Warmest year(s) on records

I was watching something on the Science Channel last night, and they mentioned that 2009 was (to paraphrase) one of the warmest years on record. My questions are…how does 2009 rate to other years and how are they determining what years are warmest (presumably this is some kind of global average)? How did they determine it in the past (i.e. how many data points did they have, over what area, how accurate were they, etc etc)? Over what period of time are they probably talking about (i.e. how far back could/would the ‘record’ go)?

What were the other ‘warmest years’?


I don’t want to turn this into a political contretemps but conveniently Sean Hannity has been proclaiming on his show that this is was one of the coldest years ever, so the refutations are numerous and easy to Google for. (It’s cooler than normal in the U.S., but globally it’s one of the warmest years that have been measured.)

This isn’t a complete answer to your question, but there are a number of graphs and links that talk about the current year and lead to the original sources that lay out their data collection.

So, assuming I understood all that, it was the 4th coldest October on record in the US, but over all (for the year and averaged across the entire globe) it was the 5th warmest on record for the past 130 years?

How do they compile temperatures today…and 130 years ago? I imagine it’s a LOT more precise today than it was then, but I seem to recall that the Royal Navy used to have every captain keep detailed records of all kinds of stuff (presumably temperature as well) in their ships logs. Is that how they used to do it, along with some kind of weather keeping in the major cities?


The Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University is responsible for gathering data from weather stations around the world. They collect, correlate and “adjust” it, ostensibly to account for different measurement methods. The scientists there also play the largest role in issuing the IPCC reports, including the infamous and ultimately discredited “hockey stick.” Part of the reason you may have difficulty finding an authoritative source for temperature information is that the CRU just admitted that they destroyed all of their raw (unadjusted) data. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6936328.ece

Some of the internal correspondence between these “scientists” at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit was just released and it was revealed that there was widespread destruction of information subject to freedom of information requests along with evidence of everything from tax fraud to attempts to stack peer review journals with friendly faces and control the outcome of the debate. They couldn’t even reproduce their own results, using their own adjusted data run through their own computer programs. So in short… we have no way to know one way or the other which years are warmest and it is doubtful such a measure would have an agreed upon meaning anyway. Which measuring stations will you use? Do you use satellite, thermometer or proxy data? Do you use sea temperatures, or atmospheric, or land measurements and how do you combine the different types etc… The hockey stick for instance was the result of cherry picking from amongst a set of proxy data (tree rings). Not only was the data cherry picked from this subset but it was then arbitrarily combined with an entirely different set of measurements to generate the uptick at the end we are so familiar with.

BTW, the notes from the programmer in charge of trying to reproduce what has been published in peer review journals are quite funny. The guy was literally pulling out his hair and eventually had to give up the effort.

Not to overstate the case but when you have putative scientists who refuse to release their data and describe their methods so that their results can be reproduced and on top of that you have widespread destruction of the original readings you aren’t really dealing with science. That is not to take sides in any debate just to state the facts as currently known. If warming is occurring it would be nice to know but it is hard to find a reliable source on which to make any claims at all. This problem is not contained to just the CRU. Similar problems exist with researchers in New Zealand and elsewhere for instance. They apparently adjusted their data upwards as well and have yet to release a full explanation as to why. Then this data was sent to the CRU and adjusted yet again.

Phil Jones, one of the alleged conspirators at the CRU sums up his view when responding to a fellow scientist’s request for data in one of the e-mails thusly;

Such a response is the very essence of the scientific method is it not?

Sorry, but data is not kept indefinitely in any science lab. If someone were to ask for my data from two years ago, they would be SOL. Data takes up space and formats change. Your characterization of motives and intent for climate scientists is just plain wrong, as is your claim that this data is not made available. It’s doubtful that you have spent any time whatsoever doing scientific research for publications. The thread for discussing the hacking into the CRU computers is here.


So you are saying that we run our casino better than your lab is run*? How long do you keep the data for **ongoing **projects? If someone wishes to replicate the results but the data is gone, what do you do? How is it science if no one can replicate the results or check the data for errors since the data is gone?


  • I do IT in a casino. I can go pull data from the opening of the original casino which was a long time ago. It’d take some work but I can still pull it. T


Oh, so scientists everywhere are unscientific? Makes me feel better.

If you want to have labs equipped with bureaucrats, then write your representative and suggest a grant to supply the necessary funds. Bureaucrats make horrible researchers as they spend very little time experimenting and a whole lot of time organizing and recording. Your definition of what is unscientific, may be a bit unscientific.

Beaurocratic realities aside, don’t call “preserving data” unscientific. Seriously? Data should be discarded? I think that scientists’ opinions, their journal articles, their conclusions, all of that is worthless. The data that they gathered is the only thing of solid value.

The CRU researchers threw theirs out because they’d rather have people pay attention to their opinions, journal articles, and conclusions. I wonder what motivation you have.

So, just to make sure I understand, you are claiming that keeping data from experiments and/or sensors is unscientific?

You sure about that?


Sorry, but this is General Questions, I need to see a big supported with evidence cite for the bolded part.

Many should notice that many of the posts referring to the CRU hack do not deal with the question at hand.


If we concentrate just in England, I can see where is the 2009 was called one of the warmest:

Globally speaking, I guess we will have to wait a month or so to be sure regarding 2009


You’re side-tracking the OP here. If you can answer it with cites as to where the information can be found, well and good. If all you want to do is interject the politics behind the current controversy, then start or join a thread about it in the BBQ Pit. This is General Questions.

samclem Moderator, General Questions.

Data written with Lotus123 on a few hundred 5 1/4 inch floppy disks is as good as gone. Formats change. Scientists, particularly grad students, aren’t paid to keep data they are no longer working with accessible. This is less of a problem in industry, where they do indeed pay people to do just that, and they also don’t turn over their employees every four years. My personal data is mostly inaccessible, because I no longer work there and am not about to hunt it down from across the country without being paid.

In short, no you do not understand. Keeping track of old raw data you aren’t using for current research just isn’t often done. If you want it done, then you should fund these research projects with grants specifically to hire a long term bureaucrat. Despite what Alex claims, the raw data is the least useful part of the data. Very few people in the world want to look at the FID from a new compound. They want the modified and transformed NMR spectrum.