Are Gulf Of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Near To Record Levels?

Bob Tisdale shows that once again, the devil is in the details.

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

OVERVIEW

This post illustrates Gulf of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature (SST) data and discusses the post by Jeff Masters at his www.wunderground.com blog in which he states that April 2011 Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies are “among the highest on record”, a claim that was then parroted by Joe Romm at Climate Progress. This post will illustrate that the current Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies in the Gulf of Mexico are well below past weekly and monthly record high SST anomalies. It will also show that there is little to no long-term (80-year) trend in the sea surface temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico, a fact that holds true for the three long-term SST datasets (HADSST2, HADISST, and ERSST.v3b) used in global temperature anomaly products.

INTRODUCTION

I, like many, will occasionally drop by Climate Progress to see what Joe Romm is up to. The headline of the post “Masters: Midwest deluge enhanced by near-record Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures” caught my eye. Near record? Claims of “near record” and, in the body of the post, “among the highest on record”, give the impression of a long-term increase in Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies. They are clear attempts to imply that there are anthropogenic bases for the “Midwest deluge”. But I’ve studied Gulf of Mexico SST data, and there is little to no long-term trend in the SST anomalies there since the 1930s. So I continued to read Joe Romm’s post.

Romm writes, “Former hurricane-hunter Masters has a good analysis of how the ‘Midwest deluge [is] enhanced by near-record Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures…’” I’ll let you decide if it was a “good analysis”. And then Romm includes a quote from Jeff Masters’s post “Tornadoes, floods, and fires continue to pound U.S.”, which reads, “The deluge of rain that caused this flood found its genesis in a flow of warm, humid air coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Mexico are currently close to 1 °C above average. Only two Aprils since the 1800s (2002 and 1991) have had April SSTs more than 1 °C above average, so current SSTs are among the highest on record.” [Bold face by Romm.]

Jeff Masters includes a NOAA/NESDIS-based SST anomaly map as his Figure 5, with a caption that reads. “Figure 5. Departure of sea surface temperature from average for April 25, 2001. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.” His Figure 5 is included here as Figure 1.

Figure 1

The entire paragraph about Gulf of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies by Jeff Masters at his blog at Weather Underground reads:

“Midwest deluge enhanced by near-record Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures

“The deluge of rain that caused this flood found its genesis in a flow of warm, humid air coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs )in the Gulf of Mexico are currently close to 1 °C above average. Only two Aprils since the 1800s (2002 and 1991) have had April SSTs more than 1 °C above average, so current SSTs are among the highest on record. These warm ocean temperatures helped set record high air temperatures in many locations in Texas yesterday, including Galveston (84°F, a tie with 1898), Del Rio (104°F, old record 103° in 1984), San Angelo (97°F, old record 96° in 1994). Record highs were also set on Monday in Baton Rouge and Shreveport in Louisiana, and in Austin, Mineral Wells, and Cotulla la Salle in Texas. Since this week’s storm brought plenty of cloud cover that kept temperatures from setting record highs in many locations, a more telling statistic of how warm this air mass was is the huge number of record high minimum temperature records that were set over the past two days. For example, the minimum temperature reached only 79°F in Brownsville, TX Monday morning, beating the previous record high minimum of 77°F set in 2006. In Texas, Austin, Houston, Port Arthur, Cotulla la Salle, Victoria, College Station, Victoria, Corpus Christi, McAllen, and Brownsville all set record high minimums on Monday, as did New Orleans, Lafayette, Monroe, Shreveport, and Alexandria in Louisiana, as well as Jackson and Tupelo in Mississippi. Since record amounts of water vapor can evaporate into air heated to record warm levels, it is not a surprise that incredible rains and unprecedented floods are resulting from this month’s near-record warm SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico.”

ARE GULF OF MEXICO SST ANOMALIES THIS MONTH AMONG THE HIGHEST ON RECORD?

I confirmed with Jeff Masters via WunderGround email that his approximation of a +1.0 deg C anomaly was based on the appearance of the NOAA/NESDIS-based map, not on the data itself. In other words, he looked at the scaling of the color-coded contour levels and estimated the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies from them. He has compared an assumed DAILY Gulf of Mexico SST anomaly of 1.0 deg C to MONTHLY SST anomalies to arrive at the claim, “Only two Aprils since the 1800s (2002 and 1991) have had April SSTs more than 1 °C above average, so current SSTs are among the highest on record.” Was the Gulf of Mexico SST anomaly for that dataset on April 25th at approximately 1.0 deg C? Looks like it might be. But a one-day SST anomaly snapshot on April 25 does not represent the monthly average for April 2011. There is data available, so there’s no reason to attempt to read the SST anomalies from the temperature contour levels on a map. Since the month of April has not ended and monthly data is not available for it, why not simply use weekly data and average the data that’s available for the month? Why not? As we will see, it doesn’t provide an alarming answer.

