Re-writing The Climate History of Iceland

This post follows up on the hornet’s nest stirred by Paul Homewood and Christopher Booker and my recent post on Temperature Adjustments in Australia comparing raw temperature records (GHCN V2) with homogenised (adjusted) temperature records (GHCN v3.1). The latter is currently used by NASA GISS and NOAA in global temperature reconstructions.

In this post I examine the records of eight climate stations on Iceland and find the following:

  • There is wholesale over writing and adjustment of raw temperature records, especially pre-1970 with an overwhelming tendency to cool the past that makes the present appear to be anomalously warm.
  • In the 1960s, Iceland (and the whole N Atlantic) experienced a run of very cold years caused by extreme atmospheric pressure differentials linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Many of these cold records appear to have been systematically deleted in V3.1 with the effect of all but removing this well-documented event from Icelandic climate history.
  • Following the end of the Little Ice Age, Iceland experienced rapid warming in the 1920s reaching near “record warmth” in 1939. This near record warmth has also been written out of Icelandic climatic history by adjusting the temperature records down, leaving the false impression that 2003 was an anomalously warm year.
  • In addition to wide-spread deletion of records, large amounts of temperature data that does not exist in V2 appears to have been created in V3.1. It is difficult to understand why this should be done since it is quite straight forward to manipulate data without apparently having to make it up.

In central Australia I found that wholesale manipulation of records did not bias the outcome. The V2 and V3.1 averages for 30 stations were the same. This cannot be said for Iceland. I dare say if one looked at a larger number of stations any bias may disappear but that is beside the point. Iceland holds a strategic geographic position in the N Atlantic and the public have the right to unadulterated information about that island’s climate history. There is little evidence of warming since 1917 which just happens to be the same conclusion I reached for Central Australia.

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Temperature Adjustments in Australia

  • A comparison of raw temperature records (GHCN V2) and homogenised temperature records (adjusted records GHCN v3.1) is presented for 30 climate stations (Figure 2) within a 1000 km radius of Alice Springs, Australia. The adjusted records are subtracted from the raw records which illustrates the degree of adjustment for each station.
  • 29 of the 30 stations have been adjusted to a greater or lesser extent. Only Farina has no adjustments.
  • The size of the adjustments increases back in time and are occasionally large, up to ±1.5˚C. Temperature trends are adjusted by either warming or cooling the past.
  • In 29 records, adjustments are near ubiquitous and are frequently exact decimal fractions, for example exactly 0.5˚C. For individual stations, it is usually very difficult to reconcile the pattern of adjustment made to any geographic or historic system. Homogenisation has also deleted at least 85 annual records that hinders comparison of the two data sets.
  • In Alice Springs the raw record is flat and has no sign of warming. In the adjusted record, homogenistaion has added warming by significantly cooling the past. Five other stations inside the 1000 km ring have similarly long and similarly flat records – Boulia, Cloncurry, Farina, Burketown and Donors Hill. There can be no conceivable reason to presume that the flat raw Alice Springs record is somehow false and in need of adjustment.
  • Six records show a significant mid-1970s cooling of about 3˚C (Alice Springs, Barrow Creek, Brunette Down, Cammoo Weal, Boulia and Windorah) that owing to its consistency appears to be a real signal. Homegisation has tended to remove this real temperature history.
  • The average raw temperature record for all 30 stations is completely flat from 1906 (no area weighting applied). There has been no measurable warming across the greater part of Australia. The main discontinuity in the record, pre-1906, arises from there being only 3 operating stations that do not provide representative cover.
  • The average temperature trend for the 30 adjusted records is also flat and not materially different to the raw record. Hence, wholesale adjustments have not significantly biased the regional record. This raises the serious question of why GHCN have adjusted individual records in a way that introduces trends that do not exist and removes trends that do at the individual station level? The individual GHCN V3.1 records are not temperature records but carry a coded temperature signal that only makes sense when amalgamated with similar code from neighbouring stations.

Figure 1 A 1000 km radius around Alice Springs. Many of the station names (Figure 2) can be found on the map.

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Blowout week 60

Roger is on holiday and so this is the first blowout I’ve done for a while. The main local story this week is the prospective closure of Longannet, my local 2.4 GW coal fired power station. The SNP, Scottish independence party, is seeking assurance that we can become dependent on English electricity. Elsewhere snow storms in the USA, Turkey and The Middle East have been making headlines. And there is rumour of Congressional hearings into adjusting temperature records.

