Statasticians Reject Global Cooling; This Is A Warming Planet

By SETH BORENSTEIN

AP Science Writer

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – An analysis of global temperatures by independent statisticians shows the Earth is still warming and not cooling as some global warming skeptics are claiming that the planet is cooling. The analysis was conducted at the request of The Associated Press to investigate the legitimacy of talk of a cooling trend that has been spreading on the Internet, fueled by some news reports, a new book and temperatures that have been cooler in a few recent years. In short, it is not true, according to the statisticians who contributed to the AP analysis. The statisticians, reviewing two sets of temperature data, found no trend of falling temperatures over time.2005 hottest year recorded. U.S. government data show the decade that ends in December will be the warmest in 130 years of record-keeping, and 2005 was the hottest year recorded. The case that the Earth might be cooling partly stems from recent weather. Last year was cooler than previous years. It has been a while since the superhot years of 1998 and 2005. So is this a longer climate trend or just weather’s normal ups and downs. In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time. “If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a microtrend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect,” said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina . Yet the idea that things are cooling has been repeated in opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report and in a new book by the authors of the best-seller “Freakonomics.” Last week, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans now believe there is strong scientific evidence for global warming, down from 77 percent in 2006. Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped — thus, a cooling trend. But it is not that simple. Temperatures are rising once more. Since 1998, temperatures have dipped, soared, fallen again and are now rising once more. Records kept by the British meteorological office and satellite data used by climate skeptics still show 1998 as the hottest year. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA show 2005 has topped 1998. Published peer-reviewed scientific research generally cites temperatures measured by ground sensors, which are from NOAA, NASA and the British, more than the satellite data. The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA’s climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend. “The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record,” said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. “Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming.” The AP sent expert statisticians NOAA’s year-to-year ground temperature changes over 130 years and the 30 years of satellite-measured temperatures preferred by skeptics and gathered by scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Statisticians who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in data as far back as 1880. Saying there’s a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate, said David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor and one of those analyzing the numbers. Identifying a downward trend is a case of “people coming at the data with preconceived notions,” said Peterson, author of the book “Why Did They Do That? An Introduction to Forensic Decision Analysis.” Satellite data tends to be cooler. One prominent skeptic said that to find the cooling trend, the 30 years of satellite temperatures must be used. The satellite data tends to be cooler than the ground data. The key to that is making sure that 1998 is part of the trend, he added…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: