The White House gets a case of Mann-Tijander syndrome

WUWT readers may recall: Upside-Side Down Mann and the “peerreviewedliterature” at Climate Audit. Steve McIntyre wrote then:

“…there isn’t a shred of doubt that Mann et al 2008 used these proxies upside down from the Tiljander interpretation. “

It seems the use of “upside down data interpretation” has leaked into a White House official report. WUWT reader “Jimmy” says in Tips and Notes: Check out the interesting temperature graph on this economic post from the White House today, “Deviation from Normal Temperature”.

Excerpt:

3. The first quarter of 2014 was marked by unusually severe winter weather, including record cold temperatures and snowstorms, which explains part of the difference in GDP growth relative to previous quarters. The left chart shows the quarterly deviation in heating degree days from its average for the same quarter over the previous five years. By this measure, the first quarter of 2014 was the third most unusually cold quarter over the last sixty years, behind only the first quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1976. In addition, there were four storms in the first quarter that rated on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The right chart shows that no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms.

Yes, while technically correct, showing heating degree days, it is upside down to the normal human interpretation of temperature, especially when the title says “Deviation from Normal Temperatures” while presenting degree days rather than a temperature plot. The other two largest positive spikes are the brutal winters of 1977 and 1978.

Source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/05/29/second-estimate-gdp-first-quarter-2014

UPDATE:  here is how I would have presented this graph. Simply changing the title removes the inverted thinking about “Deviation from Normal Temperatures” and leaves it technically correct without unnecessarily confusing the reader.

WH_HeatingDegreeDays

Most people looking at that graph don’t have a clue what a heating or cooling degree day is. In case you don’t, here is a definition from NOAA/NWS

Q: What are degree days?

Heating engineers who wanted a way to relate each day’s temperatures to the demand for fuel to heat buildings developed the concept of heating degree days.

To calculate the heating degree days for a particular day, find the day’s average temperature by adding the day’s high and low temperatures and dividing by two. If the number is above 65, there are no heating degree days that day. If the number is less than 65, subtract it from 65 to find the number of heating degree days.

For example, if the day’s high temperature is 60 and the low is 40, the average temperature is 50 degrees. 65 minus 50 is 15 heating degree days.

Cooling degree days are also based on the day’s average minus 65. They relate the day’s temperature to the energy demands of air conditioning. For example, if the day’s high is 90 and the day’s low is 70, the day’s average is 80. 80 minus 65 is 15 cooling degree days.

Heating and cooling degree days can be used to relate how much more or less you might spend on heating or air conditioning if you move from one part of the country to another. Of course you’d have to take into account how well insulated your new home will be in comparison to your old one and the different costs of electricity, gas or heating oil. You could also use records of past heating degree days to see if the money you’ve spent on insulation, or a newer furnace or air conditioner is paying off. To do this, you’d also need records of past energy use.

The heating degree season begins July 1st and the cooling degree day season begins January 1st.

Source: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/cle/climate/info/degreedays.html

But also of interest in the same report is this graph and summary, which does make sense. It seems the winter of 2013/2014 set a new record for snowstorms.

4. Within the first quarter, several key indicators were lower in January and/or February before rebounding strongly in March, suggesting that the severe weather had a disruptive effect that only began to abate at the end of the quarter. Light vehicle sales, average weekly hours, core retail and food service sales, and core capital goods shipments dipped starting in December and/or January before bouncing back in March, and so were left little changed for the quarter as a whole. One outside group has estimated that the elevated snowfall in the first quarter slowed the annual rate of GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points, with all of that lost activity to be made up in the second quarter.

With this severe winter behind us, I have to wonder if any similar WH economic report (or any U.S. government report) exists that shows anything close to “slowed the annual rate of GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points” for a warmer than normal period. The summer of 2010 would be a good candidate for such a report.

If readers know of one, leave a note in comments.

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79 Responses to The White House gets a case of Mann-Tijander syndrome

  1. mountainape5 says:

    Why is it upside down?

  2. “Yes, while technically correct, showing heating and cooling degree days,”
    Chart is showing the heating degree day anomalies, does not have cooling degree days. The large negative spike in 2012? just shows that the temperature was less cold then in previous quarters. The title of the chart is wrong and using anomalies instead of just plotting the heating degree days directly makes it more complex then it needs to be.

    REPLY: Yes, noted and updated thanks. The title is also at issue. – Anthony

  3. Just re-read the caption, it is not a straight anomaly bashed on a constant base period, or the whole period shown, but based on the previous 5 quarters, so some sort of rolling anomaly, hard to compare more then just a couple of winters against each other, long term treads are nonsense they way it is plotted.

  4. j ferguson says:

    Anthony, I think this was done in innocence. I didn’t have any problem with it and did not think it inverted. After all it was showing heating and cooling degree days. If I’d been asked to prepare such a chart without any coaching I would have done the same thing, as I suspect would have most engineers who deal with these things.

    I do see that it could be confusing and for the reasons you suggest, but I see no agenda in the form. None.

  5. Charles Nelson says:

    That is the most shameful and simultaneously shameless bit of data presentation that I have ever seen. Altering the graph to spike high on the coldest quarter in 50 years!
    Wow….just…wow.

  6. mem says:

    I watched the US Science committee hearing at 1am Australian time today then later again on the archive here at http://science.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-examining-un-intergovernmental-panel-climate-change-process
    But, so far today, no one else seems to think it worthy of reporting except Judith Curry. What’s up doc? My take-away was that the science is far from settled and that there is a bunch of crooked American politicians and scientists out there that want to claim climate science as their own and use it to fleece Joe and Jill public to feather their own nests/power base. This accords with the Labor Party and Greens push in Australia; that is, until the public finally voted the Labor Party and The Greens out of government. We now have the Abbot led conservative government trying to clean up the budget devastation and also the psychological and social damage to the country of the leftist doomsayers. As our upper house which is the legislating body,doesn’t change at the same time as the House of Reps (people’s house) PM Abbott’s ability to clear the deck of all the unnecessary green legislation and funding commitments is limited. What are your views on the implications for the Whitehouse? And by the way congratulations on the article posted in the Washington post . It was mentioned in the committee hearing.

  7. Strange, because according to the heavily adjusted NCDC figures, Jan -March this year was only the 41st coldest!

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/

  8. Keith Willshaw says:

    This looks like a classic own goal.

    Not only does it appear duplicitous since there are darned few people in the US (or elsewhere) who do not realise that the past winter was brutally cold but it does not make any case for an alarming warming trend. Over the last 50 years the averaged value seems pretty stable with short term warming and cooling cycles. It also shows that extreme cold events are more disruptive than heat waves.

  9. gaelansclark says:

    Okay, so they determined that 65 degrees is the “Normal Temperature”?

  10. Ric Werme says:

    Wallace Vaughn (@Wally6262) says:
    May 30, 2014 at 4:27 am

    > Just re-read the caption, it is not a straight anomaly bashed on a constant base period, or the whole period shown, but based on the previous 5 quarters,

    Very important point! So the graph seems to show that quarter showed the greatest Q1 cooling of the last five years.

    Including each quarter seems to me to muddy the graph – the “summer” (JAS) quarter has very different characteristics than winter.

  11. wws says:

    This chart should have been labeled “Some crappy graph we made to try and confuse the issue”.

    In this day of instant graphmaking ability with any data a person chooses, people tend to forget that unless the graph maker puts a lot of thought and effort into making his parameters and presentation understandable to the average viewer, the resulting graph is pretty much total garbage. The numbers will be right, but if they’re not presented in a useful format they are little more than gibberish. Sure, you can decipher it. You can decipher esperanto if you want, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to put that in your presentation.

  12. Ric Werme says:

    gaelansclark says:
    May 30, 2014 at 5:04 am

    > Okay, so they determined that 65 degrees is the “Normal Temperature”?

    Not normal, it’s just the chosen average daily temperature when people typically heat their house.

    See http://www.erh.noaa.gov/cle/climate/info/degreedays.html . I don’t know if the threshholds are codified in some document from a standards body. Any HVAC people here?

  13. dipchip says:

    Perhaps we should push the fact that GDP collapse due to unusually cold weather, is an excuse to justify a faltering economy. Does that mean that global warming will improve the economy?

    Store this for future use as a sceptics talking point!

  14. Pamela Gray says:

    Governmental wrangling with data when they don’t know how to wrangle. I’ve seen it many times. Like trying to convince me that a linear trend line can justifiably be derived from subtracting the first data point from the last data point in the series and then dividing by the number of time units. With noisy data. Filled with multiple variables. That is used to make important decisions. FUBAR.

  15. Brian says:

    I tend to agree with a lot of what is published here but there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding among commentors regarding this report. It’s an economic report. Cold winters cause spikes in energy comsumption and energy cost. It’s not misleading in any way, shape, or form. BTW I’m a Mechanical Engineer working primarily in HVAC and energy engineering for over 30 years. This particular post is much ado about nothing.

  16. hunter says:

    Team Obama is grasping at straws to explain away his economic failures,
    Why not blame CO2 for that, and why not use phonied up Mann-style stats to do it?

  17. starzmom says:

    Someplace I just saw a headline that 2014 is shaping up to be the warmest year ever. Does this graph, confusing as it is, throw a monkey wrench into that projection?

  18. Greg says:

    Seems like an unfounded gripe to me. It’s clearly labelled “HEATING degree days”, not “degree days and also carries annotations indicating “colder than normal” / “warmer than normal” in appropriate blue and red.

    The sense of comparison is not affected w.r.t. 1950s.

    The confusing is in this article which asks : “Q: What are degree days?” when that is not the quantity in discussion. This is almost wilful mislabelling to create a problem to moan about.

    I see nothing misleading in the White House document.

    In fact it’s informative: look at the trend since 1998 Heating requirements have been steadily rising !! I’d say this will be a useful graph to refer to next time someone pretends “global warming is happening now” etc.

    I’m saving a copy.

  19. RACookPE1978 says:

    hunter says:
    May 30, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Team Obama is grasping at straws to explain away his economic failures,
    Why not blame CO2 for that, and why not use phonied up Mann-style stats to do it?
    starzmom says:

    May 30, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Someplace I just saw a headline that 2014 is shaping up to be the warmest year ever. Does this graph, confusing as it is, throw a monkey wrench into that projection?

    Which IS EXACTLY the point of the “upside down” (COLDER WEATHER across the US for the winter means a “SPIKE” in the plot!) by the White House.
    Economic LOSS for the entire nation for the entire quarter-year means a SPIKE in the plot!
    MORE ENERGY “lost” (used by the people for survival in COLD WEATHER) means a SPIKE in the plot!
    It is exactly the same as when they showed plots a SPIKE in food stamps and welfare as a “growth” in the economy, and claimed that MORE welfare means a healthier economy. When they claimed that LESS government spending means the economy will fail.

    And their captive ABCNNBCBS TV news media wll repeat this. Have repeated this in the past, Will continue to repeat it in the future to protect their liberal politicians. This is a politically-driven plot to excuse the first quarter loss, and will be used as long as it is convenient to use. Then it will be changed, and “economic growth” will be plotted to show “economic growth between the first quarter and the second quarter” just in time for the election in November. NOT to prove that economic growth is better in warm weather.

  20. Brian says:

    Ric Werme –
    65*F is an arbitrary baseline number that represents the outdoor ambient temperature below which we expect people to use heating and above which we expect people to use cooling. 65*F hasn’t been a useful number for heating since the 70′s reaction to the oil crisis and it hasn’t been useful for cooling since the advent of the personal computer. It’s just a standard for comparison.
    HDD are normally used only for estimating monthly/annual heating energy costs by lazy engineers. Some energy codes, including ASHRAE 90.1 use it for determining required U-values for facility features.

  21. JJ says:

    Sooooo …. This week the White House uses one of the three Coldest Winters EVAH ™ to excuse the administration’s continued mismanagement of the nation’s economy.

    Then Obama will turn right around on Monday and use “Global Warming” to justify his cap and trade tax plan.

    It’s surreal. Orwell has nothing on these clowns.

  22. Rick says:

    We now plot the weather in quarters like GDP? IMO the unpredictable nature of weather nullifies the effectiveness of the endeavor.

  23. jimmi_the_dalek says:

    Surely it is this article that has it upside down, not the diagram being complained about?

    See comment by Brian at 5:31.

    A “heating degree day” = ” a day you have to turn the heating on” i.e a cold day – the graph is correctly labelled and the right way round

  24. Roy Martin says:

    @ Brian, May 30, 2014 at 5:31 am

    “… there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding among commenters regarding this report.”

    Precisely! You, as an engineer with over 30 years experience in the field, understand it. How many politicians, unelected decision makers, reporters, talking heads or infotainment consumers will get it? Very few!

    So yes, there is a lot of misunderstanding, but not from the commenters. I, for one, understand it very well.

  25. Tom J says:

    The elite Wasingtonians might be advised to insulate their tony homes for a possible chill late this fall.

  26. j ferguson says:

    Guys, there is nothing arcane about that chart. Charts just like this one but covering only the previous month used to come with my gas bill in Chicago forty years ago. They were (are) always done this way, never as you say other way up. No-one familiar with concept of degree days would ever do it any other way.

    So what we have here is a reaction to something not understood or unfamiliar and the immediate assumption that it is liberal, (well it would be from this administration), propaganda. Think about the Chicken-Little story as an example – same thing.

    Frankly, I’m astonished that our host wasn’t familiar with these charts given his profession.

    Lest anyone think that what I’ve written is a general attack on this site, I would say that much of what gets posted here is interesting, often useful, and even substantial. But there is the occasional silliness and this is a good example.

    REPLY: I take exception to your statement “Frankly, I’m astonished that our host wasn’t familiar with these charts given his profession.” That’s the sort of rubbish that attack loonies like “Sou” aka Miriam O’Brien would say. If I wasn’t familiar with it, why did I go to the trouble of trying to educate readers about the definition of it? My point is that they could have 1) labeled it correctly or 2) Presented the data so that the label of 3rd coldest was a downgoing spike rather than an uptick, like the way a thermometer reads.

    The fact that so many people, including yourself are confused about it illustrates my point. – Anthony

  27. Mohatdebos says:

    A number of posters have noted that the objective behind this exercise was to show that extreme cold in the first quarter resulted in negative economic growth. My guess is that this analysis was performed by the Energy Information Administration, which keeps track of energy consumption in the U.S. What is interesting is that the NCDC, which is responsible for hyping global warming (aka climate change) by adjusting temperature data upwards, insists that the first quarter was slightly warmer than normal. Someone should ask the White House about this discrepancy.

  28. Brian says:

    Roy –

    If it had been shown in the technically incorrect format, how many here would be complaining about it on that basis? Are we to pick our arguments based on a politically driven point of view or a technically driven one? There has been a lot of discussion here in the past lambasting the politicizing of technical information and I, for one, seek consistency in my approach.

  29. ossqss says:

    I am shocked the White House did not find out about the GDP problem on the news like everything else they claim not to know about. This is just another opportunity to avoid responsibility again! It is ironic how this happened in the first full quarter after the ACA was implemented.

    On a side note and kinda on topic, I missed this yesterday.
    http://judithcurry.com/2014/05/29/u-s-house-hearing-on-the-ipcc-process/#more-15644

  30. ffohnad says:

    It seems a important factor is missing in the equation. Personal heating and cooling settings vary by quite a bit…..for instance I set my cooling threshold at 80 and my heating at 65. My neighbor claims to set his at 72/70. I suspect this factor would change much of the data, and it seems to be unaccounted for.

  31. DayHay says:

    J. Ferguson, to think that anything coming out of this administration or any administration is innocent it tremendously naive. Any graph “up and to the right” communicates the party line that we need the cap and trade that is coming through the EPA. We have to consider the sources because over the last 15 years the BS consensus has been 100%. The simple fact that one of the worst winters in 20 years has barely been mentioned in “science” or the MSM, and when it is it is it is blamed on man made global warming should tell you something.

  32. j ferguson says:

    What Brian said. + 1

  33. Brian says:

    Mohatdebos @ 7:21 -
    They are not inconsistent. This is a US economic report. The NCDC reported the National winter temperatures as colder than normal, while reporting the Global land surface temperatures as still warmer than normal.

  34. j ferguson says:

    DayHay, “Tremendously Naive”?? I didn’t say they might not misuse it, but I think to pick on this poor innocent, and likely correct chart is to express a blind pessimism which is largely politically biased. I share your general view, but this isn’t a good example.

  35. Greg says:

    I think 65 must be the average of the data shown. These cumulative integrals veer off quickly one way or the other if they aren’t referenced to the long term mean.

  36. j ferguson says:

    Anthony, I read your reaction to my suggestion that you might not be familiar with a degree day chart. I still cannot understand how you would think it reasonable that this one single degree-day chart among the thousands published over the years that look just like this one with identical orientations should be inverted.

    My guess is that I’m not the only one reading this who thinks this, either.

    REPLY:
    See my update, you’ve missed the point. Simply changing the title removes the inverted thinking about “Deviation from Normal Temperatures”. The title is wrong, and sets up the uninformed reader with something that is inverted to any temperature anomaly graph they have ever seen.

    BTW, I used to give HDD and CDD’s on a half hour farm report I used to do long ago in the Midwest, (farmers who have livestock buildings had to pay a lot of attention to fuel oil and natural gas/bottled gas use) so please don’t tell me that I’m unfamiliar with the terms and their method of derivation. – Anthony

  37. Alan Robertson says:

    “It seems the winter of 2013/2014 set a new record for snowstorms.”
    ________________________
    Of course there were more snowstorms and it’s all your fault. Didn’t we all get the memo from the Climate Fearosphere? “Warmer air holds more moisture, so therefore Global Warming causes more snow storms”.
    Colder winters? Those are your fault too; Climate Disruption.
    You will pay for your sins.

  38. Anthony Watts says:

    See my update in the body of the post on how I would have presented the graph.

  39. Greg says:

    “Simply changing the title removes the inverted thinking”

    That is true. The title does not reflect the variable that is being plotted.

  40. Brian says:

    Greg @ 8:06 – Please see my explanation of the 65*F @ 6:11

  41. Greg says:

    try flipping the graph
    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=t540t2&s=8#.U4ijKaKBwrQ

    general downward trend since 1998.

  42. j ferguson says:

    Thanks Anthony. Now it makes sense, even to this meanest understanding.

  43. Steve McIntyre says:

    It’s unfair to Mia Tiljander to include her as part of the upside-down syndrome. She didn’t use her data upside down. It was Mann (followed later by Huybers and Tingley and IPCC).

    REPLY: I never suggested she did, only that Mann’s interpretation of her data was inverted, much like the WH interpretation of temperature anomaly in the graph, but to be precise, I added the word interpretation so that this reads: “upside down data interpretation” – Anthony

  44. Greg says:

    Brian says:
    Greg @ 8:06 – Please see my explanation of the 65*F @ 6:11

    Well if that really a figure that was fixed decades ago and does not get adjusted, it must be damned close to true mean of the data.

    Imagine the figure had been set at 64.99F that would introduce a drift of 3 degree.days per year or 180 degree.days in the 60y year record. Even one HUNDREDTH of a a degree would cause it to ramp off one way or the other.

    Now I just don’t buy that 65F is _exactly_ the mean of that data to within 0.01 degrees, by pure accident , and happens to match what someone chose decades ago (when we all know it was MUCH colder than today).

    Whatever NOAA, NCDC or the WH say, I’m telling you it’s mean of that data.

  45. J says:

    The big shocker to me is that the graph of heating days shows no trend decreasing with time.

    If the climate is growing warmer, we should be heating less, right?
    The graph looks about level, so no warming trend !

  46. D.J. Hawkins says:

    ffohnad says:
    May 30, 2014 at 7:42 am
    It seems a important factor is missing in the equation. Personal heating and cooling settings vary by quite a bit…..for instance I set my cooling threshold at 80 and my heating at 65. My neighbor claims to set his at 72/70. I suspect this factor would change much of the data, and it seems to be unaccounted for.

    These standards are used, along with local extremes, by HVAC engineers to determine the proper size for your furnace and chiller. They have to pick something, and 65F is the consensus standard. Remember that this is the outside temperature, not the temperature in your home. With an outside temperature of 65F homes are more or less in thermal balance. Normal human activites produce enough heat that there is little or no demand on the heating system and in fact interior temperatures may be closer to 70F or so. FWIW, this is pretty much my own experience, and as usual YMMV.

  47. Greg says:

    Compare the last snap of cold years like that to the tornado records for EF3 and greater:
    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=257

    We’re moving into a cooling period expect tornadoes.

  48. Greg says:

    This is the kind of extreme weather we can expect as world COOLS , it the new normal.

  49. D.J. Hawkins says:

    Greg says:
    May 30, 2014 at 8:38 am
    Brian says:
    Greg @ 8:06 – Please see my explanation of the 65*F @ 6:11

    Well if that really a figure that was fixed decades ago and does not get adjusted, it must be damned close to true mean of the data.

    Imagine the figure had been set at 64.99F that would introduce a drift of 3 degree.days per year or 180 degree.days in the 60y year record. Even one HUNDREDTH of a a degree would cause it to ramp off one way or the other.

    Now I just don’t buy that 65F is _exactly_ the mean of that data to within 0.01 degrees, by pure accident , and happens to match what someone chose decades ago (when we all know it was MUCH colder than today).

    Whatever NOAA, NCDC or the WH say, I’m telling you it’s mean of that data.

    Sixty year record? You didn’t actually read the explanatory material, did you? First, the 65F temperature isn’t some calculated item; it’s an arbitrarily selected standard. Second, the anomolies aren’t calculated against the entire record, they are calculated against 5-year bins. For Q1 for 1980, it’s calculated against the average for Q1 for 1976-1980.

  50. Greg says:

    J says:
    May 30, 2014 at 8:39 am

    The big shocker to me is that the graph of heating days shows no trend decreasing with time.

    If the climate is growing warmer, we should be heating less, right?
    The graph looks about level, so no warming trend !
    ====

    You would have been writing that as I posted the explanation just above you comment. That plot has to be relative to the mean of the data. Thus no trend.

  51. Dave says:

    This was done to explain a downturn in economics….right?
    Statistics Canada says the economy grew by 1.2% in the first quarter of this year, after posting a 2.7% expansion in the last three months of 2013. For the last month of the quarter, March, the economy edged ahead by 0.1 per cent over February.

  52. hunter says:

    Anthony,
    This article was blindingly clear to me.
    We see the Obama Adminsitration grasping at straws to explain away their economic failure.
    Inadvertantly they are showing that the heating needs of Americans has increased over the last ten years or so, which is odd whn one think of how ‘global warming’ was impacting America so severely, according to Mr. Obama, during this same period of time.

  53. Greg says:

    D.J. Hawkins says:
    May 30, 2014 at 8:50 am

    “Second, the anomolies aren’t calculated against the entire record, they are calculated against 5-year bins. For Q1 for 1980, it’s calculated against the average for Q1 for 1976-1980.”

    3. The first quarter of 2014 was marked by unusually severe winter weather, including record cold temperatures and snowstorms, which explains part of the difference in GDP growth relative to previous quarters. The left chart shows the quarterly deviation in heating degree days from its average for the same quarter over the previous five years. By this measure, the first quarter of 2014 was the third most unusually cold quarter over the last sixty years, behind only the first quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1976. In addition, there were four storms in the first quarter that rated on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The right chart shows that no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms.

    OH! So the graph is totally misleading. Not only is it not “deviation from normal temperatures” it’s the short term anomaly of the temperature integral.

    So they used an integral as a sort of low-pass filter , subtracted this (a difference being a high pass filter) from a 5 running mean of itself (a different distorting low-pass filter ) and then WTF ? Typical economists data processing.

    What does the mangled data actually tell us? Does anybody know? I doubt it.

    Now forgive me for not going to the “explanatory text” that explains that what the graph shows is not at all what the graph claims to show. Silly me.

  54. Greg says:

    I should add my thanks for pointing that out. It finally makes sense of this graph which shows neither “deviation from normal” nor “heating degree.days” but some mangled process data whose significance we can only guess at.

  55. Greg says:

    This processing reminds me somewhat of the MACD indicator explained here;
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/01/if-climate-data-were-a-stock-now-would-be-the-time-to-sell/

    It seems to be some kind of short term variability indicator for detecting a change in direction. The choice of 5 years giving the scale of change considered.

    This also explains the slight lag of a couple of years w.r.t the tornado data of the mid 70′s that I linked above.

    The recent swing may well indicate we are moving into another period of tornado activity like the mid 70′s. Maybe those living in tornado alley need to know this. Climate change that MATTERS.

  56. Greg says:

    Excel data processing at it’s best LOL

  57. Greg says:

    Seriously the 2014 point looks like a BUY indicator for tornado insurance.

  58. Robertvd says:

    Jesse Ventura just lost my vote

  59. Greg says:

    Now we know what it is about , Anthony’s new title would not be correct either since heating requirements are determined by ACTUAL temperatures not filtered,integrated short-deviations from a 5 year mean.

    Anthony, what you make of MACD thing and it’s possible link to a up turn in US tornadoes?

  60. Gary Pearse says:

    Maybe the original series was called rednajit.

  61. dp says:

    Perhaps something more basic could be added like “Furnace is running” and “Furnace is not running” along with cost per BTU average running through it. Show the impact to the pocket book.

  62. Catcracking says:

    “Second, the anomalies aren’t calculated against the entire record, they are calculated against 5-year bins. For Q1 for 1980, it’s calculated against the average for Q1 for 1976-1980.”

    It escapes me to understand why the data is massacred in such a way? Why in the world did they just not present the degree days that are universally understood.
    I would like to believe it is incompetence rather than some malicious intent.
    As someone else noted the actual data on degree days would be an indicator of long term warming or cooling (assuming the data has not been manipulated). I assume that is available somewhere.

  63. Dave Wendt says:

    There seems to be a staggering amount of misunderstanding about the not that complicated concept of degree days. As the definition in the post amply illustrates degree days are an anomaly datum. 65 degrees is the baseline for that anomaly. It is a purely arbitrary number selected by those who created the concept and represents neither a mean, median, average or any other statistical concept. It could be any number that the creators thought made sense at the time with the only imperative for the integrity of the data set being that it stay the same from beginning to end.

    Another difficulty which hasn’t been resolved is that the graph heading claims to show degree days for the “same quarter over the previous five years” when the graph seems to cover more than five decades. That error wasn’t addressed in the graph with the corrected title.

    What is most amazing, as has been pointed out by others above, is that an administration which is one day out ballyhooing their Climate Assessment about how we we will all die agonizing deaths from Global Warming if we don’t bend over and spread ‘em immediately, can, in the blink of an eye, declare that the profound failures of their economic policies were caused by too much cold weather. Calling upon Orwell is quite a cliche at this point in time but Big Brother Barry and his gang of thought police thugs have raised Doublespeak to levels that even old George never seemed to have envisioned.

  64. Dave Wendt says:

    Whoops! I had an Emily Litella moment in the previous comment! Nevermind!

  65. D.J. Hawkins says:

    The graph under discussion doesn’t seem to be a standard NOAA product. I’ve gone to their “Degree Day” page and can’t find it. I also can’t seem to find any data on the site prior to 1981. Anyone else know where to find the graph or the complete data it’s constructed from?

  66. Frank Kotler says:

    Speaking of being unfair to Mia Tiljander… did we spell her name right in the title? (sorry to pick nits)

  67. Pamela Gray says:

    Sorry but I don’t buy the excuse that the authors were trying to be “real”. Come on you guys. You know the message: Anything up is bad, anything down is good. That is the message. So we need to be consistent and show how “up” things are bad, even if the “up” is really cold. So it looks like to me they tried to find a statistic that had that basic “consistent message”. Up is bad, down is good. So I still call it FUBAR on climate scientists!

  68. D.J. Hawkins says:

    @Brian says:
    May 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    You da man, Brian! Thanks.

  69. Joseph Bastardi says:

    Was on with Cavuto highlighting Weatherbell.com cold winter forecast.. that will pick your pocket and slap your face. Since Mid Jan 2013… the weather has had a cold look to it. Joe D and I already are out with the idea that a modiki enso event is on the way, not a super nino and that the two closest winters to analog the past 15 years are 02/03 and 09/10. Right or wrong, Co2 has nothing to do with it. Perhaps the central planners for the government should decentralize and get other opinions on what the winter will do besides widespread equal chances..or warm

  70. Rob says:

    To follow up on Anthony’s final question, no, I have never seen a warm quarter credited with a drop in GDP. Even hurricanes show up as (local) spikes, due to the economic activity involved in preparing beforehand and clearing up afterwards. That a high number of snowstorms in a single winter can reduce GDP by 1.4% shows how much more damaging cold weather is to the economy than warm weather.

  71. Ed Reid says:

    The HDD and CDD concepts have been based on 65 F since their inception. However, better insulated homes and homes maintained at less than ~72 F during the winter would begin requiring heat at lower outside temperatures. Actual heating requirements are reduced by ~1% per degree F per 8 hour period when the temperature of the heated space is kept below 72 F, in a region with a winter average temperature of ~47 F (eg. Columbus, OH). For example, a home maintained at 66 F for 16 hours per day and using night setback to 55 F for 8 hours at night would have a heating energy consumption approximately 24% lower as the result of the lower normal set point (8 F lower for three 8 hour periods per day) and an additional 11% lower as the result of the night setback (an additional 11 F lower for one 8 hour period per day). The percentage savings would be higher in warmer regions, though the magnitude of the energy savings would be lower.

  72. Kevin Kilty says:

    There is a lot of carping about this thread being about very little if anything, but I think Mr. Watts’ point is valid. I teach Mechanical Engineering at a university, and one of the courses I teach is a thermal/fluids laboratory. I demand that students write clear, brief and technically accurate reports. The fact that this graph was mislabeled as to the variable it plots would have been a fatal error, and I would have lowered the student’s grade over it. As a practicing scientist and engineer over many years I am certain I would have suffered some sort of penalty for having done something like this or less on my reports to clients and government agencies–I once had a proposal rejected for merely having not provided the units of a particular variable which allowed a cranky or possibly incompetent reviewer to supply his own units and then claim my work was wrong. Graphs, in particular, are supposed to make difficult material more clear not more difficult to comprehend.

  73. RACookPE1978 says:

    Ed Reid says:
    May 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    You miss the point of this thread completely – whether deliberately or because you yourself failed to see that propaganda and salesmanship, I cannot say. A plot or graphic can be “accurate” but completely misleading at the same time. We have been told for seen years now that “The “message” of global warming catastrophe” has not been presented right” and “The way that scientists present the message” has to be “changed.”

    This is salesmanship, gaming the impression, and propagandizing into t a willing and gullible mass media that itself desperately wants to make Obama’s message look good, viable, and uplifting.

    Again, look at this temperature plot from the same government bureaucracies. What was the temperature before 1975? Where is that little blue line hiding? Where is “zero”? Why is “temperature” rising so suddenly and alarmingly recently?

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/global-land-ocean-mntp-anom/201001-201012.gif

    And this plot. Again, look at the FIRST IMPRESSION that it makes.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/global-weather-climate/global-climate/#comment-1650125

    Now, compare to this “NO RED BARS” plot of similar temperature data over the same period of time.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/crutem4/data/web_figures/global_n+s_monthly.png

    Different impression entirely, isn’t it?

  74. Bill H says:

    The graph was designed for those in the engineering and scientific fields. The graph is good when viewed by this target audience. However they were presenting this to the general public. Big mistake and misleading as they did not prepare it for their target audience.

    This is a failure of cognitive thought and preparing it for the audience it was to be presented too. IMHO

  75. ferdberple says:

    The right chart shows that no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms.
    =================
    so the unprecedented is not unprecedented at all. It happened 60 years ago, which is about the length of the PDO cycle.

    So while CO2 is increasing, climate continues to move in cycles. Round and round, as constant as the planets and moons in the heavens. Completely contrary to what AGW predicted. A failed theory by any measure of science.

  76. ferdberple says:

    Here is what the world bank has to say:
    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.ELEC.KH.PC

    Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)
                      2003    2008    2013   
    Iceland 	51,259 	51,440 	52,374 
    Norway 	        23,860 	24,891 	23,174
    Finland 	15,242 	16,483 	15,738 	
    Canada 	        15,164 	16,211 	16,473
    United States 	12,914 	13,395 	13,246
    Haiti 	            36 	    25 	    32
    

    Anyone notice a pattern?

  77. Winston says:

    Please don’t attempt to use in any way the government’s bogus economic figures and the ignorant pre-2008-crash “Buy, buy, buy!” mainstream financial media’s mostly incorrect use of weather as an excuse for the US GDP decline. It’s even worse than the case for AGW and far more manipulated due to no real _mainstream_ peer review within the (very) soft science of economics. The weakness of their idiotic neoclassical economic theory and the garbage models made from it simply explained:

    Minsky (computer code) Introduction Video

    And, yet, despite its proven inaccuracies demonstrated time and time again, neoclassical economic theory remains the dogma. Why? Because it tells both politicians and bankers what they _want_ to hear – “You can borrow your way to prosperity.”

    [link not working, or not correctly listed. .mod]

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