Imagine a ball bouncing down a bumpy hill. Gravity will ensure that the ball will head downwards. But, if the ball hits a bump at a certain angle it might move horizontally or even upwards for a time, before resuming its inevitable downward trajectory. This bouncing ball is an analogy for the behaviour of Arctic sea-ice.
Post based on Swart et al., Nature Climate Change, or see a less technical summary. Continue reading Arctic sea-ice decline erratic as expected
Model projections of heavy precipitation and temperature extremes include large uncertainties. However, disagreement between individual simulations primarily arises from internal variability, whereas models agree remarkably well on the forced signal.
Post based on Fischer et al., 2014, Geophys. Res. Lett.
Continue reading Projected changes of precipitation and temperature extremes
A prevailing paradigm of how rainfall patterns will change on a warming Earth is that the hydrological cycle strengthens causing wet regions to get wetter and dry regions to get drier.
However, this is not always the case: Hawkins, Joshi & Frame (2014) highlight one particular effect – the movement of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) – as a key long-term driver of rainfall changes that do not follow this ‘wet get wetter’ paradigm. Continue reading Wet get drier (eventually)?
How will UK summer temperatures change in future? And, how might we best communicate the possibilities? This is a short post describing one effort in visualising the possible outcomes. Continue reading Visualising UK summer temperatures – what are the odds?
A previous post discussed the recent Comment on Mora et al., which considered mainly methodological & statistical errors. However, the erroneous assumptions regarding uncertainty in the Mora et al. study have further implications for their results on population and income.
Guest post from Flavio Lehner (Uni. Bern) Continue reading More Mora emergence issues
Back in October 2013, Nature published an analysis by Camilo Mora et al. which discussed when ‘unprecedented climates’ would emerge, with a focus on regions of high biodiversity.
The paper was highlighted by Nature with an associated News & Views article and received widespread media attention (e.g. Climate Central, National Geographic, Guardian, Grist, amongst many). The paper was also in the top 100 most discussed papers from 2013 according to Altmetric.
Unfortunately, it has since emerged that the analysis has some serious flaws. A ‘Brief Communication Arising’ (or Comment) has now been published by Hawkins et al. in Nature (freely available for one month), written by a large group which includes several IPCC Lead Authors, from both WG1 and WG2. There is also a ‘Reply’ from Mora et al., and a new News & Views (N&V) piece by Scott Power discussing the continuing disagreement between the author teams. This is the first ever N&V on a Comment in Nature.
This post provides a slightly less technical description of the issues with Mora et al.’s analysis. The errors in Mora et al.’s Reply are summarised in a separate post. The Carbon Brief blog has also produced some videos on the topic. Continue reading Uncertainties in the timing of unprecedented climates
Guest post by Piers Forster, with comments from Jonathan Gregory & Ed Hawkins
Lewis & Crok have circulated a report, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), criticising the assessment of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) in both the AR4 and AR5 IPCC assessment reports.
Climate sensitivity remains an uncertain quantity. Nevertheless, employing the best estimates suggested by Lewis & Crok, further and significant warming is still expected out to 2100, to around 3°C above pre-industrial climate, if we continue along a business-as-usual emissions scenario (RCP 8.5), with continued warming thereafter. However, there is evidence that the methods used by Lewis & Crok result in an underestimate of projected warming. Continue reading Comments on the GWPF climate sensitivity report
Climate projections have demonstrated the need to adapt to a changing climate, but have been less helpful (so far) in guiding how to effectively adapt. Part of the reason is the ‘cascade of uncertainty’ going from assumptions about future global emissions of greenhouse gases to what that means for the climate to real decisions on a local scale. Each of the steps in the process contains uncertainty, but which step is the most important? And, how might this be visualised? Continue reading The cascade of uncertainty in climate projections
Imagine it is 2031, and the IPCC is preparing to release its 8th Assessment Report. How does the recent slowdown in global mean surface temperature rise look? As this largely depends on how fast the climate warms from 2014 onwards, we can explore a range of possibilities. Continue reading The future of the slowdown
It’s December, which means the usual discussion as to whether or not it will be a white Christmas. You can even bet on it. But, how might these odds change in future? Are children going to know what snow is? Continue reading The future of white Christmases
As 2013 is nearly over, it is time for a short update to the comparisons of CMIP5 models and observations for global mean surface air temperatures. Part of the motivation for an update is the Cowtan & Way paper on spatial coverage biases in HadCRUT4, which has been given prominent attention in blogs and the media, notably the front page of The Independent. Continue reading Updates to comparison of CMIP5 models & observations