The NOAA/NESDIS SST data used by Masters are prepared specifically for the NOAA Coral Reef Watch program. They exclude daytime satellite-based SST observations. This was discussed in my post A Note About SST Anomaly Maps. This is the only SST anomaly dataset that I’m aware of that excludes daytime data. Since the NOAA/NESDIS SST data excludes daytime SST data, and since the NOAA/NESDIS data is not readily available online in an easily usable format, we’ll use the other NOAA satellite-based SST dataset, Reynolds OI.v2, to determine the month-to-date values. Weekly and monthly observations for Reynolds OI.v2 data are available online through the NOAA NOMADS website:

http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?lite=

Figure 2 shows the WEEKLY Gulf Of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies from January 3, 1990 (the start of the weekly Reynolds OI.v2 data centered on Wednesdays) through April 20, 2011. I’ve also included the average of the three weekly April 2011 SST anomaly values for the Gulf of Mexico (+0.79 deg C), shown as the red line. (The weekly observations are +0.68 for the week centered on April 6, 2011, and +0.91 for April 13, 2011, and +0.77 for April 20, 2011. Note that they dropped from the second to the third week.) Jeff Masters’s approximation for April is about 0.21 deg C higher than the 3-week average. Also, the weekly data clearly shows that Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies in excess of 0.79 deg C are a common occurrence, and that the elevated SST anomalies occur at differing times of the year. Note the spike in 2002. It occurred in April and May. The highest weekly April 2002 reading was +1.35 deg C, and it occurred during the week centered on April 24, 2002, but the highest April 2011 SST observation so far was only +0.91 deg C. The current April 2011 high is 0.44 deg C lower than the April 2002 high of +1.35 deg C. On a weekly basis, the current Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies are far from the past April record.

Figure 2

But Jeff Masters compared his assumed daily snapshot temperature to monthly data, not weekly data, so let’s examine the MONTHLY Reynolds OI.v2 data from its start year in November 1981. Refer to Figure 3. If we assume the April 2011 SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico will be near to the three-week average of 0.79 deg C, then the claim of “near-record warm SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico” is also a stretch. There is a 0.18 deg C difference between the current value and the record high of 0.97 deg C in April 2002.

Figure 3

Let’s also look at a graph of April SST anomalies using the Reynolds OI.v2 data, Figure 4, since Jeff Masters did specify the month of April. The values for 1982 and 2002 were the only times the current SST anomalies were exceeded. And again, there’s the 0.18 deg C difference between the present 3-week SST average anomaly and the record high in 2002. But note that the SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico do not exceed +1.0 in 1991 and 2002 as Jeff Masters had written. He also observed that this was the case “since the 1800s”, so he’s obviously comparing his assumed value to a long-term dataset, not a satellite-based dataset like the one in the map.

Figure 4

I tried the long-term HADISST and ERSST.v3b datasets and could not confirm Jeff Masters’s statements in his post, so I asked, and he advised the dataset he used was HADSST2. In summary, he’s compared monthly observations from a ship- and buoy-based SST dataset to an assumed daily snapshot of 1.0 deg C from a satellite-based SST dataset.

I considered stopping the post there. But let’s continue and take a more detailed look at the SST anomalies of the Gulf of Mexico. Let’s assume, similar to the assumption Jeff Masters has made, that the monthly HADSST2 data will be the same as the current 3-week anomaly of the Reynolds OI.v2 data for the Gulf of Mexico. Big assumption. Figure 5 shows the April HADSST2-based SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico. They confirm what Jeff Masters had written, which was, “Only two Aprils since the 1800s (2002 and 1991) have had April SSTs more than 1 °C above average…” But the SST anomalies for the month of April have not been reported yet. And the month-to-date SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico for April 2011 (based on the three weeks of April 2011 data) are far short of +1.0 deg C. So there’s no reason to compare to 1.0 deg C. Figure 5 also shows that SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico as high as (the 3-week average of) 0.79 deg C have occurred regularly, and they have occurred as far back as the 1920s.

Figure 5

NOTE: HADSST2 data is available as far back as 1850, but the source SST data for the Gulf of Mexico is sparse before 1900, leaving multiyear gaps in the data. Refer to Figure 6, which is the output graph created by the KNMI Climate Explorer. I’ve used January 1900 as the start month for the HADSST2 data for this reason.

Figure 6

THE MONTHLY HADSST2 DATA FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO IS REVEALING

Based on HADSST2 data, the monthly SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico have exceeded 0.79 deg C many times, even as far back as the early 1900s. Refer to Figure 7. Note also how flat the data has been since the 1930s.

Figure 7

If we start the data in January 1930, Figure 8, we can see the trend in Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies has been basically flat since then. It’s a noisy dataset, but it shows little long-term rise.

Figure 8

Therefore, if the April 2011 Gulf of Mexico SST anomaly should happen to equal or exceed Jeff Masters’s 1.0 deg C guesstimate, it is plainly not a consequence of any long-term (80-year) trend.

And if we smooth the data with a 13-month running-average filter, as shown in Figure 9, we can see that recent SST anomalies are approximately the same as they were in 1900.

