The NOAA State of the Climate Report (PDF “at a glance” highlights version 10.5 MB, full version here 110 MB, 218 pages) was published by NCDC at the end of July. It’s another glossy compendium of issues, mostly qualitative, some quantitative. There’s lots of pictures, including some NatGeo style “poverty meets weather” images, and bullet points of severe weather (where weather apparently is climate for their purposes).
Unfortunately I had been wrapped up in a business trip for the past week, and until this weekend haven’t much of a chance to look over either the full or condensed “highlights” report. Reading the “highlights ” report (SOTCH 2009), it appears to be more about selling a product than discussing the state of the science. This “highlights” version appears suitable for busy policy maker browsing, which makes it even more troublesome. Like them, I don’t have time to do a complete read and rebuttal to the full 218 page version, and others have already done so (see later in this article). But, I think it is worth the effort to look at the highlights version as that is the version most likely to be read by the most people.
Even the filename says “brochure”:
The SOTCH 2009 “highlights” report seems destined to be a plastic sleeve/bag wrap inclusion with popular science magazines or perhaps climate conference tote bags. Think AOL disks.
Even though it appears to be a sales pitch, they didn’t do a very good job of making the PDF, as it appears to be setup to be unsearchable. The Adobe reader search box yields no results on words, even those in plain sight.
One of the images in SOTCH 2009 that caught my eye was this one comparing minimum sea ice extent in 1979 to 2009. See image at left.
The way it is portrayed, and with the color scheme chosen, it gives an impression of nothing left but “slush” in 2009, when we all know that wasn’t the case.
In fact it is demonstrable as this comparison image below from Cryosphere Today shows:
Unfortunately, the CT compare function seems to be inconveniently broken at the moment or I’d offer a link to a large format image. These two images I was able to find in images in other posts and put them side by side.
Looking at the CT images of Sept 15th 1979 compared to Sept 15, 2009, it is quite obvious that while extent is less in 2009 that 1979, concentration is significantly higher. It certainly contrasts the “slush” that NSIDC portrayed for NCDC in the SOTCH 2009:
Speaking of choosing images. This image of the SOTC 2009 portrayal of El Niño on page 6 made me laugh out loud when I first saw it. I mean seriously, who shows it like this?
It is portrayed as if El Niño was just this giant red monster and the rest of the world’s oceans are normal, with no temperature variations at all. Maybe NCDC took a cue from Joe Romm and decided to go for the “boiling” look. Obviously, NCDC dumbed down the visuals. Given these sorts of cartoonish gaffes, NCDC must think the policy makers and public is exceptionally stupid.
From SOTCH 2009 page 2:
A warmer climate also means less snow cover, melting Arctic sea ice and shrinking glaciers.
Is winter snow cover really diminishing?
Joe D’Aleo writes:
“This is a blatantly false claim as can be seen using NOAA’s own data as compiled by Rutgers Snow Lab. The winter snow was claimed to be in decline. Here is the Northern Hemispheric data yearly since record keeping began in 1966. There is no trend (0.0/year).”
But we don’t get to see any actual supporting graphs for their snow cover statement in SOTCH 2009. What a shame.
Here’s something fun, page 7 violates the “weather is not climate” law that we get beat over the head with on a regular basis anytime WUWT (or anyone else for that matter) points out some unusual weather event or record that is cool, as opposed to warm or hot.
Notice the obligatory woman and child in the “weather meets poverty” NatGeo meme. This bullet point made me laugh:
- In northern Iberia and southern France, a North Atlantic storm raked the land with record winds, downed power lines, closed airports and blocked railroads.
Gosh, events like that never happened before 2009? It’s worse than we thought!
On page 8 they show a picture of a weather station used to monitor climate.
But as you see in the text, they leave the reader with the impression that all 7000 stations have been “improved” to this hi-tech level. This is blatant misrepresentation. The photo chosen is of a Climate Reference Network station. As you can see from NOAA’s own Climate Reference Network web page, there are only 114 stations like this, not 7000:
And the choice of station photo in SOTCH 2009 gives the appearance of dry and hot, contrast that to the lush photo above. Of course the red color scheme of the CRN station in SOTCH 2009 fits in well with the red and hot cover page image, and the cartoonish red El Niño quite well.
Of course I can fully understand NCDC wanting to show their best and newest climate monitoring station design, in operation only since late summer 2008, because they surely don’t want to show photos of climate stations like this one in a parking lot at the University of Arizona, Tucson, (photos by Warren Meyer) in use for over the last 100 years to gather climate data:
No, that wouldn’t do at all.
Since we are talking about temperature, there’s this nugget from SOTC 2009 which Paul McRae points out in NOAA’s magic wand waves away 2000-2009 cooling:
[SOTC 2009 full version]…says 2000-2009 was 0.2° Fahrenheit (0.11° Celsius) warmer than the decade previous.
On its site, NOAA offers a gadget that lets browsers check the temperature trend in the continental United States for any two years between 1895 and 2010. Here’s what the graph shows for the years 2000-2009 in the United States:
This graph shows a temperature decline of 0.73°Fahrenheit (-0.4°C) for 2000-2009 in the U.S.
In summary, SOTCH 2009 is a rather “target rich” environment for pointing out cherry picking, selective emotive graphics, and tugging at heartstrings. On the plus side, at least they didn’t try to use a photoshopped house in a flood on page 7, as NCDC has done before. See: NCDC: Photoshopping the climate change report for better impact
Of course, NCDC is not alone with presenting fake emotive graphics, the well respected Science magazine fell prey to this sort of climate chicanery recently:
But, as I said at the beginning, SOTC 2009, is a sales brochure, not a scientific document, so slick graphics and lack of detail are the norm for such things.
And I surmise, the real question about SOTC 2009 is this:
If the science is so strong, why does NOAA/NCDC need to resort to glossy sales brochures, emotive graphics, cherry picked claims, and narrative that isn’t supported by the actual data?
There have been rebuttals elsewhere, such as at Jo Nova and Paul MacRae but this report by SPPI contains a number of rebuttal papers, and is worth reading for some balance supported by data presented in tandem:
In a “Highlights” report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate in 2009 document, which was prepared under the direction of the U.S. National Climatic Data Center, we can read the principal findings of what the document describes as the work of “more than 300 scientists from 48 countries.” Their primary conclusion, as stated in the Report’s first paragraph, is that “global warming is undeniable,” and the Report goes on from there to describe “how we know the world has warmed.” But this, and all that follows, tells us next to nothing about what has caused the warming, which is the crux of the whole contentious matter.