Rapidly warming satellite data sends “skeptics” scurrying to models

Most people remotely familiar with climate “skeptics” know that if you can count on them for anything, it’s the following:

  1. “Skeptics” love satellite temperature data.
  2. “Skeptics” hate computer models. 

“Skeptics” claim to reject the surface instrumental temperature record because of alleged biases in the data, supposedly fraudulent “adjustments”, etc. These objections are not based in reality, as multiple analyses of the surface data have shown. In reality, “skeptics” reject the surface instrumental record for the same reason they reject so much of modern science: it doesn’t show what they want it to.

“Skeptics” claim that satellite temperature data, derived from microwave brightness soundings of the lower troposphere, are superior. The reality is that the satellite data cover a shorter record (and thus capture less of the warming), use a more recent baseline (and thus have cooler “anomalies” relative to the surface record), and are more sensitive to natural climatic variability like ENSO (and thus make the human signal harder to pick out visually). In other words, they like the satellite data because they show them more of what they want to see, and less of what they don’t. That one of the groups producing a satellite record is comprised of Roy Spencer and John Christy is icing on the cake.

And if there’s one thing “skeptics” disdain more than the surface instrumental record, it’s computer models. The ostensible justifications are legion, but the underlying cause is simple: they show things that “skeptics” don’t want to see.

So it was with great amusement that I took note of the “skeptic” reaction to the UAH satellite record’s rapid January warming, which reached temperatures exceeded only during the strong El Niño years of 1998 and 2010:

Rather than accept their beloved satellite data at face value, “skeptics” cast about for any alternative data set that didn’t show the inconvenient warming. Over at the wretched hive of scum and villainy known as WUWT, the innumerate and oft-beclowned Anthony Watts seized upon NCEP data showing much less January warming:

Of course NCEP isn’t actually an observational data set. It’s a reanalysis product created by those evil and untrustworthy models. You know, the ones “skeptics” demonize regularly in outlets like WUWT:

When the satellites don’t show what they want to see, “skeptics” waste no time in fleeing to the models they otherwise disdain.

Because climate “skeptics” are anything but skeptical.

And just for the record, the RSS satellite record showed a similarly large (+0.341°C) increase in January 2013.

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13 responses to “Rapidly warming satellite data sends “skeptics” scurrying to models

  1. The RSS data says 0.422 for January.

    And a full day too for Watts to contradict himself?

    • ?

      The RSS data show an increase of 0.34°C from Dec ’12 to Jan ’13 (0.10 to 0.44), compared to a increase of 0.30°C in the UAH data (0.21°C to 0.51°C).

      • Oh I’m sorry – I misinterpreted your comment to be referring to the anomaly.

        And now as I reread the RSS data, the anomaly wasn’t 0.422 but 0.442. Maybe I’m a bit out of it today…

  2. I don’t know why they would scurry to the models, the high global temperature measurements of this past January mean no more than had the temperature measurements been low.

    Climate alarmists have predicted global warming, they have also predicted global cooling. If you bet on every horse in the race, you’re going to be correct every time.


    • Climate alarmists have predicted global warming, they have also predicted global cooling.

      *yawn*. Troll harder next time.

    • Raymond DeBrane

      Klem, Just by the fact that you use the words “climate alarmists” tells me you may be a paid climate denier for the Koch Brothers. Those oil and coal billionaires have used the same words and they funnel millions of $$$ into climate denial including to bloggers. Because of the Kochs and other energy inrterests, I have to endure listening to some radio programs I otherwise enjoy and hear the hosts engaging in climate denial themselves or interviewing climate deniers on their phone lines, ie: George Noory, Alex Jones, Clyde Lewis, Rush Limbaugh. Of course I really can’t include Rush in programs I enjoy. No matter what he says, he turns my stomach.

      • Assuming someone is paid to espouse the POV he or she does is almost always incorrect in addition to being poor manners.

      • I would love to be a paid climate denier. Hey Koch brothers, people already think that you guys pay me, so why not actually pay me!!

        Climate denier for hire, right here folks! Step right up, climate denier for hire. And I am going cheap cheap cheap.

      • Raymond DeBrane

        You are either a paid denier or you are a poor researcher. It don’t take a genius to go up to the net and see news reports about climate change. Of course ignore the conservative sites. They are all disinfo. And it’s easy enough to go up to the net and get videos of climatologists talking about the science of climate change and their concerns about it. And at least one climatologist addressed the paid for climate science denial by the fossil fuel industry. So if you aint paid, then get to work and start researching this.

  3. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, February 10, 2013 [A Few Things Ill Considered] ← Test Blog

  4. In your list of the disadvantages of satellite data you forgot to mention that satellite data are always affected by extraneous factors which have to be accounted for, requiring heavy-duty processing. For the satellite estimates of tropospheric temperature these include: contamination of the signal by ground and stratosphere; inter-mission calibration; orbital variations; time-of-day effects. Consider the history of multiple recalculations of the UAH data set. I find the claim that satellite data are intrinsically reliable–whereas ground-based thermometers are not–ridiculous.

  5. Deniers will just LOVE this CRYOSAT-2 data, after years of maligning the PIOMAS model.


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