A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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New Science 17: Solving the mystery of the missing “Hotspot”

Things are hotting up. After all the hard work of the past few posts, the payoff begins. By solving the flaws inherent in the basic conventional model we solve some of its biggest missed-predictions. And the clincher for conventional models has always been the missing hot spot. Without it, over half the projected warming just vanishes. And if it is telling the tale of a negative type of feedback instead of a positive one, then all bets are off — not three degrees, not even one degree, it’s more like “half” a degree. Go panic about that.

Here David gets into the empirical data — the radiosondes, the satellites, and shows how his model fits their results, whereas the establishment models have repeatedly been forced to deny them. Twenty eight million radiosondes get the wrong results: how many ways can we adjust them? Tweak that cold bias, blend in the wind shear, change the color-scales, homogenize the heck. Smooth, sort, shovel and grind those graphs. The fingerprint of CO2 was everywhere in 2005, though gradually became the non-unique signal of any kind of warming, but it still wasn’t there. It kept being “found”, though it was never reported missing. [...]

Sherwood’s devout unscientific faith in “climate change” and the hot spot

In The Age this week, Stephen Sherwood explains how misleading skeptics have been for repeating obvious, incontestable results from millions of weather balloons. See, all along, Sherwood knew the weather balloons were wrong, and if only skeptics had his psychic powers, or connection to God, they would have too. Naughty skeptics,eh?

The article in The Age gives away a lot more than either Steven Sherwood (or Peter Hannam, the Fairfax journalist) probably meant to reveal. Sherwood’s still spruiking his latest study, which repeatedly adjusted and blended the weather balloon data and finally “found” the hot spot so effectively it even shows up in years when  it’s not supposed to occur. I’m not talking about his technique, but about his slip of the tongue. Spot the conflicting messages. (As usual, the gullible Peter Hannam let him step right in it, by failing to ask the obvious questions.)

Stephen Sherwood effectively tells four points. Figure out how they can all be true at the same time:

The hot spot is vital to the models, indeed to the current scientific understanding of our climate! This is the first time they have finally resolved the missing hot spot. Sherwood always knew the hot spot [...]

New satellite analysis fails to find the hot spot, agrees with millions of weather balloons

Here I go, harping on about the missing hot spot again.

Roy Spencer has been hunting for the famous missing hot spot (like half the climate world) but he’s been looking in the UAH satellite temperature data. Last week Sherwood et al claimed they finally found it (again!) in an iteratively reiterated homogenized and adjusted version of radiosondes. Spencer was not impressed with the black box statistics approach. As I pointed out here, the Sherwood results was adjusted so much it did not look like the original data, and they somehow found the hotspot by adding in data from years when a hot spot shouldn’t occur. They mushed the data to fit one part of their model, but it broke in other parts.

Roy Spencer has used new methods to improve the satellite signal of the hot spot, and is “increasingly convinced” the all important mysterious hot spot is really not there, which fits with 28 million weather balloons and humidity data too.  Satellites are not particularly good at finding the hot spot because it is a very thin layer over the tropics and satellites peering down from on high find it difficult to measure signals from 10km up and [...]

Desperation — who needs thermometers? Sherwood finds missing hot spot with homogenized “wind” data

Who’s desperate to find the missing hot-spot? Sherwood’s new paper claims to have found it, but after years of multi-layered adjustments, and now kriging the gaps, and iteratively homogenizing, the results of the new data partly “solve” one problem while creating others. There’s no documented, physical reason for the homogenizing and there’s no new insight gained. The raw data was used by airlines, the military, and meteorologists for years, yet the suggested new results are quite different to the raw data. It’s as if we can’t even measure air temperature properly. Somehow we’ve made multivariate complex models work but not simple temperature sensors? The main problem with the old results was that they didn’t fit the models. Now, after torturing the data, they still don’t. 

Twenty-eight million weather balloons had shown by 1999 that the key assumption in the climate models was wrong. Without feedbacks, the models only produce 1.2°C of warming with a doubling of CO2. With feedbacks the simulations ramp that up to a dangerous 3 – 4 degrees C, and water vapor was the most important feedback. It’s just no fun for the Global Worriers without it.

No hotspot = no water vapor feedback like [...]

IPCC plays hot-spot hidey games in AR5 — denies 28 million weather balloons work properly

The classic hot spot prediction (A) compared to 28 million weatherballoons (B). Click to enlarge. You won’t see this in the new report.

It was a major PR failure in 2007. The IPCC won’t make the same mistake again. They’ve dumped the hot-spot graphs.

In AR4 they put in two graphs that show how badly their models really do. In the next report they plan to bury the spectacular missing-hot-spot images through “graph-trickery” and selective blindness. Each round of IPCC reports takes the spin-factor up another notch. It’s carefully crafted.

See the draft of AR5: Chapter 9: Evaluation of Climate Models

It’s hot-spot hidey games and PR tricks

In the new extra-tricky AR5 version, the IPCC “quote the critics” and ignore them at the same time. That way they can say they include the McIntyre’s, McKitrick’s, Douglass’, and Christy’s: the words are on the page, but that doesn’t mean the information is used in the conclusions. The models have failed and they bury that undeniable result under the clutter.  (You’ll need to read the fine print). There is no acknowledgement that this issue of the “hot spot” drives more amplification of predicted warming in their models than any [...]

