Coverage bias and recent trends in global surface temperature, part 1

In retrospect, 2014 was an interesting year for climate watchers, and a turning point of sorts. That year, global mean surface temperature matched record highs for the instrumental period, without any assist from the El Nino weather pattern that usually accompanies such warm years.  That turned out to be a prelude to a record-smashing 2015. And 2016 may well provide an unprecedented third surface temperature record in a row, as the influence of  the current super El Nino will likely peak in the first half of this year.

But 20GMST 1990-201414 was also notable scientifically for the emergence of a previously under-examined scientific issue: namely coverage bias in observed surface temperature series, especially the HadCrut4 record issued by the UK Met Office.

This most widely cited temperature series does not account for missing areas, especially in high latitudes, likely leading to an underestimate of the overall rise in global temperature since the 19th century.

Not only that, but there is increasingly compelling evidence that the recent short-term slowdown in the surface temperature record was much less pronounced than previously estimated, if rapid Arctic warming is fully reflected, along with potential biases from the changing mix of sea surface temperature measurement sources in recent years.  Thus the discrepancy between very short-term and multi-decadal trends in the observations appears to have been exaggerated in prior estimates, including IPCC AR5.

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James Gentle and Karen Kafadar take over at WIREs Computational Statistics

There has been a big change at WIREs Computation Stats.

In a stunning (but welcome) development, James Gentle of GMU and Karen Kafadar of IndianaUniversity have been named editors-in-chief, joining  remaining original editor David Scott.

I last discussed WIREs Comp Stat back in July, when Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said were quietly dropped as editors. I outlined the problems that apparently led to their summary dismissal.

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Open thread, March 2013: Muzzling of Canadian Scientists, IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2012, Heartland’s Jay Lehr 1980s fraud conviction

Yes, the Deep Climate blog is finally returning after a hiatus of several months.  Over the next few months, look for at least two or three posts per month, as I gradually return to former activity levels. Thanks to everyone for their patience.

Here are some topics that could be discussed on this open thread.

1) Margaret Munro of Post Media has reported on the latest initiative to fight muzzling of Canadian scientists by the Harper government.

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is being asked to formally investigate the way the Harper government has been “muzzling” and restricting access to federal scientists.

The request, accompanied with a report  [7Mb PDF] on the government’s “systematic efforts” to obstruct access to researchers, was made jointly on Wednesday by the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria and Democracy Watch, a national non-profit group.

2) The IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 report has just been issued, together with a detailed online presentation. In my opinion, this is “must read” for anyone interested in climate policy, and realistic pathways to avoiding the worst effects of climate change. There is, of course, still a yawning gap between current government policies and policies required to limit global warming to about 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels.

3) Russell Seitz has started a very entertaining blog entitled VVattsUpWithThat (yes, that’s a double V!). A recent post discusses the conviction of Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr for defrauding the EPA in the early 1980s.

2012 Arctic sea ice minimum, part 3: Arctic sea ice death spiral continues

The eleventh domino has  fallen.

The extraordinary 2012 Arctic sea ice melt has resulted in a September average sea ice extent of 3.61 million sq km, according to the latest monthly data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), smashing the previous record of 4.30 million sq km set in 2007.

Today, I’ll quickly review the last month’s progression. I’ll then examine the plausible future course of the Arctic sea ice “death spiral” that is likely to see the Arctic virtually free of sea ice by the 2030s if not sooner, culminating with a new graphic representation of the Arctic sea ice death spiral.

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Richard Muller Radio Rambles, part 1: Kochs “very deep”, “very thoughtful” and “properly skeptical”

A recent Canadian radio appearance by Berkeley Earth founder Richard Muller has shed additional light on the role of Charles Koch, a major funder of the Berkeley Earth effort (and arguably the top funder of climate contrarians over the last several years). In the interview on CBC’s Sunday Edition, Muller mounted his most spirited and detailed defence of Koch yet, describing the oil billionaire as “very thoughtful” and “properly skeptical” of climate science. And the Berkeley Earth website goes even further, linking to an official Koch statement that makes the preposterous claim that the Charles Koch Foundation supports “sound, nonpartisan, scientific research”. That rings especially hollow this election season, given the current massive pro-Republican and anti-regulation push by fossil fuel interests, led as usual by Koch Industries. Continue reading

Open Thread, September 2012

Climate change got its first mention of the U.S. political season with Mitt Romney’s “heal the planet” crack, and Obama’s memorable retort:

And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax.  More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.  They’re a threat to our children’s future.  And in this election, you can do something about it.

For a Canadian perspective that somehow managed to miss the point of Romney’s ill-advised, small-minded joke, check out Andrew Coyne in the National Post.

Meanwhile, Canadian environment minister Peter Kent announced regulations for coal-fired electricty that are weaker than the original proposal of a year ago, while the government met renewed accusations of creative carbon accounting.

2012 Arctic sea ice minimum, part 2: September 2012 projected at 3.6 million sq km, 700K below previous low in 2007

Interest in 2012’s record  Arctic sea ice melt has reached the mainstream press both here in Canada (CBC, PostMedia) and abroad (New York Times, Associated Press and the Guardian), now that the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has declared a record low in Arctic sea ice extent.

In my previous discussion of the extraordinary 2012 melt, I noted the eclipse of the old daily record on August 24, three weeks ahead of the 2007 pace. But I also gave a series of short-term  projections for the September extent average, which is the metric typically used to track the decline in Arctic sea ice. The  2012 September projection now stands at 3.56 million sq km, slightly down from my previous projection of 3.67 million sq km. That’s more than 700,000 sq km less than the previous 2007 record of  4.30 million sq km.

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