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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  1. Dr Stephen Jones
    Thumb Up

    Excellent article - just one question

    Why do Americans pay NASA to lie to them?

  2. Jason The Saj

    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?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Excellent article.

    Enjoyed it - cheers.

  4. Chris
    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.

  5. Anton Ivanov
    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.

  6. Bill
    Thumb Up

    and another question

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

  7. Joe K
    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.

  8. John Philip
    Thumb Down

    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.

  9. Linbox
    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...

  10. Chris Miller

    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

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  13. david
    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.

  14. Mark

    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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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"....

  17. Mark

    @ 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.

  18. Eric Werme

    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.

  19. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
    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.

  20. Solomon Grundy

    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.

  21. Nexox Enigma

    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.

  22. Steven Goddard
    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.

  23. Anonymous John

    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.

  24. Mark

    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.

  25. Luke Bearl

    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.

  26. Kurt Guntheroth

    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.

  27. Evan Jones

    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)..

  28. Kevin Kitts
    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.

  29. Clive Smith

    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 :-)

  30. Fatman Silver badge
    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.

  31. 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...

  32. Sean Thompson
    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.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  34. Beelzeebub
    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.

  35. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    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'.

  36. Adrian Challinor
    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

  37. John Philip

    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.

  38. Charles Manning

    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.

  39. Scott
    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.

  40. Andy Bright
    Thumb Down

    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.

  41. Connor Garvey
    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.

  42. Wade Burchette
    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.

  43. Steven Goddard
    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.

  44. Evan Jones

    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.)

  45. Steven Goddard
    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.

  46. Idai Diqui
    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).

  47. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  48. Mark
    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.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  50. Finn
    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.

  51. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Alien

    There are mobsters and there are mobsters and there are some mobsters who are neither.

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

    Posted Thursday 5th June 2008 23:01 GMT

    Scott,

    Ask any mobster and they will tell you the Truth does a better job. It has automatic leverage which causes fear right where it is required. And it pays handsomely too.

  52. Robert Long
    Boffin

    Reality trumps "facts"

    Sea levels have risen enough to be visible over the course of 10 years in my home town, and the same has happened all over the world because the seas are expanding in the heat. The cold seasons are shorter that ever. Insects are moving into new areas where they could not survive. Increated precipitation on Antarctica is thickening the ice, partly with water lost from the (floating) artic cap, just as one would expect. I don't need Al Gore or anyone else to interpret these entrails for me.

    If your data says that there's no global warming, then I can assure you that your data is - must be - wrong, although it's probably more likely that you don't understand the data.

    Don't tell me the sky is green and yellow stripes when I can see it's blue for myself.

  53. Mark

    How can explain what you don't know?

    We don't know what gravity is.

    We can however decide that jumping off a tall building without a rope or parachute is a terminally bad idea.

    We can use gravity to send probes billions of miles to other planets, though we don't know how gravity works.

  54. Graham Dawson

    @Mark

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

    CO2 is water soluble. It rains out with the rain.

    On top of which, increased rainfall cools the atmosphere. It's a self-regulating system in that respect. Of course the idea that rainfall is increasing doesn't actually prove that CO2 is warming the atmosphere, merely that there is an increase in the amount of energy input into the system. That's it.

    And, lets not forget, energy travels from points of high potential to points of low potential. That means energy *in* the atmosphere can only ever radiate *out* of the atmosphere. When CO2 absorbed that energy it may temporarily halt its progress, but it can't bounce it back. It has to keep going out. And here's why:

    See, the very concept of a greenhouse effect is a terrible, terrible misnomer. A greenhouse works by preventing convective heat exchange - it prevents warm air from convecting away and being replaced by cool air. The reflective properties of glass in a greenhouse are a tiny effect in comparison. That's a greenhouse: a closed system that prevents convection.

    In the atmosphere there is nothing preventing that convective exchange. Warm air rises, losing energy as it does so, drifts a bit to a cooler latitude and then falls again, which is the primary exchanger of heat from the lower to upper atmosphere. Now, you may have noticed that there's nothing actually surrounding the planet. No giant greenhouse, no big "Spaceballs" atmospheric shield at any point, hence nothing to stop that convective process.

    CO2, compared to the glass in a greenhouse, doesn't reflect or rebound heat at all. It absorbs those photons, yes, and that energy gets turned into a little bit of extra kinetic energy in the CO2 molecules, but then it re-emits those photons at a lower energy level. Now this is where the physics comes into it again. That photon can't go down because it's not got enough energy to be absorbed by the warmer gas below - in that case it *would* bounce off, or at least that's the approximation we come up with. It's at a lower energy level than they are, so it goes flying upward (or, to put it another way, the probability of the photon being emitted down is much, much lower than the probability of it being emitted up). Eventually it reaches space where it radiates away into the vacuum.

    See this planet is radiating heat out into space just about as fast as it can. Turn off the sun and we'd be frozen solid in a matter of days. Days. Weeks at the outside. That's how fast the planet radiates energy. In fact it radiates it as fast as it's introduced because there is nothing, *nothing* to prevent it. Just a vacuum which, as I said, is effectively an infinite heatsink.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Artic ice melting

    So artic ice melts more when the temperature gets cooler then? I perefer to select a measurement that corresponds to what is observed...

  56. Secretgeek
    Alert

    I realise science can only prove negatives.

    But for christs sake can we just get some kind of consensus.

    It's warming.

    It's cooling.

    It's the same.

    All I really know is that I haven't seen any decent snow i.e. stuff that's worth getting a sledge out for, for the past 20 years.

  57. Mark

    CO2 Water soluble

    Yes, but how quick can it dissolve? Quick enough to all get in there?

    And when CO2 is absorbed into H2O, you get what..?

    Carbonic acid.

    Acid rain.

    I think we'd've noticed this getting worse...

    Hey, for all those saying AGW is just a conspiracy, why not pop along to those saying that conspiracies involving so many people is impossible and that you must be a nutter to think it. You can get there on this site: "Odds And Sods"/"9/11 an inside job, says Irish pop folkster".

    Either you win the argument and I win there, or you lose the argument and I win here.

    Don't really see a downside here.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    We are not qualified

    "...to analyze that or second-guess the experts"

    Really? then why did you spend three pages doing exactly that? Not to mention the disingenuous wording in para 4; of course the USHCN is connected to other Govt labs.... And you might want to consider your own schoolboy errors before complaining about NASA giving results to 0.01... and you should probably have noted that all the other sources you cited also quoted the same precision - and that you yourself used 0.001 in the article!

    Apart from that, quite an interesting article. Reminds me of some of the Apollo moonlanding hoax websites - funny once you get over the silliness.

