NASA Study Reveals That Historical Records Miss a Fifth of Global Warming

July 22, 2016


New NASA Study Shows Historical Records Miss a Fifth of Global Warming

Difficulties in making weather measurements in the Arctic have led to underrepresentation of this rapidly warming area in historic temperature records.

New research led by NASA scientists reveals that almost one-fifth of the global warming that has occurred in the past 150 years has been missed by historical records due to quirks in how global temperatures were recorded. The study explains why projections of future climate based solely on historical records estimate lower rates of warming than predictions from climate models.

The study applied the quirks in the historical records to climate model output and then performed the same calculations on both the models and the observations to make the first true apples-to-apples comparison of warming rates. With this modification, the models and observations largely agree on expected near-term global warming. The results were published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Mark Richardson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is the lead author.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of Earth, but there are fewer historic temperature readings from there than from lower latitudes because it is so inaccessible. A data set with fewer Arctic temperature measurements naturally shows less warming than a climate model that fully represents the Arctic.

Because it isn’t possible to add more measurements from the past, the researchers instead set up the climate models to mimic the limited coverage in the historical records.

The new study also accounted for two other issues. First, the historical data mix air and water temperatures, whereas model results refer to air temperatures only. This quirk also skews the historical record toward the cool side, because water warms less than air. The final issue is that there was considerably more Arctic sea ice when temperature records began in the 1860s, and early observers recorded air temperatures over nearby land areas for the sea-ice-covered regions. As the ice melted, later observers switched to water temperatures instead. That also pushed down the reported temperature change.

Scientists have known about these quirks for some time, but this is the first study to calculate their impact. “They’re quite small on their own, but they add up in the same direction,” Richardson said. “We were surprised that they added up to such a big effect.”

These quirks hide around 19 percent of global air-temperature warming since the 1860s. That’s enough that calculations generated from historical records alone were cooler than about 90 percent of the results from the climate models that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses for its authoritative assessment reports. In the apples-to-apples comparison, the historical temperature calculation was close to the middle of the range of calculations from the IPCC’s suite of models.

Any research that compares modeled and observed long-term temperature records could suffer from the same problems, Richardson said. “Researchers should be clear about how they use temperature records, to make sure that comparisons are fair. It had seemed like real-world data hinted that future global warming would be a bit less than models said. This mostly disappears in a fair comparison.”

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

Publication: Mark Richardson, et al., “Reconciled climate response estimates from climate models and the energy budget of Earth,” Nature Climate Change (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate3066

Source: Alan Buis, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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22 Responses to “NASA Study Reveals That Historical Records Miss a Fifth of Global Warming”

  1. Bonnie Davis Says:

    Boy, those Climate Deniars go way back, eh?


  2. Randall Says:

    Humanity has a much larger gap in their collection of data surrounding global warming than this report states. There have been very few temperature readings taken at various depths throughout the planets deep water oceans and seas. That data, if collected over the course of the past 200 years would have exposed to the world, just how much mankind’s massive aquatic thermal contribution has tainted and warmed the waters around the globe.

    A reality exposed by the double digit temperatures being witnessed in vast areas of the Arctic. This human related source of thermal contamination developed within the waters due to the waters having a predominant downwards direction of conduction, which is created by the deep cold waters being capped by a solar heated surface layer. Remember heat transfers to cold. The accumulation created is what spilled over into the Arctic, where this global aquatic conduction value is more vulnerable to thermal increases, due to the surface water temperatures being closest to that of the deep waters below.
    Think about the sheer volume of thermal waste being dumped into the aquatic structure daily, from city sewers, all of the large ships inclusive of all the world’s navel ships, from nuclear reactors, weapons testing etc…


  3. Crask Says:

    In other words, the globe is warming at a historically consistent rate, not some dramatic hike in the global warming rate as Democrats and their 97 percent of scientists that they decided not to get rid of consistently say.


  4. jabusse Says:

    Are they saying the warming is on track with the non man influenced normal warming. It really doesn’t say. It simply resolves the differences between actual measurments made with instruments that are less than standard and located few and far between with predictions made from unbaselined data. Manipulating historical data so that a notion based model works is artistic, not scientific. The world is getting warmer and rather than try and stop it we need to learn to live with it. Fortunately, we have lots of time.


  5. Brass Orchid Says:

    Did you mean to say that a reduction in the size of the heat sink is being accompanied by a reduction in its effectiveness? Has anybody considered that to rebuild the heat sinks will require a very large amount of thermal energy applied to the seas to pile ice up inland, before the seas will again be cooled enough to allow increased accumulation of arctic ice?
    Cooling from the ice age is still with us, creating glacial recession and an increasingly large portion of the land to be arid to the point of being classified as desert. The remaining ice still maintains cooler seas and a shallow atmosphere incapable of transporting large quantities of water vapor the great distances necessary to reverse the observed increasing global aridity and warming. Cooling will not occur until the warming cycle is completed unless it is catastrophic cooling that reduces usable habitat inland and maintains and increases existing aridity, which will ultimately result in a continuation of the warming cycle.


  6. Devon Shire Says:

    HAHAHAAAA! Oh man, the feeble attempts by the weather tax hoaxers to reinvent temperature data gets more hilarious by the day. Thanks for this genuine laugh. Now kill yourselves.


