NOAA's August global SST record is the result of one data set

Yesterday NOAA announced with much fanfare that:

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880.

Besides the UAH data for August I cited, Bob Tisdale shows that some other datasets don’t agree with NOAA’s conclusion. – Anthony

Record Sea Surface Temperatures Are Only In NOAA ERSST.v3b Dataset

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

The NOAA press release claims the August Global Sea Surface Temperature (SST) was the warmest on record.

The record ERSST.v3b SST for August can be seen in Figure 1.

http://i32.tinypic.com/2jaiydh.png

Figure 1

And of course SST anomalies, Figure 2, were also at record levels in August 2009.

http://i28.tinypic.com/ive0y1.png

Figure 2

RECORD NOT CONFIRMED BY NOAA SATELLITE SST DATA

August 2009 SST, Figure 3, and SST anomalies, Figure 4, for the NOAA satellite-based OI.v2 SST dataset were not records. NOAA writes about the Optimum Interpolation (OI.v2) data, “The optimum interpolation (OI) sea surface temperature (SST) analysis is produced weekly on a one-degree grid. The analysis uses in situ and satellite SST’s plus SST’s simulated by sea-ice cover. Before the analysis is computed, THE SATELLITE DATA IS ADJUSTED FOR BIASES using the method of Reynolds (1988) and Reynolds and Marsico (1993).” [Emphasis added.]

http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/data/gridded/data.noaa.oisst.v2.html

http://i29.tinypic.com/2zgi8n7.png

Figure 3

############

http://i31.tinypic.com/ajp9ap.png

Figure 4

NOAA does not use satellite data in its ERSST.v3b SST dataset. However, when NOAA originally released the ERSST.v3b dataset in 2008, they included satellite data to supplement the buoy- and ship-based data. This was discussed in my post “Recent Differences Between GISS and NCDC SST Anomaly Data And A Look At The Multiple NCDC SST Datasets” and repeated here:

In “Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006)”, Smith et al note the use of satellite data for ERSST.v3 data in their abstract, “Beginning in 1985, improvements are due to the inclusion of bias-adjusted satellite data.” That’s a positive description. They further proclaim, “Of the improvements, the two that have the greatest influence on global averages are better tuning of the reconstruction method and inclusion of bias adjusted satellite data since 1985.” In fact there is a whole subsection in the paper about the satellite adjustments.

But the satellite data was removed because it was felt the satellite data caused a downward bias. Reynolds, Smith, and Liu write in a November 14, 2008 attachment to their main ERSST.v3b webpage, “In the ERSST version 3 on this web page WE HAVE REMOVED SATELLITE DATA from ERSST and the merged product. The addition of satellite data caused problems for many of our users. Although, the satellite data were corrected with respect to the in situ data as described in reprint, there was a residual cold bias that remained as shown in Figure 4 there. The bias was strongest in the middle and high latitude Southern Hemisphere where in situ data are sparse. THE RESIDUAL BIAS LED TO A MODEST DECREASE IN THE GLOBAL WARMING TREND AND MODIFIED GLOBAL ANNUAL TEMPERATURE RANKINGS.” [Emphasis added.]

The link for that quote is here:http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/sst/papers/merged-product-v3.pdf

Note that the “merged product” referenced above is their ERSST.v3b-based land plus sea surface temperature data.

RECORD NOT CONFIRMED BY ANOTHER SHIP- AND BUOY-BASED SST ANOMALY DATASET

The Hadley Centre’s HADSST2 does not show record SST anomalies for July, August, or for the Summer of 2009. Far from it. Refer to Figure 5. The Hadley Centre uses different techniques to smooth and infill missing data. The differences between the Hadley Centre and NOAA methodologies are explained in the NOAA paper about the ERSST.v3b data, “Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006)”.

http://i27.tinypic.com/kbuets.png

Figure 5

CLOSING

It appears that the methods used by NOAA to calculate Global SST in their ERSST.v3b dataset and the removal of the satellite data from those calculations created an upward bias.

