NOAA – NASA Temperature Announcements
By Ken Haapala
NOAA – NASA Temperature Announcement: Perhaps few public statements exemplify the willingness of certain government agencies to mislead the public as clearly as this week’s joint announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The press release reads as if the announcement was considered more an opportunity for self-promotion than a scientific statement.
“NASA is at the forefront of the scientific investigation of the dynamics of the Earth’s climate on a global scale,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The observed long-term warming trend and the ranking of 2014 as the warmest year on record reinforces the importance for NASA to study Earth as a complete system, and particularly to understand the role and impacts of human activity.”
“NOAA provides decision makers with timely and trusted science-based information about our changing world,” said Richard Spinrad, NOAA chief scientist. “As we monitor changes in our climate, demand for the environmental intelligence NOAA provides is only growing. It’s critical that we continue to work with our partners, like NASA, to observe these changes and to provide the information communities need to build resiliency.”
“NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.”
The press release touts a fleet of satellites yet ignores the measurements from these satellites, the most comprehensive set of global temperature ever compiled, which do not support the claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record. As discussed in the January 10 TWTW, the reporting agencies for satellite temperatures, independently supported by data from radiosondes on weather balloons, are the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). UAH reported that 2014 was the third warmest since 1979, barely exceeding several other years such as 2002, 2005, and 2013. RSS, reported that 2014 only the sixth warmest.
It is unfortunate that these government agencies both claim to be scientific, with one responsible for the US civilian space program (NASA), and the other claims its mission is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts” (NOAA), ignore the finest scientific temperature data available. Clearly, these agencies subordinate scientific discovery to other purposes.
Writing for the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), David Whitehouse, among others, pointed out that the NASA-GISS (Goddard Institute of Space Studies) database of surface data showed that the margin of warming for 2014 was about 0.02 deg C above the data for 2010. He asserts that the margin of error of the measurements is about +/- 0.1 deg C. Thus, the “bump” in temperatures is within the margin of error of the reported data and “[t]alk of a record is therefore scientifically and statistically meaningless.” TWTW would argue that, given poor geographic coverage of the surface-air observations, the movement of observation points on the surface, and the frequent manipulation of the data by the reporting entities, not clearly publically disclosed, the margin of error is likely to be well above +/- 0.1 deg C and it is actually unknown. Further, when comparing satellite observations, which comprise volumes of air contrasting with points on the surface, the surface data is inferior.
Whitehouse also points out that the Berkeley Earth (BEST) analysis team reported its findings, which are similar but its press release is starkly different. “The global surface temperature average (land and sea) for 2014 was nominally the warmest since the global instrumental record began in 1850; however, within the margin of error, it is tied with 2005 and 2010 and so we can’t be certain it set a new record.”
Judith Curry observes that the New York Times promoted the claim that 2014 was the hottest year ever and quoted Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA-GISS, who claimed the next time a strong El Niño occurs, “it is likely to blow away all temperature records”. Curry discusses the issue of the El Niño, which is occurring but not as strong or as typical as some expected.
Schmidt’s mention of an El Niño raises a critical issue. If it takes a natural event such as an El Niño to push temperatures higher, then there is something very wrong with the science in which the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proclaimed 95% certainty that humans are the primary cause of global warming and with the models based on this science.
Curry brings up that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was just named to be the chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. “The folks at Slate are not happy: Yup, a Climate Change Denier Will Oversee NASA. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? They are particularly up in arms over this statement from Ted Cruz: ‘The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that-that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.'” As Curry points out, there is nothing irrational or incorrect about Senator Cruz’s statement. No wonder he is opposed by global warming promoters. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, Questioning the Orthodoxy, and Measurement Issues.