Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

18 August 2010

Satellite Temperature Record Now Unreliable

I have written many posts that our ground surface temperature record based on the collapsing network of weather stations around the world, is biased upward with the urban heat island effect and by obviously bad grid interpolation schemes.  I had thought that the only reliable temperature records were the satellite and ocean buoy temperature records.  I was wrong.  It now appears that since at least 2005, the satellite temperature records have not been reliable.

This revelation began with John O'Sullivan being informed that data on the temperatures across northern Lake Michigan which were automatically provided by satellite to a NOAA website operated by the Michigan State University had ridiculously high surface water temperatures widely distributed over the lake.  In fact, they implied many areas were under super-boiling conditions!  A commenter to O'Sullivan's website noted that the entire lake surface was coded in black, meaning that the cloud cover was too extensive for the satellite to produce meaningful temperatures.  He implied that this would keep these temperatures from being used in any other way in generating the satellite temperature record.  However, O'Sullivan came back with Lake Michigan maps which were not coded black and showed that many of the temperatures in the grid over the lake were differing too much locally and changing too rapidly in time.

This led to questions to NOAA, which generates the primary temperature records in the U.S. and supplies its raw data to NASA and the CRU at the University of East Anglia in the UK.  NOAA has not been very forthright with what is going on, but it has admitted that the NOAA-16 satellite has severe sensor problems.  Then they also admitted that other satellites have suffered degradation of their sensors.  Finally, Charles Pistis, Program Coordinator of the Michigan Sea Grant Extension admits that satellite data going back to 2005 may have been corrupted by bad data.  He instructs us that the NOAA-16 satellite uses IR sensors and provides a temperature which is either the surface temperature or the temperature at the top surface of a cloud.  The temperature of 604F found in one grid on a cloudy day is not likely to be either the temperature of the surface of Lake Michigan or of a cloud over it.

It is a wonder to me how one can use data from IR sensors to contribute to the global temperature record if the temperature measured is either that of the ground or of the top of a cloud or just total nonsense.  Let us suppose that the data is examined against independent cloud coverage measurements, which it is not clear is carefully done.  But, if it were, then all the temperature data would be shifted systematically to higher temperatures.  Ground and water areas under clouds are cooler during the day and will also be cooler at night more often than not if the day was also cloudy.  Charles Pistis has evaded the repeated question of whether the temperature measurement data from such satellites has gone into the NOAA temperature record.  This sure suggests this is an awkward question to answer.

The satellite data is fed automatically into records and apparently as long as it showed high enough temperatures to satisfy the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) advocates, those numbers were not given careful scrutiny going back as far as 2005.  It is, of course, hard to believe that no one did notice the errors.  One has to marvel at either the scientific incompetence this reveals or the completely unethical behavior of NOAA and its paid researchers that is laid open before us.  Possibly, in time, NOAA will provide an adequate answer to what has been going on with the satellite temperature record, but it is off to a very bad start in reassuring those of us who are not religious environmentalists, but are just interested in an objective understanding of the environment.  But, at this time, that appears to be an unlikely outcome.

Given the taxpayer money spent on the satellite and the ground station temperature records and the great importance claimed by the catastrophic AGW alarmists for the unprecedented warming of the globe they have claimed was going on, these failures in generating an accurate satellite temperature record are unfathomable.  What is worse, the raw data is known not to be available to reconstruct the ground station temperature record and one suspects it is not available for the satellite records either.  This is a catastrophe.  It is now perfectly clear that there are no reliable worldwide temperature records and that we have little more than anecdotal information on the temperature history of the Earth.  There is clearly no basis for the claims that the Earth has warmed at unusual rates in recent times or that we know anything more than some local temperatures, mostly from urban heat effect zones.


Anonymous said...

Great and needed post. Thanks for the info. You need to recast your first sentence: the beginning doesn't make much sense.

Franto Hruz said...

Maybe some of these US retards will get with it one day and learn how to use the metric system so they can measure temperatures in C?

The problem with your objective individualism is this:

A - It's all highly relative, and
B - has little socio-political value

Understanding the ills of a centralized, corrupt, capitalist, semi-fascist society like you have now in the US, and doing some thing about it, takes a bit more than plain individualism

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for the heads up on that first sentence. Seems I changed my mind on how to phrase it mid-stream and missed that on editing.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...


Scientifically, the Kelvin temperature system is great and the Celsius temperature system is fine. For discussions of personal comfort, the Fahrenheit system is fine. I do not think anyone is retarded for using any of these temperature systems, though much prefer measurements in Centigrade for scientific and most engineering purposes myself.

We have a semi-capitalist private sector which recognizes individuals, their right to choose their own values, and facilitates their pursuing their values. This private sector is greatly hampered by a centralized, corrupt, semi-fascist socialist government.

