Cold Cherries from Joe D’Aleo

It’s so predictable. Arctic sea ice came close to breaking the 2007 record for decline in some records, and did break the record in some, so the deniers are in “damage control” mode, out in force saying it’s just natural variation. And one of the most misleading of all comes from Joe D’Aleo on Anthony Watts’ blog.

D’Aleo tries so hard to blame Arctic climate change on ocean oscillations. Part of his dissertation includes a plot of “Arctic Region Temperatures”:

He wants you to think that Arctic regional temperature was just as hot in the 1930s-1940s as it is today. Note that D’Aleo doesn’t average these six data records to form “regional” data, he overlays them so as to create the greatest possible confusion and uncertainty. But far more important …

Do you suspect that these six stations were “hand-picked” to give the impression he wanted to give? Do you think maybe they were cherry-picked? If so, you’d be right.

Even if you only use data from the GHCN (Global Historical Climate Network), there are a lot more than 6 Arctic stations to choose from. In fact there are 137 stations north of latitude 65N. Here’s a polar projection plot of their locations:

The north pole is at the center, the latitude circles are 5 degrees of latitude apart, and longitude zero (toward Greenwich, England) is toward the bottom. Let’s place red circles at the locations used by Joe D’Aleo:

Does that seem to be a representative sample, a fair distribution to cover the “Arctic Region” to you? Of course not. D’Aleo’s selection is nothing but a cherry-picked sample, for no other purpose than to give a false impression of Arctic regional temperature history.

Let’s compute the average temperature anomaly of all 137 Arctic stations in the GHCN:

Wow. That’s … different. Now it’s clear that Arctic regional temperature in the 1930s-1940s was not as hot as today. Not even close.

Of course, a simple average of Arctic stations isn’t properly area-weighted, which is an even better way to represent Arctic regional temperature. Fortunately, the good people at NASA have already computed regional area-weighted temperature averages for us. Here’s the NASA GISS data for the region north of latitude 64N:

Once again it’s clear. Arctic regional temperature in the 1930s-1940s was not as hot as it is today. Not even close.

The misinformation about Arctic regional temperature is only one of the misleading, cherry-picked red herrings in D’Aleo’s post. But that’s what we expect from him: misinformation. He’s good at that, because, as they say, practice makes perfect.

UPDATE: More on Joe D’Aleo’s misinformation here.

UPDATE 2: Reader Hugh McLean has kindly plotted the Arctic stations in the GHCN on an actual map:

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33 responses to “Cold Cherries from Joe D’Aleo

  1. Back in 2010 he said

    “And for the ministers of propaganda on this matter that don’t understand how this works, you will see NEXT SUMMER has the highest amount of sea ice since the early part of last decade.”

    Now that it’s next summer he’s stuck explaining why it’s actually a close tie for lowest on record.

    We can go even further back in time to 2002 to see what he was saying. This post is now only archived on

    “In the Northern Hemisphere, the Polar Regions too have undergone changes in ice thickness and extent. The blame of course is placed on global warming, but the facts suggest this too is just another cyclical change relating to a large-scale ocean circulation change this time both in the Pacific and in the Atlantic.

    The data for Fairbanks and the surface temperature correlation map for the northern Polar Regions showed some warming during the positive PDO phase (1977 to 1997). However, the change in ice thicknesses widely reported in the media as due to global warming, is more likely due to ocean circulation changes. Though the Pacific, through the PDO, may cause temperatures to oscillate here slightly on a decadal scale, it appears the Atlantic circulation may be the driver for the changes in the ice.”


    “Like the PDO, the NAO undergoes decadal scale changes. During the 1950s and 1960s, the NAO was primarily negative, while in the 1980s and early 1990s, it was primarily positive.

    When it turned positive, the arctic ice thinned (1980 to 1995).

    The NAO may have switched back into a negative mode in the middle 1990s. This might be expected to cause the ice to thicken again. Indeed the Sea Ice Extent chart above seems to show this thickening.

    His explanation collapses under any level of scrutiny. The only people that accept Joe D’Aleo as an expert on climate or sea ice are those that really like the sound of what he’s saying.

    • – Back in 2010 he said

      “And for the ministers of propaganda on this matter that don’t understand how this works, you will see NEXT SUMMER has the highest amount of sea ice since the early part of last decade.” –

      Uh, as much as I enjoy seeing overinflated claims like this fall flat, I must inform you that you’re confusing your Joes. This claim was by Bastardi, not D’Aleo.

      • D’oh! I knew it was one of those guys!

