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.


Troposphere and stratosphere temperature is measured indirectly using microwave radiation as measured by a number of different orbiting satellites. Two different research groups analyse the data – Roy Spencer at the University of Huntsville Alabama and Remote Sensing Systems. Those readers who follow Roy will be familiar with the chart below that he updates every month (Figure 1). There are two ways to view this data. The first is to take the view that cyclically variable temperatures have been rising slowly for the 36 years of the satellite record with an overall rise of about 0.5˚C in that time, translating to 1.4˚C per century. The second view, which is the one I actually prefer, is that 1998 is a marker event with the big el Nino. Temperatures prior to that were cyclical but with a flat trend. And temperatures after 1998 are also cyclical with a flat trend – the famous pause, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 1 The view of surface temperatures from space as constructed and published by Dr Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama.

Figure 2 Detail of the same satellite temperature data for the last 18 years and 3 months of the great pause, this time using the RSS algorithms and as compiled by Christopher Monckton.

Roy Spencer’s analysis of the annual means of the satellite temperatures shows that 2014 had a mean anomaly of +0.27˚C and was the third warmest, not the warmest year on record.

This begs the question why NASA chose to report to President Obama what appear to be doctored data from the surface thermometer record in preference to using their own satellite data that has much more uniform global coverage and is likely superior quality.


The International Satellite Cloud  Climatology Project (ISCCP) is also administered by NASA. I happened upon a rare published chart in 2013 that showed temporal variance in global D2 cloud cover that seemed to mirror temperature variance. The ISCCP data begin in July 1983 and while data is still being acquired, the released data stopped in December 2008 at the time I downloaded it.

Figure 3 ISCCP global mean cloud amount in black varies inversely with temperature in blue. No major surprise there, less cloud and a warmer surface, but what causes what? Chart from Clive Best.

NASA provide the files in .csv format and also provide a handy application called Panoply that allows you to read the file and make great graphics like the one below. Handling this data was beyond my capabilities and I therefore recruited assistance from Clive Best who produced the chart above. What we see are cyclical changes in cloud amount and from month 30 to 190 a decline in the amount of global cloud cover. Thereafter the amount of cloud stabilises and perhaps starts to rise slowly. Month 190 = 1999, the year after the great El Nino and climate watchers will know that this also marks the beginning of the great pause (Figure 2). Clive has also plotted HadCRUT4 and it can be seen that global average temperatures mirror global average cloud cover. The simplest explanation is that temporal changes in cloud give rise to temporal changes in surface temperatures, but not everyone agrees, perhaps it is vice versa.

Figure 4 Panoply time series plot of global cloud cover. To the extent that cloud cover controls sunshine and rainfall this image presents one of the clearest pictures on how climate has changed since 1983. There is no evidence that increasing CO2 is influencing this natural rhythm. Rather than trying to explain this marvellous data, the IPCC have simply called its veracity into question and then proceeded to ignore it much to the chagrin of the NASA scientists involved (see below).

The above graphic, made using Panoply, illustrates a time series beginning at June 1983 to the left and ending June 2008 to the right. The Y-axis are lines of latitude, North Pole at top South Pole at bottom. Reading along the lines of latitude reveals some interesting trends. Between 0 and 30˚ N it is quite clear that cloud cover has reduced with time. This  would result in higher temperatures and less rainfall, not everywhere in that belt, but those affected will most certainly experience climate change, probably adverse. This belt encompasses Central America, Northern Africa and India. A similar though less marked trend is evident between 0 and 30˚ S. The line 60˚ S has the highest amount of cloud and it is probably no coincidence that it makes no landfall running through the Southern Ocean. 90% cloud cover would be rather depressing. In 1983, the amount of cloud in this belt begins high, it then declines before increasing again after 1998.

Much of the developed worlds population lives between 30 and 60˚ N and you can see that there has not been much going on there. One possible exception is just N of 30˚since 1998 the cyclical low summer cloud amount has been stretching further N (these blue bumps above the 30˚ line). This I imagine may be a graphic explanation of drought in SW California.

So what does this tell us about climate change? I find it difficult to see anything other than a natural rhythm in this data, perhaps underpinned by shifting ocean currents and climatic cycles such as the PDO and AMO. The IPCC do not like the negative correlation between cloud and temperatures and therefore call the veracity of the data into question and sweep this amazing data set under the carpet. Here’s what they had to say:

Analyses of the spatial trends in ISCCP cloud cover reveal changing biases arising from changes in satellite view angle and coverage that affect the global mean anomaly time series (Norris, 2000; Dai et al., 2006). The ISCCP spurious variability may occur primarily in low-level clouds with the least optical thickness (the ISCCP ‘cumulus’ category; Norris, 2005a), due to discontinuities in satellite view angles associated with changes in satellites. Such biases likely contribute to ISCCP’s negative cloud cover trend, although their magnitude and impact on radiative flux calculations using ISCCP cloud data are not yet known. Additional artefacts, including radiometric noise, navigation and rectification errors are present in the ISCCP data (Norris, 2000), but the effects of known and unknown artefacts on ISCCP cloud and flux data have not yet been quantified.

Can cyclical change in cloud explain all surface temperature variance? Well the answer is no. Clive Best deduced, using some pretty fancy physics, that a CO2 forcing was also required to explain part of the temperature trend with a transient climate response (TCR) = 1.6±0.3˚C. In the partner study to this  we looked at variance in UK cloud cover and temperature and deduced a TCR = 1.28˚C. Myself and Clive are not “deniers” we simply share the view that the balance of evidence points to a low value for TCR, see little evidence for extreme feedbacks, and see no urgent need to shut down the global fossil fuel industries and industrial civilisation with it.

Sea Ice

The University of Illinois is the curator of the NASA / NSIDC global sea ice data that is accessible through the well known website Cryosphere Today. They present the data in a number of charts and maps. Here I will reproduce just three of these: Arctic sea ice area, Antarctic sea ice area and a composite global sea ice area and anomaly.

