Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
On another post here on Watts Up With That, a commenter pointed out that NOAA says that September 2014 was the warmest September ever on record. The commenter asked, “Is NOAA wrong?”
Sadly, as near as I can tell the answer is “Quite possibly”.
Here is the NOAA graphic in question, showing their idea of the current year to date in black, and the five warmest years in color.
Figure 1. NOAA’s graphic showing the progress of the year to date. SOURCE
Man, they are squeezing it to claim this year’s average up to September was the warmest average up to September, looks like a three-way tie to me … but I digress.
Now, I have read in a lot of places that we currently have good agreement between the satellite temperature data and the ground temperature data. Each time I read that, I just laugh. While the two measurements are closer than they have been in the past, there are still great differences. As one of many examples of the differences, consider the corresponding graph of the UAH satellite temperatures for the globe. I’ve used the same colors for the years as in Figure 1 for easy comparison:
Figure 2. My UPDATED graphic showing the UAH MSU T2LT lower temperature data. Sadly, lack of sleep took its toll, and I showed the individual monthly values in my previous graphic, rather than the year-to-date average. My error has no effect on the conclusions of the post. Note that the MSU anomalies have been re-baselined to match the NOAA anomalies. Data Source.
Now, we expect the lower troposphere temperature to vary more than the surface temperature, so the larger variation of the satellite data is no surprise. But far from showing this September as the warmest in the record, the MSU dataset has this September as being tied for eighth warmest September, and that’s only since 1979.
What is the reason for this huge difference in the surface and tropospheric records? I think it is a result of two things—the endless upwards adjustment of the surface data, along with the always-growing urban heat island effect.
But whatever the reason, it is clear that the satellite record tells a very different answer than the one given by the practitioners of the dark art of post-hoc historical temperature adjustment. Given my choice, I’d say that the satellite record is the better of the two … and while YMMV on that question, at a minimum we can say that the development of climate science is in such an early stage that we still don’t have general agreement on even the recent temperature history of the planet, much less the earlier temperature record. “Settled science” at its finest, I suppose.
Finally, acknowledgement is due to the originators of the method of satellite temperature measurements, Drs. Roy Spencer and John Christie. It is thanks to them that we have a satellite-based atmospheric temperature record to act as a reality check for the oft-adjusted surface temperature record. Very well done, gentlemen.
Best regards to everyone on this Friday night, and what could a working fool enjoy more than Friday night? There’s rain forecast for tomorrow, said to be the first real storm of this year of drought. The sky has been sending signals and signs all day. Now the wind has backed to the southwest, the dry earth lies quiet, the air smells of rain …
The Usual—if you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. This allows everyone to understand what you think is incorrect.