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James Hansen puts an interesting spin on reports of the ninth warmest year on record

2012 was a kind of glass-half full, glass half-empty year in terms of global temperature.  

I. Climate Chief: Don't Worry, We're Still Doomed

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) in-depth analysis of satellite and other forms of climate data ruled the year was the ninth warmest on record.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) independent analysis of ground and sea-based climate stations reported that the year was the tenth warmest on record.

The NASA report states that the average global temperature was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 Celsius), which is 1.0 F (0.6 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline, or 1.4 F (0.6 C) warmer than the earliest comprehensive observations from the 1880s.

Still, the year marks the fifth year of a relative flatline in global temperatures after a decade in which the record was regularly broken.

Global warming proponents like James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, blame this deviation from their "doomsday" calculations on a specialized cooling phenomenon called "La Nina", which lowers temperatures in the Eastern Pacific.

Surface temperatures
Despite flat-lining surface temperatures over the last five years, some climate researchers insist we're headed to doomsday warming and should keep our fingers on the panic button.
[Image Source: GISS]

The climate official claims that aerosols, which reflect solar radiation, also had a cooling affect on temperatures.

Mr. Hansen argues that the public shouldn't just look at the numbers, but look at more nebulous and abstract observations, which he sees as supporting his beliefs of runaway warming.  He writes, "The observant person who is willing to look at the past over several seasons and several years, should notice that the frequency of unusual warm anomalies has increased and the extreme anomalies."

He and other global warming advocates have pointed to the summer's drought in central North America and high temperatures in the Rocky Mountains as such "extreme anomalies".  

II. A Hot Year for the U.S., Arctic, but a Cool One Elsewhere

2012, according to a separate NOAA report, was the hottest year on record for the U.S. The year did mark a new low for summer Arctic sea ice, according to NASA.  However, that could bring some benefits for mankind, such as opening up oil resources.

NOAA map
Parts of the globe cooled, others warmed in 2012. [Image Source: NOAA]

And temperatures for the year were actually cooler than average in several regions -- Alaska, far western Canada, central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific and parts of the Southern Ocean.

California meteorologist Anthony Watts, a known critic of doomsday predictions from folks like James Hansen, casts the U.S.'s record year in a different light, commenting, "If anything, U.S. temperatures are warming at a slower rate in recent decades compared to the early warming period, even with all of that lovely warm weather last year."

He points out that the recent increase (1980-2012) in U.S. surface temperatures was dwarfed by a sharp rise between 1919-1934, which was followed by a period of cooling.

In a follow-up piece, he argues the overall flatline may indicate that natural forces (including in a cooling direction) have a greater impact on global temperatures than human ones, based on his independent analysis over the last half decade.

Sources: NASA, NOAA, Jame Hansen [note]



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By marsovac on 1/18/2013 5:01:40 AM , Rating: 1
Why would that screw the <delta>?

If we measure temperature year after year close to a hot blowing air output, well that air output will blow hotter if the global temperature is raising, and will blow cooler if it is decreasing.


By theapparition on 1/21/2013 12:20:37 PM , Rating: 3
Completely correct, the delta should not be affected.

However, the sharp spike in reporting also coincided with the closing of 60% of world weather reporting stations. It is also not coincidental that when the USSR dissolved, many weather reporting sites had a sharp uptick in reported temperatures, since their funding for fuel oil was based on how cold it was.

The other problem is some scientists aren't looking at deltas, but actual temperatures. We can't use delta's when referring to Medieval Warming periods. The data from that time period is suspect to be within an error of +/-3deg C. If the data is estimated within a generous tolerance band, than how can one reasonably extrapolate temperature rises that are eclipsed by that tolerance. It is also estimated that 90% of US sensors don't meet site quality standards, hence many of the closings leaving a much smaller sample size.

Delta's work fine, but the sample size is no longer the same, yet researchers are looking at the data and trying to compare the same deltas. Also, the deltas can be easily influenced. Take a look at some of these surface stations. There's one where a window AC unit is only a few feet from the sensors. The homeowner simply switching the unit, running it more or any number of other factors can affect the reporting done at that one station. A tree cut down can now allow direct sunlight, where shade was once offered. And in the interest of being fair, a tree could have grown offering more shade than before.

Point is, the data is somewhat suspect in it's own right. Combine that with scientists who have gone on record with preconceived conclusions and have cherry picked their data to support those conclusions makes them untrustworthy and their conclusions suspect. I just think we need to have more true scientific scrutiny of the data and results.


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