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#16606 - 09/24/06 08:27 AM The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day all,

The text that follows is a draft of a newspaper article I was asked to write. I haven't done this type of thing before and have no idea whether it is any good.

Any comments, negative or positive will be welcomed and suggestions for improvements will be gratefully received.

It is reproduced in full because it is only 1,000 words.

What if global warming was a myth predicated on a simple mathematical miscalculation? This of course is an absurd statement. Everyday this newspaper and other news agencies publish yet another study further establishing that global warming is not only a fact beyond any reasonable argument but something which needs urgent attention.

But what if the statement was not all that absurd, what effect would it have on your thinking on global warming? Australia has very reliable weather records. They date back well into the 19th Century. So does the USA and Canada. There is a pesky problem with temperature records because cities have been absorbing more heat than the surrounding countryside but that can always be factored in. The ?urban effect? is well known and has been known for a very long time. In Berlin, for instance, it raised the temperature compared to the adjacent areas by 1.4 C from ? 1886 to 1898. But because that rise is known, the temperature in Berlin can be adjusted in the statistics. So this proves little in relation to global warming. But what of cities such as New York where the urban effect is thought be very large but cannot be calculated because the surrounding areas actually show a cooling trend? Simple really, New York is excluded from the temperatures.

Berlin and New York have reliable temperature records for many years but this is not so true for other locales. The scientists of the world interested in climate change mostly rely on a single source for records of weather stations, the GHCN data set. This is a quote from GHCN:

?A meteorologist working in a tropical country noticed one station had unusually low standard deviation. When he had an opportunity to visit that station, the observer proudly showed him his clean, white instrument shelter in a well cared for grass clearing. Unfortunately, the observer was never sent any instruments so every day he would go up to the shelter, guess the temperature, and dutifully write it down?

Examples of problems in consistent recording abound. Another weather station was moved 100 metres uphill because the bitterly cold wind blowing off a lake was too uncomfortable for those taking the measurements. They found a nice sheltered location instead and never thought to tell anyone about the move.

But these problems pale into insignificance when compared to one simple mathematical error that dams all temperature data to inaccuracies many times greater than global warming. No one ever once thought to set a standard of just what an ?average? was. Not a daily average, nor a monthly average nor any other average when it involves temperature. So each location sets out to make the calculation of the daily average or the monthly average by whatever means they decide.

But it gets worse. Typically, temperature recording through the 20th Century has progressed from two temperatures to multiple daily temperatures and the more temperatures in a day the warmer the average becomes. So how do you calculate global warming if the temperatures have become warmer just because of the arithmetic involved? This is truly an uncomfortable thought. Testing this is quite easy to do yourself. All you need is the weather page and a calculator or even a pencil and paper. Take a typical hot Sydney summer?s day for Western Sydney. The minimum is 24 C and the maximum is 40 C. Add the two figures and divide by two. The average is 32. Now take the temperatures at 9am, noon, 3pm, etc plus the minimum and maximum. For the same day the average will come out at 33.5 using typical intermediate temperatures. That?s a 1.5 C hotter average just because more readings were made. Sydney was not hotter that day. But the average says it was. And Global Warming is about the average Surface Air Temperature (SAT) increasing by 0.6 or 0.8 C in a century.

No wonder the GHCN data, which only includes monthly averages, but for more than 7,000 weather stations around the world, sometimes has as many as six different records for one location, all with different temperatures. The different readings are simply the result of the application of differing ways to calculate the average. And there is no way of determining how any of these averages were calculated. This is the data relied upon by NASA and various other institutions working on Global Warming, to provide their results.

This could all sound like an anti-Global Warming shell game to spread doubt where there should be none except there are ways to measure the temperature other than just the world?s average air temperature from weather stations. Since 1958 there have been weather balloons. Since 1979 a global snapshot of the temperature of the earth is taken 17,000 times a day, currently by two different satellites for further confirmation of accuracy. The weather balloons and the satellites match up very precisely but they do not match up with the surface air temperature at all. The weather stations tell us it has been getting much warmer during the period that the satellites and the balloons give a quite different result. The pattern does not match so there are warm years and cool years in the satellite data that are not in the weather station data. If the weather station average temperature was reliable then the three methods of measuring the average should closely align or at the very least follow the same pattern. Surprisingly, the USA weather station data as calculated by NASA does agree largely with the satellite data. It does not use cities in the calculations because of the urban effect and it shows a cooling trend.

