Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

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.

Data Point
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.


11 Responses to “A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Global Cooling… (February 2009 Update on Global Temperature – RSS)”

  1. […] A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Global Cooling… (February … […]

  2. Steve Belden said

    Just read your blog about the latest RSS anomoly. Love your honesty. I think a lot of us share your opinions. Looking at the historical data (from a purely laymans perspective) it appears that we have had these little spikes on a fairly regular basis followed by a drop. I would not be at all surprised to see next months anomaly down siginificantly. The trend is definitely downward and I see no reason why that wont continue. My “expert” opinion.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Jak said

    Thank you for this thorough and useful explanation

  4. John Nicklin said

    I suspect that the very hot conditions in south central Australia could be skewing the number a bit. When we move into the equinox it may come back in line. Mind you , I could be wrong.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. The Diatribe Guy said

    #4: That was my first thought, as well. but when I checked the RSS data by latitudinal region it showed an increase over previous month everywhere except the tropics, which remained about the same.

    From 20 – 82.5, the anomaly increased from 0.38 to 0.67.
    From -70 to -20, the anomaly increased from 0.072 to 0.242
    From 60 to 82.5, the anomaly increased from 0.887 to 1.131
    From -70 to -60, the anomaly increased from -0.289 to -0.034

    The one that really blew my mind, though, was the anomaly for the Continental U.S. The anomaly was -0.662 in December, and was +0.358 in January. This is a tropospheric reading, and I suppose that can be quite different from surface temps, but… wow. It was pekkin’ cold in the Midwest the entire month, and there was plenty of cold weather out East and into the Southeast throughout the month. I have no reason to doubt the satellite reading, but I have a difficult time reconciling that number with what I know happened on the ground during that month.

  6. Jeff Id said


    That’s why I come here too. Joe understands that the data is the data and it doesn’t much care what we want it to do or what we believe. I’ve caught flack for calling his site unbiased but it was by people who don’t understand his work.

    Nice analysis.

  7. […] 2009January 2009 Update on Global Temperature – UAHJanuary 2009 Update on Global Temperature – NCDCA Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Global Cooling… (February 2009 Update on Global Temperature…A Look at the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) IndexEt tu, Pluto?Some fun stats with Sunspots […]

  8. Gary said

    Anyone here understand “design of experiments”? I’m seeing at least two major, major flaws:
    1. You’re very, very selective in choosing which years you assemble to tell the story you want to tell.
    2. You’re ignoring the primary system input: solar irradiance.

    Check this one out too – I find psychology is fast becoming far more relevant to the “debate” than the latest IPCC report:

    • The Diatribe Guy said

      Gary, thanks for the comment, but I’m not exactly sure what you’re trying to get at.

      1) Actually, I have to simply say you’re wrong. I present my information – when I post (very limited recently) – very consistently, as follows:

      a) Show the total trend line from all recorded history
      b) Show the curent flat period as far back as it goes

      Then, I have charts for all of the following that I track: 5 year, 10 year, 15 year, 20 year, 25 year, and 30 year. For each of these I produce charts showing the trend line, a plot of that period’s slopes since the last change in trend, the latest “peak” trend in relation to the current direction, and the entire history of the slopes.

      That’s a total of 26 charts produced exactly the same way each month regardless of whether the new information changes trends up or down.

      Now, since I don’t want to show all 26 charts every time I post, I always present the first two, and then I literally – at random using a number generator – select a few more charts to post.

      I then tell my story based on the charts – not the other way around.

      I am not in favor of the pro-AGW position. But when trends show some blips upward, in order to be intellectually fair and honest I point them out. It’s not an argument for or against anything, it’s a presentation of fact. And that’s all I want this site to be.

      Your second comment about ignoring solar irradiance simply tells me that you have read this post in isolation and have not bothered to look at my posts that take a look at that data.

      Here’s your error:
      Assuming that a simple post on current trends are staking a claim to one position or another, and assigning the reasons for these trends to one thing or another.

  9. […] by comparison). It's clear – if you can counter this data I suggest you do it. RSS RSS Data February 2009 Update on Global Temperature – RSS UAH GISS December 2008 Update on Global Temperature – GISS HadCrut Deconstructing the […]

  10. […] by comparison). It's clear – if you can counter this data I suggest you do it. RSS RSS Data February 2009 Update on Global Temperature – RSS UAH UAH Data December 2008 Update on Global Temperature – UAH GISS December 2008 Update on […]

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