Thursday, Nov 20, 2008
There have been a few red faces at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in recent days, to match the predominant color of its October global temperature map. Based at Columbia University in New York, GISS is the division of NASA that is responsible for global climate data and is used by the media in assessing global warming. After analyzing the data, GISS reported that October 2008 was the warmest October since reliable record-keeping began in 1880. But there was something very wrong with the numbers.
Last week the October data started to be released. First, UAH (the University of Alabama at Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) – the two groups that measure satellite data for lower troposphere – weighed in. The temperature anomaly for October was much the same as September, they reported approximately 0.2°C over the 1979-2000 average for each of those months.
But GISS, unlike UAH or RSS showed a startling jump, indicating the warmest October ever recorded.
Ironically for a space organization, NASA/GISS does not use satellites, but prefers to use readings from the surface stations of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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The map featured a huge red-brown area over Siberia that drew immediate attention. Readers from the blog run by metereologist Anthony Watts, WattsUpWithThat, soon determined what was wrong. The data for a large number of northern stations had their September numbers carried over to October.
After Steve McIntyre of the Climate Audit blog emailed GISS informing them of the error. GISS issued a new set of data the next day, with Gavin Schmidt crediting Watts’ blog with spotting the error (while studiously avoiding mentioning McIntyre).
The revised map still showed Siberia to be fairly warm. England and Ireland were no longer in the red zone, while North West Canada was somewhat cooler. But the Hudson Bay area (previously not included) was filled in – in red.
This article was posted: Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 5:06 am