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  • 20-Dec-08 The sorry state of surface temperature data
  • SEPP Science Editorial #32-2009
    (in TWTW Oct 17, 2009)

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


    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 #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

    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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