# Are land + sea temperature averages meaningful?

by Greg Goodman

Several of the major datasets that claim to represent “global average surface temperature” are directly or effectively averaging land air temperatures with sea surface temperatures.

These are typically derived by weighting a global land average and global SST average according to the 30:70 land-sea geographical surface area ratio. However, there is very little consideration of whether such a result has any physical meaning and what, if anything, it means.

One thing it does not represent is a metric of global surface heat content. However, this is ( often implicitly ) one of the most common uses for such data.

In technical terms, temperature is not an extensive quantity. That is illustrated by the fact that if you have one bucket of water at 30 degrees Celsius and you add another bucket of water at 30 degrees Celsius, you do not end up with water at 60 deg. C.

Energy is an extensive property: if you have a volume of water with a thermal energy of 4000 megajoules and you add a second similar volume you will have twice the thermal energy. The average energy per unit area can be compared to the radiative energy budget per unit area.

The ratio of temperature to thermal energy is not the same for all materials, it varies greatly depending on the physical properties of the substance. It also depends on the amount of a substance present, ie the mass. In physics and materials science, it is often most convenient to study “specific heat capacity”, that is the change in energy content per unit mass, per degree change in temperature. It is thus a property of each type of material, independent of any particular object.

In S.I. ( Systeme Internationale ) units this is measured in joule / kilogram / kelvin or J/kg/K . The kelvin is the same size as one degree C. and is interchangeable in this context. Some examples for common materials :

Material S.H.C.
Fresh Water 4.19
Sea Water ( 2 deg. C ) 3.93
Mercury 0.14
Dry Air 1.01
Stone 0.84
Dry Earth 1.26
Clay 0.92
Tar 1.47
Concrete 0.75

Table 1. Specific heat capacity of various materials in J/kg/K [link]

So one could consider temperature change as a “proxy” for change in thermal energy for equivalent VOLUMES of the SAME material. In this context one could calculate an ‘average change in temperature’ for that medium and use it infer a change in thermal energy, which can be related to incoming and outgoing radiation, for example. If this is a surface temperature ( eg SST ) this implies assuming that the surface represents the temperature of a certain depth of water and that this representative depth remains about the same over regions that are being averaged, in order to respect the “volume” condition above. That is somewhat questionable for the ocean ‘mixed layer’ but may provide a crude energy proxy.

However, it is immediately clear that one cannot start adding or averaging air and SST, or land and sea temperatures. They are not compatible media. It is like asking what is the average of an apple and an orange: it has no physical meaning. It certainly can not be the basis of an energy budget calculation, since it is no longer a measure of the change in thermal energy.

As seen from the above figures: air, stone and earth will change temperature about four times as much as water in response to the same energy input.

No one would think of trying average temperature records in deg. Fahrenheit with records in deg. C, yet, for some reason, mixing land and sea data does not seem to raise any eyebrows.

Rate of change in global temperature datasets

Figure 1. Comparing the rate of change of temperature in land and sea datasets, from the KNMI climate explorer ( 30 month low-pass gaussian filter ).

The data used in figure 1 can be obtained from KNMI climate explorer:

Figure 1 shows the rate of change in two SST datasets and the BEST land dataset scaled down by a factor of two. They are all reasonably close with this scaling factor. The large peak in ICOADS data is a recognised sampling issue due to changes in shipping routes and sampling methods during and after WWII. The UK Met Office processed HadISST dataset aims to remove this bias.

The rate of change of near surface land air temperature as estimated in the Berkeley “BEST” dataset is very similar to the rate of change in the sea surface temperature record, except that it shows twice the rate of change.

Sea water has a specific heat capacity about 4 times that of rock. This means that rock will change in temperature four times more than water for the same change in thermal energy, for example from incoming solar radiation.

Since soil, in general, is a mix of fine particles of rock and organic material with a significant water content. The two temperatures records are consistent with the notion of considering land as ‘moist rock’. This also partly explains the much larger temperature swings in desert regions: the temperature of dry sand will change four times faster than ocean water and be twice as volatile as non-desert land regions.

This also underlines why is it inappropriate to average land and sea temperatures as is done in several recognised global temperature records such as HadCRUT4 ( a bastard mix of HadSST3 and CRUTem4 ) as well as GISS-LOTI and the new BEST land and sea averages.

It is a classic case of ‘apples and oranges’. If you take the average of an apple and an orange, the answer is a fruit salad. It is not a useful quantity for physics based calculations such as earth energy budget and the impact of a radiative “forcings”.

The difference in heat capacity will skew the data in favour of the land air temperatures which vary more rapidly and will thus give an erroneous basis for making energy based calculations. In addition land air temperatures are also compromised by urban heat island and other biases, so these will be effectively doubled before contaminating the global land + sea record.

In this sense the satellite data provide a more physically consistent global average because they are measuring a more consistent medium. If the aim is to do radiation based energy calculations it is probably more meaningful to use SST as the calorimeter.

Climate sensitivity is defined as the ∆Rad , ∆T ratio, usually in the context of a linear approximation to the Planck feedback which is valid over relatively small deviations in the circa 300K temperature range. Other feedbacks are seen a perturbations that either add or subtract from the dominant Planck radiative feedback. All this and even the far more complex general circulation climate models are basically energy balance calculations. The conservation of energy is one of the defining axioms of physics. A fundamental test of any theory or equation is whether it respects the conservation of energy.

Horizontal heat transfer ensures that land temperature is constrained by ocean heat capacity: the thermal anchor of the climate system. It is well known that temperatures in coastal regions are stabilised by the proximity of sea/ocean and the centre of continents show greater extremes of diurnal and annual variation. However, land near-surface temperature remains more volatile than SST and analysis of climate models shows that they display greater climate sensitivity over land, and produce a different lapse rate [link].

In this context, temperature rise is the final result of all inputs, “forcings” and feedbacks many of which may be different over land. Heat capacity and available moisture both play an important role. Obviously these two factors are related. Using a non-thermodynamically relevant “average” temperature from two different ecologies with different climate sensitivities and lapse rates to produce an ‘average’ CS also seems open to bias.

Conclusion

Temperatures are not abstract statistics, their physical meaning needs to be considered when choosing how to process them. Using land + sea global average temperature datasets, biased by giving undue weight to the more volatile land-based temperatures, will produce physically incorrect results.

Most climate data are not just dimensionless numbers. Any processing should be considered in the context of the physical quantities that they represent. If temperature or temperature anomaly is being considered as an energy proxy for energy based calculations this should be explicitly stated and any biases that this may introduce should be discussed.

The physical significance, validity and limitations of “average” land + sea temperatures should be considered where they are used. This is rarely, if ever, done.

UPDATE

A typical equation for the definition of the settled change in temperature in response to a change in radiative ‘forcing’ F has the form:

∆F = λ * ∆T + ∆N ; where ∆N is the change in top-of-atmosphere radiation.

λ is the reciprocal of climate sensitivity ( CS ) . A more realistic model to asses the effect of differing responses would be :

∆F = α * λland * ∆Tland + (1 – α) * λsea * ∆Tsea + ∆N

Here alpha represents the geographic proportion of land area and is what is usually taken to weight the land and sea mean temperatures into a single “mean temperature”. Land temperatures will change by a greater magnitude due to the larger CS as indicated in the model runs in Geoffroy at al [1]

Due to it’s lesser heat capacity, land will equilibrate faster than the oceans. In this intermediate period there will be horizontal heat transfer from land to sea to redress the imbalance. This extra heat flux will somewhat increase the ocean temperature response thus increasing the effective transient climate sensitivity ( TCS ). The opposite will apply to land.

After hundreds of years, a dynamic equilibrium will establish where the horizontal flux balances the different responses of the two media. Land will heat more but is constrained by the ocean response.

The details of how this will level out is not trivial and will depend on arguments of heat capacity, lapse rate, moisture content and the mechanics of the horizontal heat transfer.

It is the λ * ∆T product ( a heat flux term ) that is being averaged, not temperature itself. That is as it should be to retain a physically meaningful calculation, so if temperatures are to be added ( or averaged ) they should be weighted not only by the land area but by the ratio λland / λsea. This respects the scientific requirement to be working in extensive properties, not an intensive one and restores the physical meaning to the resulting “global mean temperature”. It does not mean abandoning the GMST index, simply applying a correct weighting to account for the different media in a similar way to what is already done to account for land area.

According to the model runs this lies between 1.4 and 1.9 . Not dissimilar to the crude factor of 2 scaling of BEST land and SST shown in figure 1.

This implies that the classic 30/70% weighting of land and sea averages should probably be more like 15/85% or 20/80%.

### 371 responses to “Are land + sea temperature averages meaningful?”

1. john321s

Meaningful only in the political context.

• PA

The problem is that the global warming establishment shies away from honest measurement like the plague. The only way standardized sensors will be used is if required by law.

If you wanted to measure global warming – the sea temperatures are already measured.

All that is needed is to bury sensors at 18 inches (about a buckets width) and for completeness somewhat deeper – say 10 or 20 feet at a few hundred places around the globe.

And you are done. Actual land temperature and actual sea temperature. Actual measurement of global warming.

The atmosphere is the working fluid for the weather heat engine. Measuring a working fluid is sort of silly and pointless. It is like measuring the freon temperature under the hood to figure out if the passenger compartment is cool enough.

• PA said:

The problem is that the global warming establishment shies away from honest measurement like the plague.

Absolutely.

The War on Fossil Fuels is the left’s answer to the right’s War on Terror.

And, in both these wars, the first requirement is to vitiate knowledge and intelligence. This entails the vitiation of the institutions which are the guardians and custodians of knowlege and intelligence.

The story of how the neocons did this to the US’s and Great Britain’s intelligence services is a long story, with the latest chapter beginning in 1976 with the Ford Whitehouse’s formation of the infamous Team B, which wasn’t happy with the CIA’s intelligence. As a former CIA analyst said, “Cheney wanted to drive [the CIA] so far to the right it would never say no to the generals.”

“Weak on facts, hard evidence, and verifiable numbers,” Greg Grandin notes in Kissinger’s Shadow, “Team B was strong on rhetoric.”

The “members of Team B were admitted ideologues,” continues Grandin. and were the first to trot out what would become known as Dick Cheney’s “one percent doctrine,” by which “Team B interpreted threats with the smallest probability of occurring as likely to accur.”

As Corey Robin elaborates in The Reactionary Mind, “Trafficing in the future, [the neocons] conjured the worst — ‘we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud’ — and left it to their audiences to draw the most frightful conclusions.”

George Bush did “not speak of ‘is’ but of ‘if’ and ‘could be’,” Grandin continues. “The Bush administration’s prewar mantra” was “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

This is the same sort of warped epistemology and logic the paladins of the climatariat have adopted.

BBC did a great documentary on where the debauchery of knowledge, intelligence and logic eventually leads.

Here’s BBC’s recap of the program:

The Spies Who Fooled the World
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-21786506

And here’s the entire video:

• Here’s how Adam Curtis explains the paradigm shift in the opening of his documentary, The Power of Nightmares:

In the past politicians promised to create a better world.

They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people.

Those dreams failed, and today people have lost faith in ideologies.

Increasingly, politicans are seen simply as managers of public life.

But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority.

Instead of delivering dreams, the politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares.

They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand….

The video documentary can be seen here:

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-power-of-nightmares/

• PA,

You know they use satellites for sea surface temperature these days?

• Gd Holcombe

JC Blog Rule #4: “Don’t grind your personal axes by filling up the comments with extensive posts that are not deemed relevant or interesting in the context of blog objectives.”

I would suggest that Glenn Stehle’s two posts from this morning–at 9:06 and 9:17 AM–directly violate Rule #4. It doesn’t seem to me that a discussion of the intelligence agency mistakes leading up to the Iraq War, and a video embedded for further illustration, have much to do with climate in general and land/surface temperature measurement in particular. I would suggest that these posts belong somewhere else.

• PA

bobdroege | February 11, 2016 at 10:04 am |
PA,

You know they use satellites for sea surface temperature these days?

I assume you have a point lurking in that statement somewhere?

• Don Monfort

We have elected to skip glennny’s comments, Gd. We call it Blog Rule #4.a.

• Gd Holcombe and Don Monfort,

You two guys are reminiscent of the Reformation theologians of the 16th century.

For even though they professed a different theology than the Catholic clergy, they nevertheless were as violently certain of their assertions, and as violent in the suppression of dissent and criticism, as the Holy Inquisition.

Thus the theologians of the Refomation and the theologians of the Roman Inquisition were twins, the only difference being they wore different hats.

For instance, in A World Lit Only by Fire the historian William Manchester recounts an incident involving John Calvin, whose Geneva he says “represented the ultimate in repression”:

One morning he found a poster on his pulpit accusing him of “Gross Hypocrisy.” A suspect was arrested. No evidence was produced. Screaming with pain, he was lashed to a wooden stake. Penultimately, his feet were nailed to the wood; ultimately he was decapitated.

Calvin’s justification for this excessive rebuke reveals the mindset of all Reformation inquisitors, Protestant and Catholic alike: “When the papists are so harsh and violent in defense of their superstitions,” he asked, “are not Christ’s magistrates shamed to show themselves less ardent in defense of sure truth?”

• GD Holcombe

It seems I’ve made the mistake–as a fairly new participant on this forum–of assuming Mr. Stehle was a misguided if not completely irrational thinker. Turns out he’s both. What a bizarre response to my comment. Will ignore and hope not to encourage him in future.

• We all understand because the movies have already softened the sad sting of truth.

2. “One thing it does not represent is a metric of global surface heat content. However, this is ( often implicitly ) one of the most common uses for such data.”

Can you give examples of that common use? Anything? It’s an index. SST i a proxy for surface air temp. It may well be a biased proxy, but unless the bias changes, that doesn’t remove its value as an index.

• “Nick Stokes | February 10, 2016 at 9:20 pm
SST i a proxy for surface air temp. It may well be a biased proxy, but unless the bias changes, that doesn’t remove its value as an index.”

If we have surface air temp, how and to what value is SST “a proxy for surface air temp.”

• Jim D

In terms of trends, these will both rise at the same rate, so it makes no difference which you use for trend calculations, and that is the main purpose of the surface temperature, not for its absolute value, but for its trend which has a physical meaning. You can get even more information by separating the land and ocean trends like this.
The land is warming twice as fast as the ocean, and has been since 1980. Because the land has a lower thermal inertia it warms more quickly than the ocean when both are externally forced like in the current situation. It is a good demonstration of their different thermal inertias.

• Jim D:

In terms of trends, these will both rise at the same rate, so it makes no difference which you use for trend calculations … The land is warming twice as fast as the ocean…

If land is warming twice as fast, how can they have the same trend?

• “Jim D | February 10, 2016 at 10:15 pm |
In terms of trends, these will both rise at the same rate, so it makes no difference which you use for trend calculations,”

If it “makes no difference which you use” than why bother with and index. It seems as if we are either playing a word game or quibbling. Although I may very well be missing something, it seems like this is picking an issue for the point of picking an issue. Unless someone can point out what I am missing I will move on.

• Jim D

opluso, they don’t have the same trend. The land leads the ocean. It doesn’t mean you can’t take an average global trend if you want. In fact global Ts changes are important as a proxy of the global radiated energy changes because they go quite linearly with each other for small changes.

• Jim D

pmhinsc, over the ocean you don’t have surface air temperature, but you do have SST which varies little over days, making it easy to measure with satellites. But that is a good proxy for air temperature because these don’t diverge and share the same seasonal cycle amplitude, for example.

• Jim D : “In terms of trends, these will both rise at the same rate, ”
Jim D : “… they don’t have the same trend. ”
You have amazing skill for making two contradictory statements side by side without even blinking.

Jim D : “… In fact global Ts changes are important as a proxy of the global radiated energy changes

But they are not a proxy of energy changes. Go back a read the article. That is my whole point.

Greg.

• “But they are not a proxy of energy changes. Go back a read the article.”
You didn’t read his comment. He’s saying they relate to radiant energy change. S-B and all that.

“You have amazing skill for making two contradictory statements “
Again you just don’t read. SST and MAT rise at the same rate. Land and SST don’t have he same trend.

• ‘If we have surface air temp, how and to what value is SST “a proxy for surface air temp.”’
We don’t, at least not with adequate coverage. Daytime MAT is just not usable because of deck heating etc. As for night MAT, well, for one thing it is biased (by being just night). But again the coverage is poor, and problematic with height above water etc. The thing about SST is that it is fairly uniform. Not much diurnal, always at sea level, and fairly well mixed (horizontally). There is fuss about ship-buoy bias etc, but it’s in the range of small fractions of a degree.

• Again you just don’t read. SST and MAT rise at the same rate. Land and SST don’t have he same trend.

I do read , he replied to a comment about SAT and SST not MAT using a vague pronoun “they”, which grammaticially refers back to the last mentions nouns: SAT and SST. Maybe that’s not what he meant. Past caring.

For the rest I agree with you SST is the best we’ve got and in fact is the most relevant of the surface data. The post is about averaging SST and land SAT.

• Nick, “It may well be a biased proxy, but unless the bias changes, that doesn’t remove its value as an index.”

The bias changes would be called adjustments. If you are strictly using Tave land plus SST as an index is would have to remain consistent, you don’t need to interpolate poles and hunt for ways to make your index (a frame of reference) agree with your models which are trying to project changes in your index. .

“Can you give examples of that common use? Anything?” Try the definition of climate sensitivity.

• “Try the definition of climate sensitivity.”
How is that claimed to be a metric of global heat content? Please quote what people actually say.

• Nick, “How is that claimed to be a metric of global heat content?”

It is a metric for the change in global heat content. The 33C “discrepancy” is based on “surface” temperature being a meaningful proxy for surface energy. Since “surface” temperature isn’t easily estimated, change in average “surface” temperature anomaly is substituted as a proxy for that proxy.

Unfortunately, surface temperature is about the only data you have with any length so you have to use it, but you should also realize its limitations as an index or proxy for energy in terms of changes in heat content.

• Jim D

As I posted below, it is not representing the heat content. That is another term entirely.

• JimD, “As I posted below, it is not representing the heat content. That is another term entirely.”

When the change in heat content stops, equilibrium, all you have is dT. If you are using TCR you just use T. T is a proxy for energy.

If you consider the zeroth law land would be A and ocean would be B and the lower troposphere, what you really want to measure would be C, at equilibrium they would all have to be in equilibrium. It gets more fun if you consider averaging moist air and the dry polar air. Same problem with difference in heat capacity.

Like I said though, since it is all you got you have to use it but remember its limitations.

• Jim D

captd, the surface temperature doesn’t respond immediately to forcing. The difference is in the OHC change which represents the imbalance term, and this is a distinct and separate part of the energy balance.

• JimD, “captd, the surface temperature doesn’t respond immediately to forcing.”

Which surface, what temperature and what forcing? There are a wide range of issues simplified into one “index” that isn’t well defined. How well “average” surface temperature works as an index should depend on the median versus average for the various surface types used in determine the “average”.

