GISS & NCDC Need to Be More Open with the Public when Making Proclamations about Global Warming Records

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

We discussed the 2014 global surface temperature announcements by NASA GISS and NOAA NCDC in the posts On the Biases Caused by Omissions in the 2014 NOAA State of the Climate Report and Does the Uptick in Global Surface Temperatures in 2014 Help the Growing Difference between Climate Models and Reality?

GISS expresses no doubt that global surface temperatures in 2014 were the highest on record in their news release dated January 16, 2015…same thing with their YouTube video NASA | 2014 Warmest Year On Record. And as we noted in the “Biases of Omissions” post, a reader must scroll down well beyond the Global Highlights to find the uncertainties in the NOAA 2014 State of the Climate report…and click on a link to find out what those uncertainties mean. The mainstream media had a field day, summing up the GISS and NCDC announcements with alarmist sound-bites.

Yet, around the blogosphere and social media, more and more people are realizing that NASA GISS and NOAA NCDC weren’t very open with the public when making their very-certain statements that 2014 was the warmest year on record. A couple of examples follow. That lack of openness can only hurt the credibility of NASA and NOAA.

Luboš Motl addresses two questions in his post NOAA, NASA: 2014 was probably not the warmest year on our record:

  1. how much do the error margins of the NOAA, NASA temperature records matter?
  2. And if they change the answer to the question whether 2014 was the warmest one, did they know about this fact when they loudly announced that “2014 was the warmest year” or did they overlook that detail?

The title of David Rose’s article at the DailyMail is Nasa climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record… but we’re only 38% sure we were right. It begins with 3 bullet points:

  • Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’
  • But it emerged that GISS’s analysis is subject to a margin of error
  • Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all

The article by David Rose appears to be based on his Twitter exchange with Gavin Schmidt of GISS.

What’s all the hubbub about? Page 5 of the NOAA/NASA Annual Global Analysis for 2014 briefing.

On the thread of the WattsUpWithThat cross post of the “Biases of Omission” post, blogger “Jimbo” linked a tweet from GISS Director Gavin Schmidt that included it. See Jimbo’s comment here. Page 5 of the briefing is reproduced below.

Page 5 of NOAA-NASA Briefing

Page 5 of the NOAA/NASA Annual Global Analysis for 2014 briefing

It clearly shows the probability that 2014 was the warmest on record was slightly less than 50% with the NCDC global surface temperature data and well less than 50% for the GISS data. That was one of the points I made in the “Biases of Omission” post. See the discussion under the heading of BIAS OF OMISSION 1.

The other thing hurting the NOAA and GISS proclamations comes from the newsletter The Average Temperature of 2014 Results from Berkeley Earth. Berkeley Earth is another supplier of global surface temperature data, and they rely on most of the same source data as the NOAA and GISS products.

The first key finding of the Berkeley Earth newsletter was:

The global surface temperature average (land and sea) for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of error, it is tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can’t be certain it set a new record.

Right from the get-go, Berkeley Earth is open about the uncertainties in the data.

NASA and NOAA need to be more realistic, more open, in their presentations to the media. It could be argued that NOAA and GISS were trying to be open by presenting the probabilities on page 5 of their combined briefing. But you don’t find those uncertainties in the news stories. The media could be partly to blame. Some reporters may have seen the probabilities and ignored them; others may have found sources elsewhere in which the uncertainties weren’t mentioned or were hard to find. To that end, as discussed, GISS expresses no doubt that 2014 was the warmest year on record in their press release and in their YouTube videos…so why should the mainstream media report differently? With NCDC, you have to search for the uncertainties and click on links to see what they mean…and, apparently, few reporters searched for them or bothered to click on links.

Right now, without the up-front qualifiers in every document and presentation by GISS and NCDC about the uncertainties inherent in data—and in climate models—the public is being misled about human-induced global warming and climate change.

# # #

UPDATE: Jo Nova has also posted on this topic. See Jo’s Gavin Schmidt now admits NASA are only 38% sure 2014 was the hottest year.

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170 thoughts on “GISS & NCDC Need to Be More Open with the Public when Making Proclamations about Global Warming Records

    • If there were any more nails in the coffin of AGW you should probably start worrying that it will form a gravitational singularity and swallow the planet whole. Oh, wait ….

  1. They should realize that the Dem’s won’t be in power forever and when that happens the hammer comes down. With Ted Cruz in charge of NASA’s oversight this might come very swiftly.

  2. This is getting a bit silly. We’ve been talking of hottest years, coldest years etc for ever. Nothing has changed about that in 2014.

    2014 is the hottest as measured in the locations that GISS, NOAA etc measure. GISS has expressed the variation that might arise if you measured in different locations to get a global average. But they didn’t.

    On this basis you can never say with certainty that any one year, month etc is hottest or coldest. It has always been so. That applies to extremes in just about anything. But you can say that on the evidence, there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.

    • “2014 is the hottest as measured in the locations that GISS, NOAA etc measure.” <— this EXPLICITY isn't the case.

      GISS & NOAA can't say this due to uncertainties.

      Thermometers are accurate to just about 0.5 Degrees anyway…….

    • You are right, nothing has changed. It is just that some people cannot see the significance of that.

      In fact, it appears that the only thing that has changed since the end of the 1970s is a one off warming of about 0.15degC +/- 0.05 degC in and around the Super El Nino of 1998. Apart from that warming event, it would appear that temperatures have been flat from between ~1979 to say 1996/7, and again flat from after 1998 to date.

      That step change, is the result of a natural event, not in anyway whatsoever coupled with CO2.

    • No, there is less than 50% chance that there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.

      And the press release misled people into thinking it was more than 50%. Nick, you are still deceived by that media hype.

      Doesn’t the lack of integrity at NASA and NOAA disturb you?

      • Lack of integrity? This whole post is based on what GISS and NOAA said in their press release.

        “No, there is less than 50% chance that there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.”
        ??? That sounds like Bilbo’s compliment (I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve). On that GISS number, there was 34% chance of 2014 being hottest. Other years were less.

    • Nick Stokes says: “On this basis you can never say with certainty that any one year, month etc is hottest or coldest. It has always been so….”

      That’s right, Nick, but how many people understand that simple fact?

      Answer: Few, which is why this topic has been repeated a few times in recent days by numerous people.

      • Bob,
        “That’s right, Nick, but how many people understand that simple fact?”
        It is understood. Different indices report different results. UAH and RSS said no record. NOAA had a big margin, GISS small. HADCRUT will be very close, maybe not a record. Cowtan and Way said 2010 was hottest. We are all familiar with this variability.

        GISS and NOAA are just measures with specific datasets and probabilities. The latest slides (GISS using data mainly from Hansen 2010), quantifies the basis of this known variability, depending on how you measure.

      • Nick Stokes says “we” are all familiar with this. Who is “we”? Seth Borenstein of the AP (my local paper’s source) isn’t “we”, nor are the readers of his press outlet. Maybe you can better spend your time bringing “journalists” into this circle of ours?

      • Understood by whom, Nick? The lack of integrity is in the political spin that was placed on the announcement. There is more support for the statement that 2014 was unremarkable with a 62% certainty. If you are going to announce what your numbers tell you, the high probability is what you report first. That is standard practice in nearly all sciences except climate science and “nutrition.”

    • GISS have in the past acknowledged that you cannot label “hottest years” without taking account of error bars.

      For instance, after 2010, they said:

      Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

      The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie.

      https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/giss-hottest-year-claims-not-supported-by-the-data/

      The WMO went further after 2006:

      All temperature values have uncertainties, which arise mainly from gaps in data coverage. The size of the uncertainties is such that the global average temperature for 2006 is statistically indistinguishable from, and could be anywhere between, the first and the eighth warmest year on record.”

      https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/wmo-demolish-noaanasa-claims-of-hottest-year/

      Is this all a bit silly? I think not Nick.

      The unsubstantiated “hottest year” claims are a clear attempt to mislead the public by public officials. I personally take that seriously.

      • So within error the climastrologists at NASA can CHERRY PICK the hottest year at will – then be 38% certain it is the hottest year while being 62% doubtful it is the hottest year. That is very, very silly.

    • But you can say that on the evidence, there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.

      Not correct. NASA and NOAA say that there is a 52% and 62%chance that some other year is the hottest.

      you have misled yourself by confusing the probability of specific years with the probability of all years other than 2014.

    • Let’s put it this way:

      GISS is 62% certain that 2014 was NOT the hottest year on the record. It’s called spin Nick Stokes and no one is going to spin me. Politicians, journalists and now climastrologists are engaged in this dark art.

