafter the lines diverged, because CO2 emissions continued to increase while temperatures did not change.

Reading from the graph at RC, (their latest updates) by 2009 the figures were as follows:

Actual GISS 0.57
“B” Line 0.89
“C” Line 0.60

If the actual trend continues, and temperatures do not rise, by 2013 the “C” line and the GISS actuals will be close at about 0.55 degrees C, and the “B” to “C” divergence will be 0.5 degrees C.

At that point it will be very difficult to use the AGW theory to justify expensive attempts to curtail CO2 emissions.