Figure 5 Northern hemisphere sea ice area. The mid-winter highs have been descending slowly since records began, the mid summer lows descending somewhat faster with a sudden acceleration in 2007. There is nothing to suggest that this is not part of a natural cycle. The late John Daly gives a good account and explains why variable ocean currents are the most likely cause of Arctic Sea Ice loss. Note the article dates from around 2000.

Figure 6 Antarctic sea ice area has been stable / slowly rising since 1979 with most marked increase in recent years, 2014 setting a new satellite era record high.

Figure 7 The Arctic and Antarctic sea ice cycles are not in perfect anti-phase giving rise to the two topped pattern. The sea ice maximum in the Arctic occurs in March each year, in the Antarctic in September. The peaks are six months apart. The lower red line shows the global sea ice anomaly. The five major Arctic melt back years starting in 2007 are clearly visible. Equally visible is the fact that that process appears to have reversed and the global anomaly has been largely positive for the last two years, a fact that seems to have escaped the attention of the climate science community.

From these charts I wish to make 4 key observations:

  1. Sea ice area expands in winter and contracts in summer giving rise to the cyclical Arctic and Antarctic distributions.
  2. The Arctic sea ice winter maximum and summer minimum have been declining since records began and in the summer of 2007 the Arctic experienced a sudden increase in summer melt back, a condition that persisted for 5  years until 2013 when things “unexpectedly” reverted to “normal”.
  3. The decreasing sea ice trend of the Arctic is roughly mirrored by the increasing sea ice trend of the Antarctic.
  4. The upshot is that the global sea ice anomaly is currently ZERO. The last two years have been more positive than negative and are indistinguishable from records 35 years ago when the records began.

The warmists continue to spread sea ice alarm as if it has continued to disappear at an alarming rate. What is the point in having data if you do not pay attention to what it tells you?

A good example comes from a recent Nature communication*:

Successive cold winters of severely low temperatures in recent years have had critical social and economic impacts on the mid-latitude continents in the Northern Hemisphere. Although these cold winters are thought to be partly driven by dramatic losses of Arctic sea-ice, the mechanism that links sea-ice loss to cold winters remains a subject of debate.

The only response possible to this is “what loss of Arctic sea ice”.

* Weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex by Arctic sea-ice lossBaek-Min Kim1, Seok-Woo Son, Seung-Ki Min, Jee-Hoon Jeong, Seong-Joong Kim, Xiangdong Zhang, Taehyoun Shim & Jin-Ho Yoon. Nature 2014

Snow Cover

In preparing this post, it occurred to me that there must be satellite data on global snow cover. Its a subject I’ve heard very little and know very little about. It seems to get little media attention. For starters, snow cover in the southern hemisphere is of little interest. Its dominated by Antarctica and the absence of other land at high southern latitude makes southern snow cover an insensitive variable. But the northern hemisphere is interesting.

Rutgers University are the curators of the global snow cover data base that begins in November 1966. They have a nice web site from which I managed to download all their data within minutes and a few hours of very pleasurable charting followed. I’ll have a post on this next week, but for starters a couple of summary charts.

Figure 8 Northern hemisphere snow area with a very pronounced annual cycle. Note some missing data at the beginning of the time series. The scale goes to 60 million square miles. There is no obvious trend looking at the data but a regression through the data does reveal a slow decline in snow cover.

In the UK we were told a few years ago that snow would be a thing of the past. That our children would grow up not knowing what snow was. This is hard to reconcile with the great Scottish skiing we’ve had in recent years and the satellite data. A regression through the data does show northern hemisphere snow cover declining slowly. So does that mean that northern hemisphere snow will become a thing of the past?

Figure 9 Plotting only the December data shows that winter snow cover in the northern hemisphere is actually increasing.

Looking just at the data for January we see that the amount of winter snow cover is actually increasing. It is also melting back faster in the spring in a rather complex and interesting picture that I will present in a separate post.

Figure 10 The caption on this IPCC chart says northern hemisphere snow cover while in fact the data are for March and April and are non-represntative.

Here is the IPCC view from 2007. They could have shown the annual picture but that would not have shown what they wanted. Instead they cherry pick data for March and April that does indeed show a decline. The chart of course does not include that vital caveat. And they forget to mention that snow cover from September to February is actually increasing. This is hopeless non-scientific agenda driven cherry picking of data that is designed to deceive. A number of commenters have been asking what motive does the IPCC and body of climate scientists have to deceive governments and the public in this way? I don’t know the answer to that, but some day there will have to be an inquiry into the conduct of this body and their masters at the United Nations.


The view of CO2 from space was the subject of my last post. NASA have just begun their data acquisition with the OCO-2 satellite and it is far to early to say what the data will show. Given that human emissions are tiny compared with the size of the natural flux, I am sceptical that they will be able to detect human emissions at all. It is not obvious that NASA scientists understand this fundamental point and their initial comments about the OCO-2 data are rather discouraging. The excerpt below from the initial results shows below average CO2 over Europe. This did not dissuade NASA from saying this:

Elevated carbon dioxide can also be seen above industrialized Northern Hemisphere regions in China, Europe and North America.

What they ought to have said is that CO2 levels over Europe are below average and not surprisingly human emissions do not show up because they are swamped by the natural background signal.

CO2 Vostok

Finally, I want to leave space to repeat the message from the Vostok ice core that I covered a few weeks ago. At the onset of glaciations, CO2 lags temperature by several thousand years clearly showing that it is NOT implicated in temperature modulation at that time. Petit et al (1999)* in their seminal paper make the observation but then ignore its consequences completely. If the great CO2 lie did not begin with this paper, it certainly was given succour by Petit et al emphasising the co-variance seen between CO2 and temperature at the glacial terminations whilst ignoring the absence of co-variance when Earth is plunged back into glacial conditions.

