Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

By Phil Plait | August 10, 2007 8:24 pm

Note: After writing a draft of this entry, I went to the Real Climate website (I should have thought of it first; thanks Fraser for the tip!) and they already have a post up on this topic. It looks like we essentially agree on this issue. I may be an astronomer, but I know data analysis! Anyway see links at Real Climate for more on this story. I have edited my entry a bot, but it’s essentially what I drafted up originally.

Via Gia’s blog, I have learned that some scientists are claiming that they have found that the warming trend in the last half of the 20th Century is wrong. If so, this is a major revision of climate change science.

However, I don’t think this is correct. Basically, the claim is that the numbers published by NASA scientist James Hansen had an error in them. When this is corrected, the warming trend in the last part of the 20th century disappears. But let’s look closer at the numbers.

The table below is from the Watt’s Up With That blog, which discusses these claims. The first table lists the 10 hottest years on record, ordered using the new data. The columns are the year, the deviation from average temperature done the old way, and the deviation done the new way.

Top 10 GISS U.S. Temperature deviation (deg C) in New Order
8/7/2007

Year Old New
1934 1.23 1.25
1998 1.24 1.23
1921 1.12 1.15
2006 1.23 1.13
1931 1.08 1.08
1999 0.94 0.93
1953 0.91 0.90
1990 0.88 0.87
1938 0.85 0.86
1939 0.84 0.85

Interestingly, the hottest year on record before was 1998 (1.24 degrees Celsius above average), but with the new data, it’s now second to 1934. That’s interesting! But hang on a sec. The difference is pretty small. 1998 went down by 0.01 degrees, and 1934 went up by 0.02. I would call that a wash… except that the error bars are not published where I could find them. Is an 0.01 change significant? What if the measurements are only good to 0.1 degrees? Then 1934 and 1998 are in a statistical dead heat (haha). Posting the numbers like this doesn’t actually tell you what you need to know.

Worse, some misleading claims have been made about them. For example, the Daily Tech site says:

In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II.

(Psssstt! Someone tell that guy that WWII started in 1939).

But even if we take him on his word, what he said is still misleading! Look at the dates, and think about it. These data are culled from a table that goes back from 1880 to 2006, a 127 year interval. If there were no warming trend at all, you’d expect the hottest 10 years to be randomly distributed in that 127 range, or roughly 1 hottest year in the top ten every 12.7 years (call it 13). But look at the data! In the last 13 year bin alone, from 1994 – 2006, we see 3 of the Top Ten years (2006, 1998, 1999). Another was in the second to last bin (1990). Then there is nothing before that until we go back to 1953.

The odds of this are pretty low, though not totally precluded by chance. If you look at the data, you’ll see four of the years are from 1931 – 1939 (which to be fair is more than one bin wide), so the distribution is very lumpy indeed. It’s not easy to produce a trend from this data. But having three of the top ten years in the last bin strikes me as being very interesting to say the least.

In fact, if you get the actual data and plot it even using the new numbers, you get this:

The x-axis is year since 1880, and the y-axis is the temperature deviation from average. You see two big bumps, the one in the 1930s and the recent one since 1980 or so. Curious, I looked at the average deviation for 1930 to 1942, to encompass that bump, and got +0.44 degrees (if I go only to 1941 I get +0.47, which is a bit higher since 1942 was a cooler than average year, but not including it would be cherry-picking, so I left it in).

For the 1994 to 2006 bin I get a deviation of +0.57. The average temperature in the second bump is 0.1 degrees higher than the first. In other words, it was warmer on average in the last 13 years than any time in recorded history.

Look again at the numbers. If you look at the top ten years, even with the new method, only the year of 2001 goes away (replaced with 1939, see chart below). All the other years are fairly stable, though the numbers themselves have changed. In other words, old method or new, more record years have happened in the last decade or so of the record keeping than you’d expect.

Here’s the old order of top 10 yearly temperatures.

Year Old New
1998 1.24 1.23
1934 1.23 1.25
2006 1.23 1.13
1921 1.12 1.15
1931 1.08 1.08
1999 0.94 0.93
1953 0.91 0.90
2001 0.90 0.76
1990 0.88 0.87
1938 0.85 0.86

People are using this data to say that global warming is all wrong (for example, that bastion of rational thinking and science, Rush Limbaugh). Let me be clear: from the data published, you cannot make that case. All you can say is that 1998 is not the hottest year on record, and that only four (instead of five) of the top ten hottest years on record have been since 1990.

But if you look at the data (and I would love to see the error bars in this) you still see that the years since 1980 have been hotter on average than in the past 127 years.

These data by themselves do not throw global warming into the trash heap. In fact, they can’t: these are number for the United States only, and not the whole planet! And, to my eye, they in fact support a warming trend since the middle of the century. Note: I won’t comment on the hockey-stick Mann graph since I don’t know the details on how this affects it — again, without errors bars there is no way to know.

So, who’s full of hot air?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, NASA, Politics, Science, Skepticism

Comments (122)

  1. Brant D

    It amuses me that some contrarians accuse climate scientists of manipulating the temperature record to show global warming, but when the record is corrected for some minor technical reasons, all of a sudden the record shows conclusively that global warming is not real, or that the data record is simply unreliable altogether (although the record was just corrected).

  2. Here’s my understanding of it:

    There are lots of temperature readings from all sorts of time periods, all over the globe, both direct readings and proxies. Some show significant warming, some show a wash, some are in between, and a few even show cooling.

    What climatologists do is take these figures and calculate a weighted average, and after doing that they conclude that average global temperatures are increasing, hence global warming.

    My question: Are these NASA figures in any way special? Even if the changes here are significant, would they have any real effect on these weighted averages? Is there some reason to think that they’re more accurate than all the other methods of recording temperatures?

  3. Well. You havn’t noticed the barbeques and fans around some stations, or that the rural stations hav NO trend since 1880, but the city (non-rural) stations have an 2.5 degrees upward trend the same 120 years period of time!

    Have you? What does it say to you?

    The thing is also that they reject stations which do not confirm a longterm upward trend, and that’s really non-science!

    It’s obvious that station data have an upward bias, and while satelite data gives a 0.2 degrees increase last 30 years, the ground based data shows an 0.4 degrees increase. Bias!

    Also many station don’t meet the standard rules and shall be fixed or omitted! Also erranous stations has to be fixed worldwide and the calculation and data reviewed on station level worldwide! All this in a open scintific process, not as it is now – apparently lots of errors both on station and computing level, but where everything is secret.

    This is a shame and a disaster for the reputation of science!

  4. Nice discussion!

    I think it’d be useful to note that we are talking about US temperatures, not global temperatures.

    J

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with the statement that 5 of the ten years is before the WWII 1921, 1931, 1934, 1938 and, before most of the 1939-1945 war, 1939.

    A not so important detail anyway!

  6. Bill

    It was a Y2K bug!

    If NASA missed that, how can you take what comes out of a climate models(thousands of lines of code) as gospel? One model once had a bug that had the Earth’s orbit 180 deg. out of phase (programmer thought the Earth had to be closer to the sun in the summer).

    Now there is a study that suggests that global warming will decrease the amount of cirrus clouds (the models generate more of these clouds).

    Flawed models, flawed data, flawed hypothesis.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  7. Justin: Of course it’s important to note that, but why? Of course it’s important because stationd, the station data the computing and so forth has to be reviewed globally now!

    This shows a very poor scintifically standard, and that standard can only inmprove if the data and everything around this field is shared with the scientific society!

    The discontinuation for all the station data must have been known within NASA when it occured 7 years ago, but why didn’t it made them act? Was the staff not allowed to do that and in that case, why?!? Any data wasn’t easy for McIntyre to get (really hard actually) and still he doesn’t have the algoritms how they pick stations or the computing code…

    This is Soviet Union 2007?

  8. David Vanderschel

    It strikes me as being silly to try to make any sort of trend inference from the points plotted in the graph. There is apparently a lot of ‘noise’ in this data set. Too much to hope to be able to make reliable predictions for the future based on this data. It strikes me that the first order inference is that, though fluctuations up and down do occur when looking at several-year averages, things have not really changed much over the past 127 years. We do seem recently to have been in a relatively hot spell similar to that which occurred in the 30’s, but there is no reason to infer that spell will continue and get even worse. (There may be other data which might tend to support such inferences, but not this particular data set.) When faced with data which is dominated by apparent randomness, humans have an unfortunate tendency to find patterns even when there is no mechanism by which the underlying process could generate such patterns. This could be such a case.

  9. Brant D

    Bill: “Now there is a study that suggests that global warming will decrease the amount of cirrus clouds (the models generate more of these clouds).”

    If you are referring to Richard Lindzen’s IRIS hypothesis, know that it was discredited years ago. Lindzen allowed data from the subtropics to contaminate a study of convective activity in the tropics. When the contamination was removed, the IRIS hypothesis fell apart.

  10. Mind you, this is US data only, as I point out in the entry.

  11. “Now there is a study that suggests that global warming will decrease the amount of cirrus clouds (the models generate more of these clouds).”

    Lots of things are very confusing, indeed! Or not!!? There’s also a study which shows that cirrus clouds is (as one can expect from thermodynamic systems in balance) a negative feedback, not a positive. This means that these cirrus clouds decrease temperature, not increase temperature as IPCC has taken for granted.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/warming-may-kill-cirrus-clouds-cause.html

    So why do they have to put the cloud prediction completely in the opposite dirction, do you think? Well, because “the sceptics” were right about the cirrus clouds from the beginning (negative feedback) and when (ooops!) IPCC must admit these new discoveries they have to dump the now cooling cirrus to get the earth warm!

    Last summer the scinetists was sure that dry summers in northern Europe was to come. Now the Met office in UK sais the opposite, so the best headlines of the year is also important, I guess.

