Open Mind

Summer ‘09

September 13, 2009 · 26 Comments

It’s no surprise how often denialists focus on regions with cooler-than-average temperatures to imply that the globe itself is cooling. The latest spate of such posts is about this summer in the U.S.; maybe the “best” is this one:


We’ve had a mild summer here in the Southeast, but that isn’t stopping the media from finding one place in the world where it might be warmer than normal, and proclaiming global warming.

He then talks about how two German merchant ships have used the northeast passage now that global warming has opened it, to transport cargo from South Korea to Siberia.

I guess he doesn’t pay attention to the rest of the world:

summer09

Categories: Global Warming
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26 responses so far ↓

  • TomG // September 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Reply

    Heck of lot more red and orange on that map compared to blue.
    Though in a way I suppose he’s right.
    It is only warming in only one other place in the world….that being the whole rest of the world.
    Notice that the red and orange is all connected, whereas the blue is not?

  • Petro // September 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Reply

    The cold spots on the Northern hemisphere have been arranged strikingly regular manner. Must be something to do a temporaty systematic change in air circulation.

  • CapitalClimate // September 13, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Reply

    “I guess he doesn’t pay attention to the rest of the world:”

    That really says all you need to know about that mindset.

    Petro:
    Yes, it is indicative of a persistent “blocking” pattern in the large-scale circulation as a result of higher atmospheric pressures at northern latitudes. Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel has done some excellent analysis from a meteorological viewpoint of the evidence relating these patterns to global warming.

  • Robert Grumbine // September 13, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Reply

    Petro:
    I don’t think I’d call it strikingly regular. The gap between the one in the central north atlantic and the one in Siberia is much larger than the one to from NA to the Great Lakes + Great Plains.

    What it looks like is a shift in the jet stream pattern. It is a quasi-regular 4 peak pattern. Cold to the north of where it is diving southmost, warm under its northward rise. Only quasi-regular, hence the variation in distance between spots. If the only thing involved is moving the jet stream around, you get a collection of 8 spots — 4 warmer than usual, 4 colder than usual. Not really what we see here, as there’s more going on than just shifting the jet stream pattern.

  • jyyh // September 13, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Reply

    The cooler areas are all in the temperate Westerlies areas, nearby to the west of those are Rocky Mountain and Californian fires , American industry center, Southern Urals industry center, China industry center… but this is of course too simple an explanation. But striking regulality, yes. And this line of thought cannot explain the pattern in southern hemisphere.

  • Lockwood // September 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Reply

    This inspired yet another skeptical LOL.

  • Kate // September 13, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Reply

    Yes, it has to do with the jet stream. I asked a prof about it and got some answers, which I wrote about here: http://climatesight.org/2009/08/21/why-is-it-so-cold/

    Now, however, the jet stream is much straighter and farther north, and my area is 6-7 C above normal nearly every day for the last three weeks or so. This is expected to continue into the winter.

    Michael Tobis has also been writing about the heat and drought in Texas.

  • Slioch // September 13, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Reply

    This website shows record high and low temperatures for the contiguous USA:

    http://mapcenter.hamweather.com/records/7day/us.html?c=maxtemp,mintemp,lowmax,highmin&s=20090913&e=20090913

    It is remarkable how frequently new records appear.

  • John N-G // September 14, 2009 at 11:29 pm | Reply

    I just commented favorably on some info from Climate Audit in another thread, so to be balanced I’ll note that McIntyre noted that cold summer temperatures in Ontario should have been a tipoff that sea ice melt wouldn’t be as large in 2009 as 2008. Too bad Ontario isn’t in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

  • Trey // September 15, 2009 at 3:50 am | Reply

    I’m not sure what projection this map is based on ( Mercator?, Gall-Peters?), but it’s biasing the poles. Antarctica is not as big as Europe, Asia, and Africa combined. Hence, the red is much smaller than it appears.

    [Response: It doesn't "bias" the poles, it distorts them. An equal-area projection wouldn't alter the fact that the red still outweighs the blue by a long shot, as shown by the global anomaly (which is area-weighted) and by the fact that the anomaly is positive for every latitude band.]