* [1] J. R. Petit*, J. Jouzel†, D. Raynaud*, N. I. Barkov‡, J.-M. Barnola*, I. Basile*, M. Bender§, J. Chappellaz*, M. Davisk, G. Delaygue†, M. Delmotte*, V. M. Kotlyakov¶, M. Legrand*, V. Y. Lipenkov‡, C. Lorius*, L. Pe ́ pin*, C. Ritz*, E. Saltzmank & M. Stievenard† (1999) Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. NATURE | VOL 399 | 3 JUNE 1999 |

Figure 1 At glacial terminations, CO2 and temperature are closely aligned because warming triggered by orbital forcing leads to a rise in green house gasses. When the same  orbital forcing takes Earth back to glacial conditions CO2 lags by several thousand years (8,000 years on this chart) as indicated by the arrows. Temperature falls dramatically even with elevated CO2. Cold conditions eventually lead to CO2 being pumped down. Temperature controls CO2, not vice versa.


The data from the Vostok ice core shows clearly that temperature controls atmospheric CO2 levels. That is not to say that CO2 has no impact on temperature, but its impact is modest. NASA satellite derived measurements of troposphere temperatures shows a slowly warming trend of about 1.4˚C per century. A significant part of that will be down to natural warming, some of it down to elevated CO2. The satellite data are consistent with a transient climate response less than 1.5˚C. Satellite data on global cloud cover are inversely correlated with surface temperature, no big surprise. The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project provides unique insight to global climate change, that is mainly natural, but the data are to large extent ignored.

The Global sea ice anomaly is currently zero but has been mainly positive for the last two years. There is no catastrophic loss of sea ice. The northern hemisphere snow cover is largely unchanged since 1967. Winter (September to February) snow cover is increasing while the rate of summer melt (March to August) is also increasing.

Satellite measurements of CO2 by the OCO-2 satellite are in their infancy but cannot be expected to show human emissions against a very large natural background flux. The satellite data should be very helpful in understanding how that natural flux operates.

The IPCC, NASA and the climate science community in general continue to misrepresent all this data for reasons known only to them. It is understandable that the public are confused by what “the scientists” say and why the sceptics refute this. The data is presented in this post and hopefully it speaks for itself.

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60 Responses to NASA Satellite Climatology Data

  1. The simplest explanation is that temporal changes in cloud give rise to temporal changes in surface temperatures, but not everyone agrees, perhaps it is vice versa.

    Thanks Euan. Can I publish my stuff now? 😉

  2. The snow extent chart (Figure 10) would look a lot less impressive if the Y-scale started at zero and not 30 million sq km.

    • A C Osborn says:

      The same applies to Temperature if plotted in Degrees K from zero or even Degrees C frpm zero.

  3. Andrew Thickpenny. says:

    Hi Euan. Enjoyed the post, which is very relevant to an online MOOC course that I’m doing on climate change and challenges out of Exeter University. If you were willing, I would like to post a link to your article on my course comments. However, there is a possibility that if I do that you may get a lot of flack from other people doing the course (there are many hundreds of people world wide doing the course). So I’ll understand if you don’t want me to share your post.

  4. Sam Taylor says:


    The phase of CO2/temperature in the Vostok data is perhaps less certain then you think. There’s been some work on this recently, see eg this article in Science (

    Secondly, when talking about loss of ice we’re talking about volume, not surface area. It’s entirely possible for surface area to increase as volume decreases. Could we maybe work in 3 dimensions instead of 2? Artcitc sea ice volume loss is something like an order of magnitude more than antarctic sea ice volume gain, so there’s no question that there’s less ice in the world these days. (

    If you really want to show that a century of warming is all the result of internal cycles like the PDO then you need to explain, in a physically plausible way, how they cause this and why we’re still not yet at temperature equilibrium and have a positive energy imbalance.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      In Vostok there is a general 800± time lag between Co2 and temperature that is discussed by Petit et al and they say this is likely within the dating error of the ice age and gas age and I’m happy to accept that. What I’m talking about is the stonking 8000 year time lag at the onset of each glaciation. Here the CH4 is out of phase with CO2 hence the 8000 years cannot be explained by a dating error since the CH4 and temperature are perfectly aligned.

      The nature paper I refer to is talking about sea ice loss and its control of polar vortex. Implicit in this is that they are talking area. the point is there is no collapse of Arctic sea ice area. This is made up “science”.

      The Article I link to by John Daly goes into this explanation. I haven’t had time to check Arctic temperature records (Clive?) but the one record linked to by John Daly showed no troposphere warming. So how do you melt sea ice without a warming atmosphere? John Daly’s explanation, that I like, is that it has to do with flow of water – the rate of that flow, the geometry of that flow and the temperature of that flow. It is in fact not necessary to invoke warming at all to melt sea ice.

    • A C Osborn says:

      Sorry, PIOMAS is a model, it is not reality, the biggest losses of Ice have involved Storms and Wind Direction. Earlier Satellite data showed that there was much less Arctic Ice in 1974, but due to changes in Satllite use this data is no longer shown, especilaly as it does not fit the AGW Paradigm.
      There have been periods when the North Pole had open water not long ago when US Submarines were photographed there.
      As for this “If you really want to show that a century of warming “, it does not need any other explanation than that the world was recovering from another mini ice age and still recovering from a major ice age, it is what the world does in interglacials..
      And “temperature equilibrium”, there is no such thing in Climate.

      • Sam Taylor says:

        No such thing as equilibrium temperature? Really? Could you show your workings? Since I assume you’ve figured out some new radiative physics, there’s probably a Nobel prize in the offing.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Its quite simple. Equilibrium is never reached. If you harbour the notion of equilibrium then I’m afraid you live in the fantasy world of a steady state climate that Man has perturbed. Reality is that climate is in a state of continual flux and equilibrium state is never reached.