BBC:  Sturgeon seeks electricity assurance over Longannet threat

Nicola Sturgeon has demanded assurances from the prime minister on the security of Scotland’s electricity supplies.

It follows BBC Scotland’s disclosure that the huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife is facing a renewed threat to its future.

Scottish Power, which operates the plant, warned last year that the cost of connecting to the grid meant the station may close earlier than planned.

Snow in Jerusalem, just one of many anticipated consequences of global warming.
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Homogenisation Adjustments to Temperature Records, Southern Hemisphere

Homogenisation adjustments (corrections) made to raw temperature records has grabbed my attention. Those waiting for my post on The Sun will have to wait a while. Roger sent me his spread sheet with about 900 carefully logged temperature records and I was eager to compare these records from 2006 with those being used today. In the past, GISS temp used raw temperature records from GHCN V2 but in 2011 changed to using homogenised records GHCN v3.1 as described in the NASA FAQ page (see the Q&A relating to recent “scandal” at the end of the page). That reply also points to the archived version of GHCN V2 and so it is possible to run many checks comparing V2 data with homogenised V3.1 data. An example of deducting V3.1 temperatures from V2 temperatures is shown below for Sydney. It should be clear why this grabbed my attention. Homogenisation has warmed the past by 1˚C and adjusted virtually all the data.

It has been argued that Paul Homewood got lucky stumbling upon a handful of adjusted records in S America and that there is no wider issue. Roger’s records tell a different story but I wanted to find out for myself how widespread the adjusted records are and spent the morning comparing V2 with V3.1 records selecting stations pretty well at random though I biased selection to stations with long records. In his earlier post Roger observed that about 600 N hemisphere raw temperature records were closely aligned with GISS temp that uses homogenised data. The raw southern hemisphere records, however, did not suggesting that homogenisation introduces more bias in the bottom half of the world. Hence, I have only looked at S hemisphere records in this post.  11 pairs of records are shown below the fold that show highly variable degrees of adjustment.

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Busting the myth buster 2: It’s the Sun

This is the second post in the series rebutting John Cook’s 10 most used climate myths  at Skeptical Science. Climate myth 2 “Its the Sun”.

Sun and climate moving in opposite directions

“Over the past few hundred years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of sunspots, at the time when the Earth has been getting warmer. The data suggests solar activity is influencing the global climate causing the world to get warmer.” (BBC)

Cook actually presents a decent and interesting chart that shows total solar irradiance (TSI) declining slowly while temperatures rise. TSI variance is in fact the only and minuscule natural climate forcing considered by the IPCC . Cooks TSI chart is model based since satellite measurements began around 1980. Since then TSI variance has had negligible impact upon climate.

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Oil Price Crash Update

In the fast moving oil market much of the fundamental data only becomes available for general consumption at least one month in arrears. But EIA oil price data and Baker Hughes rig counts are available weekly and with much action going on it is worthwhile updating.

The price plunge seems to have reversed, at least for the time being (more on that below). But the most stunning data is the free fall in US oil drilling rigs shown in Figure 1, down 553 (34%) from the October top. The IEA also published their Oil Market Report early this month, on 10th February, reporting oil supplies were down 235,000 bpd in January, mainly in OPEC countries Iraq and Libya.

Figure 1 The US oil rig count is down to 1056 rigs from a peak of 1609 in October last year. The gas rig count continues to inch downwards slowly. The collapse in US shale oil drilling, that looks set to continue, must lead to US oil production decline in the months ahead.

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Blowout Week 59

Our lead-off story this week features an unusual act of solidarity on the part of UK political leaders:

Guardian:  Cameron, Clegg, Miliband sign joint climate pledge

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have signed a joint pledge to tackle climate change, which they say will protect the UK’s national security and economic prosperity. The prime minister, deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition have all clashed over green issues, but the joint declaration states: “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today. It is not just a threat to the environment, but also to our national and global security, to poverty eradication and economic prosperity.” “Acting on climate change is also an opportunity for the UK to grow a stronger economy, which is more efficient and more resilient to the risks ahead,” the joint statement says. “It is in our national interest to act and ensure others act with us.” The declaration was hailed as “inspiring leadership” by Al Gore.