TLT estimate

http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/isstoi_v2_0-360E_-60-60N_n.png

SST estimate

http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icru_tmp_10_0-360E_-60-60N_n_1980:2015.png

land estimate

3. When one considers trends it is for a particular period.

Given that sfc obs were so sparse until relatively recently
and that raobs kept changing sensors and that sea water measurements went from buckets to engine intake and the like, perhaps 1979 should be the epoch and considering only buoy Air Temperature would be best.

4. Ok, this perhaps less than scientifically sophisticated mind is incredulous here.
If as Greg Goodman has written, averages are being done in the manner indicated, it would seem to be an obviously errant procedure. What am I missing?
That air above land would warm and cool faster than sea surface temps is obvious is it not? Add to that the fact that winds are blowing air to and from ocean and land areas, and thus are being effected in several ways, including evaporation and condensation,
the whole of it seems to make it quite useless.

Sea surface temps should be a metric for heat quantity, or only used separately as a temperature metric.

Air temperatures around the globe would be a better consideration.
Isn’t that the advantage of satellites and perhaps air balloons?

Perhaps a problem is that measurements by satellite do not get close enough to the surface, but one would think that could be quite easily extrapolated. .I am quite sure most every reader here has seen extrapolations, often modeled, which are taking much greater liberties.

• Steven Mosher

Daryl
What you are missing is that we have a complex system. If we lived in a perfectly instrumented world, a lab beaker, we could probably define one metric collect it with precision and do experiments.
But the earth system is not a lab beaker. We don’t have perfect measurement systems. There is no repeating experiments in a controlled fashion.

If we were forced by some dictator to choose on metric we might choose energy balance at TOA. But we don’t have long or accurate measures of that.

So we are left with making do. Making do with metrics that only capture the ocean heat content, or land air temps or night time mat, or sst, or surface skin estimates or sea level rise or the brightness temperature from 0-8km, or tree rings, or the size of glaciers or ice sheets, or a metric where we combine sst and sat. We call the last one global temperature.. It’s really an index. One sliver one slice of this complex system. Think of it as judging the performance of a car by averaging it’s top speed and speed in the corner.. It’s an indicator, nothing more.

Lacking the perfect we make do with a whole collection of imperfect, sometimes kludgy, metrics.

Here is the rub. All of those metrics tell the story.
The earth is warmer. The best current explanation for that warming is that forcing has increased.
There are two types of forcing. Human and natural.
The best imperfect explanation says that humans account for more than half of the increase in forcing.

Now you can, as OJ’s defense lawyers did, throw all sorts of doubt at each separate piece of evidence. And you could win a case if the decision required knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt. But that’s really quite different from trying to provide the best understanding. Science tries to provide the best understanding.

• Don Monfort

Steven has a plausible argument.

A plausible skeptical counter argument is: Yeah, we don’t live in a lab. It’s a complex even wicked problem. Hard to measure. We don’t have good historical data and even the recent data keeps needing adjustment. It is likely that it has gotten significantly warmer but we don’t know by how much and how much of it is natural variability.

If we cave in and accept that humans caused more than half the warming, what are we talking about? 0.6C? Caused by land use changes, all the human caused GHGs, raising and eating too many cows, cats sleeping with dogs, etc.

How much can we effect the future climate by taking realistically achievable measures to reduce ACO2? Paris? Are you kidding?

Climategate

The pause is killing the cause.

• Don,

Excellent summary of a skeptic point of view. Fits mine perfectly.

It doesn’t really need to be any more complicated.

• aaron

Step 1: Observe a change.
Step 3: Bang head against concrete.

• Don Monfort

Great minds think alike, Mark. Thanks for not dinging me for the “effect”. I know you spotted that.

• JCH

The best imperfect explanation says that humans account for more than half of the increase in forcing.

The best imperfect explanation is humans account for close to 100%.

• Steve writes- “All of those metrics tell the story.
The earth is warmer. The best current explanation for that warming is that forcing has increased.”

My response– True but meaningless to the real issue. Is the “climate” getting better or worse for humanity?

Do you believe that overall warming equals overall negative net negative changes in the climate?? Based on what?

5. Jim D

The surface temperature is used as a proxy for the radiative response to forcing and is a separate term from the storage which is mostly the ocean heat content trend. These should not be conflated. Under a forcing change you get the radiative (Planck) response opposing it via a surface temperature increase, or a combination of that and a storage increase via an increase in OHC. If the surface temperature doesn’t increase under a forcing increase the OHC has to increase for the energy to balance.
dF = dH/dt + lambda*dTs

• PA

The IR increase doesn’t penetrate the ocean. The penetration depth is in microns.

Given that (pending comment from someone sciency) the assertion looks absurd on its face.

If the ocean surface layer isn’t heating and the IR has increased, either albedo has increased (more clouds) or evaporation has increased or surface wind speeds have increased..

If it was due to more clouds the ocean would actually be cooling.

• Jim D

That is why for IR you need the surface temperature, not the deep-layer temperature, which would not be much of a proxy for it. However, the ocean does warm measurably in a deep layer, so you do need to track its heat content change because some of the forcing may go into that in certain time spans.

• “Given that (pending comment from someone sciency) the assertion looks absurd on its face.”
No, the micron stuff is absurd. First it’s not true. We know that because the sea does emit IR (measured from space), corresponding to normal S-B with emissivity. Where does the energy come from to emit? A large part from below; it is the solar flux which penetrated and has to exit again. That flows through the pathways of turbulent transport, and conduction through the same sub-millimeter surface layer as would absorbtion (if any). The pathways are reversible.

But second, the down IR doesn’t need to penetrate. The net flow is up (solar heat). To achieve that net flow, the surface has to warm until it emits enough to not only counter the down IR, but emit enough to spare to shed the solar influx. The warming happens because the solar heat just accumulates until the balance is reached.

• The net flow is up (solar heat). To achieve that net flow, the surface has to warm until it emits enough to not only counter the down IR, but emit enough to spare to shed the solar influx.

That ignores PA’s mention of evaporation and wind. Winds also help drive currents which carry heat out of the tropics. I assume we are discussing heat flux in the tropics since that’s where the action is.

On average, evaporation accounts for more heat loss from the ocean than does up-IR. Latent heat from evaporation is most often released far above the ocean surface (through condensation). After evaporation and IR, the remaining global balancing act is played by conduction, since the ocean surface is, on average, warmer than the air.

The warming happens because the solar heat just accumulates until the balance is reached.

Or until the sun goes down.

• JCH

SW is drilled into the upper ocean to depth. The amount that is drilled in has to get back out or this ball will get uninhabitable real fast. To get out, the energy has to enter the thermal layer at the surface, where it will exits as either sensible, latent, or net LW radiation. Each additional molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere means a slowdown of the exit of the SW energy from the sun because the gradient changes. Therefore, the oceans warm.

Trenberth has a paper coming out that says this recent assessment of OHC is light by 25%:

https://andthentheresphysics.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/worldsoceans.jpg

The ACO2 control knob never stopped working.

• PA

Nick Stokes | February 11, 2016 at 10:27 pm |
“Given that (pending comment from someone sciency) the assertion looks absurd on its face.”
No, the micron stuff is absurd. First it’s not true. We know that because the sea does emit IR (measured from space), corresponding to normal S-B with emissivity. Where does the energy come from to emit? A large part from below; it is the solar flux which penetrated and has to exit again. That flows through the pathways of turbulent transport, and conduction through the same sub-millimeter surface layer as would absorbtion (if any). The pathways are reversible.

But second, the down IR doesn’t need to penetrate. The net flow is up (solar heat). To achieve that net flow, the surface has to warm until it emits enough to not only counter the down IR, but emit enough to spare to shed the solar influx. The warming happens because the solar heat just accumulates until the balance is reached.

This is simply wrong (in my opinion) and confuses and conflates a number of concepts.

For about 6 hours a day the surface of the ocean (50-100 microns) acts as a heat source. It dissipates excess energy into the underlying layers. Since it is the hottest part of the ocean that is the only result possible.

Once insolation drops below the evaporative/radiative/convective heat loss the surface layer starts cooling the ocean. About 3/4 of the solar energy is stored in the ocean for release in the other 18 hours. The heat is transferred to the surface by convection and conduction.

Just to repeat, for 6 hours the heat flow is down, for 18 hours the heat flow is up.

• The surface temperature is used as a proxy for the radiative response to forcing and is a separate term from the storage which is mostly the ocean heat content trend. These should not be conflated.

This is the key issue, what is the surface temperature for. One part of the answer is the Planck feedback and as long as we can assume linearity over the range of all observed temperatures then radiative response is OK with mixing land + sea. It is a radiative term “linearly” proportional to temperature : it is a useful proxy.

The other part of the equation is how much surface temperature changes as a result of changes in the vertical radiative energy budget. This will depend upon the specific head capacity of the medium. The data shows that there is roughly a factor of two difference in “effective” SHC of moist rock and sea water.

Geoffroy et all ( sadly pay-walled ) investigates a wide range of climate models and finds that they produce different sensitivities for land and sea. The ratio of the two varies from 1.3 to 1.9 . They go into some fairly detailed maths about how horizontal energy flow from land to sea reduces the difference.

Again OHC is the anchor of the climate system and stabilising land temps which are more volatile but the bottom line is that they find different CS for land and sea. They explain part of this as due to heat capacity and mainly as due to available moisture content. But this in itself is the main reason for the difference in SHC. They even approximate the SHC of dry land as zero to simplify the equations !

Of course the models have temperature at each grid point and are not adding land + sea. So at least in their linearised world of models it does “matter”.

Despite all their shortcoming these models are far more sophisticated than one simple linear equation relating dRad to dT. So when the models find different sensitivity for land and sea this invalidates the idea of adding the two .

Greg

• Jim D

The global sensitivity has a meaning, but separating it into land and sea, you have to be sure why you doing it in the first place. There are amplifications regionally to the global sensitivity. The best known is the Arctic amplification, but there is a continental amplification too. The tropical oceans are warming slower than the global average. These are useful concepts that help regionalize global change or in interpreting paleo temperature records.

6. Still, looking at the world and not thermometers in cities outside Western classrooms by air conditioners and parking lots, there has been no global warming going on 2 decades and nearly 3 decades depending on the data set and method used to arrive at an average temperature of the entire globe. In the real and not digitized world of the global warming alarmists, the concept of a global ‘average’ temperature is nothing more than fallacious reductionist logic because temperature is an intensive variable: an average temperature has no more meaning than the average number of letters in all the names in a phone book.

• “an average temperature has no more meaning than the average number of letters in all the names in a phone book”
——-
This suggests as average temperature rises, names get longer. You may be on to something.

• Well, I’m sure there will be a paper about that in Nature pretty soon. And if the current trend continues we will require a whole page just to write your name in 10,000 year time. We must act now.

• When we have a consensus of opinion as to the ideal number of letters — which I believe is precisely 5 — we can better recognize Tricky Mann, Father Gore, Saint Trenberth and Fakir Pachauri as being extreme…

7. “These are typically derived by weighting a global land average and global SST average according to the 30:70 land-sea geographical surface area ratio. ”

It’s not my field, but what I’ve seen does not agree with Goodman about the role of SST in calculating Marine Air Temperature (MAT) — which is in turn used to calculate the global average surface air temperature. It’s from 2006.

Excerpt from “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences” by Karl et al, part of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, April 2006.

“Near-surface” air temperatures over the ocean (“Marine Air Temperatures” or MATs) are measured by ships and buoys at various heights from 2 to more than 25 meters, with poorer temporal and spatial coverage than over land (e.g., Rayner et al., 2003).”

They describe the process of calculating MAT, which is something of a dogs’ breakfast.

“Historically, ships have provided most of the data, but in recent years an increasing number of buoys have been used, placed primarily in data-sparse areas away from shipping lanes. In addition, satellite data are often used after 1981.

“Many of the ships and buoys take both air temperature observations and sea surface temperature (SST) observations. … Where there are dense observations of NMAT and SST, over the long term they track each other very well. However, since marine observations in an area may only be taken a few times per month, SST has the advantage over air temperature in that water temperature changes much more slowly than that of air. Also, there are twice as many SST observations as NMAT from the same platforms as SSTs are taken during both the day and night and SST data are supplemented in data sparse areas by drifting buoys which do not take air temperature measurements. Accordingly, only having a few SST observations in a grid box for a month can still provide an accurate measure of the average temperature of the month.”

• Saying that SST is a “proxy” for MAT is putting the cart before the horse. MAT is a proxy for SST which is what is driving the whole thing. Thermal energy of air is not going to have any perceivable effect on SST. Wind yes.

It depends what you want to know. If you want to know about what temperatures people are subjected to then land SAT is relevant but as soon as you start to do energy balance physics you need energy ( or energy proxies ) measurements and you need to make sure that you are not mixing apples and oranges. If one of your “proxies” is varying twice a fast as another one you have a problem with your proxies.

Greg

• climategrog,

I do not understand your response to my comment.

If I understood it correctly, your article implies that SST is the major input to calculation of MAT.

Karl et al 2006 said that SST are only one input to the calculation of Night Marine Air Temperature (NMAT). The paper does not tell us how great a role SST plays relative to satellite data and the direct measurements of MAT (taken 5 – 25 m above surface).

If SST is not an accurate proxy for MAT, the question is what effect does this have on the MAT data — and hence on the average global surface atmosphere data? Small, medium, or large?

• There is no calculation of one from the other ( or at least there should not be ). There are two physically separate temperature records provided traditionally by ships : air temp and sea temp. ie MAT and SST.

It was decided by climatologists that daytime air temps were too corrupted by heating of the deck and superstructure of the ship to be of use. They decided that NMAT may be OK . Though of course this is like just taking night time minimum over land and is not an accurate representation of 24h average. So they tended to use SST which is measure several times per day. Initial corrections to NMAT were made using SST.

Then it was noted that there was a large rise in SST during WWII period and it was decided this ‘error’ needed correction. It was noted that NMAT did not show the same thing and that NMAT must be right ( or at least better ) and it was used to ‘correct’ war-time SST. It was never suggested that biased night time only measurements should trump full 24h SST data throughout the record, it was just the best they could do to correct a perceived data problem during WWII.

That was before the politically motivate data rigging of Karl et al . It has often been noted that most of the warming of “global warming” is in Tmin rather then Tmax. So Karl et al disingenuously extended the use of NMAT to exceptionally correct a specific problem to add a noctural bias to the whole SST dataset.

You may like to read my earlier article on the speculative “corrections” that are applied to SST , there are refs to the appropriate papers linked at the end.

Note that I’m not saying that the SST adjustment are necessarily wrong but a lot of it is speculation and the so-called “validation” is frankly a bit of joke.

• PS US land temps shown in discussion by Zeke Hausfahter here yesterday also show a wartime bump. Maybe much of it was a real climatic effect !

If you read the SST article you will see there was a change in the difference of day and temperatures in early 40s. It was decided that this must be an anomaly and must be corrected by any means possible. I quote directly from the paper. At no stage did they even consider that this may be a CLIMATE change.

This all flows form thea priori assumption that all climate change is due to AGW so any other change must be a bias that requires “correction”.

Greg

• I also summarised that the bias “corrections” had removed most ( >50% ) of the variability from most ( the earlier 2/3 ) of the SST record. . John Kennediy of UK Met Office who was leading author on most of the recent papers on SST adjustments , agreed that was correct.

Again without implying that these are *necessarily* wrong, it means that they are removing most of that late 19th century cooling and the early 20th c. warming. This makes the late 20th c. warming look more significant.

Speculative massaging of the data makes recent changes more statistically significant.

• “I also summarised that the bias “corrections” had removed most ( >50% ) of the variability from most ( the earlier 2/3 ) of the SST record. . John Kennediy of UK Met Office who was leading author on most of the recent papers on SST adjustments , agreed that was correct.”

I didn’t contest it. If you look at the unadjusted and adjusted SSTs it’s clear that there’s a difference. However, I think what you say is not especially meaningful as a statement unless you also say what you think the variability represents before and after.

Before the adjustments are applied, the early record is too cold because of the prevalent use of buckets, particularly canvas buckets. The cold bias in bucket measurements has been known about since at least the mid-1920s. The general warm bias in engine room measurements which make up the majority of modern ship measurements is well documented in the period since then. The adjustments are applied in order to reduce the effect of changes in measurement method, and the resulting series is, hopefully, a more accurate reflection of actual changes in SST. There are still uncertainties, but they are estimated to be smaller than the size of the original systematic error.

The most recent papers on SST adjustments would be:
Hirahara et al in 2014
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abstract/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00837.1
Huang et al. 2015
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00006.1
Liu et al. 2015
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00007.1
Huang et al. 2015 (again)
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0430.1

Best regards,

John Kennedy

• Climategrog,

You comments in reply to mine ignore my question. I’ll rephrase it more clearly. You say…

“These are typically derived by weighting a global land average and global SST average according to the 30:70 land-sea geographical surface area ratio. ”

Otherwise your post about the effect of SST on the global surface air temperature appears false.

• Editor:

They describe the process of calculating MAT, which is something of a dogs’ breakfast.

I can assure you that my dog’s breakfast is far more palatable than MAT adjustments. ;-)

• Opluso,

I do not understand the focus in this post and the comments on SST adjustments, when the post’s primary message is unsupported — and contradicted by Karl 2006.

That is, Goldman’s assertion that SSTs are the primary source for the MAT data used to calculate the surface air temperature.

• Karl (2015) used NMAT to adjust ERSST4 using the ship-buoy calculations in Huang (2015) by way of Kennedy (2011). Some dogs will eat anything…

• opluso,

You comment ignores the question I raised.

The post is about the average global surface air temperature. It asserts that the SST is the most important input to that, but provides no supporting evidence.

Karl 2006 contradicts that assertion, without which this post collapses.

• Editor:

You comment ignores the question I raised.

Yes, it does.

The post is about the average global surface air temperature. It asserts that the SST is the most important input to that, but provides no supporting evidence.

Karl 2006 contradicts that assertion, without which this post collapses.

Can you provide a link to Karl 2006? I’ve seen Smith 2008 (which doesn’t cite Karl 2006), among others, but don’t have a copy of your citation.

I should let you work out the “SST is most important input” argument with the author of the post but I assumed everyone agreed that SST was the primary driver of MAT (night or otherwise). And since oceans cover about 70% of the earth, presuming they dominate global surface temps seems uncontroversial to me. For example, Smith (2008) notes:

…because oceans cover most of the earth’s surface, roughly 70% oceans and 30% land, the SST analysis remains the more important component of the global analysis.

From the NCDC website, they state that they measure absolute temps in specific locations to be able to produce average anomalies for each site. Then they average these anomalies inside 5×5 degree boxes. Then they produce a global anomaly by averaging all the grids of which, I assume, approx 70% must be ocean and 30% land (they also are weighted to account for the shrinking of grid boxes as you approach the poles).

From NCDC:

The term temperature anomaly means a departure from a reference value or long-term average. A positive anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was warmer than the reference value, while a negative anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was cooler than the reference value.

Land surface temperatures are available from the Global Historical Climate Network-Monthly (GHCN-M). Sea surface temperatures are determined using the extended reconstructed sea surface temperature (ERSST) analysis.

Version 4 of the ERSST dataset improves or corrects for several factors related to sea-surface temperature (SST) measurements. These include: … updated corrections to ship SSTs using nighttime marine air temperature ….

