Nothing alarming in raw weather data

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 4 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:55 am in
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By Fred Hubler

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Given that Eastern Iowa was affected by both last summer’s heat wave and the heat wave of the 1930s that accompanied the Dust Bowl, now is a good time to compare our region’s temperatures during the 1930s with recent temperatures.

The data used were obtained at www.crh.noaa.gov/dvn/?n= climatelocal#note. The data consist of daily record maximum and minimum temperatures for the stations of Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Moline. That is, there are four stations and 366 days, or 1,464 station-days of minimum and maximum temperatures

If a daily high or low temperature tied a previous record temperature, the most recent year that temperature occurred is listed, and an asterisk is used to denote that it tied a prior year’s record. This creates a bias toward latter years for high and low temperatures. These are raw temperatures, not adjusted for urban heat island effect or any other adjustments applied by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (which does research on global change) when they determine temperature anomalies.

Some results of my analysis:

l From 1930 through 1939, there were 318 station-days, an average of 31.8 station-days per year, with record highs that haven’t been broken or tied since.

l From 1998 through 2012 there were 196 station-days, an average of 13.1 station-days per year, with record highs, 47 of which tied a previous record high.

l In 1936, there were 80 record highs not broken or tied since.

l In 2012 there were 34 record highs, 8 of which tied a previous record.

There’s nothing alarming about recent temperature trends when judged by the raw unadjusted data. What makes them look alarming is NASA’s adjustments. Google “US temperature blink comparator” to see the difference between what NASA thought temperature anomalies were in 1999 and in 2008.

These revisions led Canadian statistician and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reviewer Steve McIntyre to comment about adjustments to Boulder, Colo., temperatures: “As a result of revisions made within the last 2 weeks, NASA now believes that the temperature increase in Boulder since the 1980s is about 0.5 deg more than they believed only a couple of weeks ago. Boulder is the home of IPCC Working Group 1 ... and home to hundreds, if not thousands of climate scientists. You’d think that they’d have known the temperature in Boulder in the early 1980s to within 0.5 degree. I guess not.”

The very mild winter of 2011-12 and last summer’s heat wave are often cited as evidence of anthropogenic global warming even though they were largely confined to the eastern two thirds of the United States. However, when a global warming skeptic mentions the medieval warm period, a global warming alarmist is usually quick to claim that it was confined to Greenland and Western Europe, and thus not evidence of warming on a global scale, even though it lasted for two or three centuries, and there are plenty of proxies that indicate it was indeed global.

Examining unadjusted temperature records provides strong evidence that whatever anthropogenic warming has occurred in the last 30 years in the United States is dwarfed by natural climate variability.

l Fred Hubler of Cedar Rapids is retired from Rockwell Collins after 29 years as an electrical engineer. Comments: fhubler@msn.com

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