  59. Rod Bowes

    Forgive me, but

    Was it not NASA who screwed up a recent space mission because the right hand was using metric measurements and the left hand was not - and they didn't realise this until too late...

  60. John Philip
    Boffin

    Compare Apples with Appels and steer clear of the Cherries.

    Steve

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond ... however your statement that:

    "Nevertheless, the difference between March UAH and GISS global is still 0.5 degrees."

    is not correct. The arithmetical difference between the two is 0.51C BUT THEY HAVE DIFFERENT BASELINES. The average from which the satellite anomaly is calculated is (from memory, I am on a restricted PC right now) HIGHER than the NASA baseline by > 0.1C. You have to take this into account when doing comparisons, I really would have expected someone writing on this topic to appreciate this. Anthony Watts made a similar blunder on his site and you can find a review of the right way to do it on Tamino's Open Mind blog.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/03/02/whats-up-with-that/

    That still leaves a discrepency, but given measurement uncertainties, methological differences and the fact that the satelites measure a different physical quantity to the surface stations, not worthy of a conspiracy theory.

    After all, go back to April 1998, the El Nino and the equivalent numbers are:

    UAH : 0.76C

    NASA : 0.27C

    Clearly, UAH has a serious warm bias.... ;-)

    Meanwhile we still have the claim ...

    " 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. How could such a large discrepancy occur?"

    Well it occurs because you are comparing a global figure with a hemisphere figure. (Perhaps you could explain why, when the UAH global data is freely available?) Rankings do not convey much information, however The NCDC analysis of the March 08 UAH data said that, globally, March was the thirteenth warmest:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/mar/global.html

    Not such a startling revelation.

    yours, attempting to keep an open mind

    JP.

  61. Steve Bush

    Aristotle circa 350BC

    "For an educated man should be able to form a fair off-hand judgement as to the goodness or badness of the method used by a professor in his exposition. To be educated is in fact to be able to do this; and even the man of universal education we deem to be such in virtue of his having this ability."

  62. John Philip
    Alert

    Just one more point

    " 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, .... "

    Hemispheres notwithstanding, iIt just occurred to me that the UAH record only goes back to 1979, as opposed to 1880 for NASA, so 'nth coldest on record' really is not all that impressive.

    Trying REALLY HARD to maintain an open mind.

    JP.

  63. Steven Goddard
    Linux

    RE: John Philip

    Hi John,

    Using set theory, it is impossible for a subset of size 30 to be near the median and the full set to be in the top three. Absolute worst case would be in the top 15 for the full set.

    As far as your observation of the NASA vs. UAH baseline goes - NASA's choice of a baseline was one of the primary topics of this article, was it not?

    Thanks for trying to keep an open mind.

    Re anonymous coward and precision:

    NASA reports temperatures using four decimal places XX.XX degrees. All numbers and trends in this article are within their reported precision. We are analyzing their reported data, not generating it.

    To those who are having difficulty distinguishing between data analysis and climate prediction - you might want to think those comments through before posting them. This article is not about climate prediction. It is about inconsistency and instability within simple data sets.

  64. Mark

    Re: I realise science can only prove negatives.

    Unfortunately, on the blogosphere, you have equal voice to anyone with the time and energy to yell.

    So those who don't want to change their ways have plenty of time to yell how it's cooler or the same.

    Those trying to find out what we can do are too busy to yell how it's warmer.

    Then the official words are

    Government

    vs

    Oil.

    Tobbacco (so they can show how scientists could be wrong about the dangers of smoking).

    Coal.

    Transport.

    Energy providers.

    Venture Capitalists.

    Government haters.

    (note: odd that in the "conspiracy" register arguments, I'm a government hater because I want to tell people about the odd things that have happened and not sweep it away with "conspiracy theory nut" yet here I'm in collusion with the government to tax you back to the stone ages. Odd things, humans).

    Each of these groups have equal voice on the internet.

  65. Hal
    Alert

    Crazy ice

    Evan Jones,

    Re your comment that 'Antarctic ice is accumulating (both sea and land) like crazy'.

    Care to reconcile this statement with NASA's study showing accelerating ice loss from the Antarctic? There seems to be an awful lot of glaciers with, uhm, volcanoes beneath them.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2008-010

    Moreover, I'm sure you won't mind me reminding readers that increasing ice mass doesn't disprove global warming anyway. Ice mass is a balance of loss and accumulation, and in a warmer world precipitation patterns can change. Which is why some high-altitude glaciers can paradoxically grow.

  66. Graham Dawson

    @mark

    Actually, Mark, acid rain is caused by nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, not CO2.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Jason The Saj

    re:worked on new development and long range technology and goals Oops, thought you said GOATS...and I realized this was heading down the wrong road and almost ignored all the rest of the comments.

    Sorry, I don't have the answer...we had lots of snow and cold weather this winter and it's only just this week finally getting warm for a couple of days.

    I'm not quite ready to jump planet based on incomplete science and a lot of bogeyman talk; especially since the planet has been through (apparently) many cooling and warming cycles and magnetic pole shifts and ...who know what else... I'm not ready to go back to the dark ages and give up my leccy and car and batteries and their ilk have really bad environmental consequences... and the other half and kids seem to think they don't like freezin' in winter and whinging about the heat in summer...

    I'll just be going now; I need a cold one.

  68. Mark
    Boffin

    Re: Who sets the clock?

    Geometry sets when winter and summer come along.

    Tilt and orbit (orbit is a much smaller effect) define when summer is.

    We have sattelites that watch the earth. We have astronomers who need 1/10,000 degree resolution to point their telescopes to the right point in the sky. Pointing that changes when the tilt of the earth changes.

    They haven't noticed any change.

    Are they colluding with the climatologists? Why? They don't get more funding if there's AGW.

  69. John Philip
    Alert

    Confused?

    "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? "

    Er, its 1200km, Steve. More like London-Vienna.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Statistics

    How can we plan, or predict temperatures and/or climate trends on a 5 billion year old planet with only accurate data for the past 200 years? Quite a stretch to report any significant trend with such a small data set. Especially if our data sets are all polluted with "adjustments" and "fudge factors" based on theories and conjecture!

    Paris because she is always warming up.

  71. Mark

    Re: Statistics

    Why do we have to?

    We can plan on climate changes by virtue of our exhalation of 9 billion tons of carbon each year to power our society.

    We only need the models to work out which option gives the best bang for the buck.

  72. Mark

    @Graham Dawson

    Carbonic acid is still acid. It's not the acid rain that Scandanavia had to put up with from UK outgassing.

