Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Earth Stats Science

Norwegian Study: Global Warming Less Severe Than Feared 468

Numerous news outlets are reporting the findings of a study from the Research Council of Norway — a government agency — which concludes that (in Bloomberg's version) "After the planet's average surface temperature rose through the 1990s, the increase has almost leveled off at the level of 2000, while ocean water temperature has also stabilized." The New York Times' Dot Earth blog offers some reasons to be skeptical of the findings.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Norwegian Study: Global Warming Less Severe Than Feared

Comments Filter:
  • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @12:25PM (#42707693) Journal

    It's doubtful their study will hold up to scrutiny. After reading the actual study, they're using a simple climate model to feed a Baeysian statistical model to generate their results, which fails to take into account numerous factors. This seems exceptionally weak, especially since a few years of data can drastically alter the results. For example, if the last ten years had a few strong El Ninos that gave a warming signal stronger than the expected signal, their model could be made to show warming beyond even the worst IPCC projections. And if you applied their methodology to a decade where some slight cooling took place (like the late 60's to early 70's), it would appear that by this time we would be well on our way to an ice age by now. That's an incredibly wide error margin, and more than enough to cast doubts on their results.

  • Re:Surprise (Score:3, Informative)

    by Skvate ( 2459000 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:34PM (#42708303)
    The lead in this project - Terje Berntsen, says that the variation from '90s and in the '00s could be explained by natural variations. In the 00' the natural variations is canceling out the rise in CO_2 emissions, and in the '90s it was amplifying it. I still hope that the worst case scenario(a 4 degree rise) will be the "working scenario" for the solutions that will be used.
  • Re:Petroleum bias (Score:3, Informative)

    by jurgen ( 14843 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @01:58PM (#42708459)

    Your understanding of the scientific method is a bit naive. Lots of incorrect results pass peer review even in the most prestigious journals and sometimes are discovered as being incorrect only years later (or never)... because there is always some "fuzziness" in real-world experiments or data analysis. Were the experiments designed correctly? Was the data read correctly? Were there any errors in the analysis (mathematical or otherwise)? Is the logic leading to the conclusions correct? Peers who read the papers may or may not spot the errors... sometimes because the errors are subtle, and sometimes because even the smartest peers don't fully understand the research in the first place. (And with regard to the this Norwegian government research... well it hasn't even been peer-reviewed yet.)

    There are a lot of steps in research and in each of the stops bias can creep in even if the researchers are honest and well-intentioned.

    For more about this see, i.e.: [] [] []'s_bias []

    ...and lots more. In some areas of research (specifically bio-medical) there have been estimates (based on meta-analysis) that as much as half of all published results are wrong, and mostly along the lines of the researchers inherent biases.

  • Re:Poor summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:12PM (#42708573)

    Tipping point is typically considered to be the point when waters get warm enough for methane emissions increase from sediment becomes self-sustaining. We have significant evidence from excavations that suggests that once methane saturation in the air reaches certain point, it will become a self-sustained and very fast paced acceleration.

    This is known because we can assess methane content from excavating ground layers. In other words, we know that this has happened in the past, several times. We also know that sediment contains high amounts of methane that is currently not being released into atmosphere in significant amounts and we know that warming water on top of that sediment will cause these emissions to increase rapidly.

  • Re:Poor summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by terec ( 2797475 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @03:10PM (#42708961)

    Huh? Tipping points at any temperature within a few degrees of current temperatures are pure speculation, and actually quite unlikely given climate history

  • Re:Surprise (Score:2, Informative)

    by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:10PM (#42709797) Homepage

    Because the whales being hunted for "research" are not only endangered, but are being fished on a commercial scale.

    I'm dubious of this research as it goes against nearly every other peer reviewed paper I've read recently, which all state climate change is observably worse than predicted. I'm not sure where they get the info that temps have leveled off post-2000, but GISS, NOAA, etc, data does not show this.