    I wish I was a well payed alarmist…

  12. “Now there is a study that suggests that global warming will decrease the amount of cirrus clouds (the models generate more of these clouds).”

    Things are confusing, indeed! Or not?! There’s also a study which shows that cirrus clouds is (as one can expect from thermodynamic systems in balance) a negative feedback, not a positive. This means that these cirrus clouds decrease temperature, not increase temperature as IPCC has taken for granted.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/warming-may-kill-cirrus-clouds-cause.html

    So why do they have to put the cloud prediction completely in the opposite dirction, do you think? Well, because “the sceptics” were right about the cirrus clouds from the beginning (negative feedback) and when (ooops!) IPCC must admit these new discoveries they have to dump the now cooling cirrus to get the earth warm!

    Last summer the scinetists was sure that dry summers in northern Europe was to come. Now the Met office in UK sais the opposite, so the best headlines of the year is also important, I guess.

    Wish I was a well payed alarmist…

  13. Magnus A

    “Now there is a study that suggests that global warming will decrease the amount of cirrus clouds (the models generate more of these clouds).”

    Things are confusing, indeed! Or not?! There’s also a study which shows that cirrus clouds is (as one can expect from thermodynamic systems in balance) a negative feedback, not a positive. This means that these cirrus clouds decrease temperature, not increase temperature as IPCC has taken for granted.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/08/warming-may-kill-cirrus-clouds-cause.html

    So why do they have to put the cloud prediction completely in the opposite dirction, do you think? Well, because “the sceptics” were right about the cirrus clouds from the beginning (negative feedback) and when (ooops!) IPCC must admit these new discoveries they have to dump the now cooling cirrus to get the earth warm!

    Last summer the scinetists was sure that dry summers in northern Europe was to come. Now the Met office in UK sais the opposite, so the best headlines of the year is also important, I guess.

    Wish I was a well payed alarmist.

  14. Magnus A

    Why do ou remove my messages?

  15. Magnus A

    Why do ou remove my messages about open science?

  16. Magnus A

    Why remove my messages about open science?

  17. Why erase my comments? You must be really rude.

  18. TBA,

    my mistake, I didn’t see that you had already pointed it out.

    J

  19. Why assume I am rude when there is absolutely no history of that here on the blog? The spam filter put you in moderation, and I accepted the posts.

  20. Qd

    I’m tired of this whole ‘warming’ debate. It’s detracting from the real concern, which is the dumping of massive amounts of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Any fool can see this is bad. The data speaks for itself. Whether it’s natural warming from the sun or not that is causing the temperature rise, this fact remains; never before in our history has the earth been subject to the amount of pollutants being released, while at the same time, had so many humans living on it with a need to keep things, namely temperatures the way they are. Just because you can’t clearly see the effects, or even the molecular particles doing the damage, doesn’t mean its not there. Of course many people will argue it’s not doing damage, the greenhouse gases are not to blame, etc, but why is that surprising when you can see how much money is tied up in it all. All commercial industry worldwide would need to be regulated to fix this problem. As if any industry would want that when it means they will make less money. As long as money is the bottom line, nothing will change, and the greenhouse gases will continue to flow.

  21. The NWS standard for worst case thermometer accuracy was +/- 1.0 degree F (+/-0.56 degC) in the 1995 standard (FCM-H1-1995). The 2005 revision (FCM-H1-2005) changed the spec to +/-0.6 degree C (+/- 1.08 degF). I can’t find my 1930’s handbook but IIRC, it spec’d +/-1 degree F.

    The 2005 standard is available at:
    http://www.ofcm.gov/fmh-1/pdf/FMH1.pdf

  22. Steven Cox

    Also considering it is USA data it is appropriate to use the USA entry data into WW2, i.e. 1941

  23. Paul S

    It still seems that we have had a disproportionate number of extra-warm years in the past 15 years or so.

    One of the problems with the global warming debate is that some people use every change in temperature as an argument for or against it. One hot summer and people are saying “Oh no, Global Warming!!”. One cool summer and people will say “Global Warming – what a bunch of BS” – and some of these will be the same people who were panicking about global warming when the previous summer was extra hot!

    You see the same phenomenon with hurricanes – when the 2005 hurricane season was very bad, there was a lot of talk about this being the result of global warming. Then, when the 2006 hurricane season in the Atlantic was pretty weak, the critics of global warming said that this proved that the whole idea was wrong. The truth is that one or two hot summers, or one or two bad hurricane seasons, aren’t statistically significant either way, no matter how destructive they might be. You need decades, possibly centuries worth of data to get a statistically meaningful conclusion.

    This leads to another huge dilemma. To be REALLY SURE that long-term global warming and climate change is happening and that people are DEFINITELY the cause of it, we probably need quite a few more years of detailed data. Unfortunately, if human-caused climate change turns out to be an indisputable fact, it will be too late to stop it by the time we have accumulated enough years of data to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

  24. Barabajagal

    Qd, excellent point on the global warming discussion. I appreciate people like Al Gore trying to raise public awareness about the accelerating amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere and environment in general, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way. There is a lot of science indicating that global warming may be accelerated by human conduct, but I have yet to see a convincing study that the problems are nearly as clearcut as films such as An Inconvenient Truth attempt to make them out to be. I respect Al Gore and what he’s trying to do, but a lot of these apocolyptic global warming advocates seem to be using the same kind of scare tactics employed by the very unscientific political right. Dumping tons and tons of pollutants into the air isnt bad unless it results in Armageddon?

    It reminds me of the anti-nuclear campaign of the 1980s when scientists as credible as Carl Sagan put forth rather borderline scenarios like the “nuclear winter”. Do people really have to be frightened with extinction to see that nuclear weapons aren’t a good thing? Science should never be a tool for scare tactics!

  25. Chip

    Being in the USA only, the study did not take into account an effect on US weather by Global Dimming elsewhere on Earth. (Global Dimming is a phenomenon that generally doesn’t get the headlines, though there was a PBS Nova special about it ;) air pollution over the Indian Ocean from evolving industrial giants China and India effects global warming by creating high thin clouds that, over vast areas, lower the temperature from what it otherwise would be. It is theorized that this has contributed to serious drought in Africa causing many deaths, and that the effects of Global Warming as detected in North America would be higher if this artificial effect were to be arrested. Oddly, research that was going on back in 2001 when 9/11 happened resulted in some strange effects. Airlines around the world were grounded for several days and the cumulative lack of vapor trails also resulted in a temporary increase in temperature. I cannot site figures but the study was described on PBS Nova. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/

  26. Chip

    I’m laughing because in my previous post, which is serious, the smiley face was the result of me tying a ; followed by a ) resulting in a smile near PBS Nova. Well, some of those shows are pretty good. Take it as an endorsement. :D

  27. Bad as Numerator

    The debate on global warming, the debate on global warming…. does it really matter? What I mean is do we have to prove or disprove that humans are globally affecting climate change to finally stop pumping so much waste into our ecosystems? I see so much locally produced climate change which is caused by man made pollution (ever been to LA? you should see it when there is an inversion layer…) that I don’t understand why that wouldn’t be enough of a motivator to get people to clean up their act. In college, a professor used to repeat the maxim, “the solution to pollution is dilution”. there is a point at which no amount of dilution will contain our pollution, I usually find that out when i put sugar in my coffee.
    Perhaps we are all like that bad R2 unit the Jawas tried to sell to Luke and uncle Owen. We have a bad motivator.

  28. Thomas Siefert

    BA’s comment spam filter does not like blogspot, only evil people blog there :-(

  29. Qd

    Paul S … I agree, we need more data to prove it, but sometimes things are just so obvious you don’t need absolute proof to act.

    If I have been walking through the desert and I stumble onto a road, and at that moment a truck is coming, I don’t need to prove that the truck is real or just a mirage before realizing I should just move out of the way, just in-case.

    I really feel the same applies to pollutants. Pollution is bad. More of it is worse. I know how a sweatshirt works. I’m sure the greenhouse effect works in a similar manner.

    Even if you remove the greenhouse effect, you are still left with the unsettling thought of all the toxic chemicals produced and dispersed also. Industrial pollution is just a bad idea no matter how you look at it. It’s destroyed not only the air in major cites, but made major river systems toxic in many cites, killed off lakes, wasted coastlines, etc.

    It needs to stop. It’s stupid.

  30. Dear Phil, I can’t believe that a well-known astronomy blogger may be as intellectually limited as you are.

    The fact that close years happen to be lumped together – they have close temperatures – is a consequence of a fascinating mathematical property of functions that holds for temperatures and that is called “continuity”. Search Wikipedia for “continuous functions”.

  31. To the BA: what is your opinion about the difficulty with which raw data is given to the public? And to Hansen’s refusal of providing McIntyre with the algorithms used?

    More details at http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1885#more-1885

    Correct me if I am wrong but usually in astronomical circles all raw data including photographs are published, obviously after the paper is published. Shouldn’t we ask as much in all sectors of science, climatology included?

  32. Maurizio Morabito

    There is something funny with the spam filter…

  33. Momentarily Somebodyelse

    Just trying out if the spam filter simply dislikes by real name…

    Phil can you fix this please!

    regards
    maurizio

  34. Christian Burnham

    C’mon. Credit to the global warming deniers on this one. No, it doesn’t change the over-all picture, but they did do a good job in finding an error in the data, no matter how small.

    This clearly shows that even the deniers have their place in the overall scheme of things.

  35. Andy C

    Magnus, your first post seems to be a reference to the Urban Heat Island effect. The UHI does not bias the warming trend, and I would suggest checking out the following two links to see how this can be shown, and responses to a number of myths surrounding the UHI:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/the-surface-temperature-record-and-the-urban-heat-island/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/no-man-is-an-urban-heat-island/

  36. gia

    Barabajagal (goo-goo) said: “Qd, excellent point on the global warming discussion. I appreciate people like Al Gore trying to raise public awareness about the accelerating amount of pollutants being released into the atmosphere and environment in general, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way.”

    I agree that pollution is a bad thing – none of want to breathe ‘dirty’ air – but I actually see ‘pollution’ as a separate issue to ‘global warming’. As far as our records go, it looks like things have been a bit warm lately. I can’t see how *anyone*, however, can say that it’s start of a long-term and ever-upward trend. I know about the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period and do wonder whether this is just part of one of those normal changes in the Earth’s temperature…

    To me the *reason* the Earth’s temperature seems to be rising is irrelevant (to continue to focus on pollution as the cause of it means that we are looking to blame *people* which only creates divisions). What if the reason for the temperature rise is Nature? That doesn’t mean the effects of the temperature rise will be any less devastating to us, it just means that we can’t blame anyone…

    We should be looking at reducing pollution for health reasons (the WHO thinks 3m people die each year due to outdoor air pollution) and, separately, be thinking of ways we could attempt to regulate the Earth’s temperature for our continued survival.

    By linking Pollution and Global Warming we allow people to deny that there’s a correlation between the two and therefore deny there’s any reason to actually clean up the air. If the ‘Global Warming Deniers’ were, instead, changed into ‘The People Who Insist That We Should Continue To Pollute *In The Face Of The 3m People Who Will Die This Year Because Of Air Pollution* then they’d find it very difficult to find or keep their supporters.

    Saying all of this, I am a (relatively new) supporter of nuclear power. I want clean air AND I want to continue to leave my tv on standby, drive my kid to school in the morning and have a warm house in winter. Really, is that too much to ask?! ;)

  37. Gary Ansorge

    Data, shmata, what is incontrovertible is that the Artic ice is melting(see Russian plans to claim the north pole) and really HUGH ice bergs are breaking off the antarctic shelf(more than any previously known). I expect people will still have pros and cons on climate warming when the eastern province of Saudi Arabia is under 20 feet of water(kinda hard to run the refinaries like that). Hopefully, by then, we won’t need their oil,,,

    Did anyone see the Jon Stewart show Thursday night, wherein he mentions the congressional investigation into the loss of 190,000 weapons in Iraq and the disappearance of 300,000 barrels of oil/day for the last 4 years(by the way, that equals about 3 TRILLION dollars). I guess someone is warming their bank accounts,,,somewhere,,,

    GAry 7

  38. Bill

    Nope, not Richard Lindzen of MIT, but Roy Spencer of U. or AL. who published his findings this week.

    http://www.uah.edu/news/newsread.php?newsID=875

    “Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don’t believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can’t predict future climate change with any degree of certainty.”

    Spencer and his colleagues expect these new findings to be controversial.

    “I know some climate modelers will say that these results are interesting but that they probably don’t apply to long-term global warming,” he said. “But this represents a fundamental natural cooling process in the atmosphere. Let’s see if climate models can get this part right before we rely on their long term projections.”

  39. Carl Smith

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/08/10/is-it-hot-in-here-or-is-it-just-me/

    Phil Plait wrote:

    “Via Gia’s blog, I have learned that some scientists are claiming that they have found that the warming trend in the last half of the 20th Century is wrong. If so, this is a major revision of climate change science.

    However, I don’t think this is correct. Basically, the claim is that the numbers published by NASA scientist James Hansen had an error in them. When this is corrected, the warming trend in the last part of the 20th century disappears. But let’s look closer at the numbers.”

    Phil Plait, you are making unsubtantiated claims in both the paragraphs above, and have evedently not read the page linked in the first one properly.

    Steve McIntyre of ClimateAudit did the actual analysis, not Anthony Watts of ‘Watt’s Up With That’ blog (although it was Anthony’s work that initiated the process whereby Steve McIntyre found the error).

    Unfortunately, you cannot read the actual discovery process itself in the words of the person that did the analysis, but only third party interpretations of it because it seems some idiot decided to mount an ongoing DOS attack on climateaudit.org to prevent people from checking the facts.

    Rather than making misleading claims about what Steve McIntyre was doing based on hearsay (like so many others in the blog world are also doing), I think you should actually be thanking him for pointing out to NASA GISS that they had an +0.15C step error in the program that applies adjustments to US temperature data, which effected all data from 2000 forward.

    Thanks also goes to NASA GISS for checking on this and correcting their data so quickly after they were alerted to the problem.

    Having said that, this incident does raise several important issues.

    1) why is it OK for taxpayer funded NASA GISS to continue to refuse to disclose precise temperature adjustment methodologies and source code for same so they can be independently verified?

    If the source code and methods had been disclosed this error would most likely have been found years ago, and would not have taken weeks of detective work and reverse engineering by a mathematician to finally stumble upon it.

    2) how many more errors lie in wait to be discovered whilst James Hansen continues to adopt a “trust us – we do not make mistakes” attitude to the code and adjustment methodologies?

    This error may be only one of several – for example, it is already known that microsite problems effect a significant part of the USHCN self proclaimed “high quality” network, and it is only a matter of time until the whole network is documented on surfacestations.org thanks to the efforts of Anthony Watts and his team of volunteers – that the analysis of this network will effect the temperature adjustments being applied by NASA GISS is certain, what remains is to finish the survey and quantify the microsite effects to see which way they will go, however eyeballing the station photos leads one to suspect a large number of stations are biased towards warming.

    3) given that the above mentioned microsite problems are rampant in the USHCN, and that the US is a highly developed nation where attention to technological quality control can be expected to be far better than such attention is in many other countries, such as China, Indonesia, the former USSR states, various African countries, etc., how can anyone trust that the global temperatures calculated by GISS and CRU are anything like as accurate as claimed?

    Anyway, some food for thought.

  40. Alastair Scott

    Excellent point by Qd. A minor, but interesting, example of earlier thoughtlessness: an amplifier (expensive, well known brand) I had had for almost 20 years – and which was plugged in for most of that time – came to the end of its useful life. Before handing it in for recycling I tested it and was amazed to find out that the so-called “standby mode” (plugged in at the wall but switched off at the unit) used 25 watts; I had naively assumed about a tenth of that!

    If nothing else, concern over climate change and global warming, whether those exist, do not exist, are man-made or are generated by trillions of Martians breathing too hard in our direction, is resulting in all sorts of thoughtless waste of resources being tackled; such devices are being advertised here as using less than 1 watt in standby with the aim of getting that down soon to 0.1 watt, or 1/250 of the usage in the late 1980s!

  41. Frank Ch. Eigler

    BA, re. hotair, episodes like this should shake even a AGW believer’s faith that Hansen and many others can be fully trusted without *full disclosure* of data and analysis/modelling algorithms.

  42. What’s really bad is when you have so-called “experts” who tout their ideas to the unknowing public.

    I think I’ve posted on some of Phil’s other subjects about a local meteorologist here. He’s a popular TV meteorologist locally, and there are many people in my area that believe anything he says. If it was raining but he said it was sunny, people would believe him.

    Well, his station’s given him a blog, and all he does with it is dispute all the global warming facts. He doesn’t believe for a minute any of the data. And the people that read it, believe him!

    I should point out that he’s a christian fundamentalist as well, that’s another strike against him.

    I get on his blog and point people here when Phil writes about GW, and to other sites showing the data. But guess what? About 2o minutes later my posts are removed.

  43. Mark UK

    For those interested in the survey of weather stations ( our denialists new hobby) some people have pointed out things are not always as straightforward as pointing out an AC unit and waffle about temp graphs…

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/

  44. Phil: Spam filter? My first two or three post were both published but then removed. Does the filter works that way? You did comment here both minutes before and minutes after my comments were made and published and removed, so I made comments about the removal on other blogs. And now everything, including my critics about the removal are published.

  45. Do you want me to publish jpg-proof of your removal?

  46. John

    I was interested to read your take on this, BA. But I do want to know your opinion on Hansen allegedly refusing to share his algorithms. Is that charge fair, or is it normal not to release that stuff?

    Combined with the apparent problems with the US temp station siting, the Mann hockey stick data problems, and the satellite data which supposedly shows much less of a warming trend, I am doubtful, but terribly confused by all the ins and outs of this.

  47. Don Healy

    Phil:

    Of greater concern here is that fact that many of the scientists in the climate field have not been following proper protocol in making their data, methods and algorithms available to other scientists and interested parties to replicate their work. This is the way the scientific method is supposed to function. Unfortunately, Dr. Hansen has been one of those, along with Mann, Hughes, Bradley and many others who operate on the “trust me, it’s correct principle”. If Dr. Hansen made this error, what other errors has he made?

    Steve McIntrye of Climate Audit, has done a masterful job of examining the published results and discerning the methods used to arrive at those results. Steve is an excellent statistician and mathematician and to my knowledge has never taken a position on man’s role in global warming. His problem is that so much of the work in climate science is done be scientists who are not forthcoming in opening their work to the proper scrutiny of others, and when examined closed is found to be flawed.

    I believe in your field of work, replication by others is a fundamental principle. Why should we let climate scientists operate under a much lower standard.

  48. Cameron

    I’ll just say this: global warming or not, it’s darned hot in Kansas!

  49. Although accurate, I am not sure that these instrument readings show a complete picture.

    The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising and some signs of global warming are clearly observable. However, there is some truth to the statement that localized warming is not pronouncedly enough as to be noticable beyond normal fluctuations.

    I do not see this as an excuse to discount the entire idea of global warming. However, it does show that some of the more disastrous claims that global warming is responsible for such things are Katrina and the droughts experienced around the world are probably at least inflated.

  50. Magnus A, a jpg will only show that your comments have been removed, not that I removed them. WordPress has several automated functions, and the spam filter is one of them. Sometimes posts get removed after they are posted. I don’t know why, but it’s happened before. I don’t delete comments unless they are overly rude or spam.

