Met Office finds “evidence for man-made warming has grown even stronger in the last year.”

Ahead of the latest UN talks on climate change in Mexico, the Met Office analyses long- and short-term trends in climate and reveals that the evidence for man-made warming has grown even stronger in the last year….

Dr Matt Palmer, an ocean observations specialist at the Met Office, said: “It is clear from the observational evidence across a wide range of indicators that the world is warming. As well as a clear increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea, we see observations which are all consistent with increasing greenhouse gases.”

The blockbuster news from the UK’s Met Office is that they’ve reviewed the global temperature data and concluded that the apparent slow down in the rate of global warming (as measured by surface temperatures) may not be real.  It may largely be an artifact of “changes to sea-surface temperature measurement practices” along with “strong warming in the Arctic “” where there are fewer observations.”

I’ll do a post on that Monday, but here’s the overview of the full analysis by the Met[eorological] Office (part of the Defence Ministry) of long and short-term climate trends:

There is overwhelming evidence of warming in a wide range of climate indicators, not just surface temperature. The picture for short-term trends is more complicated. Short-term variations are affected by natural variability and other factors as well as long-term warming. In the last 10 years the rate of warming has decreased whilst the rate of loss of sea-ice extent has increased “” an apparent contradiction “” the Met Office’s latest analysis of the science shows that this is entirely consistent with our understanding of how the climate behaves and with our model projections.

I would note that this Reuters story — “World warmer, short-term trends need study: report” — misses the point the Met Office is making.  The apparent contradiction is not a real one.

In providing the evidence of continued warming and drawing from the work of more than 20 institutions worldwide, the Met Office Hadley Centre compiled results for a range of climate indicators “” not just surface temperature. The multiple data sets used for each indicator are from diverse sources such as satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, ocean buoys and field surveys.

Dr Matt Palmer, an ocean observations specialist at the Met Office, said: “It is clear from the observational evidence across a wide range of indicators that the world is warming. As well as a clear increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea, we see observations which are all consistent with increasing greenhouse gases.”

These changes include:

  • Increases in water temperature at the sea surface down a depth of hundreds of metres.
  • An increase in humidity as a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture.
  • Increases in sea level as warmer waters expand and land-ice melts.
  • Shrinking of Arctic sea-ice, glaciers and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover.

Since the late 1970s the long-term rate of surface warming has been about 0.16 °C per decade. However, over the last decade the rate of warming has decreased.

Natural variability within the climate system could explain all of this recent decrease. Other factors could have contributed.

  • Changes in stratospheric water vapour
  • Solar variability
  • Increased aerosol emissions from Asia

The rate of warming has been underestimated in the last decade because of:

  • changes to sea-surface temperature measurement practices;
  • strong warming in the Arctic “” where there are fewer observations.

Dr Vicky Pope said: “Our analysis confirms that the signals of warming are as strong as they ever have been. Improving our understanding of the factors that affect short- and long-term trends is helping us to improve our predictions of the future, helping others to make choices on mitigation and adaptation providing a more resilient future.”

I will do a full post on this new finding Monday.  I’m hoping to get some more info from the lead author of the sea-surface analysis.

For another review of the key climate science findings of the year, see


19 Responses to Met Office finds “evidence for man-made warming has grown even stronger in the last year.”

  1. Michael says:

    Tamino did a comparison on temperatures from UAH, RSS, GISS and CRU and found that over the past decade, UAH had three times as much warming as CRU, with GISS and RSS being slightly lower (yes, UAH shows the most warming since 2000, 0.19°C per decade, compared to GISS at 0.16, RSS 0.15, and CRU at 0.06; NOAA/NCDC isn’t shown but probably is closer to CRU):

    Also, as for why UAH shows more warming than GISS (despite Spencer’s adjustments), I’d expect that tropospheric temperatures in the Arctic are warming much faster than a the surface, since in the summer ice prevents surface temperatures from rising much above freezing, so surface temperatures mainly show warming in the winter.

  2. pete best says:

    Its about the Arctic really as GISS include it by extrapolation but CRU dont include it at all which seems very odd to be fair.