The whole basis of the ?fact? of global warming relies on the simple truth that the world is, well, warming. But if the data that has been used to prove this has little or no value for comparisons over the years which are important, just how factual is the fact of global warming? It may well be that the world has been warming but it is a bit like baking a cake with a faulty oven thermostat, how sure can we be that it is actually heating up?



Regards


Richard

Edit: Sorry. Didn't realise that the degrees symbol turned into a zero when I cut and pasted. Was sort of strange looking at 240 degrees.
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16607 - 09/24/06 07:15 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Quote:
Originally posted by RicS:
But it gets worse. Typically, temperature recording through the 20th Century has progressed from two temperatures to multiple daily temperatures and the more temperatures in a day the warmer the average becomes.
Richard,

Is this really true?

Can everyone really be that stupid or disingenuous?

Blacknad.

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#16608 - 09/24/06 09:20 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Hi Blacknad,

I didn't ask you to question the science. Damm! How was the article? Does it read OK? Or is it crap badly written? I have only written one previous newspaper article and that was when I knew everything because I was young, super confident (and yes, I'm contradicting myself but I actually forgot about it - it was on global cooling and why perhaps it was a bit early to go out and buy fur parkas just yet). Now I'm neither.

Oh, and yes Blacknad (by the way, how about a nick name or first name - Blacknad is a bit ... well, strange) it is all way too true.

Go to the NASA site, any of the NASA sites, go to the GHCN site and you will find discussions on just this topic. Actually NASA has a whole article on why there is no such thing as an average world temperature then immediately turns around and says the average says it is warming. Sheesh, don't they read what they just wrote?

Actually the maths errors simply because of this one thing really screw up an awful lot and there is NO WAY to correct. The raw data is often not available or is not in a form that can be used without an enormous effort. I for one think they should do that effort but, hey, what do I know, I don't fully support global warming so I'm a stooge for the oil industry.

Actually this is just one small part of what's wrong with the GHCN data or anyone's data. Almost none of the records are consistent. They have gaps. They moved locations. Even if there was no such thing as "local urbanisation" effects the data would be next to useless. No sane scientist would rely on such data for anything except climate scientists. Why? Because that's all there is! Is bad data better than nothing? I don't believe so but how could everyone discuss the world getting warmer (or in the 70's cooler) if it was simply agreed the data is faulty and to only rely on that very small subset that is not faulty. What does that give you? Antartica where the Australians have been. Parts of Canada. Much of the US data. Australia probably has the best data in the world for the longest time, so does New Zealand. Anywhere else? Nup. Oh you might find a village in Italy where they have faithfully carried out weather recording daily in a consistent manner and certainly in parts of England and Ireland but not enough to give you an accurate regional picture. There are some military stations that have good records as well.

Who cares? The data says there is global warming that will destroy civilisation. We must act now! You'd think you could find one set of data that supports global warming. Water temperatures. Not a change of getting a data set out of that except from the British Navy and it says that the world's oceans have been cooling for the last century and a bit. Damm! Something. Glaciers. If they are melting it must be warming, right? Well actually if you take all the glaciers - about 1,600 - 70% are expanding and the main European glaciers that we have records of have been much shorter in the past than now even though they are shrinking.

Does anything agree with the bad temperature data? Actually no. Not raw data. But the raw data is generally so flawed that I cannot tell you it is not 3 degrees warmer than it was a century ago or for that matter cooler. The ice is melting. No its not, its getting thicker. Nothing is clear and it sucks, big time.


Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16609 - 09/25/06 03:43 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
John M Reynolds Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 174
Loc: Canada
I generally like the article, but I found a few rough spots. I hope this critique gets to you before the article is published.

I found this sentence hard to read:

"No wonder the GHCN data, which only includes monthly averages, but for more than 7,000 weather stations around the world, sometimes has as many as six different records for one location, all with different temperatures."

There are too many assides within the one sentence. I would simplify by getting rid of ", but":

"No wonder the GHCN data, which only includes monthly averages for more than 7,000 weather stations around the world, sometimes has as many as six different records for one location, all with different temperatures."

The "The pattern does not match so there are warm years and cool years in the satellite data that are not in the weather station data." sentence is missing a comma before 'so':

"The pattern does not match, so there are warm years and cool years in the satellite data that are not in the weather station data."

Another comma may be needed in the next sentence:

"If the weather station average temperature was reliable, then the three methods of measuring the average should closely align or at the very least follow the same pattern."

I did not fully appreciate your final oven thermostat comparison. The thermostat is used to maintain the baking temperature like cruise control on a car is used to maintain velocity. I cannot see the thermostat's reading unless I put a thermometer into the oven. But then how do I know that thermometer is right? Like in my car example, how do I know if the spedometer is right? A friend put the wrong size of tires on his car and his spedometer was inaccurate. That is the point. Accuracy and consistancy of measurement.

I hope this helps.

John M Reynolds

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#16610 - 09/25/06 03:50 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day John,

It did help. Thanks. The article has been submitted but only as a rough draft to see if this is the direction they wanted. I still have the chance to correct it. Actually it took all of fifteen minutes to write straight from notes for a lecture I gave a couple of weeks ago.

There were several ways that the article could have gone including quoting An Inconvenient Truth and the blatant errors.

Regards

Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16611 - 09/25/06 05:27 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
John M Reynolds Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/14/06
Posts: 174
Loc: Canada
I did a test. For my city, I took yesterday's high of 11.3 and low of 5.4 Celcius and got an average of 8.35.

Then I went to the http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.c...th=9&Day=24 page, I added up all the temperatures and divided by 24 to get 7.6 Celcius. It amazes me how two different methods can give such different averages. Granted, the weather is changing quite quickly, so I took July 3 (because it seemed like a typical day) and redid the calculation:

(15.8+27.8)/2=21.8
510.6/24=21.275

Lower again. Hmmm. Must be global cooling. :p

John M Reynolds

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#16612 - 09/25/06 10:49 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
overall well written and an interesting article worthy of acceptance at any *professing unbiased* media outlet

i think john's grammatical critique was poignant

hope your article sees the light of day and gets a little well-deserved and much needed air

also hope your upcoming (or ongoing, as the case may be) medical issues are resolved in the best possible way...i'll be thinkin' about it

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#16613 - 09/25/06 10:58 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
Anonymous
Unregistered


Richard;
A point of grammar. The word "data" is the plural of the word "datum" and as such it should take the plural form of whatever verb it associates with. Thus it should be "the data are..." not "the data is...".

Hope that helps. A minor point but significant if your audience is the least bit sophisticated.

Amaranth

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#16614 - 09/25/06 11:06 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day John,

Summary
  • John raised excellent point
  • Twenty four hourly averages really should give you a good average.
  • In cold seasons a comparison between 24 hourly and max min will give you a drop not a rise
  • However, 24 hourly is not even used in towns very close to Ontario
  • More typical is seven temperature readings in a day with a daylight bias
  • Point of no "average" standard remains valid. The bottom line is you get different temperatures depending on which average you use.
  • Even for winter in a very cold location, with a daylight bias the average will still most often be much higher.


Main Points
The only time the average generally does not work is when there are 24 hour temperatures and the temperature is generally colder during the day. A winter or near winter day. This is one reason why US (and Canadian and Australian and New Zealand) data has not been effected that much. You get lower averages in the cold, higher in the hot and overall the result is - zero difference. Remember hourly temperatures done 24 hours a day require computerisation or 24 hour shift workers. That is not true for most temperature recording even today for most of the world. I did point out that the US data does match the satellites. This is also true for Canada (at least the lower portions - these are included in NASA's temperatures when they say "Continental US" - a bit rich but they simply do not have enough non urban effect temperatures without Canada and northen Mexico).

24 hourly temperatures is not how much of the world works. Where multiple temperatures are used the most useful ones are during the day and so that's what is being recorded.

24 Sept in Ontario a Special Case
Brrr. I couldn't stand it that cold. This was a strange day with 11 degrees at midnight and the coldest being about 10am. The temperatures do not follow a typical warming pattern because it had heavy cloud which kept the temperatures up overnight but the insulation did not last into the following day and it cooled down.

