Should We Be Worried?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I chanced to plot up the lower tropospheric temperatures by broad latitude zones today. This is based on the data from the satellite microwave sounding unit (MSU), as analyzed by the good folks at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Here are the results, divided into tropical, extratropical, and polar. I’ve divided them at the Arctic and Antarctic Circles at 67° North and South, and at the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer at 23° N & S.

uah lower troposphere temperature

Figure 1. Satellite-based microwave sounding unit temperatures (red line) from the University of Alabama Huntsville. Blue line shows a loess smooth, span=0.4. Data from KNMI (NCDF file, 17 Mb)

So … is this something to worry about?

Well, let’s take a look. To start with, the tropics have no trend, that’s 40% of the planet. So all you folks who have been forecasting doom and gloom for the billions of poor people in the tropics? Sorry … no apparent threat there in the slightest. Well, actually there is a threat, which is the threat of increased energy prices from the futile war on carbon—rising energy prices hit the poor the hardest. But I digress …

What else. Southern Extratropics? No trend. South of the Antarctic Circle? No trend, it cooled slightly then warmed slightly back to where it started.

So that’s 70% of the planet with no appreciable temperature trend over the last third of a century

What else. Northern Extratropics? A barely visible trend, and no trend since 2000.

And that means that 96% of the planet is basically going nowhere …

Now, that leaves the 4% of the planet north of the Arctic Circle. It cooled slightly over the first decade and a half. Then it warmed for a decade, and it has stayed even for a decade …

My conclusion? I don’t see anything at all that is worrisome there. To me the surprising thing once again is the amazing stability of the planet’s temperature. A third of a century, and the temperature of the tropics hasn’t budged even the width of a hairline. That is an extremely stable system.

I explain that as being the result of the thermoregulatory effect of emergent climate phenomena … you have a better explanation?

My best regards to everyone,

w.

PLEASE! If you disagree with what I or anyone says, QUOTE THE WORDS that you disagree with, and say why you disagree with them. That way we can understand each other. Vague statements and handwaving opinions are not appreciated.

DATA: All data and R code as used are here in a zip file.

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hunter

The headline is a bit confusing. Believers and promoters of the global climate panic are the ones who should be worried. Skeptics have no reason to stop questioning the consensus view at all. Your data interpretation merely confirms this.

TimC

My answer to your question: No – and best now to ditch the surface thermometers entirely (with all their problems), and rely on the satellites instead for accurate measurement.
But shouldn’t it have been “What me worry”? …!

Willis wrote: “So that’s 70% of the planet with no appreciable temperature trend over the last third of a century”
JK – I’d love to see how the “experts” turn this into warming with their gridding of the Earth. Is there some trick that makes warming like Mann made hocky sticks from red noise?
What happens if you merely sum those 5 graphs with proper areas weighting?
Thanks
JK

aGrimm

Lots of other graphs have shown a slight, but observable, rise up to 1998. Other than the N pole, I do not see any rise previous to ’98 in this graph. Any chance this is a result of your smoothing or just the short (relatively speaking) timeframe? If not, it sure belies the alarmists’ claims.
On the silly side, Alfred E. Neuman’s “What Me Worry” line immediately popped into my head upon studying the graph.

D@mn straight there’s something to worry about – when the coming Maunder Minimum peaks, everyone reading this who is older than their early 20s will be too old to fight their way to the front of the food riots.
Thats why I moved my family to the Fraser Coast in Australia – 25 degrees south, with the option of, if all else fails, walking another 10 degrees closer to the equator.

John Marshall

The stupid alarmists fear a 2C temperature ”rise”.
But is this even important. Temperatures should be given in degrees Kelvin (absolute) because all thermodynamic equations are in that metric. The SB formulae gives the temperature from a given amount of energy, flux, in K. So this feared rise in temperature is actually a rise from 288K to 290K which is hardly earth shattering or even important.
Get real, there are far more important things to worry about.

Ouluman

But Willis, you are using real data! Get the models out so that we can continue the charade that maintains thousands of climate scientists’ salaries and millions of people in fear of living on our planet. (Do I need to put sarc?)

M Courtney

Sorry … no apparent threat there in the slightest. Well, actually there is a threat, which is the threat of increased energy prices from the futile war on carbon—rising energy prices hit the poor the hardest. But I digress …

Too tue.
When that terrible Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines the cities were evacuated in buses. The Greens response to the devastation was that the price of fuel should go up.

Alan the Brit

John Marshall says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:22 am
Forgive the pedantry, but I was taught that Kelvin was Kelvin, & there were no “degrees” about it!
Excellent post, Willis, as always.