        • A C Osborn says:

          Euan, has described it pretty much as I would.
          But I would add that I completely understand temperature equilibrium between two or more objects of differing Temperatures. But that requires steady state conditions, which due to the chaotic nature (pun intended) of Climate can’t happen.

        • John Reid says:

          Spectral analyis of temperature time series show that between 3 kyr and 40 kyr global temperature is a red-noise process (S = Af^-2). See

          particularly the plot due to Pelletier (2002) at the bottom of the page.

          At decadal time scales, it is pink noise (S = Af^-1), see

          Both of these are non-stationary processes i.e. variance is time-dependent, implying, in turn, that there is no definable equilibrium.

          At periods longer than 40 kyr, global temperature is white (with a small peiodic signal at the obliquity period) and oscillates between two metastable states. Once again there is no single equilibrium state.

  5. clivebest says:


    One satellite measurement you didn’t mention , perhaps because NASA plays it down, is that of the total water column – or the water vapour content of the atmosphere – NVAP. interestingly it shows exactly the inverse trend as the cloud cover. They are related and both trends coincide with the hiatus in warming.

    See also post by Ken Gregory

  6. A C Osborn says:

    Euan, re this “A number of commenters have been asking what motive does the IPCC and body of climate scientists have to deceive governments and the public”, I think it is only the Public.
    The IPCC is not just UN funded, I am sure that all the major governments involved realised what a wonderful tax raising item CO2 and AGW was and are therefore complicit in the lies, as are most of the MSM, which is the one I really don’t understand.

  7. A C Osborn says:

    Euan, can I direct your attention to an interesting forum for Climate data.

  8. William says:

    Euan, NASA doesn’t produce a climate index from satellite data. Why that is I don’t understand, but if they were to present these 3rd party analyses from UAH and RSS (who infer, not measure, temperatures using microwave emissions from the air column), how would they claim this “is likely superior quality” when the two disagree so markedly? High quality disagreement. And would UAH/RSS be as relevant as the surface indices? After all we live on the surface not in the troposphere.

    You missed a few other NASA earth science missions including the Ocean Surface Topography Mission measuring rising ocean levels and GRACE, which has shown significant declines in ice sheet mass:

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Thanks for the link William. This data is not actually measuring ice sheet mass but some remote derivative of it – gravity. Furthermore there is hopeless disagreement between the different time series – according to your standard . Hence, you will need to ignore these data whilst I can embrace them.

      So the Antarctic has lost 1000 Gts of ice in 5 years. What is the total mass of ice in the Antarctic? And what % has been lost. And is there any evidence to suggest this is unusual, especially for an interglacial?

      • William says:

        Hopeless disagreement? I don’t think so. Is the percentage loss small, undoubtedly, unusual, who knows? I claimed no smoking gun, just that it is another interesting satellite data source and that it, like rising sea levels, adds to evidence of ongoing global change.

      • Sam Taylor says:

        Gravity is not a remote derivative of mass, but rather a fundamental physical property of it. Gravity data is frequently used in oil and gas exploration as I’m sure you’re aware. It can tell us quite a lot about what’s going on in the subsurface.

  9. A C Osborn says:

    Euan, to show why the Satellite data is so important in trying to keep the Land Temperature data honest (it is not working of course) take a look at the work that Paul Homewood has done on Bolivia.
    It is an absolute disgrace and shows why Cowtan’s Video was so misleading about comparing one adjacent country to another.

    And then there is San Diego, where they have even cooled very high temperatures in the early 1980s to straighten the trend.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      AC – keeping tabs on / auditing the land based temperature series is of course important. But I’m left wondering why NASA are bothering to launch these satellites in the first place. I am following Paul’s series of posts on data manipulation. You could maybe suggest to him that he use the same Y axis scale on the New and Old picture pairs he has.

      Hoping Roger has bought a couple of bottles of tequila and is holed up somewhere doing a mega post on data manipulation. The san Diego example is extreme. They would be as well simply making the data up from what I’ve seen.

  10. John Reid says:

    Euan this is a wonderful post. These data make it obvious that many aspects of climate are non-stationary. This, in turn, makes a nonsense of so-called “attribution studies” and “optimal fingerprinting” which are based on an assumption of stationarity and an assumption that the distributions of quantities in deterministic climate models are identical with the distributions of those same variables in the real world. Can you provide more references to your sources, e.g. to the cloud cover diagram at the top?

  11. Joe Clarkson says:

    Cold conditions eventually lead to CO2 being pumped down. Temperature controls CO2, not vice versa.

    I would be intrigued by your theory to support this statement, especially the “pumped down” part, since it is so at odds with what is observed with the annual carbon cycle.

    Just as “night time is the winter of the tropics” so winter and summer are annual hemispheric temperature swings that far exceed global average temperature changes from global warming. So, following your argument, CO2 in either hemisphere should increase in its summer when temperatures are warmer and decrease in winter when they are colder.

    But even a cursory look at annual CO2 data shows the reverse. Plants grow faster in warmer temperatures and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Cooler temperatures inhibit plant growth and allow decay of fallen plant materials to raise CO2 in the atmosphere. The greater land mass of the northern hemisphere and these temperature effects on plant growth are why CO2 peaks in April-May and reaches its annual minimum in September-October.

    If temperature is the driver of CO2 and CO2 has minimal or no climate forcing potential, then the ‘driving’ effect should be the inverse of what is shown in your Figure 1; CO2 should go down as temperatures rise and go up as temperatures fall.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Joe, this comment is so inane you find your self on the Green Troll watch list. I don’t know if you are sent here to waste my time and to be deliberately disruptive or whether you lack basic understanding to be able to distinguish between diurnal and annual cycles and the much greater Milankovitch cycle associated with glaciations that I was specifically talking about.

      While I am willing to teach, I don’t have time to start with the A, B, Cs of how Earth’s climate works. I suggest you read a book on the subject. This is not a bad place to start:

      Global Warming The Complete Briefing

    • Euan Mearns says:

      It occurred to me later that you may not understand the terminology I’m using.

