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Update day

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 February 2019

So Wednesday was temperature series update day. The HadCRUT4, NOAA NCEI and GISTEMP time-series were all updated through to the end of 2018 (slightly delayed by the federal government shutdown). Berkeley Earth and the MSU satellite datasets were updated a couple of weeks ago. And that means that everyone gets to add a single additional annual data point to their model-observation comparison plots!

Five surface temperature products updated to 2018.

For people who had been paying attention to the data over the last year, the results were not surprising. With the mild La Niña conditions at the beginning of the year, expectations were that 2018 would come in slightly cooler than 2017 (and of course 2016), and so it proved. As in recent years there is a spread in the estimates based on how the Arctic is treated, with the products that don’t extrapolate coming in cooler than those that do, but differences are small.

There were some nice data visualizations out there. From Axios there were some spinning globes of the 40 year trends. The LA Times went with stripes:

The NY Times had their graphic on the front page, above the fold.

There were also updates to the excellent movies from GSFC SVS and the NASA Earth Observatory:

Seasonal anomalies in the GISTEMP record combined with the seasonal cycle in MERRA-2.

There were a couple of novelties to the presentations this year. Notably a comparison between trends from the in-situ analyses and remote sensing of ground temperature anomalies from AIRS (which is in press at ERL), and to the just released ERA5. Both of these comparison suggest that that patterns of trends are robust, but that the in situ product may still be underestimating change in the Arctic [but more on that another time].

83 Responses to “Update day”

  1. 51
    Mal Adapted says:

    Dan DaSilva:
    Congratulations, you’re among the select group of RC trolls to receive personal attention from Dr. Schmidt. Heh. There’s nothing like a definitive schooling by the headmaster 8^D!

  2. 52
    dhogaza says:

    Dan DeSilva

    Of course, if they didn’t agree you’d be arguing that they must all be wrong and that we don’t know anything about global temperature trends.

  3. 53
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan DaSilva@41 and 45

    Face palm. Uh, dude? Did you maybe consider that they agree because they are measuring the same underlying physical quantity?

    I’m not going to say that denialists are stupid, but they really do excellent imitations of stupidity a lot of the time.

  4. 54
    nigelj says:

    It’s a tough life being a climate denialist. The constant humiliation. The constant deliberate stupidity must be hard work.

    I thought the whole idea of different temperature records is like double entry bookeeping, to expose errors, isn’t it? So you expect and hope they will all be similar.

  5. 55
    Dan DaSilva says:

    How do you get a worldwide temperature for the entire year? There is so much of the earth that is not measured. What was the coverage of thermometers in the year 1880? How many were located over the poles and oceans? If you believe that there is only one way do this you are part of the problem.

    The partial saving grace is that we are dealing with temperature differences and not absolute temperatures. Scientists use temperature differences and not actual temperatures in the charts because they know that the whole concept has no meaning as an absolute quantity. This, however, does not erase all the errors.

    The best recorded large area temperature over the last 140 years is the USA and it has been corrupted by adjustments that decrease the temperature of the first half 20th century.

    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”
    ― Richard P. Feynman

    “Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.”
    ― Richard P. Feynman

  6. 56
    tamino says:

    Re: #37 (Brian Lux) and others too

    I agree that this will be a better place if there’s far less attention to trolls, far more to science. And clearly, those who desire to draw their swords and do epic battles on the internet, have plenty of places to go.

    But I don’t think we should chide the RealClimate team for the state of affairs. It’s a fine line between allowing nonsense and suppressing opinions. They tend to err on the side of leniency, and I say that’s a good thing. I don’t, but we need places that do.

    If you want to change the status, direct your pleas to your fellow readers, who have taken the bait and run us off the rails.

  7. 57
    DukeSnide says:

    How do folks like Victor, DDS, etc. slough off the +.3 to +.5*C rise in the surface lower temperature ‘anomalies’ shown over the past twenty years in the graphs above?

    Plus now they’re using one lower anomaly as equal to the high anomalies since 1998? Low = high. Welcome to Trump’s world eh.

    And the 2016 El Nino equals “noise’ while the 1998 El Nino does NOT equal “noise”?
    Slough on.

  8. 58
    Phil Scadden says:

    We are sharing a planet with this guy? Frightening. Happy to chip in for the tinfoil hat. Challenge for him – grab the raw data and see if you can find a way to process it that a/ isnt totally stupid and b/ doesnt produce a graph very similar to those ones. Berkeley Earth started believing that and notice how close their effort is. Would you still think that you somehow contracted groupthink? Can you actually imagine data changing your mind?

