Climate bombshell — NZ has not warmed for 19 years

The data say one thing

[CORRECTION 1 Nov 2017 1945 NZDT: The original post used annual data. Figures for the standard error at 19 and 20 years have been removed until I can redo them using monthly data. The trends are unaffected. RT]

[CORRECTION 2 Nov 2017 1605 NZDT: There have been numerous changes to align this post with a Coalition submission to the Royal Society. There are minor changes, references to error margins and to the 20-year chart have been binned and the title changed to “… not warmed for 19 years”. RT]

For the national temperature record, the 7SS, NIWA have collected the data, checked it, adjusted it, approved it and published it on their website, so they can scarcely now argue with it. But, on the other hand, it’s totally at odds with what they say in public. Note to MSM: this ought to be front-page news.

NIWA say another

Here is a representative selection of comments by NIWA and other NZ scientists that echo the story we are familiar with: that New Zealand has been warming. The alarmist meme has always been ‘climate change is already here’.

In the Australasian region our climate is changing. There are long-term trends toward higher air and sea surface temperatures; increased frequency of extreme heat events; fewer events of extreme cold; and changes in rainfall patterns.

from Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand (Royal Society of NZ, Oct 2017):

[NIWA climate scientist Petra Pearce] says the climate is warming with New Zealand warming about 1°C since 1909 with more heat waves, fewer frosts, more rain and in the south and west, less in the north and east and rise in sea level of about 1.7mm per year since the 1900s [sic].

from NIWA Climate Change Report for Wellington (Aug 2017):

Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino said last year’s “exceptional warmth” was the result of three factors. Firstly, “as an island nation we are very susceptible to ocean temperatures – and these were higher than usual”, he said. Secondly, sea pressures were higher to the country’s east, and lower in the south and west. That combination caused more northerly and northwesterly winds to blow across our landmass than usual, Brandolino explained. Northerlies are the warmer winds, as southerlies bring cooler air from the Antarctic along with them. Thirdly, climate change. “New Zealand warmed by almost a degree over the last 100 years due to greenhouse gasses,” Brandolino said. He said warming due to greenhouse gasses looked to be a constant for the foreseeable future, while ocean pressure and temperature were variables difficult to forecast more than three months in advance. Temperatures soared especially high in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Manawatu, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, West Coast, Otago and Southland.

from Stuff (Jan 2017):

Many places around the country were warmer than ever before, in some places by up to 2C. Experts say it is the result of a warming climate and consistent with a warming trend globally. It was caused by a combination of climate change, El Nino, and unusually warm ocean temperatures, Niwa forecaster Chris Brandolino said. An increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had warmed the country by about 1C over a century. “You combine this long term warming trend with some natural variability… It adds up to a record-breaking year, temperature-wise, in New Zealand,” he said.

from Stuff (Jan 2017):

Several ski areas delayed their openings this year due to a lack of snow. Coronet Peak closed 10 days after opening; when it reopens on Saturday, most of its snow will have been artificially produced. Treble Cone, Porters, and both skifields at Mt Ruapehu also delayed their openings due to a snow shortage.

from Stuff (Jul 2016):

Climate change is already redefining coastlines and the weather here in New Zealand and around the world. … But the background trend has been upwards for all of the last century and beyond. … Temperatures today are so much higher than they were then [1909] that even a huge volcanic eruption blocking out sunlight for months would not cool the planet back to early 20th century values. … The ocean is warming, especially the Southern Ocean which is melting the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet, contributing to sea-level rise. As the ocean warms it also expands and this has caused half of the sea-level rise observed during the 20th and 21st centuries. … Powerful climate feedbacks, associated with sea-ice, are already expressing themselves in the Arctic, with Arctic ocean summer sea-ice expected to be all gone by as soon as 2050. … The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed 0.5C per decade for the last 50 years — the fastest-warming place on the planet — and ice shelves are collapsing catastrophically.

from the famous “ten things” road trip by Renwick and Naish (Jul 2016):

Now here’s the truth

For 19 years there’s been no local warming — NIWA’s own figures prove it, contradicting their endless public statements. Why don’t they admit this in public? Why do they tell us a different story? Why do the PM’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, and the previous Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, BOTH talk about warming when it hasn’t been happening? Could they have been deceived by NIWA and the Royal Society? I lump them in together because most of the climate panel on the RS are NIWA scientists. They’ve been in bed together on climate, with the IPCC, for decades.