  • Gavin's Pussycat // September 15, 2009 at 8:07 am | Reply

    Actually the projection used by GISTemp is called plate carrée. It maps squares in lat/lon into squares on the map sheet. I’m sure it was chosen for ease of drawing: you don’t have to compute anything starting from latitude/longitude.

    But yeah, an equivalent (equal-area) projection would be more appropriate. And eat a lot more CPU cycles…

  • Robert Grumbine // September 15, 2009 at 8:32 am | Reply

    The more traditional name for the projection is ‘Miller Cylindrical’. It’s a pretty bad projection, but far better than Mercator (which biases even more towards high latitudes and doesn’t even show the poles).

    I prefer polar stereographic myself, but then I’m also not very concerned, as a rule, with the tropics. It does a good job on the poles. Increasingly poorly as you get equatorward of its reference latitude. But you’d also need two maps vs. the 1 of the Miller Cylindrical.

    [Response: Although a Mercator projection severely distorts the polar areas relative to equatorial, don't forget that every projection has its strength as well as weakness. Anyone who's ever done marine navigation knows the virtues of the Mercator projection.]

  • Sekerob // September 15, 2009 at 11:46 am | Reply

    Saw a new analysis titled ‘Seasons’ and hope it returns to include not only a mention of ‘oddball’ UAH but RSS as well. Crosslink to the past UAH v RSS analysis previously done would spread and improve the comprehension why UAH is that odd one out.

  • dhogaza // September 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Reply

    Anyone who’s ever done marine navigation knows the virtues of the Mercator projection.

    And if you know your history (as I’m sure you do), it’s no coincidence …

  • Mark // September 15, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Reply

    Mercator: NW on the map is NW on the globe.

    Kind of useful, isn’t it.

    You know, on the ocean, where there aren’t any landmarks to steer by, so all you have is “which direction am I going?”.

  • dhogaza // September 15, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Reply

    You know, on the ocean, where there aren’t any landmarks to steer by, so all you have is “which direction am I going?”.

    If it were that simple the bottom of the world’s oceans wouldn’t be littered with broken ships.

    Nor would mariners have shot the sun every noon with almost religious fervor. Nor would there have been a 20,000 pound sterling prize offered in England for making significant advances in the computation of longitude at sea (the bulk of which was awarded to the inventor of the chronometer in the 18th century).

    NW on the map is not only NW on the globe, but a course set is represented as a straight line on the map. Over relatively short distances, shapes are accurate, distances don’t vary, so things like straightedges and calipers can be used to mark off course and distance. When Mercator lived, ships only sailed short distances in any 24 hour period. Ships navigated by using a bunch of detailed charts (where available), not a global map, and on such a practical scale the large-scale distortion over longer distance, especially at higher (and rarely sailed) latitudes, wasn’t a problem.

    Actually, even “which direction am I going” isn’t such a simple thing to establish, given leeway when reaching and the need to tack when traveling upwind …

  • Timothy Chase // September 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Reply

    Gavin’s pussycat wrote:

    Actually the projection used by GISTemp is called plate carrée. It maps squares in lat/lon into squares on the map sheet. I’m sure it was chosen for ease of drawing: you don’t have to compute anything starting from latitude/longitude.

    Worth noting: panorama software typically uses the same sort of projection — lat/lon squares — for the same reason. But if you that that projection and do a polar wrap, assuming all you had was a hemispheric (content-wise, that is what you photo is a photo of) panorama (lat/lon squares) to start with, the distortion will be fairly small, at least until you get towards the “equator” of the projection (the “horizon”).

    Pretty much the least distorting overall relative to what you actually “see” as you turn your head to look at the world. But strictly in terms of angles you would still want Mercator. Things really get distorted when you begin with a spherical panorama (four pi steradian view) and wrap at one pole — then look at the opposite pole.

