Rocky Mountain Highs

Guest post by Dr. Richard Alan Keen

Oh my God, I’m going to fry!!!

Watts Up With That posted a prediction by Noah Diffenbaugh at Stanford that heat waves will increase across the U.S. over the next few decades, with the largest increases being in the higher elevations of the Rockies, especially Colorado.

Since I live at 9,000 feet above sea level in central Colorado, I’m terrified!  I don’t think I can handle more days over 80F (it’s never reached 90 here).

Since CO2 has already increased by 110 ppm, any effects of increasing atmospheric carbon should be noticeable by now.  Here’s a chart of the highest temperature recorded in the state of Colorado for each year since 1888.

The hottest recorded in the state is a pretty good indicator of the occurrence of heat waves, and a trend should indicate a change in heat wave frequency.  I didn’t want to break the beauty of the graph by plotting the linear trend line, which is essentially horizontal with an upward trend of about 0.5F over the 120 year period.  That would indicate little change in the occurrence of extreme heat in Colorado.

Is extreme heat getting more frequent in Colorado?  During the first half of the record, from 1888 to 1947, Colorado had 17 years in which some place in the state reached 110F or higher.  Since then, there’s been 15 year with 110-degree readings.  It appears that Colorado heat waves haven’t gotten the word that they’re supposed to increase with the rising CO2 levels.

It also appears that I needn’t worry about a 90-degree day at my weather station for a while (that’s one reason I moved here).

Steve Goddard has a wonderful post on Watt’s Up With That detailing trends (or the lack thereof) in Colorado’s summer climate.

Here’s a broader look at Colorado’s climate – annual statewide mean temperatures for 160 years of record from four sources.

The data shown are:

NCDC combined divisional averages for the state;

USHCN and Hadley CRU gridded values for the Colorado “box” (USHCN and Hadley are so similar they are averaged into one time series);

NCAR-NCEP reanalysis surface temperatures for the Colorado “box”; and

Regional averages from stations in Colorado and neighboring states before 1895, when there were fewer stations in Colorado.

There’s a wealth of information here and many possible interpretations.  The 30-year running mean emphasizes the PDO and AMO contributions.  Colorado appears to follow neither oceanic oscillation very closely, but rather appears to respond to a mix of both oscillations.

More important is the lack of an overall trend in the temperatures.  Colorado is predicted by many models to have the greatest warming of any state in the “lower 48”, but so far this warming is not evident.  The warmest 30-year period remains 1933-1963 at 45.6F, 0.1F warmer than the most recent 30 years and 0.3F warmer than the first 30 years (1850-1879).  The net warming from 1850-79 to 1980-2009 is all of 0.2F.

Although a warming signal is not evident over the entire record, there has been a warming since 1900 (which is what NCDC and others advertise as evidence of a warming Colorado).  Even if one chooses to ignore the cooling after the warm 1860’s and concentrate on the 20th century, the bulk of the warming of that century occurred in a few years around 1930 – a bit early to be due to CO2.

Dr. Richard Keen

Co-op observer, climatologist, author, and teacher.

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48 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain Highs

  1. Why should I trust these, what do you called them….observations, when I have a computer model that will tell me the future???

  2. O/T I think, but i am convinced that the rise in recorded global temperatures isn’t linked to burning fossil fuels, but is instead linked to the rise in sales of fizzy drinks – has anybody studied this?
    😉
    /Mango

  3. The graphs in this and the following article by Dr Keen, should both be front and center in all newspapers sold in North America. The public can understand a graph that is so clear, and it will immmediately put the lie to decades of pronouncements of extreme change.

  4. Nice reproduction of the effect of the AMO in the mean temperature graph. A bit modulated by the de Vries solar cycle. the 1914 quiet sun shows up nicely too. Perhaps the chap who predicts the increasing number of extreme heat event can help me predict the number of leprechauns that will show up on my shamrock next year.

  5. It’s very clear that if we go from the low near 1910 to the high near 2000 we have 3 degress F (almost 2 degrees C) warming!! That’s pretty alarming. :>). There seems to be the usual near 60 year cycle. Murray

  6. You did not start at 1915 through 2000! You “Cherry Picked” The actual start of records and the actual end of records rather than those periods that prove warming exists. If you look close this decade was warmer than the 90s.
    Even 160 years just gives you the realization that climate varies. Over 100K or 200K years there is probably little change in the overall range of climate.

  7. If it wasn’t for the empirical evidence of actual temperatures related to CO2, Al Gore and the IPCC might be on to something.
    Thanks to WUWT for continually holding the AGW crowd in check!

  8. DoctorJJ,
    Ah but the model does have a procedure for calling up a wave player for that special “Greetings, Professor Falken.” moment each time you load it and the mystical significance of a floating ELOC consistently matching Al Gore’s unstable waist size in millimetres in real time! Move over weeping Catholic statuary for the new kid in town!

  9. You’ll never retain a nicely paid position at a prestigious university talking like that.

  10. The 30-year running mean
    The way Excel calculates ‘running mean’ is wrong or misleading. The mean should be centered on the middle of the 30-year interval, not plotted at the end of it.

  11. May I make a suggestion? Your 30-year moving average line lags the trends in the chart because what you plot for year N is (apparently) the average of values for years N-29 to N. If you plot that value at a horizontal coordinate associated with the middle of the interval (in this case year N-14.5), then the moving average line will correspond better with the original data.

  12. Interesting how these forecasts are always out at least ten years…twenty is even better. And look down Mexico way on Noah’s map – oh my it looks to be getting awfully hot.
    In the 1970’s an immanent ice-age was predicted; when the climate switched to warm many of the very same prophets of doom switched right along to warm and became the seed of the current CAGW crowd. It’ funny to me how MSM continues to give credibility to these doomsday views with absolute shameless disregard to the falsity of previous predictions.
    Now with a quiet sun and other indicators, just watch it switch back to cooling – the same characters will switch back to (catastrophic) cool – few will note the duplicity – and the charade will go on.
    More evidence of faddish, superficial thinking that passes today as science. I fear for my grandchildren – and climate change is the least of my fears!

  13. Dr. Keen, without knowing the four sources of your temperature information and knowing that there is no longer any raw data in existence, so there really is no temperature record at all, and knowing that urbanization and poor siting issues plague temperature stations, and that this is a very long sentence, why do you believe your own graph or that there is any warming at all?

  14. Maybe we should all move to Colorado to save us from the impending doom of the rest of the world!

  15. There is always some way to tell the story of increasing temperature that makes it seem scary. Usually this consists of some graphic that is hard to decipher. The story is less scary when one considers the practical result at a given locality. For instance this graphic shows monthly average temperature at Cheyenne, Wyoming from 1897 to 1996 or so. The practical result of changing climate by a degree centigrade is nil. There are bound to be a few hot days or weeks here and there, as well as cold periods, but weather in 2010 looks just like weather in 1879. By the way, the slope in this time series is not significantly different from zero–before adjustments, of course.

  16. Great posting — Keep it up WUWT, the truth will in the end win out.
    It is quite possible man does not have enough data to understand how climate works — Or for that matter enough knowledge. I would say that at least 5 million years would be needed to understand anything, and then project that knowledge 5 million years into the future. Of course your computer models would have to allow for asteroid strikes, volcanoes erupting, and gamma ray bursts, to name a few events that might happen — but challenges are what computers are made for.
    My trend lines say it’s time for the warmers to switch back to predicting the next ice age. And bring back the old plan to coat the poles with ground up tires. They thought using the then brand new 747 to fly the missions, would add credibility.

  17. Snow in the mountains for July 4th in Northern Wyoming.
    I had to argue with my sister not to turn on the heat in July.
    (It’s a moral question – I refuse to do so in July.)
    She used the baseboard heater in the bathroom, anyway.
    Last summer we had four snows in July and August in the Bighorns.
    The summer is looking to be about the same.
    The wildflowers are stunning in the mountains.
    The grass has never been greener in the High Plains.

  18. To Kevin Kilty :
    I just compare the Raw vs Adjusted mean temps for Cheyenne from 1890s to now. They both show a warming trend althought the last 5 years are on a down slope. Having said that, the current down slope is still warmer than the previous one in the last 40 years.
    Please review yours stats and statements as the data (raw and adjusted) does not demonstrate what you said.
    Also, any change of 1 celsius is a big one when talking about temps average and/or mean on an annual basis. 1c on a daily base is really not a big thing , i agree with you, but on an yearly base for monthly means, it is quite significant.

  19. woodNfish is absolutely right. There is no point in attacking alarmists because they use data from poor sources and then try to refute them by using data from equally unexamined sources. The heatwave prediction is alarmist nonesense. Go with the anecdotal evidence – I haven’t used my air conditioning in x years. Another tactic would be to look at wild vegetation and see how this has changed. Unfortunately, none of these methods can give us a look into the future anymore than bogus temp. charts. We need an effective theory of climate and we just don’t have one. Models are not the answer.

  20. Colorado is predicted by many models to have the greatest warming of any state in the “lower 48″, but so far this warming is not evident.
    Worse, Climate Science’s “0-fer” is giving Fortune Telling a bad name!

  21. How do their predictions 10 years ago match with what we observe today? If they do not, we know what they will say! They will say that the models today are more reliable than the ones of 10 years ago. Look! They will say. When we simulate 2000-2010 from 1999 starting conditions using today’s models, we get the correct answer.
    Anyone care to guess what will happen in 2020 if we ask a similar question!
    These people play a game where they keep everything in the future. It is the same with governments who get elected on 4 to 5 year terms but make plans for decades ahead. It is a well known trick amongst those of us who study these things. Those things being the power of fear.

  22. Thanks for the information. I also live in Colorado ( at altitude 7100 ft) having moved there in 2001. Our first several winters were mild, with relatively little snow and mcuh sun to quickly melt what did fall. But the last few have been real mountain winters, with the old timers saying that this is the way it used to be. Those old timers are now outnumbered by hippies who have moved here from somewhere else who (1) mostly do not work; (2) are true believers in AGW; (3) reject all facts.

  23. White Wash works real good when it is inner circle peer review… Just ask Jones, Mann, and Briffa…
    Funding is the name of the game…if your not trying to prove AGW you will receive nothing.. and if you try to disprove it, those participating in circular peer review will ignore you…

  24. MangoChutney says:
    July 11, 2010 at 5:32 am
    O/T I think, but i am convinced that the rise in recorded global temperatures isn’t linked to burning fossil fuels, but is instead linked to the rise in sales of fizzy drinks – has anybody studied this?
    I bet you could plot the rise of CO2 in Colorado to the sales of Coors Beer.

  25. Kevin Kilty says:
    July 11, 2010 at 7:34 am
    ……………………………………………………………………….
    Nicely done… a simple plot of individual months… and a look at it from a much longer term or CLIMATE view… which simply says “Nothing Happening Here”

  26. old construction worker says:
    July 11, 2010 at 9:10 am
    I bet you could plot the rise of CO2 in Colorado to the sales of Coors Beer.
    Of course you can, it’s due to a simple chemical equation:
    COORS + BEER = CO2 + ER-ER + BS

  27. There’s been a decline in heatwaves in the US through time. This is what the data shows. The 1930’s were, by far, the hottest years in the US:
    Joseph D’Aleo shows data:

  28. Regg says:
    July 11, 2010 at 8:26 am
    To Kevin Kilty :
    I just compare the Raw vs Adjusted mean temps for Cheyenne from 1890s to now. They both show a warming trend althought the last 5 years are on a down slope. Having said that, the current down slope is still warmer than the previous one in the last 40 years.
    Please review yours stats and statements as the data (raw and adjusted) does not demonstrate what you said.
    Also, any change of 1 celsius is a big one when talking about temps average and/or mean on an annual basis. 1c on a daily base is really not a big thing , i agree with you, but on an yearly base for monthly means, it is quite significant.

    You and I are apparently not using the same data. This is raw data. People can look at my graph and decide for themselves whether or not it shows what I have said. In a yearly variation of 35 Centigrade 1 Centigrade does not make much of a difference. I know this because I have lived through many. The same plants and animals are here now that were here in the 1890s. Please put up a graph of your data and explain your adjustments.

  29. Doesn’t seem to matter which city you go to in the US: The 1930’s heat waves & droughts still reign supreme.
    NOAA is full of prunes.

  30. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    July 11, 2010 at 10:44 am
    The Killer Heat oracles are digging themselves a hole.
    For a subject that is full of uncertainties, their proclamations are most unwise.

  31. One thing I’ve noticed is that the predictions made for CAGW keep moving. When you show the trend line to not meet their predictions (um projections) they say that the extremes will be larger. When you show that a given area does not conform to their predictions they say that it doesn’t apply everywhere (after originally announcing it does apply everywhere). Global sea ice doesn’t count, nor does antarctic sea ice. Southern extreme winters don’t count. You’ve got a better chance playing a carney game of chance than winning this discussion with a CAGWer.