  51. Lubos, calling me “intellectually limited” is really very insulting, and completely uncalled for. Of course I know about continuous functions. Note that I take pains to point out the two clusters of high temperatures, but I also point out that the recent one is higher. Also, if you look at the data, you see a more significant rising trend in the last 20 years than in the 1930s. Perhaps you can analyze the data themselves — I provide the link — instead of hurling insults.

  52. Carl:

    The comments I have seen — including the Watt’s Up Blog — are touting this as a refutation of the warming trend in the last half of the 20th century. It isn’t, as I point out. You are correct that I cannot get to climateaudit, but nowhere do I say that the author of the Watt’s Up blog is the one who made this correction or analyzed the data — I say he discusses these claims.

    As far as thanking McIntyre, yes, it does appear he did a good thing — the folks at Real Climate say he was even thanked for his work.

    But you appear to be making unsubstantiated inneundo yourself. We don’t know the circumstances behind Hansen’s code and why it’s not public. it’s quite possible it’s code that is proprietary, for example. Just because your tax dollars pay for something doesn’t mean it’s public info: ask the IRS for your neighbor’s tax return, for example. This is the same argument about keeping Hubble data proprietary for a year. It’s so the scientists have time to work on the data and not get scooped. A similar thing might be happening here. Without the data, we don’t know.

    Which is also why I was saying that even with this new data, you can’t dismiss the warming trend as so many seem to want to do. When ClimateAudit comes back up I’ll be happy to check it out. In the meantime, some damage control is necessary, since bloviators like Rush Limbaugh will happily pick this ball up and run with it, even if the ball has no air in it.

  53. Lee

    The raw data that GISS uses is publicly available. When McIntyre wrote a scraper that violated GISS robots.txt, to scrape intermediate results off the GISS site, he was properly shut down from doing so as a robot. McIntyre screamed about it on his site, as fi he wer being wronged in some way – but the fact is that within less than a business day, he ws given permission to continue what he was doing. McIntyre now has all the data he requested from GISS. Interestingly, he acknowledges that others had that data, and it was available to him, even before he started scraping it himself.

    The data is publicly available. This is why people in the public, like McIntyre,can and to do their own data analyses. It is simply false to claim that the data is being hidden by GISS.

    BTW, there has been at least one claim here that McIntyre’s site is down because of a DOS attack. His site was liked by several of the largest right-wing blogs on the planet, and I suspect that he is simply being instalaunched/slashdotted.

  54. Daffy

    Fact: pine forests all across the west (and especially in Southern California) have been—and continue to be—devastated by the bark beetle. Increased temperatures and decreased precipitation have crippled the trees’ ability to fight off the parasitic pest.

    If it ain’t GW causing this, will someone kindly tell me what is?

    To paraphrase Bob Dylan: Somethings happening, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Denier?

  55. schowster

    All I know is that over the years, climate scientists (and their adopted mouthpiece Al Gore) have thrown out one crazy scenario after another in an attempt to get some attention. If that crazy scenario doesn’t make everyone go out and buy a Prius, they try something new. I mean, they even changed the name “Global Warming” to “Global Climate Change” which basically means ANY data they collect supports their theory.

    They claimed Kilimanjaro was melting due to GW, and now it’s accepted that it’s due to deforestation which reduces moisture in the air rising over the mountain.
    Gore claimed that the rising acreage of wildfires increased wildly in the 90’s. But wait, his data only goes back to the 50’s. What happened in the 50’s? Smoky the Bear. People became aware about preventing forest fires and went out of their way to stop them. This prevented underbrush from burning naturally until it built up in all forests to a critical level, finally burning away a few decades later. If you look back to the 1920’s, their were just as many wildfires as today (as reported by the National Forest Service). You may say, “Hey buddy, forest fires are irrelevant. Look at all this warming, drought, hurricanes (author’s note: lol) and melting glaciers!” Ok. Fine. But at one point this argument was in their arsenal of scare tactics, and now it’s surprisingly missing! It didn’t work. They moved on.

    This will continue until we’re all blue in the face.

    I find it ridiculous that I must add this disclaimer, but to stave off the stereotypical attack: Religion is a joke. I believe in none of them. I am an engineer by profession and would rather curl up with a Scientific American than a Maxim. And Rush Limbaugh is a joke. People like that take the focus away from truly inquisitive minds who don’t see this issue as “black-and-white”.

  56. Dear Phil, another reaction from me is here if you’re interested:

    http://haloscan.com/comments/lumidek/5657346349241491303/#861311

    I assure you that I haven’t looked at the data as carefully as Steve McIntyre but certainly way more carefully than you. What I was trying to explain you is that there is nothing unusual whatsoever about the lumpiness, it’s a consequence of the temperature being correlated. There’s also nothing unusual about years near the endpoint of an interval to be more likely extreme than generic years in the middle. Your latest reaction reinforces my belief that you don’t understand these basics about mathematical functions and probabilistic distributions.

  57. Rodney

    Hey Y’all.

    When ever the BA expresses a political opinion. I find myself upset that more politicians don’t share his common sense (whether I agree with him or not).

    I even find myself half-hoping that he’d run for office (though I really wouldn’t wish that on anybody…) Seriously, I’d like to vote for somebody like that. I really don’t have that choice, right now, and it’s sad.

    Then I read the comments to the post.

    Oh boy.

    I find some, very few but some, of them very frightening.

    I’m sure I am not alone here,

    rod

    BTW:

    Let me make it clear for the haters… (if you’re not a hater, you should probably stop reading).

    The BA for Congress or Senate. He’s got my vote.

    Rapture is NOT coming.

    The Earth is where we keep everything, we’ll need it for a while longer.

    The Earth is really, really old. We should teach that in school.

    We did, and are, evolving. We should teach that in school too.

    It’s getting warmer, we should look into that.

    Maybe those bridges and levies won’t stand up all by themselves.

    We probably should look before we invade.

    Maybe listening to EVERYBODY is counter productive.

    It’s extremely rude to hold people without telling them why.

    And, finally…

    Let’s just try it without a President for a while…

  58. Andy C

    gia,

    > What if the reason for the temperature rise is Nature?

    It isn’t. It is known that humans are responsible for the recent warming trends, see the following two links:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-lag-between-temp-and-co2/

    The fact that previous glacial and inter-glacial periods can be explained by natural cycles does not mean that the current warming trend can be explained in the same way (not to mention the incredibly short timescale involved with the current level of warming).

    > That doesn’t mean the effects of the temperature rise will be any less devastating to us, it just means that we can’t blame anyone…

    Certainly the effects will be no different, but as is clear in the above links (along with the many related articles that you can find within the realclimate archives and associated source articles), we can assign blame in this case, and it is useful to do so, insofar as it provides us with useful information to inform policy decisions that can address the problem.

  59. Andy C

    schowster,

    > I mean, they even changed the name “Global Warming” to “Global Climate Change” which basically means ANY data they collect supports their theory.

    No… no such thing happened. Global Warming is not equivalent to Climate Change…

    Global Warming is, simply put, a statement about the increasing trend in mean global temperature observed in recent history. No more. No less.

    Climate Change is about the changes in climate behaviour we can expect to see for a given level of Global Warming.

  60. CS

    About policy decisions, there is a very good video by Greenpeace-UK on the alternatives to nuclear power, called A Convenient Solution http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/the-convenient-solution-20070718

  61. Phil,

    Your article makes total sense, but good luck relaying this on to the general population…

    Damage has been done.. 1939 was REPORTED as the “new” warmest year on record..

    I personally don’t “believe” in “man made” global warming.. no doubt the northern ice cap is shrinking, greenland etc.. but the south pole is growing/getting thicker…

    So really, global warming, if it is to survive in the public psychology group-think, must be name changed to “global climate change”…

    And you must revise the MANTRA to include 1939 somehow… maybe a case could be made that global warming started in 1904 with the advent of the “industrial revolution”..

    Nonetheless —the 20 paragraphs of gobblygook that you typed out above is like a band-aid on a compound fracture… only makes you “feel” better because of the micky mouse on the bandage, but doesn’t actually help correct the broken bone.

    You could always just DENY that you’re suffering from a fracture… that is another option of course.. and appears to be the track your taking on this story.

    Because we all know that to admit that the facts were wrong, and that all the global warming hoopla built upon the 1998 data (for the last 9 years) has been proved false.

    I mean really, it doesnt take a logic expert to see that IF 1939 was the hottest year on record, then the world has actually COOLED since then, with a short “spike” in 1998, and then back down again… THOSE ARE THE FACTS– its funny to see how BELIEVERS in GW spin those facts to fit their worldview — or even funnier to see GW’ers say the 1998 number isn’t that big ‘o deal… since they USED THE 1998 number as the primary REASON they “believed” in global warming…

    Just go back through your own articles, and the comments on this site, or other GW’ers print outlets like HuffPO, Pharyngula etc… and you’ll see several people using the argument that the earth is “getting warmer” and the “ice caps are melting”… all based upon the 1998 data which NASA said was the warmest year on record..

    All the pontification and postulation from your “science” community has been proved wrong with just a .1% difference in temp… if thats not a faulty theory, then I need to get into the theoretical science business to get some of that grant money.. I have a great theory about circumventing the 2nd law of thermodynamics!

  62. Lubos, despite your protestations, I do have some familiarity with mathematics and statistics. I understand lumpiness can be correlated, and in fact that’s the whole basis of the idea of a warming trend. While the degree of deviation from average of one year is not necessarily directly causally connected to the year before it, they both might have a common cause.

    As for forced causation — one hot year forcing the next — that is not well-indicated by the data. The standard deviations for both “lumps” are rather high: 0.46 for 1930-1942, and 0.39 for 2004-2006. The average deviation for the first group is 0.44, and for the second 0.57. Note that sigma is smaller for the second group, both absolutely and compared to the means.

