There is nothing like a(n extreme) Dame

Hot off the virtual presses from a “jewel in the crown, of British science and global science”, aka the U.K. Met Office (MO), in this instance in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, is a 29-page “briefing” paper, entitled The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK (pdf).

Many could not believe their ears on learning via Andrew Montford, aka Bishop Hill, that Dame Julia Slingo, the MO Chief Scientist, “had taken to the airwaves … trying desperately to insinuate that there is a link [from] climate change” to the recent stormy weather in the U.K. The awesome Alex Cull has captured a transcript of Slingo’s performance on BBC Radio 4’s: The World This Weekend for posterity.

IPCC-nik and MO stalwart, Richard Betts had lamely limped to Slingo’s “defense” but was not particularly convincing or successful. (See his [Feb 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM] “response” to Matt Ridley’s [Feb 9, 2014 at 10:23 AM] comment).

Meanwhile, over at her Garden Pond, Ruth Dixon had found a rather glaring discrepancy in the “briefing” paper. I first read about it over at Roger Tattersall’s (aka) Tallbloke’s Talkshop.

While I was there, a few questions did occur to me and I had posted them in a comment**. But while I was sleeping, Betts acknowledged Dixon’s observations and he arranged for the “briefing paper” to be “updated”. Alas my questions were not answered. So I started to post at Tallbloke’s, but since the thread was getting somewhat technical, I didn’t want to overstay my welcome there (or take advantage of Ruth Dixon’s hospitality!)

** An excerpt from that comment:

Strikes me that such ‘rise x by y’ claim would keep at the forefront that which they cannot explain: i.e. the failure of their mighty models and sclerotic scenarios to account for, project or predict (whatever the term of the week might be) the pause/hiatus of the last 17 years, while CO2 emissions have significantly increased despite the blight of unsightly windfarms and exorbitant expenditures on other useless so-called “renewables.”

So I was wondering if this alleged ‘commitment’ to this alleged ‘future warming’ scare is yet another “reframing” of that which is not doing a very convincing sales job, so as to divert attention from (and save them from further questioning of) that which the Met Office (and others) were finally forced to acknowledge – in no less than three papers – last July.

Consequently, I am posting my questions here …

So, let me see if I have this right … First the MO told us:

Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise [SLR -hro] is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm (9-10½ inches) of total sea level
rise since 1900. [emphasis added -hro]

Now they say that this has been “updated” (as opposed to “corrected” or “amended”) to read:

Sea level along the English Channel has already risen during the 20th century due to ocean warming and melting of glaciers. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further overall 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030, relative to 1990, of which at least two-thirds will be due to the effects of climate change. [emphasis added -hro]

Hey, TB … looks as though (at least some of) the “missing heat” might be back in the (ocean) building – along with the perennially melting glaciers;-)

Rats! … This time there’s no “translation” of measurements into real units for the benefit of the metrically-challenged :-( Oh, well … moving right along …

While I confess that I had not read as far as p. 21 the first time around, evidently (at least parts of) an echoing and expanded paragraph has been “updated” (as opposed to “corrected” or “amended”) to read:

Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm during the 20th century; this is over and above the increases associated with sinking of the southern part of the UK due to isostatic adjustment from the last Ice Age. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further overall 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030, relative to 1990, of which at least two-thirds will be due to the effects of climate change. We are very confident that sea level will continue to rise over coming decades as the planet continues to warm, and these numbers represent our current best estimate for the UK. Clearly sea level rise from whatever source has to be factored into discussions about resilience to coastal and river inundations. [emphasis added -hro]

Suddenly, everything has become relative, it would seem. Too bad, though, that no one at the Met Office thought it necessary to “update”, “clarify” or “amend” the sentences in which they’ve declared that this alleged “warming” to which we are allegedly “already committed”, so that one might have some idea where to begin to verify these allegations – if one were so inclined, of course.

Nor is there an indication of how they might have determined that at least 2/3 of this (relative) anticipated SLR will be due “to the effects of climate change” (whatever the definition and/or “cause” – or “source” – of this purported climate change might be, this week!)

Additionally, they do not seem to believe it is necessary to provide any explanation for their extreme … sorry … “very confident” (judgment? guess? “best estimate”?) wrt future SLR. And I do wonder about the grounds of their (apparently unqualified and unquantified) assertion to the effect that ‘over coming decades [the planet will continue to] warm’.

Whatever happened to the “pause” which was the “cause” of no less than three MO papers last July, eh?! And how on earth did these “pre-updated” paragraphs slip through “peer review” virtually unnoticed, in the first place, eh?!

In any event, while this 29 page “briefing” is far from “brief” (at least in my books) and it does contain four mentions of “anthropogenic greenhouse gas*” (and five other “anthropogenic” mentions which might be balanced by the five instances of “natural variability”), I did notice that there’s nary a carbon* to be found – nor for that matter, a “CO*”.

There are, however, a respectable two mentions of “IPCC”; while the “top dog”, so to speak, seems to be “extreme*” at 28 instances. Only one of these “extremes”, btw, derives from an “extremely likely”.

Since the other 27 “extremes” refer to weather and/or climate, I think it would be interesting to know whether the eleven authors of this “briefing” intended their use of the word “extreme” as it was presented in the Glossary of AR4, or that of AR5 or even something completely different! As I had noted in early October, something got “disappeared” ‘twixt AR4 and AR5.

For some heretofore and – to the best of my knowledge – still unknown reason the following text does not appear in AR5’s glossary entry for “extreme”:

Single extreme events cannot be simply and directly attributed to anthropogenic climate change, as there is always a finite chance the event in question might have occurred naturally.

[Memo to self: Be sure to check the recently published AR5’s now “official” WG1 Glossary, to see if there’s been any subsequent change to their Glossary definition of “extreme”]

5 thoughts on “There is nothing like a(n extreme) Dame

  1. Now we know that the 11-16cm of sea level rise relates to the period 1990-2030, (and not to 2014-2030, as the original text implied), I can show readers how to calculate that figure.

    1. Goto the satellite data http://sealevel.colorado.edu/
    2. Average sea level rise since 1993 is 3.2 +/- 0.4mm/year.
    3. With a calculator over 40 years that is 11.2cm to 14.4cm
    4. Allow for a bit of infilling, as tide gauges catch up to the global average and round to the nearest centimetre.

    Naturally, satellite data is far more accurate than tide gauges.

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