Where’s that global cooling the denialists promised?

January 20, 2010

Forgetting that the planet has seasons, climate denialists for months have been hoo-hooing  about snowfalls and cold weather.  Some of the more serious propagandists among them claim that the Earth is now in a cooling cycle, and that temperatures have been falling since the record hot year of 1998.

Really?

Head on over to Open Mind, and take a look at the facts.

NASA GISS [Goddard Institute for Space Studies] has released the estimated monthly temperature for December 2009, which closes out the year 2009, which closes out the decade of the 2000s. The result: 2005 is still the hottest calendar year, 2009 is the 2nd-hottest year ever, although it’s really in a statistical tie with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007.

They’ve confused weather with climate.  They’ve failed to keep score.  Perhaps they’ve spent wasted their time hacking e-mails instead of measuring climate.

RealClimate carries the news in a post by some of NASA’s top scientists, including James Hansen:

The past year, 2009, tied as the second warmest year in the 130 years of global instrumental temperature records, in the surface temperature analysis of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The Southern Hemisphere set a record as the warmest year for that half of the world. Global mean temperature, as shown in Figure 1a, was 0.57°C (1.0°F) warmer than climatology (the 1951-1980 base period). Southern Hemisphere mean temperature, as shown in Figure 1b, was 0.49°C (0.88°F) warmer than in the period of climatology.

How will the critics treat this news?  And, what were they doing during the past decade when all those warm days rolled into weeks, rolled into months and years, and finally, to the warmest decade ever?

Global land  temperature mean for the decade ending 2009, plus hemispheric comparisons

Caption from RealClimate: Figure 1. (a) GISS analysis of global surface temperature change. Green vertical bar is estimated 95 percent confidence range (two standard deviations) for annual temperature change. (b) Hemispheric temperature change in GISS analysis. (Base period is 1951-1980. This base period is fixed consistently in GISS temperature analysis papers. . . Base period 1961-1990 is used for comparison with published HadCRUT analyses in Figures 3 and 4.)

Heat things up a bit, and spread the alarm:

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Slight fluctuations from 1998’s record heat doesn’t mean warming is done

December 14, 2009

Sometimes you find rational discussion and good information in the newspaper.

This story moved on the McClatchy wire last August (I just recently came across it):

Drop in world temperatures fuels global warming debate

By Robert S. Boyd | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Has Earth’s fever broken?

Official government measurements show that the world’s temperature has cooled a bit since reaching its most recent peak in 1998.

That’s given global warming skeptics new ammunition to attack the prevailing theory of climate change. The skeptics argue that the current stretch of slightly cooler temperatures means that costly measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions are ill-founded and unnecessary.

Proposals to combat global warming are “crazy” and will “destroy more than a million good American jobs and increase the average family’s annual energy bill by at least $1,500 a year,” the Heartland Institute, a conservative research organization based in Chicago, declared in full-page newspaper ads earlier this summer. “High levels of carbon dioxide actually benefit wildlife and human health,” the ads asserted.

Many scientists agree, however, that hotter times are ahead. A decade of level or slightly lower temperatures is only a temporary dip to be expected as a result of natural, short-term variations in the enormously complex climate system, they say.

McClatchy’s story would be accurate today, even after the records show that the last decade is the hottest ever — such a long shelf-life shows good research and writing by McClatchy’s reporters.  McClatchy’s story doesn’t contradict this press release last week from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

2000–2009, THE WARMEST DECADE

Geneva, 8 December 2009 (WMO) – The year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C (0.79°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year. The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989). More complete data for the remainder of the year 2009 will be analysed at the beginning of 2010 to update the current assessment.

This year above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents. Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. Given the current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.

If only all reporting were so accurate.


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