The global time series is produced from the Smith and Reynolds blended land and ocean data set (Smith et al., 2008). This data set consists of monthly average temperature anomalies on a 5° x 5° grid across land and ocean surfaces. These grid boxes are then averaged to provide an average global temperature anomaly.

• Opsulo,

Thank you for the quotes. They are quite relevant. Let’s trade links!

Here is mine, showing the relevant quotes and a link to Karl 2006: https://judithcurry.com/2016/02/10/are-land-sea-temperature-averages-meaningful/#comment-764592

“I assumed everyone agreed that SST was the primary driver of MAT”

I’ve seen many comment discussions on climate websites (of both sides) where people agree to all sorts of bizarre things.

• opluso,

Thanks for the cites! I’ve followed them, plus checking the Observations chapters of AR4 and AR5.

None of them describe the analytical basis for using SST in calculation of surface atmosphere temp. SST is physically quite different than MAT, and the uncertainty of using this as a proxy seems likely to be significant — perhaps larger than the uncertainty of adjustments that Goldman discusses here.

AR5 chapter 2 says that they’re confident that SST is an accurate proxy for MAT (albeit not with that language) because they compare SST with the MAT datasets. If MAT data is so inadequate, can it be relied upon for validation of its proxy?

I have not found any detailed discussion of how the SST data is integrated with land surface atmosphere data. Is there some adjustment to make it a measure of MAT, or do they just plug it in?

Climate science is like a series of Chinese boxes or matryoshka dolls (Russian nesting dolls).

• opluso,

With your cites giving one end of the string, I’ve followed this thru enough to give a superfical answer.

From the Met Ofc FAQ
Air temperature measurements from buoys are unreliable so those cannot be used either. In using sea-surface temperature anomalies we assume that the anomalies of sea-surface temperature are in agreement with those of marine air temperature. Tests show that night marine air temperature anomalies agree well with sea-surface temperature anomalies on seasonal and longer time scales in most open ocean areas. Globally the agreement is very good (Rayner et al, 2003).

I have found some mentions that MAT was used in calculations of global air surface temp until the 1980s, after which SST was used. Also, all sources mention the decades of work to harmonize the numerous temperature datasets with each other, a methodologically problematic process unless done with rigorous safeguards to prevent the desire for “harmony” from biasing the result. Color me skeptical about the reliability of the outcome.

8. Test

9. Thank you, Mr. Goodman, for an interesting and well written post.

Not being a scientist I don’t believe I can fully appreciate all you had to say.
It’s hard for me to see much of a problem with having a land & sea average as long as we know how they are weighted and can see how each is contributing to the change in the average. It’s kind of like looking at a change in the unemployment rate and disaggregating to find out what demo group was most affected.

The Apple and orange analogy may not be the best. Averages for weight, calories, sugar, etc. are meaningful. I’m sorry I can’t suggest anything better.

• Jim D

Exactly, it is no harder to get the weight of a bowl with mixed apples and oranges than one with just oranges. That is the analogy.

• Exactly, exactly: mass is an extensive property and there is not problem with averaging it. What is the average taste of a bowl of fruit? Some things don’t add so the average is meaningless.

• Jim D

Why not take the average of five thermometers? That has as much meaning as one thermometer, and it is more representative.

• ” as long as we know how they are weighted ”

Well that is just the problem. Is the weighting correct? They are weighted by geographic area, that does not account for the fact that one is responding twice as much to the same energy input. Maybe 15/85% would be more appropriate than 30/70%.

Greg

• It’s kind of like looking at a change in the unemployment rate and disaggregating to find out what demo group was most affected.

To follow your non scientific example: if you want to know how many people lost their jobs in each demography that would work. If you want to know how many people were *affected* in each group, you would probably find that poorer families had more children than wealthy ones, so you would need to weight the data differently.

• That’s a very good point. Another way to look at it is how each demo group affected the change in the unemployment rate, which would be similar to looking at how much the sea and land temps each contributed to the change in the temp average.

• Steven Mosher

Ya max.

I think Greg and others who raise this issue tend to go over board with the claims of being meaningless.
That immediately triggers a debate move into what we mean by meaning. Not a wise debate move to wander into philosophy.

A better move would be to understand what the global temperature index IS, how it gets used, and what it’s limitations are.

• Mosher, “I think Greg and others who raise this issue tend to go over board with the claims of being meaningless.”

Meaningless in terms of thermodynamics, with thermodynamics being the operational term.

• maksimovich1

A better move would be to understand what the global temperature index IS, how it gets used, and what it’s limitations are.

Well the GTI is a vague measure of imprecise symbols, widely used by average practitioners to tell us very little about so much.

The limitations are well known philosophically [Russell 1929] and hence your argument becomes circular and like weather and climate lives on the 2 torus.

http://bactra.org/Russell/vagueness/

• Don Monfort

Ya Steven. And it is an argument that is not likely to go beyond occasional discussions on skeptic blogs. As a reluctant skeptical lukewarm lukewarmer, I sympathize with Greg’s criticism, but I ain’t counting on it to gain any traction or to have any influence on public policy.

10. nabilswedan

Land, surface air, and ice have negligible thermal capacity; it is sea surface temperature is what matters. After all surface energy drives the weather and climate.

Equilibrium Climate sensitivity (ECS) is a proxy of energy accumulated in surface with doubling of carbon dioxide. It is worthless climate parameter for it does not tell how much energy is accumulated per unit time. It is like saying this machine produces 1.65 KJ. This is meaningless for anything can produces this energy given the time. It would be different if it is said this energy is produced in one minute. Then we know that the machine produces 0.02 horse power. Therefore it is neither a car or a bicycle, it is something smaller.

• Equilibrium Climate sensitivity is *defined” as a change in temperature.

• And temperature change is a proxy of energy accumulation in surface

• Steven Mosher

Yes. And you can do a ECS estimate using land only as we did at Berkeley, or you could use sst only,
Or you could combine sat and mat ( mat has issues) or you could combine sst and sat. Issues abound.

In all cases you get answers that are compromised by either coverage details, collection details, or operational details. And that’s the practical situation. Not a problem space that purists, platonists or engineers enjoy.

Still at the end of the day we have estimates that range from 1.5 to 4.5c. That is a really tight range for a parameter that relies on so much uncertainty in the fundamental terms.

The challenge is this. Pinning down the damage at both ends. If we knew 4.5 were no issue nobody but technical specialists would bother with the details of the estimate.

11. ‘Are land plus sea-temperatures meaningful?’
…Meaningful … watt do yer mean by meaningful ?
Take yer choice… )
https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/i/insignificant.asp

• Indeed, if you want to know how hot the average whale+person is land+sea temps are the ticket. I’m asking whether they are useful for climate calculations.

• “average whale+person”
You need a weighted average. It could come out about right.

• Steven Mosher

What do we mean by meaningful?
Ah pretty simple.
If you continue to raise the level of c02 in the atmosphere then the global temperature index means this.

In the future you can go to any place of your choosing and the temperature will be warmer. If you happen to choose a place over the ocean, you can test sst.
If you happen to choose a place over land just take the air temp at 2m

That IS quite literally what it means to use the global temperature index. It has a meaning. You can use it.
Or you can devise your own metric.

So much depends
On a red wheelbarrow…

• Re William Carlos William’s poem, I’d say so much
depends not on the red wheelbarrow in itself, but in
a relationship deemed fortuitous, however you may
perceive it, maybe a painterly image. Re attempting
to improve present temperature measurement quality
controls, well and good, but attempting to relate to
other measurement, correcting the unknown bi-asses
of the historic record or linking to ocean temps,
not
so
good.

• D) Hilarious cartoons

12. I suspect that Greg will occasionally mention the discussion we had about HadSST3 and bias adjustments. If anyone is interested in my take on the discussion, it is one of the last few comments on the post.

Best to all,

John Kennedy

• Thanks for dropping by John.

Unfortunately the disjointed thread of messages on that article made it diffcult for us to follow one another and did not always resolve some of the issues as well as we would have liked. I was not even aware that you had tagged that resume on six months after everyone else had moved on.

The first statement that the adjustments remove the majority of the variation from the majority of the record is not one I contest although I disagree with you about what that means.

Our discussion of the circular reasoning involved in ‘validation’ and the extent of model tuning comes just afterwards.

I thank you for you open and honest discussion on that article. You corrected some errors I had made and provided useful input to understanding all that gets done in processing the data. I’m sure we would have got a lot further but for the blog format making it hard to keep track of each others comments.

As someone intimately familiar with NMAT and SST and their respective biases, it would be interesting hear your opinion on extensive use of NMAT to “correct” SST.

NMAT is, by definition, biased by sampling time and it has often been noted that warming over the 20th c. affects Tmin more than Tmax. This would suggest that using data which reflects Tmin to adjust data from a full day and night record is likely to introduce a warming bias.

The earlier use of NMAT was resolve a large inconsistency in the best way possible ( albeit sub-optimal ) . It was not suggested that NMAT is a more correct measure of full diurnal record.

I would have thought there was a better case for saying that the two records may reflect climatic processes and we should study any differences rather than try to eradicated them.

Best regards, Greg Goodman.

13. Can you give examples of that common use? Anything? It’s an index. SST i a proxy for surface air temp. It may well be a biased proxy, but unless the bias changes, that doesn’t remove its value as an index.

Horse before the cart again. SST is not a ‘proxy’ for MAT , MAT is a driven by SST and heavily constrained by it. But why are we even talking about MAT. It is the ocean that absorbs incoming solar radiation; it is the water that radiates IR, it is water that *allegedly” gets warmed by re-radiated downwards IR. What the heck has MAT got to do with it apart from being the wagging tail on the dog?

Maybe someone wants to talk about MAT so that they can average it with land SAT without dealing the heat capacity issue. But since it is MAT which is a proxy for SST and not the other way around this a red scarf trick to avoid addressing the issue.

Land SAT is constrained by SST by horizontal energy transport: air movement , evaporation etc. OHC is the thermal anchor of the whole climate system, it is not a proxy of anything.

If we want to understand climate sensitivity it must start with SST and OHC. Then we can start worrying about the tail of the dog and which way it is wagging.

14. John Kennedy

Its just gone 9. Hope you are beavering away at the Met Office.

Have you any papers coming out in the near future that deal either with Greg’s points or the ones I more generally make regarding the accuracy of such records prior to around 1960.

As regards that temperature hump during the war years you need to chat with my 95 year old neighbour who went on several war time missions to Murmansk. He says SST’s were never really taken. When they were, the sample water was invariably brought into the warm cabin to measure (not necessarily quickly) rather than measured outside on the deck….

Incidentally, have you ever looked at the likely SST during the LIA and the MWP?

best regards

Tonyb

• Hi Tonyb,

I’m always beavering away.

I don’t have anything new planned in the near future that addresses what you or Greg have said. I’m not sure either of you has proposed anything specific that hasn’t already been addressed.

It would be interesting to gather reminiscences of old sailors who made measurements, though I think I have detected in such anecdotes a tendency to overplay the protagonist’s roguishness.

all the best,

John

• Yes, mariners are professional story tellers. Lots of artistic licence. Great company, poor witnesses.

• John

Reminiscences? So, you are saying that my neighbour did not defeat the entire German navy single handedly?

He was awarded a medal for being involved in the convoys by the Russian ambassador at a ceremony in Exeter just last year. He has never received any special mention by the British Govt!

He is entirely bemused by the notion of SST’s. They were rarely collected with any serious intent other than by proper scientific expeditions like the Challenger. They weren’t seen as useful. What purpose did they serve? Unlike wind direction etc,

Anyway, give Greg and I a large grant (I will look after the finances) and I am sure we can add something scientifically constructive to the debate :)

All the best

Tonyb

• Tonyb, in my youth I worked casually for a local government organisation which required us to keep a record of public attendance. Because our bosses were very careful not to define “attendance” we counted all sort of things as attendance. A pigeon flying overhead was not an attendee, but if he landed…maybe! The trick was to be on the high side, but realistic. No doubt the numbers got more processing again further up the line.

If I’d been in the Arctic during WW2 there would have been plenty of air bucketing. My father, who was a McHale’s Navy style of captain, would have been far too busy dealing in bottled beer and nylons, and bailing his men out of the brig, to be fussed with either over-the-side or engine-intake. Plus, there was a war on, which went on till ’47 for a minesweeper captain.

• Hi Tony
Grandfather of my children had some WW2 maritime stories
I liked this short comment “I did think that if that great ship went bang, we were an awful long way from the nearest land. I remarked on this to our Irish doctor who was in the boat with me, and he answered. “That’s OK the nearest land is only one and a half miles away, straight down”.

• JCH

My father served in the WW2 US Navy. He enlisted on the morning after Pearl Harbor. He was a perfectionist. They had their jobs; they knew them; they did them. On iron bottom sound his cruiser was blown into two pieces. Knowing their jobs saved them. On Iwo Jima 80% of the corpsmen in his unit were recipients of the Purple Heart, 20% of them posthumous. They rendered aide to wounded Marines, often while under horrendous enemy fire. 60% of them were decorated for gallantry in action. One of their jobs was to create a casualty card for each WIA or KIA. The cards listed the type of wound and the location of the wound. Again, they were often filling these out while under fire. An example of a KIA would be: shrapnel, multiple, mortal. Meaning, the Marine got blown to hell. The card for a Lt my Dad treated on the beach read: gunshot, left ankle. He survived and became a novelist. They were very well trained, and they did their jobs. The information from the combat cards was recorded and is at the National Archives.

• Don Monfort

Your Dad did you proud. Medics are the most respected soldiers on the battlefield. If there are no Army docs reading this, I will admit that the Navy-Marine corpsmen are the better trained and are as brave and selfless as humans get. And I wouldn’t be here without help from Air Force Pararescue. They are beasts.

http://www.ww2gyrene.org/role_corpsman.htm

15. “If you read the SST article you will see there was a change in the difference of day and temperatures in early 40s. It was decided that this must be an anomaly and must be corrected by any means possible. I quote directly from the paper. At no stage did they even consider that this may be a CLIMATE change.
This all flows form the a priori assumption that all climate change is due to AGW so any other change must be a bias that requires “correction”
Greg”.

1940s and the late 1990s warming, 1960/70s cooling have parallel in other natural events which are totally independent of the climate change
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Tec-TSI.gif

• Note on the solar activity data.
The old sunspot series on which many science paper were based has been abandoned as inaccurate, and new one with large correction’s introduced. Further more it has been decided that the (old/new) sunspot number count is not true representation of the total solar iradiance (TSI), but the Group sunspot number (GSN) is a more representative metric. Most of the changes are based on work of Dr. Svalgaard (Stanford University).
More information can be found from the international organisation Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations (SILSO).
It is important to note that the old SSN numbers are not directly convertible to the new SSN series, while the GSN is radically different, making the papers based on the old sunspot numbers obsolete, or in view of the authors of the change, irrelevant.

16. Greg’s post makes an excellent overall point.

What matters are two metrics: atmospheric energy content, and the energy content of the ocean surface layer that interacts with it. These are what drive our weather.

So while I applaud people like Zeke who try to improve the accuracy of temperature records, his work is at best a loose proxy for the data we really need. In fact, the truth is we simply don’t have the data we need to understand the workings of our climate, or predict what it will do.

I am still shocked at how little effort goes into addressing this lack of data.

• The land record is important : it is what we live in. If we want stats on that it’s fine. That is meaningful in that context. That does not mean it the right measurement to assess the effects of GHG or other radiative ‘forcings’.

What I think is questionable is mixing incompatible data.

Temps over land are determined largely by land temperature ( hence by land SHC and water content ) and less directly be sea temperatures ‘upwind’ from any particular site ( ie water SHC ).

Temperature is not an additive quantity: it is not an extensive physical property. Yet we are constantly taking averages which involves adding that which cannot be added.

Another example is “krigging” land temperatures out over ocean or over ice. This ignores that there is a move from one physical medium to another. While over the same medium it can at least be suggested that temperature is an energy proxy in order to justify the averaging. This falls apart when crossing to a different medium.

• GISS global sea + land doesn’t cover the areas with sea ice, for exactly the reasons you state.

You know they average the anomalies, not the temperatures right.

• This is from a frequently asked questions site at GISS

” Whereas SATs and SSTs may be very different (since air warms and cools much faster than water), their anomalies are very similar (if the water temperature is 5 degrees above normal, the air right above the water is also likely to be about 5 degrees warmer than normal).”

That is the basis for combining them to make a global index.

This is really basic stuff and you are tilting at windmills.

• Bob, “” Whereas SATs and SSTs may be very different (since air warms and cools much faster than water), their anomalies are very similar (if the water temperature is 5 degrees above normal, the air right above the water is also likely to be about 5 degrees warmer than normal).”

That is the basis for combining them to make a global index.

This is really basic stuff and you are tilting at windmills.”

Right, which is why Cowtan et al. noted that switching model comparison to tas land plus tos ocean produced a better match between models and observations prior to Karl et al. adjusting SST to eliminate the hiatus. The thing is there is more uncertainty involved that the almost unbelievable +/-0.05 C you get when you use a crap load of numbers averaging two different “surfaces” over a wide range of temperatures.

Kinda stuck with the data, but the +/-0.05 C is a choice based on ignoring a number of issues.

• Steven Mosher

Captain.
At Berkeley we looked at using the sst under ice which I thought was the best way of tackling the land water ice problem ( kriging over land ice water) is not without concerns. That said, the answer did not change.
Look at sst
Look at sat
Look at mnat
Combined them or not
Use sst under ice or air above ice.
Look at it six ways from Sunday.

The system is warming.
If you want to explain that warming, you can’t do it without attributing some of the warming to man.

Funny I thought the sst under ice was a really slick approach.. Because we are building an index and it seemed the better approach.

I can say that Mueller and others have argued that sst and satellite measures are meaningless from a human perspective be we don’t live in the ocean like sponge Bob and don’t make castles in the troposphere.

• Steven, where, how much and starting when are the important issues and those are more regional than global. If you focus on ‘global’ land plus ocean you might say there is absolutely zero evidence of long term persistence, but oceans and SH have pretty obvious signs of longer term persistence. 4.5 C rise from -75 C to -70.5 C is pretty meaningless but 4.5 C from -4C to +0.5 C very significant. Changes in wall energy transfer would be related to temperature differential not average temperature.

Having a better handle on absolute temperatures by region would be much more meaningful than “global” anomaly.

17. I sure wish there was a reanalysis product with temperature shown at 25 meters above ground level, which happens to be where I’m sitting. This also allows the creation of a uniform temperature index above tree tops and minor surface bumps.

• Which is fine if you want to work out the effect of temperature on tree-tops.

It does not avoid the basic issue.

I think one could argue that satellite TLT or mid-tropo temps provide a physically real average. By that time ( height ) there is probably enough turbulent mixing for the heat capacity to have been ‘averaged’ out in a physically meaningful way, ie nature has sorted out what the appropriate weighting should be ;)

• I figured out the 25 meter level would be better because it doesn’t see a lapse rate feedback effect. Besides, I wanted to propose something innovative. But I don’t know if climate models have very detailed grid refinements close to the surface.

