Frozen in Time
Jul 11, 2014
Data Set Changes Makes It Hard To Tell Real Story

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

In the story below in Icecap in the News on “Welcome back to the 1950s and soon the 1960s and 1970s and then 1800” I showed how temperatures correlate well with natural cycles. 

At Weatherbell, Joe Bastardi and I use data sets in our work to correlate with the many natural cycles as measured in teleconnections. We generally use the reanalysis data sets from NCEP and the climate division data from NOAA.

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The most reliable data sets are likely the satellite sets because of very nearly global coverage and the lack of contamination from local heat sources. The average of the two satellite sets (RSS and UAH) shows a step change with the super El Nino and little change post 1998.

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But the NOAA temperature land/ocean based data sets keep changing. Ryan reassures us the reanalysis data set, which is based on hourly observations is not adjusted. Climate division data though is a different story. So when we do a composite after June for a set of years, we will get a different result. There are three major surface data centers, NOAA in Asheville, NASA Goddard in New York City, and Hadley in the UK.

But we here I’ll focus on NOAA here. NOAA is the source of the base data that NASA and Hadley use before adding their own adjustments and additional data (NASA Antarctic and extrapolated arctic and Hadley their own ocean data).

The first USHCN 1221 station data set was released in 1990 with a UHI adjustment. It was generally regarded as the world’s best because of the long history for most stations and the stability of the network.

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In the 1999 USHCN plot, it showed the 1930s was the warmest decade and 1934 the warmest year (1.1F warmer than the super El Nino of 1997/98). Hansen said so in this plot on the GISS web site of the NOAA data set. The trend peak to peak of the 5 year mean was down.

I praised NOAA NCDC for its efforts to get it right although a decade later we discovered siting in many cases increasingly did not meet standards thank to a move to ASOS with sensors near tarmac, changing technology requiring cabling of the sensors to the weather office often putting the sensors near buildings, driveways, parking lots, air conditioning exhausts or other heat sources. Numerous sites were placed at heat generating waste treatment plants. Even the GAO scolded NOAA for over 40% of their stations not meeting the minimum criteria NOAA itself had in the specifications. The UHI adjustment offset some of these biases.

Most of the original correlation studies I did used this data set. But the inconsistency of warming relative to the global data set (GHCN), which showed much more warming late century put political pressure on NCDC to make the two data sets more consistent. Instead of trying to find the metadata to add UHI adjustments to the GHCN, the changes were made to the US adjustments.

They removed the UHI adjustment, replacing it with algorithms to find previously undocumented inhomogeneities (station moves), and a change to the time of observation adjustment and a new final step with homogenization (blending of data stations). 2 versions later the data set shows the changes made to the annual values in degrees F. The warming increased 0.8F from 1930 to 1990 simply due to adjustments. There was with the adjustments, cooling of the 1920s to 1950s and warming post the 1960s.

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UHI mainly affects minimum temperatures. Maximum temperatures are a better indicator of the true trends. Even bias corrected maxima shows the recent peak no higher than the 1930s.

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The minima (and in the end the mean) clearly shows the recent warmth which is consistent with UHI.

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The global set meanwhile has undergone changes too since V1. V3 and V1 are plotted here. The reasons include changing station sets and application of the same kinds of adjustments.

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The difference is even more remarkable than the US (1.2F or so). In other words most of the apparent warming in the data set since the late 1800s is in the adjustments. This is the CHANGE made to the global mean temperature NOT the global mean temperature.

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The Latest Change - US state data.

Locally we used the NCDC USHCN Climate at a Glance in talks. I gave one such invited talk in Maine to a local group a few years ago.

Here was the Maine plot of annual temperatures the last time I downloaded it. It showed no trend since 1895. The warmest year was 1913 with a bookend spike a century later in 2010. Both followed high latitude volcanism, in 1913 following 1912 Novarupta in Alaska and 2010 following series of eruptions in Alaska and Iceland. These high latitude volcanoes produce more high latitude blocking (Oman 2004). This is especially true with very low solar geomagnetic years. These blocks mean a maritime flow into southeast Canada and Maine making the winters and springs less snowy and cold.

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This spring, NCDC announced a new version of the US data set replacing the USHCN used at Climate at a Glance with a new GHCN based Climate DIvision alternative. Maine suddenly has a 0.23/decade warming trend and 1913 was 5F colder and not even close to 2010.