  7. MikeW Says:

    NASA has made up much of its temperature record, and has corrupted the rest with political manipulations. So it’s easy for NASA to make up another one-fifth of the record and claim it was “missing”.


  8. DrPF Says:

    yah, it’s 20% warmer than you think it is….duh.


  9. Ted C Says:

    In other words they really don’t know.


  10. Frakenfester Says:

    And in other news… little rectangle patches of crop land you can see all over the place.. double from previous google satellite view.. are being burned to clear in ever exponentially increasing amounts each season… trash being burned into the atmosphere exponentially increasing every season… methane from frack wells doubling/ tripling every year… Fuel oil barges, ships trains , cranes, diesel trucks, boats, generators. coal electric plants. heavy industry spewing carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons NOX…. permanently processing the molecules of the finite atmosphere on the planet into non breathable poison… irreversibly…

    Oh, and there’s the “temperature out there”… It’s different… it’s not different… very important…. far more important oh it is, oh it is. Lets ramble on about that… lets talk about that instead…


  11. Fossil Phobiac Says:

    NASA calls out “quirks ” in the record keeping and data gathering .
    When wil NASA and NOAA reveal their methodology ?


  12. Rich-S Says:

    Oh Boy!!!
    Al Gore is NOT going to be happy with this at all !!!
    So, Safe-to-say that the IPCC is just a cult now, huh?


  13. BasilMosier Says:

    So NASA would have us believe that errors in collections over 150 years are all in one direction. We’ve missed heat but not missed cold.

    When someone in government decides on a political course, government agencies find new date which supports that political course. This piece arrives at the same time that our Secretary of State, the long-faced John Kerry says that refrigeration and air conditioning pose the same risks to the world as terrorism. I say, “Bullsh*t!”


  14. Bimmy Says:

    All these people do is flip a coin daily! One day it’s hot and the next is cold! What is it?


  15. Steve Says:

    The fact is, there is and always has been, and always will be, natural climate change, but the contribution of human activity is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here’s why:

    Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is 0.039% of the atmosphere- a trace gas. Water vapor varies, but averages around 1%, and is about ten times more effective a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is about 25 times more prevalent and ten times more effective; that makes it 250 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore about 0.004%. The total human contribution to carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%. So human greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.00%, works out to about 0.001%. Since TOTAL greenhouse effect on temperature is estimated at around 63 degrees Fahrenheit, that would come to human-caused warming of about 0.063 degrees Fahrenheit.

    But that’s only the beginning. We’ve had global warming for at least 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it caused the glaciers, which once extended south to Long Island and the northern suburbs of New York City, to not only melt back, but completely disappear (except for a few mountain remnants). That’s one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming – and I suppose we should presume we are, given a 10,000 year trend – it is as close to a certainty as one can get that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.001% contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    The science is now all-but-settled on global warming. Convincing new evidence demonstrates cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth. The research, published with little fanfare in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. They demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

    Yet even that trend-continuation still needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period in the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now, and the climate was a lot colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

    The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous, and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted.

    For an entertaining and devastating critique of the alleged “science” behind the AGW argument, check out this video:

    Richard Muller is a physicist at the University of California campus at Berkeley (!). He is a bit of a showman, but he is also a serious scientist.

    The idea that we should be spending billions upon billions of dollars to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict AGW, as currently preached, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Madoff and Ponzi look like pikers by comparison


  16. Luke Says:

    Boy. The lot of you are f’ing dumb. Did you even bother to read the article? It CLEARLY states that the reason why our calculations on climate change have been more conservative than the actual outcome, is probably because we have been missing data. The reason why our models predict X-meters of sea level rise and we get MORE than that, can now be better explained because of having more data points from the past.
    Can you stupid Climate Change Deniers get a f’ing brain cell and ACTUALLY READ ???


  17. Gordon J. Fulks, PhD Says:

    This article is more of the usual climate nonsense, published in a journal (Nature) that only accepts the nonsense and will not publish objections to it. Hence it is NOT a scientific journal.

    The larceny here is that the climate models fail miserably when compared against HIGH QUALITY NASA global temperature data sets derived from the MSU satellite data, beginning in 1979. Honest comparisons of predicted temperature trends with observed trends show a discrepancy of a factor of two to 3.5 (depending on the specific comparison). That’s fatal for the models. They are billion dollar failures.

    Furthermore, we need not go back to the sparse data available 150 years ago to see if increasing atmospheric CO2 is the Earth’s thermostat. The best test is the recent data where atmospheric CO2 has been slowly but steadily increasing. That has only happened to any significant degree since the rapid worldwide industrialization after WW2. If CO2 were the Earth’s thermostat, the two should be moving in tandem. They are not.

    Over the last seven decades, the Earth’s temperature has only increased slightly over two decades, from about 1978 to 1998. Over the other five decades, it either stayed the same or declined. The two decades where the increase was observed correspond to a major change in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from its cold to warm phase, not a major change in CO2.

    Yes, the Global Temperature has gone up since we started to come out of the Little Ice Age about 1830. But there was little use of fossil fuel until the end of WW2 and therefore every reason to look at ocean and solar changes since 1830.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA


  18. Nabil Swedan Says:

    An excuse to justify failure of the “mainstream” climate science.


  19. richard Says:

    Oh Man!!!!
    Fat-Albert-Gore is not going to be happy about this.
    So, safe to say that the IPCC is just a cult now, huh?


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