A More Typical Day Was 23rd - Calculations of its Averages
I'm not trying to find figures that agree with me, just more typical figures for your city, so I went back one day. Instead of 24 hours I took the typical two hourly temperatures used in many places starting at 6am and going through to 8pm plus the max and min: 11.7, 12.7, 13.4, 15.8, 15.9, 15.5, 15.6, 14.4, Min 10, Max 16. Average = 14.1. Min/Max Average: 13. But two hourly is also pretty rare so lets take a more typical 9am, midday, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, Min, Max. Average is then: 14.1. The best average is hourly and for this day it is: 12.8. But typically averages add in min and max and you get: 12.83.

Variation of 1.3 Degrees depending on the Method Used
So we have 12.8 on an hourly basis, 13 if you use 2 hourly but not night temperatures, 14.1 if you use seven daily temperatures (currently a fairly typical way of creating the average). That is a larger variation that global warming for the century and Ontario is an Urban Effect city which pushes its total average up by about 1.5 to 2 degrees over the year.

Conclusion
My point remains valid. Not having a standard for averages and you get, well, you get garbage.


Richard
[/I]
PS. Sorry John, in my haste to have a look at the data (Sorry datum) you were using, I missed the little bit where you said you used July 3. Should have used that date.
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16615 - 09/25/06 11:21 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day all,

Reply to Posts in this Thread but Mostly Personal and Off Topic

Yes, Amaranth Rose, the audience is reasonably sophisticated. And, yes, anyman, the paper does profess to being less biased. It has printed five opinion pieces in the last 18 months on global warming, three questioning major aspects and two pro. If they print mine that will be four to two. But they also print "news" stories almost every day including one the day I submitted this that said:
Quote:
"? and can always roll out some crank with a PhD prepared to go on record saying that were in no trouble at all, or even that we're on the brink of the next ice age. These people can be ignored. The data is solid"
The paper is a large ciculation "quality press" paper and I will NOT (edit, I meant not!) name it unless they print the article.

Thank you for the reassuring words and for the helpful critiques. They helped me a lot. My confidence level was destroyed by my condition. You should have seen how bad I was preparing for the lecture I gave, and I had 100 slides and a lot of science to back me up. The typical comment was "You didn't refer to the slides often enough and unless you spoke spontaneously, it was not as interesting." I received a few very good comments about how I handled the question time so I felt better.

How Goes the War?
Reporting live from the battle for the leg. The Staff Army have put up heavy resistence and continue to fight strongly. It would seem the White Army have made slight advances but not much and two secondary battles have broken out, one throughout much of the right leg and another in in the neck. The mostly heavily fought for area now resembles a open cut mine right down to the bone and the battle seems to have moved well into the bone. Today the whole strategy will be reviewed and rather than have the Staff Army call in their allies the Gangrene Brigade it might be that today the indiscriminate attack of the IV Anti-Bs may start.

I hate hospitals! I DO NOT want to go. This will be my 400th attendance. Sigh.


Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16616 - 09/25/06 11:31 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
anyman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/04
Posts: 134
Quote:
...mathematical error that dams all temperature data...
i think you mean *damns* rather than *dams*...but i would recommend removing the profanity and replacing it with *dooms* or somesuch

profanity is superfluous, unnecessary, and still crude in polite society

in the final para, you have...

Quote:
But if the data that has been used to prove this has little or no value...
amaranth rightly noted the agreement error with *data*...here is another

...the data that have (pluaral, rather than has [sing])

you may want to do a *control f* in your word doc to find all uses of data and correct your agreement errors

didn't know we were gonna get real picayune on this, but amaranth is right...we prescriptionists and style-wise guysngals do wince a little at these minor (some would say major :-) faux pas

the newspaper is a little different medium than this board...where we are far more forgiving but no less wincing :-)

i've known profs that would fail a paper submitted with a single agreement error

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#16617 - 09/26/06 12:08 AM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
Anonymous
Unregistered


What? Anyman agreeing with me? I gotta check the eastern sky for a new star. ;-) It's surely a red letter day, at any rate. :-D

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#16618 - 09/26/06 01:00 AM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day,

All terrific advice. Thanks to all so much for taking the trouble to do it. I'm still a little lost with datum (always have had problems with such words including phenominum and the like).