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We can still access in places the original raw data. The raw rural data for Farmington Maine, near one of the big ski areas is very instructive and shows a nice sine wave in sync with the 60-70 year PDO/AMO cycles and more like USHCN v1 and TMAX. The station was discontinued after 2006. I’ll let you speculate why.

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Concord, NH is an urban area, but the airport is a well-known cold spot compared to Manchester, which is often the warmest station in the state. The sensors must be well placed.

I had to do a winter plot of Concord temperatures since 1868/69 and found little change over the entire period of record - again this is raw archived data downloaded from the PWM web site.

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The record highs and lows are also not adjusted and look more like USHCN v1 with 23 record highs in the 1930s and 38 before 1960 and more record cold than highs since the 1940s.

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The number of 90F temperatures at all USHCN station (raw, unadjusted) shows a similar downtrend.

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Keep these in mind when you hear NOAA give a ranking of a month or year or hear the speeches why POTUS through the EPA is taking strong action.

Jul 06, 2014
The Daydream and the Nightmare

Peggy Noonan

Obama isn’t doing his job. He’s waiting for history to recognize his greatness.

I don’t know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We’ve got a sitting president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University’s respondents also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50, who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were ashamed.

We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president’s signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn’t like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive.

That’s a long way of saying nothing’s working. Which I’m sure you’ve noticed.

But I’m not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books (ghost writer - Bill Ayers), lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: “So sue me.” They don’t do anything except block me. And call me names. It can’t be that much fun.”

In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him - well, changed. He is “taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office,” such as hosting “star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight.” He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.

On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with “interesting Italians.” They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a “60 Minutes:” interview about Ukraine and health care. “One aide paraphrased Obama’s response: ‘Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we’re back to the minuscule things on politics.’”

Minuscule? Politics is his job.

When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida. He went. At the “lush Ocean Reef Club,” he reportedly told his dinner companions: “I needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time with friends.”

You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of concerns.  Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

Jul 02, 2014
The data games - the transition from real data to model/data hybrids

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

You probably have been following the saga about USHCN data fabrication/estimation at WattsUpWiththat summarized here and illuminated by Judith Curry.

Anthony finds himself agreeing with Steve Goddard aka Tony Heller who deserves the credit for the initial findings including:

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Anthony continues: “Paul Homewood deserves the credit for taking the finding and establishing it in a more comprehensible way that opened closed eyes, including mine, in this post entitled Massive Temperature Adjustments At Luling, Texas

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Along with that is his latest follow up, showing the problem isn’t limited to Texas, but also in Kansas. “

It appears in summary:

Approximately 40% of the data has been estimated, even though they have a lot of good data in hand. The data isn’t making the migration for the RAW to the FINAL USHCN file due to some error in the data flag.

Also, there’s the issue of “Zombie weather stations” Closed stations like Marysville, CA that closed due to may expose’ in 2007 are still reporting data in the FINAL USHCN file because the FILNET program is “infilling” them with estimated data based on surrounding stations.

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Since 80% of the network has compromised siting, the data used to infill is compromised.

It’s a real mess.

Anthony adds “So far just USA for this error, we don’t know about GHCN yet.”

ICEAP NOTE:  I have posted that I had downloaded from NCDC Climate at a Glance the Maine state Annual temperatures in 2013 for a talk and it showed no warming since 1895! (the trend was shown as -0.03/decade). Well after NOAA announced a transition to the CLIMDIV version of USHCN at the end of this brutal winter, I decided to download the new plot. The new CLIMDIV data was supposed to resolve issues with recent station moves, transition to airport, to new MMTS technology and UHI and siting issues with improvements late in the record, we were very surprised to see the biggest changes to the early data set.  1913 went from the warmest year in the record to the middle of the pack with a cooling of close to 5F!. The log term average dropped over 1F.  The long term trend rose to +0.23F/decade, the largest of the 50 states.

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Basing government energy and tax policy on corrupted data ensures nothing but pain for only government gain.

Please help continue our work which has been almost entirely pro bono. Use the donate button in the left column. Any amount is appreciated.