It looks like the main negative system response to changes in the global energy budget is in the Arctic due to the vast thermal inertia of the southern oceans suppressing variability in the southern hemisphere.
If the system tries to accumulate more energy then warm water pumps further into the Arctic Ocean, melting ice as it goes and releasing large amounts of energy to space from the uncovered ocean surface.
If the system starts to lose energy the flow of warm water reduces, ice builds up and less energy is lost to space from the ice covered surface as compared to an uncovered sea surface (notwithstanding the increase in albedo).
The tropical thunderstorm belts may well be the initial negative system response but on their own they cannot deal with the vast amounts of energy in the body of the ocean.
That other energy circulates towards the poles affecting all the climate zones and jet stream tracks along the way with the ultimate consequence that the Arctic Ocean and its surroundings are the primary location for the thermostatic mechanism and not the tropics.
That is why the Arctic region shows most thermal variability as any thermal excess or deficit flows through the region on its way to space.
Meanwhile, the original cause of changes in the global energy budget is solar variability affecting global cloudiness (via the mechanism I have previously described) and thus the amount of solar energy able to enter the oceans to drive the system in the first place.
The sun determines how much of its energy enters the oceans and the Arctic provides the adjustable ‘valve’ regulating the net loss to space via changes in the circulations of both oceans and air.

LT

Why is there such a difference between UAH and RSS ?

Gamecock

“So … is this something to worry about?”
Yes. You must turn over all your rights and property to the government.
You aren’t scared? Dang. We’ll find something else to scare you. How about ocean acidification?
Resistance is futile.

izen

Two problems with this, first using the data from one lower troposphere sensor will not give you the surface temperature, that has to be derived from the total data by subtracting the stratospheric cooling these sensors also detect.
Second, you have ploted version 5.5 data, I think you will find that Roy Spencer and Christy are now up to version 5.6.
The UAH data has always been known for the multiple corrections that have had to be made over time.
And the total lack of any publically available code for how they process the sensort data.

If this reality stuff keeps up, people will get worried about the fact that they have no reason to be worried!

BarryW

So that 4% warmed about a degree in 35 years? Globally, I get about .48 deg over the same period. When you look the temp changes on the scale you’re using you can see the real change in temp is rather insignificant and that the temps at the poles are so much noisier than the rest of the globe. I wonder what it would look like plotted as actual temperatures?

RichardLH

http://www.skepticalscience.com//pics/Arctic_SAT_Ann.jpg
Shows the Arctic rather well. (From an opposing point of view 🙂 ).
Is it only me or is there a definite wobble of ~60 years or so in the data?

troe

Former US Senator and United Nations official Tim Wirth “we have to ride it for all its worth” a paraphrase. Now that is what we have to worry about and what we have been pushing back against for all these years.
Politicians riding science to achieve public policy goals. In the US these are many of the same people who figured out how to get banks to finance worthless home loans. Let them make obscene amounts of money doing it.

Greg

This is just straight data. Eaarly on the scientists massaged it gently, like a small female masseuse. To keep the money flowing lately they’ve been forced to hire a large gorilla to massage the data.

richardscourtney

LT:
At January 29, 2014 at 4:30 am you ask

Why is there such a difference between UAH and RSS ?

The answer is that they are each determinations of global average surface temperature anomaly (GASTA) and there is no definition of GASTA so each team that determines GASTA uses a different definition and, therefore, uses a different method to determine its version of GASTA.
A more useful question is why GISS changes its definition of GASTA so changes the method it uses to determine its version of GASTA most months with this this result.
Richard

Butch

Yes, but if you blow those charts up really big those little squiggly lines get really scary! I see lots of Hockey Sticks!

RichardLH

richardscourtney says:
January 29, 2014 at 5:11 am
LT:
At January 29, 2014 at 4:30 am you ask
Why is there such a difference between UAH and RSS ?
…each …uses a different definition and, therefore, uses a different method to determine its version of GASTA.
I prefer to look at all of the data series as though they were Proxies for the actual, unmeasurable number.
SO the methodology is simple, just like any proxy value. Take the OLS over the period of overlap, adjust the range and scale so that the OLS match as best you can and the use those factors to display all of the series together.
Basic OLS
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLScomparison_zpsc45498e9.png
Aligned OLS
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLSaligned_zps3186174a.png
Aligned series with 15 year and 60 year low pass filters
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLSalignedAnnualtrends_zps5603d308.png

RichardLH

Add to that OLS aligned data from the various series from 1979
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLSYearsaligned_zpsc5c155df.png

richardscourtney

RichardLH:
At January 29, 2014 at 5:16 am in response to my post you say

I prefer to look at all of the data series as though they were Proxies for the actual, unmeasurable number.