The recent global temperature hiatus has been explained by the IPCC AR5 as partly due to natural radiative forcings (solar & volcanic effects) and internal variability. Recently, other effects such as CFCs and biases in the observational coverage have also been suggested, as well as continuing uncertainty about the regional effects of aerosol forcings. When comparing simulations and observations, the CMIP5 simulations tend to use projected forcings rather than observed forcings after 2005. But what effect does this have? Continue reading Effects of recent observed vs RCP forcings
The recent IPCC AR5 includes a discussion on the sources of uncertainty in climate projections (Fig. 11.8, section 184.108.40.206), which updates previous analyses using CMIP3 (temperature, precipitation) to the latest CMIP5 simulations. The dominant source of uncertainty depends on lead time, variable and spatial scale. Continue reading Sources of uncertainty in CMIP5 projections
The ‘signal’ of a warming climate is emerging against a background ‘noise’ of natural internal variability. Both the magnitude of the signal and the noise vary spatially and seasonally. As society and ecosystems tend to be somewhat adapted to natural variability, some of the impacts of any change will be felt when the signal becomes large relative to the noise. So, it is important to note where and when this might occur. Continue reading Time of emergence of a warming signal
The final version of the IPCC AR5 WG1 assessment on the physical basis for climate change has now been published. The AR5 includes, for the first time, a specific chapter and assessment on ‘near-term’ climate change, which covers the period up to 2050, but with a specific focus on the 2016-2035 period.
Continue reading Near-term global surface temperature projections in IPCC AR5
The recent WMO press release on the climate of the 2001-2010 period highlighted that global temperature change was accelerating. Although this could be a misleading statement, should we even be expecting global temperature changes to be accelerating at present? Continue reading Rates of change in global temperatures
A recent comparison of global temperature observations and model simulations on this blog prompted a rush of media and wider interest, notably in the Daily Mail, The Economist & in evidence to the US House of Representatives. Given the widespread misinterpretation of this comparison, often without the correct attribution or links to the original source, a more complete description & update is needed. Continue reading Comparing global temperature observations and simulations, again
Climate information for the future is usually presented in the form of scenarios: plausible and consistent descriptions of future climate without probability information. This suffices for many purposes, but for the near term, say up to 2050, scenarios of emissions of greenhouse gases do not diverge much and we could work towards climate forecasts: calibrated probability distributions of the climate in the future. Continue reading Reliability of regional climate trends
Can past observations be used to help constrain future temperature projections? This question is particularly relevant given the last decade which has shown relatively less warming than expected. Continue reading Constraining projections with observations
Now that 2012 is over, it is time to update a comparison of simulations and observations of global mean temperatures.
Continue reading Updated comparison of simulations and observations
A new analysis by Clara Deser and colleagues (accepted for Nature Climate Change), provides some fantastic visualisations of the crucial role of natural variability in how we will experience climate. Continue reading Visualising the role of natural variability
It is well known that the past decade or so has seen less global warming than might have been expected – but what is the cause? This is more of a discussion post, rather than any new analysis. Continue reading Global temperatures over the past decade
A rather specific question today – what will happen to maize yields in France in 2016-2035? Continue reading Projections of maize yields in France
There has been some recent blog discussion on comparing observations and climate models consistently. Here is my effort at such a comparison using the CMIP5 models which are already available. Continue reading On comparing models and observations
Update (23/10/11): The full article has now been published in Nature Climate Change
Climate projections (such as from the IPCC) usually consider the question of “what will happen to our future climate”. But, this question may be more informative if it is changed to “when will it happen”? Continue reading Climate uncertainty: moving from ‘what’ to ‘when’
There has been much discussion recently on whether GCMs participating in intercomparisons, such as CMIP3 and CMIP5, are ‘independent’. But if they are not, how does this make a difference to the uncertainty in our projections for future climate? Continue reading Uncertainty in uncertainty
A recent paper by Teuling et al. suggested the use of 2d colour bars for visualising climate fields. I thought I would give this a try – and Ryan Teuling was kind enough to provide the code to construct the colour bars. Continue reading Visualising climate with 2d colour bars
Climate models produce projections of changes in climate from the present day, but these projections have a range, or spread. A simple measure of the confidence in a forecast would be the signal-to-noise ratio, r, of the size of the projected change to the spread around that change. An important question is ‘when does the spread in the forecasts become so large that the forecast should not be used’? Continue reading When to use uncertain climate forecasts