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Unforced variations: Nov 2011

Filed under: — group @ 31 October 2011

Once more unto the open thread…

The Climate Data Guide

Filed under: — Jim @ 30 October 2011

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has, in the last few months, developed an interesting and potentially very useful website The Climate Data Guide devoted to the ins and outs of obtaining and analyzing the various existing climatic data sets. The site describes itself as “…a focal point for expert-user guidance, commentary, and questions on the strengths and limitations of selected observational data sets and their applicability to model evaluations.”

There are already many climate data set websites in existence, and lists of links to same, including at this site. Some of them host the actual data, while others provide various statistical analysis or graphing/visualization tools, all of which are helpful. What makes this new site unique is: (1) expert users contribute pages describing and pointing to various existing data sources within certain topic areas, (2) explanations of various existing data formats, gridding approaches, etc, (3) an online discussion forum dealing with the appropriateness of particular data sets for addressing particular scientific questions, and (4) a news section as well as links to a very wide range of data repositories, among other things. Here for example, is the page summarizing the existing reanalysis data sets.

The site, sponsored by the NSF, appears to be a unique and valuable approach to advancing climate data analysis. We encourage everyone to check it out, register as members as appropriate, etc. This would also be a good place to discuss or point to other useful data and analysis oriented sites that are out there.

NPP lift off

Filed under: — gavin @ 28 October 2011

The launch of the NASA/NOAA NPP satellite seems to have gone off without a hitch this morning which is great news. This satellite has instruments that are vital to continuing data streams that were pioneered on the aging TERRA (1999), AQUA (2002) and AURA (2004), satellites – including the CERES instrument for monitoring the Earth’s radiation budget, a microwave sounder to continue the AMSU data and a visible/IR camera to complement the work of MODIS.

We really need to apologise for the acronym soup though – it is an endemic disease in satellite discussions. Indeed, NPP is a recursive acronym, standing for NPOESS Preparatory Project, where NPOESS stands for the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Another satellite mission we’ve mentioned here, Aquarius (launched in June), has recently released its first results on ocean salinity:




The patterns are not particularly surprising, there is higher salinity in the sub-tropical evaporative regions, lower salinity near the equator (because of the rain!), and particularly low salinity near big river outflows (the Amazon plume stands out clearly). However, as we noted earlier, the main interest is going to be in the variability.

Results from the NPP mission will take a while to come out and be cross-calibrated with the existing records, but given other recent disappointments (GLORY and OCO), this is a huge boost to the effort to monitor the Earth System.

The Moscow Warming Hole

Filed under: — stefan @ 26 October 2011

This week, PNAS published our paper Increase of Extreme Events in a Warming World, which analyses how many new record events you expect to see in a time series with a trend. It does that with analytical solutions for linear trends and Monte Carlo simulations for nonlinear trends.

A key result is that the number of record-breaking events increases depending on the ratio of trend to variability. Large variability reduces the number of new records – which is why the satellite series of global mean temperature have fewer expected records than the surface data, despite showing practically the same global warming trend: they have more short-term variability.

Another application shown in our paper is to the series of July temperatures in Moscow. We conclude that the 2010 Moscow heat record is, with 80% probability, due to the long-term climatic warming trend. More »

Berkeley earthquake called off

Filed under: — eric @ 24 October 2011

Anybody expecting earthshaking news from Berkeley, now that the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group being led by Richard Muller has released its results, had to be content with a barely perceptible quiver. As far as the basic science goes, the results could not have been less surprising if the press release had said “Man Finds Sun Rises At Dawn.” This must have been something of a disappointment for anyone hoping for something else.

More »


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