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The science and politics of climate change

Los Angeles Times | Greenspace | Environmental News from California and Beyond
Climate skeptic admits he was wrong to doubt global-warming data

Remember when scientists who had cast doubt on global temperature studies boldly embarked on an effort to "reconsider" the evidence?

They have. And they conclude that their doubt was misplaced.

UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller and others were looking at the so-called urban heat island effect — the notion that because more urban temperature stations are included in global temperature data sets than are rural ones, the global average temperature was being skewed upward because these sites tend to retain more heat. Hence, global warming trends are exaggerated.

Using data from such urban heat islands as Tokyo, they hypothesized, could introduce "a severe warming bias in global averages using urban stations."

In fact, the data trend was "opposite in sign to that expected if the urban heat island effect was adding anomalous warming to the record. The small size, and its negative sign, supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change."

Researchers conclude that "[t]he trend analysis also supports the view that the spurious contribution of urban heating to the global average, if present, is not a strong effect; this agrees with the conclusions in the literature that we cited previously."

The literature they cite is the basis for the conclusion that Earth has been warming in an unnatural way during the period of human industrialization. To read the full article click here.

BBC News | Science & Environment
Climate Study Raises 'Heated' Debate

The Berkeley Earth Project's new analysis of the global temperature record, which I covered on Thursday, raises a number of questions concerning the science and the politics of climate change, and the ways in which science should be conducted.

The headline conclusion – that the Earth's surface is indeed getting warmer and that the 20th Century did indeed see a pattern of warming, slight cooling and warming again – is hardly a surprise.

But in the febrile atmosphere of "the climate debate", its significance lies not only in its conclusions, but in who's done it and what they've found.

At the heart of the "Climate Gate" issue lay the allegation that researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and their peers elsewhere had basically cooked the books.

They'd twisted, hidden, manipulated and otherwise distorted their record of the Earth's temperature, it was said, for whatever reason – to save their careers, promote their green ideology or further the cause of world government.

It was also said that the climate crowd were not "proper" scientists. Get physicists or geologists on the case, it was argued, and some proper conclusions might emerge.

Into this arena rode the Berkeley group – seven of the 10 physicists, two of them statisticians, just one a climatologist – with a new approach.

Richard Muller, the project's founder, told me that one of the things he looked for in choosing his team was a proven ability to take on new areas of science and bring some original thought to them.

Within climate science, one of the interesting questions now is whether the three major existing temperature record teams – Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office/UEA collaboration – learn anything from the Berkeley effort. To read the full article by Richard Black click here.