Saturday 22nd October 2016                 Change text size:

The 12 days of climate change myths: #9, Are surface temperature records reliable?

The 12 days of climate change myths: #9, Are surface temperature records reliable?

With thanks to Skeptical Science, over the Christmas holidays, Blue & Green Tomorrow is debunking well known climate change myths.

Today we tackle the idea that temperature records are unreliable.

The sceptic argument…

“US weather stations have been located next to exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. 89% of the stations fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 metres away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.”


What the science says…

The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
Surveys of weather stations in the USA have indicated that some of them are not sited as well as they could be. This calls into question the quality of their readings.

However, when processing their data, the organisations which collect the readings take into account any local heating or cooling effects, such as might be caused by a weather station being located near buildings or large areas of tarmac. This is done, for instance, by weighting (adjusting) readings after comparing them against those from more rural weather stations nearby.

More importantly, for the purpose of establishing a temperature trend, the relative level of single readings is less important than whether the pattern of all readings from all stations taken together is increasing, decreasing or staying the same from year to year. Furthermore, since this question was first raised, research has established that any error that can be attributed to poor siting of weather stations is not enough to produce a significant variation in the overall warming trend being observed.

It’s also vital to realise that warnings of a warming trend – and hence Climate Change – are not based simply on ground level temperature records. Other completely independent temperature data compiled from weather balloons, satellite measurements, and from sea and ocean temperature records, also tell a remarkably similar warming story.

Confidence in climate science depends on the correlation of many sets of these data from many different sources in order to produce conclusive evidence of a global trend.

Many thanks to Skeptical Science for allowing us to republish their work. To view the original article, click here.

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