In Search of Cooling Trends

by Verity Jones and Tony Brown (Tonyb)

Back in October Tony asked me to help with a big idea.  Searching Norwegian climate site Rimfrost (www.rimfrost.no) Tony had found many climate stations all over the world with a cooling trend in temperatures over at least the last thirty years – which is significant in climate terms.  You see Tony had a grand vision of a website with blue dots on a map representing these “cooling stations”, where clicking on the dots brought up a graph of the data and the wonderful cooling trend.  Would this not persuade people to look again at the notion of worldwide global warming?

Figure 1. Map showing stations on Tony's "Cooling List" - stations which appear to have a cooling trend (>30 years) to present (data source: http://www.rimfrost.no Oct-Dec 2009; Earth image source: Dave Pape)

I asked Tony how many stations he had in mind. “Oh two hundred or so…”  He suggested breaking it down into bite-sized chunks and sending me sets of ten at a time.  I was to compare the data with that on the GISS site and/or those of national met agencies where available to verify the source, and produce graphs to a standard template.

We were concerned that this could be seen as ‘cherrypicking’ nonetheless it was an attractive idea.  In many cases it was not just cherrypicking the stations, but also the start dates of each cooling trend.  Despite these reservations we decided to go ahead, although ultimately we have not completed the project, partly for these reasons, but also because it is a case where the journey became more important than the destination and it is worth sharing.

The first 10 (Set 1) of Tony’s target stations, which at this point I should say seemed to be a randomly chosen set, were:

  • Brazil – Curitiba (1885 to 2009) Cooling 1955 to 2009
  • Canada – Edmonton (1881-2009) Cooling from 1886 to 2009
  • Chile – Puerto Montt (1951-2009) Cooling from 1955
  • China – Jiuquan (1934-2009) Cooling all years
  • Russia – Kandalaska (1913-2009) Cooling 1933-2009
  • Iceland – Haell (1931-2009) Cooling all years
  • India – Amritsar (1948-2009) Cooling all years
  • Morocco – Casablanca (1925-2009) Cooling all years
  • Adelaide – Australia (1881-2008) Cooling all years
  • Abilene, Texas – USA (1886-2009) Cooling 1933-2009

The comparisons in many cases were not straightforward.  While many matched GISS data, some of the graphs in Rimfrost used unadjusted data, others homogenised data.  For some such as Kandalaska, there was a close but not exact match to either GISS data set.  The data for Haell was clearly from the Icelandic Met Office, but I could find no match for Edmonton to any GISS series or data from Environment Canada (although having looked at Canadian data further since I am not entirely surprised). The first set took much longer than we had anticipated; however, I drew the graphs to a template and prepared to start on Set 2.

Tony also wanted a ‘spaghetti’ graph for the anomaly data of the first set, and this is where it got most interesting.  In fact we were blown away by what the graph looked like.  Taking these ten locations from across the globe and superimposing the anomaly data produced a sine wave-like pattern (Figure 2) with distinct cooling from the early 1940s to mid-1970s followed by warming to present; for many of the locations the older data was warmer, or at least as warm as present.  Now I had seen this before with many individual stations, but it really impressed me to see the pattern matching from such far-flung locations.

Figure 2. "Spaghetti graph" of anomalies for the ten stations in Set 1.

But in the meantime there were other developments.  Tony knew I was interested in putting the GHCN v2.mean temperature data from stations all over the world into a database.  As usual, this exceeded my own knowledge and capabilities, but I had made a start and was learning as I went along.  Tony, whose contacts and connections never cease to amaze me, put me in touch with a computer professional, database, web and mapping expert who was well known to commenters on The Air Vent, Climate Audit and WUWT as KevinUK”.  Kevin was also keen to put climate data into a database.

By now this was the end of November.  Kevin and I rapidly established a good rapport by email and voip and, with really only a few pointers to GHCN and GISS datafiles from me (and probably lots of hindrance), he rapidly built a fully functional database.  Not only that but he set about writing software to plot graphs and calculate trends from the data and put the whole lot on an interactive map – and all this in a period of about 6 weeks.  It is still a work in progress, fixing glitches and preparing Version 2.0; for more information see blog post Mapping Global Warming and the website itself: www.climateapplications.com.

I did deliver 40 graphs for Tony in the end, but I was quite slow about it (and that “sine wave” pattern kept showing up again and again and stuck in my mind). Tony had moved on to researching other climate projects and Kevin’s maps meanwhile showed so much more than we ever could.  With the “sine wave” climatic pattern in mind, the following maps (focussing on North America and Europe) show how climate has cooled, warmed, cooled and warmed again since 1880.