      Diurnal refers to the daily 24 hour cycle
      Annual refers to the yearly, 365.25 day cycle
      Milankovitich refers to the Earth’s orbital cycles, normally broken down to three components with the following phases 23,000, 41,000 and 100,000 years

      The kinetics of Earth’s climate processes that may apply on the Milankovitch time scales (that I was talking about) cannot be applied to at the daily and yearly time scales.

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    @Euan Mearns RE Joe Clarkson:

    He is obviously trying out the new Scheme. Plant life uses more CO2 in summer, so the level drops, so the temperature must drop, hence CO2 makes summers cooler, and that is a reason for adjusting temperatures higher.

    After all they are running out of adjustment room. They adjusted past temperatures lower because CO2 was lower then, so the temperature MUST have been cooler. They have adjusted recent temperatures higher because CO2 was higher, so there MUST be warming. Relying on actual measurements is so old fashioned.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Graeme, don’t know why your comment didn’t appear.

      • Graeme No.3 says:

        I often note that it takes some time for them to appear, mostly but not always applicable to this site.

        Anyway, it was just a release of steam (?) at the attitude that CO2 controls the Earth’s temperature, therefore all data must be adjusted to fit in with the hypothesis. And if they can’t adjust the measurements, ignore them and hope no-one notices them.

  13. Sam Taylor says:

    The concept of an equilibrium temperature does not imply that the climate system will ever reach equilibrium, that much should be obvious.

    Do try to avoid phrases like ‘fantasy world’. We’re trying to discuss science in an adult fashion I hope, don’t want to end up sounding like the daily mail.

  14. E. Swanson says:

    Euan, your commentary regarding satellite temperatures, based on the link to Monckton’s long winded piece, misses critical information. Monckton (and others, such as Spencer & Christy) claims this:

    “Terrestrial temperatures are measured by thermometers. Thermometers correctly sited in rural areas away from manmade heat sources show warming rates appreciably below those that are published. The satellite datasets are based on measurements made by the most accurate thermometers available – platinum resistance thermometers, which provide an independent verification of the temperature measurements by checking via spaceward mirrors the known temperature of the cosmic background radiation…”

    But, the MSU/AMSU instruments don’t measure temperature, they measure the gross microwave radiation from the atmosphere below in a narrow band of wavelength in an oxygen emission line, which is said to represent “bulk temperature” of the atmosphere. This called “brightness temperature” by most researchers, but Spencer & Christy deftly changed things by dropping the word “brightness”, thence claiming to be the only true measure of global change. Those emissions are said to be a weighted average, based on a model the emissions at different layers, the real emissions also include the effects of the surface and the stratosphere, as well as “hydro meteors”, i.e., cloud ice. The stratosphere is known to be cooling, which led S & C to promote their TLT product in 1992, which was later shown to be seriously flawed. I showed back in 2003 that the TLT exhibits a flaw over the Antarctic, which I suggested might be the result of the sea-ice cycle. RSS does not include any data poleward of 70S, their reason being the impact of the high elevation ice sheet. Both the UAH and RSS merge data from 15 satellites with 2 different instruments to calculate their time series. All one needs to do is compare the differences between the UAH and the RSS series (which you present), to see the problem.

    Monckton misses all of this. In fact, his latest “peer reviewed” paper in a Chinese science journal claims that the satellite data measures surface temperature, which it clearly does not. His paper has other errors as well, which are blindingly obvious, yet, they made it thru both his supposed 8 year effort to develop his model and thru peer review. Then too, the Arctic sea-ice is clearly declining, with an obvious loss of multi-year ice. The problem is the steady decline in yearly minimum extent (not the computed value called area, BTW), not some global average at another date. Take a look at this animation of satellite data, if you really want to get a grasp on the situation:

    I hate to say it (since you will likely censor me), with references to Watts, Monckton, John Daly and other non-scientists, you have managed to capture the essence of 20 years of denialist crap. Great work! Have you accepted a position at the Heritage Foundation, by chance?

    • A C Osborn says:

      It is very nice of you to point out the problems with the Satellite data sets as if we all didn’t realise that it was measuring the atmosphere and not the Surface.
      You do of course realise that the Thermometers used by the world to measure temperatures are also not measuring the “Surface Temperature”, but atmospheirc temperatures at 2 metres?
      You also have not made any mention or defense of the total corruption of those same thermometer temperature data sets by Scientists.
      Your reference to the Heartland Institute nails you as an outright Green Warmist, thankyou for that clarification of your position.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      This is an interesting contribution of the type I want to solicit. The post was about NASA satellite climatology data so I reported the NASA temperature record. Anyone with the appropriate technical background is quite entitled to challenge the veracity of that data and to educate us all about the potential pitfalls.

      Last time I did a personal check on the data from different sources they were all in a general sense aligned. And so we are discussing details. If you want to consign the satellite data, that is to large extent aligned with surface thermometer data, to the trash can, then you’d better be ware.

      You write with a certain authority, but I’m afraid I do not know who you are – apologies for that if I should. Best post a few links to your previous work in order to boost your credibility.

      I can currently come up with multiple reasons for not trusting the surface thermometer record. If you are saying we cannot trust the satellite record – then what? This can only be viewed as total and utter failure of science. ZERO data available to either support or refute what is a global warming theory.

      Unfortunately you blew your credibility with your closing paragraph. I judge articles on merit. The stuff I’ve read by John Daily I rate. WUWT is variable, but some of it is top notch. We have new commenting guidelines that you can read here:

      Consider this a first and final warning.

      • William says:

        On the subject of WUWT, you objected on another thread to links to SKS, which you called “junk” but you didn’t explain why, nor did you indicate how you could not object to links to WUWT (which many people consider laughable). Since it has now come up again, can you please point out some articles at WUWT that are “top notch” and some at SKS that are “junk”. Thanks.