      • Horatio Algeranon

        Say it ain’t so, Joe
        – by Horatio Algeranon

        The one Joe said to another
        “The sea ice is recovering”
        The other Joe in agreement
        “Yes, that’s what we’re discovering”

        It’s vexing, Joe, wherever we go
        The people still confuse us
        I don’t know why, but it is so
        And Joe, it don’t amuse us.

    • I imagine he must be excluding GHGs from his predictive model of polar ice. This bastardized model may very well have predicted a surge in ice this year, but excluding data – especially those that are likely to have a major influence – is simply garbage in/ garbage out!

  2. “Funding opportunist Serreze” was also very classy!

  3. And it seems D’Aleo’s post has been largely copied from a similar post he did last year.

    I’d like to ask Anthony Watts if he’s going to let this be posted again next year, and the year after that.

  4. You can’t cherry-pick data like that accidentally.

    Aiding climate denial needs to be made a crime.

    • Of course not but the reason cherry picking exists is because cherries are sweet and delicious. You have this nice theory that you think explains something (and just so happens to satisfy your politics while giving those “ministers of propaganda” a black eye!) and hey here’s some data that supports it! All you have to do is tweak it a but and nom nom nom delicious cherry.

      Does D’Aleo know he’s wrong? Who knows and the answer isn’t useful anyway. I

      I really wish it were the case there was an agreed upon version of reality, with some merely knowingly acting against it to further other goals. Confirmation bias and other cognitive blind spots are far more powerful forces than politics or even money.

  5. By “records” you mean satellite records. Is that correct?.

    [Response: See the next post.]

  6. Jay aka/ Nunataq

    thanks for the work you and the regular posters put into shedding light on the bafflegab coming out of the denialosphere.

    In the off chance this hasn’t come to light here, D’Aleo is a signer of “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming”, put together by the right wing political/religious Cornwall Alliance.

    Spencer & McKittrick are also on the list along with others some here will likely recognize.

    keep up the great work you do here.

  7. ‘some’ or one?

  8. “You can’t cherry-pick data like that accidentally. ” said Jeffrey Davis.
    Correct. D’Aleo is enough of a meteorologist to know where it’s warm when a cluster of cold winters hits Western Europe like 1939-1942 and some (he wouldn’t mention those cold winters, of course). A blocking high over Scandinavia feeds warm air to the Spitsbergen/Nova Zembla region so pick stations there then.

  9. Take a close look at this (shown really, really small in d’Aleo’s original post).

    The Arctic temps stop in 2001! It would be good to do a proper plot of Arctic temperature against TSI to blow this canard out of the water once and for all.

  10. Dear old, dim Tony has post a riposte to you analysis here. Methinks that the man who produced the original graph has no idea how to produce a region temperature history. To use his terminology you looked at the whole basket of fruit,not just he cherries.

    [Response: I saw. LOL! Seriously -- can't WUWT put up a better defense than that?]

  11. Pete Dunkelberg

    Haven’t we seen these stations before? Are they concentrated in a Nordic region subject to a particular influence not characteristic of the whole region? D’oh, the statistics seem to show that, but wasn’t a particular influence identified?

    Pete Dunkelberg

  12. Holy $&@#, I never thought I would see an urban heat island argument for places like Hay River, Fort Smith, Dawson and Mayo!

    The combined populations of these “urban” areas is less than 8000.

  13. tamino: can’t WUWT put up a better defense than that?

    BPL: To do that, they’d have to know what they were doing.

  14. You can’t cherry pick one pole over the other.

  15. ‘…so the deniers are in “damage control” mode, out in force saying it’s just natural variation.’
    Hey Tamino: why can’t it be natural variation?
    There’s been less ice in the past (even none at all), and there’ll be more in the future. Nothing on this Earth is static.
    (Yes, I fully expect people here to jump down my throat saying that it was natural in the past, but now it’s all our evil fault. I’m just not as into self-flagellation as other people are.)

    [Response: Why can't it be Leprechauns?]

  16. Why can’t it be Leprechauns?

    Because as all Pastafarians know, the global decline in the numbers of pirates is the cause of global warming.

    And you call yourself a statistician ???

  17. Andy,
    Basically, it comes down to the first law of thermodynamics–conservation of energy. The energy must come from somewhere. And the fact that the trends have persisted ~40 years severely limit the candidates. We know that greenhouse gasses prevent energy from escaping the planet. All the characteristics of the changes we are seeing are consistent with a greenhouse mechanism. No other mechanism can explain them.

    This is not about self-flagellation. It is about accepting the truth. Are you adult enough to do so?

  18. Andy, do you believe natural variations are magically causeless?

  19. I am at once amazed at the lucid presentation in the above post and disgusted by the blatant cherry picking and confusion tactics used by D’Aleo.

    I mean, this misrepresentation seems to be done on purpose, not by accident or blinded denial.