How did I discover this? A few days ago I picked up the Royal Society report, Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealand, and the very first sentence (highlighted above) rang alarm bells:

In the Australasian region our climate is changing.

Now, most readers know there has been no significant global warming for about 20 years. They also know that the climate has been changing for millions of years, so on the face of it this is a true statement. However, with climate language twisted completely out of shape by environmental propaganda over the last 30 years, “climate change” now means man-made warming. Beware denials, for they are coming, but when they say ‘changing’ they actually mean ‘warming’.

Christopher Monckton was tracking the lack of warming evident in the RSS dataset, which grew to 18 years and 9 months before the El Nino of 2016 set in with higher temperatures. Since the El Nino ended a few months ago, temperatures have been subsiding, and last month returned to previous levels.

But the RS was talking about Australia and New Zealand, not the globe, so I wondered how local temperatures were tracking. NIWA’s website displays the 7SS and on looking closely it was hard to see a trend one way or the other over about the last 20 years.

So I downloaded the 7SS data and, taking it from 1998 to the present because that’s what the IPCC used in discussing the global “pause” in AR5, tried graphing the last 19 years. Here’s the result:

You can see there’s an insignificant cooling trend of 0.0012°C/year (0.12°C/100 yrs). In other words, no warming and no cooling. It reflects quite accurately the widely acknowledged hiatus in the global mean surface temperature.

New Zealand needs to know this.

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34 Thoughts on “Climate bombshell — NZ has not warmed for 19 years

  1. Mike Jowsey on 01/11/2017 at 1:56 pm said:

    Good work RT.

  2. Richard Treadgold on 01/11/2017 at 2:03 pm said:

    Thanks, Mike. I hope people see it, including the RS and NIWA but especially the Herald and a few politicians.

  3. Barry Brill on 01/11/2017 at 2:46 pm said:

    Astonishing!!! The NZHerald has stories every week about the harm being caused to New Zealanders by all the warming they thought had occurred in recent years.

    As regards the 1997-2016 record, is the trend 0.0071 ± 0.38 ? If so, no statistician would even think of claiming there has been any warming at all in that period.

  4. Richard Treadgold on 01/11/2017 at 3:13 pm said:

    Hi Barry,

    Quite right, absolutely nobody is asking about the justification for the anthro global warming scare. Except us.

    And no, the standard error of 0.38 applies to the data. I’ve asked Bob to explain how to find the error margins for the trend. Hopefully we’ll have an answer soon.

  5. Simon on 01/11/2017 at 3:38 pm said:

    If you had chosen 2000 instead of 1998 as your start-point, you would have derived a warming estimate of +2.38°C/century. You can’t meaningfully derive trends from such short time series. Take a look at your R² and p-values. They are not significant. Your standard error is meaningless.

  6. Richard Treadgold on 01/11/2017 at 4:36 pm said:

    Hi Simon,

    Well, you’re basically right. But the start date isn’t cherry-picked. As the narrative says, it simply mirrors Monckton’s presentation of the RSS data, where he went back as far as possible without finding a trend. it needs no apology. The fact that I found a pronounced hiatus for the same period is an amazing coincidence, but it’s true. However, the small number of data points gives a misleading impression, and I’ll be downloading the monthly data in the next few days to see what that looks like. I’ve been on a steep statistical learning curve, so please be patient.

    How would you answer my questions for NIWA and the RS?

  7. Richard Treadgold on 01/11/2017 at 6:06 pm said:


    Bob has helped me understand more about the trend and its error margins. Of the 1998-2016 chart, he says: “The trend (at the 95% confidence level) is 0.0071±0.032 °C/year. In other words, 0.71 ±3.2 °C/century.”

