Monday, April 7, 2008

"Warming Island" myth

It seems that global warming alarmists love to use anecdotes to persuade people that their hysteria is justified. Al Gore, John McCain, the New York Times, and other alarmists continually talk about Mt. Kilimanjaro, make silly claims about Eskimo language, or the specter of cannibalism. Of course, these anecdotes are often false or have nothing to do with global climate change.

The latest myth has been exposed at the World Climate Report. This myth concerns a story in the New York Times, which claims that a spit of land that was thought to be a peninsula was revealed to be an island when a glacier connecting to Greenland retreated. The article notes:

Despite its remote location, the island would almost certainly have been discovered, named and mapped almost a century ago when explorers like Jean-Baptiste Charcot and Philippe, Duke of Orléans, charted these coastlines. Would have been discovered had it not been bound to the coast by glacial ice.

Maps of the region show a mountainous peninsula covered with glaciers. The island’s distinct shape — like a hand with three bony fingers pointing north — looks like the end of the peninsula.

Now, where the maps showed only ice, a band of fast-flowing seawater ran between a newly exposed shoreline and the aquamarine-blue walls of a retreating ice shelf. The water was littered with dozens of icebergs, some as large as half an acre; every hour or so, several more tons of ice fractured off the shelf with a thunderous crack and an earth-shaking rumble.

The folks over at World Climate Report decided to do a little sleuthing and found that "Warming Island" was known to be an island 50 years ago. Read the whole story here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Global temperatures 'to decrease'

The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

But this year's temperatures would still be way above the average - and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases.

Full story here.

Correction to Hadley Center temperature record

The Hadley Center in the UK, which maintains a global temperature record, has announced that it has discovered an error in the way its temperature data is displayed. The data represented in this graphic (also see here) is smoothed to eliminate the sharp fluctuations.

However, when performing the smoothing procedure, they used the months of January and February of 2008 to represent the whole of 2008. The gives those two months the same weight as twelve months. When the data is smoothed, this propagates the over-weighted influence of those two months into previous months. Because January and February 2008 have been "unusually cool," they pull previous years downward as well, making it look like recent years seem cooler. As noted in the Hadley Center announcement:
We have recently corrected an error in the way that the smoothed time series of data were calculated. Data for 2008 were being used in the smoothing process as if they represented an accurate estimate of the year as a whole. This is not the case and owing to the unusually cool global average temperature in January 2008, the error made it look as though smoothed global average temperatures had dropped markedly in recent years, which is misleading.
As has been noted at Climate Audit and Watts Up With That, the same problem existed last year (2007) when a very warm January made recent years look unusually warm. However, the Hadley Center didn't catch the error at that time. It seems that they only notice errors when they erroneously cause temperatures to go down, but not when they erroneously cause temperatures to go up.

Anthony Watts attributes this to "expectation bias," where errors that confirm the expectations of the Hadley Center researchers are missed, while errors that do not confirm their expectations are missed.