Must-read Hansen: “I am now inundated with broad FOIA requests for my correspondence, with substantial impact on my time and on others in my office. I believe these to be fishing expeditions, aimed at finding some statement(s), likely to be taken out of context, which they would attempt to use to discredit climate science…. The input data for global temperature analyses are widely available, on our web site and elsewhere. If those input data could be made to yield a significantly different global temperature change, contrarians would certainly have done that — but they have not.”
Fast on the heels of the hottest June to October on record, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that last month was the hottest November on record, which should be no surprise to CP readers — see my November 24th post:
If November’s anomaly is the same as the anomaly for the last two months, then November will tie for the hottest November in the temperature record.
In fact, last month’s anomaly slightly exceeded that of September and October, which isn’t a big surprise since, as NOAA reported recently, “El Ni±o strengthened from October to November 2009.”
It seems increasingly likely that 2009 will be the second hottest on record in NASA’s dataset, which is superior to the Met Office/Hadley/CRU dataset (see “Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?” and Hansen essay below). The figure above, from GISS (here), which updates the temperature of 2009 through November shows 2009 just edging out 2007. As my 11/24 post also noted:
This year is currently on track to be the 5th warmest year on record, but, in fact, if the monthly temperature anomaly (compared to the 1951 to 1980 average) stays near where it has been for the last two months, then 2009 will surpass 2007 as the second hottest year on record.
Given how warm November was, December merely needs to be of average warmth (for this decade) for 2009 to be the second warmest in the temperature record.
What makes these record temps especially impressive is that we’re at “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century,” according to NASA. It’s just hard to stop the march of anthropogenic global warming, well, other than by reducing GHG emissions, that is.
Unlike NOAA, which announced its November global analysis with a major “State of the Climate” monthly update, NASA just quietly updates its data set (here). NASA will doubtless wait until January to make its big announcement on where 2009 fits in the historical record. NOAA uses a somewhat different temperature dataset, so, for it, November was only the fourth warmest on record.
Hansen just posted on his website, The Temperature of Science — a must-read piece about the purloined emails and his experience with temperature data, which I’ll excerpt:
Frequently heard fallacies are that “global warming stopped in 1998″ or “the world has been getting cooler over the past decade”. These statements appear to be wishful thinking – it would be nice if true, but that is not what the data show. True, the 1998 global temperature jumped far above the previous warmest year in the instrumental record, largely because 1998 was affected by the strongest El Nino of the century. Thus for the following several years the global temperature was lower than in 1998, as expected.
However, the 5-year and 11-year running mean global temperatures (Figure 3b) have continued to increase at nearly the same rate as in the past three decades. There is a slight downward tick at the end of the record, but even that may disappear if 2010 is a warm year. Indeed, given the continued growth of greenhouse gases and the underlying global warming trend (Figure 3b) there is a high likelihood, I would say greater than 50 percent, that 2010 will be the warmest year in the period of instrumental data. This prediction depends in part upon the continuation of the present moderate El Nino for at least several months, but that is likely.
Furthermore, the assertion that 1998 was the warmest year is based on the East Anglia – British Met Office temperature analysis. As shown in Figure 1, the GISS analysis has 2005 as the warmest year. As discussed by Hansen et al. (2006) the main difference between these analyses is probably due to the fact that British analysis excludes large areas in the Arctic and Antarctic where observations are sparse. The GISS analysis, which extrapolates temperature anomalies as far as 1200 km, has more complete coverage of the polar areas. The extrapolation introduces uncertainty, but there is independent information, including satellite infrared measurements and reduced Arctic sea ice cover, which supports the existence of substantial positive temperature anomalies in those regions.
There’s little doubt that the GISS dataset better matches reality than Hadley/CRU dataset.
Finally, Hansen concludes:
The nature of messages that I receive from the public, and the fact that NASA Headquarters received more than 2500 inquiries in the past week about our possible “manipulation” of global temperature data, suggest that the concerns are more political than scientific. Perhaps the messages are intended as intimidation, expected to have a chilling effect on researchers in climate change.
The recent “success” of climate contrarians in using the pirated East Anglia e-mails to cast doubt on the reality of global warming* seems to have energized other deniers. I am now inundated with broad FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests for my correspondence, with substantial impact on my time and on others in my office. I believe these to be fishing expeditions, aimed at finding some statement(s), likely to be taken out of context, which they would attempt to use to discredit climate science.
There are lessons from our experience about care that must be taken with data before it is made publicly available. But there is too much interesting science to be done to allow intimidation tactics to reduce our scientific drive and output. We can take a lesson from my 5- year-old grandson who boldly says “I don’t quit, because I have never-give-up fighting spirit!” http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2009/20091130_FightingSpirit.pdf
There are other researchers who work more extensively on global temperature analyses than we do – our main work concerns global satellite observations and global modeling – but there are differences in perspectives, which, I suggest, make it useful to have more than one analysis. Besides, it is useful to combine experience working with observed temperature together with our work on satellite data and climate models. This combination of interests is likely to help provide some insights into what is happening with global climate and information on the data that are needed to understand what is happening. So we will be keeping at it.
*By “success” I refer to their successful character assassination and swift-boating. My interpretation of the e-mails is that some scientists probably became exasperated and frustrated by contrarians – which may have contributed to some questionable judgment. The way science works, we must make readily available the input data that we use, so that others can verify our analyses. Also, in my opinion, it is a mistake to be too concerned about contrarian publications – some bad papers will slip through the peer-review process, but overall assessments by the National Academies, the IPCC, and scientific organizations sort the wheat from the chaff.
The important point is that nothing was found in the East Anglia e-mails altering the reality and magnitude of global warming in the instrumental record. The input data for global temperature analyses are widely available, on our web site and elsewhere. If those input data could be made to yield a significantly different global temperature change, contrarians would certainly have done that – but they have not.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (global warmed) world.
- NASA’s James Hansen on hacked emails: “The contrarians or deniers do not have a scientific leg to stand on. Their aim is to win a public relations battle, or at least get a draw, which may be enough to stymie the actions that are needed to stabilize climate.”