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  • 17-Oct-09 A CLOSER LOOK AT SURFACE DATA AND REPORTED TRENDS-REDUX
  • 07-Mar-09 The sea-ice issue - a tempest in a teapot.
  • 03-Jan-09 Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature Data
  • 03-Jan-09 Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature data
  • 20-Dec-08 The sorry state of surface temperature data
  • 13-Dec-08 The Problem with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) (2)
  • SEPP Science Editorial #32-2009
    (in TWTW Oct 17, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    A CLOSER LOOK AT SURFACE DATA AND REPORTED TRENDS-REDUX

    Oct 17, 2009

    The recent flap about the availability of raw data and the reliability of surface temperature data generally has forced a re-evaluation of reported trends and their comparison with expectations from models.

    For example, many have claimed that a warming between 1975 and 1998 is evidence for AGW.

    There is no question that 1998 is a good deal warmer than 1975; but the error is to draw a straight line between those two points and assume it is a GH-gas-produced 'trend.'

    Then there is confusion between 'temp' and 'temp trends': For example, the years since 1998 may be among the warmest in the past 100 years; yet the trend is negative, i.e., it's cooling.

    There are so many problems with SFC data that we will just list a few here and discuss them more fully later: [Note that satellite data are relatively immune from problems #1 to #6]

    1. Urban heat island effect: well-recognized warming bias but difficult to eliminate.

    2. The 'de-population' of observing station and the artificial (warming) bias introduced thereby

    3. The poor placement of stations, changes in location, changes in monitoring and reporting procedures: All these are well-recognized problems but require knowledge and corrections of individual stations.

    4. Sea Surface Temp(SST): Fundamental issue of penetration of IR energy

    5. SST: Changes in sampling instruments and procedures over time.

    6. SST: Non-uniform geographic coverage and changes over time

    7. Trends: Problems of defining time interval

    8. Trends: Errors introduced by 'smoothing' procedure

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #9-09
    (in TWTW Mar 7, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    The sea-ice issue - a tempest in a teapot.

    Mar 7, 2009

    Conservative columnist George Will is under attack about alleged reporting 'inaccuracies.'

    See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/ content/article/2009/02/26/AR2009022602906.html?sid=ST2009022702494

    The affair  as seen by the Columbia Journalism Review: But they are wrong; Will is correct.

    http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/the_george_will_affair.php?page=all&print=true

    SEPP Comments:

    **George Will is a 'big boy' and can take care of himself. He certainly needs no help from me.

    **The whole affair seems contrived -- almost like a conspiracy by the AGW (anthropogenic GW) alarmists. By attacking a 'high-visibility' doubter en masse, they hope to intimidate not only Will but others who don't follow the IPCC gospel that preaches AGW.

    **I noticed, and so have many others, that the official source of sea-ice data changed their 'evidence' just after Will's article appeared. They discovered that one of their sensors had gone out of calibration. I don't doubt this fact, but I am curious about the timing of the discovery.

    **The funny thing is that the whole issue of the extent of Arctic sea ice is a 'nothing-burger' -- to use the immortal expression coined by a past EPA chief. No one seems to have commented on the fact that sea ice might tell you something about whether the air and ocean is warming or cooling but it cannot tell you anything about the CAUSE of warming/cooling. ANY kind of warming will melt ice. Simple logic.

    Personally, I prefer to look at thermometers and not at sea ice. And the thermometers (and also ice-core data) tell us that the Arctic is no warmer now than in the 1930s -- and much colder than centuries ago. **Finally, I want to emphasize that I know of no definitive evidence for AGW. None! But we have strong evidence against significant AGW.

    See the NIPCC report http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf

    I fully believe that science will win out in the end -- although it might be easier to convince the public -- and perhaps even politicians -- if the present cooling trend continues for another decade or more. A few years from now, when it becomes clear that Nature, not human activity, rules the climate a lot of Will's critics are going to look pretty silly.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #1-09
    (in TWTW Jan 3, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature Data

    Jan 3, 2009

    John Christy and Roy Spencer (Univ of Alabama, Huntsville -- UAH) pioneered the methodology of extracting climatologically useful atmospheric temperature data from the satellite microwave (MSU) instrument  a great achievement, since the instrument was not designed for this purpose.

    The analysis requires many kinds of corrections. A competing group, RSS, pointed to one correction that the UAH group had overlooked: the influence of a slight decrease in satellite altitude due to orbit decay [1998]. UAH immediately made this correction -- a small change in the analysis algorithm. It increased the temperature trend slightly -- although it is still much smaller than the surface trend.

    But the RSS trend, based on an independent analysis of the same basic satellite readings, continued to show a larger, more positive trend than UAH  with the independent balloon data supporting UAH. This discrepancy between RSS and UAH became a hot topic -- which has persisted. Neither group, both very competent, could pinpoint the exact cause.

    In Dec 2002, at a CCSP workshop in Arlington ,VA, I heard a full presentation of the RSS results by Carl Mears. I noticed that the RSS temp record showed a small 'jump' around 1993, where a transition occurred between two satellites, with only a short overlap in time. I then e-mailed Mears and Spencer (and a few others), and suggested a comparison of RSS and UAH trends before and after 1993, to see if that might be the origin of the discrepancy. It's really an obvious idea; I was not prepared (or capable) to dig into the detailed analyses of the two groups to isolate the actual cause.

    Such a comparison has just been performed by Douglass and Christy (my co-authors in a 2007 paper) in an appendix to a paper on climate sensitivity (published in Energy & Environment, Aug 2008). As I had expected, in support of the UAH result, they now find agreement between RSS and UAH trends -- although I will hold up until Carl Mears confirms this result.

    Apparently, D&C do not consider their finding of great importance. I beg to differ. To see why, pls look at Figs 9a and 9b in the NIPCC report "Nature Not Human Activity Rules the Climate"

    http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf -- and move the RSS point to coincide with UAH. Disagreement between greenhouse models and observed trends now becomes quite obvious  and strengthens the NIPCC conclusion that "Nature, not human activity, rules the climate."

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #1-09
    (in TWTW Jan 3, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature data

    Jan 3, 2009

    John Christy and Roy Spencer (Univ of Alabama, Huntsville -- UAH) pioneered the methodology of extracting climatologically useful atmospheric temperature data from the satellite microwave (MSU) instrument - a great achievement, since the instrument was not designed for this purpose.

    The analysis requires many kinds of corrections. A competing group, RSS, pointed to one correction that the UAH group had overlooked: the influence of a slight decrease in satellite altitude due to orbit decay [1998]. UAH immediately made this correction -- a small change in the analysis algorithm. It increased the temperature trend slightly -- although it is still much smaller than the surface trend.

    But the RSS trend, based on an independent analysis of the same basic satellite readings, continued to show a larger, more positive trend than UAH - with the independent balloon data supporting UAH. This discrepancy between RSS and UAH became a hot topic -- which has persisted. Neither group, both very competent, could pinpoint the exact cause.

    In Dec 2002, at a CCSP workshop in Arlington ,VA, I heard a full presentation of the RSS results by Carl Mears. I noticed that the RSS temp record showed a small 'jump' around 1993, where a transition occurred between two satellites, with only a short overlap in time. I then e-mailed Mears and Spencer (and a few others), and suggested a comparison of RSS and UAH trends before and after 1993, to see if that might be the origin of the discrepancy. It's really an obvious idea; I was not prepared (or capable) to dig into the detailed analyses of the two groups to isolate the actual cause.

    Such a comparison has just been performed by Douglass and Christy (my co-authors in a 2007 paper) in an appendix to a paper on climate sensitivity (published in Energy & Environment, Aug 2008). As I had expected, in support of the UAH result, they now find agreement between RSS and UAH trends -- although I will hold up until Carl Mears confirms this result.

    Apparently, D&C do not consider their finding of great importance. I beg to differ. To see why, pls look at Figs 9a and 9b in the NIPCC report "Nature Not Human Activity Rules the Climate"

    http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf -- and move the RSS point to coincide with UAH. Disagreement between greenhouse models and observed trends now becomes quite obvious - and strengthens the NIPCC conclusion that "Nature, not human activity, rules the climate."

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

    Return to Top of Page


    SEPP Science Editorial #16
    (in TWTW Dec 20, 2008)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    The sorry state of surface temperature data

    Dec 20, 2008

    GW advocates are 'spinning' the 'warmth'- of 2008, claiming it to be the xth warmest year since yy  all the while trying to ignore the low temperature records being set worldwide [see Item #6]. I share the critical views about the quality of the surface data, along with Courtney, d'Aleo, Gray, McKitrick, Watts and many others who have looked into the matter. I consider only satellite data truly reliable [See discussion in NIPCC report].

    So I was struck by a short item about 2008 temperatures in the blog of NY Times writer Andrew Revkin http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/a-cooler-year-on-a-warming-planet/?emc=eta1

    The top graph shows the geographic distribution of 2008 mean temperatures, compared to a base period of 1951-1980. Two features are very striking:

    1. The base period is of course a cool period just before the sudden temperature rise around 1977. This would explain why one sees so much warming.

    2. The most interesting feature is the warmth of the FSU, and particularly the extreme warmth of Siberia. I was puzzled by that and then recalled that during the communist period station managers were said to be under-reporting temperatures in order to gain larger fuel allocations.

    I'm wondering now what the pattern would be like if we chose a *post-communist* base period, say 1990-2005. Would the pattern be preserved? Would Siberia still show strong warming in 2008?

    [There's the additional matter of the closing down of many weather stations in that area after 1980.]

    We can now look at the second GISS graph and note two interesting features:

    1. Unlike the Hadley surface data, and unlike the satellite data, the graph shows 21st-century temperatures that are higher than 1998. The reason for that is not clear.

    2. Close inspection also shows an unusual temperature increase starting in 1992, which is not present in the satellite data for the northern hempisphere. This would seem to support the hypothesis that pre-1990 Siberian temperatures might have been under-reported.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #15
    (in TWTW Dec 13, 2008)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    The Problem with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) (2)

    Dec 13, 2008

    Oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface; SST essentially determines surface temperature. While not subject to the problems of land temperature data (urban heat islands, weather station placement and maintenance, etc), SST has even more severe problems, mainly related to coverage and to changes in methods of measurement. Just recently, the Hadley Centre had to fix a 'glitch' caused by a change from wooden to canvas sampling buckets, which led to a temperature 'discontinuity.'

    Since 1980 we have a situation where data from floating buoys (from a warm layer of about 50 cm depth) are increasingly combined with ship inlet data (from a colder layer at depth of ~10 m). Could this lead to a fictitious warming trend? How to check whether this produces a problem? One method would be to process ship data and buoy data separately before combining them. I have not been successful in penetrating the data analysis bureaucracy to arrange for such a test. But there may be a simpler way (which I first proposed at a conference in Erice in 2005): Compare day-time and night-time SST trends. If they do not differ, then the 'buoy effect' is likely of little importance.

    Singer, S. F. (2006). How effective is greenhouse warming of sea surface temperatures? In International Seminar on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies. Climatology: Global Warming. (ed. A Zichichi and R. Ragini). World Scientific Publishing Company, Singapore. pp. 176-182.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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