The Berkeley Earth Project; The Warming is Real

October 22, 2011

I rarely discuss Anthropogenic (Human-Caused) Global Warming on-air or even in this blog for two reasons:

1. The issue has become politicised so badly that you can’t have a scientific discussion about it before someone brings up Al Gore, Big Oil, Socialists, Far Right Wackos, or something similar that should have nothing to do with the discussion.

2. I have not been convinced over the years that it’s a “pressing” issue.  On the other hand, I’m do not believe there is a “scientific conspiracy” out there pushing it on us.  Plus, let’s be honest, China and India’s rising emissions of CO2 are going to totally dwarf any cutbacks we make to our CO2 output in the developed world anyway.  We’ve already made our CO2 “bed” for better or worse.  Let’s see how we can deal with the warming the next 100 years if that indeed is going to happen.

But I’m a bit more convinced our planet has been warming after a big ripple in the debate showed up this week.  A team of climate skeptics (physics professors and Ph.Ds)  from California took on the global land temperature datasets.  This time they used far more data and included far more stations that has been used in the past by other organizations. 

The summary is only two pages…pretty easy to read.  They have submitted now to the usual peer-review process.

http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Summary_20_Oct

Here are the basic findings:

– The warming is almost the same as reported by the much smaller studies used in the past (NOAA, NASA, HADLEY CENTER).

– The urban heating effect is large and real, but does not contribute signficantly to the rise in land temps because only 1% of the earth’s surface is urban.

– 1/3 of sites show cooling in the last 70 years, 2/3 show warming.

– There has been a great study by Anthony Watts showing extremely poor (check out the pictures!) weather station siting all across the USA.  But this study points out that Anthony’s “poor” stations warmed similarly to “OK” stations.  The stations might be too hot, but they warmed, or cooled, along with other stations nearby. 

– The data and methods is available for others to check as well; they want it all to be transparent with an open discussion of the study.

– They did not make an assessment of “how much of the observed warming is due to humans”.

The Berkeley Earth Temperature Project now plans to do something similar for oceans, which other data sources say have not warmed as much.

As a former co-worker once said “I guess we’ll know for sure in 100 years!”.

Go ahead and discuss below, but I’ll delete any political comments.  And yes, I’m fully aware that even this BEST study shows a decline in land temperatures the past 7 years.  It did that in the 1970s too.

By the way, a great site and easy to read is here:  http://www.skepticalscience.com/

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen