Research pair finds global warming matched predictions from 1990

Dec 10, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org)—A pair of researchers has found that an estimate made in 1990 by a team of global scientists regarding how much temperatures would rise due to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is very close to what actually happened. The two, David Frame, of New Zealand's Victoria University and Daithi Stone, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have published their findings in Nature Climate Change.

In 1990, a team of scientists with members from across the globe published a paper called the (IPCC); the paper was to be the first of many published over many years to track, assess and make predictions regarding the progress of global warming. In their paper, the group estimated that average would increase by approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2030 – the halfway point, which would be 2010 would, they argued, be about a .55 degree increase.

To find out how close the earlier team was to its estimates, Frame and Stone gathered collected by various agencies around the world which are used to provide data for calculating average global temperatures and any changes that occur year to year – for the period 1990 through 2010. They discovered that there were actually two sets of averages – one showed an increase in average global temperature of 0.35 degrees Celsius the other 0.39. The researchers then added what they called an adjustment to the numbers to reflect naturally occurring in global temperature averages and found that the results fit almost perfectly with the predictions made 22 years ago.

The accuracy of the estimates were all the more impressive, the teams says, when noting the earlier researches had no way of knowing about some of the climate changing events that would occur during the time period that would follow – the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the sudden reduction in from Russia or the rise of China as an industrial giant, etc. This, they say, is partly due to the high caliber of the people working on the original estimates and the fact that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appears to overshadow more localized events.

The IPCC has continued to publish reports; each with estimates for the future, with the most recent issued in 2007. This is the first time that the estimates the group has made have been compared with real world changes in average global temperatures however, and because they were so close the first time, it's likely their reports will take on added weight with the scientific and geopolitical community as time marches on.

Explore further: 'Severe' drought covers nearly 99.8% of California, report says

More information: Assessment of the first consensus prediction on climate change, Nature Climate Change (2012) (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1763

Abstract
In 1990, climate scientists from around the world wrote the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It contained a prediction of the global mean temperature trend over the 1990–2030 period that, halfway through that period, seems accurate. This is all the more remarkable in hindsight, considering that a number of important external forcings were not included. So how did this success arise? In the end, the greenhouse-gas-induced warming is largely overwhelming the other forcings, which are only of secondary importance on the 20-year timescale.

Press release

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drel
3.1 / 5 (12) Dec 10, 2012
"The researchers then added what they called an adjustment to the numbers ... and found that the results fit almost perfectly with the predictions made 22 years ago."

WOW!
discouragedinMI
2.1 / 5 (23) Dec 10, 2012
An adjustment? What? An adjustment? Adjusted what? For what reason? Seriously? Perhaps the general public will buy this for $1 but not a scientist that actually cares about real measurements. I would really like to believe the climate scientist ... I really would. But in the last 2 years I have seen too many "adjustments" and "crazy claims" that are unfounded. I'm still waiting for the truth.
runrig
3.9 / 5 (14) Dec 10, 2012
An adjustment? What? An adjustment? Adjusted what? For what reason? Seriously? Perhaps the general public will buy this for $1 but not a scientist that actually cares about real measurements. I would really like to believe the climate scientist ... I really would. But in the last 2 years I have seen too many "adjustments" and "crazy claims" that are unfounded. I'm still waiting for the truth.


I would suggest that the adjustments relate to ( especially but not exclusively ) El Nino and La Nina events that have significantly affected global temperatures in the interim since the paper was published. Cycles, though know about, whose timings could not be predicted with accuracy sufficient to be included in the calculation.
Guy_Underbridge
4 / 5 (12) Dec 10, 2012
An adjustment? What? An adjustment? Adjusted what? For what reason? Seriously? Perhaps the general public will buy this for $1 but not a scientist that actually cares about real measurements.

It's amazing what leaving out a little thing like "...to reflect naturally occurring fluctuations in global temperature averages" does to a sentence.
Lurker2358
2 / 5 (14) Dec 10, 2012
Discouraged(re. adjustments):

The adjustment is not really necessary to make their prediction valid. The numbers of 0.35C and 0.39C are pretty close anyway.

Plus, since the warming is exponential, you don't actually need half of the total predicted warming to occur during the first linear half of the time period, so expecting the number to be exactly 0.55C is a fallacy on both your part and theirs.

One way to see this is using a graphing calculator (unfortunately mine is broken) and just plot an exponential curve, and what you see is the mid-point in the X coordinate does NOT have Y equal to half of Y at the end point in the X coordinate. Nor is the midpoint in the X coordinate equal to the midpoint of the curve itself. Not an easy thing to visualize, but if you put some examples in a graphing calculator you can see it done for you to make it easier.

What this means is the warming is probably slightly faster than it needs to be for them to be correct, WITHOUT adjustment.
Lino235
2.1 / 5 (22) Dec 10, 2012
From what little information is given, it seems even worse than the "adjustment" side of things. It would appear that this Nature article is saying that the 1990 report predicted a 0.55 degree C increase "halfway" through their 40 year projection. This would mean that in 2010, temp. increase should be 0.55. But, of course, temperature increase has been "flat" for the last 15 years. IOW, on one point--along a 40 point curve--they got the right answer. But the other 19 preceding points they probably got wrong. So it what way can this be called a "prediction"? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.

