Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Follow Up to the RSS Temperature Data

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 9, 2009

I had some confusion about the results of the RSS anomaly data as it regarded the Continental U.S. The anomaly was a significant increase from December, and was an overall positive 0.358. This was on the heels of some very cold weather throughout much of the U.S. In some places it was a record cold January. I was surprised to see a positive anomaly.

I sent a missive to RSS in hopes of some explanation, as follows:

Dear sirs,

I have a layman’s interest in reviewing the data you release each month, particularly on the TLT data, since that most corresponds with land and surface temperature measures.

I have my own opinions about global warming, but primarily I just enjoy seeing the data and presenting the information for lay readers like myself, on a blog entitled

The information I last used was from this source:

Thank you for your service in this regard. Occasionally, someone not fully versed in the ins and outs of this technology gets a little confused by the numbers. I do keep an eye on the NOAA climate maps, which I understand are unofficial, throughout the month. That, along with simple knowledge of weather throughout the month in the United States, has me a bit confused by the anomaly for the Continental U.S. for the month of January.

I live in the Midwest, and the entire region was below normal for nearly the entire month of January. I know that the East and Southeast also had its share of below normal temps. Tracking the NOAA maps showed a lot of purple and blue on a weekly basis over wide swaths of the U.S.

NOAA is based on surface station data. So, can you please explain to me in simple terms what drove the significantly higher anomaly in January over December for the Continental U.S.? Is it a difference between the surface and the lower tropospheric measure? Did heat in the West offset the cold in the East?

Any information you can provide would be useful, and if I may, I would like to pass the information on to my readers.

Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.

Joe Tritz

I received a timely response from Marty Brewer, pointing me to a very cool image file. It shows that the Eastern U.S. was indeed cold, but the Western U.S. was quite warm. Interestingly, the area over the Pacific is warm, even though there are negative anomalies for both the PDO and ENSO indices. Anyway, Marty’s response was:

Hi Joe,

Take a look at the monthly images:

Click Anomaly.

In Jan 09, it looks like the U.S. west was as hot as the east was cold, maybe hotter.


You can follow the link above, but I have also placed the image here:

2 Responses to “Follow Up to the RSS Temperature Data”

  1. Jeff Id said

    I noticed the latitude band through California around the globe has cycles hot/cold with a pretty regular looking period.

    i.e. cali – hot east US cold, atlantic hot, west europe cold, east europe hot, arabia cold….

    Cool picture.

  2. The Diatribe Guy said

    That’s an interesting observation. I’m going to try and remember to check that image out each month to see if that is typical.

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