    And remember the hows about the cost? Seems we didn't get ejected back to the stone age then, either.

    And that sounds rather like the the doom and gloom predicted as the consequence of removing CFC's from refrigerants. THAT was supposed to lead to us all becoming paupers because we couldn't afford refrigerators. That one didn't happen either.

  73. David Robinson
    Stop

    Why is it

    that the AGW proponents can get away with a theory that contradicts the natural, physical laws? A key point of the Co2=GW theory claims that heat radiation is reflected from earth back into the atmosphere where it is re-reflected back to earth, thereby increasing it's warming. It cannot do that. The 2nd law of thermo-dynamics indicates that heat can only move toward cold. It cannot do the reverse. Since the law of radiation shows that radiation (heat, nuclear or whatever) diminishes by the inverse square of the distance then by the time earth radiation arrives at wherever your Co2 molecule is then it is less than its source and so cannot be reflected back.

    As for Co2 itself, the reflective quality has been known for a long time and used in infra red gas analyisers and Co2 detectors. The only snag is (for the AGW's) that this is only aparent and detectable in the presence of high infra red, i.e. at 800-850C, which is why every instrument mentioned has to have a very close source of red heat to make it work. Not a lot of that in the sky! Also, on getting warm, Co2 and the rest of the atmospheric gases head off skyward away from the earth and keep going until they lose their heat. They do not hang around relecting.

    I find it interesting that the AGW's always attack the sceptics with abuse, never with real evidence yet what they call evidence in favour is questionable or downright deception.

    The real scandal is that they have such a hold of positions of influence that they can stifle proper discussion. For many scientists it is more than their job is worth to show or discuss anything that questions the " absolute truth of the message. The BBC is the worst of all here with daily pro GW propaganda and never allowing any evidence against to be even mentioned.

  74. Paul Clark

    Baseline delta between UAH/RSS, GISS and HADCRUT

    Steve,

    FWIW, I've estimated the difference in baselines as follows... UAH and RSS are basically the same, and the lowest, so taking them as the datum:

    HADCRUT = UAH/RSS + 0.146K

    GISS = UAH/RSS + 0.238K

    Here's a plot of all four series with baselines adjusted.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:360/offset:-0.146/mean:12/plot/uah/last:360/mean:12/plot/rss/last:360/mean:12/plot/gistemp/last:360/offset:-0.238/mean:12

    If you'd like to check the working, here's where I first posted it:

    http://wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/rss-msu-lt-global-temperature-anomaly-for-april-2008-flat/#comment-13730

    Paul Clark

    woodfortrees.org

  75. John Philip
    Boffin

    Don't try and blind me with science

    Steve,

    Re: Using set theory, it is impossible for a subset of size 30 to be near the median and the full set to be in the top three. Absolute worst case would be in the top 15 for the full set.

    I have no doubt this is a profound and absolutely true statement, but its relevence to your article or the responses to it escapes me. What exactly does the 'subset of size 30' refer to?

    In plain English, serious questions remain. Lets try one last time ...

    The article does this comparison regarding March 08 :

    NASA (Global) : 4th warmest

    UAH (Southern Hemisphere Only) : 2nd coolest on record.

    but as the SH is mainly ocean, it is warming at a lower rate than the NH. So comparing Apples with Apples:-

    NASA (global) : 4th warmest.

    UAH (global) : 13th warmest. (I make that approx 340th coolest).

    Do you think you could explain, without reference to set theory, why, in an article that makes accusations of cherry picking, you selected the Southern Hemisphere only instead of the globe to compare with NASA?

    thanks,

    JP

    PS Here is the global UAH data for March in order of warmth:

    1 1998 0.53

    2 2004 0.45

    3 2007 0.4

    4 2002 0.38

    5 2005 0.35

    6 2006 0.33

    7 1991 0.29

    8 1983 0.25

    9 1988 0.22

    9 2003 0.22

    10 2001 0.16

    11 1981 0.13

    12 1990 0.1

    13 2008 0.09

  76. Evan Jones

    "Poor Tom's a-cold!"

    "So artic ice melts more when the temperature gets cooler then?"

    It can. All you need to do is "add black salt to the driveway" ("dirty snow") or use a snowblower (AO currents). Even NASA concedes this.

    The first cause is purely anthropogenic. It will persist until China (and to a lesser extent, India) become affluent enough to have a primary motivation to clean up their particulate emissions. This will occur in about two to three decades, in the same manner and for the same motivations the cleanup occurred in the west.

    The second cause is natural and cyclical.

    Care to reconcile this statement with NASA's study showing accelerating ice loss from the Antarctic?

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg

    (This is NOT a skeptic's site.)

    Perhaps NASA's study only considers accelerated loss but does not consider accelerated gain?

    "Moreover, I'm sure you won't mind me reminding readers that increasing ice mass doesn't disprove global warming anyway."

    Not at all. True enough. It has more to do with precipitation than with temperature. It's a homeostasis effect. The AAO is in a warm phase at the moment. But check the temperature map in Steve Goddard's article and you will see an overall cooling trend.

    What seems to disprove global warming (so far) is the Aqua Satellite, which (so far) contradicts CO2 positive feedback loops (and shows negative feedback), and the Argo Buoys, which show a slight ocean cooling (at all depths). Both of these were deployed in 2002, so this is all very recent data. (Therefore I think we should wait for further results before pushing the panic button. It could go either way.)

    "Unfortunately, on the blogosphere, you have equal voice to anyone with the time and energy to yell."

    It is true that those (from either side, including "kooks") who wish to express their views on the internet have the freedom to do so and cannot be shut up. I fail to regard this as unfortunate, however. Being a liberal, I am pleased to think of it as "the free exchange of ideas". YMMV!

    "Actually, Mark, acid rain is caused by nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, not CO2."

    This is true. The result is trace amounts of Sulfuric acid. (The former is the #3 Greenhouse gas and the latter is the #1 Icehouse gas.) Carbonic acid is a very, very weak acid.

  77. Steven Goddard
    Gates Halo

    Re; John Philips

    Thirty years is of course the length of the UAH record.

    If you actually read the entire sentence, you will see that it mentions both the southern hemisphere and the globe.

    "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."

    Sorry John, you are just grasping at straws.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Insufficient data?

    It used to be warmer in Britain when the Romans where here than it is now!