    He goes on to explain that, for the 7SS, which was also annual data, there were 100 data points, so the confidence interval was way down at 0.3 °C/century for both NIWA and our R&S. We should get a similar figure for these charts when we use monthly data.

  8. Barry Brill on 01/11/2017 at 6:30 pm said:

    In WG1 of AR5, the IPCC discussed the “pause” in warming trends. They defined the period as commencing with the 1998 giant El Nino. [Technical Summary, p. 37 and pp. 61–63.]

    Since then, there have been scores of papers and commentaries on this phenomenon. Even Wikipedia has an extensive (slanted) article on it, with no less than 95 references. (Just look at those names! Trenberth, Karl, Rahmsdorf, Foster, Santer, Hansen, etc – where is Mann?) They all talk about a “pause”, “slowdown”, “hiatus” or “standstill” that commenced with the 1998 El Nino.

    Nobody has any doubt that the ‘hiatus’ refers to the period from 1998 to the present. This commencement date was identified by the late Bob Carter when he first discovered the pause back in 2006.

    The IPCC felt that 15 years was not long enough to be wholly conclusive because of the unquantified temperature impacts caused by natural variability. Santer et al later found that climate models might be inaccurate for continuous periods as long as 17 years. I know of nobody who thought a 19-year trend was too short to be interesting.

    The IPCC also felt that –”The exceptionally warm El Niño year of 1998 was an outlier from the continuing temperature trend, and so subsequent annual temperatures gave the appearance of a hiatus.”

    This is fair comment but the criticism could be overcome by taking the global average surface temperature anomaly (GASTA) from one large El Nino in 1998 to an even larger El Nino in 2016.

    That’s what your graph has done for New Zealand average temperatures. The peaks at the beginning and end equalise out and we are left with a very convincing 19-year trend of zero change.

  9. Gary Kerkin on 02/11/2017 at 10:32 am said:

    Simon, I venture to suggest that the correlation coefficient is not worth considering in this context because no one else is concerned or surprised that it is very low. Putting a trend line through a data series that has much variation can only indicate the, well, err, trend. It cannot be used for prediction. Moreover the correlation coefficient and standard error do not relate to the data in the series: they relate to the accuracy and confidence we can have in the trend line parameters—the slope and the constant. Surely you understand that Simon? Why then would you criticise Richard for using the same techniques, on the same data, as used by NIWA and other “experts”?

    In producing a trend line there are two error components which can be calculated: the standard error of the slope and the standard error of the constant. A little bit of ordinary algebra will indicate that the error of the estimate increases with time. For example if the trend line is t = ay + b where y is years and t is temperature, and if the standard errors of a and b are a’ and b’ then it follows that the estimate of temperature is
    t’ = (a±a’)y + (b±b’) which implies that the error in the estimate of temperature for the series is ±a’y ± b’.

    It is worth noting that the distributions of temperature data series in New Zealand are not normal i.e. a regular, bell-shaped, gaussian curve with one mode (peak) at the mean. A quick survey of the data for all of the 7 stations in the NIWA series shows that all are multimodal. It was suggested to me some time ago that they should be, at least, bimodal because of diurnal variation. I’m not so sure about that—the smoothing of the short-term data to get annual means must wipe out information relating to daily swings in temperature. The last time I looked at the stations data the distributions were at least trimodal. In most cases the width of the bulk of the distributions was quite wide and often they were skewed to one side or the other. That does not, though, imply any warming or cooling over time. Many of those outliers occurred quite early in the 20th century.

  10. Gary Kerkin on 02/11/2017 at 10:41 am said:

    Anthony Watts concurs with you Richard, using HadCRUT data.

  11. Simon on 02/11/2017 at 3:30 pm said:

    Choosing a start-point based upon the absence of trend is a particularly cynical form of cherry-picking. It’s like trying to go down an up escalator.
    Your standard error is an underestimate even at 0.0071±0.032°C/year, because you are not randomly sampling from a normal distribution. Temperatures are a non-stationary time series with auto-correlation and a mean that is increasing over time. You need a longer time series to minimise the bias. Using monthly or daily data will not help you, because short-term temperatures are even more auto-correlated.

