Friday, October 31, 2014

A Scary Fact: Earth On Track For The Hottest Year On Record

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Receding glacier seen in Switzerland on our trip there in September.

Perhaps the scariest story reported so far this year, is that Earth is on track for 2014 to break the record for the hottest year ever recorded. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration reported on Monday, Oct. 20, that the previous month averaged 60.3 F - the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping. More sobering yet, May, June and August also set records.

Meanwhile, the first nine months of 2014 have registered a global average temperature of 58.72 F- tying it with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record, according to NOAA's Climate Data Center.  According to NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden, quoted in the Denver Post (Oct. 21, p. 14A, 'Earth Headed for Hottest Year Yet'):

"It's pretty likely 2014 will break the record for the hottest year."

This may well come as a major surprise to those backward folks still spreading the misbegotten trope that warming has "halted since 1998". I refer to those like a character named Theo Vermaelen, who recently wrote in a letter to The Financial Times (Sept. 12, p. 10), commenting on a graph in an earlier (Sept. 10) article by Pilita Clark :

"It would have been enlightening to also plot a graph of average temperatures since 1984 so that all can see that since 1998 there has been no meaningful global warming.".

Actually, Theo, you're just not reading the graphs correctly, as I also advised columnist George Will in a previous post, e.g.:

As noted therein, the error made by Will (and likely Mr. Vermaelen as well) is a serious misreading of the graphs published in a Nature paper back in 2008 by Noel Keenlyside et al. The plausible misreading was rendered more probable by the authors'  tentative claim for "monotonic global cooling" since ca. 1998. This 'jumped the shark' and become embedded into the warming skeptics' arsenal of disinfo and set real global warming science education back at least a decade in my estimation.

The problem? Overlooking that for the key graph  each data point really represented a ten-year centered mean. That is, each point represented the average temperature of the decade starting 5 years before that point and ending 5 years after that point. Thus, the statistics for potential “cooling” could not possibly have been justifiably extrapolated beyond 1998 + 5 = 2003, or in Will's case, "16 years of no warming"  from 1998.

In addition, the mystery could have resolved itself had Will - and his equally unread mate, Vermaelen- spotted the red line in the graphic of the Nature publication and beheld that it was the actual global temperature data from the U.K.'s Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. They then could have asked themselves: "Why does the red line stop in 1998 and not 2007?"  Again, it’s a running 10-year mean, and the authors use data from a Hadley paper that ends around 2003, In effect, they can't do a ten-year centered mean after 1998.

Lazy deniers like Will and Vermaelen, however, have parlayed their own perceptual deficiency and this simple statistical peculiarity of the data into believing that global warming factually STOPPED in 1998! But the stunning fact is the evidence all around belies this canard!   Hell, one only needs to remove the blinkers and behold the scores of receding, melting glaciers, images and videos not long ago made available as in this  PBS program, see:

Not to mention the scenes we saw in Switzerland, including of the once proud Eiger gletscher. Can these knuckleheads actually deny what they're seeing? How do they thing the recession of those glaciers occurred since 1998? Fairy dust?? Sprinkled from invisible sprites?

Climate scientist Blunden, in response to these dimwits who insist the world has not warmed in 18 years has this rejoinder:

"Well no one has told the planet that!"

She added (ibid.) that NOAA records show no pause in warming, period. But of course, this information issues from scientific sources not those from 'Fox n' Friends'!  Yes, 1998 broke a record for hottest year, but so also has 2005 and 2010, and likely 2014 as well.

If any excuse might be made for the likes of Will and Vermaelen it's that they don't regular read Nature so might have missed seeing the clarification letter Dr. Noel Keenlyside, subsequently provided to the publication: As he explained, they  were predicting no increase in average temperature of the "next decade" (2005 to 2015- relative to their data timeline) over the "previous decade", which, for them, is 2000 to 2010! And that is, in fact, precisely what their figures show -- that the 10-year mean global temperature centered around 2010 is the roughly the same as the mean global temperature centered around 2005. And both years are relatively HOT.

I guess the moral of the story is that people who pen newspaper columns like Will, or write letters to editors like Vermaelen, ought to first ensure they aren't adding to the already large cache of agnotology - for example as present here:

As we know, and I've stated before,agnotology, (derived from the Greek 'agnosis') is  the study of culturally constructed ignorance- is achieved primarily by sowing the teeniest nugget of doubt in whatever claim is made (and as we know NO scientific theory is free of uncertainty).

For those who want the real lowdown, without the bull crap, you can read the American Geophysical Union policy position statement on global warming here:

See also:

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