"It is the unhappy fate of the scientist today that he must play the role of Cassandra in the body politic, sending his fellow men to bed with nightmares in the hope to be heard in time."

- Arthur von Hippel, in "The Molecular Designing of Materials" (h/t @upbeatprof)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Texas Drought, Global Heat,

This picture is plastered all over the front page of the Austin daily paper, with the caption

"With the Pedernales River nearly empty Thursday at the Texas 71 bridge near Spicewood, a dock is left high and dry."

The accompanying story is about the difficulty in obtaining drought aid.

On the weather page, meanwhile, is the advice that the high temperature may be below 100 for several days running next week. Around here, of late, this is news!

Austin had its second hottest June on record, and July is also a candidate for record territory.

Globally last June was the second hottest June on record. Meanwhile, no less than Roy Spencer's group is presenting preliminary advice that the global mean temperature reached its hottest value on record last week.

Remarkably, amid all this swelter, northern North America has been quite cool this summer. True to form, the denial sites are eager to point that out. Shouldn't the sweltering southwest be getting equal time? What about that global data, hmmm?

Oh, right, you're an advocate. You get to pick which evidence you like. Sorry. Silly me. I forgot.


duffandnonsense said...

Indeed, Michael, to advocate is to choose!

"Joe D’Aleo at ICECAP writes:

Last month, NOAA had May 2009 to be the 4th warmest on record globally. Meanwhile NASA UAH MSU satellite assessment showed it was the 15th coldest May in the 31 years of its record. This divergence is not new and has been growing. Just a year ago, NOAA proclaimed June 2008 to be the 8th warmest for the globe in 129 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA satellites showed it was the 9th coldest June in the 30 years of its record.

You pays your money and you takes your choice!

David Duff

Michael Tobis said...

The UAH group indeed has always been an outlier, but in fact their method has always been noisy and troublesome.

The UAH PIs, Spencer and Christy, have long been prominent among the quasi-skeptic margin.

But, in fact it was the UAH group that had July 14 2009 as the hottest day on record.

They hasten to add that this is preliminary, though. Anyone willing to bet that the corrections they find will not tend to reduce the temperature for that date?

An at least moderate El Nino event is beginning. The "global warming has stopped" period, therefore, is likely to have stopped. A moderate El Nino plus the background CO2 forcing will probably put us above the 1998 record.

You should wish for a large El Nino event, of course. Then for about a decade you will be able to claim that global warming stopped in 2010.

Michael Tobis said...

Hmm; on further investigation I would like to somewhat qualify the above.

Crucial are these graphs: apparently the differences between the satellite records are second order; the differences between the surface and satellite reconstructions are much larger.


The short term record is somewhat inconclusive and David (and D'Aleo) have a point.

This doesn't say that it isn't getting back to record global temperatures. And it is certainly the case that Texas has been dramatically hot this summer even by Texas standards; for that claim I need no instruments. Nor does it change the fact that the hottest day on record advice is from UAH. A popular site on climate ought to report such things if it has any pretense to being fair.

duffandnonsense said...

"the differences between the surface and satellite reconstructions are much larger."

Exactly, and there-in lies the great question. You will have gathered that my scientific knowledge is minimal and I needs must rely on my own wit to try and decide which of the two schools is getting nearer the reality. In doing that, of course, I become exactly like your average government minister from Al Gore down (or up, according to taste).

Over the last 4 years I have read, and occasionally tested in argument, both sides and for several reasons, not all of them strictly scientific, I have chosen the satellite school. Needless to say, that decision is provisional adn dependent on outcomes.
David Duff

duffandnonsense said...

Sometimes the gods smile on me! No sooner had I written my last comment and in particular, the last sentence than I clicked over to read this:


David Duff