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So is the hot spot 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 you think it’s misleading to talk about fingerprints of greenhouse gases in climate models, then you’ll have to take that up with people like Ben Santer, not me.

1. The top science reports call it a fingerprint or signature

Go to the sources I quote in the Skeptics Handbook (see here). The CCSP Chapter 5, mentions “fingerprint” or variant of that, not just once, but 74 times. If you think that’s being deceptive, then email the authors (that would be Santer, Thorne, Hansen, Wigley et al…see below). The IPCC also mentions “signature” in the text leading up to the hot spot page, Assessment Report 4.

Let’s quote the IPCC (Chapter Nine, page 674) right in front of a version of the predicted hot spot graph (see below).

These figures indicate that the modeled vertical and zonal average signature of the temperature response should depend on the forcings. The major features shown in Figure 9.1 are robust to using different climate models.

The IPCC certainly wants you to know the signature is “distinct”:

The simulated responses to natural forcing are distinct from
those due to the anthropogenic forcings described above.

2. Look at the original graph.

Compare the pictures, read the caption. The experts tell us that the models  predict different causes will give different patterns. The hot spot graph is listed as “simulations of the vertical profile change due to” … wait for it… “Well mixed Greenhouse gases“. The other likely causes are predicted to make different patterns.

3. Watch the “greenhouse” pea

“Greenhouse Gases” may imply carbon dioxide, but in this graph it refers mostly to water vapor. This gives them wiggle room to confound people, they called it vaguely “greenhouses gases” when they wanted people to know about it and be afraid, but when they want the issue to disappear they say “it’s not due to CO2”. True, but slimey.

4. Watch that other pea

Note how Graph (f) — “All Forcings”  virtually equals Graph (c) — “Greenhouse gases”? Because CO2 induced warming is so dominant in the models (but not in reality) there is more wiggle room to confound the crowd. Theoretically, under extreme circumstances, all forms of warming could cause a hot spot because all forms of warming heat the oceans and make water evaporate, but the models universally (robustly) agree that right now, if that pattern occurred on this planet, it would be due to “greenhouse gases”, not to solar-magnetic or volcanic or ozone… So when activist-scientists want to pretend they could predict the climate, they argue they can tell apart the causes by looking for these patterns. When they want their critics to go away, they argue the opposite. (It’s handy having a lap-dog media on your side, reliably not investigating your contradictory claims, eh?)

28 million radiosondes show there is no hot spot.

SOURCE: Hadley Radiosonde record: Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1, 2006, CCSP,, Chapter 5, p116, recorded change/decade, Hadley Centre weather balloons 1979-1999, p. 116 , fig. 5.7E, from Thorne et al., 2005.


Memo to believers of global catastrophe: Here’s a strategic tip — run, flee, hide, and avoid the Hot Spot argument at all costs. (You can’t win). Either the hot spot is missing because the models exaggerate wildly, or the hot spot is there but we can’t see it because the world hasn’t warmed as much as those thermometers-near-carparks are claiming it has.

This is a lose-lose scenario for alarmists. The more they talk about it, the worse it gets.

If you are concerned about misinformation, these are the people to write too:

CCSP Chapter Five Convening Lead Author: Benjamin D. Santer, DOE LLNL
Lead Authors: J.E. Penner, Univ. of MI; P.W. Thorne, U.K. Met. Office
Contributing Authors: W. Collins, NSF NCAR; K. Dixon, NOAA;
T.L. Delworth, NOAA; C. Doutriaux, DOE LLNL; C.K. Folland,
U.K. Met. Office; C.E. Forest, MIT; J.E. Hansen, NASA; J.R. Lanzante,
NOAA; G.A. Meehl, NSF NCAR; V. Ramaswamy, NOAA; D.J. Seidel,
NOAA; M.F. Wehner, DOE LBNL; T.M.L. Wigley, NSF NCAR



Wherefore art thou honesty?

The theory of man-made catastrophe is only supported by model predictions, not by observations, and here you have the leading science report of the day in 2005, telling us that we would find a fingerprint of this disaster in the weatherballoon records. They discussed “fingerprints”, they labelled the hot spot graph “Greenhouse gases” and they certainly wanted the public to know that when that hot spot turned up, it would be proof that they were right.

So with all the honesty we’ve come to expect from science-activists pushing a policy, after the fact, when the results not only didn’t go the right way, but the people realized it and started to ask difficult questions about it, only then did the team that’s supposed to serve the public start changing their tune and disagreeing with what they had put into print in 2005.

Then fatuous acolytes of the mistaken “experts” accuse me of “misrepresenting” them, without realizing they are the unwitting patsy followers of people who were never trying to be honest in the first place.

Would they say that if they found the hot spot?

If the weather balloons had produced a hot spot would they be saying “yes we found it, but it’s not unique”? As if. Not only would it have been trumpeted across the media, it would have been replicated in glossy brochures, video guides, documentaries, government web sites, IPCC reports, adverts on television, and there would have been coloring in competitions of  “hot-spot” graphs at school. And indeed, if they had really found the hot spot, arguably, that would have been reasonable.

Instead, when the results disagreed, the “science-activists” did what they always do — they buried the topic as fast as they could, they went out of their way to find any ghost of the hot spot, looking in wind shear patterns, increasing error bars, seeking out past warm biases, and present cool biases, even distorting the colors of scales on graphs. And all the while they did that, they seeded the idea that (post hoc) it was never a “signature” or “fingerprint”. Instead they try to confuse the public by belatedly explaining the details they didn’t mention before: that it’s not due to CO2, and it’s not unique.

Any form of warming would case the hot-spot. But here’s the kicker. The models said the only significant cause of enough warming to cause the hot spot would be man-made CO2-induced warming. But 28 million radiosondes confirm that it isn’t there. Not even slightly. Yellow Is Not Red. The hot spot is missing, and that means the models are devastatingly wrong. There goes all the raging fears of warming over 1.2C eh?

Here’s the bottom line:  “Yes” other forms of warming (under extreme circumstances) could cause the hot-spot according to the models. But it isn’t there, the models are still wrong. Just compare the models with reality.


The hot-spot is critical. The models predicted it, but 28 million weather balloons can’t find it. The theory of man-made global catastrophe depends on the hot spot occurring. The models assume water vapor amplifies the minor warming caused by increasing CO2, it’s the main feedback. CO2 directly only causes 1.2C of warming. (Hansen 1984)

 Hat tip: Thanks to Mattb in comments for suggesting I ought to repeat that graph with the results of the radiosondes.

The post that contains this graph is linked at the bottom of every page The missing hot spot.

See all the posts that relate to the 

Hot Spot Graph 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) Hadley Radiosonde record: Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1, 2006, CCSP,, Chapter 5, p116, recorded change/decade, Hadley Centre weather balloons 1979-1999, p. 116 , fig. 5.7E, from Thorne et al., 2005.

UPDATE: The former links are broken (why do government departments do that?) All original CCSP Chapters are stored at the Wayback Machine. See Wayback Machine copies of (Chapter 1)   Specifically download the PDF. and Wayback Machine Copies of (Chapter 5)  Specifically download the PDF.  If they disappear there is a back up copies here of Chapter 1 SAP and Chapter 5 SAP 1.

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