November 19, 2014 by David K. Sutton
Global Cooling? NOAA Global Surface Temperature Anomalies Prove Otherwise
There’s no doubt much of the United States has been damn f’n cold lately, and we’ve yet to engage in those late November rituals involving turkey carving and conservative uncle debating. And when the weather turns cold, you know, during months that usually are cold for much of the U.S., climate-change-denying conservatives can’t help themselves, because Al Gore told them global warming/climate change meant that winter would cease to exist — well, at least that’s what they “heard.”
The mere presence/existence of winter offers
little, I mean, NO proof that climate change is not real. Remember folks, when it’s winter here, it’s summer elsewhere, we live on this thing called a globe, with local and regional weather patterns, affected by global climate patterns.
The kooks started talking about “global cooling” as far back as the 1970s, and it seems, every few months you run across another kook talking about global cooling now. The kooks then and now base their global cooling “theory” on very little data, or in many cases, flawed data or no data, and almost always based on a so-called trend in recent years or decades. They aren’t exactly doing any deep diving analysis on 650-thousand-year-old ice core samples.
Now, to be fair, there actually was a bit of a downward trend in temperatures in the decades leading into the 1970s (which you can see in the chart below), which gave the bell-bottomed kooks “some” evidence to hang their hats on. But there is no contemporary trending evidence to support global cooling.
The graphic I created above, and sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), charts annual global surface temperature anomalies over 134 years (1880 to 2013). What are annual global surface temperature anomalies you ask?
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.
Okay, but how do they determine the long-term average?
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. ERSST uses the most recently available International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) and statistical methods that allow stable reconstruction using sparse data. The monthly analysis begins January 1854, but due to very sparse data, no global averages are computed before 1880. With more observations after 1880, the signal is stronger and more consistent over time.
This is a pretty clever way of tracking global warming. NOAA offers us a simple explanation of why this is more accurate compared to tracking changes in temperature averages:
[A] summer month over an area may be cooler than average, both at a mountain top and in a nearby valley, but the absolute temperatures will be quite different at the two locations. The use of anomalies in this case will show that temperatures for both locations were below average.
For fun, I added the positive anomaly average and the negative anomaly average to the above chart. Out of 134 years, there were 61 positive temperature anomalies, 70 negative temperature anomalies, and 3 years with no anomaly (zero). Interestingly, there are slightly more negative anomaly years, but even so, the average of all negative anomaly years compared to the average of all positive anomaly years is two-thirds of the deviation from the long-term average. In other words, from 1880 to 2013, even though there are 9 fewer positive anomaly years, they have had an overall larger departure from the norm.
Now, someone might point out that this data alone (as represented in the chart above) does not prove that the globe will continue to warm in the coming years. I would agree, there’s not enough data here to come to that conclusion, even with the convincing trend line. And the reason is simple, we don’t know what the anomalies were before 1880, and 134 (years) is simply not statistically significant enough for us to hang OUR hats on. But proving the validity of the theory of man-made global warming is actually not the point of this presentation.
The point of this article is to show that in recent years and decades, the planet is unequivocally not experiencing a pattern of global cooling, as some of the right-wing kooks would have us believe. Yes, there’s a mountain of evidence in support of man-made global warming, and I’ve written many articles on the topic, but the simple purpose of this article is to show that we are currently in a pattern of temperature anomalies that are above the long-term average, which alone might not be proof of man-made global warming, but it does prove the global cooling kooks are … well … kooks.