New GISS data

NASA GISS has released their data for temperature through June of 2015. Prior to now, they have used ERSSTv3b (extended reconstructed sea surface temperature version 3b) for sea surface temperature, but they have now switched to the revised, updated ERSSTv4 (version 4). Let’s take a look at the new data and how it compares to its predecessor.

Graphs of monthly data overlap so much that they’re a bit unclear, therefore I’ve computed annual averages. This year isn’t complete yet, so for 2015 I’ll display “year so far” data which goes through June for the new data, only through May for the prior. And here’s a comparison:


The changes aren’t big, but they do illustrate even more strongly just how much of a myth the whole “pause” idea was. Always has been.

It’s interesting to look closely at the data since 1970:


We can also revise our estimate of the trend since 1970. Using the prior data, the estimate is 0.0165 +/- 0.0028 deg.C/yr, with the new data it’s 0.0174 +/- 0.0028 deg.C/yr. Both estimates are within each others’ 95% confidence intervals.

Of course, deniers are frothing at the mouth about the change. The “hit man” for WUWT, Bob Tisdale has been insulting it as much as he can. He keeps saying things like “Overcooked “Pause-Busting” Sea Surface Temperature Data” and “unjustifiable, overcooked adjustments presented in Karl et al. (2015)” and “magically warmed data.” He especially emphasizes the phrase “pause-busting,” evidently either unaware or unwilling to accept that there never was a pause to bust. That’s just a myth. Sorry Bob, there’s no “pausebuster” action at all — just some pretty good mythbuster fun.

What is especially funny is that when Roy Spencer introduced a revised UAH temperature data set, Bob Tisdale flattered it. He called it “the updated and much corrected UAH atmospheric temperature data” and refers to the change as “enhancements.”

The obvious conclusion is that when revision goes the way he wants it’s “much corrected” and “enhanced” but when it goes the way he doesn’t want, it’s “unjustifiable” and “overcooked.”


A minor error has been corrected, so I’ve updated the graphs. From NASA:

July 19, 2015: The data and results put on the public site on July 15 were affected by a bug in the ERSST v4 part of the automated incremental update procedure. The analysis was redone after recreating the full version of SBBX.ERSSTv4 separately. We would like to acknowledge and thank Nick Stokes for noticing that there might be a problem with these data.

31 responses to “New GISS data

  1. Evidence is irrelevant if the scientific revolution never occurred. Shameful, unfortunate, but real. No history or logic, either. Like, Homo Erectus, and not even prehistory.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Sadly, rejection of science has become normalized in the US and not just on climate change but on many other issues as well — economics, education (test and VAM), energy (continuance of fossil fuel based), infrastructure (seriously degraded roads, bridges, etc), environmental issues (fracking, oil spills, arctic and offshore drilling), agriculture (pesticide use) , etc

      You can only ignore and/or beat back reality for so long before it rushes in like a tsunami and finally destroys you.

      The tsunami is coming. The only question is how long it will take to get here.

      Maybe Tisdale would like to make a go at “predicting” the arrival time.

      • Yeah, *sigh*. It puts people who know what the science is in an awkward personal and emotional situation. How long have scientists and anyone familiar with the problem of climate change been shouting from the rooftops? And it seems those who have all to lose are arrayed against the needed changes, and WUWT and kin are their private (and inexpensive!) PR firm. Accordingly, it is natural to see, in the inexorable changes unfolding, a certain satisfaction that the rules are the rules, and “Nature bats last”. Alas, when these things happen, in some of them people are going to get hurt and killed. Yet, in addition to a lack of respect for scientific insights and prediction, there’s also a flat-out willingness to ignore evidence and history, if it appears that to do so means profit. Indeed, while some lament the advent of the Mobile Distraction Units which are cell phones, the economic system seems, for many, to have become the Alternate Reality, one wherein if something does have a visible projection, its value and importance is zero. “Der Horizont vieler Menschen ist ein Kreis mit Radius Null — und das nennen sie ihren Standpunkt” (attributed to Einstein, but probably predates him). Translation: “The horizon of many men is a circle with zero radius — and that is what they call their perspective.”

      • Horatio Algeranon

        “The Horizon of Men”

        Event Horizon
        Vista: null
        Zero size ‘n’
        Blackest hole

  2. Channeling Blackadder:

    To you, Tisdale, the scientific revolution was just something that happened to “other people”, wasn’t it?

  3. Real Climate has a piece on the datasets.

    Please see:

    In a new paper in Science Express, Karl et al. describe the impacts of two significant updates to the NOAA NCEI (née NCDC) global temperature series. The two updates are: 1) the adoption of ERSST v4 for the ocean temperatures (incorporating a number of corrections for biases for different methods), and 2) the use of the larger International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI) weather station database, instead of GHCN. This kind of update happens all the time as datasets expand through data-recovery efforts and increasing digitization, and as biases in the raw measurements are better understood…

    NOAA temperature record updates and the ‘hiatus’, Gavin Schmidt, 2015-06-04

  4. WUWT and their ilk are just old fashioned pre-Galilean natural philosophers. They know from principles what the answers must be, so observations which don’t confirm their principles are obviously “cooked to deceive the faithful”.

    • Susan Anderson

      Don’t you know that WUWT claims it has precedent in the science of Galileo, Einstein, Feynman et al.? Try a google on the latter – they’ve claimed him for their own.

      • Claims do not make facts, and they should read up on Galileo’s personal history. I’ve even seen The Ilk say their way is going to be a Kuhnesian “scientific revolution” and present climate science is akin to the “ultraviolet catastrophe” problem of the 19th century. They *really* should go back and read Kuhn and *especially* his treatment of the discovery of blackbody radiation, which is a key thing a lot of them have difficulty with. (Okay, some accept it but somehow feel the “vitalism” of atmospheric and oceanic fluids abrogates conservation of energy.)

      • There are historical figures who could claim to have been wrongly ground down by the scientific and mathematical “establishment” politically but were ultimately proven correct. Semmelweis and Cantor come to mind. I guess their ultimate fates were such that deniers have no wish to claim any strict association to them!.

    • Yes, they have obviously never got a buzz out of seeing just what the data showed, and being genuinely interested in that.

  5. I just had someone on youtube comment this with a straight face: “Data fraud has been going on for decades by CRU, HADLEY Centre, BOM (Australia), MET (UK), METService (NZ), GISS, NOAA, MSC (Canada), NASA, Berkley and the Swiss Meteorological Service (SMS)”

    That’s not a poe, that’s a very vocal climate “skeptic” unaware of how ridiculous their argument sounds. When the primary source becomes steven goddard you know the whole temperature record denial thing has totally jumped the shark. I’ve been trying to argue with them, that even if THEY refuse to accept the science, at least they can appreciate why everyone else thinks their arguments look crazy. I mean even Berkeley earth has now been fully merged into the conspiracy. What’s the angle on that? did the scientists involved get called into a meeting somewhere and told to produce the same result everyone else had found?

    Every attempt to compile a temperature record from the surface data ends up becoming part of the conspiracy!

    How many iterations of that until even steven goddard can’t swallow it anymore?

    Perhaps the reason these brave internet skeptics behind their keyboards refuse to do the work themselves, is that they are scared they will end up becoming part of the conspiracy too..

  6. Next headline — “Bob Tisdale and Anthony Watts street cred devoured by monster El Niño.”

  7. GISS has just issued a correction to the previous July report. 2015 is tracking highest (more so than in the uncorrected version).

    [Response: Thanks. I’ve updated the graphs.]

  8. Martin Smith

    I suppose this doesn’t belong in this thread, so I understand if it is rejected. Point 5 of the article at Skeptical Science about Karl et al includes this quote from Zeke Hausfather:

    “A number of studies have found that buoys tend to measure temperatures that are about 0.12°C colder than is found by ships at the same time and same location. As the number of automated buoy instruments has dramatically expanded in the past two decades, failing to account for the fact that buoys read colder temperatures ended up adding a negative bias in the resulting ocean record. This change is by far the largest single factor responsible for changing global temperatures in the past 17 years compared to temperatures found in the prior NOAA record.”
    I asked questions there, and received good answers, but after thinking about it, I’m still bothered. He says that not adjusting the buoy data added a negative bias to the record. But if the buoys are actually more accurate, then adjusting them upward adds a positive bias. Why is that better? I understand the consistency argument for grids that contain both buoy and ship data, but why is that consistency more important than the thermometer accuracy?

    [Response: I’m not familiar with the details, but here’s my guess. What we’re after is how temperature has changed over time. If instrument “A” is consistently lower than instrument “B”, we can either raise A or lower B to bring them into alignment. Either choice gives us a combination which is the optimal record of changes over time.

    If “A” is more accurate then lowering B gives a more accurate final result for *absolute temperature*, but makes no difference at all to the changes over time. If you want to know the best estimate of changes over time, you must allow for the different bias between instruments. Which you use as a “reference” doesn’t matter.]

    • Let me take it slower that tamino: You are misconstruing “bias”. Take a 100 year series in some particular locations. Thermometer Type 1 used since Year 1 gives a string of values. Thermometer Type 2 used since Year 50 and giving better coverage gives a second string of values which is measured to be, say, .12C lower when the 2 thermometers are in the same location. How do we combine these to give an unbiased record WRT CHANGES OVER TIME?

      Combining Thermometers 1 & 2 directly will clearly bias the changes negatively over using Thermometer 1 alone as the two thermometers are not aligned. Using Thermometer 2 only throws away half your data. The solution is to align the thermometers first and then look for changes.

      Now if you are concerned about measurement of absolute temperatures you need to find some reference thermometer and calibrate both thermometers against the reference standard adding or subtracting from the values given by each as appropriate. Absolute temperatures are not the important measure, however. Changes in temperatures are.

    • These devices (“buoys”) and their use is fascinating, and you can dig into the data yourself. An organization Claire & I support financially, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) along with peer facility Scripps and others have rolled out these in a long term major campaign. They are operated by a network of international facilities: See and then and More here:

      There is also the global drifter program: and so-called “ship of opportunity” program

      In field, calibrating biases out is what it’s all about. Biases exist in all experimental instrumentation, whether floats, ships, or satellites.

  9. Martin Smith

    “If you want to know the best estimate of changes over time, you must allow for the different bias between instruments. Which you use as a “reference” doesn’t matter.”
    But in addition to using the dataset to estimate changes over time, it is also used to estimate the global average temperature. Doesn’t raising the buoy data mean the computed global average temperature will be artificially high?

    • Short answer: yes.

      Long answer: yes, but that matters a good deal less than one would think.

      Elablorating further, here’s a useful discussion from NASA:

      In particular:

      Q. What do I do if I need absolute SATs, not anomalies ?
      A. In 99.9% of the cases you’ll find that anomalies are exactly what you need, not absolute temperatures. In the remaining cases, you have to pick one of the available climatologies and add the anomalies (with respect to the proper base period) to it. For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 14°C, i.e. 57.2°F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58°F and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.

      Remember, global mean temperature is more a statistical construct than a physical reality, just as is, say, the average number of children. It’s valid and useful, providing useful information about the real world, but all the same it’s a computed metric.

      • Martin Smith

        Doc, I missed your reply! Thanks! Now I understand Tamino’s final reply. I apologize for being a butthead. In my defense, it’s a bit hard to follow threads on wordpress. There should be a way to see what is new since last time. Again, thanks, and I’m sorry for being a nuisance.

    • “High” compared to what? Where is your reference? You seem to think the older system was somehow “absolutely” correct and as the new one was brought in it was somehow “biased” with respect to some absolute standard that was never established in the first place.

      Measuring absolute temps are important in some areas but not in climate change. Are you stuck in the “what is the absolutely best temperature for the Earth?” meme that has been floating around on denier blogs for some time now? If so, give it up. Rate of change is the key issue not absolute level.

    • It’ll be higher for the period in question. The alternative would be that the earlier period would be cooler, which would affect the trend not at all.

  10. Martin Smith

    Thanks everybody, but one more question: If a subset of the data points are adjusted upward by 0.12C, the anomalies for those data points also increase if they are above the baseline and decrease if they are below the baseline. So the global average temperature computed with those adjusted anomalies will be higher than it would have been if the data had not been adjusted. That’s the point that the merchants of doubt are using to keep the ignorant onside. And it is correct, yes? If scientifically, it doesn’t matter, politically, it matters a lot.

    • Again you actively seem to actively resist seeing the point. You are bordering on concern trolling.

      It is not “a subset of the data” being adjusted upward, exactly. Well it is, but not in the typical usage of the term. What is happening is that Thermometer 1 data and Thermometer 2 data are being CALIBRATED to each other. You can call this some sort of nefarious “adjustment” if you want. And nothing will keep idiots from doing so. You needn’t join them.

      In WW2, soldiers who “synchronized watches” before an attack were simply getting on the same measurement line, not somehow changing time itself or misreporting timelines to their superiors. It really didn’t matter whose watch was considered to be the standard watch, it only mattered that EVERYONE’s watch was set to the same standard. And it was a very good thing for all that they did.

      • Martin Smith

        >Again you actively seem to actively resist seeing the point. You are >bordering on concern trolling.

        I do see your point, jg, but I already understood that point. It’s not what I’m asking about. I think I understand all the answers I have received, and I do appreciate them, and the time it takes to write them. Really. But either I’m not asking my question clearly, or maybe the question doesn’t make sense: The Argo Buoy data are being adjusted upward by 0.12C. If these data are then used to compute the global average temperature for 2015, will the computed result be higher than it would be if the data were not adjusted upward by 0.12C?

        I understand anomalies, the need to calibrate everything, and the importance of the trend over the absolute. But every year, it’s a big deal if last year was the hottest year ever. Why even compute the global average temperature if it has any artificial component in it at all? Why not just compute the trend and how the trend is changing, and then compute the range of possible temperatures for 2025, 2050, and 2100, assuming the current trend continues, and then again assuming the current change in trend continues?

        [Response: Apparently you do not understand.]

      • Suppose you and a colleague were charged with weighing stacks of pennies with a balance. You hand a stack to the colleague and do the recording in a book, they handling the pennies, the balance, and the weights to on the counterbalance to obtain a weight. Together you weighed and recorded 1000 of them. Then, your colleague notices that in shuffling all the pennies one of them dropped and landed on the side of the balance where the calibrating weight sat, unnoticed by him until 1000 had been weighed. Naturally, they remove the extra on the counterbalance side.

        Now, clearly, moving forward, you’ll not be leaving the weight on the counterbalance side. Moreover, good sense demands that the single penny be weighed as well as possible, and that weight be added to the records of the 1000 pennies weighed.

        Can you understand that?

      • Wow! :-o !

        Let me just say that ALL measurement is “artificial” and otherwise leave you to your “concerns”.

      • Martin, it’s a big deal when a given year is the ‘warmest ever’–and that is invariably calculated and presented *in terms of anomaly.*

  11. Again you actively seem to actively resist seeing the point. You are bordering on concern trolling.

    What, just because Martin is innocently asking the same questions over and over again here, at Skeptical Science and at Real Climate without seeming to grasp a fairly simple point? Does that really make him a concern troll? Has the world really become so harsh and cruel and cynical as that? Aren’t you worried you might drive away sensitive and open-minded people new to this “climate” thing?

    PS. Nice catch.