Yet another paper shows the hot spot is missing

Remember the evidence is overwhelming, and deniers deny the evidence. But in Oct 2012, two atmospheric scientists were reporting, yet again, the models are wrong. Twenty years after we started looking for the fingerprint of the amplification required to make the CO2 theory of global warming work, it still isn’t there. Forgive me for harping on. It’s still The Most Major Flaw in climate models.

Never heard of “the Hot Spot”? See the first post on the hot spot argument. The models are wrong (but only by 400%!) See how climate scientists admit it’s important and missing. See how they stoop to changing color scales on graphs to pretend they’ve found it and ignore 28 million weather balloons. Or just read the summary with scientific references I wrote in May.

Background: The assumption that was wrong

Researchers made an assumption that water vapor would amplify the direct warming of extra CO2 from a small harmless amount to a large catastrophe. They started with the theory that relative humidity would stay constant in a warmer world and the thicker layer of water vapor would warm the world even more. Greenhouses gases in this instance means mainly water [...]

Fasullo and Trenberth find spurious success, make headlines, but still the models crash

It’s worse than we thought — again….

Fusulo and Trenberth scored headlines around the world recently with a new paper that suggested that a few models got the relative humidity right in some tropical spots, and they also happened to be the models that predicted the hottest global outcomes.

John Christie pointed out that the models with the highest climate sensitivity are also the ones which are the worst at predicting future temperatures.

But there is more to this. It is a likely a case of twenty models predicting 40 parameters, and you can take your pick of the permutations and combinations which give one or two models a “success” here and there on one or two factors. But in the end, as Richard Courtney says, all the models are different so only one model can possibly be The Right One for the whole atmosphere, and quite likely they are all wrong.

In this case, they are still all wrong. The hot spot is still missing, and the region below it with which they scored some success is not that important.

The words hot spot and humidity over the tropics lead many commentators to think this was something to do [...]

Models get the core assumptions wrong– – the hot spot is missing

This is part of a series that Tony Cox and I are doing that references the most important points and papers, as a definitive resource about the evidence. The missing hotspot is not just another flaw in the theory, it proves the models are wrong: not just “unverified”, not just “uncertain”, but failed. Apologies to those who feel I harp on about this! This is a condensed review, squishing years of a scientific battleground down to it’s bare bones… — Jo

It is not well known that even the IPCC agrees that the direct effects of CO2 will only increase world temperatures by 1.2°C. All of the projections above that (3.3°C , 6°C  etc) come from model projections based on assumptions of what water vapor and clouds will do (these are the feedback effects of the original 1.2°C).[i] Are the feedbacks correct?

If the IPCC models are right about the feedbacks, we would see a hot spot 10km above the tropics. The theory is that with more heat, more water will evaporate and rise, keeping relative humidity constant at all heights in the troposphere. The point has been conclusively tested with 28 million weather balloons since 1959.[ii]



So is the hotspot a “fingerprint” or signature? Is it unique?

Some people claim that I mislead people. But it seems they are the misled — not by me, but by their own heroes.

In the Skeptics Handbook I wrote:

“The greenhouse signature is missing If Greenhouse gases are warming the earth we are supposed to see the first signs of it in the patch of air 10 kilometers above the tropics. But this “hot spot” just isn’t there.

Weather balloons have scanned the global atmosphere but could find no sign of the predicted “hot-spot” warming pattern that greenhouse gases would leave.”

Sources: Sources: (A) Predicted changes 1958-1999. Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1, 2006, CCSP, Chapter 1, p 25, based on Santer et al. 2000; (B) Same document, recorded change/decade, Hadley Centre weather balloons 1979-1999, p. 116 , fig. 5.7E, from Thorne et al., 2005

With all the benefits of hindsight, it stood up extremely well. (Damn, but I did do a good job )

There are claims I should not call it a “signature”, but here’s how it is: The top alarmist researchers called it a fingerprint or a signature, the graph explicitly states that the hot spot is the pattern caused by “well mixed greenhouse gases”, and basically, if [...]

Dr David Evans: The Skeptic’s Case

A new brief summary of the reasoning and evidence behind the skeptics case. –Jo


The Skeptic’s Case Who Are You Going To Believe – The Government Climate Scientists Or The Data? Guest Post Dr David M.W. Evans

We check the main predictions of the climate models against the best and latest data. Fortunately the climate models got all their major predictions wrong. Why? Every serious skeptical scientist has been consistently saying essentially the same thing for over 20 years, yet most people have never heard the message — here it is, put simply enough for any lay reader willing to pay attention.

What the Government Climate Scientists Say


Figure 1: The climate models. If the CO2 level doubles (as it is on course to do by about 2070 to 2100), the climate models estimate the temperature increase due to that extra CO2 will be about 1.1°C × 3 = 3.3°C. [1]

The direct effect of CO2 is well-established physics, based on laboratory results, and known for over a century.[2]

Feedbacks are due to the ways the Earth reacts to the direct warming effect of the CO2. The threefold amplification by feedbacks is based on the [...]