Figure 3. Maps showing temperature trends at weather stations for defined periods. Cooling trends are shown by blue colours: dark blue>blue>light blue>turquoise>pale turquoise. Warming trends are shown by reds: dark red>red>light red>orange>light orange. For full legend see: http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/mapping-global-warming/

So is this “sine wave” the true climate signal?  It would seem so, although we can’t expect it always to be so regular.  Choosing stations that are more closely geographically located does give a more homogeneous shape to the wave.

Figure 4a (left) Anomaly data for a subset of Arctic stations ; Figure 4b (right) Anomaly data for a four US stations.

Figure 5. Anomalies of unadjusted data for stations in Madagascar

It is most extreme in the high Arctic – Figure 4a shows the graph for six stations above 64N where the magnitude of change is +/- several degrees Celsius.  Further south (e.g. Figure 4b – four stations in the US) the magnitude is smaller, and close to the equator (Figure 5, Madagascar) the magnitude is less still.

A final point – with the exception of the Madagascar graph, which was prepared for a blog post (link), all these graphs were part of different sets (the first 40 stations for which data was examined). Although the original data was chosen for its cooling trend this, in many cases, results from warmer temperatures in the period 1930-1940 than present.

The wave pattern is still present in many data sets worldwide, no matter what the overall trend.  In some the date of the onset of warming or cooling is later or earlier, depending on location – as would be expected with the oceans moving warmth around the globe.  In others however the wave pattern is not present or is obliterated by something – in these sets should it be present or not? Is it wiped out by anthropogenic effects on the temperature record such as growth of cities and even small rural communities though the otherwise cooling 40s, 50s and 60s?

For us the take-home message of this study was simply how widespread and consistent the wave pattern is, and this, ultimately is very convincing of the veracity of the arguments against CO2 as a primary cause of current warming.  From the physics I don’t doubt it has a role in warming, but its role needs to be disentangled from the large magnitude natural climate swings that are clearly present all over the world – a pattern that is not widely disseminated.

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35 Responses to In Search of Cooling Trends

  1. Alex Heyworth says:

    Good post Verity. You should see if you can get it posted to a wider readership on WUWT. They are always open to guest posts.

    [Reply - Thanks. Anthony is aware of it, but he has other things to worry about in the next few days.]

  2. KevinUK says:

    Verity,

    “Kevin and I rapidly established a good rapport by email and voip and, with really only a few pointers to GHCN and GISS datafiles from me (and probably lots of hindrance)”

    I think you are underplaying your role way too much. Without your (and EMS’s)instructions I would have very likely made a complete hash of processing the GHCN/GISS datasets. In particular you have a very rare skill. That of being able to turn complex data into very easy to assimilate charts and tables.

    V2.0 of TEKTemp is coming along nicely and like most others I’m chomping at the bit waiting to apply it to GHCN V3. For TEKTemp V2.0 the maps will also be intercative Google maps based on KML files generated from the station inventory data. These KML file swill be available for download from the http://www.climateapplications.com web site. The V2.0 Tektemp database will be a single MySQL database that will contain data plus calculated trends for several different temperature datasets e.g. GHCN V2, GISS V2, USHCN v2, HadCrut3 etc and I’ll be happy to provide direct access to the database (over the internet to selected people) i..e slected people will be able to use commercial of the shelf software (COSS) database querying tools to run ad-hoc queries against data stored in the remote MySQL database.

    [Reply - Thanks - Blush - Flattery will get you everywhere ;-0 Just my self-depreciating sense of humour, but watch you don't give me a swelled head]

  3. tonyb says:

    Verity

    Can I endorse Kevin’s comments

    “In particular you have a very rare skill. That of being able to turn complex data into very easy to assimilate charts and tables.”

    I have ideas for all sorts of articles (some much more sensible than others) and whilst I am able to gather the material together, translating it into a comprehensible visual form by way of charts, tables, graphs etc, is something that is beyond most of us, so do take a bow. :)

    Hopefully this work will be picked up by a wider audience who can comment on the interim findings.

    tonyb

    [Reply - thanks for the kind words. When I assimilate information I automatically translate it into a visual form. I can't help it. If I see numbers my mind puts them on a graph; if someone describes a process, or people interacting on a project or how pieces of technical data relate to each other, I see it in a 2- or 3-dimensional structure. If I can't then my understanding of it is limited and I have to work at it until I have such a picture in my mind's eye. It is a bit like Google maps - zoom out for structure/zoom in for detail. If I can find a way to depict what I see in my mind that is all I am doing and perhaps it is strange but it is only in coming to understand this climate stuff, that I have realised this ability is valuable. I suppose I take it for granted in other parts of my life.]