    They used to be able to grow crops furhter north, i.e Vineyards up near Newcastle..., maybe they were just better gardeners?

    satelites and global surveys are quite new and whilst records streach back a few hundred yers or so in some areas of the globe for others there is nothing.

    anecdotal evidence fo places like North America or Austrailia dont mean much as in human terms people (except for the natives who where doing other things) or should that be ex-europeans have only been in those places for about 10 minutes. Even is "civilised" places like Europe people were still throwing their sewerage in the street in Victorian and Edwardin times!

    lies, damn lies and statistics.... whose funding the studies and why.. no such thing as an impartiality

  79. John Philip
    Stop

    Another straw

    Thirty years is the size of the UAH dataset, but it is a monthly dataset, hence the meaning of the subset sentence still remains opaque to bears of little brain like me.

    If we assume that Paul Clark has his baseline sums right, then the absolute difference between NASA and UAH in March was around 0.26C

    Contrary to assertions, NASA know all about error bars - they are the little green lines here, for example : http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    and the uncertainty in GISTEMP is normally put at c0.1C.

    So, if we assume a similar uncertainty in the satellite record (historically plagued with errors), the difference between the tropospheric temperature and surface in March could feasibly be less than 0.1C.

    Hold the front page!

  80. Robert Long

    @David Robinson

    You have no idea how the laws of thermodynamics work. You also don't appear to even understand buoyancy. You also seem unaware of just how many researchers were scoffed at and threatened with losing their positions for putting forward the evidence for global-warming. Far from being a massive conspiracy to prevent anyone talking about the alternative theories, this is a classic example of an old guard who refused to listen to alternative theories being overwhelmed and discredited by a mountain of evidence that they were eventually (after 100 years) buried under.

  81. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    Reading comprehension

    Steve, you still don't have the query about where the text says UAH figures are one for the south and another for the world average. This still doesn't seem to appear in the list,despite you having impugned another for not reading.

    Where's the quote?

  82. PeteB

    Try again

    My last comment seemed to fail moderation :-)

    There is very good agreement between all the data sets sets

    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/4way.jpg

    Also El Nino years (1998) will produce higher lower troposphere (ie satellite) temperature rises because more warming is near the equator.

  83. David Robinson

    @David Robinson

    You say I have no knowledge of how the laws of thermodynamics works. I expect that must be true of some of the textbook writers too.

    Many of those workers deserved to be scoffed at.In the mid eighties one climate scientist told us that by 2010 London would be flooded and the tubes full of water. I realise that we have not quite arrived at 2010 but I think that we are near enough to suggest that it is unlikely. A few weeks ago another climate scientist said that in 25 years London would be flooded and the tubes full of water. This is like Billy Bunter's postal order always coming tomorrow but never arriving.

    The vicious treatment of people that don't toe the GW line is disgusting. David Bellamy's sacking, not for denying GW but merely for saying that it was perhaps not quite as serious as claimed. Not good enough for the inquisition. Since then he has put out a paper published in The Civil Engineer together with Jack Barrett in which he gives very good evidence that his view that GW is being heavily oversold is valid.

    Bjorn Lomborg was insulted left right and centre because, he, an environmentalist had the nerve to point out that the GWs had got their sums wrong about the effects of GW.

    We are continually told of the 'overwhelming consensus ' of scientists in favour of AGW theory. Their list included many leading scientists who had asked for their names to be deleted from the list as it did not reflect their views. The House of Lords select committee found that there was a 'healthy majority' of leading scientists that did not agree with the AGWs. Last week over 31,000 scientists signed a petition that stated that human actions were not causing climate change.

    The numbers game was started by the AGWs but is against them. This is really a bit meaningless because numbers do not change facts.

    The persecution of underlings by local bosses in the BBC for trying to report a story titled "Global Temperatures to decrease shows absolute bias in an organisation supposedly impartial and unbiased.

    Oh, on examination a great deal of the evidence you talk about is erroneous and some deliberately 'fiddled'.

    Dave

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    re: re: Statistics

    Lets see if I get this straight: An environmental statistician, makes adjustments to raw data to support his claim, another environmental computer programmer creates a computer "model" to support the claim, and yet another environmental "team" tells us that the numbers prove us correct, the computer model proves us correct, so we must be correct?

    I am old enough to remember being taught we were approaching an ice age and cooling off (1970's before there was anything like a computer model), and now we are getting warmer and have been for 50 years? How does that work?

    I completely agree, we need to clean up our environment and that we are slowly poisoning ourselves but can you PROVE that the earth supposed warming hasn't been caused by the earth getting a little closer to the sun? Our measurements of that distance aren't very accurate either.

    PS: Could the warming trend actually be due to an improvement in temperature devices OR that the measuring stations are now closer to large cities (usually airports) and their "concrete" heat sinks that hold the heat of the day longer?

  85. Snert Lee

    The Means and the Ends

    I tend to think global warming is just so much hokum. I should get all panicky because someone tells me it /might/ get half a degree warmer in fifty to a hundred years? Where I live, in the spring and fall, 40 degree F temperature swings are not uncommon.

    Personally I think the people smart enough to successfully refute global warming have chosen to let it slide under the idea that if it gets people to be cleaner, more conscientious beings then where's the harm?

    But if it should come unraveled, then the harm will be much as in the boy who cried wolf. If that should happen then science just won't be as believable for a good while.

    Wasn't there another NASA study that said Neptune was running a tiny bit warmer than average too? As in product of increased solar radiation, not an over abundance of Neptunian SUVs.

    Climate is what you Expect, Weather is what you Get

  86. Mark

    20-year cooling period

    How about the 23-year period? Has it warmed more over the 23-year period? If it has, why did you pick 20 years? Kind of arbitrary.

    You can't even tell reliably when high summer is from temperatures alone if you average over 20 years, can you. So how can you tell when it's warmer when the entire sample is 30 years?

  87. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Stop

    S'pose I might as well join in

    In my part of England, in the 1950s we used to skate on the River Ice through January & February. I can't remember the last time I saw even a thin skin of ice over the river.

    We also really needed thick pullovers and coats in the winter, again, in recent winters I can't remember needing much more than a lightweight jacket.

    So, I don't know about the figures, and I don't know about anywhere else, but here it has most certainly got warmer.

  88. John Philip
    Alien

    Critique

    Hi Steve,

    Could you help me with the following?

    1. "At the same time, there are new scientific studies showing that the earth is in a 20 year long cooling period. "

    Could you tell me in which academic journals I can find these studies?

    2. These quotes

    "In 1998 (left side of the graph below) NASA and the satellite data sources RSS and UAH all agreed quite closely "

    "The NASA temperature map for March above shows Alaska temperatures much above "normal", while the UAH map shows Alaska temperatures well below "normal"."

