Common sense gets Rogered

Roger Pielke Sr. has spent the past few days casting about for anything to which he can latch onto in hopes of promoting an upcoming paper that supposedly shows how terrible the surface instrumental record is.

On Tuesday, he wrote about an image from NOAA using the GHCN surface data (which shows May as quite a warm month) and then shows an image using UAH to claim that the differences between the two show that the GHCN surface data are biased warm:

The above figure shows a picture of warmer than average land surface temperatures almost everywhere. This image is from the NOAA report…

While the lower tropospheric data shows a very warm May, it is not as anomalous as at the surface as diagnosed by the Global Historical Climatology Network. The spatial map of lower tropospheric temperatures for May 2012 is shown below

In this data, May 2012 has a global composite lower tropospheric temperature anomaly of +0.29 C (about 0.52 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for May. The NOAA plot above has a global composite of “more than 1°F above the 20th century average” according to the NOAA article.

3. This divergence between the surface temperature analysis and the lower tropospheric temperature analyses is further demonstration of the divergence between these two data sets as we reported on in [lengthy onanistic bout of self-citation follows].

Today, Roger does much the same by comparing the NOAA/GHCN May 2012 image to an image generated using NASA MODIS land data:

It does not take a quantitative analysis to see regions of large differences, such as the cool anomalies in the NASA data in Africa, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. While they are not measuring the same temperatures, the anomalies should be quite similar {For the GHCN, NOAA NCDC uses air temperature measurements which are supposed to be 2m above the ground; they also use the mean temperature anomalies which are computed using maximum and minimum temperatures}.

The areal coverage of the temperature anomalies, however, are not the same. The NOAA analysis shows much larger areas of warmer than average surface temperatures than seen in the NASA NEO analysis.

Presumably some of you have seen where Roger’s gone wrong immediately. Congratulations, because Roger obviously still hasn’t. Note what he compares in the first set of images:

In this data, May 2012 has a global composite lower tropospheric temperature anomaly of +0.29 C (about 0.52 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average [i.e. 1981-2010] for May. The NOAA plot above has a global composite of “more than 1°F above the 20th century average” according to the NOAA article.

And in the second:

Today, I present at the top of this post the May 2012 surface temperature anomaly analysis from NASA’s Earth Observations program.

As written on the NASA’s Earth Observations program website

Land surface temperature is how hot or cold the ground feels to the touch. An anomaly is when something is different from average. These maps show where Earth’s surface was warmer or cooler in the daytime than the average temperatures for the same week or month from 2001-2010. So, a land surface temperature anomaly map for May 2002 shows how that month’s average temperature was different from the average temperature for all Mays between 2001 and 2010.

Roger’s entire premise is that there is a significant difference between the GHCN surface data used by NOAA, GISTEMP, HadCRUT, and others versus satellite data, and that this demonstrates that the surface data are biased warm. But Roger has completely failed to do the most cursory step of making such a comparison- looking at those data in reference to a common baseline.

Obviously, temperature anomalies relative to the 1901-2000 average are going to appear warmer than anomalies relative to a 1981-2010 baseline.

Obviously, temperature anomalies relative to a 2001-2010 baseline (a timescale in which short-term fluctuations like ENSO are much more significant than over 30 or 100 years) are going to be different in both magnitude and spatial structure.

For something a little more apples-to-apples, how do the size of the UAH satellite and GHCN-based surface anomalies compare?

It turns out that for Roger’s month of interest (May 2012), the UAH temperature is actually warmer than NOAA (and basically identical to GISTEMP):

Is the spatial pattern of the GHCN data really so different than that viewed by MODIS?

Northeastern Atlantic cooling (which becomes even more pronounced using a smaller interpolation length), cooling over much of Africa, cooling over the Pacific Northwest, cooling over Central America, much of Australia, much of Antarctica, etc. are all apparent in the GHCN-based GISTEMP land data when you bother to use the same baseline:

Identical? No, but even Roger admits they’re not measuring the same things exactly. But simply using the same baseline shows that the spatial structure of the temp anomalies is in much closer agreement than Roger would like you to believe.

