Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Update on Arctic Temperature – RSS July Anomaly

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on September 4, 2009

Since the Arctic always seems to be the “hot” discussion point in the discussion of climate change and global warming (does it seem unusual to anyone else that a discussion of a supposed global phenomenon almost always seems to come back to a discussion of melting ice in the Arctic?) I thought I’d provide an update on the Arctic charts. Since I’ve already mentioned the ice, let’s see what that’s up to (from the IJIS data – link on the right):


IJIS Arctic Ice Extent

I posted this on a comment on The Air Vent but I’ll repeat it here:

Anyway, in looking at the IJIS chart (not only above, but the current one) it seems pretty much as expected. I’m going to reference a post I made in early June:

Where I said this: “As of today, June 4, it is below the 2003 level, but holding in second position. As an aside, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see this tail off quite a bit and dip below most of the years again. Looking at 2008 this happened, but not to the extent that it melted in 2007. It can reasonably be expected that the ice just won’t jump by leaps and bounds at maximum melt, while still in an increasing mode. So, 2009 may well dip below normal before it’s said and done, but my own guess is that it will still end up higher than 2008, thus continuing the upward trend.”

Unless we get some serious meltage going on soon, it looks like I’ll be right. Am I proud? Not really. It’s pretty much common sense along with a rudimentary understanding of Physics, energy requirements, and heat transfer. One doesn’t need to be an expert to look at the temperature trends along with 2007 ice levels and develop the idea that there will be a likely slow positive accumulation of ice over time.

So, what do I mean by these temperature trends? I mean, it’s warming in the Arctic, right?

Let’s take a look. All data is directly from the RSS data link that is located on the right, under resources. I suppose if you believe it to be bogus, you can take it up with them…

July Data Point
The anomaly in July was 0.2380 (in degrees Celsius, heretofore referenced as 23.80 in 0.01 degree Celsius units).

Rank and Average: Of the 367 anomalies, it ranks 179th highest – almost at the 50% median. If you’re wondering about averages, the anomalies don’t average out at zero, as they probably should. This is just a convention, but can cause some confusion, because we naturally think of the zero line as the average anomaly. In fact, the average anomaly in the data is 20.46. So, the July anomaly is basically at both the median and the average.

The 2009 July anomaly ranks 15th of 31 July anomalies in the data. So, all the way around, this was just a boring, average, temperature reading.

Movement:The June anomaly was also right there, at 25.00. So, the July anomaly was only a slight decrease of 1.20 units. The decrease from July 2008 is more pronounced: -17.80 units.

Streak: July showed the third consecutive anomaly that was lower than previous year. Of the last 23 anomalies, 17 of them are lower than the previous year.

12-month Average: The 12-month average anomaly is 44.4. This has been coming down fairly consistently for a while. This is the lowest 12-monthly average since the period ending January 2005.




Overall RSS Arctic Anomaly Trend Line

The overall trend line since inception of the data in 1979 is definitely positive. The recent decline is not enough to offset the long-term warming that has occurred in the region. From 1997 to 2006, you can see the steady increase in the temperature anomaly, which was a sure contributor to continued lower ice extent over that period. The second-highest singular peak anomaly occurred in 2007, at a value of over 2.00 (first place goes to a value in 1981 that was over 2.50). The current trend line over the 30+ years represents 3.20 degrees Celsius warming per Century.


Current RSS Arctic Anomaly Flat/Cooling Trend Line

So, the longest term to evaluate that we have is positive, but the current period of time has stagnated (if not reversed). We can draw a line back to April 2001 for which we have a slightly negative trend line. This could mean all sorts of things, from stagnation within a continued warming trend, stagnation moving forward, or a reversal of the trend, where the line is simply being fitted around the peak. (I’ve used the analogy of climbing a mountain. As you walk up, your “trend line” for increasing elevation by time is increasing. When you reach the peak and then start moving down the other side, your trend line actually continues to increase for a time until you meet it again. But it will take some time for it to finally flatten to zero… in fact, if you measure the trend from your starting point, it will only show zero once you’re at the bottom. So even though you spent as much time moving down as you did moving up, you always showed a positive trend line. This is one reason why it is helpful to view how the trend line is shifting over rolling periods.

Anyway, I’m not saying that this is the case here, but I’m not saying it isn’t. Those who suggest it must be one and can’t be the other are either relying on other information to make that statement, or are simply being dishonest. But here’s the statement of fact: For the temperature anomalies produced over the last eight and a half years, the trend line in the Arctic is negative.


