Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hottest October Ever?

It wasn't here in Sacramento, I don't think, but it's a big world out there. Maybe it was the hottest October on record.

Or maybe not:

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year...

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question.


Oops.

5 comments:

Stopped Clock said...

I read that story. I do believe in man-induced global warming and would be willing to explain to you why I do if you don't believe but are interested in my opinion.

Darren said...

Would you tell me something I haven't already heard in years of following this idea?

Ellen K said...

Here's the deal, if Global Warming is 100% man made, then how do you explain the warmth of England in the late middle ages? Or for that matter, how do you explain the Dust Bowl in largely unindustrialized parts of Oklahoma in the 1930's? We have become people who glance over facts and don't question the sources. That is why this election turned out to be so vile. That Global Warming is nothing more than a trumped up political money engine should be no surprise. What is a surprise is how quiet the Obama campaign was about environmental intentions. If he gets his bills to block all coal and nuclear powered plants, those warming advocates had better hope they are right, because it gets cold in the Rust Belt in winter and heating oil isn't cheap.

allen (in Michigan) said...

> ...then how do you explain the warmth of England in the late middle ages?...

Oh that's easy.

You respond with a blizzard of invective and change the subject. Or you ignore the question.

Ellen K said...

I still say that if the election was held in January rather than November, there would have been a much different outcome. The public has a short memory. And if heating oil prices had been up, there would have been a whole other set of issues in the debates.