Why?
There is no “actual … number” – measureable or not – for global average surface temperature anomaly (GASTA) because GASTA is not defined and has no possibility of calibration.
As I said and you quoted, each team which provides a version of GASTA uses a different definition and, therefore, uses a different method to determine its version of GASTA. They are not “proxies” for anything: they each indicate the ? which each indicates.
Comparing them is comparing apples, oranges and onions. All one can do is to report what each indicates, and I note that your graphs do that.
Please read Appendix B of this
Richard

John W. Garrett

Any forecast of CAGW by a climatologist worth his salt would predict temperatures at the North Pole to rise. It’s obvious— this is settled science, everybody knows that heat rises.

John W. Garrett

Lest there be any confusion, my previous post began with
“sarc”
and ended with
“/sarc”

RichardLH

Richard:
OK. So I’ll use the terminology of
Proxies to the ‘Mean global temperature anomaly’ instead. i.e. different measurements, taken with different instruments, using different procedures but all attempting to come to the same overall figure.
Happy?

Marion

But Willis according to our Met Office here in the UK
“It’s now clear that the emission of man-made greenhouse gases is causing climate change. The rate of change began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term.”
“Warming – Climate Change the Facts” published by UK Met Offices September 2009 in the run up to the UN Copenhagen climate negotiations
http://www.worcester.gov.uk/fileadmin/assets/pdf/Environment/climate_change/DECC-MET-office-warming-brochure.pdf

RichardLH

Richard: Just a different way of presenting the same data as
Figure 1. Mean global temperature anomalies and trends normalized to a common start value as indicated by three teams (after Jones et al., GISS and GHCN).
using a common and well known methodology for aligning such disparate data sets. 🙂

“Emergent phenomenon” is an argument from incompetent, third-rate thinkers like Richard Dawkins, determined to push Darwinian, or undirected, evolution upon students of science, despite its by now obvious failings; back in the 1980’s, it was called “order out of chaos”, elevated to the airy status of a “meme”, and “chaos theory” was misapplied to support it (for the latter really only supports “order behind the apparent chaos”, not order produced–“surprisingly”, as Eschenbach himself emphasizes–BY chaos, or randomly-working physical processes).
But the idea fails, and fails here on a very basic level. “Emergent phenomenon” does not “explain” the “extremely stable system”–and the outstanding stability SHOULD be emphasized, as I have also done–it cannot, it is in fact logically opposed to it (“emergent phenomenon” is change, as Eschenbach’s examples well show, while “extreme stability” MEANS unchanging).
The truth, as I mentioned when Eschenbach first brought out this recycled idea here, is much simpler (but more surprising, of course, in the tattered intellectual atmosphere of current, officially unquestionable, scientific dogma), and should have been obvious by now, if science had not gone so determinedly wrong following Darwin:
“Emergent Phenomenon”, Or Design?
“Emergent phenomenon” is a desperate renaming of the observable truth, in order to avoid that truth. It is anti-scientific nonsense, which science will have to reject before real progress can be made. It is, in short, the same as saying “magic”, which science once so proudly scorned, and by which it lifted itself up out of the ancient pit of superstition and “sacred writ”.

Gail Combs

Marion says: @ January 29, 2014 at 5:45 am
But Willis according to our Met Office here in the UK…
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
And the Met Office is a running joke to most Brits. Remember the Barbeque Summer? Children Won’t Know what Snow is?
You can tell CAGW is a political con because they switched from GoreBull Warming to Climate Change to Weather Weirding as the circumstances changed.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken

RichardLH

Gail Combs says:
January 29, 2014 at 6:01 am

Alternatively.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
Napoleon Bonaparte

The graphs suggest that the tropics are very efficient at maintaining temperatures withing a narrow range, and the paleo records support this. The tropical ocean heats up, convection at the ICZ increases, the Trades strengthen, cooling the tropics. This process has maintained the tropics within a very narrow temperature range for millions of years, regardless of ice ages or CO2 levels.
The notion that AGW will change tropical temperatures is clearly not supported by the evidence.

Willis, that’s one of the most interesting charts I’ve seen for a long time. Readers need to be alerted to the scale ±3˚C whilst Roy’s plots are ± 0.7. Some observations: 1) The el Nino spikes are really only present in the Tropics data 2) the polar data is incredibly variable compared with the rest – any explanation for this? 3) the N extra Tropics do show slight warming (masked by the scale you use) 4) the significant warming in the N polar data is possibly due to active Gulf Stream, pushing further N, resulting in amongst other things loss of sea ice and increasing polar water vapour. It would be interesting to see a single plot without the polar data – i.e. the three middle panels combined.

