Archive for July, 2010


Mid-Year Update on Global Temperatures

18 July 2010

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) have announced that the Earth has just experienced its warmest June on record, 0.68°C warmer than the 20th-century June average of 15.5°C. Most of the globe was warmer than usual, with the highest temperature anomalies seen in eastern and western Asia, eastern North America, western South America, and most of the Atlantic Ocean. The only surface temperatures much cooler than average were in the eastern Pacific and Southern Oceans. The warmest June is particularly notable in that it follows the warmest March, April, and May.

(Global temperatures are usually given as anomalies relative to a 20th century average because they are easier and more useful to compare than absolute temperatures. The last month with a temperature below average was February 1985.)

Let’s quickly recap the year so far. It began with an unusually cold winter in northern land areas, related to the Arctic Oscillation (AO), which in February 2010 was at its most negative value on record, moving heat to Arctic regions. Despite the unfortunate and disproportionate impact this had on public opinion, January was a relatively warm month globally, and the Southern Hemisphere had its warmest February on record. Read the rest of this entry ?


Global Warming Contrarians Part 1.1: Amateur Temperature Records

9 July 2010

After a two-month hiatus, I’ve finally completed the next installment in my increasingly non-linear series of posts examining the (mostly bad) arguments against the reality of global warming. Originally I had planned out a sort of arc of subjects to cover, but as I learn more about climate science, I find I want to go back to what I’ve written previously and add new information, or explain things in a different way — that’s why I’m calling this post Part 1.1. So here’s a continued version of my argument in favor of the surface temperature record. I discuss one of the latest trends in the climate blogosphere: amateur temperature records.

Claim: The surface temperature record cannot be trusted.

Fact: Recent developments should make us even more confident that the record can indeed be trusted.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are three main surface temperature records, compiled by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), respectively. There is also at least one other that is lesser known: that of the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). All of these analyses have been compiled by professional research organizations and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. All of them converge on a common result: the Earth’s surface has warmed about 0.7°C in the last 100 years, and about 0.18°C/decade in the last 25 years. So all the records taken together can be seen as a sort of “consensus temperature record”, in which the observed warming is well outside the error bars.

Unfortunately, some members of the public are inclined to believe that this convergence is all part of a huge conspiracy, that scientists are not allowed to get results that contradict the pre-determined conclusions of the so-called “establishment”. This view is entirely at odds with my understanding of how science works, but it’s a depressingly common one. It’s also a difficult view to argue with, because the more positive results you cite, the bigger the conspiracy must be in the eyes of the conspiracy theorists. But what if there was a global temperature analysis entirely independent of the scientific establishment? Read the rest of this entry ?