  4. Toby Joyce says:

    Interesting concept, very skilful & interesting charts.

    However, no one has ever denied the influences of natural forcings other than CO2 – such as ENSO, PDO etc. These are known to behave in a cyclical manner – I think the PDO cycle is 60 years, but I could be wrong.

    It would not be surprising if there were local area where the effects of these cyclical forcings dominated that of CO2. It demonstrates cyclical climatic effects – but that is not new. There are those who contend the current warming is totally due to natural effects (maybe with a dash of CO2) but this presentation does not prove the case either way.

    [Reply - and I am not suggesting that it does either. I'd prefer for people to make up their own minds. Thanks for the complement about the charts]

  5. tonyb says:

    Toby Joyce

    This is the IPCC view on any cooling

    “However, the updated data shows only very limited areas of year-round cooling in the north-west North Atlantic and mid-latitude North Pacific. Over 1901 to 2000 as a whole, noting the strong consistency across the land-ocean boundary, most warming is observed over mid- and high latitude Asia and parts of western Canada. The only large areas of observed cooling are just south and east of Greenland and in a few scattered continental regions in the tropics and sub-tropics.”
    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports//tar/wg1/057.htm WG1 (Please read full section for context)

    Previously the IPCC had confirmed the only signs of cooling were in South Greenland and some areas of the tropics. This all seemed to support the idea of a generally (but not wholly warming) world, so I suggested to Verity that it would be interesting to find if there were any other areas that bucked the warming trend, if so where they were located.

    If records are old enough you can follow the ups and downs of a natural cycle. Depending on where you intersect it you will find either a cooling or warming trend. This paper was intended originally to find those in the cooling cycle which still exist despite IPCC’s assertions, but whilst we may find the idea of a natural cycle to be self evident it is something that the IPCC do not factor in to their climate models.

    They believe the explanation for the current general warming can only be explained by C02 increase, because that is what their models are programmed to find..
    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/SixtyYearCycle.htm

    http://www.heliogenic.net/2010/03/26/scafetta-on-the-60-year-temperature-cycle/

    It is intriguing to find the wave pattern to be still continuing to this day, and that some parts of the world (cooling) appear to run counter cyclical to most of the rest of the world (warming)

    I am sure there are also longer patterns, for example there appears to have been a general warming cycle of around 300 years to date, (since 1700) on which this shorter 60 cycle old cycle is overlaid.

    tonyb

  6. Pingback: In Search of Cooling Trends « the Air Vent

    • Verity Jones says:

      Thanks for the link, I hadn’t seen that before. In fact I was probably still ranting that we needed to save the polar bears when that was published in 2006!

  7. Bernie McCune says:

    Hey Team(especially Verity)

    I’ve commented on this presentation several times on WUWT. That is my favorite place to try to keep informed but when I found your site I just had to directly thank you folks for your efforts.

    I am right on the same wavelength with you on this temperature data and its presentation. Find good ways to present it so that you clarify the issues and let it speak for itself. There are some very interesting things about temperature and regional effects that, as you know, make trying to find a global average an exercise in futility. Northern versus southern hemisphere is another phasing problem.

    I mentioned Cimarron NM as flat (at WUWT) but it has a slight cooling trend and I think there are several other NM sites that do. Anyway after looking at all this data, I can’t help but come to some of my own conclusions but that is another story.

    Thank you so much for going back into the global dataset and letting the rest of us see it for ourselves (without much smoke). EM Smith (Chiefio) is another one of my data heros (I haven’t told him that !). This unsung work by you guys is going to make a difference – I am sure of it! There are a lot of us out here watching and waiting. Ha ha. I am increasingly discouraged by what is being done to massage our few (“only”?) global sets. And in this computer age why are the number of sites in the global sets shrinking? When someone speaks of fishy THAT is fishy.

    Thanks again for some great work.

    Bernie McCune

    • Verity Jones says:

      Bernie,
      Thank you. Your reaction is very much what mine was when I plotted that first spaghetti graph. I’d forgotten how much of an impression it made on me at the time. I’ve been very heartened by everyone’s response.