    "Nevertheless, the difference between March UAH and GISS global is still 0.5 degrees."

    strongly indicate that you were not aware that the NASA and satellite data series have different baselines when you wrote the piece. Is this the case? If not, can you explain how you came to these conclusions?

    3. "Using set theory, it is impossible for a subset of size 30 to be near the median and the full set to be in the top three. Absolute worst case would be in the top 15 for the full set."

    I think you are confusing your sets. We have (a) the set of NASA global temperatures, we have (b) the set of UAH Southern Hemisphere temperatures, Your observation was that March 08 is near the top of (a) but near the bottom of (b). So what? I propose a more relevant set (c) the set of UAH global temperatures. March 08 is 4th highest in (a) and 13th in (c).

    A bit less newsworthy but statistically waaay more legitimate.

    4. "Viewing the NASA 250-mile map for March below,"

    Its actually the 250Km map isn't it? And NASA prefer a 1200km radius, this being closer to the distance over which temperatures actually correlate.

    5 "A second important issue with NASA's presentation is that they use the time period of 1951-1980 as their choice of baseline. This was a well known cold spell, as can be seen in the 1999 version of the NASA US temperature graph below."

    It may have been a well-known cold spell in the US, however the NASA baseline is global. Why do you show a US map to make a global point? continental US is maybe 2% of the global surface area. Please explain.

    6. "Temperatures dropped enough during that period to trigger concern about the onset of an ice age. Newsweek magazine went so far as to mention a proposed "solution" of spreading soot in the Arctic to melt the polar ice caps. "

    1970s Global Cooliing' was largely a media invention. Outside of Newsweek, can you steer me towards the explosion of concern about global cooling in the academic literature of the 1970's that corresponds to the contemporary >1000 papers on AGW? I am thinking of in particular this paper from the American Meteorological Society:

    THE MYTH OF THE 1970S GLOBAL COOLING SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

    which found "During the period 1965 through 1979, our literature survey found 7 cooling papers, 19 neutral and 42 warming. In no year were there more global cooling papers than global warming. "

    Clutching at straws, me.

    JP.

  89. Evan Jones

    Scratching the Surface Stations

    "Could the warming trend actually be due to an improvement in temperature devices"

    No. Ironically, the MMTS switchover has caused a massive number of CRN-4 site violations. The ASOS HO83 systems have been plagued with false (exaggerated) TMax readings. Give me a properly sited, good old Stevenson Screen any day of the week.

    "OR that the measuring stations are now closer to large cities (usually airports) and their "concrete" heat sinks that hold the heat of the day longer?"

    YES.

    Although the truth of it is more that it is the mountain which has come to Mohamed, not the other way around. Very many of the surface stations have been subsumed by urban, suburban, and exurban creep. And the so-called "Lights=" urban "adjustment" is laughable (for a number of reasons).

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Anonymous John

    "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.

    When did the military *stop* funding GW research? They were the ones who provided the initial funding that finally got AGW off the ground, weren't they?

    And considering the many 'projects' of NASA's with "dual-use purposes", I think it'd be naïve to think they're footing the bill for everything they do, or want to do. The military is VERY interested in climate change, and I'd imagine they *continue* to fund its research on many levels. Some might even argue that the NSF *is* the military.

  91. Evan Jones

    NOAA's Arc

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

    There is no rain adjustment so far as I am aware.

    NOAA adjusts the data, which is what NASA stats out with (and adjusts it further).

    There's removal of outliers, TOBS (Time of Observation Bias), SHAP (Station History Adjustment), FILENET (fill-in of missing data), UHI (Urban Heat Island), and what they are pleased to refer to as "homogenization". They then grid the data points to determine proper "weight". (For the world record, the most dubious stations tend to get the most weight. This is unavoidable, but it makes the results much less reliable.)

    There are severe problems with these procedures (esp., SHAP, FILENET, and UHI), and no proper account is made for "site violation creep" which has corrupted many of the stations since 1980.

    All of these adjustments are upwards, except UHI (which is a risibly small -0.1F [sic] to the trend over a century). Total USHCN-1 adustment is +0.3C to 20th Century trend, so they say.

    Total USHCN-2 adjustment is a whopping +0.42 to trend. I am still trying to untangle it. The NOAA adjustment page is FAR less clear for ver. 2 than for ver. 1. But then, the "mark 1" adjustment page/graphs is one of the most cited NOAA pages by skeptics. They no longer say how much they adjust for each step, or even overall. (One is led to wonder why!) For the overall adjustment figure, you actually have to go to their graph setup and enter the inquiry, which takes time, trouble and knowhow.

    NASA takes the NCDC/USHCN (and GHCN) metadata as its "raw" data and adjusts it further (making the past a bit cooler) and applying an even worse UHI procedure (where we are introduced to the novel concept of "Urban Cooling Effect" in over a third of the cases).

    I kid you not.

  92. Vendicar Decarian
    Boffin

    Weather satellites don' t measure surface temperatures.

    What makes you think that Satellites have been measuring Earth's surface temperature? All they can do is measure an integrated temperature through the atmosphere.

    When you point an optical temperature sensor at a clear sheet of ice, what temperature do you measure? The temperature of the ice? Or do you measure the temperature of what is behind the ice? Or is it some combination of both?

    In order to obtain the surface temperature, the satellite data (if it's applicable) must be sorted by location and observing angle, and then used to compute a tomographic representation of a slice though the atmosphere. From that silce a synthetic vertical emission component is then computed and subtracted from the observed nadar observation made by the satellite to produce a surface temperature estimate.

    Weather satellites have <NOT> been equipped to make such observations, and the raw data sets have been confounded by considerable observational inaccuracies and bias - such as orbital drift, Orbital drift is a factor originally ignored by Denialists who oppose the Scientific Reality of global Warming, and who originally computed (based on faulty analysis) that the lower atmosphere was cooling.

    Not much credence can be had for the satellite observational record that is older than 5 years.

    The fact is... The satellites were not intended to be used for climate monitoring, but used to produce a very rough estimate of the temperature profile of the atmospher, Providing the temperature of just a hand full of layers.

    Surface temperature was never a product of those satellites

    The NASA data on the other hand, is taken from real thermometers located at ground level, and they have a much higher accuracy - although much lower spatial resolution.

  93. Robinson

    But it doesn't.

    "Why focus so much on the US? It only contributes approx 2% to the global mean."

    It should, but it does not, because there are more temperature stations in the US than any other country (by a considerable number).

