Dec. 2010 UAH Global Temperature Update: +0.18 deg. C

January 3rd, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

UPDATE #1(1/3/10, 2:50 p.m. CST): Graph fixed…it was missing Dec. 2010.

UPDATE #2(1/3/10, 3:25 p.m. CST): Appended global sea surface temperature anomalies from AMSR-E.

NEW 30-YEAR BASE PERIOD IMPLEMENTED!


YR MON GLOBE NH SH TROPICS
2010 1 0.542 0.675 0.410 0.635
2010 2 0.510 0.553 0.466 0.759
2010 3 0.554 0.665 0.443 0.721
2010 4 0.400 0.606 0.193 0.633
2010 5 0.454 0.642 0.265 0.706
2010 6 0.385 0.482 0.287 0.485
2010 7 0.419 0.558 0.280 0.370
2010 8 0.441 0.579 0.304 0.321
2010 9 0.477 0.410 0.545 0.237
2010 10 0.306 0.257 0.356 0.106
2010 11 0.273 0.372 0.173 -0.117
2010 12 0.180 0.213 0.147 -0.221


UAH_LT_1979_thru_Dec_10

NEW 30-YEAR BASE PERIOD IMPLEMENTED!
Sorry for yelling like that, but if you have been following our global tropospheric temperature updates every month, you will have to re-calibrate your brains because we have just switched from a 20 year base period (1979 – 1998) to a more traditional 30 year base period (1981-2010) like that NOAA uses for climate “normals”.

This change from a 20 to a 30 year base period has 2 main impacts:

1) because the most recent decade averaged somewhat warmer than the previous two decades, the anomaly values will be about 0.1 deg. C lower than they used to be. This does NOT affect the long-term trend of the data…it only reflects a change in the zero-level, which is somewhat arbitrary.

2) the 30-year average annual cycle shape will be somewhat different, and more representative of “normal” of the satellite record than with 20 years; as a result, the month-to-month changes in the anomalies might be slightly less “erratic” in appearance. (Some enterprising person should check into that with the old versus new anomaly datasets).

Note that the tropics continue to cool as a result of the La Nina still in progress, and the Northern Hemisphere also cooled in December, more consistent with the anecdotal evidence. :)

I will provide a global sea surface temperature update later today.

WHO WINS THE RACE FOR WARMEST YEAR?
As far as the race for warmest year goes, 1998 (+0.424 deg. C) barely edged out 2010 (+0.411 deg. C), but the difference (0.01 deg. C) is nowhere near statistically significant. So feel free to use or misuse those statistics to your heart’s content.

THE DISCOVER WEBSITE: NOAA-15 PROBLEMS STARTING IN MID-DECEMBER
For those tracking our daily updates of global temperatures at the Discover website, remember that only 2 “channels” can be trusted for comparing different years to each other, both being the only ones posted there from NASA’s Aqua satellite:

1) only ch. 5 data should be used for tracking tropospheric temperatures,
2) the global-average “sea surface” temperatures are from AMSR-E on Aqua, and should be accurate.

The rest of the channels come from the AMSU on the 12 year old NOAA-15 satellite, WHICH IS NOW EXPERIENCING LARGE AMOUNTS OF MISSING DATA AS OF AROUND DECEMBER 20, 2010. This is why some of you have noted exceptionally large temperature changes in late December. While we wait for NOAA to investigate, it seems like more than coincidence that the NOAA-15 AMSU status report had a December 17 notice that the AMSU scan motor position was being reported incorrectly due to a bit error.

The notice says that problem has been sporadic, but increasing over time as has the amount of missing data I have seen during my processing. At this early stage, I am guessing that the processing software cannot determine which direction the instrument is pointing when making its measurements, and so the data from the radiometer are not being processed.

The daily NOAA-15 AMSU imagery available at the Discover website shows that the data loss is much more in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere, which suggests that the temperature of the instrument is probably involved in the bit error rate. But at this point, this is all my speculation, based upon my past experience studying how the temperature of these instruments vary throughout the orbit as the solar illumination of the spacecraft varies.

SST UPDATE FROM AMSR-E

The following plot shows global average sea surface temperatures from the AMSR-E instrument over the lifetime of the Aqua satellite, through Dec 31, 2010. The SSTs at the end of December suggest that the tropospheric temperatures in the previous graph (above) still have a ways to fall in the coming months to catch up to the ocean, which should now be approaching its coolest point if it follows the course of previous La Nina’s.

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70 Responses to “Dec. 2010 UAH Global Temperature Update: +0.18 deg. C”

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  1. Francis says:

    There’s something I don’t get: the anomaly is +0,18, but the dot on the graph seems rather to indicate something like +0,25.

    How come?

  2. Brodie says:

    The .18 is relative to the 30 year base period. Relative to the prior 20 year base period the December anomaly is about .28. For example Nov 2010 was previously reported as + .38, now it is reported as +.27 versus the 30 year base period.

  3. Simon says:

    Also seeing the error with the plot for December 2010? Kudos on the change of base period, much better.

  4. Francis says:

    Well, look at the list of numbers: it reports +0,18, but you say the graph reports 0,1 higher. But the preceding number (for November) is +0,27 so it should be reported as +0,37 on the graph. It is not. So, what gives?

  5. Simon says:

    The graph is showing the new 30 year base period temperatures. But it isn’t for December 2010?

  6. coldplug says:

    I think that there is missing December value on this chart.

  7. Ray says:

    This is all a bit confusing.
    The only long term data file I can find hasn’t yet been updated for December and is still based on the 20 year base period.
    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt
    Is there a data file somewhere which has been updated for December and is based on the 30 year base period?

  8. Mike Goad says:

    All the other points for the year look like they plot right. December is the only one that doesn’t match the number in the table.

    If the base period is changed, I would think it would be applied to the whole figure, not just one pont on the figure.

  9. Ray says:

    Presumably it is the graph which is wrong, not the table!