  3. Rab says:

    No, Michael. By quoting the Tamino analysis and omitting the error bars, you are misrepresenting the results. CRU is 0.06+/-0.13, GSS is 0.19+/-0.25. So the two are not a factor 3 apart, in fact they are consistent with each other. They are consistent even if you take only ONE standard deviation (0.06+/-0.07 vs. 0.19+/-0.12). Therefore also theorizing as to why UAH shows more warming than GISS over the past 10 years has no motivating basis. The 10 year time span is simply too short.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Melting Arctic Ice: What Satellite Images Don’t See

    In short, as Barber and his colleagues explain in a recent paper in Geophysical Review Letters, the analysis of what the satellites were seeing was wrong. Some of what satellites identified as thick, melt-resistant multiyear ice turned out to be, in Barber’s words, “full of holes, like Swiss cheese. We haven’t seen this sort of thing before.”,8599,1956932,00.html

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    I scratched my head when I came across the image of a huge dust storm (shown above) blowing off the Malaspina Glacier in southeastern Alaska on November 17th (one week ago).

    And this was not a unique event, for comparable dust storms occurred last November (2009) , November 2005 (especially dramatic photo), and March 2003.

    The cause seems obvious, at least in retrospect. As the massive glacier flows towards the sea, it crushes the rock underneath into fine dust, referred to (not so obviously) as glacial flour, and is deposited as mud.

    Like most glaciers worldwide, ostensibly due to global warming, the Malaspina Glacier has been retreating for at least the last 30 years. As it retreats, the mud dries and winds carry it far and wide, in this case into the Gulf of Alaska.

    Data from a fine-particle collecting site established in 1991 indicates Iceland is also subject to dust storms attributed to retreating glaciers – and possibly over the Arctic more generally. This dust can spread over northern latitudes, including Britain and Europe (and North America?). The principal investigator of this investigation, Joseph Prospero, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Miami, warns that: “These glaciers are retreating, and if they continue to retreat, then you’re going to be exposing more of this sub-glacial grinding.” And the grinding would lead to more dust fallout.

    These particles may contribute to further albedo decrease.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    How’s Antarctica faring? Experts fly over ice to find out
    Operation IceBridge bridges satellite gap in measuring glaciers, sea ice

    Holding enough ice to raise sea levels by nearly 200 feet if it all melted, Antarctica is a major factor when it comes to climate change.

    All this research is part of Operation IceBridge, a six-year mission that NASA calls “the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown.”

    Now in its second year, the mission has also been measuring ice at the other end of Earth — the Arctic. It was launched to “bridge the gap” in polar observations caused when a NASA satellite stopped collecting data in 2009 and the next similar satellite isn’t planned until 2015.

    But why bother? Why not wait a few years and let the new satellite resume measuring then?

    Parts of western Antarctica are “sensitive, rapidly changing areas,” Seeley Martin, a sea ice expert at the University of Washington, told a press conference Monday. “We wanted to avoid an ‘Oh my God!’ moment when we come back” in 2015.

    Sea ice and glaciers act as defenses that slow the natural tendency of ice on a landmass such as Antarctica to flow towards the sea.

    Antarctica’s ice is seen as much more stable than the ice sheet covering Greenland, where rapid melt has tracked a dramatic rise in Arctic air temperatures.

    But even parts of Antarctica are now vulnerable and showing more rapid ice loss where temperatures have risen. Two western areas, in particular, are of concern: the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Pine Island Glacier region.

    And there’s already an example of what the collapse of ice defenses can do. In 2002, Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf collapsed, allowing several glaciers to speed up the flow of ice off the continent and into the sea — thus adding to sea level rise.

    That “trigger event” caused “very dramatic changes,” said Chris Shuman, a NASA scientist who specializes in glaciers.

  7. waynemac3 says:

    I know that this is off topic, but follow this link: to article on Alltop

    “What if solar got fossil fuel subsidies? “

  8. Soviet says:

    Hey, what do you guys think of this image?

    Slightly off-topic, but not really

  9. Soviet says:

    Oh, wow. Someone already beat me to it. Never mind.

  10. paulm says:

    Things not looking pretty…we are basically fried! Toast.
    Can someone (Obama are you there mate?) declare a state of emergency? Please.

