Possible mechanism of abrupt jump in winter surface air temperature in the late 1980s over the Northern Hemisphere

Posted: October 31, 2016 by oldbrew in Analysis, climate

Then there was the ‘climate shift’ of 76/77 which seems to be about one solar cycle’s worth of years earlier than the one featured in Paul Homewood’s post (below).



By Paul Homewood



I have often alluded to an apparent shift change in UK temperatures in the late 1980s, something which also seems to have happened in other parts of NW Europe.

It was with interest then that my attention was drawn to the above paper, which found the same phenomena in winter temperatures, not only in the UK, but also all over the Northern Hemisphere and attempted to explain it.

Here is the Abstract:


The authors point out that many other studies have found the same abrupt winter climate change, and have all offered various theories.

The study uses examples at Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing to highlight the size of this shift:


And comments:



We can do the same analysis for the UK, where the shift seems to have occurred around 1988. The mean for 1988 to 2016 is almost a full degree higher than the 1955 to…

View original post 145 more words

  1. oldbrew says:

    Could the climate shift have arrived in two parts, since the solar magnetic cycle reverses every 11 years or so?

    LDEO says: ‘The climate shift is part of a phenomenon called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation’

    LDEO’s link to PDO info is dead, but see:

    Global Patterns – Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO)

  2. oldbrew says:

    Research over the last 15 years has led to an emerging consensus: the PDO is not a single phenomenon, but is instead the result of a combination of different physical processes, including both remote tropical forcing and local North Pacific atmosphere–ocean interactions, which operate on different time scales to drive similar PDO-like SST anomaly patterns.

    Abstract: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0508.1

  3. Tenuk says:

    oldbrew says:
    “Could the climate shift have arrived in two parts, since the solar magnetic cycle reverses every 11 years or so…”

    Yes, a solar connection is a possibility. Perhaps it could be something to do with changes in solar activity between hemispheres, as Earth’s pole are connected to the sum differently. We have also seen a loss of sea ice in the Arctic and a growth in Antarctica and rapid changes in both solar bodies magnetic field. I’ve had a hunch for some time that we don’t understand how the sun effects climate on planets in the solar system.

  4. BoyfromTottenham says:

    I’m none the wiser – so what causes the step changes of the Hadley, Ferrel and polar cells? BTW I have noticed here in OZ that the position of the low pressure systems circulating around Antartica (at around 50-70 degrees S – see here: http://www.bom.gov.au/fwo/IDY65100.pdf) and the high pressure systems that typically sit to the North of them and which strongly influence our weather (i.e. at about 30-40 degrees S) seem to shift N or S by 10 or more degrees at certain times. Any connection?

  5. Paul Vaughan says:

    It’s long-known NAM = AO = NAO (not PDO). A bunch of (wind driven) sea ice got ejected out of the Arctic. Years ago animations of that were a topic of discussion along with a paper on the Transpolar Drift Stream.

  6. oldbrew says:

    In a blog post at WUWT yesterday Anthony Watts adds his own note, refers to the 1976/77 ‘great climate shift’ and quotes a comment at the Talkshop by Roger Andrews.

    The breakpoint in 1976/77 is known as the Great Pacific Climate shift, and was identified in a paper by Ebbesmeyer et. al in 1990.

    In 2009, WUWT published a press release about the paper:

    “Surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean”

    “The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely” says corresponding author de Freitas.

    “We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

    The paper: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2008JD011637.shtml


  7. Blob says:

    Well, I wouldn’t pay attention to any paper on a pattern like this that doesn’t first go over the history of stations and other details of data collecting. If I am understanding correctly the number of stations used here was doubled in 1987? Is that right?

    “Additionally, the amount of raw data and its quality have also increased as more data has been digitized and quality controlled. The station data sources over the years were:

    Monthly Climatic Data of the World (MCDW) — about 1000 stations (1981)
    MCDW and data provided by NCAR and NOAA — 2200 stations (1987)
    NOAA/NCDC’s GHCN v2 — 7200 stations (1999)”


    I would also look into whether they were updating software, installing new sensors, recalibrating old sensors, etc at that time. I suppose it could also be something in the homogenization process…

    These mundane explanations need to be ruled out first. Similar patterns are all over the place, for example the temperature data from Byrd station also suddenly increase in the late 1980s, it is more obvious if you plot the unaggregated data, but even the author’s here note:

    “the quasi-stepwise increase in Byrd DJF temperature around 1986–1989.”