    And either way, this is still only data for the United States. The global temperatures still appear to be trending up.

  63. SLC

    The attached link which points to an article by the distinguished physicist Freeman Dyson takes a rather negative view of the global warming controversy. Perhaps Dr. Plait might want to comment on it.

    http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2007/08/global-warming-.html#comments

  64. Oh Mike J, swing and a miss once again.

    The point here is not the hoopla, it’s the data. 1998 dropped by 0.01 degrees, and only in the US! How many times does this need to be pointed out?

    This change neither condemns GW nor does it support it. This is a relatively minor change, and until I see error bars I won’t make any conclusions… except that the trend upwards in temperature since (at latest) 1980 is still clear.

    If this helps tone down the hype, then I am fine with it– I want these critical policy decision based on fact, not spin. Of course, with this current Administration in the White House, facts are to be avoided at all costs.

  65. Brant D

    I’ll comment on Dyson’s writings. He accuses climate scientists of sitting in air conditioned buildings running their climate models without regard to what happens in the real world. Even if you pretend that climate scientists don’t use a huge amount of observations from surface instrument stations and satellites to continually review their models’ performance, and you pretend that climate scientists do not heavily rely on ecologists and oceanographers and scientists from other fields to help improve their ability to model extra-atmospheric influences, Dyson is still wrong. Where the hell does he think ice cores and mud cores and tree ring samples and glacial flow measurements come from? Magic spells? Furthermore the modelers are already well aware of their models’ weaknesses and their critical lack of knowledge in some aspects of the Earth system, and so their models incorporate error margins to allow for that uncertainty. Dyson may be a great physicist, but his claim on what modelers do (or don’t do) is very inaccurate, making his understanding of modern climate research highly suspect.

  66. caerbannog

    What happened in the 50’s? Smoky the Bear. People became aware about preventing forest fires and went out of their way to stop them. This prevented underbrush from burning naturally until it built up in all forests to a critical level, finally burning away a few decades later. If you look back to the 1920’s, their were just as many wildfires as today (as reported by the National Forest Service).

    This is true for the drier low- and mid-elevation ponderosa and mixed conifer forests of the West, but it is not true for the high-elevation lodgepole and subalpine-fir forests if the northern Rockies. (The fire-cycle in those forests is measured in centuries; hence those forests have not missed fire-cycles due to 20th-century fire-suppression like the lower elevation forests have).

    Severe fire activity has increased the greatest in those higher elevation forests — namely the lodgepole and subalpine-fir forests that have been relatively unaffected by fire-suppression. And climate change in the West (a warmer and drier regime) appears to be the driving factor.

    A paper detailing the fire/climate-change connection was published in Science recently. A Scripps Institution of Oceanography news-blurb describing the research can be found here: http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=739

  67. Brian

    Interesting article by Phil. Obviously, we are better served by accuracy, so I’m glad the errors in the original NASA work were found.

    To help me further assess the impact of the NASA data corrections on our general views about AGW, I looked at the summary of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the August issue of Scientific American to see how much its conclusions relied on Hansen’s work. Upon superficially skimming the article, I did not see any mention of Hansen or his work. On page 68, SA has a graph of global temperatures since 1850 – maybe Hansen’s numbers were incorporated into that, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t imagine that the small changes in his data would affect the global graph enough to offset what appears to be a marked warming trend. On page 69, the article shows six regional temperature graphs, one labeled “North America,” so maybe that one includes Hansen’s figures. Each of the other five regional temperature graphs, labeled Asia, South Ametrica, Africa, Europe, and Austrlia shows a clear warming trend.

  68. Phil: To clarify: even if I am experiencing problems with the spam filter, it WASN’T me accusing you of removing comments. It was Magnus Andersson.

    As for the reasons to have the correction algorithms removed from the public eye, if there is any we should be told about it.

    You correctly point out the Hubble data isn’t available for a year. That’s rightfully so, but that’s also completely different from having them never available at all.

    If Hansen wants to keep his stuff secret for N years, can’t we just be told how big the number N is?

    Finally one thing you may have missed. McIntyre had to a heck of a job all by himself. Frankly, it bordered on the insane. And still he was able to find something. That should not be considered minor achievement, nor dismissed because it was “only” about US data, or “just” a few tenths of a degree of a change.

    On the contrary, it clearly indicates there could be lots of mistakes in the published results.

    Imagine taking Tiger Woods, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind his back and the shoes laced up together. Then he tries to hit the golf ball, but almost misses it, and moves it by a few inches. Would that be evidence that Tiger Woods is not really good at golf? Of course not.

    It would be a loud statement regarding the fact that nobody should be forced to pursue a quest with unfair, almost unbearable restrictions.

    And so if McIntyre or anybody else wants to check if Hansen’s data are correct, they should be given full access.

    We would all gain from that, and if the world is indeed warming, it would show from the data, as clear as it gets.

  69. Oops! Sorry, Maurizio. Brain cloud on my part. I fixed that comment.

    I have no idea why Hansen’s code is not public, actually, and I don’t think any of the people making accusations of coverup know either. That’s my take on this; we don’t know enough about what’s going on to make an education opinion on it. That doesn’t stop most folks though.

    Could there be more mistakes? Sure! In fact, we don’t even know if McIntyre’s corrections really are corrections! NASA accepted them, evidently, but again we don’t know the details of any of this.

  70. Carl Smith

    Due to what apparently started off as DOS attack, which after about 2 hours was apparently compounded by an explosion of access attempts due to this story suddenly spreading like wildfire on many high traffic blogs etc. – with the right working overtime to twist it into a proof that global warming is a fraud, and the left working overtime to twist it into something of no significance – climateaudit.org will be offline until Monday sometime.

    ClimateAudit is being moved to a server that will be better protected from DOS attacks and more able to cope with traffic explosions from the blogsphere.

    For details on the rather interesting exercise that produced this discovery, when climateaudit is back online Monday sometime, follow the links below in the order presented here:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1854
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1868
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1880

    BTW, I think you can safely ignore some of the comments by the peanut gallery that all open blogs attract, but it is worth skimming through to find and read some of the more interesting comments by various scientists, mathematicians, and other interested parties that give more insight on this issue and it’s implications.

    For the official acknowledgement of this correction, see 1st paragraph on the GISS homepage at:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/
    “(We wish to thank Stephen McIntyre for bringing to our attention that such an adjustment is necessary to prevent creating an artificial jump in year 2000.)”

    With the well documented refusals on the part of James Hansen and GISS, and for that matter Phil Jones and CRU, to open their methods and source codes to independant scrutiny – do searches on climateaudit when it comes back online for details – one wonders how many significant errors may still lie in wait to be discovered in the global temperature data sets?

    BTW, I think it is hilarious that this type of refusal to disclose would produce loud cries of ‘pseudoscience’ in the BAUT ATM forum, but Phil Plait appears happy to offer half-baked excuses for it further up the page!

    Given the significance of global temperature records as one of many factors shaping decisions effecting multi-billions of dollars worth of public and private funds, I suggest Phil does some more digging on this in the near future to inform himself better concerning what is really going on.

    Perhaps he can email James Hansen at GISS and Phil Jones at CRU requesting full disclosure of weather station lists, calculation and adjustment methods, and source codes, as used to determine US and global temperatures, and see for himself how forthcoming they are?

    Hey, given his reputation as a pseudoscience debunker, the BA might even succeed where many other scientists have failed!

  71. Quiet Desperation

    It’s all BS on both sides. They all just change their precious models to fit the reality when reality utterly fails to match the models’ predictions. It’s pathetic and laughable, and a painful hemorrhagic pox on both houses.

    >> All commercial industry worldwide
    >> would need to be regulated to fix
    >> this problem. As if any industry would
    >> want that when it means they will
    >> make less money. As long as money
    >> is the bottom line, nothing will change,
    >> and the greenhouse gases will continue
    >> to flow.

    Ane there ANY new thoughts under the sun? Anywhere? Anywhere? Beuller? Anywhere?

    Yeah, lets hand over even MORE power to the filthy sociopaths who hold elected office. Great. There’a already a billion volumes of regulations. What more do you want?

    They way to fix things is to simply allow the advance of technology to continue unabated, and cleaner tech will be developed. This has already happened. The absolutely LAST thing you want to do is monkeywrench your economy. For pity’s sake a 6th grader can figure that out.

    Clear your mind of your ideology and think outside your little political box. The EVIL EVIL OOOOOO EVIL money pays for the next generation of technology.

    Ack, can I PLEASE get off this planet of fools?! To quote the Cylon sleepers, “There’s GOT to be some way out of here… I can’t get no relief.”

  72. Quiet Desperation

    >>> I may be an astronomer,
    >>> but I know data analysis!

    Yeah, well, I’m a satcom engineer, and I do this sort of stuff every day. If I tried to present data like this as showing any sort of conclusive trend at an engineering conference, I’d be laughed off the stage.

    This is fricken’ data noise. I’ve seen plots like this that show an order of magnitude more apparent trending that turned out to be either a statistical quirk, or the result of some other pattern underlying the data that was unrelated to what was thought to be trending.

  73. Jesus Christ, Phil, I thought that you were just a little bit slower but you’re still not getting it.

    Lumpiness has nothing to do with a global trend or any other trend. Lumpiness of the distributions is a consequence of autocorrelation or continuity of the function.

    The expectation value of the squared difference between temperatures at year Y and year Y+D depends on D. The smaller D is, the smaller the typical difference between the two temperatures will be. For small enough D, one can express the difference by a power law.

    If you say that this indicates a trend, it is the same thing as saying that if you usually see a particular person in the same country as 12 hours ago, it shows that this lumpiness proves that the person surely has a trend and is getting to a very different country. It’s just a complete stupidity.

