News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Richard Black: Margin of error on NOAA "hottest" claim is +/- .11C and "has a political target attached...Picking out a single bit of data can be seen as betraying a lack of confidence in the overall scientific picture."

12/3/14, "The WMO qualified its announcement that 2014 would be the warmest by noting “differences in the rankings of the warmest years are a matter of only a few hundredths of a degree, and that different data sets show slightly different rankings.”" (parag. 9)


If land data is considered alone, then the month clocks in at the fifth hottest October on record. - See more at:
12/1/14, "A hot year doesn't prove climate change, just as a cold one doesn't disprove it," Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, by Richard Black, ECIU Director

"Questions of confidence"

"The third reason for caution is that not all global temperature records are the same. Methodologies vary – and so, therefore, do the exact conclusions.

So while NOAA currently has 2014 as the warmest on record [through October], NASA’s equally valid global dataset has it in second place. The third major record, maintained by the UK Met Office and the University of East Anglia, puts 2014 in third position.

In addition, all of them come with margins of error. NOAA’s record for the year so far to October, for example, gives a margin of plus or minus 0.11C.

By comparison, from the same record, the annual average temperatures for all the years between 2001 to 2013 fit within a range of 0.10C.

Often, then, claims of record-breaking need to be caveated with words such as ‘probably’, ‘appear to be’ and ‘within limitations of the data’ – which automatically make them seem less than earth-shattering.

The fourth and most important reason is that picking out a single bit of data can be seen as betraying a lack of confidence in the overall scientific picture.

The phenomenon of the ‘global warming pause’ (really a 'slowdown') never seriously challenged the overall scientific evidence base for man-made climate change, even though it raised entirely legitimate questions about why the temperature rise slowed and what it means – questions that eventually proved constructive in that they have led to further research and so better understanding....

Whether 2014 turns out to be the warmest, second warmest or even tenth warmest in various institutions’ records does not change the overall picture - which includes accelerations and decelerations in the rate of surface temperature rise.

As an indicator of climate change, 

the average surface temperature 

is special in just one way: 

it is the only indicator that has 

a political target attached.

Governments have not agreed anything analogous to the 2C temperature target for indicators such as sea level rise or ocean acidification. But these trends all affect the ecological health of the biosphere and prospects for humanity.

Climate change is not proven by a single hot year, just as it is not disproven by a single cold winter. The big picture is far more important – and far more interesting."


"Global Analysis - October 2014,"

NOAA Charts (below) show Jan.-Oct. global temps., margins of error, "hottest" rankings. Scroll to "Temperatures" subhead. Scroll to "October" 2014 charts. Then scroll to Jan.-October charts.

Charts show separate rankings and margins of error for Land, Ocean, and Land and Ocean combined. Based on Land temps., Jan.-Oct. 2014 was only fourth "hottest" globally. It became #1 after sea surface temperature was added.

Global temperatures, Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere each have charts. Note +- margin of error number to the right of each temp. To the right of that is ranking. Land and Ocean combined have a margin of error of .11C (.20F) as mentioned in above Richard Black article:



Added: October 2014 only ranks 5th in land temps globally per NOAA:

11/20/14, "October 2014 'warmest on record'-NOAA," rtcc, Sophie Yeo

"If land data is considered alone, then the month clocks in at the fifth highest October on record."...(4th parag.)


November 2014 temperatures plunge in 48 US states: NOAA:

NOAA Time Series, 48 US contiguous states, November 2014, Novembers from 1895-2014


Source for WMO quote at top of post:

12/3/14, "World Meteorological Organization: Earth headed towards warmest year on record," Washington Post, Jason Samenow

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