    • No year in the last few, when we have records. Many many millennia were much hotter of course, with no man-made CO2 at all, thanks Nick for your usual forthright comments…

    • The silliness is with nasa and noaa.
      We called it a tie for a reason.
      But calling it a tie doesn’t make headlines.

      • it (the truth) also wouldn’t make a good addition to the President’s SotU address Tuesday night.

      • Here my take.
        The “Alarmist ” expected a huge El-Nino event which would have push the “temperature” data way up making it the “Warmest year on Record”, then released a predetermined statement regardless of the “temperature” outcome. Maybe Ted Cruz will put a stop to this type of abuse of power.

    • Nick Stokes – then why did they NOT say just that? There is an old saying amongst forensic auditors, “If one is inclined to obfuscate about issues that matter little, you can count on them lying when they matter a lot.” They could easily have used your final sentence without diminishing the point they intended to make, Nick… but instead chose to obfuscate. It makes me wonder what else is not being told to us.

      • Lay your bets as to whether 2015 will be the next “HOTTEST YEAR EVAAAAH!” I am 57.34543% it will be. 😉

      • Every year NOAA reports in much the same terms. They report what they actually measured, and say that it was 15th hottest or whatever. Your only complaint this time is that it was 1st hottest.

    • Numbers without error bars is not very scientific and suggests to me that they were more interested in headlines.

    • Well it is silly. But who is promoting these silly “hottest years evah” press releases? The question is who is being silly?

      Let’s put this in perspective. Let’s say New England has 38% probability of winning the Super Bowl, how many people would bet their life savings on New England winning? In the case of NOAA and NASA their current leaders are not betting their integrity since they have none, but they are betting the integrity of their respective organizations on a 38% probability.

      “…you can say that on the evidence, there is no year likelier to have been hottest than 2014.”

      No. What you can say is, “The greater probability is that 2014 is not the hottest year.” But we agree it is silly, so who cares, well other than NOAA, NASA and the media.

    • Nick Stokes says:

      This is geting a bit silly.

      A bit silly, eh?

      NASA says:

      We’re 80% sure about being 20% sure about being 17% sure about being 38% sure about 2014 being the hottest year on record …
      [source]

  3. The problem is that if they were to be upfront about the page 5 rankings (record years), it would run a stake through the heart of AGW.

    Those rankings show that there has been no significant warming these past 17 years, and that the trend, from 1998 through to date, is essentially flat notwithstanding the BAU CO2 emissions that have continued unabated these past 17 or so years.

    This (a 17 year standstill in temperatures) is even more surprising if CO2 has a lengthy residence time such that post 1970s emissions have locked in future warming.

    To add to all of this, is that it is probable that one of the years in the 1930s (ie., the missing 10 to 18% of probabilities) is the warmest year on record. This is notwithstanding the constant adjustment to historic temperatures which has cooled the past and warmed the present.

    In fact there has been a concerted effort to cool 1998 so as to give the impression that there has been some warming, albeit not statistically significant warming.

    If NASA?NOAA were honest, there would be no scare. More materially, one would appreciate the shoddy nature of the science. If they were honest with error data bands, they would be forced to admit that we do not know anomalies to within 0.5degC, and very likely not within 1 degC.

    All of this discussion of a hundredth of a degree, or a tenth of a degree given the uncertainties and error bands is wholly unscientific, and lacks complete integrity.

    • JustAnotherPoster

      January 19, 2015 at 3:39 am

      “2014 is the hottest as measured in the locations that GISS, NOAA etc measure.” <— this EXPLICITY isn't the case.
      /////////////////////

      You are right, since much of this is not actual measurement, but rather infilling!

    • “The problem is that if they were to be upfront about the page 5 rankings (record years), it would run a stake through the heart of AGW.”

      err. no.

      • err. Yes!

        Bring in your mighty trace gas CO2 Steven.

        Prove that substantial increases of atmospheric CO2 will relentlessly drive Earth Temperatures higher and higher.

        Oops, there are virtually zero increases in Global temperatures, no matter which method is used.

        Who knew that relentless increases in temperature meant that hundredths and thousandths of a degree are the increment used for increases…

        Forget it Great Britain, Russia and Canada; you’re not going semi-tropical anytime soon and the Maldives may never have sea level problems.

  4. Why is NASA spending taxpayer money on climate?

    Shouldn’t they be spending money on space exploration?

    Is it any wonder the US has to use Russian rockets to transport people to and from the International Space Station. The real reason for the shuttle disasters can be found here:

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/nsp/mtpe.htm
    Mission to Planet Earth
    NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) is dedicated to understanding the total Earth system and the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment. The MTPE Enterprise is pioneering the new discipline of Earth system science, with a near-term emphasis on global climate change.

  5. A few questions.
    1) Is it true that GISS is based on a climate model output rather than actual data? I
    2) If it is, why is it preferred to satellite data when it comes to measuring temperature. (I can see why you need a model to make future predictions).
    3) If they claim that a 0.02C difference is significant, then since GISS and NCDC differ by more than 0.02C, then at least one of them has to be wrong. (If you take the satellite data as the gold standard, neither are correct to within 0.02C.)
    4) What exactly does 38% certain actually mean? What are the statistical assumptions that are being made to make this statement? How was it calculated?

    • Walt D,
      “1) Is it true that GISS is based on a climate model output rather than actual data?”
      No.
      2) NA
      3) It is well-known that indices differ (but watch for anomaly base differences, which don’t count). This is partly due to the datasets used – ie places they measure. Hadcrut 4 may not be a record in 2014 – it will be very close. The troposphere measures won’t. GISS etc present the best measure they can with the data they have. We’ve known all that since forever.
      4) Q: What exactly does 38% certain actually mean?
      A: The GISS error calculations are described in Hansen et al 2010, paras 86, 87, and Table 1. They look at model variation, which is much more fine-grained. Then they work out how much variation they would get by measuring in different places, basically by many trials.

    • Walt D, I’ll answer your first 3 questions and let someone else respond to the 4th.

      (1) No. For most of the globe GISS uses the same source data as NCDC, Berkeley Earth and UKMO. GISS outlines it’s methods here:
      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/sources_v3/gistemp.html
      (2) It’s not.
      (3) The NCDC and GISS differ primarily due to spatial coverage. GISS data cover more of the Arctic and Antarctic than NCDC, even though much of that additional coverage with GISS is created by infilling areas without observations-based data.

      Cheers.

      • Thanks Bob:
        (3) So the real error is claiming that this average is a Global average. It is only measuring the changes at the location where temperatures have been measured. Actually there is nothing wrong with this – if CO2 emissions are causing temperature changes globally, then they should also be causing temperature changes where temperatures have been measured. The real problem it that the size of the temperature changes are not large enough to warrant the term CATASTROPHIC, even if all of the change to CO2.

      • JohnWho says: “…is that infilling accomplished through computer models? If so, wouldn’t answer 1 be “partly”?”

        It depends on how you define computer models. If you’re defining computer models as those used in attribution studies and for predictions about future climate (like those in the CMIP archives), then the answer is no. GISS infills by extrapolating data out 1200km from source locations, which would require a statistical computer model.

      • Bob, Nick might have beaten you to it but Nick’s answer read like someone defending the science, while yours read like someone explaining the science. It must have been in the presentation.

      • Bob Tisdale
        ” (3) The NCDC and GISS differ primarily due to spatial coverage. GISS data cover more of the Arctic and Antarctic than NCDC, even though much of that additional coverage with GISS is created by infilling areas without observations-based data. ”
        //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

        So Walt D (January 19, 2015 at 3:45 am) is right, and both you and Nick are wrong when he opines; “A few questions. 1) Is it true that GISS is based on a climate model output rather than actual data?”

        The infilling is a model. GISS is based upon a mixture of observational data, measured at a point where the thermometers are physically situated, and upon made up infilling ‘guess work’ in areas where there is no observational data taken by actual measurements in the areas being infilled.

      • Bob has a post on that here.

        My comment is – GISS is right. It is very unwise to try to average absolute temperatures. To make a spatial average of anything, you have to be able to estimate values in between where you measure. With anomalies you can do that, because most of the irregular variation is in special features of the places measured, eg altitude, and goes away when you subtract out the local mean.

      • there is a much better way to calculate the surface average than using anomalies, gridding, infilling, adjusting etc., as GISS does.

        If you use absolute temperatures and take a random sample of surface temperatures from around the globe, and then average these you have the average temperature. The more random samples in your average, the lower the expected error.

        And most importantly, so long as the underlying physical surface temperature of the earth is bound by the central limit theorem, then you know that a random sample of temperatures is normally distributed, and you can make reliable, statistical analysis of the data.

