Guest post: Complaint to RTÉ

The letter of complaint to RTÉ copied below, relating to the interview of Friday 6 August on RTÉ’s Drivetime with Mr. John Gibbons, was submitted today (8 August 2021). The interview related to a potential collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the drastic consequences it would have for Ireland’s weather.

To: RTÉ Drivetime

cc. Ms. Dee Forbes, Director General, RTÉ

Mr. Jon Williams, Head of News RTÉ

Complaint About Drivetime Interview with Mr. John Gibbons on Friday 6 August

Dear Sir/Madam,

                            We wish to complain about the interview on RTÉ’s Drivetime on Friday 6 August with Mr. John Gibbons, introduced as an environmental journalist, regarding the supposed collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the “catastrophic changes in Ireland’s weather” to which this would lead.

The interview centred on a recent paper by N. Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research [1]. This paper presents a statistical study of the AMOC based on an ad hoc equation, dx/dt = λx+η. This equation has no physical basis as a governing equation for the AMOC and no conclusions drawn from it can be given any credence.

There is no evidence that the AMOC has ever broken down in any climate resembling the present. The known AMOC collapse that occurred about 14,000 years ago, as the last ice age was coming to an end, was not driven by a change in greenhouse gases. It occurred because of a large surge of fresh water from melting ice on the North American continent into the Atlantic. The ice melted because of a change in the Earth’s orbital parameters that led to a very large increase in the sun’s radiation incident on northern high latitudes in summer.

When Mr. Gibbons was asked whether we know the cause of the supposed imminent AMOC collapse put  forward in the Boers paper, he answered; “Absolutely! It’s due to greenhouse gas emissions.”

He then went on to say that the breakdown in the AMOC would cause a drop in the amount of heat being transported polewards, which would lead to an increase in the temperature gradient, leading to superstorms that would wipe out cities. He also said it would lead to an increase in the melting of the Greenland ice cap, which would cause a rise in global sea level. We wish to comment on these assertions of Mr. Gibbons as follows:

1) There is no evidence that the meridional temperature gradient is increasing as a result of any incipient breakdown in the AMOC. On the contrary, the meridional temperature gradient is decreasing, because the Arctic is warming faster than lower latitudes. 

2) Any collapse of the poleward heat flow in the AMOC would lead to a cooling of northern high latitudes and therefore to growth of the Greenland icecap and a consequent fall in global sea levels. Mr Gibbons’s vehement assertion that a collapsed AMOC would lead to a rise in global sea level was self-contradictory.

3) Even if the AMOC were to break down, this would not lead to a “catastrophic changes in Ireland’s weather”. The Atlantic would still continue to absorb heat in summer and release it in winter. The released heat would still be carried by the prevailing southwesterly winds toward Ireland and northwestern Europe, giving a much milder climate than would otherwise prevail at our latitudes [2].

Mr Gibbons also asserted that the science of climate change is “crystal clear”. He is obviously unaware that in a recent issue of Science magazine, climate modellers who previously refused to debate with any of their colleagues who pointed out that climate models were exaggerating the rate of warming due to greenhouse gas increase have now themselves admitted that this is actually the case [3]. Nor does he appear to be aware of the recent game-changing book, “Unsettled”, by Prof Steven Koonin, which has authoritatively demonstrated that very large areas of climate science are, in fact, seriously unsettled [4].

Mr. Gibbons also made no reference to the paper of Worthington et al. (2021) who, using a comprehensive dataset, found that there is no overall AMOC decline in the period 1981-2016. Their paper clearly states that “Our model has not revealed an AMOC decline indicative of anthropogenic climate change.” [5].

Neither did he refer to the work of Chafik et al. (2021) who examined the northern reaches of the AMOC and found that “Coupling between the inflow of Atlantic water into the Nordic Seas and the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability was so tight that we could find no evidence for long-term or secular weakening or strengthening of this poleward flow (related to anthropogenic warming, for example). In short, the inflow of warm water to the Nordic Seas has been quite stable over the past century since the start of modern oceanography.” [6].

Not being a climate scientist (or any kind of scientist) himself, Mr. Gibbons projects an air of certainty and comprehensive knowledge to which no genuine scientist would lay claim.

