Koch-Funded Study Finds Recent Warming “On the High End” and Speeding Up, as Curry Frags Muller Herself

We have learned two important things from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST):

  1. Denier claims that prior scientific analysis of the key land surface temperature data OVER-estimated the warming trend were not merely wrong, but the reverse was true.  Warming has been high and accelerating.
  2. The Deniers and Confusionists and their media allies can never be convinced by the facts and will twist themselves into pretzels to keep spreading disinformation.

We also learned that BEST’s Judith Curry still would rather be a confusionist than a scientist  — but that ain’t news (see “Judith Curry abandons science“).

data analysis 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.

Recall the foundation of the phony Climategate charge.  Somehow the climate scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, led by Phil Jones, were manipulating the data and the peer review process as part of a grand conspiracy to convince the public the earth has been warming faster than it really is.  A key point is that “the CRU compiles the land component of the record and the Hadley Centre provides the marine component.”

The BEST team vindicated climate science — see Koch-Funded Berkeley Temperature Study Does “Confirm the Reality of Global Warming.” Equally important, if you read the key paper, they found:

we find that the global land mean temperature has increased by 0.911 ± 0.042 C since the 1950s….  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 reconstruction.

D’oh!  The BEST data shows considerably higher warming in recent years than HadCRU (the red line above).

Of course, this isn’t news to anybody who actually follows this issue.  Two years ago, the Met Office released an analysis concluding that “The global temperature rise calculated by the Met Office’s HadCRUT record is at the lower end of likely warming.”

As an aside, Muller, in a March 2010 talk (near the end) clearly states that if warming is on the high range, then humanity should be more concerned because we have “less time to react.”

What’s even more worrisome is that the study clearly shows that the warming trend is accelerating.  First, “Our analysis technique suggests that temperatures during the 19th century were approximately constant (trend 0.20 ± 0.25 C/century).”  No big surprise there.

But then as human emissions kick into overdrive, things heat up:

The trend line for the 20th century is calculated to be 0.733 ± 0.096 C/century, well below the 2.76 ± 0.16 C/century rate of global land-surface warming that we observe during the interval Jan 1970 to Aug 2011.

That is, in the past 40 years, the land has warmed nearly 4 times faster than it did in the last century.  This really kills the denier meme that the observed data suggests we will see only a small amount of warming this century.

In fact, even the high and accelerating warming of the past 4 decades was reduced by human and volcanic aerosol emissions and the general lags between emissions and warming.  Thus, it is now patently obvious that if we stay on our current emissions path, the acceleration of warming will continue as greenhouse gas concentrations continue rising.  That’s without even considering the amplifying carbon-cycle feedbacks.

Another mini-bombshell in the paper, which has led co-author Curry to (try to) frag team leader Muller, is this conclusion:


Though it is sometimes argued that global warming has abated since the 1998 El Nino event (e.g. Easterling and Wehner 2009, Meehl et al. 2011), we find no evidence of this in the GHCN land data.  Applying our analysis over the interval 1998 to 2010, we find the land temperature trend to be 2.84 ± 0.73 C / century, consistent with prior decades.

Still warming, after all these years.

Now even though Curry signed her name to this submitted journal article, she apparently doesn’t believe it’s true.

The pseudo-journalist David Rose of the UK’S Telegraph got a bunch of quotes from her in a piece headlined, “Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong [aka Muller] accused of hiding truth by colleague” [aka Curry].

It is exceedingly difficult to know what Curry is saying because

  1. It is always difficult to know what Curry is saying (see Hockey Stick fight at the RC Corral).
  2. Rose generally isn’t reliable (see “David Rose destroys his credibility and the Daily Mail’s with error-riddled climate science reporting” and links therein).
  3. Curry has already walked back some of her comment’s (see here post here, but put a head vise on first, please).

But, she does say on her blog, “In David Rose’s article, the direct quotes attributed to me are correct.”

Still, neither she nor Rose appear to know what they are talking about.  Nor does Curry appear to have read the paper she put her name on.