  • Timothy Chase // September 16, 2009 at 4:56 am | Reply

    PS Correction

    I noticed a problem with the above. I was simply going on my photographer’s intuition when describing the polar wrap of lat/lon squares. But you can stretch the projection of your “sphere of view” when you do the polar wrap, varying it as a function of the latitude where 90°N (or S — the point beneath your feet — as in what follows below) is the center. In this way you could easily correct for the distortion that would otherwise make things look progressively flattened in a straightforward polar wrap of lat/lon squares about one pole.

    However, here is something a little different: take the sphere of view and set it on a plane such that the south pole is touching the plane. Now do a stereographic projection from the North pole, with a straight line projecting each point of the sphere on to the plane. When you do this the South pole is entirely without distortion and the North pole is at infinity in all directions. But moreover, any sphere lying within the sphere of view will project onto the plane as a circle.

    Now continuously move the sphere through the plane. As the South pole moves further away from the plane its projection onto the plane will shrink, but otherwise it will remain undistorted. Furthermore, spheres within the sphere of view will continue to be projected on to the plane as circles.

    The mathematics behind this is actually rather simple — after a fashion. Moving from one projection to another involves assigning points on the sphere a complex number coordinate (using a complex number plane that one projects the sphere onto) then what are called “Mobius transformations” which consist of a simple bilinear function of the complex number coordinate.

    More here:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/riemann-sphere

    Learned about this back in the eighties. The complex number coordinate described above is one half of what are called Penrose coordinates used by Roger Penrose to create “Twistor geometry” from which to presumably explain subatomic particles as the curvature of spacetime. I don’t buy into his particular theory but the coordinate system is interesting nevertheless.

  • Mark // September 16, 2009 at 10:55 am | Reply

    “If it were that simple the bottom of the world’s oceans wouldn’t be littered with broken ships.”

    Sigh.

    Could you just not help yourself, dog?

    Please let me know which seafaring captains steered the ocean blue across the atlantic BY REEFS.

  • Mark // September 16, 2009 at 10:56 am | Reply

    “Actually, even “which direction am I going” isn’t such a simple thing to establish, given leeway when reaching and the need to tack when traveling upwind …”

    True.

    The reason why charts were state secrets were because some poor bugger had gotten the job of working out where the tides ran. Without that, you’re working on dead reckoning and a stick on a rope over the side.

  • Gavin's Pussycat // September 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Reply

    Robert Grumbine: no, Miller Cylindrical is a different projection. Similar, but not the same.

  • Timothy Chase // September 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Reply

    PS PS

    Some might find this fun: links regarding the Reimann sphere/projection, Moebius transformation and curved geometry…

    Stereographic projection of Riemann sphere
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JgGKViQzbc

    Moebius Transformations Revealed
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX3VmDgiFnY

    The Riemann Projection and General Relativity
    http://erkdemon.blogspot.com/2009/06/riemann-projection-and-general.html

  • Andrew // September 24, 2009 at 3:23 am | Reply

    Always amazing how people can mistake short-term phenomena for long-term trends. The comments on Andy Revkin’s NYT piece yesterday on the “no warming since 1998″ myth all read, “finally the NYT is admitting global warming is a hoax.” Here’s a post I wrote explaining the myth in layman’s terms (I thought maybe comparing it to football would help)

    http://akwag.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-is-peyton-manning-like-global.html

  • Kevin McKinney // September 24, 2009 at 4:03 am | Reply

    Nice analogy, Andrew!

  • Hank Roberts // September 24, 2009 at 4:14 am | Reply

    Very nicely done, Andrew.

    It reminds me that somewhere in statistics I learned that ‘runs of luck’ in sports that typically will cause a coach to pull a player off the field are classic examples of noise — coaches most likely pull players well toward the end of a random low performing stretch, likely losing their good performance later in the game.

  • Adam // September 24, 2009 at 8:39 am | Reply

    The UK football analogy is the “manager of the month curse”. Typically the manager who wins it has guided a team to win ~4/4 games in a month. The common “wisdom” is that being given the award will result in (at least) three subsequent poor results (though people tend to forget the situations where that doesn’t happen).

    What people also miss is the often the teams where their manager was nominated (they won 3 and drew one out four, say) will often also do poorly, and that’s ignoring the teams that may win four in a row across a month boundary….

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