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Questions for Katharine

October 12, 2011
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Texas Winter Temperatures

The Story So Far

Back in August Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor of      Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University, gave an   interview to Yale Environment 360 which was published in full by the Guardian in the UK as well as many other press outlets.

In the interview, in answer to the question “have you seen sizeable increases in average temperatures that could be defined as climate change?”, she is quoted as saying :-

“What we’ve actually seen, at least in West Texas, is an increase primarily in winter temperatures. Our very cold days are getting less frequent and our winter temperatures are increasing in nearly every station we look at across Texas and Oklahoma.”

A quick look at the NCDC data showed this was not the case. In Texas, winter temperatures have declined by 0.06F per decade over the last 100 years and the 2010/11 winter was the 36th coldest during that time. Furthermore the temperature has declined by 0.51F per decade since 1990.


When challenged about this on the “Reasonable Doubt on Climate Change” website Dr Hayhoe replied that :-

“In this case, my comment on winter temperatures is based on my analysis of the 50-odd stations in West TX, OK and NM that fall into the Koppen climate classification of cold semi-arid, or Bsk.”

However an analysis of 10 stations in the area of West Texas she is referring to shows quite clearly that there is no long term warming trend. Indeed the pattern is exactly the same as the whole of Texas.

Year Av Winter Mean Temperature
1931-40 42.6
1941-50 42.6
1951-60 43.2
1961-70 41.5
1971-80 41.6
1981-90 41.5
1991-00 43.5
2001-10 42.4
2011 42.3
Average 1931-2010 42.4

When I questioned Dr Hayhoe about this apparent anomaly, she replied “I’m always referring to long-term climate trends — in the case of this analysis, from 1965 to 2010 “

In other words the trend is drawn from the middle of the coldest decade on record since 1930.


The Challenge

I was keen to give Katharine the chance to tell her side of the story and so asked for her answers to the following questions.


1) Would you agree that the winter temperatures in the part of  West Texas you referred to in the Yale 360 interview have from 2001-2011 been about the same as the average from 1931-2000?

2) Is there any long term trend in temperature since 1930 and if so what?

3) You say you can identify climatic trends over a period of 30 years or so. Is 30 years enough to do this when there is evidence that PDO and AMO cycles typically last 50-60 years? Please give your reasoning.

4) Do you agree the 1930-60 period saw warmer temperatures compared to the 1960-90 period that followed it? Can you identify the causes of this cooling?

5) Assuming that we agree that this cooling happened, can we be sure that the warming seen principally in the 1990’s was not caused by the same factors that caused the earlier cooling?

6) Do you agree that temperatures for the last 40 years are about the same on average as the period 1931-70? If so is there any reason not to regard current temperatures as anything other than "normal" (by 20th C standards!!).


I have not yet had any reply to these questions. You say you are keen to talk to sceptics,so I guess it is over to you now, Katharine.

  1. Mike Davis permalink
    October 12, 2011 11:07 pm

    I will wait for Kathrine’s reply also! 😉

  2. Gator permalink
    October 13, 2011 10:41 am

    Associate professor? Geesh. She hardly looks old enough to have a driver’s license or boyfriend! My professors were grizzled old men, who knew a thing or two.

    • Paul Homewood permalink*
      October 13, 2011 12:58 pm

      Perhaps in 20 years time she will be older and wiser.

      • Mike Davis permalink
        October 13, 2011 1:35 pm

        She sounds to have been Hansenized or Desslered, judging by the comments she has made so far. She may be aiming for a CLA position in AR6.

  3. November 5, 2011 5:25 pm

    It would be nice to have this entire post reposted at WUWT. Perhaps that might encourage Prof Hayhoe to respond. After all, we would like the science to be as correct as we can manage…

  4. November 6, 2011 3:39 pm

    “In other words the trend is drawn from the middle of the coldest decade on record since 1930.”

    This is all you need to know.That she is not being honest or fair.

    A typical gerrymandering of statistics to meet a priori belief.

    That means she lacks credibility.

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