SOURCES

NOAA’s ERSST.v3b SST anomaly data is available here:

ftp://eclipse.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/ersstv3b/pdo/aravg.mon.ocean.90S.90N.asc

NOAA’s ERSST.v3b SST data was downloaded from the KNMI Climate Explorer:

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

NOAA’s OI.v2 SST and SST anomaly data is available through their NOMADS website:

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

THE HADSST2 SST anomaly data is listed in the second column in the following webpage. The other columns list the uncertainty ranges for measurement and grid box sampling, for coverage, for bias, and for the combination of those uncertainties:

http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadsst2/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/monthly

UPDATE

While doing a visual check of the sources against the graphs, I noticed a difference between the SST anomaly data presented by NOAA for the same dataset. I’m noting it in case someone else spot checks the graphs. The Monthly Global Ocean Temperature Anomalies (degrees C) uses 1901 to 2000 as base years, but the ERSST.v3b data uses 1971 to 2000. Confirmation here:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/sst/ersstv3.php

For those who want to split hairs, the difference in the base years changes the rankings of SST anomalies, Figure 6. But it has no impact on the SST data rankings.

http://i30.tinypic.com/5y6xcx.png

Figure 6

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tarpon

Can you blame NOAA for doing this, hey they want their cut of the global warming taxes.
See the problem?

John W.

Oookaay.
Soo…
How did they determine that the satellite data was biased, and not the other data source(s)?
Or were the simply cherry picking the data sets to confirm their own “observer” bias?

George E. Smith

Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling.
The graph looks phony to me too; more like a tide plot, with one large tide, and an intervening smaller tide, so what do they attribute that to.
Of course it is impossible to tell with that graph paper axis.
Does anyone have the original raw data; that data set seems to be suffering from sampling inadequacy; I’m getting a bit tired of data that is improperly sampled.

George E. Smith

I guess my comments refer to their figure 1.

Thomas J. Arnold.

“But the satellite data was removed because it was felt the satellite data caused a downward bias.”
Says it all for me.

Thanks Bob,
I linked to your post from tAV earlier.

George E. Smith

But the JAXA ice line is nicely heading fro 2005; and look at that 2 1/2 somersaults the arctic temperature dive is doing.
I guess those Walrussians knew when to get out of the water, while the going was good; they might have been iced over if they had waited.

When are the NOAA climate scientists going to be “adjusted for bias”?

George E. Smith (10:04:27) : “Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling.”
Phony or not, I don’t see anything but Cartesian coordinate graphs, here.

Alvin

Please tell me you contacted them so they can “fix” their mistake?

TomLama

We have had satellites in space since the 1960s that can read a newspaper over your shoulder, peer inside storms, and measure the tempurature of your coffee.
No use relying on them to plot daily temps, however. That is left to reliable hockey stick models.

DaveF

The average global temperatures over the last ten years were showing a cooling trend, but I have discovered that this is because night-time temperatures were showing a downward bias. I have now removed them and I can now report out-of-control warming of the planet. It’s worse than we thought.

Steve M.

TomLama (10:40:49) :
We have had satellites in space since the 1960s that can read a newspaper over your shoulder, peer inside storms, and measure the tempurature of your coffee.
Maybe someone needs to sit in the middle of the ocean reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee in the middle of a storm so we can get some accurate readings.

Stupid question here, but wouldn’t increased sea temps be indicative of the oceans releasing heat into the atmosphere and therefore cooling?

Bob Shapiro

Does anybody know how much of the SST changes over the last 2 years was caused by the wind blowing, or not blowing, icebergs out of the arctic? I would expect more icebergs going south would lower SST, while fewer bergs would allow SST to be higher. Would the effects last more than just the one season.

ooops, the term “increased sea temps ” should read “increased sea surface temps “

Jeremy

Doesn’t really matter that much, whether its the warmest on record or not. There is an uptick, but when the pacific ocean is going through an el-nino, and it spans 1/3 the globe… one would figure the global sea surface anomaly to be affected.
In short, this argument is meaningless from all sides. As a believer, you cannot use it to demonstrate anything of value with regards to global temperature. As a skeptic, you cannot use it to demonstrate any real problem with data since all the data sets show an uptick (and expectedly so).

Paul Vaughan

The temporal geography is a major clue that is being overlooked in the climate discussion:
“The bias was strongest in the middle and high latitude Southern Hemisphere
How many blatant clues of this magnitude will it take before alarmists start considering natural factors in climate as factors in climate? (Maybe they are reading the literature selectively?…)

CodeTech

Yes but Jeremy, what it shows is how quickly “they” use any data to demonstrate “their” claims…
Nobody in their right mind, or rather, no HONEST scientist would make claims of record temps after discarding a dataset that shows otherwise.
And really, I personally don’t get concerned if temps go up or down. We’re well within the range of expected, normal variation. Anyone hyperventilating in either direction doesn’t understand variability.

