Monday, October 24, 2011

Confirming Something That Was Not in Dispute

Many have read Dr. Richard Muller's op-ed in Friday's Wall Street Journal that discusses the Berkeley (BEST) project's re-analysis of land temperatures. It appears to find that temperatures are rising more quickly than originally thought for "the last 50 years."

Please let me state some points of agreement with Dr. Muller's piece:
  1. Hurricane frequency is not increasing.
  2. Storms are not getting worse
  3. His analysis was for land temperatures only. The more important metric is ocean heat content and his project did not look at that. 
Now, where we may differ:

First, I don't know of a single scientist that does not believe temperatures have risen the last 50 years. Of course, they have. I frequently comment in my global warming presentations that atmospheric scientists are not sure exactly how much. Dr. Muller seems to agree when he says,

The temperature-station quality is largely awful. The most important stations in the U.S. are included in the Department of Energy's Historical Climatology Network. A careful survey of these stations by a team led by meteorologist Anthony Watts showed that 70% of these stations have such poor siting that, by the U.S. government's own measure, they result in temperature uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius or more. We do not know how much worse are the stations in the developing world.
Using data from all these poor stations, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an average global 0.64ÂșC temperature rise in the past 50 years, "most" of which the IPCC says is due to humans. Yet the margin of error for the stations is at least three times larger than the estimated warming.
Second, talking about 1950 as a starting date is interesting because it was during a mid-20th century cooling period.

Take a look at this long-term graph of temperatures back to 1850:

Dr. Muller's article starts its comparison in the middle of this period of major cooling (blue arrow) which causes it to exaggerate the rate of warming to 2010.

Third, he does not address the unforecast lack of warming since 1998.  Below is the updated chart I presented in Kansas City two weeks ago during my most recent global warming talk:

The gray line is concentration of carbon dioxide which continues to rise and the red line is temperature which does not. Why? More importantly, ocean heat content (brown line, below) is also not rising:
This is data from the new ARGO probes which were deployed specifically
to confirm 'global warming.'  (via WattsUpWithThat)
These results are completely unexpected based on the IPCC's theory of global warming.  

Finally, I am not a statistician, but here is an analysis of BEST's statistical analysis that finds their techniques wanting.

So, when Dr. Muller says,

But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.

I appreciate that he is making a sincere comment and that his project has made a useful contribution to the discussion. But, he is not addressing the numerous reasons I, and many other meteorologists, are skeptical.

P.S. Additional comments about the BEST analysis here

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