When Ted Cruz turned a senate hearing into his own climate denier circus, he didn’t just emphasize lower-troposphere temperature data — he deliberately ignored every other bit of climate data that exists. Way to go, Ted.
It was mentioned that the satellite data was calibrated to radiosonde data, i.e. temperatures in the upper atmosphere measured by balloon-borne thermometers. Apparently Ted Cruz took this to mean that balloon data show global warming isn’t happening, which is wrong. Just plain wrong. He also claimed that the troposphere tempereture data (as opposed to the surface, where we live) “are the best evidence we have of whether warming is occurring,” which is wrong. Just plain wrong. That’s Ted Cruz for you.
If the satellite data were calibrated by balloon data, and the satellite data (from RSS at least) have been flat lately, how can the balloon data not be? Ted Cruz will never understand.
Saellite data from RSS is indeed calibrated using balloon data. In fact it uses many different data sets: HadAT2 (from the Hadley Centre/Climate Research Unit), RAOBCORE and RICH (from the University of Vienna), and IUK (University of New South Wales). But from all I’ve found, none of these data sets covers enough time span to support Ted Cruz’s claim of the lack of warming: HadAT2 don’t go beyond 2012, RAOBCORE and RICH end in 2011, and IUK doesn’t go past 2010.
That’s why I’ve used RATPAC data; they’ve been kept up to date. The latest data I’ve retrieved is quarterly (rather than monthly) and extends to July of 2015.
So how does the RSS data compare to balloon data, really?
Let’s take a look. Here’s the RSS satellite data (in blue) compared to the balloon-borne thermometer data from RATPAC (in red) (I’ve averaged the RSS data over 3-month periods to match the time sampling of RATPAC, and offset the RSS data by 0.2 deg.C to bring them into alignment during the calibration period).
They’re in excellent agreement until recently. Lately there’s a strong divergence, one which seems to be growing, after about 2012. It’s hard to believe that the problem is with balloon data; yes there are important calibration issues with them, but thermometers are still thermometers, and there are just as many serious issues if not more with the satellites’ microwave sounding units, including merging over a dozen different instruments, disentangling the signal from different levels of the atmosphere, and changing orbital drift and timing — issues about which different teams do not agree.
A close-up on their period of overlap shows the recent divergence even more clearly:
The RSS data simply fail to show the recent warming which is plain to see in the balloon data — the data from actual thermometers.
It’s also interesting to look at the difference between the two (with no offset). This suggests that divergence starts even earlier, but only became pronounced in the last several years:
Overall, the satellite data have a distinct downward trend which is contradicted by the data from actual thermometers.
When Ted Cruz said that both satellites and balloon data fail to show warming, he was just plain wrong. When he said these data sets were the best evidence of whether warming is occurring, he was just plain wrong. Together, those two claims make up point number 4 of the 7 things he called “facts” — but he was wrong about their being facts. They’re just claims, claims which are just plain wrong.
Ted Cruz also didn’t seem able to keep straight how many of his so-called “facts” he listed. There were 7, but he repeatedly referred to 8. I guess when it comes to counting anywhere near as high as 10, Ted Cruz is again likely to be just plain wrong.