        • William. If Euan will forgive me butting in I think the ball’s in your court on this one. To back up your statements you need to supply a list of WUWT posts that you consider “laughable” along with a list of SkS posts that you consider “not junk” and give your reasons therefor. We eagerly await your response.

          Incidentally, I just put up a post that refutes certain claims you made in earlier comments on the virtues of homogenization. I’d be interested in your views on that too.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Roger, you are forgiven. WUWT publishes a huge amount. The focus for William needs to be his top 5 SKS posts that we can consider the scientific merits of.

          • William says:

            Euan, *you* said SKS was junk, so please justify that – you shouldn’t need my help. Justify that the site as a whole is junk, not that you can pick some loose threads in specific articles. As for Watts’ site being laughable, look no further for evidence than the fact that it *is* laughed at. Various sites have sprung up that poke fun at and criticize it. If still not convinced, look at the comment threads.

            Roger, which claims of mine did you refute? I’ll read your post later, but I’ll be able to answer you better if you clarify.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            SKS seems to be used as a reference bible for many Green Thinking Commenters. I’m actually writing a post now on that last comment thread on snow fall. The post hasn’t gone as planned since actually re-reading comments gives better insight to where folks are coming from. The comments went off the rails with Kit’s quote from SKS that sought to explain higher snow fall as a consequence of global warming. I’m not sure any of you actually read the post, but a message I repeated about 4 times is that winter maximum snow fall has been remarkably constant. If the guy at SKS had made that key observation then he would have kudos. Trying to explain non-existent increase in snow fall by global warming is junk. Someone else also directed my there to educate myself about the CO2 greenhouse and I found his explanation to be rather simple and uncritical. Maybe I’ll take a broader look and do a post on this.

            If some folk poke fun at WUWT – so what. I find a lot of the articles there are high quality. Anthony re-posted my Vostok article and I found the commenters were pretty well informed – and civil.

      • E. Swanson says:

        Hard to say how to reply to you. As I’m not a professional atmospheric scientist, it’s not likely that you would have heard of me, except that I posted regularly on The Oil Drum over a period of more than 5 years, often about climate change. And, I do have a couple of published papers, including:

        Swanson, R. E. (2003), “Evidence of possible sea-ice influence on Microwave Sounding Unit 2 tropospheric temperature trends in polar regions”, doi:10.1029/2003GL017938

        Swanson, R. E. (2005), “Comments on “Climate change: detection and
        attribution of trends from long-term geologic data” by C. Loehle [Ecological Modelling 171 (4) (2004) 433–450]”

        Swanson, R. E.(2008), “Comments on Loehle, “Correction To: A 2000-Year Global Temperature Reconstruction Based on Non-Tree Ring Proxies”, E&E,
        18 (7 and 8), 2007″
        DOI: 10.1260/095830508784815964

        That last one was a follow on after I contributed to a post by Gavin Schmidt on Real Climate (see note at end of post):

        BTW, the RSS TLT computation includes some processing changes I proposed. While we are at it, do take a look at the complete time series of the RSS TLT, not just the short, cherry picked section as Monckton presented, which shows a warming trend of 0.122 K per decade:

        Sad to say, you comment “ZERO data available to either support or refute what is a global warming theory.” just shows how little you understand. Do you really think that the scientists haven’t shown that adding CO2 retards the rate of energy transmission to deep space as infrared? Even Roy Spencer agrees that the Earth is warming, the only question is, how much and how fast.

        But, hey, what do I know, I’m just another old Black_Dog…

        • Euan Mearns says:

          So there’s enough here to lend you some credibility. If you were commenting on climate change on The Oil Drum then you shouldn’t have been. The anarchy of the Drumbeats was one of the reasons the site eventually had to fold.

          Sad to say, you comment “ZERO data available to either support or refute what is a global warming theory.” just shows how little you understand

          Sad to say you bare all the hallmarks of a Green Troll and you are on my watch list. My context here is that you are telling us we cannot trust the microwave satellite evidence for a warming world and I believe there are sufficient grounds to doubt the veracity of the thermometer evidence. See for example Roger’s most recent post. My position before your comment was that the satellite data did provide evidence of gentle warming. You seem to be saying that that evidence is not to be trusted. You need to learn to differentiate between acceptance of evidence in support of a theory and acceptance of the theory itself.

          Do you really think that the scientists haven’t shown that adding CO2 retards the rate of energy transmission to deep space as infrared?

          As for acceptance of the theory. CO2 actually works as a conductor of heat, not an insulator. Its impact on surface temperatures depends on the thermal structure of the atmosphere immediately above its “emission height”. There is no single emission height but the main emission band is 15µm that emits to space at about -55˚C that just happens to be at the tropopause – probably no coincidence. Increasing CO2 theoretically increases the emission height. The CO2 effectively conducts heat from surface to tropopause from where the heat is lost to space. If it gets colder upwards then the CO2 emits at a colder temperature and the argument goes the surface has to warm to maintain energy balance. I have yet to see a reconstruction of the stratosphere immediately above the tropopause where it gets colder as you go up – that would defy the definition of the tropopause.

          There are side lines to the 15µm band that emit within the troposphere and these will emit at lower temperatures causing surface warming with higher concentrations. I have yet to find out how significant this effect is. In most cases the stratosphere either has uniform temperature above the tropopause or actually gets warmer upwards. In the latter case CO2 will cause cooling of the surface – conducting heat away from it. At high latitudes there is in fact no winter troposphere at all – I think that is because there is no winter CO2 greenhouse. The surface lies in the stratosphere. That’s as far as I have got in my CO2 greenhouse for beginners. This is largely based on the work of Clive Best. Perhaps you could point me at a better source?

          • E. Swanson says:

            Euan, your description sounds incorrect to me. The CO2 absorption/emission process happens at all altitudes, as I understand things, but in the troposphere, the vertical convection dominates the energy transport. There’s no one level at which CO2 emissions occur. The tropopause is defined as the level at above which there’s almost no water vapor and in winter at high latitudes, that drops to around 300 mb pressure height.

