back to article Painting by numbers: NASA's peculiar thermometer

The story is that the world is heating up - fast. Prominent people at NASA warn us that unless we change our carbon producing ways, civilisation as we know it will come to an end. At the same time, there are new scientific studies showing that the earth is in a 20 year long cooling period. Which view is correct? Temperature data …

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Excellent article - just one question

Why do Americans pay NASA to lie to them?

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Because, we're trying to keep the unemployment rate down

NASA has long had a very expensive budget. Largely because of a philosophy error. NASA should have only worked on new development and long range technology and goals. And passed all present practices to the commercial market.

For a very long time, NASA monopolized the commercial market, much to the demise of spaceflight in general.

***

A better question, why does almost every American family spend tens of thousands of dollars to have some professor who couldn't cut it out in the real world indoctrinate their children with liberal/socialist ideas rather than the libertarian (British Liberal I believe) ideals that America was originally founding on?

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Happy

Excellent article.

Enjoyed it - cheers.

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Happy

What I'm going to enjoy...

...is hearing the perpetrators of this immensely expensive and resource wasting hoax talk their way out of it - when the Thames ices over every winter.

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Boffin

The graph actually fits warming better before adjustment

The unadjusted USA graph actually fits better the current global northern hemisphere models than the adjusted graphs.

IIRC, during the last several million years when Earth was warmer than now (not that there was a lot of that) Texas and the Eastern seaboard were much colder and wetter. The mathematical models show the same (as well as very cold Northern Sea and North-West Europe).

So the first map which has a very hot California, as well as parts of the midwest, etc and a colder than average Texas makes much more sense than the adjusted one.

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and another question

And why did all the world's top scientists miss this too?

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Dead Vulture

Mathematical bollocks

I don't need "data" and "studies" to tell me they haven't a fuckin clue.

On sunday morning all weather sources i checked said we were in for a fine sunny day, it pissed down all afternoon.

If they can't predict the same days weather, i'm not too bothered about all this crystal ball gazing.

Meanwhile, the glaciers retreat and ski resorts close down by the hundreds. Now thats data.

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Every bit as good as the last one

1. Why focus so much on the US? It only contributes approx 2% to the global mean. The problem is global warming.

2. "what immediately grabs the attention is that NASA has essentially no data (gray areas) in most of Canada, most of Africa, the

Greenland ice sheet, and most of Antarctica "

Really? What are all these little red dots? http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/temptracker/global_weather_stations_map_532.gif

3. "In 1998 (left side of the graph below) NASA and the satellite data sources RSS and UAH all agreed quite closely - within one-tenthof a degree."

They do not 'agree quite closely' as the satellite and NASA datasets have different baselines (zeroes). It is not legitimate to plot them with the same y-axis without adjustment for this. The NASA anomaly baseline was chosen as a period of good quality coverage, it

does not imply any kind of 'normal' temperatures (and Why show a US map to illustrate a point about the global record? Hmmm). The difference in trends post-1998 is probably explained by the fact that the satellite and urface stations measure different quantities, the surface and lower tropospheric temperature respectively. 1998 was a strong El-Nino year which pushed temperatures two standard deviations above the trend line. I speculate that this effect was more prominent in the satellite record hence the differing trends since then. To see the long term comparison try http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080303_ColdWeather.pdf

4 NASA's data shows the month as the third warmest on record. In sharp contrast, UAH and RSS satellite data showed March as the second coldest on record in the southern hemisphere

Ho Ho. Not so much Apples and Oranges as Apple with half an Apple. The US NCDC found March the second warmest on record: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/mar/mar08.html

Can we expect a Register article on this sinister organisation soon ;-)

JP.

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Alert

RE: Why did all the worlds scientists miss this....

Science is not about consensus, it's about theories which can be tested and proved or disproved. For climate scientists to say "the science is settled, we all agree" means nothing because if 11,000 scientists agree something is true and one lone nutter can prove it's not - then the science is wrong. "Settled science" is littered with dangerous denialists - Galileo Galilei, for one.

After the Nazi's took over, they rejected all things Jewish, including Einstein's so called 'Jewish physics' A book was published in Germany called "One hundred authors against Einstein". When asked what he thought of the book, the great man mused that if he had been wrong then only one would have been enough...

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RE: Why did all the worlds scientists miss this....

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning.

Max Planck (1858-1947), Scientific Autobiography

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Anonymous Coward

Black body radiation...

A body radiates heat in proportion to its heat and its surface area.

Thus anything we do that generates heat heats up the planet until the planet can radiate the heat into space. The faster you generate heat, the hotter the planet becomes, until you reach equilibrium.

