Aqua AMSU ch. 5 Bites the Dust

March 25th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Many people have noted on the satellite temperatures webpage the plunge in temperatures as recorded by AMSU channel 5 on the Aqua satellite. Since it looked pretty suspicious, I decided to investigate.

The following plot shows 3 satellites’ global AMSU5 measurements (Aqua, NOAA-15, and NOAA-18) that I computed this morning from the raw orbit files. The dates run from Feb. 1 through yesterday, March 24:


Clearly, Aqua AMSU ch 5 is now “out to lunch”. The reason why the plunge in Aqua temperatures in the above plot is so much stronger than what is displayed on the daily update website is that the latter shows running 3-day averages, and is only updated through March 23.

We knew that this channel has been slowly failing for a long time, which is why we have not been using it in our monthly updates. We will discuss the possibility of switching to the NOAA satellites on the website, although since the site is NASA-funded, they are reluctant to spend resources on NOAA satellite data. But, given the popularity of the page, we will work something out even if we have to make our own web page.

30 Responses to “Aqua AMSU ch. 5 Bites the Dust”

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  1. I am glad you noticed it right away. That is why it is good we have more then one source for the data, as much as I wish that was not the case.

  2. Gras Albert says:

    Thanks for such a speedy resolution, Channel 5 is gone…

    Is the failure system wide, i.e. is there evidence that Channel 6 & 7 are also ‘out to lunch’?, as they are also showing significant falls

    I ask because Channel 5 outlived Channel 4 by some years

  3. we saw evidence that ch 6 and ch 7 had also the small spurious warming that ch. 5 exhibited. But I suspect that minor effect had a separate source than the failure in channel 5. I suspect the ch. 5 failure is related to the very large increase in the noise of that channel, an increase which has not been seen in ch. 6 and ch. 7 noise.

    • Gras Albert says:

      Channel 6 & 7 are both showing large but more credible declines in the same period that Channel 5 failed, of the order of 0.4degC over 9 days.

      The NOAA graph for AMSU5 above provided by Dr Spencer is showing a similar decline and both March 2004 & 2007 from Aqua also show the same order of magnitude falls. The current fall is therefore not unusual and confidence in Channel 6 & 7 should remain as before the Channel 5 failure.

  4. Dr. Spencer, thanks for the prompt response.
    With my best wishes for Ch5 recovery.

  5. Eliza says:

    I am a bit surprised as there were large swaths of cold over Asia, Europe and USA at the time. I personally believe that the decline is real and confirmed by Ch 7 etc. I think he should wait for other data before shutting ch 6 off without actual technical sensor evidence from NASA (Forgive if wrong presumption)

  6. Daniel Reppion says:

    And here was me hoping it was SOI response. šŸ™

  7. Glenn Tamblyn says:


    How many satellites are left with station keeping thrusters?

  8. coturnix says:

    Darn it. I had hoped new ice age is finally underway, went shopping for some thermal underwear.

  9. Doug says:

    Maybe you think god destroyed the satellite. I just found out you are a creationist, and will no longer be following you as you lost all credibility. Good luck.

    • Jon says:

      Are you a political “give the dog a bad name and let it hang” guy?
      The thread is about AMSU5 and not religion or ideology/politics.

      Why bother responding the way you claim you feel?

  10. JosephWieg says:

    Doug, you’re absurd. I’m a semi-atheist, but if you believe the theory of evolution is sound science, then you are more “out to lunch” than AQUA Channel 5.

    Look at the fossil record, absolutely no evidence of said gradual changes. We’ve noted new species popping up out of nowhere. Genetic mutation/modification is the obvious answer, but most of the mainstreamers are scared of the implications that’d pose regarding inter-dimensional travel and extraterrestrial life.

