Written by Elizabeth Jones
|Tuesday, 15 November 2011|
Currently, there are three collections of mean global temperature records. One is compiled by NASA, a second one is compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the third is compiled through a partnership between Britain’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (the Hadley CRU). All three of these temperature records suggest that over the last half-century, there has been about a 0.9 degree Celsius over-land temperature increase. However, despite the overall concurrence of the three data sets, there are several problems with the raw data in each individual record.
To understand the problems in the raw data, consider that the individual records are derived from data collected at weather stations all around the world. This means that:
New Global Temperature Study
The BEST team recently presented their results in front of the United States House of Representatives, including their estimation that over the past 50 years the land surface warmed by 0.911°C. Their study therefore confirmed the estimates of the three existing records that land surface temperature would increase by 0.9 degree Celsius. The group’s findings are presented in four papers that were released on October 20, 2011. One of the four papers expressly addresses the claim from skeptics that heat island effects from urbanization are skewing average temperature readings and reported that monitoring instruments in rural areas also show rapid warming. The BEST papers are currently undergoing peer review, but in the meantime can be viewed online here.
The BEST results alone are worthy of media attention, but this story has been an especially hot topic in the news and in the blogosphere due to the interesting personal journey of lead scientist Richard Muller. Dr. Muller wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece, “When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find.” Indeed, not only did Muller feel that “skeptics had raised legitimate issues” he was seen by many in the climate change community as a skeptic himself. He has been quoted dismissing climate research as being “polluted by political and activist frenzy.” Indeed, it was this frustration at what he considered shoddy science that led Muller to launch his own comprehensive study to set the record straight. And, it was this skeptical attitude that led the Koch brothers—who own a 100 billion-dollar-a-year oil, gas, and chemical conglomerate and give regularly to conservative causes and institutions such as the Tea Party—to give BEST a $150,000 start-up grant.
Clearly, Muller’s plain-spoken warning that “you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer” was not what the Koch brothers were expecting! Hopefully, during a time of exaggerated doubts about climate change, the BEST results will “help cool this portion of the climate debate.” The existing mean estimates about recent temperature trends are in the right ballpark—the world is warming fast, and the effects of global warming are already here.
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|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 November 2011 )|