Dienstag, 4. Februar 2014

Proper cherry picking

There is a much discussed graph in the blogosphere from Tamino, which shall approve that there is no delay  or pause or decline in global warming. Its from:


He states: Twelve of sixteen were hotter than expected even according to the still-warming prediction, and all sixteen were above the no-warming prediction:


Let get a larger picture:

  • We see the red HADCRUT4 graph, coming downwards a bit from 1960 to 1975, and inclining steeper beyond 2000, with a slight drop of about the last 10 years.
  • We see a blue trend, rising at the alarming rate of 0.4°C within only one decade! This was the time when some scientists started to worry about global warming.
  • We see the green trend, used by the blogger Palmino in the first graphic, rising less than 0.1°C per decade.
  • Below we see the Sunspot Numbers, pulsing in a frequency of about 11 years. Comparing it with the red temperature graph, we see the same pattern of 11 years pulsing. It shows clear evidence that temperature is linked to the sunspot activity.
Tamino started his trend at high sun activity and it stopped at low activity. Therefore the weak increase during 18 years.

Which leads us to the question: How long should a time be for observing climate change? If we look at the sunspot activity and the clear pattern it produces in the temperature graph, the answer is: 11 years or a multiple of it.

Or we can measure from any point of:

  • high sun activity to one of the following
  • low sun activity to one of the following
  • rising sun activity to one of the following
  • declining sun activity to one of the following
to eliminate the pattern of sunspot numbers.

Let's try it out:

The last point of observation of the trend is between 2003 and 2014, about 2008. But even here we can see the trend has changed.

We do not know about the future. An downward trend seems possible, but a sharp rise is predicted from some others, which would destroy our musings so far.

Just being curious: How would the graph look with satellite data? Let's check RSS.

Really interesting. The top of both graph appears to be at 2003 or 2004. HADCRUT4 shows a 0.05°C decline, RSS a 0.1°C per decade.

A simple way for smoothing a curve

There is a more simple way for averaging patterns (like the influence of sunspots). I added a 132 months average (11 years). This means at every spot of the graph all neighboring data (5.5 years to the left and 5.5 years to the right) are averaged. This also means that the graph will stop 5.5 years from the beginning or the end. And voila, the curve is the same as with our method in the previous post to measure at the same slope of a pattern.

As I said before the top of the curve is about 2003, and our last point of observation of a 11 years pattern is 2008. From 2008 to 2003 is only 5 years. This downtrend, even averaged, is somehow too short for a long time forecast. But anyway, the sharp acceleration of the the 1975-2000 period has stopped and the warming even halted - for the moment.

Note: I gave the running average graph (pale lilac) an offset of 0.2°C to get it out of the mess of all the trend lines.

If Tamino would have smoothed the 11 years sun influence of the temperature graph before plotting the trend like done here at WFT, his green trend would be would be the same incline like the blue 33 year trend:

Even smoother

Having learned how to double and triple smooth a curve, I tried it as well on this graph:

We learned from Judith Curry's Blog that on the top of a single smoothed curve a trough appears. So the dent at 2004 seems to be the center of the 132 month's smoothed wave. I double smoothed the curve and reached 2004 as well, now eliminating the dent.

Note: Each smoothing cuts away the end of the graph by half of the smoothing span. So with every smoothing the curve gets shorter. But even the not visible data are already included in the visible curve.

According to the data, after removing all the "noise" (especially the 11 year's sun activity cycle) 2004 was the very top of the 60 years sine wave and we are progressing downwards now for 10 years.

If you are not aware about the 60 years cycle, I just have used HADCRUT4 and smoothed the 11 years sunspot activity, which influences the temperature in a significant way.

We can clearly see the tops and bottoms of the wave at about 1880, 1910, 1940, 1970, and 2000. If this pattern repeats, the we will have 20 more years going down - more or less steep. About ten years of the 30 year down slope are already gone.

One more pattern

There is also a double bump visible at the downward slopes of about 10/10 years up and down. By looking closer you will see a hunch of it even at the upward slope. If we are  now at the beginning of the downward slope - which could last 30 years - we could experience these bumps as well.

Going back further

Unfortunately we have no global temperature records before 1850. But we have one from a single station in Germany. The Hohenpeissenberg in Bavaria, not influenced from ocean winds or towns.


Sure, it's only one single Station, but the measurements were continuously with no pause, and we can get somehow an idea by looking at the whole picture. Not in terms of 100% perfection, but just seeing the trends. The global climate surely had it's influence here as well.

What we see is a short upward trend of about ten years, a downward slope of 100 years of about 1°C, an upward trend for another 100 years, and about 10 years going slightly down. Looks like an about 200 years wave. We can't see far at both sides of the curve, but if this Pattern is repeating, this would only mean: We are now on the downward slope.  Possibly for the next hundred years, if there is nothing additional at work.

The article of Greg Goodman about mean smoothers can be read here:

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