You just gotta love a thread where H. L. Mencken is quoted. 🙂
I was never worried about global warming. It has been warming, in general, since the end of the Little Ice Age and in particular since the horribly cold 1970s. I am all for global warming as warm is much better than cold. Unfortunately for humanity, it looks like we are in for another colder time for the next few decades.
Governments love any “problem” that keeps the population ceding more power to the state to be kept safe — like allowing the TSA to grope all the women in airports. The climatologists, activists, and doom-sayers are just giving the state what the state wants to hear.

according to our Met Office here in the UK
“The rate of change began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term.”
===============
The halt shows that the change has indeed become unsustainable. Finally the Met office gets it right.

richardscourtney

RichardLH:
At January 29, 2014 at 5:38 am you ask me

OK. So I’ll use the terminology of
Proxies to the ‘Mean global temperature anomaly’ instead. i.e. different measurements, taken with different instruments, using different procedures but all attempting to come to the same overall figure.
Happy?

No, I am not “happy”.
You seem to think I am making some kind of semantic point. I am NOT.
The issue is important for the reason you state in your subsequent post at January 29, 2014 at 5:51 am where you write

Richard: Just a different way of presenting the same data as
Figure 1. Mean global temperature anomalies and trends normalized to a common start value as indicated by three teams (after Jones et al., GISS and GHCN).
using a common and well known methodology for aligning such disparate data sets. 🙂

I asked you read Appendix B at this link
If you had read it then you would have seen it includes this where MGT means Mean Global emperature (i.e. GASTA)

The MGT data sets provided by the various teams are often presented on the same graph (e.g. by IPCC) under the same heading, and there has been no public objection to this by any of these teams. This suggests that the teams agree MGT is a physical parameter that indicates a unique value for the average temperature of the air near the surface of the Earth for each year. But, the data sets provide significantly different trends, and in each of several pairs of years the annual change to MGT differs between the data sets by more than double the calculated 95% confidence limits of each data set. This paradox can be explained by …

And the paper also says

Either:
(i) MGT is a physical parameter that – at least in principle – can be measured;
or
(ii) MGT is a ‘statistic’; i.e. an indicator derived from physical measurements.
These two understandings derive from alternative considerations of the nature of MGT:
1. If the MGT is assumed to be the mean temperature of the volume of air near the Earth’s surface over a period of time, then MGT is a physical parameter indicated by the thermometers (mostly) at weather stations that is calculated using the method of mixtures (assuming unity volume, specific heat, density etc).
Alternatively:
2. If the thermometers (mostly) at weather stations are each considered to indicate the air temperature at each measurement site and time, then MGT is a statistic that is computed as being an average of the total number of thermometer indications.

The paper concludes that however they are considered the different versions of global temperature time series are so profoundly different that they do NOT show the same thing and what EACH indicates needs to be specified for any of them to be useful.
I again ask you to read the paper I have again linked in this post.
Richard

RichardLH

Well using Nate Drake PhD ‘s view of GISS data, it sure looks like it has stopped there as well
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/NateAnimated_zps8efd1ce1.gif
Hint. If the continuation of the line is flat, then the warming has indeed stopped. And such as nice complicated filter to boot 🙂

Claude Harvey

Dear Willis:
I disagree with “everything you said” because you did not statistically torture the data. AGW is a very complex phenominon and its effects have never been revealed via simple temperature measurements. Sophisticated statistical techniques must be applied that are beyond the understanding of a simple layman such as yourself. In fact, those techniques are even beyond the grasp of clasically trained statisticians such as Steve McIntyre. You cannot hope to see “the AGW fingerprint” until you have massaged earlier temperatures downward and more recent temperatures upward. Otherwise, things like The Medieval Warm Period just make a hash of the entire thing!

markstoval says:
January 29, 2014 at 6:12 am
I am all for global warming as warm is much better than cold.
============
Without technology, humans cannot survive beyond a couple of days almost anywhere on earth outside the narrow band of jungles along the equator. We cannot eat enough food to maintain our body temperature and die of exposure.
Humans are optimized for heat. Our erect posture maximize evaporation and heat loss, while minimizing surface area exposed to the sun. This allows us to remain active for longer periods when it is hot as compared to other mammals. In contrast, survival times for naked humans in cold weather is measured in hours and minutes, while other mammals can survive indefinitely.
While the average temperature of the earth is currently around 15C, for hundreds of millions of years the average was 22C. The same temperature we heat our houses in the absence of conservation. The same temperature that leaves on trees try and maintain to optimize photosynthesis. Coincidence or a product of evolution?

euanmearns

Willis, one further thought. In the Arctic there is no / little GH effect in winter since there is no / little incoming solar. And so, if you could plot the temps for only the winter months and the warming trend was still there, it would strongly suggest that it isn’t GH warming but something else.