    The person may jump over the world chaotically but it is a continuous motion and nearby days or years are all but guaranteed to have similar positions (of the person), temperatures, and other quantities. I can’t believe that a literate person is not able to get this simple point.

    Finally. The global temperature might still be showing a trend up partly because Steve McIntyre hasn’t reverse engineered the five more datasets or so that are needed to modify the conclusion. The same guy has already shown that hockey stick was a mathematical artifact. You see the trend here. If he has 10 more years, the trend is gonna be erased. ;-)

  74. Rob

    Y’know, it seems to me that all of the climate-change deniers are missing the very major point that NASA are not the only people doing this! The Hadley Centre (part of the UK’s Met Office; http://http://hadobs.metoffice.com/) has data for the Central England Temperature back to 1772 and, guess, what, 2006 was the warmest year on record! All but one year in the last twenty has been above average. 1939 was below average. This current trend is global, whatever happened in the late 30s in the US was local.

    And that’s just one other data-set. There are plenty more out there. And they all show the same thing. Pick one data-set, and you’ll find something looks like noise. But if it keeps showing up, again and again, in independent observations, then it’s real. That’s why astronomers take multiple frames and combine them to get better images. It’s amazing what you can see when you look at a combined image compared to what you can see when you look at the individual images. Anybody who would take one of the individual images and claim that a galaxy wasn’t real because it was barely significant in that image would be laughed at.

    As the BA said right at the top: these are number for the United States only, and not the whole planet!

  75. Carl Smith

    Phil,

    As ClimateAudit is still offline, you will find a quite interesting piece by Steve McIntyre as a guest posts on Anthony Watt’s blog, where he gives a good summary of the process that led to the recent GISS adjustment:

    Does Hansen’s Error “Matter”? – guest post by Steve McIntyre
    http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/does_hansens_error_matter_gues.html

    A second guest post deals specifically with Hansen’s response, and Steve’s interactions with him:

    Lights Out – Guest post by Steve McIntyre
    http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/lights_out_guest_post_by_steve.html

    These posts should give you some good backgound on all this.

  76. Count Iblis

    Unlike the corrections in the US temperature record, the
    revisions in the European temperature record are relevant

  77. jim

    i’ve read a bunch of the comments … these are what i know: global warming data is not accurate, global warming if occurring is good, we are not polluting the world. This latest finding of inaccurate data is typical. a critic ask for the supporting data from the scientist, he refused, the critic went to the NAS, they ignored him, he then back engineered the numbers and proved the error, then NASA quietly reported the change. Other errors in data that are now known: satellite data due to drift, time variations, angle, atmospheric conditions which resulted in consistency issues (corrects have been made). temperature readings at sea include a multitude of instruments and techniques… (some below water line some at surface, some well above surface) none of this data can be reproduced unlike newton’s experiments. land based monitoring stations are in disrepair, are fraught with human error. Converting 17th century data and combining 20th century data is also fraught with error. ice core analysis of gas bubbles do not take into account diffusion over 100 k years (smoother data less variability, or extremes). a non skeptic is an idiot. besides, one simple reason this century may be warmer is volcanic activity has been significantly less in the last 1000 years.

    for argument sake i’ll say global warming is occurring, is that bad… the answer is no. why because a glacial period is far worst. the human experiment has suffered far worst in the cold periods, less habitat, food, less favorable conditions climate and weather. when dinosaurs roamed the planet was warmer, had more CO2, there was no ice at the poles….

    Lets go back to the pre-industrial earth (pollution free), when 200 million people existed, all the people born in the first week of august live (august 4th here), the rest of you report to disposal facilities, we’ll be happier with a shorter live span, harder life, disease, starvation, huns, spanish inquisition, slavery, (obesity would be solved!). NOT!!!! the funny thing is if we had built all the nukes we would have surpassed the kyoto treaty goals. remember the same folks spout pollution and global warming fears are those who are against nukes, nuke weapons, american buildup against the soviet union, capitalism, for anti-america, are pro stalin, over population (which as slowed significantly) predicted global wars for food, energy, oil by the late 1990s………on and on have yet to be right about anything

  78. Sean

    No amount of smooth talking can erase the fact that the US surface temperature measurements were significantly wrong. As for the mistake only being 0.15C that is a significant figure when the whole increase is less then one degree C over 127 years.

    But lets ask another question; exactly how reliable is any of this data? http://www.surfacestations.org has published pictures of hundreds of sites with a very large percent of these stations not meeting minimum requirements. This should be another embarrassment but frankly all I hear are how these stations don’t really matter. If they don’t matter why are we paying for them?
    Sadly the 2007 US temperature data is probably the best temperature data that the US has ever produced. If 2007 is this bad what was it like 20, 50, 100 or 127 years ago? We are comparing 1880 numbers with 2006 numbers and seeing trends. Let’s consider the City of Tucson as an example. I like Tucson because the University of Arizona Department of Atmospheric Sciences who operates it placed the temperature station in an asphalt parking lot. This site was established in 1867.
    In 1880 Tucson AZ had a population of 7,007. Exactly who was taking the temperature? I’m guessing that it was the local postmaster or such. Exactly how diligent was he? Did he go outside at the same time everyday shine or shine (it is Arizona after all) or did he go out when he remembered too? Did he forget and fill in the book once every month or so when he had to mail the data in to collect his pay? Did somebody build an outhouse and shade the thermometer? Nobody knows the answer to these and hundreds of other questions yet we are expected to believe that the 1880 temperatures are with 1/10th of a degree or so and yet this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Who was taking the temperatures in Central Asia in 1908 when the Tunguska event occurred? It knocked down 2,150 square kilometers of trees (about 80,000,000) but it took the Russians 13 years to investigate it. If it took 13 years for them to get around to this exactly how diligent were they about measuring the temperature? I have no more faith on temperature records from Central Africa, South America and Australia then I do in the guy in central Asia.

    I’m willing to bet that there were no thermometers at either pole in 1880 and any argument that passing ships accurately measured temperatures in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Artic oceans is to absurd to be believed. The guy on the ship had less interest in taking the temperature then the guy in Tucson and much bigger things to worry about.

    Satellites have been measuring the earth’s temperatures continuously since 1979. The temperatures have been going up about 0.14 degrees C per decade but the hottest year measured was 1998 (8 years ago). The problem is that long-term accurate data simple doesn’t exist. It’s one thing to argue 28 years is enough to worry over but quite another to argue that the surface data is reliable.

  79. Raine Lakkala

    One can clearly see from the data that there’s been years warmer than the average in the past too. But look at the trend about colder years than the average! Seems that really cold years are already history. Average temperature still has clearly risen with the corrected data too.

    We should also remember that temperature data from the USA is from a quite short term much because the civilization is quite young. Amount of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere started to rise dramatically over hundred years ago when industry started to increase heavily and the use of coal as a fuel took place. In older civilizations there has been collected temperature data for a longer term and the rise in average temperatures shows better.

  80. To conclude my contribution about the public (un-)availability of the full data, algorithms and code used by Jim Hansen and the climatologists at NASA (and at Hadley’s), for that matter), let me point out that there would be much less brouhaha, and much less interest, were this discussion about the sex life of snails or the behavior of neutrinos.

    One important issue instead is that, based on their results, those climatologists and other people are campaigning to get our lifestyles changed. Otherwise, as Hansen says, in 10 years’ time or so the whole world can be a much harsher place.

    Well, all more the reason to get their methodologies fully in the open, lest futile discussions about bugs in the code retard any work to save humankind.

    So if you think the world is going pear-shaped (bad astronomical pun, I know…), you should campaign for this absurd reticence to stop: let’s publish everything and anything, before it’s too late

  81. Brant D

    Quiet Desperation: “They all just change their precious models to fit the reality when reality utterly fails to match the models’ predictions.”

    “Change the models” seems like an awful simplification of what actually happens in model validation. Care to elaborate on how exactly the models are altered to better match observations? (yes, I know the correct answer). For that matter, care to point out the models’ “utter failures”?

  82. papertiger

    I have no idea why Hansen’s code is not public, actually, and I don’t think any of the people making accusations of coverup know either. That’s my take on this; we don’t know enough about what’s going on to make an education opinion on it. That doesn’t stop most folks though.

    I think we need a review of common terms that are being bandied about or infered in this thread.

    1. PseudosciencePseudoscience is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific or is made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the basic requirements of the scientific method;
    As it is taught in certain introductory science classes, pseudoscience is any subject that appears superficially to be scientific or whose proponents state is scientific but nevertheless contravenes the testability requirement, or substantially deviates from other fundamental aspects of the scientific method.

    2. Scientific methodScientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning; Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies that test these hypotheses for accuracy. These steps must be repeatable in order to predict dependably any future results. Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so it is available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called “full disclosure“, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.

    Ok you can return to commenting –

    Here let me start you off
    ” We know the world is getting warmer because…. (Why? – ed Paper)”

  83. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> Care to elaborate on how exactly the models are
    >>> altered to better match observations?

    Uh, that’s the point of building a model, isn’t it? The problems is, the models are still poor at predicting anything.

    Note: I am NOT a GW denier. And I’m not one of those “oh, they can’t even predict next week’s weather” noodnicks. I’ve even futzed about with some of the math and programming myself for funsies just so I could understand what the models are trying to do.

    I just think the science of BOTH sides is a load of politicized bollocks. Anyone who can’t see this is blinded by their ideology.

    >>> For that matter, care to point out the
    >>> models’ “utter failures”?

    Well, for an older and well documented example: the predictions that there should be greater warming in the free troposphere than at the surface for one. That was one of the IPCC’s scared models. Actually, I don’t think ANY of the models predicted a large surface warming with no warming at higher altitudes.

    I think the hand wave was something about accounting for correct moisture levels in the troposphere.