• Steven Mosher

You get temperature at different pressure levels.
Bottom line.
It doesn’t matter how you slice it or dice it.

Planet is warming.

Best approach for skeptics is to lean IN and contribute to improving the understanding. Otherwise when policy makers go to make decisions they won’t have a balanced view.

If you just throw rocks, you end up “looking like” defense lawyers. So practically you have to do something.
Spencer does stuff.
Nic Lewis does stuff

• “Best approach for skeptics is to lean IN and contribute to improving the understanding.”

The best approach for skeptics is to keep pointing out errors/mistakes/misinformation/advocacy in climate science.

There’s lots of it to discuss.

Andrew

• “Planet is warming.”

How much would the planet be warming without the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

18. Temperature is what two systems come to the same of if in contact long enough.

Assume that something (S for something) is maximized at equilibrium.

Then dS1/du1 (the change in S in system 1 with respect to its energy) must equal dS2/du2 (the change in S in system 2 with respect to its energy). Otherwise S could be increased by exchanging more energy.

dS/du is the reciprocal of temperature. S is entropy, and is maximized at uniform temperature.

This is all without physics except that energy is conserved and there is in fact some equilibrium.

Slight variations in names in systems are constrained by volume etc.

One interesting fact is that there are negative absolute temperatures, called a population inversion.

• “Otherwise S could be increased by exchanging more energy.”

Why is that necessarily a problem. You are assuming arbitrarily that “something” is a conserved quantity.

• sorry, I missed your initial condiiton of it being maximised at constant temp. Best get to the point rather than playing “something”. There is plenty of physics in there , little point is saying other wise. Ignoring volume seems a sticking point when discussing entropy

Bottom line what is the point you are trying to make? Does it have any bearing on the article?

• Temperature isn’t even directly related to energy. It’s in a derivative.

• temperature is a measurement of thermal energy .
You seem to be thinking of dT/dt being related to radiative flux which is a power term.

In the presence of a dominant negative feedback a mass of water ( for example ) will integrate incoming energy , increase the Planck feedback out going radiation and reach an dynamic equlibrium at a higher temperature. This process is approximated at being linear and directly proportional to the change in incoming radiative power.

• temperature is a measurement of thermal energy .

Ah, but it’s not. There are high-energy systems with negative absolute temperatures, higher energy than the same stem with a positive absolute temperature.

The article is correct however that it often makes no sense to average temperatures. But it’s worse than thought.

• Here’s a nice wiki link for negative absolute temperature.

They appear to have read the same books I did.

19. In the absence of anyone making this argument , I’ll reproduce a snippet from Nic Lewis who reviewed an original draft of this for me. There’s nothing confidential, so I’m sure he won’t mind using it as a counter to my own article. I was hoping someone like like Nich Stokie’s would put forward this argument.

>>
What the surface heat content may be is irrelevant to climate sensitivity
estimates. The reason lies in the global energy budget equation:

∆F = λ * ∆T + ∆N

where F is forcing, T is GMST, N is net incoming radiation at TOA, and lambda is the (inverse of the) overall climate feedback parameter, representing the (negative) Planck feedback plus the net effect of water vapour, lapse rate, cloud, albedo and any other climate feedbacks. The importance of GMST is that, in this framework, it determines how much net outgoing radiation (excluding the effect of the change in forcing) increases to counteract a change in forcing. The heat capacity of the land, ocean etc. is irrelevant here except insofar as it affects the rate at which GMST responds to forcing.
>>

So the area weighted temp * λ is a proxy for the outgoing radiation emitted near the surface, these are energy / power terms so addition and linear operations like averages are legit. ie we can average ( λ * ∆T )

But since climate models tell use that both &lambda and ∆T differ for sea and land this does not mean that we can average either quantity on its own. There is also horizontal heat transport reducing the real &lambda land and slightly increasing &lambda sea .

I do not see anything in this line of reasoning that justifies adding temperatures of different media. This would be obviously wrong in most hard sciences but seems to have been overlooked in climatology.

I have not done calculations but it seems to me that straight geographic 30/70% ratios will give undue weight to land temperatures which are more sensitive and will lead to an over-estimation of global climate sensitivity. If I am correct, the values derived in Lewis and Curry (2014) , despite being some of the lowest published values may still be somewhat on the high side.

Greg Goodman

20. Call in Mosher to tell us we don’t really need a definition of “average”.

Andrew

• Did I not tell you?

Andrew

21. nobodysknowledge

I have to admit my ignorance. I thought that GMST and and talking about the warmest year in recent history, was based on air temperature. And air temperature at altitude 2m over surface. That would give meaning. But as I understand it is impossible to know. And I wonder how it is possible to say anything about climate change and dangerous weather effects without knowing the temperature difference between immediate under-surface and air for 70% of the Earth.

22. Averaging air temperatures over different land environments would present the same issue. Air over asphalt has a different sensitivity than air over sand, or over grass, or in a rain forest, or at high altitude over granite, or over a swamp, or beside a concrete and steel building, or over a glacier.

23. certainlly off this specific topic, but not the general idea of scientific experiments, I refer readers to this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/02/the-battle-over-bilingualism/462114/

Sorry if it’s not a hot link, not well versed in the blog tools.

Deals with theories around agility in the brains of bilingual individuals. The point in the article is the discussion around scientific theories, their proof or disproof, the validity of data, how data is used, etc. There are many similarities, albeit in this limited context, with the much larger arguments on this site and others on the science of it all.

I found it interesting and relevant. May be of interset to others here.

24. The units for the table are incorrect. The units for that table are KJ/(Kg*K). It’s not per K, it is Kg * K in denominator. And it is KJ in numerator, normally it is J, but the numbers would be in the thousands then.

• Thanks Andy, I was sure someone would come up with that.

KJ/(Kg*K) is the same as KJ/Kg/K ie kilojoules per kilogram per kelvin.
It’s like acceleration is in metres per second per second or m/s^2

• Perhaps, but it is still Kj, not J.

• Ah, I missed that part of what you were saying. I did indeed lose the kilo there , thanks.

The abbreviation for kilo is k the abbreviation for joule is J, not j so correct units should be : kJ/kg/K

• Sorry about the typos and the algebra errors this morning, I was rushed. But, yes, the units are best stated as either kJ/(kg*K) or kJ/kg/K, which are equivalent as you said. It is common to capitalize the “k”, but it seems we shouldn’t. I didn’t know that. The red flag was that the numbers were small. In J/kg/K they are in the thousands.

• Good post, thanks. Lots to think about.

25. A comment sent by email from Alan Longhurst:

There is another reason that SST and SAT are incompatible ifthey are integrated to describe change of temperature at the surface of the planet. Ignored is the fact that changes in SST are often the result simply of changing vertical motion in the upper ocean. The effect of wind stress at the surface, combined with the Coriolis force, is to cause upwards motion and bring cooler water to the surface – oceanographers ‘upwelling’ effect. This occurs everywhere, seasonally or episodically, but is especially strong in the equatorial oceans, below the trade winds, and along the western coasts of continents in low to mid latitudes. The failure of trade winds, causes upward motion to slow or cease, the equatorial region SST warms, and the SAT+SST global index suggests that Earth has gained heat – which is not correct. Similar sequence occurs on (for instance) the coasts of California and Chile-Peru when the trades fail or weaken.

There is no good measure at sea to match with SAT ashore; if you use night marine air temperature, measured from the bridge of a ship as in the old days, the problem remains the same.

• Thanks Alan, that’s a good point. I guess the standard climatologist’s answer would be that this is all “internal oscillation” or “noise” and it will average out. Everything that is not AGW is “noise” ;)

Once we have recognised and can explain the 9y and 60y cyclic patterns in SST and cyclones we may have a better idea of whether such effects are net zero
http://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/ace_amo_2015.png
http://judithcurry.com/2016/01/11/ace-in-the-hole/

Once we stop cherry picking the upward sections of cyclic patterns to promote a polemical viewpoint and get back to proper science we may be able to explain the early 20th c. rise before CO2 kicked in.
http://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/amo_trends.png
Greg.

• BTW that last graph is about how you can pretend there is accelerated warming by cherry-picking the right bits of a cosine function:
http://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/warming-cosine.png
https://climategrog.wordpress.com/warming-cosine/

• Alan Longhurst

Greg
Average out? Perhaps, but the anomalies are very large (look at an equal-area map) and make a lot of noise in climate news. The Nino thats going on just now is a big one, but its still only the consequence of a failure of the trade winds in the eastern Pacific; the wind-driven upwelling of cold water along the equator and of the coast of California and Chile-Peru has simply shut down and the SST there simply now takes normal values for the latitudes. There has been no significant accumulation of heat by the planet, yet thats what everybody is shouting about and assumes has happened.
Its time the oceanographic community acted responsibly and pointed out that you cant mix SST and SAT sensibly in the same data set as if they recorded similar processes, because they dont.
Alan

• AK

The Nino thats going on just now is a big one, but its still only the consequence of a failure of the trade winds in the eastern Pacific; the wind-driven upwelling of cold water along the equator and of the coast of California and Chile-Peru has simply shut down and the SST there simply now takes normal values for the latitudes.

I’d understood that the El Nino also brought large amounts of very warm equatorial water from the West Pacific and spread it along the American west coasts.

All this at the expense of depth of the West Pacific warm pool. Thus taking a deep pool of very warm water and spreading it out into a much larger shallow one.

• JCH

…‘upwelling’ effect. This occurs everywhere, seasonally or episodically, but is especially strong in the equatorial oceans, below the trade winds, and along the western coasts of continents in low to mid latitudes. The failure of trade winds, causes upward motion to slow or cease, the equatorial region SST warms, and the SAT+SST global index suggests that Earth has gained heat – which is not correct.

If the definition is Sat +SST, and the SST warms, imo it most certainly has gained heat. It will also most certainly lose heat when the winds and the upwelling returns.

Also, often there is SST cooling in the Western Pacific when the trade winds fail. I can imagine the uproar if Gavin Schmidt suggested that cooling was not correct.

• Greg Goodman

There has been no significant accumulation of heat by the planet, yet thats what everybody is shouting about and assumes has happened.

A collection of warm water in the WPWP spreading out over a larger surface creates an increase in global average SST. El Nino is really about dumping OHC into the atmosphere where it also increases average air temperature stats. The heat is then on its way to space, so it’s really a global cooling event.

The question is whether the El Nino/ Nina energy flow process is a net zero “oscillation”. Since it is two separate processes I see not reason to think that it is a symmetrical pendulum swing other than the fact it gets CALLED an oscillation. It’s a semantic trick in the place of science, like a lot of climatology.

• JCH

This is crude, but, assuming the positive phase of the PDO is associated with El Nino dominance, and the negative phase of the PDO is associated with La Nina dominance, the trends tend to relax toward zero as you go back in time. A better way to do it would be ONI.

Also, OHC, on net, goes up during most El Nino events. The OHC is at a record/near record high at the end of 2015.

26. Kip Hansen

“‚àÜrad , ‚àÜT ratio,” I take it these are some error in WordPress translation of symbols? Can anyone supply the correct notation?

Something got lost in translation in the text I submitted to Judy. It worked on my WordPress but came out wrong here. Perhaps Judy would like to cut and paste that correction from here.

• fixed

• Thanks Judy, could you also fix the units in the legend under Table 1, my typo, appologies.

“…. various materials in kJ/kg/K “

27. Kip Hansen

Greg Goodman ==> Thank you for this excellent essay. I have been asking this question for the last six months or so — and I too use the “fruit salad” term to apply to metrics that are mixtures of dissimilar physical characteristics each caused by different causes.

Well done, sir!

• Thanks for the note of appreciation. I’ve been making this point for a long time and thought it was about time I wrote it up more fully.

• I would like to second Kip’s thanks. Your point is obvious in hindsight, and I should have seen it before now.

Your point can also be extended. Even if one goes to NMAT versus LAT, it isn’t additive because of the differences in humidity, which gives air (a mix of gasses including water vapor) additional thermal mass (SHC). Deserts warm more in day and cool more at night than does South Florida. Well known that ‘surface’ specific humidity is more constant over oceans and increases with T according to Clausius Clapeyron. Ocean specific humidity varies with latitude because of delta T; Tropics more humid than poles. Specific humidity is much more variable inland at any latitude. Sahara and all that.

I just checked the technical note for NCAR CAM3, the GCM I am most familiar with. 3.3.6 page 71 is the only relevant section on a quick re-skim (its 270 pages of dense math): adjustment of specific humidity (q) to conserve water. This is done via dry air pressure, so deals with lapse rate only. No land/sea distinction, no delta T correction found on a skim of the rest and of the water vapor parameterizations.

GHG radiative forcings are definitely about heat in w/m2. So this seems to say GCM’s are a bit off in predicting temperature from radiative forcing (heat) because of your thermal mass point. I have argued climate models run hot in part because they got the water vapor feedback parameterization wrong. You point out it is also a deeper and more basic problem; the models are not considering delta thermal mass of air (equivalent to specific heat capacity). At least not at NCAR. How big a difference this might make compared to, say, unavoidable convection parameterization, dunno.

28. Yes the averages are meaningful. You just want to be careful not to claim too much.

One thing it does not represent is a metric of global surface heat content. However, this is ( often implicitly ) one of the most common uses for such data.

True enough. The surface temperatures and their changes don’t permit estimates of heat flows, including heat accumulation. But living things can be affected by temperatures whether anyone can measure heat flows or not. So regional and global means are potentially important.

Nevertheless, they have distributions, global and regional, and their distributions have expected values and variances. Those can be estimated from measurements.

• Valid points. As I said above temperatures are what we live in. In that sense they are fine as stats. But land and ocean ecosystems are very different and the species which live there are evolved to each habitat. Typically with regional or more specific adaptations.

So even ( especially ) in that sense, it is meaningless to add land and sea temps or to discuss average averages or average distributions. The distribution of land temps matters to land fauna and flora, not to whales.

• Don Monfort

Matts right.

• right about what? That parrot fish on the Gt Barrier reef are affected by UHI in Siberia.

Land + sea average has no meaning physically , it’s an error, and as a statistic it has no meaning except perhaps for amphibious creatures.

If you agree about something perhaps you could be more specific what you agree about. It’s a bit like saying “you’re wrong” and walking away without saying what it is that you disagree with.

• Don’s right and Matt’s right and they are really not averaging temperature at all.

I just wonder where my university failed me in not teaching me what an intrinsic and extrinsic property are.

I want my money back, oh wait someone else paid all my tuition.

Land + sea does what it is supposed to do, give us a metric for the earth system warming or cooling, not tell us what the average temperature of the earth is.

You need to read you some Hansen et al.

• Don Monfort

The averages are meaningful, as you admit below. If for no other reason, they are meaningful because they are being used and you ain’t going to change that.

If you want to press the argument against averaging sea and land the 97% can reply, if they give a rat’s — about what you say: “OK, we will just go with the land, where the people live. UHI and all. Since this is a political argument we’ll win. Whales, sea urchins and parrot fish don’t get to vote.”

We call all this facing reality, Greg.

• “If you want to press the argument against averaging sea and land the 97% can reply, if they give a rat’s — about what you say:”

I think Greg is trying to maintain a scientific position… which is not a problem on a scientific topic.

Andrew

• Don Monfort

Andrew, Greg is a very smart guy and I believe he is technically correct. But it’s a useless/losing argument, in the grand scheme of things. The 97% will simply ignore it. This climate battle is way past the sciency details and is in the political- legal arena. The election and the legal process are important. Nice analysis of the recent court action:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/02/10/placing-the-clean-power-plan-in-context/

Having said all that, I apologize to Greg for getting off the science. It’s his post. I’ll quit now.

• climategrog: right about what? That parrot fish on the Gt Barrier reef are affected by UHI in Siberia.

Right about not claiming too much.

Your body temperature changes from day time to night time with a reproducible circadian rhythm. If your day/night mean body temperature rises by 2C, then you are in trouble. It does not imply that you have a hernia or diabetic neuropathy, but a doctor might want to consider appendicitis or septicemia. It also does not allow you to say anything about heat flows.

• ordvic

Well said! I didn’t know what to think of this post, but if I knew anything I’d probably say what you said.

• Steven Mosher

The point is you can add temperatures.
The result is meaningful.

Another example of how folks create indexes.
http://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/help/the-ap-index

• “Another example of how folks create indexes.”

They did it too is Joshua-level argumentation.

Andrew

29. daveandrews723

As a layman I thoroughly enjoy reading the comments by all of you with much greater knowledge and expertise than I have about man-made climate change/global warming. It’s quite an education. If there is one thing I have taken away it is that the science is not settled. I think anyone who claims it is settled is just kidding themselves and has a political/social axe to grind. I would think that in any scientific field skepticism is always the most valuable mindset. There is so much more that we do not know than what we know.

• daveandrews723 said:

I would think that in any scientific field skepticism is always the most valuable mindset./blockquote>

Yep.

But thoughtful people don’t make good advocates.

Much of science today has abandoned the scientific method. Instead, it looks to religion and politics for its methods.

30. Gary Meyers

Maybe a silly question but, why not just use sea surface temperature to calculate the average global temperature? Call it the 70% model.

• Because it is meaningless to talk of average temperature of different media. However, if you mean why not calculate CS using SST only , I think that is the logical first step since the oceans rule.

What I also think would make more sense is to use the land only and sea only data to derive two different sensitivities for the two environments. I think land would come out notably more and ocean a little less.

Then once , we’ve finished arguing about how much of that was due to UHI effect we would have an idea how much land temps ( our main living concern ) and how much SST ( which affect sea levels etc ) may respond to various forcing. We could look at whether the various models in Geoffroy et al get closest to a ground truth check.

Most of all we stop trying to represent a hugely complex system, of which we understand so little, in a single number.

The average temperature of the world ? What a joke.

• Don Monfort

It’s a convenient convention that suits the 97% and they will continue to use it.

• Steven Mosher

It’s not meaningless.
When I tell you that the average temperature in 1900 was lower than today that has meaning.
Like all meaning the key is understanding that you need to operationalize the definition. Pretty standard stuff.

• “What I also think would make more sense is to use the land only and sea only data to derive two different sensitivities for the two environments. I think land would come out notably more and ocean a little less. ”

I know the first part has already been done, by somebody and Lebedeff.

“The average temperature of the world ? What a joke.”

The jokes on you, no one is saying there is a average temperature of the world. They say you can estimate it, but that’s about all.

• Greg Goodman

Thanks Mosh’ .
“meaningless” is probably an overstatement but it is invalid as a physical calculation. It is incorrect to add or average something that is not an extensive variable in physics. It is wrong. Physical sciences tend to be rather clear cut about things like that.

You may average repetitions of a single experiment to reduce experimental error but averaging temperatures of different things is fundamentally wrong.

If you want to use land and sea temps as some kind of energy proxy then iit will be incorrect and biased but not totally void of reality so ‘meaningless’ is too strong.

If you tell me that land + sea average in 1900 was less than land + sea average of today, that is likely true because the 100y change is greater than the bias of an erroneous calculation, not because the calculation was right.

