A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Global Cooling… (February 2009 Update on Global Temperature – RSS)
Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 5, 2009
One of the things that got me interested in looking at the trends and doing analysis on the actual temperature numbers was because the story I saw painted by looking at the data was not at all the story I heard painted on the evening news. One thing that has upset me about this whole ordeal is the willingness of AGW proponents to be openly hypocritical. For example, when there is a drought or wildfire in some region, they have no problem pointing to Carbon Dioxide as the culprit, as if these things only first started happening in the 20th Century. But, if it snows in Dubai, it’s brushed aside as an interesting anecdote. Or, worse yet, we are told that it is perfectly consistent with some theory or another on global warming and/or climate change. We are told that only long-term trends mean anything, and short-term trends are just noise.
I am, admittedly, a skeptic. There are many reasons why I am skeptical about the anthropogenic contribution to the warming climate. There are many reasons why I am skeptical about the veracity of the data itself. I am not, however, skeptical about the fact that there has been a warming trend over the last century+. The data is clear. But it is not a catastrophic warming, and I see no particular reason to believe it’s due in its entirety to man-made causes. That is my position. I understand that we do not all agree. I also happen to believe that we are headed for a cooling period over the next two, 3, or 4 decades. This is based on historical observation of different things that I’ve presented here.
But what I do not want to do is start making lame excuses for my position. I prefer to let the data play out. I’m either right or I’m wrong.
And so, the last thing I do is run away from new data that doesn’t fit in conveniently with my position.
The fact is, the latest RSS temperature anomaly is a somewhat surprisingly warm one. I say “somewhat surprisingly” in the context of the data trends and in the context of things like La Nina, cooler PDO, and a non-increasing AMO, on top of a quiet sun for an extended time period. However, for those of us who kept an eye on the different temperature maps, the result was not necessarily surprising. There were a number of warm anomalies around the globe during the month, so the result was not a surprising one in that respect. But had you asked me before the month began if I could foresee that jump, I would have said “no.”
But it is what it is. I could talk about how one month doesn’t make a trend and isn’t in and of itself indicative of anything. And I’d be correct. But this is the same argument AGW proponents use whenever there’s a cold month. Instead, I just prefer to add the data point and see what the trends say.
There are a couple points I’d like to add, though: The first is a point that I saw made on the Watts thread regarding the RSS anomaly. It’s right on the mark, in my opinion. (I’m paraphrasing. I’d link to it, but I’m getting an error at the moment trying to head over to Watts). Basically, the point is that we skeptics are in a somewhat unusual psyche. Most of us actually want warmer weather because we believe the warming is a natural cycle, and is overall very beneficial to us – less disease, longer growing seasons, etc. And yet, we somewhat perversely find ourselves rooting for cooler weather simply to try and quiet the AGW crowd. Our concern is that they are going to do stupid things like implement horrible and costly policy in the name of combating global warming, and that this risks higher taxes, limitations on freedoms, more regulation, and deficit spending all for a non-existent problem. So, it’s a conundrum to us that we at once want warmer weather and colder weather. We can’t win.
On a personal note, I can’t tell you how much this latest anomaly sucks. I happen to be in a region where we have experienced one of the coldest Januaries on record. I am not exaggerating the brutality of the cold. We had a number of -10 to -20 F days, with dangerous wind chill. If we’ve had any above-normal days, they were sparse and short-lived. My heating bill is through the roof. I hate cold weather. So, this anomaly is the worst of both worlds for me. Not only do I not get the skepticist benefit of a cold anomaly, but I did not get the personal benefit of the warm anomaly. My region is purple on the map, and has been all January. This, while I flip around the rest of the globe to see mostly pink or red. Frankly, I’m a little P.O.’d by the unfairness of it all! Wisconsin has been below normal now for a year and a half. I freakin’ want some of these warm anomalies to come my way.
Well, anyway, let’s get to the data…
The RSS data can be found here.
The January anomaly was 0.322. It is the highest anomaly since August 2007.
The current anomaly is 0.388 degrees Celsius warmer than January 2008, and is 0.150 higher than December 2008.
This is the third consecutive year-over-year increase. It is the seventh consecutive anomaly over a value of 0.14, following eight consecutive anomalies under that value.
The 12-month average is 12.4, which has increased back up to the level for the period ending June 2008. The average increased from 9.2 a month ago.
The overall trend is now a little over 30 years long for the RSS satellite data. The current slope in terms of 0.01 degrees Celsius per month is 0.13045. This equates to a rate of 0.1565 degrees Celsius per decade.
Current flat/cooling trend
The furthest back we can go to see an essentially flat line with a slightly negative slope (non-warming trend line) is April 1997. The period length for this measure stayed the same this month. Due to the higher anomaly, the front month moved forward one month, while we added January 2009 at the end. So, we’re still at a length of time 2 months shy of 12 years.
60-month trend line: The current trend line value is -0.3050. This equates to 0.366 degrees of cooling per decade. It is, however, the fifth consecutive increase in trend value (less negative).
120-month trend line: Just because we extend a line back nearly 12 years to show cooling doesn’t mean the 10-year line is negative. It’s not. That has to do with the nature of the higher anomalies that show up in the 10-12 year period that flatten the line out. 10 years ago we had some cooler anomalies. Over the next few months these will drop off, and unless we see a rise in subsequent anomalies, we will eventually see the 10-year line go negative – possibly by the end of 2009.
For now, the value is +0.0875, which is equivalent to a +0.105 degrees per decade increase in temperature.
Here is the peak value of the 10-year slope measure. The value of 0.3545 equated at the time to 0.4254 degrees Celsius warming per decade. The value has since declined to the current trend line above.
And the chart below shows the progression in how the slope has declined since that 2002 peak. After a significant decline, we see the recent flattening/fluctuation. I expect another reversal and continued decline throughout this year:
Below is the full cycle of 120-month slope values over time:
180-month: The current slope value of 0.1005 equates to +0.1206 warming per decade. The value has declined since the period ending September 2006 and is at its lowest slope value since the period ending July 1996.
240-month: The current trend value of 0.1648 equates to +0.1978 degrees warming per decade.
The peak value occurred for the period ending March 2004:
Since then, we see the trend down to the current level, like so:
And the cycle of 240-month slopes in entirety are shown here:
300-month: Current value of 0.1688 equates to 0.2026 degrees warming per decade. This slope value has declined since April 2007, and is at its lowest value since the period ending January 2006.
360-month: The current value of 0.1301 equates to 0.1561 degrees warming per decade. There are only two data points for 30-month slope. This value is slightly lower than last month (0.1304).
This next year should be very interesting.