George E. Smith: You wrote, “Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling…”
Graph paper? It’s simply a standard time series graph that’s the output of EXCEL. I prepared it, not they.
Then you qualified your comment with, “I guess my comments refer to their figure 1.”
The source is listed in the post:
NOAA’s ERSST.v3b SST data was downloaded from the KNMI Climate Explorer:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere
Have at it.

Jeremy: I agree with much of your 10:55:07 comment. This is much ado about nothing. The multiyear and multidecadal changes in Global SST anomalies appear to reflect the ocean’s ability to integrate ENSO.

Vincent

Jeremy,
“In short, this argument is meaningless from all sides. As a believer, you cannot use it to demonstrate anything of value with regards to global temperature.”
No it is not meaningless. When a trusted government research organisation at one time merges data sets to get the desired trend, and later removes one of these datasets because “it showed less of a trend”, then It is not what it tells us about climate change so much as what it tells us about NOAA that this story is about.

Hoskald: You wrote, “Stupid question here, but wouldn’t increased sea temps be indicative of the oceans releasing heat into the atmosphere and therefore cooling?”
Nothing stupid about it. Ocean heat content rises during La Nina events and decreases during El Nino events. It’s easy to see in a comparison of NINO3.4 SST anomalies and the OHC of the tropical Pacific.
http://i25.tinypic.com/wrz71x.png
The graph is from this post:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/09/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content.html

Paul

Just a funny comparison for me… I got my M.S. in criminal justice, and one of the big problems that has occurred is how police departments across the country record crime numbers. What cheifs and politicians like to do is start recording crimes more stringently when they are going to start a new program i.e. community policing and then once they get the funds for said program begin “down grading” crimes. For example, if I stole a $1100 TV, they would report that as a financial loss of $700, so that it would reflect misdemeanor theft rather than felony theft. So in 5 years, they can show their amazing graphs showing how their program fixed the crime problem. If you really want to get depressed, check out what happened in Philadelphia in 1953.

George E. Smith: You wrote, “Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling…”
“Graph paper? It’s simply a standard time series graph that’s the output of EXCEL.”
Not having M$ EXCEL, I hadn’t realized it was their standard output. But I’ve seen those types of graphs before, and I agree with George. Of what use are the lines? E.g., what are the anomalies in 1996 on Figure 6?

Robert Wood

The addition of satellite data caused problems for many of our users.
What problems for which users I wonder?

Ummm… do we only have 30 years of data?

Bob:
You have such a good grasp of things, and you are FAST on the “uptake” for various concepts, so I’m going to propose something here which I think needs to be considered.
I have been monitoring the NASA http://neo.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/Search.html
website and find that the IR energy balance has been “negative” for some time.
I’ve discussed this with Dr. Spencer and he has noted that this is correct with the observed atmospheric cooling. He said, “It’s taken some number of hours, and running of a variety of modeling programs..but despite how counter intuitive, the negative IR balance is commensurate with the tropospheric cooling”. (I’m repeating this on memory right now.)
In any case, I have also asked Dr. Spencer if there is something to cause the oceans to become transitorily better absorbers. He has not had a chance to think this out (he really is a great THINKER and doesn’t respond “off the cuff” much of the time, because what he responds has THOUGHT and EFFORT behind it!).
But my (superficial) analysis is this: High sea surface temps = result of greater ABSORPTION around the globe. Accounts for negative energy balance currently observed.
Now here’s the kicker: This does not mean higher atmospheric temps.! Because there is a LOT of ocean out there below the “sea surface temp” region.
Thus a LOT of “thermal well”. Our current energy input to the sea surface could, and probably WILL be “swallowed up” by the oceans.
SO what we may have here, in the long run, is an even GREATER model/example showing the DOMINATING effects of WATER on the atmosphere, and the trivial nature of CO2. Water both in the vapor form and in the LIQUID form.
Mark Hugoson

AnonyMoose

The bias was strongest in the middle and high latitude Southern Hemisphere where in situ data are sparse.

First use the need to measure temperatures where there is data missing to fund a satellite instrument, then when it disagrees with your biases claim that the data can’t be used because there is no other source for the data. Something wrong here.
Can they get better results getting Salvadoran teenagers to measure the temperature?

AnonyMoose

The addition of satellite data caused problems for many of our users.

Has anyone requested details on that claim? FOIA on the communications?