This is why nuclear power - especially - won't help global warming.

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Coat

it's a blip

no its a trend

no its a way to lig about spending some research budget

I think the most telling graph comes first showing how what adjustments were applied. There's a lot of bollocks about the justification but I don't really find that credible without some empiric support.

Mines the one with the AC unit and heating element...no reason to take any chances.

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Data selection

So how do you know that RSS is correct? It isn't the raw data.

You've picked one other dataset, but there are (IIRC) three different profiles for correction of RSS data. So which one did you pick?

And there are far more datasets than those three to pick from.

Selective reporting is as good as a lie. Sometimes better.

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Coat

comment

Certainly we should do what we can to protect the environment, reduce CO2 emissions, etc. It's just common sense. The planet will weather whatever we throw at it, in one form or another---however, we might not be able to stand the resulting climate. The scary thing is, we may have very little control over what happens to the Earth's climate, regardless of how we treat it. I'm not ready to believe in "Global Warming." The more I read articles for and against it, the more I simply believe that we just don't know, and that some of the more politically inclined either have their heads up their asses or are indulging in shameful manipulation for personal benefit. I just don't think we know enough about the planet's cycles to make any kind of accurate determination as to what the future holds, or as to whether we can affect it. Perhaps all the energy spent on this would be better spent in figuring out how to cope with worst-case scenarios. To think we really understand what's going on at this point seems like the story of the blind men and the elephant.

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Coat

Self Fulfilling..

Of course the "Oh My God we'll all die if we don't cut Greenhouse gas emissions" are on a winning number here. If the NASA figures are totally wrong then when the temperature suddenly drops and drops so much that even the enviro-nutters at NASA have to show a global cooling then the press will be full of "We've saved the world.." style posts, when in fact its really done nothing at all.

Mine's the one with the fur lined hood... I've seen "The Day After Tomorrow"....

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@ Anonymouse Coward

We don't know if there's a point to life.

Doesn't stop us pretending there is one.

Burning hydrocarbons releases CO2

Oil is CO2.

We burn lots of oil.

CO2 traps energy from the sun and warms the earth more before its heat escapes faster to counter it and equalise.

We know this.

We don't know how much the earth will heat. At least to your definition of "know". We do know it will heat the earth.

So since the difference between going into a glacial period and not going in is only about three degrees, not a lot of change is needed to make the climate flip.

We know we won't survive at our present level of population if the climate changes. We know our technology is much more fragile than our technology at other times when climate changed.

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May 2008 data coming out on the cold side

UAH data for May is out and IIRC lists the global temperature as below the long term average, it's the coldest May in 20 years, the lowest anomaly since January 2001,

etc. RSS will be out soon, then the UK's Hadcrut and finally GISS. The last two need more time to process the ground reports, the first two have true global satellite data though it's low level tropsheric air temp, not ground temps.

See http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/uah-global-temperature-dives-in-may/

for more, or my http://wermenh.com/climate/science.html for links and background.

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Boffin

Please write more comments without checking the facts

@JonB

According to http://www.indexmundi.com/world/electricity_production.html, the world total electricity supply is 6.7e+19J/year. Solar energy reaching Earth is 2.0e25J/year. Even if power stations are only 30% efficient, the have only 0.001% of the heating effect of the sun. We are not going to cook the planet with power stations any time soon.

@Joe K

The biggest error in television and radio wether reports is trying to summarise a complete day's weather for the whole country in under a minute. Try getting the report for your home town from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

Anyway there is a huge difference between predicting the temperature in your home town at midday tommorrow and predicting the average midday June temperature in your home town over a twenty year period. Just like it is easier to predict the average time of the three fastest horses than to predict which horse will win.

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It's all crap

Both sides of this "debate" are full of crap. For some reason that I don't understand people will argue something, even if they have no real stake in it, and have no real knowledge about the issue at hand. If you read the posts above their "scientific explanations" are just as crappy as both sides of the climate change debate.

Now for unscientific news. Plants that previously would not grow in areas north of central Virginia (U.S.) are now routinely found in southern New England and have been spreading steadily northward since the early 80's. The past six years have seen an explosion in farming of certain types of tomatoes and greens that wouldn't even grow here (D.C. area) 10 years ago. The birds migrate sooner and trees are blooming sooner.

Regardless of what the humans think something warmer is happening. While nature is adapting to the warmer temperatures man is sitting around arguing about if it's happening or not. Silly humans.

I don't know if this warming of the climate is a natural cycle or a man made event - but I don't, nor do the plants and animals need, satellite data to see that it's happening.

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What really gets me...