And damn is profanity? Buggered if I knew that!

And apologies to anyone that views both words as profanity. I'm Australian. "Bloody" is an adjective for emphasis. "[censored]" is a term of enderment. I really would not have thought "damn" was anything but I'll happily substitute doom. Hate to upset the blue rinse set that lives for gramatical manglings so they can write indignant letters to the very paper that may print the article.


Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16619 - 09/30/06 04:10 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day all (or to anyone still interested in Global Warming topics on this site),

Off Topic Post - How Goes the War in My Leg

Stopped posting and the whole thing went quiet. Must have been one too many posts.

Completely off topic but since I have been providing my reporting from the front, I'll briefly catch up.

The infection worsened. Went to Doctor. Sent to hospital. "Too sick" to be allowed in hospital (I've heard excuses before but that one was novel!). Have an IV that a nurse comes around to our home twice a day to replace. Making me quite sick. Infection in bone and blood. Antibiotics currently not working and each increase in dosage or change is causing a worsening reaction to it (I'm alergic to Penicilin in a very bad way and they haven't found an antibiotic that I do not react to - not a good allergy to have with this type of infection). My bedroom resembles an ICU with oxygen bottles, drips, all sorts of dressing stuff. I can't use my hydrotherapy spa so my legs are not doing too good. You should not be able to feel and have ligament, etc contractions from lack of use, no fun and morphine does very little for that type of pain. Sigh.

The bug that is attacking seems to be a multi resistant strain. Not too concerned with losing leg, it is pretty useless anyway but they are now doing all that can be done and I have four more sites of serum dripping out of leg and one on other leg plus rash now over much of body with blotches slowly spreading everywhere.

So it may be a long time before I post again. What's that? Do I hear cheers from Washington state? And my research was actually being accepted as the basis for PhD studies in Climatology. I would have liked to have done that.

I have very much enjoyed the discussions I've had with others on this forum. To those that disagreed with me but still took the time to have reasoned discussions, I thank you. And I've learned a lot while being here. I've always said that you learn a great deal more from those that do not agree with you than you can ever learn from those that believe as you do.

And since I won't be posting for a while, to Mr Morgan: Learn to be less childish with those that do not agree with you. Insulting others can be extremely hurtful (not to me - I have a thick skin - well I thought I did until this bug). Since your expertise is not with Climatology, had you participated in the discussions without resorting to what I felt was belittling others, to put downs, and just being unpleasant, you might actually have learned something about Climate in particular and about scientific methods and how easily they can be distorted in more general terms.

Please do think of others before posting anything that questions someone's education, their intelligence or abilities. There are those on sites such as these that truly are very intelligent but have little confidence in themselves. Positive discussions including those where you disagree with someone can only boost confidence. The opposite really can have devistating effects. Do you really want to be the cause of such hurt just because you don't agree with another's point of view?

To the moderators of this site. I thank you for all the work you put in and goes completely unacknowledged, so that the sites functions well and interesting discussions and a myriad of different topics pop up every day. This is a terrific site in general and you obviously do a great deal to keep it that way. Thanks.


Regards


Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

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#16620 - 09/30/06 05:36 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Well while RicS is proclaiming that nothing is amiss.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060920193210.htm

Others are paying attention to reality.
_________________________
DA Morgan

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#16621 - 09/30/06 07:18 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
The link is interesting but did you spot this ad:

Is Global Warming Real?
Get Renowned Financier George Soros' Opinion on Global Warming
www.georgesoros.com

LOL. Of course, if you want to know the facts about Global Warming you ask a 'renowned financier'. How silly of me, I thought that you would probably seek the opinion of a climatologist.

Blacknad.

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#16622 - 09/30/06 09:11 PM Re: The Myth of an "Average" World Temperature
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Soros has contributed a small fortune to fighting global warming as has Virgin's Richard Branson.

While I am very sympathetic to the point of your comment ... it is also true that some people are more likely to believe a rich person than a PhD.
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DA Morgan

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