Your A and B statements have no clear meaning to me. What is highly relative? Is it the fact that people are highly complex and highly individuated that causes you to say it is all relative? I would say that is a fact of life and any rational system must recognize that fact. Yes, different individuals will have many different values, though there are certain core values that rational people will share. As for rational individualism having socio-political value, what is that unless society and its political organization function to secure the rights of the individual and offer the individual advantages in pursuing his happiness. Without the individual, there is no society and no need for politics. Ethics and justice are based on the individual life, not upon some collective called society. There is really no such thing as a value to society. Individuals have values. We only take a shortcut when we say a society has values, since many individuals in a society have different values. Are you wishing to impose values upon a society and upon individuals? Frankly, it is not at all clear what you might be advocating.

Anonymous said...

@ Franto

I challenge you to show cause. I also challenge you to prove to me one civilization (past or present) where collectivism worked magnanimously.

Anonymous said...

You are aware that 'money' and 'property' are social constructs, right?

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Were I alone on an island, I would have property, but no need to have that acknowledged by others. The fact that when others are about, we have a need to create laws to protect property, does not imply that property is a societal concept. Yes, the people of different societies may have different ideas about property, but so do they often have different ideas about gods, sunsets, sex, and much else. There are still objective, rational ways to think about these subjects.

The need for property and services in living our lives causes us to set up a facilitator of trading transactions called money. The particular form that money takes does require agreements between those who will use it in transactions.

If this is a response to my saying that values accrue to individuals, not really to society, then I think your question about money and property is no refutation of my statement. This is clear with respect to money where some societies have used a variety of monies to facilitate trade. It is more convenient to use one form of money, but that has not always been available to the people of some societies. For instance, the American colonies were starved for money in circulation and hence used numerous foreign coins.

Scottar said...

Since the satellite and radio- sondes ballon data is more in agreement then surface temps by either GISS, NCDC, and Hadley somewhere in between-

I fail to see where satellite data is that inaccurate. As we all now ground based temps are subject to a lot of surface contaminating effects especially if they are not place correctly.

So where surface temps can vary for a variety of reasons lower troposphere temps would be more accurate especially where you can compare them to balloon data. At least that's my understanding of it.

The only better way would probably mount thermometers on 1,000 poles or tethered balloons. Perhaps one day nano technology will comeup with little flying insect bots that fly around a course taking temps. They are already experimenting with control chips on real insects.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Scottar, thanks for your comments.

The satellite record is only as good as the sensors are accurate and they are now being called into question. How badly the record has been put into error due to sensor problems going back to 2005 is yet to be examined, but it does appear that for the most part that record has not been as bad as the ground surface record. Let us hope it can be reconstructed without faulty measurements.

Man Bear Pig said...

Surface temperatures are mainly affected by humidity. When it is a humid night, the water vapour retains the heat that emanates from the earth and the air remains warm and a sleepless night may be the result.

CO2 has similar properties but is of a magnitude lower than that of water. Lower atmosphere temperatures are affected by humidity more so than by carbon dioxide. In fact as CO2 levels are measured in ppm then it could be argued that its affects are negligible.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Water vapor is more important for holding heat than carbon dioxide is not only because there is many times more of it, but because it greatly increases the specific heat of the air. In other words, one must consider its effects beyond simply being an IR-absorbing gas.

chris said...

If you want to see if pollution is increasing or decreasing in a river, looking at weekly or monthly water samples won't tell you much. They fluctuate wildly and they depend on whether it rained just before the sample was taken. However, the living organisms can tell you. If you see populations of insects, frogs, turtles and fish increasing, you know the water quality is getting better. It's the same with climate. Look at the movement of spruce budworms to higher altitudes; the earlier emergence of insects; the northward movement of marine organisms; the earlier blooming of plants -- and it's obvious the climate is warming.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

There are many more parameters affecting the number insects, frogs, turtles, and fish then just pollution in our waters. These other parameters also need a scientific evaluation and assessment.

Since the end of the Little Ice Age, plants and animals have migrated and changed their seasonal behaviors. The smaller temperature cycles on the gradually increasing temperature ramp due to the end of the Little Ice Age brings on some fluctuations also. The last major such fluctuation was a warming trend which petered out in 1998. But since then, the temperature have neither dropped much or increased much, but has hovered around the same temperature even as CO2 concentrations continued to climb. This fairly constant temperature would have continued to warm the vast heat reservoir of the oceans and caused some northern migrations in the northern hemisphere and buffered land temperatures somewhat against cooling due to to decrease in solar radiation.

The interesting thing to watch is what will happen if the solar cycle continues to bring on lowered levels of solar radiation. The migrations and other behavior of plants and animals will then reflect the cooling, as they did when the Medieval Warm Period ended with the Little Ice Age.

chris said...

