Monday, October 26, 2009

AP Lies About Climate (As Usual)

Really they should make this harder. In a story purporting to "prove" that absent knowing what they were looking at or taking into account what can be considered climatic change in a scientific sense, statisticians can say we are warming even though we have been cooling (yeah, doesn't make sense to me either), we are given whoppers such as this one:

2008 was still the ninth hottest in 130 years of NOAA records.

Of the 10 hottest years recorded by NOAA, eight have occurred since 2000, and after this year it will be nine because this year is on track to be the sixth-warmest on record.


This is an outright falsehood. There is no way to compare the numbers NOAA uses now, which incorporate land and sea temps completely unavailable for most of the 130 period, with all of the historical record. (It simply is not an apples to apples comparison, and idiots who don't understand what that means shouldn't be writing about science in the press.)

This is the data the AP is using:



(I know this is the data because this NOAA states "For the year to date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 14.7°C (58.5°F) was the sixth-warmest January-through-September period on record.") If you really think we have data from all of the places marked on the above graphic for 130 years, well, then you are smoking something.

Now, if one wanted to just to look at a more homogeneous data set, like the US temps one could make a comparison for 115 years. Let us see what that looks like:



Turns out this ranks as only the 29th warmest Jan-Sep in the last 115 years.

2008?



This was the 37th warmest.

2007?

10th warmest

2006?

1st warmest.

2005?

13th warmest.

2004?

28th warmest.

2003?

20th warmest.

2002?

14th warmest.

NOAA doesn't have the reports for 2001 and 2000 online at the moment, of the years we have 2009 (trend only) to 2002 only two of them (2006-07) have been in the Top 10 warmest years in the last 115, not 8 of them.

Additionally, I've notice the time period 1961-1990 being used to provide a "base line mean" to measure anomalies (as it is in the blended land/sea graphic I showed earlier.)

So, how representative is that 1961-1990 period? Well, not very it seems.



So, 21 years of that 30 year period (or 70%) were below the long term average. It was a pretty cold period. Therefore it isn't surprising that we find most other temps hotter then that, and that is a good part of the reason the blended land/sea graphs are misleading (to put it mildly.)

Compare the US Temps on this graph for 2008 (using the 61-90 baseline):



...with the US Temps using the 115 yer averages:



So, according to the long (115 year averages) 61 regions in the US had "much cooler" or "record cool". Only one region (Long Island) was "much warmer". But according to the other graphic, 25 regions were warmer then "average" and only 15 were cooler.

As I said, it's misleading.

ADDING:

Roger Pielke Sr. looks at this as well:

This article, however, (which is not a true independent assessment if the study was completed by NOAA scientists) is not based on the much more robust metric assessment of global warming as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content. Nor does it consider the warm bias issues with respect to surface land temperatures that we have raised in our peer reviewed papers....to state that the “[t]he Earth is still warming” is in error. The warming has, at least temporarily halted.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Rich, this is pretty sad, even for you:

1) You DON'T know that's the data the AP was using. Grabbing a NOAA chart that shows land and sea temperatures and implying that's representative of the NOAA's temperature records is just silly.

2) US temp records may be "homogenous" according to your definition, but they're not "global", which is a rather important thing to keep in mind when we're talking about global warming.

3) That said, if you weren't obsessed with throwing up numbers willy-nilly in an attempt to prove... something, I'm not sure what, you might notice that even your own numbers for the US state that we've had the 14th, 13th, 10th, and 1st warmest years during the 115-year record in the past decade. Considering that none of the remaining years cracked the bottom half of the ordering (and only one cracked the bottom two thirds) then that is a pretty good indication that we really are much warmer than the historical average.

4) Your statement...

"according to the long (115 year averages) 61 regions in the US had "much cooler" or "record cool". Only one region (Long Island) was "much warmer". But according to the other graphic, 25 regions were warmer then "average" and only 15 were cooler.

...is outright bizarre, considering you're talking about one (relatively cool) year in one part of the planet. How on earth does one year represent any kind of refutation of the trends the AP is talking about?

5) If you're gonna quote Pielke, quote all of Pielke rather than cherrypicking it:

Nonetheless, the article is correct that the climate system has not cooled even in the last 6 years. Moreover, on the long time period back to 1880, the consensus is that the climate system has warmed on the longest time period.

Now Pielke also argues that the temperature has remained flat based on his preferred use of upper ocean heat content as a diagnostic for global warming - but he's fairly unique among climate scientists in this, as far as I can tell. Regardless, even he agrees things are not cooling, which makes it utterly pathetic that you'd try to cut that bit out and maintain your preferred fiction that "we have been cooling".

Get a grip, Rich.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Chris, this is pretty sad even for you.

1)The AP stated (and I quoted)
"this year is on track to be the sixth-warmest on record..."

I then pulled up the NOAA round-up and looked for that information where they said (and I also quoted)

"For the year to date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 14.7°C (58.5°F) was the sixth-warmest January-through-September period on record."

Now, you are claiming what? This is a coincidence? You go on NOAA and try to find a different claim that the period from Jan-Sep was the 6th warmest.

You are simply mistaken.

2) The point was we do not have 130 years worth of relaible global data. THe AP story mistakenly gives the impression we do.

3) As for giving the warmest - yes, I wasn't trying to be conclusive. I was merely pointing out that if you wanted to make comparisons for over 100 years worth of data we do not have "8 of the 10 warmest years EVER (measured)" If you look at the historical data (the 1895-1998 graph) you can see the decade from 1935-1945 actually contained 7 of the 10 warmest temps EVER... to that point.

4) you said "...is outright bizarre, considering you're talking about one (relatively cool) year in one part of the planet. How on earth does one year represent any kind of refutation of the trends the AP is talking about?"

What? Do you even read what I write? I very clearly said...

"Additionally, I've notice the time period 1961-1990 being used to provide a "base line mean" to measure anomalies (as it is in the blended land/sea graphic I showed earlier.)"

Obviously I'm announcing a new topic there, the misleading nature of the temp anomalies graphic. Sure I could have posted it in a differnt post, but I came across the data while looking at the AP piece so I added it.... thus the "additonally".

5. I didn't cherry pick anything. I dont contest that we've been warming on that time scale (100+ years, all the way back to the little ice age). I've never contested that. I dont have a problem with GW, I've got a problem with AGW.

Also, I never said Pielke agreed with me on everything, hell, I disagree with him on much...that wasn't the point. I was merely bringing up his take on the central premise on the AP story.

Also also, I've never claimed anyone can climatic judgements using only 6 years worth of data.

Why do I feel like I'm in the Monty Python "argument clinic" sketch....