February 2016 Global Surface Temperature Anomalies May or May Not Have Been Highest on Record, According to the UKMO

UPDATE:  I used the phrase “may or may not” with respect to February 2016 being the warmest on record in the title and text of this post.  Nick Stokes on the thread of the cross post at WUWT advises that based on his analysis “98.7% of the time, Feb 2016 is higher” than January 2007.  Or to put that in the terms NOAA uses for their SOTC, it is “very likely” February 2016 is warmest.

Once again, when presented with evidence that I’ve presented something incorrectly in a post, I am more than happy to acknowledge and correct it.  Unfortunately, that cannot be said for many alarmists.

Additionally, that does not change the remainder of the post which notes that the uptick in global surface temperatures in response to the 2015/16 El Niño is comparable to that of the 1997/98 El Niño.  That has been evident in all of the surface temperature datasets examined so far.

[End update.]

With the publications of the NASA/GISS and NOAA/NCEI global surface temperature anomaly data over the past few weeks, alarmists have been touting “record high” February 2016 global surface temperature anomalies.  See the posts Alarmism Cranked Up to Absurd Level and More Alarmist Nonsense with the Release of the Redundant* NOAA Global Temperature Data for February 2016.

Yesterday, the UK Met Office published their global data for last month and so far the alarmists have been quiet.


See UPDATE above.

One possible reason:  Of the three primary suppliers of global land+ocean surface temperature data, the UK Met Office is the only one to include uncertainties on their data webpage. (See the HadCRUT4 data page here and the format page here.)  Figure 1 includes the monthly UKMO HadCRUT4 global (near land & ocean) surface temperature anomalies from January 1979 to February 2016 (black curve).  Also included are upper and lower bounds of the total uncertainties of their data (maroon and light blue curves).  The upper and lower bounds of the 95% confidence intervals include the combined effects of the measurement and sampling uncertainties and the bias and coverage uncertainties.

Figure 1

Figure 1 (Click illustration to enlarge.)

See UPDATE above.

As shown, the lower February 2016 value for the global temperature anomaly is +0.92 deg C referenced to the years of 1961-1990.  This was exceeded by the upper January 2007 value of +0.98 deg C. Just in case you’re having trouble seeing that in Figure 1, see the graph here, which starts the data in January 1997.  So the best the alarmists could claim, according to the HadCRUT4 data, is that the February 2016 global surface temperature anomalies may or may not have been the highest on record when considering the uncertainties of the data.


In the prior two posts, to combat the nonsense about the recent upticks being unusual, I’ve included comparisons of the evolutions in global surface temperature responses to the 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niños.   The data have been normalized to the first 3 months of their respective first years.  The normalization was done so that we can easily compare, visually, the responses of global surface temperatures to the two comparably sized, strong El Niño events. Figure 2 provides a side-by-side comparison with the HadCRUT4 data.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Considering the uncertainties of the data, the best we can say is that there were comparable responses in global surface temperatures to the strong 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niños.

Note:  Contrary to the nonsensical rants of alarmists who have trouble grasping reality and who apparently have difficulty reading time series graphs (sample posts archived here and here) the normalization of the data in the graphs (similar to Figure 2 above) in my two earlier posts (here and here) was not an attempt on my part to hide the fact that global warming has occurred between 1997/98 and 2015/16.  As you’ll recall, those earlier posts were about the GISS and NCEI data, which include the curiosity-filled Karl-ized ERSST.v4 “pause-buster” sea surface temperature data from NOAA. (For more on those ERSST.v4 abnormalities see the posts here and here).  Those increases between 1997/98 and 2015/16 were clearly shown in the time series graphs included in those earlier posts. The data were normalized in the graphs similar to Figure 2 to make the visual comparisons easier.

For example, Figure 3 is similar to Figure 2, but in Figure 3, the HadCRUT4 data have not been normalized.  That is, the anomalies are referenced to the UKMO-preferred period of 1961-1990.

Figure 3

Figure 3

If you’re an alarmist and have trouble reading time-series graphs, and you want to confirm that 2015/16 was warmer than 1997/98, you’d present Figure 3. In Figure 3, the evolutions appear to run somewhat in parallel, but the similarities in those evolutions are better shown when the data have been normalized, Figure 2.  Thus my use of the normalization.

[End note.]


With the publication of the February 2016 UKMO HadCRUT4 data, I suspect we’ll see a few more alarmist articles about “record high” global surface temperatures in February 2016.   As shown in Figure 2, the responses of global surface temperatures in 2015/16 are as we would expect from a strong El Niño. And as shown in Figure 1, the February 2016 global temperature anomaly may or may not have been the highest on record when we consider the uncertainties of the data.  See UPDATE above.


I discussed in detail the naturally occurring and naturally fueled processes that cause El Niño events (and their long-term aftereffects) in Chapter 3.7 of my recently published free ebook On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control (25 MB).  For those wanting even more detail, see my earlier ebook Who Turned on the Heat? – The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit: El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Who Turned on the Heat? only costs $5.00 (US).

We discussed and illustrated the natural causes of the 2014 “record high” surface temperatures in General Discussion 2 of my free ebook On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control (700+ page, 25 MB .pdf).  And we discussed the naturally caused reasons for the record highs in 2015 in General Discussion 3.


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 Alarmism, Global Temperature Update, HADCRUT4. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to February 2016 Global Surface Temperature Anomalies May or May Not Have Been Highest on Record, According to the UKMO

  1. Pingback: Despite Usual Alarmist Rants, Nothing Alarming About February Global Temp – ClimateTheTruth.com

  2. John@EF says:

    1.3% chance, according to UKMO …. not good for your rep.

  3. Bob Tisdale says:

    John@EF, I acknowledge and correct my mistakes. Do you?


  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi David Appell. I found your recent comments in the trash folder. You should be aware that you are not welcome to comment on all threads here, because your comments waste my time. If your memory has failed, I created a thread where you are welcome to post comments:

    With respect to your comments, I’m not censoring. You’re welcome to comment on the thread provided for you above. Second, I’ve already admitted my mistake, why are you belaboring it? Third, everyone understands that the much-adjusted surface temperature record shows the surface temperatures at the start of 2015 were higher than at the start of 1997.

    Once again, you’ve wasted my time.


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