        Otherwise, if you don’t know the probability distribution function of the data you are simply guessing as to accuracy. That is why NASA had to use a Monty Carlo simulation to try and determine the error factor in their data. They can’t calculate it statistically because they know their sample is not random.

      • here, for example, is how to use absolute temperatures to calculate an accurate global average surface temp:

        1. generate a list of 1000 points drawn at random on the surface of the globe.
        2. sum the absolute temperature of the 1000 sensor readings (weather station, ship data, argo, etc) geographically closest to these points and divide by 1000. this your average temp, try 1.
        3. repeat this for 1000 trys, with new random points each time and plot the averages against number of occurrences.
        4. You should see a normal distribution. the mean of this distribution is your global average temperature, the deviation is your expected error.

        As can be seen there is no need for anomalies, there is not need for infilling, there is no need for adjustments, there is no need for homogenization.

      • To make a spatial average of anything, you have to be able to estimate values in between where you measure.

        nope. you can use sampling theory and avoid the need to estimate anything. since you don’t know the values in between where you measure, your estimate simply introduces error while adding nothing of value.

      • the problem with anomalies is that they hide the natural variability in the earth’s average temperature. the earth’s average temperature varies seasonally due to land distribution and orbital parameters. however, this natural variability is hidden by the use of anomalies.

        so, when you use anomalies to calculate statistics on global average temperature, you are simply kidding yourself that average temps do not vary naturally, and in the process misleading the rest of the world.

      • the problem with infilling is that it assumes that you can generate an accurate estimate for the value of a point, from the points around it. however, this is simply incorrect. what you can generate is an accurate estimate for the area that includes the points. however, you cannot produce a reliable point estimate because the estimated point does not include the known points.

        for example, you have a mountain top, surrounded by 4 other mountains. You have the heights of the surrounding mountains, what is the height of the mountain in the middle? There is no way to know. You cannot simply use an average, because that only tells you about the entire area. the mountain in the middle may be higher or lower than the average, so infilling introduces errors.

      • You can use absolute Temps. There is no need for anomalies.
        You just need to use the best methods.

      • Nick Stokes : Your statement about anomalies is mathematically incorrect. An anomaly A is temperature T minus some constant K. [K can vary by place and time but in this context is a constant]. Therefore Average(A) = Average(T) – Average(K). IOW, you can’t obtain anything by averaging A that you can’t obtain by averaging T. The fallacy arises because one knows that the temperature between two places can’t be derived from their temperatures, so it’s not intuitive that averaging removes the problem.

      • “That is why NASA had to use a Monty Carlo simulation to try and determine the error factor in their data. They can’t calculate it statistically because they know their sample is not random.”
        Monte Carlo is a statistical method, and lots of people use it, with random samples.

        It’s also a way of spatially integrating, as you suggest. It’s just not a very good one, in two dimensions. To get the expected value, it’s best to use all the data. MC can tell you the variability.

      • Mike Jonas,
        “Therefore Average(A) = Average(T) – Average(K).”
        Yes, but T and K have a lot of common variability (topography, latitude etc) which makes sampling critical and very difficult, and also the treatment of missing values. With anomalies, a lot of that subtracts out.

      • Nick Stokes – “T and K have a lot of common variability (topography, latitude etc) which makes sampling critical and very difficult” – This is precisely what averages out. IOW, it’s irrelevant.

        And the missing data is what makes satellite the only reliable measure.

      • I think Nick is right. Taking the difference filters out any systematic errors. Suppose you have a thermometer at Heathrow, it may read 5 degrees higher than another thermometer 10 miles away. However when you take the difference between two temperatures at Heathrow, the 5 degrees cancels out.
        The same at the location 10 miles away. Any overestimste or underestimate cancels out.

      • Walt D. – “Taking the difference filters out any systematic errors. [..] Any overestimste or underestimate cancels out.”. That’s an illusion. The exact same systematic errors are in the anomalies as are in the temperatures, as I have tried to explain.

        OK, let’s try some numbers: I’ve got 4 stations at different locations. For a particular time of year, their base period average temperatures are say respectively 0, 3, 5, 10 deg. In 2013 their temperatures at that time of year were 1, 2, 6, 10 deg resp., and in 2014 they were 0, 3, 6, 11 deg. Their anomalies were thus 1, -1, 1, 0 (2013) and 0, 0, 1, 1 (2014), so their anomaly average in 2014 was 0.25 deg warmer than 2013. But the difference in their average temperature was ((0+3+6+11)-(1+2+6+10))/4 = 0.25 deg. You can take any number of stations, any temperatures and any base temperatures, and the result you get with anomalies can never differ from the result you get with temperatures. When you use anomalies, all you have done is to lose some information and all you have gained is an illusion that you have done something helpful. Better to stick with actual temperatures, because then it will be easier to see if you do things with them that really are wrong.

    • “…4) What exactly does 38% certain actually mean? What are the statistical assumptions that are being made to make this statement? How was it calculated?…

      Ever read weather reports Walt D. ?
      Actually the weather guys observe current conditions, including and especially conditions upwind, then they run models to utilize institutional experience captured into the models to suggest how the weather masses will move, impacts and conditions changes. They’ll usually sit down and try to use their minds, still far more advanced than any climate computer, their personal experience to gauge the weather situation.
      Don’t forget that these same weather people do this morning, noon and night.

      Because the weather is rarely a black – white decision tree, conditions on any given minute of any given day are put forth as a percent chance.
      So what does a 38% chance of showers mean?

      That was the rough weather prediction when I left for fishing in the Southeast pass of the Mississippi river in a fifteen foot boat, fortunately a Boston Whaler. Mississippi’s Southeast pass is some seventy miles (113km) south of New Orleans, a hop and skip geographically.
      Shortly after reaching the pass and setting out our anchor where we wanted to fish, (my first time there), the first thunderstorm came through. Compared to ones following, a tyke of a storm. As the storm cell approached our surrounding water drained away until our boat bounced off of a piling normally covered by at least eight feet of water. We bounced a couple of times while that storm cell blasted us and I tried to haul anchor; the boat’s owner ended up helping me by holding on to me and holding the line I retrieved. Anchor stowed, the owner hammered the throttle to take us out of the pass. We went east of the pass and sought shelter in the small lee created by the pass’s rock walls; set anchor and let out a long long rode, snugged the anchor tight just as the next storm cell hit. Bigger and badder than the previous cell we were hammered by the wind, rain and hail. That cell passed and we realized that the storm had dragged us and our fifteen pound (6.8kg) navy anchor, which should have held us, about a hundred yards (100m).
      we moved back, reset the anchor harder using the boat motor just as the next cell hit us; same result.

      Somewhere about the fifth or six cell we decided to get the H–l out of there; as we headed up the now dreaded SE pass again the next cell was already hitting the water and surrounding swamps with large bolts. Theoretically, lightning goes for the best and highest attractors. Sadly, on the water, a boat is a darn good attractor, so are two conductive people. All of the fishing rods, especially the carbon ones, were already tied up along the boat rail, so that was good. we put up the boat’s awning and headed up river, made the launch point, loaded the boat and went home. I’ll skip the remaining trip’s gory details, like hiding from one cell’s lightning on some guy’s porch.

      Home, New Orleans at that time, where they had the same 40% chance of rain weather prediction, (and we did have a good weatherman locally), meant that the city had not seen any rain that day, none, nada; just low clouds.

      A 38% chance prediction means in great big bold words, they do not know! period!

      What it might be. What it may be. Are all guesses.
      In the world of real science, it represents the cumulative experience and knowledge of everyone involved with one person or team staking their reputation on the results. To us commoners, it means take an umbrella or raincoat.

      In the world of climate science that 38% prediction represents the advocacy first and foremost. There are no reputations involved. The climate team almost never back down from, correct or apologize for their mistakes.

      The world of plain math will help you put the climate predictions to use by plain rounding to help you decide.
      38% is [.38]
      &gt= .5? No? Round down to .0. Meaning no chance in h__l
      &gt= .95? Round up cautiously to 1.
      Certainty requires certain to 95% or greater. Otherwise, they’re blowing smoke where the sun don’t shine. Even then, a scientist can justify their certainty by explaining the why and where of all the major components.

  6. GISS uses surface station data which measures temperature to within a tenth of a degree eg 10.3 degrees. I have never seen any country’s weather stations that measure to a hundredth of a degree. So HOW is it possible that GISS can present data with any confidence to 4 hundredths of a degree ?

