February 26, 2010

Quick Response to Ben Santer’s Comments at RealClimate

Ben Santer has an article over at RealClimate defending himself against some claims made recently by Fred Pearce in a series of articles Pearce did for the U.K.’s Guardian in recent weeks.

In particular, Santer discusses a 1996 paper that he (and colleagues) published in Nature magazine in which they reported to have identified a human fingerprint on global temperature change. Well, actually, in his RealClimate article Santer primarily discusses his Response to a Comment that WCR’s Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger published in Nature that pointed out that had Santer et al. used the full observational period of record available at the time they published their original paper (instead of a truncated one), that Santer et al.’s statements “about the strength of the evidence for human alteration of the lower tropospheric climate must be tempered.”

In Santer’s RealClimate piece, he claims that in his Response to our Comment, that he “demonstrated that this criticism was simply wrong.” And that “[u]se of a longer record of atmospheric temperature change strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

At RealClimate, Santer provided this link to his Response to our Comments. Here, for completeness’s sake, we provide a link to our Comment.

We invite you to read them both and see for yourself.

Personally, we are incredulous that Santer maintains, even to this day, that had they used the full period of available record—which he admits would have shown a decline in the correlation between models and observations—that this somehow “strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

We can only wonder what he would have concluded had the full dataset of observations maintained or strengthened his original correlation! Somehow we doubt that had the updated data strengthened the correlation between models and observations, that Santer would have come out and declared this as evidence the human fingerprint was fading.

(There is lots more regarding this issue (and others discussed by Santer in his RealClimate article) that resides in our back pages. To investigate for yourself, use our ‘back issues’ search function and enter “Santer”)

October 26, 2009

“AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling”

This is an interesting headline.

We thought the debate is over global warming.

Apparently, not.

Last week, a poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press showed that there has been an erosion of the percentage of American’s who think that the earth is heating up.

And now, the AP’s Seth Borenstein is out there trying to find out whether or not the earth is cooling!

How things have changed during the past 10 years.


February 7, 2008

More Satellite Musings

About a month ago, we ran a piece reflecting back on the behavior of the satellite-derived temperature history of the earth’s lower atmosphere for the past 10 years of so. We commented that the two major realizations of the temperature history of the lower atmosphere—one derived by researchers at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and the other by researchers at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)—seemed to be drifting apart in recent months. Well, it has since been determined that a slight computational error involving the data for 2007 had been introduced in the RSS routines, and this error has now been corrected (see here for more detail) so all is now well again in the world of satellite-derived global temperatures—or it is?

Yes and no.


January 8, 2008

Musings on Satellite Temperatures

(January 9, 2008: An important update has been added to the bottom of this post)

A couple of interesting items have come to light recently regarding the temperature of the earth’s lower atmosphere as measured by satellites. Here we run briefly run through some of them, in no particular order.


May 4, 2006


By and large, the much-touted new report by U. S. Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP) titled Temperature trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, amounts to little more than throwing water on a fire that has, for the most part, already gone out.


July 19, 2004

The Data Weigh In

New research confirms that temperatures in the lower atmosphere are not behaving as climate models have projected—and are warming far less than expected.

Universally, climate models that are run with increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases produce some degree of warming at the earth’ surface, but even more warming above the surface, especially in the layer from 5,000 to 30,000 feet. Models project this warming aloft to be especially strong in the tropical half of the planet (less so for a very small region around the poles). Actual observations of temperature trends in the lower atmosphere, however, don’t confirm these model results, instead showing that warming trends in general decline with altitude.

Why is this important? The atmosphere is an integrated whole, and temperatures aloft are an important determinant of temperatures at the surface. If the models have this wrong upstairs, but right for the area near the surface, they’ve been pretty lucky, or, some might say, pretty “adjusted.”

May 4, 2004

Assault From Above

Filed under: Satellite/Balloons, Surface

Nature authors make an assumption that defies the laws of physics. But that doesn’t stop them from concluding that the satellite-based temperature record is dramatically cooled by the atmospheric layer just above it.

It’s common knowledge that the satellite-based temperature record of the earth’s lower atmosphere shows much less warming than surface observations or climate model predictions for the past 25 years. The big question, though, is why. A new study in Nature magazine claims the satellite measurements are in error because they include a cooling effect from the atmospheric layer just above it.

But in formulating their case, the authors assume the impossible.

April 7, 2004

Nothing’s Changed

New research further demonstrates that the lower atmosphere during the past 25 years has not warmed at the rate predicted by global climate models.

Major systematic problems in general circulation models (GCMs) are apparent in the discrepancy between observed temperature trends in the lower atmosphere and the trend predicted by models. As long as these problems persist, GCMs cannot provide reliable estimates of future climate conditions.

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