Innocentious: You asked, “Ummm… do we only have 30 years of data?”
This post discussed peak SST and SST anomalies. With that in mind, there actually was no need to go back any further than 1997. I started in November 1981 because the OI.v2 SST data is satellite based and has only been available since November 1981. Since that was one of my primary datasets for comparison, I elected to use its time span.
Regards

Pamela Gray

Kelvin waves are a part of El Nino. They start out warm, throw that warmth into the air, and end with a cool tail as they propagate across the ocean. Kelvin waves are a good way of understanding that El Nino’s throw heat out of the ocean while La Nina’s hold it in under cool upwelled surface water. Kinda like a heat inversion where colder air above keeps warmer air trapped below.

Harold Vance

Higher highs = bull market on for AGW PR and propaganda. That’s the main significance of the press release, imho.
NOAA seems to be following GISS with the higher highs. Those pesky satellites aren’t confirming, though.

bitwonk

Had the satellite data showed warming then they would have left it in the results for sure.

MDR

Jeremy (10:55:07) :
In short, this argument is meaningless from all sides. As a believer, you cannot use it to demonstrate anything of value with regards to global temperature. As a skeptic, you cannot use it to demonstrate any real problem with data since all the data sets show an uptick (and expectedly so).
This is a sensible comment, given that we have data to support this conclusion.
Vincent (11:12:25) :
No it is not meaningless. When a trusted government research organisation at one time merges data sets to get the desired trend, and later removes one of these datasets because “it showed less of a trend”, then It is not what it tells us about climate change so much as what it tells us about NOAA that this story is about.
This is speculation, and thus less conclusive/believeable in the absence of further evidence. My opinion/suspicion is that NOAA (along with other government agencies) are understaffed and overworked and are doing the best they can. The news release is expected, because all government agencies have to do such things in order to show that they are (supposedly) doing something useful. The quality of the content of these news releases varies.

Anthony…
THE RESIDAL BIAS LED TO A MODEST DECREASE IN THE GLOBAL WARMING TREND AND MODIFIED GLOBAL ANNUAL TEMPERATURE RANKINGS.
Isn’t it residual?

Adam from Kansas

The claim that there’s record SST’s also doesn’t appear to be supported by Unisys either unless there was a massive dropoff in the last month.
http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html
It’s interesting to note that the general picture of Unisys seems to be a little cooler than NOAA SST’s.
It also shows negative anomalies trying to make their way into the ENSO region, something which does not show at all on NOAA’s TAO site.

Nogw

Higher SST area means cooling oceans. Now it is for sure: There won’t be any El Nino this year:
http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html
If cloud cover keep increasing, along with GCR:
http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/webform/query.cgi?startdate=1964/04/17&starttime=00:00&enddate=2009/09/17&endtime=00:26&resolution=Automatic choice&picture=on
SST colours will be blue again and then we’ll begin to miss those “old days” when NOAA’s maps were shining with red, oranges and yellows…

George E. Smith

“”” jorgekafkazar (10:32:35) :
George E. Smith (10:04:27) : “Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling.”
Phony or not, I don’t see anything but Cartesian coordinate graphs, here. “””
I don’t think I said anything about them being non-Cartesian; but I am used to graph paper where the grid lines represent equal increments of whatever the particular variable is. So in the case of fig 1, 1980 to 1985 five year interval is divided into four segments of 15 months each, while the 1985 to 1990 five year interval is divided into three segments of presumably 20 months each; in fact no two five year intervals seem to have the same scale.
Now the only variation on this habit I am aware of is when the scale is divided into equal increments of some well defined function of the axis variable such as the base 10 logarithm for example.
If you are happy with your Cartesian graphs being plotted on randomly scaled axes plots, that’s fine with me, but most of us are used to having axes with meaningful scaling; the main idea being to allow for extraction of data; including but not limited to the timing of significant events.
George

Philip_B

Mark Hugoson,
I’m not sure I understand your argument, but to clarify, are you saying there is ‘missing’ IR which is going into the oceans due to some unknown transitory effect?
Otherwise, energy is never ‘swallowed up’ by the oceans. Energy (heat) flows from the oceans into the atmosphere. Additional energy in the oceans will eventually be released into the atmosphere, all else being the same.
ENSO is known to have substantial effects on tropical ocean biology. It’s possible that biological effects are large enough to effect the (average) depth at which sunlight is absorbed in the ocean, and hence effect SSTs and the rate heat (from sunlight) is released to the atmosphere.
My understanding is that the reason ocean absorption of IR is minimal is due to the physical properties of water. I don’t see how a transitory effect could change this.