  10. Francis says:

    Thank you, Mr. Spencer!

    By the way, I appreciate your monthly temperature update! A very reliable and instructive series.

    Have a good day!

  11. Don B says:

    Here is the table of monthly figures using the 20 year base period, through November.

    http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.3

    Is there a file with all the numbers using the new base? Can we use the old numbers and add approximately 0.108 to each of them?

  12. Don B says:

    I meant subtract, not add.

  13. Nonoy Oplas says:

    I think changing the number of base years from 20 to 30 is good as it has reduced the alarmism bias. For instance, instead of 0.6+ C temperature anomaly in January, February, March and September this year under the 20-years base system, the figures are now 0.5+ C for Jan-March and 0.4+ C in September under the 30-years base system.

    The negative temperature anomaly in the tropics confirms what we feel here in the far east. For instance, instead of noontime temperature of 32-34 C, we only have 29-31 C these days here in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

  14. sillyfilly says:

    Why, oh why, did you do this for the last month of the year? Is this consistent with UAH data or merely for this site? It appears merely a construct to create confusion on the analyis for 2010. Why wouldn’t you wait for Janaury data to remodel the anomalies?

  15. Ray says:

    I tend to agree with sillyfilly.
    It might have been less confusing to publish the 2010 figures on the basis of the 20 year time base, then issue a revision to the new time base in the new year.
    I don’t think it’s as simple as deducting 0.108c from all of the old figures. That is the difference for November, but the average for 2010 is 0.093c and the differences range from 0.051c (June) to 0.126c (Sept.).

  16. catrun J says:

    Roy,

    Can you rescale the temperature axis in the SST plot? It seems the max temp never gets above 22, and it is difficult to see yearly differences when so much of the vertical axis is wasted.

    CJ

  17. catrun J says:

    I guess if it wasn’t clear, I meant on the discover site,
    and not the plot above.

    CJ

  18. Elsie C says:

    It would be interesting to hear the thought process of changing from a 20-year base to a 30-year base on the last month of year.

    Regardless, it would be nice if the new dataset would have been published at the same time as this announcement, along with publishing the new 30-year temperature averages for each month that the monthly anomalies are calculated from.

    Unfortunately, UAH will likely continue to hide the new calendar month base averages from the public, as they did with the 20-year averages. Government funded scientists just don’t seem to like being totally transparent with the data collected at taxpayer expense, I guess.

    Elsie

  19. Rasmuncher says:

    Dr Roy

    If you were to draw a best fit straight trend line through all of the results since 1980 on the Globally Averaged Satelite-based temperatures, what would it look like?

  20. Christopher Game says:

    Dear Dr Spencer,

    I think you make a 13-month average because it can be centred? Is it uniformly weighted? If so, it would overweight the extreme month, which appears twice. The uniformly weighted 13-month average actually has a seasonal weighting, and does not fully remove the seasonal effect. What about a weighted average with all 11 months, except the two extremes, with weight 1/12 , and the two extreme months each with weight 1/24 ? That can still be centred and is more naturally weighted to remove the seasonal effect?

    Yours sincerely,

    Christopher Game

  21. Ray says:

    While I tend to agree that a 13 month average may be seasonally biased, that would assume that the anomalies are themselved biased, which they shouldn’t be. I don’t like weighted averages, or filters as the more you mess about with the figures, the further you get from reality. A non-weighted average is a summary of a given period, which ideally should be 12 months, but a weighted average is really an attempt to predict the future, which isn’t really the purpose of the exercise.

  22. Ray says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    On further consideration, I am confused by your reference to the fact that you have:
    “switched from a 20 year base period (1979 – 1998) to a more traditional 30 year base period (1981-2010) like that NOAA uses for climate “normals”.”
    Surely NOAA isn’t a good example, since that series uses the 20th century average, (1901-2000) as the base period. It is true that C.R.U. and NASA/GISS both use 30 year periods but since these are 1961-90 and 1951-80 respectively, changing UAH to 1981-2010 doesn’t really make a great deal of difference, since all of the figures require adjustment to the same base period before any meaningful comparison can be made.
    Also, I would be grateful to know when the full data files going back to 1978 will be adjusted to the 30 year base period?

    • An Inquirer says:

      Ray,
      In my almost 40 years of analyzing weather, a 30-year average was “traditionally” used as the “normal” value. Of course, when observations started for a particular value, thirty years would be a long wait to get a “normal” value, so a twenty-year average would be used. But once we obtained 30 years of data, we used a 30 year average and periodically updated that 30 year average. (One suspicious feature of GISS and HadCru is that they do not update their 30 year average. It is not necessarily wrong for them to stick with an established average, but sticking to a low-average base period does seem to serve an ulterior motive.)
      Relatively recently we have realized that there are cycles and oscillations that take place over 60 years or more. Therefore, a 30 year average actually may not be long enough.

  23. The trend downward is continuing and this is going to go on for years in a irregular pattern. Man made global CO2 HOAX, is in it’s last days.

    If you go to icecap website and look at the greenhouse scorecard, it shows how almost every single prediction the models have made is WRONG.

  24. Joe D'Aleo says:

    Salvatore

    The scorecard we at Icecap posted was produced and is being maintained by Dr. Doug Hoyt, once chief scientist at Raytheon. It can be found updated on Warwick Hughes site here.

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/hoyt/scorecard.htm

    Same results.

    Thanks

    Joe D’Aleo

  25. crandles says:

    Now the new record is at
    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

    Feb 2010 is shown as .52 whereas in your table above it is .510. All other months are normal rounding of 3 figures down to two figures. I assume the above .510 is wrong rather than the .52 on the link.

    Re “Some enterprising person”

    Well I had a multiple linear regression for estimating UAH temperatures using ONI with lags of upto 8 months and a poor estimate of volcanic effects and AO with a 1 month lag to hand. With the old data set I got a RMSE of 0.1268.