  12. Richard Treadgold on 02/11/2017 at 4:45 pm said:

    Simon, sorry, but references to standard error have been expunged from this post. But I strongly object to your calling the topic ‘particularly cynical cherry-picking’. It can only be cherry-picking if I misrepresent the results, and I do not, in fact I tell you exactly what I did and what I found. I followed the IPCC, so are you accusing them, too, of cherry-picking? I simply looked at the same period, and whaddya know — a great chunk of no warming, coincident with activists crying wolf about how we’re marching to oblivion and the destruction of the environment. The strident claims of dangerous warming by self-claimed qualified scientists and their admirers (who frequently took matters far beyond sensible bounds) were, by the facts as now known, quite unjustified. There is simply no defending that. Neither the global nor the local temperatures have increased for 19 years!!

  13. Magoo on 02/11/2017 at 10:09 pm said:


    Since 1950 it has only warmed from approximately 1979-1998 – 19 yrs out of the last 67 (28%), and that was 19 yrs ago. To try to claim that it has been warming during the entire time from 1950 or even for the last 19 yrs due to some warming 19 yrs ago is about as disingenuous as it gets. The ‘hiatus’ (IPCC) over the past 19 yrs is at least the same length of time as any actual warming there was during 1979-1998 – if 19 yrs is too short a period to draw any conclusions then that applies to 1979-1998 also.

  14. Gary Kerkin on 04/11/2017 at 10:40 am said:

    Good response, Richard, and I notice that Simon has picked up on my point about the nature of the distribution in a temperature-time series. However I am not convinced about his reference to auto correlation in the temperature series, and I don’t understand his comment about a longer term time series. Is he referring to a longer term of annualised data? Is he saying that monthly or daily data won’t provide the information no matter how long the data goes back? Personally I would prefer to deal with 100 years of hourly information than 100 years of annualised information. Calculating a daily mean from hourly data loses the all important diurnal variation. Calculating an annual mean from from the same data loses the seasonal variations which are equally important. Averaging in any situation will lose information about outliers in the series. Auto correlation methods applied to a long term series of hourly information will reveal the relative importance of diurnal and seasonal variations and coupled with Fourier analysis will identify the dominant frequencies associated with those variations. Please don’t ask me to show you how—it is 40 years or more since I used it. However, modern spreadsheets make the use of such analyses relatively easy.

  15. Mike Jowsey on 04/11/2017 at 12:52 pm said:

    Great point Magoo!

  16. Andy on 05/11/2017 at 1:02 pm said:

    This article gets cited by Ian Wishart in the following piece:

    Royal Society making stuff up on climate, says group

  17. Richard Treadgold on 05/11/2017 at 1:30 pm said:

    Isn’t that helpful? Thanks for the tip, Andy.

  18. Brett Keane on 05/11/2017 at 1:36 pm said:

    It always was retrospective. If the endpoint back then was cooler, the pause would be longer. Waste of time expecting Simon, whom I know of old as a chronic dissembler, to be honest about the proper start point…. Sad sack.

  19. Simon on 05/11/2017 at 9:15 pm said:

    I have estimated the trend to present day for each year in turn, i.e. a cherry picker. There is only one year where the trend to present day is negative, and it is 1998. The error around that estimate is ±1.61ºC/century. Here are the results.

  20. Gary Kerkin on 06/11/2017 at 9:32 am said:

    Not overly helpful Simon. It would have been clearer if you had picked out a few, example, starting points and then plotted the trend lines on a graph of anomalies vs time. When you say “current day” to what are you referring? Is it the the monthly average for October 2017, or is it the annual average to October 2017? Or is it something different again? The important point is that it should be well clear of the 2016 El Niño which will show up in any annual averages to date. Oh no! That would be cherry picking, I hear you say? But aren’t you cherry picking—selecting an end point which suits your arguments.

