Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Half a Century's Global Warming Disappears in One Day

About half of the 0.7 C warming of the last one hundred years appears to be a statistical artifact (see note) caused by the way various data sources are stitched together, or "homogenized"

The abstract:
We investigate the methods used for the adjustment of inhomogeneities of temperature time series covering the last 100 years. Based on a systematic study of scientific literature, we classify and evaluate the observed inhomogeneities in historical and modern time series, as well as their adjustment methods. It turns out that these methods are mainly statistical, not well justified by experiments and are rarely supported by metadata. In many of the cases studied the proposed corrections are not even statistically significant.

From the global database GHCN-Monthly Version 2, we examine all stations containing both raw and adjusted data that satisfy certain criteria of continuity and distribution over the globe. In the United States of America, because of the large number of available stations, stations were chosen after a suitable sampling. In total we analyzed 181 stations globally. For these stations we calculated the differences between the adjusted and non-adjusted linear 100-year trends. It was found that in the two thirds of the cases, the homogenization procedure increased the positive or decreased the negative temperature trends.

One of the most common homogenization methods, ‘SNHT for single shifts’, was applied to synthetic time series with selected statistical characteristics, occasionally with offsets. The method was satisfactory when applied to independent data normally distributed, but not in data with long-term persistence.

The above results cast some doubts in the use of homogenization procedures and tend to indicate that the global temperature increase during the last century is between 0.4°C and 0.7°C, where these two values are the estimates derived from raw and adjusted data, respectively.
It's been observed by the skeptical community for some time that the "adjustments" to temperatures, based on homogenization of the data have largely acted to warm the present or cool the past, both of which lead to an appearance of greater warming.  This paper suggests that the fault lies with the statistical methods employed, and perhaps not with the wishes of the homogenizers. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, for now.

Found at Watts Up With That.

Artifact: An inaccurate observation, effect, or result, especially one resulting from the technology used in scientific investigation or from experimental error: The apparent pattern in the data was an artifact of the collection method.

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