    • I don’t believe that the eyeballed thermometers are read to 0.1°C. They are analogue devices so could measure to any accuracy you like but not by eyeball. The new digital thermometers, if properly calibrated, can certainly measure to 0.1°C and possibly 0.01 but that level of accuracy is just a ridiculous thing to do in such a large variable system.

      • A post would be a good idea since the type of comments in the preceding posts crop up all the time.

      • Don’t forget the error rates for all individual 3,000 +/- stations, any and all infills; and why there is a belief in a global anomaly that is supposed to remotely representative of anyone’s and everyone’s temperature.
        After that you can cover adjustments, quality checks why if and when performed, plus why NOAA is so obsessed with plotting temperatures over very short time scales.

        Time is mankind’s artifice, not the world’s or nature. For a planet with a 4.5 billion year +/- history and a species with intelligent history for 70,000 plus years; just what does 0.04 degrees in one year represent in the world’s climate?

        Combine a sparse irregularly spaced thermometer network with a planet and species that has seen genuine and severe changes in climate, just how does the ‘accuracy’ level of 3,000 plus thermometers allow anyone to supposedly gain better precision amassing bad data and infilling with adjusted data?

        Better precision, but much lower accuracy?

        Anyway, I eagerly await your article. I do like many of your long posts.

  7. CAGW has never been about the science. This is just more of the same. The “hiatus” continues, and since the climate is still returning from the negative excursion of the LIA, yes, at this end of history, nearly every year is going to qualify as “the hottest on record since…” simply because they’re within the same range as the climate slowly approaches a theoretical equilibrium state. So what? None of what is observed proves the hysterical claims that it is man made, that it is harmful, or that it is causing more and more destructive storms; and finally, cheer the news as they might (fools, to cheer what appears to them to be confirmation of their worst fears), it changes nothing: there is still no statistical change in warming, & their models are still increasingly wrong, and getting more so by the day.

  8. Even NASA admits that satellite based systems are the only feasible way to collect the data for climate models. Yet GISS (NASA) continues to use weather station data instead of satellite data.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/AM1/
    Scientists need to make many measurements all over the world, over a long period of time, in order to assemble the information needed to construct accurate computer models that will enable them to forecast the causes and effects of climate change. The only feasible way to collect this information is through the use of space-based Earth “remote sensors” (instruments that can measure things like temperature from a distance).

    emphasis added.

      • It’s wrong because it’s just not listening to what GISS is saying. GCM’s give results for the whole atmosphere. To check them, you need to measure the corresponding region. If you want to know what the temperature is on the surface, where we live, thermometers are useful. But they only check a small part of what a GCM does.

      • “It’s wrong because it’s just not listening to what GISS is saying. GCM’s give results for the whole atmosphere. To check them, you need to measure the corresponding region. If you want to know what the temperature is on the surface, where we live, thermometers are useful. But they only check a small part of what a GCM does.”

        Sorry, NIck, but GCMs don’t check anything. They’re models. They’re high tech, very expensive Ouija Boards, to be flippant.

        They say things that are within the range of what they’re programming renders them capable of. As the programming axiom says, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

      • On this answer, I agree with Steven Mosher and (shudder) Nicky Stokes. I don’t buy Nick’s ‘regional approach’ validity nor his suggestion about GCMs unless he explicitly defines regional for feeding gcms the data collected not regurgitated.

        There are many ‘feasible’ methods for capturing world climate data. A number of them are quite good at what they do.

        Satellites are very good at much of what they do, but are themselves sparse because of sheer expense. Much of the climate information captured, e.g. radiosondes, does not have orbiting satellite replacements or scheduled (to my knowledge).

        It may also be hard to put replacements into space for aging satellites.

  9. Thanks Bob
    It´s time to fight back this nonsens. Yesterday I wrote a complaint to the Danish national broadcasting company.
    And as I´m writitng this, has also engaged in a discussion with the gullible meteorologist who ran a scare story in the Danish national tv.
    It´s time to start holding them responsible for their positions, and asking for evidence in stead of sensationalism.
    And to all of you here on wuwt:You are my heroe´s :)

  10. so I went to NASA to look at their satellite data, and the first data set I looked at had this note:

    Access Constraints
    We are allowed to distribute this data to US scientists, scientists visiting US organizations, and Canadian scientists affiliated with UCAR member organizations only.

    so much for freedom of information and open science.

    http://globalchange.nasa.gov/KeywordSearch/Keywords.do?Portal=GCMD&KeywordPath=Parameters|ATMOSPHERE|ATMOSPHERIC+WATER+VAPOR|WATER+VAPOR+TENDENCY&MetadataType=0&Columns=0&lbnode=mdlb4#maincontent

  11. NASA aren’t just showing their reliance on dogma in the Global warming sphere. The amazing engineering achievements of the comet landing (albeit a crash landing) are being seriously undermined by the cosmologists refusal to consider they are looking at a large rock rather than a ball of ice.

    • AND this stems from 2 ‘beliefs’. First that water was brought to Earth by comets. Second that life was brought to Earth by comets. Both may be possible, but both are highly unlikely given burn up during the descent through the atmosphere, and the immense temperatures created on impact.

      But it is dogma, and they do not want to drop the seeding theory.

  12. GISS & NCDC Need to Be More Open with the Public

    They need to be but they ain’t gonna be. Toooooo risky for their funding.

  13. It’s not until readers scroll down
    Still farther down on the webpage
    links to NOAA’s Supplemental
    The first link brings us to
    Calculating the Probability
    that follows that discussion

    “More unlikely than likely”

    Prosser: But the plans were on display.
    Arthur Dent: On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar.
    Prosser: That’s the display department.
    Arthur Dent: With a torch.
    Prosser: The lights had probably gone.
    Arthur Dent: So had the stairs.
    Prosser: But you did see the notice, didn’t you?
    Arthur Dent: Oh, yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying “Beware of the Leopard.” Ever thought of going into climate science?

  14. No nick…it is not “understood”….can you tell me how many times this breathless headline ran!?!?
    “2014 warmest year on record, say US researchers”….. http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30852588
    How many readers does the BBC have? Check cnn and msnbc and any other liberal rag that the cagw brood hang their raggedy brains in deference to the “knowledge” they glean from such incurious headlines.

    And, enough of you trying to run cover for the masses of the ignorant whom believe any and everything the compliant lapdogs of the media regugitate from line 1, page 1 of these “climate scientists” press releases.

    • It was indeed the warmest year on record. They have a record and it was the warmest year in that record.

      It’s like the situation when they report that the stock exchange has reached a record level. That comes from Dow averaging a particular set of stock prices. Yes, you could average a different lot and maybe it wouldn’t be a record.

      • Which “was indeed the warmest year on record”?

        According to NOAA’s 1997 state of the climate report:-
        “The global average temperature of 62.45 degrees Fahrenheit for 1997 was the warmest year on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1995 by 0.15 degrees Fahrenheit.”
        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/1997/13

        According to NOAA’s 2014 state of the climate report:-
        “The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).”
        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/13

        It does not take a mathematical wizard to work out, that, according to NOAA, 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014. Therefore, if we were to take NOAA’s figures at face value, the mean global surface temperature for 1997 is a whopping 2.3°C higher than the mean global surface temperature for 2014. As per NASA’s excellent publication, “The elusive absolute surface air temperature”
        http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html
        nobody has ever measured the global surface temperature of the earth with sufficient precision to rule out the possibilities that (i) 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and (ii) 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014. Hence, it is quite possible that 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014, in which case it is not all certain, that 2014 really has the highest mean global surface temperature of all the years since 1880. However, I do not expect any of this to be taken on board by all those who want 2014 to be “indeed the warmest year on record”. They want 2014 to be “indeed the warmest year on record”, and they shall assiduously turn a blind eye to everything that undermines what they want to believe.

        [Check your results: You appear to be quoting NASA press releases in 1997 that claim a higher Global Average temperature for 1997 than is claimed for 2014. Correct? If so, your quotes are very important. .mod]

      • “Warmest year on record.” Wow. Since what, 1850 or so? The other 4.5 billion we have no comparable data for? We’re absolutely certain (at least in our press releases) that there hasn’t been a warmer year.

  15. May I ask a simple, slightly O/T question?

    Is Gavin Schmidt allowed to reply or make a guest post here? Is he barred, or is it just a case of him not wanting to share the stage with his critics like a certain, recent TV interview?

    Just asking.

  16. So I guess they should have said that 2014 is 2 to 3 times more likely than 2010 to be the hottest year ever?

  17. Nick Stokes : “2014 is the hottest as measured ….”

    How can a temperature be the ‘hottest’ when it’s not even warm ?

