Comment On A Washington Post Editorial “The Truth About Global Warming” – Another Media Disconnect

There is an editorial today in the Washington Post titled “The truth about global warming” which illustrates the failure of the author of this editorial to properly investigate claims in the NOAA report regarding the climate system. This is yet another media disconnect with the real world. I am discussing just one of their erroneous claims here.

 The article writes

“If the land surface records were systematically flawed and the globe had not really warmed, then it would be almost impossible to explain the concurrent changes in this wide range of indicators produced by many independent groups,” the report said.”

With respect to the land surface temperature record [which is the primary metric used to diagnose global warming by NOAA],  the different groups (e.g. NASA, NCDC, CRU) analyze starting from mostly the same raw data.  We have reported on this in peer-reviewed papers (e.g. see) and on this weblog (e.g. see and see).

As Phil Jones himself has reported (see Section 7)

“The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90–95% of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003).”

It is widely agreed that there has been warming of the climate system, as is more appropriately monitored by the changes in upper ocean heat content (see, see and see). However, the quantitative value of this warming as measured by the global and land surface temperature trends from different groups are NOT independent from each other. Indeed, there is peer reviewed research that indicates an overstatement of the magnitude of the warming as a result of a warm bias in the land surface temperature record;

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655

The NOAA report is in error in their claim and the Washington Post editorial swallowed this claim without a proper investigation of its validity. 

I will have a post on the other claims in the NOAA report in an upcoming post.

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Filed under Bias In News Media Reports, Climate Science Misconceptions, Climate Science Reporting

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