...is that TV news (IE sole information source for all those irritating people that talk to me aboug global climate change) just grabs this information, says "NASAS" and then points at the red graphs. Aren't those people supposed to be psuedo journalists of some sort? Shouldn't they be checking facts as throughly as a Reg hack? I mean it's TV, they have to have some statistics experts on staff, as they like to come up with misleading graphs and charts all the time.

Damned fine article though. All the analysis looks completely legit... Just wish some others would notice.

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Linux

Re: John Philip

Hi John,

Excellent question about the NASA data locations. The NASA map was generated by going to http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/ selecting "Mean Period: Mar" "Smoothing Radius: 250 km" and clicking "Make Map." You unfortunately can't link directly to their maps.

I just did that again, and noticed that the March map has been changed since the image I captured a couple of weeks ago. It now includes a few data points in the Canadian Arctic and Africa. Still large holes there, but not as bad as before.

I wonder what changed? The new data seems to have appeared since Steve McIntyre did a similar story on it two weeks ago.

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Re Because, we're trying to keep the unemployment rate down

"NASA has long had a very expensive budget." No it doesn't. It currently gets 0.58% of the federal budget. 1/40th of the military budget, and 1/100th of the various Federal Social Programs.

NASA's budget could be doubled with minimal impact to the big spenders.

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Re: Please write more comments without checking the facts

I'd take some of that advice yourself.

ALL the energy (less, maybe, most of the lighting, but maybe only a small fraction) is used in work. Work that ends with the lowest form of energy: heat.

So your 30% isn't relevant. It's practically 100% inefficient (in so far as all the energy will end up as random thermal energy).

Unfortunately, you're not a AGW denier. I was hoping a "sceptic" was going to tell him the figures were silly and explain. That's what a *sceptic* does. Of course, they aren't sceptical, they just deny a problem.

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Cold?

Sure, most of North America has been a little bit cooler, but what about the 70 F weather Milwaukee, WI had in January (or even more prominently, the Tornado that ripped through Kenosha, WI?) It seems to me that no one really has any idea what is going on, and instead are just trying to fit theories to facts.

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science

It can be simultaneously true that the world is warming, and that the world is in a 20 year cooling trend. There are several cyclic temperature fluctuations that have to be factored into analysis of the long-term trends. Scientists know this. The global warming deniers hope you don't.

Raw measurements often have to be corrected for measurement biases, like local conditions (is the thermometer in a city, which creates a heat island around itself), or intermediate-term trends (see above). Fiddling the raw data is a part of both good science and bad. And the really tricky part is that what you fiddle depends on what you expect. If a scientist believes warming is occurring, they're going to look for biases that make the real temperature higher than the measured temperature. If the underlying assumption is valid, then the fiddle gives a better, more predictive result. If the underlying assumption is wrong, or the scientist has a political agenda, then the fiddle mucks things up. Both pro- and anti- warming scientists do this fiddling. Then they call each other names for it. The point of peer review is to vet the fiddling.

Of course scientists want to get funding. They say "OMG it's warming!" to get funding from some sources, and they say "It's all nonsense" to get funding from other sources. The point is to keep the lab running and the staff paid. Science is a business too, and all scientists are about equally culpable for wanting to get paid.

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Food for thought.

Steve Goddard shoots. He scores.

"Regardless of what the humans think something warmer is happening."

There has been a mild temperature increase since 1980 (which was the nadir of the PDO/AMO cooling phase). How much is very debatable. McKitrick et al. (2007) and LaDochy et al. (2007) show how the surface record trend (which includes HAD & the Cru) has been exaggerated by a factor of two. This is supported by Watts' surface station observations (ongoing), LeRoy et al. (1999, which is used by NOAA/CRN) and Yilmaz et al. (2008).

"This conforms more closely to the satellite data. Id should also be noted that lower troposphere warms more rapidly than the surface, so surface measurements should show LESS of a warming trend than the satellites.

"We don't know if there's a point to life.

"Doesn't stop us pretending there is one."

For once we agree.

"We don't know how much the earth will heat. At least to your definition of "know". We do know it will heat the earth."

We do have the Aqua Satellite findings, which (so far) seriously dispute the IPCC positive feedback formula. Without positive feedback loops, CO2 warming, per se, is insignificant.

"So since the difference between going into a glacial period and not going in is only about three degrees, not a lot of change is needed to make the climate flip."

That is a LOT of change. (The Little Ice Age wasn't even that cold. ) With Solar Cycle 24 MIA, however, we could be tooling for a cooling.

"We know we won't survive at our present level of population if the climate changes."