  21. Andy on 06/11/2017 at 9:53 am said:

    More traffic from WhaleOil, this time

  22. Richard Treadgold on 06/11/2017 at 10:22 am said:

    Wonderful! And Cameron took it from Ian Wishart. Brilliant. I’ll send a link to the GWPF and Not many people know that.

  23. Maggy Wassilieff on 13/01/2018 at 9:34 am said:

    Time for NIWA and the Met Office to loosen their grip on our weather and climate data.

    The data belongs to us – the taxpayers. It’s not theirs for funding grand ivory towers with big flash computers.

    Release all our data or forgo our Taxes!

  24. Gary Kerkin on 14/01/2018 at 12:53 pm said:

    Maggy, the WeatherWatch case has a flaw. It’s stance would be correct were NIWA and MetService fully funded by the government. They’re not. The MBIE report indicates that only about 70% of their funding comes from government contracts. Moreover the two organisations are Crown Research Institutes which were defined as commercial entities when they were formed from the likes of DSIR. This took place before I returned from a long sojourn overseas so correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t it done by the Lange Government presumably urged by Douglas, et al?

    I suppose if we wanted to be pedantic about the matter, the government could contend that it contracted NIWA and MetService for the data and that, therefore, the government has proprietary right to it. That is an argument in favour of WeatherWatch in that the contracted services were paid for by the taxpayer, but where the value of a service using the data should be set is moot. The report makes it clear that costs for services from both organisations are “opaque” and I agree with the implied conclusion that this is unacceptable. Not having a schedule of “standard” prices for services, depending on private negotiation (which the report calls “bespoke”) is unfair to those who would wish to compare the services of both organisations.

    I find it curious that NIWA widened its range of services, moving into the areas which have previously been considered the purview of others such as MetService and GNS Science. This happened after NIWA purchased a new IBM Supercomputer. At the time of the purchase I expressed an opinion that the IBM system did not give the “best bang for buck”—that lay with a Cray system. Later NIWA said they purchased IBM because climate model software had been developed on an IBM system. At the time I thought that was strange because if the model software was written in a well known compiler language, such as C or FORTRAN, there would have been no difficulty porting it to another system. When I noted NIWA hawking some other services, subsequently, my cynical mind suggested that it had overreached itself on the supercomputer system and was looking to sell other services to justify it.

    The Cray system would have been about $3-4 million cheaper. I doubt porting costs would have cost that much.

  25. Maggy Wassilieff on 14/01/2018 at 2:01 pm said:

    @Gary Kerkin,
    It is interesting to read the report.
    I was unaware that NZ’s model of releasing weather information/charging for weather information was quite different from other countries.

    The Appendix 1 in part 2 of the report details numerous NZ businesses/industries/ public bodies that could benefit from having cheaper-priced and user-friendly weather information.

  26. Gary Kerkin on 14/01/2018 at 3:35 pm said:

    Yes, I found the report interesting as well. It took a wide scope and, as far as I can tell, covered pretty near all of it dispassionately and well. It also rammed home the point that the CRIs were based on a commercial model with the government being the prime contractor.

    It is this latter point that creates the difficulty that WeatherWatch and others have raised. Without a change in operating philosophy how can NIWA or MetService offer their data free of charge? Well, of course, they do, but not in a “friendly” way, and not for data younger than 24 hours. To gain access to the data APIs from either CRI I assume an organisation would have to contract to the CRIs at whatever terms were agreed upon. SOAP protocols may be straight forward, but only once the API is known.

    I suppose the government and/or CRI could argue that prices have to be “steep” compared to other nations because of our small population. That is so. So what is the solution? Re-nationalise the CRIs? Why not? If this were to happen they might be able to “contract” to provide live and archived data at no extra cost through a public API. But they can do this anyway! Perhaps in whatever role, they could provide the live and archived data under contract to the government which makes the data freely available. The CRIs could develop other services to sell as desired. In the latter case the charging regime should be completely transparent.