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Jun 27, 2014
Protect the American People with a Moratorium on Coal Plant Closures

IEA

Murray Energy CEO: The president is grossly wrong

Update: See this powerful interview with Murray Energy CEO on how Obama’s EPA’s plans will cause electricity to double, hurting the poor and middle class most. Prices Obama promised will necessarily skyrocket. He is delivering on that promise.

Also, while announcing her candidacy for the 6th Congressional District in Louisiana, Whitney called global warming a “hoax.” The video is a response to those she describes as “liberals in the lamestream media” who “became unglued and attacked me immediately.”

Calling Al Gore and other liberal politicians pushing global warming “delusional,” Whitney reminds viewers that “The earth has done nothing but get colder each year since the film’s release.”

Whitney then goes on to cite a litany of other scientific facts to rebut and mock global warming believers, including President Obama, whom she calls “foolish” for blaming his lousy economy on warming.

“Last summer,” Whitney reminds, “Antarctica reached the coldest temperature in recorded history. There’s record sheet ice and a 60% rise of ice in the Arctic Sea.”

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Using compelling video and a relentless musical score matched only by Whitney’s relentless list of facts, the candidate, who is proud of being described as “one of the most conservative members of the Louisiana Legislature,” rebuts global warming alarmists point by scientific point before reminding voters of the thousands of hacked emails that proved the Climate Research Center of East Anglia “falsified data.”

The video closes with Whitney making a case for developing America’s energy resources and blasts global warming alarmists for using this hoax as a fear tactic to give the federal government control over every aspect of our lives.

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Protect the American People with a Moratorium on Coal Plant Closures
Institute for Energy Research

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Recent events in New England and elsewhere in the U.S. have demonstrated that policies which hurt the U.S. coal fleet are placing the reliability, affordability, and security of America’s electric supply system at risk:

* These policies will significantly increase wholesale electric rates and could increase them by as much as 80 percent according to Dr. Julio Friedmann, Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).1

* The increases will be especially harmful in certain states such as Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wyoming (Figure EX-1).

* Severe economic hardship will be imposed on people who can least afford it, low income families, minorities, children, and the elderly.

Therefore, policymakers, regulators, and electric utilities should institute an immediate moratorium on the premature closure of coal power plants and should reverse planned closures where possible.

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Figure EX-1: Potential 2020 Electric Rate Increases From Coal Plant Closures

During the winter of 2014, coal was the only fuel with the ability to meet demand increases for electricity, providing 92 percent of incremental electricity in January/February, 2014 versus the same months in 20132 (Figure EX-2).

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Figure EX-2: What Showed Up for Work During the Polar Vortex?2

During the winter of 2013 - 2014:

* Businesses in New England and other parts of the U.S. were curtailed because of a lack of gas infrastructure.

* Natural gas power plants also had a problem getting fuel due to infrastructure issues and at one point many of them had to go offline.

* Gas-based electricity prices increased 1,000 percent as coal and oil plants scheduled for closure picked up the load.

* Without coal, parts of New England, the Midwest, and other regions would have experienced brownouts and blackouts that would have been economically disastrous and would have compromised public health and safety; in many instances it could have been life threatening.

This past winter demonstrated in real time the value of the existing coal fleet. Americans were harmed as the relentless cold indicated that prudent utility practices require large, baseload coal plants to stabilize the grid, keep society functioning, and maintain electricity availability. Many regions suffered; for example, in late January and early February 2014 some locations in the Midwest experienced gas prices as high as $35/MMBtu, and the Chicago Citygate price exceeded $40/MMBtu (Figure EX-3).

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Figure EX-3: Chicago Citygate Natural Gas Prices, February 2013/2014(Dollars per MMBtu)
Source: NGI nationalgasintel.com

Government policies that drive over-dependence on natural gas to replace baseload coal put the U.S. electric supply at risk and also endanger:

* The 60 million households who need gas for heating.

* A vast array of firms that use gas in daily operations.

Recent experience in New England and elsewhere represents a troubling indication of the implications of removing coal plants from the electricity generation mix:

* Spot prices of natural gas and electricity may spike significantly.

* Utility bills become unaffordable for many families during price spikes.

* Energy shortages could occur.

* What little industry is left in the Northeast may be forced to leave.

* Average electricity rates in New England are already more than 40 percent higher than the national average and may be headed to be 150 percent higher.