    By their language do these people give themselves away.

  18. They may tell the truth but they don’t tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth as required by all courts in the U.S.

  19. Question from a curious newcomer: Can someone help me understand something about 2014 being the “hottest” year? Was it proclaimed the hottest because the high temps got higher, or because the low temps didn’t go as low? Or is it because there were more medium warmish days than usual, or because measurements were taken from more locations than in 1850 which don’t have the same ratio of warm to cold areas as now? Any of these scenarios could drive the average up I would think, so I don’t know what it really means to say the global average temperature increased.

    • Hoyt Clagwell – No-one has yet answered your question, so I’ll try to help. Whether daily or seasonal or regional max temperatures rose more or less than min temperatures isn’t specified. They simply have a formula for obtaining an annual average temperature, and the number calculated for 2014 was the highest. Highest by a very small margin, but highest. That was sufficient for them to pump the message that we are at the “hottest ever”, presumably because that is the news that they wanted (otherwise they would have reported it with caveats). There are a lot of good comments here, and reading them may help to fill in the picture for you. In particular, that the temperature margin is below measurement accuracy, the probability that 2014 was the hottest year is below 50%, and satellites which are better for measuring global average temperature place 2014 a little way down the list.

      • Thanks for the reply Mike,
        The reason I was wondering was because my own personal experience here in Southern California was that 2014 had a very warm Winter, but the Summer was rather ordinary. Then we get headlines saying that the Earth is scorching, when it is really just less freezing in some areas. Trying to calculate a meaningful average temperature for the Earth, which needs to be a very wide range of temperatures seems absurd. It is like measuring the wavelengths of the different colors in a painting and mathematically deriving a mean wavelength corresponding to a single “average” color. Sure, I could do it, but It’s meaningless. If the Earth became 57 degrees f. everywhere on the planet tomorrow, we’d all be in deep —-, but the precious average would remain unchanged. To me it all appears to be a very heated debate about a nonsense statistic that’s had all the meaning stripped out of it through averaging.
        Maybe I’m in over my head, so I’ll keep reading while I continue trying to extract sunbeams from my cucumbers.

      • Hoyt – Obviously what goes on in Kalifornia can differ from the world as a whole. If you can work Excel OK, try downloading Hadcrut4 [web search should find it] data in csv format, open it in Excel, and see what the max’s and mins have been doing.
        Then you can get back to Gulliver’s Travels and the Royal Society…..

  20. Since the Earth is warming then obviously some of the most recent years would be the warmest on record. What is more important is that we are again experiencing a pause in the Earth’s warming which appears to be part of a pattern of temperature change characterized by approximately equal length alternating periods of warming and pauses in warming. Since this temperature behavior would tend to undermine the argument that man-made carbon dioxide is the cause of the warming then it becomes necessary for proponents of that argument to downplay the existence of the periods of pause in warming. This is most likely the cause of the over-loud proclamations about 2014 being the warmest year. If the past temperature pattern continues then the current pause should continue until about the year 2030 so we can look forward to continued efforts to downplay the pause. It will be interesting to see what imaginative charts and graphs NASA and NOAA come up with to confuse rather than inform the viewer.

  21. Another significant omission in the NOAA press release was the fact the US 2014 ANNUAL TEMPERATURE according to NOAA was only the 33 warmest since 1895 or 2.73 degrees F below the record. . 2014 was also the 4th coolest year in 17 years for US.. Environment Canada reports that 2014 was the coolest in 18 years (since 1996) . Thus it would be fair to say that the 2014 North American annual temperature is well below any record . Now I wonder why this fact was omitted since the press release was for the American public mostly.

    I notice that BERKELEY EARTH did report on the US situation. They said,
    4. For’the’contiguous’United’States,’2014’ranked’nominally’as’the’38th’warmest’
    year’on’record’since’1850.”

    ‘ If anything NOAA should be commenting on the cooling that is taking place in North America and Northern Hemisphere. This is a much greater concern to the public at large.

    It appears to me this very flawed press release was purely a public relations ploy to mislead the public prior to the Paris Conference .

    • True the US is cooling. Even alarmist maps of earth temperature show the US is cooling where according to them most of the rest of the world is warming.

      This is kind of ironic since the US is the greatest producer of CO2 on the planet.

  22. This is from a blog I write Chemiotics II — https://luysii.wordpress.com

    The New York Times and NOAA flunk Chem 101

    As soon as budding freshman chemists get into their first lab they are taught about significant figures. Thus 3/7 = .4 (not .428571 which is true numerically but not experimentally) Data should never be numerically reported with more significant figures than given by the actual measurement.

    This brings us to yesterday’s front page story (with the map colored in red) “2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics“. Well it did if you believe that a .02 degree centigrade difference in global mean temperature is significant. The inconvenient fact that the change was this small was not mentioned until the 10th paragraph. It was also noted there that .02 C is within experimental error. Do you have a thermometer that measures temperatures that exactly? Most don’t, and I doubt that NOAA does either. Amusingly, the eastern USA was the one area which didn’t show the rise. Do you think that measurements here are less accurate than in Africa, South America Eurasia? Could it be the other way around?

    It is far more correct to say that Global warming has essentially stopped for the past 14 years, as mean global temperature has been basically the same during that time. This is not to say that we aren’t in a warm spell. Global warming skeptics (myself included) are not saying that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas, and they are not denying that it has been warm. However, I am extremely skeptical of models predicting a steady rise in temperature that have failed to predict the current decade and a half stasis in global mean temperature. Why should such models be trusted to predict the future when they haven’t successfully predicted the present.

    It reminds me of the central dogma of molecular biology years ago “DNA makes RNA makes Protein”, and the statements that man and chimpanzee would be regarded as the same species given the similarity of their proteins. We were far from knowing all the players in the cell and the organism back then, and we may be equally far from knowing all the climate players and how they interact now.

    • Data should never be numerically reported with more significant figures than given by the actual measurement.

      It is a statistical number. For example, a basketball player can only score in whole points, but their average points per game is shown as a tenth of a point, for example 11.9 points per game.

      Since models and spreadsheets can calculate out to many figures the issue is how many figures are relevant. For basketball it is never reported a player has a 11.9417 scoring average. It has no value to do so. It is not meaningful in that case beyond a tenth of a point.

      In climate science this understanding of statistical numbers is thrown on its head. Foobar #1 is that there is no capability to measure global mean to a thousands of a degree, that’s just silly, however climate science obfuscates and their conclusions are presented that in fact they can do just that. Foobar #2 is that they take a calculated stat and take it out to hundredths of a degree without anything other than dooms day speculation that hundredths of a degree is meaningful.

  23. I enjoy watching the alarmists dig their own graves. When everyone knows the alarmists were crying wolf it will be easier to hold them accountable.

  24. Fellow climate skeptics:
    I know you are all aware the only three climate possibilities suggested by ice core studies are mild warming. mild cooling, or an ice age.
    .
    I think its safe to assume there has been mild warming since roughly the mid-1800s — perhaps much of the warming is measurement error, as 1800s thermometers consistently read low — but there is almost no evidence of cooling in the past 150 years.
    .
    Of course we all know here how the surface measurements are “fixed” so annual announcements can be made that the past year was the ‘hottest’ on record — leftists often lie in support of their causes — their beliefs are too important to let accurate data create doubt among the riff raff (that would be us).
    .
    Until the 1850 Modern Warming trend ends, there will be repeated new warm year records set — probably not every year, but regularly.
    .
    New highs define a rising trend.
    .
    If there were no new highs for a long time, then the rising trend may have ended.
    .
    I have no idea when the 1850 Modern Warming will end, nor does anyone else — perhaps it ended in 1998?
    .
    I do know ALL real-time average temperature measurements since the late 1800s have been made during this warming trend, so we’re going to hear “new records” being set repeatedly (okay, the 2014 new record that’s only one to four hundredths of a degree C. higher than 2013 sounds like someone “fixed” rthe books, but new records are inevitable until a cooling trend begins.
    .
    The correct response to a new record is: “So what?”.
    .
    Who can prove warming is bad news?
    .
    Who can prove more CO2 is bad news, whether it causes warming or not?
    .
    It’s incredible to me that the climate since I was born in the 1950’s has improved — slightly warmer, and faster green plant growth — yet I can’t enjoy the improved climate because smarmy leftists are so busy convincing people that the improved climate is not really an improvement at all — it is the beginning of a climate catastrophe that will end life on Earth as we know it.
    .
    If I was an alien flying a UFO in the skies and observing Earth, I’d never stop here and want to meet the people — not because they are too violent, which they are, but because their unjustified fear of a coming climate catastrophe proves they are way too dumb for a stimulating conversation!
    .
    The coming climate catastrophe beliefs deserve ridicule, and jokes about the irrational fears — if we skeptics can’t do this, then who can?
    .
    I’ll try to do my part by not taking the warmists seriously:
    – After much analysis and very deep thought, aided by caffeine and pacing the floor, it has become obvious to me that skeptics of climate change — those who dare to challenge the climate models — only do so because the changing climate has confused them.
    .
    After all. everyone knows those REALLY BIG COMPUTERS can predict the future climate with 105% confidence (previously 95% confidence — I’m extrapolating the rising confidence level trend two years into the future).
    .
    Roger Revelle’s strategy on how to get a share of the goobermint money was effective: State with great confidence that some environmental catastrophe is coming in the future, and that you must be given a grant to study it, or else life on Earth will end as we know it.
    .
    Doesn’t matter if the coming catastrophe is acid rain, hole in the ozone layer, global cooling — the end result is always: ‘life on Earth will end as we know it’.
    .
    When a coming crisis stops scaring people, you just invent a new crisis, such as global warming, and your friends in the leftist-biased press will never mention the old, forgotten never-hurt-anyone crises again.
    .
    My Due Diligence:
    Based on my examination of the most accurate data available:
    – I favor a lot more CO2 in the air to green the Earth, and
    – I favor more warming (although I’m confident CO2 will cause little or no warming beyond the 400 ppmv level), because I can’t afford a second home in sunny, warm Florida, and it gets pretty cold here in Bingham Farms, Michigan.