  27. Barry Brill on 14/01/2018 at 8:35 pm said:

    NIWA has now published its Annual Climate Summary for 2017, which observes that
    “During 2017, temperatures were near average (within 0.5°C of the annual average1) across much of the South Island and lower and western North Island”.

    However, the report emphasises the “marine heatwave” during November and December when La Nina conditions drove SST’s to 2° to 4°C above average.

    It then says:
    “The nation-wide average temperature for 2017, calculated using stations in NIWA’s seven-station temperature series, was 13.15°C (0.54°C above the 1981–2010 annual average). The four years 2016, 2013, 1999, and 1998 were warmer than 2017 according to the NIWA seven-station series, thus making 2017 the 5th warmest on record.”

    It’s interesting that the official average temperature reported by the Dominion Meteorologist in 1868 was also 13.1°C. A change of 0.05°C in 150 years!

    In 2018, we should be celebrating our sesquicentennial of stable temperatures!

  28. Richard Treadgold on 15/01/2018 at 8:24 am said:

    That’s brilliant, Barry!

  29. Gary Kerkin on 16/01/2018 at 9:53 am said:

    For what it is worth, WeatherWatch tweeted on 15 January that it was “expanding” into NZ Farmer’s Weekly. Can’t post a URL, sorry. I was emailed a screen shot of the tweet.

  30. Barry Brill on 25/03/2018 at 3:07 pm said:

    The war mists are fond of saying that their conclusions are founded on “multiple independent lines of evidence”. Well, RT, the good news is that your finding of a 19-year hiatus in New Zealand’s alleged warming is fully supported by all available data.

    First, is the peer-reviewed paper Mackintosh et al (2017) confirming that anomalous cool winds were bathing New Zealand from 1983 to 2005.

    Now, Willis Eschenbach has analysed CERES data for the period 2000 – 2017. The CERES database records the balances of radiative forcing in grid blocks and therefore the W/m2 of change. A globe of the Pacific at shows that there has been virtually no warming in the Tasman sea during this period.

    In fact, there has been net cooling throughout the South Pacific area (other than a small part of North-West Australia), and the Southern Ocean is cooling strongly.

    The Eastern coast of New Zealand is affected by an outlier of the Southern Ocean and has cooled at the rate of -0.3°C/decade. Most of the South Island has experienced zero change. Some of the North Island’s West coast has seen warmth of 0.3°/decade.

  31. Mike Jowsey on 25/03/2018 at 7:31 pm said:

    And yet now, Barry, we have a Gummint hell bent on shutting down exploration of energy. Disturbing for the poor and affirm, the very constituents who vote for said Gummint.

  32. Barry Brill on 12/12/2018 at 8:41 pm said:

    Even the Ministry for the Environment thinks you got it right, RT!

    “Sea-surface temperatures fluctuate naturally with the seasons and across decades. Over the last century, our sea-surface temperature has increased 0.71 degrees Celsius (Mullan et al, 2010), matching worldwide increases (Hartmann et al, 2013). However, recent satellite data, only available since 1993, show no trend in sea-surface temperature change in the Tasman Sea and New Zealand’s oceanic, subtropical, and subantarctic waters.”
    From page 32 “Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017”

    So, “NO TREND in sea-surface temperature change in the Tasman Sea and New Zealand’s oceanic, subtropical, and subantarctic waters.” That’s a grid block and all of New Zealand is included within that block. This is from satellite scanning which doesn’t suffer from UHI, sheltering, maladjusted adjusters, etc

    Now, we can be confident that the long “pause” is established by multiple independent lines of evidence – the NIWA record (Treadgold), the satellite record (MfE), the glacier record (Mackintosh), and the CERES record (Eschenbach).

    Perhaps most convincing of all, I’ve never seen a newspaper headline from Renwick or Salinger or any other headline-hunting ‘climate scientist’ claiming that New Zealand has warmed in the past quarter century or so. You can bet the MSM would be repeating this meme every second week – especially during COP-time. But they can’t.

  33. Richard Treadgold on 12/12/2018 at 10:24 pm said:

    Wahoo! That’s a meaningful endorsement, thanks.

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