I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.
Climate models that accidentally got El Niño right also show warming slowdown
Spend any amount of time reading climate arguments on the Internet, and you'll undoubtedly hear some version of the following argument: the Earth hasn't warmed in 17 years, and none of the climate models predicted that. Although there are a lot of problems with that statement (including the fact that it has warmed a bit), it's probably safe to say that the warming hasn't been as intense as many scientists expected.
Of course, to a scientist, unmet expectations are an opportunity, so a variety of papers have looked into why this has happened. They've found that, while volcanic eruptions seem to have contributed to the relatively slow rise in temperatures, a major player has been the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which has been stuck in a cool, La Niña state for most of the last decade. And, since climate models aren't expected to accurately forecast each El Niño, there would be no reason to expect that they would match the actual atmospheric record.
At least not intentionally. But some researchers have found that, simply by chance, a few of the models do produce an accurate ENSO pattern. And when those models are examined in detail, it turns out they match the existing temperature record pretty well.
The issue the new paper examines comes down to the difference between long-term climate trends and intermediate-term variations. In the long-term, the state of the climate is set by things like solar activity, orbital mechanics, and greenhouse gas levels, among other things. But on shorter time scales, things like volcanic activity and ocean cycles can have a profound effect on temperatures.
Coupled climate models that include both the atmosphere and the oceans accurately reproduce the behavior of the major ocean cycles, including the ENSO. But, since the onset of changes in the ocean is chaotic, the models generally don't get the timing right—the model may show an El Niño starting three years earlier than it does in reality.