    With the new dataset I got a RMSE of 0.1259.

    Not a huge reduction but it is a indicator of being slightly less erratic than previously.

    No doubt there is some more enterprising person than can report more details with better technique(s).

  26. Now if you could just get the Congress, the President, and the EPA to listen to reason…

  27. Ray says:

    Thanks to crandles for confirming that the data file has been updated.
    I’m trying to estimate what the “old” figure for December would have been. I’m not sure how the past figures have been adjusted but there don’t seem to be a consistent difference between the figures for December (haven’t checked other months), in the old and new files. The normal difference seems to be -0.08c, but for some reason there are exceptions. For example, December 1981 is -0.09c, December 1986, 1995 and 1998 are -0.07c. There is similar inconsistency in the differences between the NH and SH figures. Presumably there is a logical reason for this -possibly rounding errors?

  28. crandles says:

    As well as reducing all figures by the same amount, there is also a new seasonal pattern.

    If you average all months min diff -0.095 max diff -0.8833

    so the difference here is less than 0.1 (0.0066)

    Individual months vary by up to 0.2

    Jan -.101 to -.09
    Feb -.01 to -.083
    Mar -0.11 to -0.099
    Apr -.112 to -0.09
    May -0.09 to -0.07
    Jun -0.06 to -0.05
    Jul -0.08 to -0.06
    Aug -0.08 to -0.07
    Sep -0.126 to -0.11
    Oct -0.12 to -0.1
    Nov -0.12 to -0.1
    Dec -0.09 to -0.07

    I would suggest that it is likely to be rounding of up to 0.01 of the reduction in all values and rounding of up to 0.1 on the seasonal variation change.

    That seems quite reasonable with nothing odd that I can see.

  29. Thanks for the info. Joe.

    As the sun stays quiet, and the atmospheric circulation remains meridional, reacting in the exact opposite way the global warming models said, I have to feel a great sense of satisfaction here.

    I say this fact alone,although there are so many others, is the death nail to the man made co2 global warming theory. I think they are toast, and they are among the walking dead, as the climate keeps changing ,and changing in a manner that is not in their favor.

    I had predicted among others that agree with me, that a quiet sun, would create more extremes in climate, because the circulation would be less zonal, as a consequence of a quiet sun.

    I will go a step further , and say a prolong solar minimum seems to correlate with increase volcanic activity. If one goes back to 1600 AD as an example, and plots all major volcanic eruptions, say explosive index of 5 or greater,,against solar activity,one will find 85% of them, are associated with low solar activity.
    One explanation I have heard is, when the sun is quiet and then has some activity, it jolts the earth to a much greater degree then when the sun is active. It is like being in a car going 85 mph ,when the sun is active, and slowing to 80 mph, not very jolting, but if you were in a car going 5 mph ,which is like the quiet sun ,and it goes to 0 mph ,you will feel a much greater jolt, same thing seems to apply to the earth. Anyways ,that is the best explanation I have heard, and it makes sense to me.

  30. Ron Cram says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    Why do you trust the AMSR-E satellite and not the others? This seems to be a key point.

    Lyman et al published “Robust warming of the global upper ocean” in Nature in May, 2010. Soon after Knox and Douglass published “Recent Energy Balance of Earth” saying the oceans were not warming. The Knox paper trusts the Argo data and is consistent with AMSR-E. The Lyman paper does not trust Argo data and seems to be consistent with satellite data you do not trust.

    So how do we know the AMSR-E data is more reliable?

  31. Bob Paglee says:

    Accurate satellite temperature data are unaffected by the problems that afflict land-based information over time, such as improper siting, fudging of data, growing urban heat islands, etc. If the temperature of Earth’s lower atmosphere has increased 0.18 Deg C over the past 30 years, and if that trend were to continue at the same rate over a period of 100 years, the increase would be only 0.6 Deg C.

    During the past 30 years, the growth of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, as measured at Mauna Loa, has been approximately 15%. Assuming that the overall atmospheric temperature is about 14 Deg C, an increase of 0.18 C is only about 1.3% of the overall. This 1.3% temperature variation in the total seems small when compared to the 15% increase in CO^2 over the same 30-year period, perhaps indicating a somewhat poor correlation.

  32. Bob Paglee says:

    Dr. Roy:

    Sorry I forgot to compliment you on your continuing study to determine whether clouds have a positive or negative feedback effect on “global temperature”, theoretically being affected by increasing levels of CO^2, methane, etc.

    Now at age 86, I am happy to have survived the threat of “global cooling” that I remember well, as predicted by many “scientists” during the 1970′s. So I am inclined to be skeptical about the current mania about theoretical global warming. However, I am beginning to wonder if those early-bird predictions of “global cooling” may have been prescient, if not a bit premature.

    I earned my science degree in engineering over 60 years ago, and being retired, I am aghast that the EPA may soon find a way to ignore real science and our unconvinced political system in pursuit of its ecoreligious zeal to impose a carbon tax that can make heating or cooling my home here in NJ even more costly than it is already, perhaps even unaffordable.

    Can this be done just for worship of an unproven “scientific” theory that may soon be totally debunked by nature, if it has not already been disproved by honest satellite temperature measurements over the past 30 years?

  33. harrywr2 says:

    Ron Cram says:
    January 7, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    “Lyman et al published “Robust warming of the global upper ocean” in Nature in May, 2010.Lyman et al published “Robust warming of the global upper ocean” in Nature in May, 2010. Soon after Knox and Douglass published “Recent Energy Balance of Earth” saying the oceans were not warming.”

    Lyman et al and Knox and Douglas are for all intents and purposes looking at the same data-set. Just different time-frames. Lyman et all are talking 1993 – 2008. Knox and Douglas are talking 2003-2008.

    There hasn’t been any ‘robust’ warming in the oceans since 2003. Some small disagreement at to whether there has been statistically insignificant cooling or statistically insignificant warming.

