A set back for the climate skeptics. There was much tut-tutting when a self proclaimed climate skeptic at Berkeley University in the United States back in 2009 decided that it was time to independently test the data that been used to allegedly claim the world was getting warmer.

University of California physics professor Richard Muller was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data but environmentalists were alarmed that his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project had the The Charles G. Koch Foundation among its funders.

This, they cried, would not be a legitimate investigation of the accuracy or otherwise of the calculations by the three major organisations producing world temperature estimates — the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science (GISS) and the UK Met Office collaboration with the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (HadCRU).

Hence the surprise at the publication this week of the initial draft reports from the project that conclude that the earth’s surface really is getting warmer. The Berkeley team, which includes physicist Saul Perlmutter, a Nobel Prize winner this year, reached this conclusion as summarised in the abstract of one of their papers:

A new mathematical framework is presented for producing maps and large-scale averages of temperature changes from weather station data for the purposes of climate analysis.  This allows one to include short and discontinuous temperature records, so that nearly all temperature data can be used.  The framework contains a weighting process that assesses the quality and consistency of a spatial network of temperature stations as an integral part of the averaging process. This permits data with varying levels of quality to be used without compromising the accuracy of the resulting reconstructions.

Lastly, the process presented here is extensible to spatial networks of arbitrary density (or locally varying density) while maintaining the expected spatial relationships. In this paper, this framework is applied to the Global Historical Climatology Network land temperature dataset to present a new global land temperature reconstruction from 1800 to present with error uncertainties that include many key effects.

In so doing, we find that the global land mean temperature has increased by 0.911 ± 0.042 C since the 1950s (95% confidence for statistical and spatial uncertainties). This change is consistent with global land-surface warming results previously reported, but with reduced uncertainty.

“Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the US and the UK,” Professor Muller told the BBC.

“This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change sceptics did not seriously affect their conclusions.”

Since the 1950s, the average temperature over land has increased by 1C, the group found.

They also report that although the urban heat island effect is real – which is well-established – it is not behind the warming registered by the majority of weather stations around the world.

They also showed that in the US, weather stations rated as “high quality” by Noaa showed the same warming trend as those rated as “low quality”.

Giving the LNP a touch-up. Queensland’s Courier Mail is certainly giving the Liberal National Party a tough time in the lead up to the state election. The page one splash this morning takes the egg-beater to a tape recording the party Treasurer intimidating and hurling expletives at a candidate.

It comes after other recent anti-LNP stories detailing so-called dirt files on Labor members and suggestions that the party leader in waiting Campbell Newman was irregular in declaring some pecuniary interests.

Labor can have no complaint about how it is being treated by this Murdoch tabloid!

Edging to the danger zone. A month and a bit ago the European Central Bank stepped into the bond market to force down the interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds after they had reached the stage where the countries were paying four percentage points more for their money than Germany.

I’m no expert on the mechanics of this money market business but apparently when the gap gets above four traders have to put up more funds to cover their positions with the result that a much larger difference becomes virtually unavoidable. That’s what happened with Greece, Ireland and Portugal

Well overnight the gap reached 4.02%.

With no agreement in sight on how to end this European financial crisis just be thankful that we are in Australisa!

Peter Fray

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