    • Drewski says:

      I am a fervent believer in evolution, but there may be a lot in what you say. There is a new branch of DNA science called “epigenetics” which will have a PROFOUND consequence in healthcare, psychology, law, you-name-it within the next decade and beyond. In a nutshell, some genes are able to be expressed (turned on or off or dimmed) by diet and lifestyle changes. Consequently, a species’ DNA can change within one generation. For example, if the mother gets fat during her lifetime, there is an increased likelihood that the child will be genetically predisposed to being overweight. Being violent or being musical is theoretically possible to be handed down to the next generation. Epigenetics will be a societal paradigm shift.

      • John says:

        Hello Drewski,

        Your willingness to examine previously rejected theories in a new light (epigenetics)is commendable. In fact, your claim that being violent, playing music and gaining weight might pass on such characteristics to future generations seems Lamarkian. French Biologist Jean Baptiste De Lamarck suggested in his Philosophie Zoologique in 1809 that environmental changes alter an animal’s needs, that this in turn changes it’s behavior, and that the changed pattern of behavior alters it’s physical structure. As an example, Lamarck pointed to wading birds and suggested that “wishing to avoid immersing its body in the water, the bird acquires the habit of elongating and stretching its legs.” Lamark not only believed that using organs made them grow (like excersing muscles), he also thought that not using them made them disappear, like the moles eyes. The problem with this claim if true is that the weightlifter’s children should be born with big muscles and ballerina children should be better dancers. In fact, Darwinists of the neo-synthetic variety claim we inherit characteristics according to Mendel’s (creationist) law of inheritance. Today many scorn Lamarck as belonging to the prescientific (that is to say, pre-Darwinian age) and the charge of “Lamarck-ism” is the most dreaded heresy in the evolutionists’ canon. Odd that such a distinguished biologist should be treated thus, especially since Darwin himself toyed with the inheritance of acquired characteristics and cited many examples, including the case of a man reported to have lost his fingers and later produced sons also without fingers.

        The problem with the neo-synthetic Darwinist position is that a great deal of data compiled over many decades seems to support some form of Lamarckism. Alan Durrant, botanist, of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1962 induced changes in the flax plant by means of different kinds of fertilizer. Durrant bred some flax plants that were larger and heavier than the parent stock and a lighter and smaller strain as well. These trends persisted with plants bred in successive generations. He carried on the plant breeding for more than 20 years and proved that when the large and small plants were crossbred, the offspring exhibited the Mendelian pattern of inheritance, indicating genetic change. Apparently, J Hill at the Welsh Plant Breeding station replicated the results by inducing permanent change in the tobacco plant, Nicotiana rustica. Much of the information above can be found in Richard Milton’s “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.”

        I’m rushed for time and must end this thread. I’ll be happy to discuss more later. Good day.

    • John says:

      Hi Joseph,

      You’re correct about the fossil record. For the record I’m a Christian. While the fossil record displays vast saltational differences between morphological varieties no true intermediaries can be found. For example, consider cats and most every other mammalian quadruped. Cats possess 40 extra bones in their vertebrate allowing for greater flexibility and articulation. They also have retractable claws (semi-retractable in the case of Cheetahs), barbed tongues (capable of tearing flesh from bones), specially designed eyes capable of seeing under conditions of very poor light and numerous other characteristics unique to their family. One would seek in vain for any intermediary creatures in the fossil record say possessing 20 additional vertebral bones or some other combination. No, cats appear as they are perfectly designed.

      Watson and Crick new from the complexity of DNA and life on the earth that Charles Lyellian speculation of a 4.5-5 billion year old earth even if true would be completely insufficient to explain the mere creation of even a strand of DNA (or even a protein molecule for that matter) let alone the variety of life on the planet and sought to buy more time by speculating that life could have evolved elsewhere in the universe and managed to arrive hear. While some virus and/or bacteria may survive a journey through space, most life on our planet could not have. The odds against any life form surviving not merely interplanetary but interstellar flight and having enough time to evolve seems to me to large a number to realistically explain. Especially, when you consider that Darwinian macro-evolution (mutation beyond morphological design) has always conflicted with Pasteur’s Law of Biogenesis: All life comes from pre-exisiting life and replicates after it’s own kind.

