It’s easy to make big headlines that serve a policy agenda when you can control the process generating “scientific” data. Here’s the latest in an ongoing fraud perpetrated by NASA, NOAA and a few other organizations. The disinformation is happily scooped up and reported by the unsuspecting news media, in this case The Wall Street Journal. The headline says that 2014 was the warmest year on record back to 1980, but there are several important respects in which the report from NASA and NOAA is misleading.
The surface temperature records maintained by NASA and NOAA (and others) utilize the same source data (despite NASA’s claim that the two series are “independent”), but they are heavily adjusted by the respective agencies. We can all probably agree that more recent temperature measurements (the raw data) are more reliable due to the availability of better and more numerous instruments (particularly for ocean surface temperatures). However, combining recent measurements with older data in a way that assures comparability is difficult over more than a few decades. Weather stations come, go, and relocate, environmental conditions around stations change with urbanization and airport expansions, and new measurement techniques are introduced.
Constructing a consistent temperature series over 130+ years at the world or regional level is therefore subject to much controversy. Here is a page with links to several good posts of the problems inherent in these efforts. Data is “infilled” and sometimes deleted, and statistical techniques are often applied in an effort to achieve consistency over time. However, it is curious that the NASA and NOAA adjustments over time seem to pivot around the levels of the 1950s and 1960s, as if to suggest that the temperatures measured in those decades are the most reliable part of the series. Take a look at the “gifs”in this post, which show temperatures before and after adjustments. An apparent consequence of the NASA / NOAA statistical techniques, which may seem even more curious to the casual observer, is that new observations can influence the entire temperature series. That is, adding 2014 temperatures to the series may lead to fresh downward adjustments to 1936 temperatures, if it suits the agencies. By the way, 1936 was a very warm year, but according to these agencies, it’s been getting less warm.
Another fascinating aspect of the report on 2014 temperatures is the obvious attempt to propagandize. This Bob Tisdale post sheds light on three serious omissions in the report and the related effort to “spin” the findings for the press:
1) The range of uncertainty cited by NOAA in background documents indicates that the small margin (0.04 deg C for NOAA, 0.02 deg C by NASA) by which the reported 2014 global temperature exceeds the previous high is within the confidence interval around the previous high. By their own standard, it was “more unlikely than likely”that the 2014 temperature was the warmest on record, but that is not what the agencies report in their “Highlights.”
2) The report states that “This is the first time since 1990 the high temperature record was broken in the absence of El Niño conditions at any time during the year in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean….” Yet there were El Nino conditions elsewhere in the Pacific in 2014.
3) “NOAA failed to discuss the actual causes of the elevated global sea surface temperatures in 2014, while making it appear that there was a general warming of the surfaces of the global oceans.”
Tisdale notes elsewhere that the tiny margins of “record warmth” reported by NASA and NOAA contribute to a growing disparity between reported “actual temperatures” and those projected by climate warming models. The “Warmist” community will view the NASA / NOAA findings favorably, as the new “record high” supports their narrative,” providing new fodder for the agenda to end the use of fossil fuels and to regulate activities deemed “unsustainable.” Unfortunately, the misleading reports are likely to seem credible to the general public, which is largely ignorant of the agencies’ rampant manipulation of temperature data.