    And the GW side is not doing themselves any favors with the highly publicized predictions, such as the one about a bad hurricane year that blew up in their face. THAT’S what Joe and Jane Average remember.

    And I stand by my solution: new and bettter technology. Instead of more reguation I’d give massive tax credits for (verifiable) R&D into cleaner technologies. Maybe I’d raise the CAFE standards, though.

    It’s a complex issue that too many people want just a sound bite for.

  84. Brian

    Quiet Desperation: I just think the science of BOTH sides is a load of politicized bollocks.

    Quiet Desperation,
    Do you believe that any members of the human race are honestly seeking or at least open to the truth in this matter? I feel that some of us are.

  85. TheBlackCat

    >>> Care to elaborate on how exactly the models are
    >>> altered to better match observations?

    Uh, that’s the point of building a model, isn’t it? The problems is, the models are still poor at predicting anything.

    In a word, no. Well, I need to clarify. There are three different types of models in this regard. “Black box” models are what you are referring to. In these sorts of models you basically have trends, or inputs and outputs, that you have previously recorded, you fit a mathematical function to it, and you use that to make predictions. You don’t care at all what is going on in the system, or you just make it uo. Black box models are not usually well-regarded in any case, but they might be useful if they only have a very small number of parameters. By definition in a black-box model all parameters are “free” parameters, that is the modeler can set them. If they have too many parameters that can be used to fit anything and are therefor useless for making predictions.

    “White box” models are the complete opposite. In these models you know exactly what is going on inside the system and you reproduce this as best you can in a computer. By definition a white box model does not have free parameters, all the parameters of the model are fixed by knowledge of the real world. Therefore it is not possible to “fit” the model to data, the model either matches the data or it doesn’t. The modeler does pick which particular aspects of the system they are including in the model since pretty much no system is simple enough to model completely and perfectly.

    Pure white box and black box models are very rare. Most models are what are called “pink box” (at least among people I work with). These are somewhere in-between black box and white box. The models incorporate what is known about the system in question, but no everything is know so some educated guesses have to be made, although these guesses are within a certain range of values, leading to a range of outputs. Climate models are in this category, leaning heavily towards the white side as I understand it. Pink box models are judged on three criteria. One is how well they fit the data, obviously. Another is how well the model fits what is actually known. The third is the number of free parameters vs. fixed parameters. Between two models that fit the data equally well, the one with the fewer free parameters is considered better (actually, the one with the fewer parameters period is considered better).

    As long as the number of fixed parameters is much greater than the number of free parameters, and the data being analyzed is complex enough (as climate data is), then trying to “fit” the data by tweaking free parameters while still keeping them in a reasonable range is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The data is just too complex and the free parameters either have too gross of an impact or too small of one. If the model is bad it just won’t fit, period.

  86. Brant D

    “Uh, that’s the point of building a model, isn’t it? The problems is, the models are still poor at predicting anything.”

    BlackCat is on the right track. The majority of the work done “correcting” models is related to parameterization, not the models’ fundamental physics. For example, there are uncertainties about relationships between sea surface temperature and thunderstorm activity, or (as you mentioned) the vertical temperature distribution within the troposphere. That parameterization is the heart of the modeling issue, and that’s what modelers spend the majority of their time fixing. However, on a global scale, a few errors in parameterization will not drastically alter the relationship between increased CO2 concentration and global mean temperature. Global warming in the computer models is by no means an artifact of subjective parameterization. That is exactly why so many different models are run, with so many different parameterization schemes. Global warming shows up in ALL models. It is a very robust signal, something you would expect from a theory predicted at the turn of the 20th century on paper.

    “I just think the science of BOTH sides is a load of politicized bollocks.”

    You aren’t defending your position well. One side relies on imperfect observations and methods (but LOTS of obs and methods), and the other proposes theories without providing more than a few shreds of questionable evidence, then runs to the media claiming bias and bullying. It might be popular on the internet to call both sides bull****, but that doesn’t make it defensible.

    “And I stand by my solution: new and bettter technology. Instead of more reguation I’d give massive tax credits for (verifiable) R&D into cleaner technologies.”

    50% of CO2 emissions come from coal. We have the technology to eliminate all usage of coal, or at least put sequestration screens on what coal plants we have to keep running. It seems only logical to start with coal.

  87. Carl Smith

    TheBlackCat, it is my view that climate models are more of the pink tending black kind.

    They do have a hard wired core of physics based stuff for their basic dynamics structure, but they have about 40 to so (number varies with model) adjustable parameters that can be used to tune them – these are the parameters where the physics are more complex and less certain requiring major simplifications of physical processes, including such things convection, clouds, etc..

    Most of them contain ancient fortran code fragments sans comments up to 20 years old that are all tied together into a core that has never had adequate verification and validation done on it – for an interesting discussion on this issue see:
    http://danhughes.auditblogs.com/files/2007/02/vandvandsqapost.pdf

    Here’s an interesting example – the entire header information for a 1228-line routine from the NASA/GISS ModelE online source code browser:
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/modelE/modelEsrc/

    SUBROUTINE SURFCE 1,30
    !@sum SURFCE calculates the surface fluxes which include
    !@+ sensible heat, evaporation, thermal radiation, and momentum
    !@+ drag. It also calculates instantaneous surface temperature,
    !@+ surface specific humidity, and surface wind components.
    !@auth Nobody will claim responsibilty

    The last line is very telling!

  88. Brian

    Hi All,
    A number of good points have been made by a lot of people. Looking at the new, purportedly corrected, data, the two “lumps” (peaks) jump out at me. Lubos, I think correctly, claims that we should expect such lumpiness as a result of probable correlations between consecutive data points.

    I think that I also discern a general upward trend. Maybe, I’ll try to numerically firm up that impression, but right now I have neither the time nor the energy to do so. Raine (3:27 pm) makes a good point about the trend of the really cold years.

    I thought that it would be nice to form a moving average to smooth out the data somewhat, but knew that I was not going to invest the time to do so. Well maybe there is a God after all (please don’t lecture me on this, Phil). When I clicked on Phil’s link entitled “a table that goes back from 1880 to 2006,” I was greeted by a list of five year means centered on the years 1882 through 2004. I note that each of the last seven years listed (1998-2004) is among the top ten.

    Maybe Lubos will come and tell me that five year moving averages are even more correlated than consecutive data points, but I think they may also be more indicative of “trends.”

  89. Tweedy

    What I find most upsetting on this is that when such aspects are raised that to some extent reason is pushed to one side and ad hominen attacks occur. It happens on both sides of the arguement and we get ACC sceptics focussing on Al Gore and pro ACC focussing on Rush et al. It’s just more hyperbole and achieves nothing. In fact it just shows why politicians and agendas should stay out of scientific debates.

    I also object strongly to the term “denier”. The connotations of this term were clearly understood when they were used to support the agendas of the pro ACC. As a website calling for reason, logic and science I expect a little more from its readers than such egregiously politically biased statements.

    The fact is that because of scepticism of ACC it has caused considerable shift from its main protagonists to the point where it’s now talked about in terms of being accelerated by man rather than caused. My scepticism derrives from a lack of faith in the modelling techniques used to predict the outcome and the over reliance on too many assumptions and correlations not politics.

    Too many of the posts by both sides lowers this debate to the level of politicians and not scientists. Again, let’s discuss the facts and techniques used, let’s not start insulting people by labelling them “deniers”.

  90. DennyMo

    BA blogged:
    “(Psssstt! Someone tell that guy that WWII started in 1939).”

    Depends on who you ask. The Manchurians might say it started in 1931, when Japan invaded. The Ethiopians might say 1935, when Italy invaded. But all redblooded Americans know that the war didn’t really start until December 7, 1941. (Well, if they’ve ever heard of WWII, that is…)

  91. TheBlackCat

    They do have a hard wired core of physics based stuff for their basic dynamics structure, but they have about 40 to so (number varies with model) adjustable parameters that can be used to tune them – these are the parameters where the physics are more complex and less certain requiring major simplifications of physical processes, including such things convection, clouds, etc..

    Several things. One, practically all models require major simplifications of the physical processes. We are limited by computer power, simplifications have to be made. As I said, that is the case even in purely white-box models. Picking which parts of the system to model and how to model them, or even what affect they have in the model, does not make a model a black box model. Having one model say clouds cause warming while another says they cause cooling does not make them both black box, if they use the known values for clouds then they are still white box (I’m not saying any climate model really looks at clouds in such a simple manner).

    When I say “free parameters”, I do not mean picking which known parameters to use, how to implement them, or even what they do. I mean have numbers you pull out of thin air. Further, even if you do not know the values exactly they often have certain bounds that they must fall within, limiting the degree with which you can tweak. And even if they do have free parameters, if you pick a wide variety of reasonable free parameter values and the core results hold for all of them, as Brant said, then it indicates those results are not dependent on the free parameters and thus the free parameters do not negatively affect the model as long as they are kept within reasonable limits.

  92. anton3s

    I can see these numbers don’t justify saying that global warming is not occuring.
    But on the other hand I don’t see how they could be used to support the theory of global warming either.

    First, these numbers are from US only. Second (more importantly) they are from recorded history only which is only 127 years as you say.
    So in my opinion you can’t make any scientificly valid statements based on these numbers.

    I do agree that there is some solid evidence that suggests global warming but other evidence seems unconvincing to me.
    And scientists should make sure that they don’t project their beliefs on the data they are examining.
    Maybe they should invent some blind test for global warming statistics.

    There have been a lot of environmental issues blown out of proportion in the past (hole in the ozone layer, acid rain, …) that would drastically change life as we know it but in the end turned out a lot less.
    (I know some action was taken to control these issues.)

    But even if global warming isn’t happening or the effect will turn out to be small, I still believe cutting back on energy usage and looking for more environmentally safe energy-sources is absolutely necessary.
    Hey, if it helps scaring people to achieve this, then fine by me.