  9. 59
    John Mashey says:

    Gavin mentioned the gravitational constant, which i actually trickier than I thought:
    https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.2447?journalCode=pto
    “It is fitting, then, that gravity, more than any other force, stubbornly eludes precise measurement.”
    “Although many of the individual measurements have an uncertainty of less than 50 parts per million (ppm), their collective spread is nearly 10 times larger; it appears that we know G to only three significant figures! The apparent uncertainty is very large compared with that of other physical constants, many of which are known to a few parts in 10^8.”

    See Figure 1, which shows the values & their uncertainty bars.

    I think this actually illustrates idea that science works by successive approximations. We certainly know the gravitational constant well enough for many practical applications like satellites, but we still have measurements with non-overlapping uncertainty bars.

  10. 60
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan DaSilva@55,
    So, was the KoolAid at least tasty? All you’ve done is recite the denialist talking points. And then you throw in a couple of Feynman quotes without understanding those either. Clearly, you don’t understand anything of what you are talking about, or you would simply melt away in shame. I hold out no hope that you are educable, but I will refute some of your points for the benefit of those who might be.
    1) Temparatures are correlated over fairly wide areas most of the time, especially when you are talking about averages over long timescales. The current network is highly oversampled.
    2) Global surface temperature is a meaningful quantity. It scales roughly with the energy available to cause weather. Temperature differences are every bit as meaningful as temperatures.
    3) While it is true that there is more than one way to construct a global temperature, there are only a narrow range of ways to do it properly.
    4) Regarding corrections to temperature measurements. These are done for very good reasons. They improve the measurements–and anyone who thinks that raw measurements are “more pure” is an idiot. Moreover, the raw data are still available–and guess what–they show warming as well.

    Dan, it is clear that you are not only utterly ignorant, but also that you have never created anything in your life.

  11. 61

    DDS 55: the whole concept has no meaning as an absolute quantity.

    BPL: Is this the old denier “the global temperature has no meaning” meme? In case you didn’t know, it’s wrong. Venus really is hotter than Pluto.

  12. 62
    Dan Senour says:

    Many people don’t believe in death either.

  13. 63
    nigelj says:

    “The best recorded large area temperature over the last 140 years is the USA and it has been corrupted by adjustments that decrease the temperature of the first half 20th century.”

    I’m a layperson but I just cannot understand the monumental lack of awareness of a statement like this. The raw data itself is ‘corrupted’ by urban heat island effects, stations that get moved, and the poor quality ships buoy measurements early last century. If adjustments weren’t made the record would be less useful and less reliable.

    And the adjustments have actually ‘decreased’ the global scale warming trend in the raw data so what are the denialists worrying about? Its gobsmackingly hard to fathom these people.

  14. 64
    Dan DaSilva says:

    Gavin,
    Yes, I have noticed the things you mention. They all have been tested and verified thousands (millions?) of times. How many times has the earth’s average temperature been verified? How would it be verified? Well, we could place calibrated thermometers over every square meter of the earth and read those thermometers every minute and average them all over the year. Then compare the result with the current method. Yes I know that is stupid but over a period of ten years, we could verify the current method ten times.

    Yes, I know that not all can be tested but those that cannot deserve at least some skepticism.

    I wear a rain jacket when the weatherman says so, I fly in an airplane without fear of crashing, and I do not jump out of tall buildings not because of the gravitational acceleration constant but forces from an acceleration at landing. If God would tell me the actual temperature anomaly I am not sure his word would agree precisely with the plots shown. At least not so precisely as to not look like an outlier,

    Kevin McKinney,
    I tend to agree with some (maybe much) of what you say. I do have doubts, especially when using the older data as you indicated.

    Gavin and others,
    As far a tinfoil hat, I only wear it if it is grounded to earth and never during storms. Any kickstart will be applied to the book titled “Climate Change: Picturing the Science”, as my tinfoil hat is still in good shape.

  15. 65
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan DaSilva@64

    So, I guess you’ve never heard of the first law of holes, huh?

    You know, Dan, one of the great things about science is that it makes you think about an experiment before you jump right in, spend a trillion dollars and then get crappy results because you didn’t think it through in the first place.

    Do you really think it would be necessary to measure the temperature of the planet over every square meter–land and sea–to get a good measurement of the planet’s temperature? If so, then what is special about a square meter? Why not a square centimeter? Hell, why not a square nanometer? Now we can go on like this until we get down to the Planck length.