  34. catrun J says:

    Bob Paglee:

    You can do better than that. The most convenient scientific temperature scale is degrees Kelvin, and 14C is about 287 Kelvin. Therefore the 0.18C change (which is also 0.18K change) is less than one part in 1600! How
    could there be a correlation!?!

    Seriously though. You should stay out of any discussions about statistics if that is how you think.

    For example, the thermal expansion of water from 4C to 100C is about 4 percent. By your reasoning temperature and volume must not be very highly correlated since a 25 fold increase in temperature results in a measly 4 percent expansion. Congrats, you have just defused one of the biggest worries from the AGW believers, that warmer oceans will expand and rise! You may also win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry since you proved every Chemistry book ever written is exaggerating when they say that water expands
    when heated.

    Salatore Del Prete:

    You post on every single thread that
    “The trend downward is continuing”. Please go
    to Roy’s vortex website and scroll down to the bottom
    line where it says “Trend” and tell me what the number under the column “Globe” says (hint: it says 0.14). Then
    stop saying the trend is downwards until that number is negative.

  35. Brian S says:

    Ray asked a very good question about your idiosyncratic choice of 1981-2010 as a baseline, which remains unanswerd. Why did you not previously use the period 1969-1998, and why not one of the other two conventional 30 year periods?

    The period you have chosen raises the bar by which warming trends are measured precisely because each decade from the 80′s on has been warmer than the previous decade. This goal post shifting uses warming to mask the warming. Should the next decade be warmer than this, shall we see a further shifting of the baseline to the warm end?

    In the same vein harrywr2 above draws attention to the differences in the Knox and Douglass and Lyman et al papers.

    “A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. “

    In fact the larger data from 1955 shows was no “flattening”, but a giant leap in heat content in from 2001 to mid 2003. The truncation of the data to a small cherry picked data set accounts for the difference.

  36. harrywr2 says:

    Brian S says:
    January 9, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    “Why did you not previously use the period 1969-1998, and why not one of the other two conventional 30 year periods?”

    There isn’t any satellite data that goes back to 1969. It only goes back to 1979.

  37. Bob Paglee says:

    catrun J says:
    January 9, 2011 at 9:36 PM
    Bob Paglee:

    You can do better than that. The most convenient scientific temperature scale is degrees Kelvin, and 14C is about 287 Kelvin. Therefore the 0.18C change (which is also 0.18K change) is less than one part in 1600! How
    could there be a correlation!?!

    Seriously though. You should stay out of any discussions about statistics if that is how you think.

    For example, the thermal expansion of water from 4C to 100C is about 4 percent. By your reasoning temperature and volume must not be very highly correlated since a 25 fold increase in temperature results in a measly 4 percent expansion. Congrats, you have just defused one of the biggest worries from the AGW believers, that warmer oceans will expand and rise! You may also win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry since you proved every Chemistry book ever written is exaggerating when they say that water expands
    when heated.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well, this is the bitterest winter we have experienced here in NJ for many a year. I have just finished shoveling out 8 inches of snow from my driveway for the third time in about 30 days, and I would welcome a bit of “global warming” if only it were for real. But I don’t need more exercise shoveling out from under the stuff that was dumped above. May your planet be warmer.

  38. Gary Torrington says:

    Mr Spencer has taken no actual measurements nor computations with computer models. His claims are a joke and been thorougly discreted by the IPCC, NASA, and Greenpeace. He is a paid shill from Exxon and the coal industry, being paid nearly $3,340,000 in 2010 to spread lies.

  39. catrun J says:

    Bob Paglee:

    After showing your complete ignorance of
    the concept of correlation, you moved on to
    showing you don’t understand the difference
    between weather, global warming, and climate
    change.

    If the globe warms enough, the climate will change.
    If the climate changes, it may snow more in NJ
    during the winter (or maybe not, nobody is sure
    and nobody is claiming the climate will change
    everywhere).

  40. MervHob says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    Having purchased your latest book, and read it over Christmas, I have some sympathy with your well argued viewpoint. In particular, I appreciate the use of phase space analysis in your recent paper. This wonderful tool, generated by Poincare is a cornerstone of modern dynamics, in direct contrast to the crude ‘steady state plus forcings’ Laplacian model used by the IPCC. I know of no method by which such a linear model could be used to accurately model a highly non-linear model such as climate. I would expect that such a model would be highly susceptable to initial conditions and would rapidly diverge from reality. Indeed, I would expect that such a non-linear system would exhibit quite dramatic change in ‘noise’ frequency and magnitude as it approached a dramatic shift in stability. This behaviour is well understood in the field of non-linear oscillator theory. The Laplacian model appears to work in the case of systems where the stored energy is large and the relative forcings very small. However, it totally failed to give the right answer for the levels of 1/f noise seen in practical electronic oscillators. In a PhD thesis published in 1988, at the University of Leeds in the UK, David Mark Harrison conclusively proved that the non-linearities in the operation of the oscillator upconverted the baseband noise to a much greater magnitude at much lower frequency close to carrier. It is a matter of some interest that it proved impossible to prove David’s model using a digital computer, and we were forced to use an analog computer, which was completely successful, although it seemed likely we would be burnt for heresy!. Non-linear systems have been the subject of study for the past 100 years, yet we still have no direct methods of solving the equations, other than by varying degrees of substitution of an ‘equivalent’ linear system. The fact that non-linear systems always exhibit behaviours impossible to model in a linear system is ignored, or willfully misunderstood. Although the many are taught the rules of linear algebra, very few have any understanding of the limitations of mathematics based on the fantasy of closed integral curves. The French mathematicians, finding themselves incapable of solving the equations in nature, substituted the mathematics of the known solution – they replaced dynamics with an equivalent problem in statics and said to hell with reality. Good enough for textbook examples and engineering models, but incapable of valid, reliable extrapolation over long periods of time. And this is why I have little or no faith in the computer models of the IPCC, and I challange Dr. Dressler and others to produce the evidence that their models do have substantial long term integrity, as I for one have very serious doubts that that is possible using the crude imaginings of some third rate French mathematicians at the beginning of the 19th century.