Tamino has sorted out the statistics in his post, “Judith Curry Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot.”  He notes at the end:

Judith Curry protests that she was misrepresented by the article in the Daily Mail, and several readers have mentioned that David Rose, the author of the article, is just the man to do such a thing. It’s easy to believe that she was indeed the victim of his malfeasance.

But even after reading this post, she still hasn’t disavowed the statement “There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped.” In fact she commented on her own blog saying, “There has been a lag/slowdown/whatever you want to call it in the rate of temperature increase since 1998.” Question for Curry: What’s your scientific basis for this claim?

In his post, Tamino shows there is no scientific basis for the Curry’s claim at all:

Judith Curry’s statement is exactly the kind of ill-thought-out or not-at-all-thought-out rambling which is an embarrassment to her, and an embarrassment to science itself. To spew this kind of absolute nonsense is shameful. Judith Curry, you should be ashamed of yourself.

If I may offer an imperfect analogy, suppose your kid averages 70 in his ten math tests in 7th grade, and then averages 80 in ten tests in 8th grade and then averages 90 in ten tests in 9th grade.  Is your kid getting better in math?  What if your kid got the same exact yearly averages but had one 100 toward the end of 8th grade and one 100 toward the end of 9th grade.  Does that suddenly mean your kid didn’t get better in math in 9th grade?

The deniers and confusionists would have you believe so.  In fact, Tamino shows that the warming trend is real in the Berkeley data even if you start the trendline fairly recently.  You’ll have to read his post for details, since it’s hard to summarize his analysis.

Bottom Line:  Curry tried to frag Muller, but dropped the grenade on herself.

Related Post:

  • WashPost: “The Scientific Finding that Settles the Climate-Change Debate” and “Confirms” the Hockey Stick Graph
  • The deniers were half right (12/10): The Met Office Hadley Centre had flawed data — but it led them to UNDERestimate the rate of recent global warming.

30 Responses to Koch-Funded Study Finds Recent Warming “On the High End” and Speeding Up, as Curry Frags Muller Herself

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Us old Berkeley guys have a certain pride, and we knew that Muller would end up publishing the truth. We don’t go for chumps at Cal, unlike Georgia Tech (Curry) and U of Alabama (Christy).

    As annoying as Muller has been in the past, his work here should end up being extremely important. Its thoroughness will make it the benchmark of global temperature record keeping.

    The battle now will shift to the sun, clouds, volcanoes, and so on, and these claims will once again be thoroughly debunked. Unfortunately for the deniers, they have invested a lot in the Watts meme that scientists were somehow hiding the decline. Deniers’ claims this time will be met with a lot more skepticism by the public.

    Republicans and Blue Dogs will ignore this overwhelming evidence, just as they did previously. It’s time for the non MSM press to hold them fully accountable, and see that the American people know the facts. When this happens, things will change.

  2. Tim says:

    When you have inherently noisy data that stretches back as far as this data does, why would you ever even bother to begin taliking about recent start dates at all? The usefullness of the data is greatest when viewed over the longest time period. It is just stupid to cherry pick a short interval and make a statement about how strongly determined longer term trend is reversed.

    The stupidity of doing this is compounded by considering the temperature data in the context of the heat evidence. The freaking arctic is melting for God’s sake … and the rate of melting is clearly accelerating. Direct evidence for the attenuation of earth’s emitted radiation at wavelengths at which CO₂ absorption occurs has been observed – so the mechanism whereby the earth is warming is directly supported. Again, why offer up a statistically meaningless short-term-based contradiction of the the clear longer-term trend your own data is screaming that also contradicts of what other extremely relevant data is screaming? It is pathetic.

  3. todd tanner says:

    The DS isn’t a source I recommend for news, but Stewart seems to be the only one discussing this issue on TV.

  4. Thanks Joe, it seems that Koch is crumbling.

    One can imagine the desperation of a Koch team huddle. He has to keep coal flowing. Expect to see a massive – targeted media buy with strategic advertising. There is probably a frantic search for a new quasi-scientist willing to cast doubt.

  5. Interesting Times says:

    The DS isn’t a source I recommend for news

    Why not? Jon Stewart does a far better job discussing and drawing attention to important issues than any so-called “journalist” working in the mainstream media today.