Is the surface instrumental record biased warm? It’s possible- though many independent evaluations have failed to bear this out. When you hear someone say “It does not take a quantitative analysis to see…” particularly someone with such a lengthy history of cherry picking and apples to oranges comparisons as Roger*, it’s a good time to get… well, skeptical.

*Some examples can be seen herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.

UPDATE: Thanks to Marco in comments, forgot about some gems at Tamino’s here, here, here, etc.

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15 responses to “Common sense gets Rogered

  1. This reminds me of a previous case in which Pielke Sr took several days to realise (after people kept on pointing it out to him) that sea ice extent and area are not the same.

  2. Well done ThingsBreak, a devastating refutation of Pielke Snr’s latest nonsense. These are mistakes that are expected of an ignorant amateur, not someone of Pielke’s (former?) standing.

    The “skeptics”, including Pielke Snr., are clearly in denial and damage control here. Pielke’s state is going up in flames and breaking all time record highs. So what does he do? Everything he can do to convince himself that it is really not so bad and/or happening.

    I have no problem with Pielke enforcing his own delusion with fallacies and his subjective (and biased) eyecrometer, but I take exception when he uses his blog and appeals to his own “authority” to mislead and misinform others. Worse yet, it is highly disingenuous and unprofessional when Pielke Snr. makes false and juvenile accusations against Tom Karl and others when it is in fact he, Pielke Snr., who is in fact guilty of not reporting the truth and who is pursuing an ideological agenda.

    Disgusting behaviour IMO. Roger should be ashamed and so should those who still choose to associate with him, and amongst those I include the AGU and CIRES.

  3. It’s a learning disability among denialists for some reason. Anthony Watts and his crowd have tripped over and over because they can’t grasp the arithmetic of anomalies.

  4. I realize that Roger has a bias, but this is really taking it to the next level…

  5. It’s a learning disability among denialists for some reason. Anthony Watts and his crowd have tripped over and over because they can’t grasp the arithmetic of anomalies.

    Watts has put up a number of hilarious demonstrations of his own incompetence over the years, but his histogram blooper is one of the better ones (largely because it is so easy to see where he went wrong). Linky here:

    Scroll down to where Watts start talking histograms — but before you do, be sure to secure your hot beverages properly. I will not accept responsibility for anyone’s scalded nasal passages.

    It is also important to remember that in the 4+ years since he committed his histogram blooper, Watts has not acknowledged his schoolboy blunder. So, folks, is it gross incompetence (Watts’ inability to understand basic middle-school math) or is it dishonesty?

    • hah, that was my immediate thought too! clearly Roger has been spending too much time hanging around the great science being done at WUTWAT: the pervasive stupidity is starting to affect his mind.

  6. And he has yet to post a correction – do you suppose any of his friends will let him know about his embarrassing mistake?

  7. My first thought when looking at the comparisons of two sets of anomalies was “are they using the same baseline?”, but then I thought “nah, that’s too obvious – surely if someone as completely unqualified as me could spot that then someone who claims to be a serious scientist wouldn’t make that mistake”. Oh well.

  8. Still no correction at the Pielke blog… he doesn’t allow comments, but Jr. does… I wonder if this would be worth pointing out on Jrs blog?

  9. Lars Karlsson

    Pielke Sr’s mistake can only be described as “Wattsian”.

  10. Looks like we have another “Rogerian” fail: he has lauded a paper (draft, that is) written by Watts et al that within three days is already completely crushed, including by one of the co-authors (Steve McIntyre).

    Will we see Roger apologize for making disparaging remarks at his fellow scientists (again) and then be shown wrong (again)?

    My, the crickets are loud!

  11. And the other Roger Pielke is busy making mountains out of molehills over Chris Field’s testimony. What a pair!

    • Roger Jr. desperately wants to “police the discourse” in order to scare people off from connecting anthro climatic changes with extreme events. To do so, he often engages in a bait and switch in which he declares that it’s wrong to connect AGW and extremes because there’s no GHG signal in disaster losses. While the latter may be true, it’s irrelevant to the truth of the former.

      It’s a shame so many people fall for it so easily.

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