  41. barry says:

    As Dr Spencer says in the post, the choice of baseline is somewhat arbitrary.

    I think there are reasonable arguments for extending the baseline to 30 years, and reasonable arguments for keeping the old baseline. But ultimately it doesn’t matter.

    “I think changing the number of base years from 20 to 30 is good as it has reduced the alarmism bias”

    The public in general would not know or care about the month to month anomaly values, and the vast majority wouldn’t know what they represented is shown. There’s no political mileage here, and even if there were, I’d hope that political inferences didn’t become the norm at this data/science site. The trend is what matters, and alternative baselines won’t change that.

  42. Brian S says:

    Forgive me if this is a repeat but I keep getting an error message incorrectly stting I have not filled in appropriate fields.

    Thanks harrywr2 for the reply but I still have concerns about Dr Spencer’s comments regarding the change and barry’s January 16 post endorsing those comments:

    “1) because the most recent decade averaged somewhat warmer than the previous two decades, the anomaly values will be about 0.1 deg. C lower than they used to be. This does NOT affect the long-term trend of the data…it only reflects a change in the zero-level, which is somewhat arbitrary.

    2) the 30-year average annual cycle shape will be somewhat different, and more representative of “normal” of the satellite record than with 20 years…”

    The choice of baseline is not “somewhat arbitrary”. Choice of baseline affects the calculated temperature anomalies and what is considered “normal”. Climatologists began discussing global warming in the 70s and James Hansen from NASA predicted that the warming signal would rise above the noise in the 80’s, so as Ray above notes, NASA papers used 1951-1980 as a baseline. Later the conventional baseline was taken as 1961 to 1990.

    As Hansen predicted, each decade from the 80’s has been warmer than the preceeding decade, and warmer than the baseline.

    If you continually shift the “normal” to warmward during a period of warming, you are by definition making what was previously abnormal more normal. This is putting your finger on the scales.

    Yes, satellite data novel, but earlier terrestrial measurements give reliable enough data for earlier decades.

  43. harrywr2 says:

    Brian,

    The ‘trend’ in the satellite data didn’t change. 1.4C/century still holds.

    If we use a 100 year baseline for the surface temperature record the trend becomes .8C/century. If we arbitrarily pick 1970-2000 for the trend baseline, then the trend becomes approximately 1.6C/century.

    I don’t see that the argument that 1970-1980 surface temperature record spliced onto the satellite record is anymore persuasive then arguing the 1900-1980 surface temperature record should be spliced on to the satellite record.

    What’s more valid, a 30 year trend or a 100 year trend?

  44. Brian S says:

    Thanks harrywr2. The trend line or slope or rate of warming change may be unaltered (until the rate of warming accelarates or decelerates at least), but it is the amount that temperature change over a given time frame that most people grasp as indicating warming, stasis or cooling and these anomolies are the main focus of discussion in climate change rather than rate of change.

    In other words, is the temperature “now” whether the now was or is 2000, 2010 or 2020 0.5, 0.7 or 1 degree higher than “normal” – the supposed period before global warming kicked in. And spencer himself says that his change reduces the anolomoly by 0.1 degree.

    Not much maybe but I think that declaring choice of baseline and what is regarded as “normal” arbitrary and of no consequence in the discussion shows an amount of intellectual sloppiness at best and is at worst intentionally misleading.

    Whether splicing the presatellite decade would be preferable to limiting the baseline period to 20 years depends on how accurate you take the presatellite data to be. That I guess depends on how well the non-satellite data matches the sattelite data since it became available and I’m not sure what the story is there.

    And yes normally I would rather take a 100 year period for a baseline. Not sure how this would compare with a 30 year baseline before the present period of warming kicked in in 1980. Temperatures earlier in the century rose and fell, with the 40′s being particularly warm. Skeptics like to say “Aha, see, temperature has always varied” with regard to this, but the fact is up until 1980, the temperature variation showed an excellent correlation with solar energy output. Since 1980, the correlation has dramatically parted company, solar heating falling while temperatures have risen.

    So maybe a recent thirty year period is a better reference point.

  45. Ray says:

    Regarding trends, it is important to know how these have varied over time. When you look at how the 600 month linear trend in HadCRUT3 has changed since 1899, you see that the change in trend appears to be cyclical, over a period of about 60 years, having reached a low of about
    -0.47c/century in 1914, a peak of about +1c/century in 1953 and another low of about 0c/century in 1979. If this pattern is repeated, the current level of about 1.4c/century may therefore be approaching another peak, we may be about to see another fall, to about +0.4c/century around 2040. While this would still indicate a rising trend of about 0.8c per century, it would produce a small decline in temperatures over the next 10-20 years. Of course the UAH series is too short to calculate a 600 month linear trend, but there is a similar pattern in other long-term series data (NASA/GISS & NOAA/NCDC), and a close match in the shorter-term trends between UAH and the others, when adjusted to the same time base.

  46. Ted says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    As I understand it, your current central argument that global warming won’t be as bad as the consensus view is that some factor (e.g., clouds) will mitigate the effects of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. In other words, you contend that there’s more stability in the global climate than is generally accepted. Is that a fair summary?

    If so, could you please explain why there have been such dramatic swings in climate in the long-term history of the planet — ice ages interspersed with warmer periods, for example? Shouldn’t clouds, or something else, have kept the global climate more in balance?

    Thanks for any insight.

    Ted

    • An Inquirer says:

      Ted,
      Yes, the earth’s climate has always been changing, and some researchers believe that it has been resilient and less susceptible to the monolithic amplification implied by GCMs. So why have there been ice ages? And does the climate change? One reason is disturbances – the disturbances can come from meteorites, volcanic activity, chaos of weather systems, orbital fluctuations, gravitational pull of other bodies, axis tilt changes, . . . . However, despite these disturbances, the earth returns to more moderate climatic features rather than snowballing into a frosty ice chunk or plummeting to a hot uninhabitable globe. Stability despite disturbances.