For energy calculations such as CS it will be biased if land and sea are added according to a geographic area ration. There may be fudge factor that can improve on that fundamentally wrong process to make it closer to something that is a linearised approximation of a hack. But what the heck we are scrabbling for whatever we can make of a climate record that never was one. That will involve messy compromises and , dare I say, uncertainty.

• Don Monfort

The average weight of apples + oranges in 1900 is lower that it is today. Meaningless?

• “The average weight of apples + oranges in 1900 is lower that it is today. Meaningless?”

I’d say it’s absolutely meaningless.

Are the average weights of apples + oranges supposed to be static through time?

Who cares?

Andrew

• Don Monfort

I bet a lot of people care about the average weight of fruits, nuts, grains and other related stuff (we in the world of investment and finance call them agricultural commodities) because it’s big business, Andrew. Utilities would be very interested in keeping track of how the supply of oil, gas and coal are changing from year to year. They all got BTUs in them and the rise and fall of the supply of any affect the total supply of BTUs available, and thus the price. If you need any more help, let me know .

• “average weight of fruits, nuts, grains and other related stuff”

Individually, yes. Added together in a Combination Fruit Weight Anomaly Index, Donnie. Do they make those?

Andrew

• Don Monfort

Have you heard of baskets of commodities, Andrew? Or baskets of currencies? ETFs? That’s all the help I will give you, for free.

• “Have you heard of baskets of commodities, Andrew?”

Maybe not. Got examples?

Andrew

• Don Monfort

I have many examples, Andrew. But I don’t advise annoying lightweight clients, who don’t really want to take advice.

• “I have many examples, Andrew”

Andrew

• Steven Mosher

Average temperature of the world?
Who does that?
There is a sst record
There is a land record
And there is an index if you combine these two.
You can track all three or not.

But if you asked me what our global product was I would tell you precisely.

It’s not an average temperature. It’s an index.

The definitional problem is pretty simple. We make the index. Ask us what it means and how it can best be used.

• The Heat Demon is out there in the air.

You can’t see ‘im.

But he’s gonna get ya.

Andrew

• Oh… and under the sea too.

Andrew

• Steven Mosher

You can look at sst and see warming
You can look at land air temps and see warming
You can combine them into an INDEX and see warming.

When faced with this, some folks have find some reason to object.

If you look at sst, they will say what about ohc
If you look at SAT , they will say what about tlt
If you combine sat and sst as index, they will object to indexes.

In short there are no end to objections. Objecting to the addition of sst and sat has always been around, and has never been effective. There are better skeptical arguments.

• Don Monfort

“There are better skeptical arguments.”

Probably the two most effective skeptical arguments over the last half-decade or so that have kept the alarmists from ramming their drastic mitigation schemes down our throats:

Climategate

The pause is killing the cause.

• Steven Mosher

Yep Don.

Add to that nic Lewis and Judith work.

The inoculation theory says we can weaken belief by exposing people to weak forms of arguments.

Next up some one will talk about paint on temperature shelters.

31. In light of this and the Zeke post,
is there some reason that climate science can’t design a global surface temp measuring system?
Start from scratch.
One consistent measuring stick.
Have some adult style patience for the data to come in.
Delay panic until then.

The historical data seems such a mess.

• Greg Goodman

The historical record is a mess because it was never supposed to be an historical record ( at least until recently ).
Unfortunately, as Zeke pointed out yesterday, even the purpose build CRN which measured air temps every 2 seconds only logs twice per day !! Can you believe it. We design and build something to be a reference network and design it to mimic a 19th c. mercury thermometer. SHIT , we are not going anywhere fast on this one.

We can photograph the fluff inside belly button of Pluto but we can’t measure the temperature in our own back yard.

We can stock every worthless video and selfie of everyone on the planet but we cannot stock more than two bytes of data per day from a weather station. Jeez. Where did that \$14 billion budget go fur chrisakes?

• Steven Mosher

You can get 5 second data from crn.

• Greg Goodman

OK, I just checked back on what Zeke posted yesterday and it seems I misinterpreted. Thanks for the correction.

• Steven Mosher

Thanks Greg.

• We did. They are called microwave sounding units. They fly on satellites, and ‘see’ in different wavelengths (channels). They measure air temps in the lower, middle, and upper troposphere (different typical wavelengths corresponding to the average for those regions temperature lapse rates). That is where GHG warming originates, not at the surface. The data started in 1979, and is processed by NOAA STAR, UAH, and RSS. And all three all show that 2015 was not the hottest year, and that there has been no warming in this century despite ~20% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions (IIRC) occurring during that same period.

• PA

is there some reason that climate science can’t design a global surface temp measuring system?

They don’t want to because it would give them a lower rate of warming. When people don’t do things the right way it is because the right way won’t give them the answer they want. Global warming climate science seldom if ever does things the right way.

The US blows \$22 Billion a year on global warming. Virtual all of that is wasted money.

For a few hundred million the US could fund a land network in pristine areas with identical hardware. Obviously this isn’t a priority. CO2 witch hunt studies to justify draconian CO2 controls are more important. The patient is being diagnosed with cancer and treatment scheduled before he has even seen a doctor.

We are only interested in the GHG effect on global temperatures. Sites with dissimilar hardware or located in rural/urban areas are a waste of time and money. The hardware should either be aging resistant or homogenization should be forbidden. The current stations warm with age until they are serviced and homogenization or “break on discontinuity” handling turns that into a warming trend.

It is unbelievable we are wasting tens of billions annually on global warming when for pennies on the dollar of one year’s global warming budget we could have a first class climate reporting system.

We should zero the global warming budget until we have a first class climate measurement system with 0 (zero) UHI and few if any artifacts in the data, and a decade or two of good data under our belt.

• Steven Mosher

Yes we should start from scratch.
First. Cease all c02 emissions for 100 years so we can get a good baseline.

• PA

Steven Mosher | February 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Reply
Yes we should start from scratch.
First. Cease all c02 emissions for 100 years so we can get a good baseline.

No need. The peak CO2 level based on either fossil fuel supplies or constantly increasing CO2 absorption is only going to be 460 PPM.

4.5 * ln (460/400)/ln(2) = 0.91 °C.

Whew… dodged that bullet. Even with a ECS that is 4.5 times the actual value. That the third world will at worst use Chinese 200 MW modular HTGs.or some other clean safe reliable dependable nuclear source makes even 460 PPM look like rank pessimism.

At worst more CO2 and 0.91 °C.of warming will be beneficial. The US should enact legislation to subsidize fossil fuels to maintain the eventual 460 or less CO2 level for the benefit of the future of mankind.

32. Steven Mosher

1. It’s an diagnostic index.
2. The rate of change in the index is what we care about.
3. You can if you like use multiple diagnostic metrics to characterize change in the system.
A. SAT
B. SST
C. MAT
D. NMAT
E. diurnal range
F. TLT
or others like stratospheric temperature.
Or you can Combine these metrics into an index.. Sat and sst would be the global temperature index. Colloquially referred to as global temperature.

The meaning is operational. That is it has an operational definition. When I tell you that it was colder in 1900 than today that has meaning. It means pick a random place.
If that random place is over land you measure the air temp. If it is over the ocean measure the water temperature.
Next go back to 1900 and perform the same operation. The answer you get in 1900 will be lower.

Do this for as many random locations as you like. The answer will be 1900 was cooler.

In summary. It’s a index. It’s one metric of many. It’s a metric used to diagnose changes in the system. To some degree this explains why it is silly to look for patterns between an index like sunspots and an index like global temperature. It has operational meaning ( Google operationalism for some help) another operational meaning comes in testing gcms. For example. Gcms cannot reproduce the global temperature index with perfection. So in that case you can see the operational utility and meaning of the term.

• “When I tell you that it was colder in 1900 than today that has meaning.”

Then the next question is, so what?

Andrew

33. Steven Mosher

The post makes the same mistake as Essex.
Just do it.
It has a definition. An operational definition and meaning. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_definition

There are better skeptical arguments. Typically definitional attacks are the weakest form of skepticism. As in I can program a bot to do them. No AI required.

• Greg Goodman

Just do it.

You can add deg. F and deg. C , just do it.
Call it the F&C “index” .

sure you can do it, what kind of an argument is that ?!

• Steven Mosher

It’s an operational definition Greg.
You can track the index. You can even predict the index.
You can use the index to invalidate models.

Using indices for complex systems is common place.
http://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/help/the-ap-index
Heck we even used indices to rank weapon systems capabilities.

• The key is how you use the index. In terms of measuring change, combining the two probably isn’t a problem. In terms of understanding the cause of the change, or in energy balance climate models, then arguably this kind of average does cause some problems.

• Greg Goodman

Yes, it’s pretty hard to get away from the ingrained idea that we can add or average temperatures, isn’t it?

I recall some time back you were objecting to krigging land temps our over water. There you definitely got it on a local scale, that it could not work across different media. That’s the same issue. I find it odd that you have less problems accepting it on a global scale.

Would you be equally happy combining deg F and deg C records to measure change? That would be biased is a similar way and I can’t imagine anyone finding that to be acceptable, even in a limited context or my calling it an “index” or “metric” to hide the fluff.

• Greg Goodman

“Typically definitional attacks are the weakest form of skepticism.”

Typically definitional rebuttals are the weakest form of rebuttal.

come on, Mosh, I’d expected better from you. You’re a smart guy. If that’s the best counter argument you can find ..

• Steven Mosher

Greg the reason why definitional attacks are weak is that most people forget that there are many ways to define definition.
In the case of global temperature the definition is operational.

• Greg Goodman

Thanks Mosh. This is descending into semantics again. Wordcraft may be your specialist subject , mine is physics.

Whether we call something in index or a metric or say it is just an ‘operational’ definition of a definition, it is just linguistic fluff to avoid addressing the issue.

There is no “operational” NEED to average and mix these incompatible data. Land and sea will respond differently all the models examined Geoffroy et al ( ref in article ) show that. If we want the to get the best we can from the pitiful data we possess we cant afford to degrade it further. Having sculpted the data by endless ‘bias corrections’ the last thing we need to do introduce a new bias by inappropriate processing.

There will be some, however, who find that something that introduces a warming bias in the more recent part of the record is ‘operationally’ expedient. They are likely to favour such an ‘operational’ definition.

I guess it all depends on what kind of operation one is involved in.

• Greg Goodman

In summary. It’s a index. It’s one metric of many.

That is just semantics, it does not address the issue. Giving something an ill-defined name like “index” is a weak way of admitting it does not have a clearly defined physical meaning.

A “metric” is something which provides a measure of something. A physically incorrect average of two incompatible physical quantities does not provide a measure of anything.

• Don Monfort

It’s a rough guestimate used for an index. It’s a proxy for an index. It’s an ersatz index. Whatever. It’s the convenient convention of the powers that be and they will keep using it.

• Steven Mosher

It doesn’t have a physical meaning.
It is operationaly defined.
I’ve probably explained this a dozen times before here.

• Don “It’s a rough guestimate used for an index. It’s a proxy for an index. It’s an ersatz index.”

More like a moving target

• Don Monfort

“More like a moving target”

That is covered under “Whatever.”

The point is, it’s their thang and they are gonna to do what they wonta do:

Friends of mine.

• Don, “The point is, it’s their thang and they are gonna to do what they wonta do:”

True, but the fun is in pointing out how silly they are playing with their thangs :)

Karl et al could have taken the majority of the data approach to minimize the adjustments. Then they would have figured out that the MMTS data was screwing up the diurnal temperature range. BEST could have questioned the shift in DTR and been somebody. But standing out requires a bit of a competitive nature.

34. Greg Goodman

2. The rate of change in the index is what we care about.

So BEST land record changes about 2x faster than SST. Does that mean that we ‘care’ more or less about BEST land or SST?

Or should we care more about the average rate of change which has not physical meaning?

As a human living on land, I ‘care’ more about BEST. As a physicist I don’t care for incorrect calculations as a means of understanding a system. That just leads to incorrect conclusions.

• Steven Mosher

It depends. If you are concerned about sea level rise or farming.

• Well, increased CO2, warmth and rain would appear to be good for farming.

But, be that as it may, the future of agriculture appears to be indoors anyway, in farms like these because they’re faster, cheaper, 24/7, more efficient and more productive:

Couple that with the fact that the average American spends 93% of their time ( and growing ) indoors or in their car, and climate change isn’t a problem because people aren’t in the climate!

• I was aware of this practice, but I still hadn’t realized just how much more beneficial indoor agriculture is.

“The statistics for this incredibly successful indoor farming endeavor in Japan are staggering: 25,000 square feet producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day (100 times more per square foot than traditional methods) with 40% less power, 80% less food waste and 99% less water usage than outdoor fields.”

• Turbulent eddie

I believe that 97 percent of the human experience is conducted indoors or in a vehicle. As you say, that makes climate change immaterial.

Can I sign you up for the next biosphere project?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2

Tonyb

• Consider why greenhouses use air-conditioners.

• JCH

What the paper on German climate scientist said was these scientists had a fear that people would take their studies and read into them a skeptic take that is not there, and you have done it.

They are not saying they will be less sea level rise; they are saying there will could be more sea level rise. They had thought that of the water that is there right now, a portion was the surplus of mined groundwater over man-made/natural storage, and that just vanished.

But many suspect it’s part of a cycle, which may mean seas will rise even more quickly than anticipated in the years ahead.

The steric component is likely underestimated by a lot.

• From what I have read AGW science has more than ‘likely’ overestimated bad stuff again. Whatever they say always remember, 2035. Today it’s the sea lever, no end in sight yet?

• Noah and his family faced a world changing event. To overcome they built the first VLCC. Fountains of water, not to mention the rain. Look where you are today. Kerry now knows about gravity waves, he heard it on TV. We have come a long way baby…

35. Gd Holcombe

JC Blog Rule #4: “Don’t grind your personal axes by filling up the comments with extensive posts that are not deemed relevant or interesting in the context of blog objectives.”

I would suggest that Glenn Stehle’s two posts from this morning–at 9:06 and 9:17 AM–directly violate Rule #4. Not sure what intelligence agency mistakes leading up to the Iraq War, and a video embedded for further illustration, have to do with climate in general and land/surface temperature measurement in particular. I would suggest that these politically partisan posts having nothing to do with climate belong somewhere else.

36. I have a guess that one reason that people talk about the average temperature of the world is that they think that of all the climate related variables they could describe, this is the only one that they think might not be chaotic. It seems, after all, to be related to the overall energy in the system. So maybe it’s something we can predict, while the average temperature in North America may not be.
The problem with this – if it’s a true guess at all – is that the system we’re studying is not closed. Well, coming and going into space, of course, but that’s what we’re studying. But aside from that: By now people are thinking that heat can move in significant ways into and out of the deep ocean, which is at a very different temperature and has a tremendously greater overall heat capacity. The average temperature of the world may be at the mercy of long-term ocean cycles, and that might swamp anything CO2 can do. Or maybe not.

• Greg Goodman

Judy, I’m not sure what you found relevant to this discussion. However, it is a great example how climatology has become the antithesis of the scientific endeavour.

Venema finds a portion of the record that does not fit his preconceived expectations in that it does not follow his CO2 driven model of what climate “should ” be doing. Instead of questioning whether the model is accurately representing the data he is desperately looking for a reason to “correct” that specific portion of the data to agree with the model. He is not putting any other part of the record under scrutiny. Just the “inconvenient” part.

He then also wants to revisit the same part of the SST record, talking about buckets, evaporation etc. without apparently being aware that this has already been done.

This is the most blatant and shameless data manipulation. He’s not even smart enough to pretend that he’s being objective and scientific. It seems that this is now the “new normal”. Apparently he works at the Meteorological Institute at the University of Bonn.

I’m going to bookmark that one as an example of how far things have gone off the rails: don’t correct the model, correct the data.

37. nobodysknowledge

Michael Good point.
“The average temperature of the world may be at the mercy of long-term ocean cycles, and that might swamp anything CO2 can do. Or maybe not.”
What I have learnt from this discussion, is that most of what is called global warming come from some warm surface layers in oceans. So le Nino is a great part of recent warming. There is very great energy exchange between layers in ocean and between ocean and air just above. Huge variations during a year. So middle january is the coldes time, with energy out of sea surface and atmosphere. In some seas (Baltic sea) the annual variation can be 15 degC, other places 10 to 12 degC.
Willis Eschenbach has shown this clearly with animation.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/02/argo-temperature-and-ohc/

• “What I have learnt from this discussion, is that most of what is called global warming come from some warm surface layers in oceans. So le Nino is a great part of recent warming.”
—————

An El Nino can cause global average temperature to rise sharply and then drop back in relatively short time. Between the last two El Ninos the average continued to rise. Do climate contrarians have a good explanation for the continued rise?

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/plot/none

• David Springer

Yes Max there is a good explanation. Atlantic Multi-Decade Oscillation (AMDO). It has an approximate 60-year cycle time and effects global average temperature (GAT) up/down a few tenths of a degree over that time. The beginning of the MSU satellite era began at the same time as the AMDO warming swing began (1979).

Regardless of that unfortunate (or fortunate if you’re an AGW cheerleader) alignment the average rate of increase in the entire 37-year UAH record is (0.527/3.7)

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/plot/uah/trend/plot/uah/trend/detrend:0.527 is 0.14C/decade. That rate is not alarming and is less than half what the IPCC warned us to expect based upon climate model output.

It remains to be seen what the average will be over an entire 60-year AMDO cycle. There may be cause for concern if the model average turns out to be correct but it’s going to take some extraordinarily rapid heating over the next 23 years to double the currently observed average per decade.

Thanks for playing. Better luck next time.

• JCH

First, wood for trees is using UAH version 5.5. Second, the last El Nino before the current one started in 2009 and ended spring of 2010, and was followed by a moderately strong El Nino.

As for the AMO, LMAO.

• PA

JCH | February 11, 2016 at 10:14 pm |
the last El Nino before the current one started in 2009 and ended spring of 2010, and was followed by a moderately strong El Nino.

The weak 2014 El Nino was followed by a strong 2015 El Nino.

The La Nina in 2016 is fixin’ to be ugly. The prediction plume for the La Nina dropped 0.3 between mid-December and mid-January and 2 of the models dropped below -2.0. Global warmers won’t be happy campers in 2016, 2017, and likely 2018.

The 1997/1998 El Nino switched to a La Nina in 2 months. It stayed a La Nina for 2 and 3/4 years. Buckle up your seat belts global warmers you are in for a rough ride.

• JCH

ONI for 2014:

-0.5
-0.6
-0.4
-0.2
0
0
0
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.6

• JCH

Buckle up your seat belts global warmers you are in for a rough ride.

Yes, another warmest La Nina in the instrument record is going to miserable… 4u.

• David Springer

Fine. Let’s use RSS if UAH isn’t up to date on WfT. My understanding is the latest tweak on UAH brings it in line with RSS.

Now it’s 0.012C/year instead of 0.14C. Happy now? LOL

• David Springer

JCH is praying for a rapid temperature rise. He would rather civilization collapse than have to face being wrong. Hilarious. I’m sure that particular mental disorder has a name. What is it?

• JCH

There’s physics, and then there’s the noggin’ up the shady hole. Physics doesn’t require any praying. And you can write that down.

The predicted 2014 El Nino never materialized, meaning: it never happened, and making it an ENSO neutral warmest year.

