Oops...about those global temperatures

More

An item for those who believe that climate science is "settled". A new article in Nature reports that the post-war sea-surface temperature record is biased. See this report by the BBC. It is all to do with whether you take the temperature of water near ships' engine inlets or from buckets. Really technical stuff like that. Apparently, because the method changed, and the change was not properly taken account of, the sea surface did not cool as abruptly in the 1940s as the figures had previously indicated, nor (it follows) warm as quickly during the rest of the century. Climate modellers are working out the implications right now. How much this amounts to--how far it influences projections of future changes in temperature--is unclear. Maybe not much, but we shall see.

Steve McIntyre, author of Climate Audit, a thorn in the side of the climate-science establishment, has been on to this anomaly for some time. (See "Nature 'Discovers' Another Climate Audit Finding".) The article in Nature does not cite him. Despite the evident diligence and seriousness of his work, he is not part of the officially sanctified peer-reviewed network, and indeed appears to be shunned by it. I dare say there are lessons to be drawn here about open-mindedness, or lack of it, in official climate science, and in the claque that surrounds it.

As the climate blogger James Annan puts it: Oops. "This seems pretty embarrassing for all concerned." But look on the bright side, he argues: "one could almost portray this as another victory for modelling over observations, since the models have always struggled to reproduce this rather surprising dip in temperatures." Well, that would be one approach. He credits McIntyre, but cannot bring himself to utter the name: "[the issue] wasn't overlooked by everyone [link to Climate Audit], actually. But I anticipate that plenty of people will try their best to avoid looking and linking in that particular direction." File under, "Approved Scientific Method".

Jump to comments
Presented by

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In