And we disagree again. We do not know that at all. And I seriously doubt it. Even if the temperatures drop sharply (much more devastating than an equivalent increase) that is probably not true. I disagree with most skeptics on this point.

"We know our technology is much more fragile than our technology at other times when climate changed."

Demonstrably untrue. Agricultural tech gets more fragile the further back one goes. Ireland starved for decades as a result of the wrong sort of potato. That would never happen today. Out INCREDIBLY robust and adaptive technology (and wealth) would never allow it.

"Ho Ho. Not so much Apples and Oranges as Apple with half an Apple. The US NCDC found March the second warmest on record: . . . Can we expect a Register article on this sinister organisation soon ;-)"

I should darn well hope so! The NCDC is NOAA. As is the USHCN and GHCN, which NASA reheats. In human language that means the NCDC is where NASA is getting its data.

I have dissected the NCDC/USHCN method of adjusting data step by step. From what I can tell, one of those 1903 sausage factories produced less dubious results.

As for using the US data, the foreign surface stations are in much worse shape. The US surface system is the crown jewel of the world. And even the US system is invalid for a number of reasons (and the adjustment regime makes it worse)..

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Boffin

@Solomon Grundy

It's more than that. With all the electronics and cell phones spreading microwave radiation and magnetic fields, the cumulative chaos effect on local flora and fauna will be unknown until we can quantify the effects of said radiation and magnetic fields. The animals may be reacting as much to the technology as to the environment, and we can't tell at this point.

[Imagine when the scientists figure out that Wi-Fi throws off migration patterns, and that cell phone towers render local wildlife infertile.]

@everyone else:

Does NASA adjust the data in areas where there have been massive wildfires for the past few years? Talk about making things hotter...actually, hotter, then colder, since scorched areas are effectively desert until re-growth occurs. This will definitely skew their figures.

And if you want the real causes of localized warming, you have only to look at three things: air conditioners, blacktop and humidity. Air conditioners force heat outside a structure. Blacktop absorbs and retains solar heat for a long time after the sun goes down (a difference in cities of 10 degrees Fahrenheit compared to rural areas). Humidity is water, which absorbs and retains heat like crazy. Put the three together: Pavement heats up...humans breathing out moisture...exhaled moisture and natural humidity heats up...humans turn on air conditioning, forcing more heat and moisture back into the outside air...go figure, lots of warming there, and no way of changing things short of storms, high winds, or nightfall. Just wait until the new cars come out where the only pollution that comes out is clean, clear water. They'll be crying global warming again until they figure out that the water coming out of the new cars is the problem.

In Washington D.C., there were quite a few 95+ degree days where the air quality was to the point where people were advised to stay indoors - not due to the air pollution, but simply due to the heat and humidity. This is what gets people in an uproar about global warming - most of the people who are sampled for polls concerning global warming live in cities (where it's easier to poll large numbers of people). They're hotter than the rest of the country, go figure. Out in the suburbs and rural areas, people are scratching their heads about global warming when this past winter was so damn cold.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the theory of global warming, but I'm not for it either. There's not enough data out there, and even the data being shown is being shown wrong. And anywhere where there's a dollar to be made, you can be sure there's a lobbyist or two million out there who wants to get legislation through that will mandate their company's new product.

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Who sets the clock?

Its inevitable that the seasons will shift from where we expected them to be. Just because we have come to expect Winter or Summer at a particular time, dosnt mean it will stay that way. Just as the position of heavenly bodies, so does everything. Being "Green" is a multi billion dollar industry. Global Warming is a money spinner too. Arnt you just a little bit suspicious? Sure, nature is telling us that things have changed, there is no dark reason - its natural :-)

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Alert

NASA's peculiar thermometer

I smell an agenda at work!!

The agenda of the "Global Warming" crowd.

I remember an old saying: "Figures LIE and LIARS figure". So, noting that the numbers seem to have been "massaged"; why should I believe their "results".

AFAIAC "Global Warming" is the biggest "crock" there is.

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Jed
Dead Vulture

What about variability?

The much more dramatic effect of global warming may be an increase in variability of weather - things get more extreme. I'd love to see a study looking at trends in temperature variance, for example. Global warming adds heat energy to the complex system of earth's weather and climate; much like increasing how hard you shake a bowl half-full of water, adding this energy is going to cause things to move a lot more - in the case of the earth's atmosphere, that means more extreme weather. Some of that will be hotter, some of it will be colder, some wetter, some drier. Looking at the overall mean temperature is looking for a subtle indicator of the underlying increase in heat energy. How has the number of hurricanes changed? The number of days more than two standard deviations away from normal temperature? The number of precipitation records broken? I'm sure this information exists somewhere, but I haven't come across it...