We submit that in providing a person like Mr. Gibbons with an uncontested platform in a matter of such public importance as this, RTÉ is failing in its duty to serve the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Ray Bates (Adjunct Professor of Meteorology, UCD),

Donal O’Callaghan (Retired Principal Research Officer, Teagasc),

Fintan Ryan FRAeS (Retired Senior Captain, Aer Lingus, and Senior Engineer, Inmarsat)


[1] Boers, N. (2021) Observation-based early-warning signals for a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 680–688.

[2] Seager, R. (2009). Climate mythology:The Gulf Stream, European climate and Abrupt Change.

[3] Voosen, Paul (2021) U.N. climate panel confronts implausibly hot forecasts of future warming. Science, 27 July.

[4] Koonin, Steven E (2021). “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why it Matters”. BenBella Books Inc., Dallas, Texas. Prof. Koonin was Undersecretary for Science in the U.S. Department of Energy in the Obama Administration.

[5] Worthington, E.L, Moat, B.L., Smeed, D.A., Mecking, J.V., Marsh, R. and McCarthy, G.D. (2021). A 30-year reconstruction of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation shows no decline. Ocean Sci., 17, 285–299, 2021

[6] Chafik, L., T. Rossby, H. Hátún, and H. Søiland (2021), Rethinking oceanic overturning in the Nordic Seas, Eos, 102,

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Response to DCC’s Reply to Our Comments on Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2014

by Ray Bates1, Peter O’Neill2 and Fintan Ryan3

                    1Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, University of Copenhagen

                                2 Lecturer in Engineering, UCD (retired)

                    3 Senior Captain, Aer Lingus, and Senior Engineer, Inmarsat (Retired)

21 June 2021


We here re-examine our analysis of the information on sea level rise and extreme weather events given in Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024, in response to the reply to our analysis received from Dublin City Council. Our re-examination leads to no change in our original conclusions. The information on sea level rise and on extreme weather events given in the DCC Plan and in DCC’s reply is shown to be deficient. We remain concerned about the possible uses of this deficient information to advance unjustified actions that could have negative consequences for the residents of Dublin.

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Guest post: Model Projections of Polar Sea Ice Changes Not Borne Out

Model Projections of Polar Sea Ice Changes Not Borne Out

Ray Bates

Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, University of Copenhagen

4th May, 2021

An updated version of this post can be found at GWPF (opens in new tab)

or via the press release (opens in tew tab)

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Sea Level Rise and Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024

by Ray Bates1 and Peter O’Neill2

                   1 Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, University of Copenhagen

                               2 Lecturer in Engineering, UCD (retired)

12 April 2021

1. Summary

We examine the information on sea level rise given in Dublin City Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024 (Dublin City Council, 2019) in the light of current understanding of this topic in the relevant scientific literature and with the use of tide gauge data for Dublin. We present our analysis under the headings of global mean sea level rise, sea level rise in Dublin, and sea level rise and extreme weather events. We point out a number of deficiencies in the information on these subjects given in the DCC Plan and conclude that this information does not provide any valid justification for the drastic measures DCC is seeking to implement.

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The temporary “progress report” comments in the parent post can be found at the end of this post.

Reformatting of MCDW data

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GISTEMP, GHCN and Valentia

Publishing this post now in advance of completion to be able to discuss some aspects with others. Hoping to complete it soon.

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KML data for 434 WMO stations

As KML files are not permitted by for security reasons, save the data below as 434_Stations.kml, then open in Google Earth. You can either copy and paste the text from <?xml version=”1.0″ encoding= … to </Folder></kml>, or save the complete page as text and delete everything before <?xml version=”1.0″ encoding= … and everything after </Folder></kml>.

When you open this file in Google Earth a “BalloonStyle.kml” folder will have been added to your “Temporary Places” folder. This new folder contains 434 pairs of entries for the 434 WMO stations. These are 434 WMO stations for which the GISTEMP urban/rural classification is wrong, as a result of location errors. See for further details. The stations are in GHCN/GISS v3 inventory order. Double click on the station ID for a pushpin at the WMO location, double click on the station name for a pushpin at the erroneous GHCN/GISS location. Clicking on these pushpins will open up some further details about each location.

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Another look at NASA Gistemp

Publishing this post now in advance of completion to have it available in another post. More details of the companion KML file to be added.

