The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says October of 2015 was the “warmest” October on record, all but ensuring that 2015 will be the “warmest” year on record. Time to panic?
Although NOAA is always happy to tout its surface temperature data as measured by land-based thermometers, NOAA never mentions the surface temperatures measured by satellites. None of the satellite data indicate that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, a record that goes back only 136 years, in the first place.
Positioned as a precise representation of the Earth’s average surface temperature, the land-based system of thermometers is not quite that.
First, there are only about 1,200 or so temperature stations which data go into the calculation. That works out to about one thermometer every 66,000 square miles or so. That’s one thermometer for every area the size of Missouri. Temperatures can vary significantly between localities, let alone across that much surface area.
Next, the locations of the land-based thermometer stations change. If NOAA is not adding and/or deleting stations, the local environment around the stations is changing so as (usually) to increase temperatures through the urban heat island effect. So over time, the temperatures being measured today can’t be fairly compared to the temperatures being measured in the past.
Then there is the issue of historical coverage. Although the temperature record goes back 136 years (or to 1879), no one reached the North Pole until 1909 and the South Pole until 1911. Any systematic temperatures measurements obviously began much later. Even today, there are no actual temperature data for vast areas of the polar regions. The problem of a lack of reliable historical temperature data in fact applies to most parts of the Earth.
Then there is problem of data manipulation.
The temperature average reported by NOAA is not computed directly from raw data, but instead from data that has been massaged one way or another. Temperatures “measured” at airports, say, may be arbitrarily adjusted downward to “account” for the influence of all the heat-retaining asphalt and concrete that “artificially” increase the temperature readings. It is anyone’s guess as to the quality of these adjustments.
There is huge controversy over NOAA and NASA adjusting temperature data so as to cool past temperatures and to warm more recent temperatures in order to create, literally, man-made global warming.
The notion that NOAA “knows” the average Earth temperature to within tenths, much less hundredths of a degree Celsius, can be described as ludicrous.
Even throwing NOAA a bone for the sake of argument and accepting that the average temperature has risen somewhere between 0.8 to 1.0 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era, the cause is unknown. Although the alarmist global warming crowd is all to happy to attribute warming to manmade greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, this cannot be proven in any scientific manner.
The carbon dioxide-driven climate models used by climate scientists have failed miserably in that they have way over-predicted warming. Over the past 20 years, human activities have added about 8 percent to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But global temperatures have shown no trend. This is the so-called global warming pause that NOAA scientists earlier this year tried to eliminate by manipulating ocean temperature data. These scientists are now being investigated by Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to their disappear-the-pause effort.
It has been previously accepted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the planet has been warming since about 1650, long before coal-fired power plants and SUVs. Just Wednesday, a new study was published in the journal Nature reporting that twice in the not-too-distant past (10,000 to 14,000 years ago), the Earth experienced “abrupt” warming.
We don’t really know what’s going on or what’s causing whatever that is to happen. None of that will stop climate alarmists from screaming about NOAA’s dubious temperature data — especially in the run-up to the Paris climate conference.
Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com (Twitter: @JunkScience).