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Coat

NASA's motivation

NASA: If you don't give us more funding to explore outer space and find us a new home, global warming will destroy all life on earth.

Sane Person: But the earth is in a cooling trend.

NASA: oh, than if you don't give us more funding to explore outer space and find us a new home, global cooling will destroy all life on earth.

SP: But earth cooling trends and warming trends are a normal part of human history and humans are better prepared to handle them than ever before.

NASA: oh, how about an asteroid?

SP: You watch too many movies.

NASA: But it COULD happen, right?

SP: Yes there is a slight statistical chance that sometime in the next 80 Quattuorvigintillion years, an asteroid large enough to kill all life on earth may collide with the earth.

NASA: But that means it is possible.

SP: Yes but by that time the sun will have swallowed the earth and gone completely dark.

NASA: oh, the sun could swallow the earth some day?

SP: How about if I pay you to shut up?

NASA: That will do!

By the way, I do think it is important to explore outer space. I am fascinated by it and I am sure it holds many great discoveries that will be beneficial.

I'll get my coat, mines the one with arms that strap tightly in front.

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Anonymous Coward

No idea

This article can be summed up by part of the conclusion:

"We are not qualified to analyze that or second-guess the experts. What is being examined is the quality and stability of the data being used by people making those claims."

You admit you have no idea how the scientists are using the data, so you present it as if they don't know what they are doing. Why don't you look for an explanation, rather than just pretending that they are making it up?

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Flame

Brrrr....

Hell is freezing over....

Must be climate change.

No, wait, it's warming up again...

... with all those climate change corporation and government people making a fast buck arriving thick and fast.

No coat needed.

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Unhappy

Let me explain some simple facts of life...

"And why did all the world's top scientists miss this too?"

Because if they had raised their voices they wouldn't have remained the world's top scientists for very long.

The world's climate is constantly changing. For most of recorded history, the Earth was covered in ice, and periods when it is comparatively free of ice are rare - we are lucky to be living in one at the moment. The world has been hotter than this, and had more free CO2, but has never had a runaway 'Venus-type' atmosphere. It has, however, had lots of runaway ice ages, and for my money they are the danger.

I have been following the climate science papers for a good few years now. The effect they are trying to measure cannot be distinguished from the background noise, and this is disguised by the use of dodgy statistical techniques. It may be there, but it is so small it cannot be perceived. Instead of discussing this in a scientific fashion, the proposers of Anthropic Global Warming have resorted to political, and worse tricks to marginalise opponents. They are in danger of ruining all scientific study, and it is a deep disgrace to see that the world's foremost scientific journals and august bodies have thrown their lot in with the tricksters. It seems to show that the first rule of the establishment is 'always to remain on top'.

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Dead Vulture

@mark - Data Selection

Actually, CO2 is only one component gas of Global Warming, water vapour is much more powerful as a greenhouse gas.

For all those interested in global warming, try the Global Warming Test:

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/start.html

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Steve re: NASA data locations

Er-hem ...Smoothing radius: Distance over which a station influences regional temperature, either 250 km or 1200 km (standard case = 1200 km).

Amazingly the map looks a lot less sparse when you select NASA's standard case.

"Looking closer at March 2008, NASA's data shows the month as the third warmest on record. In sharp contrast, UAH and RSS satellite data showed March as the second coldest on record in the southern hemisphere, and just barely above average for the whole planet. "

Has some text been added there? What on Earth is meant by 'the average'? Average since when? If it is the baseline for the data series then this is not so impressive, the satellites anomaly is measured compared with the average temperature from 1979-2000. A period that includes the record breaking 1998: http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/rss-msu-monthly-anom_042008.png

That March 08 is only slightly warmer than the average for the last fifth of the preceding century seems to me less than pursuasive.

Also the data does not support the claim that NASA has March 08 as third warmest, just looking at 2001 onwards there are 16 warmer months

2001 38 41 54 39 51 47 50 45 48 44 67 51

2002 71 70 84 58 56 46 56 45 48 49 51 36

2003 65 51 51 49 51 39 49 63 60 66 49 68

2004 52 67 58 52 37 33 22 43 46 58 63 51

2005 69 56 70 64 55 59 55 56 68 71 64 59

2006 43 58 55 46 42 53 43 58 55 60 62 69

2007 86 63 60 64 56 53 53 57 51 55 49 40

2008 13 26 60 41

See http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.lrg.gif. Even by a simple eyeballing you can see March 08 as third warmest cannot be correct.

