Sunday, April 6, 2014

If I Were King of Climate Science

This is a post that I have been composing for quite some time.  It originated years ago, when I first became interested and then concerned about global warming.  The more I looked into what was done, and the way it was done, the more concerned I became.  

First, what am I not so concerned about.  I'm not that concerned that the United Nations' sub-body, the International Panel on Climate Change, was charged with chasing down how much the planet would warm due to man's emissions of carbon dioxide (and a few other gases) mainly from burning fossil fuels.  Surely there was a better direction for the UN to give its panel, perhaps to determine first, if there is any warming due to man's activities, then if that answer turned out to be Yes, then move on to how big is the problem.   I am also not that concerned that UN IPCC summary reports for policy makers are written from a political perspective and gloss over much of the science.  I am also not that concerned that the funding from various governments is controlled so that it is fairly difficult to obtain funding if one is researching into issues that might refute the IPCC findings.   Those are a concern, but those are not what this post is about. 

This post is about the very beginning, in how various measurements are or were taken and the use of those measurements. 

To explain, three measurements are discussed.  First is carbon dioxide, CO2, concentration in the atmosphere.   Second is global average temperature, and last is average sealevel.  

It is generally agreed that CO2 concentration is measured at one location, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, USA.  The results of that measurement are reported frequently, I believe weekly and certainly monthly.  A chart is produced and widely distributed.    I find it very interesting that one data point, from the entire planet, is accepted as the official concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.   It seems the climate scientists are very comfortable with the fact that CO2 is measured at one location, supposedly because it is high in the atmosphere and far from industrial activities.  The idea is that the air is well-mixed by the time the winds bring the air to Hawaii.  As long as the volcano nearby does not spew forth, things should be pretty representative.   Also, there is not much change going on around the Mauna Loa site, so that what we measured in 1960 can be compared to measurements in 2014.   So, to summarize, scientists have accepted a measurement from one site, believed to be essentially unchanged, and providing a decent result to use for the entire world. 

Contrast that to the global average temperature, which is computed from literally thousands of measuring sites from around the world.   see link  Much has been written about how the global average is computed, how data from the past is adjusted for various things, how the adjusted data is subtracted from a baseline to produce temperature anomalies, and how missing data from the past is created or handled in another way.  I have written a bit about this myself here on SLB. ( see link to Warmists are Wrong, Cooling is Coming.)

What is curious, though, is the disparity between the CO2 measurement and the global average temperature measurement.   Why do scientists use thousands of temperature sites, many with very serious issues that call into question the validity of the data?  Why did they not find and use a "Mauna Loa Equivalent" station, known to be pristine and untouched by human activities, probably in a remote location, with a long record of temperature measurements?   I advocated for just that, probably in a remote location in a National Park here in the US, or one of the thousands of state parks.    

If one wanted to determine how much warming, if any, the world has experienced, it must be a better method to not have to make any adjustments to the data.   If I were King, only a very few old records from pristine locations would be used.    Presumably, scientists looked into this and determined that no warming occurred, or very little warming occurred using the pristine locations.  That would, of course, put them out of business so that could not be the answer. 

Instead, a huge amount of temperature data was taken, gravely examined and even more gravely adjusted.  The claim then is that the temperature record represents almost the entire planet.  This, supposedly, gives the data more validity.  To use a polite term, that is Bad Science (BS).  

Update: If I were King, this would be my choice for temperature measurement for the global trend: Abilene, Texas; a small town at the southern end of the Great Plains, far from big cities, with a temperature record starting in about 1884 and continuous until today.   Abilene shows no warming over for almost 120 years.  The linear trend is essentially zero, but very slightly negative, at minus 0.0019 degrees C per year.   This data required no adjustments, to the best of my belief and information.   (end update 4/7/2014)
Monthly Average Temperature Trend, Degrees C
for Abilene, Texas from HadCRUT3 series
graph created by R.E. Sowell, Esq.

Finally, turning to sealevel, once again the scientists use a global average for mean sealevel, not a single point from a known pristine location over a long period.   Even worse, they draw a trend line through the average and make all sorts of dire pronouncements about pending coastal inundations and population migrations away from the coast.   The trend is 3.2 mm per year, or roughly 12 inches per century.  The sealevel measurements are adjusted for various issues, including but not limited to glacial rebound, land subsidence due to groundwater removal, land subsidence for other reasons, land uplifting due to tectonic plate movements, and apparently, bay siltation from rivers.   If one were to examine sealevel trends from various locations, some are increasing, some are decreasing, and some are fairly constant over long periods.  What to use, then?  If I were King, I would require that a very few locations would be used that are known to have none of the adjustment issue just listed.   
Sealevel trend, from
Blue is decreasing, greens/yellow/red increasing

What prompted me to discuss the sealevel issue is the world map published by, which shows most of the oceans have zero or perhaps a slight increase of 1 mm per year.  There are a very few locations that show a substantial increase, such as a Galveston, Texas on the pier.  Galveston has sealevel rise of a bit more than 6 mm per year.  In a century, that equates to 24 inches higher sealevel.  However, the Texas Gulf Coast is known to be subsiding both from mineral extraction and naturally.  see link  That would make Galveston off the list, if I were King.  It would not be included in any average.  Similarly, but opposite in direction, some Scandinavian seacoasts show a decreasing sealevel.  That is due to the land slowly rebounding upward after the last round of ice caps melted around 12,000 years ago.   Those locations would also be excluded from the average. 

Finally, a very few locations show an alarming rise of 12 mm per year or a bit more, near the Philippines.  It is not entirely clear to me why that water is rising so much more than the rest of the world, but it is suspect in my book.  For example, that rate should have increased the sealevel by 36 inches (3 feet or just under one meter) in the 70 years since General MacArthur landed and waded ashore on the beach.   It appears to me that the beach is still there, though.  

It would seem that the oldest ports in the world, in geologically stable regions, would be the ideal candidates for true sealevel rise without adjustments.   Perhaps the port at Durban, South Africa, or even Cape Town are good candidates.  Perhaps one of the ports in Hawaii, too.  Another in Australia might be good.  Perhaps one of the US east coast harbors would be a good fit.   And, the bay at Buenos Aires in Argentina.   


Scientists in the climate field have a dual nature in choosing measurements for determining the state of the world's climate and making dire predictions for the future.  On the one hand, it is apparently acceptable to use one location for CO2.  Yet, scientists use hundreds and thousands of locations for sealeve and air temperature.  The multiple locations for sealevel and temperature require many adjustments, which make the results highly questionable.  It would be far better to use a very few pristine sites that require no adjustments for measuring and reporting sealevel, and temperature. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California

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