    * I must admit that I follow these discussions about global warming from a distance and I am not completely up to speed with all the evidence and arguments.

  93. Lisa

    From my readings this morning, these temperatures only apply to the US, not the entire planet. Taking into account that the US is only a small part of the planet, 2005 is still the hottest.

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200708120001

  94. Brian

    anton3s,
    The current issue of Scientific American contains a summary of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accompanied by explanations and graphs with error bars.

  95. Swoopy

    Even if you don’t accept the data provided, we’re going to run out of fossil fuels eventually. Though, not in my life time. So why worry?

    Unless we start making new dinosaurs. Of course the people at the Creation Museum told me all of the dinos on the ark were small, and vegetarian. They sure make good gas though.

    Does anyone like sitting in traffic and breathing fumes? Oh wait, I can’t roll down the window because it’s 110 degrees outside, good thing my SUV has excellent air conditioning. The Mythbusters proved that running the AC full blast has an insignificant impact on my fuel economy, so that’s okay.

    I’ll just sit here in traffic for an hour, not carpooling, drinking bottled water, keeping the commercially raised meat wrapped in cellophane in those disposable plastic grocery bags nice and cool. When I get home, I’ll water my chemically treated lawn in the middle of the day so it stays nice and green.

    Ahh, the good life.

  96. If one plots the 5-year averages of the data not as individual points in a scatter plot, but as a line graph, there actually is a noticeable 11-year cycle (most likely correlating to the 11-year sunspot cycle). If you average out on an 11-year period to eliminate these patterns, and one can note a distinctly sinusoidal pattern to average temperature (that actually averages about a +0.125 anomaly). There is a slight upwards trend that can be noted (the lows in the 11-year average between 1885-1910 are slightly lower than those from 1965-1980 (-0.17 to -0.12) and the highs between 1930-1943 notably peak lower than the latest average for 2001 (+0.5 to +0.6), which suggests only a slight +0.1 degree warming, if the sinusoidal pattern is, in fact, natural and cyclical (with a 50-55 year cycle).

    So while the average clearly indicates that a pattern of increased warming has occurred in the 25 years since 1975, it is only a bit greater than the rate of warming in the 25 year period from 1910-1935 (+0.7 to +0.66 or so).

    It’s also important to note that the American data is an anomaly from the 1951-1980 average, compared to the 1961-1990 average used for HadCRUT3.

    What interests me is the fact that this US graph doesn’t really correlate with the HadCRUT3 data that most global warming advocates tout for global temperatures. The US graph seems to have a straight sinusoidal pattern with a nearly flat average slope, while the HadCRUT3 data has a vaguely sinusoidal pattern with the same peaks and troughs, but with a decidedly different strongly positive movement of +0.7 degrees over the entire period.

    Personally though, I’d like to see both graphs as contrasted to solar activity measurements (5 and 11-year averages) and I’m curious to see from what locales the strongly positive incline came from in the global (as opposed to American) data (e.g. did it come from ocean, rather than land temperatures? Inland Asia compared to Europe or India? What about the density of stations? I assume that’s accounted for but…)

  97. Lurchgs

    Dr. Plait,

    I’m afraid I have to disagree on this one – or, at least an aspect. Sure, it makes sense for a researcher/scientist/etc to hang on to his methods, and perhaps his data, for a while, so he’s not scooped and loses his chance at the Nobel. *However*, if said individual makes a public proclamation concerning his *findings*, the door is open. If he’s not done and ready to provide full access, he should keep his mouth shut.

    If somebody else in the organization “leaked” the information, his only public comment should be “we are still looking and have no comment on the potential outcomes” (then he should either fire the leak or shoot him, your choice). By addressing the data and the results, again, he opens the door to verification by outside scientists.

    If (say) Don McLeroy came out and said “I have here a model that shows the earth IS only 6000 years old, using accepted scientific method (etc), but I’m still working on it, so you can’t see it yet.”, I dare say you’d be howling.

    Sorry, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  98. Dave

    It looks like only 3 of the last 20 years have been below average while 17 years have been above average. That’s interesting to say the least.

  99. Brant D

    Pipian: You say the “solar cycle independent” data appears to have a sinusoidal pattern of about a 50yr period. How many complete periods do you have in the data? I ask because people have been trying to find cyclical patterns in temperature records since the 1980s, but to my knowledge no one has found a pattern with more than two alleged periods in the data records. It’s a pretty big stretch to conclude a cyclical temperature variation from only a couple of cycle periods.

  100. NASA said the tolerance was 0.1 degrees; and the US numbers didn’t change the global numbers.

    *sigh*

    How do you tell someone that a change of 0.03 isn’t significant if the error margin is 0.1?

  101. I’ll be the first to admit that it has only 1.5 (or so) periods on it, but my point was less that it most certainly IS a pattern, but more that the rather strongly regular sinusoidal shape over the 1.5 periods suggests that there could, in fact, be a cyclical pattern. I also know, however, that there’s hardly enough direct evidence of global temperatures dating back far enough to make a proper guess as to whether it’s a statistical anomaly or an actual pattern (so in that sense, extrapolating that the variations are actually regular is bad science, though there’s certainly enough data to easily imply an 11-year cycle).

    What is interesting, though, is that the cyclical patterns do vaguely match the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (http://www.iphc.washington.edu/staff/hare/html/decadal/post1977/pdo1.html) (though I certainly haven’t any values of correlation between the two, or even for the solar oscillations, other than anecdotal. I haven’t run any R^2 calculations or anything, so I’m more spouting off seeming correlated variables rather than implying any sort of actual scientific backing of my assertions. After all, for all we know, the temperatures anomalies recorded could, in fact, be the cause of the PDO, rather than an effect of it (if there is, in fact, a cause-effect relationship). Heck, it could be the case that they’re only correlated because of a third external variable, if at all!

    Really, all we can say with any certainty is that all of these climactic variables are almost certainly not independent of each other, but the ultimate causation of changes in the variables are most likely a combination of chaotic processes (e.g. loose, potentially time-delayed, coupling between the variables) and external forces (e.g. solar output, anthropogenic greenhouse gases).

    That and recent years ARE warmer on average than years in the 1960s.

  102. Lurchgs

    It’s all the fault of that butterfly in the Amazon Jungle back in 1903.. After paying to visit a flower, all he managed was to pass gas. That tiny puff was at just the right place and time to send the climate of earh into a death spiral.

    What’s worse, the butterfly knew what it had done, and died shortly thereafter, of a broken heart.

  103. Chad

    Carl Smith:

    “SUBROUTINE SURFCE 1,30
    !@sum SURFCE calculates the surface fluxes which include
    !@+ sensible heat, evaporation, thermal radiation, and momentum
    !@+ drag. It also calculates instantaneous surface temperature,
    !@+ surface specific humidity, and surface wind components.
    !@auth Nobody will claim responsibilty

    The last line is very telling!”

    I think you may be misinterpreting this line under author. My first thought was that it says “Nobody will claim responsibilty” because multiple people wrote it. But then I thought why would they not just list all the authors. I think my first suspicion may have some merit. Look at some of the other subroutines.

    For example:

    SUBROUTINE sys_flush (unit) 5
    !@sum system call to flush corresponding I/O unit
    !@auth I. Aleinov

    subroutine snow_fraction( 2
    & dz, nl, prsnow, dt, fract_cover, fract_cover_new)
    !@sum computes new snow fraction and returns it in fract_cover_new
    !@auth I.Aleinov

    SUBROUTINE YSTEP (M,NSTEPY) 1,5
    !@sum YSTEP determines the number of Y timesteps for tracer dynamics
    !@+ using Courant limits
    !@auth J. Lerner and M. Kelley

    FUNCTION QSAT (TM,LH,PR) 45,1
    !@sum QSAT calculates saturation vapour mixing ratio
    !@auth Gary Russell

    and so on. I don’t think it’s as suspect as you suggest.

  104. John Vance

    Hey Lupos, you string theorist hack who thinks that the sun could warm up Pluto significantly without blowtorching the Earth: I have two words for you regarding that lump of high US temperatures in the 30s. “Dust bowl”. Look it up.

  105. Sam Urbinto

    Chip, you mentioned something interesting, the effects of particulates in the air from pollution.

    Now, the question is, if CO2 is causing the warmng and the particulates are partially masking the warming, could we also say the particulates are causing cooling and the CO2 is masking the cooling?

    Can we really remove one component from an interlocked system? Or to me an even more important question, can we really define global temperature as a single, quantifyable thing in the first place?

    Regardless, it’s clear we create pollution.

  106. MarkR

    If CO2 increase is the overwhelming main driver for temperature increase, how come Global Temperatures went down after the 1930’s?

    Answer CO2 doesn’t have any effect on temperature, and never has done.

    >

    Q.E.D.

    http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/PageMill_Images/image277.gif

  107. Doodler

    Interesting. Any coincidence that the 1930s would also fall into alignment with one of the most massive military/industrial build ups in the history of the Industrial Age?

    You think industry now isn’t green, consider what we were doing back then.

  108. Doodler

    For those wondering, I mean Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Lend Lease Act build up that prepared the US for its eventual entry into World War II, along with Germany’s massive rearmament and industrial renewal efforts in the mid 1930s prior to the invasion of Poland.

    Why levels fell off afterward?

    One: Mobilizing troops drew down some of the initial industrial surge

    Two: A great deal of the European Industrial infrastructure was shattered.

    Three: I imagine the sheer amount of explosive firepower constantly unleashed over the course of almost ten years of constant warfare probably lofted a significant amount of particulate matter into the air that may have acted like a volcanic eruption’s contribution to lacking air quality.

  109. Doodler

    *really wishes he could edit blog posts*

    Also consider the industrial boom of the 1920s.

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