Wednesday, September 21, 2011

US Long-Term Temperature Trend from NCDC

There is a problem in the NCDC data (National Climatic Data Center, US Department of Commerce, NOAA Satellite and Information Service) for the United States.    The problem is that the reported average temperature trend for the US does not agree with the mean, nor the area-weighted average, of the 48 contiguous states.   NCDC reports the temperature trend for the 48 contiguous states is 1.2 degrees F per century.  However, the mean of the individual states is 0.78 degrees F per century, and the area-weighted average for the 48 states is 0.74 degrees F per century.

This is a problem.  If the NCDC cannot get it right, how much of their data is wrong, and how many other statements issuing from there are also wrong?

Below (Figure 1) is a simple table, listing each of the contiguous 48 states in the US, alphabetically, with the temperature trend next to each state, in degrees F per century.

Figure 1
US 48 Contiguous States and Long-term Temperature Trend, Deg F/Century
Data from US NCDC

The area-weighted average was computed by weighting each temperature trend by the relative geographical area of each state.  This does not change the average much, but gives a better number because small states (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, etc.) do not have an undue influence over  large states (Texas, Montana, California, etc.)  

Other things pop out upon closer inspection of this table.  

There is a problem of uneven heating in adjacent states.  As an example, Texas shows a trend of zero degrees F per century, yet its neighboring state to the north, Oklahoma, is warming at 0.7 degrees F per century.  This is not likely, nor is it due to CO2 or any other so-called "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere.  As I have stated before, how does CO2 know to ignore the entire state of Texas, yet concentrate its radiant heat beams on Oklahoma?   Note that, in earlier posts on SLB, I pointed out that adjacent cities have grossly different warming trends, again showing that CO2 cannot do what climate scientists claim it does.  

This gets even worse when one examines Texas' westerly neighbor, New Mexico.  New Mexico is warming at the rate of 0.9 degrees F per century.  How does CO2 know to focus its beams on New Mexico, yet ignore Texas?

Another example is the pair of states, Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Oklahoma, as stated just above, is warming at just under the national average at 0.7 degrees F per century.  Meanwhile, its neighbor to the east, Arkansas, is cooling at minus 0.3 degrees F per century.   Again, one must question how is this possible, if CO2 is responsible for the warming?  How can Arkansas be cooling?   I've been to Arkansas and can attest to the great lush green growth in that state, as CO2 abounds.  

Yet another example is the adjacent states of North Dakota and South Dakota.  North Dakota is warming at the alarming rate of 2.5 degrees F per century.  Its neighbor to the south, South Dakota, however is warming at half that rate, 1.2 degrees F per century.    How does CO2 know to focus so much energy from its heat rays on North Dakota? 

Yet another example is the adjacent states of Pennsylvania, and New York.  Both are of comparable size and located in the Northeast.  Pennsylvania is warming very slightly at 0.1 degrees F per century.  However, New York to its immediate north is warming at a much higher rate of 1.2 degrees F per century.  Again, how does CO2 know to ignore Pennsylvania and concentrate its heat rays on New York?

Then, there is the entire band of states along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  Their reported temperature trends are zero for Louisiana, but negative for the others: Mississippi (negative 0.7 degrees F per century), Alabama (negative 0.8 degrees F per century), and Georgia (negative 0.6 degrees F per century).   Contrast those to Florida, immediately south of Georgia, which has a warming of 0.3 degrees F per century.  How could CO2 ignore the southern states but heat up other states? 

There are other curious adjacent states with wide disparities:

California: 0.7 degrees F per century, and Nevada to the east at 2.3 degrees F per century.  

Michigan: 0.1 degrees F per century, and Ohio to the south at 0.7 degrees F per century.  

Finally, the overall trend of 1.1 degrees F per century for the US contiguous 48 states is repeated on the US EPA's website, with the following text:   (note that the EPA website uses 1.1 degrees, while NCDC reports the trend is 1.2 degrees.  Perhaps that is acceptable for government work, and is lost in the rounding error.)  

United States Surface Temperature Trends
Observations compiled by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center indicate that over the past century, temperatures rose across the contiguous United States at an average rate of 0.11°F per decade (1.1°F per century). Average temperatures rose at an increased rate of 0.56°F per decade from 1979 to 2005. The most recent eight-, nine-, and ten-year periods were the warmest on record.

Warming occurred throughout most of the U.S., with all but three of the eleven climate regions showing an increase of more than 1°F since 1901. The greatest temperature increase occurred in Alaska (3.3°F per century). The Southeast experienced a very slight cooling trend over the entire period (-0.04°F per century), but shows warming since 1979."   (bold emphasis added)

Meanwhile, the coastal regions of the west coast (Washington, Oregon, and California) all show a very sudden and steep temperature decline since 2002.    The average for the coastal areas is negative 21 degrees F per century.    One can only wonder why CO2 has abandoned the warming task set for it by climate scientists.   Perhaps the coastal cooling has more to do with the rapidly cooling Pacific Ocean along the west coast of the US.  

In summary, one can only wonder at what other examples of gross exaggeration are to be found upon close inspection of the data, and the conclusions arrived therefrom by the alarmist climate science community.  Also, the individual states show gross disparities in warming rates, from a high of 2.5 for North Dakota to a low of negative 0.8 for Alabama.  Adjacent states show gross disparities that indicate that CO2 cannot be causing any warming at all.  CO2 cannot act capriciously, but must act uniformly if it is indeed a physical phenomenon and not a figment of imagination. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Marina del Rey, California.  Where it is indeed growing colder year by year. 


Gordon J. Fulks, PhD said...

You have indeed demonstrated how easy it is to pick apart the government's case for catastrophic global warming because there hasn't been any!

The government's case shows at most about a degree of warming (F) over a century which should be attributed to natural causes until someone can prove otherwise.

If this slight amount of warming were due to carbon dioxide or even man-made carbon dioxide, we would expect the warming to be uneven, because it is still a minor effect compared with ocean or solar cycles. Hence, it is possible for regions or even the entire globe to display different trends, even counter trends under this scenario. This means it is of little consequence and primarily of academic interest.

An alternate explanation for some of the differences between states may be differing station quality, with some regions having higher quality stations that have not been compromised by the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Again, the effect is small, has nothing to do with carbon dioxide, and is primarily of interest to academics.

Will the government scientists who are paid to keep the climate hysteria going ever sort this out? They have no incentive to do so until the more powerful climate drivers produce widespread cooling as we have seen on the West Coast.

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA

Bruce said...

Air Quality? The air was filthy 100 years ago. Those industrial states that cleaned their air should get more sunshine.