How much did we warm in November?

Summary:  As the pause in the warming of the world’s surface temperature enters its 17th year, activists hide this by focusing on areas of the world reporting record warm weather (areas with cold weather are un-news). We need not fall for this deceit. NASA funds a monthly report of global temperature measured by satellites — a consistently high-quality data set going back to 1979 (roughly the end of the previous mini-cooling cycle). The truth is out there for people willing to learn it.

Pure alarmist propaganda
Pure alarmist propaganda


  1. Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming?
  2. The UK Met Office shows the long-term history of warming
  3. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  4. About The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)
  5. A few key things to remember about global warming!
  6. For More Information

To the right is a typical over-the-top image to arouse fear, about a world now less than one °F warmer than the 30-year average.

(1) Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming in October 2013?

Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979.

The November 2013 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

November 2013 Global Temperature map
Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

Key points from the report, which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly (few alarmists know this; fewer admit it):

  • Global composite temperature in November: +0.19°C (0.34°F) above the average for November during 1981-2010.
  • Global climate trend of temperature starting in 16 November 1978: +0.14°C (0.3°F) per decade.
  • Compared to seasonal norms, in November the coolest area on the globe was in northwestern Greenland, where temperatures in the troposphere were about 4.16°C (7.5°F) cooler than normal,
  • The warmest area was in Eastern Antarctica, where tropospheric temperatures were 5.32°C (almost 9.6°F) warmer than seasonal norms.
  • Anomalies are computed per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommended method, comparing the current temperatures vs. a 30 year base period ending with the latest decade.

Let’s look at the satellite data since 1979. It shows, very roughly, 2 decades of cool weather, followed by 15 years of warm weather (click to enlarge):


November 2013 Global temperature
Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville


Roy Spencer (principal scientists on the team) shows another perspective on this data (at his website). Wide swings in temperature; a relatively flat trend since 1998 (even more so since 2000). For more about the pause see summaries of the growing body research about it here, and the IPCC’s view here.

November 2013 - History of global temperature
From Roy Spencer, U AL-Huntsville


(2) The UK Met Office shows the long-term history — the vital context

These numbers cannot be properly understood until put in a historical context, from page 10 of “The Recent Pause in Global Warming” published by the UK Met Office in July 2013. Anthropogenic factors became the largest (not the only) driver since roughly 1950.

UK Met Report, July 2013
UK Met Report, July 2013


(3) Who produces this satellite data and analysis?

About the global satellite data

As part of an ongoing joint project between The University of Alabama in Huntsville, NOAA and NASA, John Christy (professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at U AL-Huntsville) and Dr. Roy Spencer (an ESSC principal scientist) use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about 8,000 above sea level.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

(Source here)

(4) About The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)

Global warming
Global warming

Q. What exactly do we mean by Surface Air Temperature?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day ? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Read the rest here.

(5) A few important things to remember about global warming

While cheering for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy about this important issue.

(a)  The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.

(b)  The world has been warming during the past two centuries, in a succession of warming, cooling, and pauses. Since roughly 1950 anthropogenic causes have been the largest driver. Warming paused sometime in 1998-2000.

(c)  There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (e.g., rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (eg, CO2, aerosols, land use changes). Other that that stated in #3, the IPCC’s reports make few claims about attribution of climate activity, as this remains actively debated in the literature.

(d)  There is an even larger debate about climate forecasts, both the extent of future CO2 emissions and the net effects of the various natural and anthropogenic drivers.

(e)  For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:

  1. More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
  2. Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.
  3. Start today a well-funded conversion to non-carbon-based energy sources by the second half of the 21st century; for both environmental and economic reasons (see these posts for details).

(f)  Posts about preparing for climate change:

Truth Will Make You Free

(6) For More Information

(a) Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

(b)  Other posts in this series about global warming:

  1. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012 — Scientists’ analysis of the pause
  2. When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer., 18 October 2012
  3. The IPCC sees the pause in global warming!, 18 December 2012
  4. One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013
  5. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013



15 thoughts on “How much did we warm in November?

  1. And somehow lost in all of this data is the fact that the “combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was record highest for the 134-year period of record.” That seems like something you might want to mention in an article about the amount of warming this November.

    1. nnoxks,

      I rely on the satellite record, which (as stated) provides a high-quality consistent metric going back to 1979. With analysis by two different teams (RSS and UAH), providing a check and balance.

      The surface temperature network is a mess:
      * almost devoid of quality controls (even in the US until recently due to under-funding),
      * large areas of the globe are covered by extremely low-quality third-world national weather services,
      * large areas are under-covered or almost not-covered (e.g., polar areas, much of the emerging and 3rd world nations, oceans),
      * the record consisting of large adjustments to past data, with almost no transparency to the methodology (a violation of basic scientific standards),
      * unknown effect due to land use changes (e.g., urbanization).

      All of these could be improved with improved funding. But both sides prefer to argue rather than devote the resources needed to provide answers.

      I don’t understand why the global data from the surface temperature stations receives so much attention when there is a better alternative. Not a perfect alternative, but better.

      Note that the long-term results of all the major data sets agree. It’s on the smaller scale results — time, geography — they differ.

      The supposed recent record: it results largely from the Russian “hot spot”. Russia has a small number stations covering a large area, grossly underfunded, with a complex station history (making historical comparisons difficult). Choosing between that and the satellite record — which does not show a record high — is imo not difficult.

  2. It is interesting that you “rely on the sattelite record” despite your past concerns over scientists with-holding information. For the record, the UAH satellite results are the ONLY major surface temperature dataset which refuses to supply their calculations (though the underlying data is from the US government and thus public domain).

    Further, Spencer and Christy have consistently had to make revisions in their results (always leading to greater warming) after other teams (primarily RSS) managed to reverse engineer one piece or another and prove that UAH had it wrong. They originally claimed that the lack of warming shown by their satellite results had disproved the surface temperature warming record… now that their results are a near match they claim to have proven that the thermometer record is slightly exaggerated (somehow blind to the possibility that their results are still low). Spencer BTW also argues that creationism is more scientific than evolution and that global warming can’t be that bad because God promised never to send another great flood. Christy indoctrinates Sunday school children with how climate change is made up by environmentalists to undercut the free market. Good thing you avoid ideological bias in performing your analyses.

    “Let’s look at the satellite data since 1979. It shows, very roughly, 2 decades of cool weather, followed by 15 years of warm weather (click to enlarge):”

    That’s not really what the graph shows. Given that the baseline is the average over the entire period, the first half being below the average and the second half above indicates that temperatures have been increasing or the entire period. Those ‘2 decades of cool weather’ are only cool relative to the later period. A straight upward slope with no noise at all would also have ‘cool on the left’ and ‘warm on the right’ if the baseline were set at the average for the entire period.

    “Key points from the report, which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly…”

    No. The >surface atmosphere< has warmed 'only slightly' since 1979. The "world" is much more than the surface atmosphere. Since 1979 the WORLD has warmed at a greater rate than any other time we can identify in the entire history of the planet (disclaimer – there MAY have been other times with as great or greater warming, we just don't have any data showing that). THIS paper includes a graph of WORLD warming;

    The atmosphere would represent about a third of the brown region at the bottom of the graph and the surface atmosphere only a portion of that.

  3. Fabius wrote: “Address your complaints to NASA. You can report back on their reply.”

    No. My comments were about the shortcomings of Spencer and Christy. Neither of whom have ever worked at NASA. Your suggestion makes as much sense as directing me to complain to the FDA.

    Also: “The reason for doing so is obvious to most of us.”

    So that you can leverage true statements about the statistically insignificant ‘pause’ in global surface temperatures into false conclusions about global warming in general? Yes, that does seem fairly obvious. Again, you wrote;

    “Key points from the report, which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly…”

    …and that statement is flat out FALSE. If you said that the surface atmosphere had warmed only slightly since 1979 that would be accurate though incomplete. Instead you say the world. The surface atmosphere is NOT the world. The world has warmed a great deal since 1979.

    1. You are confused somehow. The UAH (i.e. University of Alabama Huntsville) satellite temperature record has NOTHING to do with NASA. It is not in any way a “NASA product”.

    2. Conrad,

      Yes. NASA has two surface temp data series, quite appropriately using all available data. For this purpose I use the more appropriate one for this specific question.

      This is a common situation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes three surveys of employment. Each has strengths and weaknesses. My monthly posts about jobs takes this into account.

      What is your point?

      Your objections are quite frivolous.

    3. Conrad,

      After reading the Wikipedia entry, I’ll reclassify your objection to “weird”. The Wikipedia entry does not discuss anybody’s funding or sponsorship.

      The original sponsorship details of the UAH program is still on NASA’s website:

      I don’t see that NASA or NOAA publishes information about their current research contracts (perhaps its buried on their websites somewhere).

      However, details about programs and records have been centralized at NOAA’s Climate Data Records website. This includes considerable information about the UAH program (and says that the full methodology and code are available):

      More importantly, why would you believe that the University of Alabama lies about the programs’s sponsorship?

      Conrad, you are just making stuff up — and ignoring the quotes and links I provide to authoritative sources. I’ve been a good sport about this, but there are limits. You look like a troll, and here (like most websites attempting to provide useful discussions) trolls are banned once identified.

      Please do better to avoid this.

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