A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #3

I have come across a scientific paper published recently, which supports the climate realist perspective, and thought it of such significance that I should share it here, in my new climate realist paper update series.

The paper in question has been published in Tellus A, a scientific journal published by the International Meteorological Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. It addresses what has been a topic of discussion in the climate debate for quite some time now: global temperature records. Climate skeptics have made some valid arguments criticizing the global surface temperature record (arguing, for example, that the records are contaminated by urbanization and land use-change effects) and supporting the global tropospheric temperature record, while climate alarmists have also made valid points defending the global surface temperature record and criticizing the global tropospheric temperature record.

Before I begin on the content of the paper, though, I shall give some background knowledge about global temperature records. The global surface temperature record is really three global surface temperature datasets, comprised of those produced by the Hadley Center in conjunction with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (HadCRUT4), NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISTEMP), and NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (a combination of GHCN-M and ICOADS). Likewise, the global tropospheric temperature record is actually two datasets, comprised of those produced by the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).

As a last note before I address the paper itself, it may interest the reader that one of the authors, Dr. Lennart Bengtsson, whom I listed as a skeptical scientist, joined the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), widely considered a skeptic organization, in early 2014. However, he soon left because many in the climate science community pressured him to do so. In my opinion, this shows the current terrible dysfunction in this debate: that someone would fear for his health and safety simply because he joined a group that promotes a minority view! It is absolutely despicable, and as Dr. Bengtsson points out, somewhat similar to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist reign of terror in the early 1950s.

Anyways, the paper points out that global surface temperatures show a large discrepancy between land and ocean trends, and that global tropospheric temperature datasets do not. In addition, it argues that surface ocean temperature trends are similar to tropospheric trends. This is highly important to realize, as it implies that the satellite (tropospheric) datasets may, in at least some ways, be more reliable than surface temperature datasets. This notion has been criticized vociferously by alarmists because satellite trends are less than that of surface trends, but those doing the criticizing may fail to realize this. The paper later argues this:

It is therefore suggested to use either the more robust tropospheric temperature or ocean surface temperature in studies of climate sensitivity.

This is quite a statement, and one that deserves consideration, certainly more consderation than it currently gets, especially since there is additional evidence to be at least slightly skeptical of the proposed accuracy of surface temperature datasets (see below).

Climate models projected that the troposphere should warm faster than the surface, and yet the opposite has happened. In 2004, climate scientists argued that there was an extremely low chance of temperatures at the surface continuing to warm much faster than in the troposphere, and yet that is what happened. Therefore, something must be contaminating either dataset, and since the above paper (and others; I am planning a similar list of papers in the future) makes a compelling argument for contamination of the surface datasets, the satellite temperature record may be more reliable, at least in some aspects, than the surface temperature record.

(A further implication of this study is that climate sensitivity studies’ estimates of climate sensitivity (the temperature change to a doubling of CO2) may be biased too high. This in turn may mean the alarm over global warming should be at least slightly diminished.)

In conclusion, this new paper (with a familiar author) argues that global land surface temperature trends (and thus global surface temperature trends) may be biased too high, and that global tropospheric and ocean trends (which are lower) are more robust and should be used in climate sensitivity studies.

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