            Here’s a description of the historical background, FYI:


            Have you read Ray Pierrehumbert ‘s text book? I’ve a copy which I’ve not taken the time to digest.


            Do you have a source for Clive Best’s work?

          • E. Swanson says:

            Euan, I found Clive Best’s blog. Here’s a relevant entry:


            And here’s an earlier entry, dated 2011:


            His argument is based on a rather simple one dimensional model in which everything in the climate system is lumped together. That model does not include convection, assuming the energy flow from the surface to deep space is all due to IR emissions, AIUI. The effects of water vapor in the troposphere are not included either. For example, he uses Stefan Boltzman equation, assuming the temperature is 288K, which is a rough average of the surface temperature. Things are much more complicated than that. For example, here’s a link to the classic (Ramanathan 1978) early radiative-convective model:


            This work was just one of the efforts by model builders, who later moved on to General Circulation models, then still further to add the oceans into the mix. To understand this report, one also needs to read the references, which present even earlier work…

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Clive was not trying to model the atmosphere but to get a handle on the very basics of the CO2 greenhouse and how it works. Its much more complex than most assume it to be. Emission – re-absorption of course occurs at all heights until the density of CO2 falls below a critical threshold and the IR in specific bands are emitted to space. This process is viewed from satellites as emission spectra at different temperatures that are linked to different emission heights. The main 15µm band emits from the tropopause.

            Why would convection affect the emission height?

          • E. Swanson says:

            Euan, As you say, the atmospheric processes are rather complicated and I’m no expert. The term “feedback” originated in the engineering world of control systems and electronics. Models of various types are used to describe systems and the processes which can be taken to reside within some boundary. Applying such concepts to the physical world, where many non-linear interactions occur, is difficult and any attempt to define something as a feedback only describes the model, not the reality.

            Clive’s simple model, (as shown here: is grossly simplified, with no details about real world processes, only large scale averages. He points to the Stefan-Boltzman “law”, which is just another mathematical model, one for a solid with a fixed emissivity. Gases absorb and emit at discrete frequencies, not a continuous spectrum, such as a “black body”. In the real world, the surface albedo is much different than that which he arbitrarily selects, since the oceans have an albedo near 0.07 when the sun is high overhead and snow or sea-ice have high albedo near 0.9 when dry. But, those values will be different in other situations, such as when high zenith angles over the ocean or when sea-ice is covered with melt ponds. That aggregate TOA albedo he uses (0.3) is heavily influenced by clouds, which, as we know, are one area of weakness in climate models. Those clouds are the result of convective action and changes in cloud cover and type are one likely result from our changes in the optical properties of the atmosphere.

            Convection also causes the energy transfer from the tropics and mid-latitudes to the polar regions. The tropics are in surplus, that is, those regions receive more solar input than exits the atmosphere as IR, while the polar regions are the opposite, emitting more IR energy than received as solar input during the year.

            For another example, he mentions the HITRAN radiation model, which I take to be similar to MODTRAN. As you may know, the University of Chicago hosts a graphical display of MODTRAN output, allowing a user to select various parameters:
            Take a look at the display of temperature vs. height for the various choices of season or cloud cover. There’s also a choice to use the US Standard Atmosphere for lapse rate, which doesn’t match the other calculated lapse rates. It would seem obvious that the lapse rate would be likely to change as a result of CO2 increase, yet, Clive’s simple model can not include that factor, as his model is defined for global average values. Then too, the MODTRAN results are a function of surface temperature, so one can try different surface temperature values as well.

            Clive’s simple “zero order” model can not capture any of these processes, thus can not give any sense of the “feedback” which results from Global Warming. I think that a model which leaves put the connection between radiative transmission and vertical convection is much too simple to be of any use, thus should be ignored. Think of it this way: If the problem of Global Warming could be described adequately with simple models, the debate would have stopped many decades ago.

            Here’s a link Clive gave in an early blog post:

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Black Dog, thanks for this. You need to exercise caution criticising Clive who is an ex JET fusion and CERN physicist. Thanks very much for the MODTRAN link, which without Clive’s posts I would not have the faintest chance of understanding. The thermal structure of the atmosphere portrayed in it is something I will seek to verify.

            I fully appreciate all you are saying about convection and heat transfer and lapse rate and the complexity of the atmosphere. I have a very high degree of mistrust of the CC establishment. Tomorrow we run a post examining the frailty of the surface temperature record, especially the S hemisphere. These frailties spawn distrust. And for example you say:

            Applying such concepts to the physical world, where many non-linear interactions occur, is difficult and any attempt to define something as a feedback only describes the model, not the reality.

            Can you document with references any non-linear interactions? Dave Rutledge, who blogs here, pointed out to me many years ago that any system with non-linear feedbacks goes to an extreme position and stays there. Earth’s atmosphere is clearly not subject to such non-linearity or we would not be holding this conversation.

            I need to set up a post where you and Clive can exchange views.

          • A C Osborn says:

            ” It would seem obvious that the lapse rate would be likely to change as a result of CO2 increase”, any emperical proof, as “would seem obvious” is not quite scientific enough?
            “thus can not give any sense of the “feedback” which results from Global Warming”
            Can you please provide the feedback(s) so that we can check how they are working out?
            Or did you mean feedback from increased CO2?

            ” If the problem of Global Warming could be described adequately with simple models, the debate would have stopped many decades ago.” and yet the most simplified model of all is Increased CO2 = Increased Warmth, it is the Concesus and also that there is no “continuing Debate” as “The science is settled”.
            Perhaps then the science isn’t settled after all.

            I really enjoyed the paper (Ramanathan 1978), it is heavy in Maths, but I have never seen so many Assumptions made and as you pointed out about Clive Best’s they also do not include Cloud cover adequately or Ice Albedo. They also have some errors that they are not happy with on the Lapse rate, plus they have a rather cavalier attitude towards Accuracy when they state that Approximately 1.83K = 1.9K, so a 4% error is “near enough”.
            As they say good enough for Government work.