George E. Smith

“”” TomLama (10:40:49) :
We have had satellites in space since the 1960s that can read a newspaper over your shoulder, peer inside storms, and measure the tempurature of your coffee. “””
Well I just did a little experiment; i measured the text in my today’s news paper, and it was about 50 mils tall 1.25 mm (San Jose Mercury News).
So from 1.25 metres away, that is one milliradian subteded angle, which is 206 arx seconds. At 1.25 km away, make that one micro radian, or 0.206 seconds of arc. At a satelite height of 12.5 km, which would be a burn up in the atmosphere, the angle is 0.0206 arc seconds, well beyond the resolution of any through the atmosphere optical transmission, and at 125 km height, a possible altitude for a very short orbit life satelite, you would have a resolution of 0.2 milliarc seconds for the print to take up a whole pixel.
So nyet on your statement; nobody has ever had such satelite snooping capability; hey they might be able to see that you appear to be holding a newspaper, but they could read nothing on it.
George; who doesn’t like exaggerations; even for effect.

Ray

Let’s see… how can we get back to our global warming charts??? Yeah, let’s take these satellite data out… still not enough… let’s now remove those years… yes, we are getting there… ok, we will now square 1997 and repeat that we now have a full El Nino event even if the map is mainly yellow and blue with only tiny bit of red… WE HAVE IT FOLKS!!! Now let’s publish this result for August.

Henry chance

Thanks for Dr Tisdale. It looks like we need to take some “spin” out of the data.
Now if someone can let Climate Progress know. They are doing cartwheels on the nearing of the endtimes unless we tax everyone one till it hurts.

George E. Smith

“”” Bob Tisdale (11:07:55) :
George E. Smith: You wrote, “Scuse me for asking, but what kind of BS graph paper are they using; that looks like some kind of phony logartithmic x axis scaling…”
Graph paper? It’s simply a standard time series graph that’s the output of EXCEL. I prepared it, not they.
Then you qualified your comment with, “I guess my comments refer to their figure 1.”
The source is listed in the post:
NOAA’s ERSST.v3b SST data was downloaded from the KNMI Climate Explorer:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere
Have at it. “””
Well thanks Bob; actually I subsequently guessed that the actual graphs migh be your plotting of their data. But what happened to the minor grid lines; am i just seeing them faded out, and not printed; or what.
And no disrespect to you was intended; reason for question on raw data, was to learn how many data points were actually available for each “cycle” of that weird fig one paired cycles graph. To what do they ascribe the fact that one cycle has a big swing, and the next just a minimal p-p range ?
The later graphs such as 4/5/6 I have no probelm with other than the minor time increment lines, but #s 1 and 3 both have that strange look about them; that is hard to equate to more or less random data.
Thanks for the link, I’ll go look to educate myself.
George

Tom_R

>> Innocentious (12:23:31) :
Ummm… do we only have 30 years of data? <<
Maybe not even that much.

Mitchel44

“My opinion/suspicion is that NOAA (along with other government agencies) are understaffed and overworked and are doing the best they can.”
From 2008, “NOAA’s total budget is $4 billion, with $1 billion of that going to all weather-related agencies”.
http://www.keysnet.com/210/story/17985.html
“R&D in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would climb 9.9 percent to $585 million in the House instead of a slight requested cut (see Table). The largest increases would go to oceans and climate research in NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). OAR R&D would climb 23 percent to $346 million; the Senate would provide even more for these programs.”
From here, ref their 2009 budget, http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/doc08h.pdf
I don’t think funding is the issue.

John M

George E. Smith (14:20:26) :
Click on the graph to view a larger image.
It’s an image scaling/resolution thing, not an axis scaling thing.

DR

Bob,
When I asked in the other thread if satellite SST data was removed, I was referring to whether it was removed from the ERSST data set last November.
In other words, did the removal affect only this year, last year or the entire record?

KimW

The death of the scientific method. Forget looking at all the data, choose this one as it confirms my feelings. NOAA have thrown away the trust in scientific objectivity and have reverted to faith.

Ken S

I do not understand why so many of you are compaining about the graph!
It is very clear and easy to visualize that a line fits half way between
the wide ones. Look at the year markings and see that the x axis
is linear, nothing important is missing.
If some of you are having that much trouble then print the graph out and
draw the lines in, after all most of your are the scientists, I’m not, and
I can make sense of it.