  32. [snip] it’d be no big deal. But these nutters have persuaded western governments to throw billions at a mythical non-problem. How can this perversion of science, this hi-jacking of the public purse, be stopped?
    I suspect that the answer lies not in science – in Popperian falsification – but in politics, specifically in the hearts and minds of the public. With its regular forceful arguments, spiced up with wit and humour , WUWT’s approach must win through in the end.
    Montaigne said – and it sums up the Hockey Team nicely – “Nothing is so fervently believed as that which cannot be proven.” The hard-liners ain’t gonna change their minds. My hope is that the battle for the public’s hearts and minds will be won by our side, so that when global warming zealots trumpet their end-of-days scare story they’ll meet with scorn and derision.
    [Reply] Sorry for the snip, but we don’t discuss religion here. RT-mod

  33. “It also appears that I needn’t worry about a 90-degree day at my weather station for a while (that’s one reason I moved here).”
    Nothing a little asphalt can’t take care of…..

  34. tarpon says:
    July 11, 2010 at 8:10 am
    Great posting — Keep it up WUWT, the truth will in the end win out.
    It is quite possible man does not have enough data to understand how climate works — Or for that matter enough knowledge””
    No other science has been more studied than medical/health.
    No one is stupid enough to think that Drs know it all.
    And yet we are supposed to believe that glorified climate computer programers do?

  35. stevengoddard says: July 11, 2010 at 9:50 am
    I wonder what the German Octopus predicts?

    I always found octopus somewhat rubbery. Good flavor, though.
    And I don’t think Coors has much to do with local CO CO2, since it’s mostly exported to states that appreciate it’s marketing mystique.
    30 years warm, 30 years cool, 30 warm, 30 cool. The complete cycle is most of a lifetime, so it’s understandable why people don’t have the ‘big picture.’ Mix that in with a true-believing media and opportunistic investors, it’s also understandable why so many would go along with global warming ‘remedies’ that are so clearly in their worst interests.

  36. BS-detector:
    square boxes.
    Administrators are beating scientists into submission. My suspicions peak any time records start at a nice round number (like 1900 1950 etc) for no apparently-scientific reason.
    Make it fit in a box.
    (e.g. anthropogenic computer fantasy)
    “Our version of reality has square corners.”

  37. As I posted in earlier threads, it has become an annual ritual for the Alarmists to publish “studies” of global heat doom every summer during a heat wave. The records will be sliced and dices to fit the Alarmist’s narrative. And the goal posts are constantly on the move. It is not just warmer temps that we will see, but longer and more frequent “heat waves (whatever that is). If I remember correctly, the IPCC was more interested in Winter time and nocturnal temps. According to thier predictions, the most dramatic increases would be nocturnal lows and Winter time highs.
    Of course, what is missing is prespective. The way the Alarmists talk, long term summer heat waves and droughts only came about in the 1970s and later.

  38. Looks like Stanford is wrong, again.
    Stanford has a tendency to send the marching band onto the football field at the wrong time.
    What is it about Stanford University — they have a whole gagle of wrongheaded folks on AGW — must be getting grants, or taking orders from the elite — who favor trans-national carbon taxes and control.

  39. The earth was extremely hot after the big bang and the planet coalesced from space debris. Over billions of years there has been a cooling trend to the point where we can actually live on this planet. Then when the sun goes supernova there will be an intense warming trend and finally back to abosolute zero. Do people think our current temperature fluctuations really mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things?

  40. The Colorado Temperatures from 1840 are interesting. Notice the all-time high in the 1930’s. To date, 25 of the 50 States still have their all-time record highs recorded in the the 1930’s. There were NO record all-time highs in the 2000’s!
    However, what is more interesting is seeing the 90,000 CO2 measurements taken by hundreds of scientists over the last two centuries (Beck 2007). Before the CO2 measurements started at Mauna Loa in 1958 at 290ppm, CO2 readings were recorded as being about 375ppm in 1857, and further back in 1825 still higher at about 425ppm. CO2 will have to increase another 35ppm just to catch up to 1825.
    Much to the dismay of Dr. James “coal fired power plants are ‘factories of death'” Hansen, Atmospheric Temperature Deviation marches to the beat of Solar Irradiance, not CO2!

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