More stories below the fold, including whither oil prices, is OPEC winning, blackouts in S. Africa, nuclear in Egypt, China discovers gas in disputed waters, UK and Austria at loggerheads over Hinkley, Groningen gas curtailment, Germany to legalize fracking and how climate change will cause megadroughts in the US.

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Busting the myth buster 1: Climate’s changed before

A number of commenters seem genuinely confused about what to believe when it comes to climate change, climate science and energy policy. Members of the public seem inclined to believe the scientific consensus and certain commenters on Energy Matters are clearly disturbed by the fact that myself and Roger Andrews should have the audacity to challenge what is presented as settled science that 97% of scientists evidently agree upon.

A number of comments point to John Cook’s blog called Skeptical Science that sets out to straighten the record made crooked by sceptical blogs like WUWT, Roy Spencer, Judy Curry and, I dare say, Energy Matters. It was pointed out that no one has presented a systematic rebuttal to John Cook, and while writing this type of post is not the most favoured use of my time, I think it is potentially useful to try and straighten out some of the issues. At the moment I plan 10 posts to address each of John Cook’s alleged climate myths, but we will see how things go.

The first myth, is attributed to MIT Professor of Meteorology, Richard Linzen. Myth 1: Climate’s changed before:

Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. (Richard Lindzen)

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Gridwatch UK January 2015

This is the second in the series chronicling the electricity generation statistics for the UK. December 2014 is here. Wind had a good month and blew consistently strongly for much of the time. But for a four day period 19th to 22nd January we had an Arctic anticyclone, cold weather and the wind hardly blew at all. Combined cycle gas turbines provided most of the load balancing service throughout the month and the back up power during the 4 day wind lull.

According to Clean Technica, wind produced 4.13 TWh in January. This compares with my calculation of 2.95 TWh from BM reports / Gridwatch. This difference in metering continues to be a problem.

Figure 1 Nuclear, coal, gas and wind power provided 90% of UK electricity in January. CCGTs and to a lesser extent coal provided most of the load balancing service. Click on charts for a large version that will open in a new browser window.

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Green Thinking – is it science?

I first coined the term Wrong Thinking a few years ago and upon realising the derogatory connotations I re-christened it as Green Thinking. Greens appear not to mind being identified as Greens and so I hope I am on solid and respectable ground.

I have struggled with Green Thinking for many years, and in particular the repeated claims that it is embodied in science. This post explores the scientific credentials of Green Thinkers.

My post last week on Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover attracted what I thought was an unusual large number of comments from Green Thinking commenters. These comments provide the opportunity to analyse the essence of Green Thinking and to decide if it is scientific or not.

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How Hemispheric Homogenization Hikes Global Warming

In last week’s post on the Horrors of Homogenization I presented examples of the large distortions caused by the adjustments applied by NOAA/NCDC to individual raw surface air temperature records. In this follow-up post I analyze the equally large distortions that similar  adjustments applied by GISS introduce at the hemispheric and global scale. The analysis is performed by comparing the adjusted GISS series with unadjusted series I constructed from scratch some years ago using the same set of raw records as GISS and procedures which I describe briefly below.

Record selection: Over a period of months I went through thousands of GISTEMP raw records one by one, selecting those which I could verify by comparison with adjacent records and throwing out those that didn’t fit. At the end of this process I had selected 800 raw records, about 500 in the Northern Hemisphere and 300 in the Southern Hemisphere.

Projection distance: I found that there was no one-size fits-all answer, so I segregated the records into areas in which temperature trends were similar but different to the trends in adjoining areas, ultimately blocking out 64 areas ranging in size from a few hundred thousand to several million square miles.

Averaging: I then averaged the records in each area and area-weighted the averages to construct global and hemispheric temperature time series.

Finally I compared my global series with the published GISS “meteorological station data only” global surface air temperature series, which was constructed from homogeneity-adjusted versions of the same set of GISTEMP raw records that I had used. I don’t have the original GISS series to hand so in Figure 1 I compare it with the current GISS global series, which is not significantly different (the data are expressed as anomalies relative to 1890-1910 means so that the series start off around zero. My series on this and other Figures are labeled “RA”):

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Blowout Week 58

We begin this week’s Blowout with a complete change of pace, ignoring oil price gyrations and the antics of OPEC and featuring instead the recently-issued UK Met Office’s five-year global climate forecast:

UK Met Office:  Five-year global climate forecast

• Averaged over the five-year period 2015-2019, global average temperature is expected to remain high and is likely to be between 0.18°C and 0.46°C above the long-term (1981-2010) average of 14.3°C. This compares with an anomaly of +0.26°C observed in 2010 and 2014, currently the warmest years on record.