  • Re:Look at the data (Score:3, Informative)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:19PM (#42709863)

    Responding to your points:

    Global temperature increase data: Don't make the mistake of extrapolating the results of one study from Lapland to the whole globe. Unless you can present corroborating evidence from reasonably globally spread sites it's more about local conditions than global conditions.

    Human induced warming: Of course there is nothing "supposed" about the warming. It has been measured. Where is your evidence that CO2 rise has to follow the rise in temperature? If that it true then where is the temperature rise that caused the current rise in CO2 to a level 40% greater than has been seen for at least 800,000 years (from ice cores) and probably greater than it has been for over 15 million years (from other CO2 proxies)? Are you confusing correlation with causation?

    Global warming models: If you think global warming models are just based on curve fitting extrapolations of "short term trends" you really have no idea of what they do. They are fundamentally based on the physics of the climate system. Observational data such at temperature trends are only used to compare to model output. See the FAQs here [] and here [] for more information about how climate models work. Since the period of the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit is approximately a 100,000 year cycle it is not a significant effect on a scale of a few thousand years let along a couple hundred years. Other elements of the Milankovitch cycles have periods as short as around 25,000 years, still not particularly significant on century scales.

    Vilification of scientists: Here you just start making political arguments that don't have much to do with science. Well known skeptical scientists such as Roy Spencer, John Christy, Richard Lindzen and Judith Curry have not lost their positions because of their views. Once you get outside of scientific circles there is vilification going on but it occurs on both sides of the argument. Examples on the "global warming side": Michael Mann, Phil Jones, James Hansen.

    The reason CO2 followed temperature in past deglacitions is because CO2 is a feedback of warming. I believe the primary source of CO2 during these periods is outgasing from the oceans. Colder water holds more dissolved CO2 and as it warms up it will release it*. Another smaller factor could be CO2 trapped in the continental ice sheets that is released as they melt. None of this means that CO2 can't also force changes in temperature. In fact the temperatures reached during interglacial periods can't be fully explained without including the added warming from increased CO2 and methane.

    * The reason oceans are still absorbing CO2 despite the fact that they are warming is because the dissolved CO2 in water is a function of both temperature and the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere above it. We've added enough CO2 to the atmosphere that the oceans are still sinking it but that can't last forever.

  • Re:Surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by semi-extrinsic ( 1997002 ) <> on Sunday January 27, 2013 @06:00PM (#42710145)

    Because the whales being hunted for "research" are not only endangered, but are being fished on a commercial scale.

    That's Japan. It's in Asia, not in Europe, you know. I specifically said "in a well regulated way on a population which is large enough". Try answering the question.

    To be specific, the quota for Norwegian whale hunting has been between 500 and 1000 whales per year for the last decades. This is of a species called "common mink whale", estimated global population 184 000 individuals, being cited as "of least concern" on the IUCN Red List for endangered species. That's the same "endangeredness" category as Alaska Moose. Should we stop hunting that as well?

    And regarding the temperatures leveling off post-2000, that's fairly easy to find data for (GIYF): here's a plot [] showing the global temperature anomaly from Hadley data, NOAA data and NASA data. All are roughly flat for the ten years following 2000.

  • Re:Surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @06:00PM (#42710153) Journal
    Just some nitpicks.
    Fourier died in 1830, he predicted the properties of C02 in 1824 while developing spectroscopy.
    Tyndal confirmed the prediction by experiment in the 1850's
    The first mention of AGW was in 1896 by a guy called Arrhenius, he woefully underestimate the growth in emissions and estimated it would take 3000yrs for CO2 to double.
    Arrhenius was largely ignored for 50yrs, it was believed that the spectrum of H2O overlapped and overwhelmed that of CO2. The "problem" during those 50yrs was explaining the ice ages.
    In the 1950's work on heat seeking missiles improved spectroscopes to the point it could be shown that the two spectra were interleaved not overlapped.

    In 1958 the national academies first warned the US government that CO2 was warming the earth [], their confidence in that warning has done nothing but strengthen since that time.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker