The Greatest Climate Myths of All – Part 3: The Global Average Chimera

Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Carl Sagan’s scientific baloney detector warns that when the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic, it is a sure sign a discussion has veered away from the foundations of critical scientific analyses. The classic example of such behavior is commonly seen on alarmists’ websites. When skeptics point out the myriad of other factors that also explain climate change, they are slanderously attacked as “deniers of climate change” or “deniers of the greenhouse effect”. Then as if refuting all competing evidence, alarmists showcase NASA’s graph, with a steadily rising global average temperature which “remarkably” coincides with rising CO2 concentrations.

They incorrectly suggest that graphic representation is evidence that CO2 is trapping heat. In truth, the global average is a chimera of many dynamics, dynamics that can raise temperatures without ever adding any additional heat to the planet. Unless those dynamics are properly factored out, the global average tells us precious little about the earth’s current sensitivity to rising CO2 and obscures our understanding of the complex mechanisms of climate change.

The dire consequence of a simplistic conclusion based on a “chimeric average” is illustrated by a not‑so‑ancient allegory about an arthritic elderly man who was unbearably suffering from both cold feet and hot facial flashes. In an attempt to heal himself, he hobbled to the kitchen and placed his head in the freezer and his feet in the oven. His relief was temporary, and his discomfort increased after becoming stuck in that position. Moaning in pain he begged his bed-ridden wife, who was unaware of his predicament, to call for help. Anxiously the wife called 3 doctors. After measuring the temperature of the man’s feet, the first doctor reported that overheating from the oven was causing his pain. Likewise after measuring the temperature of the man’s head, the second doctor reported the pain was caused by the freezer. The third doctor (a former climate scientist) did not make house calls, but compiled the other 2 doctors’ temperature data. After averaging the body’s temperatures, he reported the man’s body temperature was normal. Based on the average, he diagnosed the man’s pain as psychological and referred him to Dr. Lewandowsky.

As in the allegory, a “global average” temperature obscures critical dynamics that are best understood by examining local causes of “regional climate” change. Below are 6 factors that must be removed from the global average chimera before we can evaluate how much heat has accumulated and how much heat can be attributed to rising CO2.

1. Warmer Arctic Temperatures Are Largely Due To Escaping Heat!

NASA’s map below illustrates how various regions have warmed and cooled during 2000–2009 relative to 1951-1980. On average the recent decade was 0.6°C warmer, but this difference is disproportionately driven by the Arctic that was about 2°C warmer. That unusual extreme warming is called Arctic Amplification that CO2 driven models suggest is the result of absorbing more heat because lost sea ice allows darker ocean waters to absorb more heat. But that explanation is contradicted by a recent evaluation of Arctic Ocean heat content (Wunsch and Heimbach 2014 discussed here) which reveals the upper 700 meters of the Arctic Ocean have been cooling. That cooling suggests unusually warm Arctic air temperatures are instead caused by increased ventilation of heat that had been stored decades ago.

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The consensus agreed a shifting Arctic Oscillation altered the direction of subfreezing winter winds from Siberia, anomalously pushing sea ice away from the coast and generating more open water “polynya” and “leads. “Those same winds also pushed previously trapped thick multiyear ice into the warmer Atlantic. 1 Before the winds shifted, measurements of air temperatures in the 80s and 90s reported a slight cooling trend that contradicted global warming theory.2

Compared to old sea ice that is 3 meters thick, open water ventilates 70 times more heat. During the winter when that open water re-freezes it releases additional latent heat. After a week, new ice thickens to 0.4 meters, but still ventilates 8 times more heat. New ice will thicken to 1 meter in about a month but still ventilates 3 times as much heat as thick multi‑year ice. Researchers concluded “it can be inferred that at least part of the warming that has been observed is due to the heat released during the increased production of new ice, and the increased flux of heat to the atmosphere through the larger area of thin ice.” 1

2. Ocean Oscillations Ventilate Old Heat

To appreciate how ocean oscillations raise the global average by ventilating warmer water, here is an experiment you can do at home with an infrared temperature gun. Heat a large pot of water on the stove. The pot is analogous to the ocean’s deep warm pools. Randomly measure the temperature on 10 spots on the kitchen floor, plus the surface temperature of your pot of water. Then turn off the burner so heat is no longer added to the pot and calculate your kitchen’s average surface temperature. Analogous to an El Nino event, toss half of the water across the floor and recalculate the average. The surface of the water in the pot will not have cooled significantly, but the temperature of the floor will have risen greatly. Without adding any heat, the new average temperature increased simply by spreading subsurface heat.

Unlike our kitchen experiment, the oceans will cool much more slowly than the wetted floor. When the sun heats our tropical oceans, evaporation causes that heated water to become more saline and denser. This dense heated water sinks below fresher surface waters that may insulate it for decades. For example, warm Atlantic water takes about 15 years to circulate through the depths of the Arctic. Intruding water maintains a thick layer of warmer subsurface water several hundred meters thick.

The upper 3 meters of the world’s oceans hold more heat than the entire atmosphere, so continual ventilation of just 10 meters of warmer subsurface water will affect the global average for decades. Warmer “mode waters” are gradually ventilated during the winter and huge amounts of heat stored at 100 meter depths are ventilated during an El Nino. During the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) from 1976 to 1999, the frequency of heat ventilating El Ninos increased as did the global average. It is reasonable to assume that some of that heat was initially stored during the PDO’s heat-absorbing phase that began in the 1940s during which solar insolation was greater than anytime in the past few hundred years. Because solar heating has declined and (according to the IPCC) added CO2 has little impact on heating tropical waters as discussed in part 2, subsurface heat should decline and future ventilations will not cause a resumption in a warming trend.

3. Shifting Winds Cause Adiabatic (no added heat) Rises in Temperature

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As seen in NASA’s map of regional warming, the Antarctic Peninsula is another unusual “hotspot”, but relative to other climate dynamics, the contribution from CO2 is again not readily apparent. Stronger winds from the positive phase of the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) increased regional temperatures without adding heat via 2 mechanisms.

First stronger winds from the north reduced sea ice extent by inhibiting the expansion of sea ice along the western Antarctic Peninsula and Amundsen Sea. 3,4 As in the Arctic, more open water allows larger amounts of stored heat to escape, dramatically raising winter temperatures. Accordingly, during the summer when sea ice is normally absent, there is no steep warming trend.

The eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula behaves in a contrary manner. There sea ice was not reduced and surface temperatures average 5 to 10° cooler, and the steep winter warming trend was not observed. However there was a significant summer warming trend. Previously during the negative phase of the AAO, weaker winds are typically forced to go around the mountainous peninsula. However the positive AAO generated a wind regime that moved up and over the mountains, creating anomalous foehn storms on the eastern side of the peninsula.5 As the winds descend, temperatures adiabatically rise 10 to 20 degrees or more due to changes in pressure without any additional heat as depicted in Figure 2 above. Elsewhere the North Atlantic Oscillation increased temperatures adiabatically in the European Alps.6

4. Lost Vegetation and Lost Heat Capacity Increases Temperatures

Climate scientists have acknowledged, “influences on climate are the emission of greenhouse gases and changes in land use, such as urbanization and agriculture. But it has been difficult to separate these two influences because both tend to increase the daily mean surface temperature.” They concluded that about one third of the 20th century warming (0.27°C) was caused by urbanization and other land use changes.7

Without any additional heat, surface temperatures rise when vegetation is lost and/or soil moisture is reduced. Wherever a forest is converted to a grassland, or a grassland to desert, or barren ground is created, maximum skin surface temperatures rise by 10 to 40°F.8 Also to quench the thirst of growing populations, extraction of subsurface waters has lowered the water table.9 As the water table drops below the reach of roots, soil moisture is reduced and plants die. Reduced vegetation eliminates the cooling effect of transpiration, and prevents the recycling of rainwater that sinks deeper into the ground.

Lost vegetation creates hotter surfaces that not only heat the air more severely during the day but also emit much more infrared radiation at night. Even if concentrations of CO2 or water vapor remained unchanged, the infrared radiation from warmer surfaces would add to the greenhouse effect.

 

Thus a rise in a region’s temperature may be a stronger indication that we have degraded the local environment, rather than an indication of our carbon footprint. For example, studies of temperatures in Arizona and Mexico have shown that lost vegetation from severe overgrazing and other careless practices caused the soil surface to dry. This drying process increased temperatures by as much as 7°F compared to adjacent lands that had not been so mistreated.10 Elsewhere researchers document that landscapes changes can increase extreme weather. Extensive removal buffalo grass is the classic example for the American Dust Bowl, and in Australia deforestation has likewise been shown to intensify and prolong droughts.11

5. Rising Minimum Temperatures Are Highly Sensitive to Landscape Changes.

Because maximum temperatures are measured near midday when strong convection mixes the air column, maximum temperatures are the better measure of any heat accumulating in the atmosphere. However the global average has been skewed disproportionately by minimum temperatures that behave much differently. During the 80s and 90s, average minimum temperatures rose two to three times faster than the average maximum temperatures.12 Scientists reported one consistent pattern. Weather stations near cities and airports where the pavement holds the heat into the night and waste heat abounds, those stations consistently exhibited higher minimum temperatures than nearby rural areas.13

Dr. Thomas Karl, who now serves as the director of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, compared temperatures in rural towns consisting of fewer than 2,000 people with more populated cities and towns. He reported that when populations reached 50,000 people, the average temperature was 0.43°F higher. Although the change in maximum temperatures was trivial, the minimum temperature was 0.86°F higher – the sole cause of the rising average. As populations increased, so did minimum temperatures. A town of two million people experienced a whopping increase of 4.5°F in the minimum causing a 2.25°F average increase.14

Inversion layers trap human waste heat. Hot air only rises if it is warmer than its surroundings. Shallow inversion layers are naturally created at night and in the winter, as air near the surface naturally cools faster than the air above. We can see the height at which warm upper air overlays the shallow cooler layer in the picture below indicated by flattening of rising smoke. Trapped in that shallow layer human waste heat more readily raises the minimum temperature. Furthermore the accumulation of waste heat and the effects of heat-holding surfaces can disrupt the inversion layer and bring warmer air above down to the surface. When farmers fear frost damage, they use huge fans to stir the air, disrupting the inversion layer and warming the surface.

Away from growing populated areas where temperatures are measured by tree rings, since the 1950s tree ring temperatures have increasingly diverged from instrumental data tainted by these population/land use effects. Although websites like SkepticalScience claim, “Natural temperature measurements also confirm the general accuracy of the instrumental temperature record,” tree rings undeniably contradict their claims. An international team of tree ring experts reported “No current tree ring based reconstruction of extratropical Northern Hemisphere temperatures that extends into the 1990s captures the full range of late 20th century warming observed in the instrumental record.”15 Using an infrared thermometer, I have observed the dawn temperatures within vegetated areas are 10 to 20°F cooler than surfaces just 20 feet away on paved and gravel country roads, instrumentally confirming that cooler tree ring temperatures are more accurately measuring natural climate change.

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6. Models Arbitrarily Raise the Observed Global Average.

In a process called data homogenization climate scientists adjust quality controlled raw temperature data to create a more steeply rising average temperature wherever their model suggests the weather behaved “outside statistically unexpectations”. In a sense climate scientists are denying real observations. As discussed here and here, homogenizaton models mistakenly convert natural change points into a steep warming trends. Several climate scientists who have analyzed the adjustment process warned that “results cast some doubts in the use of homogenization procedures” noting the observed 20th century trend was raised from 0.4°C to 0.7°C.

As seen below, using quality‑controlled data for the USA that was not homogenized, there is indeed warming since 1900. However the temperature trend correlates much better with the heat ventilating cycles of Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. But natural climate change induced by those cycles have been treated as errors. An analysis of worldwide data homogenization acknowledged that a procedure is needed to correct real errors but concluded “Homogenization practices used until today are mainly statistical, not well justified by experiments and are rarely supported by metadata. It can be argued that they often lead to false results: natural features of hydroclimatic time series are regarded as errors and are adjusted.”16

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Homogenization models appear to suffer from the same systematic biases that caused the gross failure of global climate models to reproduce the well documented Arctic warming of the 30s and 40s illustrated and discussed in part 1 and part 2. Similarly across the USA, models have homogenized away the land-based warming in the 30s and 40s, fabricating artificial cool periods as discussed here and illustrated below.

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Until the global average chimera accurately accounts for the effects from landscape changes, natural cycles, and statistical homogenization procedures, the global average temperature will never be a reliable indicator of the earth’s sensitivity to CO2. As it stands, the only claim the global average chimera can support is “if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”

Literature Cited

1.Rigor, I.G., J.M. Wallace, and R.L. Colony (2002), Response of Sea Ice to the Arctic Oscillation, J. Climate, v. 15, no. 18, pp. 2648 – 2668.

2.Kahl, J., et al., (1993) Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years. Nature, vol. 361, p. 335‑337, doi:10.1038/361335a0

3. Stammerjohn, S., et a., (2008) Trends in Antarctic annual sea ice retreat and advance and their relation to El Niño southern oscillation and southern annular mode variability. Journal of Geophysical Research. Vol. 113, C03S90.doi:10.1029/2007JC004269.

4.Stammerjohn, S., et a., (2008) Sea ice in the western Antarctic Peninsula region: spatiotemporal variability from ecological and climate change perspectives. Deep Sea Research II 55. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.04.026.

5.Orr, A., et al., (2008), Characteristics of summer airflow over the Antarctic Peninsula in response to recent strengthening of westerly circumpolar winds, J. Atmos. Sci., 65, 1396–1413.

6. Prommel, K., et al (2007)Analysis of the (N)AO influence on alpine temperatures using a dense station dataset and a high-resolution simuluation Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 9

7. Kalnay,E. and Cai M., (2003) Impact of urbanization and land-use change on climate. Nature, Vol 423

8.Mildrexler,D.J. et al., (2011) Satellite Finds Highest Land Skin Temperatures on Earth. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

9. Foster. S. and Chilton, P. (2003) Groundwater: the processes and global significance of aquifer degradation. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B, vol. 358, 1957-1972.

10. Balling, R. C., Jr (1998) Impacts of land degradation on historical temperature records from the Sonoran Desert. Climatic Change, 40, 669–681.

11. Deo, R. (2012) A review and modeling results of the simulated response of deforestation on climate extremes in eastern Australia. Atmospheric Research, vol. 108, p. 19–38.

12. Karl, T.R. et al., (1993) Asymmetric Trends of Daily Maximum and Minimum Temperature. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 74

13. Gallo, K., et al. (1996) The Influence of Land Use/Land Cover on Climatological Values of the Diurnal Temperature Range. Journal of Climate, vol. 9, p. 2941-2944.

14. Karl, T., et al., (1988), Urbanization: Its Detection and Effect in the United States Climate Record. Journal of Climate, vol. 1, 1099-1123.

15. Wilson R., et al., (2007) Matter of divergence: tracking recent warming at hemispheric scales using tree-ring data. Journal of Geophysical Research–A, 112, D17103, doi: 10.1029/2006JD008318.

16.Steirou, E., and Koutsoyiannis, D. (2012) Investigation of methods for hydroclimatic data homogenization. Geophysical Research Abstracts, vol. 14, EGU2012-956-1. And presentation https://www.itia.ntua.gr/getfile/1212/1/documents/2012EGU_homogenization_1.pdf

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102 thoughts on “The Greatest Climate Myths of All – Part 3: The Global Average Chimera

  1. “But that explanation is contradicted by a recent evaluation of Arctic Ocean heat content (Wunsch and Heimbach 2014 discussed here) which reveals the upper 700 meters of the Arctic Ocean have been cooling. That cooling suggests unusually warm Arctic air temperatures are instead caused by increased ventilation of heat that had been stored decades ago.”
    It continue happens.

  2. What you say is undoubtedly true, but that graph that you pointed to is as we now know based on artificially created data, so can be totally ignored anyway.

  3. Is the author positing that global average temperature is indeed currently rising? Seems like it.

    Lots of data to the contrary.

  4. John W. Garrett says:
    August 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Agreed, the ‘global average’ of averages has us stupefied.

  5. Eustace Cranch says: “Is the author positing that global average temperature is indeed currently rising? Seems like it.”

    Not at all. I am addressing the century trend that is paraded as proof of CO2 warming. The current hiatus in the global warming trends suggests natural variations have been underestimated and CO2 warming overestimated. I suspect the above factors that contributed to a warming trend since the 1950s, may actually masked a stronger cooling trend than is suggested by the current 17 year hiatus.

  6. The article is silly. All you have to say is:

    1. Every process that occurs does its occurring because of the local conditions at the times and places of the system;

    2. The global average temp is merely a summary of the complex of states, not a description of the processes that produced the state.

    As to body temp, if a measure of sublingual (single locus) temp changes from about 99 to about 103 in 12 hours, that body is in trouble; the temp itself does not tell you why or how the change occurred, but as a simple summary of the state it is important. You would,naturally, check to see whether the thermometer had been immersed in hot coffee (perhaps by testing another single locus, such as the rectum) before you carried out any action, but the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd.

  7. ” Similarly across the USA, models have homogenized away the land-based warming in the 30s and 40s, fabricating artificial cool periods as discussed here and illustrated below. … As it stands, the only claim the global average chimera can support is “if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.””

    So, the official data sets are worthless for either cycle recognition or refutation.

  8. Matthew R Marler says “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd”

    Statistics 101: A measured average is only meaningful is it is sampling the same” population.”

  9. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    “…but the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd.”

    I agree, but to paraphrase Inigo Montoya to the warmests: “You keep using that global average temperature. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    In other words, the average lower tropospheric temperature may indicate some global warming or cooling over long periods of time, but it in no way indicates that CO2 is largely responsible for the trend. There are many other factors, and most of them have been simply ignored by the IPCC, making their analysis worse than useless. Indeed, it is harmful.

  10. I assume this has to be a spoof:

    “After a week, new ice thickens to 0.4 meters, but still ventilates 8 times more heat. New ice will thicken to 1 meter in about a month but still ventilates 3 times as much heat as thick multi‑year ice. Researchers concluded “it can be inferred that at least part of the warming that has been observed is due to the heat released during the increased production of new ice, and the increased flux of heat to the atmosphere through the larger area of thin ice.” 1″

  11. Matthew R Marler;
    As to body temp, if a measure of sublingual (single locus) temp changes from about 99 to about 103 in 12 hours, that body is in trouble;
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    If you measured temperature of someone’s index finger (single locus) and it changed by several degrees, what would it tell you. Nothing. We know from experience that variability is very high, and the short term temperature taken in that fashion is meaningless. We also know that sub-lingual is not nearly so variable, and unlike the index finger, is not subject to external temperature variations to any great extent, and so is useful as a diagnostic tool.

    If you can identify the one spot on earth (single locus) which exhibits the same utility as a sub-lingual temperature taken as a proxy for the body, but this time for the planet as a whole, please do tell us what it is. We could put a single weather station there and be done with it.

  12. “… when the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic, it is a sure sign a discussion has veered away from the foundations of critical scientific analyses.”

    This can be true, but not always. Try having a scientific discussion with a creationist/young earther.

    I’m not suggesting that climate skeptics have entered that realm, but I’m increasing skeptical of my ability to tell a real argument from a red herring in climate science. I am on the side of the scientific consensus in every other field of science. It disturbs me that my opinions are apparently opposite of mainstream science in just this one field of science.

  13. Matthew R Marler says:
    As to body temp, if a measure of sublingual (single locus) temp changes from about 99 to about 103 in 12 hours, that body is in trouble.

    But what if the normal range is 98.2° ± 0.7°F and it changes from 98.01°F to 98.02°F over the period of a week? It that body still in trouble?

    I think my scenario is a much closer analog to climate change than yours – are you still worried? How worried? Worried enough to call a doctor? Worried enough to cut an arm off – after all it might help and there’s the precautionary principle to think about.

    Fool.

  14. It is interesting that BBC Scotland weather forecasters regularly give night time temperatures for urban areas and then say “but in rural areas the temperature will be several degrees cooler”.
    Many of the weather recording stations are in urban or airport locations.

  15. The global average temperature does not measure energy retained, which is the key variable. If you have two reservoirs at equilibrium, and the temperature in one then is changed by an amount dT1, and in the other by dT2, then the total change in energy is dE = c1*dT1 + c2*dT2, where c1 and c2 are the heat capacities. If you observe that the change in the average, (dT1+dT2)/2 is positive, does that necessarily mean you have a positive dE?

    No. E.g., let c1 = 2, and c2 = 1. Suppose dT1 = -2, and dT2 =+4. Then, (dT1+dT2)/2 =1, but dE = c1*dT1 + c2*dT2 = 2*(-2) + 1*4 = 0. There has been no change in energy at all, even though the average temperature change was positive.

    On Earth, we have regions as disparate as e.g., the Amazon Basin and the Sahara Desert. The heat capacity of the former is assuredly much higher than that of the latter. So, if we observe the Amazon decreasing in temperature, but the Sahara increasing more, so that the average temperature of the two increases, does that mean that more energy has been retained? No, it does not.

  16. I would say the greatest climate myth of all…
    ….is claiming that glorified weather men can predict the weather

  17. “…the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic,…”
    Here in sweden this is a known signum of the leftists. The reason seems to be that belonging to a group is important for followers of collectivist (socialist) ideologies. Only natural, almost a tautology. Kollektivists are not interested in what you say, only what tribe you belong to, are you friend or foe(?).
    Bullying is also a known collectivist phenomenon, the military in a socialist country should be amongst the worst bullying arena, quantify bullying and the hypothesis is falsifiable!
    (Strangely there seems to be little scientific research done in this particular branch of social psychology.)
    Long story short, the AGW theory has failed in climate science but lives on as an economic theory of wealth redistribution, and the (remaining) followers of AGW are mainly followers because of political left leanings, not because the science is so convincing:)
    Bullying is also the trademark of Swedens most well known AGW site, the infamous http://uppsalainitiativet.blogspot.se/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/22/lennart-bengtsson-speaks-on-the-gwpf-and-furor-over-his-bullying-by-his-climate-science-peers/

    So this is my take on the ad-hominem attacks, they have little to do with politics and all to do with collectivist mindsets. A collrctivist does not care if he is right or wrong, he is happy supporting a lie if it means he is supporting his political tribe.

  18. Peter Miller says: I assume this has to be a spoof.

    Not at all read the paper! “it can be inferred that at least part of the warming that has been observed is due to the heat released during the increased production of new ice, and the increased flux of heat to the atmosphere through the larger area of thin ice.”

    But somehow Mathew believes averaging ventilated heat tells how much heat is accumulating. Go Figure!

  19. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    The article is silly. All you have to say is:

    1. Every process that occurs does its occurring because of the local conditions at the times and places of the system;

    That is not even grammatical, let alone meaningful. It is downright incoherent.

    2. The global average temp is merely a summary of the complex of states, not a description of the processes that produced the state.

    This would be true if the “global average” were actually being calculated from properly collected and handled measurements. The gist of the article is that stateful information is being elided from the data through adjustments and homogenization and a broad failure to properly account for known natural processes that are not – apparently – accounted for in models. The changes in the misadjusted data are then being construed to “natural” effects outside the adjustment homogenization process.

  20. James (@JGrizz0011) says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:46 am
    “… when the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic, it is a sure sign a discussion has veered away from the foundations of critical scientific analyses.”

    This can be true, but not always. Try having a scientific discussion with a creationist/young earther.”

    No…it is always true. If you are having a scientific discussion with a creationist, the two of you can look at the available science and discuss it. If either one of you starts to call the other names, you are no longer having a scientific discussion. I have often seen those holding the mainstream position resort to name calling before the creationists, which is sad, considering the overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence on mainstream side.

    You also said: “I am on the side of the scientific consensus in every other field of science.”

    That is a dangerous position. Go back in time and look at the consensus science of 100 or 200 years ago. In almost every field, the consensus was wrong in many ways. In some cases, it was almost completely wrong. Do you think that the scientists 200 years from now will look back on the early 21st Century and proclaim that was the time when humans got almost everything right?
    Hardly! Our current understanding will appear to them to be just as limited as we view the scientific consensus of 1814. Perhaps even more so, as the increase in human knowledge appears to be exponential.

    If you want to be right, realize that almost everything we know is wrong!

  21. @James, perhaps a comprehensive reevaluation of your other scientific beliefs is in order. I found myself in a similar situation not long ago and did as I suggest, I found that I didn’t really believe a lot of what I thought I believed.
    It does make sense if you think about it. And it can give you insight into just what may be the underlying factor that has been affecting your judgement.
    Hope this helps, it worked for me.

  22. Jim Clarke says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

    There is zero evidence on the creationist side. You can’t have a scientific discussion with someone who refuses to consider evidence.

  23. jim Steele says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:27 am

    “Matthew R Marler says “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd”

    Statistics 101: A measured average is only meaningful is it is sampling the same” population.”

    And individuals making up a population can be identified only by reference to the laws that govern the behavior of the population. In other words, you have to reference the accepted description of the population before you can identify the individuals.

  24. Fingertip temperature is not irrelevant to overall body temperature; it is just a weak measure of it.

    If you had many temp sensors on the body, you would get a fairly representative, reliable estimate of the body temperature. The ears, hands, feet, and top of head are where a lot of heat leaves the body when overheating. Those would be more variable, while “core” body temp would be more stable. On a male, certain private parts have to be maintained at quite a steady temp that is a good step below normal body temp, or the swimmers will not live. So, that reading would be overly insensitive to body temp changes. With more measures all over the body, the swings in temp at toes would be noise overcome by signal. With more readings across time, same thing.

    Obviously, surface atmosphere temp on Venus, Mars, and Moon are different than earth. More atmosphere = more homogeneous surface temp, but overall one reading is better than none, and many are better than a few.

    Is Mars colder than Venus, on average, yes. Can such relative-average comparisons be made about earth? Sure, there may be a spot on earth colder than the warmest spot on Mars. But overall, in any given season, I would take any spot on earth over any spot on Mars, if forced to choose.

  25. Jim Clarke says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

    IMO there will be far less difference in scientific consensuses between 2214 & 2014 than between 1814 & 2014. Understanding improved more between 1814 & now than between 1614 & then, IMO.

  26. James (@JGrizz0011) says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:46 am . . .

    One sad pattern frequently occurring in the history of science is a polarization of opinion as operators line up with distinct “teams.” In climate science the genesis of this can be read in the climategate emails. It is clear in those emails that among themselves the “team” members were well aware of the problems and weaknesses of the theory and work being conducted. However, they defended the “climate science” domain against “outsiders” and intruders who were not part of “the cause.” Trenberth’s concern about missing energy is quite candid and his “travesty” remark was directed to fellow team members, not to the world+dog. Sceptics are also concerned about the missing energy, but unlike Trenberth, they express a trust of the (raw) data instead of the scientific argument, such as it is. What we see is one side circling up like muskoxen threatened by a wolf pack and the other circling, trying to break into the herd.

  27. Jim Steele

    New ice forms beneath existing ice – not on top of it – so how can this process vent ‘heat’ to the surface? I do appreciate there is also a minor ‘top down’ process caused by snow, but then snow has to act as a natural insulator helping to prevent ‘heat’ venting to surface.

  28. Duster says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Well said. Sadly, it has happened repeatedly in the history of science, because its practitioners & malpractitioners are human. It has been rightly observed that advancement in science often requires the demise of the Old Guard.

  29. Peter Miller says: New ice forms beneath existing ice – not on top of it – so how can this process vent ‘heat’ to the surface?”

    There are two mechanisms releasing heat. First it is a matter of ice thickness, so I am not sure what you are asking.

    Second, open water re-freezes at the surface it releases latent heat. Of course the heat will be re-absorbed when the ice melts. However if the winds create a trend with more open water, there will be a slight warming trend as more latent heat is released each winter.

  30. “Carl Sagan’s scientific baloney detector warns that when the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic, it is a sure sign a discussion has veered away from the foundations of critical scientific analyses.”

    One could also say that about “science” that is politically or monetarily important. For example, I’m not terribly skeptical of the recent announcement of the Higgs Boson discovery, even though I know nothing about particle physics. AFAIK the only “money” is a few jobs and research grants, and the announcement doesn’t include a Summary for Policymakers. :-)

  31. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the global average temperature is a physically meaningful quantity,

    Then how is it that the global average temperature is claimed to be known to withing +/- 0.1C back in 1890? When far, far less of the planet was instrumented.

    The impression one gets is that this entire field is based on a gross underestimate of systematic errors; the error bars associated with the time series data are far too small.

  32. Gary Hladik says:
    August 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    The astronomical Dr. Sagan slung ideological BS with the best (or worst) of them. Nuclear winter was as big a scam as CACA, perpetrated by the usual suspects. And cuneiform glyphs weren’t “chiseled” but pressed into wet clay, then dried.

  33. Typhoon says:
    August 4, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    While I wholly concur as to impossible levels of precision, it’s possible that more of the globe was covered by well-maintained stations in 1890, under colonialism, than now.

  34. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    “…but the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd.”

    Not only must the sampling be of the same population, but you must take care that that population shares the same general characteristics of what you are sampling. Take the human population. I’m sure most if not all are familiar with the “statistic” that the average human has one ovary and one testicle. True, but a worthless average. Even if the entire population has the same characteristics, you can end up with a useless average. The average person has 3.98 limbs. Not only is that useless, it’s virtually non-existent in the real world.

    The right analogy re the human body would be to take the temperature of multiple areas of the body and average it. What additional information would the average tell us that the individual measurements did not? IMO, knowing the global average temperature is virtually worthless. If the summer high temperatures in the mid-latitudes went up 3 degrees, that would be significant. If the winter minimum temperatures in Antarctica went up 3 degrees, it would have little or no impact. If either happened, it would cause a rise in the average global temperature. So does that really tell us anything?

  35. Typhoon says: Then how is it that the global average temperature is claimed to be known to withing +/- 0.1C back in 1890? When far, far less of the planet was instrumented.

    Yes but the point here is that even in the most recent decades of extensive instrumentation, the temperature is not a reliable indicator of accumulated heat.

  36. Consider this: My modest house (1300 sqft under air) has 2 bedrooms on opposite sides of the house, a split plan. When I had new duct work installed i designed it so the largest duct went to the master bedroom with a smaller duct to the 2nd bedroom. This allows the master bedroom to cool and heat faster than the 2nd bedroom. I usually keep the thermostat at 84F in summer and at 74F in winter. The thermostat is on the wall closer to the 2nd bedroom. So by the time the temperature changes of the 2nd bedroom reach the thermostat the master bedroom has seen a greater change. The result is that the master bedroom is always cooler than the 2nd bedroom in summer and warmer in the winter. However if you were to take the average temperature of the entire house it would not tell you any of this information.

    My point is that the Earth has several different climate zones with a multitude of conditions that make them different. The average global temperature doesn’t tell you anything about what or why things are happening in each of those zones.

  37. milodonharlani says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

    “IMO there will be far less difference in scientific consensuses between 2214 & 2014 than between 1814 & 2014.”

    A true modernist. But, as we peel back the layers of the onion, we find only that, as the knowledge base grows, so do the puzzles, and so do the errors. Thus, it has ever been, and thus it ever shall be, IMHO.

  38. Milodonharlani@12:04

    Yes, indeed the BS detector was focused on Sagan as this, the original climate alarmist, shrilled and shrilled about “nuclear winter”, the original climate scam. Curiously, his Wiki bio says nothing about this.

  39. Ants- nature’s little carbon sequesterer.

    But termites undo that by eating wood and passing…greenhouse gas. In fact, one researcher years ago calculated that termites were a significant source of CO2 but then someone pointed out that he had a decimal in the wrong place. In this fashion, science progresses.

  40. Bart says:
    August 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    IMO the most important fundamental scientific discoveries that could be made were made in the 19th & 20th centuries, c. 1820 to 1970. Those of the 16th, 17th, 18th & possibly 21st & 22nd centuries were important, but for the improvement of life, it’s hard to beat the cell, germ theory of disease & genetics; for understanding of nature, evolution, electromagnetism, the periodic table, structure of the atom, the Big Bang & plate tectonics, among others from the past 200 years. Before about 1905, medicine did more harm than good.

    Human population growth won’t equal 1814 to 2013 in 2014 to 2213, even if we colonize space.

  41. Björn from Sweden wrote: “A collectivist does not care if he is right or wrong, he is happy supporting a lie if it means he is supporting his political tribe.”

    So true. Progressive ideology in the US is trying to coalesce public opinion around the Village meme for social organization and re-distributive desires. Hillary Clinton tried to capitalize on that with her book, “It Takes a Village.” The village is where everyone owns everything and no one is personally responsible. The village pledges its loyalty to a village leader. Liberals wants us to emulate the village collectivist ideals.

    Bill Whittle very nicely logically and clearly tore down that collectivist Village mentality with this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YV-8xtcfvM

  42. I thought an average was a calculation by its definition. The concept of a “single measured average” seems to be nonsensical.

  43. Joel O’Bryan says:
    August 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Collectivism is rare even at the village level. Private property arises naturally in human societies at any level above the nuclear family, even at the hunter-gatherer band or shifting agricultural village level of organization. Hillary tried ridiculously to equate a community of 100 souls watching each others’ kids to central government control over 300 million people.

  44. Calling them alarmist then complaining about the use of denier leaves a bad taste in my eyes imo we oughta act the bigger man

  45. Dr. Mr. Thomas Karl, who now serves as the director of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, . . . .

  46. mpainter says:August 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Ants- nature’s little carbon sequesterer.

    But termites undo that by eating wood and passing…greenhouse gas.

    I have a bunch of Carpenter ants that love wood. Considering ants and termites all respire, emitting carbon pollution, some just emit from both ends. I question whether the ‘sequestering’ exceeds the respiration of any particular ant species.

  47. Broken record…broken record…from Old CHEM E. Here: Global Average temperatures MEANINGLESS from the get go.

    ONLY a global average ENTHALPY would have any meaning in relation to the energy balance of the atmosphere.

    OK, you can put me into the booby hatch now. I’ve done it. Called all the AWG climate “scientists” FOOLS AND KNAVES. Alas, they are.

  48. milodonharlani says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

    “IMO there will be far less difference in scientific consensuses between 2214 & 2014 than between 1814 & 2014.”

    Probably. But there are some upsets in the pipeline. One scientist, Julian Barbour, and his collaborators, thinks he’s trumped Einstein. (See a hard copy of Discover for March 2012, pp. 44-51). Rossi’s cold fusion or LENR E-Cat gadget will have a large demo plant in operation and available for inspection by year-end.

  49. Tom in Florida says: “I usually keep the thermostat at 84F in summer and at 74F in winter.”

    Whereas we won’t get an accurate temp on your house, bet we get a 10+-2 degree F difference from summer to winter. That would be maybe delta 12 or 14 degrees in the master bedroom and 6 to 8 degrees in the other bedroom.

  50. rogerknights says:
    August 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    All kinds of wondrous advances are likely over the next 200 years, & some perhaps dubious, such as extreme life extension & downloaded consciousness. But IMO most gains will be building on technology & science already set in motion. It’s hard to make new fundamental breakthroughs comparable to recognizing that the earth & humanity aren’t at the center of everything (16th & 19th centuries), & that infectious diseases are caused by microbes (19th). Such elementary realizations can only happen once, unless civilization collapses instead of venturing off-world & out of the solar system to colonize the galaxy.

  51. Measuring global warming by sticking thermometers everywhere is like trying to measure changes in the population of San Antonio by counting the cars on all the roads and taking a daily average, ignoring the fact that some of those cars are headed out of town and some just go around the Loop.

  52. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    I find it sound advise that if you are going to disagree with experts, you had better be certain you can explain why, especially when you are in the minority. Here are some good arguments regarding why the experts are wrong. However, most experts seem to secretly think the “catastrophic” part of the global warming alarm is bogus. They just won’t admit it publicly for fear of losing grants.

  53. “Matthew R Marler says “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd””
    Mr Marler, for a pedant, your language is sloppy.
    It is a CALCULATED average of a population of measurements.

  54. Pippen Kool says:
    August 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm
    re: Tom in Florida says: “I usually keep the thermostat at 84F in summer and at 74F in winter.”

    “Whereas we won’t get an accurate temp on your house, bet we get a 10+-2 degree F difference from summer to winter. That would be maybe delta 12 or 14 degrees in the master bedroom and 6 to 8 degrees in the other bedroom.”
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    You cannot determine the temperature or the delta T of either bedroom from that information. The only thing you can determine is what the temperature is AT THE THERMOSTAT and that the temperature there will not go above 84F or below 74F. Now, as you say you can deduce a 10 degree difference from summer to winter, but that would be the maximum difference and only at the thermostat. In addition, each bedroom will heat or cool differently depending on the outside temperature and humidity because of the window configurations. Now add in outside vegetation, southern and northern exposures and you can see that using a simple average of the inside of the house is useless in determining anything of value. And that is the point. Is there anything of value in using a global average temperature? Does any change in global average temperature really give us valuable information about what is happening with climate at different places around the world?

  55. Jim Clarke says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Matthew R Marler says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    “…but the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd.”

    What’s absurd is the comparison of a human body core temperature to an average of thousands of surface measurements from disparate locations of a planet. The former is meaningful, the latter is not. Intensive properties.

  56. Bart says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:05 am
    The global average temperature does not measure energy retained, which is the key variable.

    And

    Max Hugoson says:
    August 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm
    Broken record…broken record…from Old CHEM E. Here: Global Average temperatures MEANINGLESS from the get go.

    ONLY a global average ENTHALPY would have any meaning in relation to the energy balance of the atmosphere.

    It is nice to see two others playing the same broken record.

    Atmospheric temperature is NOT a measure of atmospheric heat content. The enthalpy (specific heat) of a volume of air is dependent on the amount of water vapor it contains. Heat is measured in joules per gram or kilojoules per kilogram.

    An example
    A a volume of air in a misty Louisiana Bayou after a cooling afternoon shower at close to 100% humidity and 75F has more than twice the energy content of a similar volume of air in the Arizona desert at close to zero humidity and 100F. Yet these ‘scientists’ would average the temperatures and worry about time of observation? This is either abject ignorance or deliberate misdirection. An air conditioning engineer with no GED knows more about energy content of air than these PhDs who are influencing governments.

    I’m with you Max :-)

  57. milodonharlani says (August 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm): “The astronomical Dr. Sagan slung ideological BS with the best (or worst) of them. Nuclear winter was as big a scam as CACA, perpetrated by the usual suspects.”

    Exactly. The fact that the nuclear winter scare was used to justify nuclear disarmament (a political goal) should have immediately raised suspicions, even among those who knew nothing about climatology.

  58. Max says, “Global Average temperatures MEANINGLESS from the get go.”

    Ian says, “This is either abject ignorance or deliberate misdirection. An air conditioning engineer with no GED knows more about energy content of air than these PhDs who are influencing governments.

    How true! Yet the “global average graph” has been able to instill so much needless fear in the general public.

  59. Typhoon says:
    August 4, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    “…The impression one gets is that this entire field is based on a gross underestimate of systematic errors; the error bars associated with the time series data are far too small.”
    //////////////////////
    + 1

  60. Matthew R Marler here depicts Earth as analogous to a warm-blooded thermo-regulating organism endowed with mechanisms that evolved to maintain thermal equilibrium at a rather precise temperature.
    It’s the same old story of Earth as patient with thermometers jammed into every orifice by Planetary Medics, even while it exhibits no signs of illness…

    ==============
    “As to body temp, if a measure of sublingual (single locus) temp changes from about 99 to about 103 in 12 hours, that body is in trouble; the temp itself does not tell you why or how the change occurred, but as a simple summary of the state it is important. You would,naturally, check to see whether the thermometer had been immersed in hot coffee (perhaps by testing another single locus, such as the rectum) before you carried out any action, but the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd.
    ==============

    You will never get a temperature reading of -92C from the rectum while reading 50C from under the tongue. The real purpose of the analogy is to pathologize our unmeasurable impact on the mathematical abstraction of “average temperature” in order to foster the illusion that Earth is ill (usually cancer is mentioned), thus legitimizing the “experts” assigned to “treat” the “problem.”
    But it isn’t valid analogy, and I’m sick of hearing it.

    quote:

    “Once attained, the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution persists indefinitely. The gas molecules have come to thermal equilibrium with one another, and we can speak of a system as having a temperature only if the condition of thermal equilibrium exists.
    -Principles of Modern Chemistry, 4th ed., p. 119

    The Earth doesn’t have a meaningful temperature. Venus does.

  61. Jim
    Don’t forget waste heat. Every joule of energy we produce becomes waste heat, most of it producing infrared and light. Solar radiation is mostly infrared and light and it warms our planet. Man-made radiation can also warm the planet or at least the thermometers nearby.

  62. Long article. my usual statement temperature is not equal to energy. You can’t get the energy content of a gas (atmosphere) using only temperature.

  63. Dr. Strange,
    – waste heat ?
    – energy we produce ?
    What about the ‘other’ heat? Eventually all energy we move around by converting it and also that we don’t touch will cool some thermometers at places you don’t think about at the moment.

  64. Precisely what I’ve pointed out; all that’s necessary for there to be a rise in the average is to have higher lows. It doesn’t mean the planet is getting warmer. I do know that we’ve had some winters that didn’t drop to where it usually does in January and February, but give it time; they’ll be back. https://www.flickr.com/photos/101666925@N02/12546675225/

  65. James (@JGrizz0011) says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    “… when the messengers are attacked instead of the evidence and logic, it is a sure sign a discussion has veered away from the foundations of critical scientific analyses.”

    [snip] “I am on the side of the scientific consensus in every other field of science.”

    Surely the point here is that ‘Climate Scientists’ are not true scientists. They seem to function in a realm of ‘anti-science’ where evidence can be ignored, obliterated or fudged, to ensure that already decided conclusions are reached.

    Replication of evidence, hitherto so central to all branches the scientific method, is foreign to their methods. Indeed, some central figures in this new branch of ‘science’ have taken steps to ensure that replication of their methods is impossible.

    Many of them seem to have a higher education qualification and/or professional background which has little to do with pure science, especially the physics which is essential to this topic. Most of them seem to have a very poor grasp of statistical method, as evidenced in the Climategate revelations, and which has been exposed by the work of Steve McIntyre both on the Hockey Stick graph and on an on-going basis over at Climate Audit. In short, they demonstrate a very poor understanding of the foundations upon which ‘Climate Science’ must rest, if it is to have any value as science.

    ‘Climate Scientists’ seem to have more in common with a cultish clique than with pure scientists, as evidenced by their inability to admit error, and their failure to respect the well-argued and evidenced-based arguments of those in the field who disagree with their hypothesis. Their attempts to deny a platform to those who are not adherents of the AGW cult, and to blacken reputations and cut off funding and career opportunities to their ‘enemies’ is further proof of their cultish stance: they function as a pressure group, not as seekers after empirical knowledge.

    Passion should not drive scientists, who deal with evidence, and evidence alone. They do not fall into the trap of convincing themselves that correlation is cause.

  66. IMO there will be far less difference in scientific consensuses between 2214 & 2014 than between 1814 & 2014.
    ==============
    I expect the opposite is true. Scientific knowledge is expanding exponentially, largely as a result of improving technology. As a result, the rate of change in the “consensus” is increasing, not decreasing.

    People in every generation believe they have discovered just about all there is to discover. The next generation then discovers the previous generation simply was not aware of how much there was left to discover.

    for example: For generations disease was blamed on human activity. It is god’s punishment. it is due to stress. the patient is the cause. however, slowly but surely as we learn more we find that diseases that were blamed on the patient are in fact largely outside of the patient’s control.

    this process is likely to continue at an accelerated pace. research will find that most of the diseases of today that are blamed on the patient are not at all under the patients control. rather, medicine has misdiagnosed the cause, and thus has been prescribing the wrong treatment.

    Just like bleeding was the wrong treatment for past illness. Many of today’s treatments will be found to be wrong for today’s illnesses. the pace of change will accelerate in the future, not slow.

  67. The messengers are important.
    When messengers arrive uninvited, bearing news from persons one has never heard of.
    When these messengers demand DaneGold to prevent a calamity unlikely.
    And when these messengers turn out to be paid by my tax dollar and lying for faith or money…

    Time to investigate these messengers.
    I am sure that as the long overdue criminal investigations into this CAGW scare start, we will hear endless pleas of;”Do not shoot the messengers”.
    But who are/were these people?
    History will want to know.
    We are witness to the most astounding wave of mass hysteria in human history.
    In the age of worldwide interconnectedness, we see that Mark Twain is still correct.
    A lie now travels around the world many times, while truth is fumbling with its bootlaces.

    The heart of this lie, the fear of catastrophe brought on by our sin, is as old as language.
    The agency of doom is so nebulous as to be untestable, that our addition of the gas of life to our atmosphere will fry us all.
    Nevermind that this is plant food we speak of. Or that geology indicates that plants flourish when their food is plentiful, that animals flourish in times of plentiful plant life. Or that man lives fat and happy when both previous conditions occur…

    Apparently under CAGW ‘theory’ plants will never respond to an increase in their food supply.
    Who knew?
    The entire meme is Angels on a pinhead redux, cloaked in the appearance of science.
    Any ancient witchdoctor would be proud of these messengers of doom.
    To scare a whole world.
    With such weak nonsense…
    That takes talent.
    Or the desire for profit and power.

  68. jim steele: Matthew R Marler says “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd”

    Statistics 101: A measured average is only meaningful is it is sampling the same” population.”

    Does this mean you would not accept a sublingual thermometer reading?

    This is what you wrote: In truth, the global average is a chimera of many dynamics, dynamics that can raise temperatures without ever adding any additional heat to the planet. Unless those dynamics are properly factored out, the global average tells us precious little about the earth’s current sensitivity to rising CO2 and obscures our understanding of the complex mechanisms of climate change.

    Nowhere have you written that the temperatures are not a sample of the “same population”. You have shifted your ground: notice your implication that the global average would be meaningful if the dynamics could be properly factored out.

  69. ghl: It is a CALCULATED average of a population of measurements.

    I am half corrected: it is a CALCULATED average (you are correct) of a sample of measurements. With respect to the population, it is at best an estimate of the mean of the population.

    As such, it can be a meaningful summary of the state of the system, though it does not summarize the dynamics or the regional variation.

    The sublingual thermometer gives a reading that is proportional to the average kinetic energy of a region surrounding it, so it also is a biased estimate of a population mean. The difference between that and global mean temp is merely that we have a great deal more evidence that the bias and variance are small compared to our purposed use of the thermometer, not that the global mean temp is an intrinsically meaningless summary of the state.

    In the case of change of sublingual temperature, we are concerned to know such things as whether it was caused by excessive exercise, a toxin (capcaisin, for example; a reduction might be caused by alcohol), or an infection. In the case of global mean temperature change, we are concerned to know whether the estimated increase was caused by CO2 increase, changes in thermometry instruments, urbanization, orbital dynamics, cosmic rays (through cloud cover changes, perhaps), or other dynamic processes; that does not imply that the global mean temp is meaningless, only that it is incompletely understood.