      It definately is the case that many heads are better than one and I’d never have got as far without the help and exchanges with EM Smith, Tony and Kevin. If you feel like sharing what you’ve found (when you are ready of course) welcome. I have a Resources Page in planning with Kevin and am happy to share methods (and mistakes made).

      • Bernie McCune says:

        I struggled to find a way to present the NM data so that it would not just disappear into some sort of less meaningful averaged black hole. My goal was to use raw data in order not to put any of my own fingerprints all over the results. I wanted to take several example sites and put the monthly averages into some woolly worm graph that would not hide the details. I never really found a way, but I have thought about it a lot.

        Another problem in the NM Co-op sites (there are over 200 of them) is that even though the data quality seems very high, there are lots of sites that have very spotty reporting. Also, most of them began operation after WWII. Of the 60 sites that I ended up with, they were the ones that had fewer monthly or annual averaged drop outs and that had data for more than 60 years. I could not use the annual average from any site that had data dropouts noted anywhere during even one of the months. I decided on this path, of course, because it dramatically skewed the annual average if I did not use this simple filter.

        I have never really completely organized my data, findings, or methods. My interest was to see for myself how NM fared in all this global warming fight. What I tell my friends and associates is “NM doesn’t seem to have been a part of it since most of the trends are fairly neutral except for a few of the large urban centers”. There are still clear cyclical patterns even there (El Paso, TX has a classic 60 year pattern on a slightly upward sloping overall trend). One of the comments at WUWT indicated that desert sites show these temperature patterns more sharply due to a much drier atmosphere. El Paso seems to verify that observation. Also the “hottest year” idea for recent years is generally not apparent at most NM sites. The 30s (a max for many sites) and 50s seem to be hotter than the 90s here.

        I need to get organized and write some of this material down so that I can share my methods, ideas and results with you and others that are interested in this really simple and fundamental approach to the problem. You have inspired me to do this – so I will. You will be the first to get the results. Thanks.

        Bernie

  8. تعلم البوكر says:

    I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!

    [Reply - Thanks! V. (oh and I already know how to)]

  9. Pingback: In Search of Cooling Trends | Global Warming Skeptics

  10. gallopingcamel says:

    You are doing a great job. I have tried to use the “R” code you sent me but too many of my brain cells have been killed by single malt scotch (primarily Glenfiddich 12 year old which I prefer to the 15 year old with its sherry cask finish).

    “Hi” to KevinUK who pointed me to this site. Currently I spend time on “Brave New Climate” and “Skeptical Science”. While these are CAGW sites, they are not as rabid as Climate Progress and Deltoid.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Hello again! Thanks. Um, not ‘R’ code as it is not my thing (I did a bit of applied programming in Basic as an undergraduate in the 80s but that is it). It was Excel and should be OK in OpenOffice also. I’ll check and see what file vintage I sent.

      Gin would be my poison. I like it with cranberry (so I can pretend it is good for me), or a peaty malt like Talisker. I haven’t come across Brave New Climate. Skeptical Science would be my choice if I wanted to lurk on a CAGW site. I have difficulty making myself read Deltoid.

  11. Clothcap says:

    Thanks for this. IMO, research such as yours and the publication “Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception? UPDATED” where people look for the truth should receive funding waaaay ahead of the likes of CRU, GISS, NOAA, GHCN and the co-disreputable sub basement of human achievement, the fraudulent UN/UNEP’s IPCC advocacy.

    I wonder whether anyone who has the resources will find the outliers that were cast aside and those that were kept to support the watermelons’ “alarmist”* warming? In a perfect world maybe. D’Aleo, Watts et al have done sterling work in that direction but there is a great deal more that could be done. Dr Jones, surprisingly not vindictive at being thrown under a bus could be far more forthcoming without compromising himself, i.e. anonymously. His amazing admission of absent warming was a scratch on the veneer of the climate scam that was initiated by Ed Rothschild in 1983 and advanced by Strong via UNEP (Rockefeller funded, CoR controlled ) with the CRU and Grantham inst. of Fabianists (Stern et al) closely aligned with CoR objectives and Common Purpose.