Figure 9

THE RESULTS WITH HADISST AND ERSST.v3b DATASETS

HADSST2 is not the only long-term SST dataset that could be used to determine if the recent warming of the Gulf of Mexico is unusual. The Hadley Centre’s HADISST and NOAA’s ERSST.v3b are also available. Both are infilled, so there are no gaps in the data. That means the entire term of the datasets can be graphed easily. The differences between the ERSST.v3b, HADISST, and HADSST2 datasets are further discussed in the post An Overview Of Sea Surface Temperature Datasets Used In Global Temperature Products.

Figures 10, 11, 12, and 13 provide the same views of long-term data using HADISST data, from January 1870 to February 2011. (HADISST updates are delayed by a month.) As shown in Figures 10 and 11, there are fewer instances in the past when Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies exceeded the 3-week average of the Reynolds OI.v2 data for April 2011, with very few exceeding the assumed 1.0 deg C anomaly. HADISST might have been a better dataset for Jeff Masters to use for an alarmist post, except the HADISST Gulf of Mexico data also shows very little trend since 1930, as illustrated in Figure 12. And Figure 13 shows HADISST Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies that have been smoothed with a 13-month running-average filter. Note the multidecadal variability. I’ll have to compare that with the AMO. For those wondering about the steep decline at the end of the data, it starts in 2008 and should initially be a lagged response to the 2007/08 La Niña. Why didn’t the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies rise is response to the 2009/10 El Niño? Dunno.

Figure 10

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Figure 11

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Figure 12

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Figure 13

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Similar graphs using the NOAA long-term SST dataset ERSST.v3b are included as Figures 14 through 17. ERSST.v3b runs from January 1854 to present. As you will see, it would have been the wrong dataset for an alarmist presentation. Figures 14 and 15 show that Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies were higher in late 1800s than they are today. Figure 16 shows that the linear trend for the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies is negative since 1930. Nope, alarmists would not like the ERSST.v3b version of the Gulf of Mexico SST data. And the ERSST.v3b data for the Gulf of Mexico shows multidecadal variability quite clearly since 1900.

Figure 14

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Figure 15

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Figure 16

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Figure 17

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CLOSING

Jeff Masters’s claim that Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies are “among the highest on record”, which was repeated by Joe Romm, is contrived. It is based on a comparison of a monthly long-term SST dataset to a daily value assumed from the contour levels on a map. The assumed value of 1.0 deg C is 0.21 deg C higher than the three-week month-to-date SST anomalies for the Gulf of Mexico. Short-term satellite-based data show that the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies are a noisy dataset, with the current anomalies well within the normal range of variability. Long-term SST anomaly data show that the trend of the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies is flat or negative since 1930. In other words, over that past 80 years, there is no global warming signal in the Gulf of Mexico SST data.

SOURCES

The Reynolds OI.v2 SST data was downloaded from the NOAA NOMADS website:

http://nomad3.ncep.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/pdisp_sst.sh?lite=

All other data was downloaded from the KNMI Climate Explorer:

http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere

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71 thoughts on “Are Gulf Of Mexico Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies Near To Record Levels?

  1. Of course this is climatology. Conclusion first massaged data second. However thank you for detailled destruction of this illusion.

  2. Bob,our buoys have been running a little below, not above. Anyone saying it’s up is lying.

    What shoots them in the foot, is the drought of the 30’s – 40’s, the dust bowl.
    Gulf temps were up in the 30’s – 40’s

  3. If the Gulf SST temperatures are high then this will account for the tornadoes. Central US temps. are low so the temperature difference will create more unstable air to force convection to form tornadoes.

    Not climate change, only weather.

  4. Thank you, Bob Tisdale.
    Your post clearly underscores two points:
    * colour schemes on maps to indicate whatever temperature anomaly changes are used to enhance ‘the heat’, and do not properly reflect the actual state;
    * data beat warmist hysteria hands down, always.

  5. Not sure I follow Figure 9…? Isn’t that a comparison of a maximum and a minimum? Or am I missing something?

  6. What a remarkable post! Romm and Masters should be grateful for being “schooled” by Tisdale. Now they can repair their most egregious errors and blinkered assumptions. I am really grateful for Tisdale’s excellent work and its timely submission.

  7. Excellent and comprehensive, as always, Bob. Thanks.

    I subscribe to hurricanetrack and off-season (Dec-May) Mark Sudduth gives us weekly updates that include a survey and analysis of SSTs. Watching the isotherms creep back northward shows the process clearly. The GoM is slightly above its historical norm but certainly not out of line with the recent past.

    The SSTs have an influence (especially the loop current) when climatic conditions (La Nina, AMO, PDO etc) combine to produce lower pressures in the Atlantic basin. With each pulse of the MJO (Madden-Julien Oscillation) there are chances for cyclonic activity. We have been free of major hurricane landfalls for some time now (almost 5 years) and are overdue. What will the season bring? Joe B thinks more and bigger. We will have to wait and see but thanks to people like Mark and Bob, we will be better informed and therefore better prepared for what is coming.