A single month is not indicative of very much, and remember that the satellites and the surface records are measuring different quantities so, while we would expect a broad correlation

(which is what we do see ... http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/4way.jpg ) , a single month when there is some divergence proves nothing.

I notice that one of the para headings is 'Cherry Picking'. Comparing the global figure from the NASA dataset with the Southern Hemisphere from another to show NASA is too warm would be legitimate if both hemispheres showed good agreement: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A3.lrg.gif

Oh dear.

JP.

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Silver badge

NASA's long term goals

NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

It is an administration, not a scientific body. It oversees some scientific stuff, but is ultimately an administration made of administrators, being run by administrators for administrators.

Like any administration, the long term goals are to keep the administration alive and prosperous (for the administrators). Science, truth etc are less important.

If NASA can be equated to a big pyramid selling (sorry, I mean multi-level marketing) organization like Amway, then science is just the soap powder that makes it all legal.

Like any funded organisation (including universities now), NASA - and by extension their contractors - need to keep publishing funder-friendly findings. The whole world is now programmed to hear the global warming message and to nay say global warming is poor PR. Heck - even oil barons like GWB are with the program.

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Flame

If the world wasn't ending...

How could our politicians squeeze more money out of the average joe taxpayer?

Ask any mobster, nothing squeezes out money like a good dose of fear.

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When it rains in Alaska

Living in Alaska, and having done so for only 10 years, I can tell you that temperatures have steadily risen during that time.

From October to May the southern most areas of the main portion of Alaska average 1 foot of snow a month, historically. During November through March, temperatures dip to around -30 F and rise to around + 30 F, historically. +30 F is 0 C, or freezing point.

In Anchorage, for example, it was common for snow to become packed down and frozen onto roads permanently from November to April. We're talking over 6" of ice that can't be plowed or removed.

The ground itself is frozen. If there is no snow during this period a natural insulation that protects sewers and water mains is missing, causing some pretty nasty consequences. High pressure steam is used to blast through the ice to unblock drains, but this doesn't help home owners with burst and frozen pipes under drives, followed by a particularly disgusting back flow of sewage.

As I said the ground is frozen, making digging even a single foot impossible with something like a spade until sometime in May.

But as I also said, things have changed. Over the last 3 - 4 years, roads have been melted clean of ice and snow in the middle of January... by rain. The absolute coldest month of the year, with sunlight lasting maybe 4-5 hours, and temperatures usually well below -20 C, it warms up now and rains.

This causes it's own havoc. Because the warming isn't consistent. So the freeze returns and that insulated layer of snow that protected our pipes is gone.

Then you have the rain itself. SUVs.. well it's curious but while driving with studded tires is safe and reliable on plowed roads, it takes about 1 - 2 days to clear a city like Anchorage. Obviously the airports and main roads are cleared immediately, but travelling around in 3 foot of snow is not unusual in the outer and less important parts of the city. Try doing that with a clearance of only a foot and you may be stable, but you're also stuck as the snow piles up under the car.

But that rain is ice rain, because while it may not be -20, it is close or just above the freezing point. This means sheet ice, and funny thing about metal studs is they slide really good on smooth surfaces. Great for getting traction in soft powder, shite for ice. 4 wheel drive is awesome unless you lose it, and then it's worse than anything you've experienced in even a rear wheel drive vehicle.

Funny how the very vehicles we relied on for so long to get us to work in Alaska have turned out to be one of the major causes of our undoing.

So when people tell me we're going through a cooling phase, and that temperatures in Alaska are normal - I laugh. Because I live here and I can tell you they are anything but normal and we are definitely NOT going through a cooling stage.

One of the worst things that can happen to frozen roads in a place like Alaska is rain. It gets under the tarmac and freezes, expands and breaks it up. Our roads are littered with pot holes, and even with the wealth of oil (that again ironically is the cause of our own downfall) a limited number of road construction companies can only do so much work in the 3 to 4 months of Summer that we have in Alaska.

The good news is the moose seem to be enjoying it. The bad news is a bit too much, and too many moose means too little food to go around (leafy trees and shrubbery not being overly common in a winter wonderland, even if the snow has melted) and of course they starve and die.

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Stop

Interesting if it were accurate

You can get a good description of NASA's temperature model here.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

The real difference is that the satellites are measuring air temperature. Notice the title of the image in your article, "Troposphere". NASA data includes air, ground, water and ice measurements. Since Earth's ice has been melting, air temperatures haven't changed dramatically. I'll look forward to reading your next article, which will account for the fact that the globe consists of more than air.

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Coat

How can explain what you don't know?