  70. ohflow says:

    Calling them alarmist then complaining about the use of denier leaves a bad taste in my eyes imo we oughta act the bigger man

    They are climate alarmists. They are sounding a false alarm; falsely yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Climate alarmism is their narrative.

    But what is a “denier”? According to columnist Ellen Goodman, a denier is the equivalent of a Holocaust denier. We supposedly deny that runaway global warming and climate catastrophe are occurring.

    But ‘denier’ has morphed into defining someone as “denying climate change”. The only ones who deny that the climate ever changed prior to the industrial revolution are Michael Mann’s followers. They believe that the climate never changed until human CO2 emissions began to rise. Thus, ‘denier’ is simple projection on their part. Because skeptics have always known that the climate constantly changes.

    I have a problem with being labeled with a term that only fits Mann’s acolytes. But I have no problem calling them exactly what they are: climate alarmists. If the shoe fits…

  71. “Even if concentrations of CO2 or water vapor remained unchanged, the infrared radiation from warmer surfaces would add to the greenhouse effect.”

    I have a problem with this thesis. Raising the temperature of the ground with CO2 and water vapour being unchanged increases the rate of cooling at night – i.e, the transport of heat energy into space via radiation. There is no time of day at which the cooling rate (energy loss rate) of a hotter earth is lower than a cooler surface. Increasing the energy loss rate of the planet is the opposite of the greenhouse effect.

    I think what was intended meaning is that the air above the ground would be hotter if the ground is hotter. That is different in meaning from saying it ‘adds to the greenhouse effect’. The greenhouse effect is supposed to be an insulating effect that results from the presence of additional GHG’s. That means the ‘effect’ is identical no matter what the surface temperature.

    In short, the greenhouse effect is fundamentally a different thing from the rate of heat loss from warmer or cooler surfaces. The greenhouse effect is definitely tied to the idea of there being a ‘hot spot’ of ‘captured and re-radiated’ IR energy at an altitude of 8-16 km. This hot zone has been shown thousands of times not to exist, millions, if you want to count the trips by sensors individually.

    I think it would be useful to provide an explanation of what was intended by the sentence. It contradicts the statement that the ice-free Arctic ocean vents much more heat ‘because it is warmer than ice’. The latter makes sense and matches observations. A warmer dry surface doesn’t add to the greenhouse effect, it just projects more energy more effectively through the atmosphere because it has a higher energy emission rate.

  72. @matthew R

    “… that does not imply that the global mean temp is meaningless, only that it is incompletely understood.”

    The atmosphere of the Earth has an average temperature. We do not know what it is. The best methods we have deployed so far are probably telling us a number that is close to reality but we do not know how close. The best we can do at the moment is to use the satellite readings at 1km altitude which for me, is a pretty good start. Changes in land use and so on have nearly no effect on the temperature at 1 km altitude where things are very smoothed. The same cannot be said for 5 feet above the ground..

  73. @Matthew R Marler But they “are not a sample of the ‘same population'” Some which were measured before were not measured after 1989 (Siberia). It’s also my understanding that the Northwest Territories were not actually measured, but had substituted proxies from other stations used. This is not science. Since surface temps are highly suspect, we can say that we only have about 30 years of reliable data from satellites. That is hardly enough to prove global warming/climate change.

  74. @Matthew R Marler “it can be a meaningful summary of the state of the system”
    I disagree. If I tell you the average for today was 50, you would not be able to tell me what the high or low was.

  75. Matthew Marler,

    I already told you what you already knew: the Earth is NOT A LIVING BODY.
    Your equivocation fallacy designed to conflate the planet with the “body” of a thermo-regulating organism was devious and WRONG.
    I explained to you that mammals evolved thermo-regulation, and the planet didn’t.
    I reminded you that Earth NEVER REACHES THERMAL EQUILIBRIUM.
    Sorry to shout at you in caps lock, but you obviously don’t want to hear the truth / you don’t want to be proven wrong / you don’t want to acknowledge reality if it conflicts with your childish fantasy of Earth as a patient, sick with the wrong “body” temperature.
    That’s why you ignored my post.

    Nota bene:
    =============
    “Once attained, the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution persists indefinitely. The gas molecules have come to thermal equilibrium with one another, and we can speak of a system as having a temperature only if the condition of thermal equilibrium exists.
    -Principles of Modern Chemistry, 4th ed., p. 119
    =============

    Earth doesn’t reach thermal equilibrium, so it has no meaningful temperature.
    Repeat ad nauseum until it sinks in.

  76. Mathew Marler obfuscates “Nowhere have you written that the temperatures are not a sample of the “same population”

    Mathew you lack basic statistical and scientific knowledge but appear well practiced in misdirecting a discussion by misrepresenting the obvious with lingual thermometers. The allegory was an example of averaging to different populations. Averaging heat ventilating from the Arctic with heat caused by a drop in heat capacity due to less moisture is an example of erroneously averaging different populations. Averaging temperature from humid regions with temperatures from arid regions is an example of erroneously averaging different populations. Those averages tell us absolutely nothing about accumulated heat.

  77. Khwarizmi: Earth doesn’t reach thermal equilibrium, so it has no meaningful temperature.

    By that criterion, no part of the Earth has a meaningful temperature either, since each region is always cooling or heating or otherwise not in equilibrium. For that matter, neither does a human body during the evening when its measured temperature is declining; or during a fever when the measured temperature is rising.

    You could say that in a localized region of the ocean or the human body, there was a near enough approximation to an equilibrium, for the duration of the measurement, for the measured value to have meaning. If that be so, then all of the temperature measurements taken at about the same time have meaning, and their average can have meaning. But as quoted, temperature never has meaning. An extreme case would be a dead body some time after death: not in equilibrium, but the measured temperature could be used to estimate the time of death, assuming something about the initial temperature just before death.

    4timesayear: I disagree. If I tell you the average for today was 50, you would not be able to tell me what the high or low was.

    Nothing new there: summaries always sacrifice some information. That does not imply that they are not meaningful. Say a body temp is 100 at 1pm and 101 at 3pm; you do not know what it was at 2pm, but that does not make the 1pm and 3pm measures meaningless. The spatiotemporally averaged global mean temp was lower 150 years ago than last year: that is not a meaningless statement, but it is incomplete.

  78. Crispin in Waterloo but really in Kitchener: The atmosphere of the Earth has an average temperature. We do not know what it is. The best methods we have deployed so far are probably telling us a number that is close to reality but we do not know how close. The best we can do at the moment is to use the satellite readings at 1km altitude which for me, is a pretty good start. Changes in land use and so on have nearly no effect on the temperature at 1 km altitude where things are very smoothed. The same cannot be said for 5 feet above the ground..

    I agree with that, but I do not see what it has to do with Jim Steele’s leading post.

    Jim Steele: Averaging temperature from humid regions with temperatures from arid regions is an example of erroneously averaging different populations. Those averages tell us absolutely nothing about accumulated heat.

    You err in going from a case for incomplete knowledge to a claim of “tell us absolutely nothing about accumulated heat.” If the 7am mean temp of Marrakesh and Manaus increases by 0.2C it is a fair inference that there has been an accumulation of heat; if the mean increase is 0.01C then you have much less confidence that there has been an accumulation of heat. To claim that, in principle, without qualification, that the change means “nothing” is incorrect. To introduce another medical analogy, it is hard to distinguish between melanomas and carcinomas of the thyroid gland — that is in the medical literature. It does not follow that a diagnosis of carcinoma is meaningless.

  79. Mathew again you misdirect with meaningless examples.I has nothing to do with incomplete knowledge but in appropriate averaging. If your argument has any merit, then without sidetracking, simply explain what averaging higher temperatures from heat ventilating from the Arctic ocean tells about heat accumulating due to rising CO2.

  80. Mathew, Using your fallacious logic and medical examples. What you suggest is that if I measure a person’s temperature caused by the flu using a lingual thermometer and a person’s temperature who has heat stroke using an anal thermometer then I can conclude their high body temperatures were caused by Dengue Fever.

