>Borenstien Sea Surface Temperature Article Is Misleading

>The Seth Borenstein AP article about the recent high sea surface temperature…
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jLv3LpI0fw21ULmgkJtinBFrwm7AD9A6OUF06
…is misleading. There is a significant difference between what Seth Borenstein reported and what NOAA stated in the July “State of the Climate”.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?reportglobal&year2009&month7

Borenstein does not clarify that it is a record for the month of July, where NOAA does. NOAA writes, “The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F). This broke the previous July record set in 1998.” Refer to Figure 1, which is a graph of SST for July from 1982 to 2009 (NOAA’s ERSST.v3b version).

http://i28.tinypic.com/2ut3rzp.png
Figure 1

Borenstein readers are told that July 2009 Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were the highest since records began, but that is false. Figure 2 illustrates monthly SSTs from November 1981 to July 2009. I’ve added a red horizontal line to show the July 2009 value.
http://i28.tinypic.com/wwho49.png
Figure 2

Whether or not July SSTs represented a record is also dependent on the SST dataset. NOAA’s satellite-based Optimally Interpolated (OI,v2) dataset presents a different picture. That dataset clearly shows that July 1998, Figure 3, had a higher SST.
http://i32.tinypic.com/2ynkzsm.png
Figure 3

And looking at the monthly OI.v2 data since November 1981, Figure 4, there are numerous months with higher SSTs.
http://i31.tinypic.com/2hzslme.png
Figure 4

The Borenstein article also claims that Arctic SST anomalies are as high as 10 deg F (5.5 deg C) above average. Wow!! Really??

I used the SST map-making feature of the NOAA NOMADS system to create the map of high latitude Northern Hemisphere SST anomalies for July 2009. The Contour Interval was set at 1 deg C to help find the claimed excessively high SST anomalies. Alas, Borenstein was right, BUT, as you will note, the ONLY area that reaches the 5 to 6 deg C range is the White Sea (indicated by the arrow) off the Barents Sea.
http://i26.tinypic.com/1yk3v7.png
Figure 5

And to put that in perspective, Figure 6 is the global map. Based on the Kartesh White Sea Biological Station website…
http://www.zin.ru/kartesh/general_en.asp
…the surface area of the White Sea is approximately 90,000 sq km. If the surface area of the Arctic Ocean is 14 million sq km, the White Sea represents less than 0.6% of it. And for those who want to compare it to the surface area of the global oceans, its surface area is 361 million sq km. Too many zeroes after the decimal point to worry about.
http://i26.tinypic.com/vzd36t.png
Figure 6

And the SST anomalies of one miniscule area do not represent the SST anomalies for the Arctic Ocean, as is obvious in Figure 7. Arctic SST anomalies have declined over the past few years.

http://i31.tinypic.com/nv8l8k.png
Figure 7

SST anomaly graphs through July 2009 for the Arctic Ocean and other individual oceans can be found at my July 2009 SST Anomaly Update.

To sum up the Borenstein article, it’s factually incorrect in places, and in others, it raises alarmism to ridiculous levels by dwelling on a meaningless statistic, the July SST anomaly of the White Sea.

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About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in CAGW Proponent Arguments, SST Dataset Info, SST Update. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to >Borenstien Sea Surface Temperature Article Is Misleading

  1. Anonymous says:

    >Bob,How can the sea surface temperatures be over 18.0C.The average global temperature is supposed to be 15.0C +/- 1.0C (depending on how much warming there has been and the exact number they set for the average global temperature).The math doesn't work or the Earth's surface is indeed warmer than thought.Bill Illis

  2. bernie says:

    >Bob:Nicely summarized. Have you sent this to Seth Borenstein to help him wrie a follow up piece that corrects his misrepresentations?

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    >Bill Illis: Assume for a moment that between 65S and 90N SST and LST are equal (probably not). How much would the average LST of the Antartic lower the average of the rest when it's thrown into the mix.

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    >bernie: Bernstein will hear about the factual errors in his article. I don't need to email him. It'd look like spam. Do you read emails from unknown parties? I don't.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >Bob,Sorry, I forgot that the SST data wouldn't cover the all of southern oceans right now and not Antartica.The surface between 65S and 90S covers 6.7% of the globe (and at an assumed average -25C, that could drop the overall global number by 3.0C so I guess that works then.Bill

  6. bernie says:

    >Bob:Point taken. He can't miss the WUWT reprint!!

  7. John says:

    >Hi Bob -Any thoughts on Dr. Roy's latest post on his website (Aug 22)?It's a bit scary, and I'd love to hear an explanation from an SST expert …http://www.drroyspencer.com/

  8. Anonymous says:

    >There is something weird in the Arctic Ocean dataseries: In may 2009 there was a spike in SST anomalies.How can that happen in early spring, when most of it is still covered by ice?And why there is not such a spike in June-July, in the middle of summer?There is something else:The global montly SST anomalies timeseries is very different(whith its strong monthly ups and downs) from the ones shown in previous posts, which are nearly equal to the GISTEMP ones. What's up with the data?

  9. Bob Tisdale says:

    >Anonymous: You asked, “There is something weird in the Arctic Ocean dataseries: In may 2009 there was a spike in SST anomalies.How can that happen in early spring, when most of it is still covered by ice?“And why there is not such a spike in June-July, in the middle of summer?”I assume you’re asking about the differences in the maps presented in my May SST anomaly update post here…http://i39.tinypic.com/2roreo8.jpg…and the SST anomalies shown in Figure 6 above. Please note the difference in the color vs temperature scale along the bottom of the maps. The May SST anomaly map is the standard map created by the NOAA NOMADS website. Its scale for that month runs from -2.5 to +3.5 deg C. Now note the scale at the bottom of Figure 6 in this post. It runs from -7 to +7 deg C. I set it that way for this post to point out how small the area in the Arctic was where SST anomalies were above 5 deg C.You wrote, “The global montly SST anomalies timeseries is very different(whith its strong monthly ups and downs) from the ones shown in previous posts, which are nearly equal to the GISTEMP ones.” The graphs in Figures 1 through 4 depict SST, not SST anomalies. Look at the temperature scale. Figure 7 is the only graph of SST anomalies in this post.You wrote, “What's up with the data?”Nothing wrong with the data. There is a difference between SST anomalies and SST, and temperature scales on maps provide different appearances.Have a nice day

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