* New York’s electricity prices are now the second highest in the country, only the geographically isolated state of Hawaii has higher prices.

New England is merely the precursor to the national problem which is emerging.

With the projected closure of 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal plant capacity, virtually the entire U.S. is rapidly reaching the brink of significantly higher prices for electricity and being unable to meet either the summer or winter peak demand for power. Unless immediate steps are taken to halt coal plant closures:

* Within the decade entire regions (New England, Florida, California, the Southwest) may be at risk

* Vast areas of the American Heartland from the Southeast to the Plains could face the difficult choice of using gas for either electric power or meeting the heating needs of millions of families, businesses, and farms.

* Forecasts indicate that by 2020, natural gas capacity will exceed coal, nuclear, and hydro capacity combined, creating a lack of diversity of supply issue. The American Public Power Association has demonstrated the difficulties of replacing coal in electricity generation, and found that there must be continued reliance on America’s largest energy resource:

* The U.S. has by far the world’s largest coal supply, nearly 30 percent of the global total.

* Most existing coal-fueled power plants are less expensive than natural gas for electricity generation.

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that coal’s price advantage will continue and grow larger for the next three decades.

* U.S. coal used for electricity generation has increased 170 percent since 1970 as key emission rates (SO2, NOX, PM10) have been reduced by 90 percent.3 Greater use of advanced technologies will continue this progress.

* Advanced “supercritical” technology is highly efficient, and other state-of-the-art technologies result in a key emissions rate that is two-thirds lower than the existing fleet with carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rates as much as 25 percent lower than the oldest plants.4

Current policies are driving reduction of coal generation creating increased dependence on natural gas. However, activist groups and government officials have indicated their desire to reduce natural gas usage as well.

* Activist groups supporting the “Beyond Coal” campaign have initiated a “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign to oppose hydraulic fracturing.5

* Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz contends that natural gas is “too carbon intensive” and must be phased out of electricity generation by 2050. 6

* White House Senior Counselor John Podesta has endorsed the phase-out of natural gas in the electric power sector beginning in 2020. 7

* Ronald Binz, recent nominee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said of gas: “On a carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so with gas. I mean, you do. And it’s certainly helping my state [Colorado]...but we also have to understand that without [carbon capture and storage], I think that’s a dead end, a relative dead end, it wouldn’t dead end until 2035 or so, but that’s when we’re going to have to do better on carbon than even natural gas can do.” 8

Current policies for electrical generation threaten the abundant, reliable and affordable electricity Americans have come to rely upon; they drive coal out as a source of electrical generation, creating heavy reliance on natural gas. In the next phase, natural gas will be driven out as well. This will affect natural gas availability for direct use and power, making electricity more expensive and scarce to Americans and hurting economic growth.

In sum, policies that erode the U.S. coal fleet are placing the reliability, affordability, and security of America’s electric supply system at risk. Prudence requires an immediate moratorium on coal power plant closures and planned closures should be reversed where possible.

Jun 20, 2014
The global warming hiatus? Climate models all wrongly predicted warming.

By Dr. Ross McKitrick

While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) still uses the iconic word “unequivocal” to describe warming of the climate system over the past century, a new word has slipped into its lexicon: the “hiatus.” They have begun referring, with a bit of hesitant throat-clearing, to “the warming hiatus since 1998.

Cracked-beakerBoth satellites and surface records show that sometime around 2000, temperature data ceased its upward path and leveled off. Over the past 100 years there is a statistically significant upward trend in the data amounting to about 0.7 C per century. If one looks only at the past 15 years though, there is no trend.

It will by 2017 be impossible to reconcile climate models with reality

A leveling-off period is not, on its own, the least bit remarkable. What makes it remarkable is that it coincides with 20 years of rapidly rising atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Since 1990, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen 13%, from 354 parts per million (ppm) to just under 400 ppm. According to the IPCC, estimated “radiative forcing” of greenhouse gases (the term it uses to describe the expected heating effect) increased by 43% after 2005. Climate models all predicted that this should have led to warming of the lower troposphere and surface. Instead, temperatures flatlined and even started declining. This is the important point about the pause in warming. Indeed, the word that ought to have entered the IPCC lexicon is not “hiatus” but “discrepancy.”

