Revised satellite data show no pause in global warming


Doubters of climate change may have lost one of their key talking points: a set of satellite temperature data that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.

The Remote Sensing System temperature data, promoted by many who reject mainstream climate science and most recently by Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, now show a slight warming since 1998. Ground temperature measurements, which many scientists call more accurate, all show warming in the past 18 years.

“There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can’t claim that anymore,” said Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System.

The change resulted from an adjustment Mears made to the fix a nagging discrepancy in the data from 15 satellites.

The satellites are in polar orbits, so they are supposed to go over the same place at about the same time as they circle from north to south. Some of them drift a bit, which changes their afternoon and evening measurements slightly. Some satellites had drift that made temperatures warmer, others cooler. Three satellites had thrusters and stayed in the proper orbit, so they provided guidance for adjustments.

Mears said he was “motivated by fixing these differences between the satellites. If the differences hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have done the upgrade.”

NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler said experts and studies had shown these problems that Mears adjusted. Both said the adjustments are well supported in a study in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.

The study refutes the idea of a pause in global warming, “but frankly common sense and looking at how Earth was responding over the past 18 years kind of makes this finding a ‘duh’ moment,” wrote University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd.

The other major satellite temperature data set, run by University of Alabama Hunstville professor John Christy, shows slight warming after 1998. But if 1998 is included in the data, it sees no warming. But that should change with a warm 2016, Christy said.

  • odin2

    If you torture the data enough you can get the results you want. There is no scientific study or studies with empirical evidence showing that human activities (mostly CO2 emissions) have ever been the primary cause of global warming. RSS, UAH v6 and the balloon data were remarkably consistent. The RSS data has been “revised” to eliminate that pesky 18 year and 8 month pause. RSS is now an outlier.

  • Sam Gilman

    If only this would actually change the minds of climate change denialists. But it won’t. Because they’re denialists. They don’t do evidence in the way that people normally do.

    Science denialism is a form of conspiracy theory thinking.
    1. It has a goal – a claim – around which everything else revolves.
    2. That claim is not a positive one (X happened), but a negative one (The official story X isn’t true)
    3. The goal is political: the aim is not to be right (that the CTist/ denialist is right is a logical premise: see 1.) but to persuade other people that the CTist is right and that the “official” story is wrong.
    4. The purpose therefore is to focus on any bit of “evidence” that disrupts the “official” story, regardless either of what the overall evidence suggests, and regardless of whether the various pieces of “evidence” brought up by the CT-er are valid or consistent with each other.

    So the science denialist, like other conspiracy theorists, does not need to provide a coherent account that explains all the data. They just ignore all the data that fits the “official” story.

    You see this in 9/11 trutherism where inconsistent news reports on the day are mined for evidence that the while things was a government set up (instead of the obvious point that when terrorists take down two huge skyscrapers and attack the pentagon simultaneously, news reporters in the middle of all this are caught up in the inevitable fog).

    And you see it in climate change denialism. Against this satellite data there has been a huge wealth of evidence that global warming had not stopped. The warming the in the oceans, rapid warming at the Arctic, measurements of net energy flows on the surface and at the atmosphere, and basic radiative physics.

    I’ve engaged with them myself. I try to get them to talk about the greenhouse effect. I do this because it’s really old science (essentially 19C) that some of them may have done in high school way before global warming became such a big issue. I try to get them to see that of course we would get global warming if we increase atmospheric CO2 at the rate we are – and we are definitely increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And that they need to explain why this wouldn’t happen now.

    The result is usually that they either run away or become insulting. Or they claim amazing superiority in science knowledge and what they say is just so.

    Enter the conspiracy. Why, then, one asks, do all the world’s major science institutions publicly state their belief in global warming? Surely they know science best of all. Ah, well, then it’s Al Gore in his evil private jet lair/government money/the Illuminati…

  • CB

    Propaganda does not work without censorship.

    “you found a source that’s almost as non-credible as UCS.”


    …so provide your own, please.

    “The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2015… is… likely to become the warmest record for the 125-year period since 1891.”

    (Japan Meteorological Agency, “Global Average Surface Temperature Anomalies”)

  • CB

    “How pathetic you are, troll.”

    I suspect that statement was directed at one of the 2 people in this conversation, Sparafucile.

    Who is the pathetic troll you are talking about?

    “the rate of global warming has continued, and there has been no slow down.”

    (NASA, “Earth Matters: Parsing the Details of the New Warming “Hiatus” Study”, June 5th, 2015 by Adam Voiland)