This is typical prejudicial bias applied to facts. It's not science; it's "consensus" science---which can be anything it wants to be, with a high probability of going off the deep end.
Maggnus
2.8 / 5 (13) Dec 10, 2012
Wow lino235 what a pile of excrement you posted.
waremi
4.2 / 5 (6) Dec 10, 2012
I can only gain access to the first page of the paper from this side of the pay wall, but it looks like the "adjustment" everyone is having fits about is only applying simple statistical normalization for a red noise, or a first order Markov process to the actual temperature figures.
antigoracle
1.4 / 5 (18) Dec 10, 2012
WOW!! So close..ie. ~60% off.
The only thing this confirms is that these "naturally occurring fluctuations" has far more impact than any of them could imagine.
These climate quacks fudging the data after the fact, is not only considered science, but is now perfection.
3432682
1.3 / 5 (18) Dec 10, 2012
There has been virtually no world average temperature increase since 1998. The theories about global warming - temperature, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, disease, pests, etc. - are failures.
gregor1
1 / 5 (10) Dec 10, 2012
There's not enough information in this press release to evaluate this paper either way. It's merely a teaser to get you to pay the $32. Bring on open access science I say. Physorg would be better if they didn't bother posting these things.
The Alchemist
1 / 5 (11) Dec 11, 2012
I developed a predictive model in 1986, which has worked spotlessly since, and been proved quantitatively. Join my group on Facebook: Global Warming Made Simple. 3432682 right above: There is no "Warming" in Global Warming, it was a lie put in the title to hide and muddle the real effect.
phizzics
2 / 5 (12) Dec 11, 2012
Assume for a moment that 0.39C is equivalent to 0.55C, and that the adjustment made to reconcile the 40% difference is valid. Is it supposed to be a GOOD thing that some major climactic events were not included in the 1990 prediction, but they got the answer right anyway?

Let's say that I predict that the US economy is going to undergo dramatic growth for the next 20 years, and I offer calculations to support the idea. After 15 years an enormous breakthrough in energy enables us to provide for all our needs domestically, and the economy skyrockets. After the 20th year, my projection is still 40% too high, and the calculations that I made didn't include anything about innovations in energy. Can I really claim that I was right?

I can't believe this got past peer-review.
gregor1
1.3 / 5 (14) Dec 11, 2012
well said phizzics if it's right without including the forcings then it's wrong. I wonder how long this paper will last? Here's a paper that maybe should be looked at.
http://hockeyscht...oor.html
Grallen
3 / 5 (4) Dec 11, 2012
When the recession hit, growth was not only halted but pushed back. I'm betting the 40% off in warming prediction was largely the lack of expected growth. Of course there are other factors, but I bet this account for over half the inaccuracy. Opinions? (PS. This is for the rational people here. You "global warming doesn't exist" crazies can ignore this since it doesn't apply to your personal reality.)
phizzics
1.7 / 5 (11) Dec 11, 2012
When the recession hit, growth was not only halted but pushed back. I'm betting the 40% off in warming prediction was largely the lack of expected growth. Of course there are other factors, but I bet this account for over half the inaccuracy. Opinions? (PS. This is for the rational people here. You "global warming doesn't exist" crazies can ignore this since it doesn't apply to your personal reality.)


The recession did not halt the rise of CO2 emissions. There was a minor "blip" that has been more than offset by the growth of emissions from China. No matter how you look at it, GHG emissions have been substantially higher than 1990 projections.

As an aside, I'd point out that a pejorative like "crazies" is a bit over the top from someone who doesn't bother to check facts about actual vs. projected emissions, and is willing to make guesses based on that misinformation without any calculations or science to back them up.
The Alchemist
1 / 5 (12) Dec 11, 2012
Even though you're right, you're still drinking the Kool-aid. Here, all questions, effects answered and predicted: facebook.com/#!/groups/454689344557455/
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2012
...all questions, effects answered and predicted: facebook.com


I often use bookface as my source for scientific research
Maggnus
4 / 5 (8) Dec 11, 2012
For what it`s worth (and nothing will be enough for certain fools) I spoke with the author of this study, who says, in part, the following:

No we didn't adjust data. Basically we just drew a bunch of straight lines (since the 1990 prediction was basically a straight line, we drew one through the 1990-2010 data, and then a whole bunch of straight lines through some unforced control runs from CMIP3 to show what range of trends nature might give us in an unforced climate - climate models are far from perfect in their characterisation of natural variability, so this isn't ideal as a way of getting at natural variability. But (1) there aren't any ways of directly accessing natural variability; (2) it's a very common technique, so it's not like we're doing anything terribly clever or novel). The rest of the paper is basically chatting about the findings, and we've tried to be very upfront about the various caveats.


Ojorf
1.6 / 5 (5) Dec 11, 2012
Thanks Maggnus.
gregor1
1 / 5 (10) Dec 11, 2012
Thanks Maggnus that's amazing. Bob Yirka is spinning this to make it look like a fait accompli for political reasons. Spin is the enemy of science. How can physorg justify spreading propaganda like this?
Maggnus
2.8 / 5 (6) Dec 11, 2012
Bob Yirka is spinning this to make it look like a fait accompli for political reasons


Really. Shame you're too daft to realize that Bob is the reporter, not one of the paper's authors.

Another comment from the authors:

I think the reporter was using this term to describe how we examined their climate prediction in the context of a real prediction which would have to include internal variability. Thus we "adjusted" the prediction to compensate for this? Adjusted is not the right word.


Reporters are not, on the whole, climate scientists. They do the best they can to relay information.
The Alchemist
1 / 5 (10) Dec 12, 2012
Guy Underbridge,
Yes, I understand your cynicism, however, look at the quality of crap about the subject people have been fed since, well, longer than I can remember. If there is a simple intuitive and predictive model, it merits a look, no? I recently proved it as well. Spoiler alert, fossil fuels burned at sea level release the same energy as the Sun during sun-spot years.
gregor1
1 / 5 (11) Dec 12, 2012
I'm well aware of that Maggus. So Bob is doing his best to relay information but he's too stupid to realize that the caveats are really important? I find this hard to believe myself. Much of the science in this debate has been distorted by journalists removing the uncertainty that is essential to the meaning of results. I call that spin and it's blatantly dishonest.