DR
Marion

Re: Gail Combs says:
January 29, 2014 at 6:01 am
“And the Met Office is a running joke to most Brits. Remember the Barbeque Summer? Children Won’t Know what Snow is? ”
Yes indeed Gail the Met Office is a running joke but to be fair the ‘Children Won’t Know What Snow Is’ is actually from David Viner at the CRU (also a running joke if it wasn’t so tragic!!)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html
But the Met Office brochure is worth reading to see all the propaganda UK residents have been subjected to.
Did you know for example that (according to the Met Office!!!)
“The term climate change usually refers to man-made changes that have occurred since the early 1900s.”
and that
“What will happen if we don’t reduce emissions?
If emissions continue to grow at present rates, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is likely to reach twice pre-industrial levels by around 2050. Unless we limit emissions, global temperature could rise as much as 7 °C above pre-industrial temperature by the end of the century and push many of the world’s great ecosystems (such as coral reefs and rainforests) to irreversible decline.
Even if global temperatures rise by only2 °C it would mean that 20–30% of species could face extinction. We can expect to see serious effects on our environment, food and water supplies, and health.”
“Are computer models reliable?
Yes. Computer models are an essential tool in understanding how the climate will respond to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, and other external effects, such as solar output and volcanoes.
Computer models are the only reliable way to predict changes in climate. Their reliability is tested by seeing if they are able to reproduce the past climate, which gives scientists confidence that they can also predict the future.”
http://www.worcester.gov.uk/fileadmin/assets/pdf/Environment/climate_change/DECC-MET-office-warming-brochure.pdf

RichardLH

Richard: I did read it. Please do not assume that I do not read what has been suggested. I believe that you ARE bringing up a semantic point however.
We both agree that any figure of any sort is beyond reach, Indeed it may not have even have any real meaning.
However it is fair to say that the different approaches are all seeking to derive an answer of that type.
That is what THEY claim.
I, therefore, am suggesting that one approach would be to treaty them all as merely proxies rather than true measurements.
And then use standard proxy methodologies to achieve a true comparison and combined conclusion.

Thanks, Willis for moving the goalposts back where they belong. If you doubt paleo-proxies and want to look only at modern data, the CO2-greenhouse hypothesis requires a warm anomaly in the tropical troposphere. Everything else about weather/climate from Obama, etc., is just for tribal dominance and asset confiscation.

steveta_uk

How many people live in the lower troposphere?
I know it includes the surface, but does go up to 17-20 km, so that vast bulk of the LT isn’t where we live.
Not a completely facetious comment, because as Izen has already shown above, the alarmist argument could still be that this doesn’t reflect what’s going on down below where we live (or even worse, the deep ocean where the heat is hiding!).

Watchman

Ferdberple,
Whilst you are correct human’s need technology to survive outside the tropics, that technology is not advanced – basic hunting, farming and shelter-building (none of which require tools beyond those for the purpose) is easily enough to provide comfortable existence with small populations across much of the globe (allowing for problems such as famine and plague…). So that’s not an argument you really want to push.
Bluntly, human’s survived the last ice age in Europe (basically up to the margins of the ice), so clearly modern technology is not necessary.

Scott Scarborough

everyone questions why RSS and UAH are different. They are not very different at all! I would consider them different if one measured the mean earth temperature at 280 K and the other at 290 K. That would be a big difference! But they agree well within 1 degree K. I think you are all bying into the alarmist meme that some slight change in the average temperature of the earth (how ever that is measured) will somehow be the end of us all. I find it amazing that the two very different methods yeild such similar results! I wouldn’t expect anything closer.

bertief

I don’t see the chart for the missing heat™. You seem to have completely overlooked it, and by so doing have catastrophically understated the imminent disaster facing all life on this planet. Honestly Willis, what are you like?
Now where’s that sarc tag . .

RichardLH

RSS and UAH are very close. Just a tiny origin offset between the two of them. A possible range correction as well.
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLScomparison_zpsc45498e9.png
So why not use standard proxy techniques and align them all?
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLSaligned_zps3186174a.png
and thus get
http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c274/richardlinsleyhood/OLSalignedAnnualtrends_zps5603d308.png

Gerry Parker

I think Stephen Wilde is correct (above). It makes a lot of sense.
Gerry Parker