  94. PeteB

    RE NOAA's arc

    Evan,

    I have read the various CA posts and the thing I still don't understand is, if any of these objections are significant, why wouldn't there we see some divergence of GISS from the other temperature measurements over time - I can see different size peaks and troughs between the temperature series but overall they seems to follow the same track - if what you say is happening was true I would expect GISS to be start off significantly cooler and end up significantly warmer

    see http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/4way.jpg

  95. John Philip

    But it does

    "It should, but it does not, because there are more temperature stations in the US than any other country (by a considerable number)."

    Correct premise. False conclusion. The mean is calculated from a series of grid boxes. Each box in a particular latitude band is weighted equally. So the contribtion of any particular area is proprtional to the size of the area, not the number of stations. The number of stations will increase the accuracy of the reading, but not its weighting.

    See the documentation on the NASA website.

  96. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Glad I avoided this one

    PLEASE NOTE - It's "CLIMATE CHANGE" not "GLOBAL Warming/Cooling". Global Warming is what Sol does.

    The climate is changing... that is what climates do. On a local scale, the changes will be considerably more extreme, given they are further interacted by prevailing winds, tides and water types, elevation, foliage cover or the lack thereof, presence and impacts of (wo)mankind, geographical aspect, cloud cover... blah de blah de blah. On that premise, once scientific reseach finally gets underway (I'm still waiting), it may be possible to identify some of the areas that will be more affected than others and possibly to offset some of these. Unfortunately, until NASA stops intercepting the necessary funds from valid scientific research, this simply will not happen.

    In fact, under the present regime, the most intelligent approach to issues of Climate Change are, fuck it, hang about for ten years and let's see what's different.

  98. Steven Goddard
    Linux

    Re; John Philips

    Hi John,

    The subset is the UAH global temperatures. If it was the SH temperatures, it would be second coolest out of thirty, not "near the median."

    The divergence graph shows a steady increase 1998, whatever the baselines may be. The point is that the delta should be fixed, regardless of the baselines.

    The US has the vast majority of, and the best USHCN stations. There is no reason to believe that US temperatures behave in a tremendously different fashion from the rest of the world. According to NASA, the US has warmed in lockstep with the rest of the world.

    I don't disagree with your point that climate alarmism is largely a media invention, regardless of which direction it is headed.

  99. Mark
    Flame

    Re:Glad I avoided this one

    And why is the climate changing? The orbit isn't right for a milancovich cycle. The sun isn't getting hotter enough. There is all this CO2 in the air...

    Maybe NOT putting all that CO2 out would be a good idea until we know what's going on, eh?

    (wonder if this one will get past steven the veggie...)

  100. Mark

    Please learn maths

    Robinson:

    "It should, but it does not, because there are more temperature stations in the US than any other country (by a considerable number)"

    This only matters if the earth gets no weather where there are no sensors.

    Also, please:

    1) note that these are satellite images. The number of ground stations is irrelevant.

    2) There's stuff about the South Pole which isn't in america. yet

  101. uncredited
    Thumb Down

    @Robert Long

    You claim that David Robinsons has no idea how thermodynamics work. Now assuming you have an idea - why don't you explain it to us laymen and point out exactly what he got wrong and how? Explain to us how thermodynamics work instead of just the typical "you don't know what you're talking about" claim repeatedly made by AWarmists without any further explanation. Answers like yours are exactly what made me a sceptic - loud claims without any arguments to support them.

  102. Evan Jones

    Reasonable question.

    "I have read the various CA posts and the thing I still don't understand is, if any of these objections are significant, why wouldn't there we see some divergence of GISS from the other temperature measurements over time - I can see different size peaks and troughs between the temperature series but overall they seems to follow the same track - if what you say is happening was true I would expect GISS to be start off significantly cooler and end up significantly warmer"

    A fair consideration. Some comments.

    First, tamino has only the 30-year trend (this same graph is also on Watts, IIRC), and CA was dealing with the 120-year trend (GISS vs. NOAA). The primo gripe is with the 1880-1980 record. (Note also that the graph has no NOAA stats.)

    But if you look closely t the tamino offering, you'll see that GISS sarts out lower than RSS and winds up a bit higher. It doesn't look like much (in fact it isn't much), just 1.5C or so, but that makes a lot of difference considering the entire trend is under .4C.

    There are a couple of other important considerations. First, according to AGW theory, troposphere warms at a faster rate than surface temps. So if surface and troposphere do match it implies that either the tropospheric has to low a trend or the surface has too high a trend. As it is, the troposphere actually has a slightly lower warming trend, the opposite of what one would expect..

    In fact, since 1998 (or 2002), RSS and UAH show a bit of a cooling trend while GISS definitely trends warmer. Again, there differences aren't big, but the changes they are being compared with aren't big, either. Steve Goddard points this out a couple posts prior.

    This fits in well with McKitrick [2007] and LaDochy [Dec. 2007] (who calculate that heat sink and other site violations have exaggerated the post 1979 warming trend by around double, i.e., by a bit less than 0.2C. LeRoy [1999] (cited by NOAA/CRN) and Yilmaz [2008] definitely show that temps taken over concrete are a LOT warmer than those taken over grass.

    Undocumented exurban creep has sneaked into the surface record since 1980, especially since the MMTS equipment switchover brought many of the stations right next to structures (thanks to serious cable issues).

    So while it looks pretty close, and they definitely follow much the same track, the differences are still pretty significant.

    "The sun isn't getting hotter enough." There is all this CO2 in the air..."

    There has been a long, slow, steady recovery from the depths of the Little Ice Age. No surprises here.

    And the Aqua Satellite has, so far, has directly contradicted the CO2 positive feedback loop theory. CO2 increase, assuming no positive water vapor feedback loops, is insignificant.

    OTOH, all the major ocean-atmospheric cycles have switched to warm phase since 1979. Now that just one of them (the PDO) has gone into a cool cycle (probably for at least 20 years), the temperatures have trended down. The other cycles will go cool before long, as well.

    AMO/PDO warm-cool-warm cycles clearly correspond with temperatures better than the CO2 delta.

    And, P.S., the DeVries Cycle makes us just about due for a major solar minimum (Dalton or even Maunder style), and the AWOL Solar Cycle 24 makes this an ominous possibility. 25% of the last 1000 years have been major minimum years. And we're due.

    "Maybe NOT putting all that CO2 out would be a good idea until we know what's going on, eh?"

    If that option were not so terribly expensive in human life and human misery (and treasure) I would agree. But unfortunately, Pascal's Wager does NOT apply here. Ignoring the demographic implications would be inhuman.

    After the atmospheric and ocean cooling over the last decade, a wait-and-see attitude is far more advisable. (As we study the hell out of the problem.) It is not a do-or-die situation and we can afford to act with deliberation.

