The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared 2015 is the second hottest year on record for the contiguous U.S., with the average annual temperature 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.
NOAA says the U.S. averaged 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit for the year, coming in behind 2012 in terms of record-high temperatures. 2012 averaged 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberal news outlets and politicos are using it as evidence human activities are heating the planet.
“I think it’s another demonstration that global warming is real and causing substantial damage across the country through these extreme weather events and that the Republicans are very mis-positioned on this,” John Podesta, who chairs Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, tells Politico.
“The debate is over. Fifteen of the last 16 years have been the hottest ever recorded. Climate change is real and is caused by human activity,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination for president, echoes in a statement to Politico.
“This planet and its people are in trouble. Unless we get our act together, we will see in years to come more droughts, more floods and more extreme weather disturbances,” Sanders says.
There’s just one problem: the U.S. temperature record may be contaminated with bad data, according to a recent study by climate experts.
Most of the more than 1,200 weather stations used by NOAA to calculate the average temperature have been “compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts,” according to Anthony Watts, a seasoned meteorologist and lead author of a recent study examining the integrity of thermometer data.
Watts and his fellow authors found these “compromised” weather stations run hotter than the 210 “unperturbed” stations use by NOAA. What’s problematic is that NOAA adjusts temperature readings from well-sited stations upwards to be in line with readings from “compromised” stations — this makes it look like the U.S. is warming faster than it actually is.
“This study demonstrates conclusively that this issue affects temperature trend and that NOAA’s methods are not correcting for this problem, resulting in an inflated temperature trend. It suggests that the trend for U.S. temperature will need to be corrected.” Watts says.
Despite the potential problems with NOAA’s weather station network, the agency and others have predicted 2015 will be the hottest year on record, “The state of the global climate in 2015 will make history as for a number of reasons,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud says in a statement.
“Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs and in the Northern hemisphere spring 2015 the three-month global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 parts per million barrier for the first time. 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began,” Jarraud says. “This is all bad news for the planet.”
But Jarraud’s claim 2015 will be the hottest on record is based on surface temperature readings from weather stations, buoys, ships and other sources. Satellites, which measure the lower atmosphere, tell a different story.
Satellite data from the University of Alabama, Huntsville shows that 2015 was only the third warmest year globally on record since 1979. Satellite data shows 1998 is still the warmest year on record — that year also had an strong El Nino warming event.
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