Peak RSS Arctic Anomaly 60-month Trend Line

I like to show a recent peak or trough trend line to show where we were versus where we are now. Almost six years ago, the short-term trend line (5 years) peaked at a very high slope value of 1.4039, or an alarming 16.85 degrees per Century rate of warming. It’s no surprise that we saw an increase in the amount of ice meltage (is that a word?) earlier in this decade, peaking in 2007. This was also the peak season in advertisements and such showing floating polar bears, and this is when the Arctic became the poster child for global warming.

Clearly, had this rate continued, the entire cap would have melted on schedule. And the issue here isn’t that there wasn’t indeed spike in warming. The issue is that those who saw this five-year trend and prognosticated doom were breaking their own rules – a five year period is wrought with fluctuation. It’s unreasonable to use that to extrapolate to long-term projections.


Recent RSS Arctic Anomaly Slopes Trend Line

So, what happened since that peak? The chart above shows us that, since 2003, we have come down from that peak 5-year slope value to a current clope value of -0.7093. That’s a cooling rate of 8.51 degrees per Century. Of course, the people today that are strong AGW proponents will be the first to tell you that the 5-year trend line can’t be used to extrapolate out such things. And they’re right. A pity we can’t get uniform consistency on this issue.


Cycle of RSS Arctic Anomaly 60-month slopes

So, how do these 5-year slopes track over time? Until recently, they were consistently positive to one level or another for about 8 years. Prior to the little dip before that, there was another period of a positive trend line for about 5 years, and while not as long, this one showed a 5-year trend at nearly 2! This chart certainly shows enough consistency in the positive trend lines to indicate that the temperatures have been rising for a period of time. There are two points to make on this, though: (1) I reiterate that the actual average anomaly is over 0.2, no zero. That shift would give the chart a slightly different flavor, though it still leads to similar conclusions; (2) We’re looking at a span of 30 years. It’s silly to draw too many conclusions. As we see, the right side of the graph has trrended down consistently now for six years, and the current 5-year slope is the lowest we’ve seen since the period ending March 1994. In the ice extent chart at the top of the post, we see the early appearance of a rebound in ice, with corresponds with these temperature trends. Do we really need to panic?


RSS Arctic Anomaly 120-month Trend Line

So, we’ve seen temperatures decline in recent years from the high levels they achieved. However, since that’s recent enough, and since we haven’t quite made it to the “bottom of the mountain” we will still continue to see positive trend lines on the longer time frames. Maybe we won’t reach the bottom, and the next mountain starts above the level of the first one. Time will tell. But the current 10-year trend line is at a rate of 2.40 degrees Celsius warming per Century. This trend line is currently the lowest value it’s been since the period ending August 1995. That speaks both to the extent of recent cooling, as well as to the persistency of increasing values over that time prior to the recent cooling period.


120-month RSS Arctic Anomaly Slopes over Time

We can see the 10-year slop values over time here, and it will now be interesting to see if the lower slopes continue downward in similar fashion to the speed with which they increased in the early 1990s.


180-month RSS Arctic Anomaly Trend Line

The most recent 180-month trend line is showing a rate of warming of 3.27 degrees Celsius. Despite the level, the slope value is also trending down, and is at its lowest point since the period ending July 1998.


240-month Peak RSS Arctic Anomaly Trend Line

The 20-year peak value occurred in January 2007, just preceding the minimum ice extent occurring the subsequent summer. While the short-term trend was turning negative even at that time, the anomalies themselves were still high enough to increase the trend line and induce additional melting, even if starting to come down (If your oven is 450 degrees and you cool it to 400 degrees, it may have cooled down, but it can still bake a pizza… but if you keep cooling it off, at some point it will stop baking.)


300-month RSS Arctic Anomaly Slopes over Time

The 300-month slopes are shown here to demonstrate that it takes a while for these longer-term slopes to reflect short-term changes. We know the 5-year slope is quite negative at the moment, and yet the 300-month slopes have only fallen a little bit, and aren’t far off from where they’ve been for the last 2-3 years, and above the periods before that. One reason why people do like these longer-term periods is the stability they have against random fluctuations. This is the positive aspect. The downside is that the longer your term, the slower it is to react to an actual change in the trend. So are the current short-term results a random fluctuation, or the actual reversal of a trend? That’s the rub, isn’t it? The only way to really know, despite what the fancy modelers say (who are usually wrong) is to see what happens. But.. but… we need to act NOW!!!

