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Hansen’s Pink Crayon

October 13, 2011

According to the muppets at GISS, it is in the Arctic that temperatures in recent years have been rising the fastest.




One slight problem. They have very little actual temperature data up there, as the grey patches on the map below show. (The unknown area is even bigger than this shows as this is still based on 250km smoothing). So they end up guessing the temperature for virtually all of the Arctic.




However, we don’t need to rely on GISS’s guesses as the satellites monitor temperatures across most of the polar regions. In particular, the satellite data used by UAH covers all the Arctic up to 85o. So how do the real temperatures compare to the guesses?

According to GESS GISS the temperature anomaly increased from +0.44C in 1999 to +2.27C in 2010, an increase of 1.83C. The UAH figures however show an increase from +0.05C to ++1.19C, an increase of only 1.14C. In other words GISS seems to have overestimated by 0.69C.

I should point out that Arctic areas quoted by GISS and UAH don’t line up exactly. UAH go down to a latitude of 60o whereas GISS stops at 64o. However as GISS derive much of their Arctic projection from areas below 60o, it is hard to see why this should make a significant difference.

Perhaps Hansen can put his pink crayon back in the box.

  1. Mike Davis permalink
    October 13, 2011 1:51 pm

    I agree that UAH gives us a better idea of changes in temperatures even if they are reporting lower troposphere temperature patterns, rather than near surface extrapolations with measurements form less than one tenth of a percent of the surface measured. Alas the satellite record is much to short to be meaningful yet. I found a NASA site that admitted 150 years of reliable satellite monitoring would be needed to be useful for climate purposes. It is a new method and there are still problems to be found and worked out.
    The old method is corrupted beyond value and is worse than anecdotal evidence provided by historic biological activity in the different regions of the globe.

    I may have stepped in to early as I do not see the map!!!

  2. October 13, 2011 2:11 pm

    (self-host the pics, it looks like NASA is moving stuff around)

  3. October 13, 2011 2:54 pm

    Also, “Hansen’s Pink Crayon” is a revolting mental image.

  4. Tobyw permalink
    November 13, 2011 2:05 pm

    There are important seaports in Russia and Scandinavia that freeze in the winter. It is important to keep these ports clear for as log as possible during the year. As a result, the Russians and other interested countries have a significant number of nuclear powered and other ice breakers and ice breaking cargo ships, the most powerful of which can make 10 knots through 8-9 feet of ice. Some ships also make tourist trips to the North Pole.

    Since the purpose of these ships is to speed the opening of Arctic sea lanes, the amount of ice broken into small pieces is considerable. The area of the Arctic Ocean that clears first is the part adjacent to Russia and Scandinavia. To what extent is this clearing due to faster melting of broken ice decreased albedo, increased surface area, and hot cooling water from ship engines? A Google of “ice breaker” and related topics shows many articles, travel brochures, and youtube videos of the impressive work these ships do.

    Incidentally, Army Corps of Engineers data indicates that much of solid Arctic ice melts faster from the bottom rather than the top. This would be an indication of warmer water than climate based air temps.

    What is the effect of ice breakers on the sea ice area? Thirty years ago less ice refroze in the winter than in recent years. Is not the refreezing and the maximum ice area as important as the melting in the summer? Refreezing of an extra million sq km of winter ice annually could indicate more cooling, not less.

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