The incredibly elusive absolute surface air temperature

Dr James Hansen

Yesterday, Dr Vincent Gray sent out his Climate Truth Newsletter (no. 310). In it he adverts to an outrageous admission of common sense by James Hansen. Years ago, Hansen admitted on his GISS web page that there’s no agreement among scientists on what constitutes an acceptable surface air temperature.

Sensationally, he also said that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to obtain a scientifically meaningful surface air temperature (SAT).

Now, with Hansen’s resignation from NASA, Gavin Schmidt has rushed in to take charge of these surprising admissions. Curiously, I see that Schmidt’s description is “NASA Official,” where Hansen was the “Responsible NASA Official.” Significant, interesting or irrelevant? Speculation might be endless…

The link above to the previous version of the page at the Wayback Machine is from 15 October, 2008, but that page is marked as last updated on 12 July, 2005. There are three more words in the body text of the current version than on the old page; I conclude they’re essentially identical.

These comments asserting the impossibility of determining the SAT put a disturbing slant on Hansen’s alarmism based on the SAT during the last 20 years of the 20th Century. Continue Reading →

Renowden’s foot again finds his mouth

Renowden continually misquotes me.

I wrote about the summer low achieved by Arctic sea ice. He maligns me for saying the ice didn’t melt until winds pushed it away into warmer water.

Gareth, criticise me for giving voice to heresy; and by all means, fault my scholarship, my knowledge of climatic or arctic affairs; feel free to mock my “disconnection from reality”; I hope you even pull out a paper by Notz and Marotzke and share the authors’ speculation that, as is apparently obvious to the rest of you, “the most likely explanation for the linear trend [in sea ice decline] during the satellite era from 1979 onwards is the almost linear increase in CO2 concentration during that period.”

But I didn’t say it. NASA did.

So now please kindly redirect all that rude, inaccurate mockery to the proper quarter.


Renowden’s friend Rob Taylor, in comments below, cites one John Yackel in Science Daily. Yackel makes a couple of howlers.

First, he contradicts NASA and insists on talking about the summer Arctic ice “melt”. Obviously he didn’t get NASA’s memo explaining about the storm that shifted the sea ice before it melted.

Second, he asserts that, with the ice gone and the sea surface exposed to the air, “more moisture off the ocean’s surface” will “get into the atmosphere”, making for more violent storms.

Remarkable. Here’s a geographer who doesn’t know that the amount of water vapour in the air depends on the temperature. I learnt that in high school but somehow he missed it at university.

But he also apparently imagines that “the water vapor in the atmosphere makes for more violent storms” – it doesn’t need a higher temperature at all! Well, it’s a new concept, but I’m not sure how it works.

I think it’s nonsense.

Finally, I observe that Rob Taylor claims I’m wrong about something, but none of our friends from the dark side deny that Renowden disagrees with NASA. Renowden is wrong to call this record ice disappearance a “melt” and blame it on global warming and therefore on our considerable, unforgivable sins.

It’s not so easy to ignore your friends

When being criticised, it’s relatively easy to ignore people you’ve never heard of, but it’s not so easy to ignore your friends. It’s possible that this astonishing rebuke from respected former NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts might change minds at NASA where world-wide sceptical opposition from strangers has not. h/t WUWT. Press release from SPPI.

Former NASA scientists, astronauts admonish agency on climate change position



Blanquita Cullum


bqview at

Joint letter to NASA Administrator blasts agency’s policy of ignoring empirical evidence

HOUSTON, TX – April 10, 2012. 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week admonishing the agency for its role in advocating a high degree of certainty that man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change while neglecting empirical evidence that calls the theory into question.

The group, which includes seven Apollo astronauts and two former directors of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, are dismayed over the failure of NASA, and specifically the Goddard Institute For Space Studies (GISS), to make an objective assessment of all available scientific data on climate change. They charge that NASA is relying too heavily on complex climate models that have proven scientifically inadequate in predicting climate only one or two decades in advance. Continue Reading →

Just tell me the blasted temperature!

It’s a simple question: “What is the temperature of the earth?” But for those who live here it has no simple answer, nor ever will have—only approximations. For it not only depends on where you put the thermometer, but also, apparently, on who interprets it. For if you own the dataset, you can reduce older temperatures and increase recent ones, just as NASA has been doing, and give the impression of greater warming. Naughty, naughty. more…

The hockey stick

Here’s a story you haven’t heard, and you should have. An analyst, working for the government, uses computers to crunch numbers and find the truth. Let’s call him “Mann.” The trouble with Mann is, he has an ideology. He knows what he wants his results to be. more…