Why NOAA Doesn’t Comply With WMO Standards for Its Global Temperature Product

The opening paragraph of NOAA’s press release NCDC Releases June 2013 Global Climate Report begins with alarmist statistics and an error (my boldface):

According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature for June 2013 tied with 2006 as the fifth warmest June since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 37th consecutive June and 340th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average June temperature was June 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

First, the error: According to the NOAA Monthly Global (land and ocean combined into an anomaly) Index (°C), the “last below-average temperature for any month was” in reality was December 1984, not February 1985.  Makes one wonder, if they can’t read a list of temperature anomalies, should we believe they can read thermometers?

Second, it’s very obvious that NOAA press releases have degraded to nothing but alarmist babble.  More than two years ago, NOAA revised the base years they use for anomalies for most of their climate metrics.  The CPC Update to Climatologies Notice webpage includes the following statement (my boldface):

Beginning with the January 2011 monthly data, all climatologies, anomalies, and indices presented within and related to the monthly Climate Diagnostics Bulletin will be updated according to current WMO standards. For datasets that span at least the past 30 years (such as atmospheric winds and pressure), the new anomalies will be based on the most recent 30-year climatology period 1981-2010.

Apparently, the NCDC didn’t get the same memo as the CPC. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) got the memo.

The following graph compares the NCDC global surface temperature product from January 1979 to June 2013, with the base years of 1901-2000 used by the NCDC and the base years of 1981-2010 recommended by the WMO.

Figure 1

If the NCDC had revised their base years to comply with WMO recommendations, the press release wouldn’t have the same alarm-bell ring to it:

According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature for June 2013 tied with 2006 as the fifth warmest June since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 17th consecutive June and 16th consecutive month (less than two years) with a global temperature above the 1981-2010 average. The last below-average June temperature was June 1996 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 2012, though December 2012 was basically zero.

The monthly global surface temperature stats would be pretty boring if NOAA complied with WMO standards.  Pretty boring indeed.

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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, LOST Update. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Why NOAA Doesn’t Comply With WMO Standards for Its Global Temperature Product

  1. John trigge says:

    Isn’t ‘the most recent 30-year climatology period’ 1983 – 2012?
    Or is it [30 years prior to the current year’s completed month] – [the current completed month]?
    Why does the 30 years need to end in a year ending in ‘0’?

    Using these different base years seems a bit like another cherry picking obfuscation similar to the end point fallacy we often see. As with error estimates, we rarely hear any mention of the base years being used when public announcements are made – such as ‘xth hottest year for y years’.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    John trigge, I’m speculating with the following. Shifting climatologies takes some (?) effort on the parts of the agencies, so they shift it every ten years with the decade ending in a multiple of 10. It might also get confusing if agencies shifted climatologies every year.

  3. Pingback: July 2013 Global Surface (Land+Ocean) Temperature Anomaly Update | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

  4. Pingback: July 2013 Global Surface (Land+Ocean) Temperature Anomaly Update | Watts Up With That?

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