• Although the forecast generally indicates that global temperatures will remain high, it is not yet possible to predict exactly when the slowdown in surface warming will end.

A renewed focus on European energy security and renewables below the fold, including the EU’s proposed Energy Union, new hydro in UK,  renewables to the rescue in South Africa, more problems for Hinkley, yet another wind power record and does anyone want to buy a used German power plant? Plus stories on whether nuclear can survive in a liberalized market, falling coal prices and how global warming is causing an infestation of pink sea slugs.
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The Horrors of Homogenization

There has recently been a lot of discussion about the homogeneity adjustments that GISS and others have applied to surface air temperature records, and since this is a subject I’ve done  some work on I thought it would be appropriate to say something about it.

The problem, however, is how to say it, because the subject defies exhaustive treatment in a single blog post, and I don’t think presenting yet another set of before-and-after examples of what homogenization does to raw records would greatly advance the state of knowledge. So what I will do here is touch on the basics and then work my way through a few examples of what homogenization actually does in practice, one of them in detail.

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Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover

Rutgers University is the curator of the NASA / NOAA northern hemisphere snow cover data base that can be accessed via their excellent web site Global Snow Lab. The left margin of the home page allows access to daily, weekly and monthly maps, monthly departure (anomaly map), snow and monthly anomalies (charts) and a data download link. Anomalies are based on a comparison with the 1981 to 2010 mean. All in all it is an impressive resource.

I have not come across this valuable resource before and seldom if ever hear or see the data discussed. Intuitively I feel that snow cover should be a sensitive indicator for climate change and global warming. Where I stay in NE Scotland is on the edge of the northern hemisphere snow belt. Sometimes, when it is cold, we will get a snowy winter, like this year. Other years we get no snow at all. Snow is a sensitive indicator for climate. So what does the data have to say? At first glance remarkably little (see chart below). The mid-winter peaks and late summer troughs have been remarkably stable for a planet rumoured to be melting under the burden of atmospheric CO2 and it is necessary to interrogate the data in some fine detail to tease out the interesting story that the data have to tell.

In summary, for the six months September to February snow area has actually been increasing 1967 to 2014! That has to be a surprise. And for the six months March to August snow area has been decreasing. The trends are generally very gradual and barely significant. But what the data show is that the northern hemisphere is getting snowier winters accompanied by more rapid melt in spring and summer. The latter is not surprising since we know that the lower troposphere is warming (at least we think we know that to be the case).

The annual cycle in N hemisphere snow cover varies between 3 million sq kms (August) and 50 million sq kms (January).  Note that the small negative gradient of the regression is biased by the missing summer data for 1968, 1969 and 1971 although beginning the regression in 1972, a small negative gradient remains.
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Oil Production Vital Statistics – February 2015

This is the second in a monthly series of posts chronicling the action in the global oil market in 12 key charts. The January 2015 post is hereEIA oil price and Baker Hughes rig count charts are updated to end January 2015, the remaining oil production charts are updated to December 2014 using the IEA OMR data. The main oil production changes from November to December are:

  • World total liquids up 150,000 bpd
  • OPEC up 80,000 bpd
  • N America up 80,000 bpd
  • Russia and FSU up 180,000 bpd
  • Europe down 70,000 bpd (compared with December 2013)
  • Asia down 60,000 bpd
  1. The continued growth in production into December shows that global production growth had significant momentum that has not yet been curtailed by the price rout.
  2. The fall in the oil price continued throughout January, WTI hitting a low of $44.80 on January 26th and Brent hitting a low of $45.13 on January 13th.
  3. The main dynamic statistic has been the plunge in US oil rig count down to 1223 rigs on January 30th from a recent high of 1609 rigs on October 10th 2014.
  4. The rig count news lead to a strong rally in oil price on 30th January.
  5. I anticipate that the price rout is not yet over and it will require significant falls in production to take root before a real price recovery gets underway.

