Down near the end of a long and ultimately tedious* comment thread over on Prometheus, Gavin Schmidt offered an incredibly useful little gem today.
As I’ve written before, “paleoclimate and future projections on a regional scale are critical.” This is one of the reasons I’ve been so interested in the argument Roger Pielke Sr. makes about the inadequacy of globally averaged surface temperature as a metric for climate change. I wanna know what has happened, and what we can say about what might happen in the future, right here. (And by “right here,” I actually mean in large part the oceans – ENSO and the like – which are the big regulators of what happens here.) Gavin, one of the RealClimate guys, suggests in his Prometheus comment that also is the real important piece of the hockey stick climate reconstruction:
The actual part of the reconstruction that is most interesting are the *spatial* patterns of change. This is the cutting edge for the GCMs – whether modes of variability like ENSO or the NAO have forced (and potentially predictable) components. Our own work has used the MBH reconstruction to look for patterns related to solar and volcanic forcing with some success (Schmidt et al, 2004; Shindell et al; 2001, 2004) as have others (Adams et al, 2004 for instance).
It is one of those odd ironies that the figure that everyone keeps talking about is actually the least important from the point of view of understanding climate responses to forcing.
* Sorry William and Roger, but I gave up trying to parse who’s saying what regarding how the SPM did or did not use the hockey stick to support its attribution claims.