    Good people are bringing about the end of the CO2 scam, a major attempt at rapid takeover of world economies by control of emissions by a few and their thousands of bought and co-opted supporters such as Brown, Blair, Cameron, Obama, the dwarf, Rompoy, the EC, many EU and Commonwealth nations, UK and other royal families, Gpeace, WWF, DuPont, Enron, GE, Gore etc. Central banks are the foundation of the scam. The end of the CO2 scam will be a setback but until central banks are out of private hands, preferably outlawed, false alarms and scams such as CO2, flu, derivatives, (2nd link) carbon credits, wind energy, biofuel, solar, green taxes etc. will continue to be instruments used to reduced commoners’ freedom and standard of living to a 3rd world common denominator.

    Understanding of the sinister and fraud riddled UN can be found in its history, best summation here.

    Again thanks to Verity and Tony, and not least their aides. Please don’t allow my comment to distract focus from the important work you are doing in the advancement of scientific understanding of climate, diametrically opposed to the earlier mention orgs.

    [Reply - Thanks. Your comment got stuck in the spam queue. No idea why! V.]
    *Altered 01Oct2011 in line with new policy: http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/cleaning-house/ VJ.

  12. P Gosselin says:

    Wow! That’s eerie. It’s the same pattern that Ed Caryl came up with.
    I was looking at other different station plots as I was loading Ed’s essay onto WordPress and found a lot of boomerangs, and not hockey sticks.

  13. Ed Caryl says:

    Verity,
    Gosh, the AMO, AGAIN. Or if it is not the AMO, it is something driving the AMO. More research on natural cycles…

  14. Bernie McCune says:

    I have at least a preliminary discussion of what I found. It is made up of several files of data and plots with about 3 pages of comments. Where do I send it?

    Bernie

    [Reply - email is at the bottom of the 'About' tab]

  15. Pingback: AMO Impacts Temperatures Globally – CO2 “Gets No Respect”

  16. Pingback: Some Oddities with cooling stations « Steven Mosher's Blog

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  18. Steven Mosher says:

    i’ll have some more for you on this shortly

    • tonyb says:

      Interesting post Mosh, look forward to the next instalment.

      tonyb

    • Verity Jones says:

      Glad to see you’re taking a serious look at it. I have done a lot more than has been posted. Lack of knowledge of code forced me to look differently at the data than everyone else. There is a lot that shows up when you do that. Of course whether it is significant or not is yet to be investigated. Keep a very open mind – I think the current global averaging methodology inadvertently hides a lot of detail that should be scrutinized.

  19. Steven Mosher says:

    Sure thing guys. I’ve known about the cooling stations ever since SteveMc posted a contour map long ago. The averaging process will of course hide detail. That’s the point of an average. So, like the average color of jupiter will lose the red spot. But averaging and looking at the detail are Not mutually exclusive. You can actually do both.
    That’s why I usually start a EDA by looking at a histogram.

    But lets frame the issues that you think cooling stations raise. facts only get you so far.

    Anyway, I’ll post up new code. Verity, R is free. All of the hard work of getting the data into the correct format is done. All you have to do is learn to program. Describe what you want to do and I can actually do posts on a how to

  20. KevinUK says:

    Mosh,

    “The averaging process will of course hide detail. That’s the point of an average.”

    They keyword there Mosh is ‘hide’ and remember you used it first and not me :-). So are you saying the process of anomalising temperature data for a station and subsequently combining it with other stations to derive an ‘average’ anomaly for a ‘region’ whether it be a 5×5 grid cell, or a continent or a hemisphere or the whole globe is doen in order to ‘hide’ something. If so then what could that something be? It is be clear evidence widespread cooling as well as warming and vice versa during the same period e.g. 1910 to 1940, 1940 to 1970, 1970 to 2010 stations throughout the planet at the same time? Could it be to ‘hide’ the fact that these variations in warming/cooling trends are phased in sync with natural climatic cycles like the PDO and AMO?

  21. tonyb says:

    Mosh

    As Kevin says averaging hides a multitude of sins, not least that there are significant counter cooling trends that are being overwhelmed by larger warming trends- a ‘fact’ which is at complete variance to what the IPCC state

    Whether it is measured by anomalies or real observed temperatures, a proportion of that warmth is coming from an increasingly urbanised data base. Moreover, these stations don’t have the good grace to stay where they started-measuring their immediate micro climate in a cool field- but often wander around the area stopping long enough to measure a variety of completely different urban micro climates as they invariably head for the nearest warm airport. Aples and oranges come to mind.

    Tonyb

  22. braindea says:

    Great articles on this site. I found your entry on the Darwin data a few years ago and roll my eyes when my green friends get going about this. Climategate my ass, Al Gore is more like Lex Luthor.

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