Figure 1 Daily Brent and WTI prices from the EIA, updated to 26 January 2015. The plunge continues at a similar speed to the 2008 crash. The 2008 oil price crash began in early July. It was not until 16th September, about 10 weeks later, that the markets crashed. The recent highs in the oil price were in mid July but it was not until WTI broke through $80 at the end of October that the industry became alert to the impending price crisis. As I write, WTI is trading at $48 and Brent on $53 having staged a major recovery on the afternoon of 30th January on news of plummeting US drilling (Figure 2).

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Wind Power, Denmark, and the Island of Denmark.

With 33% of the electricity it generated in 2013 coming from wind Denmark is a world leader in wind power – a remarkable achievement considering the difficulty of integrating Denmark’s highly erratic and sometimes overwhelming wind output with the small Danish grid. (Figure 1). The hourly data used to construct the Figures in this post are from the data base compiled by Paul-Frederik Bach:

Figure 1:  Total wind generation vs. load, hourly data, Denmark, 2013

The degree of difficulty is illustrated by the comparable plot of 2013 UK wind generation versus load shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2: Total wind generation vs. load, hourly data, National Grid, 2013

How do the Danes do it?

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Blowout Week 57

This week we refocus attention on the price of a barrel of crude oil:

Has it bottomed out?

Reuters:  OPEC’s Badri says oil may have hit floor

Oil prices at current levels may have reached a floor and could move higher very soon, OPEC’s secretary-general said on Monday. Abdulla al-Badri also warned of a risk of a future price spike to $200 a barrel if investment in new supply capacity is too low. “Now the prices are around $45-$50 and I think maybe they reached the bottom and will see some rebound very soon,” Badri told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference at Chatham House.

Or hasn’t it?

Reuters:   Oil price will average less in 2015 than during financial crisis

Crude oil will likely continue falling before posting only a mild recovery in the second half of this year, a Reuters survey of analysts showed on Friday. The survey of 33 economists and analysts forecast North Sea Brent crude would average $58.30 a barrel in 2015, down $15.70 from last month’s poll, in the biggest month-on-month forecast revision since prices last collapsed in 2008-2009.

The usual mix below the fold, including increased oil production from OPEC, decreased coal production from China, nuclear-free Austria, sustainable street lights, Keystone XL, a new UK biomass plant, the US pins its hopes on the Pope and how climate change causes  volcanic eruptions.
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NASA Satellite Climatology Data

NASA has at least four satellites measuring key climatic data:

  1. Temperature
  2. Clouds
  3. Sea ice
  4. Snow cover
  5. CO2

In this post the NASA satellite data is reviewed and what it tells us about climate change is evaluated.

The image shows how global cloud cover has evolved with time at various latitudes since 1983 (to the left). Just one of the amazing data sets acquired by NASA but buried by the IPCC because it does not obey the global warming story line.

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How To Mitigate Climate Change

The University of Notre Dame maintains a “Global Adaptation Index”, a quantitative measure of how exposed different countries are to the predicted ravages of climate change. The index runs from 0 to 100, with zero representing maximum exposure and 100 representing no exposure (i.e. it’s backwards, but we’ll live with that). The methodology it uses to generate the numbers is described in this recent article and summarized thus:

The Notre Dame-Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) is a free open-source index that shows which countries are most exposed to climate change impacts and their current vulnerability to the disruptions that will follow, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones, security risks and so forth, as well as their readiness to leverage private and public sector investment for adaptation actions. ND-GAIN brings together 45 indicators to measure the 178 UN countries from 1995 to the present.

The Huffington Post recently plotted the Notre Dame numbers on a map of the world and published it in an article entitled The Countries That’ll Survive Global Warming. Here’s the map:

Figure 1:  Notre Dame “Global Adaptation Index” by country

I looked at it and thought; that distribution looks familiar …..

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CO2 – the View from Space

NASA has a new satellite called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) that is measuring CO2 levels in the atmosphere from space and the first results are in for October 1 to November 11 2014.

NASA: Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Carbon dioxide concentrations are highest above northern Australia, southern Africa and eastern Brazil. Preliminary analysis of the African data shows the high levels there are largely driven by the burning of savannas and forests. Elevated carbon dioxide can also be seen above industrialized Northern Hemisphere regions in China, Europe and North America.

Roger reported on OCO2 on December 21st last year in Blowout week 51. John Reid at Blackjay provided further coverage. John was amused by “above northern Australia”, seemingly NASA’s new name for Indonesia. The post contains several very large graphics and may take a while to load. Click on graphics to get a large image that will open in a separate browser window.

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