  81. James (@JGrizz0011) says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    “I am on the side of the scientific consensus in every other field of science. It disturbs me that my opinions are apparently opposite of mainstream science in just this one field of science.”

    In response…

    Jim Clarke says:
    August 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

    “That is a dangerous position. Go back in time and look at the consensus science of 100 or 200 years ago. In almost every field, the consensus was wrong in many ways. In some cases, it was almost completely wrong. Do you think that the scientists 200 years from now will look back on the early 21st Century and proclaim that was the time when humans got almost everything right? Hardly!”

    —————————

    I agree with Jim on the point that pretty much all scientific theory will be revised over time, some revised very significantly, and some completely tossed and rebuilt from scratch. We don’t know as much as we think we do.

    What James may have been trying to say, or at least my own experience, is that in many areas of science, there at least appears to be a connection between the prevailing theory and actual observations (even if the prevailing theory is later falsified, it’s presently the best we have at explaining what we see). I try to keep my healthy skepticism, in any case.

    As for “climate science”, it seems to be the one area of science where the predominant “settled” theory is CLEARLY disconnected from real-world observations but is still hanging around like the walking dead in Zombieland and just won’t go away.

    This tells me that climate science is NOT science. Rather, it’s politics and business and religion.

    Bruce

  82. Rabe
    Almost all energy conversions will produce waste heat and/or radiation. 2nd law of thermodynamics mandates entropy must increase not decrease. Heat is a disorganized form of energy (high entropy). Thermal efficiency of heat engines is only 25% to over 60%. The rest is waste heat. There is no machine on earth in perpetual motion. Its kinetic energy will also become waste heat thru mechanical friction and drag (air resistance).

    Electric current in a conductor produces Joule heating. Waste heat again. When light and infrared hit a thermometer, the effect is heating not cooling. Possible exception is radio waves that escape to space without heating effect on earth.

  83. Jim Steele: Mathew, Using your fallacious logic and medical examples. What you suggest is that if I measure a person’s temperature caused by the flu using a lingual thermometer and a person’s temperature who has heat stroke using an anal thermometer then I can conclude their high body temperatures were caused by Dengue Fever.

    that absurdity is all your own. But it is true that I can not control what you can conclude. I only note that, based on evidence, you should not be too certain.

  84. Dr. Strange,
    it seems to me you are kidding. Eventually, the not-wasted part of the energy turns to waste heat, too.

    If, for example, you get your useful energy from a PV plant located in the desert you will cause a drop of temperature there according to the efficiency of the panels. More efficient panels will cause a bigger temperature drop. The “waste heat” there will cause the temperature being higher as less efficient panels will waste more heat instead of it being transferred to a place where you want to waste it.

    So thinking about waste heat is a waste of time except if you want to waste more heat elsewhere without paying more for it.

  85. Jim Steele: If your argument has any merit, then without sidetracking, simply explain what averaging higher temperatures from heat ventilating from the Arctic ocean tells about heat accumulating due to rising CO2.

    You are shifting your ground again: statistical analysis of even the most appropriate kind, absent proper experiment design, generally can not elucidate causal mechanisms well, if at all.

    One more note about sampling: in every actual data set, there is something unique about each data value that makes it unclear whether it has been “sampled from the population” as all or any of the others. Indeed, it is never exactly true that any of the data have been “sampled from the same population” — there is only a judgment, subject to revision in light of other data, that treating them that way does not introduce too much more inaccuracy. This is elaborated somewhat in the book by Rob Kass, Uri Eden and Emery Brown, “Analysis of Neural Data”, and in the book by Jay Kadane called “Principles of Uncertainty”. It is like the old aphorism that you can’t dip your foot into the “same” river twice.

  86. Your “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd” comment August 4, 2014 at 10:07 am concludes what appears to be a justification of AGW alarmism based on global average temperature measurements. Jim Steele et alia have challenged your position with a variety of arguments that you have avoided or side-stepped, the latest being the charging of Jim with “shifting your ground.”

    To refine your position, please explain whether you understand that the temperature average of substances with different heat capacities is not the same as averaging their heat content. Also, answer the question posed by davidmhoffer August 4, 2014 at 10:43 am ”If you can identify the one spot on earth (single locus) which exhibits the same utility as a sub-lingual temperature taken as a proxy for the body, but this time for the planet as a whole, please do tell us what it is.”

    The whole point of this post is that, unlike the body where sublingual temperature is an important indicator of normal, there is no average normal temperature of the Earth and no single place or finite number of measurements that indicates whether heat is accumulating or not.

    “statistical analysis of even the most appropriate kind, absent proper experiment design, generally can not elucidate causal mechanisms well, if at all.”

    What do you propose for proper experimental design for determining the average global temperature?

  87. Matthew R Marler says:
    August 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Sorry, my comment was in response to Mr. Marler.

  88. Lots of contradictions in the article, but one point needs to be made more strongly: the air can warm as a result of increased loss of heat by the ocean to space. Sort of a “transit phenomenon”. It is thus not only transit, but transitory, leaving the Earth with less heat energy than it had. Soon, the ice sheets! ;p

  89. Interesting read. One description puzzles me though.

    “””””…..During the winter when that open water re-freezes it releases additional latent heat……”””””

    So, by how much does the air Temperature above that refreeze ice increase, due to the “release” of all that latent heat.

    Nobody ever seems to quote the Temperature rise above re-freezing ice, due to latent heat release.

    Why is that ??

  90. “””””…..Chic Bowdrie says:

    August 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Your “the idea that the single measured average is not meaningful is absurd” …..”””””

    So just how does one go about “measuring” an average (of any data set) ?? I always thought “average” is something you calculate using statistical mathematics; not something that can be observed, or measured.

    • george e. smith,

      If you ask me, an average is the sum of a number of measurements divided by the number. If I understand the post, the global average temperature is a poor way to characterize how hot the planet is because of many local factors such as what the OP describes. The most obvious is the differing heat capacities of forest and grassland.

  91. Matthew R Marler, averaging intensive properties gives you nothing meaningful in return. It’s that simple.

    You can average temperature readings at a single site and come up with a physically meaningful value. But as soon as you include another site, you’ve lost any physical meaning.

  92. Chic;
    Here’s a better, simpler and more important one: What’s the average temperature of the ice sheets and the ocean?

  93. Brian,

    Yes the heat content of the planet is primarily going to be determined by the oceans. Measurement of surface temperatures is the chimera Mr. Steele is referring to.

  94. “””””…..Chic Bowdrie says:

    August 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    george e. smith,

    If you ask me, an average is the sum of a number of measurements divided by the number. If I understand the post, the global average temperature is a poor way to characterize how hot the planet is because of many local factors such as what the OP describes. The most obvious is the differing heat capacities of forest and grassland. ….”””””

    Chic, you make; but apparently miss my whole point.
    “average” is as you described it; simply a creation of statistical mathematics, calculated as you wrote.

    It is NOT something that can be observed.

    But you can compute the average for ANY set of already known numbers. They do not even have to represent ANYTHING.

    But they do have to be known numbers.

    For example, you cannot average x1, x2, x3, x4 and x5; no x2.5 is NOT that average.

    Nor can you average x1, y2, z3, w4, h5.

    So since all the numbers must be known, the average is an exactly known calculated number. It is a unique property of that set of numbers. Every such set, has an average.

    NONE of those average values, have ANY meaning or value outside that particular set.

    And since you already know the values of all of the numbers, the “average” adds nothing to your information. The set of numbers themselves, is the repository of ALL of the information (if any) contained in that set.

    No they can’t tell you anything about ANY numbers, that might have been pre-existing. Nor can they tell you anything about any other numbers that might come into existence n the future.

    • George,

      I see your point now and agree. However, averaging measurements is important because, aided with the appropriate statistical treatments, comparisons can be made between averages. This post addresses the meaningfulness of an average of surface temperatures taken at different times when key characteristics of the sample populations are changing and the changes aren’t taken into account.

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