A new post containing a cartoon from Josh will appear every hour. At the end of the 24 hours, everything will be collated on a single page. Readers are encouraged to post skeptical arguments below, as well as offer comments on what has been seen from the Climate Reality Project so far.
Redefining the new normal. Wait, I thought actual climate scientists defined climatic normals, not ex-politicians
NOAA’s new normals – a step change of plus 0.5 degrees F
New 1981-2010 ‘normals’ to be released this week
June 29, 2011
Statewide changes in annual “normal temperatures” (1981 – 2010 compared to 1971 – 2000).
Download here. (Credit: NOAA)
According to the 1981-2010 normals to be released by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on July 1, temperatures across the United States were on average, approximately 0.5 degree F warmer than the 1971-2000 time period.
Normals serve as a 30 year baseline average of important climate variables that are used to understand average climate conditions at any location and serve as a consistent point of reference. The new normals update the 30-year averages of climatological variables, including average temperature and precipitation for more than 7,500 locations across the United States. This once-a-decade update will replace the current 1971–2000 normals.
In the continental United States, every state’s annual maximum and minimum temperature increased on average. “The climate of the 2000s is about 1.5 degree F warmer than the 1970s, so we would expect the updated 30-year normals to be warmer,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., NCDC director.
Using standards established by the World Meteorological Organization, the 30-year normals are used to compare current climate conditions with recent history. Local weathercasters traditionally use normals for comparisons with the day’s weather conditions.
In addition to their application in the weather sector, normals are used extensively by electric and gas companies for short- and long-term energy use projections. NOAA’s normals are also used by some states as the standard benchmark by which they determine the statewide rate that utilities are allowed to charge their customers.
The agricultural sector also heavily depends on normals. Farmers rely on normals to help make decisions on both crop selection and planting times. Agribusinesses use normals to monitor “departures from normal conditions” throughout the growing season and to assess past and current crop yields.
NCDC made many improvements and additions to the scientific methodology used to calculate the 1981-2010 normals. They include improved scientific quality control and statistical techniques. Comparisons to previous normals take these new techniques into account. The 1981-2010 normals provide a more comprehensive suite of precipitation and snowfall statistics. In addition, NCDC is providing hourly normals for more than 250 stations at the request of users, such as the energy industry.
Some of the key climate normals include: monthly and daily maximum temperature; monthly and daily minimum temperature; daily and monthly precipitation and snowfall statistics; and daily and monthly heating and cooling degree days. The 1981-2010 climate normals is one of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions. NOAA and its predecessor agencies have been providing updated 30-year normals once every decade since the 1921-1950 normals were released in 1956.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.
The interesting thing about baselines, is that by choosing your baseline, you can make an anomaly from that baseline look like just about anything you want it to be. For example, at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, they offer a handy dandy map creator for US Climate Divisions that allows you to choose the baseline period (from a predetermined set they offer), including the new 1981-2010 normals released on July 1st.
Here are some examples I get simply by changing the base period.
Here’s the most current (new) base period of 1981-2010. Doesn’t look so bad does it?
Now if we plot the entire period, look out, we are on fire! Global warming is running amok!
Oh, wait, look at the scale. Looks like about 0.08 to 0.13F warming. The ESRL plotting system arbitrarily assigns a range to the scale, based on data magnitude, but keeps the same color range.
The point of this? Temperature anomalies can be anything you want them to be, and by their nature of forcing a choice of baseline, forces you to
cherrypick choose periods in your presentation of the data. The choice is up to the publisher.
Now the next question is, with NOAA/NCDC following standard WMO procedure (Roy Spencer at UAH did a few months back also) for a new 30 year base period, will NASA GISS start using a modern normals baseline for their publicly presented default graphs rather than the cooler and long outdated 1951-1980 for the press releases and graphs they foist on the media? Of course for a variety of reasons, they’ll tell you no. But it is interesting to see the rest of the world moving on while GISS remains stoically static. In case you are wondering, here is the offset difference based on the 1951-1990 vs the 1951-1980 base period used. This will of course change again with a more recent baseline, such as NOAA has adopted. While the slope won’t change the magnitude offset will. More here.
The issue is about public presentation of data. I figure if making such a baseline change is something NOAA does, should not NASA follow in the materials they release to the press?
Anomalies – any way you want them:
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