by Dr. Roy Spencer, February 27, 2019 in GlobalWarming
A new paper in Nature Climate Change by Santer et al. (paywalled) claims that the 40 year record of global tropospheric temperatures agrees with climate model simulations of anthropogenic global warming so well that there is less than a 1 in 3.5 million chance (5 sigma, one-tailed test) that the agreement between models and satellites is just by chance.
And, yes, that applies to our (UAH) dataset as well.
While it’s nice that the authors commemorate 40 years of satellite temperature monitoring method (which John Christy and I originally developed), I’m dismayed that this published result could feed a new “one in a million” meme that rivals the “97% of scientists agree” meme, which has been a very successful talking point for politicians, journalists, and liberal arts majors.
John Christy and I examined the study to see just what was done. I will give you the bottom line first, in case you don’t have time to wade through the details:
The new Santer et al. study merely shows that the satellite data have indeed detected warming (not saying how much) that the models can currently only explain with increasing CO2 (since they cannot yet reproduce natural climate variability on multi-decadal time scales).
But we already knew that, didn’t we? So why publish a paper that goes to such great lengths to demonstrate it with an absurdly exaggerated statistic such as 1 in 3.5 million (which corresponds to 99.99997% confidence)? I’ll leave that as a rhetorical question for you to ponder.