THERE are four official global temperature data sets and there has been much debate and discussion as to which best represents change in global temperature.
Tom Quirk has analysed variations within and between these data sets and concludes there is 1. Substantial general agreement between the data sets, 2. Substantial short-term variation in global temperature in all data sets and 3. No data set shows a significant measurable rise in global temperature over the twelve year period since 1997.
Global Temperature Revisited
by Tom Quirk
One of the most vexing things about climate change is the endless debate about temperatures. Did they rise, did they fall or were they pushed? At times it seems like a Monty Python sketch of either the Dead Parrot or the 5 or 10 Minute Argument.
However it is possible to see some of the issues by looking at the four temperature series that are advanced from:
GISS - Goddard Institute for Space Studies and home of James Hansen,
Hadley Centre - British Meteorological Office research centre
UAH - The University of Alabama, Huntsville, home of Roy Spencer with his colleagues including John Christy of NASA and
RSS - Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, California, a company supported by NASA for the analysis of satellite data.
The first two groups use ground based data where possible with a degree of commonality. However since 70% of the surface of the earth is ocean and it is not monitored in a detailed manner, various procedures with possibly heroic assumptions and computer modelling, are followed to fill the ocean gap.
The last two groups use satellite data to probe the atmosphere and with the exception of the Polar Regions which are less than 10% of the globe, they get comprehensive coverage.
One question is of course are the two groups measuring the same temperature? After all the satellite looks down through the atmosphere, while the ground stations are exactly that.
There is an important distinction to be made between measuring the temperature and measuring the change in the temperature. Since the interest is in changing temperatures then what is called the global temperature anomaly is the starting point. The issue of measuring absolute temperatures should be put to one side.
Data from 1997 to 2009 was drawn from the four group websites on the 28 April 2009. When data for 1997 to early 2008 was compared to data acquired in early 2008 differences were found as shown in the first table.
This is evidence of substantial reprocessing and re-evaluation of data. This is not unusual with complicated analysis systems but there is so much interest in the results that adjustments are regarded with great suspicion. This is the fault of those publishing the temperature data as they fail to make the point that monthly and even yearly measurements are about weather and not climate.
The latest series of temperature anomalies are shown in the graph where the monthly data has been averaged into quarters. All statistical analysis that follows is on the monthly data unless stated otherwise.
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