4 July 2017

Yet Another Climate Myth Is Gone

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Climatologist Zeke Hausfather posted this on Twitter last week when an important paper was published in the AMS Journal of Climate. Notice how close the surface temperatures match the satellite-derived lower troposphere temperature rise now.

Update July 5, 2017: Carl Mears (one of the authors of the paper) has written an excellent FAQ about this subject that is well worth looking at.

The myth that the satellite temperature measurements do not match the surface temperature record is one of the most enduring climate myths, but it’s now in the dustbin of history. A new paper in the AMS Journal of Climate has produced the latest reliable estimate of the lower troposphere temperatures and they now match much more closely with the NASA surface temperature reconstruction. Make no mistake though, the NASA temps. are by far the most reliable since deriving the temperature of the lower troposphere requires making corrections for different sensors and orbital drifts. Look at the chart below from the paper:

No, I am sure that this myth will linger because too many people try to adjust the scientific facts to fit their worldview rather than adjusting their worldview to fit the facts. We have stopped teaching students how to judge information and do research. This myth will, of course, continue because as Tom Nichols put it very well in his excellent book The Death of Expertise (The book of the summer IMHO): “There is no way to enlighten people who believe they’ve gained a decades worth of knowledge because they spent a morning with a search engine”. The satellites do not match the surface temperatures is one of Ted Cruz’s favorite talking points, but I’m not holding my breath that this will change now.

So, when you look at that new temperature curve above (in RED) realise that it’s the best the experts in this field can currently do. Every improvement seems to match more closely with the surface thermometer record, however, and that seems to me significant. A good explanation of the history of this subject has been published by John Abraham in the Guardian, and it’s well worth a read. Also, Zeke Hausfather is very familiar with this science and his post on Carbon Brief is a must read. Zeke also posted the image below comparing all the temperature reconstructions. Science works by replication and the agreement increases confidence in the result. I highly recc.following Zeke on Twitter: @husfath.