April 1998 — Warmest month in history?

A few years ago I did a bunch of research on global temperatures.  I have this vague memory that April 6th 1998 was the warmest day in the UAH (University of Alabama Huntsville) satellite troposphere data base.  I was going to use that day as the basis of a post on climate data.

Well I couldn’t find the data I was looking for, but I did find multiple discussion items written in  February of 2010 using the UAH website data to tout January of 2010 as the warmest month ever and proof that global warming theory was correct.  People talked about all sorts of things, but the UAH January 2010 data was the source of celebration.

When I first started looking at global temperature data I was surprised by the nature of the data.  Each month can vary quite a bit from the month before.  Annual changes can be very large too.   NASA has global surface temperature records that go back to 1866.  In 1879, the temperature dropped .43 degree C in a single year.

UAH data shows a slower rate of warming than the other three websites that measure world temperatures via satellite.  The difference is small but there is a difference..and the scientists at UAH have been among the more skeptical of scientists that work in the field.  So if they show warming ……

Here is the UAH data that was being used, updated to include February 2012 data.

C’mon guys….a single data point doesn’t prove anything one way or the other….and it looks to me like April of 1998 was warmer than January of 2010 anyway.  But there it was, one opinion piece after another, trying to use a single data point to prove a position.

Climate data has wild fluctuations and the data sets are small.  Too many people are trying to use individual data points in wildly fluctuating small data sets to prove whatever point they want to make.  Always a bad idea.  And just about everybody talking global warming science does it all the time.   Al Gore loves to do it, so does Bill Mahr and Sean Hannity …and they all are making the same mistakes.

Satellite data is only 33 years old, the Ice Age we currently live in is 2.5 million years old.   20,000 years ago it was much colder than it is today (probably 10 degrees C colder) and 130,000 years ago it was much warmer (probably 6 degree C warmer).  And sudden rapid warming and cooling is present all throughout the cycle.

The IPCC (the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) loves to use short term data to predict climate years into the future.   In their 2007 Climate Synopses Report, the IPCC states that the warming of the late 20th century gave them greater confidence that global warming theory was correct.  Do they have less confidence now…just 5 years later…when their short term predictions for 2010 turned out to be wrong.

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