Archive for October, 2011

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) are a team of independent scientists who have released of their temperature record.
The team was led by Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California. There were 10 contributors in total, only one of whom is a traditional climate scientist.
Saul Perlmutter, one of the team, recently won a Nobel Prize for “the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe”.

The team have drafted four papers:

  1. Statistical Methods
  2. Urban Heat Island
  3. Station Quality
  4. Decadal Variations

(If you don’t want to read the full papers, they have a two page summary)

Having looked at considerably more than the usual climate data, they conclude that

  • The temperature records by GISS, NOAA and CRU are pretty much right (BEST are warming than CRU & NOAA)
  • The “Urban Heat Island” is a myth, since urban areas are less then 0.5% of the surface on land
  • Bad quality of stations is a real problem, but that they do not significantly change trends

Not exactly shattering news, then, but learning why the team decided to undertake the study is interesting.

In the Economist, who broke the story, tells us

Marshalled by an astrophysicist, Richard Muller, this group, which calls itself the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, is notable in several ways. When embarking on the project 18 months ago, its members (including Saul Perlmutter, who won the Nobel prize for physics this month for his work on dark energy) were mostly new to climate science. And Dr Muller, for one, was mildly sceptical of its findings. This was partly, he says, because of “climategate”: the 2009 revelation of e-mails from scientists at CRU which suggested they had sometimes taken steps to disguise their adjustments of inconvenient palaeo-data. With this reputation, the Berkeley Earth team found it unusually easy to attract sponsors, including a donation of $150,000 from the Koch Foundation.

So Muller was sceptical. This is good and natural, of course. And they decided to check their results for themselves.

Rather than just use the datasets already available, they also included all the records that they had found (in some cases only for a short duration). In total they accumulated 1.6 billion records, about 5 times the data used by GISS, NOAA and CRU. And they had to develop a new analytical approach to incorporate fragments of records.

One caveat – the papers have been submitted (to the Journal of Geophysical Research) but have not yet been accepted. The CRU has declined an offer on the story, because the papers have not yet been through peer review. Possibly this is why Real Climate have not covered the story yet. It could still be a damp squib, but that leaves us exactly as it was before.

Certainly Watts critical (I counted eight blogs about BEST since the story broke), but I do not recall too much concern about peer review in the past.

And Dellingpole’s Global Warming is real is a gem:

“The planet has been warming,” says a new study of temperature records, conducted by Berkeley professor Richard Muller. I wonder what he’ll be telling us next: that night follows day? That water is wet? That great white sharks have nasty pointy teeth? That sheep go “baaaa”?

Some more sensible blogs include

And probably many more …


Update: This was covered by BEST before, back in April. I was busy with Eigenvectors and didn’t pay attention.

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Very brief comment

I have just taken my last exams, so I have got some time for the next few months.

It will take me a while to catch up with all the dross in the inbox, but when I’ve caught up with it I’ll find another post.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to contribute the blog in the last few months, I will hopefully continue to do so. 🙂


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