Nature Climate Change | Climate Feedback

UK press gets ‘Mr Global Warming’ hot under the collar

Cross-posted from Daniel Cressey on The Great Beyond

brit snow.jpg
The cold snap in Britain – seen here in this NEODAAS/University of Dundee image – has triggered a rash of ‘global warming isn’t real’ comments.

Climate scientist Mojib Latif is not a happy man. The Leibniz Institute researcher says he “cannot understand” why his research is being cited in media reports questioning climate change.

“It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming,” he told the Guardian. “I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming.”

So why is he so peeved? Well, in case you’re pushed for time, the bottom line is ‘Move along, nothing to see here’.

On Sunday the Daily Mail reported that “The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years”. The newspaper went on to cite Latif’s work as showing a new cooling trend from measurements of deep ocean temperatures.

“For the time being, global warming has paused, and there may well be some cooling,” it quoted him saying.

Part of the basis for the Mail’s claims appears to be Latif et al’s 2008 Nature paper, Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector. This concludes that global surface temperature may not increase in the next decade as natural variations may “temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming”.

This paper did not pass without comment at the time. The influential Real Climate blog offered a bet to the Nature paper’s authors that their forecast was wrong.

The Mail also cites a talk Latif gave to a Geneva conference. But does the work really “challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs”, as the Mail would have it?

Here’s what Nature Reports Climate Change’s review of 2009 said:

In September, the issue of cooling resurfaced following an address by Mojib Latif to the World Climate Conference in Geneva. Latif, a climatologist at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, was speaking of the need for greater accuracy in predicting climate change on a decade-by-decade scale. He noted that because of natural variability in the climate, it is theoretically possible that we could see “a decade, or maybe even two, when the temperature cools relative to the present level”.

Some news accounts reported that Latif had predicted global cooling, and climate change deniers echoed the claims. Lost in the ensuing game of telephone was the fact that in both cases the researchers accept that overall warming is occurring and will continue in the long run.

So the Daily Mail report is basically a slightly sensationalist spin on science from last year that has already been analysed (in a rather more nuanced fashion) half to death elsewhere.

Move along, nothing to see here.


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