    Or we can think. We can ask ourselves why we might be interested in the global temperature. What are the important physical phenomena that might be driven by this quantity? Then we can ask ourselves, given that those are the phenomena of interest, over what spatial and temporal scales do we care about variability of global temperature?

    Now the things we care about are things like extreme weather events, heatwaves, which take place over length and timescales of many square kilometers and hours to days. We can also look at how the quantities of interest correlate over time and distance. It’s been done, and guess what: temperatures correlate quite strongly over distances of many km and timescales of even a few days. Yes, there are exceptions, but they don’t really affect the global qualities.

    And, finally, since we are really interested in climate CHANGE, we really aren’t going to have to get hung up about every last little detail of the method. Finally, we can ask a buddy to construct a temperature series independently, and…Oh, look, Cowtan and Way and our friends at Berkeley Earth (who were funded by the fricking Koch bros) have already done so. And look we have completely independent sources of data (satellites, weather balloons…) that pretty much reproduce the wiggles we see in our own series.

    So, Dan, I don’t think the problem is that the techniques of constructing a global temperature series are untried and untested…or that you are skeptical. I think that what you are is ignorant…I will leave it to you to decide whether that state is accidental or willful.

  16. 66
    Marco van de says:

    I note that Dan DaSilva has moved from outright conspiracy nuttery to “skepticism”. Progress, I guess…

  17. 67
    zebra says:

    #64 Dan DaSilva,

    Dan, I think I’ve brought this issue up with you before. You say:

    “How would the average temperature of the Earth be verified.”

    But you haven’t defined “the average temperature of the earth”. And so talking about “verifying” it doesn’t make sense.

    As I’ve said to various people on all “sides” of this discussion, you can’t disagree about something without first agreeing what that something is.

    If you don’t accept the way things are defined in science (by the consensus), then you can’t tell the scientists (in the consensus) that they are “wrong” about how they are measuring it.

    So really, what exactly do you mean when you use the term “the average temperature of the earth”??

  18. 68
    Sunbeam says:

    Taking climate model evaluation to the next level

    Veronika Eyring, Peter M. Cox, […]Mark S. Williamson

    Nature Climate Changevolume 9, pages102–110 (2019)

    https://media.springernature.com/m685/springer-static/image/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41558-018-0355-y/MediaObjects/41558_2018_355_Fig1_HTML.pn

  19. 69
    Armando says:

    Land Surface Air Temperature Data Are Considerably Different Among BEST‐LAND, CRU‐TEM4v, NASA‐GISS, and NOAA‐NCEI
    https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JD028355
    For some areas, different data sets produce conflicting results of whether warming exists.

    Taking climate model evaluation to the next level
    Nature Climate Changevolume 9, pages102–110 (2019)
    https://media.springernature.com/m685/springer-static/image/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41558-018-0355-y/MediaObjects/41558_2018_355_Fig1_HTML.png

  20. 70
    Dennis N Horne says:

    Dan DaSilva queries how sampling can give useful data. In the context of his man-made global warming denialism:

    1. The methods satisfy the global community of scientists and (for example) the American Statistical Association.

    2. There are other lines of evidence that show Earth’s surface and oceans are warming. For example, animals moving and different plants growing.

    3. What really concerns us is the extra energy entering the climate system. Worse weather explained by physics.

    4. Climate change concerns risk.

    5. I suspect the experiment of changing the atmosphere of a whole planet will continue. Then the validity of the science will be shown by the results.

  21. 71
    Nick O. says:

    A sad update to report, namely the death y/day of Wally Broecker:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47293717

    I hope at some point RealClimate will give an appreciation of his work and its importance.

  22. 72
    Nick O. says:

    Could we please have a Real Climate post as a tribute to the life and work of Prof. Wally Broecker, who died yesterday.

    I did not have the privilege to meet him myself but some of my colleagues did, at conferences, seminars and so on. There was huge respect for his work, and also great liking for him as a person.

    I appreciate that there are still many who think that ‘global warming’ is a complete myth. I myself am very much from the conservative side of politics, and have long supported free markets and capitalism. However, I am also a scientist by training (geosciences), and have had to understand in my research about the climate system of the Earth, how climate has changed over time, and the factors that are of most influence in how it changes. I have also had to take this climate understanding into account in my professional work, discussing possible climate change impacts with clients and communities when working in a consultancy role.