  47. Wagathon says:

    Your post: Jan. 17, 2011 11:33 AM PST
    You edited this post
    Mug Wump says:
    Meanwhile, the oceans continue to cool and there is no end to the cooling in sight. That is according to Dr. Spencer.

    And, Dr. Pielke, Senior notes that in a period when the oceans are cooling there is no global warming. Phil Jones of CRUgate infamy admitted that much. Jones said there has been no significant global warming since 1995.

    No surprise: we have raw data for a lot of places — data that has not manipulated by feckless ideologues — that show no global warming for 100 years.

    Trenberth cannot bring himself to admit the truth but he does concede that we can’t find the warming. Of course, it’s a travesty that Trenberth can’t prove humans are causing global warming but instead demands that America prove it isn’t causing global warming–turning science and nature on its head.

    This, of course, is why the boffins of Japan liken the climatology of government scientists to the study of ancient astrology. And, of course, reality does not dampen superstition and ignorance of reality.

    In schools and across society the real ‘hot’ topics the secular, socialist Education Industrial Complex must acknowledge and take responsibility for are the delusions that it has sown. But, schoolteachers would rather accuse Governor Palin of murder in Arizona than face the truth at home.

    All the while, schoolteachers murder the scientific method in the dropout factories across America. But, this is how a hoax dies. Real scientists understand that we have satellite data. We know the oceans have been in a cooling trend.

    A society that pays schoolteachers to preach climate porn instead of truth to its children should fail. And, meanwhile, the Earth may experience continued global cooling for decades to come.

    Nature will have the last say not schoolteachers. Meanwhile, both China and Japan are buying coal. Both China and Japan are expanding their nuclear power capacity while Western civilization is going into debt and America is printing the heads of dead presidents on pieces of paper and paying cash for clunkers. This is how society dies.

  48. Brain S says:

    Ted you are correct that increased water vapour will affect warming, but in both directions. Clouds will reflect sunlight back into space, but water vapor is itself a grenhouse gas helping to trap heat. This is one of the positive feedback mecanisms in the process.

    As for “natural” climate variation, as I note above, over shorter terms solar cycles which occur on the time scale of decades clearly have an effect, but in this century have been in a narrower range than in the last three decades and the warming runs counter to the reduced solar activity in that period.

    Ice ages are very severe cases of climate change, but they are caused by changes in the earth’s tilt and orbit. These occur over time scales of tens of millenia. Our hunter gatherer ancestors, small in number had time to move hunting grounds. They carried everything they posessed with them, and the Neanderthals in Europe simplt toughed it out. The ice ages are almost certain to reoccur, but they are well off into the future. Maybe then we will need to dig up and burn coal simply to warm the planet.

    But the immediate problem is severe climate change over the next century and beyond due to burning of fossil fuels. The worlds population is approaching 7 billion, engaged in farming and living in cities. We cannot simply pack up our belongings and move to balmy Siberia.

  49. Brian S says:

    Wagathon, I must dispute you contention that the oceans are cooling. Even the recent paper by Knox and Douglass based on a very short data set 2003-2008 found a very small drop that was well within their quoted error by up to a factor of twenty, so the drop is statistically meaningless. And they include in their table figure by von Shuckman et all to 2000 rather than 700 metres shows ocean warming of 0.77 ± 0.11 W/m2.

    Knox and Douglass quote another finding : “A recently published estimate [Lyman, Willis et al] of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008.” This figure agrees within error with von Shuckman’s and a number of other studies showing significant warming. Note also that Willis supplied the data that Knox and Douglass used in their shorter term study.

  50. Brian S says:

    Wagathon, I must dispute you contention that the oceans are cooling. Even the recent paper by Knox and Douglass based on a very short data set 2003-2008 found a very small drop that was well within their quoted error by up to a factor of twenty, so the drop is statistically meaningless. And a paper they quote a paper by von Shuckman et all to 2000 rather than 700 metres shows ocean warming of 0.77 ± 0.11 W/m2.

    Knox and Douglass quote another finding : “A recently published estimate [Lyman, Willis et al] of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008.” This figure agrees within error with von Shuckman’s and a number of other studies showing significant warming. Note also that Willis supplied the data that Knox and Douglass used in their shorter term study.

  51. Brian S says:

    Wagathon, again I must dispute your statement that “Trenberth cannot bring himself to admit the truth but he does concede that we can’t find the warming.”

    I quote from John Cook’s website sceptical science:

    “I emailed Kevin Trenberth, asking if von Schuckmann’s result was evidence that the missing heat was being sequestered in deeper waters. Trenberth replied promptly (the guy is a class act), informing me that von Schuckmann’s energy imbalance of 0.77 W/m2 was for the ocean only and when you average it out over the whole globe, it gives a net energy imbalance of 0.54 W/m2. This is still insufficient to meet up with the satellite data and there are unresolved issues with how von Schuckmann handles the deep water heating.”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Kevin-Trenberth-travesty-cant-account-for-the-lack-of-warming.htm

    So far from being an alarmist prepared to clutch at straws, he downplays a result which goeds some way to solving his problem. A class act indeed.

    As for the “travesty” remark by Trenberth, skeptics misrepresent this as an alleged smoking gun in the “climategate” emails showing an attempt to hoodwink the public about whether the planet was warming. It was not.

    Global air temperatures were clearly rising and the amount of extra heat everywhere on earth, land, Ice, sea etc. had been calculated. Trenberth had gone looking for the “missing” heat and could not find all of it and expressed his frustration, in the manner that all scientists are wont to do among themselves when they have been beating their heads against a wall for months and failing to find the answer. I can assure you of this from repeated experience. The pain only stops when after months or years of persistence, better technology, new data, methods or insight produce an answer.

