Lots of clima-hullaballo this week in the media thanks NOAA and this announcement in NOAA’s “State of the Climate” report seen here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was record highest for the 134-year period of record, at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F).
Much of the global “record highest” claim hinges on this one point about Russia:
But, according to satellite temperatures, the ranking claimed by NCDC isn’t anywhere near to “record warmest”. Dr. John Christy gives these values for the satellite data sources of global temperature and their ranks:
- UAH Nov 2013 9th warmest Nov (0.20 C cooler than warmest Nov.)
- RSS Nov 2013 16th warmest Nov (0.22 C cooler than warmest Nov.)
And, when we look at the UAH map of the world, while Russia was certainly warmer, it wasn’t as warm as NCDC makes it to be:
Other maps from GISS suggest the NCDC presentation might be stretching the November temperatures a bit in the SOTC report, possibly because of the NCDC choice of baseline period.
GISS says 0.40 in November for the 1981-2010 base period used by UAH:
….and just 0.38 in November for 1981-2010 base period if 250km smoothing used:
Clearly, how you calculate and present global temperature anomalies makes a difference in the answer you get for November.
The difference here is that NCDC is using the “20th Century Average” where the other sources are using accepted 30 year climatology periods. Choosing that period can make a big difference in the outcome.
For example if I tweak the GISS parameters to use the 20th century, we get this, a value of 0.76C above normal, which is closer to NCDC’s value:
[Added: Also pointed out in comments NCDC has a lot of data gaps in Russia.
When the data finally arrives (due to late reporting stations that trickle in), one wonders what the smoothing over Russia will look like and how much the global temperature value for November changes. NOAA/NCDC has to produce "State of the Climate" report each month, and they often do so before all the data is in, but we don't ever see any update of those values sent to the press. ]
Another source using the GHCN surface land data and surface ocean data in an NCEP analysis, WeatherBell, agrees that Russia was quite anomalously warm, but gives a global temperature anomaly of only 0.17C:
The point I’m making is that global temperature can be significantly different, depending on how it is calculated and presented. Which way is the right way? More importantly, since monthly temperatures still fit into the scale of synoptic meteorology, i.e. affected by “weather”, does it even matter to the global warming debate?
Along the same lines, with year-end approching, we’ll soon see pushes from government and media sources to position 2013 in some rank of “warmest year ever”. With that in mind, here are some maps and temperature ranks to consider:
WeatherBell year to date shows only o.049c globally for the year, hardly alarming:
NCDC, using their century scale base period, says: “The globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces for the first eleven months of 2013 (January–November) was 0.62°C” Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/
GISS says only 0.19C so far for 2013, and it will likely go down with the cold December Arctic outbreak which has been seen in the Northern Hemisphere:
Global temperature on monthly and yearly time scales varies greatly depending on how it is calculated, how it is presented, and who presents it.
Which one is the real global temperature?
Addendum: I have been wondering about that Russian red spot for 5 years. I’ve seen this red spot come and go in Russia, and I don’t know what the reason is.
I do know this: neither I nor NOAA has a good handle on the siting characteristics of Russian weather stations. I do know one thing though, the central heating schemes for many Russian cities puts a lot of waste heat into the air from steam pipes:
In the cities, it’s the municipality that supplies the hot water. There’s a huge network of giant pipes that move the water all over the city. It’s a closed circuit that eventually leads back to a steam plant – a huge factory that does nothing more than heat water and force it into the system.
The pipes enter practically every building within the city limits and the heat from uninsulated pipes (radiators) is what keeps everyone’s living space toasty warm throughout some extremely cold winters. A side benefit is that they never have to wait for the water to warm up in their showers!
While the silver pipes in photos above have insulated cladding, the steam pipes seen below are un-insulated:
The caption was telling: Smaller Russian era dwelling – blue is typical color. Pipes outside are for the steam heat that is distributed to all buildings.
Note the waste heat keeps the snow off the street in Siberia:
Above: Central heating, Novokuznetsk, Siberia, 1991 Photo by Bertien van Manen
(The addendum was edited for clarity)
- November 2013 Global Surface (Land+Ocean) Temperature Anomaly Update (wattsupwiththat.com)
- Toasty November Vaults 2013 Into Top 5 Warmest Years (climatecentral.org)
- November Was the Warmest November Since We Started Keeping Track (theatlantic.com)
- Earth had its warmest November on record (usatoday.com)