  25. Thanks, Bob.
    Yes, NASA GISS & NOAA NCDC Need to Be More Open with the Public when Making Proclamations about Global Warming Records. They loose credibility by not being straightforward. They also get a reputation as politically biased institutions.

    • Yes the institutions themselves are what is getting damaged. The opportunists causing this ruination will just eventually slink away into their next high paying executive position without looking back.

  26. Saying that the year 2014 was the warmest on record is like for someone born in 1990 to say that the war in Iraq was the worst war of my lifetime.

    Obviously, even if it were true, it is still of questionable value as an observation. The Iraq War was peanuts compared to WWI, WWII and Viet Nam.

    • That is true the scope of certain wars is much greater that others. But on an individual basis, the greatest war is the one experienced directly. For people living in London while it was being bombed, WWII was certainly the worst. For people in Iraq, it is the wars that continue there without end.

      In terms of climate, if a tornado destroyed your home it is of little matter whether tornadoes were lower than average in that year. And it would be just as farcical to claim CO2 reduced tornadoes as it is to claim CO2 increased tornadoes.

      So yes it is of questionable if not meaningless value as an observation, but great value as propaganda.

  27. The issue is political. The announcements and media hype give the president the ammunition to mention the increasing global temperature in his state of the union speech, and we must get behind his green agenda.

    It also paves the way for the USA involvement in the Paris Climate meetings later this year.

    How political can science get?

  28. I would like to see a post of a histogram of temperatures used by the various agencies and/or the anomalies. Are they normally distributed? If not, do they perform transformations to normalize the data. I made my first year statistics students perform this exercise with every data set. If not normal they had to use non-parametric statistics. Is this info available? Nick or Steve may wish to chime in here.

    • +1

      We can’t say that 2014 was warmer than 1998, because what we measure in 2014 is not the same as it was in 1998 (still less when compared to the 1930s).

      Because of station drop outs, instrument changes, changes in local environment (vegetation/buildings/development), we are not measuring the same thing. Adjustments are being made to the data, supposedly with a view to homogenising those changes and bring one in line with another, but all we are looking at is the adjustments that have been made to the raw data.

      If the adjustments made to the raw data in 2014 are out by a few hundredths of a degree, 2014 is cannot on any criteria be the warmest on record.

      Lets get back to the raw data and quality control and we might then have some insight into what if anything is going on..

    • 1. Your link doesn’t necessarily show that the 1930s were warmer than the past decade. Think about it. In the first year of any record then every temperature would be the warmest ever recorded.

      2. Your link is for the US only. The discussion here is about global temperatures.

  29. I note that 1998 has been adjusted downwards in the GISS/NOAA graphs. Very easy to make 2014 the warmest year when you constantly adjust everything before it downwards.
    It is certainly not the warmest on either the UAH or the RSS records. NOAA’s claim is clearly an artefact of adjustments. ie another con job.

  30. I don’t know whether its premature but the “Hottest year on record” story which used to appear on the front page of the local newspaper was buried on the last page of the front section in the bottom left corner. Might that be a sign? Just hoping.

  31. An open question but would love to hear from Nick Stokes or Steven Mosher.

    As NOAA NCDC and NASA GISS state that 2014 is now the warmest year on record does this now show 1) there is in fact a pause or plateau in global temperature from 1998 to 2014 and 2) as CO2 is still rising does this not invalidate Dr. Hansen’s scenario C even though that scenario seems to be tracking better to current global temperatures?

    Thanks!

    • 2014 being warmest certainly isn’t proof of a plateau. But climate-wise, it doesn’t prove anything much on its own. You need to look at trends over a period. And surface trends are up.

      • Ok…using the Global Analysis – Annual 2014 report it states that 2014 had an anomaly of 0.69 degrees C and 1998 had an anomaly of 0.63 degrees C, which shows a 100-year projection of 0.375 degrees C that is significantly less than the IPCC projection of 2.8 degrees C/100 years.

        As far as I know CO2 is still increasing globally at the same rate since the IPCC’s first report so shouldn’t each year since the IPCC’s first report be the hottest year ever?

        And why is the observed trend in temps not matching Hansen’s model projections?

  32. I’ll repeat the question I asked above:

    How can a temperature of 14.6 be described as the ‘hottest’
    when it’s not even warm ?

    And if in fact there has been a plateau of years, and 2014 has
    been named as the ‘hottest’, am I allowed to ask which one has
    been the ‘coldest’ ?

  33. Nick Stokes January 19, 2015 at 4:57 am
    Bob has a post on that here.

    My comment is – GISS is right. It is very unwise to try to average absolute temperatures. To make a spatial average of anything, you have to be able to estimate values in between where you measure. With anomalies you can do that, because most of the irregular variation is in special features of the places measured, eg altitude, and goes away when you subtract out the local mean.

    Do we want to make features of the temperature record ‘go away’?

    Surely the temp at the top of a mountain (due to its altitude) is lower and this fact should be retained in the temperature record, not subtracted out.

    I expect the mountain will keep displaying cooler temperatures for a much longer time than man is around to measure it!

  34. How many measurement points were used in 1998, 2913, 2014.

    Are they the same measurement points?

    How much data has been “infilled” (euphemism for fabricated) for places where there are no thermometer.
    Here is a pic of trends from 2001 to now, showing that any major warming is in the Arctic and western Antarctic. Where does this data come from? How is it fabricated.?

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/nmaps.cgi?sat=4&sst=1&type=trends&mean_gen=0112&year1=2001&year2=2014&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=rob

    DMI only shows a maybe small amount of Arctic warming during the deep winter. Is that really all that is driving “GLOBAL” warming ???

    From 2001 to 2013 all 4 main climate series were basically flat.
    Why does the GISS/HadCrut trend suddenly start to diverge from the satellite record in 2013 ?

    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2013/plot/rss/from:2013/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2013/trend/plot/rss/from:2013/trend/plot/uah/from:2013/plot/uah/from:2013/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2013/plot/gistemp/from:2013/trend

    • For 1998 and 2014 we could probably find the data, for 2913 we’ll have to check the climate models.

      • I read it as 2013 Andy, I just wanted to have a little fun by injecting the climate models into your typo. Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to your questions.

      • Richard.. I’m sure Nick could have the answer the first questions…., but he won’t do it.

        For the last question, ask yourself what happened at GISS in 2013, who took over ! ;-)

    • So infilling is a problem AndyG55

      And then you say: “DMI only shows a maybe small amount of Arctic warming during the deep winter.”

      I guess you think that there is no infilling in the product DMI uses?

      A bit wrong. They use reanaysis. The infilling is done with a MODEL Or more correct: 4 models. Three different models after 2002

      So that is the way to do it. Use model output.

  35. We have been coming out of the Little Ice Age. Temperatures have been rising.

    Anyone interested in figuring out how many years have taken their turn as the warmest year since 1880? They must have occurred quite regularly if, coming out of the LIA, the temperature has been continually rising.

    How many times since 1880 could someone have proclaimed — this is the warmest year since 1880 and we are all going to die!

    I bet there have been 40 years that were once the warmest year since 1880. Anyone interested?