    In that case you need to go to the supplement to find out that lots of tinkering with the tools was going on about that time:

    “On 18 January 2011, a new CR1000 datalogger (used to record and disseminate the readings
    from the various AWS sensors) was installed on the Byrd AWS in replacement of the AWS-2B
    electronic system used since 1989. Upon inspection of the old system at the AMRC, a
    calibration error of 1.5 ◦C (in excess) was identified for the temperature observations recorded
    since 2002. In addition, subsequent testing in a newly available cold chamber at the AMRC
    provided more accurate measurements…”

    Anyway, I expected to find some discussion like that in this paper but didn’t. The lack of concern disturbs me.

  8. Paul Vaughan says:

    It was a real shift in NAM. It’s old, old, old news.

  9. Paul Vaughan says:

    It’s remarkable that this is “new” information for people. Here’s an illuminating comment from the discussion at Homewood’s blog:

    “I was not previously aware of this abrupt change in temperatures.”

    Yikes. The level of ignorance is surprising.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The paper was published last December but that’s not that old.

  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    I suppose many more papers will be written about events we knew about directly from observations within our first month of joining the climate discussion several years ago.

    The best way for a newcomer to see this event firsthand is to look at the time integral of NAM components — for example via KNMI Climate Explorer’s “Make EOFs” feature in fields such as wind, SST, and SLP.

    I’ve no time to dig for it, but if anyone can find the sea ice animation I saw in a related discussion several years ago, the late 80s regional event is obvious and striking.

  12. Blob says:

    Paul Vaughn wrote:
    “It was a real shift in NAM. It’s old, old, old news.
    The best way for a newcomer to see this event firsthand is to look at the time integral of NAM component”

    I really only have passing interest in this, and cannot devote the time necessary to research it to my standards from scratch. Where can I find info on the history of each GISTEMP site at a level of detail similar to that found in the supplement Byrd station paper I linked above?

    If you do not have this, how do you know the patterns are not instrumental artefacts?

  13. Paul Vaughan says:

    Blob, “GISTEMP” can be ignored and you’ll find NAM in the other climate variables.
    …On the other hand you appear to be having fun flirting with the idea that ALL climate measurements are probably corrupt. If you have a fascinating theory (maybe a divinely-inspired conspiracy theory) about why wind, sea surface temperatures, pressure, sea ice, and a bunch of other coupled variables ALL bounced abruptly in the late 80s, the entertainment is welcome so bring it on!
    …But as for the fact that it was or wasn’t abrupt: Why would that be bothersome? Is there some reason why changes that were smooth and gradual would not be considered suspect? Wouldn’t that look suspiciously unnatural?
    OK, enough of this topic anyway. This is another distraction…

  14. oldbrew says:

    ‘Abrupt’ climate changes don’t sit well with the ‘rise in greenhouse gases’ narrative.

  15. pochas94 says:

    A sudden regime change suggests that climate is the sum of several different independent influences, such as tidal, solar, and internal oscillations. Superpose the rising phase of two or more of these and a sudden “regime change” is no surprise. The fact that these changes can occur is a consequence of the fact that there are multiple semi-independent factors affecting climate.

  16. Paul Vaughan says:

    No, it’s just LATENT. A bunch of ice got ejected from the Arctic. The animation shows that CLEARLY. It just boggles the mind that after years of reminders people just keep on ignoring the latent and spatial dimensions of climate. The circulatory configuration before and after the late 80s was different. It’s comical that people assume uniformity even when the observations saying otherwise are right in their face. What a joke climate discussion has become (and always was).

  17. Paul Vaughan says:

    Remember that the surface temperature is just a cross-section of the energy that we alias with surface sampling. It does not account for latent and vertical. There’s an illustration (from one of Jean Dickey’s 2003 papers if I remember correctly) that I should show as a reminder, but I’ll probably wait until after the US election — a time when I’m optimistically hoping that people can and/or will start discussing climate more sensibly (may be ridiculously naive).