    Based on my own professional and academic work, I have no doubt at all that humans are changing the climate and that the forecast changes over this century and after are likely to cause great damage to the human society. Moreover, as a modeller (one of my specialist roles) and someone working a lot with statistics, I am impressed by the ‘upside’ uncertainties in the climate model forecasts i.e. the probability that the man induced climate change may turn out to be worse than the models predict. Broecker, with his life’s work, did much to make society aware of the way we are changing the climate, and for this alone, he deserves thanks, and I think a comment in Cat. 6 on the importance of his discoveries and conclusions would be appropriate.

  23. 73
    Romain says:

    Ray Ladbury, 65,

    “We can also look at how the quantities of interest correlate over time and distance. It’s been done, and guess what: temperatures correlate quite strongly over distances of many km and timescales of even a few days.”

    What do you mean by “quite strongly” and “many km”? Could you give references please? (especially on spatial autocorrelation)

  24. 74
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Watch the fricking Weather channel. Jeez!

  25. 75
    dhogaza says:

    Romain … google “climate teleconnection” for references ranging from wikipedia to NOAA.

  26. 76
    Dominik Lenné says:

    Is there a plot of the combined atmospheric and sea heat content anomaly? Or of atmospheric, sea and land mass heat content anomaly? Would this be feasable?
    IMHO it would make a lot of sense and also would be much more straight than the wobbling atmospheric temp curves.

  27. 77
    Mal Adapted says:

    Dennis N Horne:

    5. I suspect the experiment of changing the atmosphere of a whole planet will continue. Then the validity of the science will be shown by the results.

    Good short summation. I presume by your last sentence you mean the predictions of increasingly severe climate change will be redundantly confirmed as GMST rises. I, for one, am as certain of that as I need to be, because expectations for AGW to be costly are amply met already. If the high cost, in money and tragedy, of worsening heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, tropical cyclones, flash floods etc. to date isn’t convincing to the likes of Dan DaSilva, one presumes mounting disasters to come won’t make an impression either.

  28. 78

    Romain, you might try the history here–off the top of my head, I think Hansen and Lebedeff (1981) bears on your query.

    https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/history/

  29. 79
    Dennis N Horne says:

    #77 Mal Adapted. Indeed, the validity of the science has been amply demonstrated and accepted by the global community of scientists. Not every single scientist of course, but there is a powerful consensus. It is a sizeable segment of the public who demand “proof”.

    If you ask deniers what evidence they would need you won’t get much sense. (Would 1 metre SLR by 2050 do?)

    Scientists are often no better despite notable success in their own fields. I think that puts paid to “intelligent design”!

  30. 80
    Night-Gaunt49 says:

    In a battle of Ideology vs Science it is no better then Religion vs Science. They operate on different levels one is certainty to absolute levels. The other is the best approximate we can get that still holds true with the science.

    You can’t argue when someone has an Ideology, it functions in the same way as their Religion. Rigid, a part of their personality that cannot be removed without killing the patient. To change would be to violate that ideology that rules them. To them it is impossible it can be right that violates their reason to be. So they will do anything no matter how absurd and even dangerous to stop it. They harden their position with each blow from the facts. They have made it a party line backed by Think Tanks that support that point-of-view.

    The Fossil Fuel companies think it their right to burn the last 5 gigatons of carbon that will wreck us as a world. They want their trillions of dollars regardless.

  31. 81
    scott nudds says:

    #1 – “Must be time for another round of “Global warming stopped in 2016” posts on denialist sites. I wonder if any of them are accepting bets?”

    Not that I’ve seen. The denialist nonsense I’ve been seeing is filled with “warming stopped in 1998”.

    There is no need for them to update their numbers because facts don’t matter in any way to their Republican audience. They are now detached entirely from reality.

  32. 82
    scott says:

    Re 54 -“It’s a tough life being a climate denialist. The constant humiliation. The constant deliberate stupidity must be hard work.”

    Being an ignorant ape comes natural to ignorant apes. There is no stress because they don’t know that there is anything different.

  33. 83
    CCHolley says:

    RE: surface temperatures

    The proclamation by Victor and the denialist community that the short term reduction in surface temperatures implies something positive relative to global warming is simply the sad dishonest use of a typical denialist misinformation tactic. The tactic, of course, is of focusing on a single variable to make a point rather than the more robust practice of using all of the data available to us in forming our understanding. The climate system is clearly more than surface temperatures and everyone should know that although many of the vulnerable misinformation targets do not. You can never just look at surface temperatures to determine what is going on with the warming of the planet, this should be obvious, the oceans hold most of the heat. Dominik @76 has the right idea–we need a method to represent the total heat of the climate system. Anyway, just looking at global surface temperatures and declaring “it looks like its cooling!” is just balderdash.