    Eugene WR Gallun

    • And those years would be ever changing as the data is adjusted to create the upward trend.

      Not that long ago 1940 was a nice peak in the temperature record.

      Squashed and gone now !!

    • Yes. There were 21 such years in the GISS record, excluding 1880. They were:
      1881 1889 1926 1931 1937 1938 1940 1941 1944 1973 1980 1981 1987 1988
      1990 1995 1997 1998 2005 2010 2014

      • Nick Stokes,

        Thank you very much.

        I said — I bet there were 40 — but there were only 21. I am slipping.

        So, coming out of the Little Ice Age we have had a new record about every 6.4 years.

        O Noes! It worst than we thought!!!!!!! We are all going to die!!!!!!!

        Eugene WR Gallun

    • Why not just do it? Hadcrut4 goes back to the mid-1800s, CET a cenury or two further back (CET isn’t global of course, but it’s the best available). Hadcrut4 data is easily downloaded as a csv which you can pick up in Excel. It’s something I intend to do, but have no Excel while travelling (back home late next month). Post it to WUWT’s “Submit a Story”. I’d be happy to see someone else do it and save me the effort.

      • Thanks, Nick, all I had to do was wait a few minutes. I see there were 5 records in 8 years 1937-44 and only 3 records in 10 years 2005-14. Makes one wonder what all the fuss is about.

      • Nick Stokes

        January 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm
        //////////////////////////

        Nick

        5 in 8 is considerably more than 3 in 10. So the point that Mike Jonas makes is a good one.

        There was an 8 year period (1937 to 1944) before manmade CO2 emissions played any significant role in warming, which set then record highs.

        Now that it is alleged that CO2 plays a significant role, there is a paucity of now record highs in comparison.

        The earlier then record highs (and I am now going back to include before 1937) shows that there is a large component of natural variation in the upward warming trend seen through to 2014. In fact, it could easily be all natural.

      • Richard,
        “Now that it is alleged that CO2 plays a significant role, there is a paucity of now record highs in comparison.”

        Well, check the GISS graph I showed just above. Contrast the 1940 pattern of a few consecutive but mainly small rises, with the big rises following 1980.

      • Mike Jonas says:

        Makes one wonder what all the fuss is about.

        Yes. What is all the fuss about??

        Observations confirm natural variability in action. Enjoy it, because warmer is better; cold kills.

        The whole man-made global warming scare is nothing but a giant head fake. That’s all.

  36. We must all understand that the job of reporters is NOT to report the facts. They and their editors win when a headline attracts readers or viewers, because that delivers $$$. So which headline would you use?
    – 2014 temperatures about the same as previous years.
    – 2014 Hottest Ever!
    But if anyone complains that you misled their readers, bury a reference to uncertainties towards the end of the report that most people will never read.

  37. I listened to an interview on BBC Radio 4 on Friday with Gavin Schmidt, he was given ample opportunity by the interviewer to express any uncertainty and was explictily asked by the interviewer, bt he chose not to mention this 38% certainty factor.

    That is deliberate deception, nothing less, but they got their headlines and there will be no retractions on BBC Radio 4, so mission accomplished.

  38. Glad to see NASA confirming they are 62% sure that 2014 wasn’t the hottest year on record.

    I am 100% certain they didn’t place this information on page 1 and that the BBC, Guardian and most MSM were not expected to report it.

  39. We need to be mindful that when we start discussing things like error bars and uncertainties on these two dataset, we automatically cede the ground on whether these datasets show anything real in the first place. They don’t. This is a “win the battle but lose the war” situation. As stated in many comments above, and as mentioned many times in previous articles, these datasets are artificially inflated (or rather, the past is deflated) and thus all discussions regarding new records is moot.

    We need to fight the right battles.

    We (the skeptical community) should simply dismiss these claims as spurious. Getting bogged down in discussions about uncertainties simply makes these claims seem to have some validity. The fact is these annual temperature spikes aren’t real, wouldn’t exist without their adjustments, and don’t exist even in their own satellite data.

    Let’s focus on the right problem. The problem is not the uncertainties, but the data itself (or rather the adjusted data).

    • Well it is both. Bad methodology in defining and collecting the data AND bad methodology in using the bad data.

      See recent financial crisis as to how well using this approach helps in making executive decisions.

  40. Ya’ know, I don’t care if the head of a bureaucracy is a Republican or a Democrat. As long as they are honest.
    Whoever wins the next election for President here in the US needs to clean out everyone Obama put in power and everyone they hired.
    Start from scratch with people who put facts before politics.

    (I know, I’m dreaming. I was into lots of “stuff” before I was delivered. Maybe I just had a flashback?)

  41. What is the raw data because UHI is huge in any city, large or small. I live 1 mile outside of a small 6,000 person town. During the winter it is 8-12 degrees warmer in town than it is at my house a mile outside of town. There is no elevation change as it is flat farmland for miles around our little town. UHI is huge for a little 6,000 person town in the middle of farmland so it has to be enormous for metro areas. If Gavin disagrees then I’d love to invite him to where I live. A little field study wouldn’t hurt this office chair academic.

  42. 2014 was not the hottest year on record nor the hottest ever recorded. Both GISS & NOAA are not comparing last year to the actual record or what was actually recorded. They are comparing an adjusted record for 2014 versus all the other adjusted years. So in reality, 2014 global temperature was the highest adjusted temperature of any of the previously adjusted years’s temperatures.

  43. When I read today that Gavin had said that the pause will end within 10 years, I wondered how he had arrived at such a revelation. And then I realized what his process must be…

    • But how can the pause go on for yet a further 10 years, if CO2 drives temperature and if CO2 rises as quick (or quicker) than BAU?

      Come back in 10 years time, if the pause has continued through to then, the cAGW case will look extremely shakey.

      In fact people like Gavin should advise what CO2 sensitivity is likely to be if the pause continues for a further 10 years. In this scenario, we know what temperatures will look like 10 years hence (ie., the same as today), and we can estimate the level of CO2 on the assumption that CO2 emissions continue unabated (ie., BAU).

      In this scenario, climate sensitivity (if there is such a thing) will be less than 1.5, in fact probably less than 1.2.

      So scare over.

      • If you take the view that global temperatures are driven by planetary cycles of 1000 years and 60 years, he may not the too far off – thing will go flat till 2030 then shoot up for the next 30 years and then its all downhill from there. Is there any credibility to the planetary model? The Global Warming establishment poo-poos it as “astrology”. However, even Monckton’s Pocket Calculator model does not predict “flat for 18 years 3 months” – it is jut less wrong that the other climate model projections.

      • Gavin is playing the tabloid psychic game.

        A psychic in a tabloid newspaper predicts event A for celebrity B. If it doesn’t happen no one notices, it is forgotten, but if event A does happen the psychic proclaims his amazing ability to predict the future.

        It is cheap, it is exploitation but it pays the rent for the exploiter.

  44. There is an aspect of modern temperature recording that I wonder about.
    Response time of the sensing device.
    The calibrated electronic sensor has a response time of seconds?Milliseconds?
    The mercury thermometer with magnetic reset Hi/Low indicators had a response of minutes?
    So if the local temperature at a weather station spikes high for a couple of minutes, the modern device would record at peak that previously would have gone unremarked.

    Another concern is instrument calibration, especially at remote sites with large variation between winter and summer, who checks the calibration of this equipment?

  45. TO THE MODERATORS AT WATTS UP WITH THAT.

    In connection with the following reply which I made to Nick Stokes (a long way below), you made the following comments:-

    [Check your results: You appear to be quoting NASA press releases in 1997 that claim a higher Global Average temperature for 1997 than is claimed for 2014. Correct? If so, your quotes are very important. .mod]

    I am most certainly NOT quoting from any press releases. I am quoting directly from NOAA’s state of the climate reports for 1997 and 2014, as you could have verified for yourselves, if you had taken the trouble to follow the kinks which I provided. However, I shall restate it all again with links.

    (1) NOAA’s state of the climate report for 1997 states quite explicitly that the mean global surface temperature for the year 1997 is 62.45°F (16.9°C).
    Link:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/1997/13
    NOAA repeats the same point in a lengthier document entitled “The climate of 1997.”
    Link:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/1997/climate97.html

    (2) NOAA’s state of the climate report for 2014 states quite explicitly that the mean global surface temperature for 2014 is 14.59°C.
    Link:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/13

    (3) As per NASA’s “The elusive absolute surface air temperature”
    Link:- http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html
    nobody can ever measure the the global surface temperature of the earth with sufficient precision to rule out the the possibilities that:-

    (a) The mean global surface temperature for 1997 is 16.9°C
    (b) The mean global surface temperature for 2014 is 14.59°C.

