Ever wonder if global warming is for real? I can tell you categorically from my own research of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies' publicly available data of surface station temperature records
that... it all depends!
Taking on the entire world was too daunting, so I limited my analysis to the State of California, where I live.
I downloaded the complete monthly data sets for all 114 surface stations in California. Here is what the mean yearly temperature for that entire dataset looks like:
Notice that the trend over the 120 year period shows an increase for the annual mean temperature by just over one degree Celsius. Also notice that the number of active surface stations has dropped dramatically since 1995.
Some of the stations have been in service for quite some time, while others are relatively new. Any real change in climate is a process taking decades or longer. If we filter NASA's data so that the chart is restricted to stations in service for 100 years or longer our data set shrinks to 50 stations, but still scattered throughout California:
Notice that the trend slope has reduced by half, producing only a half a degree Celsius rise over the entire 120 year period. Also notice that the number of stations is much more stable over the 120 years, but still has a tragic reduction in the number of stations active since 1995.
One concern is that cities themselves may be largely responsible for observed temperature increases. If you walk from a grassy park to a tarmac parking lot on a warm day, you can feel the sharp difference in temperature between the two. When applied to cities, this is called the Urban Heat Island effect
. Unfortunately, a large percentage of surface stations are located in cities and of those, a large percentage are located in the worst possible part of a city, i.e. black tops, roof tops, next to brick buildings, heat pumps, etc. If we limit our California list to just the stations where NASA records the surrounding population at 30,000 or less, we get a very different picture:
This reduces the number of stations included to just 26, but look what happens to the slope trend. It's actually slightly negative, which technically shows a cooling over the 120 year period for these rural surface stations. Many of the stations lost since 1995 were long term rural stations, and it is truly a travesty that they have been taken offline. It would have been nice to have a larger long-term rural data set to work with.
So is California experiencing global warming? As you can see it depends on what you look at. I'll say it's not exactly cut and dry. It's a shame that the leaders that are responsible for bankrupting our beautiful state never did their own analysis of these data before spending us into oblivion on global warming counter measures.
At a near point in the future I will be releasing the Excel based tool I developed to do this study. It is called StationLab.
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