You say the earth is not warming -- but even if it is, the cause is solar radiation, not C02. It seems you want to have it both ways. If solar radiation is causing the warming, then the earth should be getting warmer, yet you say it has not been warming since 1998. NASA says the decade ending in 2009 was the hottest on record. If their data are flawed, then your data aren't any better. Look at the biological signs and you'll see the warming trend is unmistakable.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

This is a bit subtle Chris. We have been on a long-term slightly increasing temperature ramp since the end of the Little Ice Age due to a very long-term solar variance. Superimposed on this upward ramp are temperature oscillations geared to shorter term solar cycles of radiation, solar winds, and the solar magnetic field that tend to be of 2 or 3 decade variations. The solar cycle effect to increase temperatures reached a maximum in about 1998, having been increasing for the prior couple of decades. As that cycle stops increasing and even as it slowly starts to decrease, there is a period due to the flattening of the solar multi-decade cycle when the temperature will level out. Why?

For a couple of decades the temperature was increasing, but the huge heat reservoir of the oceans was not in equilibrium with that increasing surface temperature. The oceans were exercising a net cooling effect throughout that period of time. Now when the surface temperatures level out, that surface temperature is still be warmer than the bulk of the ocean water is, so the ocean waters will slowly continue to warm. They will slowly continue to warm en mass even if the surface temperature were to drop very slightly due to a slight drop in solar radiation, provided the time constant in warming the oceans is very long, which it is. For instance, if the oceans are not yet in equilibrium with the surface temperatures of, say, 1992 when the max surface temperature is reached in 1998 and then the surface temperature due to the solar radiation remains at 1998 temperatures or at least above 1992 temperatures for the next 10 or 12 years, then the oceans will continue to warm due to nothing but solar cycle effects even if the solar cycle is no longer warming itself. This is all dependent upon the fact that the atmosphere and a thin layer of the surface of the earth, has a much smaller total heat capacity than do the total oceans. Note that while the total ocean heat content has been increasing, the surface ocean temperatures have remained about constant, consistent with this picture.

The net effect on the climate may be a very slow rate of surface temperature increase due to the accumulated net increase in ocean temperatures for some time after the solar radiation short-term cycle has stopped increasing output or even has begun a slight decrease in radiation.

CO2 has nothing to do with this. Indeed, if CO2 did, then the rate of temperature increase we had in the 1990s would have been maintained. That has clearly not been the case. Of course, as I have argued here many times, the CO2 atmospheric concentration claim for global warming is nonsensical for many reasons.

chris said...

I don't see why you continue to say temperatures haven't increased since 1998 when other respected sources say the last decade was the hottest on record. I don't think it's worth arguing any more because according to your bio, you are motivated by an anti-government philosophy. Not liking proposed governmental solutions to climate change, you are attracted to a theory of climate change that the government can't do anything about.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Chris, if the average temperature increased considerably in the 1990s and then the temperature flattened and even came down a bit in the latter part of the decade 2001-2010, the latter decade can be the warmer decade even though the upward temperature trend of the 1990s has ended. This is because the temperature in say 2007 was still warmer than the temperature of 1993, even though it was cooler than the temperature of 2001.

The fact that this last decade has been slightly warmer than the previous one does not mean that the Earth is continuing to warm, most especially not due to the continuing increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

See my post of 24 Sep 2010 for the evidence that the upper oceans that hold the 90% of the variable heat content of the earth are no longer warming and are more probably cooling. I am about to make a new post on mounting evidence that solar effects are and appear likely to continue causing some cooling of the Earth.

My beliefs on climate change are based on the careful observation of reality and a rational evaluation of hypotheses and theories, while using my knowledge of physics. My approach is very similar to that I use daily in my laboratory to solve problems relating to the properties of materials. That epistemological method works and I solve many such problems.

My moral and political beliefs are also based upon the careful observation of reality, an extensive reading of history and economics, and my very best efforts to rationally evaluate principles and theories. They were not chosen arbitrarily or because they would make me popular with college girls, because, in fact, I often was the lone voice in many a discussion opposing the wrongheaded socialists of my college days in the late 1960s. Then, as now, my opinions are based upon a rational evaluation of the facts.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

To illustrate the highest temperature in a decade issue, Chris, let us set up a simple hypothetical case:

For 10 years the temperature increases at a rate of 0.6C/decade and the decade ends at temperature T. The next decade, the temperature falls at a rate of 0.4C/decade. In each case the rates of rise or fall are linear. The average temperature of the earlier decade is T - 0.3C, that of the more recent decade is T - 0.2C. The latter decade is warmer, but the temperature was falling throughout the decade!

Mark said...

UAH and RSS uses another satellite and thus suggests that there's good reason to believe that while NOAA has major competence problems, we've got a decent satellite temperature record.

The surface temperature record, however, is utterly unreliable as far as I'm concerned.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Mark, that is good to hear. It is critically important that we know what data is trustworthy and which data sets are useless.