  6. Jeff Huggins says:


    Thanks for this post. Very helpful. Three questions, then a comment:

    1. Where’s the best (most accurate and clearly presented) plot of the annual data, say from 1970 through 2010?

    2. Has anyone plotted (just for visual sake) a plot of the FIVE-year rolling average (year by year), say from 1970 through 2010? If so, where can I see the best (most accurate and clearly presented) plot of that?

    3. Does anyone have a view as to why Ms. Curry is saying what she’s saying? I don’t know anything about her and am just wondering if you (Joe/CP) have an informed view that’s more specific than the normal “she’s confused” or etc.?

    Now a comment. Unless I’m mistaken (and please correct me if I am, because this is partly a question, that is, if my statement is incorrect), there ARE indeed some contextual factors that are necessary for us to draw conclusions, from data like these, such as those that we’re drawing here and those that are implied by the illustration using grades that you (Joe) provided.

    One is that we are dealing with physical dynamics, and thus with dynamics that are very, very likely to show some degree of continuity and that are themselves explainable. For example, if we were picking people randomly out of a random crowd, and plotting their ages, and if the ages just happened to plot-out so far in a pattern like that of the last 40 years of temperature data (with one age per year, and no larger of a sample than that), then even if the plot so far was upward-moving, there really wouldn’t be any good, valid reason to expect such a trend to continue.

    The reason I point this out is this: Even though we understand (I hope) that there are indeed contextual factors that make these sorts of conclusions from sets of data valid, many people probably don’t. So, it might help to always make some simple statement that acknowledges that we realize this — that is, that these are not data about some non-physical process, about which it might be true that there aren’t really valid reasons to expect that a trend might continue. In other words, mere numbers, picked out of the sky, if they’re plotted, and if they happen by mere chance to show a trend, really DON’T provide any solid footing to expect that any trend that might appear will likely continue. It matters that we are talking about physical processes. Yes?

    Next — and on this I definitely agree — it provides even greater confidence if our underlying understanding of the dynamics involved (for example, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and etc.) align with trends shown in data such as these. And of course, the more “independent lines of evidence” that point to the same thing, and that can be explained in terms of each other and in terms of the underlying dynamics, the more we become confident in our assessments. These types of considerations aren’t discussed enough in the general public. In other words, much of the talk in the press and general public (to the extent it happens) leaves the impression that the whole matter hinges on what the temperature plots say, as if we have no understanding of the underlying science and no independent lines of evidence to cross-check with.

    In any case, I guess my only questions are the first three.

    Be Well,


  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    To paraphrase Groucho, ‘Those, Sir, are my opinions (the facts)-if you don’t like them, I have others’. Madam Curry does enjoy making a fool of herself, but, with her constituency now clearly be the Dunning-Kruger tendency, that’s a recommendation. ‘She’s one of us!’.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Not ‘stupidity’, Tim-dishonesty. Which puts me in mind of Mrs Chatsworth Osborne Snr, in Dobie Gillis, lamenting her son’s likeness to ‘great-uncle Jedediah, who died of stupidity at the age of 96’. There’s a lot of it going around.

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    And this applies here….
    Very entertaining but spot on!

    Climate Portals

    Richard Milne separates skepticism from denial
    Examines the science and arguments of global warming skepticism. Common objections like ‘global warming is caused by the sun’, ‘temperature has changed naturally in the past’ or ‘other planets are warming too’ are examined to see what the science really says.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    I’ve seen this bird’s stuff before , I have know idea exactly what’s going on with this under laying story, but O’Sullivan is a shill of the highest order.
    New Satellite Data Contradicts Carbon Dioxide Climate Theory

    Read more at Suite101: New Satellite Data Contradicts Carbon Dioxide Climate Theory |

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    O’Sullivan claims that NHK reported the Global Gasses Observing Satellite “IBUKI” had found this :
    ” Industrialized nations emit far less carbon dioxide than the Third World, according to latest evidence from Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). ”
    But neither NHK or the “IBUKI” page say a word about these claims :

  12. On the Oct 26 show, Stewart said that this story got 24 seconds of coverage on cable news. He does have a team of researchers following the cable news.