  8. A quick note: I wrote in the post that I knew of only one satellite-based SST dataset that excluded daytime observation and it was the NOAA/NESDIS SST data. After publishing the post, I was searching for other daily maps of Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies and found that DMI (Denmark Meteorological Institute) also excludes daytime satellite observations for its SST data:

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/satellite/index.uk.php

    If you were to select the “Equatorial North Atlantic” and “Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies” in their drop-down menus, you’ll note that they’re showing negative anomalies for much of the Gulf of Mexico today, but I haven’t found what base years they’re using.

    I’ll update the cross post at my website.

  9. “Jeff Masters’s claim that Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies are “among the highest on record”, which was repeated by Joe Romm, is contrived.”

    This, among other reasons, is why I have given up on the “WeatherUnderground” site completely, and now use Intellicast.com for my online weather information. Intellicast has a much better layout, and the radar is ten times better than the junk at “WeatherUnderground”.

    Here’s a forecast for you…Jeff Masters’ global warming mania will reach a fever pitch when hurricane season begins…

  10. How can this be?… I saw Brian Williams on NBC news ask a question..er or was it make a statement that the tornado weather events that caused all of the destruction in Alabama were caused by AGW, I mean climate change. Since he has a such a high regard for journalistic integrity and a vast knowledge of the “new” science, the SST in the Gulf of Mexico have to be higher and the data collection satellites and buoys just need to be recom-bob-ulated.

    Sarc off/-

  11. Thank You Bob for the as usual accurate and detailed reporting of an unprecedented event. Hockey is played by some in their dramatic twisting of the facts.

  12. Mike Bromley the Kurd says: “Not sure I follow Figure 9…? Isn’t that a comparison of a maximum and a minimum? Or am I missing something?”

    Figure 9 is the same data as Figure 7 except in Figure 9 I’ve smoothed the data with a 13-month running-average filter. The filtering reduces the seasonal and weather noise.

  13. Once again we have one of those maps that is incapable of showing “nothing”. The colour coding of Figure 1 insists the temperature must be anomalously high or anomalously low. Just eye-balling it–because the colouring sure isn’t designed to help you see it–over most of the area nothing is happening.

    Can we campaign for a ban on these graphics where 0C+/-.5C is forced to be coded as an anomaly of some sort?

  14. Joe Bastardi and Mr Masters are friends but they disagree on GW. I too totally disagree with Mr. Masters and would not have him as a friend. He makes a great “team” member for AGW. I would bet it’s the money.

  15. Very good analysis and I agree completely. But to the larger point about whether or not these short term fluctuations of water temps in the gulf tell us anything meaningful about the larger issue of human caused global climate change…we can’t say. In that climate change (human caused or not) always happens in a chaotic way, we don’t know have any way of knowing for certain what the water temps in the gulf will be doing for any given cooling or warming period of the climate as each period would have it’s own dynamic based on the reasons for the change. The assumption, for example, that gulf waters will be warming as CO2 increases globally can’t be shown by any reliable model as no such models can say for certain how the flow of water down the Mississippi will change with increasing CO2 levels and certainly water temps in the gulf are influenced by changes in the inflow amount and temperatures from the Mississippi.

  16. Towards the end of the post, a vision of bombed rubble came to mind. Warmers and birthers have this in common, they still believe they can win the argument though they sit in nothing but dust with the bombs still falling on them.

  17. In other words, over that past 80 years, there is no global warming signal in the Gulf of Mexico SST data.

    Well Financed Alarmist the world over such as Dr Data Hanson, Dr Model Andrew Weaver. Dr fruit fly Suzuki (Throw the Skeptics in Jail) And the rest of the Gravy train Climate Crusaders Melons are in panic mode!

    The global temperatures atmospheric and in the Oceans are literally in free fall and the revelations of data facts/ modeling collapse that cannot stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

    (And they really can’t account for it)

    The real (cooling) scientific/data, facts are coming so fast and furious that they can’t keep up with it, so they are changing the channel to the poor little orphan me guy who are unloved loved or understood.

    They now claim are they underpaid/underdogs the poor helpless victims of a smear campaign from those nasty filthy oil soaked rich skeptics.

    They are incapable of backing up their outrageous claims of doom and gloom with fact based science/data, so the play the straw-man victim role, while it is them who are piling up the lawsuits and downright nasty campaigns against anybody who has the audacity to stand up to them.

    They are on the run and a lot of them are abandoning a sinking ship the MV Cooling Fast, loaded with it’s cargo of rent seeking bureaucrats, grant seeking overripe watermelons The rotting green and red hoax is finally exploding in their faces.

    The warmist don’t like it and many are denying it, but they are if a huge rear guard action thanks to skeptical science base inquiry, Sceptics integrity and honesty combined the refusal to except garbage science, and the lovely tool of freedom that has empowered us, the Internet!

    Thanks to all you extremely well informed sceptics. Finally the shoe is the other foot!!