  103. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  104. Mark

    @Evan Jones

    "There has been a long, slow, steady recovery from the depths of the Little Ice Age. No surprises here."

    Uh, have you looked at the temperature graph?

    In the past it went up, it went down, it went up, it went down, it went up, it went down, it went up.

    Now which way is it going? Would you suspect based on past performance (where CO2 couldn't be burned from fossil fues apart from a few places where seep came to the surface? Down?. Well, it went up. Went up a lot more than it went down durring the little ice age (which evidence is from the same papers and scientists that you deny knowing their arse from their elbow when it comes to climatology today).

    "recovery" sounds like it's getting back to where it used to be, doesn't it? Well, the 30 year average before the LIA is lower than it is now. Doesn't sound like "recovery" does it. Sounds like LIA was a blip away.

  105. PeteB

    Reasonable question

    Hi Evan - comparing the longer term trend for surface temperature with other temperature reconstructions (adjusted to a common reference period) :

    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/big3z.jpg

    can't really see much difference

    "In fact, since 1998 (or 2002), RSS and UAH show a bit of a cooling trend while GISS definitely trends warmer. Again, there differences aren't big, but the changes they are being compared with aren't big, either. Steve Goddard points this out a couple posts prior"

    - isn't that just because the satellite measures show a much bigger peak in 1998 ? (which you would expect because El Nino has more tropical warming which affects the lower troposphere more than the surface temperature)

    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/global2.jpg

    "So if surface and troposphere do match it implies that either the tropospheric has too low a trend or the surface has too high a trend"

    agreed - although there is obviously error bars associated with each. The graph above shows a higher satellite trend than surface trend (although not by 20%)

    The only other point is when you compare recent GISS to HADCru you can see some slight differences - but I think this i nearly entirely due to the different ways they treat polar regions - HADCru (and the satellite reconstructions) effectivelty ignore some of the polar regions whereas GISS extends the temperature gradient from the equator towards the poles and extrapolates it over the poles.

  106. andy
    Happy

    I've heard it all now...

    "It can be simultaneously true that the world is warming, and that the world is in a 20 year cooling trend."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Perfect!!

  107. John Philip

    Hi Steve

    "The divergence graph shows a steady increase 1998, whatever the baselines may be. The point is that the delta should be fixed, regardless of the baselines."

    Not necessarily. The long term warming trend is best characterised as a linear warming signal plus 'noise'. The noise being relatively short-lived (a few years) evnts such as the ENSO events El Nino, which raises temperatures and La Nina which cools. The satellites measure the temperature in the troposphere which seems to be pushed higher than the surface record by the El Nino and vice versa for La Nina. If your start point is in an El Nino year (1998 was the strongest El Nino of the last century) and your end point in a La Nina then some divergence between surface and satellite trends is not unexpected.

    "The US has the vast majority of, and the best USHCN stations. There is no reason to believe that US temperatures behave in a tremendously different fashion from the rest of the world. According to NASA, the US has warmed in lockstep with the rest of the world."

    Huh? its a landmass. Most of the globe is ocean (proportion rising ;-)) which warms in a very different fashion, in fact seems to have cooled slightly over the last 4-5 years. Then there is the prediction of the theory that the Arctic will warm faster than the tropics, so called polar amplification:

    "The map reveals that the greatest warming has been in the Arctic and neighboring high latitude regions. Polar amplification is an expected characteristic of global warming, as the loss of ice and snow engenders a positive feedback via increased absorption of sunlight. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observed record low Arctic sea ice cover in September 2007."

    That's from NASA's summation of 2007. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2007/

    The US is representative of the US, nothing else.

    "I don't disagree with your point that climate alarmism is largely a media invention, regardless of which direction it is headed."

    That wasn't my point. Alarmism is perjorative; current genuine concerns are backed by an unprecedented and overwhelming majority within the discipline of climate science, the National Academies of Science, and endorsed by every relevant professional association of scientists...

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

    http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=20742

    http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/positions/climate_change2008.shtml

    (etc etc)

    JP.

    PS A reminder, I asked where were the '20 year cooling' studies' you mentioned were published please?

  108. Mark

    Re: I've heard it all now...

    I lost a stone over the past year.

    However, over the past 30 years, I've been on an increasing weight gain profile.

    Is that impossible?

    No.

    Has that happened to you?

    If not, to someone you know.

    So, yes, you have heard that before.

    It's just that climate changes on a timescale of decades, we change on a timescale of years.

  109. Steven Goddard
    Gates Halo

    Re: John Phillips

    Hi John,

    My previous piece began with a reference to the 20 year cooling period.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/02/a_tale_of_two_thermometers/

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/30/eaclimate130.xml

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7191/abs/nature06921.html

    You said that the poles should warm faster than the tropics - yet the tropics are barely warming, Most of Antarctica is cooling and has record sea ice, and the Arctic is warming.

    Sounds like a good topic for an story! Thanks.

  110. Evan Jones

    "She's hot and cold. She's heart and soul. She's got it all."

    "Uh, have you looked at the temperature graph?"

    <sarcasm mode>Oh, twice or once.</sarcasm mode>

    "In the past it went up, it went down, it went up, it went down, it went up, it went down, it went up."

    And I thought it was all about trends . . . #B^j

    "Now which way is it going?"

    Down. Over the last decade, slightly. In spite of a triple El Nino, NOT counting the monster in 1998. Over the last year, down precipitously. At this exact moment, we stand right around the 20th century mean. (Well, a little below, actually.) And yes, it bounces around all the time over the short run. It's been up and then down since January.

    ""recovery" sounds like it's getting back to where it used to be, doesn't it? Well, the 30 year average before the LIA is lower than it is now."

    Actually, there is every evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer in the Northern hemisphere than today. All sorts of 900-year old ex-greenery showing up under the Greenland ice. Archaeological digs in Greenland show Viking settlements as far north as the 70th parallel. And there is growing evidence that it was a global phenomenon as well (but since there is less settlement it's harder to tell.

    The Roman period is believed to have been warmer than the MWP.

    It is highly doubtful that we have "recovered" to those levels. Remember, the "hockey stick" has been thoroughly buzz-sawed (by non-climatologists, I might add). It has even quietly disappeared from the IPCC reports.

    "can't really see much difference"

    There isn't much. But there is a difference. And that difference represents a hefty percentage of the warming trend, which there isn't much of, either.

    "It can be simultaneously true that the world is warming, and that the world is in a 20 year cooling trend."

    True, actually. There could be an underlying warming trend under the cyclic fluctuations. In fact, that is what has been going on since the pit of the Maunder Minimum: Heating and cooling periods with an underlying warming trend.

