Ten Charts That Make Clear The Planet Just Keeps Warming


skeptics v realists v3

Perhaps you thought that the whole “planet isn’t warming” meme was killed by this summer’s bombshell Koch-funded study. After all, it found “global warming is real,” “on the high end” and “essentially all” due to carbon pollution.

Sadly, denial springs eternal. Long-debunked denier David Rose has an article in the Daily Mail, “Global warming stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report quietly released … and here is the chart to prove it.”

The piece is so misleading, even the UK Met Office felt a need to instantly debunk it with a blog post that included this chart.

UK Met Office graph showing years ranked in order of global temperature.

Since Rose managed to find one misleading chart to push his myth, I thought I would dig up ten serious ones that show the reverse, including the top chart from Skeptical Science, the great Australian blog, which is derived from the data in the Koch-funded study.

Note: “Skeptics” is an Aussie word for denier or disinformer. The British have their own words — Rose or Mail:

So one has to assume going in that any climate piece in the Mail with Rose’s name on it is somewhere between misinformation and disinformation. The latest piece tends toward the latter. Heck, even Judith Curry complains she was misquoted, as Media Matters notes.

The Met Office, part of the UK Defence Ministry, explained, it’s absurd to look at a cherry-picked “trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina)”:

As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual.

The warming trend is clear in a chart from an earlier Met Office post “Noughties confirmed as the warmest decade on record“:

Here’s an analogy to the notion it hasn’t warmed from the El-Nino-fueled summer of 1997 through the La-Nina-cooled summer of 2012. Imagine your kid got 11 B’s and 1 A+ in 9th grade science class. Then, in 10th grade science, she gets 9 A’s and 2 A+’s — but her last grade was “just” an A. Would you say she is doing better in science class or worse in science class?

If you prefer your charts from U.S. agencies using the good ‘ole Fahrenheit scale, here’s NOAA’s version of the previous chart, which notes “Every year of 2000s [was] warmer than 1990s average”:

The recent La Nina, far from providing evidence that the planet isn’t warming, demonstrates the exact reverse, since it was the hottest La Nina on record — as seen in this chart from NOAA:

See also this discussion of the World Meteorological Organization from December 2011: 2011 Is Warmest La Niña Year on Record and Science “Proves Unequivocally” It’s “Due to Human Activities.”

If you want to refute the disinformers with perhaps the biggest dataset, analyzed independently, and backed by Koch money, well, you have to go to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) Study — and really, what else is it good for? Their key paper from 2011 found it’s warming fast:

… our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions.

They compare their findings with all the other datasets, and it looks like this:

ten year data analysis comparison graph

The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.” A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Via BEST.

Still warming, though that’s just a chart of land-surface temperatures.

In fact, the land has received only a tiny fraction of the manmade warming in recent years as the scientific literature — captured in this great Skeptical Science infographic — makes clear:

Components of global warming for the period 1993 to 2003 calculated from IPCC AR4

Now, if you actually read the scientific literature, you find the oceans have been rapidly warming in recent decades (see “Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans“):

“Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”

And no, the ocean didn’t stop warming in the middle the last decade, as a chart from yet another scientific study makes clear (see “Search for ‘Missing Heat’ Ends Myth Global Warming Has Ended“):

Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.

Still warming.

You may have noticed in the infographic that Arctic sea ice has seen 0.8% of global warming — nearly two-fifths of the warming the continents have received. I wonder what has been happening in the Arctic:

Arctic Sea Ice is melting much, much faster than even the best climate models had projected. The reason is most likely unmodeled amplifying feedbacks. Image via Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

Oh, right, it’s in a death spiral — and that’s just the two-dimensional sea ice extent. Let’s remember that “Experts Warn Of ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue.”

Finally we have the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which each have been getting a mere 0.2% of the warming. Let’s check in on those:

  • Nature: “Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized”
  • JPL: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050
  • Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’
  • Large Antarctic glacier thinning 4 times faster than it was 10 years ago: “Nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.”

Still warming.

That’s ten charts, enough for now, but there are many other physical indicators of continued warming (see “How Can It Be Warming When It’s (Almost) Always Cooling?“)

19 Responses to Ten Charts That Make Clear The Planet Just Keeps Warming

  1. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Keep your ears open for new news from Antarctica. There’s a little yellow sub under the E Antarctic ice sheet now doing 3 dimensional mapping. I’m putting my money on bad news, ME

  2. dana1981 says:

    I’m biased, but I’d add Figure 1 from Nuccitelli et al. (2012), which is similar to the 8th figure in this post.

  3. Peter M says:

    Saw this story on line this morning. Its amazing how many will actually believe it.

  4. Mark E says:

    I know what you mean… just wanted to add the silver lining that at least such research is being funded.

  5. jd says:

    Just want to say to Joe Romm, the think progress climate team and in fact everyone blogging/researching/acting on this issue and valiantly hacking through the toxic vines of misinformation and complacency: Thank you. The battle is huge and critical and you are beacons of sanity.
    Useful Article Joe

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The picture of La Curry that accompanied the Daily Mail farrago was, to say the least, unflattering. However it was psychologically revealing in the manner of a great Rembrandt portrait. The poor dear needs a complete makeover and to take a long, long, Sabbatical.

  7. Jakob Wranne says:

    Dead clear. The clarity of the arguments is needed.

  8. Will Fox says:

    I’ve been arguing with some people on the KurzweilAI forum and it’s like talking to a bunch of Young Earth Creationists. There’s just no getting through to these people –

    Here are some of the points I made (all completely dismissed, of course):

    The human fingerprint in global warming –

    On average, human activities produce in just 3 to 5 days, the equivalent amount of carbon that volcanoes produce globally each year.

