Sunday, August 8, 2010

To What Extent Are Earth's Temperatures Warming?

When I give my presentations on 'global warming," I state that it is "very likely" that the earth has significantly warmed the last 30 years, but we do not know the extent.

This statement surprises many.  What do I mean, "likely" and "extent"? The general impression left by nearly all media articles is that we have a high degree of certainty about earth's temperature and the extent of warming.

This probably isn't true. Rather than recount all the reasons for my belief that temperature records leave a lot to be desired, let me direct you to a new paper I just finished reading, A Critical Review of Global Surface Temperature Data Products, by Dr. Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, Canada, July 26, 2010. The paper can be uploaded here. It is a comprehensive overview of the data compilations used in the global warming debate.

The summary concludes,
The overall conclusion of this report is there are serious quality problems in the surface temperature data sets that call into question whether the global temperature history, especially over land, can be considered both continuous and precise. Users should be aware of these limitations, especially in policy-sensitive applications.

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