  18. My post disappeared

    [Can you please give us more than one minute to approve posts? ~dbs, mod.]

  19. Are the SST measured accurately with good prescision to +/- 0.01 deg C? I get really annoyed when I see this computational nonsense that reports results which imply instruments, which measure to such a fine resolution, are being used for routine field temperature measurements.

    All the these computed values should be round back to the last significant figure of measurement which is most likely 1 deg F or C.

    I have said on numerous occassions: If all temp measurements are rounded to the nearest whole degree, global warming vanishes.

  20. Is there any record of a rebuttal from any warmist when their claims are dissasembled?
    Do those people have any pride in their work?
    WUWT, all I can say is keep up the pressure, but let us know if and when you get it wrong so we all learn. This sort of stuff, day after day, is very disheartening to read.

  21. Good ol` Bob!

    I must say, I find the calm, calculated and, dare I say it, scientific method in which you construct your posts very refreshing. This has been a terrific read.

  22. In other words, over that past 80 years, there is no global warming signal in the Gulf of Mexico SST data.

    “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” (Kevin Trenberth)

  23. Bob wins, Point, set, match. Thank God for guys like Joe Romm,, skeptics absolute godsend, lets please all encourage him in his quest.

  24. If you go to the other side of Mexico, to the Pacific you see that is abnormally cool. How come that doesn’t get blamed for anything now days? Even snow is caused by warmth, cold never causes anything even cold weather isn’t caused by cold.

  25. Despite many popular claims of this being the worst ever, it is not. This is worth recalling:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Outbreak

    and more generally,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_outbreak_sequence

    Note that in 1974, the gulf seems to have been only slightly above the average line. (And look up other outbreaks and compare to the Gulf SSTs, like 1925.) The fact is, the gulf is warm enough (and wet enough) to play its role in severe weather in the central-southern-eastern US every year. We have tornadoes every year. Some years are worse than others. Average air temperature seems to have little to do with it. These eastern focused large outbreaks seem to favor la nina, and seem to come periodically. As pointed out, the good weather forecasters have been predicting this since January, with increasing precision.
    From the wiki article, these two graphics are quite enlightening:

    A little research can go a long way. Tornadoes and major outbreaks have plagued North and Central America for as long as we have kept records.

    This wiki page needs some help, so be encouraged to research and add references, but even a quick look should dispel the notion that humans have anything to do with these extremely powerful natural phenomena.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_North_American_tornadoes_and_tornado_outbreaks

    I’ll include this link for good measure:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_F5_and_EF5_tornadoes

  26. Bob Tisdale says:
    April 30, 2011 at 9:13 am
    [in response to]

    Mike Bromley the Kurd says: “Not sure I follow Figure 9…? Isn’t that a comparison of a maximum and a minimum? Or am I missing something?”

    Figure 9 is the same data as Figure 7 except in Figure 9 I’ve smoothed the data with a 13-month running-average filter. The filtering reduces the seasonal and weather noise.

    OK…then the two circled values are merely the SST for the same month in different years, then? That was the gist of my original question. The way the graph looks is that the 1900 value is a maximum along the curve, and the 2011 value is a minimum, causing synaptical overload on this old geologist’s radar.

  27. Tom T says:
    April 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

    If you go to the other side of Mexico, to the Pacific you see that is abnormally cool. How come that doesn’t get blamed for anything now days? Even snow is caused by warmth, cold never causes anything even cold weather isn’t caused by cold.

    If you keep you eye on the thimble you will see that they have cut back talk of global mean temps and have shifted to talking about local weather events. However, their original claim was man-made global warming would continue – and so far it stuttered to a halt. They’ve also stopped talking about ski resorts. ;O)

  28. Re tornadoes Dr. Roy Spencer and Anthony Watts have dealt with the issues.

    Spencer quotes: – 29 April, 2011

    MORE Tornadoes from Global Warming? That’s a Joke, Right?

    “If there is one weather phenomenon global warming theory does NOT predict more of, it would be severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.”

    “Tornadic thunderstorms do not require tropical-type warmth. In fact, tornadoes are almost unheard of in the tropics, despite frequent thunderstorm activity.”

    “Active tornado seasons in the U.S. are almost always due to unusually COOL air persisting over the Midwest and Ohio Valley longer than it normally does as we transition into spring. ”

    “For example, the poster child for active tornado seasons was the Superoutbreak of 1974, which was during globally cool conditions. This year, we are seeing much cooler than normal conditions through the corn belt, even delaying the planting schedule.”

    “It is well known that strong to violent tornado activity in the U.S. has decreased markedly since statistics began in the 1950s, which has also been a period of average warming. So, if anything, global warming causes FEWER tornado outbreaks…not more. “

  29. Gulf of Mexico SSTs during March and April are a function of large-scale climate variability associated with the location of the midlatitude storm tracks, aka the jet stream.

    On my FSU website, I plot up the current SST, and the SST on the same date for all of the years between 1979 and 2011, including anomalies from climatology.