As I set here right now, the forecast for tomorrow is 100 degrees F for my hometown. It would be the earliest that it ever broke 100, a record that has lasted since World War II. Meanwhile, the month of May was abnormally cold. Go figure that one out.

Last year, the Arctic had a record low ice coverage. Meanwhile the Antarctic had a record high ice coverage. Go figure that one out.

This winter it snowed in Baghdad and in Jerusalem. In fact, it snowed in Jerusalem twice and the snow actually accumulated. The western US and Canada had so much snow, people were worried about their roof caving in. And lets not forget a La Nina that just doesn't want to go away. Global warming was supposed to cause more El Ninos. Go figure that one out.

The fact is the weather and climate is far more complicated than we think. Scientists try to model for all sorts of things, but they have yet to know all the variables and have yet to understand fully the variables they do know about. If you don't understand the dynamics of a system, how can you tell me what the system will do? This Armageddon message from the Church of Al Gore fails the logic test. That is why the founder of the American station The Weather Channel wants to sue Al Gore. John Coleman knows that if this were a legal case, Global Warming wouldn't have enough evidence to prove anything.

It is also interesting that meteorologists, that is to say climate scientists whose income is not derived from funds or grants, don't believe this global warming is man-made, but other climate scientists do. The #1 point in Michael Crichton's book State of Fear was that scientists tend to reach conclusions based on who provides their income. Of course, that point was lost because State of Fear used global warming to deliver that point, thus people tuned out the point because it didn't match their religion from the Church of Al Gore.

Until you understand completely the dynamics of weather, don't preach to me and say we are all going to die because we are causing global warming. I'm getting my coat, it is going to be 100 degrees Friday.

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Gates Halo

Re John Phillips

Hi John,

Thanks again for your comments.

Perhaps I should have been more explicit and said "NASA reported March, 2008 to be the third warmest *March* on record." Obviously you can't compare March temperatures vs. July or December.

The 1200 mile radius map doesn't give you any information about the actual data locations, which was the primary point of using the map in this article. On the 250 mile map you can see (more or less) where the actual measurements are taken. What the 1200 mile map shows is GISS' willingness to extrapolate and interpolate across vast distances with no data. 1200 miles is the distance between London and Catania, Sicily. Does it make sense to use data from Sicily when calculating the map color in London? Does the temperature in London or Catania tell you anything about the temperature in Lisbon?

Not surprising that GISS uses 1200 miles as the "standard case," because it masks their increasingly sparse data.

Please reread the article with an open mind.

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Do the Odds Justify the Ends?

"There are several cyclic temperature fluctuations that have to be factored into analysis of the long-term trends. Scientists know this. The global warming deniers hope you don't."

Ahem! In case you hadn't noticed, "the global warming deniers" have been banging on about "cyclic temperature fluctuations that have to be factored into analysis of the long-term trends" until they are blue in the fingers!

"The point of peer review is to vet the fiddling."

Agreed. Unfortunately, since that has failed dismally, we must fall back on independent review. Unfortunately ONE side of the debate is known for routine refusal to release data and methods, publish code and operating manuals and archive findings. (I won't say which side. I'll just point to the left and whistle. Too-wit! Too-woo!)

I'm easy. Just open the dang books (without a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit this time, pretty please?) and let the scientific chips fall where they may!

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the theory of global warming, but I'm not for it either. There's not enough data out there, and even the data being shown is being shown wrong."

A healthy attitude. And now that ten times as many students are enrolled in climatology (and all of them looking for a neato, iconoclastic thesis), we are going to learn a lot more a lot quicker than we ever have. Those multidecadal cycles noted above (PDO, AMO, NAO, AO, AAO, ETC.) hadn't even been discovered and described when the IPCC made its first climate model!

"How has the number of hurricanes changed?"

On the whole, down steadily since reliable satellite records. Both frequency and Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) per season.

"Why don't you look for an explanation, rather than just pretending that they are making it up?"

I did. Step by step. My crude estimation is that they are totally out to lunch. The SHAP, FILENET, and UHI "adjustments" of the USHCN are a scandal for the jaybirds. (Let me put it this way: if they were your chiropractor, your back would look like a pretzel.)

"Living in Alaska, and having done so for only 10 years, I can tell you that temperatures have steadily risen during that time."

Yes. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) has been in a maximum warm phase (that started in 1995). It will (probably) be on the cool side again within a decade. The tropics, OTOH, have cooled considerably during the last decade.

"Since Earth's ice has been melting"

A very large percent of NH ice melt is due to dirty snow (which not only seriously decreases albedo and heat absorption, but also acts like salt on your driveway). Another large chunk is a result of the AO. Not only is it running warm, but it blows the ice into currents which carry it out of the Bering Strait into warm water where it melts. NASA admits all this, and reports it (without fanfare) on an obscure section of their website.