    Time history of atmospheric CO2, showing a MASSIVE spike from the Industrial Revolution onwards (coincidence, eh????????) –

    Strong correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels, man-made carbon emissions and the global average temperature –

    The rapid decline in Arctic sea ice is at least 70% due to man-made global warming, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% caused by humans – a far higher proportion than scientists had previously thought –

    A NASA study reports that changes in solar activity cannot be responsible for the current period of global warming. The sun’s total solar irradiance has in recent years dipped to the lowest levels recorded during the satellite era –

    10-year average (2000–2009) global temperature anomaly relative to 1951–1980 mean –

    No scientific body of national or international standing maintains a dissenting opinion on climate change. Not a single one! –

    “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is due to human activities.”
    – The National Academy of Sciences (the gold standard for objective scientific assessment)

  9. Spike says:

    Misquoting Curry indicates how desperate for arguments Rose must be getting. And the fact that the usually staid Met Office rebutted the story so vigorously is encouraging. Less encouraging is the vacuous torrent of willful blindness and wishful thinking in the comments.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Rose has form, which may prove useful to establish motivation when the trials for ecological crimes against humanity commence. The Dunning-Krugerites know not what they do, a trip to the toilet being a real test of persistence and co-ordination for that type.

  11. Neven says:

    “even Judith Curry complains she was misquoted”

    Hold on a minute, wasn’t Judith Curry misquoted by Rose not so long ago? And yet she still talked to him again? To be misquoted again?

    Mind you, I asked her about it at the time (see our short conversation here). She said things like: “At the moment, I’m feeling manipulated by both Rose and BEST.”

    But she still spoke to him, and let him mislead her. I’m starting to see a pattern here.

  12. catman306 says:

    Kevin Drum

    Lying With Statistics, Global Warming Edition

    The Daily Mail, which has something of a specialty in climate denial, apparently discovered this weekend that Britain’s Met Office has updated its long-term global temperature series. This happened several months ago, and the changes from the HadCRUT3 series to the HadCRUT4 series were fairly minor, but I guess anything is a good excuse to rerun one of their oldest wheezes: a colorful chart that starts with the unusual temperature spike of 1997-98 to make it look like global warming has stopped. Here’s my version of the chart in their story:
    (continued here:) (the comments are hell)

  13. Larry Gilman says:

    Ten charts that “make clear”? Not entirely. About 8 out of 10 nontechnical readers would look at that UK Met office chart, the second one in the blog post, and conclude that the climate is _cooling_. English speakers read from left to right, calendars go from left to right, hockey stick images go from past (left) to present (right), etc. etc. — but this chart goes from present to PAST, left to right, with cooling colors! Omigod, what kind of wonk water were they quaffing! Everyone who reads Romm’s book on rhetoric should also read Tufte’s “The Visual Display of Quantitative INformation” ( ). Graphics that use clumsy or backwards-ass visual rhetoric are just as unhelpful, or more so, than, say, rebuttals of climate denial that begin by reciting the “myth” trope.

  14. Dan Braganca says:

    Joe suggested we think about the trend in temperature if it was science grades. I decided to graph it out to see how it looked. It makes it pretty clear the Daily Mail is failing:

  15. Jack Burton says:

    By chance I happen to be a Daily Mail Reader on a daily basis. Naturally this article claiming no warming for 16 years caught my eye. It was a very slick and very calculated lie. So very convincing for anyone not familiar with the current science. Even knowing the article was a calculated lie, it was so slickly written than I was half convinced. Naturally this calculated lie has spread like wild fire among the confirmed deniers, sort of like throwing a stack of T-Bone steaks to a starving pack of wolves. The deniers have quite simply gone wild with joy repeating this deliberately false hoax of a claim that warming stopped 16 years ago.
    As I have often posted on here, the deniers have now become desperate due to the tidal wave of new data on just how fast the earth is warming and how fast fed backs are coming on line. Knowing the story of the arctic seas this year, it was only natural that the paid deniers would need a bombshell story to divert attention from the great arctic melt. And right on schedule come this Daily Mail lie. This is all to be expected. As each data point comes in showing we are warming faster than anyone dared predict, expect more denial lies to be cooked up by paid liars. Someday, when this all goes sour and nobody alive can any longer believe we are not in a terrible climate disaster, the names of these professional paid liars, who work to prevent any measures to halt global warming,will be looked upon with the same disgust as the evil dictators of the 20th century. How does a person who lies in order to facilitate the destruction of a livable earth for their kids and grand kids live with themselves? They do it for money and they do it out of a brain dead political dogma that gives man dominion over earth no matter the consequences.

  16. Kingtak Wong says:

    I don’t really understand how people can still claim the opposite (except those with vested interests of course) without jumping through hoops. Even at the basic BASIC understanding of climate science, I understood when I was much younger. And even if the science is “unsound”, I would think that Oil (like our metals) is a finite resource and at some point we will need to switch to something else. Which, when you think about it, that is one of the bigger goals of climate change action.

  17. lena says:

    The material that supports the human impact on global warming and subsequent climate change is irrefutable. Will fox shows that the data scientists have is conclusive. Climate change is happening and the natural variability of the earth system is not the main cause. 99% of scientists believe climate change is real. What scientists to not agree on is the extents to which the climate change will proceed to.

  18. Craig says:

    I agree. It should be replaced with a version that has the past on the left. Why make this harder than it needs to be?