    Compare 2010:

    to 2011:

    And, then look at all the other years since 1979: Comparison SST Page

  30. Give me Joe Bastardi over any of these charlatans anyday. They must know that their speculation is not aimed at the informed but for general public consumption in the MSM. The level of disinformation and dishonesty is astounding. Jeff Masters should know better than to continue to tarnish his name.

    Joe Bastardi – March 11th, 2011
    “Tornadoes during a La Nina are stronger and remain on the ground longer than those observed during an El Nino. That means an increased danger of large destructive and deadly tornadoes during the cold phase. There is also an increased risk of “tornado swarms” or outbreaks of 40 or more twisters from a single weather system in a La Nina season.

    We believe a recent climate shift favoring a cooler Pacific (negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO) and more frequent La Nina events suggests we have entered a period of increasing severe storms that could last a decade or more.”

    http://www.weatherbell.com/jd/?m=20110311

  31. Jeff Masters served us the same stuff this winter for the Australian floods and storms. He even went to detail that the high SST was NOT the cause of the 1967 floods but, since the explanation is too good to waste despite a glaring disclaimer, he went on to blame the 2011 floods on high SST and make it THE cause of all events.

  32. Jeff Masters said:
    “…These warm ocean temperatures helped set record high air temperatures in many locations in Texas yesterday, … Del Rio (104°F, old record 103° in 1984), San Angelo (97°F, old record 96° in 1994). ”

    Sorry, but I seriously doubt near 100 deg + temps were caused by the Gulf of Mexico waters being, what, in the 80s? I can’t confirm but I’d be willing to bet those two stations were west of the dryline and had some nice hot *dry* desert air from the west not some warm humid air from the south.

    Just my huntch,
    Jeff

  33. Not to be judgmental, but Dr. Jeff Masters does not actively do peer-reviewed research. He runs a commercial website and company. While I do not question his meteorological expertise, I do question his motivations: are his rather biased blog postings of current weather events motivated to generate hits and page views, and hence dollar$, and/or are they meant to be a rigorous scientific assessment?

    Usually attribution and knowledge of specific atmospheric mechanisms takes more than a few hours or days after the event to determine. This sort of off-the-cuff event autopsy I believe is incomplete and often at odds with the active research community.

    Another good example is Mann, Schmidt, and Trenberth. None of them are severe weather specialists, and none have published recently (or at all) on tornado events. They perform a great disservice to the hard working severe weather experts, i.e. NOAA and NWS, who are responsible for warning about life and property damaging weather. Those three simply swoop in and use the tragedy and aftermath to their political advantage. It’s disgusting.

  34. Just bookmark the NOAA Climate Scene Investigation unit. In about a month or two, a report will come out titled “Recent April record tornado outbreak not related to climate change, but due to spring”.

    This occurred with the Pakistan Floods, Russian Heat Waves, and the blizzards. So far the climate scientists have all been wrong about the weather. Hmmm… maybe that’s why on-air broadcast and NWS forecasters don’t grant that group much credibility. Also, the climate science folks are in my opinion diverting valuable research dollars that could be used to run higher-resolution weather prediction models of the current climate, meaning today’s weather. Let’s put a 2-year prohibition on climate scenario modeling and dedicate all of our efforts to one problem: predicting hurricane intensification, perhaps. Or something similar…

  35. This is a good lesson in leaning the difference between a subject matter advocate and a subject matter expert. Give me a SME any time!

    If there is a downside to this posting it is limited to my having once again having to be exposed to the blather of Joe Romm. I suppose there was no possibility of putting this together without that distasteful inclusion and so I’ll accept that for the good of the science, some exposure to Romm is unavoidable.

  36. Richard111 says:
    April 30, 2011 at 9:37 am
    “Is there any record of a rebuttal from any warmist when their claims are dissasembled?
    Do those people have any pride in their work?”

    Nope. Not one of them will go toe-to-toe with someone like a Tisdale. Their remarks exist for one-time-only MSM broadcast.

  37. Being red-green colorblind either simplifies my life or complicates it. Shopping for clothes includes very little concern over color co-ordination. Viewing websites has more problems. Red text on a black background is very hard to read and sometimes goes completely unnoticed. Now consider the implications of color coding in visual representation of numerical data. It would be much more valuable to me if you would have an option for a grey scale display. Of course some bright webmasters might find a way to highlight the corresponding areas as I passed my cursor along the legend bar, but I would really prefer to be able to look at the entire map and actually see the variations in the data as related to location.

    Before you suggest some of the various “color blind assistance applications” to me, I have tried a number of them and have come to the conclusion that none of them were actually verified with people who had colorblindness similar to mine. The national weather service has a link on their radar pages for people with colorblindness, but I did not find them helpful.

    I am not totally colorblind (as some of my uncles are). I was not even aware that my color vision deviated from the norm until a summer job between my junior and senior year of high school demonstrated an inability to detect the endpoint of a titration using phenolphthalein as in indicator. This suggested a possible explanation for my inability to understand the seemingly widespread concern about color – what is so great about a rainbow? – why should my pants be color coordinated with my shirt?