    The question is whether that is happening now. I think it may well be. But (without positive CO2 feedback loops) at a MUCH lower rate than the alarmists project.

    And all it takes is one spin of the DeVries cycle to plunge us back in the icebox of the Little Ice Age major minimums. A spin that is showing every symptom of beginning right now. (It may be; it may not be. But it looks very ominous.) Remember, 25% of the last millennium has been spent under major solar minimum conditions.

    "- isn't that just because the satellite measures show a much bigger peak in 1998 ?"

    Fair question again. That's why many prefer to take it from 2002 (post the 1998-2001 El Nino/La Nina bumps). But the trend from 2002 on shows a slight cooling according to the satellites and ocean buoys, and a warming according to NASA.

    "HADCru (and the satellite reconstructions) effectively ignore some of the polar regions whereas GISS extends the temperature gradient from the equator towards the poles and extrapolates it over the poles."

    It's a push, though: Antarctica is cooling slightly and the arctic warming slightly. And the area not covered is a small fraction of 1% of the globe, so it would have to be a whopping differential to account for the divergence.

    And the warming in the north is due to ice melt and the resulting reduction in albedo. And the ice melt is due to:

    a.) Dirty Snow (which is anthropogenic and has a BIG effect), and

    b.) Anomalies with the AO and ocean currents, which have carried the ice out of the Bering Strait into warm water, where it melts. (I.e., a lot of the melting is not occurring in the Arctic areas).

    Both a. and b., according to NASA.

    Dirty snow is a phenomenon that will disappear in the "natural" course of development in two to three decades, without any drastic international "solutions". Particulates are a cinch to eliminate compared with CO2 emissions.

  111. PeteB

    1% of the globle

    In fact, the HadCRUT3gl.txt file (HadCRUT3 for the globe) lists the fraction of the earth's surface which is covered by their analysis, and for 2007 it was 82%, so that fully 18% of the globe isn't estimated by HadCRU.

  112. John Philip
    Happy

    Good luck with that!

    Thanks for the links. As Joseph Romm points out, Keenlyside et al actually predicted

    • The “coming decade” (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally.

    • The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors’ calculations began in 1960.

    • The fast warming would likely begin early in the next decade — similar to the 2007 prediction by the Hadley Center in Science (see “Climate Forecast: Hot — and then Very Hot“).

    • The mean North American temperature for the decade from 2005 to 2015 is projected to be slightly warmer than the actual average temperature of the decade from 1993 to 2003.

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/05/02/nature-article-on-cooling-confuses-revkin-media-deniers-next-decade-may-see-rapid-warming/

    “You said that the poles should warm faster than the tropics - yet the tropics are barely warming, Most of Antarctica is cooling and has record sea ice, and the Arctic is warming.

    Sounds like a good topic for an story! Thanks.”

    Actually it is just the Arctic that is predicted to warm (first), as the Antarctic is surrounded by an enormous heat sink in the form of the Southern Ocean.

    Anyway, good luck with that, you might be interested in the comparison of Artic and Antarctic ice here http://nsidc.org/seaice/characteristics/difference.html

    Bye for now.

    JP

    PS If you ever want to determine the difference in the height of two people, make sure one of them is not standing on a box ;-)

  113. William Wallace

    Why Nothing Will Happen on Climate Change

    Rod Bowes - The Mars Climate Orbiter was lost Sept. 23, 1999 because engineers used pound force and flight controllers were expecting newtons. I like this quote:

    "Our inability to recognize and correct this simple error has had major implications," said JPL director Edward Stone.

    Right .......

    That is why everyone is so hyper about the current Mars mission ... a failure might remind folks of the previous "simple error" and encourage some piling on.

    Anyway I enjoyed the article about NASA's continuing futzing with the baseline, and the obligatory showing of satellite data that doesn't show much of a trend one way or another.

    The US position on climate change is Byrd-Hagel, passed in 1997 by 95-0 by the US Senate. Full text can be found at:

    http://www.nationalcenter.org/KyotoSenate.html

    In short, it says the US will not entertain attempts to destroy its economy if China, India and other countries get a free pass on CO2. From V.P. Al Gore through Bush #2 ... this has not changed. Even the New York Times started providing some cover for the next administration by publishing a piece on scientific consensus (fat and heart disease) and showing how wrong everyone was.

    The US does not casually enter into treaties, because a treaty ratified by the US Senate has force of law on par with the Constitution. Courts in the US would have upheld whatever it took to comply with Kyoto, unlike other countries that signed the treaty and then reneged. I guess it is more noble to sign a treaty and renege, then to be truthful and not sign in the first place.

    Politicians know that in the US, asking people to pay more taxes and lower their standard of living for COLDER winters ... is a non-starter. People love hot weather, disgusting hot weather, and move in droves to Arizona, Florida, and other hot locales.

    Most politicians in the US are attorneys, and from their law school training (and court experience if any), know global warming data would not stand a chance in the court room. They flee from this issue the same as abortion and social security.

    So China will open their one coal-fired plant per week, surpass the US in CO2 emissions, and provide a much-needed place for US politicians to deflect criticism on climate change. Let the global warming folks try to move China off the dime first.

    Interesting, radicals have painted themselves into a corner with global warming. If it is the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it, then the only salvation is CO2 emission-free nuclear power. And nuclear is the only proven off-the-shelf substitute that can be rolled-out today. If nuclear is dismissed, then CO2 cannot possibly be the immediate threat it has been made out to be.

    Anytime you see the US gov't and business getting "concerned" about climate change, rest assured that nuclear is going to be what they "reluctantly conclude" as the solution.

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  115. Evan Jones

    "Thnk! (Or thwim.)"

    WW: Well, if the world promises to commit economic suicide to no environmental benefit whatever, we should at least find it in our liberal hearts to encourage India and China to break that promise . . .

  116. Christopher Bellamy

    Explanation of melting glaciers

    I'm a keen mountaineer, only for the past few years, but even in that time the glaciers I have climbed on are just disappearing. I went back to one glacier after not seeing it for 3 years last summer, and I honestly thought that I was in entirely the wrong place because where there used to be vast expansive, and unbelievable amounts of Ice, was now all rocks and boulders, with the Ice being a good 2km up the mountain. And its not just a trend for the last 5 years. I have seen photos from 50 years a go and it has been progressive. In my opinion, ice won't melt if there hasn't been an increase in the temperature. What I have seen is data that can't be fiddled, can't be changed, and hasn't been affected by a recent small change in temperature. So unless someone has surreptitiously been salting the glaciers, I'm willing to accept global warming as a option, until someone can come up with another valid reason.

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