Late last week, the news broke that scientists at both NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had officially confirmed that 2014 was the “warmest year on record,” underscoring the reality that climate change caused by human activity is real and needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Now that claim is beginning to appear on shaky ground scientifically, and even NASA itself is hedging its bets on the claim, the Daily Mail is reporting.
The claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record came from an analysis conducted by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) of over 3,000 weather reporting stations worldwide. GISS director Gavin Schmidt confirmed that two rather important facts about that claim were somehow overlooked in the media’s reporting, and were also conveniently left out of NASA’s own coverage of the claim.
The first problem with the claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record is the matter of just how warm the Earth supposedly got between 2010 (the previous warmest year on record) and 2014. The difference between 2010’s record and 2014’s record is two hundredths of (0.02) of a degree Celsius. Such a small number would hardly be alarming on its surface. Even more damning, however, is the fact that climate scientists expect a margin of error of 0.1 degree Celsius when calculating long-term temperature trends.
The other problem is just how sure NASA is about its own claims that 2014 was the warmest year on record. Pressed by a Daily Mail reporter about the data that lead to the claim, Schmidt admitted that.
“NASA thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. However, when asked by this newspaper whether he regretted that the news release did not mention this, he did not respond.”
There’s also a third problem with the claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record. The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project has been analyzing temperature data – far more data from far more stations than NASA’s, according to the Register. Although the Register admits that BEST has clearly come down on the “warmist” side of the climate change debate, they’re not exactly buying NASA’s claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record.
“Our best estimate for the global temperature of 2014 puts it slightly above (by 0.01 C) that of the next warmest year (2010) but by much less than the margin of uncertainty (0.05 C). Therefore it is impossible to conclude from our analysis which of 2014, 2010, or 2005 was actually the warmest year.”
Regardless of which side of the man-made climate change debate you are on, one thing is clear: The claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record is shaky at best.
[Image courtesy of: Zastavki]