photo courtesy John LeGear at flickr
Last week a spasm of media coverage including a New York times article by Andrew Revkin followed the journal Nature publishing a study (abstract here) predicting that in the two time periods of 2000 - 2010 and 2005 - 2015 the Earth is and will be experiencing a period of global cooling rather than the man-made global warming trend that most of us have come to expect.
The German team that wrote the Nature paper made its predictions - which are for the Northern Hemisphere only - by running simulations of the global climate and tinkering with the conditions of the oceans in the simulations. The result, according to the Nature paper's authors:
"Global surface temperatures may not increase over the next decade as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming."
Wanna bet? asks a group of climate scientists at the RealClimate commentary site.It's very important to note that neither the German scientists (hailing from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology) nor the international group at RealClimate are disputing that the overall long-term trend will be a warming earth.
However, the group of RealClimate scientists also want to wager 2,500 Euros ($3,800) that the German model turns out to be wrong, and that global warming is not going to take a break over the next few years. The terms of the bet - which would have an escape clause if either a huge volcanic eruption or a meteor touchdown happened - would be that if the average temperature between 2000-2010 (their first forecast) really turns out to be lower or equal to the average temperature between 1994-2004, RealClimate will pay € 2,500. If it turns out to be warmer, they pay RealClimate € 2500. The same terms are offered for the 2005-2015 time period using global mean surface temperature data used by the authors in their paper.
As of Monday May 11 at noon (GMT+1), the German climate researchers hadn't yet accepted or rejected the bet, and RealClimate won't fully outline the reasons it believes the predictions won't pan out until that happens. One possible hint: to win the first part of the wager, average global mean surface temperature from now to October 2010 would have to drop 0.1722 degrees. Stay tuned. In the meantime, while you might think it odd that serious scientists start betting real money on others predictions, here's some other examples of climate casino!