“THE FOUNDATIONS” OF CLIMATE SCIENCE (Part 1 in a series) PDF Print E-mail

5 November 2009: Most people should know that a large part of the “evidence” that supports the anthropogenic global warming (man-made climate change) theory is the historical temperature trend data, in comparison to some historical records of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. How good are those data? In this and future postings, we’ll explore that question and touch on several rec ent controversies. We’ll be relying on self-published reports, not the peer-reviewed literature. That’s not our usual preference, but there have been important developments . In many cases the reports are so new that peer-reviewed papers could not possibly be prepared or published (which make take many months).

For starters, let’s just note that there are several databases of instrument records that only date back to about 1860. (The first mercury thermometer – the “modern thermometer” – was invented in 1715 by Gabriel Fahrenheit.) Naturally the measurement points were very widely spaced in the earlier years. With the advent of satellites in the 1970s, we now also have a relatively short period of data that should provide an independent verification of ground based temperatures.

Before instrument records, scientists rely on assumed relationships between temperature and other things, such as tree ring widths for example. Another example is data gleaned from ice and sediment cores. These are collectively known as “proxies,” and such analyses require that factors other than temperature must be eliminated from consideration. This can be achieved by the initial assumptions, such as the assumption that tree ring widths are primarily driven not by water availability or nutrients, but by temperature.

We’ll look at temperature measuring network considered the “best” in the world in our next post in this series.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 25 January 2010 19:28