    Therefore, for all we know, the mean global surface for 1997 is indeed 16.9°C and the mean global surface temperature for 2014 is indeed 14.6°C, in which case it is not all certain, that 2014 has the highest mean global surface temperature of all the calendar years since 1880, or before. For all we know, the mean global surface temperature for 1907 is 16°C, as per NOAA’s document, “The climate of 1997”.
    Link:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/1997/climate97.html
    which provides a complete list of annual global surface temperature anomalies from 1900 to 1997 relative to the 1961 to 1990 mean global surface of 16.5°C.

    Moderators at Watts Up With That, why do you suddenly seem to think, that I have discovered something important? I have drawn all these things to your attention several times in replies to posts here at Watts Up With That, and to the attention of Anthony Watts himself in person at least once, and none of you thought it worthy of comment or reply. But what does that matter now? You can check out all the links for yourselves, and you can verify for yourselves, that what I have written is true.

    There is another point which I have also made several times before, but I’ll state it again.

    Nobody seems to understand that “The elusive absolute surface air temperature” is absolute dynamite. It is one of the most subversive documents in the field of climatology. The authors of this document demonstrate conclusively, that it “an obvious practical impossibility” to measure “absolute” global surface temperatures. For just the same reasons, it is “an obvious practical impossibility” to measure global surface temperature “anomalies”. If we must not conduct analyses of global surface temperatures on the basis of “absolute” global surface temperatures, because they are immeasurable, then we must not analyze global surface temperatures on the basis of global surface temperature anomalies, because global surface temperature anomalies are just as immeasurable as “absolute” global surface temperatures.

    The arguments by which the authors of “The absolute surface air temperature” demonstrate that surface air temperatures are too elusive to measured apply equally well to water temperatures, the temperature of the earth’s mantle and core, and to any very large object which has billions of hot and cold spots, such that the temperature of these hot and cold spots never stands still, but is always in flux. “The elusive absolute surface air temperature” is a truly remarkable document. And it is written in clear and straightforward terms which makes a change.

    Yours sincerely,
    Nick Boyce.

    Reply to Nick Stokes:-
    Which “was indeed the warmest year on record”?

    According to NOAA’s 1997 state of the climate report:-
    “The global average temperature of 62.45 degrees Fahrenheit for 1997 was the warmest year on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1995 by 0.15 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/1997/13

    According to NOAA’s 2014 state of the climate report:-
    “The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).”

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/13

    It does not take a mathematical wizard to work out, that, according to NOAA, 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014. Therefore, if we were to take NOAA’s figures at face value, the mean global surface temperature for 1997 is a whopping 2.3°C higher than the mean global surface temperature for 2014. As per NASA’s excellent publication, “The elusive absolute surface air temperature”

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

    nobody has ever measured the global surface temperature of the earth with sufficient precision to rule out the possibilities that (i) 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and (ii) 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014. Hence, it is quite possible that 16.9°C is the mean global surface temperature for 1997, and 14.59°C is the mean global surface temperature for 2014, in which case it is not all certain, that 2014 really has the highest mean global surface temperature of all the years since 1880. However, I do not expect any of this to be taken on board by all those who want 2014 to be “indeed the warmest year on record”. They want 2014 to be “indeed the warmest year on record”, and they shall assiduously turn a blind eye to everything that undermines what they want to believe.

    [Check your results: You appear to be quoting NASA press releases in 1997 that claim a higher Global Average temperature for 1997 than is claimed for 2014. Correct? If so, your quotes are very important. .mod]

  46. To Mr Anthony Watts, anybody else who may be interested.

    In my opinion you should download and save in your own files NOAA’s “The climate of 1997”:-

    Document:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/1997/climate97.html
    “Data”:- http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/1997/globet3.txt

    The reason for saving this document in your own files is, that according “The climate of 1997”, every year from 1900 to 1997 has a mean global surface temperature of somewhere in between 16°C (in 1907) and 16.9°C (in 1997), whereas according to NOAA subsequently to 2006, every calendar from 1880 to 2014 has a mean global surface of less than 15°C. I can foresee a time, when NOAA shall remove “The climate of 1997” from public view.

  47. “Global temperatures will resume their long term growth trend within five to 10 years, ending the so called pause in global warming”
    – predicted by Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.
    http://www.reportingclimatescience.com/news-stories/article/pause-over-within-10-years-says-nasas-schmidt.html

    It is time for a bet. I bet one dollar (and many human lives) on the following hypo:

    Gavin is half-right and dead wrong – the “pause” will end in five to ten years, but will be followed by global cooling, not global warming.

    Gavin’s error is that he believes climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 (ECS) is high and it is not, it is very low, and is overwhelmed by natural climate variation, which appears to be heading into a cooler period based on very low solar activity.

    As usual, I hope to be wrong…

    Best, Allan

  48. I propose with more certainty than 38% probability, actually with more certainty than an evangelist proclaiming the perils of Hell that currently no one knows what the Global absolute or anomaly temperatures were, are and ever shall be.

    I also propose with more certainty than an evangelist proclaiming the perils of Hell that no one knows what came first the chicken or the egg, because most likely they evolved simultaneously, as is the case with climate change and global temperature.

  49. I am rather puzzled by all these probability arguments. Compare the probabilities given for NOAA data to the probabilities of winning a horse race by various horses. It is perfectly reasonable to bet for a horse with 48 % chance of winning, compared to all other horses that has far lower probability of winning (even the combined probability of any horse other than the horse with 48 % chance willing this race is 52%, only 4% more). In this context, 48 % is an excellent bet. I am not where this > 90 % rule and all coming from.

    [Rather, what the NOAA/GISS/Oboma administration’s news media ARE promoting is “We have a winner! 2014 IS THE WARMEST EVER! ” In your comparison: “The race is over and we are 38% sure that a horse won!” .mod]

  50. Well… Moderator, I am not a supporter of the Obama administration, actually – I did not vote for him. But I am sure there will be a hotter year in the future, so the race is not over. I am being particular about the scientific aspects. Whatever the causes are, it is pretty clear that earth is warming. But that is where I stop – I am not advocating to freeze the use of oil. But of course for various reasons, we must find alternate energy sources soon, and certainly not the way we tried with Solyndra.

      • Hello Allan. Thank you for the link. You are absolutely correct that 1998 was the warmest year for lower troposphere. But that is not exactly the same as surface temperature. They say 2014 was the warmest on record mainly because of the rise in ocean surface temperature. So it seems both are correct. But from satellite data, lower troposphere temperature is also going up as a trend (Fig 5 in http://www.remss.com/measurements/upper-air-temperature ), although the lower and middle stratosphere has been cooling steadily. I am not objecting to any of these observations, other than to say that they are not really measuring temperatures in the same region. Also, satellite based temperature data collection may have (certainly had) several problems (since it is an indirect measurement), maybe more problems than direct surface temperature measurements as we learned from the early history of satellite sensing (http://www.arl.noaa.gov/documents/JournalPDFs/ThorneEtAl.WIREs2010.pdf ). But irrespective of all that, what you are stating is a credible and scientifically valid objection. What I disagreed was with the original post here, that essentially says since the probability for 2014 to have the highest surface temperature is only 38 % , it may not be. In that case, the question would be which year had the highest surface temp? 2010 with 23 % or 2005 with 17 %, etc. One of them has to be the year with the highest surface temperature. So if 2014 is not the one, which is the correct year? That was my issue. Thank you.

  51. Hello Allan,

    Sure, I understand your position.

    I did read their paper from 2011 long ago. Sure there are problems with the surface stations, and we need better controlled stations. But their paper or their answers did not really strike me as showing a major problem (“The minimum temperature rise appears to have been overestimated, but the maximum temperature rise appears to have been underestimated. In the United States the biases in maximum and minimum temperature trends are about the same size, so they cancel each other and the mean trends are not much different from siting class to siting class. This finding needs to be assessed globally to see if this also true more generally.”). In any case, these issues account for a part of the error bar. Satellites also need corrections, and as we know, sometimes minor corrections can change the trend substantially.

    I hope the truth will become more evident in time. I come here to WUWT once in three or four years to see what kind of discussion goes on. The nature of the discussion hasn’t changed in the past five years. So I think it will take a while before the truth becomes more evident. But eventually the truth, whatever it is, become more and more evident. So I will come back in another three years to check. Take care!

    Regards,

    Rob

  52. You should check out Sou’s attempt to convert the probability to “odds” over at HW. Now that is the epitome of stupid.

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