• JCH, “Physics doesn’t require any praying. ”

“If it turns out to be nothing, they will kill us.” from the climate gate emails. The probability of nothing is about the same as anything over 4 C so some praying might be in order.

• JCH

Other than Trenberth’s travesty, it’s a travesty to waste time reading climategate emails. This February on track to the become the hottest month in the instrument record, no praying required.

• aaron

I think JCH will get his rapid rise, but it will be in upper latitude troposphere satellite data rather than surface stations.

38. Mark

Global average temp is as useful in climate science as a tool to find cause\effects of climate change as the average attendance of stadium is to finding the cause and effects of people attending the event in the stadium.

As Lindzen says, it is a residue, not a metric, and obviously there is no global climate, it is not a system, but systems that interact and have been for a very long time, we have literally dipped our toes in effects caused probably thousands of years ago..

The average temperature of Northern Finland might be a useful metric because northern Finland has a climate range we can measure against for anomalies, but anomalies on a global map, is ludicrous child science and even worse, people are arguing over this!! It is irrelevant

39. Mark

The amount of “positive” results in warmist science must be alarming.

There are literally millions of people who no longer associate science for the search for truth because of this one area. Those that read and read see the exact same problems in Astrophysics and other fields.

The old lizard brain reigns supreme, still..

40. David Springer

Yes of course it’s meaningful. Air temperature 5 feet above the ocean is generally assumed to be equal to the water surface temperature. Land surface stations measure air temperature 5 feet above ground so it’s an apples to apples comparison for all practical purposes.

The close similarity of SST and boundary layer air temperature is why there’s so little sensible heat loss from the ocean to the atmosphere (10% globally averaged). Sensible heat loss requires a temperature differential to drive it. The lion’s share of oceanic heat loss to the atmosphere is latent (evaporation) at 60% and radiative at 30%.

Keep in mind at all times that the sun heats the ocean and the ocean heats the atmosphere.

See “Descriptive Physical Oceanography: An Introduction” here:

“… Ts is the surface temperature of the ocean (assumed to be equal to the air temperature immediately above the ocean surface); Ta is the air temperature; z is …”

• Mark

Heat loss of ocean to atmosphere or transfer vice versa is entirely dependent on the temperatures of both.

It is entirely possible I guess that the water temperature regulates the near surface air temp, so equilibrium would be possible.

I prefer to discuss the mechanics though instead of abstracts mathematics and theory.

• JCH

How exactly does the temperature of the atmosphere change the amount of solar energy that is drilled into the ocean to depth each day?

• David Springer

No, that’s wrong Mark. Evaporation is the primary means of ocean heat loss. That happens when air and sea temperatures are nearly identical. In fact it’s evaporation which makes them nearly identical. The ruling factor there is relative humidity. If the air can hold more water there’s an unlimited supply of it available for evaporation. The second most important way the ocean loses heat is radiation. Air is transparent to a good fraction of far IR emitted by the ocean so air temperature makes no difference. Air is translucent to other bands of far IR so it radiates through the boundary layer like it wasn’t there except in the case of fog (rare over open ocean) so MABL temp doesn’t matter much there either.

You boys DO NOT have a good grasp of the physics involved with oceanic heat budgets and you’d be well served reserve your pie holes for asking questions and thanking people who know for answering. Got it?

41. Kip Hansen

Reply to Springer ==> This: “Air temperature 5 feet above the ocean is generally assumed to be equal to the water surface temperature.” is simply not physically true in my personal experience — and if it is ever true, it is entirely accidental as air temp moves up and down — and I have lived on the sea for 1/2 of my adult life. Where anyone got such a cockeyed idea is beyond me.

Let’s try a new idea — like actual measurements instead of “assumptions”.

Have the writers ever been at sea, on the sea, near the sea?

• David Springer

The exception to the rule is near a coastline. Presumably the half of your life “on the sea” wasn’t on a boat in the middle of the Pacific.

So what part of the *measured* sensible heat loss from ocean to atmosphere did you not understand?

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter05/chapter05_06.htm

“Sensible heat fluxes (Figure 5.10 top) are dominated by cold air blowing off continents.”

Maybe I should apologize for actually knowing WTF I’m talking about?

• David Springer

More:

Lecture 14. General features and climatology of marine boundary layers

(c) Air-sea temperature differences tend to be small, except near coasts. The air tends to be 0-2 K cooler than the water due to radiative cooling and advection, except where there are strong winds or large sea-surface temperature (SST) gradients. The MBL air is usually radiatively cooling at 1-2 K/day, and some of this heat is supplied by sensible heat fluxes off the ocean surface. If the air is much colder than the SST, vigorous convection will quickly reduce the temperature difference.

(d) Due to the small air-sea temperature difference, the ‘Bowen ratio’ of sensible to latent heat flux tends to be small (typically 0.1 in the tropical oceans, and more variable in midlatitudes); latent heat fluxes are 50-200 W m-2, while (except in cold air outbreaks off cold land-masses) sensible heat fluxes are 0-30 W m-2 (slide 1)

http://i52.tinypic.com/2ypkpsl.jpg

Thanks for playing, Kip. Any more uninformed nonsense drawn from anecdotal experience you’d like to put on display for me to correct or will this be enough for now?

• Kip Hansen

Reply to Springer ==> You make a big deal out of making my point instead of your own.

The graph just above demonstrates that the differences in sea surface and sea air temps, even averaged (visually about 0.8°C), are generally greater than the entire claimed Global Land-Ocean Surface Temp anomaly since the 1970’s, the portion of the temperature record that is the basis of the attribution controversy, with the range of difference (0.6°C) nearly as large.

Thus — measurement still rules, assumptions no so much.

• David Springer

We only care about trends not absolute temperatures. SST and MABL @ 5′ MSL march in lockstep. If we cared about absolute temperatures the author would be complaining that we can’t average trends in Canada with those in Mexico. Get a clue.

• David Springer

That’s practically in lockstep. Note that except in extraordinary circumstances such as the 1998 super El Nino SST and MABL are joined at the hip with only 0.2C separating them and it’s not random departures it’s season so taking a 12 month mean on it makes it a straight line.

I’m sure by that’s all over your pointy little head so I write it mostly for the benefit of others.

• Kip Hansen

Reply to Springer ==> Let me guess — you are involved in politics at some level?

42. David Springer

Judith you REALLY need to cut back on the pap you allow here from guest authors. It makes you appear to have poor judgement.

• Greg Goodman

What PAP would that be ? Are you still winging about Kip’s comment or is that referring to my article. If so you may need something more substantive that “pap”.

BTW your quoted sources talk of 0-2 deg C and 1-2 deg C which may be “small” compared to 300K but is not “small” when looking for a proxy to detect 0.7 K/ century warming.

• Greg Goodman

Tisdale’s graphs also show considerable decadal drift which makes any claim of a either being a “proxy” of the other fairly silly.

• Greg,
Tisdale’s graphs are only one and a half decades long, how can they show decadal drift?

Looks to me that Tisdale shows a very high correlation between sea surface temperature and sea air temperature.

If everything gets converted to anomalies, then you can combine them into a land sea index so you can track temperature changes.

Judith, Springer is right, you need to find guest posters that don’t look like they just came out of a general science class.

• Greg Goodman

Tisdale’s graphs are only one and a half decades long, how can they show decadal drift?

How old you need to be to have a ten years birthday party? Think about it.

Something which varies from +0.5 to +1.1 relative to SST or +0.2 to +1.2 as we see in those graphs is not going to be much use as a ‘proxy’ for detecting changes where 0.7 per century is considered a world shattering catastrophic change, is it?

It also appears that the difference is proportional to SST as wellm so the ‘proxy’ will be under- or over-estimating the change.

Judith, Springer is right, you need to find guest posters that don’t look like they just came out of a general science class.

Yet more aimless, non-specific criticism. If you have point , make it. If you think something incorrect say what it is and why you disagree.

• bob, “Judith, Springer is right, you need to find guest posters that don’t look like they just came out of a general science class.”

She could shoot for more open minded readers as well :) The main point of Greg’s post is that there are large differences between the two “surfaces” being averaged with respect to energy relationships. When you say that NMAT is close to SST you need to consider how close relative to what you are trying to “index”. 0.8 C +/- 0.2 C would indicate that the uncertainty in the GMTA should be about 0.15 C not 0.047 C because the former is the real uncertainty and the latter is based on the standard error of a bunch of readings assuming a normal distribution so that anomaly will catch that. But since land has an amplification factor of about 2 assuming a constant diurnal temperature range, once your amplification factor changes with reduced or increase DTR you have a bias that isn’t accounted for. So you have overstate your certainty, which should be a no no.

btw, there is a shift in DTR that seems to be introduced by MMTS issues and DTR which would decrease as atmospheric moisture increases should be a basic gut check.

• Greg,

Tisdale’s graphs show no trend, decadal or otherwise. Lots of natural variability, but no trend in the difference between sea surface temperature and sea air temperature.

“Something which varies from +0.5 to +1.1 relative to SST or +0.2 to +1.2 as we see in those graphs is not going to be much use as a ‘proxy’ for detecting changes where 0.7 per century is considered a world shattering catastrophic change, is it? ”

It can be of use as it has been shown by Tisdale and others that the sea surface temperature anomalies and the sea air temperature anomalies are well correlated, so they are physically related and the whole point of your guest post was that this was wrong because it is unphysical.

You have been soundly thumped.

And further more, the major data sets you claim are averaging or effectively averaging sea surface temperature and land temperature are doing nothing of the sort.

You need to go to Realclimate and go to their data sources page and learn about how the GISS land and sea data set is constructed, because you don’t know squat about it.

And it is one of the data sets you are railing against.

And 0.7 C temperature change is not catastrophic and no one is saying it is, most warmers consider the line to be at about 3 C, but the pain beats the benefits at about 1 C which is where we are now. That’s Tol’s number.

• Captain Dallas,

• Greg Goodman

It can be of use as it has been shown by Tisdale and others that the sea surface temperature anomalies and the sea air temperature anomalies are well correlated, so they are physically related and the whole point of your guest post was that this was wrong because it is unphysical.

Of course MAT is “well correlated” but whatever that means remains undefined , how “well”. It seems pretty obvious , just by eye, that difference is also “well correlated” which makes it a pretty bad proxy since it will either under or over-estimate the thing it is supposed to “track”. You avoid replying about that.

… and the whole point of your guest post was that this was wrong because it is unphysical.

The whole point of my post was mixing land + sea data . There’s a clue in the title.

I have no interest in RC since they sensor and delete comments they don’t like, That may, sadly, be “real climatology” but it is not real science.

HadCRUT is a straight 30/70% average. Now if you have a point to make in defence of the GISS land+sea record, make it and point to something specific that is verifiable, not some hand-waving reference to a bigoted, alarmist web site.

• Greg Goodman

You have been soundly thumped.

Yeah, right, The debate is over and we won it. Very amusing tactic.

If you’d thumped me, you’d know it, because you’d be lying on the floor. So we’ll just conclude that you are mistaken about that part of it. Probably a bad dream or something.

Now if you’ve woken up again , let’s get back to the scientific discussion.

• bobdroege:

Tisdale’s graphs are based on Tropical Atmosphere Ocean Project data. They relate to his focus on El Nino/La Nina and represent a highly restricted portion of the Pacific ocean.

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/jsdisplay/plots/gif/sst_wind_anom_5day_ps32.gif

• Greg Goodman

opluso, I would say that there is a bit more sense in regional averages that , say, global average SST, since as I mention in the article, even averaging SST only is not really valid unless the depth of the mixed layer is constant and it isn’t.

I have already pointed out that B. Tisdale’s graph clearly shows that the difference is correlated with SST which makes the idea of one being a reliable proxy for the other pretty untenable.

• Greg,

I already pointed this out from GISS

“” Whereas SATs and SSTs may be very different (since air warms and cools much faster than water), their anomalies are very similar (if the water temperature is 5 degrees above normal, the air right above the water is also likely to be about 5 degrees warmer than normal).””

Tisdale found the same thing if only for tropical pacific, and I did say Tisdale and others.

It is not proportional to sea surface temperature as you claim, the anomalies are similar is different from the anomalies are proportional to temperature.

I pointed you to the Realclimate data sources, not the forum, you don’t have to get your little feelings hurt by posting there but you could learn a little science.

“Of course MAT is “well correlated” but whatever that means remains undefined , how “well”. It seems pretty obvious , just by eye, that difference is also “well correlated” which makes it a pretty bad proxy since it will either under or over-estimate the thing it is supposed to “track”. You avoid replying about that.”

You don’t seem to understand what well correlated means, because it means it doesn’t under or over estimate the thing that correlates, it means it tracks it well.

Look what else tracks well, GISS and HADcrut3

You haven’t responded to the fact that these indexes are constructed using anomalies.

And by the way a 30 C bucket of water plus a 30 C bucket of water equals 60 C divided by two buckets for a final temperature of 30 C, which is the experimental result you would get if you performed that experiment.

• bobdroege:

It is appropriate to distinguish between anomalies and absolute temperatures. But it is not correct to assert (or imply) that no one uses absolute temperatures to produce global averages.

The very first sentence of this guest post stated:

Several of the major datasets that claim to represent “global average surface temperature” are directly or effectively averaging land air temperatures with sea surface temperatures.

You can go to NOAA/NCDC to see that they do, in fact, present a global average temperature that consists of SST (70%) plus Land (30%). https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201511

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2015 was the highest for November in the 136-year period of record, at 0.97°C (1.75°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F)…

Perhaps NOAA should find scientists “that don’t look like they just came out of a general science class.”

• “You can go to NOAA/NCDC to see that they do, in fact, present a global average temperature”
No they don’t. They present the anomaly average, and an estimate for the 20th century absolute for November. I think the latter is of dubious worth, but they are clearly presenting an anomaly average.

• Nick:

As you admit, right after you deny it, the 12.9 C quoted from NOAA is the weighted average of absolute land and absolute sea temps.

How that fails to prove Goodman’s point is beyond me. And apparently you, as well.

Kent

• David Springer

Bob Droege is exactly right. The high R-factor is all we need when averaging regional trends. And yes Greg the pap is all yours with the ridiculous assertion that we can’t average SST trends with 5′ MSL temperature trends over land. You’re an idi0t.

• Greg Goodman

You don’t seem to understand what well correlated means

You don’t seem to understand that “well correlated ” does not mean anything until you define what you mean by “well”. I understand what a correlation coefficient is.

What does “tracking” mean, as a scientific mathematical definition ?

You cite this text :

(if the water temperature is 5 degrees above normal, the air right above the water is also likely to be about 5 degrees warmer than normal)

Wow, “about”. Pretty good proxy then, right? Let’s go with it. Is that how you define “well correlated “?

You come in shouting about something being “about ” the same as something else “tracking” and “well correlated” , it’s total bellybutton fluff .

Despite, once again, I’m not discussing Marine Air Temperature anyway. I’m discussing land + sea. (SST)

• Greg Goodman

No they don’t. They present the anomaly average

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/faq/anomalies.php
“The global time series is produced from the Smith and Reynolds blended land and ocean data set (Smith et al., 2008). This data set consists of monthly average temperature anomalies on a 5° x 5° grid across land and ocean surfaces. These grid boxes are then averaged to provide an average global temperature anomaly. An area-weighted scheme is used to reflect the reality that the boxes are smaller near the poles and larger near the equator. ”

So it is weighted according to geographic area. The problem of trying to “average” land + sea data is the same for both anomaly and actual temperature datasets.

• Hey David Springer,

43. kim

The alarmists have chosen to be wrong and will continue to be more wrong as time passes. It is our choice to follow them or not. See ‘The Big Muddy’.
==================

• JCH

This is just hilarious. You’re the one who has elected to be wrong. Y, who cares.

• Greg Goodman

Oh cool, hopefully this will develop into a full scale did… didn’t argument . Maybe we’ll get to have some name calling too. Great. That’ll make a break form all this boring sciency stuff.

• JCH

I honored him by naming the divine wind after him… the kimikamikaze.

44. Mark

I wish we could address the fact that keeps getting overlooked.. that the rise in CO2, being man, is an assumption.

Given absolutely no actual metrics for natural CO2, nor any worthy account for the myriad of sources…

I must be going crazy.. does no one else not see this?!

Science that is founded on assumptions may get lucky, but it is hardly science.. the method.

Sadly, for a classic pseudo science, a stopped clock is right twice a day, so as soon as warming begins again it will automatically be confirmation.

Every rise in temp is man made and every cooling is natural variability of a greater order than man made warming, yet for some reason all of those well paid climate scientists do not believe in natural warming variability of a greater order than man made warming.

This is what I mean by the Lizard brain. Delusional science, and M.E.M is the big cahoona.

I literally will ever believe a claim unless I can see the paper.

Point in case NASA Relativity experiment with gyroscopes in space.
Experiment results.. epic failure, could not shield equipment from unforeseen and not quantified forces.

So upon reading the actual paper, I find that not only did they not admit failure, they played with the data for 5 YEARS and claimed a positive result!!

This type of science should be met with earnest skepticism

45. Jeff Id

yes

46. JCH

I pray for long-term factors. January AMO up slightly. January PDO Index up sharpy, making the forecast for 2016 being another warmest year a tad more likely.

• Greg Goodman

Warmist or warmist-ish quite possibly for a biased land + sea fugded “index” . SST doubtful, TLT certainly not.

Still they still have 10.5 months to redefine how they measure temperature, make past a little colder or “correct” the lack of warming, so no sense in trying to predict was is to come.

• JCH

You claim to be science, and you actually invoke the TLT? And then you follow it with conspiracy rot.

Here is what you pray for: the return of the Kimikamikaze. Maybe it will destroy the AGW armada and save your little island.

• kim

Nimbler vessels, better cannons and cannonading.
================

• Greg Goodman

What is your objection to TLT ? Like the other agenda drive wailers here you seem to be a specialist in implying something is wrong without ever saying what it actually is, which neatly avoids ever being wrong since the unspoken criticism can not be challenged.

“conspiracy rot”, sadly not. Karl et al’s ridiculous rigging of SST using temporally biased NMAT really happened, and was rapidly adopted by several major datasets, as surely as man landed on the moon.

Venema’s attempts to redefine land temperatures , linked above, is such blatant data manipulation that he does not even bother to hide the fact that he’s trying to “correct” the section of data that does not fit the CO2 driven model. Don’t fix that model , fix the data.

Apparently this is the “new normal”.

47. Greg is right. I am surprised there is not mention here of enthalpy. Clearly SSTs measure moist air, while air temperatures over land are widely diverse. Since the intent is to discern changes in heat content in the climate system, enthalpy is important, as Pielke Sr. has pointed many times.

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/arctic-amplification/

• I worded that badly. Differences (changes) in water temperatures are not combined with differences in humidity, whereas temperature changes in air of varying humidity do not represent the same heat content. Another reason why trends from the two datasets are incompatible.

• Greg Goodman

Thanks Ron. enthalpy is another good reason for not using air temperatures as measure of the effect of radiative forcing. Jeez, I’m having a hard enough time explaining why SHC matters. We’d better keep enthalpy for next week’s lesson. ;)

48. Pangolina

‚Temperatures don‘t add ! In technical terms, temperature is not an extensive quantity.‘

It’s at least the 20th time I read this within less than two years. It seems to be really en vogue to explain us that in my opinion somewhat simple-minded stuff, far abroad from every day’s reality.

Especially when the author feels the need to underline it with a very convincing:

‚That is illustrated by the fact that if you have one bucket of water at 30 degrees Celsius and you add another bucket of water at 30 degrees Celsius, you do not end up with water at 60 deg. C.‘

Wow.

I argue the origin of all of it might be found in an article written by Essex, McKitrick and Andresen: ‚Does a Global Temperature Exist?‘, published in 2007 in the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics.

I read that more than once, and had each time the impression of it being intended more to put some miscredit on data gathered to underpin global warming than to tell us what to do and not to do with intensive variables.

But: is climate ‚physics‘ and nothing else? Or isn’t it rather a statistical abstraction of manifold measurement, be it temperature, rainfall, wind, drought or whatever else?

Do we really add temperatures as physical entities when we build a mean over them, or over their difference to a common baseline, itself being again a mean value? Or do we rather manipulate abstract values, on which we can freely operate? That‘s the point here I think.

But the problem created by this ‚Temperatures don‘t add‘ doesn’t begin with climate evaluation: it starts will local meteorology, as in a big town spanning over 1,000 square km, nobody is interested in the temperatures measured at 25 stations in the town, in in the mean of these.

And people living outside of these cities also will want to know about tomorrow’s weather, what is computed for them by building some mean values, obtained e.g. by interpolation.

And some levels higher, insurances (and above them, reinsurances) will want from climate evaluators informations concerning a more or less near future, what today again solely can be obtained by considering temperatures and other phenomena as abstract values, out of which one computes a trend.

• Pangolina

To make things clear: I’m neither warmist nor coolist, and the best answer to this bizarre statement that ‘Temperatures don‘t add’ is given by the heteroclite community of those doing that all the time for us since decades.

For me it’s sounds pretty good to see that many mean temperatures, computed over the last 40 years out of incredibly different measurements of
– the lower troposphere using satellites
– the sea and land surfaces using thermometric stations and buoys
fall together in a nutshell with .6 C between minimum (UAH6.0beta5) and maximum (GISSTEMP LOTI), i.e. about 4% of the planet’s mean absolute temperature.

• Greg Goodman

Thanks you for some sensible comments and questions, Pangolina.

Or do we rather manipulate abstract values, on which we can freely operate? That‘s the point here I think.

As I explained in the article, averaging locally or even over larger areas works because temperature is a measure of thermal energy as long as we remain in the same physical medium.

If you want to look at temperatures as abstract quantities you can study mean, variance, distributions etc., and you may derive some information from that. Mean temperature matters when we live in it. The distribution of extremes may be more relevant to human and animal survival. That’s fine.

But you cannot pop back and then decide that these “abstract quantities” are part of an energy balance calculation. Physics and energy budgets require physical quantities that have been correctly processed, not “abstract” stats.

I have not seen Essex, McKitrick and Andresen, that’s presumably what someone referred to above when he mentioned “Essex” without bothering to explain what he meant. It may have made a good ref. for the article, I’ll check it out.

Stats are fine as stats, physics calculations require physical quantities.

Another example is wind speed. If you want to work out whether a site is good for a wind turbine, the ‘average’ wind is not of any use to you and may lead you to chose a poor site. Extractable energy varies with wind speed cubed. The average of that quantity may lead you to choose a different site. You don’t want abstract quantities you want the physically relevant ones.

49. Pangolina

I would like to continue this argumentation against author Goodman’s conclusion:

‘Most climate data are not just dimensionless numbers. Any processing should be considered in the context of the physical quantities that they represent.’

A few years ago, mathematician and statistician Grant Foster (alias Tamino) was asked to explain the influence of ENSO and volcanic eruptions on the temperature measurements. The question of course was bound to the well known surreaction of the LT against these events.

He had the pretty good idea of litterally ‘extracting’ the measurement of these events from the different temperature measurement series (TLT, ST) and to subsequentluy recompare them.

Having at hand the MEI index
https://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/mei.jpg?w=750&h=489
and data depicting the volcanic activities
https://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/volc.jpg?w=750&h=489
he produced new temperature datasets
where these ‘exogenic factors’ were reduced to a strict minimum.

With the net effect that these new datasets, when compared, gave for the ST dataset (here: GISS) a linear OLS trend weaker than that computed for the satellite datasets (here of course RSS and UAH).

Climate, Mr Goodman, is in some sense an abstraction, even if it is based on bare physical entities.

• Abstract indexes are used all the time, most often in financial markets. The Dow for example is an abstract index where failing corporations are replaced with up and comers. If you still owned American Cotton Oil, American Sugar, American Tobacco, Chicago Gas, Distilling & Cattle Feeding, General Electric, Laclede Gas, National Lead, North American, Tennesee Coal & Iron, U.S. Leather preferred, and U.S. Rubber it would not likely resemble the current Dow. So the average of land surface and sea surface temperatures could end up being that abstract.

What you want in thermodynamics is a reference, some thing a bit less abstract and not so easily manipulated.

• Greg Goodman

Grant Foster is someone who insults people and then runs to hide behind his control of his comically named “Open Mind” blog. http://climategrog.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/open-mind-or-cowardly-bigot/

I have never seem him step outside the safety of the environment he has control over to discuss climate. When someone criticises some work he produces he just bans them and deletes the comments. That is not how science works. It is politics and bigotry.

If he is doing linear regression to estimate volcanic forcing ( which seems to be what you are describing ) he has no understanding of either climate or physics. The linear response of climate feedbacks which is at the heart of the concept of ‘climate sensitivity’ produces a delayed response, which is somewhat different in form from the time series of the forcing. If you want to see how that works you may like to look at another of my articles Judith hosted here on C.Etc.

http://judithcurry.com/2015/02/06/on-determination-of-tropical-feedbacks/

Another problem which leads to exaggerated estimations of CS to various ‘forcings’ is incorrect use of linear regression. This is a very widespread problem, not reserved to climate alarmists.
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/on-inappropriate-use-of-ols/

• Greg Goodman

There is good physical evidence that volcanoes are a significant cause of the late 20th. c. warming that got everyone crapping themselves.
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/uah_tls_365d/

• Greg Goodman

Many have tried this sort of multivariate regression and mostly get it wrong. It is highly prone to false attribution, especially if regressed directly against forcings or something is omitted from the possible variables: eg periodic lunar effects or the ozone destroying effect of volacanoes that produces a warming .

Ben Santer also tried this in Santer et al 2014 . To his credit he did document that there was still anomalous bumps around the Mt Pinatubo period after he had supposedly removed volcanic effects
http://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/s2014_si_fig3d.png

The bit that was left was the difference between the forcing and the true climate response. ie he was regressing the wrong thing.

In fact the initial cooling effect of volcanoes is much stronger than is currently recognised and climate is far more resilient to this forcing.
http://judithcurry.com/2015/02/06/on-determination-of-tropical-feedbacks/
http://climategrog.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/tropical-feedback_resp-fcos.png

• Greg Goodman

Note there is a residual dip in Santer’s graph which was labelled: “ENSO and volcano signals removed”. This shows that his volcanic scaling was too small. The following bump corresponds to the period in my graph where the climate response is stronger than the decaying volcanic forcing. Mine peaks between 1993 and 1994 , his residual error has the same timing ( a little less clear on his graph ).

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v7/n3/extref/ngeo2098-s1.pdf

50. Harry Twinotter

“However, there is very little consideration of whether such a result has any physical meaning and what, if anything, it means.”

Oh really? References please. Or is this just Greg Goodman’s opinion?

• Greg Goodman

Well if the issue is not being considered, I can hardly provide refs to it NOT being discussed , can I. Perhaps you’d like to try to find some mention of it in IPCC reports or peer-reviewed papers on climate. Maybe it’s just coincidence that all the papers I’ve ever read never discuss it.

• Greg Goodman

Here is Essex, McKitrick and Andersen mentioned above. You may like to read it if you want refs:
http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/essexmc%20k.pdf

Thanks to Pangolina for providing the authors names and making me aware of it.

• Greg Goodman

1. Sums or averages over the individual temperatures in the field are not temperatures. Neither are they proxies for internal energy.

4. The utility of any global spatial average of the temperature field as an index for global conditions has been presumed but not demonstrated.

Thermodynamic variables come in two varieties: extensive and intensive. Extensive variables are proportional to the size of the system. They are additive.

Intensive variables, by contrast, are independent of system size and represent a quality of the system: temperature, pressure, chemical potential, etc. In this case, combining two systems will not yield an overall intensive quantity equal to the sum of its components. For example, two identical subsystems do not have a total temperature or pressure twice those of its components.

• Greg Goodman: For example, two identical subsystems do not have a total temperature or pressure twice those of its components.

That is irrelevant to the question of whether the average temperature is meaningful.

• Greg Goodman

All those quotes were from the Essex et al paper, I suggest you read it, you may learn something. I’m not making this up. Learn some physics.

You will then understand the relevance. If you disagree , try to come up with something more persuasive than just asserting it’s irrelevant. Try saying WHY you think it’s irrelevant or what part of what I’ve written is technically incorrect. You know intelligent scientific points, not assertions.

• Harry Twinotter

You need to read more papers then.

I figured it was just your opinion, not fact.

• Harry Twinotter

Greg Goodman.

“Here is Essex, McKitrick and Andersen mentioned above..”

Is that it. One paper in a non-climate science journal. I do recognize one of the names as being a well-known climate change denier with ties to the GWPF.

• Greg Goodman

No one can prove a negative, What do you want a list of a thousand papers that use averaged land + sea data without any discussion at all of whether it is physically meaningful or not?

If you want to say I’m wrong, the onus is on your to provide a list of climate papers that HAVE looked at this and explained why using physically incorrect averages is acceptable in what they are dong and why. Clearly most climatologists have not even realised there’s an issue.

If some qualified scientist does say the same thing as I argued, for you he is by definition a “denier” and therefore does not count.

Clearly finding any refs is far too much trouble for you , you’d rather just come here and post brainless, uninformed comments as your contribution to fighting “deniers”.

• Harry Twinotter

Greg Goodman.

“No one can prove a negative”.No, wrong. It is trivially easy to prove a negative. Look it up.

It is indeed possible to estimate and average temperature for the globe. My evidence for this is the fact that it is done by many climatologists and groups on a daily basis. To dispute it is to say they are all wrong.

Someone else has pointed out that it is the change in the sea surface temperature and land surface that is used in most cases, not the absolute temperature. The anomaly. The GISTemp website contains references

• Greg Goodman

My evidence for this is the fact that it is done by many climatologists and groups on a daily basis. To dispute it is to say they are all wrong.

Most of it is monthly averages, so daily basis, no, but in essence you’ve got the message. That is point of the article: to discuss the validity of mixing land + sea temps in the same ‘average’ AS MOST DATA PROVIDERS ARE IN THE HABIT OF DOING.

Yes, you’ve got it. Now if some of those data providers were to say why they are adding intensive variables, which physics and thermodynamics say are not additive quantities, it would be informative.

We had a brief guest appearance from John Kennedy one of the key figures behind the UK Met Office dataset but he did not chose to comment on the subject of article. We had some input for Steve Mosher who is part of the Berkeley BEST project. He just offered excuses like calling it an “index” or “metric” and saying that it is just an “operational” index. That basically avoids addressing the issue. He did not comment on whether is was correction or not. I suppose that’s a 5th amendment response.

So in short, even those engaging in your “daily” calculations did not say I was incorrect. That may tell you something about your ‘evidence’.

Someone else has pointed out that it is the change in the sea surface temperature and land surface that is used in most cases, not the absolute temperature.

As I replied to both the people who made that kind of comment, it is immaterial, the same problem applies for the same reasons to adding temperature ‘anomalies’.

BTW “absolute temperature” has a specific defined meaning in science and refers to the kelvin scale, not centigrade or Celsius figures. . Only UAH I think, use kelvin for their data. . You probably meant actual temperatures as opposed to temperature ‘anomalies’.

“No one can prove a negative”.No, wrong. It is trivially easy to prove a negative. Look it up.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Negative_proof

A negative proof (known classically as appeal to ignorance) is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of: ….

• Harry Twinotter

Greg Goodman.

No one can prove a negative were your words, not mine.

So you are really saying you meant an argument from ignorance. This is even worse than your original argument.

Anyway I can see what you are doing here. You are going to endlessly flap around even though your article has been shown to be wrong. I do not discuss with dishonest people, so another time maybe.

• “My evidence for this is the fact that it is done by many climatologists and groups on a daily basis”

They did it too.

Joshua

• David Springer

“Well if the issue is not being considered, I can hardly provide refs to it NOT being discussed , can I.”

The unicorn hypothesis isn’t being considered either. For the same reason too.

• David Springer

Greg Goodman | February 12, 2016 at 11:14 pm |
Here is Essex, McKitrick and Andersen mentioned above. You may like to read it if you want refs:
http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/essexmc%20k.pdf

Thanks to Pangolina for providing the authors names and making me aware of it.

On a scale of impact factors where 0 is a blog and 15 is Nature Climate, the Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics is 0.85. I’m not sure why the impact raters bother ranking journals less than one but there you have it.

Adding insult to injury McKitrick’s article is an attempt to dispute whether any global average temperature is meaningful unlike Goodman’s zero impact blog article which tries to poop on averaging land boundary layer air temperature with sea surface temperature.

So for McKitrick I’d ask whether he considers the average temperature at 30 degrees north latitude (Austin, TX) being 72F and that at 43 degrees north (Syracuse, NY) being 52F has any meaning? In point of fact it does. The temperature of dirt 3+ feet deep has nearly constant year round temperature. Think that might be meaningful, Ross? In fact it is. Practically so too. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_sheltering

So if average temperature is a meaningful measure for regions as large as latitude bands, which is demonstrable, why isn’t it meaningful for the entire earth? Where’s the cutoff point where it goes from meaningful to non-meaningful? I’m disappointed in Ross McKitrick. Thought he was smarter than that. :-(

• “So if average temperature is a meaningful measure for regions as large as latitude bands, which is demonstrable, why isn’t it meaningful for the entire earth?”

Is the average of temperature of the group Austin And Syracuse meaningful?

Andrew

• Greg Goodman

Harry Twinotter

I figured it was just your opinion, not fact.

Harry Twinotter

Is that it. One paper in a non-climate science journal.

So it’s not just my opinion but you won’t accept something in a thermodynamics journal about thermodynamics. You only want it from a climatology journal. LOL

I say hardly anyone is discussing this, The ref that I provided does not count for you, so I guess that means no one is discussing it.

So that’s it unless you can’t be bother to show otherwise.

• Harry Twinotter

Greg Goodman.

No one discusses it because it is nonsense. It does not exist. It is like asking why The Easter Bunny is not discussed in the scientific literature.

• otter, “No one discusses it because it is nonsense. It does not exist. It is like asking why The Easter Bunny is not discussed in the scientific literature.”

That’s funny. There are probably a few hundred papers on how to disappear the “pause” but the difference in specific heat capacity between the land and oceans and the lack of a standard for this iconic “index” for some reason is nonsense.

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep12971

That one is on scale dependency, land and oceans have different response times due to that little heat capacity difference, the NH and SH have different land/ocean ratio so they have different response times. We are supposed to be concerned with “climate” something likely greater than a 30 year average but the keepers of the index are doing battle over the warmest month and year evah for PR. That isn’t how an index is supposed to work.

• JCH

The hiatus of global warming since 1999 has been claimed to show that human activities play only a minor role in global warming. Most likely this claim is wrong due to the inadequate consideration of the scale-dependency in the global surface temperature (GST) evolution. Here we show that the variability and trend of the global mean surface temperature anomalies (GSTA) from January 1850 to December 2013, which incorporate both land and sea surface data, is scale-dependent and that the recent hiatus of global warming is mainly related to natural long-term oscillations. These results provide a possible explanation of the recent hiatus of global warming and suggest that the hiatus is (JCH correction – definitely WUZ temporary) only temporary.

Nice upward thrust in the PDO in January; AMO flat in January but who cares as that puny ocean cycle doesn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway; GISS up in January; February is rockin’; GMSL rise accelerating Jason2 (4.4mm pyr; butttt the satellites!!!!!!!.

• JCH, “GISS up in January; February is rockin’”

Yep, but if you stick with just the oceans and consider all the data sets you have a more realistic picture. I generally use 60S to 60N because that eliminates the sea ice area issue for the most part and the inconsistent land coverage pretty much completely.

Hadley gives you a nice plain vanilla index and they seem to have backed off from over hyping. As it is GISS includes ERSSTv4 which appears to have some serious issues pre-pause, not that anyone really cares.

• JCH

Uh, no. PDO is looking more and more like it has gone into a positive phase. The AMO is a helpless puny tiny little weakling ocean cycle – used somehow in some people’s goofy observation-based estimates of CS – that is just hanging around doing whatever. We are in a period of aggressive warming of the planet. People who try to use mommy nature to elect a President, mommy nature’s natural variation is going to eat your lunch.

• Greg Goodman

HO: “No one discusses it because it is nonsense. It does not exist. ”

What “does not exist” ? It is scientific fact that temperature is an intensive property. If anyone wishes to ignore that , they need to explain why. So far they don’t seem to noticed.

• Greg Goodman

Nice upward thrust in the PDO in January; AMO flat in January but who cares as that puny ocean cycle doesn’t amount to a hill of beans anyway; GISS up in January; February is rockin’; GMSL rise accelerating Jason2 (4.4mm pyr; butttt the satellites!!!!!!!.

That’s what always amazes me about warmists. They are cheer-leading and whooping with joy as the earth “burns” just to that they can “we were right”. At the same time they say we must do everything possible to ‘save the planet’. We must act now. They don’t give a shyte about the planet, they just want a means of telling everyone else what to do. Totally hypocritical.

• JCH

Lol. Just physics. Sorry. Gotta be tough for an A student to lose to a C student.

• Greg

Totally hypocritical.

• Harry Twinotter

captdallas.

“That’s funny. There are probably a few hundred papers on how to disappear the “pause” but the difference in specific heat…”

If you do not accept the climate scientists reasoning why combining ocean and land temperature anomalies is OK, fine. Just treat them separately. You will find they still show global warming.

I do not accept your implied allegation that they are trying to “disappear” the “pause” (I assume you really mean the hiatus). But I guess that is how you evaluate science you do not personally like.

“Warmest month and year evah for PR”. Sure, it is indeed PR. When records are broken it is newsworthy. But I am sure if it was the coldest month and year evah, it would generate the same headlines.

• JCH

Yes, if we break the coldest evah record, it will be newsworthy.

I’m having my hypocrite t-shirt made. I’m want a denial theme.

• harryotter, “But I guess that is how you evaluate science you do not personally like.”

Odd thing that, I generally don’t have much comment on sound science, just the science that appears to be questionable.

Take kriging for example, when you don’t have discontinuities or “corners” it is the greatest thing since sliced bread if you like sliced bread. When Cowtan and Way gave it a shot, the majority of their “correction” was in the high Arctic in winter. The higher temperatures were in the -30 C and below range which jumped up about 6 degrees, during something called Arctic Winter Warming and Sudden Stratospheric Warming events.

Since this GMTA is supposed to be an index for radiant warming and the average temperature is about 15 C or so which has an equivalent radiant energy of about 390 W m-2, they would “averaging” extremely cold temperatures with an average radiant energy of about half of the “global” average and giving them equal weight to the all the other temperatures.

Since there were not many satellites or north pole temperature stations prior to 1950, their “global mean temperature anomaly” has a weird “feature”, it is biased by temperatures that don’t exist in early parts of the record because there was no observations that could and likely did exist if there was uniform coverage. Without the magic of “discovered” data, there would have been no difference to speak of.

Now if you are looking for an index that in some way relates to “global” radiant energy, you should weight the index by effective radiant energy and if you want an index that relates to total stored energy you should weight the index by SHC. Actually, both result in a better index.

Just my 2 cents

• Harry Twinotter

captdallas.

“Odd thing that, I generally don’t have much comment on sound science, just the science that appears to be questionable.”

So you say. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion I guess.

To be honest I have no idea what you are talking about in the rest of your response – any citations?

• harryotter, Citations? None that are peer reviewed since it is just an “index” after all :) The Black Board had a fair discussion but they never hit of the weighting of anomaly that could be used at extreme temperatures.

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/currys-criticisms-of-cowtan-and-way/

Basically, if you converted all the “surface” temperatures to effective radiant energy using the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship you could have a fairly large change in temperature with zero change in effective energy. Works out to around +/- 0.3 C degrees. This is another reason that averages can be misleading and why median is always a good gut check.

51. David Springer

This is ridiculous. All the major temperature data sets are on Wood For Trees. Which one of them is given in absolute temperature instead of change in temperature? This article is based on a complete misunderstanding of these temperature data sets. A misunderstanding that even rudimentary knowledge would have avoided. Curry, quality matters more than quantity. Stop promoting crap like this.

http://i1278.photobucket.com/albums/y517/Fotoman7/BugsBunnyMaroon_zps5e1d22dd.jpg

• Greg Goodman

UAH, for one, provide actual temperature data time series, from which ‘anomaly’ datasets can be derived. However, that is beside the point.

The basic question of heat capacity and land +sea ‘averages’ applies equally well to anomaly datasets.

A misunderstanding that even rudimentary knowledge would have avoided. What a maroon!

You really should stop posting such crap.

• Greg Goodman

Judith is not “promoting” anything, she put this up for discussion. If it was “crap” it would have been ripped apart those a little higher up intellectual ladder than your good self. The lack of any credible counter arguments either means I’m correct or no one gives a damn about AGW any more.

52. David Springer

P.S. I see you provided no links to the absolute temperature series that are the focus of your ridiculous article.

Several of the major datasets that claim to represent “global average surface temperature” are directly or effectively averaging land air temperatures with sea surface temperatures.

Where are they? Who’s using them? Speak up.

53. Greg Goodman

Where does the article talk about “absolute temperature series”. You just make crap up yourself and then throw insults around built on your own ignorance.

• David Springer

What don’t you understand about your own words “global average surface temperature”. The indexes in popular use (here’s a list) are first order derivatives of average surface temperature. If you don’t understand the difference between absolute temperatures and mathematical derivatives you would be spouting gibberish in discussing these data sets. In fact that’s what you have done. Gibberish. Stick to computer science. You might have some actual knowledge and expertise there so long as you stay away from applied math.

• Greg Goodman

Look you fool, I have a degree in applied physics. Not that this is a pissing contest but you have just come out with such a pile ignorant crap I’m just not going to do anything but chuckle. You live in your own universe, have fun.

What a maroon !

• David Springer

(of a person) having or showing the weaknesses or diseases of old age, especially a loss of mental faculties.

• David Springer

Shouldn’t a person with your impeccable undergraduate credential earned many decades ago be publishing articles in real trade journals instead of in blogs where the blog owner explicitly disavows any implied credibility or review in connection with the publishing of it?

It is useful in a certain way in that it exposes who’s informed and who isn’t. In other words take a bit of nonsense, run it up the flagpole, and see who salutes. Nonsense like: global average temperature is a meaningless measure or nonsense like you can’t average land air boundary layer with SST and derive any meaning from it. Stuff like that. Curry should be more explicit in the disavowal lest detractors use it to think she approves of and agrees with guest author articles.

54. David Springer

My electric company producers graphs for me with monthly electrical consumption on one axis with the average temperature of that month on another. Interestingly, apparently meaningless though according to Ross McKitrick and just coincidental, my electrical consumption is highly correlated with how far the month’s average temperature deviates from where I keep my thermostat set. Funny that, huh? What with all those different actual temperatures (night/day, cold front/warm front) that go into the average that some useful information might emerge from an average of them. Wow. Just wow.

• David Springer

The moral of these stories of average temperatures is that if they have practical, useful meaning on regional scales then an average on a global scale may also have practical, useful meaning because the globe is just the largest region. Half the globe (southern and northern hemisphere for instance) averages have meaning. Land vs ocean region averages have meaning. It’s stupid to argue otherwise. But as Harlan Ellison put it: “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” So have at it Goodman.

• john321s

The objection is not to average temperatures of oceans and of land, but to mixed averages of the two. This is particularly objectionable in the face of demonstrably poor coherence between SST and air temperatures when they are measured co-locally and simultaneously.

55. Greg Goodman

OK apart from the usual Looney Tunes characters , this seems to have run it’s course.

I would have like more ( intelligent ) opposition to what the article points out. However, there was a presence of two authors intimately involved in the preparation of global datasets.

John Kennedy of the UK Met. Office commented but on in relation to an earlier discussion. Despite having come here and presumably having read the article, he avoided making any comment on the validity of averaging land and sea data as the Met Office do in providing the widely used HadCRUT4 , which is an area averaged mix of HadSST3 and CRUTemp4

So the Met. Office response seems to be “no comment”.

Steve Mosher, a member of the Berkeley BEST project , which originally set out as a new land only record, but which now seems more focused on presenting a global land + sea dataset, also was good enough to make several comments.

His line of argument was to suggest that land + sea is an “index” or a “metric”, that it is an “operational metric” . Despite some insistence on my part, he pointedly avoided addressing the issue of whether such an ‘index’ was a legitimate physical calculation.

So BEST team seem to take the 5th amendment on this one too.

• Hi Greg,

When I write here, the views expressed are my own and not those of the Met Office. And, you know, sometimes, a lack comment is just a lack of comment. Don’t read anything into it: I’ve been busy doing other things.

Best regards,

John

• Greg Goodman

Ok, fair enough. It was wrong of me to imply that was some kind of official response of the Met Office.

A comment that does not comment on the subject of the post, is not a lack of comment. It is a comment that avoids commenting on the question in hand. What we avoid saying expresses as much as what we choose to say.

You are well versed in the laws of physics. I’m sure you would not need to spend a day in the library to say why I was mistaken about adding temperatures of different physical media, if you thought that was the case.

On the other hand, in view of the fact that whole global diplomatic issue has been ludicrously distilled down to a single number which has doubtful physical validity I can appreciate that it may be difficult for you to comment on.

• “His line of argument was to suggest that land + sea is an “index” or a “metric”, that it is an “operational metric” . Despite some insistence on my part, he pointedly avoided addressing the issue of whether such an ‘index’ was a legitimate physical calculation.”

The question makes no sense.

We calculate an land temperature field
We calculate a ocean temperature field.

We combine them into a global field

IF you integrate that field you get a time series
the times series has a physical meaning which I described.

Here again is the physical meaning.

1. Select a random location
2. if the location is over land sample the air
3. If it is over the ocean, sample the sea

That simple;

The global index is an estimator of the answer you will get.

But if you want to keep land and ocean separate, go ahead.

NOTHING will change in the science of climate science by combining them or seperating them

• john321s

Nonsense. The metric that is pertinent to the question of how the global average temperature is changing is one that consistent over the entire globe. Air and water have very much different thermal capacitances and their temperatures vary quite differently, and often incoherently, in the time-domain. The admixture of the two temperatures in calculating a “global” average provides merely a phenomenological description, not a thermodynamically meaningful one.

• Nonsense. The metric that is pertinent to the question of how the global average temperature is changing is one that consistent over the entire globe.

The index is consistent. The process for calculating it is well described.
What we care about is the CHANGE in the index. The change in the
index is evidence that the world is warming, or cooling. When we say
“it was warmer in the MWP” what we mean is simple. Pick any spot
you like. it is warmer at that spot today.

Air and water have very much different thermal capacitances and their temperatures vary quite differently, and often incoherently, in the time-domain.
You have obviously never looked at the correlation between monthly
or yearly or decadel air temperatures and sea surface temperatures. Go
ahead. You go measure the air over water and I will measure the water temp for a decade. Then lets compare the trends. GUESS WHAT?
doesnt matter which you choose, you will get the same trend which is what we care about.

The admixture of the two temperatures in calculating a “global” average provides merely a phenomenological description, not a thermodynamically meaningful one.

Well DUH!!! That is why we call it an index. As an index it correlates well with a theromodynamic one.

Lets take satellites.. Do you know they average the temperature of air over a column that is miles thick? Over miles of atmosphere that has varying degrees of humidity, that averages over dry and wet air?

• tonyb

Mosh said

“it was warmer in the MWP” what we mean is simple. Pick any spot
you like. it is warmer at that spot today. ”

Ok. That spot is Dartmoor, South West England. Farming went on at heights impossible today.

Please demonstrate that it is warmer today. Neither CRU, The Met Office or the Govt financed Dartmoor authority believe it is warmer today. Please give your evidence.

tonyb

• We combine them into a global field

If by field you mean a gridded dataset, my objection does not apply unless you are krigging land temps out across ocean and ice to create it.

IF you integrate that field you get a time series
the times series has a physical meaning which I described.
….
1. Select a random location

The global index is an estimator of the answer you will get.

So it’s an index, a metric and now an estimator. Maybe tomorrow we can have another name. But why would we want a global estimator of a local temp when we have local data?

You are still dancing around the issue. We all know what the global TS is used to represent, it is to show “global warming” , for which we are supposed to read AGW. We have the Paris agreement and are supposed to revise the way the whole economy works in order to ensure this non physical “metric” does not go above 2 deg. C . We are supposed to achieve this but cutting CO2 emissions, since the radiative “forcing” of CO2 is supposedly the main problem. But we’re not using a meaningful way of assessing that.

It is crazy to be having a debate about the impact of radiative forcings using a metric that does not respect the conservation of energy.

But if you want to keep land and ocean separate, go ahead.

What I do is irrelevant, and by consequence that comment also.

It may not be necessary to abandon the GMST concept, it just needs to be calculated in a physically meaningful way. That means a weighting , similar to the usual geographic area weighting but to account for different media.

I have added and update to my copy of the article showing how this could be made more rigorous. Judy is going to add it here.too.
https://climategrog.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/are-land-sea-averages-meaningful-2/

The bottom line is that we should be averaging lamdga.T , not T. That makes it an addition of energy ( or energy flux ) which is legit.

∆F = α * λland * ∆Tland + (1 – α) * λsea * ∆Tsea + ∆N

This implies that the classic 30/70% weighting of land and sea averages should probably be more like 15/85% or 20/80%.

• john321s

Mosher:

The scientific issues here totally elude you. It’s not a matter of consistent calculation of averages, but of consistent physical significance throughout the globe, preferably closely related to enthalphy. Clearly, that significance changes when air and sea temperatures are admixed in the global averages.

FYI, it is now the fourth decade that I’ve been analyzing air and sea temperatures as measured by well-maintained buoys. Of course, you’ll often get high correlation over a decade if you leave the seasonal component in both series. But the ultimate climatic interest lies in what remains when that component is removed. It’s then that the lack of cross-spectral coherence becomes problematic, indicating that sea temperatures cannot be substituted for air temperatures for scientific work. The 10-year “trends” may be of the same sign, but they are numerically very different. Satellite measurements avoid these and other pitfalls by providing global coverage of the temperature of a much larger mass of air.

• Greg

Thanks for that insight John.
The key point is that, as far as there is correlation, it is MAT that is acting as a ‘proxy’ for SST, not the other way around. So which ever you take you are going to be mixing land and sea temperatures, which if fundamentally wrong.

56. Kip Hansen

The Blob, that extensive area of warm water that has sat off the NW coast of the United States for quite some time is a good example [ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blob_%28Pacific_Ocean%29 ] of why LSST (Land Sea Surface Temperature) is not a suitable metric for understanding or detecting CO2-induced global warming.

It was created by the mad mad world of the coupled fluid dynamics involving the atmosphere and the ocean. It has now, apparently/hopefully, dissipated — at least as a surface phenomena.

Like El Nino/La Niña, it has a big effect on LSST but is not caused by the phenomena known as AGW.

Using a metric with huge effects of causes different than the one wishing to be detected is scientifically incorrect in the absence of sure means for removing the spurious signals.

• JCH

The “blob” counts. ENSO counts. The PDO counts. The AMO, the itty bitty part of that matters,counts. It all counts.

• Kip Hansen

Reply to JCH ==> Counts as what?

• AK

Why are you so sure the “blob” wasn’t caused by high pCO2? I’m not. If, as the ice cores supposedly tell us, we haven’t had this much CO2 in the atmosphere since before the Straits of Panama became the Isthmus of Panama, we are in totally unexplored territory WRT “blob”‘s.

• One can’t preclude CO2, of course, but there are an infinite number of other situations one can’t preclude either.

But flip it – what theory is it that CO2 did have anything to do with the blob?

The blob was a local anomaly of shape – CO2 forcing is spread out globally.

An occam’s razor says that the blob was caused by anomalous circulation, the same type that produces most of the natural variation we observe.

• AK

Personally, I suspect the local/regional effects of an enhanced greenhouse effect are more important than the “spread out globally” effect.

Changing the greenhouse effect over the Tibetan Plateau, and/or the Andean Cordillera could well be able to produce “anomalous circulation”.

And the Northeastern Pacific is right there where such changes could be the cause.

• Can’t be ruled out.

But consider that the air passing over the warm spot came from elsewhere and also, a warm spot probably incurs a negative feedback ( a warm spot probably loses more to space than the surround area because it’s warm ).

• AK

Yeah, but the Tibetan Plateau probably isn’t a “warm spot”. At best a not-quite-so-cold spot. And it loses most of its heat to the air passing over it. And heating from that plateau, applied to air that’s already gone through one or more cycles of convection, drives the Tropical Easterly Jet, a unique feature.

This is exactly the sort of feature that might magnify the effect of increased GHG’s. Similar goes for the Andean Cordillera. Remember the global circulation isn’t completely independent of major geographic features. If we’re looking for a result of increased GHG’s, I’d expect them to more likely to show up in new regional effects, or at least new probabilities for regional anomalies.

• AK

Tibetan Plateau climate dynamics: Recent
research progress and outlook
by Guoxiong Wu, Anmin Duan, Yimin Liu, Jiangyu Mao, Rongcai Ren, Qing Bao, Bian He, Boqi Liu and Wenting Hu National Science Review 00: 1–17, 2014 doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwu045

• JCH

A blob cannot create energy, and it did not create energy. The energy came predominately from the sun. It interacted with the earth system. ACO2 is part of that system. The blob appeared. Possibly as mounded water blown the central NH Pacific by the winds that were causing the negative PDO.

http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2012/anomnight.6.4.2012.gif

• Kip Hansen

Reply to The Blob bit ==> There has been a lot of research on The Blob — considering its tender years (and now, apparent demise).

The basic understanding is that is “attributed to a static high pressure region in the atmosphere, termed the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge [also RRR — “a persistent region of atmospheric high pressure that occurred over the far northeastern Pacific Ocean during 2013-2014.”] which has existed since spring 2014. The lack of air movement impacts the wind-forced currents and the wind-generated stirring of surface waters.” The lack of surface mixing winds is thus believed to account for the accumulation of warm water at the surface in the region.

Alas, there is little understanding of the causes of the RRR — it is not consistent with any known or expected consequence of increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

• AK

Alas, there is little understanding of the causes of the RRR — it is not consistent with any known or expected consequence of increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

Which is good reason to be skeptical of attributing it to AGW.

But, AFAIK, GCM-based models have little or no skill at regional analysis, so I don’t see how a regional effect could be ruled out as a cause.

• JCH

Alas, there is little understanding of the causes of the RRR — it is not consistent with any known or expected consequence of increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. …

And it is completely impossible that ACO2 had nothing to do with it. ACO2 is a major player in the earth system. Energy from the sun interacts with it, and the blob was a surface area where a lot of energy from the sun was concentrated.

There were ramp ups in the PDO ~1910 to ~1940, and ~1975 to ~1985. It’s possible a blob is just a phase in the ramp up of the positive phase of the PDO.

• hey guys, don’t mean to spoil the party but is all this blob stuff even vaguely connected to the subject or the article?

Greg.

• Thanks.

• Kip Hansen

Reply to climategrog ==> Yes — very connected actually — I would have thought that the author would have considered it supportive.

The Blob — a large enough area of warm water to affect the land/sea temperature stats — seems to be caused, not by anything related to actual increasing heat content of the ocean, but by an atmospheric phenomena, the RRR — which no one has an explanation for. Whatever — is almost certainly can’t be blamed on increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

It is a strictly sea *surface* phenomena — we can know something from it, but not the temperature of the sea.

Just a bit of a ramble here: More like measuring the temperature of the outside surface of a building, when we want to know the indoor temperature. They are related, but not in the direct way we like to think. For instance, this grocery store has an air conditioning system and double-pane windows to keep it cool inside — that other building has a heating system to keep it warm inside.

The sea has its own alternate heating system as well — is being heated from the bottom up by heat from the Earth’s interior. That doesn’t change much, except along that 37,000 mile volcanic ridge off the west coast of the Americas, for example. [ http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/undersea-volcanoes-could-affect-climate-change-150205.htm ]

57. Note: Greg has added an update to the main post

• Thanks for adding that and thanks to Nic Lewis who helped me formulate that argument by disagreeing with me ( personal communication ). It’s often far more use to discuss something with those who don’t agree than someone who does.

I think that if we start doing all this is more rigorous way it should reduce the unhelpfull broad uncertainties in estimating TCS / ECS & co.

• Oh dear, my typo rate is going up faster than GMST in an El Nino year. Time for bed.

58. Greg Goodman

This graph showing ‘average temp’ for NH, SH and global makes the point again. Why is the global average highest in June, when the Earth is nearest the Sun in January?

Answer: because of the greater land area in NH and the less heat capacity of land, ie the land of the NH is biasing the annual “average’ temperature : the “operational metric” as some would call it.

This is a further demonstration of warming bias which is created by doing silly non physical calculations like averaging land and sea temperatures.

The incoming solar is strongest in January and even with a phase lag the peak should be between Jan and March, no later. Clearly the land + sea ‘average’ temperature is giving a totally false indication of the annual cycle.

Now much use is such an ‘operational metric’ Well, I suppose if the ‘operation’ is to sell global warming, it may be quite ‘operational’. However, it is anti-science, as the popular term goes.