  13. Peter Mizla says:

    Good Morning all. Back on line- after an historic freak storm that shattered Connecticut. 884,000 have lost power. Governor Dannel Malloy issued a Sate of Emergency.

    My power was out for 28 hours. I am lucky. This storm was so strange. In eastern Connecticut I received about 10″ of snow- which in itself this time of year broke records going back 150 years. The heavy wet snow cover many oak, maple and other deciduous trees still green or partiality changed in their autumn color.

    Trees weighed down, from the snow broke limbs onto roads and power-lines. Wires over the road way. Snow and as yet still green trees!It was a surreal sight driving around the town I live in. Everything closed. The few filling stations had long lines. Large trees felled some on homes. Residential streets blocked, police and fire engines- their sirens heard all Saturday night into last evening.

    This is a new era- the age of the Anthropocene. After last winters bizarre weather- the tropical storm just 2 months which devastated the state, and now this. The sights and sounds and outcomes of a climate change disaster – I have seen the future. The havoc and chaos of this will be multiplied over and over again in the future.

    While Texas and the lower Great Plains see the effects of climate change due to their geographic location(more heat and drought) In New England and the northeast, our humid climate is reacting to the always present high levels of water vapor,from the nearby ocean to passing weather systems from the west and south. Add to this scenario that extra water vapor from the energy imbalance of an extra 5 % increase compared to 30 years ago.

    Is the climate reacting quicker to an atmosphere gorged with C02? From my unscientific perspective- but solid visual observation, here, I am seeing the future.

    When will this type of severe weather anomaly become so pervasive, that Government will become stretched in their ability to provide help and give answers to a weary population shell shocked like those here in Connecticut?

    I warned the Governors office here 6 months ago. I spoke to an aide- and warned him that the costs of climate change where going to be enormous. He said nothing.

    I also warned him on the underlying economic problems where being caused by the huge disparity of wealth in Connecticut and elsewhere. They must think in that Governors office I have some sort of clairvoyant power, or the gift of a Prophet.

  14. BillD says:

    O’Sullivan is a joke.

    All of this argument with Curry seems to be based on the idea that she does not know what a “long-term trend is.” Just select any short term piece of climate data and you can’t prove that the earth is warming or cooling or that the “warming has continued” (or “that it has not stopped”). Denialism seems to be based on “not looking at the data” since even a middle school student would understand the trend in the temperature data if shown data for the last 20 or 30 or 40 or 100 years. Given the past variability in the temperature data, how can anyone interpret small blips of 10 years or less as the end of warming?

  15. Toby says:

    Pretty stupidly, Curry spoke to a Daily Mail journalist who had at least one previous “conviction” for mangling the words of a climate scientist. She should have known better, but presumably she thought he was on “her team”. The chancer’s name is David Rose. She is now trying to backtrack on her blog.

    I think Robert Muller must be rueing the day he ever went near the denialist crowd.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    Peanut butter prices are set to move today :

    But according to USDA estimates this week, farmers who had runner peanuts – the most common kind and the type used for peanut butter – could sell their crop for almost $1,200 a ton, up from almost $450 a ton last year.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Peanut farmers had to delay planting this spring because of the heat, which cut their production. Others saw the plants they’d put in the ground scorch during the summer when the shoots, which poke back into the ground to produce the peanut seed, burned as they touched the hot soil. “

  18. prokaryotes says:

    When talkign to a politican you need to provide a) the economical potentials of renewable energy b) point out how exactly these kind of modern energy generation, provides energy security, in light of INSERT_CURRENT_DISASTER_HERE

  19. mark t says:

    I know everyone is focused on what the BEST data say about recent decades, but it is interesting that they use short record segments to carry their plot back to 1800. There are two interesting things about their early data. First, the NOAA and GISS data end in 1880, so those plots always look as if there was no warming going on at the end of the 19th century. The BEST plot shows a continuous linear warming trend from 1800 to 1940. However, their data also show large fluctuations in the 19th century. I get 1815 (Tambora eruption), but are these fluctuations real (are the data good enough to support them)? If they are, what do they say about the Charney climate sensitivity value?

