Global warming 'confirmed' by independent study

Weather station at airport Weather stations are giving a true picture of global warming, the group found

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The Earth's surface really is getting warmer, a new analysis by a US scientific group set up in the wake of the "Climategate" affair has concluded.

The Berkeley Earth Project has used new methods and some new data, but finds the same warming trend seen by groups such as the UK Met Office and Nasa.

The project received funds from sources that back organisations lobbying against action on climate change.

"Climategate", in 2009, involved claims global warming had been exaggerated.

Emails of University of East Anglia (UEA) climate scientists were hacked, posted online and used by critics to allege manipulation of climate change data.

Fresh start

The Berkeley group says it has also found evidence that changing sea temperatures in the north Atlantic may be a major reason why the Earth's average temperature varies globally from year to year.

Saul Perlmutter The group includes physicist Saul Perlmutter, a Nobel Prize winner this year

The project was established by University of California physics professor Richard Muller, who was concerned by claims that established teams of climate researchers had not been entirely open with their data.

He gathered a team of 10 scientists, mostly physicists, including such luminaries as Saul Perlmutter, winner of this year's Nobel Physics Prize for research showing the Universe's expansion is accelerating.

Funding came from a number of sources, including charitable foundations maintained by the Koch brothers, the billionaire US industrialists, who have also donated large sums to organisations lobbying against acceptance of man-made global warming.

Start Quote

Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously”

End Quote Richard Muller Berkeley group founder

"I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data," Prof Muller told BBC News.

"Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared."

The group's work also examined claims from "sceptical" bloggers that temperature data from weather stations did not show a true global warming trend.

The claim was that many stations have registered warming because they are located in or near cities, and those cities have been growing - the urban heat island effect.

The Berkeley group found about 40,000 weather stations around the world whose output has been recorded and stored in digital form.

It developed a new way of analysing the data to plot the global temperature trend over land since 1800.

What came out was a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world's three most important and established groups, whose work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate sceptic circles.

graph The Berkeley group's record of global land temperature mirrors existing ones closely

Two of those three records are maintained in the US, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

The third is a collaboration between the UK Met Office and UEA's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), from which the e-mails that formed the basis of the "Climategate" furore were hacked two years ago.

"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," said Prof Muller.

"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".

'Time for apology'

Prof Phil Jones, the CRU scientist who came in for the most personal criticism during "Climategate", was cautious about interpreting the Berkeley results because they have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"I look forward to reading the finalised paper once it has been reviewed and published," he said.

Professor Phil Jones The findings so far provide validation for Phil Jones, targeted during the "Climategate" affair

"These initial findings are very encouraging, and echo our own results and our conclusion that the impact of urban heat islands on the overall global temperature is minimal."

The Berkeley team has chosen to release the findings initially on its own website.

They are asking for comments and feedback before preparing the manuscripts for formal scientific publication.

In part, this counters the accusation made during "Climategate" that climate scientists formed a tight clique who peer-reviewed each other's papers and made sure their own global warming narrative was the only one making it into print.

But for Richard Muller, this free circulation also marks a return to how science should be done.

"That is the way I practised science for decades; it was the way everyone practised it until some magazines - particularly Science and Nature - forbade it," he said.

"That was not a good change, and still many fields such as string theory practice the traditional method wholeheartedly."

This open "wiki" method of review is regularly employed in physics, the home field for seven of the 10 Berkeley team.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director for the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the warming of the Earth's surface was unequivocal.

"So-called 'sceptics' should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities," he said.

"More broadly, this study also proves once again how false it was for 'sceptics' to allege that the e-mails hacked from UEA proved that the CRU land temperature record had been doctored.

"It is now time for an apology from all those, including US presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists."

Ocean currents

The Berkeley group does depart from the "orthodox" picture of climate science in its depiction of short-term variability in the global temperature.

The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is generally thought to be the main reason for inter-annual warming or cooling.

But by the Berkeley team's analysis, the global temperature correlates more closely with the state of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index - a measure of sea surface temperature in the north Atlantic.

There are theories suggesting that the AMO index is in turn driven by fluctuations in the north Atlantic current commonly called the Gulf Stream.

The team suggests it is worth investigating whether the long-term AMO cycles, which are thought to last 65-70 years, may play a part in the temperature rise, fall and rise again seen during the 20th Century.

But they emphasise that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) driven by greenhouse gas emissions is very much in their picture.

"Had we found no global warming, then that would have ruled out AGW," said Prof Muller.

"Had we found half as much, it would have suggested that prior estimates [of AGW] were too large; if we had found more warming, it would have raised the question of whether prior estimates were too low.

"But we didn't; we found that the prior rise was confirmed. That means that we do not directly affect prior estimates."

The team next plans to look at ocean temperatures, in order to construct a truly global dataset.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Sure the planet is warming up and yes I think we are having an impact, I'm just not sure its as big as the scientists say. The last Ice age was little more than a blink of an eye in history as far as the planet is concerned so we are bound to be warming up. Every time a group says we need to change something, someone somewhere makes money out of it. Remember the Millennium bug that never was?

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    6 Minutes ago
    'Strange how the greens seem to be more draconian than the rest of us: demanding that we stop flying, driving etc. Next they'll say that culling the population is a good idea.'


    Why use the emotive word 'Culling' ?
    Why can we just not make as many new ones instead of 'culling'?
    Overproduction is the problem that needs to be solved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    Are you advocating extermination?

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    As always in these debates, the thing I don't get about the denyers is this: Say the scientists are wrong and there is no man made climate change - where is the problem with trying to develop cleaner technologies and live more in harmony with nature anyway? A cleaner/less polluted planet has to be a nicer place to live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Fact: As snow and ice sheets melt, the albedo of the planet decreases.

    Fact: As polar caps melt, in the northern Atlantic, the colder, lighter, fresh water diverts the gulf stream south, missing the UK. The consequence being that northern Europe becomes colder.

    Fact: Global warming means that the average global temperature increases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Maybe current global warming is natural, but can we be sure it is, given that an increasing population is churning out billions of tonnes of CO2 every year, and sure to get worse - just look at China and the ME countries growth.
    The downside of doing nothing (frying planet) is a lot worse than the downside of doing something (lower economic growth). I don't think we can take the risk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    OVERPOPULATION IS KEY - until it is addressed the world is doomed, its only a matter of time. Short term political agenda's will never address this issue. Nobody cares beyond thenselves their kids and perhaps there grandchildren - unchecked, overpopulation will always dominate punitive control measures. We need a smaller and smarter world population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Even us so called "deniers", don't deny that the fact that it is getting warmer, we just disagree with the reasons. This "new" report hasn't even been peer reviewed yet, so is little more than a PR exercise. As for the data coming from 3 different sources, this is just plain incorrect. All the data comes from NCDC. The warmists realise they're losing the fight and are becoming desperate........

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Has no one noticed that even the picture they use at the start of the article might just give a clue as to why these studies say our climate is 'warming'...its next to a runway..the positioning of these weather stations is madness and is obviosuly done on purpose to try and 'prove' there point that its getting warmer. some are next to hot air vents in the madness

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    While accepting that global warming exists I question the actual data. For instance how accurate was the equipment 200 years ago compared with today ? Have the same global 4000-odd sites been monitored continuously or have new sites been included possibly skewing trends ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    If there's nothing much we can do to stop climate change (man-made or otherwise) I'm sure nature will make the necessary adjustments - like a worldwide pandemic...

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    When the polar bear is extinct and Norfolk is underwater, maybe people will stop complaining about low-energy light bulbs and having to sort their recycling -- and start blaming the government for not doing anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    1 Minute Ago

    Strange how the greens seem to be more draconian than the rest of us: demanding that we stop flying, driving etc. Next they'll say that culling the population is a good idea.


    Wasn't it the Greens who got DDT banned which resulted in millions of deaths through malaria. Its replacement was actually carcinogenic. Way to go!

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    I've never been sceptical of 'warming' but ive been always sceptical of the cause. Students are tought about the various ice ages and subsequant tropical tempretures. warming and cooling on the planet is natural. This data shows from 1800 which is a tiny sample of the planet's history. Who caused the last 3 periods of warming we know of? The government cant tax us if it's not us though can they.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    This shows 200 years of a planet that is 4.5 billion years old. Not much of a survey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    nearing end of ww2 and while serving in usaac at various bases in so. pacific, panama, and africa, i "taught" our airbase weather techs how to monitor air temps, etc(etc included search for radioactive particulates). my "educated" guess , just like with the el nino effect, misunderstood in the 1940's, and until a few years ago, the many 100's or thousands on underseas volcano emissions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Am all for optimism, but having an opinion on climate change doesn't make you an expert.
    People are dismissing a scientific study because their gut feeling tells them different.
    Look at the graph, read the article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Even if climate change is a slight possibility we should be planning for it NOW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.


    What right do we in the rich countries have to demand that poorer countries have fewer children?

    I would start at home - only give child benefits for two children, enforce immigration controls. How about massive reforestation programme in the UK? Create a government agency to help protect world's the rain forest. Stop promoting bio-fuels etc etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the world hadn't been knocked off its axis by now with the nuclear testing & bombs that governments have let off over the years

    And if we have global warming, why do they continue?

    If we have global warming now, just who is going to spend all these taxes when the world is over

    Send me the fifty quid instead and i'll tell you when the world has ended.


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