Yes, the data show the planet STILL keeps warming

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"Yes, the data show the planet STILL keeps warming"

RealClimate has a great post, “Mind the Gap!” that explains some of the confusion about recent temperature trends.

Two key datasets, from the UK’s Hadley Centre and NASA show warming, as I’ve noted before. But “there are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest. The Hadley record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” Even so, the Hadley data clearly show the planet is warming, see “Hadley Center to deniers: We are STILL warming.”

It is possible to reconstruct the recent warming in the Arctic and use that to fill in the gaps. The National Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) has done just such a reanalysis:

Mean temperature difference between the periods  2004-2008 and 1999-2003

As RealClimate explains: “The animated figure shows the temperature difference between the two 5-year periods 1999-2003 and 2004-2008. Such results do not show the long-term trends, but it’s a fact that there have been high temperatures in the Arctic during the recent years.”

RealClimate further notes that “the low Arctic sea-ice extent over the last summers are independent evidence of high Arctic temperatures.”

If three decades of dawdling had left us any time to convince the unconvincable deniers and delayers, you might say wait for the next decade, which is likely to see truly soaring temperatures, painfully obvious for all to feel (see “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming“).

But the planet’s warming continues unabated, and the time to act is now.

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11 Responses to Yes, the data show the planet STILL keeps warming

  1. Bob Wallace says:

    Anyone flipped the planet upside down to show us what is happening down below?

  2. David B. Benson says:

    Bob Wallace — Yes, try a NOAA or NASA site.

    But it is quit4e, quite dull: little change except for the Antarctic Pennsiula, with rapid warming.

  3. Elaine says:

    As a matter of fact the CIRES team leader Konrad Steffen is in Antarctica now on sabbatical looking at the nature of things in mid summer there.
    Now until about January 15th expect to hear about the ice chunks that will be breaking off the continental self down under.
    I was in contact with him as he was in route from Chile to Antarctica His team is the lead agency that is measuring the warming trends in Greenland as well. Elaine

  4. mike says:

    If you want to convince people to get on board with global warming, you need to convince them of 2 things at least. The first is that the planet is heating up, which is what your post here is about. The second, harder, thing is that human activity causes global warming. The internet and popular culture are flooded with global warming news bites, but they offer nothing convincing to somebody with an atheist’s threshold for required proof before belief.

    If you really want to convince people of something put out more science showing a connection between global warming and human activity. Models, chemistry, statistics, stuff like that can be used by people to show others that global warming is caused by humans. I am no wizard with science, but from what I have seen so far, you have to explain that there is enough CO2 in the atmosphere to cause global warming. It seems to me that if you could prove that in a paper that stood up to scrutiny then people would take global warming more seriously. Honestly, I cant find anything that does this so far.

    To me there should be a paper somewhere that looks like a chemistry, physics or math paper that shows CO2 in our atmosphere causing global warming,

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Elaine — Those ice chunks coming from the Antarctic Pennisula, I presume. No surprise there.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    mike — I encourage you to read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Review of above:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E7DF153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63

  7. Here are the things that are most convincing to me that GHGs are causing the observed warming.

    1 – The warming is greater in winter than in summer, exactly what you expect if the warming is due to GHGs and exactly the opposite from what you expect if it is due to the Sun (deniers’ favorite claim).

    2 – The warming shows up first in the Arctic, again what you expect if GHG-caused, not if solar.

    3 – While the troposphere has warmed, the stratosphere has cooled, what is predicted if the warming is caused by GHGs; if caused by the Sun, both stratosphere and troposphere would warm…neither would cool.

    4 – The models do a good job of describing the observed warming if rising GHGs are included, but are unable to reproduce the warming without the GHG increase. Just as important, no one – including the deniers – has proposed a model that will reproduce the warming without the effect of increasing GHGs. These models take everything into account that science allows, including the Sun. To disregard the models you have to assume that there is some dominant factor that is canceling out the effect of GHGs and which no one – including highly motivated deniers – has been able to come up with. Quite a stretch.

  8. Lamont says:

    mike, realclimate addressed that question here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/simple-question-simple-answer-no/

    and i’ll second the recommendation on:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    and if you truly want a better connection to the science you’re going to have to tackle something like this:

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

  9. llewelly says:

    mike:

    The internet and popular culture are flooded with global warming news bites, but they offer nothing convincing to somebody with an atheist’s threshold for required proof before belief.

    Doubtful. I read an awful lot of atheist blogs (and I am atheist), and it seems to me most atheists – with a few exceptions – think AGW is the best explanation for the evidence.

    The alternative explanations – ‘the data is faked’, ‘the data is bad’, ‘it’s cosmic rays, not CO2′, ‘it’s the sun, not CO2′, ‘it’s geothermal, not CO2′, and on and on are much more difficult to believe. Much more complicated as well, most of them.

    The problem is not the required threshold for belief. The problem is AGW tells us we’ve been very, very bad.

  10. David B. Benson says:

    Larry Coleman — Well stated. :-)

  11. Ronald says:

    ah, but using the phrase ‘atheist as a level of belief’ is dependant on the definition of atheist. My and most atheists use that definition of atheist, that is ‘without theist belief’ with ‘theist’ being belief in god or gods. If he meant here the definition of atheist as someone who ‘knows there is no god’ which is the definition that many theists have for atheist, then the comment ‘atheist’s threshold for required proof before belief.’ means something else.

    yah, who care’s. But if you debate these issues, the definition you use matters.

    My quick answer to the ‘does greenhouse gases matter so much’ question is that if we didn’t have the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we would be 59 F degrees cooler on the earth than we are now. If we’re adding from the start of the industrial revolution to now 280 PPM of CO2 and were now up to 380 and then make a quick mention of the positive feedbacks, increased water vapor and frozen areas of the earth about to warm and release methane.

    That’s to make it all plausible. I try to mention that these aren’t the stupid people who come up with this, but the smartest eggheads in everybodies science classes who came up with this.