    I have written software which displays numerical information on a x-y plot, but I include the option for the user to specify what colors are included and how the intensities of those colors will correspond to the numerical values. I lack the knowledge to write an add on to a web browser which is able to intercept the display and convert the values to colors (or a grey scale) that are easily interpreted by me.

    If anyone knows of such an add-on, I would appreciate a link to it.

    Sincerely
    Donald K. Mitchell
    biggun22@ieee.org

  38. Jimbo says:
    April 30, 2011 at 11:45 am
    Tom T says:
    April 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

    If you go to the other side of Mexico, to the Pacific you see that is abnormally cool. How come that doesn’t get blamed for anything now days? Even snow is caused by warmth, cold never causes anything even cold weather isn’t caused by cold.

    If you keep you eye on the thimble you will see that they have cut back talk of global mean temps and have shifted to talking about local weather events. However, their original claim was man-made global warming would continue – and so far it stuttered to a halt. They’ve also stopped talking about ski resorts. ;O)
    ————————————————————————————–
    Bang on the money Jimbo! the way these ” Team scientists and their sycophants flip flop is disgusting trying to jump on every severe weather event to bolster the Message. Joe Bastardi called this outbreak of tornado’s a month or more back
    give Joe the money he calls as it as he see’s it,and is honest enough to own up when he ‘s wrong.
    Any one else noticed from Bob’s post how cool the Gulf was in the run up to the dust bowl years 30s, 40s,
    Strange also how Masters and Romm remained silent on the very cool Gulf during winter just gone!

  39. If the water temperature is confirmed to be up, it may have something to do with the oil spilled last summer and not anything to do with climate.

  40. I’ve been having problems with posting so I’ve spent some time upgrading internet providers and such. It has to do with my old ranch computer. Just bear with me.

  41. Thanks good stuff! I have noticed the new word of the day over on that blog is unprecedented. The prolific use of the word is the only thing that is actually unprecedented.

  42. JudyW says: “If the water temperature is confirmed to be up, it may have something to do with the oil spilled last summer and not anything to do with climate.”

    Sorry. I don’t see it. The oil spill started about this time last year. Scroll up to Figure 2 (the weekly Gulf SST anomaly data), and notice the dip and rebound that occurred between this time last year and now. Then compare it to the similar cycle that happened the year before the oil spill.

  43. “Both are infilled, so there are no gaps in the data.”

    Sorry. There are gaps in the DATA. There are no gaps in the reported temperatures because of the infilling, but those reported temperatures are not DATA.

    I doubt even Rumpelstiltskin could change gaps into DATA.

  44. MikeL says:
    April 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

    … I saw Brian Williams on NBC news ask a question..er or was it make a statement that the tornado weather events that caused all of the destruction in Alabama were caused by AGW, I mean climate change.

    And just think how many other issues he and his ~”layers and layers of Editorial Review” crews have been equally “authoritative” on for the benefit of the Public, over their long and finally ignoble careers!

    No wonder Williams senses that he doesn’t have enough personal substance to be able to set foot in any bar in Arizona safely as though he really exists, that is, at least without wearing a strong brass neck collar and a fully loaded diaper.

  45. “JudyW says:
    April 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    If the water temperature is confirmed to be up, it may have something to do with the oil spilled last summer and not anything to do with climate.”

    There was evidence of this at the time since the water that was covered with oil could not evaporate and thereby lose heat. However as far as I know, there is no longer any effect now. Does anyone know for sure? See:

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/06/evidence-of-elevated-sea-surface-temperatures-under-the-bp-oil-slick/

  46. Very interesting analysis Bob.

    Your right, it is the instantaneous conditions, not the monthly or yearly means, in this case those longer readings mean nothing and mere statistics will never portray them correct. Warm moist air without cold upper conditions tend not to spawn tornadoes. Warm surface and cold upper conditions without moisture tend to not spawn tornadoes. Moisture without the vertical and horizontal heat engine tend not to spawn tornadoes. It is the instantaneous combination of all together, and some may have missed it but there also has to be a configuration to carry the already mixed hot and cold above a tornado away or it will dissipate. So, I guess you could say it requires all four to stay firmly planted on the surface.

    Speaking of instantaneous readings, could you do a follow-up on what the temperatures of all of those abnormally warm places were the days after this event? Kind of comical but, it’s as if every now and then Earth has to blow it’s nose, got a bit too warm and moist here and a bit too cool way up there, and to us humans, it can be a real disaster when she does that. But this has always occurred and always will happen. It is not our ‘fault’.

    Bob, was nature successful in equalizing these conditions for the meantime? I bet yes.