          • William says:

            Euan, as I pointed out to you recently, climate feedbacks are not necessarily linear. Two obvious ones are albedo change due to ice (reduced ice due to warming results in less reflection of incoming radiation and more heating – a positive feedback that reduces the more ice is lost) and the Stefan–Boltzmann law’s T^4 negative feedback – very far from linear. The climate is not an electronic circuit.

          • E. Swanson says:

            Euan, As I mentioned, I’m not an expert. However, here are a couple of processes which I think exhibit non-linear characteristics.

            First, consider that the IR emissions are a function of absolute temperature (K) to the fourth power. Thus, the energy flowing via this pathway must surely be considered “non-linear”, perhaps as a strong negative feedback which precludes a runaway burn up. Next is water vapor, where the quantity in the atmosphere is a non-linear function of temperature. Below about 220 K (a guess, BTW), such in the Stratosphere, there’s essentially no water vapor at all, as precipitation removes it rapidly. Then too, as the quantity of water vapor increases in warmer conditions, an air parcel near the surface becomes less dense, eventually resulting in vertical convection, which is a process with a threshold. At the top of the convective flow, the water vapor condenses, which release energy via phase change, (another non-linear process) and which forms aerosol clouds that increase albedo, a negative feedback that opposes further warming at the surface below which slows evaporation and stops further convection. Add a few centimeters of snow to the ground and the albedo rises sharply and stays there until the snow melts away, revealing the darker surface again. Another process with a threshold is the ocean Thermohaline Circulation, which only happens during the sea-ice freezing season, the sinking being associated with brine released to the surface waters when the sea water freezes, another non-linear process. The THC process may also exhibit a hysteresis characteristic, implicated in the “flips” between states seen in the cycles of Ice Ages and the Younger Dryas.

            As for that story on SH temperatures, Christopher Booker beat you to it in the “Tory-Graph” yesterday. Reading the commentary, I saw no mention of actual data, certainly not anything from a peer reviewed source. Please don’t forget to mention the fact that the SH is mostly covered with water, not land…

  15. E. Swanson says:

    Osborn, My point was that Monckton blew it when he called that the satellite data surface temperature. And, yes, I know about the definition of the “surface temperature, having spent quite a bit of time almost 30 years ago digitizing measurements for one US site. Back then, there was no digital data available, so I hand entered 30,000 (mol) data points from microfiche into an IBM PC XT, so I could analyze it. Nothing like looking at the actual data sheets to get a sense of the problem.

    Euan would like to rely on “raw” data, but it’s rather obvious that this is useless. I often tried to point this out when the Idsos posted “raw” data on their web site 10 years ago, claiming these data were proof of no warming. My favorite site which they used was the Gainsville Lock in Alabama, a site which was re-located half way across the state mid way thru the series. My efforts probably gave Tony Watts the idea for his attacks.

    So, you guys like raw data? I suppose that means you insist on using raw satellite data too. Ever seen any? It’s a stream of digital “counts” from the radiometers and brightness temperature is calculated by comparing the counts at each end with those of each scan position. The scale is rather like that of a mercury thermometer, where 0 and 100 are defined as freezing and boiling on the Celsius scale. Then, the distance between is divided into 100 equal increments and the position of the mercury in the tube is taken to be “temperature”. For the MSU data, the scale is defined with end points from viewing deep space at one end and a accurately measured heated target at the other. But, for the satellite data, there are also calibration problems and various changes to to orbital decay and change in time of day of equatorial crossing, as well as heating of the instrument as the satellite orbits around the Earth. Sorry to say, the satellite “temperature” which results is heavily processed and the whole thing is based on the same sort of model of atmospheric molecular emission/absorption characteristics which is used to model Global Warming. And, I’ve shown it to be flawed over the Antarctic, which is the reason that RSS decided not to include that data.

    If you insist on using the satellite data, you are also agreeing that the modeled warming from CO2 is valid as well. Get real, folks, there’s much more evidence of warming beyond the temperature record. Did you even bother to look at the YouTube video???

  16. A C Osborn says:

    You noticed of course that the video started at the highest point of Sea Ice and stopped in 2009,
    take a look at what has happened since.
    Try also looking at the Antarctic, which alone completely disproves CAGW as well as AGW, so why didn’t you post data on that?
    Or the fact that Sea levels increases have not accelerated other than due to Isostatic rebound Adjustments.
    Try looking at the lack of Hurricanes.
    Try looking at Sea & Ocean ACE levels
    Try looking at less Tornadoes
    Try looking at less wild fires.
    Try looking at less Droughts.
    Try looking at Northern Hemisphere Snow level.
    Take a look at Greenland Snow, which will become ice next year
    Do you actually think we don’t know what we are talking about because you have a bit of “climate based history”?
    You have no idea what expertise the rest of have, so I suggest you get real.

  17. Roger Louis says:

    Posting as a Geologist, one who wades thru data, I find it almost criminal that these so-called climate scientists manipulate raw data…. In my business, if I manipulated data from the field, I’d be shunned…. Also, as a scientist, I find it childish that the manipulators try to cut off debate by demeaning ones who don’t buy their ideology, as ideology isn’t science….

  18. Euan Mearns says:

    William, as far as I can tell the comment you deem to be missing is there:

    I just don’t have time to engage in this. Perhaps I should have said “a system governed by positive feedbacks”.

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  20. Shawn says:

    The data in the last “figure 1” suggest a temperature/ppm CO2 gain constant of 1 degree C per 10 ppm CO2. If CO2 were the driver of temperature rise, then we should expect to see an increase of 1 degree C per 10 ppm additional CO2. A change from 280 ppm CO2 to 400 ppm CO2 should have produced a temperature rise of 12 degrees C, more than 20 degrees F, which we have not been seeing.

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