    I can imagine Archimedes complaining that it was a travesty he could not figure out how to measure the gold content of the King’s crown just before leaping from the bath crying “Eureka” and running naked through the town.

    Some of the heat is as yet unaccounted for but the hunt goes on.

  52. Wagathon says:

    –>Some of the heat is as yet unaccounted for but the hunt goes on.

    “How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!” ~Willis Eschenbach

    “But that’s not what Dr. Trenberth is doing here. Keep your eye on the pea. He has smoothly segued from the IPCC saying “global warming is ‘unequivocal’”, which is true, and stitched that idea so cleverly onto another idea, ‘and thus humans affect the climate’, that you can’t even see the seam.” (Ibid.)

  53. Wagathon says:

    The AGW hypothesis says there must be a lot of heat in the system—even if it cannot be detected. But, the oceans have been in a cooling trend for a decade.

    Who lost the heat? Kevin Trenberth says it’s a travesty we that we cannot explain this (“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”). Maybe, it just isn’t there.

    And, if the lost heat simply does not exist, then the AGW hypothesis is wrong. Sure. But, what does that mean for climate change and temperature predictions?

    Perhaps the Earth is in a cooling trend that will continue for another 3 to 7 decades. Perhaps the Earth is heading into the redux of an already overdue ice age

    And, what can we expect if solar activity is the nominal driver of all climate change?

    We have a lot of research that has shed light on the multi-decadal time scale of solar cycles over the last millennium with, for example, periodicities of 200, 100, and 60 years (“200+/-20, 105+/-15 and 60+/-10”). Currently we have incontrovertible observational evidence of an anomalously quiet Sun.

    Does humanity have a rendezvous with a date made in heaven? Is Nature knocking on the door? Is Nature bringing global warming or cooling. Will Nature give us a taste of what life will be like on snowball Earth during the 90,000 years of the next ice age? Nobody knows the answers to these questions.

  54. Massimo PORZIO says:

    I’m not sure we really measured the outgoing LW radiation through the satellites, since they aim to the nadir radiation only, which is undoubtedly reduced by the GHG gases. But if they move the satellites “eye” on a different angle than the nadir one, they will found a peak emission exactly at the CO2 “absorption” band around 15um. That “non azimuthal” outgoing radiation is leaving the atmosphere too, and until today I didn’t find one who explicitly take account of that radiation in the TOA balance computations.

    Massimo

  55. Wagathon says:

    A study of the Earth’s albedo (project “Earthshine”) shows that the amount of reflected sunlight does not vary with increases in greenhouse gases. The “Earthshine” data shows that the Earth’s albedo fell up to 1997 and rose after 2001.

    What was learned is that climate change is related to albedo, as result of the change in the amount of energy from the sun that is absorbed by the Earth. For example, fewer clouds means less reflectivity which results in a warmer. And, this happened through about 1998. Conversely, more clouds means greater the reflectivity which results in a cooler Earth. And this happened after 1998.

    It’s logical to presume that changes in Earth’s albedo is due to increases and decreases in low cloud cover, which in turn is related to the climate change that we have observed during the 20th Century, including the present global cooling. However, we see that climate variability over the same period is not related to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    Obviously, the amount of ‘climate forcing’ that may be due to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases is either overstated or countervailing forces are at work that GCMs simply ignore. GCMs fail to account for changes in the Earth’s albedo. Accordingly, GCMs do not account for the effect that the Earth’s albedo has on the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth.

  56. Ted says:

    An Inquirer, Brian S:

    I appreciate the responses. However, they don’t quite get at my point.

    My question is why didn’t clouds (or some other factor) intervene to prevent the dramatic climate swings that we know have occurred in the history of the planet? The existence of mitigating agents — in particular, clouds — is currently Dr. Spencer’s principal argument why putting more CO2 into the atmosphere won’t lead to dramatic temperature increases. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that he ought to be able to provide an explanation for why these same effects didn’t stop the warming after, say, the coldest period in the last ice age.

    Ted

  57. Brian S says:

    Point taken Ted. Yes I would like to hear an explanation from Dr Spencer. My own guess is that “mitigating” factors like clouds(though not convinced myself that increased water vapour does not enhance warming more than cloud reflection diiminishes it)are too small to have a noticable effect on the very large climate variations in the past that were due to orbit and tilt factors which led to Ice ages at one extreme and dinosaurs roaming antarctica at the other.

  58. Wagathon says:

    What is morbidly interesting about secular, socialist AGW True Believers is that in the bareness of their nihilist ideology they are so destitute of the impulse to any uplifting activity that they would deprive all humanity of the fruits of Western civilization’s industrial man.

  59. harrywr2 says:

    Ted says:
    January 18, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    “Therefore, it would seem reasonable that he ought to be able to provide an explanation for why these same effects didn’t stop the warming after, say, the coldest period in the last ice age”

    Another way to phrase the question is what stopped the cooling of the last glacial maximum.

    Water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas by a huge margin.

    If the earth was getting cooler we would get less water vapor and increased albedo. Less water vapor = less greenhouse gas. Increased albedo = less absorbed solar energy = less water vapor.

    What stopped the runaway cooling?

  60. Ray says:

    To “An Enquirer”,
    Sorry, I have just seen your reply to my post.
    Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to reply to your reply as the web site separates my reply from my name and e-mail address.
    Unfortunately you seem to have missed the point I was trying to make, which was that NOAA doesn’t use a “traditional” base period of 30 years, it uses a period of 100 years (1901-2000), so it isn’t really a good example.
    Also, I don’t think that it should be necessary to change the base period, once it has been established, as that only causes confusion. I just wish all of the base period were the same, so that we could compare like with like, without having to adjust all of the figures.
    Ray

  61. Wagathon says:

    There is only one independent variable and… it’s the sun, stupid (nominally).

