The NCDC Goes Ahistorical
Guest post by Ken Meyercord
On March 19th last I sent the following email to Derek Arndt, Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at the NCDC:
“I noticed that on the National Climatic Data Center website the National Overview report for February gives the average temperature for the contiguous United States and compares this to the 20th century average, but it doesn’t give the historical ranking of February 2013 (which, as you know, was the 49th warmest).
Looking over the reports for the last year, I found only two times that such a ranking was not given, and in both instances it was a case of the data not supporting the global warming enthusiasts: June 2012, which was the 9th warmest – not that damning except that it is bracketed between rankings of 1, 3, 2, and 1; and October 2012, which ranked 75th warmest. All three omissions appear to me to be signs of politics intruding into the scientific sphere, something, I hope, you are as concerned about as am I, especially with regard to such an important issue. I trust you have a more reassuring explanation for the omission. “
I have been waiting with bated breath to see how the NCDC would handle their report on March (and to receive Mr. Arndt’s explanation!), suspecting it was even cooler historically than February.
Today the NCDC published their report (at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/03 ). Sure enough, March was cooler, and once again the NCDC failed to give the historical ranking (which was 77th warmest), noting only that it was “the coolest March since 2002”.
I checked (see below for the last 13 months) some other recent reports to see if Mr. Meyercord’s assertions hold up, these are the first bullet points for the month of each State of the Climate report.
Meyercord’s claim doesn’t always hold up about warmer/colder months, but it does suggest an inconsistent or sloppy reporting process on the part of NCDC. With something so important, you’d think they would have a template for such reports where the same basic data is reported each time to allow for comparisons with previous months.
NCDC would do well to standardize their reporting practices for State of the Climate reports since they are used by the media and by policy makers
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during January was 32.0°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average, tying with 1958 as the 39th warmest January on record.
- The average contiguous U.S. temperature for December was 36.4°F, 3.4°F above the 20th century long-term average, and the 10th warmest December on record.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during November was 44.1°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, tying 2004 as the 20th warmest November on record.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, just 0.3°F below the long-term average, ending a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the lower 48 that began in June 2011.
- The average contiguous U.S. temperature during September was 66.3°F, 1.5°F above the 20th century average, the 18th warmest such month on record. September 2012 marks the 16th consecutive month with above-average temperatures for the Lower 48.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during August was 74.4°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average, marking the 16th warmest August in a period of record that dates back to 1895.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the warmest July and all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895. The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936, when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 71.2°F, which is 2.0°F above the 20th century average. The June temperatures contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895. Scorching temperatures during the second half of the month led many cities to set all-time temperature records.
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during May was 64.3 degrees F, which is 3.3 degrees F above average — the second warmest May on record
- Warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed much of the contiguous United States during April, and the nationally-averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees F, 3.6 degrees F above average — the third warmest on record. The precipitation averaged across the nation was 2.23 inches, 0.20 inch below average.
- Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895. The average temperature of 51.1 degrees F was 8.6 degrees F above the 20th century average for March and 0.5 degrees F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.
- During February, the contiguous United States experienced above-average temperatures with a national average temperature of 38.3 degrees F. This was 3.6 degrees F above average, making it the 17th warmest February on record.
- The average contiguous U.S. temperature in January was 36.3 degrees F, 5.5 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average — the fourth warmest January on record, and the warmest since 2006. Precipitation, averaged across the nation, was 1.85 inches. This was 0.37 inch below the long-term average, with variability between regions. This monthly analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.