    Civilization is going to collapse way before 3C.
    In fact I am betting things are going to start unraveling by around or before 2015 due to global food crisises mainly. And this will include chaos in the west also as our just-in-time infrastructure will not cope either.

    Crop failures and drought within our children’s lifetimes
    Children today are likely to reach old age in a world that is 4C warmer

    This dire scenario could come as early as the 2060s – well within the lifetime of today’s young people.
    based on current trends, a rise of 3C or 4C is far more likely.

  11. peter whitehead says:

    Prokaryotes (#5) – wind-blown glacial flour produces LOESS. Plenty of loess deposits occur around the world, some glacial, some non-glacial. Worth a Google. There is glacial loess around the Mississippi alluvial valley. Non-glacial loess covers a lot of Kansas, for example.

  12. Esop says:

    #8 Inverse: yep, the British (and Norwegain) Met offices would have learned from last winter (and partly the 09 winter). Seems that the trend with negative Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation during the winter is here to stay, at least for a while.
    The overall temperature of the globe is at its highest since measurements started, but the pressure systems in the stratosphere over the Arctic are messed up from the rapid warming up there (in some places 10C warmer than in the 1990s). The result is that the Arctic warms, while dumping frigid air into Europe. Since we are not measuring the temperatures over large sections of the Arctic, where the warming is the fastest, the global average temperature will have a cold bias, ie. the real global temp temp is higher than what the data tells us.
    Basically, we are getting the cold air that should have stayed in the Arctic. It is currently raining and 16C in Greenland while it is snowing in London.

  13. Raul M. says:

    Comments at Skeptical Science on the post of Nov. 20th,
    The Hunan Fingerprint In The Daily Cycle, bring up the
    CO2 dome over urban areas. That the CO2 dome could
    trail with the wind and that on event days the differences
    In the dome are measurable sheds light to human activities.

  14. MikeB says:

    Despite the huge amount of evidence of warming, Vicky Pope was once again asked on the BBC’s leading radio news programme ‘is climate change really happening?’ . Someone please tell the media that this is a story based on reality, and basic research would answer their questions.

    PS – John Humpheries should be ashamed of himself.

  15. Raul M. says:

    Must be hard for the average person to distinguish
    between the average geoengineering experiment,
    (burning fossil fuels) and the average geo-
    consequences (climate change) if the media tells
    it like it is. Used to be the only radical actions
    were taken by those who didn’t want BAU to be
    disturbed. Evidence such as floods, droughts,
    glacier melt, burned leafs from dew drops, etc.
    are so widespread people can really see such.
    It’s nice that leaders suggest nonviolent
    resistance as a path forward.

  16. dbmetzger says:

    Leaders Converge in Cancun as Climate Conference Begins
    The United Nations Climate Change Conference got underway in the Mexican beach resort of Cancun Monday with calls for decisive action to curb greenhouse gas emissions worldwide as part of an effort to curb global warming.

  17. Andy says:

    Not so warm now, eh?
    Come on – show me how the Met Office explain away this one

    [JR: Why would one need to explain away a record cold, assuming it actually did set the record? As I’ve blogged here a dozen times, we set record lows and record highs every day, but in this country the record highs are outpacing the record lows by 2-to-1, more this year. There is some science to suggest that is the Arctic sea ice melts, England and parts of Europe may get blasts of cold, while the Arctic itself sets new record highs, but that will only be a temporary phenomenon, until the planet just get so hot that it overwhelms all these regional weather phenomena.]

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    Andy @ 17 –

    Check out the current temps on Baffin Bay , both sides of it are currently above freezing :

  19. Colorado Bob says:

    Aasiaat, Greenland 69 degrees north west coast of Greenland ….. 32F, it was raining at 3 AM there today. Every station in Iceland is reporting 32 F., or above.

    There’s a buoy ( BUOYBATEU06 ) south west of Iceland reporting 49 F.

    The the north west coast –
    Skutvik, Norway
    lat: 68.02 N

    The top of Norway –
    Makkaur Fyr
    lat : 70.70 N

    lat: 59.20
    -4 F.

    It hasn’t been below 32 F at the top of Norway for the past 48 hours.