  62. Wagathon says:

    Truly I say unto you AGW True Believers that your ignorance is of biblical proportions. And, that is not surprising. The secular, socialist Education Industrial Complex has failed Western civilization. The dropout factories across America have been dumbed-down from the top-down.

    It is a weird kind of dogma that the Left believes planets like Earth that are comprised mostly of oceans and lakes of water exist everywhere and are as common as Jujubes. They actually look to places like Mars and Venus to better understand the world around them and actually think science backs them up (they have no interest in either Earth history or the history of science: the story of Galileo means nothing to them compared to what they read in the NYT).

    “The Earth, after receiving and storing over the twentieth century an anomalously large amount of heat energy, from the 1990′s began to return it gradually. The upper layers of the world ocean, completely unexpectedly to climatologists, began to cool in 2003. The heat accumulated by them unfortunately now is running out.

    “Over the past decade, global temperature on the Earth has not increased; global warming has ceased, and already there are signs of the future deep temperature drop.” (Dr. H. Abdussamatov)

    Obviously, when and if the Earth does experience an extended period of global cooling — and, perhaps another ice age (which many scientists believe is overdue) — such an event will seriously challenge the world community. I think we also realize that the Leftists-libs’ hatred of Americanism has turned industrialization into a paralyzing Tower of Babel.

    Depriving humanity of the possibility of being more able than our ancestors to face such challenges is the legacy of the secular, socialist government-education machine. After years of roasting George Bush and now blaming Governor Palin for murder in Arizona, most surely must have learned by now that Leftist purveyors of climate porn and the politics of fear will not heat homes and run the factories that provide jobs. The only thing Bush ever did is what the Left has long feared to do: be enthusiastic about standing up for America with his whole heart.

  63. Ray says:

    Having thought about this some more, I have decided that the 30 year base period of 1981-2010 will at least have one advantage. When global temperatures do start to fall, as they will do over the next 10-30 years, the anomaly figures may actually go negative, which should should settle any doubts about whether temperatures are falling or not.

  64. Owen says:

    Someone may have asked this question already, but on the AMSU website we have the option of plotting “average” for channel 5. What exactly is the average – a running continually updated average including all points since 2002 or an average of say, 2002 – 2010, for 2011 values?

  65. Wagathon says:

    What is the evidence base for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)?

    Amazingly, it doesn’t exist.

    What we do have is a relative few number of AGW pseudo scientists who are dedicated to isolating one lone factor from a complex dynamic multivariate system. They do this to add what they think is the needed gravitas to push their simple-minded one-dimensional preconceived notions and anecdotal opinions about their view of the world

    They of course believe that western civilization is about the destruction of ecosystems. That’s how deluded they are.

    The global warming alarmists have filing cabinets of their repetitive and narrowly focused research with circular citations and biased data — all debunked – that they say supports their demand they control every aspect of the lives of the productive.

    We have their brain-dead weather programs that they elevate to some special status by calling them Global Circulation Models (GCMs). All the name change really means is that these models cannot even be expected to predict the weather. And the productive are taxed to pay for all of this worthless crap.

    The GCMs fail validation testing. The GCMs do no agree with real world observations. None of the GCMs demonstrate any predictive ability whatsoever. The only AGW `evidence’ we have is that they’re all god-awful: GIGO. Billions of dollars have been wasted paying colluding and superstitious schoolteachers who loath America to corrupt science and destroy the economy.

    AGW has been falsified as a science. We all now know it is nothing but the story of a wacky enviro-cum-religious-cum-Leftist political movement.

    And, the AGW True Believers are just as worthless to society now as ever. The AGW religion is the new age belief system of hypocritical western urban elitist snobs complete with fantastic predictions by doomsday prophets about rivers running red! You can’t make this stuff up: reality really is stranger than fiction.

    What about the AGW politics of fear? Should it matter that it is impossible to `detect’ within the natural variation of the continually changing climate any global warming due to human activities whatsoever? The Leftists and their liberal comrades in mainstream media really don’t care about the truth.

    Others do care. The number of those who once were `believers’ and who now decry all of the AGW hooey are legion. Anyone who does care about the truth becomes a skeptic of AGW after spending the time to thoroughly understand the science.

  66. Bill Henthorn says:

    Well, I believe it is time to start looking at solar energy levels and predicting what is happening now and near term ahead incorporating cloud therorys etc. We have a very quiet sun, so quiet that previous averaging of flux levels from previous cycles going forward is out the window. Previous cycles fluctuated up and down where this cycle has been low and remains flat. At some point, even considering the lag caused by the oceans, there should be an impact felt here on earth that will just propagate onward over time. The sun will stay quiet for a long long time. Also, with very low geomagnetic fields caused by this quiet sun, cosmic ray impacts will be higher and once gain, this should impact cloud development etc going forward for a very long time. I would think it would be possible to model the beginning of a progression of what should be happening now and then over time in the future.
    Based on carbon records etc we know where the jet-streams move in response to the changing solar activity and given the oceans remain where they were the last time the sun went into a grand solar minimum and our awareness of the current ocean decadal cycles, we should be able to forecast what will happen. I bet it would be a sustained cooling with shocking spells of weather caused by surges of cold air into warm zones and visa-versa until the new jet stream arrangement becomes more permanent.

  67. Sonicfrog says:

    Dr Spencer

    Long time observer of the debate, since 1992… And I just realized there is something interesting in the trends for which I’ve missed an explanation. On channel 5 global temp readings, why does the Northern Hemisphere temps dominate. Why are NH summers – June, July, August – hotter than Southern Hemisphere summer months of November, December and January. Is it because the NH contains more land, or is there some other answer?

    Thanks for the blog.

    Mike

  68. Ray says:

    I am starting to monitor the daily figures from the “Discover” website, but it appears that the sea surface and CH5 figures haven’t been updated since January 25/26th.
    Is that normal?
    Also, there is no “real” sea surface data for January 1st. only the default -999. Will that figure eventually be entered in the file?