  20. prokaryotes says:

    Study: Japan nuke radiation higher than estimated

    The Fukushima nuclear disaster released twice as much of a dangerous radioactive substance into the atmosphere as Japanese authorities estimated, reaching 40 percent of the total from Chernobyl, a preliminary report says.

    The estimate of much higher levels of radioactive cesium-137 comes from a worldwide network of sensors. Study author Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research says the Japanese government estimate came only from data in Japan, and that would have missed emissions blown out to sea.

    The study did not consider health implications of the radiation. The long-term effects of the nuclear accident are unclear because of the difficulty of measuring radiation amounts people received.

    Indian baby born with two faces ‘doing well’ one month after birth

    She also opens and shuts all four eyes at the same time.

    The excitement surrounding her arrival comes two years after the birth of another little girl, from the poverty stricken region of Bihar, who was born attached to her headless twin.

    Lakshmi’s body was joined with the parasitical twin attached at her pelvis until doctors successfully removed it

  21. Tom Lenz says:

    Peter-I feel your pain and hope the best for everyone affected. During the unprecedented ice storm of 2009 our power was out for two whole weeks. We stood on the front porch and listened as ancient oak trees two or more feet in diameter snapped in half with horrifying reports. The woods sounded like the Battle of Berlin as the entire world seemed to be breaking down. My wife and I were trapped for nearly a week by a half dozen massive trees which fell across our road preventing us from getting out. It was a mere taste of the future and it was nearly unbearable. There will be no adapting to what is coming.

  22. Jay Alt says:

    That fall storm is the flip-side of what Climate Change is doing to damage trees in the spring. Early in the year odd warm weather is causing unseasonably early leaf-out. Then if cold weather returns and is accompanied by an ice storm, it wreaks havoc which would barely have bothered trees still in the bud.

  23. Artful Dodger says:

    We’re really missing the point here. Every month of delay results in $7B USD in profits for Big Oil. If stooge-like comment from Ms. Currie results in even a day’s delay, that is $230 Million Dollars for Big Oil, and probably about $2,000 for the stooge. Faust is roiling in his grave.

  24. Artful Dodger says:

    The AP reports:

    Classic “move-the-goal-post” response.

  25. Artful Dodger says:

    In a brief email statement, the Koch Foundation noted that Muller’s team didn’t examine ocean temperature or the cause of warming and said it will continue to fund such research. “The project is ongoing and entering peer review, and we’re proud to support this strong, transparent research,” said foundation spokeswoman Tonya Mullins.

  26. John Hartz says:

    The BEST study has been addressed in four articles posted on Skeptical Science over the past two weeks.

    “Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study: The effect of urban heating on the global trends is nearly negligible”

    “The BEST Kind of Skepticism”

    “Bad, Badder, BEST”

    “It’s Still Us, and It’s Still Bad”

  27. SqueakyRat says:

    I can’t turn on the TV without seeing Conoco Phillips ads pushing natural gas (i.e. fracking). They must be spending huge on it.

  28. Anne van der Bom says:

    As for your points 1) and 2)

    Happy plotting!

  29. tempterrain says:

    ” Bottom Line: Curry tried to frag Muller, but dropped the grenade on herself.”

    There is another explanation. Judith Curry could be playing a more devious game.

    Judith Curry protests that she was misrepresented by the article in the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday. What Judith has actually said on her blog is:

    “To set the record straight, some of the other sentiments attributed to me are not quite right”.

    Not quite right eh? But basically OK?

    and, why did Judith write later:

    “Well, I have a rule about not talking to reporters on the phone, asking for submitted questions and I respond by email. It’s a rule I extremely rarely break, and Rose caught me on the phone and I spoke with him.”

    Judith is obviously savvy enough with regards to the ways of the press, to know she should have this rule, and, yet, when she did choose to break it, she tells us that it wasn’t with the BBC or Washington Post, with whom we could all believe she inadvertently might, but actually with that most scumbag of all outfits the Daily Mail.

    Does this all ring true? Call me cynical if you like, but if Judith had wanted to create a measure of uncertainty and doubt in the popular mind about the BEST findings, then allowing the Daily Mail to do their worst with her comments would be a neat and deniable way of doing it, don’t you think?