- Is 2002 Second Warmest in History?
- Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D.
- © December 16, 2002
Even as Europe and Siberia was experiencing its coldest
November in decades, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced that
2002 was the second warmest in climate recording history
(Figure 1). Is that true, or is something else involved?
The 2002 meteorological year is the second warmest year
in the period of accurate instrumental data (since the late 1800s). The
global surface temperature for 12 months from December 2001 through
November 2002 is 0.51°C above the climatological mean (1951-1980 average)
in the GISS analysis, which uses meteorological station measurements over
land and satellite measurements of sea surface temperature over the ocean.
But there is something NASA isn't telling you. This data
comes from ground based temperatures --- usually measured by thermometers at
airports. That presents a problem. Besides being moved a few times in their
history and data being taken by an infinite number of people, all but a few
of these stations in the first half of the twentieth century were surrounded
by open countryside. The cities served by these airports expanded
beyond the airports in the latter half of the twentieth century --
especially from the mid-1970s on. The airports, and therefore the
thermometers, are now surrounded by asphalt, tar-paper roofs and tall
buildings that trap heat.
The surrounding or ambient temperature has therefore
increased substantially because dark non-living surfaces trap and radiate
more energy than living green surfaces. This is called the heat-island
effect. When the ground data is compared against satellite data from nine
geo-stationary microwave measuring sensors that sum the total tropospheric
(about 5 miles deep) temperatures for the entire world the results are quite
different, as depicted in Figure 2.
|Figure 2. When the total tropospheric
temperature is measured by very accurate satellite microwave sensors
(blue), the warming is much less than measure by ground stations (red)
--- suggesting only a modest warming that is easily explained by the
recovery from the little ice age in the 1700s.
Global warming advocates claim a 5 mile deep mass of air
is too much to determine if we have global warming. Global warming skeptics
say it doesn't matter. If there is real warming, then the entire troposphere
should warm. So far that warming is minimal and can be explained by the
recovery from the little ice age in the 1700s when it was a full degree
cooler than now. Besides, skeptics claim, the earth was a full degree warmer
than today around 1200, during what is known as the climatic optimum, when
the Vikings colonized and raised crops in Greenland.
|The global temperature is estimated to
be a degree cooler than today during the little ice age in the 1700s and
a degree warmer in 1200 AD. The warming today is thought by skeptics
to merely represent the recovery from the little ice age.
The heat island effect is well known by NASA, and
climatologists have attempted to correct the data for the United States.
When that is done, the data for the United States more closely matches the
satellite data. However, except some correction for Europe, little
correction has been made for the rest of the world's data. Therefore, the data shown
by NASA is highly skewed towards artificial warming. Besides, just how much
correction can be used for the ground data? How do they know when enough
correction has been applied since there is no benchmark to compare too? Fact
is, the scientists can't know how much correction to apply.
Therefore, any correction they apply is merely a best guess estimate.
The accuracy of satellite temperature data is a much better measure of global warming
than ground-based data. It is never cited by NASA or the media, however, because it
doesn't support the global warming agenda. President Bush was correct when
he withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto
protocol in 2001. Global warming advocates proclaimed in the early
1990s that unless we reduced the emissions of CO2 by 2000, it
would be too late to stop the world from being cooked. It is now nearly 2003 and
their chicken little prophecies have proved false. In short, the evidence for man-caused global
warming is waning, continuing to justify a wait and see policy.