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The chart on this page reproduces an important diagram from Chapter 9 of the IPCC report. The gray line shows the surface temperature record (HadCRUT4 from the UK Met Office) from 1860 to the present. The black line shows the average of climate model runs covering the same interval. The black line in effect sums up mainstream views on how the climate works. Leading theories of major climatic mechanisms are programmed into models, which are then used to simulate the evolution of the climate. All models remain within a fairly narrow neighbourhood of the mean. This implies that the models share an overall central tendency and do not wander too far from it. In that sense the black line can be described as the mainstream thinking of contemporary climate science.

The data prior to the year 2000 represent historical reconstructions. Modelers were able to “peek at the answer” since they could not only observe inputs to the climate system (such as historical greenhouse gas levels, volcanic activity, solar changes and so forth) but also the simulation targets, namely average temperatures, when tuning their models. The match over the historical interval is therefore not proof of model accuracy since the models were forced to line up with observations.

But as of around 2000, the models are run prospectively, and this is where they begin to fail. Prior to 2000, the gray and black lines continually touch and cross, diverging and converging as they track each other over time. Whenever they drift apart for a few years they quickly turn and close up again.

But the post-1999 gap is something new. It has not only run the longest of any previous gap but it is still widening. Even if the black line were to rise over the next few years, it is difficult to foresee it ever catching up to and re-crossing the gray line. In other words, it is difficult to see models and observations ever agreeing again.

The IPCC briefly discussed the seriousness of the model-observation discrepancy in Chapter 9 of the 2013 report. It reports that over the 1998-2012 interval 111 out of 114 climate model runs over-predicted warming, achieving thereby, as it were, a 97% consensus.

The IPCC informally proposes several candidate explanations for this discrepancy, including the possibility that models are simply too sensitive to greenhouse gases, but does not identify a solution to the problem.

The absence of warming over the past 15 to 20 years amidst rapidly rising greenhouse gas levels poses a fundamental challenge to mainstream climate modeling. In an interview last year with the newspaper Der Spiegel, the well-known German climatologist Hans von Storch said “If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models.” Climatologist Judith Curry of Georgia Tech recently observed “If the 20-year threshold is reached for the pause, this will lead inescapably to the conclusion that the climate model sensitivity to CO2 is too large.”

We will reach the 20 year mark with no trend in the satellite data at the end of 2015, and in the surface data at the end of 2017. With CO2 levels continuing to rise, it will at that point be impossible to reconcile climate models with reality and the mainstream consensus on how the climate system responds to greenhouse gases will begin breaking apart.

Defenders of the current paradigm need to come up with an explanation as to why there has been no warming over an interval with rapidly increasing greenhouse gas levels. Natural mechanisms that might be strong enough to override greenhouse warming are starting to be proposed in the scientific literature. The problem is that the “science is settled” crowd spent the last 20 years insisting that natural mechanisms are puny compared to greenhouse warming, which is why they were so sure that greenhouse gases are the driving force in climate.

There are important policy implications of this situation. Benefits and costs of climate policy are analyzed using so-called Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), which build simplified representations of climate processes into dynamic economic models. The problem is that IAMs are calibrated to mimic climate models, not reality. To the extent climate models overstate the effects of CO2, so do IAMs, thereby yielding exaggerated estimates of the social cost of carbon emissions and overly stringent policy prescriptions.

Information will emerge over the next few years that has the potential to upend our understanding of the effect of CO2 emissions. At this point it seems unlikely that climate models in their current form will survive another five years. There is a high probability of new information emerging in the next two to four years that strongly affects calculations of the long term optimal policy stance on greenhouse gas.

There is no downside to awaiting this information. Though climate activists are always in a hurry, climate itself is a slow-moving issue. There is little benefit to acting now rather than, say, two years from now, but potentially major benefits, since what we learn over the next couple of years will make a major difference in understanding what the optimal course of action over the next century looks like. Waiting to get all these final, crucial facts could prevent countries from making very costly mistakes on how they manage fossil energy resources over the coming century.

Ross McKitrick is a Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Guelph.

It is not a top priority for the public, only the administration/EPA.

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1936 back on top as warmest month

According to the NOAA, July 1936 is now back on top as the warmest month in USA history.

Remember when they said it was July 2012? (see below for screen shot)

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