News outlets are going to great lengths to throw a wet blanket on the nearly 40-year-long satellite temperature record. Yesterday, the AP’s Seth Borenstein wrote that temperature readings taken on the surface—about 6 feet from the ground—are actually better than satellites, which take their measurements from “high in orbit.” He notes the satellite record’s lack of warming has given ammo to ‘climate doubters’ like presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has been holding hearings on the alleged data tampering by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), plus the satellite temperature record.
The reason the satellite records are considered the “gold standard” in determining the Earth’s temperature is because they aren’t affected by the radiative forcings typically found on the surface (like cement and highways and buildings and airport runways) and cover the entire planet. But don’t take the satellite’s record at face value; weather balloons also show that 2015 just wasn’t as hot as NOAA and NASA are now claiming.
Borenstein writes that anyone who casts doubt on ‘accepted science’ are most often ‘non-scientists,’ and they even call out a few names in the process, notably Sen. Cruz. Another person who has been actively documenting and tracking the surface temperature data adjustments is Tony Heller, who runs the popular website Real Science. Another is Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who has taken on the task of cataloging surface weather stations here and abroad. What they and many others have found are gross inconsistencies, data tampering, data readjustments, and the closure of so many rural weather stations as to make the land data skew toward appearing warmer.
Climate scientist and devout evangelical Katharine Hayhoe tells Borenstein that, “We care about what’s happening where we live. That’s why ground-based temperatures are most relevant to humans.” Except ground-based temperatures are only relevant when deciding what to wear before going to work or the beach. Not for determining if the entire planet is warming up from increased carbon dioxide (CO2).
Global warming theory dictates that increased CO2 will cause the mid- to upper-troposphere to heat up, forcing the lower troposphere (that’s the air around us that Hayhoe wrongly believes validates man-made global warming) to heat up and achieve equilibrium. Bake for a couple hundred years, and you start to understand why a few scientists with the best intentions think we are paving our way to a hellish CO2-laden future.
Except we aren’t. And that’s a huge problem for climate scientists who have staked their reputations on this theory being correct. Weather balloons that also measure temperatures that aren’t affected by human error / being poorly situated also show that the planet isn’t warming as fast as all those computer models predicted. Orbiting satellites have been recording temperatures from five miles up since 1979, so there is now a 38-year record. Not as long as 200 years of surface temperatures, but not as spotty or manipulated.
The theory of global warming predicts that the upper atmosphere will warm from trapped heat, just like in a greenhouse. As the upper atmosphere warms, the surface of the Earth warms up “later” to reach equilibrium. But that isn’t happening. The reason satellites are so important in this undertaking is that they are not biased toward warming or cooling. If the mid- to upper-troposphere isn’t heating up, as it should be, then the theory of global warming—regardless of how warm the surface air is around a particular weather station on a particular day at a particular time—is no longer valid.
The satellite data also isn’t susceptible to carefully orchestrated media campaigns, environmental groups’ press releases, the flow of grant money pouring out of government agencies to ‘study’ the issue, or reporters who don’t understand the scientific method. And the insignificant amount of surface warming that vested interests are trumpeting can be attributed to naturally occurring events. One is the ongoing El Niño and the other is the Pacific blob. We also just left a glaciation. To a geologist, that was only yesterday (it was about 20,000 years ago in real time).
One person who runs the satellite measuring system is Dr. John Christy. He explains to Borenstein why satellites are the preferred method for detecting warming from the greenhouse effect. He says that the ground’s “surface is affected by too many other variables and doesn’t represent the real mass of the climate system.” Even Carl Mears, a global warmist and a senior satellite scientist with another group, admits that the satellites are able to take “measurements from thick layers of atmosphere 50,000 feet up,” but aren’t as good as measuring temps “near the ground.”
Which is not why they are orbiting the planet. Mears complains the satellites have to be constantly re-calibrated, a warmist talking point to throw suspicion on their usefulness. Not to fear, as it’s part and parcel for any satellite in use around the Earth. GPS satellites orbiting the Earth are under constant scrutiny to account for even the tiniest orbital changes, which can affect their accuracy (It has to do with Einstein’s theory of relativity).
Yet no one is suggesting we discard our iPhones, Androids, and other technological gizmos that rely on GPS precision. Scientists are routinely making sure the GPS sat-system produces only the best results with pinpoint accuracy. Same with the Hubble telescope. Same with the International Space Station, a fine example of a celestial object that is in constant need of attention (and spare parts).
Which is not the case with the surface temperature dataset, the majority of which has come from US-based weather terminals.These stations were originally used to monitor local weather, before the data was exploited later by governmental agencies to promulgate the theory of catastrophic global warming (CAGW). First reported by Real Science, NOAA actually has fewer temperature measuring stations than they did 100 years ago. That’s from a report on NOAA’s website titled, “An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Temperature Database.”
“The sample size has fallen by about 75% from its peak in the early 1970s, and is now smaller than at any time since 1919,” write the report’s authors. That report is dated 1997, and the problem has only gotten worse. The fact remains that NOAA is “losing its rural [temperature measuring] stations, which show less warming, causing the city stations to be weighted more heavily,” Heller writes. NASA too has fiddled with the raw data on an unprecedented scale.
Satellites, on the other hand, don’t suffer from all these problems. They cover the whole world, and are backed up by the results of a secondary measuring system, radiosonde balloons, which also show far less warming. These weather balloons are used to validate the satellite’s readings. And if the radiosondes show a different reading, they investigate the satellite and fix the problem. They don’t retroactively go back through all the data and rewrite it to fit a press release.
Dr. Richard Lindzen, an emeritus Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, tells Climate Depot that the claim of hottest year is nonsense. Scientists are “arguing over hundredths of a degree” when the margin of error, or uncertainty, is in “tenths of a degree.” He notes that this amount of uncertainty is proof that adjustments to the raw data are being made. “If you can adjust temperatures to 2/10ths of a degree,” he says, “it means it wasn’t certain to 2/10ths of a degree.”