I started this blog in 2010, discussing shortcomings in the station location metadata used in Gistemp at that time, derived from the GHCN-M v2 station inventory. GISS has moved on to use the GHCN-M v3 inventory, and now the GHCN-M v4 inventory. But the station location metadata in these versions is still problematic. It is not possible to correctly classify a station as urban or rural if you try to make the classification on the basis of night time luminance from a satellite image if you do not actually know the correct location of that station.

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“The last four years” and beyond

2020-10-11 Updated: Two new series added (one global, one European), 12-month running mean added to individual series plots. Data from 2010 on added for all series, . All this tabular data has been rebased to a common 1981-2010 base period rather than the anomaly base period of the individual data sets as downloaded.

Also working to resolve a layout issue when printing which seems to have arisen following recent WordPress changes. At the moment the only printing option which shows a printed copy with the intended layout seems to be the “Print Friendly & PDF” extension for the Microsoft Edge browser.

All series will now be plotted as anomalies relative to the 1991-2020 base period unless otherwise stated. This change will be implemented as January 2021 values are published.

Discussion of “the last four years” rarely seems to be accompanied by illustration of the monthly detail of those last four years. To counter this omission I’ve put together this page with the four global temperature series used by the IPCC to form a weighted average series (if you have found the weightings used anywhere, please post them here as a comment), as well as the two principal satellite series. As time has moved on I’ve left the starting year here as 2015, with over 5½ years of data in the figures now, but I am leaving the post title unaltered for now rather than changing it to a clumsy formulation such as “since the year before the great El Niño”.

I’ve centred the annual means at July in the figures which follow. The 12-month running means just added are centred on the end month, so the annual mean, for years already complete, is shown at July (red) and at December (blue). I’ll try to keep this post updated as new monthly data is published. The composite image of all series will be updated only monthly. Continue reading

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Valentia, Met Éireann and NOAA

A short delay explanation: I did say “further details following“, but following a minor stroke that “following” has had to become a flexible term. Not forgotten, but further down the list of priorities.

Placeholder for now. Discussion, explanations and further details following.

Image settings have been updated so that images can be opened enlarged in a new tab or window.

There will be a short (I hope) pause while I investigate the stations used by GHCN to adjust Valentia. Complicated by the not uncommon situation in climate science that things are not quite what they seem. In this case the downloadable code dates from 2012, which should correspond to v3.2.0 — but in fact it seems to be code specially modified for a dataset for Peter Thorne, now of Maynooth. When reconfigured for GHCN input and run with GHCN-M v3.2.0 raw data the output is close to, but does not quite match, the corresponding GHCN-M adjusted data. Whether this is due to some hard-coded parameter or parameters which were not placed in the documented configuration files, or whether the modified basic code was frozen in time before all the modifications for v3.2.0 were completed, remains for the moment a matter of conjecture.

As the tutorial material I am adding will be excessive for those already familiar with some topics, I will finally shorten the post by moving out some expanded explanations to linked secondary posts.

This post started out to bring together a Twitter conversation:


The remaining corrupted Valentia GHCN-M data, dealt with further below, is relatively minor. But the facts that even after notification and ‘correction’ any such errors remain, and that 17 months later the nature of their errors in MCDW still seems to elude them, as evidenced by the absence of a code correction, can hardly inspire confidence in their claim that the problem lies just with ‘some mean temperature data for select stations in Ireland’.

This post now also provides an opportunity to clarify some common misunderstandings regarding surface temperature series as well as discussing the specific question above.

Owen M seems sound on energy, but has fallen into the trap of straying from the area he is familiar with and accepting what seems at face value an authoritative analysis, but one by someone else who has also strayed from the area they were familiar with, and not understood the source data they were dealing with. This is the reason I try to confine my own blog posts to Surface Temperature data sets, and in particular Gistemp and GHCN. It is only too easy to make errors when accepting other peoples work at face value without checking for yourself.

I dealt with Ewert’s errors in November 2015 when blogs picked up his material. At Not a Lot of People Know That (1), Not a Lot of People Know That (2), Not a Lot of People Know That (3) and NoTricksZone. At NoTricksZone unfortunately a flood of comments from one David Appell, although he was correct on this occasion, seems likely to have caused the substantive issue to become lost.

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