Yeah… call me a nut, but I find that a dumb argument. Suppose you have an illness, as of yet diagnosed. There are certain things you can do that are beneficial to you regardless of your diagnosis: eat right, get enough rest, drink fluids, etc. But if a doctor says “but we have to do something!” and gives you a medication and put you through expensive and painful procedures that might help you, but on the other hand, could do more harm than good, then why would you do it? Just because we have to do something? No, you only do those things that you know are beneficial to you, and you wait for a firm diagnosis before engaging in expensive procedures that will be miserable to you that might just kill you anyway if the diagnosis is wrong.

And this is how I view environmentalism and the planet. I am all for restricting pollutants that we know are bad for us and for the surrounding ecosystems. I am all for encouraging a wise use of our resources through education and incentives. What I don’t want to do is implement carbon taxes and spend billions of dollars on a misdiagnosis. Maybe that’s just me.


360-month Peak RSS Arctic Anomaly Trend Line

Finally, if we take the worst-case 30-year trend line (though keep in mind there are only a handful of data points so far) we see a warming trend of 3.37 degrees per Century. I suppose one can see this as an ominous harbinger of things to come for the rest of the globe that, for whatever reason, has started in the Arctic and will be working its way down. Or, someone can look at it as a regional phenomenon that is simply unstustainable in the context of the rest of the globe, which should at some point act to moderate and/or counteract it. I personally take the second view, though I admit to this being more opinion than science.

To all in the U.S., enjoy your Labor Day weekend! I am pretty excited to actually see beautiful weather and temps forecast for the entirety of the weekend. Lawnmowing, fishing, fairs, and general entertainment are on the docket for this individual.


8 Responses to “Update on Arctic Temperature – RSS July Anomaly”

  1. Marco Rodríguez said

    Pienso que las regresiones utilizadas para la obtención de las tendencias están maquilladas, por lo demás el trabajo es extraordinario

  2. jeroen said

    please in english

    I think that the regressions used to obtain trends are massaged, otherwise the work is extraordinary. According to google translate you where saying this.

    I think we should look at the raw data from DMI.

  3. The Diatribe Guy said

    I’m not sure what is meant by “the regressions used to obtain trends are massaged.”

    Unlike Jeff at The Air Vent or McIntyre at Climate Audit (both of whom I consider incredibly smart and persistent) I’m pretty much just fitting data.

  4. Mike said

    As a scientist, I always felt the thing which would finally dispel the man-made global warming myth was data: hard concrete data showing the earth was cooling despite all the soothsayers predictions of warming. Then I did the calculations based on the best estimate of the actual variability of the climate, and then I realised it could be as much as 100 years (about 10% chance) before the climate “returned” of its own accord to “normal” (1960-91 mean).

    Moreover, since they do seem to be extracting oil from tar sands, the bigger problem of energy shortage seems to be put off for a few decades, so what does it matter if the zealots waste a few billions on fruitless attempts to “save the planet”?

    But today, I’ve finally seen an end to this nonsesnse, and it is not going to come from the noble (now ignoble by its enviro-politicisation) science, no science is not going to be the saviour from our own stupidity (and particularly the stupidity of politicians which seems to have little bounds).

    The thing that is going to torpedo this nonsense and sink it without trace is money. Even now the UK is spending >£1billion/year on “saving the planet” (making very rich landowners with windmills even richer). But soon, that expenditure would have to rocket to 20 or even £100 billion/year, because the politicians so far have been very happy to “speak the speak” of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions, but they haven’t yet felt the pain of closing down up to 80% of all the businesses that emit any carbon. Or perhaps they had some other plan like cutting the world population by 80% – or perhaps they still believe the nonsense that if you want to cut 80% of the CO2 from transport, you could move everyone from petrol cars, to diesel buses (almost no saving because buses running empty most of the day are as wasteful as single occupancy cars). Or perhaps they thought we could save the planet by all living 1mile high on top of each in eco-carboard tower blocks in city centres, so we didn’t need transport, (expect for the politicians who would be one of the few privileged to drive because of their reserved occupation!).

    So, any real substantial reduction in CO2 output was always a bit of a joke. Yes politicians can tinker at the margins and cut the percentage of electricity producing CO2 (although rising total energy consumption massively offset that small gain), but they never had a hope in hell of achieving any large-scale reduction in CO2 without wiping out 80% of the world’s business, or 80% of its population (or just the US – joke!).

    But today the reality of the credit crunch hit home. In a piece hidden away in the schedule, euphemistically called: “The government will have to start “cutting costs” as it deals with the effects of the recession”, we in the UK learnt just what kind of measures are needed in the next few years:

    ****A 20p / pound (20%) rise in income tax.****

    (That’s 20% on a current rate of 20% = 100% rise in income tax!!!!!)

    In addition, the bond rate is soaring because lenders simply don’t see any real attempt to address the financial disaster facing the UK.

    What does this tell us?

    1. There’s now no doubt, the British press and particularly the BBC are under strict instructions to “downplay” the desperate state of our nation’s finances (perhaps unofficially, but more likely some form of government censorship via a d notice under the pretence of stopping us going further into recession if the public lost confidence in our cock-up politicians.).

    2. At this time any talk of “tackling global warming”, is a desperate attempt by the politicians to find anything to talk about other than the state of the UK economy – the truth is we simply can’t afford to do anything, and in anycase the recession has cut CO2 emissions far more than any government measures.

    3. 99.9% of the UK haven’t a clue what is going to hit them after the election.


    So, the future looks pretty bleak for global warmers. Suddenly the political elite will realise that man-made global warming is the economic equivalent of a petrol filled tyre necklace hanging around their neck. Suddenly it will become ever so convenient to “listen to all the evidence” and hear that the world has actually been cooling for the last decade and “take the precautionary approach with the economy”, and “not burden future generations with an undertaking without the evidence to back it up”.

    And, of course, as soon as you cut all the funding to “scientists” desperately trying to prove man-made global warming, and tell researchers that results “supporting higher economic spending on the environment” are “unhelpful in the current ecnomic climate” … the problem will disappear … and all the “scientists” will suddenly find it ever so convenient to become sceptics.

  5. The Diatribe Guy said

    Mike, you may be right. Even in the U.S., the left had finally seemed to get the average yokel to accept that something needed to be done to address climate change, even if nobody could really explain why. I guess you throw enough anecdotes of drowning polar bears against the wall, and indoctrinate enough kids over the years, that eventually people fall into a mindset of agreeing that – even if they don’t know for sure or truly understand it – SOMETHING should be done. You know, just in case…

    And I’m not disagreeable to normal, cost-efficient things. Pollution controls that technology now allows us to do? Fine. More research into alternate energy to complement current energy consumption, with an eye towards replacing it as we learn how to more efficiently harness it? Fine. Reasonable protections of wildlife that properly balance the need for humans to engage in activities that are needed as well? Fine.

    The issue has always been taking that balance and throwing it out the window. The reason why guys like me become wary of proposals to do something that otherwise makes a little sense is because time and time again, those efforts have been simply a foot in the door to future stupid policy decisions that then can’t be stopped. So, guys like me start preferring that the government do little or nothing, preferring that markets will eventually decide, and even if government could help speed things up in the short run, it will end up doing more damage in the long run.

    But now, it seems, people are starting to question why we should be spending even more money on this climate problem at a time where the unemployment rate is approaching double digits and – well – it’s kind of been a cold summer. There’s a second side to being able to convince people who can’t think past next week that the recent heat wave is caused by global warming. Or that hurricanes are caused by global warming. Or that tornadoes are caused by it. And so on. Those same people will see a cold summer with few tornadoes and hurricanes, and will move their concern for it to the bottom of the priority list.

    The only issue with the problem of money right now has to do with the pure stupidity of our government’s stance on spending money we don’t have. Within a year, the American people have somehow managed to accept as reasonable a $700 billion bailout of the financial institutions and a near $1 trillion “stimulus” package that nobody even bothered to read. And the only reason people are against the Health Care bill has to do with the freedom to choose your own care – not the spending side of it. I don’t know where everyone thinks the money’s coming from, but I can pretty much tell you where: loans from China and a printing press to make up the difference.

    When the dolalr crashes and oil is at $200 per barrel, we won’t need climate change legislation to reduce energy consumption. And that won’t be a good thing, since ALL imports will be expensive and we simply don’t have the capacity to step in and make up for it.

  6. kinimod said

    Could you please for the dumb tell, what source you did take those temperature anomaly data from? I tried to find but did not succeed.

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