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  • 03-Jan-09 Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature Data
  • 03-Jan-09 Methodology of Extracting Climatologically Useful Atmospheric Temperature data
  • 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 #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


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