  47. Harold Pierce Jr – Absolutely correct. Averaging a bunch of data points may or may not increase the resolution. Having spent nearly 40 years in the data acquisition business, it all depends. On a lot of things. Averaging the temperature in Fargo, Orlando and Los Angeles will not give you an average temperature of the U.S., nor will you improve the resolution. And I seriously doubt SST measurements of 30-100 years ago were accurate to better than 1 degree, nor done in a super systematic way, taking local effects into account. So, to claim 0.1 degree resolution or better is total nonsense. Too many variables, not enough equations.

    We don’t know what we don’t know. And much of what we think we know isn’t so.

  48. Pamela Gray says:
    April 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    My post disappeared

    [Can you please give us more than one minute to approve posts? ~dbs, mod.]

    I think the concern is caused by the normal ‘your post is awaiting moderation’ message not being displayed. You kind of feel it was not even sent, as you get no feedback. I get that a few times, and I have no idea why. It all seems to come out in the wash later, though.

  49. Wayne says: “Speaking of instantaneous readings, could you do a follow-up on what the temperatures of all of those abnormally warm places were the days after this event.”

    I assume you’re asking about the daily land surface temperature records in Del Rio, etc. If so, then the answer is no. The discussion in this post was sea surface temperature, nothing more.

  50. I suspect that the warm waters in the gulf probably did enhance the severe weather outbreak. In addition, the cool weather that has been sitting north of the polar jet was probably below normal and hence added to the problem. The result was a significant difference in temperatures which is just the recipe for severe weather.

    However, how does this relate to AGW? We’ve been told for quite awhile that the northern areas will warm faster. Hence, if AGW was involved you’d think the cool weather over the northern plains would have been warmer. If anything the whole scenario is contrary to the AGW meme.

    It appears to me that both Jeff and Joe are going against the science when they tie the changes to AGW. Say it isn’t so …

  51. Figures 10,11 and 12 show a decided similarity between the 1930’s and now, I hope it does not portend a return to the droughts of the dust bowl era.

  52. Bob, you seem to be having WAY too much fun with these data sets and graphs!

    But it’s nice to have some obsessive types like you around flaying the BS the Warmist-Wavers-of-Hands put out.

    :)

  53. Brian H says: “Bob, you seem to be having WAY too much fun with these data sets and graphs!”

    Just occupying time. Retired people have to so something (in addition to chattering their dentures) when it’s cold outside.

  54. I wonder why Jeff Masters chose to highlight temps along the Southern High Plains, like the record temps in Del Rio? Normally these locations are more under the influence of the Continental Tropical air masses (cT). The gulf flow normally has greater effect along points eastward. As as we all know, moist air warms and cools slower than dry air. The infamous Dryline (or Marfa Front) seperates the two air masses. In otherwords, Del Rio and El Paso normally have very hot but dry air this time of year due to southwesterlies (air originating from the deserts of Old Mexico), and not southeasterly wind flow (air orginating from the Gulf and the Subtropics). I would think that someone of Jeff Master’s position would know that.

  55. The cold pool in northern North America was the culprit for the outbreak in severe weather. The intense dynamics needed for the severe weather can be directly tied to polar front jet, which dropped into the Southern U.S. The jetstream also brought snow and cold to the Northern Plains, and heavy rains to the Midwest and upper Ohio Valley. Jeff Masters knows all of this, but continues to carry the Alarmist’s baggage. I used to frequent his blog. But I stopped almost a decade ago, when it became obvious that he was an Alarmist.

  56. Magisterial eviscerations like this from Bob almost make one feel sorry for the other side. (Almost but not quite.) What seems to jump out as notable is the two sharp minima of Gulf of Mexico SST during 2010-2011, and the big range of rapid variation, not so much the maxima. BTW another climate metric that shows a recent sharp increase in range of variation (min to max height) is N hemisphere sea ice, since 2007. Possibly unrelated but WUWT?

  57. Pamela Gray says:
    April 30, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Towards the end of the post, a vision of bombed rubble came to mind.
    ________________________________________________
    Exactly. It almost feels as an overkill.
    Bob doesn’t show any mercy.

  58. Thanks, Bob,
    “Long-term SST anomaly data show that the trend of the Gulf of Mexico SST anomalies is flat or negative since 1930. In other words, over that past 80 years, there is no global warming signal in the Gulf of Mexico SST data.”
    Excellent analysis!

  59. Donald Mitchell says:
    April 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    “Being red-green colorblind either simplifies my life or complicates it. Shopping for clothes includes very little concern over color co-ordination. Viewing websites has more problems. Red text on a black background is very hard to read and sometimes goes completely unnoticed.”

    My website uses red text on a black background.
    What I recommend to visitors who have problems with this is:
    “If due to its red color, normal text, even in Verdana, is not very legible,
    temporarily configure your browser to ignore the colors specified in Web pages.
    [Tools - Internet Options - General: Appearance: Accessibility] (in MS Internet Explorer)
    [View - Page Style - No Style] (in Mozilla Firefox)”
    See http://www.oarval.org/AARVALen.htm

    This, or similar actions can render all pages in black text on a white or gray background (or other personal choices).

  60. The AGW scam is a sinking ship and you just put another big hole in it below the waterline.
    Thanks Bob.

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