      BTW one other point about mutation/modification. Whether it be Goldschmidt’s “hopeful monster” theory or Stephen J Goules “puntuated equilibrium’ both explanations lacked any observational/empirical support.

      • John says:

        Corrections to my own post. My post should have read:
        “The odds against any life form surviving not merely interplanetary but interstellar travel and having enough time to evolve seems to me too large a number to realistically explain.”

  11. JosephWieg says:


    I agree with you, but that doesn’t explain how an entire species can appear virtually out of nowhere on a multi-continental scale.

    Thing is not one species in the fossil record shows a “gradual” morphing over time.

    • Jon says:

      Well if you look at the human races one could argue that the differences are due to adaption to it’s specific regional environment and ice age.
      Those that don’t cope die out quickly and leave no offspring. Those that are “different” and is able to adapt to environmental and climate changes survive and have offspring.

  12. Thomas says:

    May I suggest a visit to for those who doubt there is evidence for evolution.

  13. Eliza says:

    Yep you was 100% correct its Kaput

  14. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Being Italian, I’m Christian too; anyway I find the Darwinian evolutionary theory coherent on what is the real life, but that doesn’t mean that it’s contrary to creationism.
    Who can tell if the evolutionary mechanism popped up by itself in this universe because of fate or because of such kind of God?
    If you are a believer then was God, if you are atheist then it was the fate.
    I think that one who is a creationist can be a good scientist too, much more than those scientist who proclaim their atheism as a proof of their scientific skillfulness.

  15. Jouko says:

    question from measurement?

    If the measurement is out of order, the temperature is decreased from 13.3 to 26.3 Total 4.6 degrees.
    Europe has been the coldest March 30 by the year.
    It will appear in the troposphere, I believe.

    I apologize if misplaced

    Kindly; J.Kärkkäinrn

  16. Jouko says:

    Focus on the previous

    measurement seems to be working very well indeed outside of the screen.

    The temperature is decreased for two weeks, the degree of -20.3 -25.1 degrees.

    What might have been expected.

    I apologize if misplaced

  17. Jouko says:

    This arctic air flow that was seen May time, in the 2000s, now runs out in the spring, the readings will return to normal, if this theory is true.

  18. nigel says:

    The comment of Doug is ad hominem.
    Ignoring him from now on.

    The measurement of temperature anomalies is entirely
    mundane – a prosaic technical matter. So long as the
    numbers seem to be reported truthfully, and this is validated by the opportunity for uncensored comment from others, the beliefs of the reporter do not seem particularly relevant.

    Personally, I am only interested in whether there is any evidence of large (+ or – 1 degree C), permanent, changes.
    since 1979. Until then, the data series is like the array
    of smoke detectors in the house – silent, but checked when one remembers to do so.

    Darwin is constantly misunderstood. This was his own
    fault, because he was a muddled, and muddling, writer;
    (unlike his son, the Cambridge biologist professor, who
    was a superb communicator). Darwin, pere, was just a
    corollary to Malthus, who had emphasised the horrifying fecundity of Nature. Darwin pointed to the connection between the practical experience of farmers and the evidence – new at the time – for a long geological history. Since un-natural selection by farmers works, natural selection must work when the conditions for it exist.
    Hence, natural selection through the struggle for existence, was a factor for change during the (long) history of life. A simple deduction from simple premises, and logically unimpeachable. Its exact truth, of course, depends on the exact truth of its premises. And whether it was the only factor at all times (probably not, during
    molecular evolution), or the most important factor at
    times, and whether it works evenly for all forms of life, are entirely different questions.

  19. nigel says:

    “Out to lunch”, “biting the dust”.
    Inappropriate phrases for a machine orbiting
    faithfully in the cold void.
    Perhaps, “gone spacey”?

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