At the start of a heat wave it is somewhat reassuring to know that the planet as a whole is cooling.  (Next January opinions will change, of course.)

The UAH satellite data showed a rise in June. (Click all graphs to enlarge.)


However Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL charts the daily ups and downs of average world temperature, using the data used at the start of every computer forecast. In other words, before the computer that gives us our short term and long range forecasts is run, it is loaded up with actual data from real places.  This shows a drop at the start of July which has continued through the first half of the month.

rYAN mAUE tEMPS jULY 15 cfsr_t2m_2012

(Please remember the different graphs are based on different averages. Very roughly speaking, average on Ryan’s graph is around 0.2 above normal on Spencer’s UAH graph.)

One thing that impresses me is how greatly temperatures vary, on Ryan’s graph, on a month-to-month, week-to-week, and even day-to-day basis.

This impresses me because, in debates with Alarmists, I am often arguing about tenths of a degree.  That is a change so small I really have to squint at my thermometer to see it.  Today temperatures here will rise over twenty degrees, from around seventy at dawn to around ninety-three. Will anyone care if it is 93.1 or 93.2?  When I take a child’s temperature at our Childcare, do I care if it is 98.6 or 98.7?

However we do argue about tenths of a degree, because it is an average for the entire planet.  However Ryan’s maps show that, for the entire planet, the averages go bounding up and crashing down in a manner that makes our concern over a tenth of a degree seem laughable.  How can we argue about a tenth of a degree when, just since the end of June, temperatures have crashed a full half a degree?

In order to explain such ups and downs, we often point at the warming of warm El Ninos, or the cooling of cold La Ninas, however when we look at the current Nino 3.4 graph, which is the usual indicator of such ups and downs, we see things are neutral, and bland, and boring.


The best one can do is assert a “lag time” is involved, and last summer’s mini El Nino giving way to a micro La Nina somehow influences the current plunge.  However if you compare the two gtaphs you notice the ups and downs of Ryan’s graph are much swifter than the ups and downs of Pacific temperatures.

The next thing to do is to point at the sun. (Wear proper eye-protection, please.) Up until roughly two years ago the Alarmists denied the sun had any effect, while the Skeptics stated, “It’s the sun, stupid.”  What was ordinarily done, during debates, was to point at graphs of the “Total Solar Insolation,” (TSI.) Unfortunately, argument ensued, for you can cherry pick from an amazing assortment of graphs:

The one that seems most fair to me is roughly like this:

Fig9.gif TSI

It suggests the last sunspot minimum was slightly cooler, and things haven’t warmed to the former levels, however as a layman we are talking “slight” changes.  This is nothing an ordinary person feels on their face, walking out into the morning sun.

There are some terrific and very interesting debates about what changes in the TSI mean, if anything. As such debate rages I tend to shut up, stand back, and listen.  However I find the “quiet sun” disconcerting, and despite the hot spell forecast for the coming week, I have on my “to do” list, “beating the rush,” and buying extra firewood for next winter.

However I also notice the TSI graph cannot really explain the half degree drop in world-temperatures since the end of June.  To be quite honest, I don’t think anyone can.  And, considering both laymen like myself and experts far wiser than I can’t explain swings of a half a degree, it seems patently silly to indulge in passionately nit-picky debates about a tenth of a degree.



  1. Exactly! This is the problem with trying to simplify a model that has a complexity easily an order of magnitude greater than what they have currently created. In my world we create models to simulate microelectromechanical systems o that we can improve our designs. These all depend on two dozen different steps in the fab process, but the slightest variation in time, chemical strength, lighting… and the product is junk, and the models… worthless. The problem is rarely what you already understand in complex modeling.

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