Antarctic ice is accumulating (both sea and land) like crazy, except in the west where there is a huge chain of undersea volcanoes and hot spots (including one smack under Larsen-B). Antarctic ice is at record levels.

Even the most recent IPCC AR-4 supplement projects very little sea level rise directly due to melt. (Most of it they expect from thermal expansion. But as the oceans have actually been cooling over the last decade, all bets are off.)

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Linux

Re: John Philip

Hi John,

I looked again, and the GISS March data has changed since I downloaded them on April 13. This probably coincides with their addition of a few cold data points in Canada as seen in the most recent version of the map.

On April 13, GISS showed March at +67, which was the third warmest March on record. They have subsequently lowered that to +60 and it is now listed as the fourth warmest March on record after 2002, 2005 and 1990.

It is difficult keeping up with a moving target which gets modified in-situ without revision information or notice. Nevertheless, the difference between March UAH and GISS global is still 0.5 degrees.

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Thumb Up

The way watermelons can win in the US

The alleged believers in individual autonomy, the Republicans, consistently let the Democrats set the agenda, and then simply offer themselves as "Democrat Lite", rather than frankly and confidently repudiating nonsense like the Al Gore cult.

My sincere gratitude to El Reg for sticking up for science (small "s") and rationality in the face of the hysterical herd stampeding for Anthropogenic Global Warming(tm).

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Coat

Silver linings

"Imagine when the scientists figure out that Wi-Fi throws off migration patterns,"

Maybe we can use it to re-route those filthy poo-machine Canadian Geese so that they migrate somewhere else and foul someone *else's* parks and lawns.

"and that cell phone towers render local wildlife infertile."

Tweak the cell towers' radiation so that the infertile effect applies to humans too, not just wildlife, and install hundreds of those modified cell towers into neighborhoods (and even entire nations!) where (*ahem*) undesirables live and breed. Human overpopulation problem solved!

Mine's the coat with the goose-stepping soldier picture in the pocket...

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Boffin

@Adrian Challinor

True, but H20 vapour falls out quickly. Rain.

It isn't cold enough for CO2 to rain out here on Earth.

So the only way to regulate CO2 is to combine it in something. Plant material needs water nitrogen and other nutrients and we know biomass isn't growing that much, but it can take some rate out. Not enough, but a residency of a decade or so. The ocean can take more but that turns it acid and that reduces the life it can support and the more acid the less CO2 it can take up. The long term store is combining with rocks. That can take thousands of years.

So the total H2O is whatever we can get up in the day-long residency before it starts raining. Total CO2 is whatever we can get up in the century long residency.

And because the warmer the air, the more H2O it will hold, if you up CO2 it will hold more H2O and go up more.

Though what this has to do with selective data I can't tell.

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Anonymous Coward

@Flocke Kroes

>Even if power stations are only 30% efficient, the have only 0.001% of the heating effect of the sun.

To dissipate that heat the planet must get 0.001% hotter. In 10 years that's 0.01%, starting to look more significant now isn't it.

Power is, of course, a minor part of our heat production, there is heating as well and that's much more significant.

Every bit of extra heat must be radiated, the only way to do that is for the planet to get hotter.

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Boffin

Raw, yes, but not data.

"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."... or choose only the raw data, if it collaborates with your pet theory. Don't bother asking WHY you should analyse it before using.

The adjustment is not arbituary. The biggest reason for the adjustment by NASA or anyone else in temperature is simple: Rain!

Everyone can understand, that if you stick a thermometer on your windowstill and it rains, the reading is lower than usual. Quite simply the falling water from the sky evaporates as it falls, eating up heat-energy. But in long term planetary weather, you can't simply state: It is colder! You must take into account, that more rain than usual is actually sign of temperature rising, not lowering (simple fact: higher the temperature of air, more water it can hold = more rain).

So if you superimpose the rainfall to the raw data Goddard so graciously allowed to us (never let an amatour use raw data, it kills people!), you start to see a pattern. Everywhere in the planet, especially tropics (the cool, blue bands on the planet-temp-map, rainfall is rising and rainfall is not 'adjusted' in any way, it is just mm/square meter number, raw and undeniable.

So real question these Goddards can't answer is: If the rainfall is rising, how can planet NOT be warming? If the air is still in constant temperature, how can it hold more water than before? Answer by highschool physics is: It can't. If rainfall in global scale is going up (even in Australia, which suffers from lack of rain in some areas), the temperature of planet must be going up. If it isn't, the planet has started to break the laws of nature.

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